Text & Interviews by Bradley McCallum
& Jacqueline Tarry
I don’t really like to look ahead into the future,
I just like to stay in the moment. I like to be spontaneous.
I don’t like to have plans. So, I don’t really see anything
in the future for me, I just see me being me.” — David
Bradley McCallum & Jacqueline Tarry
began their collaboration in 1996 with Witness: Perspectives on Police Violence. The husband and wife team work nationally and travel globally to engage with subject matter and images of pressing and, at times, controversial civic concerns for their large-scale projects. Among many works in progress, the artists are also creating Silence, a series of distinctly individual, site-specific installations that will unfold over a ten-year period, examining the Underground Railroad and the legacy of slavery. The project debuted in New Haven and its next installations are planned for New York City and Washington, D.C. Their work is currently featured at the Neuberger Museum Biennial in Purchase, New York. They reside in Brooklyn, New York, and their work can be viewed at www.conjunctionArts.org.
Civic Endurance is Bradley McCallum and Jacqueline Tarry’s series of life-size color photographs and a video that together document a 25-hour endurance performance with homeless Seattle teenagers. The portraits were taken minutes before each youth took part in the performance; afterward they gave their testimony during an audiotaped interview.
The performance took place on a Seattle public sidewalk from 6:00 p.m. on August 5th, 2002, until 6:59 p.m. the following day. The
action was simple: 26 homeless youths stood still looking directly into the camera for an hour without speaking. As each completed the hour-long performance, there was a transitional moment in which the next youth walked into the frame of the camera, and then directly behind the first performer. They overlapped for a few moments and then the initial performer walked off camera while their replacement stepped forward into the same position, again looking into the camera. As they stand still for the hour, the video is rendered with a time-lapse effect in which traffic and pedestrians pass by and light fades into night and back again; during the transition from one youth/performer to the next, the video is slowed down. The audio tracks on the video combine street sounds with edited sequences of the interviews that were recorded prior to the performance. Each hour of real-time performance is compressed to five minutes,
creating a finished work of two hours.
Although the performance occurred in a public setting, it was not audience-oriented. The video camera was placed across the street with minimal production equipment so that the general public walked past the youths without acknowledging their presence. The video captures the theoretical invisibility of the youths and the poignancy of this evidence is accentuated when combined with their testimony.
The goal of standing motionless for an hour is a significant act of endurance for youths who face drug addiction, attention deficit, and health-related issues. The act of standing still combines two ideas. Each youth who participated in this collective action dedicated his or her participation to the memory of friends who died from life on the streets, and thus “stood for” those individuals who were absent. They were also engaging in a quiet act of civil disobedience by opposing the Seattle Civility Laws that make standing or sitting motionless a crime.
Stacy (August 5th, 2002; 6:01 p.m.–7:00 p.m.)
It doesn’t matter where you came from, I came from a good family. It doesn’t distinguish, it takes a hold of you no matter who you are or where you came from.
When I was homeless and strung-out, the one thing I would never do for money, drugs, a place to stay, food, anything was sell my body. I think, because I’d given up everything else about myself I wasn’t willing to give up my soul, my body. My body’s not a piece of candy that I give to someone. That’s the one thing that I can actually keep and no one can take it from me. It wasn’t my body, it was my soul that I would be giving up if I would let someone violate me in that way for a high.
The one thing that really sucks about heroin is that it takes your memory. And I really don’t remember a lot of things, a lot of specifics like feelings. I can’t say if I was happy, sad, upset, depressed, probably a little bit of everything.
Frank and I were actually walking down Broadway and we’d gotten high and, we were like, we gotta stop. So, I called my mom, who has never been able to say no to me and she put us up in a hotel so we could kick. We suffered through it and my mom was there to rub our backs and to bring us juice. She came every day. She helped us look for an apartment and she help us pay for an apartment.
Frank had all of his stuff in storage and we got to go get all of his stuff out of storage. And I got to move into my first apartment. I have a roof, and I have a shower and I have a refrigerator and a stove, and a fuckin’ bedroom, and a carpet and a key! Unlike a lot of people I left home and I was homeless when I started using. All I had was what was on my back.
My friend Megan Smith died of a heroin overdose. She had just turned 15 and she went on a trip to California and she ended up gettin’ arrested on the way and bein’ put into a youth home.
