STANFORD CHAPARRAL: Hello, Mr. Benson. Thank you for granting us this interview.
MR. BENSON: Hey, no problem. Thanks for the fries.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: Our magazine is doing an issue on power, and we wanted to find out how power is defined and exercised “on the streets.” You knowwho controls what, and how.
MR. BENSON: Power? I guess money is power. It's the same for everyone, the homeless included.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: We thought you'd say something like “a good blanket is good.”
MR. BENSON: ...yeah. Well, yes. Blankets are important during the colder months. But food comes first, and to buy food, you need money.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: What are some of the stranger things that you've eaten, when you've had no money?
MR. BENSON: Most grocery stores have a bin where they throw away produce that isn't fresh anymore. I'll wrap old potatoes in foil and bake them over a fire, or boil them with carrots and beets as a borscht.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: Have you ever eaten a shoe?
MR. BENSON: There is no nutrition in a shoe. Let's talk about something else.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: Who is the most powerful bum that you know?
MR. BENSON: It's not like that. There isn't any one “king,” you know, like in England. The homeless are largely nomadic.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: Does it bother you that in England they call their butts “bums”?
MR. BENSON: No. And I really don't think of myself as a “bum.” My name is Edward Benson. I don't ask people for moneyI just don't have a home right now.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: Have you ever had a home?
MR. BENSON: Yes, of course. I used to live in an apartment. But when I lost my job because of problems with alcohol, I wasn't able to make ends meet anymore.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: What kind of alcohol can you afford, as a bum?
MR. BENSON: Listen, please stop calling me a bum. My name is Edward.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: There's a sale on Meister Brau at Payless this week.
BUM: Thank you, but I'm trying to get over those problems right now.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: Is it hard to conquer your alcoholism, with these sales at Payless all the time?
BUM: Cheap alcohol is not the cause of alcoholism. The rich and poor alike have this problem. Can we please talk about something else?
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: Where do you go to the bathroom?
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: This is a question we all have about the homeless. What do you do with it? Bury it in a hole with your hind legs?
BUM: Let me have some dignity.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: I once saw a bum just sit down by a wall and pinch one, right in front of everybody. Do you do that?
BUM: I think I'd better be going now.
STANFORD CHAPARRAL: We'll give you a dollar if you eat your hand.
BUM: I'm leaving.