Saturday, August 4, 2007

The Legend of Mister Butch

I first heard that Mister Butch died when I was at the street paper conference in Portland last weekend. He was fifty-six, and perhaps the most famous homeless person in Boston. I didn't know him well when I was there, although Street Magazine, the first paper I edited after college, did a story on him in 1987. With his wild dreds, crazy guitar, and ad-libbed street poetry, he was irresistible to us.

It's not every homeless guy who has an entry on Wikipedia.

He bought a scooter, and apparently everyone who knew him was worried about it. On July 12, he drove the thing into a pole at 50 mph and was killed. When he died, 1,000 people came to his funeral parade in Alston-Brighton. A friend sent me the above clip from that.

It's something to look at when I need a reminder that people are good.

The clip inspired me to see what else I could find, and it turns out that Mister Butch had no shortage of documentarians on You Tube. I love the two-part Sleeping with Mister Butch documentary because it's about caring for someone — even when they're a pain in the ass — just because it's the right thing to do. We can all learn something about love and community from the tattooed woman.

I included the final clip, because it shows him with his guitar. He first became a street celebrity in the 70s, playing chords on his open tuned electric guitar with one finger. Sometimes, attitude is everything.

Sleeping With Mister Butch (Part One)

Sleeping With Mister Butch (Part Two)

Mister Butch on Guitar

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