Living Out Of Your Car Is A Dying Art

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Vol 39 Issue 34

Hope Fades For Survivors In 1999 Turkish Earthquake

IZMIT, TURKEY—Rescuers acknowledged that hope is fading in the search for additional survivors of the massive earthquake that hit the area Tuesday, Aug. 17, 1999. "Tens of thousands of victims were pinned under the wreckage when the many poorly constructed three- and four-story commercial and residential buildings in the region collapsed in the quake," city official Demitri Psaropoulos said Monday. "Sadly, the sweltering heat and lack of water make survival chances slim for anyone still trapped in the rubble." The official death toll from the devastating earthquake reached 17,000 in November 1999.

Jerky Boys Accidentally Prank-Call Last Remaining Fan

NEW YORK—Infamous crank phone-callers Johnny G. Brennan and Kamal Ahmed, better known as the Jerky Boys, unknowingly pranked 22-year-old videostore employee Jake Matson, their last remaining fan, Tuesday. "Hello, this is Frank Rizzo," said Brennan. "I'm throwing a bachelor party and I wanna come over there and rent some smutty animal videos. What kind you got there, sizzle-chest?" Matson, who, unlike his peers, still listens to his Jerky Boys CDs regularly, instantly recognized Brennan's voice and begged him to do a few seconds of Saul Rosenberg.

Suburbanite Shocked By Poor Condition Of Urban Mall

DEER PARK, TX—Forced to pick up a pair of shoes from a Famous Footwear at Sharpstown Mall in Houston Monday, stay-at-home mother Linda Hendrikson, 31, was reportedly shocked by the mall's condition. "It was just so sad," Hendrikson said. "The floors were dirty, the shoes were in disarray, and there didn't seem to be any management. I just can't imagine what it would be like to shop under those conditions every day." Hendrikson said she has more sympathy for the plight of the city's poor after witnessing their mall firsthand.

State Appoints Obviously Hungover Attorney

INDIANAPOLIS, IN—The State of Indiana appointed a nauseated Bill Fenniman, Esq., as legal counsel to suspected arsonist Tom Shilue Monday. "I reviewed your case, and I'd advise you that, since this is your first offense, that... ooh, man," said Fenniman, shielding his eyes from the fluorescent lights in the room. "Listen, why don't you just plead guilty? You're guilty, right?" Fenniman asked to be excused before the pretrial hearing so that he could grab some juice and a quick nap.

High U.S. Incarceration Rates

The Justice Department reports that one in every 37 U.S. adults has been in prison, giving our nation the highest incarceration rate in the world. What do you think?

America's Best Zoo Exhibits

A trip to the zoo is fun and education for the entire family. Here's a list of the top-rated animal exhibits around the country:

Hog Executed Farmland Style

GRUNDY CENTER, IA—Police are investigating the vicious farmland slaying of a prize hog whose methodically gutted corpse was discovered Tuesday in the barn of local livestock farmer Lyle Whitman. "It appears the hit was done with a large butcher knife or some similar cutting implement," said Grundy County Deputy Keith Angrim at a press conference Tuesday. "The hog was hung by its feet with its belly sliced open and its head removed. In addition, all the blood had been drained from the animal's body, and its internal organs were missing." Given the meticulous but brutal nature of the killing, Angrim said he believes the hog was "taken out by a professional."
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Living Out Of Your Car Is A Dying Art

In the past 20 years, I've lived in nine different homes and 14 different cities. No, I'm not some fancy millionaire who jets around from place to place. I don't even own a suit for funerals. Rather, I'm one of a dying breed. I live out of my car, and I do it with pride.

Hell, there used to be legions of vehicle-dwellers like me, criss-crossing the country with no one telling us what to do, spending our nights parked next to a row of Dumpsters behind the Kmart. I still encounter people living in their Buicks, but how many of them take the time to do it with dignity anymore?

Used to be, even the young upstarts knew better than to just pull over to the curb and pass out in the driver's seat. If you do that, some cop is bound to see you and feel obligated to check your vital signs. There's a subtle science to picking a good lot to camp out in. People today don't seem to understand that. You have to consider local parking and street-cleaning ordinances, changes in seasonal temperatures, and which direction to face so the sun doesn't come beaming in on you at 6 a.m. But the real truth is that there is no formula. It's an art. When you've been living in your El Dorado for as long as I have, you can just sense which spot is the right one.

Yeah, it was different 10 years ago. Back then, vehicle-dwellers had finesse. Sure, fights would break out over a bag of hotdog buns, but we never shot or stabbed one another. We fought with our fists, and when the fists stopped flying, we watched each other's backs. Common decency—we let each other know what time a local grocery store threw out its expired milk. Now, all I see is loners who can't be bothered to share a tip about a gas station with a wheelchair-bound attendant, a busted security camera, and a pallet of motor oil waiting to be harvested. They don't give a care who you are or why you're on the road. They're a mean bunch, these new ones.

I've been in some of the cars they "live" in. I couldn't believe what I saw. One guy put his cigarette butts in the same coffee can he peed in. Have you ever smelled a cigarette that was put out in pee? That'll rank up your upholstery faster than anything. And what happens if you bring a Waffle House waitress back to that smell? She ain't staying the night, that's for sure.

I met a guy last week who didn't even have any napkins in his glove box. You can't live out of your car if you don't have the proper tools. Your glove box should contain all your vital small objects—napkins, Q-tips, disinfectant, plastic shopping bags, pens, a flashlight, your bottle, a jackknife, keys to your ex-girlfriend's son's apartment in Paducah, a few bottle openers, and your court papers. Once you've assembled the things you need, you have to take care of them. You can't leave your bolt-cutter in the trunk where it'll get rusty. It goes on the back seat, wrapped in a garbage bag.

The lack of napkins was the least of this guy's problems, though. His car was filled with garbage, and not just on the floor of the passenger's side, where it belongs. When I told him that he needed to clean, he kicked the junk out the door, right onto the ground. When I'm at a rest stop, I have enough class to toss my trash under a bush, where no one has to see it.

Yeah, the old breed is dying. The new guys don't know how to look at an object and see the potential within. They don't even know how to use their clothes. Your duds deserve better than to be balled up and jammed in a plastic bag in the trunk. They're your mattress, your pillows, your blankets, your emergency coffee filters, and your towels. You gotta spread them around and have them ready for when you need them. Try telling that to these kids, and they'll just laugh at you.

Time was, we travelers took pride in our rides. Most people hang a sexy air freshener on the rear-view mirror and call that decorating. Man, this is your home. What's wrong with making a little effort to give the place some character? For instance, my radio busted, so I got a battery-operated one and taped it to my dash. Then, I took this picture of my kids—they're with their mom now, but I still get across town to see them a couple times a year—and hung it from the lighter knob with a rubber band. What happened to paying attention to detail?

You can't forget about curtains, either. Who wants someone peering in while you're trying to take a piss or get off? It doesn't take but an old flag, a couple T-shirts, and some tape. A lot of these new guys don't care who's looking at them when they're taking care of business. That's just not right. It's guys like them who give guys like me a black eye.

Worst of all, these new guys are full of tall tales, always talking about how they're gonna move into an apartment any day. Used to be, everyone knew enough to keep things real. We kept our chins up and our hopes down. We'd drive from truck-stop to rest-stop chasing a meal or some hitchhiker. But at the end of the day, when we turned off the ignition and cracked the window just enough for air—but not so much that a hand could fit through—we knew who we were.

Guess I'd better move over to the right lane, because it looks like my kind is driving into the sunset.

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