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.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Help Hurricane Victims

http://writerscafe.net/donations.html

Okay, we'll forget about my soy latte needs for now. Click the link, help the hurricane victims.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

We have a winner

The auction is over and it was won by a man who really likes money. View his eBay profile and you will see, he is the president of money's fan club, he is money's groupie, he would eat a mile of money's... Oh never mind you get the idea. I guess I'll be advertising his site www.gotbadcredit.net (like got milk? It's got bad credit? Get it?) I'll be out on the offramp with his sign within the next two weeks. We first need to sit down with a focus group, and meet with our committee to come up with the best possible wording. Click here to see the auction.
Oh, and give me two dollars. God bless.

The Mummy's Curse

The Auction is almost done. Click here to check it out.

Panhandling is like every other crappy job I've ever had. You don't get the most money by being the most creative. By showing a little spark, a littel ingenuity. People are dull, and you get the most money by catering to the lowest common denominator.
Can you tell I'm bitter. The mummy costume was great (thanks Mark Miller for loaning it to me.) The sign was written in hieroglyphics, REAL heirolglyphics. It says, "Please help. God Bls" (sic) written top to bottom, in freakin' hieroglyphics. And what do I get for my troubles? A lousy $8.20! (Thanks Bryna for doing the hieroglyphics and thanks Rob for suggesting hieroglyphics to begin with.)
I know. I don't have much room to complain. I'd make less working at McDonalds for an hour, and I'd suffer greater humiliation. It's a strange world.
The advertising folks, they're the ones who should send me a buck on general principal. They should send each of us a buck. Everytime you see some really lame commercial, or you hear some incredibly stupid slogan, remember that some moron got paid good money, more money than I'll ever make, to come up with that. And usually more than one person, an agency, a committee, to come up with, "Coke Is It", or "The Real Thing." A mummy panhandling with a sign written in hieroglyphics is worth way more than "Coke Is It!" Hey Coke, send me a dollar, send Rob a dollar, let us come up with your next stupid slogan.
I switched signs after a bit, and tried "Give $ or suffer mummy's curse! God Bless." Both signs got some great laughs. I got one "Get a job" and one guy flipped me off. I smiled and waved at him, as he road in the back of a big white van. Then he asked me if I drove a Lexus. I answered "Yes. I drive a Lexus." He got all excited and said, "I knew it. You're full of shit man. No reall homeless guy would dress like that." I congratulated him. "Yep. You got me. You figured out that the guy in the mummy suit isn't really homeless." what a genius.
But plenty of people really loved it. In fact I was out there 15 seconds when a guy drove by laughing and cheering and handling me a dollar. he circled back around and got a photo.

After a while I noticed a real homeless couple watching me from across the street so I quit early and gave them the $8 and their corner back. They gave us a quick interview and it really got me ticked. The cops are ticketing panhandlers left and right. The female half of this couple, Gina, cardboard signs it because the cops only get her with soliciting or being on an offramp. If the guy is up there the cops come out sooner and he get's hit with the more expensive "Aggressive Panhandling" even if he's just standing there. Gina is bright and changed her sign to read "Homeless. God bless." That way she's not asking for anything and they can't get her for soliciting.

We also interviewed a young, clean cut guy named Jim who lived in his truck until it got towed. Now he's trying to get it out, but they charge you SO much for everyday that it's in, it's pretty useless. He'd be more likely to succeed at just getting a new truck.
The tow companies have quite a racket. It seems wrong for private enterprise to profit off of someone's vehicle being parked illegally. Do the tow priveledges go to the company that offers the lowest tow and storage fees? I doubt it.
All the folks I chatted with today are at this point short timers. I wish them the best at getting off the streets. For now though, my bleeding heart has me giving them all my damn dough, so mouse on over to them donate buttons and help a brother out would ya? I'm out of gas, and I got a pet cockatiel to feed, and my DSL bill is due and... God bless.

