How did you get started at The Contributor?
I met a Contributor vendor on the MTA bus and I said “Just out of curiosity, how did you start selling papers and where’d you go to actually sign up?” He said at the Downtown Presbyterian Church.
Twenty years ago, I started drawing disability. I have ADHD and Bipolar disorders. I have Type 2 diabetes and I also have a bulging disk in my lower back. That’s why when I sell papers, I have a camp chair. I don’t sit in it all the time, because if I did, people wouldn’t purchase my papers. They’d say, “Oh, he’s lazy.” But right now, I’m going to try to — my new spot will be on West End. What street, I have no idea. But when I first started selling papers, I made about 112 dollars in 2 or 3 hours.
I’ve also been a published vendor since 2010. I write every once in a while, but I do artwork more than I do writing.
How’d you get started doing artwork?
When I was a freshman in high school. In 1982. I tried art school — art class — I didn’t understand the color wheel. But I know blue and yellow makes green. And I think red and blue makes purple, I’m not sure. But you know, I do art — it’s 100 percent my imagination. Every once in a while, I copy an image I’ve seen, but I don’t trace. I have a book at home called “Folk Art,” and there’s a circle with smaller circles, and in the middle, there’s a cat. I have never drawn a cat before, but I actually sold it yesterday for $5.
So I understand that you’re in housing now.
Right. I live in a house that was owned by my wife’s parents. I was a caregiver for her mom and her dad. Her mom passed away in 2002. And two and a half years of my life was put on hold because I was hands-on-experience with her dad. I wiped her dad, gave him a wash while he was on the hospital bed, and I used a hoyer lift—my wife tried to use the hoyer lift, but she couldn’t move it because it was too heavy. So I would get her dad off the bed—his name was Jack, also known as John—and put him in the electric scooter chair. He always liked to watch The Price is Right. At that time, it was Bob Barker, but now it’s Drew Carey I think. But, yeah.
How long have you been in Nashville?
I’ve been in Nashville since 1989. My hometown is Murfreesboro, Tenn. I went to Riverdale High School, graduated in 1986. I was a second-year senior, so I graduated Dec. 18. I like the Riverdale Warriors. Also in the NBA, I like the Golden State Warriors. They beat my other team, the Bulls. Not too long ago, they had their milestone of 73 wins. I told everyone, “I’m going to go out on a limb and say the Warriors are going to win the NBA finals, and Stephen Curry will be the MVP of the finals.” That’ll be in June, I think.
What kind of things do you like to do?
I always go in June to the CMA festival. Last year, I had a friend of mine, his name is Hunter, he went to Riverdale with me, and he bought me a club-level seat. And, hopefully, Lord willing, I’m hoping our Titans will have a winning record this year, but with them giving up their number one pick to the Rams? I mean I think I know why they did that. Coach Fisher, he used to be the coach for the Titans, then he went to the Rams. At first, when he went to the Rams, I was saying “Traitor. Traitor. Traitor!” But I get that he has children. He has a family, he’s got to support them, pay bills. So I understand that. He’s in St. Louis, Mo.
Back in 2010 or 2011, a customer gave me a 100 dollar bill for a paper that used to be $1. Then she gave me $200 when I told her that I gave my wife half of what I make. And right now we’re making a concert or bus envelope type thing, we’re up to $80. Hopefully we’ll see a concert at the Ryman or TPAC. We want to see Jeff Dunham — Achmed, I love Achmed. “Silence, I’ll kill you!” I like old Achmed and his son. I like Jeff Dunham and Peanut, Walter. I like all those characters. Last June, me and Ellie saw George Lopez at Zanies. I wouldn’t mind seeing him again.
What would you like to see happen in your future?
Personally, I’d like to have a female president: Hillary Rodham Clinton. Hopefully she’ll become the next president of the United States after Barack Obama. I’m glad that he became president, because I voted for him twice, and I bet that he’ll be glad when this term is over. So he can have more time, take more vacations.
I don’t know how many street papers there are in the world, but I know there are a lot. I want to let everybody know that right before I sell papers, I pray for all the vendors all over the world. Not just in the United States, but I pray for everybody to get blessed.