Category Archives: Free Hugs

Good & Bad News from the Square

Amazing Strangers Wendell iconThis week I got both. Some good news, and some bad news, in videos from the Square.
Which do you want first? The good news? All right. That’s easy. Kameltoe has a new music video out and it’s adorable! It’s a crime that it’s only got 226 views! We gotta change that.

Now for the bad news ūüôĀ And it’s a crime too. Only, the sad kind.
I woke up Friday the 13th with everybody and their grandmother emailing me the link to this. Jeremy back in trouble again, punching a girl in the face at Times Square for not paying.

People in the comments under his¬†videos were always telling me to try and talk some sense into the kid before he gets out of hand. Shaggy and I did just that. Often! I just didn’t post the videos of it figuring it wouldn’t help his situation any. But¬†it’s almost a year to the day we shot this. We could see it coming before it happened, and couldn’t do anything about it.

God, they even caught the punch on sky-cam, and set it to creepy music¬†no less. It’s¬†not good. If the Chief of Police is having a televised press conference about you, it means you’ve crossed the line one too many times¬†and they’re going to throw the book at you.¬†So I thought maybe showing us with Jeremy last year lecturing him on this might at least complete the picture somehow. He’s not your typical thug. “Hug Thug” one network called him! Christ.

But fact is, if you have someone who can’t help themselves from punching girls (or anyone, for that matter) you can’t having them Free Hugging on the streets every day. They have to¬†face the consequences of their actions.

I’ll let you know as I find out any more on this, and you’re welcome to¬†do the same for me.

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News from Union

Amazing Strangers

Amazing Strangers Wendell icon

As you can see, I’ve been going through old footage again, realizing that I’ve not only got A LOT of it, but much of it is still very interesting! Quite honestly, there we’re many times at the end of a day at Union I’d go home saying¬†to myself, “Not now, but this’ll be something I want sometime down the road.” So I expect to continue doing this for as long as I keep running across stuff I find interesting. Which reminds me, if you’re a musician and especially if you have music inspired by NYC, Union Square or Amazing Strangers, I’d love to use it in the videos I’m editing. Nothing inspires me to find more of this footage and post it up into creatively edited vids than music. I’ll give full credit and link you up if you got anything. Some of my best music vids were from fans who wrote songs inspired by what they saw on the channel.

Inna
Inna clean & sober April 2016

Big news that I thought I’d never be hearing I¬†heard yesterday! Inna is clean and sober. Including alcohol. And she looks great. She insisted I spread the news that she’s super fucking hot now, and she says she’s never going back. Most of the time I’d take a claim like this with a grain of salt, but Inna’s always been pretty blunt about her drug and alcohol usage (among other things) and never before has she committed to cleanliness like she is now.

It’s been a year, and she told me to tell you “It takes pride to step out of the gutter.” And she’s through “acting bizarre and looking ugly.” I’m happy to hear this, and her latest photos speak volumes. You can see for yourself on her Facebook.

I spoke to Shaggy a few days ago and he tells me Union’s changed. It’s not the crazy madhouse it used to be in springtime. He thinks a lot¬†of the people used to come to get filmed in some way or another, and the others came because of those. I don’t entirely think that can be judged this soon in the year, so I won’t believe it until I hear news like this when summer gets here. If however it’s true, it’s pretty shocking to me.

Jesus Dressup

This week my Star Wars Jesus Dressup (2nd printing) arrive and I’m terribly excited! Because of the sensitive nature of this product the image of them won’t be displayed in the store, and they’ll be listed as “Jedi Jesus” so as not to infringe on any copyright problems they could spark. I strongly suggest¬†not waiting too long to purchase them for yourself, because the first printing of these sold out pretty quickly.

As for anything else, I still have no plans to return to NYC. I might be headed to Philly later this month, so if you know of anything out there I should take my camera let me know.

Roman’s Public Apology

man with funny sign
Roman Shusterman

I received ¬†an email from Joey Boots yesterday. Roman is¬†in a¬†psych ward, and he wants me to call him there. He thought maybe it’d help to talk to me about whatever it is he’s¬†got going on. He also wanted to make a public apology.

