News & Blogs Don't Feed the Gutterpunks (1 Viewer)

EphemeralStick

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https://www.dnainfo.com/chicago/20160517/wicker-park/please-dont-feed-gutter-punks-alderman-says-as-travelers-return

Please Don't Feed The Gutter Punks, Alderman Says As 'Travelers' Return
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By Alisa Hauser | May 17, 2016 10:47am | Updated May 18, 2016 9:52am
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Gutter Punks Return to Wicker Park, 2016
WICKER PARK — The bands of scruffy, homeless 20-somethings who descend on Wicker Park in the warmer months are back for another season of panhandling and eliciting mixed reactions from residents.

Called gutter punks, crusties, travelers or rail riders, they travel the country by hopping freight trains, hitchhiking and taking buses, often with musical instruments and dogs in tote.

In previous summers, community members have complained of the group's aggressive panhandling and claimed the animals the travelers kept as companions were not healthy.

On Monday, Ald. Joe Moreno (1st), who calls the visitors "selectively homeless," urged people to not give them money or handouts.
"We have genuine homeless needs in Chicago. I'm encouraging residents who want to help to work with legitimate organizations like Center for Changing Lives, Streetwise and Marquard Center," Moreno said.

James Blaylock, 19, who goes by the nickname "Hashtag," said he has been traveling for two years and that this summer will be his first time in Chicago.

In his first five days of panhandling along Milwaukee Avenue, Blaylock estimated he has earned about $30 a day.

On a recent afternoon, Blaylock was camped out in front of the shuttered City Soles storefront at 1514 N. Milwaukee Ave. with fellow traveler Rebecca Mars, who goes by the name "Twin." The step the friends were hanging out at has been empty since the shoe store was evicted in February.

Blaylock said he came to Chicago earlier this month from Williard, Ohio. He said he got here by hopping a freight train. He originally hails from Alabama.

Blaylock rejected the label "gutter punk."

"A gutter punk is a homeless punk kid that lives in the city that they live in," he said. "I'm a traveler by definition."

Rebecca Mars, 24, said "gutter punks are like squatters."

"They are 50-year-old ex-junkies that live in San Fran out west. If we call ourselves anything, it's crust punk," she said as Blaylock interrupted her to say that a crust punk label would imply they listen to a certain kind of punk music, which he said they don't.

Mars, originally from San Diego, began traveling in 2010 from Washington, D.C. She said she travels "on and off" but did not elaborate outside of saying that her most recent leg began in January.

Mars said her plan was to leave Chicago for Seattle, so she could give up her dog, Macaroni, whom she described as her best friend.

"I am trying to find this dog a better home. I love him. His food is heavy. He's well trained but [riding on] trains really freak him out," Mars said.

Macaroni, a Dingo and Shepherd mix, has been Mars' canine companion for the last six months.

Blaylock said he was inspired to travel by his father.

"My dad rode trains when he was younger. My mom does not especially like it; she kicked me out. I dropped out of high school, had no job. It was time," he said.

Mars described Blaylock as her "pet boy."

"He's my assistant. He watches my bags, my dogs, my instrument," she said.

Marcus Faletti, who is a year-round homeless person, was hanging out in the neighborhood's namesake park at 1425 N. Damen Ave. over the weekend. Faletti said he noticed the travelers had returned a few weeks ago, with some already having left, and now replaced by others.

"It's a free country, they move around. They don't bother me. By summer, there's going to be a bunch of them here," Faletti said.

(So this article popped up on my Facebook feed and sparked a debate between myself and a few others, I was wondering what you guys thought about it ~EphemeralStick)
 
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EphemeralStick

EphemeralStick

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A lot of people that live in both the Wicker Park and Lakeview neighborhoods agree with the sentiment that travelers are a nuisance to the city and although I don't agree with it, I can see why they're frustrated. It's bullshit. For starters, Chicago in the summer doesn't see nearly the amount of travelers in other cities so their bitching is kind of hard to take seriously.

Also, the only reason Wicker Park and Lakeview exist as they are now is because back in the 90's punks and artist started moving in to those areas. Lakeview became the gayborhood of Chicago because low income, minority queer youth started moving into the area. As the year progressed both neighborhoods began to evolve and grow into thriving communities. Once they got a little more cleaned up bigger corporations started opening shops, real estate companies began buying up the area and renovating the buildings to be more in line with a "modern" alternative culture. Basically they took all the uniqueness that the disenfranchised brought to the areas, bought it out and slapped a shiny new commercial label on it. The artists and queers all moved out and the young, urban professionals moved in.

