Join 3,432 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


“New Orleans is easy pickings,”
February 27, 2013 12:03 PM   Subscribe

Everyone Hates The Oogles: Exploring The Animosity Towards New Orleans' Panhandling Punks

Welcome To Oogleville
"When I was a kid you could only use that as a hurtful word. You wouldn't call your friends that at all. You wouldn't call anyone that. [If you said] “That person is a fuckin' oogle” those were fighting words. And now, you just throw it out there. It's almost like “faggot” or something. It's still a bad word but for a lot of people it's lost its meaning and it's just another word. I think it's just lost its power. And because of LATFO[LookAtThisFuckingOogle, NSFW] it's everywhere now. I mean, at first that stood for “Look At This Person Who Obviously Sucks” but now it's friends, family...everybody's on there. It's a joke now, pretty much."
In Defense Of Oogles
While we are talking about social realities, I’d like to point out to all you hardcore oogle haters that oogles have not had anything to do with the worst things that have happened to New Orleans. Oogles did not defund the levee system to fund a war in Iraq or bungle the effort to evacuate scores of people from the Superdome. Oogles did not embezzle countless millions of dollars slated to help rebuild the city. Nor did oogles shoot innocent people attempting to cross a bridge then burn their bodies to cover up their wrong doing. Oogles did not refuse to rebuild Charity Hospital and instead opt to demolish the historic Lower Mid-City Neighborhood to make way for a hospital then run out of money nor did they demolish part of the historic Treme neighborhood to make way for a park nobody uses. Oogles didn’t demolish ancient live oaks along Claiborne to build I-10 which lead to the degradation of a historic African American neighborhood. Oogles are not attempting to raise rents in traditionally working class neighborhoods in an effort to make tons of money on real estate.
Why Can't I Sell This Story?
As her mother, I believed she was rejecting me and the middle class aspirations I’d held out for her: the college life, the career, the husband and then the children. She assured me that I wasn’t much of a factor in this. She was going toward something that was much bigger than that, even if she couldn’t describe it. I was terrified for her safety until she returned eighteen months later, unharmed. She’s living nearby, and I see her as much as possible and talk to her often. Yet I know at any moment she could chuck it all and be on the rails again. While she was on the road, I struggled with trying to find a way to write about her and the thousands of other kids who are doing the same. After she returned home, we found a way to talk about this when a terrible thing happened to her friends in New Orleans.
posted by the man of twists and turns (75 comments total) 17 users marked this as a favorite

 
Huh? I lived in New Orleans until I was 25 and never heard "oogles". We called them gutter punks pretty much exclusively.
posted by brundlefly at 12:07 PM on February 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


Obligatory (NSFW).
posted by Burhanistan at 12:20 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Come to the San Francisco Bay Area, and you'll see some real gutter punks, boyo. Panhandling is a form of performance art out there.
posted by jonp72 at 12:25 PM on February 27, 2013


So basically oogles are New Orleans' version of homeless hipsters?
posted by MartinWisse at 12:25 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmm. It doesn't sound like NO is unique in its dislike (not hate) of these obnoxious but usually harmless crusty punks.

Living in the margins of society has its benefits, but also its drawbacks. I've never really felt any sympathy for the kids for whom this is very much a chosen lifestyle. They could get a crappy job as a bagger and get a couple roommates in a crappy apartment building, and they choose not to. That's cool. Not everyone wants, or should want that. But the anti- culture always strikes me as kind of vague and reactionary rather than a true rejection of modernity and mainstream society. Thoreau they ain't, nor Kerouac. Bum By Choice isn't something I understand, so I try not to judge it too harshly, but at the same time, it seems to me like they're not seeking anything, just avoiding, and that seems a somewhat self-defeating lifestyle.
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 12:25 PM on February 27, 2013 [14 favorites]


The comments on that third link are well worth reading and the article itself is good too. This paragraph stood out for me in sharp relief: The largest portion of the more than a dozen kids I spoke with lived through the collapse of the middle class. They described how their parents had lived responsible lives, conforming to the demands of their jobs, the pressure to increase production, the lengthening of their hours and shrinking of their wages. As one young woman said, “My parents did the whole 30-year plan: 30 years at the same job, 30-year mortgage and then like four years ago, the jobs disappeared, the pensions disappeared too and they couldn’t pay their mortgage. They’re living with roommates, just like me. Why would you want to sign up for that subservience when it could all be taken from you in a snap?” If one could say that the hippies were rejecting the hypocrisy of their parents’ success, these kids are rejecting the conditions of parents’ failures. I think there's a terrifying amount of truth in that.


