Guest Book Entries
slUg Wednesday, 4/6/05, 1:32 PM
I was very happy to see this book and a lot of the people in it. I remember
Gray Wolf, Rafa and Rachel telling me about being in a book a couple
of years ago in one of my visits back to my old home (LES). I myself
was a squatter punk there since the mid 1980's, but while "vacationing"
in Ryker's Island for dealing I decided to do a "career change"
and moved to CT when I got maxed out in 1998. In CT I attended community
college for a year and surprisingly did good enough to get a full scholarship
to Albertus Magnus College were I received a BA in psychology. I now
work in an agency that gives supportive housing for the homeless here
in New Haven. I also sing in the punk band C-95 (titled after the house
I resided in Ryker's) and am completing my second BA degree in philosophy.
Next year I will be moving to Pennsylvania to attend graduate school
at Widener University and pursue a career in clinical sexology. I spoke
with Rafa via email a couple of months ago; she's doing great working
and living in Florida. Hatred RIP. I still frequent NYC, mostly for
shows. Actually we played at CBGB's a few weeks ago. I would like to
thank the writer, publishers and everyone involved with this book, as
someone who lived on the streets of LES I find it to be a beautiful
gesture.. Cheers, slug
From: NYC, now New Haven, CT
Jon Jackson Tuesday, 3/8/05, 8:43 AM
I attend a seminary in Suffern, New York. I just want to encourage Alvin
(artist) to continue working his art. I am deeply touched of the lives
of the people in this book. People are quick to judge. This book can
help people to remember that we all have feelings and our pasts are
just one aspect that defines us. I pray that God watch over those that
are homeless. I pray that they know God's love for them and how they
really are important. Blessings.
From: Akron, Ohio
Steve Espinola Tuesday, 11/30/04, 4:41 PM
Dear Jim, I was on jury selection duty today and I brought your book
in the hopes that my reading it would make lawyers edgy and less likely
to pick me. (I couldn't have afforded a long trial because my work won't
pick up the tab.) Anyway, I ended up re-reading it all day. So great!
I'm haunted by the stories, which have something very hopeful to them
in spite of the bleakness. A really beautiful book. I want to buy 3
copies for Xmas presents. You around? Steve
dominic Monday, 11/22/04, 7:59 AM
Wonderful book, i think more people need to know that the homeless aren't
just lazy bums who'd rather drink all day than work. i am a part of
a non-profit organization in albany ny that provides PERMANENT housing
for the homeless,as well as daily street outreach for those still living
outside. if you would like to find out more, get involved, make a donation,
or find out how YOU can bring this type of service to YOUR area, email
me and I can answer any questions, or if not direct you to someone who
can. anyway, great book that needs wide distribution and follow ups,
both fiction and otherwise peace
From: albany ny
Larissa Friday, 11/12/04, 11:28 AM
I just wanted to say that this book is a gift to New York City, and
should be read by every person in this massive collective we call a
city, because no one can really understand the place they live in until
they take into account all of its citizens. this is a beautiful collection
of touching stories that I don't believe could have been done better.
I am jealous of you for your beautiful connection to some of the most
real people in this metropolis. If nothing else, it has certainly made
me smile brighter at everyone I see, especially the homeless, because
if kindness is all I can give, this book has certainly motivated me
to give it.
Brian Petersen Wednesday, 9/29/04, 11:25 PM
Jim, Someone once told me that, "questions are more important than
answers." You showed that to me. I appreciate how you listened
and asked questions to the homeless.
From: Long Island
Web Site: none
Katie Thursday, 7/29/04, 11:36 PM
Jim, I bought a copy of "Stranger to the System" from you
on Haight last Sunday. I read it in one night. I was so glad to see
all the thoughtful updates on your website and I'm really excited about
your project in San Francisco! I wish I could help with the project
in some way, but I'll say hi next time I'm in the neighborhood.
