Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Culture. Show all posts

Thursday, June 22, 2017

The Consultation Plague

**This was originally the last section of the previous post. But I'm weary of 2,000 word posts. Consider the split an act of mercy.**




The last paragraph in my previous post was hard-earned. It literally (proper use) took years to get there because at the outset I unintentionally became caught up in the entertainer's praise-performance-praise cycle without being completely aware it had happened. Facebook took over for the old blog making matters worse, then I was convinced to follow the Toddzilla X "brand" path in 2012 and the dopamine cycle spiraled out of control when my life became a product to be marketed online...The Matrix Marketplace. Depression and a generalized and growing innate anger predictably set in as I tried to broaden my appeal via video production and podcasting. The only sustained respites between 2012 and when I discovered the wonders of depression-busting powers of psilocybin last April: traveling.

It wasn't until last year when I embraced that this (and later on my photography) isn't a "product" to be submitted to the mob for mass-appeal and approval or, worse, to be marketed in The Matrix Marketplace, that I could ultimately embrace that my message is micro-niche: intended for “my people". The Unbearably Splintered. The rest?  They're never going to get it. Why bother? Great question. Fuck ‘em.

Destination: Death

THE DELUSION OF THE ENLIGHTENED LIFE

Life’s a journey along a series of uncharted paths where only one thing is certain: death is the unavoidable destination.  There are few certainties. Etch that in stone.

This terrorizes our species of bald apes. With a sense of consciousness and its attached ego still stuck in its wailing infant stage, we cling to various mythologies conveniently placing us at the Center of the Universe™ and providing the comforting illusion that we’re cheating death. All we have to do: behave, believe, and deliver Mammon Tribute to the pulpit or kill an infidel! My concern is no longer escapist religion. Some people need it. I understand that and some days even empathize!

(But, honestly: “if something’s too good to be true…”)

That being said, the sad effect of embracing the Universal Sky Daddy Delusion is it often prevents the faithful from properly valuing our most precious commodity: life. And, embracing their journey for what it is.

Saturday, June 17, 2017

Plan Less. Live More.



Along with an infamous "Hostility Toward Wealth" Facebook post that destroyed some deep friendships, this has probably become my favorite thing I've written. It's from March or April 2015 and written inside my tent in Salento, Colombia. I have to admit, and with only a slight, forced degree of humility: its nice to be able to inspire yourself! Thanks for the organic reminder, Mr. Campbell.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Updating the Operating System: γνῶθι σεαυτόν

Reworked and updated excerpt from Navigating the Rubicon (9/2009)




The Trailhead

I've never written much publicly on my lead-up to this personal Odyssey. I always say it began in August 2004. In 2005,  I read a biography on Jean-Jacques Rousseau which introduced me to  the idea of unfettered commitment to truth and the phrase Vitam Impendere Vero which loosely translated means “truth before everything, even at the cost of death."

Thursday, June 1, 2017

The Abyss (Archive, 2011)


 “He who fights with monsters should be careful lest he thereby become a monster. And if thou gaze long into an abyss, the abyss will also gaze into thee.”  
-Nietzsche, Beyond Good & Evil




I’ve never read much Nietzsche, and likely never will. I tried getting thru Thus Spake Zarathustra and couldn’t. However, these two sentences have helped articulate something that I’ve struggled with for nearly two years: The idea that when you dare to confront and examine the darker, less flattering parts of life, the Abyss, your own darker, less flattering traits are inadvertently revealed to you. I believe one of the most difficult and important choices one can make is whether we choose to see what inhabits our own depths. It’s the stuff of mythology, and nearly derailed me.

Nietzsche’s Abyss was introduced to me by Henry Rollins via my favorite podcast, WTF with Marc Maron. Despite being a comedian, Maron’s conversations typically pivot toward insightful, introspective examinations of our shared, needy, frail egos and how they influence our choices and relationships. In other words, how we’re all more alike in our fucked-upitude than we care to admit!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Synapse Pruning & The Signal to Noise Ratio

First of all, I know I never finished the hitchhiking updates from November. I made it home safely and felt bad about not finishing until I remembered: no one's reading them anyhow! So...who cares? Literally! If you happen to be an anomaly, I apologize. I'll finish them , eventually. Then you'll be able to hear all about the Russian trucker watching porn as he DROVE, or more accurately swerved, down I-80 in Iowa. True story. Good times. But, not why I'm here this early morning...

