Don’t Defund The Police – Fix Them – And This Time Make It Stick

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Don’t Defund The Police – Fix Them – And This Time Make It Stick

“In my own lifetime, I want to see the fighting cease. In my own lifetime, I want to see my sons enjoy the fruits of peace. While I’m still here, I want to know beyond a doubt that no one can lock us in or lock us out. We have climbed higher. much higher than I thought we’d climb. It’s a long journey, and even though the end’s in sight, there’s not much time.  I want to know we haven’t built on sand, in my own lifetime “ Sheldon Harnick “The Rothschilds”

The Police  Force is considered to be the most corrupt of governmental  institutions world wide. Fundamental systemic changes, including anti-corruption reforms, are needed in countries all over the world to prevent police abuse.

George Floyd’s death is the latest in a long series of brutal encounters between the American police and the people they are supposed to serve.

We need to make meaningful changes to address police misconduct.  When something calls attention to their faults (like murder), they implement change for a while. As public attention shifts and politics moves on, the police reform efforts eventually stop. 

We need to get rid of qualified immunity. Qualified immunity is a judicial doctrine that protects officers who violate someone’s constitutional rights from civil-rights lawsuits unless the officers’ actions were clearly established as unconstitutional at the time.  Just throw it out and make them as accountable for their behavior as the rest of us are.  They have clearly abused that privilege.

Police officers should keep better records of what they do and how they do it. Why were they in a high speed chase down the freeway? Who got injured along the way? etc. They looked like an invading army during the protests and many instances of unnecessary brutality and meanness were reported. Was any of that investigated? 

The most important thing to spend money on is better police training and screening. Train parking enforcement to deal with most traffic violations. Get rid of traffic cops.  If I get stopped outside of Beverly Hills and West Los Angeles, police act very differently. I did not need four officers with guns surrounding my new car because it didn’t have a front license plate at the time that law changed.  When I yelled at them for doing that and scaring my daughter (and me), they took forty five minutes, to write up the ticket. (Yes, I know what white privilege is but once I am in a non white neighborhood, they think I am Hispanic or Muslim).  Screen for psychological disorders, racial and  gender prejudice, homophobia, bullying, depression or violent, angry personalities. Get rid of stop and frisk and racial profiling.

 Police see the worst of humanity, the most depraved, and they do so at risk to their own lives. I think they are so used to thinking everyone is a bad guy and might have a gun and kill them, that they lose their humanity.  They treat certain neighborhoods as war zones and seem to forget human beings live in them.

 Police are rewarded  for “collars” (arrests – yes I’m obsessed with watching Law and Order) and how many traffic tickets they give in a month. What if they got rewarded equally for people they helped and the kindnesses they did in a community? What if they got rewarded for the humane way they dealt with lawbreakers?  They seem to have a problem telling the difference between an African American man walking home from work or a student running  home from college and a criminal. So it is best if they find a better way of dealing with arrests. Make their pension not a guarantee but based on constant re – evaluation.   

This “Blue Wall Of Silence” has to stop. This is the informal rule among  police officers not to report on a colleague’s errors, misconducts, or crimes, including police brutality. It has to be part of a new kind of training.

 Somewhere during the quarantine of the corona virus and the protests against police brutality, an African American friend sent me a picture of her brand new grandson. We have to do better. We have to fix this and keep at it this time. No more slacking off when things quiet down. 

Stay safe,

JAZ

Why Didn’t The Police Stop The Looting?

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Why Didn’t The Police Stop The Looting?

“Until you guys own your own souls, you don’t own mine. Until you guys can be trusted every time and always, in all times and conditions, to seek the truth out and find it and let the chips fall where they may—until that time comes, I have the right to listen to my conscience, and protect my client the best way I can.” Raymond Chandler, The High Window

In April 1775  Major John Pitcairn upon reaching Lexington and finding the colonials, in what he perceived to be an “unlawful armed assembly,” ordered the colonials assembled  to “Lay down your arms, you rebels, and disperse!” He was “reading them the riot act.”

In England before the American Revolution, almost all felonies were punishable by death. That is  no longer the case. Crimes such as theft, burglary and robbery no longer carry the death penalty, and are generally punished by imprisonment or by some form of probation. 

