May 13, 2009

"Hey, you should be my wife, he said."

Young hobos, today:
Adam Kuntz and Ashley Hughes... had been riding [the rails] together for eight months. He was 22, tall and rangy, with a goatee, wild black hair and a disarming smile. She was 18, with blue eyes and dishwater-blond hair. Crudely inked across her fingers was the word "sourpuss," advertising the side she liked to show people: the rebel and sometime dope fiend who bristled with free-floating anger.

But he saw another side of her too: the frightened runaway who, like him, found a tramp's dangerous, hand-to-mouth life less terrifying than the adult world.

They were curving through the Tehachapi Pass, seriously drunk, when a feeling overcame him. The words were unplanned, like everything else in their life.

Hey, you should be my wife, he said.

OK, she replied.
Much more at the link.

42 comments:

goesh said...

For charming la la la - we've got the makings of another reality show, Reality on the Rails or maybe Box Car Cohabitation - there is something to be said for forced sterilization....

Dust Bunny Queen said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dust Bunny Queen said...

Self indulgent losers. Their parents should be slapped.

I don't feel the least bit sorry for any of them, not even dead Ashley, no matter how the author tries to write this stupid sob story.

Useless stupid pieces of shit.

ricpic said...

Oh I wouldn't give a nickel for the bum I used to be
Work as hard as any man in town
Got a purty gal, she thinks the world of me
A man would be a fool to let her down...

Go bum again...Go bum again...
Ooooooh.......
Hear....the whistle blow...
Hear....the whistle blow-ow....

Clickety clack, clickety clack
The wheels are turning on the railroad track
If you go you can't come back
If you g-o-o-o-o
You can't come back...

Bissage said...

If Ashley Hughes likes to get slapped, punched, choked and triple-penetrated, then fame and fortune await her in the pornography business.

Bissage said...

Oops! Ashley died. I must have been suffering from reader's block.

I'll let my previous comment stand to bear testiment to my idiocy, as if it were a grave marker; a red granite grave marker.

AllenS said...

I like your caboose.

Bissage said...

Testament.

Hoosier Daddy said...

Useless stupid pieces of shit..

Well in fairness shit does make for good compost so not entirely usesless.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Well in fairness shit does make for good compost so not entirely usesless.

:-) Actually, only certain kinds of animal shit. Certainly not human excrement. Chicken poop is really good as is sheep or cow manure.

Instead of discussing these wastes of human skin. Let's discuss gardening!!! Something productive.

raf said...

DBQ, the human-sourced material is in wide use in other parts of the world. That imported rice your may be eating....

Hoosier Daddy said...

:-) Actually, only certain kinds of animal shit. Certainly not human excrement. .

Hear that Titus? Now you know why your tomato plants are dying ;-)

Beth said...

I'm not fond of the "travelers" who end up here in New Orleans because it's warm most of the year around. They hang out on the sidewalks of Decatur Street, begging. They're young, and strong, and able to work. Hey, punk, I bought my own pot and beer when I was your age. I used to say that to them, but now, the latest batch are actually violent, so I just cross the street.

They're particularly galling because in the years after Katrina, there are "Help Wanted" signs on restaurants, cafes and stores all over the Quarter and around town. They keep the dogs because it makes it harder for cops to arrest them - they have to call Animal Control and wait for someone to come get the dog, so usually they issue a warning and move on.

They squat in the empty houses, and some of them have beat-up cars. In the year right after Katrina, they would put "Animal Rescue" signs on the car, and then use that as cover to loot abandoned houses. Scum.

There were lots of other punks in town actually working - gutting flooded homes - so I try to reserve judgment, but still, they're a pain in the ass.

(But jeez, Bissage, what's going on in your head, man? That was just nasty.)

Methadras said...

It's nice to know that the younger Kuntz is now indoctrinating his next victim, a young video store clerk into the life degeneracy, addiction, psychosis, and waste. Isn't being a neo-hobo great?

molly said...

Hey, you should be my wife, he said.

OK, she replied.


That's pretty much how my marriage proposal went. Not a bum, though.

AllenS said...

"Let's discuss gardening!!!"

I like your peaches, can I shake them?

asdf said...

Love the difference between the third and fourth photos. Lookin' good, Ash!

traditionalguy said...

This is a sad but common story. There are Loners who will not settle down except to heal and resupply before the next mission into dangerous waters. The tragedy is that helping them only injures the good hearted people who help them. I suspect that a childhood need to survive taught them how to be Street Wise, and they will not settle for safe and dull relationships. They are courageous in their own way.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

I like your peaches, can I shake them?