This link is about how motherhood changes women's brains.

Interesting read, sure, but pay attention to the part about "synapse pruning". It's the brain's way of, as I like to put it, "getting rid of that which does not fucking matter to make room for that which does." And make whatever remains more efficient.

Friday, November 11, 2016

11/10/16: The Nebraska Exodus

Particularly after Phoenix, I was smart enough to let things marinate until the wide angle view of perspective arrived. Before Fort Morgan, this was useful, but the forthcoming hitchhiking stretch could/should have been written in the moment. If you’re one who enjoys the light “then this happened” fare, you’ll dig it. There's plenty coming for the rest of you.

Thursday, November 10th

After struggling for 36-hours, I finally snapped back to Raton-normal. The new body clock woke me up at 4:45am thrilled that, despite Colorado's November chill, there was neither condensation nor frost. With the exit ramp’s lights, breakdown was effortless and by 5:30 I paid coffee-homage to 2008's Conoco Shrine—unaware that I’d stealth camped for the last time on this trip. In fact, that morning I planned (ha!) to camp across Nebraska and Iowa for the foreseeable future!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

11/9/16: Colorado Springs to Ft. Morgan - Building Antibodies

November 9th began drowning in reactionary cynicism. It ended honoring a dead friend and the effect he never knew he had; a humble 1st person tribute to the resonating ghost of my first ‘real” ride from a tortured man who'd become infamous and dismissed in death simply as a cop-killing monster. The man I met was much more.November 9th began drowning in reactionary cynicism. It ended honoring a dead friend and the effect he never knew he had; a humble 1st person tribute to the resonating ghost of my first ‘real” ride from a tortured man who'd become infamous and dismissed in death simply as a cop-killing monster. The man I met was much more.

HAPPY TANGENT: Good news! For this trip, the last post is mostly it for naked political commentary. Congratulations! You survived! Have a Tootsie Roll. Or a big bag of Freedom Cheetos. No, that wasn't a political statement. It was me having some fun with your triggers.

11/9/16: The Electoral Post-Mortem

With Trump’s election, Wednesday morning stood in hilariously stark contrast to Tuesday’s. Whatever “connection” I’d felt just 24-hours earlier was dead and replaced by a generalized sense of annoyed cynicism. The early hours of November 9th felt like a complete personal political post-mortem. In fact, they were only the initial incisions.

Graced with hindsight, the aforementioned warning bells were now deafening. I thought back to 2008 & 2009 and the dozens of conversations with people so disgusted with "the system" that they’d rather blow it up than have it maim them any further. I remembered the conversations in Peru: warning people, to their semi-arrogant “progressive’ amusement, that Trump was a threat. And that one should never underestimate or bet against willful 'merican ignorance.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

11/8/16: Raton to Colorado Springs - The Orange Interloper Ascends


Until the very end, election day 2016 was refreshingly non-political. For at least 2-years, if not longer, almost everyone had been ready for November 8, 2016 to end. Rather than a righteous expression of democracy, to most Americans the electoral process has become a tortuous, brutal endurance test. Be reasonably assured: anyone preaching recycled, long-winded, election-based “patriotic” American ideals are full of shit and simply wanting to hear themselves cackle. The senses-battering saturation with all conceivable means of spin is exhausting. By the start of any election year, people are just trying to survive the carpet bombing style propaganda campaigns disguised as “discourse” and non-stop political advertisements. In an odd way, I’d escaped the final onslaught by being on the road! I’d figured out my cellphone predicament the night before but as election day dawned I was without data which mercifully left me disconnected.

