BY Tom Judson

September 15 2009 9:00 AM ET

It was time to unload. Yup, just as soon as I sold this last house.

That house went on the market in September of last year. You don’t remember seeing the listing? Maybe you were distracted by the collapse of Lehman Brothers or the sound of your 401(k) flushing down the toilet.

In the span of three months the value of my assets went down down down and my debts went up up up—to the point where I suddenly owed more than I owned. (One darn letter, n, changed my whole life.) Being broke was nothing new to me, but this dramatic reversal of fortune did throw me off balance. For a week.

Turns out I really am bohemian; the decision to file for bankruptcy was easy, and it will get me to my goal of a footloose and fancy-free middle age faster and more efficiently than just selling everything off.

A few months ago I noticed an abandoned old camper near my house. I bought it for $100, restored it, and christened it “Canned Ham.” Residence…check. Travel…check.







And while I may not have a grand piano or three cars anymore, I do have a story. I just finished writing a one-man show about the past 15 years of my life, also called Canned Ham, and I’m about to hit the road. Writing…check. Performing…check.

My trip won’t be quite as rustic as the Joad family’s trek to California, but the impetus is remarkably similar: Like them, I lost my house, my livelihood, and most of my belongings, so I pulled up stakes.

“How am I gonna know about you, Tommy?” asks Ma Joad as her son sets off on his own. Like Tommy, I’ll be easy to locate: Wherever there’s an open mike, I’ll be there. Wherever there’s a gay bar with a mirror ball and a drag queen, I’ll be there too. I’ll be there in the wheeze of an accordion and in the way folks laugh when they’re called back in for act 2.

I’m broke, I’m happy, and I’m on the road. 



Tags: Theater

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