We are all just two or three crises away from the street


I live in an apartment which is part of a motel. Some residents live permanently in the regular guest rooms. There are about five of us "regulars." We all get along -- a screenwriter, a family, two bachelor brothers, the nice single lady, and me with my daughter. They recently raised everyone's rent by the highest percentage possible.

So today I was walking by Manhattan Bagel, and there's the nice single lady -- she dresses well and always shopped at Trader Joe's. But she's on the street now. Homeless. She couldn't afford the price jump and can't find anywhere safe that is as cheap. She cried at seeing me, embarrassed. I gave her $20 and said she could come over and use my shower any time until she gets things figured out.

I've had some troubles on my mind this week. Severe, complex troubles in all areas of my life. But I am so grateful that at least I have a place to live today. The money scene is challenging now with losing the band job so suddenly [Maureen was the bassist in Babes in Toyland -- Mark]. It is an adjustment, but I'll get through.

I've been homeless in New York. I know how quickly it can happen, and seeing my neighbor reminded me that we are all just two or three crises away from the street. This is how it happens. One last bad break, and the neat and organized woman in #125 now lives in the alley behind the bagel shop. Read the rest

Dirty Kids: movie on “street” youth who find unlikely home at hippie Rainbow Gatherings


Over time hippie-inspired Rainbow Gatherings in the forest have become magnets for a new counterculture: homeless teens and young adults. Alice Stein's new film Dirty Kids explores the culture clash and commonality of the two free-spirited groups. Read the rest

Seattle's tent cities

Seattle has America's fourth-largest homeless population and virtually everything homeless people do is illegal in Washington State, which has added 288 new offenses related to homelessness to its statute-books since 2000 -- amazingly, this did not convince those homeless people to stop being homeless. Read the rest

Portraits of homeless people using libraries

Libraries, "the last bastion of democracy," are a haven for America's 500,000 homeless people, where literature, Internet access, and nonfiction can come together to provide respite from the relentless brutality of life on the streets. Read the rest

Shower-bus for homeless people rolls in San Francisco

Lava Mae is a startup that renovates donated, surplus San Francisco city buses, fitting them out with accessible showers that can be brought to homeless people around town. Read the rest

Charity collection-boxes shaped like life-sized homeless people

The Dutch homelessness charity Badt dressed mannequins as homeless people, sawed coin-slots in their foreheads, and seeded them around Amsterdam with signs soliciting donations. It's a clever campaign, but it says something a little unpleasant, in that we are apparently more willing to give money to a doll with a slot in its forehead than an actual homeless person. Read the rest

Albuquerque police chief OKs shooting of homeless man who ran from flash grenade

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Travel tip for Albuquerque visitors: When a gang of police officers unleash their attack dog on you and startle you with a flash-bang grenade, stand very still. If you try to back away, Police Chief Gordon Eden has given the officers permission to shoot you on the spot.

The Albuquerque Police Department has been under federal review by the U.S. Department of Justice since 2012 when the agency’s record of shooting 25 suspect – 17 fatal – garnered national attention. The department has added 11 more shootings to that list since the end of 2012. Albuquerque officers have shot more persons than the NYPD, a department serving a city 16-times larger, since 2010.

Albuquerque cops assault and kill camping homeless man Read the rest

At SXSW, homeless people become WiFi hotspots

[Video Link]

Over the weekend, I noticed that David Gallagher of The New York Times observed in Austin, "Homeless people have been enlisted to roam the streets wearing T-shirts that say 'I am a 4G hotspot.”

A number of other folks I follow on Twitter who are attending the annual SXSW event there mentioned it, too, with concern. Here's the project's website, detailing their system to PayPal each "homeless hotspot" person directly. "We suggest $2 per 15 minutes."

The project was created by a team at global ad agency BBH.

Jon Mitchell at RWW has more. The problem, as he sees it:

The Homeless Hotspots website frames this as an attempt "to modernize the Street Newspaper model employed to support homeless populations." There's a wee little difference, though. Those newspapers are written by homeless people, and they cover issues that affect the homeless population. By contrast, Homeless Hotspots are helpless pieces of privilege-extending human infrastructure. It's like it never occurred to the people behind this campaign that people might read street newspapers. They probably just buy them to be nice and throw them in the garbage.

Tim Carmody at Wired News has more about the project's roots, and why he and others find it troubling:

This is my worry: the homeless turned not just into walking, talking hotspots, but walking, talking billboards for a program that doesn’t care anything at all about them or their future, so long as it can score a point or two about digital disruption of old media paradigms.

Read the rest

Homeless robot begs for energy

Pawel Hynek's 2006 image "Obsolete" depicts a homeless robot begging for electrical power; it's striking and funny as well as a little uncomfortable-making. It reminds me of one of the most demented scenes in science fiction history: the moment in Ian McDonald's stupendous novel The Broken Land in which a re-animated severed head is reduced to performing sexual favors on a street-corner in exchange for nutrient bath to fill the shallow dish in which its neck-stump rests.

Obsolete (via JWZ)  Denver bomb squad defeats 8" toy robot after hours-long standoff ... Shopping cart with robot legs and tendrils of flame - Boing Boing Man creates vigilante robot to battle drug dealers - Boing Boing Does the Uncanny Valley exist? Boing Boing Read the rest

The Troll Under the Bridge, social justice edition

Robbo Mills sends in this episode of his Rufus the Dog kids' show, a social justice-oriented retelling of "The Troll Under the Bridge." He says,

Social justice and kids TV puppet shows don't seem a likely mix but we managed to make it work for a bunch of our episodes before it got cancelled. We made these shows for YTV Canada and after recently getting the rights back we started putting them online - under a CC share-alike license - where they'll have a home and reach kids.

We're also making new shows with the same characters - and the first one out of the gate is our own daft version of Charles Dickens' "A Christmas Carol". Funding for this is being raised through IndieGoGo and we're hell bent on getting it done and online before the holidays. And yes - there WILL be Tiny Tim and there WILL be a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

The Troll Under The Bridge - Ruffus The Dog (Thanks, Robbo!) Group moves homeless people into foreclosed homes Invisible homeless man Sir Ian 'Gandalf' McKellen mistaken for homeless, given a dollar ... Under Pressure, performed by homeless man with double Kermits ... Bamboo Charlie: homeless man builds toy-filled refuge Homeless people relocated out of Whister, Canada, ahead of ... Homeless people and the Internet Vermont cop tases and tases a mentally ill homeless 59 year old ... Read the rest