Postcards from the End of America

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SUPPORT THIS PROJECT--Over 8,000 photos of Philadelphia, Albuquerque, Allentown, Atlanta, Atlantic City, Austin, Baltimore, Battle Mountain, Bellows Falls, Bensalem Township, Berkeley, Bethlehem, Bolivar, Boston, Bordentown, Boulder, Brooklawn (NJ), Buffalo, Burlington (NJ), Cambridge, Camden, Carbondale, Carlisle, Carmel, Cedar Rapids, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Cherry Hill, Chester, Cheyenne, Chicago, Claymont (DE), Cleveland, Collingswood (NJ), Columbus, Cupertino, Daly City, Denver, Des Moines, Detroit, El Cerrito, El Paso, Emeryville, Ewing Township (NJ), Fremont, Gary, Glassboro, Glenside (PA), Gloucester, Grinnell, Haddonfield (NJ), Harpers Ferry, Harrisburg, Hoboken, Houston, Jackson, Jersey City, Joliet, Kansas City (KS), Kansas City (MO), Kennewick, Knoxville, Lancaster, Langhorne, Laurel Springs (NJ), Levittown (PA), Lindenwold (NJ), Los Angeles, Los Gatos, Marcus Hook, McCook, Media (PA), Milpitas, Minneapolis, Mountain View, New Orleans, New York, Newark, New Harmony, Normal, Norristown, North Charleston, Oakland, Old Forge, Omaha, Orlando, Osceola, Overland Park, Palmyra (NJ), Pasco, Penndel, Pittsburgh, Portland, Providence, Raleigh, Redwood City, Reno, Richmond, Richmond (CA), Riverside (NJ), Roebling, Rutland, Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Bruno, San Francisco, San Jose, San Leandro, Santa Clara, Santa Cruz, Santa Monica, San Xavier del Bac, Sausalito, Savannah, Scranton, Somerdale (NJ), South San Francisco, Springfield (IL), St. Louis, St. Paul, Steelton, Stratford (NJ), Sunnyvale, Taylor (PA), Trenton, Tucson, Union City (NJ), Ventnor, Vineland, Washington, West New York, Westmont (NJ), Wichita, Williston, Wilmington, Wolf Point, Woodbury (NJ) and Youngstown, etc.

Friday, May 29, 2015

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Maria-relaxing-near-City-Hall-on-5-26-15--San-Jose








On the southern edge of San Jose's new and very beautiful city hall, there's a small homeless encampment. I approached this woman who turned out to be Maria. Since she could speak only a few words of English, we had to communicate in Spanish.

"I don't speak English."

Grinning stupidly, I asked, "You, Mexico?"

"No, Nicaragua!"

"Ah, how long? This country?" My pidgin confused her. I pressed, "This country. Five years?"

"No, no. Thirty-two years! And I'm a citizen."

"How come no English? Work?"

"Yes, I worked, worked and worked. I never learnt English."

Grinning stupidly, I asked, "Relatives here?"

"Yes."

"Ah, no help you?"

She looked confused. "I'm happy. I need nothing."

"Happy!"

"Yes, I'm happy, and serene. I come here to sit. No one bothers me."

"Ah, you don't return to Nicaragua?"

"No."

"Relatives in Nicaragua?"

"Yes, and I have two houses in Nicaragua."

"Two houses! Here, you nothing!"

"No, no, I'm not homeless," and she took out her ID card to show me her street address. "I live on William Street with my son. I live near here."

"This," I pointed to the shopping cart. "Not you?"

"No, no!"

It turned out that Maria just likes to sit there every day. It's one of her spots. Since she did have a baby carriage with all kinds of stuff on it, you'd probably think she was homeless too. Seventy-years-old, Maria's in good health. Sensibly, she said she'd rather sit outside among people than at home in front of the television.

"No one bothers you?"

"No."

"Dangerous?"

"No. They speak English, so I cannot talk with them, but no one bothers me."