So she ended up getting clean against her will. When she was released she called her grandma, who got her a bus ticket to come home. She had money and she’d been clean for a long time. She needed a place to stay and we were camping down by the freeway with another couple. Megan was gonna give them some dope for letting her stay with us. They wanted it that night and so she cooked it up and she ended up doin’ another shot and she was already really really high. She was on one side of the tree and they were on the other and they woke up at about 11 and walked by her. They didn’t wake her up. She was still in the same position as the night before, but they didn’t think anything of it, they went up to Broadway and went back down there at about 2 o’clock in the afternoon to wake her up. She was dead… and she was stiff, blue. She had died … in the night … behind a tree … above the freeway … in her own vomit.
At the time I was so fucked up that I didn’t even cry when she died. Since then, I’ve lost so many people and I always think of her because she was the first friend I lost to addiction. It’s hard, because I never got to tell her how good of a friend she was to me. I never got to go to her memorial and say goodbye to her.
If I could dedicate it to one person it would be her, but I’d also like to dedicate it to all my other friends that have died … Corey and Corbin and Ben and Zack and Filth and Jello and Rooster. We’ve all seen too many people die out there too fuckin’ early in their lives. Fuckin’ heroin doesn’t have to rule your life, the street doesn’t have to rule your life.
David (August 5th, 2002; 7:01 p.m.–8:00 p.m.)
My mom was living in a U-district at the time and I decided to leave. So I left and I went to the “Ave.” and it didn’t really work I found out a lotta people on the ”Ave.” are assholes. I just tried to fend for myself for like a month or two. Sometimes it was really easy, some days I’d make five cents, spainging other days I’d make fifty bucks. It was really random.
The first night out on my own was kinda scary, what am I gonna do tomorrow, how am I gonna eat, where am I gonna go to the bathroom, how am I gonna get a shower? The second day you start realizing like, you don’t need all this stuff. Like, you don’t really need to take shower, you don’t really need a bathroom that often and that’s pretty easy to find if you go into like a Denny’s or a restaurant.
I don’t really like to look ahead into the future, I just like to stay in the moment. I like to be spontaneous. I don’t like to have plans. So, I don’t really see anything in the future for me, I just see me being me. I’m waiting right now just to see what happens today.
If you have a squat, a house to live in, like an old abandoned rundown house to go and like sleep in, it’s basically you have, a normal life, but your job is spainging on the streets for a coupla hours to get enough money to eat. Then you go back home and you sleep in your sleeping bag and it’s really not all that different from a normal person’s life. It’s just that you don’t have all the luxuries of everybody else. You don’t have electricity. You don’t have indoor plumbing. You don’t go out to eat all the time. Your job is constantly outside, spainging for change.
I don’t really care if you’re gay or straight or bi or transsexual or a girl or a boy, I just really care who you actually are. When you have a close friend that dies on the street, if you’re a drug addict, you go back to using drugs. Like right away. You’re all doped up all the time, you don’t really care anymore, people just don’t care. It’s like that. They know it’s gonna kill ‘em. They know it has a chance of killing ‘em. And they know it really sucks, come down off the high. They don’t really care anymore.
With Rooster, it was a different situation, because he got jumped and killed. That was really hard for people to accept. People didn’t even have time to recover from Filth’s death because it was just a couple of weeks after. People were already using after Filth died so they just started using more after Rooster died because, it’s an internal thing. This helps me feel better when somebody close to me dies. So since more people are dying, if I use more of it, it might help me feel better more.
It’s not glamorous out there, people don’t really care about what they look like. It’s not glam. Unless you have like a lotta money and you’re a heroin user then it can be glamorous because you have money to waste on glam stuff.
I helped myself the most, if I didn’t help myself then I wouldn’t be here. If I didn’t fuck up, I wouldn’t be here.
Wicked (August 5th, 2002; 8:01 p.m.–9:00 p.m.)
I’ve been doin’ heroin since I was fifteen. And I still do it. You kinda become married to it, forever. I like the feeling but I don’t like being strung out. I don’t like spending my money on drugs. At the same time, people need to understand that it’s not that fuckin’ easy to say, “O.K., I don’t want to do it anymore,” ya know.
If you quit heroin for the next 10 days you are gonna feel the worst you have ever felt in your fuckin’ life. You’re not gonna be able to sleep, you’re not gonna be able to eat, your stomach is gonna be fucked up, your bones will actually crave it. It feels like they’re tryin’ to jump out of your body and get it. It’s really hard to get people to have sympathy for you too, because they don’t understand. If they have not been there, they will never understand. They can say they understand all they want but until have been in that situation, they will never understand heroin.
