Tag Archive: Other Blogs

Homeless in Vermont

I must apologise for my lack of input recently. This is mostly because I’ve been spending most of my time and energy on my novel. I’ve posted the first three short chapters here and will add chapters from time to time. Check it out.

In the meantime I’ve decided to feature some posts that strike me as worthy from friends’ blogs. The first is this great piece, written by my good friend Mike E at the Open Container Speedway.


“I’m sorry sir,” I respectfully informed the bus driver. “but I don’t have a dollar.”

My next line was well rehearsed. I’d gone over it time & again in my mind. Not so much to memorize it as to talk myself through a crisis of confidence. How would I get on the bus with no dollar? I panicked. Then reassured myself thus:

When I see one I know it – I’m a connoisseur of these things – and I happened to have handy a smashingly good excuse.

“I’m homeless,” I explained, “and literally on my way to church.

How ’bout it? I ask you, Is that a good reason to ride the bus for free?”

“No,” said the bus driver.

Maybe he thought I was lying. I admittedly didn’t look like I was on my way to church. I looked homeless, I smelled, and probably came off a bit crazily.

But Quakers – the self-anointed Religious Society of Friends — are exceptionally good people. I trusted them to accept me, as I came, as a friend in need.

I had a pitch, also well rehearsed, that I wanted to make them. Quakers have an admirably deep sense of service; they are a people devoted to peace. They’ve worked tirelessly to end the Iraq War. That is tireless work I admire. Alas, for all their tireless work the war rages on unabated.

I know how it feels when one’s benevolently tireless efforts fail. I’ve had no success in my own quest to stop another, equally frightful, injustice: homelessness. Specifically, my own.

Now, maybe it was a long shot but I thought the Northampton Quakers – do- gooders that they are – would want to do a bit about the homeless problem in their own community. I genuinely believed they’d appreciate the unforeseen chance to help me.

And thus gain a boost in confidence, from one problem well solved, that may help them bring more peace.

If not – no matter. The hour of communal silence that is a Quaker Meeting for Worship would be reward enough for my journey, providing me with the strength of spirit required to contend with my plight. Because in the midst of their silence, at least, I am not homeless. Not hungry. I am among friends.

And friends don’t let friends go homeless & hungry.

I asked the bus driver: “Please?”

I aimed admirably to better myself. Was mine not a compelling case of need?

The bus driver said no. Fair enough. This is America after all. Where nobody rides for free.

“I know,” I tenaciously proposed, “I’ll ask someone at church for $2 bucks and pay you for the round trip when I ride back to Amherst.”

Maybe the Northampton Quakers couldn’t help me not be homeless that particular Sunday, but pay my bus fare? I personally guarantee it!

Again the bus driver said no.

I grew flustered. But quickly regained my composure. I am after all a professional journalist. And if this jerk wouldn’t let me ride a near-empty municipal bus to church – I suppose that’s the Story.

I tapped the lap top computer – my one worldly possession since I lost track of my clothes – that was slung in a bag over my shoulder. And informed him that I was writing an article about homelessness for the Valley Advocate (local free/leftist weekly).

“Look,” I proffered smartly, “we can do this the easy way or the other way.”

The other way, I promised, would be hard for us both, because I’d have to hitch hike to church, and he’d have to deal with what I say about him in the article I suspect he did not believe would be written.

I pointed my thumb to Northampton. I thought I should seriously thank my new bus driver friend, because writers need dumb-snot-butt-wipes like him, To excentuate our point, prove us right, and help us sell stories.

No one picked me up hitch hiking.

I struggled beneath the awkwardly gravitated weight of my lap top computer. Slung in a one-strap bag. First across a painfully slumped shoulder. Then across my other. All the way to Northampton on foot.

It hurt.

I’d not slept. Nor could I remember the last time I’d eaten. The no food thing worried me. I grew aware that I lacked the recent caloric intake required to comfortably fuel the demands I placed on my body. I’m very skinny. And not as young as I used to be.

About the same age, I realized, as Neil Cassidy – when he died in mid-step on a long walk after some nights of no sleep and who knew how long since he’d eaten.

But there was no turning back. No time to rest. Not even a sip of water to drink. There was only me & the Story. And to sell the story I’d need proof, a witness, one who would verify my unavoidably late arrival at Quaker Meeting that day.

I had to show up before the last Quaker straggler closed & locked their Meetinghouse door.

To professionally cover the story.

The last straggler was friendly. Gave me apple juice & a snack & patiently heard my tale of woe. I’m certain she would have gladly tossed me a buck for bus fare, as well, but I forgot to ask.

Somewhere along that 10 mile walk back to Amherst I decided not to thank the bus driver after all. Because every homeless person who can’t ride the bus will not write an article about it. And the article may not sell.

But every homeless person has somewhere better to go.

The Northampton Quakers may have helped me. Who knows? But for my lack of one stinking dollar I might be already home.

John Munro: cool-vids

Some time ago I featured a great short film by John Munro called Oxford Circus. It’s so good I’m featuring it again.

I just love this. Check out the rest of John Munro’s catalogue here.

I stumbled upon these words of wisdom from the fingertips of my good friend Mike E over at the Open Container Speedway:

‘If you want to understand why the end of the world is about to happen you really must watch Fox News. Make note of who advertises. Never buy their product again. And remember: For roughly 25% to a third of Americans what you see there is Truth. A mere market share. By no means a majority. But a brutally sizable & well-connected ignoramus mob.’

Read the full thing here.

For news you won’t find on Fox and CNN click here.

Here’s an interesting question: isn’t religion a bit like pornography?

P.Z. Myers has ten good reasons for answering that question in the affirmative:

it has been practiced for all of human history in all cultures;

it exploits perfectly natural, even commendable, impulses;

its virtues are debatable, its proponents fanatical;

people love it but can’t give a rational reason for it;

it objectifies and degrades women even when it worships them;

you want to wash up after shaking hands with any of its leaders;

the costumes are outrageous, the performances silly, the plots unbelievable;

there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it but it’s nothing to be proud of; 

it is not a sound basis for public policy, government, or international relations;

its stars are totally fake.

Professor Myers is a Secular Materialist and he’s welcome at my table any time.

Visit his blog.

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