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March 2nd, 2006 - Open Knowledge — LiveJournal

Mar. 2nd, 2006

04:48 pm - Why problems like homelessness may be easier to solve than to manage.

Check out this Malcolm Gladwell article on homelessness:

http://www.newyorker.com/fact/content/articles/060213fa_fact

And NPR interview:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=5223068


MILLION-DOLLAR MURRAY
by MALCOLM GLADWELL
Why problems like homelessness may be easier to solve than to manage.
Issue of 2006-02-13 and 20
Posted 2006-02-06

Murray Barr was a bear of a man, an ex-marine, six feet tall and heavyset, and when he fell down—which he did nearly every day—it coul take two or three grown men to pick him up. He had straight black hair and olive skin. On the street, they called him Smokey. He was missin most of his teeth. He had a wonderful smile. People loved Murray
His chosen drink was vodka. Beer he called “horse piss.” On the streets of downtown Reno, where he lived, he could buy a two-hundred-and-fifty-millilitre bottle of cheap vodka for a dollar-fifty. If he was flush, he could go for the seven-hundred-and-fifty-millilitre bottle, and if he was broke he could always do what many of the other homeless people of Reno did, which is to walk through the casinos and finish off the half-empty glasses of liquor left at the gaming tables.
“If he was on a runner, we could pick him up several times a day,” Patrick O’Bryan, who is a bicycle cop in downtown Reno, said. “And he’s gone on some amazing runners. He would get picked up, get detoxed, then get back out a couple of hours later and start up again. A lot of the guys on the streets who’ve been drinking, they get so angry. They are so incredibly abrasive, so violent, so abusive. Murray was such a character and had such a great sense of humor that we somehow got past that. Even when he was abusive, we’d say, ‘Murray, you know you love us,’ and he’d say, ‘I know’—and go back to swearing at us.”

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