Join 3,414 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


I am a south korean Homeless Man and New Upgrade!
June 18, 2009 7:43 AM   Subscribe

A homeless man in DC has a wordpress blog which he posts images to using a remote camera. I saw this man in the DC metro yesterday, hauling a shopping cart around that not only contained his clothes, but was also festooned with cardboard signs advertising different web addresses. Wandoojin.wordpress.com was the only one I could make out, and though the fellow is clearly disturbed (though the site is not disturbing), to me it's a fascinating look at how accessible technology is to everyone, especially the folks who have too many words, images of Gremlins sitting on the US, and conspiracy theories involving Teddy Kennedy and the Clintons to keep to himself. Also, he's apparently made good use of the Apple store near my office. (I wonder if he knows the Arlington rap?)
posted by oneironaut (45 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
His photos of life on the street as well as the charts and graphs are great. And why is he using the Apple store instead of the library? Just geography or is the library even less tolerant to the homeless than businesses?
posted by DU at 7:48 AM on June 18, 2009


As far as I have seen, the public libraries in DC don't have computers that are equipped with webcams (which is probably a good thing). I have seen homeless people spending a good amount of time in DC public libraries (one is a popular place to sleep outside of), and using the computers to surf the web.
posted by oneironaut at 7:50 AM on June 18, 2009


Oh and the blogroll! He really loves flipping photos around. Is that a Known Mental Thing or just a "normal" obsession of his?
posted by DU at 7:50 AM on June 18, 2009


Ah, the blogroll must be all the other addresses on his cart that I couldn't make out.
posted by oneironaut at 7:51 AM on June 18, 2009


Why would he need a webcam? He has whatever camera he's taking the outside shots with.
posted by DU at 7:51 AM on June 18, 2009


See also On the Clock with Eric Sheptock, which broke a recent story about an HIV positive homeless woman who died laying outside the door of a shelter.
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 7:51 AM on June 18, 2009


Dunno. But he's clearly using the webcam on that MacBook. Maybe he couldn't take his cart in with him.
posted by oneironaut at 7:52 AM on June 18, 2009


photos may not be disturbing but the writings are slightly deranged.

People is nervous with My Korean Newspaper in my hand.

Why?

Because of the chinese or japanese gay?

People said the gay got joe biden and obama

and donald trump and local police department support

with churches and vatican

who support democratic party and drug business.

posted by litleozy at 7:54 AM on June 18, 2009


Yeah, folks. There is a hell of a lot of injustice and bad mojo on the streets of our nation's capitol, and unless Obama makes DC a Presidential priority, whatever else he does, his legacy will be incomplete.
posted by oneironaut at 7:55 AM on June 18, 2009


On a side note, I really, really wish I lived in a country that didn't use homelessness as one of its primary treatments for mental illness.
posted by Astro Zombie at 7:55 AM on June 18, 2009 [69 favorites]


I would favorite that a thousand times if I could, AZ.
posted by defenestration at 8:05 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Drug Bless America!
posted by acb at 8:06 AM on June 18, 2009


I was in DC last week and saw this guy sitting on a bench with his cart outside of Union Station. Funny to see him show up on the blue!
posted by ahdeeda at 8:10 AM on June 18, 2009


This is actually how I imagined most bloggers were in real life.
posted by kingbenny at 8:15 AM on June 18, 2009 [10 favorites]


A previous comment of mine about homelessness in DC.
posted by The Straightener at 8:17 AM on June 18, 2009


It's funny (not in a ha-ha way) that at first his web pages seem to be a stream of consciousness. But, he's got some interesting and normal concerns, too.

Here he keeps track of where he's slept, and he's having trouble remembering passwords to web pages he's created. We've all shared that problem, I'm sure.

Here he's showing that the camera is reversing the image. It's actually interesting. Why is it doing that?

On that same page, he's expressing a concern with his knee. One of the bones is protruding, and he wants to know why. It's almost an AskMe health question.

