Violin Werewolf

Good read. No lies, no beautification, just the way it is. “The world deems a lot to be trash. Some edible, some still breathing.”

GABFRAB

I’m walking beneath an overpass in Austin and at my feet lies a homeless man. He’s in a sleeping bag, pen in hand, scrawling nonsense in a notebook. I’ve seen him every day of this music fest, always in the same spot, always asleep or scribbling. For all I know he’s legless, masturbating, or even a mermaid — he never leaves the bag. At times he gesticulates to an entity only he can see. At others he convulses like a caterpillar caged in its cocoon. He’s often on the sidewalk’s edge, off the road, where the underpass inclines to interstate. Though he lies in something soft, pillars and cement make this man’s home.

Myself and thousands more pass this sight each day. We’re drunk, having fun, trying to fuck. We step around him like a dog shit diaper left unfurled. He acts as an unpleasant reminder that from excess comes waste — detritus best left in the hands of another. But there is…

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How to be a Happy (Urban) Camper

I’ve complied a list of “hobo etiquette” that will help you stay safe, undisturbed, and it good terms with the neighbors. Enjoy!

  1. Mind your own business

This rule is one of the most important, yet can be incredibly difficult to adhere to. It starts with the common courtesy of giving others space and privacy.

  • Don’t be peaking in a fellow hobo’s living quarters, residents’ apartments or houses, or vehicles parked around you.
  • Keep your distance from peoples’ homes and vehicles as much as you can.
  • Don’t be that creepy person who is watching everyone from inside their vehicle for fun

Seems simple enough, right? Well, sometimes things are a little more complicated. The better you are at camouflaging yourself, the more activities you’ll be able to observe that usually lie hidden.

  • Drug dealers: Absolutely none of your business. Find a different spot.
  • Loud-mouthed folks: Annoying but not worth getting in trouble or revealing yourself for. Just leave.
  • Fights/Shootings: That’s a tough one. What you should and should not do really depends on the situation. However, you should put your own safety first. Know that you should only be the one calling the cops if shit hits the fan, as you will have to reveal your homelessness to the authorities (which is never a good idea). In other words, I wouldn’t suggest calling the cops over a loud argument in a parking lot. Get the hell out of there and be done with it. If, however, someone was shot or got beaten up badly, call the cops and help. If the perpetrator is still at the scene, consider your own strength and weapons before facing him/her. Sometimes, simply blowing your horn and turning on your lights can scare an attacker away.
  • Domestic violence: Most definitely your business. Call the cops.
  • Animal abuse: I’ve reported animal abuse to the humane society before. You should too. Should you confront a drug dealer who hit his pit bull? If you value your own life and future safety, let the authorities handle that.
  • Theft/Damage: In most cases you can actually submit anonymous tips after the crime occurred.

2. Sleeping spots are for sleeping only

Unless you are on a designated campground or in a RV park, within city limits your presence will be tolerated at best. Many cities have made urban camping illegal and law enforcement keeps an eye out for you. Despite this, I see folks running around socializing, drinking beer, making people uncomfortable, washing their cars, putting up grills, and much more (you wouldn’t believe!). Not only do these people reveal themselves to law enforcement and the public, they compromise the sleeping spot for everyone.

  • Park. Sleep. Wake up early. Leave. End of the story.
  • If you need to get your car ready for the night, try doing so without stepping outside. It will attract a lot less attention to you.
  • Engage in low key activities only, such as reading, drawing, coloring, knitting, or whatever else floats your boat. Park under a street lamp for light. Producing your own light will attract attention to your vehicle.

3. Scouting and Rotating

I can’t emphasize this enough. Scouting is important in order to find a safe and hidden spot. In terms of etiquette, however, rotating spots is the more important step. If a store such as Home Depot, Kmart, or Walmart tolerates you on their property or you’ve found a great spot at a park n’ ride or church parking lot, don’t push the “welcome”.

  • As a rule of thumb, don’t use a spot more than once a week. Don’t park on a schedule, as law enforcement may be expecting you.
  • Letting spots “rest” is a good idea when the owners/law enforcement are catching on to you. Simply abandon said spot for several weeks or even months. In neighborhoods, however, you vehicle may be noticed more if it is not part of the usual landscape. Use your own judgement.

