Wednesday, April 18, 2007

"" Coming to Springfield

So I fired up my computer this morning and I found this e-mail from the folks of "". It's from their Media Coordinator, Wayne Andrews, who just wanted to let me know that representatives are coming to Springfield during the month of April.

What the hell is ""? Well, in the press release that was included in the e-mail, they say they are the "online home of the homeless," and that they travel the country talking with street folks and featuring them on their website. So now, apparently, it's Springfield's turn. I surfed on over to their website looking for some updated news. There they had a "Street People Invade New England" story where they mention that they are scheduled to make an appearance on the "Bax & O'Brien Show" on April 20th (8:05am). So I'd look for them to be roaming our streets at about that time.

As for the website itself, it has a blog style to it, with updates from folks chatting with the vagrants they've met up with. The most recent post was for March 4, 2007. And naturally, they have a "PayPal" donation button there. I was tempted to donate 50 cents, but then I figured that - like all good vagrants - I would only be encouraging the website to spam my inbox begging for more.

They also mentioned in the press release that the group had been on "Good Morning America," which led me to believe, of course, that they had actually been guests on the nationally broadcast morning show. This turned out to not be the case. At the site, I clicked on the "Good Morning America" link to find that they had simply put up posters and signs around an outdoor stage area where the GMA folks were prepping a broadcast featuring Justin Timberlake. Oh well... some kind of exposure is better than none, I guess.

Anyway, it was good to see from their GMA post that Springfield is not the only city plagued by an oftentimes overzealous population of vagrants: "We showed up at 4:15 a.m. and there were already a hundred or so people standing in front of the stage, though a good portion of people were still out and drinking from the night before. And of course there were a couple of street-people hanging around, asking for cigarettes, change, etc. You can't sling a dead cat in this town without hitting a homeless person...unless you're actually looking for one and then you can't find them. They're sneaky that way."

The website was actually created by two office workers from Memphis, Tennessee, and was meant to add a little satire to the subject of street people, while at the same time getting word out about the "social phenomenon" of homelessness. The press release went on to say, "Being panhandled is something everyone that lives in a city understands. Our site is an outlet for that part of our culture showing that some people really need aid and others are just scam artists."

Well, I know all about the scam artists. In the City of Springfield, fifty cents won't buy you a cup of coffee - but it will get you accosted by the folks I sometimes refer to as "the roaming residents" of Springfield.

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Missing Persons in New England

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