photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Seen Out of the Corner of My Eye

"No Unauthorized Camping"

The sign is posted with authority.

Seen out of the corner of my eye while we drove past it, it didn't register for a minute what it said.

"No Unauthorized Camping"

It made me laugh even as it angered me.

Were we in Galveston driving along the beach, where pitching a tent would be so tempting and romantic?


Were we at a wayside stop between here and Houston- tree-filled and picnic-tabled and peaceful?


"No Unauthorized Camping"

was posted, bolted actually to the underside of a highway overpass in the guts of Houston.

It was funny because that's the absolute last place anyone would want to pitch a tent, build a campfire, sing songs, tell a few ghost stories and eat 'em some s'mores.

And it was infuriating because I know damn well that those who posted the sign know that.

They're not worried about campers of a Davy Crockett boy scout sort.

They're talking about homeless people.

People without homes





safety nets of any sort

People who are hopeless.

People who would actually look at the endless cacophony and exhaust-filled open maw of a dirt-blown highway underpass and think

"This offers shelter".

Gather their meager belongings and their almost invisible self and take shelter someplace even the pigeons won't roost.

Because it's better than nothing.

Better than being out in the wind or the rain or the beating relentless sun of a Texas summer.

"No Unauthorized Camping"

tries very hard to downplay the reality of homeless people in Houston- the 4th largest city in the USA.

"We have no indigent person problem- we have a CAMPER problem- they just need a reminder to go somewhere else to camp. Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. LOOK! Culture and Art and Science! SHINY"!"

"No Unauthorized Camping"

bolted to the cement wall in harsh black and white, is a constant reminder for those huddled against the vertical supports of the highway overpass feeling every shudder of every vehicle pulsing through the concrete like the breathing of the monster city that they can't escape, but can't quite completely live in either.

Breathe in

"All these cars? They're on their way home"

Breathe out

"You don't have a car. Or a home"

Open eyes and there's the sign.

"No Unauthorized Camping"

"Ha. And you don't even have a fucking tent."


  1. This is so awesome--I love that you are pointing out the fact that the powers that be are making a point but using appropriate language- unauthorized camping-let's not upset the multitudes of tourist flocking to the city by acknowledging the problem of homelessness.
    This part is my fav; Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain. LOOK! Culture and Art and Science! SHINY"!" because that is what America has been reduced to; the childlike gullibility of the people of Oz. Thank you for the great post! :D

  2. it is repulsive....and we just keep singing Sweet Caroline.