He marks one of his drawings as "copyright free". He has a comic of a foot on a flag, with it's middle toe up (like a middle finger). So, he's making a political statement through his cartoons.

And, he shares photos of his homeland, Korea.

Kinda like anyone's web pages, except with a tilt.
posted by Houstonian at 8:22 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Here's a website of his while he's healthy.

The guy's got a huge web presence.
posted by Houstonian at 8:29 AM on June 18, 2009


So, is this performance art, or what?
posted by elder18 at 8:36 AM on June 18, 2009


And to clarify, I made a 'lolblogger' joke, not a 'lolhomelessness' or 'lolmentalillness' joke. I apologize for what could have been construed as insensitivity.
posted by kingbenny at 8:38 AM on June 18, 2009


They have stolen My IDEA,DESIGN,CODE,IDENTITY,Superball Jackpot

through identity theft for the gay right.


Just because youre paranoid doesn't mean the gays aren't taking your lottery tickets.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 8:45 AM on June 18, 2009


Yeah, folks. There is a hell of a lot of injustice and bad mojo on the streets of our nation's capitol, and unless Obama makes DC a Presidential priority, whatever else he does, his legacy will be incomplete.

He is a man, not a god. While the state of the streets of our capitol may indeed be dire, I hardly think they are more important than international relations, health care, job creation, and energy independence. If those problems were all solved on Obama's watch I'd say you'd be hard pressed to say his legacy was incomplete.
posted by scrutiny at 8:54 AM on June 18, 2009 [2 favorites]


*I think* not *I'd say*.
posted by scrutiny at 8:55 AM on June 18, 2009


So, is this performance art, or what?

No. This guy's pretty clearly... what, schizophrenic? Y'all probably don't see many homeless people in Wyoming (too cold in the winter, not urban enough), but in my time I've seen plenty like this guy. For a lot of mentally ill people, there's really nowhere else for them to go.
posted by muddgirl at 8:59 AM on June 18, 2009


...health care...

I imagine that single-payer, socialized health care would go a long way to helping the homeless problem, at least for guys like this that are clearly intelligent and motivated, but schizophrenic. Too bad that insurance companies have more lobbying dollars than the homeless.
posted by muddgirl at 9:01 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Kinda like anyone's web pages, except with a tilt.

So kinda like anyone's web pages, then.
posted by rokusan at 9:01 AM on June 18, 2009


DU: "1And why is he using the Apple store instead of the library? Just geography or is the library even less tolerant to the homeless than businesses?"

Don't know about D.C., but the public library where I'm at has a web filter so strict that it blocks Metafilter.

scrutiny: "While the state of the streets of our capitol may indeed be dire, I hardly think they are more important than international relations, health care, job creation, and energy independence."

Well, now, that depends on who you ask. Why not ask the homeless blogger guy?
posted by JHarris at 9:02 AM on June 18, 2009


Boy, he sure doesn't like the gays.

Also, he keeps himself remarkably kempt and well-dressed, under the circumstances.

Fascinating stuff. Thanks for this.
posted by saulgoodman at 9:08 AM on June 18, 2009


wow, that was really neat. i sent a link to this mefi to my friend who lives in dc.

as saulgoodman said, dude is well-maintained considering his circumstances.

thanks for posting!!!
posted by sio42 at 9:19 AM on June 18, 2009


I imagine that single-payer, socialized health care would go a long way to helping the homeless problem, at least for guys like this that are clearly intelligent and motivated, but schizophrenic. Too bad that insurance companies have more lobbying dollars than the homeless.

Mentally ill people who are homeless qualify for Medicaid, which covers both psychiatric medications and out patient mental health treatment.
posted by The Straightener at 9:38 AM on June 18, 2009


Thanks for posting this. It's a very good read.

All Americans stigmatize mental illness, but Korean Americans especially, and this drives home just how sad this is.

I wonder what the story with his family is. This would be a great opportunity for a professional journalist (or just someone that lives near there and has some time and patience) to dig into.
posted by ignignokt at 9:49 AM on June 18, 2009


Mentally ill people who are homeless qualify for Medicaid, which covers both psychiatric medications and out patient mental health treatment.