From: currently Davis, CA
Bryan Snyder Monday, 7/26/04, 3:17 PM
I picked up this book for a $5 donation in Berkeley, CA. I started reading
and soon was unable to put it down. It seemed to connect with so many
parts of my and my friend's lives. I think Bolt was fucked up and feel
sorry for Stephanie!!!
From: Carlsbad, CA
WES Saturday, 7/24/04, 12:21 PM
Hi Jim. i hope all is well in your "indevors"? and sorry i
was such a junkie and when i get rich and famous i'll buy you drinks
... for like a week straight. PEACE Wes
Kerry Hecht Thursday, 6/3/04, 10:05 AM
I bought this book at St. Marks bookstore and am finding it really powerful
and thought provoking. I find myself attached to each of the people
in here. Really good work and thanks for doing it. Kerry
Dixon Berry Tuesday, 1/13/04, 11:52 AM
I am really enjoying Jim Flynn's "Stranger to the System."
These stories have changed me, and the effect is like a ripple among
the people I know. We reference these stories frequently in conversations
about our own directions. Thanks. I bought this book from a tall kid
selling a stack of them at the street fair. Ten bucks. A good buy.
Marly Cardona Wednesday, 1/7/04, 1:40 PM
Hey I havn't read the book only because i havn't found a copy. i am
very intrested so please e-mail me back ps- I am a student at Humanities
hs. where i think you teach-- write back please
From: New York
Web Site: Marly
Jean Thursday, 12/11/03, 4:01 PM
Jim, Really nice article in the Villager. You should be proud of the
work you've done so far with these people. We're proud of you. Jean
and Don P.
Billy Wednesday, 12/10/03, 2:07 PM
I am the guy who bought your book on the Bus that day. I wanna say you
wrote a decent book and I'm glad I spent the fiver on it. Good Luck
Dan Wednesday, 11/19/03, 5:22 AM
Like the man before I purchased 'Stranger to the System' when I was
very drunk from Jim outside the Sidewalk Cafe. It was my last night
in New York City and the flashing red light atop Jim's sign just dragged
me in! If it wasn't for New York's smoking policy I would have missed
out on a truly wonderful piece of work. Real life is always better than
fiction and the stories of these very real people sure did make an impresssion.
While the tales were fascinating, we have to allow for that old foe,
exaggeration. I, like most of you I would imagine, tend to embellish
my exploits for effect when I've had a few beers. Don't get me wrong,
I'm not trying to devalue the book, just making a point. I'm taking
nothing away from you, Jim. I absolutely loved your book and haven't
put it down since my return to England. Thanks to all you New Yorkers
who helped me have a fantastic holiday in your great city. All the best.
Dan Tester, Brighton. England
From: Brighton, England
Burt Paseos Thursday, 10/30/03, 9:44 AM
I just finished reading Strangers to the System:Life Portraits of a
New York City Homeless Community. I was a little tipsy one night coming
out of the Sidewalk Cafe and was approached to buy this book. I must
say it is one of the best impulse buys I ever made. My eyes were peeled
on this book for two days. This book takes you on an emotional ride
through a culture mostly everyone is aware of but does not put forth
the effort to really understand. This book is heartwrenchingly fascinating.
It puts a name, face and story on an otherwise nameless faceless invisible
population. I've always wanted to ask a homeless person their story,
but never had the balls. Thankfully, Mr. Flynn did it for me. Good Job!
Burt Paseos Thursday, 10/30/03, 9:12 AM
Jan Saturday, 10/25/03, 10:33 AM
Hi, I really enjoyed the sample stories and look forward to reading
your book. We are involved with a Homeless Ministry through our church
in Ohio. At the present time, we pick up folks from a Homeless shelter
to attend sunday school and church on Sunday mornings. We also feed
lunch to those that come to the services and if we have leftovers we
send them back to the shelter. Once a month a group of us prepare a
large meal and feed about 450. We are trying to expand our ministry
to do more. Reading info online about what people are doing for and
with homeless in their communities will be a big help in how we proceed
with our mission. Thank you, Jan
From: Chardon, Ohio
Sandra Thursday, 10/16/03, 9:13 AM
Jim, you have done a phenomenal job of putting this book together! I
think that many of us have a desire to make a little bit of a difference
in the world, but we just don't know how to go about it. Bravo to you
for finding a way to make a difference and succeeding! This book conveys
the important message that we are all humans and should be treated likewise.