Oh and as a data point I have also never heard the term oogle before - we call them crusties or gutter punks here and there are a lot here in Asheville. Anyway, nice post.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:26 PM on February 27, 2013 [24 favorites]


These kids roll through my town sometimes and I feel about the same way. If I give people money on the street, my spare change goes to the older, broken-down, local guys who are panhandling.
posted by thelonius at 12:27 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Reads like something out of a high school paper. It sure is nice to put squatters, panhandlers, street junkies, gutterpunks and associated riffraf into a easy buckets.

Sadly it seems like the line between gutterpunking and any form of itenerant youthery are being pulled in the same aggressively antisocial direction. Saw a bunch of honest roaming youth recently seeking sites to busk and even they had a monster dog with gnarly chain.
posted by Ogre Lawless at 12:28 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I heard the term oogle this past year. It apparently refers to posers: travelers who have a credit card in their back pocket for emergencies with the bill paid by parents, and the like. Nothing New Orleans specific that I had heard before.
posted by eviemath at 12:28 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


Huh? I lived in New Orleans until I was 25 and never heard "oogles". We called them gutter punks pretty much exclusively.

Yeah I live here now, and at times will drink both with gutter punks, and with people who hate them, and don't think I have never heard the term, Crusty seems to be what most people use.
posted by St. Sorryass at 12:28 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


The term "oogle" didn't originate in NOLA.
posted by Burhanistan at 12:30 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


And of course this is all very familiar from the last time we had half a decade -- and counting -- of sustained economic depression, back in the antediluvian late seventies, early eighties, when you had another generation of working and middle class kids with no immediate prospect slumming in squats; only then they had zines and punk bands and now it's internet and tumblr.
posted by MartinWisse at 12:30 PM on February 27, 2013 [11 favorites]


As I heard it, the term oogle was primarily used by other young travelers that might get called crust punks, in reference to those they thought were in some ways appropriating their lifestyle/community.
posted by eviemath at 12:31 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


nthing the sentiment that here in New Orleans they are referred to as gutterpunks or occasionally crustypunks. Never heard oogle before.
posted by komara at 12:34 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


mygothlaundry, that same paragraph jumped out at me.
posted by enn at 12:35 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Yeah, when I lived in New Orleans, we always called them gutterpunks. Some of them were all right, but you had the ones who were always doing shady shit. I still have a divisive reaction to them when I see them even here, a small Quebec city, of "go on with your bad self" or "seriously, why do you have a kitten? How do you take care of a kitten (or dog)?"
posted by Kitteh at 12:36 PM on February 27, 2013 [6 favorites]


I am disappointed to learn that this story is not about The Oogieloves.

That said, gutterpunks is what we call 'em 'round here. I guess they exist as a contradiction and symptom of out society - people who exist on the fringe of what makes our economy tick. The hate seems outsized for the harms they actually inflict.
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:36 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Come to the San Francisco Bay Area, and you'll see some real gutter punks, boyo. Panhandling is a form of performance art out there.

Yeah, but the way "oogles" are described here makes them seem more dangerous and obnoxious than the kids in the Haight, who can be a little aggressive but in my experience won't try to rob you or really bother you. I'll admit though that my reaction to them tends to be in the vein of "get a job."

From the first article: "Begging is an ancient, time-honored tradition, a legitimate trade and an economic niche." Uh, no.
posted by eugenen at 12:37 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I don't know what it says about me or my hometown ties to New Orleans that I recognized a couple people in a quick perusal of that Tumblr.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 12:38 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Hate those guys
posted by zscore at 12:40 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


I’ve witnessed them aggressively and at times violently interrupting poetry readings, music performances, and community meetings.

Oh man, have I seen this. I once attended a performance of the Yard Dogs Road Show, who fancy themselves as contemporary hobos (one of their founders, Eddy Joe Cotton, who I occasionally hung out with in New Orleans, actually rode the rails for a while and wrote about his experiences). They have a sort of beatnik-meets-1930s-itinerant-laborer quality to them, and their show is great fun. They've obviously put enormous amounts of work into it, and the night I saw it is was superlative.

But there was another circus made up of crusty punks -- I don't recall what it was called, but it was an ongoing, rolling disaster, including one member who kept losing limbs in ridiculous accidents. And because they sort of had the same sensibilities, they had repeatedly had contact with each other. And for whatever reason, a lot of these crusties showed up at the Yard Dogs shows, and started to get disruptive. And when Eddy Joe Cotton asked them not to interrupt the show, they started to throw beer bottles.

