A gutter punk or "oogle" is a homeless or transient individual who displays a variety of specific physical traits and characteristics that often, but not always, are associated with the punk subculture. Attributes may include unkempt dreadlocks, nose rings, mohawk hairstyles and tattooed faces. Gutter punks are sometimes referred to as "oogles," traveler kids, and hobos. Some self-identified gutter punks may distinguish themselves from "crusties" and vice versa.
The "most important" aspect of gutter punks is that "they ride freight trains" as transients, but they may also travel by hitchhiking. The number of gutter punks that travel to various U.S. cities numbers is in the thousands, and they often congregate in major U.S. cities. Some may squat in abandoned buildings, such as C-Squat.
When traveling, gutter punks run the risk of being trapped inside box cars, often with dangerous cargo. Four gutter punks died when a box car with I-beams in it suddenly stopped, and the cargo shifted. Gutter punks often tag the cars they ride in to let others know where they have been and where they are going. Common tags include dates and initials with NBD or EBD for northbound or eastbound, or an arrow with dual lines representing train tracks across it.
Gutter punks are often voluntarily unemployed and may acquire income by panhandling, sometimes holding signs requesting spare change. Harvesting food is a popular way for gutter punks to earn money, such as collecting blueberries in Maine or sugar beets in Minnesota. Gutter punks may also work odd jobs or other temporary work.
Popular food includes non-perishable items such as Spam, beans, ramen, and Chef Boyardee. Gutter punks may also collect food stamps. One gutter punk who traveled with a Bunsen burner and frying pan used his food stamps to "cook steaks and drink wine under a bridge all day" and "act fancy" with his friends.
Drugs and alcohol
Some gutter punks may have problems with drugs and alcohol, including drug addiction and alcoholism, and some may be addicted to hard drugs such as heroin and crack cocaine. One panhandling gutter punk said that he planned to use the $20 he earned on a concert ticket, "if he doesn't spend it on beer first."
Cities of congregation
Cities where gutter punks may congregate include the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, California, Berkeley, California, Portland, Oregon, East Village, Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn in New York City, and the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, among others.
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