Continued from this post:
Homeless in Minneapolis Concerts Day 2:
Drove back to the park to clean myself up. Got out of the car for first time that day at four in the afternoon. Park was filling up now with a bunch of kids playing soccer, teens fucking around, and smelly Gabfrab creatures. There was a little bathroom that I went into.
The bathroom was flooded and rusty. Not a dry square on the cement floor. I went into a stall (no door) and changed my pants and underwear. Had to fling my old sweatpants onto the stall wall so they wouldn’t get wet. I don’t know if the floor was soaked in piss or rain. My awesome green laced shoes were going to smell now. Managed to get changed. Pissed in a rusted out urinal. Pulled my toiletries out of my canvas messenger bag (I have an awesome Eraserhead pin on it) and set them up on the sink. My toiletries: toothpaste, $4 toothbrush, Listerine, Glide floss, deodorant, face wipes, knockoff cologne. The mirror was one of those foggy scratched metal reflective surfaces that you find in most Montana rest stops. I saw a distorted version of my beautiful face in the tin as my mouth foamed green with mint paste. My gums were tingling from the brushing, bleeding from the floss. I spit green blood into the urinal. Kid came in and pissed as I wiped my face down. I was dressed in normal clothes; but maybe he thought I was a transient.
I put my stuff back in the car. Here’s what my temporary house looked like:
A cop car was stationed outside the soccer field. I walked through the park, listening to Cults on my iPod. Thought about sitting on this bench:
I didn’t though. I try to obey the law whenever possible. Wasn’t feeling up for a stint in the federal pen for illegal park bench sitting.
I decided to go for a big walk since there were extensive trails. Took a photo of the trailhead map. I always do this now whenever I hike since once my sister and I got lost for hours while hiking up in Alaska. During the walk I saw some row crews racing down below the bridge I was on.
Kept my iPod going and watched them for a while. I think they were maybe on the Mississippi but I haven’t rocked at geography since 8th grade so who knows, maybe it was a swamp. On this path were a bunch of people on bicycles and other walkers. I regretted not wearing my sunglasses since whenever I’m out for a walk I never know how to address people coming the opposite way. You have to make a decision with every pedestrian: say hi, smile, look down at the ground, pretend to check your phone or music machine, stare off into the distance like a burnout who just got done licking toads. Mainly it was a bunch of moms walking in packs. I opted for the smile routine. Biking is much easier for this sort of thing. Passing by someone happens in a flash. Once while biking in the summer a guy on a bike was coming towards me. Stuck up his hand and we high fived. Pedaled on our own separate ways. It was awesome. I loved that interaction, but wasn’t going to high five any Minneapolis moms pushing their kid in a stroller.
Saw some cool graffiti under a bridge:
There was a little waterfall down there and a hiking trail in the dirt. I wanted to hop the bridge, hike the trail. Go sniff the graffiti. See if I could find human feces beneath the bridge. But I’m a wimp, so I didn’t.
Eventually got back to the park area. Walked over to a gas station to pick up some energy drinks. There was a sign on the door saying you must speak in English or Arabic. The cute Arab chick working the register talked to me for a minute about college and shitty candy bars. It was brief, but nice to chat with someone in person for the first time that day. I headed back to my car. The concert was only about an hour away.
I brought along a bottle of my favorite alcohol for this Minneapolis trip: $4 Wild Irish Rose wine. It’s cheap, hard to swallow, and fucks you up. I made myself a peanut butter sandwich in the front seat of my car. Crumbs all over my pants and shirt. I had to decide if I wanted to go full hobo and fetch the wine from my trunk. Thought about what I’d look like if someone saw me. A white kid in a car full of trash, eating a sandwich, huddling over his steering wheel to sneak wash it down with a glass bottle half full of dark red moonshine. I thought a lot about that. I don’t drink often and don’t get the idea of being fucked up for a show. I never knew why people would pay $30 to space out and fall all over the place. You could do that at home for $4, why waste memories of a good concert? But I also thought maybe if I drank it’d loosen me up. If I had a little I could get buzzed and enjoy myself some more. Relax and actually talk to people instead of standing there in that cement venue frantically texting the girl I was dating so that I wouldn’t have to look at anyone. But I decided not to drink. I cracked a Red Bull instead.
Knew enough to not show up to the concert at the start time this night. Free Energy and Titus Andronicus were playing at the Triple Rock where I saw Best Coast the night before. I left my car at the park, figuring the fifteen minute walk would be relaxing both to the concert and on the way back after. I didn’t take into consideration that it’d be dark and after midnight when the concert let out. That I’d have to walk through areas of town that weren’t bustling with concert kids and bar drunks.