The death of George Floyd, a black man suspected of passing a suspicious $20 bill at a grocery store in Minneapolis by a police officer was inhumane and also illegal. It set off protests, looting and riots across the country. 

Experts say that looting is a side effect of the condition causing the protest. But this time in Los Angeles, it looked different. Splinter groups broke off from the peaceful protests and began rioting and looting.

There was a lot of twitter chatter about going to Beverly Hills to loot. The footage was disturbing, It looked like criminals with hammers and kids of all races who had been in the house too long and were laughing at the smashed  windows, taking photos and grabbing stuff. It was like a release valve had opened up. No police and no parents. “Where are the jewelry stores?” was heard throughout the video. 

I can’t speak for the whole country because this time I watched Los Angeles News. In the Fairfax Melrose area, certain stores were targeted and then it became a mob mentality, free for all of looting and fires.

The looting of Downtown, Santa Monica and Long Beach was even more disturbing. It went on for a long time and there was definitely the realization that no one was going to stop them. It was organized with cars circling the areas and people running in and out of the stores and cars. 

We received an email that a protest in Venice on a main shopping street was being organized by looters and the one on the beach was organized by protestors. 

Small businesses shouldn’t have to pay for the anger caused by the police. We all support the protest. The business owners quietly cleaned up the glass and opened their doors with sparse merchandise  to empty streets. Their businesses were already pummeled by the corona virus. We don’t know how many of them (us) will recover from all of this. Please support small businesses in your neighborhood. They need your help now.

It looked like the police did not want to put themselves in harm’s way or to hurt someone else over loss of property. The police backed off and let the looters have at it. After all, it was only someone else’s property or livelihood that was destroyed or stolen.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Living In the USA-Deaths, Pandemic, Riots, Protest

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Living In the USA-Deaths Pandemic Riots Protest

“Race doesn’t really exist for you because it has never been a barrier. Black folks don’t have that choice.” Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Americanah

I really believed the world was getting better with prejudice and racism. It looks better than the world of my childhood. Change is slow.

 But I’m wrong. It is not only these isolated, violent incidents that has made me sit up and take notice. Traveling, having friends and now family with different skin color has forced me to re-examine my beliefs. My hope is that our life experiences are universal now, but they are not.

 I believed that having a black President had changed things. I wished my mother who volunteered for Dr King could have seen this. But the hate it unleashed, which continued to be fanned by the  president we have now, is frightening. 

Those of us who ”don’t see color” (because we don’t have to) are forced to when we see a photo of a white cop killing a black man for no reason. George Floyd joins an ever-growing list of Black names who died unnecessarily while police performed their ostensible mission of protecting their community.  It’s a list of names too long to fit on this page. Each of whom was a person, with loved ones, dreams, and lives to be lived.

The photos of the people wearing masks while they are rioting or protesting, in the middle of a dangerous pandemic, makes me believe we have hit rock bottom. We seem to have a president who doesn’t care about our health or our safety.  Maybe we have all had enough. Maybe we can finally start to see what is really wrong in the world and can begin to change it. The path toward justice is always long and hard. We continue to fight for what is right no matter how bleak it seems, because that is what good people do.

Stay safe,

JAZ

PS. A family member’s business was broken into and badly looted tonight. Another family member was locked in their store watching burning police cars and the looting of neighboring small businesses.The videos were disturbing. Young  people – black, white, Hispanic and Asian were breaking windows, laughing, taking selfies and looking for the expensive stores. They were carrying shopping bags not protest signs. Looters are not protestors. Looters take advantage of a situation for personal gain.They are not looking for justice. They are looking for free stuff.

 

 

 

To Mask Or Not To Mask – That Is The Political Question

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To Mask Or Not To Mask – That Is The Political Question

“Nothing is more real than the masks we make to show each other who we are.” Christopher Barzak

i was unprepared for the quarantine. I was still packing the weekend before for a trip to Arizona. Yes, we were in the empty market and getting help from more prepared friends and family.

But what I did have were masks. I am allergic to smoke and pollution. I have always been told that masks won’t save me around a fire because the particles of smoke are too small and get through the masks.

The only thing paper masks are protection for, the doctors would tell me, are germs. That is why doctors wear them. I still have them because they are a line of defense against smokers and pollution. I have different kinds, including N95, in the hopes that someone invents something besides a gas mask that will work for me. It looks like, I have been preparing my whole life for this virus.

