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Monday, December 30, 2013

From the Kress Building to the corner, 30 feet separates the haves and the have nots

Posted by on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 8:14 AM

A place to sleep, Mangum and Main streets, Durham - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • A place to sleep, Mangum and Main streets, Durham
The historic Kress Building in downtown Durham epitomizes luxury and elegance: The condos, the largest of which, at more than 1,800 square feet runs nearly $500,000, feature bamboo wood floors, penthouse views, private terraces, 10-to-12-foot ceilings, and, as a real estate website detailed,  "handsome quartz counters in the kitchen and bath."

Directly across Main Street where it intersects with Mangum is a pocket park with benches. Less than five steps from the street corner, grows a patch of brush that provides a bulwark against the wind and cold. It can also serve as camouflage, because unless you part the grass or kneel on the ground, you would not notice anyone sleeping there.

But obviously somebody does, or has. 

Because of congressional inertia, just last week extended federal unemployment benefits were discontinued for 1.3 million Americans who have been out of work for more than six months. But North Carolina's long-term unemployed have already been penalized; the state cut off benefits to those 70,000 people in July.

The distance between the front door of the Kress Building and this makeshift bed is 30 feet. Any of us could fall that far.
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    At Main and Mangum streets, a stark economic disparity

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Sunday, December 29, 2013

Angels wanna wear his red shoes

Posted by on Sun, Dec 29, 2013 at 7:57 AM

Blackwell Street, Durham - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • Blackwell Street, Durham

The streets of downtown Durham were nearly empty on Thursday morning, the day after Christmas, and I felt sure there would be no people to photograph.

Then this man sauntered down the street, burdened with two bulging backpacks. That's what caught my eye, the backpacks.
I shot just one picture and moved on. Only after I downloaded the photo did I notice the preponderance of red—in the shoes, scarf, fire hydrant and bows—that carries your eye through the frame. 

That's the beauty of street photography: If you put in the time and the miles, an automatic part of your brain eventually kicks in. As in athletics and artistic performance, practice hones your muscle memory. (Overthinking is how baseball players fall into hitting slumps.) You learn to trust the instinct, the reflex.
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    Free your mind and your eye will follow

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Salvation Army's holiday tree about human trafficking

Posted by on Thu, Dec 26, 2013 at 3:01 PM

The Salvation Army of Wake County holiday tree, American Tobacco Campus, Durham - ALL PHOTOS BY LISA SORG
  • All photos by Lisa Sorg
  • The Salvation Army of Wake County holiday tree, American Tobacco Campus, Durham

The day after Christmas, the streets of Durham were nearly vacant (except, apparently, the parking attendants who tagged me with a ticket). A friend and I wandered down to the American Tobacco Campus lawn to see the 20 or so holiday trees decorated by local charities including the Coalition to Unchain Dogs, Eno River Association, the Therapeutic Riding Center. 

Initially, I was offended by the tree adorned by The Salvation Army of Wake County. What are ultra-feminized dolls with anorexic figures surrounded by fake money doing on a holiday tree? Did a pimp decorate this tannenbaum? And then I figured it out: The tree was intended to bring attention to the issue of human trafficking.


Here are some facts: The majority of the 2,500 human trafficking cases investigated nationwide between 2008 and 2010 involved child or adult prostitution or child exploitation, according to ncfamily.org.

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From January to June 2013, North Carolina logged 271 calls to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. More than 75 percent of the calls involved sexual servitude.

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Most of the calls came from Raleigh, Durham, Fayetteville, Greensboro and Asheville. The state is in the top 10 nationwide for trafficking likely because of the major interstates (85, 40, 95) and its large military and agricultural sectors, according to the N.C. Coalition Against Human Trafficking.

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N.C. Coalition Against Sexual Assault, World Relief, a faith-based organization with offices in High Point and Durham, can help refugees confronting exploitation. The Carolina Women's Center at UNC Chapel Hill has extensive and excellent resources and data. Also check out the Polaris Project, International Justice Mission and Not for Sale.