Walked over to the Triple Rock. Saw some transient kids outside the place sitting on the sidewalk with their guitars, backpacks, and dogs. No shoulder kittens like I saw on so many people in Olympia. They were playing their songs. I flipped ’em a dollar — something I almost never do. An exchange of goods from transient to transient. Except I was an impostor. I had lots of money in the bank, a house I could always go back to, a shitty car that got great gas mileage (which is part of how I can afford to travel so much). These guys were doing it for real. Living and traveling by means of the street and busking. They looked like they were having a good time. Most transient kids do. But lots of them are probably fucked up on something. Or so it seems.
At the venue entrance I stole a poster for the girl I was dating since her dorm walls are filled with stolen posters and she’s into Free Energy. Only after I stole it did I realize it wasn’t a Free Energy poster, just had their name markered on. It was trash. When I got inside the opening band was already jamming. They were drunk and talked about carving pumpkins backstage. I kind of spaced out their set since the music was boring. Dragons Power Up! was the band, for those curious. The venue was less crowded this night. The general age of people was younger too. For Best Coast there’d been a printed out sign scotch taped to the door saying the “Believe it or not, tonight’s show is SOLD OUT.” Tonight it was only about 3/4ths full. Titus Andronicus was the headliner but I was there for Free Energy.
Free Energy has been my favorite band for about the past year. I downloaded their album around last March and put it on one day as I was driving back to my apartment after school. I was in love with it seconds after it started. I remember texting people telling them they had to listen to this band. Here’s a song of theirs to get a feeling:
I listened to them obsessively up until summer. Got the girl I was dating into them too. We found out they were coming to Minneapolis in June after we were to be back from Bonnaroo and right before I was taking off for Alaska. We spent the night in Minneapolis and saw them play with Mates of State. A lot of fantastic things happened on the trip: walked Minneapolis, sat at a lake, met her brother, first time she said she loved me, great concert, got autographs and talked to the lead singer of Free Energy for ten seconds, tried to request them on the radio via text messages to a station on the drive back. So that trip was extremely memorable and now in my mind as I stood in this crowd waiting for the band to come on. I thought about how I could’ve been in New York with her right that second (and at an Of Montreal show in NYC). Instead I was unshowered, standing amongst strangers, waiting for this band to start.
Free Energy came out and played an incredible show.
Their singer has devastating dance moves. One dude has a hawk feather sticking out of his guitar.
The drummer looks like a dirty janitor’s mop and uses a gun belt to hold his sticks. They were dressed so shitty. Looked so poor and skinny. When we saw them in June they talked about their van having holes in the floor. I wished I’d brought some sandwiches along to throw up on stage.
Titus Andronicus came out and played some songs with them. It was fun watching that many people rocking at once. I danced really hard. Sang along to almost every song, even if I had to fake the lyrics every now and then. The guy in front of me at this point smelled really bad and he didn’t have sleeping in his car to use as an excuse. But that didn’t take away from my enjoyment. Even when his hair sweat got on my glasses. After Free Energy finished they broke down their own set so that Titus could set up. I always like bands that help with their own equipment, even if it’s only because they’re too poor to afford a crew.
In between the shows I listened in on some kids reciting bad memes. One guy was wearing an Admiral Ackbar “It’s a trap” shirt. Three our four guys congregated and started telling pedophile jokes, repeating stuff from 4chan. I got back on my phone and texted some more.
Titus Andronicus came out and did their show.
They were loud. Lead singer was sweaty. Best part was when he singled out a boy and girl. The boy had on a black Titus Andronicus hoodie. The girl a yellow Free Energy shirt. Like a bee of good music. Singer said this was what it was all about, these two bands coming together. Said this couple represented the friendship and collaboration of Free Energy and Titus Andronicus. It was cool. I’m not very into Titus, but thought about them a lot this past November as I drove through New Jersey on my way down to a Sufjan Stevens concert in Virgnia (best show I saw all year). Titus got over. I stood in the back for most of the show since kids were moshing. Afterward my ears were ringing. Man, that shit was loud. Kids filed out. Broken beer bottles and empty booze glasses were littered all over. I hung around for a bit, soaking up the last of the crowd energy. Given off gratis.
I was going to be alone all day Saturday. Found out Deakin of Animal Collective was playing a free show at a college down in Iowa. Had thoughts of heading there the next afternoon. It’d be another concert and something to do for the day. Also thought that if this night’s sleep didn’t go well, if I felt that lonely and paranoid again, maybe I’d find a cheap hotel to stay at. One night in and I was already thinking of ways to ditch my grand homeless adventure. Maybe it wasn’t all that fun when put into practice.
