“Humanity is an ongoing parade of relentless motherfuckers.” — Dirty Howie
Years ago, back when I was still married to my second wife, we entered a video/movie memorabilia store at Hulen Mall to check out their shit. We found ourselves near the back of the place when I noticed a guy performing karate moves in front of the Kung Fu section. I nudged Crista’s shoulder and whispered to her, “Look at that nut over there.” She stealthfully turned her head in his direction right as he twisted from one karate stance into another. Crista looked back at me and said, in a low voice, “Oh, my God.” To make matters even more unnerving, perplexing and outright fictional — even though it was true and happening right before our eyes — this maniac looked like, and was dressed up as, your stereotypical serial killer. He was white and in his early 30s. Short. Maybe 5-foot-7, at the most. Acne scarred face. We’re talking craters. Aviator sunglasses obscuring his more than likely devilishly intense blue eyes. Tight fitting, worn-in black leather jacket. Think ’60s biker movies. Black, heavy duty boots. He was a movie character inside a movie store. The scene couldn’t have been more ironic. His alarming antics continued. I told Crista we needed to get a closer look at this freak. “Let’s go down the aisle next to his and act like we’re checking out the Disney movies.” In between 101 DALMATIONS and BEAUTY AND THE BEAST we watched in disbelief and wonder as the Bruce Lee wannabe again moved slowly, yet expertly, from one kung fu attacking position to the next, as he stood in front of Jeff Speakman, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, David Carradine, Sonny Chiba, Cynthia Rothrock and Sammo Hung videos. “Jesus,” I said almost silently to Crista. “Doesn’t this dude realize he’s acting very strangely in a public place?” “Obviously not.” I kept expecting him to start quoting TAXI DRIVER‘s Travis Bickle. “You talkin’ ta me? You must be talkin’ ta me because there ain’t no one else around here for you to talk to but me. So, ya talkin’ ta me?” But all he did was continue to make like a Ninja mime. Human beings are my favorite animal to watch and this guy was, at that moment, the perfect example. I tell my friend Bryan that watching the human zoo is better than watching anything on t.v., especially so-called ‘reality’ shows. Bryan’s rode the city bus for a good 15 years now so he knows exactly what I’m talking about. He sees the wretched, the obtuse, the refuse and more each time he walks onto a modern day slave ship. And, after observing people all my life, this is how I sum them all up, “Humanity is an ongoing parade of relentless motherfuckers, like your co-workers and the Iraqi looters.” The insane street population of America, in fact, will yell at you, “JESUS LOVES YOU, YOU SON OF A BITCH!” The insane street population have wonderful conversations with all the other people living inside their chemically imbalanced heads. You can hear these intense gabfests at most any downtown street corner, post office lobby, bus stop or even inside fast food joints. The insane street population walk the landscape of the United States like the zombies who walked the earth in George Romero’s classic horror B-movie movie NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD. You’ve probably passed by a couple of these zanies on your way to wherever you’re going, to work, the grocery store, etc. You’ll probably see them again on your way back home. You see them on the street 24-7-365 doing their crazy as a loon thing. Then you suddenly realize they’re more visible than the police are. Now that’s some fucking reality for you. While Jane Goodall went to the rain forest to study up on gorillas, your humble correspondent has traversed the concrete jungle of urban America to study up on humanity. Every city, town and village has their share of “not all there” citizens. Here in Fort Worth, Texas, we got plenty of the freaked out infamous. And you can bet your ass I’ve tracked them, like some motherfucker trying to find Bigfoot, and documented their movements and lifestyles. For starters, there’s Wolf Boy (a.k.a. Beehive, The Walking Dude, Trash Can Charlie). I first saw him in 1980. He keeps to the west side of town, continuously walking up and down Camp Bowie Boulevard, University Drive, Montgomery Street, Hulen Street and West Vickery Boulevard. He looks a lot like the psycho killer Charles Manson. If Manson’s got a long lost twin brother Wolf Boy is him. They’ve got the same build. The same facial features. Same whacky hair style. Just put an “X” in