The World is An Unusual Place
October 13, 2008 2:27 PM   Subscribe

OK, it's a little cheesy, maybe MeFark or Believe It or Not Only True, but this site has some hidden gems. Vagabonds in America (lifestyle of the New Depression?), the Road of Death, Lenin: Still Dead, and the always popular, almost finished, really genuinely tall Barj Dubai.
posted by cogneuro (62 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Dead Lenin is pretty weird looking – his face is distinctly waxy or plasticy and looks a bit fake, but then wouldn’t they do something about histiny, oddly chewed upon looking ears? Of course you only get a glance as men with Kalashnikovs force you to shuffle on by as quickly as possible, lest your eyeballs wear him out.
posted by Artw at 2:38 PM on October 13, 2008


Vagabonds in America

If only more homeless people would dress like hippies, then I wouldn't feel so bad about not giving them any money.
posted by dhammond at 2:44 PM on October 13, 2008


I think gutterpunk girls can look a bit hot. Used to be a fetish for me. I always wanted to take them home, give them a bath, new clothes, and cut their hair.

I got over it.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:45 PM on October 13, 2008


I think gutterpunk girls can look a bit hot. Used to be a fetish for me. I always wanted to take them home, give them a bath, new clothes, and cut their hair.

I got over it.


As did I, the moment I got over that unpleasant scabies experience.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:49 PM on October 13, 2008


I think this is the third time that first link of pictures has shown up on MeFi, these must be the most famous Vagabonds in America. There is probably even a backstory, like, upper middle class kids from LA who spent the summer of 1999 tramping it before going to college and are now middle managers at one of the Fortune 500s (not that there is anything wrong with that). Or they are now in prison or an asylum for the more romantically inclined.
posted by stbalbach at 2:59 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've seen those pictures of the gutter punk kids somewhere else before years ago, I think there was an article that went along with them as well.

Before you feel too sorry for these kids, you should know that the vast majority of them come from upper-middle class families, and their homelessness is a fashionable affectation. If they wanted to get off the streets, all it would probably take is a phone call to mom and dad. This is basically their version of "slumming it". They used to be a fixture in front of the University here in Austin, begging for change and selling small amounts of various drugs (or ripping people off for same), until the police chased most of them away.
posted by DecemberBoy at 2:59 PM on October 13, 2008


Are these not what in the UK would be called crusties?
posted by Artw at 3:04 PM on October 13, 2008


I always wanted to ask someone about vagabonds and their dogs. Why do they always have dogs? Are they strays? And is anyone else surprised by how healthy these littlest-hobos look?
posted by phyrewerx at 3:10 PM on October 13, 2008


A dog-on-a-string would be totally crusty.
posted by Artw at 3:14 PM on October 13, 2008


Why do they always have dogs?

This is pure, wild speculation on my part, but I would imagine that for a homeless person, dogs provide protection, warmth, and companionship for the cost of some food that even you might not eat.

And while it might be sad to say, they could also be a source of food if things get really bad.
posted by quin at 3:16 PM on October 13, 2008


Are these not what in the UK would be called crusties?

From that description, "crusties" sound more like legitimate squatter types, like the squatter subculture in NYC, although there may be some overlap (the "dog on a string" thing especially). The defining attribute of gutter punks is that they are late teens-early 20s kids from affluent backgrounds who are homeless by choice, often with some half-baked political justification, e.g. "I don't want to be part of the tyrannical American consumer robot culture, maaan." They may even look down on people who are not homeless. They're pretty ridiculous.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:19 PM on October 13, 2008


Sounds a lot like crusties.
posted by Artw at 3:20 PM on October 13, 2008


Oh man, crust punks.

I know kids who are involved in that scene and to be honest I ended up rather disillusioned. Some of them seem to have confused not bathing, living in a pointedly trashed flophouse, and not having a job with being a revolutionary.

I've dumpstered my share of food and have my repetoire of rags, but to be honest, there's a big difference between being filthy and changing the world. How many options did that girl throw away with her facial tattoo?