I’ve had a really easy life. Grew up in a home that was stable financially and emotionally. Always have had lots of support from my parents. They’re very loving and only want the best for their kids. Always made sure we did things growing up like eating together and going on trips. Things change when kids grow up, but wherever I am in the country, I still talk to my parents at least a couple times a week. My dad randomly gives me money sometimes. He used to tell us he had his own scratch ticket machine. He kept a stash of scratch-offs atop his dresser. When the machine was working he’d give my sister and I a ticket. We got to keep whatever we won. As a kid this was always a lot of money. Even if it was only $20, and even if half the time we never got the tickets redeemed before they expired. Once, last year when I was struggling with money, I checked my bank account online and saw an extra $900 in it. Was so confused and thought there was a mistake. But it was him. They paid for my college. Money was never a worry in our family, something I’m very thankful for. Even if I myself was poor, I always knew I had them to fall back on. In ways this is good, in other ways it has inhibited my ambition.
It’s also driven me to get away and look for excitement in a rougher life. To step outside my comfort zone. Our home was always stable but a little bit boring. My dad spent much of his 20s traveling the country. I’ve been doing the same since I graduated from college. Have criss-crossed from coast to coast in my car multiple times now. A lot of nights him and I will talk about how similar our stories are in this regard. Except he was always a hard worker and I’m not. I make my money by laying in bed getting injected with malaria in exchange for thousands of dollars.
So I felt like I had to give faux homelessness another shot. I wanted to try something outside of what I knew. Even if it wasn’t a life for me, I had curiosity. Had to at least try. I just want to know what’s right for me in life and I feel like I still haven’t found it. Not even a semblance. So, like a lot of things, I thought homelessness might be better the second time around.
I headed back to my car. The street I started on was all lighted and full of bars and kids and bums. Headed up another street and called the girl I was dating. Started telling her about the concert. I was getting further and further from the bars and crowds. Couldn’t even hear their murmur anymore. Passed by the Jimmy John’s we’d eaten at back in June. This was the last lighted business. I still had a couple blocks to go before I was to cross the roadway, head through a residential neighborhood towards the park.
A block away from the Jimmy John’s I was waiting for a signal at a crosswalk. Twenty feet down a side street was a hobo. He was fiftyish, in a green army coat, thin and scraggly with a beard. Your generic bum king. Until then I had never felt afraid of a homeless person. But with him I immediately had a bad feeling. I don’t know if it was the way he looked at me or instinct or what. I told Blair (girl I was dating) about him as I went through the crosswalk. Said I just saw a really scary hobo. As I walked I still felt weird and looked behind me. He was now following behind on my sidewalk. I walked a little more and saw he was catching up. I started walking as fast as I could. Looked behind again and now he was almost running at me. There was a parked car with its lights on by me. I cut in front of it to get across the road toward the residential neighborhood. As soon as I did this the hobo got off the sidewalk and started running diagonal to cut me off. I started running too.
As the hobo ran to cut me off I turned on the jets. Cut across the street. No traffic. He came within a few feet of me but I was faster. But now he was chasing me full speed. I got to the sidewalk on this side of the street. The car with its lights on started blaring its horn. They must’ve known something was wrong. Saw how scared I looked when I passed in front of them. Now I had to make a quick decision: run the five minutes towards my car through the dark residential neighborhood, or shoot down the street back towards the Jimmy John’s and bars. I decided to run back to the Jimmy John’s.
Started running as fast as I could. All the jogging I’d done that summer and fall was now paying off. Started screaming “HELP, SOMEONE HELP,” yet felt so thoughtless in that moment. Just going on adrenaline and survival instinct. I don’t know what this guy wanted to do to me. Mug me for sure, but who knows if he had a weapon. I imagined him tackling me to the cement, my face busting open. Sticking a knife in my gut, stomping it in with his boot. Then kneeling on me screeching a spitty “hree, hree” as he rifled my pockets for cash and gum.
I’d had my headphones strung up through my shirt and sticking out my neckline. Now noticed they’d fallen down my shirt and were hitting the sidewalk as I ran. I could hear the ear buds clicking against the ground. Chk chk chk. This sort of restarted my mind. I grabbed and bunched the buds into my fist. Even during this moment of fear one of the things that crossed my mind was hoping I hadn’t ruined them by stepping on them. I don’t know why a $10 pair of pink gummy headphones was concerning me so much when a hobo was hunting me down.
Looked behind me. He was still running, but now a half block behind. I looked back periodically for the hobo. Eventually I no longer saw him. It was either too dark or he gave up and turned down a side street. Speedy legs Gabfrab had won. I kept running and running until I got down to by the Jimmy John’s. Stopped across the street.
The car that’d honked its horn pulled up. They, two women in their thirties, rolled down the window and asked what was going on. It was only when I tried to speak that I realized I was out of breath.
“That hobo. Tried.” Gasp. “Tried to get me.”