No, but I might share some of my wild plums. :-)

BJK said...

I'll let my previous comment stand to bear testiment to my idiocy, as if it were a grave marker; a red granite grave marker.I know the feeling; I'm glad I skimmed the story before making my "He should've had a prenup; he could lose half of every....wait....nevermind." joke. It's not nearly as funny in the actual context.

john said...

DBQ - human pieces of shit? We all start out human, and end up as shit.

I don't see so many people riding rails now, probably a tribute to better yard security and fewer open boxcars.

In the 70's we made bologna sandwiches for hobos that came by and asked, and handed them out over our back fence, as we lived only a couple blocks from the SPRR yards.

Back then it was also easy to count many of them riding the rails when I would drive I-10, or on old Route 66, with those great AT&SF locomotives pulling their loads up between Seligman and Peach Springs, in open boxcar doors or on flat cars between heavy equipment. I was reading Ed Abbey then, about his coming west after the war, and seeing it for the first time from a boxcar.

It was always wistful and romantic for me. That was until page 3 when Ashley stepped in front of that train.

commenter said...

add two to the fifth power.

Everybody has a time to explore.

I met this guy who laughs at me because he thinks i typify the phrase: doing the same thing over and over again is insanity. haha, he's not that funny.

I will refer to something like this naturopath, who many will call a quack, (so save your finger exercise in typing. I know the accusations already. and question everything myself) says:

I like to think of Explorer as a GenoType that spent a lot of times running down the sides of that mountain in the Epigenetic Landscape. Unlike the marble that could only roll downwards, Explorer spend a lot of time circling while he tried to figure out what the next move should be. Not that he was a procrastinator. He just had a lot on his mind.

http://www.4yourtype.com/explorer.asp

Noting it isn't really a circle, but a bit warped elliptical. Gotta remember asymetrical body, fingers, and lankiness.

Bissage said...

Sorry about that, Beth. My 11:39 comment doesn’t stand on its own. It was a callback to this comment.

So actually, I was expressing the repugnance I feel for the people out there who would exploit someone like Ashley as well as the repugnance I feel for the people who get off on nasty porn, the very idea of which I detest.

P.S. Personally, I thought some of the other comments much uglier than mine. I won’t name names.

ElcubanitoKC said...

Beth, I am with you on this one.

John, we have had a significant increase on railroad drifters in Kansas City during the past 2 years. They don't venture out to the burbs because our yards are closer to downtown and midtown than to the burbs. The city after all, grew around the railroad business. My partner's father has worked for one of the big railways in town for over 35 years, and he says that they have become a real nuisance lately. That's not to mention the dozens if not hundred who die every year from cold, heat exhaustion, accidents and murder (mostly by other drifters).

I don't want to sound insensitive. I know how it is to be homeless, albeit for a short period of time, but most of these kids are not. They are driven, as the article rightly points out, by a childish desire to never grow up, to never assume responsibility. They don't want to work. They don't want to be "tied down" by family or friends.

Most of them have been coddled and spoiled by their parents. Some are even trust fund babies. It is very hard to feel sorry for them.

This is a story that needs to be told, and although the author of the article tries to paint it as crudely as possible; I can't help to fear that someone else reading it, will find this lifestyle romantic and adventurous.

Beth said...

Bissage, thanks. Context is everything, and I had none. It sounded so unlike you - and it was.

john said...

ElcubanitoKC .....

I don't disagree with you at all. There is nothing healthy about them, or their life on the rails. But they are humans, and could hopefully make better use of offered help than blanket condemnation.

ElcubanitoKC said...

There is only so much help that can be offered in these cases. What good is help when the recipient refuses or makes ill use of it? Sometimes help must come from within.

And I am not trying to generalize here. I am speaking of these cases that feel this is some sort of "cool", "radical", "awesome" lifestyle. The ones that can fall back on a family. The ones who have help and just refuse to take it.

I don't deny that there must be some who don't have such safety nets. Those should be helped. However, and to bring it full circle; how many times can you help someone and then just watch them f**k up everything again?

Freeman Hunt said...

What a downer. With the quote here, I had high hopes for a story of two malcontents who get together and maybe settle down a bit. But no. She dies! Awful. And he continues. More awful. And he's going to drag some other girl into it. Nooooo!

Kirk Parker said...

I just hope the author isn't related to Jayson Blair or Janet Cooke...

And Beth, regarding this:

"the latest batch are actually violent"

Hope you are suitably prepared and equipped to defend yourself!

former law student said...