I’d heard Roman wasn’t doing well in August. He’d stopped showing up at the Square, so I started asking people he knew what was up. I was getting mixed details about his whereabouts and wellbeing. Some were saying¬†he was doing terrible, wanting all his videos removed and in a hospital losing his mind, while others said he was all good again and planning to return to the park.

If you don’t know who Roman Shusterman is, he’s the guy¬†who went viral¬†writing his¬†strange but funny sexual declarations on signs and giving detailed speeches¬†about them at the park. He first started his exhibitionist style demonstrations in 2010 when the Free Hugs phenomenon hit the square. He hung around those Free Hugs kids carrying a FREE MASSAGES sign. And it worked!

Those soon turned into “Free Massages + Foot Worship.” Girls who took him up on his massages would then be asked if they’d mind a foot worship session as well. Much to all our surprise¬†that worked too.

Creepy guy kissing bottom of woman's foot in public
Roman foot worships woman while crowd watches

Then there was his¬†“Peace through Face-sitting” campaign, getting girls to sit on his face for world peace.¬†The Fart Smelling Movement, in solidarity with Occupy Wall Street, and on and on and on. Roman is responsible for some of the most shocking and hilarious events I’ve ever witnessed. When asked what’s¬†the most outrageous¬†event I’ve ever seen at Union Square Park, I always give a detailed account of the afternoon¬†Roman Shusterman took a lady “Out To Eat” in front of everybody there on the steps. It’s safe to say I have always adored what he brings to the Square.

man with funny sex sign waving
Roman Shusterman smiling & waving

I put word out that I wanted to talk to him. I wanted him to know I genuinely¬†cared for his well-being, and if there was any way I could help I would. I thought Roman needed to be told there’s nothing wrong with what he’s done, if that’s what he was regretting. He’s not hurt anyone. In fact he’s made a lot of people laugh. It’s comedy. Shocking at times, yes. But comedy none the less.

When I got Roman’s number to call, I realized I honestly cared for the guy. He wanted me to come visit him at the hospital, but I am away from NYC this month, so the phone call would have to do. I was happy to do it. I was anxious to do it! I wanted to talk to him myself and get the full story. I also wanted to ease his worry about whatever it is he thought he needed to apologize for.¬†So this afternoon I called him.

The phone was answered by another patient in the ward who had to go find Roman, shouting his name to a room.

He spoke to me on the pay phone there used by everyone. It was clear¬†he wasn’t his usual self. I started right off telling him he didn’t have anything he needed to apologize for.

‚ÄúI want to apologize for¬†anything I may have said or done that made light of the Elliot Rodger’s tragedy. I don’t feel that way and I deeply regret disrupting that event.¬†I really want to get that out there.‚ÄĚ

The top thing on his list was he wanted to make a public apology for any comments he made about being in solidarity with Elliot Rodger. At some point last year he’d attempted to disrupt one of the protests that followed the shootings & suicide. There were a group of protestors¬†there with signs stating that Elliot’s views on women were common among men,¬†and Roman hassled them with his usual “I deserve hot girls” routine. It’s a¬†sentiment similar to Elliot’s.¬†Roman told me he deeply regrets doing this, and making light of the event in any way.

At one point, when we he was telling me about the voices in his head he’s dealing with, the phone disconnected. His time was up and I had to call him back. He explained to¬†me he thought the phone disconnecting¬†was a sign he probably shouldn’t be talking about the voices.

It was clear to me after our 15 minute conversation, he’s pretty¬†medicated and having to deal with a lot of troubling thoughts, paranoia and regret, and these are all weighing on him immensely. He¬†also¬†regrets not having planned better for his future.

Not to diminish what he’s going through, but I also reminded him that in the dead of winter feeling depressed, secluded and hopeless¬†in New York is something a lot of us deal with. Winter can be a nightmare in this, the loneliest city.

Presently Roman’s in a cycle of taking medication and trying to heal. He wants to get back to the Square¬†and¬†regrets letting these events scare him away from it.
He and I have planned to get lunch when I return in February.

One month later…