Homeless Teen Juggles Panhandling, Piercing

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Vol 31 Issue 02

Satan To Revise Bar Code System

NEW YORK—Responding to retailers' calls to "streamline the Mark of the Beast," Satan announced plans Monday to make significant changes in the UPC symbol by the end of the millenium. "All men, small and great, rich and poor, slave and free, shall bear the mark of the beast," Satan said. The mark, "666," now hidden in every UPC symbol, may be more effective if taken off products and burned directly onto consumers' foreheads or hands, according to The Father of Lies. Said National Reserve Board Chairman Alan Greenspan: "As foretold in the Book of Revelations, it shall come to pass that no man shall be able to buy or sell without the Mark of the Beast." The new bar code system will be introduced through a series of televised public-service announcements featuring Friends star Matthew Perry and Satan, who will appear as a beast with seven heads and ten horns.

Local Senior Impressed With Restaurant Cheesecake

HOBOKEN, NJ—According to reports, area senior Herbert Bloch, 69, was "impressed" with the slice of strawberry cheesecake served to him at the Denny's restaurant on Sand Hill Road Monday. "The cheesecake was very flavorful and moist," Bloch was reported to have told the server. He also was rumored to have praised the flaky crust and said that the cake had "just the right amount of whipped cream." Sources close to Bloch's server indicated that prior to his ordering of the cheesecake, Bloch consumed a Philadelphia cheese-steak sandwich. It was believed that he found it to be delicious, as well. Sources inside Denny's believe that Bloch, who dined alone, commented on the cheesecake in a sad attempt to engage another human being in conversation. Bloch is expected to return to Denny's in the future to order more cheesecake.

Hubble Space Telescope Finds Men From Venus, Women From Mars

PASADENA, CA—Astrophysicists and self-help authors alike expressed shock Friday when new data from the Hubble Space Telescope indicated that, contrary to prior belief, men are from Venus and women are from Mars. "Ever since Copernicus' Third Universal Law On Why Men Can't Cry, scientists have believed the opposite, that men are from Mars and women are from Venus," Chief NASA Engineer Stanley Fordham said. Hubble data clearly indicates that Venus features an inhospitable atmosphere that does not easily express its emotions and tends to hog the remote control when watching TV. New spectrographic photographs of the Mars surface, on the other hand, shows a sharing planet, open with its emotions and very nurturing.

Dole Makes Pretend White House Out Of Card Table, Sheet

RUSSELL, KS—Making his lifelong dream of becoming president a make-believe reality, 1996 Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole created a pretend White House Monday by draping a white bedsheet over a card table. Dole advisors say the former Kansas senator will reside in the pretend White House for the next four years. From under the card table, Dole told reporters, "This is Bob Dole's special White House. Bob Dole doesn't need anybody else to get to the White House." Sources close to Dole say that his White House, erected in a corner of the basement in his Russell, KS, home, is merely the first tangible manifestation of a larger make-believe universe in which Dole has resided for years.

I Didn't Become A Millionaire By Overtipping

You see these hands? These hands have shaken the ruby and emerald-bejeweled hands of the Grand Sheik Emir of Omar Al Habib El Sababa! Now, you think that any time some uneducated, unmarried, trailer-trash waitress with four kids and another one on the way carries a couple of plates back and forth from my table, I'm suddenly supposed to start throwing my hard-earned dollar bills around like they're confetti? I'm afraid not! I didn't become a millionaire by overtipping, you know.

Right-to-Die Controversy

Right-to-die has been a hot issue of late, with both pro- and anti-right-to-die forces holding large demonstrations across the U.S. What do you think of physician-assisted suicide?

Top Websites

There are hundreds of thousands of websites in cyberspace. Which ones are the most popular?

Evita Is A Dance Of A Good Time

Hello and welcome back to my newspaper column entitled "The Silver Screen." As you may recall, in my newspaper column I often will tell you about which movies will put the brass in your buttons and which of the motion picture entertainments are not worth an old shoe's worth of nickels.
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Man Considers Nodding Approvingly After Friend’s Drink Purchase

MEQUON, WI—Seeking to convey his endorsement of his acquaintance's selection at local bar Coney's Draft House this evening, area man Thomas Dodge told reporters that he was considering nodding approvingly at his friend’s alcoholic beverage pur...