I have great sympathy for homelessness and trying to make it on the street -- I was homeless in Hollywood for quite a while, after all. But it's hard watching these kids just ruin things, which, make no mistake, they do, including themselves. When I was last in Hollywood, there was an incredibly disruptive group who just settled in across the street from my apartment, harassing passers by (including sexually harassing women), leaving garbage everywhere, leaving their dogs feces everywhere (there was actually a garbage can and a free dispensery of doggy litter bags across the street from them). One sat outside my window for three hours discussing the fact that he'll do any drug he can get his hand on, which I knew to be true, as we had a drug dealer illegally squatting in the apartment opposite us, and we would see this crusty punk come in and go to his door with great frequency. When I first moved out to Hollywood, this particular crusty punk was young looking, heavy, mohawked. When we moved away, eight months later, he was gaunt, broken looking, and seemed to have aged 8 years, lying unconscious in the middle of the sidewalk on Hollywood Boulevard.

When I was much younger, I shared a house with a group of young men and women, and then let a self-declared cyberpunk move in. And he was okay, but immediately his friends, all crusty punks, moved in with him. They trashed the house, and, when I complained, accused me of being a "squat nazi." Except this wasn't a squat. I left as soon as I could.

I feel much as this author does. I know how hard it is out there, and I've seen the bleakness of being on the edges; I lived in a homeless shelter for gay and lesbian teenagers for six months, and many of them were teenaged male prostitutes. But there is such reckless misbehavior in the crusty punk scene, such magnified disrespect, and it may be just a few (although, from my direct experience, it's not as few as people seem to think; it's pretty endemic), but the monstrous behavior of the few is tolerated by the others, even though I suspect they suffer most as a result of it.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 12:40 PM on February 27, 2013 [20 favorites]


The hate seems outsized for the harms they actually inflict.

Yes indeed, that's what's really interesting about the cultural politics here. And not that there's much New Orleans-specific about either the gutterpunk phenomenon or the entrenched hate for it, but poverty tourism (and tourism in general, come to think of it) is something that people here have a special hair-trigger for — unlike the crustpunk hatred in Portland or San Francisco, which seems pretty much exclusively to stem from anxiety about enforcing class and culture hierarchies (how dare they choose not to work?), there's an element of additional cultural foreignness in New Orleans, where they're reviled as carpetbaggers who aren't "from here" as well.
posted by RogerB at 12:41 PM on February 27, 2013


I don't call them oogles or crusty punks. I call them "Paul," after a dipshit brother in law that couldn't come to my wedding because he was in jail.

"Hey man, can I get a dollar for a beer?"
"No, Paul."
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 12:42 PM on February 27, 2013 [26 favorites]


We always used to call them crusties or gutter punks around here until a few years ago - but I have been told that "crusty" actually used to be a specific music subculture ("crustcore"?) and "gutter punk" was an aesthetic, where as "oogle" is about the whole drunk/dirty/patched/fucked-up thing.

I've met a lot of oogles from volunteering in radical and anarchist spaces. I used to know a traveller kid/para-oogle pretty well. (It was so sad when she let all her pretty curly hair grow into nasty matted white people dreds. She lived in chaos and squalor here for a while, traveled, lived in a scary, scary house out east, straightened out, got a blue collar job.)

Most of the kids I've known are not trust fund kids slumming. They're kids who grew up either poor or working class or the kind of "middle class" that falls apart when a job gets lost - but the distinguishing factor is that a lot of these kids were abused physically, emotionally, sexually or all three when they were little. A lot of them grew up in homes with alcoholic or drug-addicted parents. They're on the road and fucked up because their lives have been fucked up.

I'm not saying that everyone should be all "invite the oogle into your home" about it - indeed, I'd say to safeguard your possessions and spaces when they're around unless you know somebody really well - but there's no need for the hateful resentment. They're no more likely to spend the spare change on a bottle or the needle than some of the other homeless people I have helped out in the past, I think, and I tend to help people out anyway and leave it up to them how they spend it.

They are not people I'd want sleeping in my house (unless I knew them individually). We had all kinds of trouble with people messing with the backyard and roof at this place where I used to volunteer - sleeping out back (which was okay if you cleared out at sunrise but not everyone did), climbing up on our fragile roof and shooting heroin out back and leaving their needles around. Stealing stuff.

