Monday, August 25, 2008

My Top 11 Favorite Homeless People

I love homeless people! They are the life-blood of our nation! That probably sounds condescending, but I just really, really like them!

(Right off the bat, honorable mention goes to: All 700 Hobo-Names written by John Hodgeman... I would have included them but a) there are SO many and b) they are not real.)

11. Moonboy Starchild

I might be misremembering his first name, to be honest, but I wouldn't put it past him. This guy lives in Buffalo, NY and walks up and down Elmwood Avenue, selling handmade jewelry. He has a weird, lilting voice and a weird, scraggly goatee and sometimes, he dons a cowboy hat. Ultimately, he's just this sketchy hippie guy, though. We found out a few years back that he actually comes from a really rich family and he just never felt like really doing anything. I guess that's cool, Mr. Starchild, but your necklaces are lame.

10. The Incredibly Honest Hobo I Met in Toronto

While on tour up in the north country, my buddy Charlie and I were wandering around looking for places to buy things when we stumbled upon a biggish dude in overalls asking for change. Toronto is a pretty clean city, but it has it's share of hobos and no-bos and bo-bos. Anyway, this guy had to be the nicest, straightforward one of the bunch, because he came right up to us, stuck out a hand to shake, and said, "Hi there, fellas... I'm just lookin' to buy some magic mushrooms and a hooker, and if you boys could spare a looney or a tooney, that'd be just swell, eh?" Oh, Canada. I hope he found his mushrooms and hooker, because that Gordo deserved them!

9. Mr. President

Buffalo, NY has had a spike in the vagabond population in recent years, unfortunately, but Mr. President is totally old-school. This guy wears a green windbreaker and gets to ride the Metro for free. He's built like Ted Kennedy and always salutes the bus-driver when he gets on, usually while making this little squeaky noise that sounds like, "Wheeek!" Frankly, I wish Mr. President was my grandpa.

8. Pigeon Kicker

Pigeon Kicker is a guy who hangs out on 47th and looks like a demented Tommy Davidson. His defining feature is his propensity to kick pigeons. Also, his wool cap that he wears always, even in the summer. Sometimes, I live in fear of Pigeon Kicker, but then I remember that I am not a pigeon.

7. Me, for a while

There was this time sophomore year that I decided I was done sleeping in my dorm room. I don't really remember why. Anyway, I lived the life of a nomad for a semester or so, taking up residence in abandoned L-rooms and closets in my friends' suites. I guess those qualify as homes, but whatever, it was awesome. Also, if the cops had been looking for me--which they weren't--they would've had their work cut out for them!

6. Cat On The Hat

So, to be honest, Cat on the Hat is kind of a dick. He looks like that one guy on Mythbusters and walks around Midtown with a cat on his head. The cat is really handsome--a little black and white shorthair--but the guy is a jerk. Which is weird, because you'd think the cat would be a calming influence! I guess it's because he's homeless. Once, I went up to him and was like, "Hey man, sweet cat!" and he goes, "What the fuck are you talking about, guy?" I'm not some guy, guy. I'm an appreciator of your cat. Sidebar: is there anything sadder than homeless pets? They didn't choose that life, man. Their owners might have, but the animals sure didn't.

5. Leon Ray Livingston

I don't know this hobo personally but I did read his Wikipedia entry and he sounds the coolest. (Well, fifth coolest.) This guy went went around in the late 19th century and first half of the 20th, calling himself "A No. 1" and generally being an awesome guy. He perfected the Hobo Symbol system, which according to Wikipedia "lets other homeless people know where there are more or less generous people, free food, vicious dogs, etc." He wrote books, he gave interviews, and by the end of his life, he came to be known as The King of the Hobos! YOU GUYS! That is kind of my dream!

4. Jack Black

Not the star of such films as School of Rock, King Kong, and Tropic Thunder. This Jack Black wrote a book entitled You Can't Win about his years as an "honorable outlaw" in the dying West. Not only is that a fucking sweet title for a book, but it also had a huge impression on the Beat Generation, especially William S. Burroughs. Unfortunately, he died by drowning while he was working on his follow-up, a screenplay entitled Salt Chunk Mary. (That title is not as good, Mr. Black.)

3. Gutter Rockstar

This cat lives down the street from me on 47th. He's got long, crazy hair, looks to be about 50, wears big aviators and a red bandana, and carries a portable amp with him everywhere, so he can rock out on his big, blue guitar. He's generally foul-tempered; I've seen him get kicked out of Starbucks a handful of times and he's really fond of yelling "Pussy!" at passing women. Oh, and once he tried to trip my roommate Tom while we were on a run. Also, he's really terrible at the guitar, but that doesn't seem to stop him. But despite all these attributes--which make him sound like kind of a jerk--people seem to like the guy. But don't call him old or he'll call you a turkey.

2. Woody Guthrie

Right?! I mean, RIGHT?! This guy was a steel-rider for life! He had a guitar that killed facists! He wrote what should be our national anthem! He's probably more responsible for Bob Dylan's early genius than anyone else! He had a son who wrote Alice's Restaurant! He wrote songs about Christian socialism! Even though the Guthrie Theater in Minnesota isn't named after him, I PRETEND IT IS!!!

1. Damien

Damien is legitimately my buddy. I met him a few years ago outside of The Heights. He was explaining about how the gays and the French have it right and that everybody else is a lost cause. He is neither gay, nor French. Once, he told me about a hooker named Sugar Cherry that he used to visit, back before Giuliani made Times Square safe for TGIFriday's. Once, he told me that black people invented sex and running. Once, I got stitches above my right eye after a soccer injury and I ran into Damien and HE HAD GOTTEN STITCHES OVER THE SAME EYE WHAT. Once, Damien was away for a long time and then he showed up, explaining that he had been "in the blacklands with demons"... then we got some donuts. This is the best man alive.

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