Ashley grew up damaged -- a cutter, psychotic -- in a broken home, while Adam - with father and stepmother still living in the home he grew up in, with successful siblings -- seem to be a self-absorbed shit at best and a monster at worst. The road provides him with sweethearts; what difference does any one make?

Note that when he came back for his mother's funeral he made Ashley ride the rails from Alabama alone except for the dogs, while he rode comfortably on Greyhound. Note further than he did not warn her of the Amtrak's approach before she jumped, leaving her to discover it herself.

Penny said...

"I don't want my life to go to hell," she wrote, "but the place I once called home is no more than a ghost and I have nowhere else to go."

Ashley let go the ghost.

srfwotb said...

@Beth I'm guessing @Bissage got sucked into the porn vortex via the Sasha Grey thread a few days ago.

(Am I close? It happens.)

It might have been the best way and time for Ashley to go out - and I don't mean that in even a remotely cruel way. I didn't know this was still even possible. The only huge difference I see between that and backpacking across Europe or Asia is college and/or parental money.

John Lynch said...

For a lot of homeless people it's a lifestyle choice, particularly for men. When you see able-bodied young men living like this it's because they want to.

The article romanticizes their existence, but at least gets across that it was a choice.

Homelessness is choice, drug addiction, and mental illness. People don't typically just run out of money and find themselves on the street. That's what annoys me about "homelessness awareness" campaigns. We're not all just a paycheck away from being on the street. It's fairly easy to keep a roof over our heads.

In Adam's case, I don't see what else his parents can do. His siblings do fine. He chose to do this. About all they can do is offer some support when he's around. Cutting him off would just mean he's on the road more. It won't make him change. Either he'll die from some hazard (AIDS, overdose, or getting knifed) or he'll grow out of it around age 30. Or he won't. It's a free country, and nothing short of institutionalization stops people from living as bums.

Palladian said...

"mental illness"

Mental illness is a lifestyle choice?

buster said...

I agree with John Lynch just above. I met a young man 35 years ago, wonderful family, well-to-do, doing well at college, handsome and elegant, and soon to go on the road. Thity-five years later he is still alive, but a physical, mental, and moral wreck. Has a brother and two sisters who've led successful, conventional lives. Evey once in a while he asks them for help and the always give it, but he always goes back. There's really nothing they can do except love him and wait for it to end.

Like the Sebastian Flyte character in Brideshead Revisited.

Kirk Parker said...

Palladian,

No, I'm pretty sure he meant choice, addiction, and mental illness are 3 separate factors.

John Lynch said...

I did. My apologies for being unclear.

John Lynch said...

My father was a professor of economics. His father was a professor of English. My aunt was a teacher. My uncle on my father's side was homeless.

He was a drunk. Can't say why, just chose to.

I don't mean to say that mentally ill people are at fault, and addicts usually don't want to be addicts. Some people need help, and we should give it. It's cheap at the price.

I just wanted to distinguish those that, like the two people in the article, choose to live this way. Having worked a lot of odd jobs in my life, I've met a lot of people who do day labor and dishwashing and what not. Many people, again usually men, just can't handle a normal lifestyle.

commenter said...

day labor and what not?

how to be successful at what not.

Follow me.

Okay, I am a woman. whatnotting might mean something else altogether as a woman.

But i have never know the word can't in what-notting.

I have one of the highest credit scores possible and i have slept on a street with that because I couldn't get along with how business people play games to make money. I have a temper and temperament and while i am forgiving to a point those two things get the best of me when people act for the love of money before understanding. If I were a man it would probably be different. I am not, so they called me borderline once.

Bissage said...

Thanks, srfwotb.

ElcubanitoKC said...

It's called maturity, commenter, or the ability to control one's emotions to the best of our abilities.

And your comment is pretty sexist. "Whatnot" can mean the same for men or women. Women are just as capable of doing manual labor as any man. Isn't that true?

commenter said...

Well for Buddha's birthday I dressed in white this year to remind me to control my anger even if it was not even memorial day. I noted to my son that perhaps communism follows the buddhist path moreso. Christianity let Jesus get angry once at least once at the money changers. Does Capitalism follow? Anyway I made brownie points with the department head professor in math and the arts that purnima. One noted how calm I was when my son spoke of his antics.

As for physical labor, my arms are toned and I don't shy away from carrying or lifting or pushing. See what all that displacement build? Character and muscle as long as I don't throw around tables and chairs.

The sexist comment was because I was reading comments about homeless men. What about homeless women?