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Seen These Signs in Downtown Austin? We Met the Guy Behind Them

You may have seen them on your morning commute: handmade signs, around Lamar and Barton Springs, offering services and sentiments that seem more than a little bit off.

Public Notice: That Rash Won't Just Go Away

R.I.P. Weird, 1969 – 2014. We Will Miss You!

If You Lived Here, You'd Be Homeless By Now

Some even have a phone number attached:

I Buy Broken Dreams: 512-333-1984

They're the work of one person – a homeless man in his 30s named David. Not that he refers to himself by that name. "I go by the name of Liar, which has nothing to do with the instrument," he says.

David came by the KUT studios after we left a message at one of the numbers on his signs. He's been putting them up for months, close to his campsite near Barton Springs.

David recalls how one day, he saw a sign that read "Are you pregnant? We can help." "I just thought to my cynical self, it would be a lot cooler if it had my face on there saying, 'If you're not pregnant, I can help,'" he says.

So the sign went up – plain text, without his face, but with a voicemail number on a free, web-based service like Google Voice. "The next morning I woke up and I literally had thousands of missed calls and texts," he says.

Credit Veronica Zaragovia/KUT

"I really go the minimum effort, maximum result," David says. That's evident in his messages, many of which tiptoe to the edge of offensiveness (if they don't teeter over). Take his sign reading "I Fix Broken Women."

"A lot of my signs are just spoofs from other signs  – I fix this, I buy broken houses," he says. "For me, it just was a natural thing and I knew that it would get a reaction."

David is homeless by choice. "I've lost some things in life that can't be replaced," he says, "It keeps me alive, out there, exposed to everything. I'm not going to be like this for forever, but for right now, I'm OK with it."

He says his brother died of a heart attack at 26 due to a genetic defect – and that tragedy has seemingly informed everything he's done since.

"Most people in my family have heart issues, and that's part of the reason why I'm … not in a race to get ahead for someone else," he says. "I could die as soon as I walk out of this studio. So I'll feel a whole lot better as I'm laying on the ground that I did what I wanted with myself, rather than doing what somebody else wanted me to do for them."

Texas Standard reporter Joy Diaz has amassed a lengthy and highly recognized body of work in public media reporting. Prior to joining Texas Standard, Joy was a reporter with Austin NPR station KUT on and off since 2005. There, she covered city news and politics, education, healthcare and immigration.
Wells has been a part of KUT News since 2012, when he was hired as the station's first online reporter. He's currently the social media host and producer for Texas Standard, KUT's flagship news program. In between those gigs, he served as online editor for KUT, covering news in Austin, Central Texas and beyond.
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