You know what's cool about poverty and drug addiction? Nothing. You know what I appreciated about the communities I saw in Louisville affected by both? No color lines. Black and white, sharing stoops. It was striking.
Years ago, many, many years ago, trolley tracks ran down Portland Avenue, the main thoroughfare connecting the Portland neighborhood to downtown Louisville. It serviced this community tucked against the banks of the Ohio River in the northwest corner of the city. Stockyards lined the river banks. Just off Portland Ave and 26th, a Boys Club held boxing matches in the basement. As a local tells it, a young Cassius Clay once boxed there.
All that remains of Portland are the bones of a once proud community, like a great whale washed ashore, the flesh long since rotted and stripped away. Industry here dried up, poverty and drugs ravaged what was left. It shows....on the facades of store fronts, and on the faces of residents. Unkept two story Victorians, blistered by a centuries worth of sun and overrun by weeds, muster a beaten half-smile.
If you listen closely, there's a whisper of change, carried from the tongues of rich men and stoned artists. Much like most urban areas across the U.S., Portland too, may have it's Renaissance. For now, you can't escape it's condition, it's addiction.