I believe that everyone knows this on the most basic level, but we all
need a reminder every now and then. This book is more than a reminder,
it is like a hit over the head with a brick wake-up call. Awareness
is the first step, the rest will follow. Thanks for allowing that first
step to happen. All your endless hours of hard work has paid off!! Congratulations.
Ra Ra Tuesday, 9/30/03, 2:29 PM
This is the best book on the homless I've read in a while. Qualitative
vs. Quantitative. Quantitative is for the birds. Jim. You've done a
nice job. I enjoyed the places and lives the book brought me through...
Linda Kaplan Tuesday, 9/23/03, 4:13 PM
I could not put this book down and read it in 2 days while my poor boyfriend
tried to read it in between the times I wasn't reading it. We both were
mesmerized by the stories, photos and drawings which gave a face to
those who live on the fringe of society and who often become invisible.
Thank you for such a wonderful act of humanity. Hometown Boy Has Certainly
Done Good !!! Congratulations ~
From: Albany, NY
Denis Giron (AKA Abu Khamr, AKA Abdul-Khinzeer) Tuesday, 9/23/03, 4:07
At the recent San Gennaro feast, a man (I assume Mr. Flynn) selling
copies of "Stranger to the System" stopped by my Zeppole stand.
I shelled out ten bucks to purchase a copy for a female co-worker. Later
on I flipped through her copy of the book, and immensely enjoyed the
pieces on Rino (whom I have known all my life, though I guess many people
from the Lower East Side can say such), and Lawrence LaDouceur (p. 244ff).
It was the piece on Mr. LaDouceur that I was most interrested in. It
is ironic that Mr. Flynn describes LaDoucer as "the resident prophet
of Tompkin's Square Park" (and LaDouceur goes on to describe himself
as a prophet), as my friends and I (who, prior to coming across Mr.
Flynn's book, had no idea what LaDouceur's name was) had been calling
him "The Prophet" for quite some time in light of his ad-hoc
Park sermons. Back in the summer of 2002 I threw around the idea of
writing down LaDouceur's musings over usenet: http://groups.google.com/groups?
selm=7d1337a8.0208161234.69dddcb% 40posting.google.com http://groups.google.com/groups?
selm=7d1337a8.0207191033.1880e845% 40posting.google.com I liked the
part about him being hit over the head with a board, and continuing
his sermon, as when I was an undergraduate at Baruch college, a fellow
student wrote a piece on LaDouceur that was mildly similar: in that
(possibly apocryphal) story LaDouceur was preaching and walking around
with his shoes off. People were mocking him, and one kid grabbed his
shoes and starting yelling "I got his shoes!" LaDouceur (as
the story goes) then took off his socks and said "you're going
to need these too my friend." Also, a friend of mine claimed to
have once witnessed LaDouceur yelling at the Hare Krishnas "you
are raping the children!" thus it was funny to find an identical
quote (though in a different context) in the book. Finally, my own most
amazing personal experience with LaDouceur happened in the fall of 2002.
It was a time when I was in a rough stage with my father over certain
disagreements (I mention this for the sake of context). A friend and
I were walking, not near Tompkin's Square Park, but rather Grammercy
Park (roughly 21st, near third avenue). My friend says "look, it's
The Prophet!" and there was Mr. LaDouceur picking through a garbage
can. We walked up to him, and I said "hey brother, you need any
help?" He looked up and said "I'm not your brother. Your father
is your brother, and you need to listen to him, and work out your differences."
