La Vida de Vagabundos Americanos
August 13, 2007 2:24 PM   Subscribe

La Vida de Vagabundos Americanos. Images of America's young homeless from the excellent Polaroid Photography Collective, featured before.
posted by borkingchikapa (25 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
posted by notreally at 2:41 PM on August 13, 2007

Looks like a fashion shoot in Vice.
posted by Falconetti at 2:54 PM on August 13, 2007

I've seen these photos in another gallery posted here before. I think it may be a double. But still, they're worth seeing again because they're excellent.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 2:58 PM on August 13, 2007

Up until the last picture I was really getting the idea that being homeless would be cool and fun.
posted by mullingitover at 2:58 PM on August 13, 2007

Yeah, some of these people look like they're in better shape than students dorming at my school, although that might be due to the photographer's disproportionate focus on the more attractive homeless.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 3:03 PM on August 13, 2007

There is a striking link between the photography posts today, Focus: the homeless.
posted by Viomeda at 3:20 PM on August 13, 2007

I'm pretty sure these pictures were featured on their artist's website on here before... something to do with an AskMe about traveling on trains... cmonkey may have posted the link, I think?
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:27 PM on August 13, 2007

I've totally seen this one somewhere before. Wasn't this in another post on the blue? About miners? Riding the rails? Something...
posted by pantsrobot at 3:30 PM on August 13, 2007

Woops, it was antitext who linked to the pictures.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:32 PM on August 13, 2007

I too support a poodle free Montana.
posted by delmoi at 3:37 PM on August 13, 2007

I think if I were homeless I'd refer to myself as a "vagabundo". Sounds more exotic that way.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:47 PM on August 13, 2007

These are some unusually attractive homeless people. All of the homeless people in my town are so hideous that I get literally nauseous if one of them takes me by surprise. And they wonder why they get beaten to death!

... and we get to the final photo. Ah, chewin on a possum. That's the life for me.
posted by synaesthetichaze at 3:51 PM on August 13, 2007

These are some unusually attractive homeless people.

That's because they're about 17 and have come from nice homes with dental care and real nutrition. After about 10 years of MD2020 and possum guts - you'll find them a lot more recognizable.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 5:08 PM on August 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Neat pictures, stupid asshole crust punk kids. How I hate them.

Also: Check out the whip-its in pics #18 and 19! I am surprised that anybody, homeless or no, would be willing to have their picture taken while doing nitrous - it's so gauche.
posted by beefetish at 5:11 PM on August 13, 2007

They look so good because they come from good middle/upper class families and choose to be "vagabundos". Every year they descend on richmond as soon as it gets warm out and start panhandling. They are the worst people, pieces of shit who think that they're experiencing "real life" when most of them probably have college funds and health insurance that's just a phone call away. Crust punk train hoppers, die.

I totally understand the need to have an authentic life, but you have do it without doing drugs in a shack and contracting hep c from a hand poked face tattoo while expecting me to give you money for food just because you have are dirty and have a dog.
posted by youthenrage at 6:06 PM on August 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

@youthenrage - Do they also panhandle in the most dickish way possible down there too? I have seen "Spare change for facial piercings" and countless variations on the JUST NEED BEER LOL theme up here in SEA/PDX.

Doubly irritating because friends have been bums in the past because of a complete lack of safety nets. Oh, to find living under a bridge romantic.
posted by beefetish at 6:36 PM on August 13, 2007

They look so good because they come from good middle/upper class families and choose to be "vagabundos".

Eh. I spent about 10 years in the crust punk scene, looking much like those kids in the photos, and "good families" or "nice homes with dental care and real nutrition" isn't what I would say about the backgrounds of a lot of the kids I met. Some kids came from middle class familes that gave a shit about them, and were jokingly called "the upper crust" because their parents occasionally helped with their rent, but many were from poor backgrounds with a pattern of experiencing domestic abuse and sexual assault. All of the kids who I was friends with who really lived the life of squatting and hopping trains every few months, and didn't just go to the shows and share a dirty house with a dozen other kids like I did, had some fucked up mental health problems and a litany of reasons why they can't set foot in their parent's house.