And this is the anarchist talking.
posted by dunkadunc at 3:21 PM on October 13, 2008



Wow, some crusties in their gap year. Must me tough being that young and the rest of one's life to look forward to.

This is the pick of American Vagabonds'cause I had a similar looking dog that I had to have put down due to bad arthritis. His name was Barry.
posted by mattoxic at 3:29 PM on October 13, 2008


I always understood "crust punks" to just mean people who wear jackets with lots of denim patches sewn on, listen to like Nausea and Aus Rotten and Choking Victim, and are usually unkempt but not necessarily homeless. Maybe different terms mean different things in different places.
posted by DecemberBoy at 3:31 PM on October 13, 2008


I always wanted to take them home, give them a bath, new clothes, and cut their hair.

Run a string through the hole in an Amebix record, leave it near the CSX tracks and reel it in when they come tumbling out of an empty coal hopper.
posted by The Straightener at 3:36 PM on October 13, 2008 [6 favorites]


The terms are sort of confused a lot I think. Here in Richmond they're called crusties (even though the dudes with DOOM backpatchs and studded leather jackets are crusties too) or train hoppers. They come through every summer. This year I saw one train hopper girl panhandling who must have just got into the life, all her army surplus gear was clean, her head was freshly shaved, and the razr2 cellphone she was talking to somebody on was brand new. I love the this lifestyle in theory (hopping trains, dumpster diving, traveling around, etc...) but the realities of it sucks. Traveling is cool, traveling only to camp out in front of different 711s begging for enough change to buy a 40 is not cool.
posted by youthenrage at 3:38 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


I've talked to a lot of people like those vagabonds, and I've found many of them to be sweet and nice in their individual ways. But what a scam that culture is! I find it funny that's there's such an overt (and readily adhered to) fashion aesthetic - kind of like what Nassim Nicholas Taleb aptly called "cheap signaling," I believe. And having lived through a hideous war, often with no access to any sort of means of washing, or food, or heat, or wearable clothing, or electricity or even scraps of materials to block broken windows - I can tell you that 'vagabonding' is not a lifestyle that more than a couple of the kids depicted (barring meth addicts and people with mental problems) would have chosen without having an escape route of some sort . . . even if it's just implicit, in the sense that this is a wealthy country with charitable people and most of these kids could leave it in a second if they wished.

I lead a pretty honest and simple life. Despite the fact that I'm now comfortable and earn good money, I live ascetically and save most of my income for want of anything to spend it on. That said, my one true 'luxury' is that I take some pride in dressing nicely and looking good . . . I reckon that I've paid my price in advance for every 45-minute shower I take these days. So I have to laugh when kids like those in the photograph take one look at me and expound on how I don't really "get it" and make snap judgements on what they assume to be my lifelong indulgence in luxury.

In short, despite some positive feelings for these vagabonds or crusties or what have you, I find them oddly lacking in diverse experience, weirdly dogmatic and inflexible (esp considering the pride they take in their 'non-conformist' views and lifestyles) and well, just kind of sad. They seem more delusional than the members of the culture they claim to want to escape, for all its supposed falseness and superficiality.
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 3:40 PM on October 13, 2008 [8 favorites]


The linked site basically steals photos from other sites, right? It's not like they have anything to do with the creators of any of this content.
posted by GuyZero at 3:49 PM on October 13, 2008


Those photos of vagabonds/crusties/gutterpunks are all by photographer Mike Brodie.
posted by gyusan at 3:55 PM on October 13, 2008 [1 favorite]


It's amazing to me - how many of you assume the young people in those photographs are passing judgment on you just by living in the manner they choose.
posted by Baby_Balrog at 3:57 PM on October 13, 2008 [8 favorites]


NSFW ads at the bottom of the Lenin link. Also, I've seen all of these here before. Meh.
posted by desjardins at 4:12 PM on October 13, 2008


Crusties are incredibly judgemental. I had this sloppy drunk crustette up in my steez one night calling me a yuppie pig, all grabbing my shirt and punching me in the chest. It's like, excuuuuuuse me for wearing khakis and a button down and not my Motorhead shirt to my social work job today. Ironically, I was on my way to the same punk and metal fest that she presumably train hopped into town for. Kids came from all over the country for that fest and it got shut down because drunk crusters were breaking car windows outside the venue and taking swings at random passersby. I don't necessarily have any problem with the train hopper life style choice but their often violent drunken antics definitely make it hard for people who otherwise would be sympathetic to want to defend them.
posted by The Straightener at 4:17 PM on October 13, 2008


It's amazing to me - how many of you assume the young people in those photographs are passing judgment on you just by living in the manner they choose.

