Suvy's Story

Talk about dysfunctional families:

Suvy calls himself a gutter punk—the closest thing, he says, to the original version. He was kicked out of his home in Philly about a year ago because, he says, “my parents are metal heads and they hate me.”

Forget politically divided families; the most destructive division in American homes is clearly in musical taste. What happens when Alternadad’s kid grows up to like Mariah Carey? Or — gasp! — the Jonas Brothers?

And then there’s Suvy’s awesomely principled anarchist ideology, which makes my crankiest libertarian friends look positively squishy and bourgeoisie.

Punk, says Suvy, is “the only view that makes sense to me.” Work is for yuppies. Rent is for yuppies. Shelter is a basic human right. The government is bullshit. Corporations are bullshit. He “fucks capitalism” by pissing in the corner of the Dunkin’ Donuts.

“No one has a right to tell anyone else what to do,” Greg says. “Like, it’s your life, you should be in control of it. I don’t pay for anything—just drugs. They don’t tax drug dealers.”

If he ever wants to get off the streets, there’s probably a researcher position open at Cato, although he might have to take a second look at his position on Dunkin’ Donuts.

Okay, it’s easy to make fun, and Suvy’s sneering dismissal of anyone with a job as a “yuppie” — even in print you can tell he means it in the same way I might mean “scumbag” — makes him an easy target. But the thing is, he’s a genuinely sad character, a frustrated, maladjusted, substance-addicted kid from a broken home. He’s got serious anger issues, and admits as much. (“I listened to a whole bunch of different music, but the only thing that really touched me was punk. It’s a good way to, like, express your anger.”) He’s ferocious, instinct-driven, a spiked and tattooed stray mutt of a boy, aimlessly roaming the streets of lower Manhattan, Bushwick, whereever. You read a story like this and you think, “Here’s a sad, troubled young man.” But who would pause while walking by to help him out? Would any of us know how? And would he even accept it? It’s doubtful. New York’s been transformed in the last few decades. Maybe it wasn’t ever really Taxi Driver, but it wasn’t the Disneyfied, East-coast Las Vegas it is now either. It’s easy to forget about all the detritus, all the human wreckage still drifting through the city, more alone than ever. It’s easy to ignore these remnants. They’ll disappear soon enough. Are these just individual choices? Is Suvy’s gritty, alcohol, violence, and drug-fueled nostalgia trip just another lifestyle? He’s responsible, why should I care? Well, yes: He understands capitalism, marketing, wealth creation. He’s worked up an image for himself, sells it to tourists. Like everyone else these days, he’s his own PR man; his product is himself. But I’m not sure that makes him worth dismissing so easily, so coolly. I don’t know if Suvy could be saved, but I can’t help but be a little sad knowing that no one — no, not me either — will try.