This guy at Texaco invited me over to drink some beer and watch the football game, he didn’t look gay, he didn’t act gay … but when I got to his house he’s like tryin’ to put his arms and shit around me. You know, and he thought jus ‘cause I was like this lil’ kid I wouldn’t fuckin’ do nothin’. And actually I had to forcefully get out of the house. I mean, I kicked him in his nuts a couple times and he hit me a couple times.
Shit, if you respect me I don’t give a fuck if you are black, white, purple, green, orange, red, I don’t care. If yer nice to me, I’ll be nice to you.
I don’t like it when people tell me that what I’m doin’ is wrong. It is no different than having a different sexual preference it’s all in the same boat. If you wanna be gay? If you wanna fuck chickens? I don’t give a shit, jus’ don’t try an’ put that shit on me. If you act like a pussy, you’re gonna get fucked with. But if you come off strong, hard, first impression, no one’s gonna fuck with you. You’re gonna be like this dude’s too much trouble to even fuck with.
Just because I look like this, talk like this, an’ act like this, doesn’t mean I don’t cry, an’ it doesn’t mean I don’t have feelings. An’ that’s where the family comes in, that’s when you become more than jus’ some street kid. Then you get to the point where mutherfuckers will kill for you they will stick up for you no matter what, because they love you, because you are their family.
An average day for me … I usually wake up with dope in my pocket because it’s jus’ like a cup-a coffee. An’ when you sleep, heroin gets out of your system two times faster than if you’re awake. I can do a half-gram shot, fall asleep for three hours and be sicker than I have ever been. I can do a half-gram shot and be well for nine hours if I am awake. I have a car. I take my girlfriend, my dog, and my car and drive to a gas station and I park there. I sit down on the back of my car and hold a sign that says, “Out of gas, and tired of pushing. Anything helps. God Bless.” People generally hand me fives, tens, ones, change.
After I make my money we go and we get some dope and we do it and usually nod out for a couple hours and then go buy more dope, an’ do it. And then go make more money, shoot some more and then go make more money, and buy some more cigarettes, and then go to sleep. And recently, I have been tryin’ to get out of that habit. Like right now, I am down to a dime a day. Which is damn good.
Ninety percent of the people that I ask for help, fuckin’ ignore me. There have been times where I seriously, fuckin’ didn’t eat for two days. And I’m sittin’ in front of Jack-in-the-Box asking for one dollar to eat. I am a fuckin’ human being. Just because I don’t wear a suit and tie and drive a fancy car or have money in my pocket … it doesn’t make me any fuckin’ less. If you are beggin’ someone for change to eat and they tell you to fuck off or get a job that hurts. Dude you just pulled 300 dollars out of your banking account, you know, you’re gonna spend it on stupid shit anyway. You might as well give it to someone that needs to eat!
If you get drunk you become emotional and you really can’t hold that shit in. You have to vent. If you hold it in you’re just gonna become a bomb, you’re just gonna blow up one day. You have to talk, you need to, you need to do some form of venting whether its beatin’ the shit outta a concrete wall, or punchin’ a pillow or talkin’ or crying you cannot just hold that shit down!
I dedicate my testimony to anybody and everybody that’s had somethin’ taken away from them if you’re fuckin’ young and you think that it’s cool to run away from home, you’re wrong. Your family is the most important thing that you have. I wouldn’t recommend coming onto the street. People get killed out here all of the time; people are taken advantage of all of the time. Personally I don’t think that people, mainstream people, look at us as part of society. We are alienated because we think and look different, or we do drugs or whatever. It’s almost like a war between us and society. It’s not fun out here, it’s not fun being on the streets, it’s not healthy. It’s not healthy fun. It’s not the kinda fun like comin’ home from school and playing soccer.
Fish (August 5th, 2002; 9:01 p.m.–10:00 p.m.)
When I was about four years old, my mom gave up custody of me and my brother to my aunt and uncle. And then when I turned thirteen, my aunt and uncle decided that they wanted me to have a relationship with my mom. I pretty much felt that my mom had abandoned me, I wasn’t very happy about it. I guess I forgive her, I mean she really had no choice. She was doin’ heroin her entire life, so was my dad, and he was just goin’ into prison and there was no way she could take care of four kids. I guess the state intervened, and said that she either needed to find homes for us, or they were gonna put us in foster homes. We spent a little bit of time in a foster home and then my aunt and uncle came and rescued us.
