Tucson, Arizona – 2012 to 2014
Seeing vagrants in Santiago gives me the itch to help out and makes me long for the old days of being a superhero
I guess that this whole post is just an elaborate way to say that Santiago will soon have a new superhero, sort of…
I spend much of my free time in Santiago exploring. When you leave the beaten path, the other part of the city appears. The part that the police keep off of the main roads. The part with homeless people and tagged walls. The part considered an eyesore. There aren’t a ton of vagrants here, but winter is fast approaching and my heart aches for those in thin jackets and old shoes. Why am I not more sympathetic now? I used to go out on the weekends to hang out with the homeless and bring them supplies. And I will again. Soon. But starting this over in Santiago will be a slow process, likely slower than the last time…
Around December of 2012 I saw a video of Phoenix Jones, a father and semi-professional cagefighter, dressed in a superhero costume and chasing down a man who had assaulted a woman outside a bar. I followed the wormhole and watched more videos of Phoenix, chasing down drunk drivers, wrestling aggressive bros, whatever came up. I was both horrified and intrigued by the vigilante. I then googled him, learned of the Rain City Superhero Movement, googled them, learned of San Diego’s Xtreme Justice League, googled them, et cetera. There was an entire world of anonymous people who donned masks on the weekends to fight crime, and it was weird in the greatest way possible.
I naturally decided I wanted to do the same, but more pragmatically. I was a teacher at the time and something like that going public might be difficult to explain to my students. So I donned a motorcycle mask and a hat when I went out and donated to the poor instead of fighting crime.
Nothing came easy. If the cops were in the area, all blame was shifted to me, though the police seemed to understand and never gave me trouble. I was blamed after an overdose in “needle park” in Tucson and got myself an informal police interview. I then decided to focus on other parks. I created an anonymous facebook page to look for sidekicks, but after a couple weeks nobody else seemed excited to dress like an idiot and then spend their free time and money on the homeless. So I put out a Craigslist add looking for partners. No partners came, but the editor of the local alternative newspaper contacted me for an interview, then wrote an article about me.
After that, supplies came in from many angles and my operations center grew from the corner between my bed and my wall to most of the living room. Roommates and new friends from the article became my sidekicks, and a comic book store in town acted as a donation point so that I could stay anonymous from all the donors. It was weird. And hectic. And wonderful.
Altruists Anonymous was finally off the ground. My supplies came mostly from donations, and included anything you could imagine. Food? Hand-knit Valentine´s Day cards? Bus tickets? Check, check, and check. Instead of a pack of socks and some water on Saturdays to the homeless, we now had Valentine’s Day baskets for the children stuck at domestic abuse shelters. And birthday gifts for children at the orphanage outside of town. And of course plenty more food, water, socks, and clothing for the needy. I constantly had supplies cluttering my apartment. It was getting to be too much to handle as the lone planner, so I reached out to the other superhero groups with the same mission.
While reaching out to those groups I found out about a charity event with superhero groups from all over the country that was to take place in San Diego, but that is another story and shall be told next week in Part Two.
PS- If you know of anyone willing to donate or participate in Santiago, Chile, please message me. If you are in the United States and wish to do the same, come back next week for specific details.