The night was cold but the Bellyache Mountain again performed admirably. The bag/bivy tandem combined with the plush grass to create a perfectly comfortable, restful nest. Until I got out and started shivering! As in Flagstaff, the bivy had a coat of thick frost and my water bottle had frozen. Unlike Flagstaff and Albuquerque: no condensation. Anywhere. At all! Bazinga! This time, I was (finally) wise enough to cover the backpack with its rain fly, so the Palisade avoided the frost and its accompanying melt.

Monday, November 7, 2016

11/7/16: Election Eve On The Santa Fe Trail

Albuquerque-Raton, NM

It wasn’t a restful night, but I slept well enough in my creepy dirt nest. The first thing I noticed when waking up at 6:30: everything was soaked. Again. This time, rather than condensation: desert dew. Since I’d slept outside of the bivy, the sleeping bag bore the brunt. As did the uncovered backpack. But, moisture aside, the sleeping bag rocked again and the shell kept its insides dry. Still, I again needed to dry it before stowing it for very long. At least I was still at a Flying J. Easy fix.

The second thing: a car parked nearby in the nothingness! It was just 40-50 yards away and sitting directly beneath the massive sign luring I-40’s traffic to the Flying J. I don’t know which creeped me out more: a car so close to my nest or that I hadn’t heard it pull in!

“Whatever, Adventureman. The sun is up. You’re visible. Everything about this nest is creepy and generally uncomfortable. Quit gawking. Get moving. Dumbass.”

Sunday, November 6, 2016

11/6/16: "Bus, Bus, Foreigner's Tour Bus"

Flagstaff-Albuquerque

After my creepy 4am awakening, the frost coating the bivy convinced me to stay snugly in my sleeping bag for an hour struggling to get more sleep. It was still dark, I had no idea how to deal with the frost layer before re-packing the bivy, and the condensation inside the bivy sack had collected onto the sleeping bag. All new complications needing to be dealt with. And the sun wasn’t even beginning to rise.

I purchased this particular bag in Phoenix because Big Agnes marketed the Bellyache Mountain as having a water resistant outer shell as well as containing “water repellant down”. I’d hesitated switching to a much lighter weight down-bag before because they’re traditionally known to be useless once they get wet.; the down would clump in older bags and they’d lose their ability to retain heat. But, over the last few years, technology has developed to combat that significant problem. If Big Agnes’s “Downtek” worked, the weight/packability would make one worth the investment. Despite the considerable condensation, one thing was certain this Sunday morning: the moisture hadn’t penetrated its outer shell and gotten at me. And it still felt like a furnace! So far, so good. I just didn’t want to extract myself! But, I wanted to spend another night in Flagstaff far less.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

11/5/16: "Remember, Remember the 5th of November"

After almost two weeks, on Flux Capacitor/Guy Fawkes Day, it was time to get moving. With Standing Rock as a tentative “plan” (ha!), we decided north from Phoenix was the best option and around 11am we packed Dexter The Dog into Jefe’s truck and took I-17 toward Flagstaff.

Compared to Nevada, I-17 has an abundance of suitable hitchhiker drop zones once Phoenix’s sprawl is left behind. Jeff generously decided on Camp Verde, 90-miles away; only an hour south of Flagstaff and my new target: I-40 east. Meet the new goal. Same as the old goal.

Friday, November 4, 2016

10/24-11/4/16: Phoenix, AZ - El Jefe Revisited

Some backstory is in order for those who have joined the party since 2010. Jefe and I grew up in the same town and have a history running back to the first Bush administration. He moved west in the late 1990’s, and we managed to stay connected by phone and me paying infrequent visits before and after I myself moved west in 2004. When Chris and I decided in January, 2010 that we’d meet up at Slab City , in the California desert near the Salton Sea, I Dirty Dogged from Santa Fe to Phoenix so Jeff could join us for a night or two. He was there when we encountered Leonard Knight and Kevin Eubank and I believe he even met the infamous Ray. We then occasionally got together in 2013 while we lived in Tucson. For whatever reason, La Casa de Jefe is frequently on the way! We hadn’t seen each other since my move to Chicago in late-2013, so a visit seemed likely from the moment I landed in Las Vegas.

We quickly got re-acquainted, which is never hard, and things quieted down significantly over the next several days. He worked while I spent the mornings with his dog and cat updating my blog, editing video, and contemplating Mexico.