Saturday, August 27, 2005

Because Work Sucks

Why am I so interested in finding out if panhandlers are secretly living the good life, and earning more than I do working? Well, one reason is that I hate working. I'm not lazy, I've just never found a job that "satisfies my artistic needs." I've started another blog, cataloging my many attempts at becoming a productive member of America's work force. www.RockAss.net/allmyjobs.
Please, keep me from enduring more employment. Give me two bucks. God Bless.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

Darth Vader Panhandling


Hmm, maybe I can buy a Death Star someday!

I found this online, if anyone has any information on the photo get in touch. It's quite brilliant. You've got the injured vet angle, the misspelled "Deth Star", good stuff.

I will be panhandling in Sac on Sunday and will update the blog. In the meanwhile the auction continues at http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5609359918

The two folks who seem most determined to win are AMLFS, or All My Life For Sale and a fella named Conrad900. A peak at Conrad900's past auction wins reveals that he is the proud owner of a video tape on street fighting! I hope they mean the video game, but it doesn't sound like it. So, I get to help AMLFS sell everything he owns, I get to get my ass kicked, or if I'm lucky, both! Yay!

Peak at my other items for sale or my ebay profile to pick up some comedy CDs cheap. And hey, them donate buttons on the right are getting a bit rusty. How about a little clicky clicky eh? God bless.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

E Bay Sucks

So Ebay pulled my auction because it had links to other sites? I read and re-read their policies and my links were within their requirements as I did not link to sights that were selling the item directly. In fact, the sites I linked to do not sell at all except ON EBAY!

5,000 views that auction got, and it was in it's last day of bidding, which is when things get hot. So, what am I gonna do? I'm gonna throw it right on back up there. Start you bidding folks.
http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=5609359918

The new auction is getting many views and is already up to $31.00 with five days left of bidding. Very cool. I'm glad folks stayed with it. If Ebay pulls it again I will freak.
Be sure to check out the other items I'm selling. I've put some ICBINC CDs up there. Very funny and they sell for $10 normally. Okay then, that's settled. Back to the business at hand. I can use a couple of bucks. The donate buttons are to your right there. NPR has enough money, give that next couple of bucks to me. God Bless.

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The Bidding Continues

The auction for advertising (or any other message of the winner's choice) on my sign is going very well. The page has recieved over 2500 views in just a couple of days and the bidding's up to $40. View the auction here. It's funny having a stranger be the high bidder. What evil plans do they have for me.
We had a crazy day of pan handling on Sunday, featuring fights at a gas station, a crack head who claims he used to be a pro cyclist and more. I'll post the full story once I get the photos from Morken.
I think I'll be panhandling as a mummy this weekend. In the meanwhile I could use some hummus. Could you spare a couple bucks? God Bless.

Sunday, August 14, 2005

Crrrrrrrrrazy Day

Today I went out with the camera crew, which I generally do on Sundays. Morken (the head film geek) wanted a different setting, so despite my protests I carboard signed it on a new offramp. I used my "Big Bills Okay! I Can Make Change. Please Help, God Bless." sign. I got nothing. Twenty minutes and nothing. Not a damn dime.

This surfer looking guy rides up on his bike and tells me that I don't know what I'm doing. He says he can show me how it's done so I give him the offramp and the guys continue shooting. He starts knocking on peoples windows! ! ! I can't believe it. When people roll the window down he stick his head practically in their car and hits them up for change. He's not doing much better than I was and he has no tenacity. Less than five minutes later he's off the offramp giving us the weirdest interview we've gotten yet. He says he's been a pro cyclist and traveled to 18 countries, but his friend got murdered and he broke up with his girl and now he's found the answers to lifes questions on the streets, but he's ready to leave the streets, but he's not homeless. He confesses to being a crack addict and says he spends between $80 and $100 a day on crack, most of which he makes panhandling.

He invites us to film him spare changing at the AM/PM so we follow him over there. He repeatedly berates me for thinking I could make any money in a banana suit. He keeps calling me an amateur. He's a pretty agressive panhandler and within a few minutes he pushes a guy too far, though honestly he hadn't been all that agressive with this guy, just tapping on his window and saying have a good day after the guy turned him down (which you can see in the picture.) The man, we'll call him Insano (in the orange shirt and cap), comes flying out of his van with fists ready to swing. The panhandler, cyclist, crack-head, who we'll call Lance, just drops into lotus position with his palms up and says, "I don't mean you any harm."

