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Hobos, Tramps and Homeless Bums


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That sucks. All the effort you guys put into it just for some junkie, wino pieces of shit to ruin it for the tramps. You should have torched it. Let the rats rebuild. (ya right)


Kind of makes me wonder how the jungle down by CSX headquarters in Jacksonville is doing. That was nice. All kinds of bamboo frames that all you had to do was throw a tarp over and be all right. The homebums had trashed the area around it so the guy manning the drawbridge was pretty uptight but the jungle proper was awesome.

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I'm reading a non-fiction book right now called Mole People, written in 1993 by a woman named Jennifer Toth. It's about people who live in the subway tunnels and railroad tunnels under Manhattan in NYC. Pretty fascinating. There's a whole chapter devoted to graffiti writers (Ch. 12, Tunnel Art) that mentions NYC writers from the '90s--Chris Pape (who signed "Freedom,") Roger Smith ("Smith") and his brother David Smith ("Sane.") I don't know hardly anything about graff history, but Sane drowned in the Hudson River years ago (some people say suicide, others say he fell from a bridge while being pursued by persons unknown) and the other two, Freedom and Smith have probably long since retired from graff by now.


It's pretty interesting, how the tunnel people have groups sort of like tribes, and how they communicate among themselves using people called "runners" who carry messages from group to group underground. All the rats and garbage and shit sounds unbelievably creepy to me, though. UGH. Not my cup of tea at all.


If I was in these guys' shoes, I'd catch out for Montana and never look back, but different people do things differently.


A census of tunnel dwellers in the 1990's showed about 5,600 people living in the NYC subway tunnels. It's hard to imagine. Five thousand people? Wow.

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watch sneak attack 2, they have this hobo

named Malachi also known as Ride Hard Retard

who rode the rails,

du´says that 'ever since republicans took

over the world, we are looked as nothing'


his advice is `your better off what your doing´


also i recommend Dark Days a documentay on

nyc tunnels they have a writer named ment.

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Well, so far I've written a screenplay and a cook book. I'm thinking about self-publishing the cook book. I don't know, man--I think books on hoboing kind of ought to be published by full-time, 24-7 tramps, not old usta-be's like me. You know? I got three years to go until I can retire, so if I make it, maybe I'll write one then.


Anybody know of a likely publisher? Or even an agent?


I understand where you're coming from, but your stories and your know-how are awesome. I imagine something more along the lines of an autobiography with some useful information as opposed to a manual or guidebook.

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Don't blame just the Republicans. Tramps and hobos have been disregarded by just about everybody since the trainhopping first started, way back in the 1860's, after the Civil War.


People have a tendency to be sort of myopic about social trends. Trust me, the Democratic Party, which is the party of slavery, the Confederacy and Jim Crow, have plenty of sins for which to answer. The rank-and-file Democrats naively think they are actually running the party. NOT HARDLY. The Democratic Party has millions of minorities on welfare and all manner of Federal subsidy programs. Do you think all those people, stuck on welfare, unwilling to go out and support themselves are ever going to vote any other way than for the party that provides the meager pittance upon which they live? Not on your life. That why critics of the Democrats say that they keep their constituents "down on the plantation." They think that getting a welfare check every month is helping them, but it just keeps them enslaved.


Thousands of welfare families moved from New Orleans to Houston after Hurricane Katrina devastated NOLA. But they're not on welfare here. Why is that? Because the local political machine does not want thousands of dependent welfare cases languishing in Houston. They got FEMA support and welfare for a while, but here in Houston it's stupid to remain on welfare when you can actually get a decent job and move into a decent apartment. We don't have those massive Federal housing projects here like they had in New Orleans. I talked to a guy at work who was nearly drowned during Katrina who said "That hurricane was the best thing that ever happened to me. I've got my own place, I've got a car now, a job. If I had stayed in New Orleans, I'd just be doing the same poor-boy shit I always did."


