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………………….. ….. * ,,pagliffi.Wicir:piN14,PIP ^ E”’ You Can’t Go Homeless Again BY LARS EIGHNER ITHOUGHT IT LIKELY that I would die before the money ran out. That wasn’t my plan, but I am a heavy smoker, at least ten stone overweight, and in my late forties. But it is beginning to look like I will survive my money after all. The money came from Travels with Lizbeth, my book about my experiences as a homeless person with a dog. The book was well received in these pages and by The New York Times Book Review and so forth; it took memuch as I wanted to remain at home once I had oneto London, Copenhagen, New York several times, Baltimore, Sacramento, Dallas, Los Angeles twice, Honolulu, some place on Maui, Tucson, and San Francisco; it put me on “CBS Sunday Morning,” an obscure documentary on PBS, Sky TV, the BBC World Service, and in the pages of People magazine; and it did about as well as a little literary book can do, especially one that fails to win any of the prizes it is nominated for. There has been other money too, of course. I’ve done four books since, despite the traveling I had to do and despite wasting six months on several treatments for an ill-starred movie project, and if I finish the trilogy I am working on now within a month or so, the advance for it may extend my housed condition until sometime in the early spring of 1996. But the prospect of renewed homelessness, sooner or later, is clearly with me. I mention this a propos of an ordinance the Austin City Council has passed on first reading and almost certainly will finally pass sometime before Christmas. It is an ordinance to make camping on city lands unlawful. I don’t know how afraid of this I ought to be. “It is a crime to be poor.” So the homeless people around the University of Texas told me when I spoke to them as their peer. Even without the ordinance, the necessities of homeless life violate existing laws in several ways. Perhaps like existing laws, the new law will be used arbitrarily by the police to remove individuals that particular officers dislike particularly. Or perhaps there actually will be an attempt to jail all of the homelessI cannot think there is enough jail space for this, but who knows. Perhaps jail camps will be instituted. The council has moved against the Lars Eighner’s first novel, Pawn to Queen Four, will be released by St. Martin’s Press this fall. Homeless in Austin homeless many times. The main reason cited for outlawing public drinking in certain areas of the city was to cause the homeless to go elsewhere. No doubt the council has discovered that the homeless can do without drink, but everyone must needs be somewhere. Trespassing on private property is already a crime, so perhaps the council thinks that banning the home ALAN POGUE less from public property will cause the homeless to vanish. Could the council think the homeless will come to believe that Dallas, Houston, and San Antonio are better places to be homeless? It is a myth that the homeless are transients who might as well go one place as another. The studies are poor, but almost all studies find that more than sixty percent THE TEXAS OBSERVER 7