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Because everyone has a story

Interesting People: Sonsie Guy

I wrote this piece in August for a Photojournalism class I was taking. From here on out, I’ll be working on more stories like this one. I hope to bring a certain level of awareness to the readers. I want to know YOUR stories, after all everyone has one, right?


Realization: You can walk down a street a hundred times and see the same person over and over again and not think very much of them. After a while, that person becomes part of the scenery. You may think to yourself, “I wonder what that person is doing” but you never take the time to find out.

Then one day everything changes. You stop and look. No, you really look. You’re by Sonsie, a popular restaurant on Newbury Street. You wander just past the open windows of the eatery and there he is, Eric Kluin, a local artist, optimist, pessimist, walking contradiction, better known as “Sonsie Guy”.

When I first arrived in Boston two years ago, I remember walking down Newbury street, looking around bright-eyed, stumbling upon Kluin and wondering “who is that guy over there? What’s he painting? And where the heck is his shirt?” However, I never thought to ask him any of these questions. I simply walked away.  A day in early August would change this.

Walking up to Eric Kluin was intimidating. “I want to write a story on you,” I said. He seemed to look right through me. “It’s just, well it seems like you’re such a big part of the community. You bring a sense of culture to Newbury Street, I see you working on your art here all the time.” “Ah,” he said “flattery will get you everywhere.” I took out my pen and paper his story unfolded.

Inspired by the artwork in comic books, Kluin, 48, knew he wanted to be an artist from a young age. He was never interested in academia and played the part of the rebel through his high-school years.
Though Kluin did not do particularly well in school, he went to and graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in art. After college, Kluin remained in Michigan and spent most of his time working on his art and drinking, heavily.

In 1988 Kluin moved to Brookline, MA. and began selling his art to local galleries on Newbury Street. This is also where he began to spend his days and five years later Kluin would realize his dependency on alcohol.

“It’s funny,” Kluin said “once I sobered up I realized I am kind of weird. I mean, here I am standing in the same place I was 21 years ago, (only) completely sober, drawing, drinking coffee, and smoking cigarettes. It’s enough to make you crazy.”

Walking by Kluin for so many years, I have seen him drawing many different things; flowers, naked women, city scenes, and today a bone winged angel.  With such a wide spectrum of ideas flowing through his hand, I wonder what inspires him.

“I draw inspiration from literature, people, situations” said Kluin “but most importantly experience. I’ve done more ‘revenge on ex-girlfriend’ pieces than I can tell you.”

Talking to Kluin was a whirlwind. He was much smarter than he thought he was, more talented then he knew, but my god did this mans mind know how to wander. With so many ideas how can someone stick to one idea and create such interesting and relevant artwork?

“My thoughts are like spiders running around my mind, they crawl out of my head so quickly,” said Kluin “But once in a while, I catch one.”

After years spent on Newbury Street, Kluin has run into much adoration and criticism from people walking by. He realizes that not everyone understands him or cares for his work and that every lifestyle comes with certain restrictions.

“Me? I have all the freedom in the world except for economic freedom. There are tradeoffs to every lifestyle.” Said Kluin, “But the happiest people are the ones who manage to balance it all. It’s my ultimate goal to reach that comfort level.”

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Scott Brown: Man, Model, Massachusetts State Senator?!

Scott Brown won big in Mass. Special Election yesterday

Yesterday, Republican Scott Brown won the special election to fill the late Ted Kennedy’s senate seat. Brown beat out Democrat Martha Coakley, who ran a sloppy and slanderous campaign.

I’m sure by now, everyone has heard that Scott Brown was featured in a 1982 issue of Cosmo, and I’m sure most of you have seen the ever-so-flattering pictures of Brown laying on a couch covering his ‘package’ with only his hand. While these pictures are entertaining, I have to wonder, where was the controversy?

I can’t help but think, if Martha Coakley had posed nude in let’s say, Sports Illustrated, that the media would have been on her like white on rice. Scott Brown poses nude in Cosmo, and nothing? Really? I mean sure, we’ve heard from a few outspoken comedians, such as Jon Stewart,  who poked fun at the pictures of Brown. News stations have mentioned that he was a model in passing, but no one reported that these photos might hurt Brown’s chances.

In fact, according to some, Brown’s scandalous photos might have actually helped him. Sally Quinn, a writer for the Washington Post and left-wing advocate, told Fox News that many women voted for Brown because he posed semi-nude and because he’s a “hunk”.

Other’s disagree with Sally Quinn and say that the reason Brown won was because he was the ‘change’ America needed to send a wake-up call to Democrats, who were vigorously pushing a plan to reform healthcare. According to the Huffington Post, the people have been heard and Democrats are deciding what to do to regain the support of the American people.

2010 certainly has been filled with surprises and I am interested in what lies ahead in the coming months in terms of healthcare, Washington, and the Obama administration. As for Scott Brown? Well he better get started on this list of demands issued by Cosmo after his big win.

Photo (cc) by Dexta32084 and published here under a Creative Commons liscense. Some rights reserved.

Filed under: Political, , ,

Disaster Strikes Haiti: Relief Efforts in a Race Against Time

On Jan. 12, 2010 just two weeks after the start of the new year, a natural disaster struck Haiti, in the form of an 7.0 magnitude Earthquake.

Many countries are offering aid to Haiti in the form of supplies, military aid and in some cases, allowing those visiting other nations to extend their stay illegally. However, those nations attempting to help Haiti are facing major challenges along the way.

According to the New York Times, relief efforts may be delayed because the airport, seaport, roads and power supplies have been damaged by the earthquake.

“The big challenge is going to be getting things unloaded and getting it to the people who need it,” Florian Westphal, a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross in Geneva told the New York Times. “Only military airplanes that don’t require additional people to unload have been able to land.”

On top of the apparent challenges that Haiti will face in terms of receiving aid, they are also experiencing difficulties giving those who need medical care the proper attention they need. Haiti already struggles with treating patients in a country with high rates of rare tropical and infections diseases.

“What you have is the perfect storm of infection,” Dr. Peter Hotez, head of the department of microbiology at George Washington University told CNN. “What you have is a breakdown. It is already a fragile infrastructure with high rates of infectious and neglected tropical disease. Now there are potential breakdowns in sanitation, clean water, housing and subsequent crowding. That’s a terrible mix.”

The World Health Organization told the Voice of America that at least eight hospitals have been damaged or destroyed in Haiti.

While disaster relief efforts are in place, time is of the essence and it is clear that it is going to take time before Haiti’s needs are met to the full extent. It also seems that many countries and relief organizations are in a race to help Haiti, but may be causing more problems. Haiti is obviously in bad shape, but it seems to me that instead of racing each other to get to the punch first disaster organizations, governments, etc. should be coordinating with one another.

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