The guys cursin' and yelling and our Lance just says very calm and apologetic. Insano shakes his fists at our camera and threatens us but his younger brother (in the brown stripes) has joined the scene and is convincing him to move on.

Then Lance, who was so cool and mellow stands up and instead of shutting his mouth and lating Insano Jr lead Insano away, Lance says "You can hit me. I don't mind." Insano blows up again, saying "Oh yeah, you want me to hit you on camera. Then he turns to the camera and puts his fist to the lens saying "Get that thing out of my face." I work hard to convince them that we're just innocent bystanders and Insano threatens me and the camera crew. I'm thankfull that by this time I've removed the banana outfit. At the same time that I'm trying to keep from getting hit, I'm hoping to get an interview with Insano, but he's unwilling.

We start packing up, and I ask Morken to just pretend to be putting things away while keeping the camera rolling. He does so and we're not dissappointed. Lance hops on his bike and goes NUTS! He tells Insano he's with the department of homeland security and that he's been a marine. Insano does what insano does and goes crazy again. This guy reminds me a World Wrestling character. He looks like an Indian Joe Pesci with the same temperment.

Insano Jr is tired of letting Insano have all the fun so he goes crazy too. Insano has his belt off and is swinging it, and they both keep chasing Lance. Lance just rides away on his bike and than comes back and taunts 'em some more. We're filming the whole spectacle while pretending we're not. Finally Lance splits for good. I introduce myself to Insano, which makes me insane too, but he was such a character, I desperately wanted to interview him. He still will not agree to an interview.
Insano and Insano Jr finish gassing up their two matching bronze colored vans and take off.
So, yeah. The documentary's coming along well. The panhandling however is suffering. Maybe you can help out with a couple bucks?

Saturday, August 13, 2005

Your Ad Here

The auction has begun. Yes you can buy space on my sign, which in turn will get you seen by up to 100 people! But that's not all, the sign and the story of the sign will then live here on my site where it will be seen by tens of thousand of people.

This used to be a link to the Auction, but it's down now!

The Auction will end August 25th at 12:15 am.

Who will be the lucky one to have their message on my sign? Will it be some big corporation like Coke, or Walmart? Will it be some love struck kid proposing to his or her guy or gal. Will it be some wise-en-heimer with too much money making me carry a sign that says, "I'm a big dork"? Only time will tell. In the meanwhile, please link to this story. Write about and talk about this story. The more visits I get to this story the more fun this is gonna be. Woo hoo.

And even if you can't afford the tens of thousands of dollars that I'm sure this auction'll bring in, you can still donate a couple of bucks. I'll even do the happy dance.

I'm not the first to use a panhandling sign for advertising http://www.bumvertising.com/

Thanks to Erick Jensen for his $5.00 donation yesterday, now the biggest donation I've gotten online. And thanks to Adam Thoume who donated $3.54 to the "expensive vegan snacks fund." I'm heading to www.veganessentials.com right now. Thanks guys. Now the rest of you freeloaders, click them donate buttons and make a banana happy. God bless.

Friday, August 12, 2005

strange days

Yesterday I went to panhandle at Safeway and I met the crew of folks that works that parking lot every day. I talked with them for quite a while and then a couple of them took me to their camp. They have a mattress hidden in the bushes between a freeway off ramp and the street. They've lived here for about three weeks, which is a pretty long time they tell me. The have to move every few weeks usually, moving along when the cops, or too many other homeless folks find their place.

They spend at least $20 bucks a day on heroin and that takes care of hunger pains too, so they don't have a-lot of expenses. They get water and food from handouts and food closets. I felt bad for them, but I was real conflicted. They seemed pretty comfortable. They had each other, they had their drugs, and they both said they liked living outside. I'm sure it sucks in the winter, but here while things are good, they seemed content to just enjoy the camping. God I sound so conservative.

