A string of burglaries gives birth to an artistic display of despair
Published: October 3, 2012
Worst of all are the plastic shopping bags hanging from its trunk; nauseating little gift bags for the man they torment. He pulls one down and opens it to show their typical contents. Inside there's a spent pint of cheap vodka, an empty prescription bottle without a label, a little vial commonly used to store crack, an unused diaper, a pencil, and several paper towels with dried red and brown stains on them. It's like he and the neighbors are trying to out-disgust each other.
He says he's gotten tickets for blight, though officials with the city's property maintenance division said they couldn't find records of him. He thinks little of them. Same for the police. "I don't give a damn about the city," he yells through his wheeze. "I pay tax, but the city don't protect me. The city have thousands of empty houses. I say, 'Why you bother me?'"
A truck pulls up and stops in front of the house. "My man got his shit laid out, don't he?" says James Allen, the driver. The 65-year-old employee of the Water and Sewerage Department drives by now and then on his way home just to see the progress of the house-size sculpture. "Every time I come past there's something new out here." The two men don't talk much, just exchange waves and hellos.
Allen is a fan of Migo's work. "It's not junky," he says. "It's neat, it's organized, it's him being himself. He's not hurting anybody, he's not bothering anybody. The grass most of the times be cut and everything. He's not a pest."
Migo putters around in the background making minor adjustments to his project until Allen drives off. He mentions wanting to return to Lebanon someday, but he's clearly in no shape to do so, financially, physically or mentally. He's stuck here, in this house, with these neighbors, in this city.
"I don't know what to do now," he says, his finger pressed hard into the stoma in his neck. "I am old and sick. I don't know what the future holds for me."
He putters his way back to his front porch, lights his pipe, folds his arms and stares outward in defiance as his dogs bark behind him and his neighbors amble by, looking warily at the home-owner they've driven to this disruption of their block.
"I'm not looking for trouble," he says. "I'm not looking to hurt anybody. But leave me alone."
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