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Scheherazade in Blue Jeans
freelance alchemist
Bringin' hobos back. 
5th-Feb-2010 03:42 pm
Boondock/can't believe
So I'm tidying up around here while Elayna and K. watch YouTube videos. And K says "That guy looks like a hobo."

And I had to stop them. Because dude. Last week, there was a BARCC engagement where some teenagers said that they felt that a particular high-rick group for perpetration was hobos. They fear the hobos. And we were all like o.O hobos? Is it the 1920s again? Hobos? Okay.

And I told one of our colleagues at another crisis center (who's also a fellow volunteer) about the fear of hobos. And he said his kids, too. The teens in the class he teaches. All about the hobos.

You guys.


I do not know!

But according to K, hobos are coming back in a big way. The term is making a resurgence.

It was vampires, then zombies, then angels - and I thought selkies were supposed to be next. But. Apparently it is hobos. Dear writers, get crackin' on the HoboPunk.

EDIT: No, they are not talking about homeless people. They are all describing the hobo archetype, the 19020s rail-ridin' hobo with the stick and bandanna. Hence my confusion, as I really did not think that had made it into 21st-century pop culture!

ALSO EDIT: Connection found! The American Girls books, specifically Kit (1934)!
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5th-Feb-2010 08:49 pm (UTC)
Elayna says "WHAT?!? No. Noooooo."
(Deleted comment)
5th-Feb-2010 08:45 pm (UTC)
Might be John Hodgman's doing, what with his list of 700 hobo names in The Areas of my Expertise.
6th-Feb-2010 02:37 pm (UTC)
Rob Courdry used to toss the hobo idea in the daily show on and off back when he was around.
5th-Feb-2010 08:45 pm (UTC)
OMG, my son says that all the time! It always throws me off because... hobo?? Really???
5th-Feb-2010 08:48 pm (UTC)
Mine too. I think they are showing up in some video games.
5th-Feb-2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
well, I hope you taught them the hobo code.

The concept of hobos didn't make much sense to me as a kid. As I got a bit older, I realized it was because there are no freight trains on Long Island.

Its sad that 80 yrs later, hobos still get a bad name.
5th-Feb-2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
Jeph Jacques uses hobo in Questionable Content quite a bit. Including the fake band name "Hobocore"
5th-Feb-2010 09:16 pm (UTC)
Was going to say this. This was where I first scratched my head at the word making a comeback.
5th-Feb-2010 09:02 pm (UTC)
I hear stories about kids coming to the city from the suburbs for the express purpose of beating up "the hobos." Like, it's Saturday, let's all "kick a hobo." It's demented. And sick-making.

On a lighter note, the word "Hobos" reminds me of the book "Down and Out In Paris and London" by George Orwell. The London part especially. What a good, weird, detailed, analytical, penetrating sort of book that was.
5th-Feb-2010 09:05 pm (UTC)
Does hobo mean the same thing? Or does it just mean, more generally, "homeless man"?
5th-Feb-2010 09:13 pm (UTC)
They're describing, when asked to elaborate, the stereotypical 1920s rail-riding hobo, complete with stick and bandanna. I'm perplexed - I so did not think that made it into 21st-century pop culture!
5th-Feb-2010 09:07 pm (UTC)
It seems to be a way to talk about homeless people without having to acknowledge that they are, in fact, people. It's an othering tactic, plain and simple, and I wouldn't encourage it.
5th-Feb-2010 09:14 pm (UTC)
See comment above - they don't mean the standard/general homeless person, they mean the 1920s rail-riding hobo with the stick and bandanna.
5th-Feb-2010 09:12 pm (UTC)
I grew up always teetering back and forth on the edge of poverty. We called people hobos to distinguish them from "homeless." Homeless folks were those who wanted a home and couldn't have one. Hobos were folks who chose a lifestyle of parapatetic (I know that's misspelled) living. And yes, we had many of them in my home town and the local area, because it's temperate and easy to live outside there, or take shelter in a box. And folks tend to be more easy-going, and not freak out if you carry your belongings with you into the library, or whatever.
5th-Feb-2010 09:25 pm (UTC)
Well, the homeless increase when the economy sucks. And the homeless have major trouble getting work, which means hunger, which means psychological dissonance, which means it's even harder for them to get or keep work or homes. So once they're here, they often stay until they die.
5th-Feb-2010 09:27 pm (UTC)
My grandfather was a hobo for a time, until he settled in Mather, PA and met my gramma. I don't have the whole story on it, but he left an orphanage as a young teen, I think, and set out for a while. Somewhere along the line, he got the nickname "Boston" while boxing. Later, he'd go where the best money was, which, at the time, was the coal mines, until the 1928 Mather Mine explosion. (My gramma told me of that day, how "They filled the school house full of coffins.")

So yes, there are stories.
And this gives me an idea. :)

5th-Feb-2010 09:41 pm (UTC)
Write it!
5th-Feb-2010 09:56 pm (UTC)
I call my husband a hobo when he doesn't shave for three weeks, because his beard grows in curly and scruffy in places.

Sometimes I tease him further by saying that I'll get him a bindle.
5th-Feb-2010 11:07 pm (UTC)
I think Hunter S. Thompson referred to that much stubble as "standard-issue wino trim."
5th-Feb-2010 10:26 pm (UTC)
5th-Feb-2010 10:30 pm (UTC)
It is sort of an odd phenomenon. My direct age peers haven't had too much of it, but a friend of mine who's a year or two younger received the hobo meme a few years ago.

In that case, though, hobos were kind of cool. Hobos are hobos by choice, they are free, etc. There isn't a direct hobos = starving artist definition in anyone's mind, I don't think, but there's definitely a wistful urge to live free of the capitalist system.
5th-Feb-2010 10:33 pm (UTC)
I see a lot of irony there, because the last people I met that I would really and truly call hobos, by the rail-riding definition, were actually in their teens. A group of kids that I rode the Greyhound with from Reno to St. Louis a few years ago--they got off in Denver, but not before I got the chance to hear them talk about hopping freight trains in Texas. Hopping trains. Actually doing it. I didn't envy their spoken addictions or their frustrations, but I envied their train stories.

eta: I hear the word Hobo and think of a story my friend Lil Rev told me in Wisconsin, about how he'd heard that a rather famous 'bo (as the term of brotherhood went once upon a time between rail riders, I have heard) "took the westbound" at last. Taking the westbound, in the vernacular, means dying. That phrase captivated me to the point that I put it into a song.

I also think of Smokey Lonesome from Fried Green Tomatoes.

Edited at 2010-02-05 10:36 pm (UTC)
6th-Feb-2010 01:12 am (UTC)
I was wondering if anyone was going to mention gutterpunks.
In general, that's what we call 'em in the Midwest.(WI) I have friends who were former gutterpunks, homeless railriding squatters.

But hey, it's not the hobos you gotta watch out for, it's the "drifters" ;P
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