If  you have a cold or allergies in Japan, you wear a mask so you don’t pass it on to other people. I was there during the bird flu scare and everyone wore masks. There were no laws or fines, you just put on a mask out of of respect for yourself and others

. I didn’t get the bird flu nor did a lot of people because everyone was taking precautions. (They did kill a lot of birds.) I’ve seen first hand that masks work.

Trump doesn’t wear a mask. He gets tested every day for the virus and it is a test where he gets the results quickly. We had to wait several days for results when we needed testing. I’m sure there is a ventilator and a doctor on call at the White House should something happen. He does not have to worry, as most people do, if there is room in a hospital for him should he need that.

Now he is taking hydroquinine preventively. My chemical and smoke sensitivities are autoimmune related. My doctor recommended hydroquinine.  He said it had a 10 or 20 per cent chance of working on what I have and I had to be on it for a year to see if it worked. I got some more medical opinions. I decided the odds were too low and the side effects too many to be on it for a year. Hydroquinine is also a malaria drug. The fact that the president would take a strong immune illness drug with side effects, that might work in case he gets the virus, instead of suggesting masks is crazy to me.

The beach near where I live opened last week. Three quarters of the people who come here are not wearing masks. It feels unsafe to me now on the weekends so I don’t go out.

It is frustrating because most of the people don’t live here and may behave differently in their own neighborhoods. I’m sure they put on masks if they visit their parents.  They are biking and jogging, not wearing shirts and sweating. The bikers are not social distancing.

On the beach they run in and out of the water unaware of people walking by. It certainly does not appear to be as mandatory here as other parts of LA..

The mask is being seen as a symbol of blindly submitting to government authority or taking a political stance to some, and a sign of safety and compassion to others. It seems to be about people’s age and individual tolerance of risk. Since we don’t know if we are carrying the virus and we don’t know what immune deficiencies other people have, why is it so difficult for Americans in this unprecedented time, to behave with politeness and kindness towards others and wear a mask?  We all want this to be over.

Stay safe,
JAZ

The  Best And Worst Thing About Quarantine With A Little Help From My Friends

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The  Best And Worst Thing About Quarantine With A Little Help From My Friends

“The best way out is always through.”  Robert Frost

BEST: I’m doing qi gong, yoga and meditation and a beach walk every day. It is helping my anxiety and I sleep great. WORST:  I cancelled two trips and I’m not traveling.  JZ

BEST is cleaning my desk, watching great tv and finally finishing a series. WORST is not being able to hug & kiss my kids, missing my friends and working out in a gym! EH

BEST is being with my dog 24/7. WORST is cooking three meals a day for my husband. SR

 BEST is that I don’t have to get dressed up and put on makeup to go to work. WORST is not going out to eat, to the movies, a play or concert with friends and not having home cooked Sunday dinners with my kids.  Oh and not having my housekeeper!  JL

BEST is pretty easy.  My immediate family and girlfriend are here all day.  WORST is my fears for people who are facing huge problems  and also some personal health fears.  Just thinking about the worst list makes me sense my blood pressure increasing.  LA

BEST is catching up with friends and relatives virtually. Also more time for reading, Spring cleaning and watching Netflix. WORST is not going to movies, the Grove, shopping, church, and hugging friends. EM

BEST:  As an extrovert, I was delightfully surprised to find that I no longer suffer from FOMO (Fear of Missing Out), because there’s not much to Miss Out on.  Instead, I can be fully present and do one thing at a time. WORST: My husband has “underlying health conditions” that make true isolation necessary for him, which means I have to be extremely careful, too.  So my time outside is limited. LM

BEST is getting a lot of sleep, having the time to try new recipes and beauty products and catching up on movies.WORST is being alone, stuck at home and not seeing, hugging or kissing friends and family. It is worrying about losing jobs, money and the future. NC

BEST is remembering what I am thankful for.  WORST is thinking that I will never travel again.TN

BEST is eating good food and watching good movies and TV shows.WORST is not seeing my friends and getting fat. DB

BEST is the confirmation that I definitely married the person in the world I would most like to be quarantined with. WORST is the constant low-level non-specific anxiety.  LO

