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Chasing the Lit Mag Photo Essay. 10

Working with NYC street photographer Donato DiCamillo, San Antonio, Texas, January 2018.

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March 7, 2018
 
 

Danny was sitting on a bench in Milam Park, across from the tourist market, with his dog, Ira, and a pet rat that lives in his hair. (You can see its tail here.)

Danny calls himself a Crusty. Crusties are (often) young people in a subculture that has a look and lifestyle. They move around out of restlessness and a desire for experience, and often have no permanent home. Danny has been on the street 12 years but doesn’t consider himself homeless.

Donato showed him photos he’d shot of Crusties on the street in New York City. Danny knew most of them by name.

“Toasty!” he cried. “Fuck yeah, man, I know Toasty!”

“Dave! Aw, man, I know Dave! That’s Dave right there!”

Danny said we should check out his Facebook page, which was mostly selfies with 211 cans and animals that seemed to change a lot. In a couple of photos he’d just huffed starter fluid, and his face was lost. His timeline showed in recent months he’d hopped trains out of California to the upper Midwest, down to New Orleans, and across to San Antonio.

Danny had “Worthless Fucker” tattooed across his cheeks. But he insisted, “I got a family, now, man. I got responsibilities [his dog and rat]. You ask me to stop smiling, and I can’t. I’m on the positivity train.”

He also had tattoos of an upside-down cross between his eyes and little railroad tracks that curled around his forehead to a right-side up cross and the word “AMEN” on his temple. These, he said, represented the movement in his life from evil to good.

We asked if we could do something for him before we left. He said all he would take was some kibble for Ira. He preferred a specific brand, it was healthier, but any kind would do. There were no groceries or pet stores in sight, and nothing came up on the map.

“Just go across to the market,” Danny said, seeming to misunderstand what The Market was for.

Dustin, Matt, and I walked far down a city street, looking for dog food, while Donato continued to shoot and talk with Danny. All we found was a 7-Eleven, and it had nothing for pets. By the time we got back, Danny had flown into a rage over some imagined slight and told Donato he was going to kick his ass.

“Bro, you’re not even a threat to me,” Donato said gently. Donato’s a big guy, who grew up in a Brooklyn crime family. We got things patched over before we left.

“He was a dick,” Donato said, but he wasn’t upset about Danny’s threat of violence. “He wouldn’t show or move.”

 

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