They have long had a sense of alternative culture but now that sense has became homogenized and marketable. Wicker Park has some of the most expensive shopping and dining establishments in the Northwest neighborhoods; Lakeview is becoming the same with most of the LGBT residence moving out as gentrification takes it's toll. As the neighborhoods change so to does the attitude of the people living in it. They don't want to see homebums, let alone travelers, which is probably why they get their panties all wrapped up when summer hits and the city sees more of us hanging around.

My advice? Spread the word that these neighborhoods are blown up. The North side in general has become nothing more than a shiny safe haven for the consumer minded elite. Chicago as a city sucks on so many separate levels. If it weren't my home I would never visit here in a million years.
 

Matt Derrick

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*sigh* i don't really have much that is positive to say about this. eventually all travelers are going to be blown up and there's not going to be a free ride for anyone anymore, whether they truly need it or not.
 

Itvo

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Seems kinda odd that "crusties" would go and openly disclose their full names, pseudonyms, interview with the news and disclose their habits all in one go. Maybe they like the attention though and want to rub it into society's face.

At least it isn't as bad as it is here. Every time I've ever seen the news cover this topic it always ends up being, "CEO of ____ caught Panhandling in local neighborhood making 450 dollars a day, driving Porsche."
 

Brother X

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A lot of people that live in both the Wicker Park and Lakeview neighborhoods agree with the sentiment that travelers are a nuisance to the city and although I don't agree with it, I can see why they're frustrated. It's bullshit. For starters, Chicago in the summer doesn't see nearly the amount of travelers in other cities so their bitching is kind of hard to take seriously.

Also, the only reason Wicker Park and Lakeview exist as they are now is because back in the 90's punks and artist started moving in to those areas. Lakeview became the gayborhood of Chicago because low income, minority queer youth started moving into the area. As the year progressed both neighborhoods began to evolve and grow into thriving communities. Once they got a little more cleaned up bigger corporations started opening shops, real estate companies began buying up the area and renovating the buildings to be more in line with a "modern" alternative culture. Basically they took all the uniqueness that the disenfranchised brought to the areas, bought it out and slapped a shiny new commercial label on it. The artists and queers all moved out and the young, urban professionals moved in.

They have long had a sense of alternative culture but now that sense has became homogenized and marketable. Wicker Park has some of the most expensive shopping and dining establishments in the Northwest neighborhoods; Lakeview is becoming the same with most of the LGBT residence moving out as gentrification takes it's toll. As the neighborhoods change so to does the attitude of the people living in it. They don't want to see homebums, let alone travelers, which is probably why they get their panties all wrapped up when summer hits and the city sees more of us hanging around.

My advice? Spread the word that these neighborhoods are blown up. The North side in general has become nothing more than a shiny safe haven for the consumer minded elite. Chicago as a city sucks on so many separate levels. If it weren't my home I would never visit here in a million years.
So, where is the new low income arty scene in Chicago these days?
 

Brother X

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Bummer, but thanks for the info. Seems that the old artist in>gentrification>artist out cycle continues, with one difference I am noticing. The artists are running out of affordable/less than desirable neighborhoods to move to when the yuppies price them out of their own communities. :(

I wonder if Dreamtime Village is still operational. http://www.dreamtimevillage.org/
 
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EphemeralStick

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Seems kinda odd that "crusties" would go and openly disclose their full names, pseudonyms, interview with the news and disclose their habits all in one go. Maybe they like the attention though and want to rub it into society's face.
There have been a butt load of kids over the years that give their full names to news outlets trying to bring attention to the community. Sometimes it's positive sometimes the reaction is negative. If you dig around the forums a bit I'm sure you could find a few old articles of similar content.
 

Haystack

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What a crappy article. But there are a few points that we as a community need to address to keep the negative publicity down. I feel like all of this should be common sense, but you know..

1. Clean up after yourself. Don't leave your trash all over the place and respect the area.

2. Be kind to people and don't act like a dick if they don't give you money.

3. Key term "out of sight out of mind". Keep a low profile and don't draw any attention onto yourself. I understand people who pan, busk, hitch, etc need to be seen for this, but there's no reason to be out and about drawing attention if you don't need to be.