the middle of Wolf Boy’s forehead and you’d have a clone. The resemblance is quite uncanny. Just look at the picture here I took of him a few years ago while he was walking down Magnolia Street picking through trash bags left on the sidewalk. He found himself a Coke to drink. If you look at the picture closely you can see the top of the plastic bottle he confiscated. God damn looter. The last time I spotted Wolf Boy was a couple of months ago. As usual, he was walking hurriedly to wherever the fuck it is he walks to. I’ve honked at him and rolled down my car window and asked him questions but at no time has he ever reacted to anything I’ve done to get a reaction out of him. I think he might have turned his head to get a look at the jerk (me) taunting him but nothing ever more than that.
Some people call him ‘Beehive’ because, when his hair is really messed up and grimy like a car engine, it rises HIGH above his skull and stays stuck there (apparently, fleas, mosquitoes and maggots make good hair gel) like Marge in The Simpson’s And, of course, ‘The Walking Dude’ moniker comes from this guy’s non-stop, self-propelled motoring. A few years ago, as he wallowed in all of his disgusting glory — soiled pants, uncombed, matted hair, insect-riddled beard, stained shirt and psychotic stare — I eyed him freaking out smack dab in the middle of West Vickery near the Charter Communications cable t.v. company building. I had to slow down and veer my car to the right to keep from hitting him. I wasn’t about to take out one of Fort Worth’s greatest treasures. He was standing there waving his arms all over the place. I was pretty sure he wasn’t trying to hitch a ride. His mouth was enthusiastically opening and shutting. He was shouting at each car that whizzed by him. As I went by I read his lips. He was screaming, “YOU’RE CHOKING ME!! YOU’RE CHOKING ME!!” I’ve heard stories that Wolf Boy is from a wealthy family. At least that’s the rumor. Occasionally, the cops, or even a limo hired by the family, will pick him up and take him to the county nut house at John Peter Smith Hospital where they clean him up. But he always ends up back on the street where he apparently belongs, again falling into disrepair due to his rough and tumble outdoor existence. I’d like to stop and talk to him but he always seems in such a hurry to get somewhere. Unlike most insane street people, who rest in the shade when they can find some, Wolf Boy never stops motoring. It’s always the March Of Dimes for him. Every time I see Wolf Boy I suddenly feel at ease among all the hustle and bustle knowing there’s at least one soul on the planet who is absolutely the almost exact embodiment of Jesus Christ, a freak wandering around the countryside like he’s lost and without friends but who is actually more powerful — in body odor, at least — than the rest of us combined. Then there’s Old Woman (see pic). She and her grocery cart were a long time site on Berry Street between University Drive and Hemphill Street. She must have been 70-plus years old with bright white hair. She always wore coats. Coats over coats, even during the middle of the summer. One time I saw her at a Jack In The Box sitting by herself in a corner booth. Her belongings — rags and clothes she carried with her everywhere — were in a neat pile outside the fast food joint’s door. As I ordered a Philly Cheese steak sandwich, I overheard her talking to herself. But, between the intercom’s country music and the workers’ banter, I couldn’t understand a word she was saying. Even if I could have listened to her clearly, I probably wouldn’t have made sense out of any of it. As you might have noticed yourself while encountering one of these wackos, all they do is mumble incoherently. I’m sure I didn’t miss any monumental statements full of powerful profundity. Whereas Wolf Boy gets around town on is own two stinking filthy feet, another Fort Worth street freak moves his crazy ass to and fro via peddling a 10-speed bicycle. Introducing, the loony as a loon, Bike Man. He don’t run. He don’t fly. He rides, man. He takes his bicycle all over southwest Fort Worth, sticking mostly to Hulen Street and South Loop 820. Me and Bryan encountered him one day inside a thrift store on McCart Avenue. He left his bike outside and came into the store and grabbed a shopping cart and started riding it through the aisles. We walked over to the register and asked the checkout clerk about him. “He’s not stupid,” she said. “He knows what’s going on. I hope he doesn’t drive a car because he’s crazy.” Just then the guy ran the cart