Monday, September 21, 2009

"Just Call Me John," a Portrait of One of Boston's Many Homeless

Photo and Story by Stephanie Crumley

September 21, 2009-- The stinging lash of the recession has brought many people to their knees, forcing families out of their homes and onto the streets.

Over the past year homeless families have risen 22%, according to an article in the Boston Globe. These statistics are part of the harsh reality of living in Boston, listed as the most expensive metropolitan area in the United States by the Boston Foundation.

While the homeless lifestyle is uncomfortable for most, one man embraces his homelessness in a most particular way.

The Boston community has grown accustomed to homeless panhandlers holding signs scribbled with desperate pleas for money, food or a job. John's sign stands out on the street: "Spare Change for BEER."

"I just want to get trashed and get a steak," says 58-year-old John as he smokes a cigarette he bummed off a tourist. "I don't care about anything else."

John, who refused to release his last name, has been homeless for ten years.

"I like the way I live. I'm okay with it, just as long as I have enough money for beer, cigarettes and steak," said John.

Over the past ten years he has been living in shelters and on the streets with his wife. In this time he has never seeked any form of employment outside of panhandling.

John's life was turned upside down last week when his wife of eight years left him.

"She didn't like that I was involved with a gang," said John as he stared at the sidewalk. "So she up and left."

Even with his misfortune, John continues to chat idly to the passer-byers, unphased by his recent breakup.

"I'm just going to keep getting trashed, that's all I need," said John. "Women I can get over."


Zev said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zev said...

[Since I cant edit...]
I was this guy for halloween. I saw him in the North End once, got a few pictures of him. He was very pleasant the entire time. I enjoy him quite a bit.

It's unfortunate that he's involved with a gang, I understand his wife's POV. Sad for him that she left him though.