Ballad of James Lawless

Ballad of James Lawless

Many do not know the difference between a hobo and a bum. You see, most bums were either born into the world under these unfortunate circumstances, or dragged in by some various conditions. They are essentially people who could not escape their fate. A hobo on the other hand, is the escapee. A hobo is one who understands freedom as an innate requisite to a meaningful existence. They are protestors. They are refugees. They are liberators. They ride trains to be nomadic. They pick up jobs to subsist. They use monika’s to dodge the confines of identity. And they do this by choice. With one real burden in mind. To emancipate themselves from any existing social order. And should this not be our duty? Not to those who seek out ontological tranquility in the sedentary state of inertia, but to those who seek out truth as a euphemism for overcoming human conditioning.

And if you are a truth seeker, then when at your most euphoric you may too find yourself crying out: Hallelujah, I’m a Hobo. Hallelujah, I’m a hobo!



Now like many, this had little relevance to me until my life as James Lawless began. This was the monika that I stole from a man whom I had met in a pool hall one night at an undescribed location. He was a commonplace yet mystifying man with inconceivable stories of war, labor, and giving-it-all-up, that only his telling could do justice. And around that time, I was at an impressionable age, and was searching for my way out. My “escape” route. I had spent the better part of a year as a vagrant living out of caves in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, and I was ready to drift. So I drifted in true hobo fashion. And it did not take long for this to form my complete personification. It became normal for me to rest on cardboard boxes outside of freight yards until 3 AM in order to hop the next train heading east. It became normal for truckers I’d been riding with for the past 300 miles to lend me shower tokens to a Love’s or Flying J’s. It became normal for Catholic Priests or Mormon Bishops to read me scripture verses simply for looking destitute, or to drink bum wine with tramps I’d met off the side of the highway, or to have strangers offer me meals, or to find bridges to sleep under, alone in skid row. All flaws aside, these series of vicissitudes brought me closer to any state of being than I understood vital. And should this not be our duty? Not to those who seek out visceral instinct through epistemology, but to those who seek out paradise as a euphemism for overcoming human conditioning.

And if you are a paradise seeker, then when at your most vulnerable you may too find yourself crying out: Hallelujah, I’m a Hobo. Hallelujah, I’m a hobo!



Amidst all this, I had to give a name to this dissociative identity, and James Lawless became the itch I couldn’t scratch. Not because I thought the name wasn’t ridiculous, but because it embodied this reawakening. Because it started as a story, and that is where it is left. Because to me, this name does not represent so much an outlaw, but a person who pursues the thing that makes them fully human. And in order to do that, you must act under your own autonomy. So I use it as an everyday reminder. This is where my intrinsic values in creating are born. So I can search in them for the same sincerity found while living on the drift. Because with them, I will always be a hobo. And should this not be our duty? Not to those who seek out ways to fortify the ego through dogmatic ideals, but to those who seek out freedom as a euphemism for overcoming human conditioning.

And if you are a freedom seeker, then when at your most nirvanic you may too find yourself crying out: Hallelujah, I’m a Hobo. Hallelujah, I’m a hobo!

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