The first time I ever ran away from home was maybe a year after I left my aunt and uncle’s. I don’t remember why … I pretty much just decided that I wanted to do what I wanted to do, instead of doing what everybody else wanted me to do. The first time I left I just wanted to leave so bad that I didn’t really care much about preparing for it. I didn’t really care about a sleeping bag or food, I knew I could acquire those things eventually, when I needed them.
I think the first time I ever cared, the first time I ever cared how it made them feel, was knowing that my dad died having no idea where I was. Or even if I was still alive, that’s the first time I ever cared, even thought about, how it affected the rest of my family.
A fond memory of my dad would be sitting out in my mom’s backyard in the summertime on a blanket, feeding the squirrels. He had never read Alice in Wonderland and I had a really old version of it and I was in the process of reading it to him, sitting out in the sun, feeding the squirrels. When he was around I guess I took it for granted, and now that he’s gone there’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him. My dad was really sick, he had been sick for a long time. He had asbestosis and emphysema. But before I left home he was doing okay so I wasn’t too worried about it. I believe that he sees what I do every day, and hears what I say every day. He knows how much I love him.
I was either sixteen or seventeen. I don’t even remember why I decided to do it, because I had been so adamant for such a long time about not using. Because I didn’t want to fuck up my life the way my parents did. Somebody came up to me and they’re like, “Do you have any money? Do you wanna get high?” I was like “I’ve never done it before but, what the hell.” So … I did, and that was the beginning of the end.
When you’re high it’s just so easy to forget about everything. It fills up your entire day so you don’t have to worry about anything else. When I wake up in the morning the first thing I wanna do is get well. When you wake up in the morning, you are so incredibly sick, your body just does not function correctly. And it’s extremely redundant; you make the money, you score dope, you get well. You make more money, you get more dope, you get well. You can’t sit still. You can’t think about anything else except for getting well. You can’t sleep, your muscles twitch, it’s just so much easier to go get high and just keep on doing what you’ve been doing.
I knew better, you know, my whole family was destroyed because of heroin but I had to make my own mistakes! I had to learn the hard way. I just wanted to see what it was like for myself.
Most people’s attitude is that people like me aren’t even worth the breath to say, no. I hope that by hearing this, you will become less judgmental about people who are homeless. Because you have absolutely no idea why they are homeless or what they have been through. I hope that instead of looking at homeless people as, a nuisance or just scum, I hope that you can think about what they might have been through to put them in this position. I just hope that, you will feel a little bit of kindness towards us.
Billy (August 6th, 2002; 4:01 a.m.–5:00 a.m.)
I grew up pretty much all over the place because my family moved around, they were always poor, and we could never really afford anything so we had to keep moving. I was pretty much just thrown around, like, from family member to family. I was really depressed ‘cause my mom beat the shit outta me. I wouldn’t stay home, I’d go and sleep in someone’s backyard or, sleep in a parking lot or wherever I could, because I didn’t want to be around my mother. My clothes were there, the food was there, shower’s there … So I’d have to break into my own house, to shower and change my clothes and she would call the cops on me. She also called the cops on me for staying at other people’s houses even though I gave her the number she’d call the cops and they’d come and arrest me. I went to “Juvie” about ten times.
I was going on 16 and I was sick and tired of my mom beatin’ the shit outta me everyday, so I had my mom sign custody of me over to my dad. My dad is a truck driver, long-haul, and he drove me all the way up here to Seattle. This is where he was living at the time.I turned sixteen on the road.
I was kind of sick and tired of seeing my dad come home at like, four in the morning, all drunk-as-hell and yell at me, and do stupid drunk things … , he was a really crazy drunk. He never did anything physical to me but he was really mentally abusive … alcoholics are just not fun to live with. I got sick of it and just left. I mean, it was kinda like a mutual thing he couldn’t handle me anymore and I just didn’t want to be there anymore, so I just left. He’s still doin’ long haul trucking so I don’t talk to him much. Plus I told him I was traveling around so he doesn’t expect to hear from me.
I don’t think that kids should pretend to be homeless and hang out on the street; If they have homes and families, an’ if their family’s loving then they should stay home … I would.