It may seem counter-intuitive, but giving people something that they have not earned is bad for them. It hurts their self esteem, it makes them think they are weak and can't make it on their own. If somebody wants to help somebody who is down-and-out, OFFER HIM A JOB. Then he can EARN the money he needs to live a decent life and have some self-respect. And if he really wants to be a free man, he can START HIS OWN BUSINESS and then he'll be able to employ other people.


Nobody makes people get sucked into that cycle of debt and credit addiction, always looking for some new toy, some new trinket to make them feel better about themselves. They do it to themselves because they have been propagandized for years to think that way.


Most tramps are far from poor, but they spend what money they do get on expensive habits, like smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol and using drugs. A pack of cigarettes costs what? $6.50 a pack? Two packs a day is $13. Seven days a week is $91. EVERY WEEK. That's pretty close to FOUR HUNDRED DOLLARS A MONTH just so you can give yourself cancer, heart disease and emphysema. I know several tramps who put away a thirty-pack of Busch tall boys just about every other day. That's about $45 or $50 a week. Add in drugs and food (people do have to eat, after all) and it's beginning to look like about a thousand a month just to hang out, smoke cigarettes and drink beer all day.


And of course, if you're drinking fifteen beers a day, you aren't going to be sober enough to work. So they fly a sign. I can think of better ways to spend my life than standing on a street corner holding up a cardboard sign, but "whatever." I don't condemn them for it, they're free to fly a sign all day if that's what they want to do, but it definitely ain't my style.


Tramps that are not self-supporting often stay in or near to big cities, because they are living off the refuse of society. Small towns don't create enough usable trash to support very many people. So they travel some maybe, but gravitate towards bigger cities. I hate big cities. Getting the hell OUT of big cities is what attracted me to trainhopping to begin with. I want to be out in the wide open spaces, or if not out in the boondocks, at least in a small town. And that requires me to be self-supporting.


If you work a regular job, then you are paying taxes. If you are paying taxes, then you are supporting all manner of government activities with which you may not agree--huge military establishments, all manner of police and prisons, bureaucrats meddling in other people's lives, etc. I dislike all that, but the thing that sticks in my craw the worst is paying people welfare to sit on their ass while I am out working. It is against everything in which I believe. I feel like the government is robbing me at gunpoint, and giving my money to people who think they are entitled to be supported by the rest of us.


SUPPORT YOURSELF. It's the first rule of being an independent, free adult.


I have slept in the weeds many a night, and I have dumpster-dived for chow quite a few times, but I do my best to pay my own way.

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  • 3 weeks later...

Looks good, Frank. My only suggestion would be to add captions below photographs, etc. to identify who or what it is and the date.


There are a lot of name-brand musicians, singers and songwriters who perform up at Britt. For the well-known guys it's good publicity for them for their pro bono performance to be noted and publicized. It's good for Britt itself, to let potential newcomers know that name acts perform there, and for the neophyte acoustic musicians, it's a feather in their caps to be able to use performing at Britt as a resume' item.


We all owe you a debt of gratitude for volunteering to operate the Grapevine. It would have been really sad to see so much of Fran's hard work just disappear. It's the curse of the Internet.


(BTW, this is an area where Blackie really shined. He published his stuff in book form. No doubt fifty years from now he'll be a celebrated Iowa poet, and lionized by the very establishment that scorned him while he was alive.)

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  • 2 months later...

Rode the absolute slowest train ever. Figured it was wb turned out to be sb probably to mexico. Ended up back in san anto which is basically where i started. I dont think it ever hit 50mph slowest ds train everrrrrrrr...maybe 30 hrs from pine bluff-sa. RIDICULOUSO. Last time i caught a sb to houston outta therr it took maybe 12. Motherfuckin snail trail!

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WOW...Just catching up here. Sorry to hear Fran has passed, that is sad, great guy. Spoke many a times. I talked to Stretch last week, he's out in AZ, heard about Burl. Great dog, met her many times in person. Very unfortunate. So much sad news the last week or so....

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He should have just waited for the train to pass over him. Going out between moving trucks (the assembly with the wheels under it) was galactically STUPID. As long as he wasn't hit by dragging gear, he would have been relatively safe.



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  • 2 weeks later...

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