Thursday, January 22, 2009

"Black Cat... Black Cat! How 'bout some change for the homeless?!"

Anyone who has been to the Black Cat in DC as seen the unofficial doorman of the club. He holds the door open and says “Black Cat… Black Cat! How ‘bout some change for the homeless?!” I’ve always given change to this guy and have always been curious about him.

I was waiting for my Hollywood roommate to arrive at the show, so I opted to hang out in Food For Thought and enjoy some Vegan Nachos while I waited. I ordered my nachos, took a seat, and in walked the man I’ve always wanted to talk to. I asked him to join me and we talked for at least an hour.

His name is Bill. He told me about his over 30 year battle with his addiction to crack and alcoholism, and says that he is now living in a retirement home in Hyattsville and comes down to the club to “experience life a little bit.” He swears that being around the young people keeps him young. He doesn’t like how “full of death” the retirement home is. The club provided a meal to him for free, as they do every time he comes in. He then headed back outside to collect enough money at the door to catch a taxi back to his home. He laughed as he told me he needs to get by midnight – or they’d give him some grief. I'm not so sure that he lives in a retirement home because he wasn't wearing proper shoes. I think it's probably a shelter. But there is no doubt that he is an incredibly interesting and intelligent man, and a sweetheart of a guy.

He is just as excited about our new President as I am and is hopeful that there will be change in the world. Bill was so interesting that I missed United Nations’ set – which I really wanted to catch. When I asked if I could photograph him he got a little shy and said he “didn’t know why anyone would want to photograph him.” I think he was probably one of the most interesting people in that whole place and am grateful he allowed me to capture his personality to share. He even broke out his black cat Pez dispenser – which he carries for luck – and thinks actually looks more like a panther.

So the next time you’re there say HI to Bill… and how about some change for this sweet man who just wants to stay young and enjoy life?!