Isn't the issue then more of getting help to them in a regulated way? Having aid available is great, but it doesn't do anything if they can't/won't take it.
posted by filthy light thief at 9:53 AM on June 18, 2009


I meant "Americans as a whole" rather than "all Americans."
posted by ignignokt at 9:53 AM on June 18, 2009


He is a man, not a god. While the state of the streets of our capitol may indeed be dire, I hardly think they are more important than international relations, health care, job creation, and energy independence. If those problems were all solved on Obama's watch I'd say you'd be hard pressed to say his legacy was incomplete.

You're entitled to your opinion. But the two twenty-year old guys that have been shot and killed in my neighborhood in the past month, the gentrification-fuelled shunting of folks out to even poorer and under-served neighborhoods, the abysmal state of the schools, the ungodly ass-ripping the District gets in Congress when some odious member wants to make a point and turn it into a political laboratory for the folks back home...that this happens in our capitol is a national disgrace. Everything bad that is happening to black communities is happening right under the first black President's nose, and he should do more than just be a role model leading by the example of where he now sits. Obama may have proved that anyone can be president, but I guarantee you that no poor black kid born in these years in DC ever will.
posted by oneironaut at 9:55 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


And let me add, I'm one of the gentrifiers.
posted by oneironaut at 9:56 AM on June 18, 2009


According to this entry he graduated from high school in South Korea in 1981 or 1982, and then emigrated first to South America and then to the U.S. He says he is fluent in four languages. His written Korean is quite good, free of misspellings or grammatical mistakes, and gives the impression of being a well-read man. It also appears he spent some time in Los Angeles, before moving to New York City and then DC.
posted by needled at 10:08 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


Isn't the issue then more of getting help to them in a regulated way? Having aid available is great, but it doesn't do anything if they can't/won't take it.

Having been through the homeless system, I would not wish the hoops you have to jump through for various services on anyone, much less someone who is mentally ill. Of course, it varies from place to place, but, in general, it's easy to get started on the road to getting help, but it's also extremely easy to fuck up along the way and get lost in the cracks.
posted by Astro Zombie at 10:25 AM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


The good news is that we know now how to get people off the streets, that chronic homelessness is primarily a mental health issue and so all the charity and goodwill in the world won't make a dent because it doesn't address the core problem. Also, we understand that trying to provide mental health services from a homeless shelter doesn't work too well, either, because it's a fundamentally unstable base to work from, where there are others using drugs, violence, unsanitary conditions, etc. So, we know that when you give someone a permanent place to stay and then provide intensive services for them in the community including psychiatric care and in-home case management support, they have a chance of stabilizing, remaining housed and thereby reducing the incidents of incarceration, hospitalization and shelter usage and death.

The issues are 1) there are resource shortages especially on the housing side, 2) too much social service resources are still being directed to programs that either have no evidence base supporting that they work, or, like the shelter system, have a tremendous amount of evidence to prove they don't 3) providing mental health services to chronically homeless mentally ill men and women is extraordinarily difficult, and the population itself is often resistent to treatment and suspicious of anyone associated with any sort of macro system, be it health services, law enforcement, the courts, housing officials, etc.

So, it's incredibly labor intensive; as a social worker you watch your clients repeatedly fail, getting incarcerated, getting committed, losing their housing, etc. This is a part of a larger process; there is no compulsory mental health treatment, no forced medicating, nor stipulated attendance at treatment programs, nor should there be. The recovery model for mental health services was devised in the aftermath of a long period in history where the mentally ill had no say in how they were treated by doctors, the courts, or social workers. If a client doesn't want medication, if a client doesn't want treatment, that's their decision to make. If that decision winds them back up in jail, on the psych unit or on the streets, that is seen by the mental health professional as a learning opportunity.