4. I thought I had more to add to this list but my mind has gone else where at the moment..

But seriously, there's no reason to give anyone the wrong idea about travelers. Respect their community, respect the people, don't cause any problems and then maybe people won't complain so much when you come through their town. This is just how I feel and what I've observed personally.
 

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^ this.

it's asolutely true and a kind of code I, for one, live by now.
God knows i'm no saint either. I'm a recovrring alky and know i've done some pretty dumb shit in the past. and there was that rebellious time when i wamted the world to burn. so not to judge, we've all been there.

it's a damn shame that it's easier to make articles about trustifarians and addicts being obnoxious while an rticle about a traveling musician volunteering at soup kitchens and old folks homes isn't as interesting.

some of us don't have family to go to and the only life we have is on the road. which is why i make things, and trade.
say,
maybe we Could write ad submit our own positive articles about the nomadic peoples?
not saying it'll make a huge difference but, it may just open some people's perspectives about hungry broke travelin' folk
:)
 

Matt Derrick

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maybe we Could write ad submit our own positive articles about the nomadic peoples?
not saying it'll make a huge difference but, it may just open some people's perspectives about hungry broke travelin' folk
:)
if you wanted to do this on StP, i'd be glad to make it a featured thread :D
 

Sm4L27NMD

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i can say that being in chicago right now it definitely is a different culture. but hearing all the negativity coming out of chicago about homelessness and travelers we definitely should do something. I have met some really awesome people who do what they can to help shelter people from the weather and give them somewhere warm to stay. i would definitely be willing to help with that article. they need a voice from within the community. someone to stand up for us as well as all the other travelers.
 
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Kim Chee

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There is something in the behavior of some travelers which is absolutely counter to the sustainability of the culture. I'm not sure if they don't "get it" or are only concerned about themselves in the present.
 

Rob Nothing

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Only solution is to move elsewhere. I agree with Kim-cicle, in that there is something integral to the lifestyle, culture, community, w/e it is to be called, that is deeply contrary to everything responsibility and community represents.. And like crow says, there is a certain amount of anger and antagonism that brings most of us to hit the road in the first place, at a young age.. It is intrinsically naive and contrary to society. We don't belong.

Of course when I say 'we', I don't mean squat the planet, I am referring to the average transient/traveler/house-less joe.
Stp represents a special niche.. Just think Karl Marx and his Engels.. They weren't actually apart of the class they were fighting for, only in this case it's mostly because the nature of the traveling phenomenon itself is widely debatable.. its more down and out / genuine examples tend towards becoming completely indistinguishable as a culture or type of anything at all but voluntary destitution. Many of these kids will go back to college or their home town and reabsorb back into the fabric of consumerism and comfort. There are few alternatives, as one discovers stepping into our late twenties and early thirties. What we took back with us from the road is personal growth and a clearer picture of how the world really turns round.. Not much else than that.

What I'm saying is that, while it is very noble to think of us as all one body that needs the same things and to call it a community, it only complicates the situation further to ignore the fact that the dregs of society, me for example, are there at the bottom for a reason. What we should be fighting for is birth/population control, and anything relating to nutrition, disease, mental illnesses, drug addiction. Since, for all intents and purposes, and if we are together representative of anything or anybody at all, we are effectively the representation of dysgenic breeding.

Not to rouse any hostility in anybody reading this, if you are.. Just my two cents of caffeine.
 

Sm4L27NMD

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if the only solution is to constantly run why travel at all? why even bother if eventually we have no where to run to? why not just stay apart of a society we dont fit into? assimilate into a life we despise? why would we not fight for our lives? for the right to exist against the norm society has bred. population control isnt an issue, health, medicine and all these other issues you raise are things that at least within this country are readily available. but I understand. for those who are just going to go back to their old ways of consumerism and death this whole point is moot. this site is moot. our lifestyle is moot. this community is moot. the only thing they will have taken from this is a life lesson on how "strong a person they are"? there is a bigger problem with this situation. go on that blog and see how people are responding...they HATE us...all of us. why would anyone ever want to share breath with people that hateful? I cannot and will not. being a traveler is more than jsut something to do. and we are not bottom feeders.
 

Rob Nothing

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More power to you then mi hermano. It is a rather large grey area we are talking about, and it can be painted brilliantly and populated with love or it can be left the way it is as there are different ways to skinning a cat as they say.. They are hateful, yes.. But reality can be scarier, while non judgemental, it is simply harsh.
 
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