No, I don't want to.

And seriously? There used to be a squat up the road from where I had a share house once- and in no way were these people squatting out of necessity- it was a lifestyle thing.

It's not as if these people are living in their cars with three kids, deinstitutionalised mentally ill begging, 12 year olds eking out an existence on the streets, old people with no money for aged care- man the list is endless

Gimme a break, these people are living the life.
posted by mattoxic at 4:24 PM on October 13, 2008


Totally agree, GuyZero. I've seen everything linked to elsewhere before.

Basically, the site is stealing the work of others, and removing the context as well.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 4:32 PM on October 13, 2008


It's amazing to me - how many of you assume the young people in those photographs are passing judgment on you just by living in the manner they choose.

How are you so sure they aren't? Have you ever talked to any of them? I've had a lot of contact with these types just by being part of the punk rock scene in Austin when I was younger, and I can assure you that many of them do in fact consider themselves some kind of revolutionary because they beg for beer/dope money and sneak into shows, and look down on everyone else as consumer sheep. Not all of them, and a minority of them are homeless for some reason other than choice, but most of them. I think the post above that guesses that the kids in the pictures are now clean-cut middle managers is pretty likely.
posted by DecemberBoy at 4:36 PM on October 13, 2008


BAWWW people are picking a non-standard lifestyle BAWWWW.

Setting aside more valid allegations of violent, judgmental, or subculture-conformist attitudes and actions among this group (I don't really know crusties/freighthoppers to say.), I find the judgments merely based on "they CHOSE this" pretty weak.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:37 PM on October 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


I think the post above that guesses that the kids in the pictures are now clean-cut middle managers is pretty likely.

With facial tats, sure.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 4:37 PM on October 13, 2008


BAWWW people are picking a non-standard lifestyle BAWWWW.

People who steal photos to put up on their blogs to generate ad revenue? It's a dirty lifestyle and I, for one, disapprove of it.
posted by GuyZero at 4:38 PM on October 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


cogneuro, Entertaining and interesting visuals. I love sites like this, a nice jumble of wows and just my cup of multi-cultural amusement. Thanks for the post. And you're right, the world really is an unusual place.

Love the classic hats on the construction workers building Lenin's mausoleum. yikes, this is a haunting image of his mausoleum. Kind of desolate. Amazing it was first built out of wood. Then rebuilt in stone. The more I scrolled down that page, the stranger it became. So, Stalin, the monster, was put in there too, his name inscribed and then deleted.

Ok, had no idea where to put this link. Lenin doesn't come up much, lol. But it's a fun one. It's that famous image of Lenin but played around with, including animations.

From the vagabond link "Citizens for a poodle free Montana". ha!

One look at that road of death link, the car on the edge like that and my tummy flipped. urgh.

Enjoying the other links on that site. Thanks.
posted by nickyskye at 5:07 PM on October 13, 2008


I don't know if these kids are choosing this life or not, but they do remind me of the UK crustie girl I stood behind in Marks & Spencer while she exchanged her families Xmas gifts for cash.
Most homeless (not by choice) people I have seen don't look so much like Tom Waits bastard children, they can't afford to.
posted by zingzangzung at 5:35 PM on October 13, 2008


For those hating the vagabond kids:

If only more homeless people would dress like hippies, then I wouldn't feel so bad about not giving them any money.

dhammond, Do you think sounds hip?

What is wrong with you empathy impaired, heartless, uninformed spoiled brats not having compassion for homeless kids?

What is the story with the bs of getting off on hating your fellow human being?

