Thursday, October 31, 2013

Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #36)


By Daniel Canada c.2010


CHRIS TUCKER is a strange motherfucker. You can hear his high-pitched voice rising over the crowded den of "Skeksies," at the Bowery Mission church almost every dog-gone day. He likes to hang out at this haunt for some reason that's his own. Of course, you can guess the reason I call Chris Tucker, "Chris Tucker" is because he not only looks like the actor, Chris Tucker, but even sounds like him when he's speaking.

Can you believe that?

He's a natural comedian and doesn't even know it. And I’m not going to let him on to the secret either. That way I won't have to lose him to the greedy clutches of the producers and directors of Hollywood.

Yeah right.

“Chris Tucker” likes to walk around with a huge, wooden, hand-carved staff in his hand, like a displaced Moses, looking for the lost tribes of "Skeksies." Perhaps he wants to deliver us to the "Promised Land" of an SRO. I don't even want to try to figure out what's the deal with that damn staff and why he really carries it around.

“Chris Tucker” also likes to keep his afro large, and 70s looking.

The brother likes to keep it real.

During the fall and winter months he could be seen donning a long, full-length, leather coat like Shaft, a recipient of the Coat Drive for the homeless, held every winter throughout New York City. I have to admit, for a homeless guy he does have class.

Sometimes at the Bowery Mission he gets caught up in the holy spirit of his own origin, and started arguing with himself and moralizing out loud about the philosophies of life, and the injustices of society. He always has a slight chip on his shoulders, and easily gives way to venting vituperations at the soup kitchen. 

You see, in the soup kitchen you're stuck, because you’re hungry and have to go there to get some grub. You can't exactly afford to leave, simply because someone next to you suddenly has an epiphany and wants to share it with everyone. 

There's no escape, my friend.

One day I was leaving Starbucks on Astor Place and accidently ran into "Chris Tucker." He was standing at the entrance of the Number Six subway station, and greeting the crowds of commuters with the most boisterous pronouncements of judgment and condemnation heard since Abraham Lincoln castigated the White Southerners for the institution of slavery. Funny thing was he didn't have his usual “Chris Tucker” voice this time around.


What startled me was that he sounded more like Mr. T. Perhaps his “Chris Tucker” voice had gotten tired, or maybe it was being reserved only for the company of the homeless and “Skeks" at the Bowery Mission church.

I’ll never know.

“Chris Tucker” could probably land a decent gig as a performer, if he ever thought of pursuing it as a career. He could either fill in for the real Chris Tucker on a movie set, if he'd only cut his enormous afro. Somehow I don’t think he’s ever going to pursue an acting career or anything worth writing about, other than what I have already taken the pains to apply my pen to.

So, listen up folks!

If you have enough guts to stand in front of a rush-hour crowd of tired commuters and show your ass, chances are you have enough gonads, or mammary glands, to go out and audition for a big gig on the real stage or big screen. Some people just don't know what they have, and that's a crying shame. Fifteen minutes of fame, or infamy, in front of a rush-hour mob, who more than likely really don't give a hoot in hell what you have to say, is not the path to The Emerald City, Tin Man.

What is more, it is certainly not the road to becoming a well-known and nationally celebrated motivational speaker.

It might be the fastest route to landing you in the psyche ward at Bellevue Hospital.

Or Creedmoor.

Or worst.

(To be continued...)

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Hobo Handbook: Memoirs of a Homeless Poet in New York (Excerpt #35)


 By Daniel Canada c.2010



EDDIE GRIFFIN’S name actually came about by mistake. I was trying to name him after the lead singer for the Temptations, David Ruffin, but forgot David Ruffin's name, so I named him “Eddie Griffin” instead.

Yeah, that's how way off the mark I was. And you’re probably saying, so what’s this got to do with the price of tea in Tibet?

You’re absolutely right. 
The point is I had to come up with a name for this character, who happened to always popped up on any given soup line I frequented. He ain't no way as handsome as the former lead singer of The Temptation, neither can he sing a lick.  It's just that his voice is rough and a bit scraggly, like David Ruffin's.

That's all.

I know I’m stretching it.
Look here! I have to give these "Skeks" names, so sometimes I toss a moniker at them that might require a little explanation. Anyway, “Eddie Griffin” loves to diddly-bop around with a faded and not so clean dude-rag on his dome. He kind of has a menacing, bad-assed, look pasted on his face all the time. Perhaps it helped him get through a few tough jail stretches. Other than that “Eddie Griffin” is a complete loser. He's always getting into somebody else's business, with feigned authority, like he's in charge, or someone died and made him boss.

Eddie Griffin's always trying to get over on somebody as well.

The brother's incorrigible.

Sometimes I go for a refreshing while without seeing him, so I figure he might've been doing a quick jail bid for some new violation of his parole.


But for certainty, after a while Eddie Griffin's back like a rash, skipping in front of soup kitchen lines like he's "Skek" royalty, cutting deals with other "Skeksies" for a couple of dollars and generally bullying a few of the timid homeless folks.
You see, Eddie Griffin's an older guy. He's about in his late fifties, or so. He ain't no spring chicken, or rooster for that matter. But Eddie Griffin's got to cut his piece of the pie out for himself on the street. And he has. When he comes around all the "Skeks" that are shamming know him right away, and make their way over to him to pay respect. Maybe I need to start learning and give old Eddie his props, before I find out the hard way.

I mean, I would hate for him to take away my sandwich and coffee for not discerning what time it really is.
O.k. So I’m going to hurry up and get this part over with, if it's alright with you.  My father always said, if you see a big, bad, mother fucker, there's always another bigger and badder mother fucker than he, who’s got the right antidote for him. Eddie Griffin's an old mother fucker, who doesn't realize his time out in the street is close to being over and done.

It's time to start thinking of a retirement, plan, Eddie, and since you never worked a decent job a day in your life, or have a 401K plan safely tucked away, there ain't no retirement plan out here for you, beside the one six feet under the ground, chump.

Moral of the story. If you come out in the street, just because you're trying to pull one over on the world-and fortunately, that doesn't apply to the majority of homeless people-you're going to run into the resilient wall of a rude awakening one day, when you discover that you’re too damn old to extract yourself out of this mess.
If you got a hustle, put a few pennies away for the rainy day, partner. 

There are no story book retirement plans out here on the streets. No pension plan or Roth IRAs going to fall into your lap. Open your third-eye and see yourself out of this confusion. Make some kind of plan, like linking up with a decent shelter system-which is hard to find-or get some public assistance (which also is very unreliable), and work your way to landing a SRO or small apartment.

That failing-which wouldn't be surprising-GET A FRIGGIN JOB! Or use your hustle money to procure a roof over your head, no matter how small or modest it might be. That way when it gets cold and the arthritis starts setting in, along with the gout, and the diabetes-you can see where I’m going with this, can’t you?-your tired, old, worn out and rusty, ass won't have to worry, at the last minute, what the hell you're going to do.
Hurry “Eddie Griffin!” It's time to gets to stepping.

The hourglass is trickling thin.

(To be continued...)