Cornelius Vango Interview

DH: You’ve been traveling and squatting on government land for over a decade. When did you start and what made you decide to live this “anarchist outlaw” lifestyle?

CV: Some people don’t have a choice to live a normal life and I am one of those people. Traveling and squatting allowed me to escape homelessness and aimlessness in the midwest.

DH: You restored the library in slab city and made it what it is today. If you could only travel with three books what would they be and why?

CV: I can travel with books and do often. Typically, I don’t carry hard backs in my pack because they’re heavy. I always carry my special guidebook (iykyk). I did backpack with a paperback copy of hitchhikers guide to the galaxy. In my subaru I have a handbook of nonviolence along with a handbook of jui jitsu, kendo, and a copy of sun tzu’s art of war as well as some mangas. In my school bus, I have an assorted collection of materials including a vintage magazine collection that I have compiled from abandoned buildings I have explored.

DH: How long have you been riding freight trains and do you have a personal moniker you draw on boxcars?

CV: I started riding trains in March 2022 so by rider stadards, I am still pretty new. Yes, I do have a few tags but they’re not limited to boxcars specifically [I’d suggest looking up other types of railcars, boxcars are just one of many types].

DH: Have you ever been to the National Hobo Convention in Britt, Iowa? Any plans on running for royalty?

CV: I was at the last Hobo Convention and saw some old friends and made some new ones. It was my first time. No, I will not be running for royalty until they have a non-binary category.

DH: I’m sure you’ve met some pretty wild characters, seen some crazy shit, and been to a few rad places over the years. Any that stand out you’ll never forget?

CV: Yes.

DH: You’re a talented artist. How long have you been playing and writing music?

CV: I was a choir kid growing up and took up bass guitar in 9th grade. I officially started playing guitar in- i believe- 2015. I crudely play a number of other instruments. 

DH: Your YouTube channel has almost 4,000,000 views and over 22,000 subscribers “How Far Will My 200$ Car Go?” was one of my favorite series to watch. Any plans for more multi episode series in the future?

CV: I’m very glad to hear you liked that series, I feel it is underappreciated and it really was the culmination of my skills up to that point. I am proud of it. I don’t have current plans for a series right now, but it may be the time to start thinking about one.

DH: Satan is almost always by your side and so well behaved. When did she come into your life and how has she changed it?

CV: She was abandoned in Slabs. She was about 4 months old when she ran under my van in the parking lot of The Range where she had been let loose. She was scared of the loud music and was trying to hide. I put up an e-flyer for a lost dog and shared it all over the internet and there was no response, but even the first time I looked into her eyes, I knew she was going to change my life. Satan is a registered service dog, she goes almost everywhere with me. I trained her myself to perform a number of skilled tasks and she amazes me every day with her intelligence and loyalty. I get her only the best food and occasional dumpster delicacies (her favorites are french fries and hamburgers). Every now and then I acquire a very expensive steak and cook it rare for her.

DH: Any advice for the younger generation thinking of riding the rails, squatting, or traveling? 

CV: Get connected with people who are already actively doing those things. Show up at radical events. Look up activist workshops in the nearest city. Go to zine fests, get involved with activism that defends marginalized people. You will meet radical punks. Don’t hop on a train for your first time without an experienced guide. Most people are less experienced than they say they are.

DH: Thank you for your time. Is there anything you’d like to add? 

CV: If there is something crazy that you’ve been wanting to do, just fucking do it. Satan Thanks You.

Photo Credit: Cornelius Vango

Photo Credit: Cornelius Vango

Follow Cornelius Vango on Instagram HERE.

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