The Next Mr. Butch?


It’s been little over two months since Mr. Butch, Boston’s most beloved homeless man—nay “street icon”—passed away, and life around Allston/Brighton just hasn’t been the same. No more drunken rhymes, sagacious rants or air guitar jam sessions on the corner of Harvard and Brighton. And while Mr. Butch will never be replaced—CAN never be replaced—it’s about time we tried to fill the gaping hole he’s left behind. We need a new Mr. Butch.

Patrick Conway is a prime candidate. He spent his 16 years on the Common virtually unknown, until and he was diagnosed with cancer and given two months to live. Since then, he’s won the hearts of the nursing staff at Beth Israel hospital, where he is being cared for, and most recently, appeared on the front page of the Globe. Rumors is, Conway may even have a book in the works.

Earlier this week, Emerson students were approached to take on the literary task of chronicling Conway’s life on the streets. Could Conway be the next Mr. Butch? Who knows? He may not be much with an air guitar, but he’s certainly got the PR savvy. Here’s the letter, in case any of you are interested in helping him achieve the status of Boston’s next street icon.

Julia Kaganskiy

From: Arlene Lyons
Sent: Mon 9/17/2007 10:58 AM
Subject: A project that may be of interest

Project opportunity through hopeFound…

Dear students,

My name is Lenie Kuit, I am a street outreach worker at hopeFound (formerly Friends of the Shattuck Shelter) and I am writing on behalf of Patrick Conway who has been homeless living on the Boston Common for many years. Patrick is dying of cancer and is currently receiving treatment at Beth Israel Hospital. Throughout his life he has kept a note book chronicalling his homelessness, his books are filled with his wisdom, insight, sense of humor and his caring thoughts for what he refers to as his homeless family. His writings caught the attention of a Boston Globe reporter who is currently working on a feature on Patrick. Patrick’s history is a colorful one and worth knowing more about. We have been talking about creating a book that captures the themes he feels best represent his writings about faith, love, hope and family. His ‘street family’, the Boston Common and the many volunteers that frequent the common to hand out blankets, food and clothes, as well as the Common Cathedral, an outdoor weekly religious service, would provide a background for his quotes, poetry and short stories. Pat asked me to contact Emerson College because, based on his own experience, he feels the students have a relationship with the Boston Common and the people who live on it.

Would any of you be interested in taking on this project as part of a class assignment to work with Patrick on creating a small book about ‘his life on the streets’? I would be able to provide support around any of the logistics that are involved as setting up a meeting with Pat, introducing you to his friends, I can provide the releases you would need to take the images you need to illustrate Pat’s stories. This coming semester may be a perfect timeline, since you would be able to capture the change of season on the Common and how that impacts our cities’ homeless, Pat’s family.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me, if you have any additional questions, you can reach me at 617-828-2265, or at [email protected]

Thank you for taking the time and I look forward to hearing from you.

Sincerly,

Lenie Kuit
Street Outreach Worker
hopeFound – Community Programs
105 Chauncy Street, 3rd floor
Boston, MA 02111