Paging O. Henry

When you say O. Henry, most people think of the “The Gift of the Magi,” but my favorite short story by O. Henry, AKA William Sydney Porter, was always “The Cop and the Anthem.”

In that story, Soapy, a hapless hobo tramping around New York City, is desperate to be arrested so he can spend winter’s coldest days in jail. But Soapy isn’t even very good at breaking the law — and you can read the rest here.

A modern day Soapy had no such trouble in Troy this week; police arrested one Jamaine Makepeace who they say broke windows at the Rensselaer County Clerk’s office in a bid to be collared by the cops. Why? To go somewhere warm. According to a police spokesman:

“He told us he figured he would do enough damage to get a year in jail. He told us that he was tired of being on the streets and begging food from people.”

Mr. Makepeace got his wish and is currently being held in Rensselaer County Jail without bail.

Homelessness is complicated and nothing I say about it will be anything less than trite — but those who scoff at the idea of helping the most troubled among us should take note, even as you mock what President Obama had to say on Monday.

It’s a sad story, but at least this guy, like Soapy, will be safe and warm for a little while.

4 responses to “Paging O. Henry

  1. Wolf and Shaker

    No offense, but there was a time when the scribes at your local paper would have drawn this line connecting truth and fiction, not a blogger.

    I’m curious why such an obvious (again, no offense intended) literary allusion was left out of their story and subsequent blog post:

    http://blog.timesunion.com/crime/cops-homeless-man-broke-windows-to-get-arrested/13094/#comments

  2. It would have been a good story for Paul Grondahl, but he’s too busy writing about dead old people. I mean really, how many fucking dead old people stories can this guy write?

    http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Sisters-were-Sisters-inseparable-to-the-end-4215513.php

    http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Death-closes-the-curtain-on-couple-s-72-year-love-3994890.php

    http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Ordinary-couple-s-extraordinary-love-story-3357630.php

    And they’re ALL THE SAME! Hey, Times Union, let somebody else write about DEAD OLD PEOPLE for a change, OK?

  3. At least the TU doesn’t have their obituaries on page 2 of the paper; the Record comes considerably closer. I grew up in Utica where we had the Observer-Dispatch. Death was (and is) big news in Utica, hence the obits were helpfully positioned early in the paper so as to not overly burden elderly tickers having to sort through page after page . Rather depressing.

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