Gutter punk

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A group of gutter punks in New Orleans, Louisiana, in May 2002.

A gutter punk is a homeless or transient individual who displays a variety of specific lifestyle traits and characteristics that often, but not always, are associated with the punk subculture.[1] Attributes may include unkempt dreadlocks, nose rings, Mohawk hairstyles, and tattooed faces.[2] Gutter punks are sometimes referred to as "crusties", "crusty punks", or "crust punks"; "traveling" or "traveler kids", "traveling" or "traveler punks", or simply "travelers"; and "punk hobos", "hobo-punks", or "hobos", among other terms. Some self-identified gutter punks may distinguish themselves from "crusties" or "travellers", and vice versa; however, there is considerable overlap between the groups, and the terms are often used interchangeably.[3][4][5][6]


In addition to the term "gutter punk", members of the gutter punk subculture may also be described as "crusties", "crusty punks", "crust kids", or "crust punks",[4][7][8][9] though certain members of the gutter punk subculture, and crusty or crust punk subculture, may not consider the terms synonymous. "Crust punk" also refers specifically to a related subgenre of punk rock.

Other terms used to describe gutter punks include "travelers",[8][9][10][11] anarcho-punks[7] (however, this term may also be used to describe any punk in general who identifies with anarchism, while some gutter punks may in fact not be ideologically or politically subscribed to anarchist philosophy); "traveling" or "traveler punks";[9][11][12] "traveling kids", "traveler kids", or "travel kids";[4][9][13][14] "punk hobos", "hobo-punks" / "hobo punks", or simply "modern-day hobos";[7][15] "transient punks",[11] "punk nomads",[16] "road kids",[10] "gutter pirates",[15] "street punks,"[8] "dirty kids",[13][17][18] "train hoppers" or "railriders" (in reference to the common gutter punk practice of freighthopping);[6][7][9][16][18] and "oogles".[4][9] Certain terms used to describe the subculture may not be used by gutter punks themselves, or may in fact refer to related or similar but somewhat different subcultures. "Oogle", while sometimes used to describe gutter punks in general, is often used by gutter punks themselves to describe members of the subculture whom they perceive as "poseurs" or inauthentic.[4][14]

"Scumfuck" or "Scum fuck" may be used, especially among gutter punks, to refer to certain members of the subculture who are perceived as selfish, apathetic, violent, aggressive, overly nihilistic, or overly hedonistic. Scumfucks are often labeled as heavy alcohol and drug users with overtly macho tendencies, and they are generally more apolitical than other members of the gutter punk subculture. The notorious punk musician GG Allin was known to use the term to describe himself.[7][16][19]

Travel and tagging[edit]

Gutter punks are generally homeless and transient. Many travel by alternative means of transportation such as illegally riding freight trains ("freighthopping") or hitchhiking.[1][10] The number of gutter punks who travel to various U.S. cities is in the thousands, and they often congregate in major U.S. cities.[10] Some may squat in abandoned buildings.[10]

Three gutter punks died when a box car with I-beams in it suddenly stopped, and the cargo shifted.[20]


Gutter punks are often voluntarily unemployed and may acquire income by panhandling, sometimes holding signs (known as "flying a sign") requesting spare change.[4][10]

Cities of congregation[edit]

Cities where gutter punks may congregate include Halifax, Nova Scotia, Ann Arbor, Michigan, Winnipeg, Manitoba; Knoxville, Tennessee;Asheville, North Carolina; Richmond, Virginia ;Berkeley, the Haight-Ashbury district in San Francisco, and the Ocean Beach area of San Diego, California; Seattle, Washington; Portland, Oregon; Surbiton, Greater London; New Orleans, Louisiana; Lubbock, Texas; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania; the East Village, Manhattan and Williamsburg, Brooklyn in New York City and Chicago, Illinois, among others.[2][3][21][22]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Goetz, Peter (November 21, 2000). "Ex Gutter Punk' Tells All". The Daily Californian. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Glionna, John M. (May 29, 2007). "There's not a lot of love in the Haight". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on June 23, 2009. Retrieved April 15, 2012.
  3. ^ a b Chapman, Ben; Hays, Elizabeth (July 14, 2009). "Punks invade Williamsburg as heroin-addicted hobos set up shop in trendy Brooklyn neighborhood". New York Daily News. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Bentley, Jules (September 2012). "Everyone Hates the Oogles: Exploring the Animosity Towards New Orleans' Panhandling Punks". Antigravity. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  5. ^ Anderson, Lincoln (April 4, 2013). "Travelers trash C.B. 3 member's 'crusty proposal'". The Villager Newspaper. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  6. ^ a b Hauser, Alisa (May 17, 2016). "Please Don't Feed The Gutter Punks, Alderman Says As 'Travelers' Return". DNA Info Chicago. Archived from the original on July 13, 2017. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  7. ^ a b c d e Barned-Smith, St. John. "Crust Gets in Your Eyes". Philadelphia Weekly.
  8. ^ a b c Leblanc, Lauraine (1999). Pretty in Punk: Girls' Gender Resistance in a Boys' Subculture. Rutgers University Press.
  9. ^ a b c d e f Lamb, Gordon. "Welcome to Oogleville". Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  10. ^ a b c d e f Hauser, Alisa (May 21, 2013). "Traveling 'Gutter Punk' Homeless Back in City". DNA Info Chicago. Archived from the original on May 6, 2014. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  11. ^ a b c Ross Heffernan, Thomas (2011). "Documenting the Oral Narratives of Transient Punks". Cornerstone: A Collection of Scholarly and Creative Works for Minnesota State University, Mankato.
  12. ^ Marlow, Chad (March 28, 2013). "A crusty proposal: Crack down on 'voluntary homeless'". The Villager Newspaper. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  13. ^ a b O'Hanlon, Ryan (September 18, 2014). "Homeless on Purpose". Pacific Standard Magazine. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  14. ^ a b Sendejas Jr., Jesse. "Top 10 Bands for Oogles, Gutterpunks and "Travel Kids"". Houston Press. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  15. ^ a b Wallace, Daniel (October 5–11, 2005). "Hobo punks said to have wandered from their roots". The Villager Newspaper. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  16. ^ a b c Hampton, Justin. "Punk Nomads". Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  17. ^ Luciew, John (September 29, 2015). "Central Pa.'s 'Dirty Kids'". PennLive. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  18. ^ a b Gaynor, Tim. "New-school riders follow in tracks of the American hobo". Aljazeera America (August 24, 2014). Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  19. ^ Avery-Natale, Edward Anthony (2016). Ethics, Politics, and Anarcho-Punk Identifications: Punk and Anarchy in Philadelphia. Lexington Books. Retrieved July 13, 2017.
  20. ^ Seiger, Theresa (March 22, 2013). "CSX rail yard victims were 25-, 23- and 19-year-old travelers, Mobile police confirm". Retrieved April 23, 2017.
  21. ^ Morris, Alex (June 23, 2008). "Punk Like Them". New York. Retrieved May 5, 2014.
  22. ^ "Are Gutter Punk Youth Satisfied with Homeless Services in Berkeley, California?" California State University. 128 pages.

Further reading[edit]