T-Bone and his muse

While Umoja Burns, One Resident Saves His Music

When people started screaming about the flames that swept through Umoja Village last night -- a homeless shantytown in Liberty City -- T-Bone grabbed his radio and ran.

T-Bone was one of the 44 people who lived in the camp. He had been there four months before the fire, which was started by a candle, destroy edeverything. All of the huts, makeshift kitchen and portable toilets -- gone.

"Sad," said T-Bone. On Thursday afternoon, he sat on the steps of a nearby apartment building, unsure of what to do next. A big man with a belly, he clutched his silver boom box like a child holds on to a teddy bear.

"This is my baby," he said, adding that it was his only possession that he saved. He was listening to talk show host Neil Rodgers and smoking a cigarette and drinking a no-name brand orange cola.

As he sat across the street from the charred and stinky remains of the village, he surveyed the unfolding scene: a dozen police cars, some politicians in suits and some of the hippie volunteers milled around the site. T-Bone didnt want to go over, for fear of getting arrested. He sensed that tensions between the Umojans and the cops/city workers was high, and he wanted no part of that. Already, one resident had been arrested earlier in the day.

When asked where he wanted to go, T-Bone let out a sad laugh.

"Hawaii, Switzerland, Rome," he said. "I dunno. Wherever God sends me, I guess."


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