Thursday, July 22, 2010

Looking at Crustypunks

I've been spending a lot of time lately reading Crustypunks, a blog featuring photos and first-person accounts by the many men and woman traveling through Tompkins Square Park.

Here's a portion of Illy's story...


[Photo by Steven Hirsch via Crustypunks]

"I got a forty smashed over my face. Last night. Basically a chick started calling me out saying, I was some sort of dumb ass saying I'm full of shit. So I said something I should not have said and I deserved a forty but she had no reason to cut off my dreads. With scissors. I thought she was pulling my hair. I stood and took it like a homeboy. She kicked me in the face. Smashed a forty over my head. Gave me a few punches. You know I'm not gonna hit a homegirl."

The site is the work of Steven Hirsh, a noted photographer now teaching at Pratt.

Thanks to EV Grieve reader Cary Conover for telling me about the site.

30 comments:

Anonymous said...

Don't idealize the stupidity.

NYCDreamin said...

Some really great reading over there - thanks Grieve.

Anonymous said...

When I was in college, some of my classmates were crusties and they would drive down to NYC during holiday periods to convene with other crusties in the park. As a kid from a working class background it struck me as so funny that these kids would try so hard to look like they were homeless but they were all in college and many of them from pretty well to do families!

Dorland said...

I despise those worthless mofos. They're as welcomed to and wanted in the neighborhood as rats in our apartment building walls.

Anonymous said...

FUCK YOU GRIEVE YOU DON'T BELONG IN THIS NEIGHBORHOOD EITHER IF YOU PROTECT THESE PIGS FEELINGS BY CENSORING COMMENTS. IT'S THE ONLY WAY THEY'LL LEARN.

Anonymous said...

WHY don't you do a site overhaul? This site is really good and gets a lot of traffic, you should make a new site. Something simple but a bit more nice.

RyanAvenueA said...

Nice link, Grieve. Easy to get lost in those stories for a few hours.

Anonymous said...

Please don't mythologize drug addiction, mental ilness, depression and street crime. These kids and adults need jail and rehab, not fan worship. They bring crime and drugs to our neighborhood and monoploize the public spaces while contribiuting nothing positive whatsoever to the community.

Caleo said...

I've lived in NYC since 1988, and these utterly worthless losers deserve attention from no one.
Many of them are in fact from well to do backgrounds, and as someone who has worked hard his entire life, I find them beneath even my utter contempt.
I have seen them get into people's faces MANY times, demanding money or a moment of your day to try and run some useless hustle on you.
They supposedly have no money, and yet half of them have dogs.
They are generally a loud, SMELLY nuisance.
Most of them know better than to ask me for anything, and as far as I'm concerned, they deserve every ounce of abuse that is directed at them.

Bowery Boogie said...

great find! makes for some good reading.

Jeremiah Moss said...

interesting reading. these kids make me think of the lost hippies of the 60s, strung-out and searching.

Jeremiah Moss said...

i also really enjoyed looking at Hirsh's series "Street Creatures." the parade of human monstrosity coming at you really captures what it's like to walk on the sidewalks of New York.

Lisa said...

One night this past winter I came out of the First Avenue L stop to see two crusties and their shivering dog huddled in a doorway. I felt really bad for the dog (hey being honest here) so went to a deli, bought a couple of cans of dog food with pop-top lids, a large bag of pretzels and a couple of sandwiches for the guys. When I went back to them they took the sandwiches, informed me they didn't eat pretzels, and didn't feed their dog "commercial food". Then they demanded cigarettes. So the dog got nothing - they probably ate the Alpo themselves - and they forever turned me off to trying to help these pathetic bits of flotsam who clutter up the nabe like clockwork every summer. But at least they no longer have a bandshell in the park to sleep in.

Shawn Chittle said...

I used to work for Warren Buffet and once I was able to have lunch with him, and he told me about something he called "the ovarian lottery" and how no one is better than anyone else, you either are born into a great situation or born into a bad one. It's chance, it's luck.

Whenever I see people down on their luck - or far worse - I think of the ovarian lottery. I imagine the crustiest of crusty wearing Brooks Brothers walking on CPW and I imagine the poodle walking yuppies of the Upper East Side tatooted and crusty. They're the same people; one was just born into a better situation.

As you read the stories of the crusty kids, you realize they were put on this path long before they had any chance to change it.

Some people win the ovarian lottery, some people lose. I really applaud Steve Hirsh for helping to tell these kids stories and make them... human.

Caleo said...

Shawn... I don't know you, and I'm sure you're a decent person...but your rationalization is a bunch of shit.
Many of them do have a choice, and they make a decision to be where they are. Some are clearly mentally ill, and most addicted to drugs, but many have a choice.
I've lived in welfare hotels and ate only 1 meal a day to save enough money to pay rent and move up and out.
I know many others who've been incarcerated or homeless for brief periods... and with determination and sacrifice made it up and out.
I have no sympathy for these fools, but I have even less for people who make empty rationalizations for bad behavior and parasitic criminality.

Prphet DeBunker said...

These kids should NOT be romanticized. Leave to the likes of Jeremiah Moss to romanticize them. They are a cancer on the neighborhood I have lived in all my life (60 +++ years) And I ASSURE you they are NOTHING like the Hippie kids of the 60's or the Beats. But I think you had to be there to know that. So many people who are not natives, recent new comers, Johnny (or Jeremiah) Come-Latelys love to romanticize a gritty dark past in NYC that they did not see or live through. Some of us lived through it all and are sickened by the pseuso-nostalgia for good old days. I say round the Crustys up and send them en masse back to Bumfuck, Ohio or wherever they hail from. Not a New Yorker among them.