I was a homeless kid, between ages 13 to the end of 15 because of surviving abuse at 'home'. It wasn't remotely home-like. Homeless as a kid wasn't fun. At all. My back teeth rotted agonizingly without having a family dentist, miscarried with no family doctor, didn't have warm clothes in winter or decent shoes. Won't even discuss the lack of safety issues. It was a nightmare. It took 35 hours of babysitting to earn enough money to buy a pair of glasses. Then left the USA and was homeless in London, worked as a housekeeper for a writer for 4 years to have a roof over my head.

There are over a million homeless kids in the USA. How the hell do you know they all have rich parents and what these kids are doing is faking it by slumming? Even if they had a rich parent, their rich parent/s may be violent, addicted, monster/s, I've known plenty. The ones photographed look like kids who are barely surviving. The more likely reason they're homeless is that they were abused and couldn't handle it any more. Or maybe they survived trauma [pdf], got addicted to drugs, faced being incarcerated or have mental health issues?

With this financial crisis, the number of people now having lost their homes, 2.4 million, there may be lots more homeless kids.

Tent cities spring up in L.A. With foreclosures rates still rising, shantytowns have started springing up in Los Angeles.

May those of you sneering at those who have less than you learn how to be more human.
posted by nickyskye at 5:58 PM on October 13, 2008 [15 favorites]


The term "vagabonds" strikes me as somewhat odd. In "the old days," we had hobos, tramps, bums--and each group differed. We have homeless kids--abused at home, addicted, whatnot; then the homeless, those unable to afford lodgings. We also have gypsies--yes, they exist in America, and they seem to like moving about; we have those released from what were at one time insane asylums, now closed down and those put out on the streets without their meds.
But for those of us who work, have a home, eat regularly etc those "vagabonds" are simply--well, The Other.
posted by Postroad at 6:24 PM on October 13, 2008


nickyskye, I think most of us have compassion for legitimately homeless kids. There is, however, an established trend of well-off kids loudly and proudly doing it for kicks, and those kids piss a lot of us off. Maybe it's because we do have empathy for the truly needy kids, not the brats who just want to "feel alive" and can go home to a warm bed whenever they're sick of play acting. I think there was even a post about this on MetaFilter previously.
posted by katillathehun at 6:48 PM on October 13, 2008


Nicky, with all due respect (and I believe you are due plenty), you are not they.

Yes, there are lots of homeless kids who are out there and have no other choice. These are not those kids. San Francisco, where I live, has a LOT of homeless people (and some them are young). The people in those photos are not homeless. They may be technically homeless in that they don't rent or own shelter. But that is not actually a meaningful similarity. These are two very different populations, with very different cultures.

The neighborhood I live in happens to be where all the crusties/gutterpunks/fauxbos live. As far as I know, they only congregate in one or two parts of town (because it is fashionable), whereas actual real homeless people are everywhere. Actual homeless people don't have the luxury of adhering to a strict dress code, down to type of dog they own (actual homeless people don't typically have access to a steady supply of pitbull puppies, or the means to care for them). This is how I know they are posing, trying to fit into a subculture, rather than being out of options. Oh plus, they TOLD ME SO.

You should be indignant about these kids who are taking away attention and resources from people who actually need help.
posted by danny the boy at 6:58 PM on October 13, 2008


You should be indignant about these kids who are taking away attention and resources from people who actually need help.

This comes up a lot when debates over train hoppers heat up. Crusties don't take away resources from people who actually need help. Their transient nature disqualifies them for the bulk of homeless services. Major cities have residency requirements in order to access shelter systems and other social services. You can't just hop off a train and start using up a state's welfare, food stamps, medicaid or SSI resources, either. All of these things require proof of residence, and have minimum residency requirements. For example, you cannot access a homeless shelter in the city of Philadelphia unless you can prove that you've been a resident of the city (even if you're not housed, you can still be a resident) for at least 30 days.

You can prove residency any number of ways; birth certificate, medical records, prior lease agreements, old utility bills or even a family member or friend's verbal confirmation is fine. The only services available to train hopping crusties are jails and emergency rooms, which, while they may be expensive to tax payers, are not available in limited supply for the homeless.

