The gaunt man was sitting on a bench in the overgrown park at the corner of Chene and Ferry streets in Detroit, drinking an Old Milwaukee tallboy he'd bought at a Yemeni party store, and trying to peddle an old point-and-shoot film camera for $3. He was an ex-con who'd served 15 years for using a knife to rob a chicken shack of $81, so he had no other way to make money.
"My name is J.C. Hood, all good in the neighborhood," the man introduced himself. "My people have a house over here they let me stay in. It's an old house, almost on its last legs. No utilities, no heat, no water, no lights. No phone. I got a propane heater and a bed. I eat out and I bathe out, at the Capuchin Soup Kitchen at Mount Elliot and St. Paul. I earn about $5,000 a year, hustling. I collect cans at Tigers games. I ride my bike, man, for hours, looking for stuff. I found a pair of boots. I can get $5. Houses, doors be open. You go in there, you can find a lot of stuff. Foreclosures, people just leave their stuff there. I've found TVs, stereos."