I carry a big fat home on my back. It’s blankets, my dog’s water bowl, a bottle of water, a bag of dog food, an alarm clock, dog shampoo, a pair of suspenders, and sewing stuff. I really like to make things. I have like scissors, glue sticks, some dental floss, which I use instead of thread. That’s about all I carry with me.
There is a lotta dangers being homeless, houseless as I like to say but … Because I think home is where the sky meets the ground, home is where you feel comfortable, where you’re happy, you know, that’s your home. We’re houseless … we don’t have houses. We have homes because we feel comfortable just sitting on the sidewalk, but if the cops catch you sitting down they’ll give you a $25 ticket. But because we carry ”big backpacks” and we’re there “all the time” they give us tickets. While a person who pays taxes or has a job, or lives inside, sits down—they will get away with it.
You can’t just go on the streets and be this little sensitive girl who doesn’t know how to protect herself because you’re gonna be fucked over. You know, people are gonna steal, you they’re gonna rip you off, they’re gonna hurt you, but if you’re strong and they know that you’re strong, then they’re gonna leave you alone.
I did hard drugs first because it was always around in my family. Like my mom, my dad had a serious coke habit, so did my step-dad who my mom married after she left my dad. It almost killed me so I had to quit. I didn’t wanna be in the news paper – another kid who dies over heroin. Do you know how many people have died of heroin? Heroin’s a really good high like it gives you the best high, it’s too good. And that’s the problem, that’s why people get addicted, they can’t stop doing it ‘cause they like it too much. I didn’t wanna end up in the newspaper, dead from heroin like everybody else so I stopped doing it. I didn’t need it. I wasn’t on it for very long at all, but it almost killed me because it was bad dope.
It made me go into convulsions and I had to go to the hospital. I’ve met kids that were way cool, and a week later I hear that they killed themselves from heroin, I got really depressed an’ I was really lonely. So, I relapsed once, but then I didn’t do it again. I’ve completely stopped. It was really scary being on the verge of death, and being able to see people carrying you up to the hospital and their face and their reaction to you.
I consider the street kids more of my family than anybody else because they’ve accepted me for who I am. I still judge the kids when they come up to me and they’re like, “Oh I’m sick, I don’t feel good.” I’m like, “That’s all your own damn fault.” I’m not gonna give you pity because you’re dope sick.
I want people to understand that we’re not bad people ‘cause everyday people walk pass me with ignorance. They think that we’re bad and we’re evil and that we hurt people and we steal from people and that we’re all drug addicts, which isn’t true. Like not all of us choose to live out there. I mean, pretty much all of us are trying to get up in the world but we don’t get a chance, because we’re homeless, because we’re “scum.” An’ I don’t want people to look at us like that anymore, it pisses me off, because they’re ignorant, they don’t know, and they just judge before they actually know the truth. I want people to realize that we’re human beings, jus’ like they are, we just don’t have a home, you know. We have a home, it’s where the sky meets the ground, but we don’t have a house, you know, we don’t have a job to pay for rent. No one gives us a chance …
I grew up in a very rough family, you know, rough situations that I’ve had to be my own parent ever since I was a kid. I have to be strong. I just want my life to have some kind of impact I don’t want my life to mean nothing, there’s gotta be a reason why I’m here.
Frost (August 6th, 2002; 5:01 a.m.–6:00 a.m.)
It was my choice to leave but my motivation for leaving was beyond my control. The things that made me decide to be homeless as opposed to being in a foster care situation were out of my control. The only decent foster home I’d ever had where I wasn’t knocked around or locked in a room or you know … things that you get a lot in foster homes. I was living outside of Eugene, Oregon, in this place called, Vanita. And I was living there for two years with Johnny Mallonie. A good, Italian man, strong good morals, good principles, great work ethic. And then a perfectly healthy man goes in for a routine check-up and they tell him he has lung cancer and he dies six months later.
They were scrambling to find some people to take me in. I was gettin’ on twelve by then. Johnny Mallonie was the only person I had looked up to as a father. And to know that I was going to leave in the expanse of two days and head up to this new situation, new parents, new life, hundreds of miles away from anywhere I’d ever called home … that was certainly scary.
They tried to squeeze me into their family machine, and I just wasn’t a part of that family. Twelve years and then, boom! I’m supposed to have a mom and dad … just ‘cause they paid for me? So that lasted about seven months, and I have been on the street
You’re institutionalized all under the assumption that these people are gonna care about you because they’re getting paid to. In all actuality, that’s far from the truth. I was in a foster home where I was locked in my room and I had to ask permission to leave the room to use the bathroom and be escorted to use the bathroom. My food was brought to me in the room. I might as well have been in jail. And I lived there for nine months … it’s horrible. Out of the thirty, forty, maybe even fifty places I’ve been I was comfortable at one of them … one.
