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Yes, I've been away. If you need to know why beyond the weather, you can get it here. That said, I won't be fully back and at Amazing Strangers until Spring. But for the time being...

Today's FEATURED VIDEO is the long-awaited 2013 Year In Review! Everything you could possibly want to know about 2013 crammed into 44 minutes.

I saw one commenter asked about something Shaggy and I flippantly mentioned at the end about Noah, the Original Shadow and Asian Shadows. Here it is – Noah is a homeless traveler who used to hang out with us a lot before 2005 or so. He lived with me for a few months, and even co-hosted the NoBS Radio podcast. During that time he was part of the site. A lot.


Here's a story of him at his short-lived squat in the E. Village (left sidebar), and a video of him helping in a prank we'd planned. He loved the site and would help out on different parts of it whenever he could. Then one day he packed up and moved south somewhere without any notice because that's what homeless travelers do.

Anyhow, the guy who was sitting across from us at the table there in the video used to follow Noah around everywhere he went. He didn't speak or take part in conversation, or even respond to questions (Shadow's appearance on AS). Noah didn't give a shit. He just let him hang out. Then one time Shaggy and I asked, "Who's he?" to which Noah replied, "I've no idea. My shadow." Thus the term was coined.

Since then the title's found itself attached to numerous Asian girls who seem to hang around us without talking. Not saying hello or goodbye. They often don't even respond to questions you ask them with anything more than an bewildered laugh. Just sitting there next to us make-believing this is how friends happen. We call them Shadows. Does that explain any of it?

Noah with Mosaic Man's dog, Jesse

Shaggy's Starbucks Friends

Video by Normal Bob

Jesus Christ this winter has been brutal. Snow and cold, isolation and very little sunlight. If you're not up for the abrupt change of atmosphere when it hits NYC you will be consumed by it.

Shaggy keeps his head above water by surrounding himself with all his special Starbucks friends! Hoops & John are just two of them, and they've got stories. Let's listen!


Photos by Normal Bob

Something I really miss, a thing even New York City can't seem to serve up, are punk rockers. The closest you can get here is crusties. Stinky, drug-addicted, homeless crusty punks with whatever variation of style they might have completely hidden by crust.

Don't get me wrong. Part of my heart will always be reserved for crusties, but to me there's a vast difference between them and punks, and to me it's just a goddamn shame punk style has been all but lost here. Which is why when I saw these two my eyes widened.

Listen, this is not authentic shaved heads and punk style, I know. There's some emo there, and no denying crusty influence, but compared to everybody else, this stands out! So I approached them with a Union Sq. postcard and asked for a picture. The first question they asked me was, "Is Matthew Silver on this?" And my heart sank.

I'm telling you, the Village Idiot is the one thing this "let's-fuck-shit-up" generation adores, even emulates! The New Williamsburg LOVES him! He performs regularly in Bushwick on the street and in bars. And, I'm warning you, if you're not careful he's all you're going to have to show for this moment in time as the art movement you were all part of.

You can deny it all you want, but almost every time I talk to girls with any kind of style here in the city, the Village Idiot's name comes up, and it's never rage. I don't understand it. Not one bit.

Signs' Starbucks Shocker

Video by Normal Bob

Prepare yourselves. Some shocking news about Shaggy's dad was revealed this evening at Starbucks. We were both caught off guard by the revelation, but it explains a lot.

Judge for yourselves.


Photo by Normal Bob

I need to be turning my camera on sooner. I would have loved to have brought you the conversation Shaggy and I had with me asking him what he thought of those dreads over there. Shaggy couldn't see what I was pointing at exclaiming, "What dreads? I don't see anyone with dreads?!?"

Video by Normal Bob

I had to direct he eye to the 3 people talking, and even then I had to describe the guy's hat and coat. It wasn't until I full-on said "Look below his jacket dangling from his ass!" that Shaggy's brain exploded with revulsion. Only then did I turn my camera on for comment.

You can't always film everything. It's the mantra I remind myself regularly.

Earth Angel

Video by Shaggy

By now most New Yorkers know that Earth Angel is a pedo. He rants about little girls being Earth Angels and how one day they'll win a ton of money and be rich beyond their wildest dreams!

He used to say "All girls 18 and lower are Earth Angels!" But recently he raised it to 21 and below.

He's been filmed by Joey Boots trying to call the little kids in the Washington Square fountain to come to him, and he's been around since 2004 (Pg 32, 2008 is when he made his first appearance on AS, as far as my records show.

Shaggy used to despise him, but now he loves him, and the video clearly shows.

Lo Sings

Video by Normal Bob

Shaggy & I have this buddy Frank who's a traveler kid. He's actually referred to as "upper-crust" by the crusties because he doesn't have a dope habit and is generally clean (not stinky). This is Frank playing with Morgan's dog.

Anyhow, Frank lives more like a homeless woodsman than a crusty. He even has a place he build in the forests of Northern California where he spends most his time.

Frank always has these adorable hippy-traveler girls with him. And this is Lo, and she gonna play a song from the movie Jungle Book on her banjolele.

The guy strutting around in the video spent most of 2013 strutting around just like that around the park. That's all the explanation I've got on him as of yet.

Preachy Preacher

Video by Normal Bob

I have to admit I'm not entirely clear how much of this crazy-street-preacher-ranting anyone still finds entertaining any more. I mean, videos of it are everywhere, and they go on and on and on repeating the same stuff until they're blue. But there's still a side of me fascinated by what full grown, "civilized" adult men are capable of believing, and the number of other full grown men they can find who'll join in the madness.

There's less and less of them to be seen at Union as the years go on. So much so that they've been removed altogether from the map! This seemed like reason enough to give them another 15 minutes and see who, if anyone, cares.

My favorte quote from the video:
Me: "I see hope."
Him: "Because you don't understand Christ."


Photos by Normal Bob

This is our old friend Chewy, 2013, aka Tarzan. He's recently found himself thrust into the limelight via Humans of New York. In short, he told the story of how he's made $100 a pop wrestling for a secret Russian Junky fight club located somewhere in South Brooklyn, and the story sprouted wings.

I've been looking around for him since the news hit, but just like all junkies they're always there hounding you and not going away right up until they get famous. Then they're nowhere to be found.


So I thought it'd be fun to do a little "now and then" photo from several years back.
Roman's Lap-sitting Idea

Video by Normal Bob

Have I mentioned that Roman emails me once a week or so with updates on what's been going on in his life, or on a good day any big publicity he's received? And quite often he does actually get "big" publicity! Believe it or not Roman actually made it to Saturday Night Live last week, and he has the clip to prove it.

Somehow, in the great scheme of things Roman's dedication to his craft, from a certain point of view has indeed been paying off, and I know him well enough that it keeps him warm in winter.

You should make visiting these strangers one of your priorities if you are flying or traveling to NY. Business class airfare is cheaper than ever online. Flying business class is quite a step up from coach. You'll be able to relax and enjoy your flight.

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Insults written strangely are describing strangers I have to see every single day and I don't want them to be sure what it means either.

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