Vagabonds Like Me (Ep. 83 - Stand by Me)

This Week's Guest: Robert Roth

How do you know when it's time to stop wandering and put down roots? This week's guest is Robert Roth, who spent years looking for the right place to call home. After he ran away from home, his journey took him to some dark, dangerous places. It took a lot of work to pull himself back up to where he could create a home not only for himself, but for those on a similar journey.

By the way, if you're in Seattle, a semi-autobigraphical play written by Robert is debuting in November. It's called When There Were Angels, and it runs from November 10 to 13 at the Calamus Auditorium at Gay City.

Also my partner and I are working on a documentary project about queer gamers, and this November we'll be livestreaming some highlights of the stories we gathered. If you enjoy the storytelling on Sewers of Paris, you'll want to see our project Playing with Pride. Just visit to sign up for updates -- you'll be the first to know about some exciting news we're about to announce.

This Week's Recommendation: A Supermarket in California

In his travels, there are a lot of places that Robert could have settled down, so I'm grateful that Seattle was able to claim him. And for this week's recommendation, take a look at the Allen Ginsberg poem "A Supermarket in California," in which the Ginsberg, seeking inspiration, wanders into a supermarket where he encounters gay poets of the past: Walt Whitman, from the 1800s, and Garcia Lorca, from the early 20th century. In the poem, Ginsberg wanders the store with Whitman, then contemplates a stroll through America, a country unrecognizable to those with whom he shares a spiritual bond.

It's a poem about walking, and exploring, traveling together with a kindred sprit to what Ginsberg calls "our silent cottage." He asks Whitman "what America did you have?" and "where are we going, Walt Whitman?" and "which way does your beard point tonight?" He notes Whitman's eyeing of the grocery boys and dreams of lost love.

If you like, you can join their rambling journey, picking up from where Ginsberg left off, and where Lorca left it, and where Whitman left it to him. We recognize something of ourselves in them, even though we can't understand the times in which they lived. And reading the poem sixty years after it was written means that Ginsberg would today be as out of place as Whitman was to him.

Still, the act of wandering hasn't changed, the search for home, the search for love.

Clips of Stuff we Talked About



Parisian Kevin MacLeod (
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0