Behind the News

The End is Near … for panhandling in St. Pete

UPDATE (10:55 p.m.): After a marathon council session, the ordinance passes.

Tomorrow, the St. Petersburg City Council is expected to ban all street solicitations from city roads, including panhandlers, newspaper hawkers and charity volunteers carrying boots.

Frankly, I’m upset. Mostly because I had a really cool blog video I was going to do focusing on panhandlers and their really uninspired signs.

If you’re planning on going to the meeting at 6 p.m. and speaking, I’d suggest you read two things:

The first is an article I wrote about panhandling back in 2008 called “When Panhandler’s Attack.” Hopefully, you get my sarcasm.

The second is an e-mail I received from a friend, G.W. Rolle. He is formerly homeless and has an interesting perspective. He doesn’t like panhandling either, but instead of a simplistic solution, he decided to start a street newspaper. Like other street newspapers across North America, he wanted to convince the panhandling homeless to sell these papers instead of begging. This new ordinance could kill those plans.

Read his thoughts after the jump.

The Unemployed Life, Wanderlust

The story behind the Christmas Card

Every year, I send out a Christmas card. But I try and send something a little less like the traditional, boring here’s-my-baby/dog/family-for-your-enjoyment. Last year, I sent out a picture greeting card featuring an ex-marine waterboarding me. A few years before that, I sent out a photo and story about my night inside an inflatable newspaper costume. The year before that, well, let’s just say I have a lifetime ban from that coffeeshop. So, in keeping with my Gonzo tradition, here is the story behind the Christmas card:

So there I was – standing in front of a dozen Pennsylvania police officers in full riot gear, clubs and tear gas ready, with only a press pass to protect me. And even if that press pass was real, reporter credentials didn’t mean anything on the fortified streets of Pittsburgh.

Just minutes earlier, another phalanx of riot cops charged a group of protesters and bystanders a few blocks over. And that was just minutes after police rolled out L-RAD (Long Range Acoustic Device) — a crowd-control device strapped to a military truck that emits a piercing, debilitating tone. This was the first time such a device had been used in the United States.

Yep, the G20 Conference was underway and for the last six weeks, Pittsburgh city officials and the media had scared residents into allowing a small version of a police state right on the banks of the Allegheny River.

Behind the News

I went to a teabagging party and all I got was an anti-Obama sticker

Well, I didn’t personally go. I have a friend in the hospital, which seemed a little more important at the time. But citizen journalists from around the nation did attend today’s teabagging events. And I think they were a little disappointed, too:

Ybor City Stogie has a nice slideshow of the Tampa teabagging party.

Wonkette does a nice re-cap of the D.C. protest with pithy captions.

Did you know that some of the teabaggers still think Barack Obama is not really a U.S. citizen? NO WAY!!! The same blogger also chased by teabaggers in Cleveland. has a particularly chilling video of a tea bag protest planning party featuring a conspiracy theorist convinced that the TV’s conversion from analog to digital is part of Obama’s master plan. Actually George Soros’ master plan. Actually .. nevermind, just watch it.

A Pensacola progressive blogger takes the mic at a teabagging event. You have to watch this.

Texas threatens to secede. Obama, can we let ’em?

I’ll have more after my neck stops twitching.