BEST  is that I am finally getting rid of shit in my house.WORST is that I can’t spend time with my mom.This Sunday is her 95th Birthday. SF

BEST  is spending all this time with my boyfriend, just the two of us.WORST  (aside from missing personal grooming – Brazilian wax, fillers etc) is not getting together with friends for a meal. CL

BEST is getting to sleep later in the morning  and reading the whole NY Times. I’m even doing the Friday and Saturday crossword puzzles.  Also, having the time to reconnect with people in my life that I haven’t seen or heard from in a long time.WORST is that I miss seeing the people in my life. Zoom just doesn’t cut it after a while. HM

BEST is slowing down and having time to do a new project.WORST is isolation. MU

 BEST is that life is way simpler and more meaningful. Time is slower and faster and I am more aware of how precious life is and that what really matters most doesn’t need a new pair of shoes, dress or anything else to make it special.WORST is not being able to touch, hug and kiss family and friends. My daughter is pregnant and I worry about her. DG

 BEST Being with my family all the time.WORST Being with my family all the time MA

BEST is learning to cook.WORST is having the Corona Virus. AA

Thanks for the help.

Stay Safe,

JAZ

Ten Beauty Treatments You Can Make At Home

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Ten Beauty Treatments You Can Make At Home

“Believe me, if I looked good, it’s not an accident.”Nora Ephron

I don’t cook and cooking during the quarantine is a challenge. In the beginning before we were Covid organized, we were cooking with all the random stuff that we had in the pantry – like we were in a war or on a cooking competition TV show.

We are also doing our own hair. I am using this time to try and repair all the damage from styling, blow drying and coloring. I actually have time to sit and let the products work. My natural curls are slowly coming back. I am also doing the same thing for my skin.  Here is my attempt at cooking up some beauty products with random stuff we had in the pantry.

Hair Conditioner With Egg.
Ingredients – Two or three eggs (It’s a pandemic so I used one), 1 and half teaspoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon honey, 1 tablespoon vinegar and 2 teaspoons of lemon juice. I just mixed it all together with a fork. I left it on for 15 minutes. This is my favorite one that i have tried so far. It isn’t too messy and my hair was much more curly than frizzy.

Hair Conditioner With Banana
Ingredients – One banana, three tablespoons of honey, three tablespoons of milk (I did not have milk so I used half and half) three tablespoons of olive oil and an egg. Mix all of these ingredients well and make a paste. Apply the paste on hair and leave it for 30 minutes and then wash it off. I had extra so I put it on my face and neck as well. It’s messy. My hair was shiny and my skin was very smooth. It did involve finding little shreds of banana around all day. I’m not running to do this one again -unless I use a blender next time.

Hair Conditioner With Coconut Oil.
Ingredients – One tablespoon of coconut oil, one tablespoon honey, one tablespoon lemon juice, two tablespoons of curd (I had no idea what this was so I looked it up and it sounded like yogurt so I used that) and one teaspoon of rose water. (I left that out but I’m sure it is something that is still on the shelf in the market since it doesn’t kill anything.) I kept it on for thirty minutes since I have time.This one did not work as well for me because I had to wash my hair too much to get it out but I might try it again.

Hair Conditioner With Vinegar
Ingredients -Two tablespoons of apple cider vinegar, one tablespoon of honey and two cups of water. After you shampoo, pour this on your hair and avoid your scalp. Leave it in. I’m a big fan of this one. My hair is  curly  and  not frizzy and I dont smell from vinegar.

Face Mask With Turmeric
Ingredients – One teaspoon of turmeric, 1 tablespoon of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of yogurt . Be careful because the turmeric stains and yes your face will be bright yellow. You can pretend to be in the Holi festival in India- where Hindu people smear each other with colors to welcome the spring. I left it on till it dried which was about twenty minutes. This is a great mask. You will immediately notice a difference in your skin. Even the BF liked it.

Egg Yolk Facial I had only heard of an egg white facial but apparently the yolk is better for dry skin. I left it on for about a half hour. Easy to make, no mess and your face feels really soft after.