But more to be pitied than anything else - it's not an easy or a safe life.
posted by Frowner at 12:43 PM on February 27, 2013 [18 favorites]


They could get a crappy job as a bagger and get a couple roommates in a crappy apartment building, and they choose not to.Well, actually, it's more difficult than that these days. I wish it was not so, but it is. I get fed up and cranky with the younger generation (my adult kids live with me) a whole lot but then I think about the simple economics of it all. Fact: kids making minimum wage today, $7.25 an hour, are making about the same as I was making nearly 30 years ago when I was damn close to being a gutter punk with a baby in tow myself (see MartinWisse's very true comment). Fact: these kids don't have full time jobs because all the retail / fast food / grocery store jobs are part time now and the schedules are designed specifically so that it's damn near impossible to have more than one job. This has been gone over before on the blue and I can also add to this (from bitter experience) that a lot of us older once middle class parents are taking up all the low wage retail jobs because our white collar middle class jobs are just gone, baby, gone. And if you're a manager are you going to hire me, with a BA and a pretty good resume or my 21 year old kid with a GED and issues or his friends?

This leads to Fact: these kids are actually making less than I was 30 years ago which leads to Fact: rents are triple and quadruple and quintuple what they were then. Back in the day we could rent a five bedroom mansion apartment in downtown Charleston SC for $600 a month and split it five ways and live more or less like kings and queens. Nowadays forget that. That apartment is $2000 a month now and you can't afford that if you're making minimum wage even if you have five likeminded friends who will all share one bathroom. So you go out to the suburbs, you say? Yeah, you can find stuff cheaper the further out you go but then how do you get to that minimum wage job? No, I think it genuinely is tougher today than it was then - and it wasn't easy then. I'm surprised there aren't more kids just giving up, to be honest.
posted by mygothlaundry at 12:50 PM on February 27, 2013 [60 favorites]


As a parent, I can't help but worry when I see these kids panhandling a traffic lights. I wonder what led them on this path, and how they will end up.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:50 PM on February 27, 2013 [3 favorites]


I've never heard "crusty punk," I've always heard "crust punk." In my mind it's interchangeable with gutterpunk.
posted by Bookhouse at 1:06 PM on February 27, 2013


I know MeFi doesn't tend to be the place to call racial distinctions a false dilemma, but they just read as all-out nonsense in this (first link) piece.
posted by herbplarfegan at 1:08 PM on February 27, 2013


Metafilter: It’s hot and there’s a fucking hurricane coming. It’s bullshit.
posted by Naberius at 1:08 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Isn't crust punk a music genre?
posted by jeffburdges at 1:13 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


There are some folks on here who are primed to talk about "those people" pretty easily, and while I'm sure that there are a ton of shitty travelers, crusties, gutter punks, oogles - whatever you want to call them - out there, I've definitely known some amazing people. Some really intelligent, thoughtful, beautiful people who have built amazing relationships and communities, who've lived their lives in practiced, purposeful, intentional ways... despite voluntary vagabond status.

So be careful with your broad brushes and your "these people"ing, 'kay?
posted by entropone at 1:35 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


Isn't it easier to just ignore people you don't like, rather than hate them I mean, coming to understand them, yeah, that takes effort, but so does hate.
posted by davejay at 1:45 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


So be careful with your broad brushes and your "these people"ing, 'kay?

That's sound advice, but it's hard to know precisely how to do this. I suppose the phrase oogles might have developed just to address this -- to distinguish between members of this subculture who are perfectly decent and those who are perfectly awful. And then there is also the question of when tolerating misbehavior from your peers becomes tantamount to supporting it -- the drunk punk scene in Minneapolis had repeated incidents of people being abused while unconscious from alcohol, something called "beer ralphing," much of which would legally be considered sexual abused. And yet when complaints were raised, they were universally hand-waved away.

I mean, there is an extent to which, when you participate in a subculture, you are a member of a community, and you either support community standards, work to change them, or leave the community. And so I guess my difficulty is distinguishing the misbehavors from the perfectly decent folk when, in my experience, which has now covered almost two decades, they often refuse to distinguish themselves and verbally defend the misbehavior?
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 1:45 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


The LATFO link is definitely NSFW.
Hopefully I didn't just become NSFW by clicking it. A warning would have been nice.
posted by vorpal bunny at 1:48 PM on February 27, 2013


I thought this was about the Oogieloves too. I've always known them as crust punks, and they seem like one of the least obnoxious slumming urban tribes.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 2:00 PM on February 27, 2013


The comments on that third link are well worth reading and the article itself is good too. This paragraph stood out for me in sharp relief: The largest portion of the more than a dozen kids I spoke with lived through the collapse of the middle class. They described how their parents had lived responsible lives, conforming to the demands of their jobs, the pressure to increase production, the lengthening of their hours and shrinking of their wages. As one young woman said, “My parents did the whole 30-year plan: 30 years at the same job, 30-year mortgage and then like four years ago, the jobs disappeared, the pensions disappeared too and they couldn’t pay their mortgage. They’re living with roommates, just like me. Why would you want to sign up for that subservience when it could all be taken from you in a snap?” If one could say that the hippies were rejecting the hypocrisy of their parents’ success, these kids are rejecting the conditions of parents’ failures. I think there's a terrifying amount of truth in that.
But it's so much easier to be angry and judgmental than to face the reality of your tenuous and ever-eroding security!

