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Homeless Man Considered “The Michael Jordan Of Begging” Among His Peers


NEW YORK CITY– Some are better at it than others, but when it comes to begging, homeless people stand in awe at the skills of Bernard Delman. Delman, who is widely regarded as “the Michael Jordan of begging” has been an inspiration to homeless people across the city. “The guy’s amazing,” said Will Artens, a twenty-two-year-old homeless man. “He’s someone that all of us young guys aspire to be like someday.” Delman, 37, modestly shrugs off the compliment, saying, “He has to remember that I’ve been doing this for ten years.” But some homeless people aren’t fooled by his modesty. “I don’t care what he says,” said one homeless man who wished to remain anonymous, “Delman is the next Paine.” He was referring to Sonny Paine, the curmudgeonly vagabond of F train fame. “That’s quite a compliment,” said Delman. “However, I hope to surpass Sonny.” As long as he can avoid injury, at his current pace of collecting change from strangers, it appears as if Delman will shatter Sonny Paine’s records within the next seven years. “I don’t mean any disrespect towards Sonny,” said Delman, “but his problem is that he only sticks to the F train. With his ability, if he would expand to other trains, he could probably double the amount of change that he collects.” He added, “Maybe it’s because he’s old and he doesn’t have the energy.”

A lack of energy has never been a problem for Delman. April 27, 2007 was a day that will be talked about by homeless people for ages. It was on that historic day that Bernard Delman, using four separate trains, successfully received change from strangers in Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx, and Manhattan. And he wasn’t done yet. After begging in Manhattan, he then boarded the Staten Island ferry and, you guessed it, collected change in Staten Island as well. “All five boroughs in one day,” said homeless man Gus Pilmer. “He’s not human.” On that day, Delman’s accomplishment resulted in a new phrase being coined (no pun intended) into the lexicon of homeless people everywhere: Delman “hit for the cycle.” But some homeless people, like twenty-five-year-old Deron Ward, resent Delman’s efforts. “Is it impressive? Sure,” he said. “But it’s not necessary. By begging in all five boroughs, he wasn’t making any more money than the rest of us. If anything, he was just showing off.” Allegations like that one make Delman quite animated, even angry. “That’s the problem with most of these young guys,” he said. “They don’t have any respect for their craft. Yeah, I could just stand in the same place all day long, but what’s the point of that? You know, I hate to pat myself on the back, but in some ways, I would like to think that I’ve been a bit of a pioneer in the world of begging.” He continued by saying, “Deron Ward could never hit for the cycle. And you know why? Because he’s lazy! And if you think that hitting for the cycle is impressive, you ain’t seen nothing yet! This summer, I plan on doing things that have never been done before in the history of begging!” Among those plans, Delman hopes to beg on the New York Water Taxi, as well as on Circle Line tourist boats. In August, he plans on embarking on his most ambitious project yet. “I want to take the Staten Island ferry again, but this time, I plan on begging all the way into New Jersey.” Delman admits that, so far, he doesn’t know how he plans on getting to New Jersey. “It doesn’t matter,” he said. “The point is to have fun. Because if you’re not having fun, what’s the point of being homeless?”



June 14, 2007



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