With animation, Maria told me about the new canal being built in her native country by the Chinese. There are lots of Chinese there, engineers and workers, and Chinese restaurants are popping up all over, she said. She thinks this enormous project is a good development, and she's not worrying about the huge displacement of people or environmental impacts. It will be completed in five years, she said.



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Man-who-loves-hot-dogs-and-Orange-Crush--San-Jose








Gerald Anthony Martinez was born on August 22nd, 1949. Thinking I was Japanese, Gerald barked something in Japanese, but when I told him I was Vietnamese, Gerald said that he had almost been dispatched to Vietnam, "but I got drunk and they didn't send me! The Viet Cong would have killed me. I would have died!"

Gerald said he just loves Orange Crush soda, 75 cents, and 7-Eleven's Big Bite hot dog, "You can get everything on it, and it only costs three bucks!"

Noticing his white hair, high forehead, broad face and black hole of a mouth, I said, "You look like my father."

"God bless you," Gerald said as I walked away.



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WE-BUY-HOUSES-FOR-CASH-on-5-26-15--San-Jose










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Estrella-Benavides--San-Jose-3










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Estrella-Benavides--San-Jose-2








55-years-old, Estrella Benavides was born in Nicaragua. In 1976, she came to the US for a 3-month stay and immediately fell in love with the country. "I've always felt more American," she proclaimed with an accent. In 1986, Estrella returned to the US to live. She bought used American cars, sold them in Nicaragua and made enough money to buy six houses, in Redwood City, San Mateo, Belmont and San Bruno. By 2010, she has lost them all, along with her husband and chidren. For a while, she lived in her car, but that too is gone. Though raised Catholic and without any Jewish blood, Estrella claims to be a Jew. God talks to her regularly while the evil elites of this world are after her. They can even cause her physical pain from a remote distance. She will win in the end, Estrella believes, because God is on her side. "God told me I will be able to fly soon."

This day, I found Estrella in East San Jose as she was pushing her cumbersome, much modified bike to Redwood City, 27 miles away. It would take her all day. She once had two houses in Redwood City, but now she goes there to eat and take a shower in a homeless shelter.

"Why don't you just stay in Redwood City?"

"But my son is here."

Though she's not always allowed to see her son, Estrella constantly goes back and forth between San Jose and Redwood City. She has two other children. They communicate sporadically via cell phones.

In a little basket attached to her bike's handlebar, there was a little chihuahua. He didn't look very happy.

Noticing her NBA wristbands, I asked about their meaning. Smiling, Estrella said, "I bought them because they're cheap. I have very little money."



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Estrella-Benavides--San-Jose











Estrella-Benavides--San-Jose-2








[Estrella Benavides]




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Your-Right-to-Distraction-Free-Shopping--Los-Gatos










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Treasure-yourself,-feel-beautiful--Los-Gatos








Los Gatos is loaded alright. Walking around, Ali and I resembled two lost hoboes, especially since one of his shoes was gaping at the toes. Here, the stores are called Sur La Table, I Gatti and Kitsch Couture, etc.


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Travel-catalog-in-window--Los-Gatos








[Abercombie & Kent]



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Thursday, May 28, 2015

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Airport-on-5-27-15--Phoenix-4










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Airport-on-5-27-15--Phoenix-3










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Airport-on-5-27-15--Phoenix-2











Airport-on-5-27-15--Phoenix-2-(detail)










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Airport-on-5-27-15--Phoenix








I wrote about Jim Thorpe in my Carlisle Postcard.



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Three-books-at-airport-store--Phoenix










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Thursday, May 21, 2015

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Outside-Walter-Rand-station-on-5-18-15--Camden-4










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Outside-Walter-Rand-station-on-5-18-15--Camden-3










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Followers

About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy and England. I'm the author of two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), five of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007) and Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, among other places. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013), and translator of Night, Fish and Charlie Parker, the poetry of Phan Nhien Hao (2006). Blood and Soap was chosen by Village Voice as one of the best books of 2004. My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Reykjavik, Toronto and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.