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KaBar

Hobos, Tramps and Homeless Bums

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For me, it comes down to what the purpose of copyright is, and what the value of culture is.

 

I love the original intent of US copyright law, which is very clearly stated as "promoting arts and sciences". In exchange for a monopoly on distribution, the rightholder agrees that this right ceases to exist after a period of time. When the original copyright law was discussed, this period was seven years. When the actual copyright law was passed, it was fourteen years, with one further extension of fourteen years allowed. Maybe fourteen years made sense in 1790, but doubling down to 28 years was a huge mistake, and every extension since the 1831 act has compounded this mistake into a disaster that completely undermines the foundational intent of the copyright act.

 

Indefinite copyright is unconstitutional, so the strategy has been to effectively pursue a goal of "forever minus one day" where every time the act is updated, we just push back the expiry over and over.

 

This calls into question what culture is and what its value is. We have a lot of stakeholders in the publishing industry (music labels, publishing houses, and film studios are the most relevant today) who wish every form of participation in the culture to involve some sort of toll booth: you listen to an album, you pay a fee - you watch a film, you pay a fee - you read a book, you pay a fee. But this is our culture, and we are (and should be) more than passive consumers of entertainment whose only function of this culture is to throw money at it. The problem with these toll booths that have been erected is that they never go away and that they get out of control - you cover a popular song on Youtube, you get a DCMA takedown notice - you sample music, you get a lawsuit - you re-contextualize content, you get a Three Strikes notification - you adopt characters and events, and the lawyers come knocking.

 

This posits a fantasy that every bit of intellectual property is so unique that it owes no debt to what came before it, and that there is a clear line in the sand between content creators and passive consumers. This was a poor fit for the broadcast TV and radio era, and it's a miserable fit now. The best counter to this position is something along the lines of http://everythingisaremix.info/ . I won't bother further reiterating his points because he doesn't need my help - he makes them well.

 

The problem with never-ending copyright and modern music artists is that it's not like this current system is something that works for them now. The current system is designed to protect rightsholders, and the rightsholders aren't the artists, they're the labels and the studios and the publishers. The rightsholders created the current system to protect their needs, and they do it with creative accounting ( http://www.negativland.com/news/?page_id=17 ) where the artist isn't just the product, they're the customer for the label's services, so any and all expenses get passed on to their "share" of the pot, and more money from an artist's album gets paid to the record label's CEO than the artist. This should seem immoral if not patently absurd. Creative accounting like this is the reason that Return of the Jedi still "hasn't made a profit" and has prevented some of a generation's best-loved actors from sharing in its success ( http://www.slashfilm.com/lucasfilm-tells-darth-vader-that-return-of-the-jedi-hasnt-made-a-profit/ ).

 

People often ask what the alternative is in this dark future where artists are no longer paid for record sales. That's a non-starter; we've been living in that future ever since the dawn of the record labels in the 1920s and 1930s, and it's gotten worse in our lifetimes. We don't have to create an alternate method from sales to pay artists due to lost sales from piracy, because artists aren't compensated now based on record sales. Record labels are compensated on the basis of sales, and this failed business model they peddle to Congress to defend is one the record labels are wholly responsible for. The large majority of musical artists is paid on the basis of performance, not recordings, because that's all the labels left open to them. The record labels (and the music studios and some of the publishing companies) have nobody to blame for the failure of their business model other than their own success in getting everything they asked Congress for in the last century. Did Congress rush in to save the sheet music industry and the piano industry from radio? Radio from television? The movie studios from television? Should it rush in and save an industry with a failing business model based on treating creative artists like slave labour from the internet?

 

And if so, at what cost? At the cost of keeping our culture in a lock box that we are not allowed to access without proof of purchase? Mind you, we're not just talking about traditional piracy or counterfeiting, we're talking about companies going after legally defended Fair Use, critical review they don't agree with, casual performance (I'm sorry, that youtube video your little brother recorded of you singing the theme from Frozen in the shower isn't costing Disney a cent, regardless of the DCMA takedown), non-profit distribution, and participation in the culture itself.

 

If 7-28 years was sufficient in 1790 when culture traveled at the speed of horseback and "fashion" tended not to change much during a person's lifetime, what function does 90 years plus life of author serve in an era where culture travels at the speed of light throughout the world and where most publishers make the vast majority if their income in the first five years of a property's publishing life? Past five years, copyright feels a lot less like a moral right (which it isn't, it's a government-granted monopoly) and a lot more like cultural theft and the denuding of public social space.

