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Issue #63

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Features:

Top Ten Hacks of 2004 Election - Matt Taibbi

MEMRI Problems: Was Kerry's Election Bid Lost in Translation?- Chris Riordan

Pick of the Litter: Bottom-Feeding all the Way to the Top

Redwoods Evil, Must Be Destroyed: Bush Wants Some Wood- Kit Smith

Too Cool for School: City Honors Censorship - Al Uthman

Tortures - R - Us - Christopher Lord


Faux-tures:

New Hotel on Baltic Ave: Boon or Burden? - Ian Murphy

10 Tips For Coping with your Dysfunctional Family this Thanksgiving

A Word From Our Sponsors



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten




Entertainment:

Movie Reviews:

Kino Korner

Music Reviews :

Matchbook Romance/Midtown Show - Chris Meister

Goo Goo Dolls DVD - Seamus Gallivan

Elliot Smith CD- Michael Gildea

Odd Couple CD - Ketchup Samurai

BEASTIVITIES

Sports:

Wide Right: Bills could Make Playoffs--in the NFC - Ronnie Roscoe



Comix:

Beast Comix - Ian Murphy

I Witless News - I. Gonzalez

Deep Fried - Jason Yungbluth

Bob the Angry Flower - Stephen Notley





Issue #62

Features:

O Buffalo: Why Move When we can Secede? - Al Uthman

Love or Four Hour Erections: The Choice is Clear - Matt Taibbi

The Falsification and Death Administration: FDA Approval may be Hazardous to your Health - Kit Smith

Meaning of Tripe: Countdown to the Beast's Ten Worst Presidential Election Campaign Hacks of 2004- Matt Taibbi

10 Ultra-Cynical Ways to Beat the Republicans

The Big Rig: This Election was Worse than 2000 - William Rivers Pitt

The Smoldering Fuel Rods of Environmental Justice - Chris Meister


Faux-tures:

The BEAST Interview With God

Who Voted Bush? - A BEAST Quiz

A Word From Our Sponsors



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten




Entertainment:

Movies:

Kino Korner

Sports:

Wide Right: O Captain my Captain - Ronnie Roscoe









Issue #61

Features:

Voting Guide of FEAR

Top 10 Reasons to be TERRIFIED This Halloween - Al Uthman

Onward Christian Assholes: Some Folks Just Can't Wait for the Apocalypse - Matt Taibbi

A Talk With Sam Hoyt - Eric Gauchat

Give 'em Enough Pink Ribbon to Hang Themselves: Breast Cancer? Chemical Firm Supplies Cause & Cure - Kit Smith


Faux-tures:

Our Election Campaign Sponsors

The BEAST Scary Election Fun Page!

Over 60 Million Killed in Huge Fucking Flu Epidemic - Josh Righter



Departments:

Buffalo in Briefs

BEAST-O-Scopes

The Straight Dope w/ Dr Rotten

Page 3

Separated at Birth?

[sic] - Letters




Entertainment:

Movies:

Kino Korner

Music:

Album Reviews: Interpol, Mos Def

Sports:

Wide Right: Going Double-Negative - Ronnie Roscoe







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© 2004 The Beast

PICK OF THE LITTER

Climbing to the ďtop of the heapĒ with an ambitious bottom-feeder

By Pat Ragpicker

It's 4am on a winter night, and I'm parked on a dead end street near Kaisertown. Itís a secluded corner of the city I found by driving around aimlessly. I'm new to town, and penniless after buying my van with $700 I squirreled away the last time I got a paycheck. That was 7 months ago. Over those months, I managed to live off a few hundred bucks while sleeping in a warehouse closet and helping some friends make a TV show to try selling to a network.

Now I'm sleeping in the van. I'm wearing all my clothes, gloves and hat, piled under a sleeping bag and an army surplus parka, plus 3 mildewed, cold-stiff leather jackets and a dog-hair covered blanket that I scavenged off a curb. Without those, the cold would be intolerable. Thereís a snot-sicle on my nose because it's sticking out of the pile. Otherwise, I'm comfortable enough, after lots of shivering and squirming around to cover cold parts, and tensing up at faraway traffic sounds, expecting someone to knock on the window. Trying to rest with no privacy makes you nervous, but after a few days of bad sleep, even a nap can be refreshing.

Iím startled awake by a car door slamming outside. Before I can move, a painful light blasts through the frosty, fogged-up windows and my sleepy eyelids. Two female cops are aiming flashlights in the window and staring at me like I'm a neon-colored turd. Dammit, I should have parked near other cars. I stumble outside feeling groggy and fucked up, and mumble something about getting kicked out.

