Category: arts

downTown USA

downTown USA  by  Susan Madden Lankford



This book intrigued me from the start. My husband and middle son are both amateur photographers, so I knew a little about Susan Madden Lankford. Her first book in this trilogy Maggots in My Sweet Potatoes: Women Doing Time, was a powerful visual commentary on women prisoners. I was looking forward to Downtown U.S.A. as I wanted to see what her vision would be for the homeless.


The cover of Downtown U.S.A. helps set the stage for our journey through the lives of some of America‘s homeless. We start with the eyes, the windows of our souls. These eyes are just arresting, beautiful, intoxicating and at the same time frightening, scary, creepy. The eyes compelled me to open the book, I wanted more!


As I slowly made my way through this book, the combination of powerful photos and poignant stories, saddened and yet, at the same time, lifted me. I felt for each of the people photographed, the surly, the happy, the crazy, the addicted. But it wasn’t just sadness, or pity there was also amusement, joy and the biggest feeling of all, respect. Respect for these people and how they’ve coped, how they’ve shared their stories, how even with everything that life has thrown at them, they can still carry on. And respect for Susan Madden Lankford for making this beautiful book that shows how quickly life can change, and how people can survive those changes.


Filled with interviews of people such as Micheal, Papa and Mrs.Walton and filled with incredible photos, observations, and stories by Susan, this wonderfully visual and written commentary on the homeless is a must read/view! If you are a photographer, you really must view this book!


The Ultimate Mr. Cool, Leonard Cohen is back doing another world tour. Singer, songwriter, artist and poet, he is extremely multi-talented.  I grew up listening to his music as my mom was a big fan of his. My friends got a kick out of it, calling it old-fashioned among other things. Imagine my surprise, but even more the surprise of my friends, when the movie starring Mel Gibson and Gloria Hawn, Bird on a Wire came out, and Leonard Cohen did the song of that movie. Suddenly my friends thought he was great!. They wanted to listen to all his older stuff, which I loved.



A few weeks ago I was at a Salvation Army thrift store looking for older, out of print and first edition books. I never really thought much of Leonard Cohen being an author and artist til I came across Book of Longing.



Even more surprising to me was when I opened the book and found this inscription. I was curious to find out if it was genuine and began to sleuth. I contacted friends, who contacted friends, who contacted…well you get the picture. I was finally introduced to a young man who is a personal acquaintance of Mr. Cohen and he had it authenticated. In Toronto, at a book store there, Mr. Cohen had signed several copies of the Book of Longing that had been preordered. This turns out to be one of those books. I was tickled!

The Book of Longing includes many of Leonard Cohen’s poems and drawings. They really show how multi-talented this man is. A great book.


Finding little gems like this makes it even more fun to go to thrift stores and used book stores. You just never know what you are going to find




I corresponded with a famous rabbi

but teacher caught sight of one of my letters     

and silenced me.

“Dear Rabbi,” I wrote him for the last time,

“I do not have the authority or understanding

to speak of these matters.

I was just showing off.

Please forgive me.

Your Jewish brother,

                                                                       Jikan Eliezer

Please forgive me

Your Jewish brother,

Jikan Elizar.

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