 

tl;dr Go to the show, buy a t-shirt, support the artist where they make their real money.

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Very articulate, xen. I bow to a superior argument. However, I still don't agree with stealing, LOL.

 

The problem is a lack of a decent distribution system for the work of artists, writers and musicians that doesn't go through Hollywood, New York, and the lawyers at BMI, SESAC and ASMC. I've seen signs up in the "back room" at clubs that said, "Please! No BMI or ASMC material!"

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I agree physical theft, stealing from record stores, grocery stores, your neighbor down the street is absolutely wrong and if caught, you deal with whatever consequences come your way. Legal or a severe beating, shot if it comes to that but checking out an album, book, or movie doesn't fall into that category.

 

Just, like, my opinion, man.

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I agree physical theft, stealing from record stores, grocery stores, your neighbor down the street is absolutely wrong and if caught, you deal with whatever consequences come your way. Legal or a severe beating, shot if it comes to that but checking out an album, book, or movie doesn't fall into that category.

 

Just, like, my opinion, man.

 

 

I have to fully agree with this and his long post on the last page.

 

Propped.

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I just love this guy's music

 

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ-- DETROIT'S TROUBADOUR. BETTER THAN DYLAN.

 

HE WROTE THE SOUNDTRACK OF THE REVOLUTION AGAINST SOUTH AFRICAN APARTHEID. TOTALLY UNKNOWN IN HIS HOME COUNTRY---A FOLK-ROCK GOD IN SOUTH AFRICA, WHERE HIS MUSIC FUELED THE FIGHT FOR FREEDOM.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t6bjqdll7DI

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qyE9vFGKogs

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-qFP-dsl2Z0

 

 

Even better with a gallon of Carlo Rossi red. Watch his movie, "Searching for Sugarman." It's a great story and every word true as fuck.

 

DEAD MEN DON'T TOUR--

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Re: I just love this guy's music

 

SIXTO RODRIGUEZ-- DETROIT'S TROUBADOUR. BETTER THAN DYLAN.

 

Even better with a gallon of Carlo Rossi red. Watch his movie, "Searching for Sugarman." It's a great story and every word true as fuck.

 

 

definitely a good one. saw it a couple years ago i think. good stuff good stuff.

 

 

i never try to justify my shoplifting or graffiti. im being a dick and i know it.

EVEN DYING COSTS YOU BABES... see you in hell!

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Searching for Sugarman Is a must see.

 

Someone on the oontz wrote my favorite quote. I just wish i knew who to credit it to,

 

"I am not a graffiti artist. I am an asshole that writes a made up name on other people's property without their permission"

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Searching for Sugarman Is a must see.

 

Someone on the oontz wrote my favorite quote. I just wish i knew who to credit it to,

 

"I am not a graffiti artist. I am an asshole that writes a made up name on other people's property without their permission"

 

my art and graffiti rarely intersect. I was about to go on a rant about selling out but no one kares. everyone just wants a slice of the pie. buncha god damn assholes fuckin everything up for some greenbacks.

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Back in the 60's we were all wound up about "not selling out." I mean, selling out and becoming a "straight" was like the worst treason ever. No way. Not me, man. I was NEVER going to give in to "the plastic people." I was going to be in The Movement, fighting the Man, fighting for the Revolution forever. I was never going to give in.

 

Then one day, I had finally had enough of being poor, broke and unemployed, living in a shit apartment with a bunch of other self-described "freaks." So I decided to give in, get a straight job and join the enemy.

 

We always talked about selling out being bad, but somehow I was thinking it would be a lot more lucrative than this when I finally did sell out to the Man. Turns out The Man could not care less about the Revolution. All he cared about was his business making a profit and selling it to somebody so he didn't have to work any more. You know---"selling out," and living on room service the rest of your life.

 

I'd love to do art for a living, RN. "Ask me about doing the Art Scam instead of working 40-hours-a-week at a job you hate."

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I'm going up to the National Hobo Convention at Britt this year, leaving for Iowa either tomorrow or the next day. The actual convention is on August 8-9-10. So many of my old friends have died, it will probably seem kind of strange. I'm going to drive up, because I'm on a schedule and I don't want to miss it. A couple of years from now, I'll be retired, then I can do whatever I want. I am really tired of living the straight life and going to work every day.

