Jason told me about hobo signs last week. Lots of really cool glyphs and pictograms here.
Plenty of good tramp stamp tattoos there. ;)
Apparently, Basquiat was really inspired by hobo symbols and they made their way into his art .
Maybe this is why hobos have trouble getting along in the world. Many of these symbols look the opposite of what they’re supposed to represent:
Bad water looks more inviting than the good water.
Safe camp looks like you’re about to be boiled alive by a Gilligan’s Island headhunter.
Good road is basically a “no” symbol.
Don’t give up is one shaky hand away from hobos arrested on sight!
@Jeff: Haha. Had the same thought
There used to be a t-shirt available with these, which I first saw maybe 15 years ago. I have a Graffiti history book that has some different ones. Hard to say what would be an authoritative account, but even glyphs for glyph’s sake is good enough for me.
The modern version is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warchalking
And here’s office worker hobo code: http://www.anders.ca/hobocode/
These are really cool. We’ve been using them in live visuals for my band, for example:
The song we’re using them for is called Outsider Code, which is basically about the underground railroad and about early 20th century hobo life.
Didn’t take too much to fall in love with the whole system of symbols hobos used back in the day. Amazing means of guerilla communication!
Thanks for posting these modern examples on hobo code. I love this modern tribe stuff.
There must be a certain dialog that goes on in your head when you decide to sit down and learn all the hobo signs. Something like “Well, I’m a hobo now, so I guess I should learn the signs.” It’s more than a decision to just learn the hobo signs, it’s a decision to admit to yourself that you’re a hobo now and need help making the most of your new hobo lifestyle. That’s a big moment.