So I'm not sure where all these happy, healthy rich kids you've apparently spoken with about their backgrounds who are taking a summer holiday to be dirty pandhandlers come from, but they're definitely not all like that. Although, granted, everyone I knew just spanged for beer money, because food is easy to find for free if you work hard enough at finding it.
posted by cmonkey at 6:40 PM on August 13, 2007 [4 favorites]

I have no love for trust fund teen hobos, but every time these photos show up here (and this must be the third or fourth time) I stop and look them over. Regardless of who the kids are or what their lives are really like, the photos make them beautiful. The images are so intimate and warm, the photographer is clearly one of them. And without judging them, it's fascinating to see how they live.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 7:16 PM on August 13, 2007

Seconding cmonkey. I was hanging out with these kids or kids exactly like them fifteen-twenty years ago, and, to a person, they were where they were because something was broken. A home, an arm, broken headmeats, broken promises, dreams, whatever. It was easier and saner for them to strike off on their own and maybe die on their own terms than to die slowly on somebody else's terms.

Years later, and the ones who survived are responsible members of society with kids and cars and jobs and mortgages. Go figure.

Beautiful pictures. They made me weirdly nostalgic.
posted by lekvar at 8:06 PM on August 13, 2007

Crusty, maybe. Punk, certainly.
posted by gelfmag at 9:10 PM on August 13, 2007

OK, I know what's going on in the foreground of this picture, but what the hell is going on in the background? That instrument, I can't tell if it's an abomination or pure genius. I know that I want one, though.
posted by lekvar at 11:11 PM on August 13, 2007

Pure genius, totally. If everyone had an electrified cello machine, the world would be so much better off.
posted by cmonkey at 11:34 PM on August 13, 2007

I'm not sure in spanish, but in Brazilian Portuguese, vagabundo means "lazy, worthless, good for nothing, etc." In Latin America these counter culture "kids" are referred to as "malucos" (crazies), and usually are selling some type of handmade craft to make money.
posted by iamck at 9:39 AM on August 14, 2007

synaesthetichaze: All of the homeless people in my town are so hideous... And they wonder why they get beaten to death!

That was a particularly ignorant and despicable comment. Along with the linked photos, it reminds me of an unbearably bad article in the Minneapolis City Pages from about 6 months back. There was a very good response from the director of a local Youth shelter--I think her criticism is equally applicable to this collection of photographs.

I really don't understand the point of these photos. I don't see any particularly unique beauty inherent to their lifestyle, whether they've chosen this life for themselves or not. Moreover, the subjects' faces are, with few exceptions, blank and emotionless. No story is being told. No hopes, desires, disappointments, or anything remotely human is communicated. One might as well take pictures of stray dogs.

And while I guess that is the essential point--look at these people and how they are like animals--again, I don't understand it. It's just a Hollywood-esque romanticizing of real, mundane homelessness by replacing it with something altogether different--feral people. It serves the quaint function of allowing people to gawk, to note how "hideous" homeless people are, to make random guesses as to who they are and where they come from, and to distance themselves from a real problem which is a lot less endemic than they'd like to admit.
posted by dsword at 9:56 AM on August 14, 2007

Are you looking at the same photos I saw, dsword? Because I think these photos are beautiful. And far from being emotionless, the subjects seem to be enjoying their lifestyle. I think that's what the photographer is trying to do -- humanize these kids and show the romantic appeal of their lives. Personally I don't think it looks like fun, but it seems clear to me that the photographer not only lives this way, he enjoys it.

But you and I obviously have different tastes, because I thought synaesthetichaze's comment was pretty funny.
posted by Kraftmatic Adjustable Cheese at 3:07 PM on August 15, 2007

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