Monday, October 24, 2016

10/24/16: Phoenix - Go Forth Boldly, Young Man

Aside from a rather comical episode of sleep/smartphone induced disorientation leading me to spend 5-10 minutes believing I’d slept thru Phoenix and was arriving in Albuquerque without my backpack, the Greyhound from L.A. to Phoenix was uneventful. I arrived just as the sun rose and spent the next several hours at the terminal waiting for Jefe to get out of work and pick me up.

IMG_6298

Bus stations are never “ordinary”. The collection of humanity gathering at Greyhound always make for superb people watching, and Phoenix is no exception. Along with the typical strutting examples of facial tattoos and recently parolees, I did meet one interesting, familiar character.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

10/23/16: Barstow, CA - Jad, Drifters, and a Dirty Dog Escape

The clouds kept things warmer overnight. I was finally snug and toasty and climatologically undisturbed inside the bivy until around 7:30. I got moving immediately. Just as I finished packing up stray raindrops fell. They didn't stick around, but it was a prelude of later.

I finally had a goal: southwest on I-15.  Barstow. Of course, when hitchhiking there is no way to plan anything. So, I'd just take it a step at a time and let my arrival determine the next move. From Barstow, I was inclined to hitch at least to Flagstaff. But, it's rarely easy to switch interstates and always a crapshoot. I knew nothing useful about the I-40 situation other than there was (apparently) only one direction to go: east. Route 66's killer dies itself it Barstow.

Inexplicably, I went inside to charge and write. Somehow, I'd actually forgotten the 12:30 Barstow Greyhound that would be the best option for both Jeff and I once I arrived in Phoenix. He works early mornings, and an evening arrival would be easiest on him. And me. I wouldn't have to lounge at the luxurious Dirty Dog terminal.

After putzing around for 45-minutes or an hour, I suddenly realized my idiocy. I topped off the water, decided to forego Subway, and hustled over to the exit ramp for the first time hoping some good luck got me to Barstow by noon.

Few things about actual hitchhiking are consistent. One is: expectations and "hoping" that the hitchhiking gods mercifully conspire to assist my pre-conceived plans never works. Whenever I feel like I "need" a ride by a certain time, I never get it. The Hitching Gods have their own ideas. They've repeatedly made it clear that my "plans" (ha!) mean squat.

And thus it went.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

10/22/16: Primm, NV - Parolee Theater (Video)




The night inside the bivy was still slightly chilly, but much better. See, genius? It's worth the extra effort required to, you know, climb inside the damn thing!


Casa del Dirt


Having a live chat to Germany from here. "Viva tech! I hate you! No! I love you! I'm so confused! Hold me..."

Friday, October 21, 2016

10/21/16: Primm, NV - Signal Acquired

Stop me if you heard this before, but I woke up. Cold. Around 4:30. Familiar? Thought so. I'm sick of typing the same embarrassing anecdote in this space. Just go cut n paste this part from the four previous days. Cool? Good.

I rolled out of nest as the sun rose around 6:30 then spent the morning establishing a little routine: sitting at a stool inside the Flying J charging and writing.

I also rediscovered the beauty of Subway's 12" cold cut combo. Eat half in the morning. Half later on. Food? Done! And thank God. Planters and cheap beef sticks were getting really old! I appreciate the low cost, but I'm almost afraid to ask: What animal tastes like that, Matador? Nevadan Desert Snipe? Manbearpig? Or was that something trapped, caged, and butchered beneath Groom Lake?

**Related Fun Fact: Area 51 now shows up on Google Maps . #TheMoreYouKnow #TheTruthIsOutThere**

Thursday, October 20, 2016

10/20/16: Primm, NV - Mormon Ambassadors; A Desert Oasis

The first rule of Hitch Club: don't expect women to pick you up.

The second rule of Hitch Club: Forget vehicles with kiddos.

**Show of hands. How many of you parroted Tyler Durden? That'll teach you to get ahead of me.**

Such silly ride expectations will send you straight into vagabond therapy.