Mayonnaise Facial
Yes you smell like a tuna sandwich. It has oil and eggs which is great for your skin. I also put it on my body since I had time and had taken too much mayonnaise out the jar. It burned my face so i took it off quickly. I left it on my body for about a half hour. it was a very nice body treatment.

Face Mask With Orange Juice
Ingredients -Three tablespoons orange juice and one quarter-cup honey. Mix together and leave on for fifteen minutes. It is sticky and delicious and you have glowing skin when you are finished. I ate the rest of the orange after and it was really good.

Face Mask With Oatmeal
Ingredients – One tablespoon honey, one tablespoon olive oil, one egg yolk and half a cup of oatmeal. (I used less because I eat it for breakfast every morning and don’t want to run out) Stir well and apply to your face for 15-20 minutes. This is good but messier than the banana one. Watch out that the oatmeal doesn’t clog up the drain!

Mud Mask from Dead Sea I brought a tub of mud back with me from the Dead Sea. It’s great for the face and body.  Using it on the beach in Ein Borek and washing it off in the Dead Sea and then the outdoor shower is a lot less messy then in your bathroom. it is hard to get it all off.  Since I had plenty of time to clean up the mess,  I did it. The mud still works. My skin was smooth and soft. See what you have lying around.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Where Am I Going Next Really?

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Where I Am Going Next Really?

“Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone.” Joni Mitchell

Before the corona virus became a thing, I had written a blog about where I am going next. I hadn’t posted it yet. It doesn’t seem very postable at this moment.   I will probably be going to the place I should have been now. Traveling seems very far away.  So instead I started to think about what I would really want to be doing next. 

I want to eat in a restaurant with a comfortable ambiance, delicious food and great service. I want to be having an interesting conversation that doesn’t involve who is doing the dishes and what protein do I want to eat tomorrow. 

I miss museums, art galleries and street art. The white walls filled with art are as calming to me now as they were in my childhood. I miss seeing the city as an open canvas for urban street artists. 

As much as I love being able to go through all of Netflix, I want to go to the movies. There is nothing I like better than sitting in a dark theatre with subtitles. It combines some of my favorite things –  reading, movies and foreign countries.  The best thing is to be sharing a large tub of movie popcorn. I believe it has less calories if you are not the one who has actually bought it. I bring my own water because buying water at the movie theater is a rip off.  

I want to hang out with my girlfriends.The hour long phone conversations and daily texts are not enough. Most of my emotional and mental strength comes from deep bonds with the strong females in my life. I treasure the long conversations we have over lunches and dinners.

I miss shopping. I miss wandering into stores, picking up and putting down items I can’t possibly afford, talking to salespeople, and eventually settling on the item I had to have at that moment. I want to focus on a new lipstick or a beautiful dress to wear somewhere fabulous. 

I love theater. My mother is to blame for this. I normally prefer plays but with all this real life drama I miss going to see a musical. The very premise of  musical theatre defies all reality.  It attempts to imitate life (as theatre tends to do) and then suddenly, a character bursts out in song and everyone on the street knows the words.  Secretly, I  have always clung to the hope that I will someday be able to break into song at the market, department store, a parent-teacher conference,  a restaurant or during a mammogram and everyone will know the words.

Basically, I miss my boring life – the one I am always leaving to go somewhere different.

Stay safe,

JAZ

Eight Good Reasons To Vote

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Eight Good Reasons To Vote

“Following the close of the Constitutional Convention, Benjamin Franklin was asked “What have we got, a republic or a monarchy?” He answered, “A republic, if you can keep it!”

Voting is a privilege. If you are not a white male land owner, chances are good that someone fought for your right to vote. If you live in America, you were either lucky enough to be born with it or lucky enough to earn it.

You can complain with integrity. You can justifiably complain about your elected officials if you speak out as a voter.

Voting is a responsibility. The USCIS Guide to Naturalization says, “Citizens have a responsibility to participate in the political process by registering and voting in elections.” In the naturalization oath, new citizens swear to support the Constitution of the United States, and voting is an integral part of that Constitution.

Because you still believe in the Constitution – even if there are flaws. The right to vote is mentioned more often in the Constitution than anything else. Perhaps the mentality was that voting was a privilege and it needed to be a right. For a long time it was only the “right people” who could vote. This is something we are so adamant about when we see it in other countries. Our vote may not seem so important to us now but we would be so much worse without it.

