|Grain Elevators, oil on canvas, 16X20, Carol L. Douglas|
I got home on Tuesday to read yet another news story about the dystopia that is America’s archetypal mid-sized city. The feral children who are the result of 50 years of public policy were rioting in the new transportation center, and this week’s police department reorganization coincided with a wave of shootings. Six shot in a pub in Gates, one dead. A man shot and killed on Hudson Avenue.
|North Rochester, oil on canvas, Carol L. Douglas. This was the view from my studio window back in the day.|
In short, business as usual, but it was like a dousing with cold water after a few days away from the news.
I’m a New Yorker, bred to the bone. But I’m also exhausted by the intractability of our problems, and I can’t think what good I do to fix them.
|First Ward, Buffalo, field sketch, 4X5, Carol L. Douglas|
I’ve lost count of how many people I’ve known who’ve had murder touch their lives. It’s an everyday occurrence around here and in most cities. The news media generally pays little attention unless it breaks the usual pattern of urban youths blowing each other to perdition. Not noticing it is in some ways the worst racism and classism of all.
|First Ward, Buffalo, oil on canvas, 16X20, Carol L. Douglas|
When we talk about the reasons for the 50-year exodus from upstate New York, we usually concentrate on economics: loss of jobs, high taxes, a government culture that stifles innovation. Seldom do we think about despair as a motivator, but it has to be part of the equation. If I can’t make it better, am I somehow helping to make it worse?