They had a friend with them named Box Car Frank. Frank had no legs and was flashing around a few fifty dollar bills. He claimed to have so much money that he was "Thinking of tearing it up and throwing it away." I just couldn't bring myself to ask the old homeless guy with no legs to give me some of that excess money, as much as I hated the thought of it being torn up and thrown away. He claimed to have family in the south sending him money whenever he asked and to be on the streets by choice. He was not a panhandler, but his presence I'm sure helped the panhandlers around him. He was a character but he didn't trust me, with my clean cloths and what not, so he only talked with me a little. His friends told me he lives in a car port.

There was another guy I met named Kevin. Kevin likes his beer, but Kevin had a bike that he managed to keep in working condition, and some friends that let him crash at their house for a few bucks a night. The also let him use their kitchen so he's able to cook. He seemed sincere about trying to find a way out. I'm guessing that the alcohol will prevent him from holding a day job but he seemed to be doing alright. Kevin spare changes but he also does the carboard signing on the freeway where he is often given the left over hotdogs from a guy who drives a roach coach (the "catering" trucks that sell food at construction sites and such.)

I'd rather give someone like Kevin a buck than the heroin addicts, but the truth is I don't mind giving to either. Their not living a glamorous life by dishonest means. If camping out and staying high is there thing it's fine with me. I feel no obligation to help them with that, and I admire folks that set up a support network to help them should they decide to try and get out of the lifestyle, but if I have an extra dollar or two I'd just as soon they have it to spend on dope as some hardworking business person have it for gasoline or neckties. Either lifestyle is fine with me.

And I feel more secure than ever about panhandling to support my own lifestyle, which is creative and productive and which I work hard at. So give me some money, support my lifestyle. There are donation buttons on the right, and I'm the only panhandler I've met who is happy


I'm getting ready to sell ad space on my carboard sign on e-bay. Just need to get an e-bay account set up, which requires a credit card, something most of us panhandlers don't have. When we fill out the application the "Occupation" field does us in every time. to take visa, mastercard or paypal. God bless.

Saturday, August 06, 2005

I'm Mentioned In A Pittsburgh Newspaper

A newspaper in Pittsburgh mentions me in an aritcle about panhandling and anti-panhandling laws. It's a pretty good article. Read it here.

And speaking of panhandling laws, it probably goes without saying that I am against them. It's bad enough the cops will move you along if you try to play your guitar on the street, a pretty basic expression of freedom one would think. As much as they'd like to they have not yet found a way to tell people that they can't ask others for spare change. That damned free speech thing gets in the way. Many cities are continuing in their efforts to get such laws on the books.

Some may wish to point out that it's aggressive panhandling that most of these laws target, but why mention panhandling at all. Many of the most aggressive people I've dealt with did not want a buck from me. They were drunk sports fans. Yet my efforts to have sporting events outlawed gets met with resistance. Make laws that deal with aggressive public behavior period. Specify panhandling and the defintion of aggressive will get stretched. If you punish all panhandlers because of the aggressive ones you'll have to go after all postal workers next.

As for me I will continue my non-aggressive panhandling online and off. Now You Better Give Me Two Dollars. C'mon, Hand It Over. Two Bucks. Don't Say You Aint Got It! Give It Here Ya Weiner! Yeah That's Right I Said Weiner. You're Probably A Graduate Of Weinerville High School. Now Give Me Two Bucks Before I Type Some REAL Obscenities. God Bless.

Banana Suit Played Out

Figured I'd play on the fact that the gimmic is getting old to folks that have been along from the beginning. It didn't amount to a-lot of money (about $6 an hour) but I had more people laughing in their cars then ever. Not sure why. I thought it was kinda funny but somehow this one really cracked folks up. I didn't bring my can with me to shake at people to get more dough so I held my hand out. Holding at the can or holding out my hand makes a difference. It's a direct request. It's right up there with eye contact. More important though may be asking for a specific amount. I actually have a cool story coming up involving a panhandling experiment some other folks did. They determined that asking for specific odd amount, like $1.37, would bring in more money. I'll certainly be giving it a try. I've got some great costume things coming up (mummy, mime, more) but I'm waiting until the heat dies down a little. The banana suit is hot enough!
And remember I'm panhandling online too. Eye contact is harder, but I'm shaking my can at ya (take that however you want). Donate a couple of bucks using the buttons on the right and I'll be one happy banana. Oh, and God Bless.