The girl cops look even younger than me, more like hall monitors than public protectors with badges and guns. They act like immature assholes, too. After a bunch of nasty questions, they canít find anything wrong, so they let me go. As they leave, they mock my tired mumbling as if I were stupid or on drugs. Itís very fucking mean. Itís also counterproductive, like when a mother with seven kids slaps them all because one shit on the rug.

Iím not going to get any more sleep, so I find a Tim Horton's open down the road. I go in for a coffee and check the classifieds for a crappy room for rent. I'll have to pay with the last bit of overdraft protection credit on my empty bank account. I had already gone looking for welfare the day before, but I found out that New York State doesn't provide any immediate rent help, not even once. Itís discouraging. Luckily, after I leave Timmy Ho's, I find a place that takes my check, and move right in.

Being broke and sleeping in a van sounds desperate, but I only got a small sample of what can be a constant screw for people without good education, jobs, insurance, or health. I'm lucky enough to have advantages- college, energy like a caffienated roach, and the ability to make something from nothing. I get material goods without buying them, in ways most people would never consider.

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I started scavenging from dumpsters at college in Canada. I got the idea it might be a good place to look for useful things from a friend at home, a restorationist who sold trash-picked antiques to silly people for hundreds. In class, I met a hippie who helped run his familyís farm with crafty do-it-yourself skills, and he showed me a bunch of TVs that came out of the dumpster. Then I got a tour. I found an electric heater that worked after hooking up a loose wire, perfect for the drafty school studio. After that, the dumpster was a regular stop between classes. When I found hundreds of photography portfolios from 1980, I set them up as a spontaneous exhibit around the school. There were also books, furniture, electronics, and much more. As a teacher explained, sometimes the school dumped good stuff and replaced it, just to keep spending money so they would get the same budget next year.

After I graduated, Bush was in, and there were no jobs left in my field except those that paid in rupees. So I hooked up with my friend and helped get his TV show on cable, on a budget scraped out of the couch. It was pretty cool in that he had supportive parents and a big farm. He wrangled free studio space in an empty office, and the crew moved in, forming a sort of commune. I slept in a concrete furnace room, and a warehouse closet with a few sheets of drywall separating it from the forklifts. Dumpsters provided many useful things to help us keep working for free. I read The Art and Science of Dumpster Diving by John Hoffman, and learned an amazing fact: edible groceries can be found in dumpsters, in amounts that could feed a TV crew.

Alas, the show didn't get picked up. For lack of anywhere better to go, I ended up in Buffalo with a relative. (Let's skip the part about getting kicked out of Canada as an illegal immigrant.) It didn't work very well, so I got the van and left.

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8 months since then, another winter is coming, and Iím newly relocated from the first place I had in a rooming house. Now I have a real apartment. Itís not a mansion, but itís pretty coolóyou donít get panhandled on the way to the kitchen. The place needs some furnishings. It's garbage night, and I'm out cruising curbs on a bike, picking through trash piles with a flashlight, hoping to find something good. Heat is going to cost a lot this winter, so I want window drapes to keep out the cold air. The curbs are generous tonight. Someone threw out 3 sets in good condition in a plastic case. Theyíre Martha Stewart collection. Itís extra nice to recycle the products of deprived sweatshop workers and not support Wal-mart. I hope someone leaves behind 8 more sets to cover the rest of the windows. Itís a big request from the garbage gods, but on trash night it's rare not to find something really useful like that.

The trash has already provided window blinds for my place. There's also couches, chairs, dressers, tables, lamps, rugs, blankets, microwaves, pots & pans, appliances, electronics, TVs, computers, phones, tools, hardware, books, DVDs, and many more things, found in useful shape or even brand new. The fridge is stuffed with bread, produce, and other perishables found unsold, maybe past the sell-by date, but not the use-by date. Thereís plenty of food in sealed boxes, bags, and cans too. The walls are lined with a vanload of modular metal shelving from the dumpster of a store that shut down, and the shelves hold $15,000 worth of goods being sold for self-employment (some found, most bought used to turn around on the internet.)

Hanging by the door is a jacket used for a blanket in the van last winter, which looks nice after a cleaning. Then there's a few pairs of steel-toe boots, recovered from the trash in great shape, except the store slashed them to make sure they were wasted (bastards). They're sewn up and fit great. Boots come in handy for avoiding broken glass in dumpsters. Even my jeans and shirts came from the trashónice ones, too. Me, I like this stuff. It shows how much stupid waste there is in this country, and how the work of recovering it can pay off.

