Branndon Kellogg (30) is homeless. He resides in Texas, and has been living rough for a while now. Earlier this year, Branndon told me there was some trouble down the road; Due to different circumstances, he ended up living on the streets of Texas. Since the pandemic hit, we´ve been speaking regularly. Branndon initially contacted me since he was a fan of a band I used to sing in, and he had a couple of questions he wanted to ask.
I thought it was about time to ask a few questions back..
By Jan K. Transeth
Photos: Branndon Kellogg
Mr Branndon Kellogg, you’re now located in Nacogdoches – a small town in Texas a little north of Houston. The world is in the midst of a pandemic and you’re out there on your own, living on the street. Can you tell me a little about the journey that took you there?
– I traveled to Texas on my own accord as it seemed promising to go visit and gain some form of knowledge. The visit made me homeless eventually. I couldn’t stay in hotels for long as my finances were limited. It seems the pandemic happened during my travel to this town. I ended up on someone’s sofa for a week and had to find another avenue so I payed for hotels to stay out of the rain. Hurricanes can also be another mention in this.
Can you elaborate on the hurricanes?
– Living out on the streets isn’t easy because the weather makes it difficult to stay in one area. Something severe as a hurricane is much more problematic… It could take a toll on anyone’s life and make towns uninhabitable. Fortunately the particular hurricane could not reach us up in the hills.
It’s pretty hard to imagine what it’s like, unless you’ve been there yourself. But how does it feel to be homeless?
– It can be a bit of a nuisance. I’ve managed to find a place to sleep every now and then.
Other than that it almost feels like your struggle becomes your strength over a period of time. Lack of food or sleep is something that can wear down a human being, so I definitely feel something was hampered the moment I was outside.
I’ve seen some nice animals out doors though, very awesome.
Speaking of food, how do you manage to get by?
– Sometimes good hearted friends will help and sometimes people give me food when I never asked for it. One time a person gave me a heaping plate of cheese and potatoes like a casserole – probably the best thing I’ve had. I used to have a monthly balance on a food card but the program ended after 1 year so I have to reapply eventually.
If I’m frugal, I can buy food for nearly two weeks and they only give single men about $175 in food stamps balance on a card. But it’s for food only. Not normal cash. I can buy anything that isn’t already cooked. It just depends on the place I shop at. Some places will just outright help you with hot meals. But they’re mostly cold or dry foods.
How is your relation to people around you, friends and family? Any family nearby you can lean on?
– Nada, zero. My mother, cousin and aunt is in California. Everyone else kind of scattered before my grandfather passed away in 2009. Then my father passed in 2016, so most of my family is passed away or have moved to other places.
Would you say you ended up homeless because there are no other options? In Norway, which in many cases seems like an island in a rather unstable world right now, one will receive support from the government in situations like that. Are there any options like government support in the States besides food stamps and such?
– It is based upon the place you live. As you’ve mentioned the not so stable part…. Most of the focus of government social programs are on general welfare for needy families in form of grocery foods. It isn’t intended for single persons to survive as there are no major income programs granting individuals to live comfortable. However, there are job leads that are supposed to help improve the living situation and can be comparable to temperary work agencies. They aren’t always guaranteed to fit your resume.
But it’s true… I ended up homeless because I didn’t have many family members left to house me and I had to find a new avenue. Going to make a nomadic life symbolic.
You’re originally from California where we’ve seen massive fires recently. Do you believe there is a connection between the fires in the far west and the hurricanes in the south east? And would you say such incidents have been stable or have they increased the past couple of decades?
– You seem to be correct as it is a true saying that history repeats itself. Well, certainly does capitalize on how necessary changes can be when a giant windstorm trudges along and the wildfires suddenly come about in California. The current days we live in can be instantaneous. Society could not ignore the forewarning of catastrophic weather if it is in the palm of our hand. The issue with stability stems from global ignorance from the previous decades most certainly it cannot be ignored.
The presidential election is coming up. From your point of view, how will things evolve the next couple of weeks? Who’s gonna win?
– The stimulus check will win. Both will lose by default. I honestly do not know. Most likely it will be close to a tie but I think Trump will win.
If Biden wins, that is also okay. I would like to think of the political society as separate from the common man and woman.
Why is that?
– The morals that surround the common folk shouldn’t be always tied to the political system. I believe we should start taking initiative on our own taking care of our own if they cannot keep a balanced system. The voting or no voting shouldn’t determine our future if they cannot keep promises themselves. With that said it would be nice to see a more diverse election after this one
You’re gonna vote?
– I haven’t decided upon that as of yet. Maybe there is still time…
– There is a time limit on voting I believe. In fact I have never voted in my entire life.