 

Maybe I'll see some of you guys up there.

 

It'll be nice, just getting a break. I'm going to try to get some pictures this year.

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obviously riding the rails is nothing like it use to be I'm sure, especially with all the bullshit that comes with it these days, but is it still legit? I've never done it but want too very badly. I here a lot of stories of kats getting murdered or robbed quite a bit, does this happen a lot in the hobo scene? my apologies for the beginner questions

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Wickedwacko-- Well, the answer to your question(s) is "yes and no." (Sorry.) Yes, people still ride trains. Yes, there is more bullshit and it is more difficult than it used to be. Yes, catching out is illegal. So is graffiti and smoking weed and a zillion other things that people just do anyway despite the possibility of getting arrested. Yes, there is a certain amount of criminal bullshit on the rails in terms of thugs and assholes ripping off other people. Not trying to be a dick (honestly, I'm not) but you are looking at a thread that probably answers all your question ten times over that has been running since most of the readers of this thread were in grade school. Please read the thread. It will take a long time. So what? It took us eight years or whatever to write it all down, so it's probably worth a few hours of your time to read it. Hope you enjoy it.

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Well, the Convention was awesome, as usual. There has been a big change in familiar faces since I was there last, four years ago (I think,) Several members of the Boxcar Boys Ranch crew have died and are buried in the National Hobo Cemetery. People who had only just been to one Convention four years ago are now major players. Long-time tramp and trainhopper, and former Hobo King, Spike, is "Grand Head Pipe" of the jungle. (All these weird titles were invented long ago by the four young guys who initially started the hobo organization Tourist Union #63 back in 1899. There were sixty-three original members. The four founding members were Charles Noe, Gilman Fera, Richard "Onion" Cotton and Gene Boudinot. Boudinot is quoted in a newspaper article as saying that TU63 was founded in Danville, Illinois in 1899, that the first convention was held in Three Oaks, Michigan that year, and the second convention was held in Britt, Iowa the next year, 1900. The article makes it pretty plain that the shenanigans of the early 1900s and those of today have quite a bit in common. The first three (tongue-in-cheek) rules were:

 

1.) An applicant must prove he has "hit the grit," which means "riding the rods for at least 1,000 miles."

 

2.) An applicant must prove he has "panhandled a Dooky" throughout the entire trip.

 

3.) An applicant must sign an oath that if ever he is elected to Congress he will legislate for "free soup houses in all railroad stations" and "bigger and better beers."

 

("Panhandling a dooky" is begging for small amounts of food, potatoes, bread, coffee, sugar, etc. One asked only for a small amount from each place one hit. The tramps asked the lady of the house (usually) for a small amount of coffee or whatever and gave her a small envelope made up of folded newspaper, which she filled with the requested item. If you hit enough houses, you could eventually accumulate enough of the necessary foodstuffs to feed the jungle.)

 

To tell you the truth, these seem like rules with which even modern Road Kid tramps could live.

 

Anyway, it was a good Convention, despite the fact that we had to bury three good tramps. Sidedoor Pullman Kid, who was buried in a pauper's grave eight years ago in Arizona, was disinterred, cremated and his ashes re-buried at the National Hobo Cemetery in Britt last Saturday. We also buried former Hobo King "Hobo Grump." Grump was a black tramp, son of former Hobo Queen "Hobo Lump." Both of them rode the rails extensively, and Hobo Lump rode as far back as the late 1950s. She was there, and buried her son's ashes herself, witnessed by a crowd of several hundred.

We also buried a friend of mine, a really good guy and a first-class trainhopper, Milwaukee Mike, who died of a heart attack. And, we also buried Fran DeLorenzo, who never rode the rails I don't think, but who was the creator and maintainer of the very informative and up-to-date Hobo Bulletin Board website--"Fran's Hobo Grape Vine." (The Grape Vine in still up and running, now maintained by my buddy, Flatcar Frank.)

 

Songbird was elected King (the guy has a beautiful voice) and Cindy Lou was elected Queen. Songbird used to host a tramp festival of his own, in Wisconsin, I think. (I never attended it.) And Cindy Lou has attended the NHC for years and years. I served as one of the judges.