As someone who's worked in homeless services, I can say that I never once encountered a crusty in the system. They have their own support networks within their scene. They are not taxing the homeless services system. The less transient ones who keep permanent residency in a certain city may collect some welfare or some food stamps or something, but unless you have a family these benefits are very, very minimal. Like $28 per month in cash assistance type minimal.
posted by The Straightener at 7:10 PM on October 13, 2008 [7 favorites]


The vagabonds photos were already posted here (as stbalbach notes, though the links are broken now), and the Dubai stuff was just posted a few days ago here. I don't know what the site policy is on these kinds of agglomerating sites, but I think this mostly tips the balance into double territory.
posted by chinston at 7:32 PM on October 13, 2008


Vagabond.

The Underground World of Real Life Vagabonds

Here's more info about the kids in those photographs by The Polaroid Kid aka Mike Brodie.

The spew of hate in this thread started with snark against homeless people.

Then came the speculation that the "vagabond kids" were just slumming. How do any of you know from those photographs who these kids are? The fact is there are Railway Kids, homeless kids, all over the planet.

There are 1.3 million homeless kids in America. How many of those do you think are slumming it because they have rich parents and are trying to just look cool? A few hundred. A few thousand? Tell me which kid in those photographs looks like they are slumming?

The hate spewers in this thread are brats, spoiled brats.
posted by nickyskye at 7:52 PM on October 13, 2008 [3 favorites]


Well, never mind, then. I guess we really do hate homeless kids. We're - without any possible doubt - looking at photos of the less fortunate, and we feel NO guilt over spewing hate their way. We're just pretending they're fakers because we haven't embraced our inner Scrooge. Thank you for the enlightenment. Just for giggles, I might go ahead and pretend that negativity is directed toward privileged kids who are just slumming it, regardless of who is in those photos. Because there are definitely people who do that, and they, unlike you, have no idea what it's like to really suffer. Not that there's any reason to feel anger over that or anything.
posted by katillathehun at 8:16 PM on October 13, 2008




So what if they came from the middle class or whatever? The mere fact that they tramp around doesn't piss me off.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 8:33 PM on October 13, 2008 [4 favorites]


This comes up a lot when debates over train hoppers heat up. Crusties don't take away resources from people who actually need help.

I'm not actually concerned about city resources, which I know most homeless people don't use anyway. I'm talking about... perception? The intra-city tourists who come to the Haight and see these kids hanging out on the street begging for change, the ones who proudly display their rejection of whatever structure they think society wants to force on them. They displace actual homeless. And again, I'm not even talking about the kids getting that $3.45 in pocket change instead of the 50 year old guy with the shopping cart. I'm talking about real homeless people, becoming even less visible to the people that care about them the least. Whatever, maybe that doesn't actually matter.

But you know what really bugs me? That these kids are proud of being homeless, in a way that real homeless would never be. So yeah, I'm going to go ahead and save up my empathy for the folks that didn't explicity choose living on the street as a fashion statement.
posted by danny the boy at 12:31 AM on October 14, 2008


I've spoken with homeless people - as in background of abuse, brought up in care, severe alcohol and/or drug problems, doing their level best to not be homeless but failing for all those reasons - who I met through working at The Big Issue about the 'fashionably homeless' or whatever you want to call this movement. They don't even bother to hate them, they just find them completely preposterous, to be laughed at rather than despised (and, according to one anecdote I was told, they're a regular source of money, since they're very easily intimidated by the dead-eyed smackhead in a tracksuit type of homeless person).

That said, like nickyskye says, it's hard to tell from most of these photographs which camp the people featured fall into. Sure, the ones with stylish hats and obviously expensive rucksacks are most probably slumming it, but plenty of them could easily be genuinely homeless, with no escape route, who happen to have latched on to this lifestyle because they were made welcome/find it safer to travel in a group/&c..

To be honest, if you're begging on the street in filthy clothes, I'm going to give you the benefit of the doubt and a couple of quid. Obviously I'd be more than a bit miffed if I somehow found out my money was spent on the bus fare to Mummy and Daddy's house to pick up a spare jumper, but 99.9999% of the time that won't be what's happening.
posted by jack_mo at 5:28 AM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


The hate spewers in this thread are brats, spoiled brats.