Knowing all this, I didn't even bother looking at the minivan; it was driven by a woman about my age with a teenager in the passenger seat as went by. So I was shocked when I glanced over and noticed them backing down the ramp's wide shoulder toward me!

10/20/16: Jean, NV - Tuning In; Bugging Out

Another cold night turned into a surprisingly chilly day. The winds kicked up and, despite the sun, temps hovered in the upper 60's all day leading to a surprisingly comfortable hoodied Wednesday.

I woke up around 7:45, packed up the gear in a much more efficient fashion, and proudly found myself back at my spot by 8:15--only to discover that nearly all of the trucks were already long gone! In that annoyed moment, I resolved to be awake earlier, much earlier, if I found myself in Jean again Thursday.

The primary theme of the day was set the night before as I lay writing in the nest. "Digital Detox" once again. Presence. Being "here". As I was writing, I found myself hypnotically looking up at the moon and Orion...then back down at my phone as I finished a blog post. I found that almost silly while, at the same time, tried how technology has changed and I needed to adapt; learn to use this connectivity as a tool rather than a habitual crutch.

For much of the day, I sat there with the phone off. No music. Nothing. And in a pseudo meditative state. Completely immersed in where I was and what I was doing. My observational senses heightened because my attention wasn't fragmented between " here" and everywhere else. It was almost intoxicating as I found myself remotely connecting with people from beneath my shade tree. Looking beyond the thin, often judgmental "appearance" veneer as people walked by, pumped their gas, or walked in to get their snacks and drinks.



It's hard to explain, but the general feeling was empathy. And it was borne from having forged a tangible human connection with the "real" world. I remembered this from my other trips, but back then I was typically preoccupied with getting somewhere. Not today. Today, again, wasn't about my personal selfish mobility. It was about really "seeing" people and re-focusing my eyes on the reality of humanity. The trip's personality was beginning to show itself. And, yes. Today, I was the Truck Stop Philosopher. And content with that.

Get On Your Bad Motor Scooter & Ride!

Around mid-afternoon, three loaded down motor scooters, complete with trailers stuffed with gear, pulled into Terrible's. I was fascinated! These guys had taken the bicycle touring idea and adapted it to scooters! I had to check this out!

I slung on the pack, walked over to the gas pumps, introduced myself, and asked what they were up to. They were three guys from Las Vegas in their 20's who were planning an extended scooter tour . This was a little trial run to test things.

My people! They had the explorer's "what's really out there?" mentality and were setting forth in their little motorized ships to see for themselves. With an intense, optimistic sense and embracing of adventure. They'd seemingly embraced the "Live! Now!" notion and I loved them for it. Their almost uncontrollable excited energy was contagious.

When I told them what I'd done since '08, they had a few tactical questions about what to bring, etc. My advice: Dont make my mistake by overthinking. Just go! Don't fucking worry about it. You'll figure your own method out along the way and almost immediately.  In fact, that's part of the fun. Take too much if you must. You can always get rid of it along the way. Overlook something? Get it later.

We chatted at the gas pumps for at least 20-minutes and exchanged social media info before they left, and a large part of me wished I were tagging along. I was excited for them and even slightly envious that they were at the beginning when everything lying ahead was an exciting, invigoratingly nervous mystery! They were "alive"! And, as with the night before, I was struck by the intense reminder of "why I do this".



Meeting these guys, and being able to keep in touch moving forward, tempered any potentially pesky dogma surrounding Digital Detox. They were playing the role of returning to The Cave to show the Upper World to those still chained beneath. Even if it was unintentional and via Instagram.

No. Selfishly hoarding these experiences in a personal vacuum was certainly not the answer. One could effectively argue that the act is the height of self-centered narcissism. Not everyone "can" do this. (The day's empathy at work.) If you can even slightly help these folks by allowing them to experience these moments and insights, even second hand, why wouldn't you?

As these young men sped away on their scooters, I made friends with my smart phone. This thing can be a positive asset if it's "used" and not "using" me.

Shortly thereafter, I walked up to a NHP trooper and asked him to clarify the state's hitching law. What I learned? That the only part of hitchhiking that's illegal: raising your thumb! I could sit at the I-15 exit ramp. I could have a sign. I could even WALK the fucking interstate! I just couldn't...hold my thumb in the air. 