Anonymous said...

Shawn - What a crock of shite. THis country was BUILT by people who supposedly LOST the "ovarian lottery".

I don't know you but if I did I'd drag your ass to Ellis Island, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and then tak you to the top of the Empire State Building so you could see just how fucking ridiculous your "ovarian lottery" excuse is.

Thank GOD there are brighter, more honest, and hard working folks than you and the "ovarian lottery" apologists in this country, this city and this neighborhood!

Anonymous said...

hey-
i'm totally with the commenters who are noticing that it seems none (if any? i'm not 100% sure) of these people are really, like truly crusty. i too, like a few commenters have said, am from a lower working class back ground and have no secret money or back up plan, no nothing. i have known real punks, real outsiders and real crusties are really are living all on their own with very little - i guess maybe what real hobos used to be. i don't mind seeing that. but my xray vision for slumming it has identified most of these as slumming it and if there's anything that pisses me off the most in the world it's that. are any of these folks really, truly from poor or working class backgrounds from either NYC itself or real working class cities? if so i'd like to know who the are. -stef

kim said...

Jeremiah's most right - for my generation it WAS like the hippies - I romanticized them, but most of society vilified them.
As for the anarchkid tourists: when I'm in a generous mood I can think what would I want a stranger to do if that was my son/daughter... so I smile and say 'sorry darling' -
but my mental t-shirt says"Earn It"

Anonymous said...

Out of everyone in this city, the Crustpunks, the ones that hang out all over the EV with their starving pregnant dogs and bruised-up girlfriends, are the only people that I'm afraid to run into on the street at night.

Andre said...

I have no sympathy for the crusties. If you're really fucked up and need help, fine, but most of these kids are tourists from the 'burbs who spat out their silver spoon. Go slum in your own home town or get a fucking job and earn your keep.

I've been down and out as bad as anyone - strung out, crazed, alone and displaced - but I was determined to get my life together come hell or high water. I pick myself up, earn a living and work hard to make a better life for myself. I can't stand these walking bags of human excrement. Throw them and the gentrifying yunnies in a sack and toss them in the river.

Anonymous said...

thanks for the link. some very tragic stories there. seems like that site needs a proofreader, though.

Melanie said...

Very moving site. Nice black and white photos. I hope all the crustypunks do okay this summer--after all they are people too!

Anonymous said...

Leave the hippies alone--they were cool-loving-kind and had a dream with a positive attitude which seems to be lacking these days.

michael said...

Wow, so apparently yuppies are not welcome in the east village, crusties are not welcome in the east village, students are not welcome in the east village, new bars are not welcome in the east village, it seems from reading these and past comments is that only crack and heroin dealers from the 80's, starving artists, "true" punks and those who contributed to a "scene" two decades ago are welcome.

Anonymous said...

hmmmmm...

how long ago were these photos and interviews done? They seem recent, which means at least one of these folks is full of crap.

Slug mentions the story of Rockawitz, the guy that killed his girlfriend and cooked her down. Rumor was that he served the soup in the park.

Not only does Slug say it happened "a few years ago" but he also claims to have been served some of the girlfriend stew.

This event happened over 20 years ago, so unless these interviews are from the early 90s or slug is the most youthful looking almost 40 year old crusty he's just full of shit.

Sanch said...

Great stuff at crustypunks.

Thanks,Grieve. Big Fan!

Lisa said...

Anonymous 8:08 - Very funny response, and I think you are right about Slug being full of it. Daniel Rakowitz killed his girlfriend Monica Beerle in 1989, and really did cook her and feed her to the homeless, it wasn't a rumor. I remember him walking around Avenue A with his pet chicken in his arms or sticking out of his backpack; he was definitely one of the stranger sights in a neighborhood that, at that point, was full of 'em. (Altho not as strange as the guy who used to sew pots and pans onto his clothing and walk around clanging like a knight in armor. Damn I miss the old nabe.)

3FingersBrown said...

Fuck you Michael. The neighborhood used to be home to a lot of working class and creative people of all types - or were all of those Puerto Ricans and artists just drug dealers in your eyes?

As for those students and new bars. Enjoy Superdive jackass. You can have the fucking neighborhood. I wouldn't live there anymore even if I could afford to without living in a closet.

ak said...

slug isn't full of shit. he is nearly 40 years old. slug lives and works in philly. he organizes the annual punk island festival on governors island. he is often in town on business or visiting friends, hence ending up in the park hanging out.

other than that, people are people. some of these kids are from moneyed backgrounds, others are not. some were born into shit families, others were not. some have drug/drink problems, others do not. some do it for a short time, others for a much longer period. some for only the summer, some for all year round. some rarely have jobs, others have seasonal jobs. some have mental illnesses, others do not. etc...

if i walked into a room for of doctors/lawyers/bankers and spoke to all of them at face value - as humans - i'd find out that they too have a wide variety of backgrounds.

i'm not saying anyone has to tolerate BS or give someone money but having common courtesy would be nice. just because you talked to one group of jerks that wouldn't take dog food - doesn't mean that others wouldn't. just because one frat boy elbowed me in the chest on the subway the other day and didn't say sorry doesn't mean that others wouldn't, ya dig?

whatever. i just wish the world could be a nicer place and people would live and let live. it's the grand variety of how people choose to live their life that i am enthralled with, wish others could see some beauty in it too.