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A Homelessness Blog a Cut Above the Rest

homeless man speaksI’ll list everything. My wife passed away 7 years ago. Our apartment was at Bloor and Dundas. I had 2 children who I thought would help me. Instead they said: "There’s the door."

So begins Homeless Man Speaks, a blog started in October 2006 by Tony Clemens, the titular homeless man, and Philip Stern, his friend of 9 years who helps him type everything up. “Tony was aware of the Internet, though he hadn’t used itor even seen it,” writes Stern in Spacing magazine.

Among the many blogs about homelessness out there, such as LA’s Homeless Blog and Homeless Family, Homeless Man Speaks stands out by featuring conversations between Stern and Clemens, instead of straight news or advocacy information. The collection of introspective vignettes read as if the two men are standing on the street, in front of the coffee shop where they met; the reader becomes a passerby, walking just slowly enough to overhear an episode.

While Homeless Man Speaks has allowed an otherwise marginalized man to tell his story, the caveat, of course, is to remember not to rely on this type of media for the whole story. Clemens himself points out the limitations of the Internet:

PHILIP: That fire you told me about, the one that’s supposed to have happened yesterday, the one you told me about.

TONY: Yeah the one we were going to write up on the blog.

PHILIP: I googled for a news story about that fire but I couldn’t find anything anywhere.

TONY: Sometimes I think that it should say in the Bible that not everything is on the Internet, if you know what I mean.

Photo of Tony Clemens courtesy Jim Allen, from Irked Magazine.