ha ha just joking! kind of. not really. oh fu-
posted by Snarl Furillo at 2:08 PM on February 27, 2013


These people are human refuse generated by disaster capitalism and the greater disaster of capitalism in general, and give the lie to our entire system-- of which they are very much aware and behave accordingly.
posted by jamjam at 2:08 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


He, like Jesus, suffers for the sins of others.

barf.
posted by four panels at 2:15 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there's a gutter punk circuit. The Marigny in NOLA is pretty much East Oakland right now.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 2:16 PM on February 27, 2013


Yeah, as soon as the first article used the term "hobo vacation" unironically, I was like "uh no, has this person met any crust punks?". Sure, some of them might be like Kai, just traveling from place to place, looking for a beach and a couch to surf on (and let's not mention the fact that he came out of the foster system, and seems to actually be doing pretty well for himself notwithstanding the lack of a family or permanent support network). Most are genuinely poor, and many are struggling with the same issues of hunger, addiction, mental health, and violence that affect non-traveling urban homeless people.
posted by TheWhiteSkull at 2:20 PM on February 27, 2013


I think there's a gutter punk circuit. The Marigny in NOLA is pretty much East Oakland right now.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 5:16 PM on February 27

And St Roch Tavern is their Vatican.
posted by four panels at 2:20 PM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


of which they are very much aware and behave accordingly.

I don't know. I think there's a way to separate personal misconduct from the sort of thing people don't have control over, and I tend to look at this way they way I do other things, based on a question of what is volitional. I will never critique somebody for something that isn't volitional -- I can't blame homeless people for pissing in the streets if there is no publicly available toilet. I can't criticize somebody for sleeping in the streets when they have no home, or for having unwashed clothes when there are no free laundries, or whatever else may be caused by poverty. There are many people on the streets who are mentally ill, and its easier now to treat mental illness with alcohol than with antipsychotics, because the former is cheap and can be purchased without a prescription and the other can't.

But I have been a member of and in continuous contact with a variety of homeless communities, and the crusty experience isn't just the experience of being society's helpless refuse. It is a deliberate subculture. And there are abuses in that subculture that are volitional. The rampant sexual and physical violence, as an example. The tendency to just trash whatever environment they occupy. These are not a necessary outgrowth of homelessness, and I have been in homeless communities where this would be very much a violation of community norms. So I think we can be critical of these things, and, in fact, must be, as we must be critical of abusiveness is all its forms. Certainly we must respect the fact that this criticism is coming from a place of privilege, and be very cautious about it. And we must be cognizant of the fact that not everybody is guilty of this behavior, and we should not seek to redress a wrong by creating a greater wrong, which so many laws that deal with homelessness do.

But that does not mean that the genuine abuses are just a natural byproduct of a broken society, and cannot be addressed.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 2:23 PM on February 27, 2013 [13 favorites]


Poor people are the worst.
posted by turgid dahlia 2 at 2:26 PM on February 27, 2013


These people are human refuse generated by disaster capitalism and the greater disaster of capitalism in general, and give the lie to our entire system-- of which they are very much aware and behave accordingly.

Totalitarian societies don't have many beggars. They do have drunks. Otherwise, beggars, drunks and tramps seem to pop up nearly everywhere and everywhen.
posted by Diablevert at 2:36 PM on February 27, 2013


Cool Papa Bell: "I don't call them oogles or crusty punks. I call them "Paul," after a dipshit brother in law that couldn't come to my wedding because he was in jail.

"Hey man, can I get a dollar for a beer?"
"No, Paul."
"

How about a dollar for a vegan pizza?
posted by Samizdata at 2:39 PM on February 27, 2013


These people are human refuse generated by disaster capitalism and the greater disaster of capitalism in general, and give the lie to our entire system-- of which they are very much aware and behave accordingly.

Given that you can see they've been disenfranchised and are reacting accordingly, I'd think a little compassion is in order - "human refuse"?

In my experience, Frowner's comment is dead on.
posted by ryanshepard at 2:42 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I think there's a gutter punk circuit.

