Subversion Gone Wrong: Inside ‘Bumfights’

In the late 1990s, when Ryen McPherson was a teenager living in the idyllic San Diego suburb of La Mesa, California, he met two middle-aged homeless men named Donnie Brennan and Rufus Hannah.

McPherson, an aspiring filmmaker, was always tooling around town with a video camera. Brennan and Hannah had each spent time in the U.S. Army, with Brennan serving in the Vietnam War. Both men, who’d struggled with alcoholism for years, were recognizable in the area, a quiet place the two sought out after briefly living on the streets of San Diego. People in La Mesa, namely the police, would let them be. But McPherson’s unlikely connection with Brennan and Hannah — for better andworse — would propel them all into the media limelight, and reshape their lives completely.

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