So what if they came from the middle class or whatever? The mere fact that they tramp around doesn't piss me off.

Please reread the Straightener's and DecemberBoy's comments, among others.

Over the years I've encountered crusties at shows, parties, on the street, and one-on-one, and with few (but significant) exceptions they are privileged white kids enamored of their special scene: disdainful, haughty and full of malt-liquor induced bile spewed at anyone who isn't fucking with the man 24/7 by eschewing showers and begging from people who actually work. The "hate" goes both ways.

Of course there are charming, thoughtful, interesting trainhoppers/crusties who have chosen the lifestyle because the alternatives seemed unbearable or who are at least aware of its chosen-ness and the privilege that denotes.

But when some twentysomething white kid wearing a belt that cost as much as I make in a couple of hours of work shakes his cup at me with a smug look I assume the worst and sneer right back.
posted by generalist at 8:28 AM on October 14, 2008


I've been thinking about this for a while, and I have had a decent amount of contact with people like this. In my experience, it's ridiculously hard to generalize counterculture types. There are so many people from so many subcultures that it's impossible to generalize their backgrounds, financial security, and motives whether you are looking at a picture of them or even getting to know them in person.

It's not just image, identity, and being cool, except for maybe a very small minority. In fact, a big reason a lot of these folks live the way they do is to escape that crap.

Not everyone of them panhandles. Hardly anybody likes doing it.

However, there is one persistent generalization which is (for the most part) true: their bitterness, by which I mean their ability to spit vitriol and be horribly judgmental and just plain pissed off. This is not really surprising, seeing as everybody within the counterculture has some beef with the non-counterculture.

Most of them (if not all of them) have very good reasons for being pissed off, but they let it take them over, and when it gets out of control it makes them unhappy, and when they get unhappy they are liable to take it out on other people. On top of that a lot of their reasons are not very well articulated or nuanced, and this is part of the reason things get out of control. If they could put their beefs into perspective and be specific about why they're pissed, then they wouldn't get as pissed at every little bad thing that happens and use those things as fuel for their fire (when, chances are, these small things are not even related to why they're really pissed off).

It also occurs to me that a lot of the people you are likely to see panhandling are the ones who are more likely to be pissed off, but I can't come up with a good reason for that.
posted by symbollocks at 10:13 AM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Fascinating exposé, although I wish there were more accompanying text. Regardless of whether or not it’s valid to judge or to envy these people, count me among those with serious doubts that most of the kids pictured here are involuntarily homeless. The feather-decorated hats; the “Citizens for a Poodle-Free Montana” t-shirt; the Oscar Wilde-meets-A-Clockwork-Orange getup on the guy with the mandolin; the re-worded cafeteria menu sign boasting “Grilled Chkn Ass, Shit Toes”--These flourishes are the luxuries of people still possessing the necessary sanity and stability to appreciate the expression and insignial affect of insanity, and none of those props would be out of place at the Burning Man festival or within the walls of an art school dormitory. So where exactly again does irony, Dadaism and an appreciation for found art fall within Maslow's hierarchy of needs?

Right. Homeless by choice.
posted by applemeat at 10:25 AM on October 14, 2008


Please reread the Straightener's and DecemberBoy's comments, among others.

I acknowledged earlier the more legitimate criticisms. But this whining solely about "they're homeless by choice" is stupid. You're homed by choice.
posted by TheOnlyCoolTim at 10:33 AM on October 14, 2008


Argh, not the Polaroid Kid's photos again. I have a feeling he's regretting posting those pics at this point.

I've actually met a bunch of the people in the vagabond pictures. No, not people "like" them - I actually have met and know about half of the actual people in the photos. I talked to the girl with the homemade speaker boombox just the other day on the phone. Honestly, she's probably smarter than you, and she's worked some pretty high-end contract jobs for Silicon Valley companies. (I'm not exactly sure what it is she does but I know she does a lot of electronics hacking and engineering.)

