It’s that time again when I haven’t updated long enough to finally get an email asking if I’m still doing the site and/or selling Jesus Dressup magnets. The answer’s yes. Plus I’m also selling Trumps & Mohammeds as well. Can you think of anywhere else that combo of themes is available??
At the moment I believe I’ve posted the last Amazing Strangers video for a while. You can see all of the latest ones there in the right sidebar. There comes a time when I just can’t seem to find anything worthwhile enough to edit. But that could change at any point because I am indeed working through all those folders preparing a paperback book which’ll be stories & art, but mostly photos of Union Square Amazing Strangers.
My local bookstore/coffee shop Book Nook has offered to print it up for me through their publishing company, West Vine Press here in Whitehall. Then later this winter I’m planning to host video presentations here at the shop. We’ll see how that goes. I’ll be sure to make the book available for purchase here on the site.
I’ve yet to get any offers on a place to stay in NYC to encourage more frequent visits. But I do have a friend willing to rent me a room for a month in May. If it’s still available to me by then I’ll be taking her up on the offer. That’s when you can expect brand new, current footage added to youtube.com/normalbobnyc.
In other interesting Amazing Strangers news, my friend Nick (New York Nico) back in 2014 purchased one of Roman’s signs for a dollar, and has since had it framed! It’s now hanging in his hallway, and I thought you all might like to let your envious eyes lay upon this lovely piece of art.
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.
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.
“I 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.”
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.