Lisa Sorg is the editor of the INDY. Her blog documents the small moments of life in the Triangle in photographs and stories—as a reminder to why we live here.
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    Facts and figures about sexual servitude in North Carolina

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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Away in a manger, it's both sentimental and surreal

Posted by on Tue, Dec 24, 2013 at 8:05 PM

Arnette Avenue and Proctor Street, Durham - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • Arnette Avenue and Proctor Street, Durham

For the past week I've walked by this Nativity scene, which is part of an elaborate tableau at a house in Durham's Morehead Hill neighborhood. The sentimentalist in me was struck by the earnestness of the lights and decorations; the cynic in me found it surreal.

I had seen the Nativity only during the day. But on Christmas Eve night, I worked up the courage to ask the homeowner, whose name is Jane, if I could take a picture of her creation. She told me her husband is a landscaper; he built the word "L O V E" from sticks, and the doll is cradled in the divot of the V. 

When the Nativity was initially built, the doll's pelvic area was covered with a paper towel. Now it's wearing an apron—and if you look closely, right below the speaker in the doll's belly, you'll see a bear on it. 

Lisa Sorg is the editor of the INDY. Her blog documents the small moments of life in the Triangle in photographs and stories—as a reminder to why we live here.


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    The best Christmas decorations—ever—in Morehead Hill

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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Flag-nado!

Posted by on Sun, Dec 22, 2013 at 3:19 PM

City Hall Plaza, Durham - PHOTOS BY LISA SORG
  • Photos by Lisa Sorg
  • City Hall Plaza, Durham

It was 72 degrees this morning—not April 22, but Dec. 22, if you awoke thinking you must have hibernated all winter. Winds were brisk. The atmosphere felt unstable, soupy, and the light filtered through the clouds in narrow shafts. 

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At City Hall Plaza in downtown Durham, the U.S. and North Carolina flags had descended their mast until they touched the ground. Since it's Sunday, no one is around City Hall to raise them, so I watched the flags contort themselves in the stiff breeze and graze the ground between gusts.

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I lay on the ground on the sidewalk beneath them. You rarely get that close to flapping flags; they are larger, thicker and noisier than you think.

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Lisa Sorg is the editor of the INDY. Her blog documents the small moments of life in the Triangle in photographs and stories—as a reminder to why we live here.

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    When no one is around to raise the flags, this is what you see

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Man vs. nature. Tree vs. parking deck. Who wins?

Posted by on Sat, Dec 21, 2013 at 5:58 PM

Corcoran Street parking deck, Durham - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • Corcoran Street parking deck, Durham


The spiral ramp of the 658-space Corcoran Street parking garage is something to behold. Enter through the back off Ramseur Street, and the weight of all that concrete—buttressed by a few seemingly spindly poles—makes you feel like the garage could collapse at any moment.

Since I rarely drive to work, I walk by here almost every day but never park inside. I spotted this tree, which bisects the ramp, and marveled at the rigidity of the manmade structure (and I say manmade because this is an old parking deck and it's unlikely any women worked on it) and how it intersects with the malleability of nature.

I don't know which was here first, the tree or the garage, but both have managed to co-exist. What a lovely place.
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    The rigidity of concrete meets the malleability of nature

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Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Cardboard guitar blues

Posted by on Wed, Dec 18, 2013 at 4:16 PM

Main and Market streets, Durham - PHOTOS BY LISA SORG
  • Photos by Lisa Sorg
  • Main and Market streets, Durham

Down the street, I heard a man singing. Not particularly well, but that seemed beside the point. It sounded earnest. Besides, he was singing a cappella, and that's difficult.

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This is Zack and his dog, Lela (pronounced LEE-la).  Zack lives in Durham and he was playing air guitar, strumming invisible strings, listening to music only he could hear. 

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He loves the theater, and studied it in college. But he made some bad choices in his life, he says, and he served time in jail on failure to appear and domestic violence charges.It was in jail that he says he found God. "I've been saved," he said.

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Zack says he bought a tie and a nice shirt for $4 at a thrift store. He wants to look nice, even when he's panhandling for food and money. He tries to collect $10, $20 a day to help him afford a room.

