I know being homeless sounds like fun, but it isn’t all drinking MD 20/20 and singing a capella to mid-level manager types at the bus stop. It’s hard work. For starters, there’s the constant hunt for food and a safe place to sleep. Then you’ve got the dumbfounding alienation that comes from diminished social contact.
But being homeless has advantages too. For one, it’s basically a license to be drunk downtown at any time of day. And you’ve got cart blanche to sing bad rhymes in public about Humpty Dumpty getting what he deserved. Muttering to yourself in exaggerated ways about maritime laws? Go ahead. Cavorting in traffic with a referee’s whistle? Live it up!
When you’re homeless, nobody cares if you whisper furiously into bananas about big business mergers or stand on manholes in morning traffic “waiting to be teleported.” And even the stodgiest people understand your inclination to play pretend trumpets or to call theatrically for animal doctors or to root through dumpsters “looking for my girl Brandy.”
“Have you seen Brandy?” I sometimes ask passersby. “She tastes nice and she’s got a real long neck.”
Despite all its advantages, though, I’m proud to say that I’m no longer homeless. A couple weeks back I found an abandoned van with a very large bird in the back and I stopped being homeless and started drinking champagne with a very large bird all in the course of a single night. I sleep like a baby now and the bird and me are new best friends. I have no idea what type of bird it is, but he’s got one of those big deep beaks where you can hide a pint or two of whiskey when the police come. I think maybe a pelican.
Anyhow, in between my joyrides through the city with Mr. Beak I’ve been perusing a little book called Soviet Textiles: Designing the Modern Utopia, published by MFA Publications right here in Boston.
This book is straight-out fantastic because it meets all of the Bill’s Great Books criteria:
1) It’s original. Jesus Christ, Soviet textiles? I’d never even considered that the Soviets probably did an epic amount of textile manufacturing and that, because it was the Soviets, they would have imprinted a lot of it with clumsy pro-Soviet bullshit. Seriously, what kind of superpower oversees a kingdom of production where everything is covered by weird and sometimes gaudy mind-fuck art that blatantly encourages pro-state belief? That’d be like if everything in the USA was covered with flags or screaming eagles — nevermind.
2) It’s not easy to come by. These people weren’t looking for a new DVD player on Beacon Hill trash night. These people had to go to Russia and find all of this material themselves. In the words of my former psychiatrist, “Holy shit.”
3) I’m only about halfway drunk, so I’m going to have to get back to you on the third qualifying test of a Bill’s Great Books nominee, but I’ll bet it has something to do with emergency veterinary medicine as applied to large birds that have drank their weight in champagne.
What else is new with me? Not much. I’ve been doing a lot of driving. This new van is just the shit. Of course, sometimes I run out of gas and then I have to do a bunch of scheming to get money, and my scheming usually just leads to drinking, and drinking back to scheming, and inevitably the two combined lead to me throwing up Junior Mints and fighting Mr. Beak for champagne.
But like they say – that’s life.
Bill Benson is the former manager of Galaxy Bowling Lanes in Decatur, Illinois. He likes to read.