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Going "Under-Cover" at a Meeting of Van Tramps

Once this winter I camped near the van tramp bunch, with the idea that it could be thought-provoking. And it was. This occurred near Quartzsite.

Granted, it is easy to have a negative attitude towards this bunch. The vaunted "lifestyle" of theirs has become such a formula. 

from Kombi Life
But I tried to put that aside and see what makes them tick. As luck would have it, I checked out an excellent book at the local library by Jerome Blum, "In the Beginning." It sounds biblical, but actually the book is about the explosion of modernity in the 1840s. Some of what happened then is  relevant to today's van tramps.

It only takes a couple encounters with them before I concluded they were urban people. Actually you can decide that in a couple seconds. Just observe their dog-leash and clean-up fanaticism, their diet, music, tattoos, dreadlocks, etc.

So I smiled when reading Blum's book about the 1840s: 
the revolutions [of 1848] were almost exclusively urban phenomena.
The van tramps showed talent and energy with music and art. I started to wonder whether these folks were unemployed or underemployed "liberal arts" majors. Perhaps that creates disappointment and frustration that looks for an escape valve.

Once again there was a suitable quote from Blum's book about 1840s:
...many of them bohemians of the sort found in the vanguard of any new intellectual fad.
On the other hand, maybe these van tramps were a sign of the economic times:
Nothing spoke more of the miseries of peasant existence than the large numbers of vagabonds and runaways. Some of these people roamed the countryside or lived in the forests.
Looking more closely at the van tramps, I saw an admirable amount of adaptability and inventiveness in many of the rigs. Clearly, they felt they were doing something difficult and important, and that they were carving out a life for themselves.
...each warned that overeducated young men, feeling themselves unappreciated and unrewarded by their societies, were creating widespread unrest and joining and often leading every outbreak of disorder.
So I left the group with a more friendly attitude than I entered it. At any rate, it is always interesting to observe something that seems to need explaining, and then try to drag it out into a larger context.