You can find more information regarding scouting and rotating here.

4. Present just another vehicle

Towels covering the windshield, trash pilled up on the dashboard, dirty laundry stuck to the windows, and a vehicle that is in desperate need for some serious TLC. Come on, make an effort! In order to go undisturbed you want to blend in.

  • Tinted windows combined with dark fabric on the inside of the vehicle make it almost impossible to discern your vehicle from others at a first glance.
  • Keep it clean and neat.
  • Trash or laundry strapped to the top/back of your vehicle is not OK, unless you own a closed carrier.

5. Keep your spots clean

I can’t see any good reasons to litter one’s sleeping spot with trash. I can, however, come up with a bunch of reasons why one ought not be a litter pig!

  • It’s utterly disrespectful towards the workers who have to pick up after you
  • It’s utterly disrespectful towards the company who tolerates you sleeping on their property
  • It’s utterly disrespectful towards mother nature
  • Littering makes the houseless community as a whole look bad
  • Trash reveals hobo parking spots to law enforcement, the public, and property owners
  • Excessive littering compromises the spot and area for all urban campers

Agree? Disagree? Do you have something to add? Comment!

Desolation’s Wonder

Just a really great post about enjoying nature as it really is and finding beauty even in the most desolate places. Enjoy!

Lost and Found

Desolation doesn’t necessarily have to mean the absence of life and hope, rather the opposite in fact.  I love seeing the world at its harshest; straining and struggling but not suffering.  I love how, even in the most desolate places, there is an amazing abundance of life.  I love to see how life can thrive on nothing more than trees and rock.  Mostly I love to walk among that humbling desolation, silent and alone, listening to what is happening around me.  Listening to the music of the silence, the music of the spheres.  This is when I feel happy and at peace, when I feel like I finally belong, like I am home.  Nowhere else do I feel as complete or as fully alive as I do in this planet’s dizzying desolation.  Everywhere else I am putting on at least a little bit of a show.  Only when desolate am…

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Dumpster Diving?

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Ever since I was a little person, I have been fascinated with abandoned goods found in or near dumpsters. I used to collect magazines, old pictures, and random plastic containers for the “office” my friends and I “worked” at. We had our little card board desks hidden away in the bushes and spent hours going through papers (it’s amazing how many people don’t shred their confidential documents!).

These days you won’t find me hanging out in random suburban bushes, but I am still very much interested in free treasures other people call trash. Now, I’ve tried a little “trash can diving” at the local library and thus far have found an unopened bag of gummy bears, a chap stick ball that makes for a great pill container, and lots of newspapers and magazines. Another great venue for freebies is the student center! During the evening, the event management typically isn’t too worried about cleaning up quickly. This allows me to enjoy buffets filled with fruit, bread, salad, cheese, crackers, and have some lemonade, iced tea, or soda to go with it. Sometimes, I even get a full dinner for free.

I am very much into recycling and reusing items. 99% of my clothes come from Goodwill, which is a massive second hand clothing store here in the U.S. I collect all my recyclables and take them to my relatives who have contracts with recycle companies. I am not afraid to reheat the pizza nobody wants and in general, my co-workers know they better not be throwing out food without asking me first. I actually do wear my clothes until they are dirty or smelly and squeeze the rest out of abandoned shampoo containers at the gym. I walk several miles every day, which keeps my vehicle off the street and is good for my health. Not only do I enjoy making a small but nevertheless positive impact on nature by reducing my consumption and waste, I also save an average of $800 every month compared to others who live in the same area.

I want to make the jump from a small scale opportunist trash can diver to a full blown dumpster diver. Really, dumpster diving appears to be the next logical step. However, I am not sure where and how to start. There isn’t much information online and I don’t know anyone personally who could get me started. This is why I am asking you, my fellow hobos and free spirits, to please comment the living heck out of this post if you have any experience in the field or know of any useful websites.

Take care and keep your insanity!