Seven hundred hoboes.
April 11, 2006 4:48 AM   Subscribe

The hoboes' time has come. Inspired by John Hodgman's book "The Areas Of My Expertise," The 700 Hoboes Project gathers pictures of hoboes. Some are better than others.
posted by EarBucket (17 comments total)
Is it me or is there no way to easily navigate the pictures? they look interesting however.
posted by stilgar at 5:38 AM on April 11, 2006

That John Hodgeman recording was linked to in another thread recently. Let me see if I can dig 'er out.
posted by Jofus at 5:55 AM on April 11, 2006

Doh! It was on the Areas Of My Expertise site. Ignore me. I'm ill.
posted by Jofus at 5:57 AM on April 11, 2006

What's the difference between a hobo and a homeless person? Is there one? I often see a sort of 'oh god, a hobo! eww!' or 'haha, look hobos are funny!' reaction from Americans who otherwise sit so firmly on what I suppose you'd call the liberal side of the fence (the side of the fence where people argue against verbal racism, homophobia etc, at least) that it never fails to surprise me. Is it a linguistic or cultural thing I'm missing, or are hobos the group it's okay to dislike?

I'm not necessarily saying this link is an expression of dislike of the homeless, or mocking them or anything. It just reminded me of something I've vaguely wondered about for a while.
posted by terpsichoria at 6:16 AM on April 11, 2006

I think the new wave of hobosploitation refers to the Platonic ideal of the hobo. The sanitarized rail-riding tramp of the Great Depression, not the modern, actual homeless of today.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:26 AM on April 11, 2006

Next up - 700 Chavs.
posted by Joeforking at 6:28 AM on April 11, 2006

Hah, yes, I can definitely see that in it, actually - the cheery old geezer with his bindle and overcoat getting through life on his wits and a song. Or something. Thanks!
posted by terpsichoria at 6:30 AM on April 11, 2006

Joeforking, yeah, that's why I asked - having just been pouring my amateur sociolinguistic chav analysis into the other thread, I found myself idly wondering if the word 'hobo' really meant a specific group of people and had been watered down through clumsy use like the word 'chav' has. Seeing a lot of US culture and language from the outside, I feel like I only see the end product of all those little cultural and linguistic evolutions, and the bits I miss intrigue me.
posted by terpsichoria at 6:35 AM on April 11, 2006

metafilter: amateur sociolinguistic chav analysis
posted by zpousman at 6:55 AM on April 11, 2006

on topic: I agree, this is kinda bleh for me. Sure it's funny to make up names for hypothetical hobos, but isn't that like making up 700 names of pornstars and illustrating that?!
posted by zpousman at 6:56 AM on April 11, 2006

The best part of this post is the site's domain name. Who doesn't want to own
posted by WidgetAlley at 6:59 AM on April 11, 2006

terpsichoria: expression of dislike of the homeless, or mocking them or anything.

I have a homeless friend, he prefers Hobo, or else some euphemism like non-domiciled or garbologist.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:25 AM on April 11, 2006

What's the difference between a hobo and a homeless person?

Although there is a degree of overlap, I'd say the difference is "choice". Despite what you may think, hoboes still exist. They are itinerant homeless people, who support themselves with odd jobs. They have been a topic of ethnographic research in recent years. Rail-riding is not dead either; some hoboes ride rails, and in the present day, they often use GPS-like systems to identify trains and destinations.

I would hesistate to make broad generalizations, but when we identify a group as 'homeless', we think of them as people who are residents of a geographic area without permanent shelter who, given the opportunity, would like to have permanent shelter. Hoboes, however, have no permanent city of residence and might not choose to accept permanent shelter.
posted by Miko at 7:45 AM on April 11, 2006

Thanks for the answers, everyone - that's really interesting stuff (and sorry if I derailed the thread a bit). A girl I spent an awful lot of time with a couple of years ago was recently ex-homeless and I never heard her use it, which is sort of why I wondered if it was a derogatory thing, a specific one or just one that never made its way over the Atlantic. And now I know!
posted by terpsichoria at 7:46 AM on April 11, 2006

The romanticizing of the hobo is nothing new. O. Henry wrote on the happy-go-lucky vagrants as early as '04, I think, and I seem to remember some old civil war songs that reference bums.
posted by The White Hat at 7:57 AM on April 11, 2006

Much cuter and more commercial than the Freight Train Riders of America of late '90's fame.
posted by paulsc at 11:22 AM on April 11, 2006

Hoboes ride trains, the homeless do not. In my experience, most hoboes have a fair bit of contempt for the homeless. I suppose it's a bit like Metafilter vs. internet communities in general.
posted by ryanrs at 7:46 PM on April 11, 2006

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