Homeless Teen Juggles Panhandling, Piercing

ANN ARBOR, MI—It's past midnight on a chilly Wednesday, and the shabby, velvet-lined guitar case in front of 16-year-old Alyssa Vincent is empty, save for the occasional quarter or dime. Alyssa eyes the meager take from a night of begging, clicks her tongue-ring to her teeth, and contemplates her difficult situation.

Homeless teen Alyssa Vincent

"I'm trying to collect enough to go to the Marilyn Manson concert," she says, her heavy black eyeliner obscuring the eyes of a little girl lost. "They're playing the Civic Center on the 28th."

"If I can't get the money begging," Alyssa adds, her voice quavering with fear, "I'll have to ask my mom."

It's been this way for Alyssa ever since last Thursday, when she and a friend bravely left their parents' homes in suburban Detroit and headed off to Ann Arbor, where Alyssa could pursue her life-long dream of panhandling, piercing, and "just bein' me."

"Being poor is the bomb," she says. "It's, like, so fun to be homeless."

Though just 16, Alyssa already has seen and experienced more than most do in a lifetime. The whirlwind of shoplifting, hanging out, panhandling, body piercing, playing guitar, skateboarding, hair dyeing, and sleeping on the floors of strangers' apartments has left her with a wisdom well beyond her years.

"It's funny how people treat you sometimes," she says with a half-smile, knowing all too well how it feels to be on the outside looking in. "The other day, I was in Taco Bell getting a MexiMelt, and, like, the guy behind the counter started looking at me all weird. So I was like, 'Fuck you!'"

Aside from the occasional parental loan, Alyssa has been supporting herself fully during her time as a homeless person. Last Saturday night, she even went so far as to supervise the movement of amplification equipment into a local club in exchange for free admission.

"I just got this dope-ass new tattoo," Alyssa says, her eyes bright with the promise of a wide-open future. "It's a picture of this big bud, and then right across it, it says, '311.' My friends were so jealous. I didn't tell my parents, though, 'cause they wouldn't understand. They'd just be all like, 'What'd you do that for?' They don't get what I'm about, and they never will."

For the first time in Alyssa's life, she feels truly free. Still, for all the exhilaration that comes with freedom, there is no shortage of tough times on the streets of Ann Arbor. "Out here, you gotta fend for yourself," she says. "Like if you want to play a video game, it's pretty much, come up with the 50 cents yourself, or you're shit out of luck. Back at home, I could play Mortal Kombat II on Sega all day for free if I wanted to. Not out here, though."

"Crazy shit happens all the time on the streets," she continues. "Like just last night, I was hangin' out behind the head shop on State Street, skateboarding and shit with this guy Pete, and this other dude runs up out of nowhere and starts whalin' on him, saying he owes him $10 for this chain wallet he sold him. I was like, 'Shit, man.'"

Luckily, Alyssa has discovered a small coterie of friends who have made surviving the streets a little easier. Among them is 'Nazz,' an 18-year-old from the Detroit suburb of Bloomfield Hills who writes poetry—her preferred scansion is free verse—and Whitney, a self-styled "refugee from Toledo" with her own tragic tale to tell.

"This asshole I was seeing said he could give me a nipple ring," Whitney, 15, recalls. "But he was drunk and he missed, and he just got me right under my tit." She lifts her shirt, bra and breast to reveal the oddly placed faux ruby. "It's a fuckin' rad ring, too. I don't know. I was hoping to show it off, but it's like, no one can fuckin' see it."

Alyssa's sweater has begun to fray, and the leather boots she put on her parents' credit card in preparation for her great trek have begun to scuff. Still, she has no plans to return to her parents' home any time soon, "unless it gets, like, freezing or something."

The problem is not so much lack of affection as lack of time. "I'm just lovin' the life too much," she says from Erica's brother's apartment, where she has managed to acquire a night's lodging. "Someday, I might go home. But for now, I'm just too busy scraping the crumbs off this futon."

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