There certainly is. I used to work on the Pearl Street Mall in Boulder. I remember watching a documentary on heroin use in Portland and recognizing a good number of the subjects as Pearl Street regulars.
posted by Bookhouse at 2:53 PM on February 27, 2013


They’re living with roommates, just like me. Why would you want to sign up for that subservience when it could all be taken from you in a snap?” If one could say that the hippies were rejecting the hypocrisy of their parents’ success, these kids are rejecting the conditions of parents’ failures. I think there's a terrifying amount of truth in that.

Plus, getting fucked up and being a part of a subculture is fun.
posted by Pruitt-Igoe at 2:59 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I used to hate gutter punks. When I was in my teens, the gutter punks treated me like shit. Maybe I was too square for them and I certainly looked and acted like someone who could be picked on without fear of retribution. I was spat on and taunted. Not often, but you don't have to be spat upon often for it to make an impression. Even the snotty popular kids at school didn't go that far.

For some reason, this came up once in college. One of my college friends got a weird look on her face. She said something like, "I might have been one of the people who spat on you. I'm sorry." I knew that she'd run away from home and lived in some sort of squat during some tough years in her teens. She'd hung out in the neighborhood we were discussing, but I hadn't thought of her as one of those people that I hated.
posted by Area Man at 3:12 PM on February 27, 2013


How about a dollar for a vegan pizza?

Shut up, Paul.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 3:16 PM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


There's nothing wrong with begging. And there is something admirable (I think) about dropping out of the exploitative capitalist system. If you can find/build a community to support you in this difficult endeavor, then great. A lot of my friends live like this.

But I've also found that a lot of the most awful, abusive and intolerably intoxicated assholes I've ever known have found their way into these communities, whether oogles or crusties or occupiers, and they manage to thrive there while bring everyone and everything down around them. The nihilism, thievery, and violence from these people becomes cancerous. It was in Zuccotti park, for sure.
posted by willie11 at 3:21 PM on February 27, 2013 [5 favorites]


If you are the poorest person in the world, the world looks rich. If you are the richest person in the world, the world looks poor.

Adjust as necessary.
posted by telstar at 3:39 PM on February 27, 2013


Bootstraps are magic.
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 3:45 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


"Philosophically speaking, responding to 21st century America by getting drunk and riding trains and not giving a fuck seems like a perfectly valid enactment of alienation."

I feel like crusties and gutter punks are the only true counterculture we've got going these days.
posted by Grandysaur at 3:49 PM on February 27, 2013 [2 favorites]


Careful. Too much disapprobation will give you hairy palms.
posted by Twang at 4:14 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


There's nothing wrong with begging.

I don't mind people begging up to point. If you're aggressive, fuck you. If you tell me it's cold and you want get a bottle, here's a buck. I hate pushy panhandlers and ones slinging bullshit stories. I'd rather you say you were dope sick and looking to get right than hand me some shit about needing bus fare to your sister's house. But that's just me...
posted by MikeMc at 4:51 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Some years ago, I was going up to Safeway on Broadway to buy some groceries and spied a couple of gutterpunks with attitude with a dog that was in so much pain, it could hardly walk. And you could see it was in pain from three blocks away. It lay down every time they stopped a second. As it turned out, it had a dislocated hip.

I couldn't leave it alone -- I tried talking to them about the free vet clinic in Pioneer Square. I got threatened with an ass kicking for that. But by then I, and the owners of the internet cafe where I had an account, had found a microchip tag on the dog's collar and the woman at the cafe ran the serial number and called the owner. Who was a twenty year old woman working as a nanny.

As it turned out, the dog had jumped a fence in a thunderstorm and been hit by a car soon after. And the kids knew about the being hit by a car part -- they mentioned it in passing. But would they take it to a vet ? Nuh uh. As it turned out, they took the dog's ID and license tag off her collar but not recognizing the microchip tag, they had left that one on...

So, we just hammered these kids with the fact that they had to give the dog up. And I said, And if there's a reward, you can take it. Which brought them around pronto.

So, they came up to the cafe with the dog and waited. And about five minutes before the owner showed up, that dog was pulling so hard on the rope with which they had tied her to a table, that she was choking herself. And when she came in, you never saw a dog so happy.

It was a little nauseating when those kids acted like giving the woman her dog back was their idea and made with the big hugs when she thanked them. Not that she could afford to pay them anything. So, they split in disappointment.

As it turned out, she ended up spending $6000 she didn't have for the operation to fix her dog's hip and then the dog came out of anesthesia not recognizing her, seizing, snarling mean and going after her, so she had to put it down.

But they got a month together before that, at least, and they were happy and reunited and she was grateful for that. So, I was a little glad I helped get that dog away from those kids but otherwise heartbroken.