I have been through this process with clients, allowing them to refuse treatment, not take their meds, watching them do ill advised things like assault law enforcement officers or convert their apartments to crack houses. And when they got locked up, involuntarily committed, or went back to the abandoned house they used to live in I asked them, "Why are we here again? If you don't have a chronic mental health condition, if you don't need to engage in treatment or take medication, why are we having this conversation on the psych ward? Why are we meeting at the prison instead of in your new apartment?" Sometimes, after many failures, there is a moment of clarity, the client engages, remains engaged, stays off the streets and their homelessness problem is ended.

That's a lot of work, though, man. Even most social workers don't want to do that kind of work. I couldn't do it for that long, and I have a fairly high tolerance for the grueling, harrowing, soul destroying aspects of working in the field.
posted by The Straightener at 10:27 AM on June 18, 2009 [19 favorites]


Damn, Straightener, that was hella insightful. As soon as I read your comment I thought, "Hey, that's got to be the Mefite who writes for Phawker, right?" Upon checking your profile it was confirmed. Thanks for bringing to social worker's perspective to this discussion.
posted by Juliet Banana at 11:11 AM on June 18, 2009


The Straightener, will you please run for mayor of DC?
posted by exogenous at 11:16 AM on June 18, 2009


You're entitled to your opinion. But the two twenty-year old guys that have been shot and killed in my neighborhood in the past month, the gentrification-fuelled shunting of folks out to even poorer and under-served neighborhoods, the abysmal state of the schools, the ungodly ass-ripping the District gets in Congress when some odious member wants to make a point and turn it into a political laboratory for the folks back home...that this happens in our capitol is a national disgrace. Everything bad that is happening to black communities is happening right under the first black President's nose, and he should do more than just be a role model leading by the example of where he now sits. Obama may have proved that anyone can be president, but I guarantee you that no poor black kid born in these years in DC ever will.

Fair enough, but a fair amount of these problems are not restricted to DC alone. You've got problems all over the country. It seems to me that these sorts of local problems are best handled by a local government, not the President of the United States. Granted, the local government in DC is severely hampered by what Congress chooses to allow it to do, but the specific problems of DC are not (imo) Obama's primary concern. You could say that homelessness across all of America is his problem, but I don't see how the success of his current policies would fail to mediate that in some way.

Just to be clear now, I do think that the problem you're describing is severe and needs to be addressed, but I'm not convinced Obama is the one to be held responsible for fixing it. I wish I knew more about how the local government in DC works, but as an outsider it seems like these problems are too specific and focal for the POTUS. If we're going to involve the federal government at all, we should probably talk about Congress since they decide the municipal budget for DC. Honestly it sounds to me like they're the ones who are screwing everything up in the first place.
posted by scrutiny at 11:18 AM on June 18, 2009


If we're going to involve the federal government at all, we should probably talk about Congress since they decide the municipal budget for DC.

Now if only DC were actually represented in congress...
posted by advil at 1:06 PM on June 18, 2009


FWIW, the camera is reversed to act more as a mirror in Photobooth.
posted by hellphish at 2:44 PM on June 18, 2009


DC has some interesting homeless bloggers. This guy (about) is one I (and probably most people who have spent any time around Union Station) have talked to a lot.
posted by naoko at 6:41 PM on June 18, 2009 [1 favorite]


I checked out his his home page. He likes planes, cars, famous women, space, and Korean food. In that respect, he's normal. He's also obsessed with addresses, copyright, and is paranoid about gay people, people of other races, drugs, and the government. And whale vaginas. Apparently, repetition is a big part of being insane.

And he's on YouTube.

Somehow, he seems like he'd be a nice guy if he wasn't insane. I'm not sure why that is, exactly.
posted by ignignokt at 7:06 PM on June 18, 2009


He also doesn't like Catholicism. He has a couple of comments on Catholicism being a false religion, but I think they're only in Korean. His Korean writing is much more lucid than his English writing, which may be a function of his degree of fluency in those language. Only the very ranty, conspiracy material seems to be presented in both Korean and English.
posted by needled at 8:43 PM on June 18, 2009


« Older Custom Letters...  |  To Set the Record Straight. . ... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments