Puns, Politics, and Pork Chops: The ‘insignificant magnitude’ of T-Bone Slim
Keywords:T-Bone Slim, Matti Valentinepoika Huhta, hobo, tramp, Industrial Workers of the World, homelessness, working class literature, food, fame, the body, hunger, labour, satire
Hobos have been idealised for their supposed freedom from social restraints. A notable exception to this romantic tendency was the work of the Finnish-American anarchist newspaper columnist, songwriter and member of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), T-Bone Slim (Matt Valentine Huhta). T Bone Slim’s writings were radical interventions in debates around class, labour and exploitation in 1920s and 1930s America. His work was deeply satirical, with a scathing wit reminiscent of Mark Twain. Focussing on his representation of food, fame, and the body, this article argues that Slim’s work represents a challenge to the idealistic portrayal of the hobo that appears in many contemporary autobiographies and in later academic scholarship.