Really?

"What. The. Infernal. Fuck?"

Time to Go

Looking back on it, my useful time in Jean came to an abrupt end when these scooters sputtered off. That was what I needed, and from that point forward, I was first being gently nudged along. Then not so gently.

People always implore me to "be careful". I've never had trouble with rides. At ALL. It's always the seldom seen other travelers, "Rainbow Family" Dipshits, or occasional homeless dude that wigs me out. West Virginia in '12 for example.

Early in the evening as I was listening to the Cubs-Dodgers again, I was joined at my little desert Oasis by a desperately sketchy and disconcertingly nervous little road rat who spent much of the evening scampering around hunting and harassing disinterested truckers for rides. It was as though someone had methed-up his Newports. Think: overly aggressive panhandler. Of course he stopped over long enough to bum a smoke and use my Sharpie to make a sign. Then he vanished to the ramp to try getting to Primm's Flying J that night.

I hoped he'd have some luck, but unfortunately he didn't and would reappear shortly before I decided to bed down and prepare for an early Thursday.

"Just great!", I thought.

"Now I'd have to sneak back to my spot then lie awake in my rocky little dirt nest to see if Tweaky McBallsuck found me."

Plus, I was sure that, in the interim, he'd ask for another smoke simply to use it as a segue to tell me all about how the cops keep trying to frame him. Or how "that lyin' bitch fucked him over". They almost always do. It's fucks like this that makes life more difficult out here from top to bottom. At least the stories are good.

Thankfully he vanished. I don't know if he got a ride or what, but once he went behind the truck stop, I never saw him again. No complaints there. I did lie awake for a bit but, after the events of being found the night before, I was mindful of being overly paranoid while still not being careless. I set the alarm for 5am and dozed off, on top of the bivy again, around 11.

I woke up at 4:40. Cold. Again! I packed up in the dark, it was still an hour before sunrise, and got to the parking lot around 5:15. I was still a bit late. Several of the trucks had already left. I drew up an "I-40, 70, or 80" sign determined to at least try my best to catch a truck and get moving. No luck. Not even close.



Around 8:30, I was looking at my phone trying to connect with Scooter Guys, when a shiny little black sports car occupied by a couple of young black guys pulled up to my spot beneath the tree...and asked me, with excessive, contrived politeness, for money.

I laughed. Obnoxiously. Out loud.

"Really? You're asking ME for money? If I had money, I'd be on a bus!", I lied.

"What's a bus?", the driver answered.  Without a hint of humor or irony.

Then the passenger took over. He looked me up and down and immediately I knew where this was going.

"That's a nice jacket. Nice boots. Saw that phone. We could just come back and take all that shit. And your wallet, too."

Again, I laughed as the car began slowly driving off. The passenger said something to the effect of "see ya later" as they turned right toward I-15. I looked him dead in the eye and smiled as if to say, "Yeah. Maybe I'll see you, too", then eyeballed them as they got on I-15 north back toward Vegas.

Well, shit. Yup. Definitely time to go.

I drew on the events of the past two nights and didn't let paranoia rule the day. I was pretty sure that they were just punks looking for an soft, gullible target and had failed. Otherwise, they were poor excuses for thugs!

Nevertheless, I couldn't be certain.  So, I waited for 15-20 minutes to see if they returned, went inside to grab some beef sticks and water, then walked to the I-15 southbound ramp. My pesky decision was suddenly made. Fuck everything to do with dealing with Las Vegas. I was going south. At least as far as the next exit, Primm, where I knew there was a Flying J.

The only question? Would anyone stop? I was bolstered by the fact that it was only around 9am and I had never been completely shutout when I'd spent a full day actually hitching.



I drew up a sign for Primm, then sat for nearly three hours. Right about the time I began wondering if this was the day I'd finally get shutout, I looked over to see that a minivan had pulled over and was backing up on my direction.

My first ride was from the most unlikely of sources. And far more than a positive counterbalance to the morning's silliness...