A Fine Line Between Stupid And Clever

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Panhandling Pays!

Posted by bmac on April 26, 2008

I kinda knew this. A good spot on a freeway exit can be pretty lucrative.

When I lived in Los Angeles, I spent a lot of time at Venice Beach, and there were some world class panhandlers out there. At Venice, there was a guy, probably still there, that juggled a chain saw, an apple and a bowling ball. He had a cardboard box out for “donations”, and I looked in it. Musta been 2 or 300 bucks in there. And he probably did 3 or 4 “shows” a day. That guy was making great money, tax free. He was really good though. At least he worked for it, but his schtick was complete bullshit, and tourists ate it up. In fact, here he is:

He’s been out there for years. Although, when I used to see him, it wasn’t this elaborate, with the fire and everything. Here”s another guy you may recognize, a total fixture on Venice Beach, Harry Perry:

This guy has been there at least 25 years, so it must be working for him. We used to talk to him, and I have a feeling he goes home to a nice house. He sells his wacky CD’s. He’s not real aggressive about it, but I bet he sells enough to make a decent living. He acts all crazy, and he’ll skate around you in circles singing songs about aliens. Most people just get annoyed with him, but if you are ever in Venice, and you see him, (Trust me, you’ll see him) ask him to sing “Invaders” and he’ll launch into his “greatest hit.” And then he’ll be all normal and ask if you want to buy his cd, and tell you all about the new one he’s working on in “his studio.” Pretty funny.

These guys are harmless, and I’m pretty sure their system of “Panhandling” is just kind of an alternative job. They never seemed like druggies or alcoholics to me. Unlike the super aggressive bums on Hollywood Blvd, that used to threaten and harass people, or scam artists like this girl in the link. Anybody that’s dealt with big city bums has probably lost a lot of empathy for the homeless, and for good reason. Myself included.

15 Responses to “Panhandling Pays!”

  1. Kowboy said

    When they come up to me and give me the sob story about not having eaten in 3 days and can I spare a few dollars, I offer to buy them some food. Usually they tell me I don’t need to do that and they just want to get their own. Those are the ones I tell to pound sand. I’ve bought food for many people who took me up on the offer. I don’t mind helping someone if they’re being truthful.

    I saw a woman in SF interviewed once about a program to help her get off the streets and get a job. She told the interviewer that she had a masters degree and working at a McDonalds was “beneath her”. Apparently sleeping in alleys and sifting through dumpsters for food was a better lifestyle choice for her. People like her are the ones who can stay in their situation as far as I’m concerned.

  2. bmac said

    You know, it’s a bit of a myth that most homeless are victims of circumstance. Many of them actually choose it as a lifestyle.

    Personally, after a couple of years living in Hollywood back when it was pretty seedy in the 80’s, I got put off helping these guys, because frankly, they were the biggest assholes you’ll ever meet.

    Really aggressive and nasty, calling you every name in the book if you didn’t give them some money, even threatening to kick your ass.

    I just ignore them since then.

  3. cranky said

    I had a guy come in to our shop Friday. Scruffy looking and carrying a plastic bag that he put on a chair. Then he asked me for a cigarette but I quit smoking almost seven years ago so he was out of luck on that attempt. Well, he says, I really came in to rob the place, and he laughed. I figured it would take me three seconds to get my pistol, chamber a round, and put at least three rounds into him. Then he said he was in an AA program and could I give him a few quarters. Uhm, no. Can’t do that.

    I’m letting him do all the talking and looking him straight in the eyes and he was not really liking that and becoming nervous. Finally, he moved back to the front door and looked at me and said there was a time when he was considered a dangerous man. I’m looking at him and I’m thinking you could be a very dead formerly dangerous man, asshole.

    I’ve been scammed a few times and now the answer is always no.

  4. Rosetta said

    I knew cranky was a tough mofo! Nice, buddy!

    And I have to tell you, if you can juggle a chainsaw and anything, I’ll give you a few bucks.

    I agree that these aren’t homeless, these are entrepreneurs. And more power to them.

    The guys that sit at the end of exit ramps with the sign “will work for food”. Uh no. If you wanted to work for food you would take and shower and walk into Arby’s.

  5. cranky said

    Remember what Arby’s did to compos mentis? What you’re proposing Rosetta, is just cruelty for the sake of cruelty. Arby’s!? Good God man. Have some compassion.

  6. bmac said

    I used to have a guy come in my store about every three months, with the exact same story: his family is about to get kicked out of the weekly hotel, he’s an electrician and been working 12 hour days, but hasn’t gotten his check yet, could I help him out and he’ll pay me back next week.

    Same story every three months like clockwork. And every time I’d tell him, “Dude, this is like the fourth time with this story already, c’mon man, I’m not as dumb as I look.”

    He must have just made the rounds, and been on a three month loop.

  7. Rosetta said

    What kind of store, bmac?

  8. chunque said

    You think that’s stoopid, look at this:


  9. Rosetta said

    Hahahaha. That’s a great blog name. Stuff White D-dags Like. Hahahahahahahaha. I wish I would have thought of that.

    Here’s something I’ve never thought of before….guys calling other guys a douche bag…that seems to be a white guy thing. I don’t think I’ve ever heard a black guy call anyone a douche bag. What’s up with that?

    Is douche only a white woman thing?

    That sounds like a question you’ll know, bmac. Hahaha.

  10. Rosetta said

    Stupid typo. D-Bags, not D-Dags.


  11. Hey bmac, check your inbox.

  12. awalkabout said

    Key West at sunset on Mallory Square has a whole bunch of interesting performers too. Never too sure of their credentials. Just part of the experience.

  13. bmac said

    Is douche only a white woman thing?

    That sounds like a question you’ll know, bmac. Hahaha.

    Umm…I was gonna ask you first Rosetta!

    What kind of store, bmac?

    The business I owned until I closed it in Febuary, I sold moving supplies and did shipping. The housing market killed me. Nobody moving.

  14. Mr.Everytime said

    I have handed out my fair share of bucks in the past, mainly to those wearing veteran clothing, but couldn’t have been more than maybe 20$ total. My girlfriend is a sap for the sad looking, “Homeless, anything will help, God bless” signs. I don’t buy into that garbage. I too have seen guys holding up signs claiming to be homeless, jobless, willing to work for food… then witness the same person walk maybe 3 blocks, round a corner, change clothes and jump into their 2010 Bonneville. Screw these people.

    Last time I saw some one holding a sign that said ‘ Homeless, blah blah blah ‘ I brought them a sandwich, and some fruit. She was also super cute… needless to say that’s the only thing that budged me… otherwise I ignore them completely

  15. This post is worth everyone’s attention. Where can I find out more?

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