Thursday, August 04, 2005

Ninjas Killed My Family

It must have been 170 degrees today. Oh my god was it hot. I checked in with three other panhandlers, all of whom were doing just the rush hour, and not even the full hour. People seem to give less when they don't want to roll down their windows and face the non airconditioned world.
I didn't get any photos today, but Christine Redford of Arkansas e-mailed me this one. I've seen it before, and it's definately one of the best signs I've seen. Good stuff. I hope this guy got his kung fu lessons. Personally I'd advise him just get a gun. It's cheaper, more effective and then he can spend the rest of the dough on booze and hotel rooms! One critique, the sign really should say "God Bless" (or maybe "Namaste" if he's in LA or New Mexico). There are many folks out there who will pay dearly for a "God Bless." The smileys almost make up for it.
This heat's making me want to do more online panhandling, so look for that in a chat room near you. Or look for it right here. Can you spare a $1.67? It'd really help out. The donation buttons are right there on your right. God Bless. :) :) :)

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Will Wear Pants For Food

Story and Art by Jarod Von Hindman of www.headinjurytheater.com
I grew up in Jacksonville Florida. In case you don't know anything about Jax, it's the city of bridges. It's one of the largest cities in the world....as defined by city limits. The official city of Jacksonville is huge with multiple interstates passing through it and well, you can drive in a straight line and stay in the city limits for what seems like forever. It's not all that populated, but you could see the city limits from orbit if you wanted to. The point of this is the fact that Jacksonville is a city that revolves around interstate driving. When I went to school there I commuted an hour and half each morning (never leaving the city limits) to get there....the whole way being interstate driving. That's a hell of a lot of off ramps for people to panhandle from. While recent laws have been enforced stopping folks from doing it so much, when I was a kid panhandling folks were everywhere. There was the "mad preacher" (Give $$$ to the Lord" read his sign, no joke) as well as the usual guys thinking they were funny. However it really comes down to one panhandler in Jacksonville....the Pants guy. Near Orange Park there's an offramp that's always backed up. I hear they've fixed it but last I saw you could count on spending a good 45 minutes crawling along at a snails pace as you tried to exit the highway. Completely cashing in on the fact that traffic in Jax sucks balls was the one and only Pants guy. His gimmick? His sign read "Will Wear Pants for Food", "Help me Buy Some Pants", or some variation on that theme. Of course he was standing their in his underwear. By underwear I mean just that. Picture your standard panhandler (Banana-men excluded) in their tighty whiteys. Briefs. White potentially off-white stained Haines briefs. Gah. It boggles the mind. Suffice to say we all started expecting to see him when we drove home...but I don't recall him ever buying those pants. You'd think that being there in his underwear might have hurt business. Then again, who knows? So dear Joe Beggar...when will you start Panhandling in your skippies and test this theory?
-jared

Fact is I'm not wearing pants at the moment, so give me money. The donate keys are standing by. This part of the post had to be altered as I was informed that I'm not allowed to tell people to click on the ads as per Google's policies. If you use google ads on your site, keep this in mind so you don't get in trouble. God bless.

