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With just a few gray hairs in the copper mop on his head, Joseph looks younger than his 49 years. Faded tattoos cover his arms, back and legs with figures and scenes from the Bhagavad Gita, the book of Vedic scripture that he says saved his life. Joseph has an Irish face, taut and hard-angled, with steely blue eyes that radiate intensity even when he cracks a joke.
He speaks with bravado—he plays the hero in most of the stories he tells—but he is just as kindhearted. Colleen Armour, who works for Team Cindy—the Brain Aneurysm Foundation fundraising group that Joseph represented in the race—says Joseph’s true nature shines through his gruff visage. “Tattoos are just tattoos,” she says.
Born John Joseph McGowan in October 1962, he was one of three brothers who grew up under an abusive, alcoholic father, passing through orphanages and nightmarish foster homes before landing on the streets. For refusing to rat out the guy for whom he was selling angel dust, he did a stint in Spofford Juvenile Center in the Bronx and, later on, a group home in upstate New York.
After a year in the Navy, a passion for punk rock led him to go AWOL for a decade and a half and head to the Lower East Side when drugs and prostitutes were on every corner. That atmosphere bred The Cro-Mags, a band whose raw riffs and streetwise lyrics propelled them to punk rock royalty in the mid-1980s with Joseph as the frontman. Joseph continues to play with the band today, summoning the energy of his 20-something self to sprint across the stage, shout into the mic, and punctuate songs with stage dives.
Paradoxes are at the core of Joseph’s biography. He stuck with a vegetarian diet even while in the throes of addiction. “I’d be smoking crack and still go get a wheat grass juice,” he says with a laugh. He squatted in abandoned buildings, pulled scams to get by, and pummeled his enemies.
He also found spiritual fulfillment in the Hare Krishna movement and organized benefit concerts to feed the homeless. Joseph’s stories could fill a book, and they have: He authored his memoir, The Evolution of a Cro-Magnon, in 2007. src
You've got to watch this video of John schooling us on how to make a proper juices and smoothies. I was expecting to see a general overview of how to use a juicer and what sort of vegetables to use with maybe a joke here and there. What I saw was actually a bit of John's colorful genius mixed in with his love of healthy living.