So your assumptions about them couldn't be more wrong - especially those of you talking out of your ass about how they're rich trustafarians with rich parents.

There's no single answer as to why they're on the road, just like there's no single answer why you live in a house, or an apartment, or why you have a job and maybe a car. To assume anything about these people is a textbook example of the exercising of prejudice - to prejudge in the purest sense.

Some of those pictures are from (or near) New Orleans after Katrina. A bunch of those "crusty punks" went down there and set up a soup kitchen and did debris cleanup for residents of NOLA. The dirt you're seeing on some of them in some of the pictures is the dirt from wading through polluted floodwaters to help people.

Sure, trustafarians exist. There's rich kids on the rails, but there's rich adults, too. But to assume ALL of the "crusty" kids are rich, or that all of them are drunks or that all of them are homeless is stupid - and frankly you're the one selling yourself short into a close-minded, excessively simplistic little world view that neither fosters creativity or curiosity nor an accurate reflection of reality.


Why the dogs? It's dangerous out there. I'm not entirely certain, but in that first link I think the girl that got killed is in the Polaroid Kid's photos at some point, and if not she was known and probably loved by the folks in the Polaroid Kid's photos. The second one features Kirsten Brydum, whom they would certainly know and love from the Really Really Free Market.
posted by loquacious at 10:52 AM on October 14, 2008 [16 favorites]


To assume anything about these people is a textbook example of the exercising of prejudice - to prejudge in the purest sense.

and frankly you're the one selling yourself short into a close-minded, excessively simplistic little world view that neither fosters creativity or curiosity nor an accurate reflection of reality

loquacious, thank you. And thank you for sharing what you know about the kids in the photographs.

I'm so sorry that both Kirsten Brydum and Marcella "Sali" Grace Eiler were murdered.
posted by nickyskye at 11:22 AM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


OK, agreed, it wasn't a great post. So it goes.
posted by cogneuro at 11:39 AM on October 14, 2008


I don't think any one comment here negates the other. I have also had a lot of experiences with homelessness, and also with crusty punks. Some of those experiences with crusties have been memorably terrible -- I lived in a house in south Minneapolis that they just sort of took over as a squat, and the kids in question had very little concern for anyone else who was living there, and trashed the place in just a few months. Many of them were spoiled brats acting out some strange middle class rebellion against, I guess, parents who gave them homes and soap. Some were mentally ill. Some were just immature and confused kids.

I've also met some people who rode the rails for the adventure of it, and were decent, kind people.

And I have known an awful lot of homeless teenagers, some of whom joined in with the crusty movement because it gave them tools to travel and find places to live and food.

It's a strange group, and there is an awesome amount of misbhavior in it, and I think it is possible to comment on that tendency toward misbehavior without it being interpreted as an assault on all homeless people.

And, yes, sites that scrape content from other sites suck.
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:59 AM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I have to say that Astro Zombie's experiences have pretty much jived with what i've seen.

I know traveler kids who stink, will try to scam you out of everything you've got, and get randomly naked at your house at a party. I also know kids who work half the year and hop trains down to Mexico for the rest of the year- it's their kind of vacation.

To each their own- but like Astro Zombie said, there's spoiled rejectionary brats, mentally ill, and kids who just don't have the life skills to be doing anything else. There's also people who feel like mainstream society is completely fake and not human, and that staying at the outskirts is the only way they can stay real.

The punk scene's a big, big place.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:57 PM on October 14, 2008


My take on this thread was that there are things to enjoy on the site of the OP.

There are countless sites on the web that have great stuff, unethically lifted from other places. Dark Roasted, English Russia are a couple of examples. Taking it up directly with those sites that they are not crediting the original creators makes sense. The MeTa post about this issue is informative.

That would be a fair argument. But that's not what happened here.

It started with:

"Vagabonds in America

If only more homeless people would dress like hippies, then I wouldn't feel so bad about not giving them any money."