So, every time I see some gutterpunks on the street with a pure breed, non-pitbull type dog, I check its tags. And I will call the cops on them. No matter how nasty the kids get. And I get sick everytime I see some kid with a kitten tied to her pack, which will not live more than a few weeks on the street like. I have little pity for fools so cluelessly senselessly cruel. And I see so many of them come summer here.
posted by y2karl at 6:24 PM on February 27, 2013 [12 favorites]


Hmm. It doesn't sound like NO is unique in its dislike (not hate) of these obnoxious but usually harmless crusty punks.

'Cause everybody hates a tourist,
Especially one who thinks it's all such a laugh


posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 6:47 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


Freedom.
posted by srboisvert at 7:04 PM on February 27, 2013


"Oogles" is such a hilariously cute-sounding name for the crusties - it sounds absurdly made-up, but I'm tempted to start using it just because it's so incongruous.
posted by Mars Saxman at 7:04 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm the asshole who never, ever gives money to pan-handlers.

I used to but this one time a homeless guy freaked out and threatened to kill me because I didn't give him enough.

Sorry, but fuck these guys.
posted by bardic at 7:25 PM on February 27, 2013


there is such reckless misbehavior in the crusty punk scene, such magnified disrespect, and it may be just a few (although, from my direct experience, it's not as few as people seem to think; it's pretty endemic), but the monstrous behavior of the few is tolerated by the others, even though I suspect they suffer most as a result of it.

Wow, this is an amazing post.

I mean I really feel what mygothlaundry is saying. And I've been that person, in the trenches of a shitty part time minimum wage bullshit job barely scraping it to have a place, coming from one of those "middle class but falls apart when a job is lost" families. Hell, I had to strike out on my own in the middle of highschool, and dropped out... But the antisocial bullshit attitudes of some of these people just disgust me.

I knew several people in highschool who drifted in to that scene. I'm still friends with a couple people who hop trains. I know they're not all assholes, but there's a serious vein of people in there who either only care about getting fucked up, or are just maliciously shitty for their own amusement, and partially out of their own frustration.

And living in Seattle like y2karl, I've seen an awful lot of the same things he has, and more. I often hang out and drink in the summer at the parks and spots these kids do, and I've seen so much of the gross animal abuse and, er, basically theft he's talking about. Me and my friend actually ended up with a dog some of these kids had "taken in" and were only feeding Doritos, since he ran away from them when they were all fucked up and chased my friend across town. Fortunately he was in good health after a vet checkup and neutering, and my friend still has him :)

But I've also found that a lot of the most awful, abusive and intolerably intoxicated assholes I've ever known have found their way into these communities, whether oogles or crusties or occupiers, and they manage to thrive there while bring everyone and everything down around them. The nihilism, thievery, and violence from these people becomes cancerous. It was in Zuccotti park, for sure.

Pretty much "this!". Up here we had one of the worst occupy movements i ever heard of. It started off strong, and then became a complete fucking mess. I can't find the YouTube video right now, but someone took a shit on the sidewalk in the middle of town screaming "fuck the police!" Or something similar. The cops didn't do too much about them, and they desperately wanted some sort of conflict with the cops so they could seem heroic and oppressed. There's plenty of video of them throwing things at the cops who were just standing their, or trying to shove/assault cops to start a big brawl or riot. They smashed up a bank branch for basically no reason. Sure, the cops maced an old lady, and SPD is awful, but they just kept antagonizing them with no provocation and it was fucking stupid. This felt endemic of the entire directionless angsty attitude.

The entire camp was full of these kids, mixed in with truly messed up hobos from an actual homeless camp across town who had been rejected from there or kicked out for doing drugs and breaking the rules. They had to put a sharps box in the middle of the occupy camp for all the drug needles.

Meanwhile they had broken in to and were Squating a house to prove some point about the mortgage collapse and people's housing being foreclosed, and tried to fix up the place but the idiots in the group ended up just trashing it.

Between the people I've known, what I've seen there, and other things(including friends who travel back and forth from here to NO) I've developed an extremely cynical attitude about crusties/oogles and all the hangers on of that "scene". And I can't help but feel pretty justified having seen the types of shitty people that effortlessly slide into it. There's some regular good kids in there, but there's also this almost enforced sense of "share-alike" quasi-anarchist community that shitheads pray on. And boy, are there a lot of shitheads.
posted by emptythought at 8:50 PM on February 27, 2013 [7 favorites]


Just to sneak one more in here

I mean, there is an extent to which, when you participate in a subculture, you are a member of a community, and you either support community standards, work to change them, or leave the community. And so I guess my difficulty is distinguishing the misbehavors from the perfectly decent folk when, in my experience, which has now covered almost two decades, they often refuse to distinguish themselves and verbally defend the misbehavior?

