I’m not a bum, or a hobo, or a drunk, or any of the archaic and condescending terms I am pointed out to be. Nor am I homeless; I live in Copley Square, and I am an educated man. Now, the word drunk could aptly be applied to me most of the time, but I prefer the word boozehound because it shows me an ironic picture of dogs barking to a bell. Not that I am in a state of denial about alcoholism or the degree to which I am addicted to various substances. But as you can see I can still be apparently intelligent and genuinely eloquent. I live in the square with other tribes of miscreants and exiles, with most of whom I have a good rapport. I am of course most comfortable with the other boozehounds but I still slide into other circles when a change in monotony is needed.
I have said that I am an educated man and while I am not a braggart, it would seem confusing if I did not elaborate. I am educated because I keep a respectable pair of clothes for the purpose of going indoors. Given this freedom to go inside without coming out quickly, I have taken to living in the Boston Public Library and on days like this it is a sanctuary without equal. While others are relegated to sitting on subway vents, I look with a grand view of Trinity church, my favorite place to sleep and stare at through the window on cold days. It never fails to amaze me that such a place exists, that it is free and that it contains the lives of so many.
I like ravers the best because they have hope, which is both refreshing to see and provides for a type of conversation that can include things unrelated to destruction. This is because they have an idealistic view of drugs in general, a ridiculous notion to begin with, but I have mentioned before that they have hope. Almost universally the speaking among the hoodrats concerns hot cars or shiny acquisitions, but sometime the talk turns to music and more importantly the specifics that are worthy of sophisticated critics. The punks appear to have a deep consciousness but they are really lost exiles from a land of which they still wish to be a part. The skaters are monks perfecting massive skill in minute movements. They tend to their worship in a grand display of ceremonial recklessness. These are the major groups today and we all huddle under the trees looking for a way to be warm.
It is now the worst time of the year in the square with the jet stream descending, freezing the dripping noses of the daywalkers. The jet stream as I should explain is the wind blowing from the east off the ocean and tunneling through the lines of streets stretching from the waterfront to the back bay, where the wind is diffused by the drop in building height. The daywalkers as I should also explain are what commuters might call commuters. But they only exist in the day and they only walk while they are here.
One must eat and live with tolerable pain, so I hustle. Don’t really have a better word for that activity, but it’s pretty goddamn universally-understood, so I didn’t bother. I steal if the opportunity presents itself, I beg, I gamble, and above all I sell drugs. The circles in the square are the market and as I have mentioned, I float around fairly easily. I also buy alcohol for kids, mostly from high schools in the area but anyone with half a brain and the need can come to the city and send a boozehound on a run to the package store. They pay well and we have no compulsions sending others on the path to our reality.
I should examine my feelings concerning bravery because it is a concept central to the life of a boozehounds and myself in particular, being one of the more respected among my peers. Boozehounds are brave by nature, though some are forced into it at first. A conscious rejection of all social stature is not what a logical person decides to do simply because they see themselves as part of that structure. I am on the peripheries of the structure and as such am not concerned by much other than dependence on certain substances. Many will argue that we are most of us victims in some way, the two most common accusations being alcoholism and mental illness. I say to them that the will to live is very different than the will to live on the street. I will give an illustration of this idea because I feel my description can go no further. I will only preface by saying Jack is the embodiment of bravery.
Jack is one of the nicest people I know, homeless or otherwise. Because of his extraordinarily good natured personality, he is allowed to reside in affluent suburbs such as Brookline, where other boozehounds would normally be run out within the hour. I had a sublime picture of what Jack looks like from the face of a boy playing basketball in his large well kept driveway as we were walking by. A large black man is shuffling down the side of the manicured street pushing a can-laden Stop&Shop cart, occasionally yelling curses and hitting himself on the backside with jarring violence. I happen to know that Jack has an open invitation to one of several hospitals in the area where he could live in the comfort afforded by modern times. He feels the freedom as I do; the wanderlust and peace of being that can only be shown on the peripheries of structure.
I think I will elaborate on the condition in which I live, as I think this would be of considerable interest to the uninformed. Certainly I do not relegate myself to the Boston Public Library, and Boston has many squares like Harvard and Sullivan and Porter and so forth. Then there is also downtown and the tunnels, places I hesitate to commit the details to paper, lest the city evict the stowaways. Some may be familiar with the extensive and densely populated underground tunnels in New York because there was a quality documentary by the name of Dark Days made about the homeless community down there. Boston, however, has the oldest subway tunnel system in America and as a result there are many tunnels whose whereabouts are not even known by the city planners. Some of these tunnels have dangerous people in them and some have very amiable people living in them and it is not hard to tell the difference even at a glance because of the difference in appearance; often one can simply tell by the odor. Though perpetually damp, the old subway is the warmest place to sleep when the wind is sharp.
Looking back upon what I’ve written, I realize that I have not mentioned booze, normally the first thing that comes to a man’s mind when encountered a person such as myself. Denial is a long large river in Africa. I have said I am not in denial about drugs and the influence I feel but it is quite another thing to articulate, particularly when it might be revisited in a brief state of sobriety. I drink and abuse drugs because I like the world in altered states. I like the various pairs of eyes I have access to when I’ve had an intake. I had a place in society but I abandoned my post and I don’t miss it in the least. I don’t worry about health or death because quite simply, a man in my position doesn’t concern himself with those kinds of things. I keep myself in a state where the world is wonderful and as Hunter S. once said “I need my medicine to keep me totally twisted, otherwise I couldn’t stand this bullshit”, great writer, that Mr. Thompson. To come to my point I am content with my life as a boozehound and neither mourn nor anticipate the end of it.


1 Comment

  1. Thanks, man. That was informative and enlightening.
    Doing your own bit for ‘the advancement of learning’.
    I hope more people read it.


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