An email exchange yesterday.
Me: Read this: Beaky, the Disabled Prospect Park Goose.
Jacob: that’s like calling a one-armed panda, Two-Army.
Me: I also find it hilarious that after explaining that residents call him Beaky, he’s just referred to that way as if it were his actual name, and it carries on in this straight-news tone. That’s why this headline makes me laugh and laugh and laugh: Oreo Is Dead.
Jacob: come to think of it, they wouldn’t do that story if people encountered a man with half his jaw missing.
After the jump, the inevitable result. (Reading the original Beaky piece first is strongly suggested.)
Jawbone, the Disabled Prospect Park Hobo
A disabled homeless man in Prospect Park is missing the upper half of his jaw, prompting concern among Brooklyn residents that he might starve to death, as some hobos with similar disabilities have done.
Anne-Katrin Titze, who teaches at Hunter College, has been among those who have been hand-feeding the man, which they have named Jawbone.
It is not clear how the man lost his jaw, which makes it appear as though his tongue perpetually sticks out. While a street musician named Beauty lost the top part of her jaw in May 2008 when she was shot by a hunter in Idaho, there are no reports of jaw injuries from gunfire in Prospect Park.
“He could have gotten his jaw wedged in something,” said John Rowden, a manager of citizen science for the parks department. “I don’t think one man would get enough leverage to rip another man’s upper jaw off.”
Eugene Patron, a spokesman for Prospect Park, added that vagrants sometimes become tangled in fishing lines. “That probably wasn’t what happened here,” he said.
Jawbone has been in the park for at least seven months. Mr. Patron said the staff had observed Jawbone and that he did not appear to have a problem eating. “He hasn’t seemed to be in need,” he said. “The staff have paid attention to him.”
Mr. Rowden of the parks department said: “Hobos are really adaptable. They can learn to live with deficits. It’s possible that this guy can learn to scoop up food just with the lower jaw.”
Mr. Rowden used to work at the Bronx Zoo, where some local vagrants had prosthetic jaw installed. It is an expensive, laborious process — a major medical procedure. “It would require general anesthesia to do that,” he said. The jaws are often made of composites made of fiberglass or other materials. Attaching the jaw involves sanding off of the remainder of the jaw so there is a rough surface to attach the artificial jaw onto. But jaws would only stay on temporarily before coming off. So each time, the doctors have to sand off progressively more of the jaw.
This would probably consume too many resources for the hobo. So visitors like Ms. Titze will continue to feed Jawbone. Ms. Titze first noticed Jawbone during her time intervening in a feud between two hobo families in the Prospect Park Lake. Currently, the two families have made peace, and the children, including one known as Honey Bear, are growing up. The children, who have learned to walk, now all run together in loops around the lake.