he had hard into the back of the other carts. The crashing of metal on metal made everyone in the store look at him. Before walking out of the store, he said something that made no sense. “Genius spelled backwards is suineg!” Me and Bryan followed him outside to get pictures. Then he noticed us watching him and immediately said something to try to throw us off. “Caucasian. Is that what Vanilla Ice is?” Then he got onto his bike and took off. We got into my car and followed him up the exit ramp leading to the freeway. I pulled up right next to him and Bryan rolled down his window snapped the shot of him you see here at left. We both talked to him but he never looked at us or acknowledged our existence. “He all of a sudden became a frozen statue,” Bryan remarked. The next time we spotted him he was making like Lance Armstrong in the Tour de France down Hulen Street, near Borders Books & Music. Apparently, he had visited a Taco Bell earlier in the day to get a bite to eat because on the top of his ball cap he had one of those ‘Yo quiero Taco Bell’ chihuahua puppet dogs strapped onto it. He was also wearing headphones — even though he didn’t have a CD player/radio to hook them up to. I told Bryan, “Those headphones probably make it easier for him to hear the voices in his head.” He was, as all the mentally fucked up are, lost in his own little weird world. We drove off and left him to it. Since I do a lot of city driving I see these weirdos quite often. Just the other day, at lunchtime near downtown’s Fire Station No. 1 on Texas Street, I saw a bum suddenly stop walking down the sidewalk and drop to his knees. He started praying. With his hands clasped together and his head bowed, he shouted, as loud as hell, “YOU ARE SACRED, JESUS!!” I rolled down my car’s window and yelled at him, “BLAH! BLAH! BLAH!” I’ve given some of these street cancers my pocket change, usually whenever I go into a 7-Eleven, which is where a lot of them like to hang out and scare off little old ladies and white people. They’ll stand outside the 7-Eleven’s and go, “Yo, man, u gots a quota eye cane bar-rah?” “Sure, motherfucker! In fact, I’ll buy your monkey ass a six-pack of Schlitz if you let me interview you and take your picture.” “Who want my picture?” “A fellow fuck up like me.” “O-tay. Sense u put it dat ways.” The normals look at these borderline people and think, “Why are they so fucked up?” It’s pretty easy to explain, really. Lose your job and self worth. Have your family desert you. Suffer a disabling closed-head brain injury. Do drugs and alter the constitution of your biological makeup. Be born insane. Those are just some of ways to end up on the street. I saw this disgusting fruitcake — we’ll politely call him ‘All Nasty ‘N Shit’ — strolling slowly down Pennsylvania Avenue near the hospital district one bright day. I happened to be doing some business at an Omni American federal credit union office and as I drove off I spotted this ol’ dirty bastard just one block north of Trimble Technical High School. My, oh, my, I thought. Parents really don’t know how much danger their children are in in the blackboard jungle. It was a super hot summer day in Texas and this jangled-up-in-the-head joker had himself all covered up from head-to-toe in heavy cotton shirts, undercoats and a filthy old blanket drapped over his thick, grungy, grey-speckled afro. His facial hair was in no better shape. To get pictures of this amazing marvel I slowed my car down and pulled over to the sidewalk and grabbed my trusty 35mm camera from under my car seat. I kept it there at all times because you just never knew when a Kodak moment was gonna come up from behind your ass and catch you by surprise.
I quickly took a couple of snapshots and, before driving off, I told the guy, “Hey, man. You look like you need some help. Since I don’t have a cell phone you’ll have to call 9-1-1 yourself. Have a nice day.” His tennis shoes (see pic) were both seeing separation from his arches back to his heel. I bet a lot of pebbles and little rocks plopped onto those open souls and when his foot went back down — OUCH! — he clenches in sharp, piercing shards of atomic bomb-like pain. It goes up his foot and into his ankle and passes there on its way up to his knee joint. His knee, being attacked by the burning nerve damage, buckles. He falls and is down for the count. Oh, the fucking inhumanity! Crista, who got a psychology degree from Texas Christian University, spent six months at the Homeless Outreach Day Haven on El Paso Street (a couple of blocks off of East Lancaster in the middle