Do you sometimes feel like you haven't accomplished enough in your life? Like you're not living up to your potential? Well, get ready to feel a little worse.
Here are five guys who, while sleeping on park benches and using newspapers as both blankets and undergarments, managed to make more of themselves than many of us ever will.
#5. The Emperor
Heavy is the head that wears the crown. Unless you're just a madman who pretends to run a good chunk of the world, in which case it's probably not that hard. Such was the scenario of Emperor Joshua Abraham Norton, a homeless fellow who, by all accounts, was both as crazy as a shithouse rat and pretty awesome at the same time.
Formerly a businessman who lost every penny he had and apparently went over the edge as a result, Norton proclaimed himself "His Imperial Majesty Emperor Norton I." He declared that he was the Emperor of the United States and Protector of Mexico back in 1859. He reigned for over 20 years, walking the streets of San Francisco in full military uniform on a daily basis.
He can afford a sword? We can't. What the fuck?
He was known for making proclamations and giving orders on how the country was to be run, such as issuing an order that Congress be dissolved by force, demanding that a League of Nations be formed and that a bridge be built connecting Oakland to San Francisco. Is it a coincidence that two of those things have since happened? Well, yeah probably.
So why are we holding him up as a positive example when there are probably thousands of homeless dudes who think they're the president? Because the city loved him. He made his own currency, and stores honored it. Mark Twain and Robert Louis Stevenson both created characters based on him.
Oh, and when Norton died suddenly in 1880, 30,000 motherfucking people showed up on the following day to attend his funeral.
Oh, come on, who even paid for that tombstone?
#4. The Superhero
Every so often we'll hear an amazing tale of a human so infused with adrenaline that they can lift an entire car off of a loved one. It's heroic and dramatic and probably never actually happens, right?
Well in the land of the hobo this story came true, proving that whether it's from an innate human desire to protect others or it's because huffing glue actually grants Marvel comics-esque super strength, in a pinch a group of raggamuffins can in fact lift an entire Cadillac.
It was back in 2006 when a homeless man named Standford Washburn was sitting in an Nevada alley, drinking with some transient buddies as people of that type tend to do. Suddenly a Cadillac plowed into a 9-year-old girl in front of them, pinning her underneath it.
Washburn and a couple of others flew into action, running to the 5,000 pound car and lifting it off of the girl, saving her life. The men then humbly returned to their Thunderbird, shaming the rest of the pedestrians on the street who had homes, jobs and probably fresh pantloads of shit.
#3. The Politician
If you're over a certain age, you've probably accused a local, state or federal politician of being a "bum" at some point in your long, long, long ass life. It's likely you then loudly cleared your throat, enjoyed a good butterscotch candy, then watched the Weather Channel until bedtime. Well today's your lucky day because it turns out one candidate was, in fact, a genuine bum.
Jesus White, a homeless man from Philadelphia, threw his filthy hat into the ring to run as Mayor of Philadelphia in 2007. First, he managed to get the 2,000 signatures needed to qualify. And sure, he probably harassed people passing on the sidewalk to get them, but how else could you get 2,000 people to sign something saying you should be mayor?
He then somehow put together the money for posters, postcards and t-shirts to support his campaign, by saving every penny from his job as a security guard. Yes, he had a job.
When it came time to cast ballots, nobody expected the upstart vagrant to win. But when they counted up the votes...
Ok, he only got 418. But still, the dude was homeless. And how many votes have you gotten for mayor of Philadelphia? Yeah, that's what we thought.
#2. The Preacher
Every night in Oakland, on a particular street corner, a crowd of homeless people gather. Not because that's where the really good crack dealer is, but because Vincent Pannizzo is about to start preaching.
Now, we're aware that lots of homeless dudes "preach" from the corner, their method usually involving screaming incoherent sermons about Satan's mind control rays. But Pannizzo is different.
Known on the streets as the "Preacherman," Pannizzo turns up on that corner every night, regardless of the weather, and draws a crowd of 50 or so. The homeless, drug dealers, passers-by, all stop to listen to his shockingly lucid and apparently downright inspirational sermons. And inspiring people can't be an easy task to pull off on a dark street corner amidst the sounds of gunshots and the nefarious fapping of hobo masturbation.
Even his hat looks like it's covered in semen, gross.
Unlike the average crazy street preacher, Pannizzo, a former doctoral student, seems to be entirely sane, doesn't yell fire and brimstone, and keeps his pants firmly affixed.
He abandoned his career several years ago and made the conscious decision to live on the streets and not only preach the gospel, but hand out food and whatever money he picks up from doing odd jobs during the day. Then he heads back to the homeless camp where he presumably prays for God to convince local raccoons to not pee on him in his sleep, then gets up and does it all again.
#1. The Author
Now here's one that hits especially close to home for us here at Cracked. How many of you know that aspiring author guy, the one who's always got his laptop at Starbucks, and has been talking about "finishing his novel" for the last five years? Or are you that guy?
Well, you may not want to hear about Bruce Goldwell.
While living on the streets and presumably squatting over sewer grates to relieve himself, Goldwell opted not to rant and yell obscenities at the moon like some of his peers, but instead put pen to paper and produce a fantasy novel. Oh, and he got it published.
The details of how he managed to take that novel and get it to a publisher without anyone turning a hose on him are sketchy, but the end result was better than it is for millions of English majors who have fragments of novels stinking up their hard drives.
After selling his novel, Goldwell did leave his life as a vagrant (which probably makes him a sellout around the homeless scene). But don't get the wrong impression, we're not talking about the hippie writer type who lived in his car for a few months while he was waiting to make it big as an author. Goldwell was a bona fide homeless guy, living on the streets for more than five years.
He sold several more novels afterward and his series is being optioned for a film. He now works with humanitarian agencies that help provide food, water and micro-loans to various global communities in need, as well as offering assistance to other homeless people to find work and make successes out of themselves.
Meanwhile, countless new English majors are just sitting down with their laptops and lattes, getting to work on the moving tale of Zane Hardcastle, a misunderstood loner with a heart of gold and balls of steel who fights global terrorism, and complaining about how it's just impossible to get anything published.
You can find more of Ian's stuff at ScenicAnemia.com.
To find out how to channel your inner hobo, check out 5 Ways to Get Rich (Without a Single Discernible Skill). Or check out some people who are on the verge of being famous vagrants themselves in 6 Famous People Who Pissed Away a Fortune.