Net user lives in tent FWD

Tom Boland (
Mon, 20 Apr 1998 17:53:33 -0700 (PDT)

FWD Feb. 2, 1996 excerpt from


SAN RAFAEL, California (CNN) -- As if there weren't enough proof that the
Internet is the latest and greatest craze, one wirehead has certainly
proven that it's all that he needs to survive.

One of the things that Neal Berry might want to be looking for as he
cruises down the information superhighway is a new pad. But up until
recently all he needed was his laptop, cellular phone, a super-fast modem,
and a tent.

"People don't understand why I chose to live on the streets, but I don't
understand why they're willing to pay $500 a month just for a place to
live," he said. "All a house is, is a glorified cardboard box."

OK, but ... when police in San Rafael discovered his digs under two
freeways, they also found the juice that keeps Berry plugged in: 13
batteries, at least three of them being 24-volt 50-pound cells costing $90
a piece that were taken from a state transportation department worksite.
Berry says that he found the batteries under the bridge.

Berry, 22, was arrested on charges of theft and possession of stolen
property, carrying a sentence of 90 days in jail. It was his first offense
and he was later released after serving five days.

Berry, who used to work as shipping clerk for $9 an hour, decided that he
didn't want to throw his money away on rent and used his paycheck on
computer gear -- $2,000 for a Toshiba laptop and $500 on a modem.

He also paid $35 for an account with a computer bulletin board with e-mail;
$60 on his cellular phone bill; $50 for membership at a gym where he took
showers; $42 for a storage shed for clothes and other possessions that he
was afraid would be stolen in the tent, and $12 for a mailbox.

"With me, instead of watching TV six hours a day, I'm on line, talking to
real live people," he said from jail.

Berry says that now he thinks he'll move on to Oregon, where he wants to
give up his wired-homeless lifestyle. "I'm going to move, find work, get a
place and eventually save money and buy more hardware and software and
books, so I can learn how to program," he said.

While some might view Berry as unorthodox, his ambitions are quite normal
and cutting-edge. He wants to be "Not a programmer -- a network specialist.
They make more money and they're more in demand."


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