of the city’s hardcore homeless district) as an intern. While there, she observed and worked directly with all sorts of lunatics and crazies. The Day Haven, Crista told me, is a place for the mentally ill homeless to stay during the day, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and get medical treatment, their clothes washed, take showers and watch t.v. In other words, to keep them off the street and away from assholes like me who take their pictures and write about them on the Internet. She saw a whole bunch of messed up humans there and came to know a slew of them on a first name basis. Tommy, she said, was a 30-year-old schizophrenic black man. “He always made up stories about playing for teams in the NBA. He has very beautiful eyes and wore a torn up winter jacket everyday and carried around a big duffel bag. He used to draw these real intricate pictures with numbers and maps of the constellations and was always carrying a bible.” “Maybe,” I told her, “he could play basketball for the Mars All-Stars.” She said Billy, a white guy in his mid-30s, was sentenced to a life on the streets after being involved in a terrible car accident that left his speech all fucked up. “The only words he could say clearly were ‘Hell, yeah’, ‘Fuck’ and ‘Wow.’ He was a lot like Crackhead Bob on The Howard Stern Show. He communicated by drawing pictures. He’d draw a car wreck and a wheelchair. I think his wife took all the insurance money and left him with nothing. He’d yell at me when I’d light a cigarette. He didn’t like me smoking.” I told Crista, “He’s an ‘anti-smoking’ homeless dude? Jesus Christ, what in the fuck is the world coming to when the homeless are into politically correct bullshit just like soccer moms?” The funniest one, Crista said, was a 60-something black woman named Evelyn. “She was obviously a schizophrenic but she could look anyone straight in the eye and say, ‘I own this place. I’m your supervisor.’ One time the cops came to the Day Haven for some reason and she started talking to them. She was telling them, ‘Yeah, I run this place and there was a disturbance. I have it all taken care of. Don’t worry about it.’ The cops believed she was really in charge of the place because she dressed pretty normal and was an attractive woman. They were about to leave when one of the staff members caught up to them and said, ‘Don’t listen to her. She’s one of them.’ Sometimes she’d make you call her ‘Your Majesty.’” I told Crista that Evelyn had missed her calling. “If she’d gone to Hollywood instead of the Day Haven she’d probably have won an Oscar by now.” Then there was Ernestine, a 50-something black woman with a big afro and several missing teeth. “She’d accuse all of the women of being lesbians,” Crista said. “One time she peed her pants and my supervisor, Michelle, told me to help her change her pants. But I told her I wouldn’t do that.” Oh, the incontinence! A paranoid schizophrenic religious freak, Joe Paul Me, a white guy in his 20s with a shaved head, would sit at the Day Haven screaming at the top of his lungs, Crista said. “He’d shout out, ‘FORGIVE ME, GOD! I’M SORRY FOR ALL MY SINS!’ He would just yell this over and over again and you couldn’t get him to stop. Everybody would get pissed at him because they couldn’t watch t.v. with him going on like that.” “What was he doing?” I asked Crista. “His Jimmy Swaggart impression? ‘Forgive me, Lord, for I have sinned! Boo hoo hoo.’ What an asshole, making people miss their t.v. shows so he can confess his sins. Fuckin’ retard. Go to church for that shit, motherfucker.” As for these people’s low life existences, Crista opined, “It’s not a bad life. These people have no responsibilities and absolute freedom. If you’re one of them you can get wasted everyday and never lose your job. Plus, they could never assimilate into a mainstream, 8-to-5 lifestyle. They’re too busy drinking. It’s not that they want to live that way. They’re on the streets because their families can’t afford 1-800-Charter. But they are comfortable.” Crista’s observation reminded me of what the bum-like character, Henry Chinaski, complained about in Charles Bukowski‘s 1987 autobiographical film, BARFLY. “This is a world where everybody’s gotta do something,” laments Chinaski while drinking a scotch and water in a crummy bar. “Y’know, somebody laid down this rule that everybody’s gotta do something, they gotta be something. You know, a dentist, a glider pilot, a narc, a janitor, a preacher, all that. Sometimes I just get tired of thinking of all the things that I don’t wanna do. All the things that