 

We had a genuine war correspondent from Al-Jazeera (he was English) and a reporter from an Arkansas daily newspaper there as well.

 

Nobody got arrested. New York Ron was there, despite being banned from the jungle ten years ago for shoplifting in Britt. (It wasn't an issue for those ten years, because he was in prison for something else after he shoplifted and got banned.) The Head Pipe had a chat with NY Ron, and he agreed to keep a low profile and to stay out of the Main Street business district, because he is a kleptomaniac and cannot control it.)

 

A new "cook shack" has been built over the last year by volunteer labor, mainly that of a guy named Medicine Man. They were finishing it up during the Convention, installing doors, a roll-up garage door and so on. Volunteers were painting the outside of the shack gray all during the Convention. The Road Kids helped too, especially a friend named Oops, who has kind of matured from a whisky-soaked road dog into a responsible-but-pretty-gamey coordinator of the field kitchen crew. (He denies he is the Crumb Boss, yet he cooks at every meal.) Oops has more jailhouse tattoos than anybody I have ever met, and he is definitely a tough guy. His birthday was Saturday (I think), and the entire jungle sang him "Happy Birthday" and gave him a huge birthday cookie (instead of a cake.) He responded, "Sometime I really hate you fuckin' guys." Ha, ha. Too bad, Oops, we love your sorry ass anyway.

 

It was a good Convention. If you missed it, you fucked up. There's always next year, though. SECOND WEEKEND IN AUGUST, every year.

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This link is to a little video montage that Tex did way back in the day. I was watching it and got all teary-eyed. More than half the adult tramps in this video are buried in the Cemetery today. Steam Train Maury Graham is gone, and so is his wife, Wanda. Steam Train was a "bridger"--he rode both steam trains in the 1930's and '40s as a kid, and diesel-electric engines in the 1950's and '60s. Liberty Justice is gone. Slow Freight Benita Sankay is gone. Slow Freight was a teenaged hobo girl in the 1930's. Iowa Blackie is gone. Road Hog U.S.A. is gone. Grandpa Dudley is very elderly and sick. Adman has had some kind of brain dysfunction and can barely talk (he has aphasia.) Crash is all grown up and a mother. Shot Down Wills is gone. Spaceman John is gone. Loco Larry is gone. 8-Ball is gone. Preacher Steve (Crash's adoptive dad) is gone. Dog Man Tony is gone. Dante Fuchwha isn't doing too well. Tuck and Frog are still doing pretty well, but there are only three of the original Boxcar Boys Ranch tramps still alive. It's sad to think about. The 1960's Generation of tramps went through this same thing when we lost all the old guys--Fry Pan Jack, Frisco Jack, Scoop Shovel Scotty, Lord Open Road, Hood River Blackie and all the rest. When we're gone, I think that might be the end of it, because the younger kids are not picking up the slack very much. Oops is. But not very many others that I see. Hobo culture is dying. Makes me feel sad.

 

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you could play sarah mclachlan behind a special olympics victory and it'd be enough to well up.

 

Glad you had a good time up there. I still talk about going every year but every year life just gets in the way.

 

I've never really been out on the rails full time, maybe a year straight at the longest but if it makes you feel any better, everything I didn't figure out first hand, I garnered from this thread and took every bit of it to heart so in a sense there is at least 1 of us out there that still respects the traditions you and the other old timers handed down.

 

The modified ALICE pack was a godsend and there isn't much more than a few ashes to indicate anywhere I've ever camped. I would have to be in dire straits to hit a moving car but feel confident that I could. All you can do is try to educate the kids and hope some of it sticks. It worked on me.

 

*e Still gotta try that pizza soup though. and fuck these plastic folgers cans.

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Thank you, Xen, for those kind words about learning from this thread. I'm thinking I should avoid listening to Sarah McLachlan's music when I'm drinking red, LOL.

