Tuesday, December 29, 2009


When I moved to NYC in 2006, some of the first friends I made were part of something called the Freegan movement. I had arrived from Florida with nothing but an old bicycle, a map, a change of clothes, a toothbrush, and a sleeping bag. The first two weeks I spent nights on park benches and cardboard in the nooks of buildings. The second day here I found a job in the Village Voice classifieds. I delivered envelopes and packages on my bicycle for Champion Courier. They paid $3 per item and since all the nice runs were given to seniority, I was averaging around 6/hr. Far below minimum wage, but an exhilarating introduction to life in the Big Apple.

One day I happened to be fixing a flat in the Garment District when these two kids from the Freegan Bicycle Workshop walked by and offered me some donuts they had just scored on the curb around the corner. I followed them back to their space and made friends with all the other little Freegans. I learned some basic bike mechanics, where to look for free food, possibilities for squatting/couch surfing, and a whole lot more.

Through Rachel Sakristan, an artist and good friend from Barcelona, I met a wonderful couple from Andorra and Brazil who were in New York to shoot a short documentary about the so-called "Freegan" movement. They came along in my cab one shift and interviewed me on camera about my views regarding the philosophy behind it. I just saw it for the first time this week. Edu and Priscilla finally emailed me a Quick Time attachment of the clip. They weren't able to complete their documentary due to lack of funds. I must say, I'm not very fond of my barely coherent babbles throughout the 5 minutes. Wish I could have been more eloquent.

Jenine doesn't like the way the word "Freegan" is used now because it originally meant something else and because other words for what it means now have already existed for a long time. She's old-school in some ways and I like that about her. A freegan used to be someone who was a vegan, but would temporarily become vegetarian if the eggs, dairy, or pizza were free. Today the word Freegan has expanded to include anyone who not only eats ANYTHING (including meat) if it's free, but also seeks to find all the other components of life for free. Jenine prefers the older word GLEANER for this definition.

It's similar to my dissatisfaction with the spelling of the word Hanukkah. The 'H' doesn't do the rough guttural sound any justice. And the 'Ch' version already has a different sound in English. My conclusion would be to spell it Khanuqa. Anyhow, I hope you enjoy my expressive hand and finger gestures throughout the clip, because it's the only articulate aspect of the interview (my speech is laughable).


  1. Anonymous12/31/2009

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  2. Great post, Gil. Eloquent as always. Love the clip; it's insightful. Peace.

  3. Oh the things I learn here.


  4. oh you're too hard on yourself, which is probably a good thing, though when I last remember watching this clip (not watching it now as I don't want to disturb anyone) I remember thinking that you were eloquent, and wishing that when my opportunities come to give people information, I too could be so factual and candid.

    Oh and P.S. sorry about calling you to express my rage over my sandwich incident, it was a moment of weakness, and while I would never eat a nasty meat filled sandwich as I might get sick and die, i've been a vegan since the age of 5, I should've just thrown it away rather than throwing it at the ignorant fool.

    hope your trip is well.


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