Saturday, January 26, 2008


Last night I ended up at a little place I sometimes frequent, Crew. Located in wonderfully faded, yet slowly gentrifying Uptown, near many other fine establishments, in particular, the Riv. Now, when the Riv has concerts it tends to attract the homeless men that live in the area. This is especially true when a hippie-ish jam band like Moe is playing.

So my partner in crime and I were walking to our destination, and I was smoking a Camel Light. Up ahead, under the dilapidated marquee of the Uptown Theater, I could see a congregation of homeless men, one of whom approached me asking me for money.

I won't lie, usually I brush these guys aside - but not out of "disgust" or what have you. More often than not I don't have any cash or change on me. When I do, it's usually 20's, and although I might be a bleeding heart liberal, I am not giving anyone a crisp 20. Sorry, really, but I just won't.

Although I won't give a random homeless man the shirt off my back, I will give one the cigarette out of my mouth - which I did. Really, I don't need it anyways, so it's not like I'm patting myself on the back or anything. The guy seemed satisfied and we moved on... Frat Boy Friday! Only been once before, and PIC had never been, so we decided to check it out. Moments after acquiring a deuce of Red Stripes, we were approached by a young man who identified himself as "Spike". The following conversation (to the best of knowledge) ensued:

SPIKE: "You guys come here often?"
PIC: "..."
ME: "Yeah, sometimes, what's up?"
[random small talk, I won't bore you]
SPIKE: "Well, you guys seem cool, (uh, thanks for the slight flattery) so, you guys have to vote for me in the jockstrap competition. Although you won't be able to see my face, you can identify me by this (pulls up shirt and points to a Gothic crucifix tattoo above his left hip).
PIC: "..."
ME: (nice tramp stamp Spike) "we'll see how you 'stack up' to the other boys".
SPIKE: "fair enough, it was nice to meet you Justin,, I forgot your name...".
PIC: (rolls eyes) "Good luck".
ME: "have fun".

We then sat down and talked and sipped on beers and occasionally watched Spike work the room, repeating the same conversation and tattoo baring song and dance that we were privy to. At first I thought it was amusing, than kinda lame, than just kinda depressing.

As a practical matter, his tactics made sense seeing as he stood to win $300. But it still seemed desperate, as if the possibility of winning would solidify his attractiveness in his own mind. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but getting up on stage wearing nothing but a jockstrap seems to be the province of those that need their ego stroked.

Anyways, between round 2 and round 3 (what is the difference anyways? 1st Round: "show your ass!" 2nd Round: "shake that ass!" 3rd Round: "shake that ass some more!") I ventured outside for a smoke.

Almost immediately I was approached again by a homeless man, asking for money. The other patron of Crew, on my right, seemed both nervous by this man's presence and also relieved that he was talking to me and not him.

This homeless man didn't seem crazy or drunk or dangerous so it was no big thing to stand there and chat with him for a moment. At one point he thanked me just for acknowledging his presence, and for "treating me like a man". Then he said "ah, so you like this Crew place, eh?". I responded that I do and he told me to have a good night. I gave him the last of my smoke and walked back inside.

Spike didn't win (in fact he came in 4th - the crowd favored a bear in a black leather jock) and the Homeless Man didn't get any money (from me at least), but maybe they both got some much needed human interaction.

Or maybe I am just hung over...


jeremy said...

obama wins sc! woot!


dan said...

hey justin, sounds like a fun show regardless. glad you got out and hope ya had some fun.later.

J.R. said...

I love you for finding the beautiful symmetry in Spike and the homeless man's stories...

Nothing Golden Stays

Anonymous said...

Sounds like a good time - and way to be nice to the homeless - you know thats good karma!

Chicago's Bi Guy said...

well... well.... well... looks like you did make it to this event. It was a bit to cold for me to venture out there so I ended up going to Scarlets. Maybe we can meet up there the last Friday of February.

Frontier Psychiatrist said...

Did he actually introduce himself as Spike? His story made me laugh. Then it made me kind of sad.

Soul Seared Dreamer said...

Ahh poor Spike.

Truth be told if a guy starts with 'I'm Spike'.. I'd know what to expect.