Because every vote counts! If you don’t like the current administration, choose a candidate that you think can win the election.

Higher turnout makes our democracy more representative. You still should vote in your election, because even if the candidate you loathe is destined to win in a landslide, you can make a dent in their margin of victory. Officials who are elected in close elections are reminded of it constantly.

If you don’t vote, you give others the power to make decisions for you. Silence implies consent. If you fail to vote, you forfeit your right to complain.

Because you get a free sticker!

Fly safe
JAZ

Men of A Certain Age And Sexual Harassment

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Men Of A Certain Age And Sexual Harassment 

“Is this what growing into an adult woman is—having to predict and accordingly arrange for the avoidance of sexual harassment?” Candice Carty-Williams,

It is true that sexual harassment won’t go away on its own. The focus on the problem is good.

For women of my age, it was an inevitable part of life, unpleasant but expected. As a female, I learned to adapt my behavior in order to prevent, avoid, ignore, and ultimately dismiss the unwanted attention. 

As these experiences start to accumulate in your life, over time it becomes normal. You stop looking up when the construction workers yell and whistle. You avoid the men at work who call you honey and baby. You pass on the job when the person interviewing you puts his hand on your shoulder and leaves it there. 

I’m sure that my mother and my grandmother had these stories. But my daughter does not. 

How we interpret all the news about sexual harassment is generational. Grabby, gross guys in the workplace were inevitable and I am not shocked to hear about it. But my daughter has grown up in a different world. Her dad was involved in her upbringing. The headmaster of her elementary school and her doctors were women.  More women are in college than men and equality was something she has always heard about it. My daughter will not tolerate the stuff that her mother and grandmother did and will speak up at the time if anything should ever happen. Her generation won’t wait decades to come forward with accusations. They were stunned by the Hollywood headlines, the length of time it went on and how long it took people to come forward.

I also think that to her generation harassment and assault are viewed in the same way- which is great for the future. But, I’m not going to make my voting decision based on which older candidate didn’t make an inappropriate comment to women. That was the world they knew and had learned from their fathers- just as my generation of women learned to keep silent from their mothers. It is not that these issues don’t matter to me. They matter a lot. But they are not disqualifying to me in a candidate that I think has the best chance to win the Presidential election.

Fly safe,

JAZ

American Dream

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 American Dream

“Working as a janitor at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol processing facility in Southwest Arizona from July 2003 until August 2014, I was greatly unsettled by the volume of food, clothing and personal belongings being thrown away at that facility.

Why would someone throw away a Bible or rosary? Why would someone throw away a wallet with someone’s identification and money? Why would a pair of shoes, for all intents and purposes “brand new”, be tossed in the trash?

How we treat others is a reflection of who we are. When belts, shoelaces, socks, shoes, underwear, pants, shirts, keys, jackets, rosaries, Bibles, watches, billfolds, coins, jewelry, cell-phones, pre-paid telephone cards, food, soap, deodorant, medicine, condoms, birth control pills and blankets are considered non-essential personal property and discarded, their disposal is a clear and intentional act of dehumanization. – Thomas Keifer

 El Sueno Americano – The American Dream is a heartbreaking series of conceptual still lifes on display at the Skirball Museum in Los Angeles.

It focuses on objects collected when Thomas Keifer was a janitor at a U.S. Customs and Border Patrol processing facility in Southwest Arizona. 

He had moved from Los Angeles to Arizona. His dream was to photograph the American landscape but art doesn’t always pay the bills. He took a job as a janitor. 

The first stage of processing migrants caught trying to cross the border involved agents or people themselves going through their backpacks and emptying almost everything in them.  The items were taken and then discarded. 

There was a lot of non perishable food being left there and Thomas asked if he could donate it to a food bank nearby.

One day he saw a rosary, a bible and family photographs in the trash  and something clicked. He began to quietly take things from the garbage  and organized them by object. 

Thomas created an artistic work that documents stories of pain, possibility, loss, and hope.

This profound series focuses on simple things that migrants brought with them on their journeys–a bar of soap, a toothbrush, a pair of gloves–relics that had significant meaning to the original owner. (shoelaces)

This is what remains  of those seeking a better life on our side of the border.

Fly safe.

JAZ