I don’t wanna be. Places I don’t wanna go, like India, like getting my teeth cleaned. Save the whale, all that. I don’t understand it.” I imagine a lot of the whacky homeless feel the same way Chinaski does. Since they don’t fit in with the mainstream why should they be like the mainstream, getting overpriced educations so that they can land a degrading job where their boss treats them like a piece of shit? Why should they follow the rest of the sheep instead of their own instincts? The wackos don’t want to put up with people, bosses or the government, and all the rules and regulations and codes and laws you gotta follow just to satisfy those motherfuckers and keep them out of your business. It’s a life that sucks, sure, but in their chemically mixed up state of mind the hardships are a comfort to them. It’s where they’re supposed to be and they accept it gladly. It is their own imaginary world, their own matrix, if you will. A world where they can find a warped happiness. I’ve never heard of a street person complaining about life on the street. So I’m assuming it must not bother them that that’s where they’ve ended up for whatever reason. Their place in that world is secure as long as they avoid the rest of the human race (i.e., any normals). That’s why you see them talking to only themselves on street corners and at bus stops. If they spoke their nonsense to a normal it would break the code of silence to the world outside of theirs. A slip up like that could get them banished from the whacko world they inhabit. And they wouldn’t want that and neither would we. The Crazy Lady of Granbury Road, before someone got sick of her angry antics and did a drive-by shooting on her mean ass, used to sit on the top of her backyard fence, which faced the four-lane road, and shout obscenities at every passing car. She did this because, as she told Mark Lowry, formerly of the FW WEEKLY, she was trying to alert folks to all the “evil doings” going on across the street at steel manufacturer Texas Industries. She claimed T.I. was setting demons on her and her house. She told Lowry that “planes are dropping demons into my yard and devil worshipers in city vehicles are making loud noises as they drive through my neighborhood.” She told Lowry she heard voices and groans coming from her walls. In response to this attack of evil, the 61-year-old woman, who is a native of Athens, Greece, put signs up on her fence with lots of religious icons and biblical sayings. Lowry reported that “she keeps the ‘demons’ distracted by playing music and putting things like rocking chairs, Pink Panthers and Santa Clauses on her roof.” Soon thereafter interested passersby started slowly driving by her house (the front of it faces Winfield Avenue) with the “occupants pointing and laughing and turning around and doing it again.” Agnes Latrace (her real name) calls these curious folks “devil worshipers.” In fact, a co-worker of mine, who takes Granbury Road to work, said Agnes “flipped everybody the bird.” One of the times I was driving down Granbury Road she was out there sitting on top of her fence with a video camera. She was filming all the cars passing by. As I drove past I flipped her off and yelled out, “Take a picture of that you crazy bitch!” She flipped me off right back. One thing you gotta love about her is her spirit, as fucked up as it may be. Crista and I have driven by her house to take pictures (see one of her religious signs here) of one of Fort Worth’s most infamous citizens, right up there with Lee Harvey Oswald, Machine Gun Kelly, Bonnie & Clyde, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid and their Hole In The Wall Gang, among others. Kids in the neighborhood, she told Lowry, throw rocks, eggs, water balloons, bottles and firecrackers at her and her house. The cops keep a close eye on her. Fort Worth police officer Matt Welch told Lowry, “She has done some pretty eccentric things. One day she was vacuuming her roof.” Agnes claims she’s perfectly sane. She told Lowry, “They say I’m crazy. But who are ‘they’? Do ‘they’ have a doctor’s degree? Now, tell me, who is the one who’s crazy?” Well, Agnes, you’re crazy, you stupid nutty bee-yaaaatch. Me and Crista, after getting bored with Mr. Kung Fu Fighting since he wasn’t going to apparently do anything more maniacal than what he was already doing, left the psychopath to himself and walked over to The movie rental place’s cash register where I handed the checkout clerk our rental choice. “ONE FLEW OVER THE CUCKOO’S NEST, eh? That’s a good choice.” “Dude, you don’t know the half of it.”