How much do panhandlers really make? Can you possibly make a living at this? How much of a difference does a funny sign make? Will people give to a guy in a banana suit? Does every sign have to say "God Bless?" Important questions. I aim to find the answers. Give me a dollar. God Bless.

Friday, November 18, 2005

Buy My CD

And now a word from our sponsors? Damn! You drove me to it. All I want is to make an honest living doing nothing, instead I'm reduced to actually giving you something for your money. Oh well, go here, buy a cd, be glad that you crushed my dreams and made a mere peddler out of a once proud beggar.

Sunday, November 13, 2005

Darned Christians

Panhandling Pictures soon)
I've long hated Capital Christian Center. Why? Well, because, um, you see, they're big and they're part of the power structure, which is to say their congregation is made up of a bunch of well to do folks in nice SUVs, and their super visible, being right off the freeway and they have a big giant gold cross as a symbol.

I wanted to do the "Atheist. Please help, God Bless" sign for a long time, and I mentioned doing it there, at Capital Christian to Jonathon Morken. Morken, who films me, thought it was a great idea and with his prodding it happened. I was somewhat reluctant because I don't like to engage people in a confronational manner. Panhandling with a sign is pretty passive but taking it to them, on Sunday felt intentionaly abrassive, and it probably was. I was wondering if I should just go back to my freeway offramp. But now, we got up early, well early for Jonathon anyway, and we went to church.

Well, those Capital Christian jerks, they let me down. They didn't harrass us or even make us leave their property. THEY BROUGHT ME COFFEE! A few of 'em gave me money, eleven bucks total. This of course pisses me off, it's not what I went there for.

Morken and John put a mic on me and then hid in the bushes across from the church. They were spotted right away by the security truck. I was skating and waiting for church to let out, not flying my sign. Morken told the security guy that they were doing a documentary on grafitti, and were getting shots of the graffiti on the freeway signs.

People started exiting the church so I got in place and flew my sign. "Atheist. Please Help. God Bless" on one side, and "Atheist, Will convert for food. God Bless?" on the other. The security came to talk to me. They asked what I was doing and then they told me that they might have to direct people to a different entrance if traffic was being impeded by folks responding to me. I told them to let me know if it got to be a problem. I told them I was an artist trying to make a living panhandling so I could work on my writing and other art without having to work every day. They seemed to find this reasonable.

I lied to them about how%2

Friday, November 11, 2005

Elmo Arrested for Panhandling

I'm a bit late on this one, but apparently Elmo and Mr. Incredible were arrested in Hollywood for panhandling.

Grauman's Chinese Theater has a whole cast of character's that hang out in front in really bad no budget costumes. Spider Man, Super Man, Elmo, they're all there. My friend Becca wrote a story about her experiences with Elmo when we were in LA with ICBINC. In the story Elmo copped a feel when Becca posed for a picture with him, and then was pretty pushy about getting his tip. The story has some truth in it.

I doubt the cops busted only the panhandlers that they actually saw being agressive. And what constitutes aggressiveness? Can't have folks upsetting the tourists though. It does strike me as odd that these guys rake in so much cash and don't buy better costumes, but it may be a way of avoiding copyright infringement. Hell a guy making a good living totally independently like that will get hit every time, but I will look up to them for makin' it with out workin' for some faceless corporation/machine. I can't wait to get to LA again so I can get photos and an interview with Elmo. My hope is that all this publicity actually helps him.
And now, I ask, unagressively, if maybe you can help me with a couple of bucks. Look you already read my damn post, I don't do this crap for free! WE WORK FOR TIPS IN THIS WORLD WIDE WEB BUDDY! Now Pay UP! You know where the damn donate buttons are! ! !

Monday, November 07, 2005


I've done very little hitchhiking. Once in the U.S. and it got me a job, and then a bunch durring a two week trip in Mexico where it somehow felt safer. I found this cool Hitchhiker's blog. Great reading.

Click the comic to see a bigger more readable version of it. It's one of many cool things to be found at fishlip.

Sunday, November 06, 2005

Phoning it in

"Hi, this is Joe, how are you today?"

"Good. I am a cardboard sign panhandler, you've probably seen me around. I often panhandle on 16th street, dressed as a banana. I am calling today to let you give me money by phone. This spares you the inconvenience and expense of driving to the offramp. Many folks are even giving a dollar or two more than their usual donation since I've managed to save them from using gas. Have you noticed gas prices are very high right now?"

"I can take you're donation by Visa, Mastercard, or any other major credit card. To further convenience you, you're donation is not tax- deductable and so you don't have to worry about saving your reciept."

If they say no. "Is there anybody else there who might be interested in this time saving opportunity?"

Panhandling by phone was fun. I started out calling people I knew to warm up. Most of my friends played along and were creative and funny in their responses, but unfortunately most of them recognized my voice right away. My crazy Aunt Marie did not. She was cracking up at being panhandled on the phone, and when she'd decided that I was indeed a totall stranger what does she do? Why, she gives me her daughter's phone number of course?

I dialed a friend's number incorrectly and spoke to my first stranger. He wasn't interested in giving over the phone or internet despite my expaining the convenience of it. He also refused to make an appointment to meet me at the offramp. I pitched the appointment thing as a way to maximize my time on the offramp and I assured him I'd have a convenient time slot open at an offramp near him.

From there we just stated calling random people in the Sacramento area with the last name Jensen, finding their numbers at It's funny how few people seemed surprised at all. I calmly gave my pitch and they calmly and polititely turned me down. I called the local skate shop and they seemed to enjoy it but I don't see any donations so ultimately I'd call todays panhandling an abysmal failure.

I realize most Jensens are going to be white people of Scandinavian descent so, for some diversity I tried some different names. The first Washington was a guy was hard up himself but he took down my website address and promised to check it out if things turned around for him. I tried Jimenez and got hung up on for the first time. I started getting bored then so I switched panhandling online in chat rooms.

I'd say "hello", and then expain that I needed a couple of bucks for a soy latte, and that they charged extra for soy. I'd respond to what folks where saying with my dollar requests so that I didn't seem like another static, "look at my site" spammer. I mentioned that I love to LOL and even sometimes to LMAO. I figured this would help me blend in.

I planned to do some screen captures but there was nothing worth capturing. The people in the chat rooms I found were SO unimaginative. Responding with name calling and other stupid stuff, no playing along, no curiosity. A truly morbid reflection of modern culture. One guy called me a pseudo-intellectual. That's a great word. I find it's mostly used by the people it describes, and they tend to use it when they fell dumb. I don't mean to make anyone feel dumb.

The chat rooms I tried were all yahoo chat, "30-something","geek and proud", and I don't remember what else. All horribly plagued by spam. If anyone can suggest some better chat rooms I'll try it again.

I will have clips of the phone calls, which we recorded on minidisc, up here soon.

In the mean while my complete lack of success leaves me without an espresso/soy beverage on a cold day. This makes me sad. Maybe you can help with a dollar? Those of you who've complained that I spend too much time at the other sites and not enough time here might think about persuading me to stay here. A couple of bucks speaks volumes! God Bless.