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Scavengers benefit from their finds in different ways. Most often, they save money on things that would otherwise be bought. Itís awful nice to erase your grocery bill. Fact: the book Grocery Revolution says that almost a penny of every dollar in yearly U.S. packaged goods sales is lost on products that canít be sold after handling mistakes. (That might mean a stained label, a dented can, or a bulk unit where one package is broken but the rest arenít.) Thatís a potential $2.5 billion of food in American dumpsters, and it doesnít even account for the hyper-cautious expiration dates they put on everything from day-old bread to bottled water (not because they care, but to increase disposal so they can sell more).

Dumpster groceries might sound gross, but I feel safer eating food thatís factory-sealed by happy robots than restaurant food touched by filthy humans. As a teenage wage slave at Der Burgher Fuhrer, I got minor intestinal plagues from their food almost every week. Years after going on a vegetarian dumpster diet, thatís a thing of the past.

It can be pretty tough to make hard cash from trash, but I did once find a $10 bag of quarters. I hear that a great cash source is ďscrappingĒ- selling junk metal to scrapyards, especially copper. Even cutting cords off old appliances for the copper wire can make lots of money. Ebay is also a lucrative way to sell. My restorationist friend made well over a hundred just from an old wood door from the curb outside an architecturally important house. My biggest legally cash-convertible find was worth nearly $1,000. A net connection, a credit card, lots of storage, and a roomy vehicle are helpful for this type of endeavor.

I often curb cruise on a bike, because itís great for weaving around in dense neighborhoods. Itís free and healthy, too. On trash night, I bike for a few hours using a big army backpack and trash bags, and carry small things home, fanning out from there. Large items are marked by address and picked up by van. I don't find too much wealthy people's trash here, but Buffalo sure is good for the trash of people who moved out.

Legally, scavenging could be a grey area, but garbage is abandoned property, and cops donít need a search warrant to look in there. Shredding documents is the answer to identity theft. Some people might get mad about trespassing, but they can go jump in a compactor, because recycling is the right thing to do.

Property may not be theft, but guarded garbage is. I like how scavenging instead of buying undermines profit for people who waste what other people can use. Sharing excess is good. Itís not for everybody, nor could it last forever, but as long as rampant, unmitigated capitalism shows no signs of abating and poor people get screwed harder and more forcefully, the more scavenging the better. Doesnít everybody like getting something for nothing?

I love the social behavior of scavenging. It can be intense and obsessive. It helps you survive with serendipity and ingenuity, instead of conforming to a pre-planned economic mold. Shopping is for dronesóhumans evolved by hunting and gathering. It sharpens your mind and makes you creative. Many artists do it. In Waste and Want: A Social History of Trash, author Susan Strasser writes about "Bricolage," an age-old skill for cobbling together odds and ends to fit your needs. You might have a rag-bag or a scrap heap, patch clothes, cook from scratch, repair your own house and car, and make your own bike. It helps you learn how things work, instead of how much they cost. Lots of things get thrown out because they just need a minute of work, like wiring on a new plug, or just replacing a fuse.

I used to consider feigning Tourette's syndrome while taking orders at Der Burgher Fuhrer, just to rile people up. Itís a stupid prank, but that kind of attitude can make it fun to trash-pick. People are ashamed to look at you, or they make fun of you. Then you sell and feed them stuff from their own garbage, and they enjoy it in ignorance. An even better revenge is to share with your friends, and exist without working for a boss while other people kiss ass from 9 to 5. Yes, garbage people can be eccentric. They can be crazy. The Manson Family existed on dumpster food. Charlie sang a song that went like this: "Garbage dump, my little garbage dump, I could feed the world with my garbage dump..." On another extreme, Madonna dumpster-dived on her way to being a zillionaire. Itís not just a survival skill; itís an evolutionary advantage. We garbage people are hardy like roaches, and often smarter. When the oil runs out, terrorists drop the bomb, Antarctica melts, and the robots take over, weíre going to outlast everybody.



 

.. This Issue ...........Home............. Contact........Archives

The Top 10 Hacks of the 2004 Election

Matt Taibbi

10 - GEORGE WILL, NEWSWEEK: Will uses big words and pompous literary references to dress up what are basically the brutish and vulgar thinking patterns of a non-union meat-packing plant owner. He is a pig in a lace hat.


MEMRI Problems

Chris Riordan

Stranded from intellect and worthwhile rhetoric in Utica, NY for the last few months, I have made a habit of visiting political discussion boards online for a dose of informed bantering and arguing. I tend to gravitate towards conservative cyber communities because I generally prefer arguing to agreeing.