This says so perfectly what I've been trying to articulate for ages about this entire scene. Yes, Jesus.

You could apply this to other groups as well, but it feels particularly endemic within this community.
posted by emptythought at 8:55 PM on February 27, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's amazing how much The Young Ones got right.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 8:55 PM on February 27, 2013 [4 favorites]


I just read the Groundhog Day thread, then saw this post and felt like I was experiencing déja vu, which only got stronger as I read the comments debating the terms oogle, gutterpunk, crusty. Also, I'm listening to Abba, who are very much like Sonny & Cher, I suppose. This does not bode well for my day today.
posted by knile at 12:09 AM on February 28, 2013


New Orleans begging at its finest however, goes like this:

Street urchin: "Betcha I can tell you where you got them shoes!"
Hapless tourist: "What?"
Street urchin: "Where you got them shoes! I know EXACTLY where you got 'em! I'll betcha 10 dollars!"
Hapless tourist: "Haha! Alright, you're on! Tell me!"
Street urchin: "You got 'em on your FEET!"

Hapless tourist hands over 10 dollars.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 12:24 AM on February 28, 2013 [2 favorites]


As another anecdata point, I've had mostly positive interactions with traveling/hobo youth who dress in what is commonly referred to as the crust punk style.
posted by eviemath at 5:45 AM on February 28, 2013


Documenting the Oral Narratives of Transient Punks -- sure enough, someone wrote their master's thesis on these folks.

The crustpunks I knew when I lived in New Orleans (some referred to themselves as "dirty kids", I never heard the term oogle either...) were a lot more like this than any of the bad-egg stories you hear about. While their dogs shat on my bed with alarming regularity, and the smell of their bodies offended innocent people, I respect them for their unpretentiousness, for showing me a different way to live life, and for the many things they've all done and seen that I can't even imagine.
posted by geneva uswazi at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2013


Crust-punk is an aesthetic. Travelers/Traveling kids/gutter punks is the subculture. Oogles are the traveling kids who'll show up to your house-show, make fun of you for being a 'house punk', drink all your beer behind your back, puke under your fridge, and then break into your house the next day when they realize they left moms credit card in your kitchen.

Most traveling kids I've met have been perfectly fine, unfortunately the oogles tend to be more memorable.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 11:36 AM on February 28, 2013


The Oogles -- Oh, man, I smell a great zombie movie concept there!
posted by y2karl at 2:31 PM on February 28, 2013


Sidebar: Dunno how long the crusties/oogies have been around, but every time I see this thread in my recent history Hunter S. Thompson's Hell's Angels pops in my mind....the vehicle of choice is different and so's the overall aesthetic but in some ways the lifestyle seems surprisingly similar. The big difference being that in the early to mid 60s even a burly tattooed ex-con could get work that could feed a family just by showing up at a factory gate, so a lot of those guys worked a lot of the time and didn't beg. But the yen to travel, the drugs, the destruction, the rejection of society's mores....there's a similar vibe, in some ways.
posted by Diablevert at 10:13 PM on February 28, 2013


Crust-punk is an aesthetic. Travelers/Traveling kids/gutter punks is the subculture.

There's a distinction (although blurry) too between the more punk-oriented subculture and those that are more likely to have a banjo strapped to their packs while hopping trains, sporting a well-worn pair of overalls rather than metal studs. I heard oogle as a derogatory term coming from the more roots-music-affiliated subculture (who wouldn't necessarily identify themselves as punk anything, though the music and culture certainly has elements of that aesthetic - I would describe the music as roots-punk maybe), applied to folks they saw as somehow inauthentic wanna-be members of the subculture. Based on that Vice interview, it seems like the term has changed a bit though, as slang does.
posted by eviemath at 10:20 AM on March 1, 2013


Sounds like you bumped into some folkpunk kids. Never met an oogle in that scene. Salt of the earth, the lot of em.
posted by thsmchnekllsfascists at 10:03 PM on March 5, 2013


Sounds like you bumped into some folkpunk kids. Never met an oogle in that scene. Salt of the earth, the lot of em.

Yeah folk-punks run the spectrum from really grungy to 'so clean cut they could join Mumford & Sons', though it depends on whether you're talking the older ones like Chumbawumba or the newer Gaslight Anthem crowd. But nobody really knows for sure since those anarcho punks are mysterious.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 10:12 PM on March 5, 2013


Related
posted by eviemath at 7:11 AM on March 8, 2013


« Older Models and their Mothers...  |  Three days of watching basebal... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments