When I moved to Austin a little over a year and a half ago, I noticed something interesting. It wasn’t the bats, it wasn’t the massive amount of live music venues, nor was it all the bars, at least not at first. The first thing I noticed as I drove through the city was, “My God, all of these homeless dudes are cut.”
Is that an odd thing to notice? Sure. Latently homosexual? Debatable (the latent part, anyway). Regardless, there were dirty, backpack toting, 20-something vagrants all over the city, and they were in surprisingly excellent shape. That’s bullshit. The only natural six-pack a homeless dude should have is of the Ice variety. That’s the equivalent of a woman with a perfect, perky set of Ds being forced to live on the street. It isn’t possible, unless they do it by choice. Therein lies the problem, these jacked Austin hobos are quite often homeless because they chose to be, and it’s completely fucking ridiculous.
I understand my assumptions are sweeping, but forgive me for being irked when I’m asked for money by someone who in all likelihood would be capable of bedding more attractive women than myself were they willing to take a bath and pretty much that’s it. Fuck you, this is my money. Take a swim in the nearest fountain and go get a job as an Abercrombie greeter, you tan bastards.
Homeless people aren’t supposed to look like extras from The O.C. They’re supposed to look like grizzled bridge dwellers who are, at any given moment, probably nursing an infected stab wound. These “hobros” are all over Austin. Most of them are transplants (like everyone else in this city). Hobros are an extreme subculture of the hipster. They’ve gone off the grid because, uh, I think just because. That’s the difference between Austin and most other heavily moved to cities, such as New York and L.A. When people move to NYC and L.A., even if they head there without a job and ultimately fail, at least they have dreams. Most people who move to Austin simply show up to chill and get fucked up until they die or are forced to start supporting a child. They sell just enough bracelets and grab just enough change from passersby to buy themselves some food on The Drag and a dime bag. Then they fall asleep in a park or on the back porch of a restaurant and do it all again the next day. Don’t believe me? Watch the King of the Hill episode “The Texas Panhandler” on Netflix. That’s based on Austin, and in truth it doesn’t go nearly far enough in its portrayal.
The homeless populations of other cities do not look and act like this. They’re decent, normal, out of shape American hobos. Bums in New York, for example, don’t trim their beards. They aren’t worried about style. They’re rocking filthy, unkempt manes full of old food and encrusted semen, because they sucked a dick, for crack. If one of these Austin hobros blows a dude it isn’t out of desperation, it’s because they’re a pansexual graffiti artist rolling molly and having the time of their lives at some party that’s taking place in an alley just east of I-35.
In Chicago you don’t see the homeless spending their down time exercising on a fitness trail like you do in Austin. They’re too busy eating as many discarded sausages and deep dish pizzas as they can, like squirrels fattening up before winter, because you know what happens to skinny Chicago hobos? They freeze to death and, presumably, their bodies are dumped in Lake Michigan. Austin, however, is warm, and that affords its hobros the opportunity to spend their days doing pull ups and sunning themselves near the water like a rookery of self-important seals.
Most American hobos wear whatever two-sizes-too-big, decades old Disney World sweatshirts a St. Vincent DePaul Society has to offer. Austin hobros, meanwhile, tend to find much of their wardrobes from various vintage and offbeat clothing stores. It’s either that or someone donated a whole shit ton of male Capri pants to Travis County clothing drives. And like I said, they don’t usually even bother buying a shirt, since it’s a hundred degrees, they’re in great shape, and have a tan to work on.
Austin has become a major American city in the last decade, especially in terms of influence, so it’s only a matter of time before somebody observes these hobros and creates the next trend diet or P90x based on their lifestyle. A key component to The Austin Vagrant Diet will be eating erratically, in order to replicate their actual nutritional intake. Mondays will require you to subsist on a couple $1 hamburgers, but you have to feed one to your dog. Tuesdays will be five raw vegetables, to simulate when they have to raid someone’s backyard garden. Wednesdays will be “go from restaurant to restaurant until you find someone giving something, anything away for free as a promotion.” Then there’s coupon Thursdays, and of course “ride your bike until you see a pizza delivery driver, act like he hit you with his car, and demand a free pizza from the backseat as compensation” Fridays. You’ll also be required to take naps outside and walk five miles a day with forty pounds worth of completely random possessions in a backpack. The Austin Vagrant Diet is not FDA approved, but damn it, it works.
My city’s homeless population is better looking than me, or at least in better shape, and it might be my most annoying PGP.