Here lie the remnants of “the old city”. It is a slum where the victims of the great recession now reside. Old, worn, broken. Great cement and steel buildings of the mid-century, built so close to one another, they touch wall-to-wall. Ancient structures stacked so high, they disappear into the darkness of the sky. They are rusted and heavy and seem to tilt, like crooked trees in the wind, creating a jagged skyline. At any moment, they seem as though they’d collapse down onto the streets below, but they stay up somehow. The air so polluted, it blocks the sun from sight and fills the sky above like a gloomy cloak. The horizon hides behind a vast blanket of brown and grey so that the rest of the city is concealed from view.
“You deserve flowers on your doorstep and coffee in the morning. You deserve notes left on your dashboard and ice cream sundaes at 3am. You deserve honesty every day and to be kissed every hour. You deserve to be reminded how beautiful you are.”
When I was homeless the first time, it was in my early 20’s. My wife just couldn’t handle being a mother anymore, so she left our two and a half year old son in my arms and took off with all the money we had. I soon learned that she hadn’t paid rent for the last three months, so with no money and being three months past due on rent, we were evicted. I was in between jobs, so my son and I were on the streets with no money coming in and attempting to live in an old car I owned at the time. I remember saying to my son, ‘We’re going to get through this together.’ I went around to vacant lots and picked up Coke bottles and 7-Up bottles, because in those days you got two cents for a little one and five cents for a big one. When you’re broke and you can’t pay the bills, those are some of the most difficult times as a man and as a father. But what I learned was that when you’re really down and out and you’re at the very bottom, all you can do is look up.
John Paul DeJoria, a self-made billionaire and philanthropist best known as a co-founder of the Paul Mitchell line of hair products and The Patrón Spirits Company