The Shelter Gang

December 15, 2008 9:41 AM

A song based on the dozens of teenagers I saw pass through the Citrus House homeless shelter in the summer of 1992.

While I was there for three months, most of the teens in the program lasted a few weeks or even a few days and then were evicted from the program, sometimes forcefully. The shelter had a lot of rules, and it seemed especially difficult for most of the kids in the shelter to obey them. Sometimes they left on their own, finding housing with a lover or just deciding to leave Los Angeles. All of them had stories of abuse and violence, and we tended to just sit around the television and talk, or go up the street to the Jack in the Box for sodas and to just hang out, so I heard a lot of these stories and they have stayed with me.

LYRICS:

Andrew was just seventeen
When he went into the teen canteen
He only lasted seven days
He tested for AIDS and went away
He was part of the Shelter Gang

And Luis ran away from home
When his father caught him with Jerome
He threatened them with a baseball bat
So Luis left and that was that.
He was part of the Shelter Gang

Marc was born in Hollywood
And stayed with lovers when he could
when he was between boyfriends
He came back to the shelter again
He was part of the Shelter Gang

There was Benny and Juan Ortegas
They just packed up and moved to Vegas
And Sam and Rom and Jim and Jules
Could not obey the shelter rules
And Al and Phil and Jake and Kay
Were all kicked out on their seventh day
And what Became of Anton and Sean
There were there one day and then were gone
They were part of the Shelter Gang

Joe dressed up in skirt and blouse
When he left the citrus house
And liked to kiss straight men in bars
Which accounts for Joe's many scars

Michael would not stay in his bed
But crept into Robert's instead
They were discreet, but as predicted
Both we caught and evicted
They were part of the Shelter Gang

posted by Astro Zombie

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