That was like throwing chum to a barracuda hate fest about the imagined life of people squatting, train hopping, assuming that they are all pretenders of some kind, without actually knowing what is the truth, just judging blindly. There is a momentum to gang hate/contempt, a lot of which seems to be based on wanting to look cool scapegoating other human beings. Or to get off on being smug or imagining they are on the side of The Superior Ones. This thread deteriorated rapidly into a hate derail.

Of course the people hating the squatters or the train hoppers could simply call the police, ask those filthy good-for-nothing pretenders to be tased, incarcerated for panhandling, or just not give money to panhandlers or whatever you think will make society a better place. Or you could walk up to them and scream "Fake!" in their face because you see them wearing a belt you imagine they bought on their trust fund. Or you could vote Republican.
posted by nickyskye at 3:08 PM on October 14, 2008 [3 favorites]


Are those my only options?
posted by Astro Zombie at 3:35 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm still vaguely stunned by the idea that America has crusties. Somehow I just don’t see America as being fertile ground for that sort of thing. Crusties are in general pretty harmless aimiable folk, unless you get into a conversation with them and reveal that you had a job/bank account/pair of shoes, in which case they are likely to get extremely self righteous and annoying, which IMHO makes them fair game for mockery.

There must be a warehouse load of unsold Levellers gear left over form the 90s that could be shipped over and sold to them at HUGE PROFIT.

(Blimey, they still exist. )
posted by Artw at 3:47 PM on October 14, 2008 [1 favorite]


I acknowledged earlier the more legitimate criticisms. But this whining solely about "they're homeless by choice" is stupid. You're homed by choice.

I have no problem with people being homeless by choice. I have a problem with people being homeless by choice and also being super fucking annoying. Sure, every ass-flap cuddles a special crustflake (some of whom I've known and loved), but many adopt a uniform uniform, a uniform ideology, a uniform set of behaviors, and I tend to be uniformly suspicious. Unfair and prejudicial, I know, but I'll usually give my change to someone else.
posted by generalist at 8:15 PM on October 14, 2008


Metafilter: Every ass-flap cuddles a special crustflake.
posted by applemeat at 9:11 PM on October 14, 2008


Now, maybe I shouldn;t be so suprised that theres crusties in America, since the (historical) Levellers and the Diggers and the like were all part of a big English Non-conformist movement that was going on in the 16th-18th century and a lot of those movements ended up heading off to America, or maybe I'm just going around in big Wikipedia circles.

Not that I'd expect any of these people to know what the hell you were talking about if you mentioned any of it to them.
posted by Artw at 9:22 PM on October 14, 2008




1.) Whenever possible, avoid living with roommates who date crusties, unless you are yourself a crusty.

2.) The number of crusties that come to "visit" in your apartment is indirectly proportionate to the portion of your security deposit you can expect to get back when you move out.

3.) Just because it seems obvious to you ("the wall needs to stay there"/ "the living room is not a good place for a bonfire"/ "please do not urinate in the colander") does not mean it will be obivous to your crusty houseguests.

4.) You can always lure them out of the house with the promise of fresh baked goods in the dumpster behind the co-op.

5.) Crusty houseguests are always funny after the fact, like when you run into them twelve years later and find that they are now lawyers living in the suburbs carrying a Kate Spade handbag in the place of that old rucksack with the Crass patches. When (and if) that happens, take them out for a drink, and watch them accuse you of still being the bigger sell-out.
posted by thivaia at 9:51 PM on October 14, 2008 [2 favorites]


Just because it seems obvious to you ("the wall needs to stay there"/ "the living room is not a good place for a bonfire"/ "please do not urinate in the colander") does not mean it will be obivous to your crusty houseguests.

thivaia, Thanks for the first bellylaugh of the day.
posted by nickyskye at 7:19 AM on October 15, 2008


Pff. It’s just mindless social conformism that’s stopping you from juggling firesticks in the hallway you know…
posted by Artw at 7:35 AM on October 15, 2008


Why do they always have dogs?

Because, in the uk at least, there is no more effective begging technique than having a dog that looks as though it might go short of a meal at your side.

People who will happily let a human starve will have no problem at all forking over a few quid if they believe it's going to feed a dog.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 5:40 PM on October 15, 2008


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