A woman passed by and smiled: "You look nice today," she said.

"I have a tie on!" he replied.

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Eventually, he says, he'd like to get a job and earn enough money to buy a real guitar. Being a guitarist: That's his dream.

Lisa Sorg is the editor of the INDY. Her blog documents the small moments of life in the Triangle in photographs and stories—as a reminder to why we live here.
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    In downtown Durham, playing for sandwiches and change

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Monday, December 16, 2013

A story of a man, his dog and his dog's dog

Posted by on Mon, Dec 16, 2013 at 8:00 AM

PHOTOS BY LISA SORG
  • Photos by Lisa Sorg

I was driving up Buchanan Street near Duke’s East Campus earlier this fall when I saw a dog carrying what I thought was a puppy in her mouth. A man on wrist crutches followed about 10 feet behind. I had only an iPhone but I was so taken by the scene, I whipped my car into a parking spot on a side street and sprinted after the man and dog.

It turns out there is a touching story behind this couple: Randolph, a Bernese Mountain Dog, 5 1/2, and Bruce, his companion.

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Bruce told me that several years ago, his son left home for college and piled the stuffed animals from his childhood in a corner in the basement. Randolph, then a puppy, went downstairs and chose the toy that, coincidentally, looked just liked him. He's carried it ever since.

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“Do you have to wash it a lot?” I asked Bruce.

The toy was soaked with dog slobber.

“Oh yes,” Bruce replied, laughing. “All the time.”

I’ve staked out Buchanan Street several times since my encounter with Randolph and Bruce in hopes of walking with them, taking additional photos and chatting more with Bruce. Maybe it’s because the weather has turned cold, but I’ve not seen them again.

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Lisa Sorg is the editor of the INDY. Her blog documents the small moments of life in the Triangle in photographs and stories—as a reminder to why we live here.
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    A short story about Randolph, a Bernese Mountain Dog, 5 1/2, and Bruce, his companion.

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Friday, December 13, 2013

Turning back time on Roney Street

Posted by on Fri, Dec 13, 2013 at 10:04 AM

Roney Street, Durham - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • Roney Street, Durham

The machinery near Durham Brazing & Welding Works on Roney Street has long captivated photographers, metal-lovers and passersby. Roney is a peaceful, short street (see Open Durham's history of what used to be a bustling thoroughfare) and I often cut through here to and from the Durham Farmers' Market.

Among the icons of the welding shop is the General Motors Truck—I'm guessing it's from the 1940s—with the Pittsburgh Steelers logo emblazoned on the side. One afternoon I walked by and the truck door was open, so I climbed inside, then hopped in the bed and peered through the back. The window was gone. And so is an era of Durham, save for this short block.



Lisa Sorg is the editor of the INDY. Her blog documents the small moments of life in the Triangle in photographs and stories—as a reminder to why we live here.

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    In a truck cab, a blast from the past

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Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Safe sex in the Museum Hotel?

Posted by on Wed, Dec 11, 2013 at 11:45 AM

Museum Hotel, Corcoran and Main streets, - LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg
  • Museum Hotel, Corcoran and Main streets,

The INDY has been its new offices for a week, and the space has lived up to, exceeded, even, expectations. The people watching is rivaled only by sitting in the front windows of Joule in Raleigh. For example, I've seen a man who looks like a black Jesus—not to say that Jesus wasn't black—an Indian woman in a lovely red head scarf. 

LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg

Today I've become fixated by these condom-like structures jutting from two windows in the SunTrust building, soon (?) to be christened the Museum Hotel.

I tried asking the construction workers about the function of this apparatus, but my Spanish failed me. Como se dice in Spanish, Those look like condoms. What are they really and what do they do? 

LISA SORG
  • Lisa Sorg





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    What are these phallic structures jutting from the windows?

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This is a very rare 1949 Buick Roadmaster Riviera.

by Bradford Hamilton on A sweet ride: Stumbling upon a 1950s Buick Roadmaster (Editor)

All good points, Paul. Thanks very much for your analysis.

by Lisa Sorg, INDY Editor on Poppies: A concrete field of fallow development (Editor)

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