Monica Bielanko
A chronicle since 2005 of my marriage & move to Brooklyn in my twenties; becoming a mother in my thirties; moving to Pennsylvania and learning to amicably coparent after divorce in my forties while living 3 doors down from my ex-husband in a small country town.
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Sunday
Oct092005

His Heart is the Bums on the Street

I have an art collection hanging on the milk white walls of my tiny Brooklyn apartment. Bold, beautfiul, colorful, unlike anything I've ever seen. It's all original. One of a kind. The artist; Joseph, the homeless man who lives in the path tunnel that connects the L train to the Seventh Avenue subway platform.

The Surge and I literally stumbled across Joseph late one night as we giggled drunkenly, staggering toward the L, arms clasped around each other for support. There, camped along the side of the underground path was Joseph. His toothy smile, a beacon in his chocolate colored face. The Surge, always one with an eye for the unusual, the artistic, gently guided me toward the grinning stranger in the dirty overalls.
"How much?" The Surge was holding one of the brightly colored, crayon drawings. Initially annoyed at this disruption of my drunken revelry, I relented and squinted my vision to 20/20 and took a closer look.

Depicted in the drawing; the subway under attack. A crowded train, throttling through shadowy buildings, as invaders from space hovered above, taking aim. One flying saucer had unleashed beaming, orange fireballs at the train. A direct hit! The caboose was plummeting to earth from the elevated tracks. I was captivated. By the concept. By the man, with seemingly, not a care in the world but his art.
"Five dollars". Joseph answered The Surge.
"We'll take it," The Surge replied. "But on one condition. Will you sign it for us?" Jospeh's chest puffed with pride. His art, validated. He took the picture, scuttled to his briefcase of crayons and colored pencils, (such an adorable attempt at professionalism) considered his options then carefully selected a black Sharpie. He hunkered down as dozens of Manhattanites rushed past, barely glancing in his direction, and scratched 'Joseph 05' in the corner of the drawing.
"Sold!" The Surge rubbed his hands together. I stood apart from the transaction and watched my sweet husband peel off five dollars and proffer a hand for Joseph to shake. And that's how it started.

I am now the proud owner of six Joseph originals. They hang grandly on my living room wall, a splendid display of art, its' importance to its' creator and what it can teach the rest of us. Not only the art, but the lesson The Surge taught me about the kindness of strangers. My husband, The Surge. He's like that. Ever mindful of the beauty to be found in everyday objects, everyday people. He regards things I would have walked right by. And I had. I had passed Joseph every day for a month, not casting a glance his way. Now, he's a friend. He'll wait for me, a new creation in hand, a smile dawning on his face like morning sunshine when he sees me approaching.

Reader Comments (8)

This is my favorite blog of yours so far. What a great story. I thought it was made up and then saw his actual drawings. So cool
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJAY
Forgot to tell ya, I have loads of family who are Mormons, never understood all that! Interesting, but they are your family and you still love them! i was raised in a SUPER strict religion, so I know what your feeling! :)
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJen
I'm never going to look at the subway artists the same again now.... you made me smile and i felt warmed by the Surge's lending hand to the fellow artist...now I feel like a poo head! :) You should take a picture of the drawings and post them! :)
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterJulia
Great story, and great pics too (click on "Joseph" in the text to see them) - really love the colours.
October 10, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterAli
Aww, I love this. THere was a homeless artist that used to hang out on Prince and I still kick myself for not picking up one of his pieces. Good for you two.

Re your message on PLD (thx for visiting, btw) a few of my coworkers who have been around the Philly music scene for a while are Marah fans! Such a small world t'isn't it?
October 11, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterPLD
I love this post. Your husband sounds like a good guy. =)
October 11, 2005 | Unregistered CommenterValleyGirl

Like Valley Girl above, I am now intrigued (please dont think of me as blog stalker intrigued) we The Surge..Much like my better/worse half we will entitle the Chicago Asshole in more comments to come......Amazing hoping in the next three years of post that Joseph comes through again...Thanks Ali for the instructions I was wondering how to get to the picks....Mississippi Duh!
Just sent the Chicago Asshole to work so I can continue to read now Saturday at noon...

July 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMississippi Belle

No links to the pictures anymore damn...

July 12, 2008 | Unregistered CommenterMississippi Belle

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