The whole time I’m vulnerable, I’m vulnerable every night I go to sleep because I don’t know if I’m gonna get woken up and they’re gonna give me a trespassing charge and I’m gonna spend the night in jail. I’ve never been to jail. I don’t wanna go to jail. There’s rumors out here that make you vulnerable, “this guy’s a snitch,” “this guy’s a rapist.” I mean things that just fly around for no reason what so ever. These make you vulnerable.
In my travels, I’ve been vulnerable. I had one guy, I was in California and I was hitchhiking, he said he’d pay me a hundred dollars for my socks! So I said, “well show me your hundred dollars.” And he gives me the hundred dollars and I take my socks off and I give ‘em to him. And he shoves one of ‘em in his mouth and he starts masturbating! With one of my socks in his mouth! Ya know, I mean how’s a fifteen-year-old kid gonna feel about this?
While a percentage of the street kids are thieves, and junkies and liars and will do anything for money, damn, a percentage of people in corporate America are exactly the same way. And it’s ludicrous that people walk by me, standing on the street minding my own business, not asking them for change, and that my old lady can say, “hello, have a nice day,” and they’ll pretend like she doesn’t exist. How they’ll walk by and they’ll tighten their grip on their Abercrombie & Fitch shopping-bags, and clutch their child a little closer. Like I want another mouth to feed and some clothes that’ll just fall apart in four days anyway. We all bleed red, and we’re all humans. We all have feelings and to be completely ignored by someone walking by, when you’re just saying “hello” to them to see if they’re having a nice day. That hurts. We weren’t always homeless, at one point, we were just like them.
Jaclyn (August 6th, 2002; 7:01 a.m.–8:00 a.m.)
I’m standing here for everybody I have lost along the way, Rooster … especially. And I’m standing for anyone who’s been on the streets and has suffered and knows what it’s like … to be homeless. It’s kinda rare for me to be out here ‘cause normally if you come out onto the streets when you’re thirteen years old you’ll be scared and you’ll go back home. Just depends on how strong you are I guess.
Most kids don’t stay out on the streets for longer than a month. Kids that come out here when they’re young and naïve think it’s fun, “We don’t have to listen to anybody we don’t have any rules. We stay out as late as we want. Woohoo it’s fun!” It’s not fun, when you stay out here during the winter. See, all these kids, they go home before winter happens. So they don’t know what it’s like to actually live on the streets. They come out for a month and they’re like, “Oh yeah, I was livin’ on the streets, I’m so hardcore now.” If they were to squat during the winter, or if they were to get addicted to drugs, they’d realize being homeless isn’t fun. It’s not easy.
I was really naïve when I first came out on the streets. Heroin’s like … people get really sick off of it, and puke off it. There were times when you’d see me jus’ walkin’ up and down Broadway, turnin’ my head to the side, and walkin’ and pukin’ my guts out. Heroin … relaxes your whole body. It feels like you just took a bunch of muscle relaxers and sleeping pills and you just like “ahhhwww,” you just kinda nod out. It makes you escape from everything.
I decided to quit when I couldn’t hit my veins anymore. I collapsed this vein a couple years ago and this one really hurts to hit, and I don’t have very many good veins ‘cause a lotta chicks, don’t have very good veins. Not like guys, guys have a lot of veins. So the only one I was hittin’ was this one. And it got to the point where I couldn’t hit it anymore ‘cause I had so much scar tissue and bumps over it that I couldn’t hit it. So I was just be balled up in a corner for like an hour tryin’ to hit this one vein, cryin’ cause it hurt so bad. And when my friend saw that, he was like, “Jaclyn, you gotta get off of it, ‘cause you can’t even hit yourself.” I was also hittin’ my neck for a while. You get it to pop out and then you have to put the needle in, it’s difficult.
The people who stay here durin’ the winter are the junkies that can’t leave because they’re too strung out. They don’t wanna be travelin’ all dope-sick, pukin’. The junkies are kinda stuck here, like on fly paper.