Pick of the Litter

Pat Ragpicker

It's 4am on a winter night, and I'm parked on a dead end street near Kaisertown. It’s a secluded corner of the city I found by driving around aimlessly. I'm new to town, and penniless after buying my van with $700 I squirreled away the last time I got a paycheck. That was 7 months ago. Over those months, I managed to live off a few hundred bucks while sleeping in a warehouse closet and helping some friends make a TV show to try selling to a network.


Redwoods Evil, Must be Destroyed

Kit Smith

Nature is a bad and inconvenient thing. It must be stopped. That's why so many of us environmental scientists voted for Bush. He recognizes that endangered species are tasty, that Yellowstone is the most awesome place for snowmobiling in the whole world, and that those horrible California Redwoods are home to Satan himself.


Too Cool for School

Al Uthman

In the decomposing cesspool of Buffalo's public schools, City Honors has long been regarded as something of a gem. In fact, it is widely regarded as the best school the city has to offer, with the brightest kids around.


Tortures-R-Us

Christopher Lord

Iraqis wondering what the next phase of the Republicans' invasion of their country will bring should consider El Aguacate airstrip in Honduras. In 2001, 185 bodies were dug up there: the victims were the 'terrorists' and 'enemies of democracy' of the day.


Buffalo in Briefs

Code Red - Everybody’s freaking out about Giambra’s proposed “red budget,” which would scale spending down to mandated minimums, and basically reduce Buffalo to some anarchic Escape From New York-style war zone within a year or two. People are understandably up in arms about the possible loss of branch libraries, the philharmonic and all arts funding (although we wouldn’t mind saying goodbye to that monumentally depressing animal Abu Ghraib we call a zoo), as well as a staggering reduction in nearly every other service, except high-level patronage jobs, of course.


Kino Korner

Michael Gildea

It’s amazing how pissed some parents will get if they see you drinking Remy Martin in a theater during a kids’ movie. Throw the three PCP-laced joints you smoked in the parking lot while disdainfully watching sports bar patrons with a hooker who promised you an express elevator to hell-of-a-night ahead into the equation, and you’ve got a recipe for ugliness, my friends.


[sic] - Letters

...The latter part of this summer and early fall espessially, I have noticed that your special brand of witty, in-your-face journalism has rubbed off on some other publications (ARE THEY SCARED? or ENVIOUS?) ARTvoice had a couple of weeks ago a cover wich depicted a puppetmaster type "pulling the strings"...Almost thought it was the new BEAST for a moment. ALTpress put out a cover story in their last issue about the finer points of rioting, WHAT!! are they just that desperate that they will use an old idea you guys used months ago? how boringly un-origional. And then finally this newest issue of ARTvoice with giambra depicted in an alice in wonderland spoof cover.....once again, thought it could be the new issue of the BEAST...




O Buffalo

Al Uthman

It's time to face some unpleasant facts, Buffalo. This country may not be the best place for us anymore. On November 2nd, we all bore witness to a terrible turning point in our history; a bad lifestyle choice, if you will. We had the chance to reject the increasing madness of our nation's leadership, their blind march to pointless war and craven desire to take advantage of us in every manner conceivable, and we blew it. America has spoken, and it said "duh."


Love or 4-Hour Erections

Matt Taibbi

...If history is any guide, the DLC will spend the next four years trying to find a pious bomb-thrower to put up as the nominee- unless, of course, the poll numbers in a few years' time show that Barack Obama is good-looking, black and charming enough to get the party over the hump using the same basic playbook that worked so swimmingly this time.


10 Ultra-cynical Ways to Beat the Republicans

Why did the Democrats lose? At least in part, it's because they thought that being right would actually work in their favor. Let's face it, logic doesn't mean squat in politics. People say there's too much cynicism in politics today, but we think there really isn't enough. Cynicism works. The Republican Party has embraced it, and it has worked wonders for them. The Democrats have made some progress in this area, but they are still lagging badly. If there's any hope for the blue states, they must learn the lessons of Machiavelli and Rove. To help them along, the BEAST offers these suggestions.


The Falsification & Death Administration

Kit Smith

The staff at the Food and Drug Administration may not actively hate you and want you to die, but a study of the agency's sordid history suggests that they don't really care if you live either. Lucky for us, drug companies are kind, conscientious, and self-regulating. For example, in late September Merck and Co, makers of Vioxx, agreed to voluntarily recall their famous drug, now that a new study suggests it may put people at increased risk for heart attack. Isn't that nice of them? How thoughtful…. Unless four years doesn't qualify as "new" to you.