Or most definitely never felt the need. The common consensus a decade ago was the vote didn’t matter because the electoral college would always get the attention on bills and petitions throughout native California.
Almost like our voices or opinions did not matter.
Just before the 20th century kicked off, the turnout at elections in the US was almost 80 per cent. In recent years, it’s been stable around 55. Why do you think that is? During your thirty years, have you met many alike, people that don’t vote?
– I have only been one of the on lookers. I have not truly established a connection with any political group. Speaking of percentages would probably confuse me but I can only guess the stable part of it is due to how organized the politicians have become with the newer generations that are passionate about politics and their own pursuits.
The older generation seems to be stuck in some sort of flawed outlook and they allow the younger generation of politicians to make necessary changes on their behalf. Be it gradual or not.
Where are you right now Branndon?
– Still in Texas. Still living the cardboard box dream. Waiting for what seems to be an indecisive machine of the economy, with no stimulus payment in sight.
Can you tell a little about an average day in Branndon Kelloggs life these days?
– I spend most of my time reading the news and looking at ancient discoveries in foreign countries. I really enjoy the stories of dinosaurs and ancient man.
Also, music is a must go to for me. Music is something that keeps me optimistic, So I sometimes tune in to streaming apps with free music.
Any non-average days?
– The only idea that comes to mind is every day is a gamble. And we must survive no matter what.
Sometimes, the weather gets hectic as the population soars in Texas. Seems many are moving here, away from other bigger states such as California and New York.
The income threshold is by and far larger than Texas. California is almost unlivable. Just for an apartment in San Francisco, it is expected you would have an income level close to a 6 Figure income.
With a 6 figure income, what salary will be on your paycheck?
– According to a 2018 article, it would be around $102,750 in San Francisco. That is a lot more than minimum wage.
Either way, even with minimum wage in places northernmost, it is still very expensive to rent and live in the golden state.
As for my theoretical paycheck, it would typically look like a $12 per hour pay check. With the more recent Covid 19 Pandemic, I would almost think landing a job with good hours is like being given an emergency blanket and a cup of tea.
So what you’re basically saying is that even if Texas is flooded with more an more extreme weather, families still move there because of their financial situation?
– Yes that happens.
I sort of want to think they move based upon income levels.
I just read via BBC that Donald Neely, a homeless black guy in Galveston, Texas, have recently sued both the city and it’s police force because he was dragged through the streets in cuffs with a rope tied to them. Neelys case was rejected by the court, which makes the whole damn thing even worse. What the hell’s going on at your turf Branndon?
– I think it mostly had to do with what is enforced and what isn’t really necessary. Seeing that this is a more extreme case and not professional, this one is one of the worst examples of keeping the country safe. It is unnecessary to target a minority group based upon skin or ethnicities.
Over here, I have not seen nor heard of the same barbaric display. This town seems to be quaint and can be rather crowded.
If he is to ask for reparations he should seek it through a higher justice system. I think it is one of the worst things to see on television. African Americans need to be respected.
Not become an object of thrown hatred. It is irrational to attack the man that way.
I’m a little worried. The States have been «Leader of the free world» for a long time now. China’s coming up as the predecessor. Have you ever thought of the fact that a dictatorship is about to take leadership?
– Globally, we are definitely cursed. The history of man will repeat itself time and again. Yes, it is worrying that the world by large will be controlled by a much larger infrastructure. The only thing we got is truth and peaceful measuring of the globe. Wouldn’t you say it’s puzzling not many openly question the future.
They rather expect it.
Yeah, I guess you’re right. I dunno, maybe that is just the curse of mankind.
Artists especially have pinpointed this thoroughly. Do you believe art has the capacity to find a way for the future, when world leaders don’t seem to get the job done?
– I strongly believe art is one of the only few things left worth trying for. There is nothing more powerful than the arts, be it music or painting. Eventually the political world will have to let art lead the way.
What are your thoughts on «The American Dream» and as a consequence that it’s «every man for himself»?
– The American Dream is a consequence within itself. Not everything is perfect in America. We have beauty and we have our ugliness. To make it a far reaching goal in the capitalistic nation is the American Dream. We only have our sights on the glory days and not the reality in front of us. There’s much to be learned.
Where do you see America in 10 years from now Branndon?
– I don’t see it lasting the way it was. I think we have hit the last turning point in it’s long running history. Just like Old Rome, eventually the empire will change and become something different. America has a lot to squander.
Thanks for you time Branndon. Anything you’d like to elaborate on as we finish our conversation?
– Don’t give up your daily routine, no matter the difficulties or changes in the world. Always think of everything.
From the Editor: If you’d like to help Branndon with a little funding in order to get him on his feet, please PayPal him here: PayPal.me/bmk19897