 

And it's not as grim as all that, despite the losses of such important people. I met a couple of young people at the Convention this year who travelled long distances to get there, mainly just so they could meet tramps and find out about catching out and hobo culture. One of them, Latchhook, I spent pretty much the entire convention talking to. It's kind of an odd relationship, because you know (I knew) it was short-lived. Everybody has to go their separate ways when the "circus" is over, and I found myself falling all over myself trying to impart as much knowledge as possible before the convention ended and everybody separated. I found myself thinking, "I've only got so many hours. What is the most important thing to tell her? What piece of information is the most likely to keep him/her from making a fatal mistake?" I really care about this kid. The thought that something I said might lead to her getting hurt is terrifying. Was I too emphatic? Was my insistent tone of voice likely to cause him to disregard my cautions? Was I too casual, when I told her about the hazards of the Life? Was it self-aggrandizement? Was I bragging, making it sound more exciting than I needed to do?

 

When a tramp takes on an apprentice, it's a little bit of a bossy relationship. My old buddy from the 1970's, Rufe, was not shy about telling me straight up when I made a mistake. He only threatened to sever our relationship one time, and that was the time I caught a train in Livingston that he told me not to catch. (It went to the coal mine at Colstrip, Montana, and I had to hitchhike back in disgrace, covered in coal dust.) The difference is during that my friendship with Rufe, as bossy as it was, he was right there 90% of the time, to correct me if I did something 20-years-old-and-knows-everything stupid. Latchhook and the other kid are on their own. I know they listened to me, and hopefully they will gain experience and confidence without any disasters, but the possibility of her getting hurt scares the shit out of me.

 

It's a kind of paradox. The older you get, the more you know and the fewer unnecessary risks you take. The fewer risks you take, the safer you are. The safer you are, the more hazardous the life you led when you were younger seems to be, in retrospect. So you caution the younger people, and they start thinking you just lack guts and the bravado of youth. It's not a lack of courage, it's more the sad knowledge that comes with even sadder experience. An Army recruiter makes life in the infantry sound glorious. The glamor kind of wears off when the first kid steps on the first land mine. There ain't no turning back the clock. Body parts don't grow back.

 

I never intended to try to convince people to become 24-7 tramps. I was trying to educate those kids that were going to try catching out anyway, despite everybody telling them that it was too dangerous, etc., and who had no access to a mentor to show them the ropes.

 

Getting pinched is horrible. But much more dangerous than getting hurt is loving riding trains so much you can't stop. It's like getting addicted to drugs, only you smell worse.

 

Here's another good website, run by St. Louis Frank: http://www.ratpackstlouis.com/hobo-u63.htm

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checkout http://www.digihitch.com

peeps, to answer your road quetions

and travel tips.

this forum was known

to me from a hobo slash drifter.

he later told me that all types of people

of different races travel by

fr8 and hitchhike throughout the u.s.

my last travels were in mexico.

dont trust truck drivers they will do anything to get

to your backpack.most of the rides were

by normal civilians. ask for a chore from

resturants so that they can feed you.

most of the cases they will give you a free meal

for just asking them this.

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Stop it, you're making me want to dumpster dive Pizza Hut and go catch a train. Must. Resist. Must. Get. A. Haircut. And Go. To WORK.

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Stop it, you're making me want to dumpster dive Pizza Hut and go catch a train. Must. Resist. Must. Get. A. Haircut. And Go. To WORK.

 

AHhhh... Took a couple of my amigos to the yard in north little rock to get them on a kc bound train tonight. i definitely wanted to be getting on one too. but i DID dumpster dive pizza hut on my bike ride home and scored big time. pizza soup for a week babes.

 

im thinkin about taking the long way to cali next month instead of the lowline for the 100000th time. gonna try and nab that zmnoa and head for the bay. never been through north platte. should be a hellish adventure. haha

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Be careful in North Platte. I hear the food in the Lincoln County Jail is awful. It's a long walk around the yard (seven miles) and I also hear that there are all kinds of infra-red BS and CCTV cameras in the yard, and that it's a "zero tolerance for trespassers" yard, too.

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Be careful in North Platte. I hear the food in the Lincoln County Jail is awful. It's a long walk around the yard (seven miles) and I also hear that there are all kinds of infra-red BS and CCTV cameras in the yard, and that it's a "zero tolerance for trespassers" yard, too.

 

yeah i kind of assume its packed with cameras since its so fucking big. im not planning on getting off there if i do go that way. i may just end up taking sunset as usual. again. for the 10000000000th time. i do love the stretch between el paso and tucson though. at night. whew. STARS.

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That's terrible news, Frank. Larry Penn was one of the best of the modern tramp singers, in my opinion, along with U. Utah Phillips and Liberty Justice.

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