It was an ironic coincidence, and if I had actually started from the
premise that Prophets were real possibilities, I would have fallen on
my face and called him Lord. Anyway, I responded "oh, uh, well,
I saw you picking through the garbage and wanted to ask if you needed
a couple bucks." He immediately followed with another amazing statement:
"The Holy One, blessed be His Name, has provided me with everything
I need right here in this garbage can - but if you're gonna put some
green in my hand, I'm not gonna stop you." Anyway, to make a long
story short, though I don't know LaDouceur, he holds a special place
in my mind (or proverbial "heart"). So I was kinda down that
I had not bought a copy for myself from the man at the Feast, as I figured
I'd never run into the guy who was selling the book again. Then today,
by chance I saw a bunch of copies sitting on the counter of East Village
Books (on St. Marks between 1st and Ave A). I shelled out another twenty
bucks for two more copies - one for me and one for my aforementioned
friend who was with me when I met LaDouceur by Gramercy Park (who is
also the same student who wrote the story about The Prophet and his
socks). When my friend read through the book's section on LaDouceur,
he was amazed and laughed. We ourselves had been throwing around the
idea of making a sh
From: LES, NYC
Web Site: The Freethought Mecca
tattooed tim Thursday, 9/11/03, 6:35 AM
Fantastic book! you stole my idea though. I used to date a girl who
was the nanny for Rafa who you photo'd in the book when she was first
wild in the streets. If you run into her @ERP or Tompkins tell her tattooed
tim says hey and that i hope she's okay.
From: a tiny town in IL
Jace Saturday, 9/6/03, 4:02 PM
jim, just wanted to let you know that your book is amazing... it's good
to see that someone is out there trying to bring the harsh reality of
homelessness to the attention of the public.
From: southern Jersey
Paula Pugliese Tuesday, 8/26/03, 4:31 AM
Jim - am enjoying your book - I like the way you write......your mission
is wonderful. peace
From: East Greenbush, NY
Web Site: n/a
sheena Saturday, 8/2/03, 3:37 PM
i poured through the pages with ease. this is a book about real people
who have taken to the streets. the writer does a great job of taking
in their stories & spilling them out to reader. this is a great
book for your collection of new york stories, and hard knocks. complete
with tales of thievery, heroin, alcoholism, abuse, prostitution, etc.
had you ever wondered why people become homeless, you're sure to find
many reasons here. glad i bought the book, for sure. thanks!
From: native new yorker, currently residing in brooklyn
toby goodshank Friday, 7/25/03, 9:01 AM
Stranger to the System is an incredible book.
From: parts unknown
s blythe Wednesday, 7/23/03, 10:19 PM
a good read !
From: lower east side
Margery Monday, 7/21/03, 7:54 PM
Jim, I bought "Stranger to the System" from you last week
and I'm so glad I did! I can't put it down. It's the best book on Sociology
I've read since Tally's Corner, even better because you mingle more
with the interviewees. I can't stop thinking about all the people. These
past few days, my communication with homless people on the street in
NY has changed from just watching them to talking with them. Thanks.
From: Jersey City
Christina Monday, 7/21/03, 7:46 AM
I bought this book from Jim this past Friday while squatting on a corner
on the LES. I have a rather intimate and colorful history with Central
Park the family that lives there. This idea has crossed my mind so often
and I was very happy to see someone follow through with it. I think
it is a fitting tribute to the lives of people who call grass and pavement
home, and definitely a sharp contrast to the preconceived notions held
by most, that if you live on the street you dont have rational, intelligent
thought in your head. So thank you for spreading stories of fantastic
lives which would otherwise have passed me by... many blessings peaceful
Bob Monday, 6/2/03, 5:55 PM
The articles were very intense and unusual. These folks you have interviewed
have had some pretty harsh lives. I was reading Big News May issue and
saw your stories there along with an article about your book which is
coming out during the early summer. It sounds very interesting and I
will look for when it hits the streets.
From: Averill Park
Holly Sunday, 6/1/03, 7:17 PM
We just checked out your website on Strangers to the System and it looks
very intriguing. We are looking forward to reading the book. Good luck
sharing the stories of these people with the world.
From: Albany, NY