Freaks in Manhattan

Why are there so many freaks on the streets of Manhattan this week? Is there some kind of convention I’m unaware of?

Wait, wait, wait. I better back up and define “freak” so I don’t somehow politically demean some important post-urban cultural artisan. But when I see someone who looks like they just took a hit of crack, with one shoe on and one off, writhing around like a snake in some kind of Mexican religious painting, talking and laughing at some imaginary person and smelling so much like piss, that I’m not really sure it’s just their piss, because even if you pissed on yourself for weeks, it wouldn’t have the marinated, deep-baked piss smell, I often think that person is in the freak category. For the sake of this conversation, I’m not talking about the people that have completely tattooed their faces, and drilled holes in the sides of their noses so they could stretch them out and put frisbees in there. Or the 92 pound, 6’1, 38-FF women I see walking around the city. They are freaks in another capacity, and at least they don’t try to talk to me. I’m more worried about the street prophet sorts, mostly because I don’t want to smell like piss when I get back to the office.

The homeless situation is strange in this city. In most cities, there are a few homeless, and that’s it. Either you ignore them, or you cook them dinner on Thanksgiving at the YMCA, and then it all goes away for the rest of the year. Here, there are so many factions, that it’s hard to figure out. In New York, the homeless have more representation and lobbying than some tobacco companies. Plus, there are people (usually from Europe, or from snobby art schools) that think the homeless population is some kind of art project or something, that bums are really cool and graffiti on trains is some kind of tribal marking. There are people who think projects will help, things like food banks and shelters. There are others who think that because we pay so much damn tax, there should be a better solution provided by the government. And there are people who think homeless people should be lit on fire, or maybe put in arenas to fight to the death like the good ol’ days.

I’m not sure what I think, which is why I’m babbling about this. It’s easy in some aspects to just ignore people. I don’t give out any money,

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