I had my hands on their door where the window was rolled down. They said I should call 9-1-1. I didn’t really want to do this. I don’t know why. Maybe thought it’d be so much hassle. Maybe just wanted the experience to be over. I thanked them for blaring their horn. Said the guy just started chasing me out of nowhere. I thought the driver told me to hop in so I opened their back door. Then she said I couldn’t get in. I got it — I was a strange dirty boy and who knew what was going on. Maybe the hobo and I were in cahoots. We faked a robbery so that someone would pick me up, then when they started driving I’d pull a gun, a shitty kitchen knife.
I was so shaken that I couldn’t really get my thoughts together. They could tell I was really panicked. I kept on looking back down the street to see if the hobo was still approaching. They asked where my car was. I said some park but I didn’t know the name since I wasn’t from around there. But said I knew how to get to it. They said they’d drive me to my car. It was so generous.
I got in their backseat and pointed to the street to go down. My thoughts were still all jumbled. I kind of explained some more, saying I’d been on the phone with my girlfriend. Shit, my girlfriend. She didn’t know what was going on. I knew I’d ran with the phone at my side for a while before hanging up. Didn’t think I’d said anything, just started running and screaming and then an abrupt hangup. She must’ve been so worried. Knew I needed to call her the second I got to my car. I told the ladies that I was in town for a concert, that I was from a small town in North Dakota and hadn’t experienced anything like this before. Now looking back I regret those words. I made it sound as if I were a country yokel who ventured to the big city once and now was going to never stray off the farm again. Leave that to the cattle. But they were nice. Knew I was freaked. Told me they were going out for drinks. Eventually they pulled up to my dirty car. I thanked them over and over. Got out. They waited until I was in my car before taking off.
I called Blair right away. Told her I was getting the fuck out of Minneapolis. Started driving towards the interstate, trying to hold my phone and talk and think and figure out directions all at once. Explained to her everything that happened. She said on her end that it’d just gone dead after a bunch of noise and she knew something was wrong. Was going to call the police if she didn’t hear from me very soon.
I got on the interstate and started heading back for North Dakota. No way was I going to stay in this city. I could’ve got a hotel and hung around, but all I wanted was the safety of my parents’ house. Of my bed. Talked to Blair for a couple hours. We decided that we all needed pepper spray. I wanted Blair to get it because sometimes she ventured from Vassar to NYC and I didn’t ever want anything to happen to her. As I talked on the phone she ordered pepper spray online and tried to figure out a way to get it since it couldn’t legally be shipped to New York. I vowed to buy some for myself too. This had been the most frightening experience of my life. Never before had I felt so in danger. Blair talked me down and made me feel a lot better about everything.
I started cracking jokes about the hobo and how he should’ve got me. Maybe the dude had a fake plastic leg. Maybe he hadn’t smoked enough meth that day to keep up with a 5k champion runner like me. Lame shit like that. One of my natural defense mechanisms is to make a joke of everything. Bad habit. That’s what I was doing now. But the jokes upset her, and honestly I didn’t want to invalidate the experience, so I stopped. Acknowledged that this scared the fuck out of me.
Called my sister and told her the same story about the hobo chase. Said she needed to buy pepper spray. She was living alone in Olympia, Washington and ventured downtown a lot at night on foot by herself. Now I was really worried for her. Couldn’t have anything bad happen to my sister. I was so paranoid that all the people I loved and cared for were suddenly in danger now. I got off the phone with Brit and talked to Blair some more. Eventually she had to go to bed too.
Drove through the night in the dark by myself. Didn’t feel safe enough to stop at any rest stops so just held my pee the whole way. Looked around the lot before getting out of my car at a gas station to fill up. I put on Free Energy and crossed back into North Dakota. Immediately I felt safer. But the music wasn’t as fun now. I started conceiving a video in my mind called Spaghetti Egg. It’s yet to be shot, but will be fantastic. Two hours later I was home. Left everything in my car. Got out, pet my dogs, went inside the house, and crawled into my bed.
Went to sleep thinking about life and what happened. So thankful I hadn’t drank anything. If I had I might not have been alert enough to get away from the attacker. For the second night in a row I lay in a bed with thoughts of all the people in my life who loved and cared for me. Felt so thankful for all I had. I’d wanted to try out the hobo life. Well, I’d experienced it. Began to regret not calling the police. Felt guilty thinking that guy was going to attack someone else. Maybe they wouldn’t get away. If he’d gotten his hands on me I can only imagine it would’ve damaged me physically and emotionally. Would have to be the end of my adventures. Too much danger out there in the world. But I made it away safe. Holy shit, what a crazy night. In my constructed homeless existence I had now experienced something real.
It was fucking thrilling.