Monday, August 01, 2005

Teases

Damn! Are there a-lot of teases out there or what. Folks look at me and then reach into their pockets, but they just pull out their cell phone. They don't call anyone, they just pull it out, like suddenly it needed to be free. Or they pull out a pen. What? Did they think they were gonna write a quick poem? One woman, I swear to god, pulled out two bucks, which she then played with! Just fiddled it around. And do you think people would be reluctant to slurp their big gulps when I'm standing their, outside, no airconditioning, sweating. Nope. They look right at me and draw deep, long sips of sweet, sweet, soda. Maybe these are things people do at red lights anyway, but I swear it's eye contact with me that the triggers these behaviors. "Oh, the cardboard sign guy looked at me, better take a big huge bite of this hamburger." Maybe it's like trying not to touch your face. Try not to and all of a sudden you need to touch you face, even if you don't normally touch your face at all. So, they see me looking at them, and they're like, "Oh, crap, I made eye contact! Okay, don't do anything that'll make him think I might give him money. I'll just reach into my pocket for a pen." Quit Teasin' People.
Now for real, your eyes been all over this blog post, and you keep mousing over the donate button, teasin' me. Click it. Come on now, CLICK IT! Give me two dollars! If you aint gonna click it, at least click on one of my ads. Damn! But really. You should just click it. Tease.

Hot Hot Heat

I went out panhandling yesterday downtown. On my way there one of my neighbors told me that there was someone already in my spot. It's nice that my neighbors have all grown accustomed to a panhandling banana living amongst them. I had a feeling the panhandler on "my" offramp would be Jackie and sure enough I saw her at the gas station in a little tiny skirt combing her hair. She never stays on the ramp for long. I took my position on the offramp and began plying my chosen trade.

The temperature has passed the century mark almost every day this week so I decided to comment on the heat, figuring I'd make the big sympathy dollars. What I didn't do was to specifially request money. Apparently this was a big mistake. People are baffled enough by the suit, so without specific instructions like "Give me money" they were lost. Some folks asked me what I wanted, and of course some folks did give me money.

Several guys asked the obvious question "Why the hell are you wearing the banana suit?" I congratulated them on asking such a good question and explained that if I took of the suit I'd need a new sign. I told one guy that my stawberry suit was at the cleaners.

I was starting to really sweat and then I looked across the street and I see a guy in a diving mask and shorts with a big foam orange sword running through traffic towards me? Yipes! How the hell do I respond to this. I didn't recognize the guy at all, so I played along and ran up the off ramp. He chased me all over until my ankle, which I'd recently injured, began to hurt. "Dude, I can't run anymore." I told him. He then holds his sword upright in front of him and declares loudly, "VICTORY!" Then he marches back down the street. ?!? I'll have pictures of this strange interaction up soon.

Yep. It's a strange world. Another fellow told me I was "So very gay." Okay.

Three people took my picture, up close and personal, but only one of them gave me a buck. I caught several other folks sneaking pictures, which I find most confusing. I'm putting myself in public, I can 't really stop anyone from taking my picture, nor would I want to. I had a good time with all the kids who seem to really get a kick out the giant banana. They wave, and one kid mimed taking my picture, so I mimed taking his and this cracked him up. There were lots of adults cracking up too. But, there was an unusually high number of people playing the "I can't see you" game. This cool piece of art by Jared Von Hindman illustrates the lunacy of this game when played with someone who is SO obviously visible. Click the pic to see a larger version.

One other funny happening occured when I saw my pal Irina who I owed money to. She offered me some change and I ran over to her car to get it. As I took the change I slipped her the money I owed her. The guy in the next car saw me handing her crisp green bills and he must have figured that giving money to folks who offer me money was my shtick or something. He starts scrambling for change and then gives me a hand full of dirty, sticky ash tray pennies. I take them, thank him, and walk away. He was clearly dissappointed.

An hour after I finished I was up near the offramp on other business and I saw Jackie out there with her sign. I stopped to say hello and I gave her a couple of bucks. She's much better at this than I. She's got the hours down and she doesn't waste time on the slow periods. I've got a lot to learn if I'm ever going to sleep between them silk sheets.

I earned the paltry sum of $5.45 per hour. This does not lead me to feel like my dream is within my grasps. I may need to see a therapists, but that's pretty expensive. Could you maybe help out with $2.00? Thanks, I really appreciate it. God Bless.
(And if you're unable to see the divine wisdom of giving me your money, at least click on my google ads. That helps me out a-lot.)