Crust Gets in Your Eyes

Forced into the light by a recent murder, a transient community starts talking.

By St. John Barned-Smith
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 12 | Posted Jul. 25, 2007

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On June 18, according to Jeff Moran, spokesperson for the Health Department, Tim Bradly was found dead from "multiple blunt force injuries" to his face and head on the roof of Paradise City, a derelict squatter apartment complex at 49th and Locust streets.

The murder attracted a flurry of media coverage, with most accounts describing the victim and the others involved as gutter punks, crusties, anarcho-punks, modern-day hobos and train hoppers.

But there was little explanation of the subculture that has its roots in the anarchist punk movement of the late '70s and the hobo culture of the Great Depression. What was known was what they looked like--white kids dressed in genuinely distressed punk clothes--and where and when they surfaced--in Center City and parts of West Philly every spring.

Though it's now well into summer, these mostly young people, darkened from dirt and the sun, can still be seen in Center City, begging with cardboard signs boasting of their cross-country travels. They sit on sidewalks and in Rittenhouse Square in groups of three or four or five, sometimes accompanied by dogs. Most consider themselves punk hobos.

But there's a lot more to the punk hobo story than what the typical office worker can grasp during lunch on a Center City sidewalk. And now, thrust into the spotlight by last month's murder, many in this usually tight-lipped community are at last ready to talk.


Steve-O and Marc hang outside Five Guys, the burger joint on the 1500 block of Chestnut Street, "spanging," or panhandling.

Steve-O, 35, walks up to a couple of attractive women and fixes them with a nervous 1,000-yard stare.

"I haven't got used to being around normal people," he says later, explaining that he just got out of jail.

He hits the women with his killer line: "You guys ever have sex in an alley?"

As they walk away, he says, "It's awesome."

Steve-O and Marc, 23, are spangers, seasoned train hoppers and--in their own words--"modern-day hobos."

Pebbles with Iris the dog.

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COMMENTS

Comments 1 - 12 of 12
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1. jp said... on Jul 18, 2008 at 11:20PM

“crustieshoppON”

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2. wraith said... on Aug 28, 2008 at 10:41AM

“do you have any picks of kids known as....lost,wraith,or horace?”

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3. sour pickles said... on Sep 25, 2008 at 08:23AM

“this is the worst article i have ever read. not only is it poorly written , and terribly researched, but it fails to take into account more than two individuals perspective on how they live and the subculture they claim to be a part of . to not include the viewpoints of numerous subjects, and allowing the journalist to make such obviously generic statements regarding an entire subculture and way of life, shows extreme lack of integrity .thanks for nothing, but a sensationalized piece of trash that only seeks to cash in on tragic events.”

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4. shannon said... on Nov 11, 2008 at 08:38PM

“hahahahaha blow job”

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5. me said... on Dec 1, 2008 at 02:58AM

“More than half of your glossary is totally or partially wrong. Don't add something you're not confident about just to give your readers a spiffy decoder ring in a cereal box. Most of the folks interviewed probably could have defined those terms instead of you guessing at them, incorrectly.”

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6. Otter said... on Dec 5, 2008 at 06:23PM

“>> FTRA Freight Train Riders of america >> Homebums Hobos' terms for not just squatters, but people who spend a long time in one place. the older ones sometimes call themselves "homeguards", such as in AZ. >> Spider/Kill shwill Backwashed dregs of ANY beer.”

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7. upthepups said... on Dec 21, 2008 at 07:07PM

“this is one of the worst articals i have read. i think ol' pickles summed it up pretty much. ”

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8. Nope. said... on Dec 22, 2008 at 02:24PM

“Let's just marginalize another group of people we don't know and consider ourselves worldly. It takes all kinds and reading this doesn't mean you know anything. I am particularly fond of the bit about facial tattoos. Also who doesn't call it a space bag? ”

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9. ?? said... on Jan 12, 2009 at 12:08PM

“RIP - Tim. Your killers pleaded Guilty. Tim was a Hockey Champion and a teammate of mine. My brother is also a crusty and hope he does not meet the same fate as Tim. ”

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10. jz said... on Jan 12, 2009 at 01:09PM

“anyone know where marc is”

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11. your worst nightmare said... on Jan 29, 2009 at 11:13PM

“UM..... WHAT? are you fucking serious? you have no idea what the fuck you are talking about and the fact that you would put it on the fucking internet on some bullshit site like this is fucking retarded. way to call everybody who does this for real out. Are you too much of a pussy to call this shit on the spot? You shouldn't write a check that your ass can't cash. bitch. Have you ever met a SF Scumfuck? what goddamn planet are you from? Where do you get your info? you need to check your shit.”

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12. Anonymous said... on Jul 31, 2010 at 11:40PM

“hahaha, humm, well, i guess their equal cuz tim was tryin to rape echo, her face blooded by him, whem conor woke up, so i think it was very fuckin justified. rapos have no fucking right to live, im not sorry if im to blunt because thats the truth. Conor is not a normally violent person, i should know, i lived in a bathroom with him for 15 months, he was my cellie up state. He is the contrary, very giving and forgiving so dont talk shit just cuz u can, nobodys doin shit cuz its all talk...”

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