Monday, November 06, 2006

So that's what "Barrel Fever" means!**

hobo_bindelIf you’ve watched “The Legend of a Twin Princesses,” you know that the Kindly Old Timer lives in a box community behind an old sausage factory. But let’s get something straight: he’s no Hobby Hobo. Sure, he’s got a leaky roof over his head, and he’s not risking a stay at the crowbar hotel or the bone orchard with a train-hop, and he carries his brief-bindle to and from a job, but this in no way signifies that he’s some mere Boxcar Tourist! His kicks are mangled and his rags ain’t so glad, if you catch my drift…

No?!? Then seek out the 1931 publication American Tramp and Underworld Slang. Words and Phrases Used by Hoboes, Tramps, Migratory Workers and Those on the Fringes of Society, with Their Uses and Origins. With a Number of Tramp Songs. Edited with Essays on the Slang and the Songs by Godfrey Irwin. With a Terminal Essay on American Slang in Its Relation to English Thieves' Slang by Eric Partridge. This is all one book. I received my copy via post on August 17th, seventy-five years TO THE DAY after it was stamped by its former home, the Providence Athenaeum. Freaky.

hobo_logoFor further information on hoboes, I also recommend The Areas of My Expertise by honey-voiced professional liar John Hodgman, now in audio book. I recently made this delightful author's acquaintance at a Literary Salon hosted by mutual friend Dana Gould; fittingly, our introduction occurred over a bonfire.


**Delerium Tremens!


Update, 20 March 2007: Having been raised in Los Angeles, I will admit to an altered sense of what “celebrity” means. I was, after all, getting driving lessons from Christopher Atkins at age twelve, posing for PETA publicity shots with Ron Jeremy by twenty-nine, and too blasé for the 45 second walk across Sunset Blvd. to meet the cast of Heroes last week. But I recently heard a new essay by John Hodgman on fame, and realized it might be of interest to you non-read-y types that this author is also “PC” from the Get A Mac ads.

Another Update, 12 April 2007: Listen to the recording of his hilarious story here.


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