I am writing to you about “Flash in the Panhandle” (9/13). I think it might have been done a little better.
The story is about a homeless guy and how he got to be homeless. Its tone, however, implies that the subject of the story, Blaise Bartosavage, is less than an honorable fellow in that he lies to people, has allegedly stolen from others, has taken drugs, and quite possibly has a fatter bank account than a lot of the people who pass him walking to work every day. You mean that someone who has been sexually abused, drug-addicted, and homeless might actually have to do some of those things to survive or just cope with reality? Congratulations. You have just confirmed something that most, if not all, of us already suspected.
I think it might have been a little more interesting to focus on the fact that many people who get up and battle the morning commute every day and deal with the stress of the working world are willing not only to take a moment and speak to a homeless person, but to reach out and provide him with comfort, clothing, or even something as simple as groceries. People do care.
When I was interviewed for the story, I said that Blaise is “protective of his image” and that he is “almost a skillful politician.” I believe those things to be true not only because he relies on the public to provide resources to cover his considerable medical and basic everyday needs, but also because he actually cares what people think about him. I find it amazing that, after all he has been through, he took the time to apologize to me personally for lying about his age and to buy flowers for Sheila Felthuis, also interviewed for the article, in thanks for her many kindnesses to him.
I have never known anyone in my life who has suffered the adversity that Blaise Bartosavage has suffered. Knowing Blaise can lend a bit of perspective to the troubles of our everyday lives—perspective that can help us get through the day and appreciate the blessings that we are given, and a perspective that the Washington City Paper had an opportunity to share with its readers.
I assume that City Paper readers have the intelligence to look beyond the shallow tone of the story and see clearly the bigger picture. It is quite possible that your readers will now be more aware of the homeless we pass every day on the streets. Despite your best efforts, you may have accomplished something positive here. Good for you.