When I first found out I was pregnant, I was pissed off and I was upset ‘cause I didn’t want to be. I’m eight months along now. I quit drugs and everything, I quit smoking and I quit shootin’ up and I quit drinkin’. Until I have it, and then I’ll probably go back to my old ways. Plus, I have Hepatitis C from using needles, and I don’t know if that goes into your baby or not. But there’s nothin’ I can do about it, there’s no cure or nothin’. Even if there was I wouldn’t have the money to afford the cure.
The audience for the artwork? I hope it’s a variety of people. I hope it’s people who’ve judged the homeless kids for a long time, and been like, “Oh these homeless kids are just out here because they’re all drug addicts.” Some of us aren’t out here because we’re drug addicts. I hope it speaks to some of the kids who are already on the streets. ‘Cause we’re all standing up for something that we’ve lost and maybe it’ll show some of these homeless kids maybe it’s time to get off. ‘Cause I don’t like to see all of these homeless kids in every town I go to. I hope it speaks to them, “We’ve been losing a lotta things too. And maybe its time for us to get off.”
Gimp (August 6th, 2002; 8:01 a.m.–9:00 a.m.)
I started living on the streets right about when I was fifteen. I kept going back and forth between home to the streets and pretty soon my mom jus’ quit puttin’ run reports out on me. ‘Cause we kinda had this understanding that I could take care of myself. Family to me is someone that’ll be there, you can always go back to ‘em, and they’ll always be there for you and help you out, but they’ll also give you your space and let you be your own person. When I’m away from home I call ‘em let ‘em, know how I’m doin, write ‘em letters, we keep in touch. We have a pretty good relationship.
After I left Seattle, I went back to Spokane, after that I went to Montana, and then I went down to San Francisco and LA, hitchhiked down Southern California along the coast, it was pretty cool. But I’ve only been on the West coast, in a couple a weeks I’m goin’ over to the East coast. I’m gonna go check that out. I still want to see more of the world before I straighten out.
What I value most is freedom. I feel that I should have the right to live my life the way I want to and learn from my mistakes. I guess one example of me learning from my experiences would be when I stopped using speed, coke, it wasn’t too difficult to kick ‘cause I wasn’t really doin’ it for that long. It was just a mind over matter thing. The hardest part is having it in front of your face and being able to turn it down. I really don’t get too close to people. I have acquaintances, but I don’t really have too many close friends.
If I had any advice for someone who’s thinking about going out and living on the streets, it’d probably be “keep your head straight, don’t let what people think get to you and be real careful about who you trust.” There are guy’s out there who like younger kids. They’d always come up to me and they’d ask me if I liked money and drugs and wanna go party in exchange for certain acts. I’d just told them; “Keep on walking. You’ve got the wrong dude.”
My step-dad he was pretty abusive and that went on for about two and half years then finally my mom got us out of that environment, moved away from him; just completely cut him off from our lives. So, I’m pretty indebted to her for that. Her friends let us stay at their house. It was pretty hard to get her out of that situation. So, I’m standing for you, Mom. Because you’ve helped me out of a lot of hard situations and you’ve given me my freedom and space, but at the same time you didn’t abandon me.
I just let go and whatever happens, happens. I don’t try to make my life go one way or the other I just let it go. I’m not a real big decision-maker. I just have a hard time saying things. I usually don’t talk very much ‘cause I don’t really have much to say.
Taken Minutes Before Each Youth’s Endurance Performance
McCallum and Tarry were commissioned by the Office of Arts & Cultural Affairs to work with Peace on the Street by Kids from the Streets (PSKS), a homeless youth advocacy organization, to create a work that gives voice to the issues that face the homeless youth in Seattle. The artwork has received major financial support from the National Endowment for the Arts, the Seattle Department of Neighborhoods, and the Allied Arts Foundation.
As the project unfolded, the daily challenges that these youths face became more evident, and thus so did the need for them to have a forum to recount their experiences. A common thread among their recorded testimonies was the loss of someone close due to the nature of living on the streets. Coincidentally, and tragically, on March 20th, 2002, one of the three audio interns, Steven Greenberg (a.k.a. Filth), whose energy and participation had been critical to the early phase of Endurance, died of a heroin overdose. Two weeks after Filth’s memorial service, PSKS suffered a second loss of Nicholas Helhowski (a.k.a. Rooster), as a result of homicide through street violence. Rooster, a core member of PSKS, was in the final stage of transitioning off of the streets. Their untimely deaths have inevitably shaped the McCallum and Tarry intervention and the underlying metaphor of standing for someone who was lost.