Sunday, October 23, 2005


I have a favor to ask: If you find this offensive, can ya send off a note to and say so?

This is a 1/4-page "feature" in local small rag. This guy is one of our local "panhandlers." "Help out the Homeless" he calls, as he walks by, followed by a crisis du jour: he burned his finger, it's his birthday, he hasn't eaten in 3 days. He annoys us, but we admit he's imaginative, and wonder which of his tales profit the most. Sometimes we give, sometimes we do not.

Tongue-in-cheek humor and satire have their places. I cackle at Jeff Foxworthy's Rednecks and Carlos Mencia's Beaner-humor poking fun at generalized aspects of human nature. However, I find nothing funny about this "trading card." Highlighting one human being, printing his name, and making fun of his homeless/mental/financial situation...ugh. They surely had permission to take this photo, and maybe they gave him a few bucks in exchange. Does that matter? Not to me; I'd rather have given him the $5 to walk away from this tasteless trading card deal.

We worry that Margaret, our "Two-Dollar Lady" (Hey, luv, do you have two dollars?) is next up. It's enough she has to ask in the first place, gets yelled at and shoo'd off, and shuffles back to try again. I'm sickened at the prospect of her being on Card #2.


THIS is a photograph by David Hagen, of Cleveland OH. He took this photo of a homeless Twila Felder, a few years ago, for an exhibit he called "Face to Face" a project to raise awareness of the homeless situation in his city.

"I wanted to photograph the homeless population in a way that might make them look like you, your father, mother, brother, sister, friend or neighbor," Hagen said. (

Here's an excerpt from that article:

"Look at all that joy just busting out of me," Felder said as she proudly showed off the picture next to a more serious one.

They were taken two years ago, just before Felder says she sought help for crack and alcohol addiction that caused her to lose her home.

"When I saw both of these pictures, I knew what I had to do. I had to go through the storm to reach sunshine," the 38-year-old Felder said.

"My whole life has changed. Just seeing the two different mes helped me."

Enough said.


  1. For the record, folks: This just in from the owner of The Booze News.

    You decide.


    Although the Bum Trading Cards may seem despicable to you, we not only bought the homeless people sandwhiches but also provided them with money.

    We think the trading cards will give them more recognition and more people will give them change.


    Atish Doshi
    The Booze News

  2. Anonymous4:45 PM

    "Highlighting one human being, printing his name, and making fun of his homeless/mental/financial situation...ugh."
    Different from the treatment "Lisa" gave to CJ?
    You also failed to mention what was printed on the reverse of Mr. Turners card. Listed under interesting facts we find "voted most likely to succeed in high school" as well as "had a high school scholarship to play football for U of I". You find the cards offensive but I think these kids, I'm assuming kids as it is a college paper, are trying to elevate the homeless out of invisibility. Reading that Mr. Turner at one time apparently had a great deal going for him made me stop and think. I believe that is the intent behind these cards, to make people stop and think how close we all are to slipping into what most of us would consider a " could never happen to me situation".
    That's my take on things, I could easily be wrong.
    I do applaud your pursuing something you felt was objectionable by writing to The Booze News.

  3. Anonymous5:30 PM

    Touche; Lisa made fun of CJ, so she has no right to respond to "bums" on the street.

    Guilty as charged; I made fun of CJ in a public forum. I vented, and I hit below the belt, for the sake of humor.

    There's so much I haven't said, Anon, and now I'm between a rock and a hard place. CJ is an obnoxious bore; I had to duck an embrace from him yesterday while I was working in my yard, and though I don't have to announce that, hell will freeze over before I start waxing about what a sweet guy he really is, and what an ass I've been.

    The BoozeNews may be a campus rag, but it's distributed and sponsored by a Lot of off-campus businesses, and we late 20s, 30s, 40s, and 50-year olds are reading it in our coffee shops.

    I'm not sure I'm buying their claim that the were performing a public service.

    I'll give you that I missed the copy on the back of the card. I'll go back and check it, and respond more later...but I doubt there's going to be anything there that is going make me find it acceptable to make a damned trading card with "BUM" marked across the top of it.

  4. Anonymous

    There is a lot of difference insulting a homeless person and you....

    Well there is a lot difference in posting a article in the newspaper and posting on a blog ..

    Grow up .. and be more wiser ..


  5. Oops. That second anonymous comment was from me, obviously.

    I am home now, and have been able to review the rest of the paper; I *had* looked for more on this trading card, but overlooked it; there's a logo with a martini graphic at the top, and I thought it was a continuation of the ad above it.

    Name, age, hometown, favorite place to eat, favorite place to sleep. Bum stats to go with the bum trading card?

    I feel better: ZERO.

    Why stop with "bums?" Choose any other derogatory term for any other lifestyle, disease, handicap, or race, and make trading cards for everyone!

    I stand by my initial reaction: They need to stop printing these cards.

  6. I have to question the sincerity of the owner's comments. If the intent was to give these people recognition in hopes of generating more financial support from the general public, why a bold title of "BUM"? Wouldn't "PLEASE HELP" be more appropriate.

    Similarly, if, as has been suggested in a previous comment, the intent was to provoke thought then perhaps a heading of "COULD THIS BE YOU SOMEDAY?" would be fitting.

    Unfortunately, I think the only motive is shock value (thanks LJR). I have read the booze news in the past and found it mildly entertaining, though not enough to go out of my way to find it. I guess I am glad to know I am not missing anything.

  7. If the intent was to bring more recognition and money, why is there the tag line on the front of the card that says "Gotta Catch Em All!!"?

  8. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  9. Princess, I totatlly agree with you. And, you may already know this, but the "Gotta Catch Em All" phrase is from the Pokemon trading cards and I think this use of it is despicable. They are objectifying these people. They are REAL people - not cartoons. And the double meaning of the phrase is sickening to me.

  10. Uh. Moral dilemma. I have no morals. Therefore: don't care.
    That said I give pretty regularly.
    If they look like they need it and I have some spare change why not?
    Since Mayor "lock 'em all up" Guiliani left there are pan handlers on every corner of NYC again. I hated him for locking them all up but it sure was nice not being hassled by stinky junkies all the time. For an interesting perspective on this check out

    There's a lot more to say about this but I don't have time right now.

  11. Not to make light of this situation, but I once guiltily slunk by a handicapped panhandler to go into a Chicago donut shop. Just as I entered the doorway, he "dropped" all of his change all over the sidewalk.

    I was so taken aback that I froze in the doorway, trying to decide if I should start crawling around and helping him pick his change up.

    I hadn't noticed that I was standing in a REVOLVING door. The next panel swung 'round and smacked me good, knocking me off balance, sweeping me into the shop. I ended up on my ass in the donut shop, with my toe split wide open.

    The moral of the story: Give if you've got it, or you might end up on your ass.

  12. Nice. Beware the revolving door...BEWARE!!!!!!!!!!!


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