"The world does not reward honesty and independence, it rewards obedience and service. It’s a world of concentrated power, and those who have power are not going to reward people who question that power."-Chomsky

"The trouble with self-delusion, either in a person or a society, is that reality doesn't care what anybody believes, or what story they put out. Reality doesn't "spin." Reality does not have a self-image problem. Reality does not yield its workings to self-esteem management." -J.H. Kunstler

"You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows."-Dylan

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

12/31/08: Winter Quarters--2009 and Beyond

As I posted yesterday, Friar Chris and I had in August tentatively planned an extended trip to Mexico and South America to begin this month. Nothing ever goes as planned. That plan slowly morphed into something else, something much larger, something resembling a general plan with an ultimate outcome, rather than nomadic adventure. We’ve refrained from timetables, or even setting an “order” of things and as of yet have only tentatively decided on what will happen in 2009.

I never realized how much I enjoyed writing. The revelation came while I was in Portland staying with Dave over July 4th weekend, and I spent most of the time on his laptop updating the blog! I also spent dozens of hours on Chris’ laptop during my extended stays in Denver this summer. This ambitious idea’s seed sprouted while I was in Nashville, North Carolina, and recapping everything on my return to New Mexico after this summer’s exploits. What has become slowly apparent is that I seem to have found the voice that I could never quite seem to grasp while I was on the radio. I always found it difficult to try to do something with any depth one break, then be backselling shitty bands and hocking shitty used cars the next.

Just like last weeks!

We’re going to combine common passions: Travel, adventure, exploration, photography, philosophy and… society. And, we are going to write a book about it.

What is that voice? What are we going to write about? The idea of another ‘Into the Wild’ personally makes me sick, and the world needs another generic “travel journal” like I need another cavity. For me to embrace the idea, it needs a soul. As is usually the case, I need only to look at where my writing has naturally gone: the people I meet, their lives, and how they see and fit into the world, and the system. And, ultimately a disconnected observation of the system itself. The Matrix.

Each of our experiences are different, and when we meet each other, separate of the Matrix, each of our lives are altered just a bit. Ciel. Pat. Kim. Ken. Cesar. Richard. Bree. Rich!

To go a bit further, and to borrow from Howard Beale:

“Because the only truth [we] know is what [we] get over this tube. Right now, there is … an entire generation that never knew anything that didn't come out of this tube. This tube is the gospel, the ultimate revelation. This tube can make or break Presidents, Popes, Prime Ministers. This tube is the most awesome, god-damned force in the whole godless world. And woe is us if it ever falls into the hands of the wrong people… [Controlling] the most awesome, god-damned propaganda force in the whole godless world, who knows what shit will be peddled for truth. So, you listen to me! Listen to me! Television is not the truth. Television is a god-damned amusement park. Television is a circus, a carnival, a traveling troupe of acrobats, story tellers, dancers, singers, jugglers, sideshow freaks, lion tamers and football players. We're in the boredom-killing business. So if you want the truth, go to your God, go to your gurus, go to yourselves because that's the only place you're ever gonna find any real truth. But man, you're never gonna get any truth from us. We'll tell you anything you want to hear. We lie like hell! We'll tell you that Kojack always gets the killer, and nobody ever gets cancer in Archie Bunker's house. And no matter how much trouble the hero is in, don't worry. Just look at your watch - at the end of the hour, he's gonna win. We'll tell you any shit you want to hear. We deal in illusions, man. None of it is true! But you people sit there day after day, night after night, all ages, colors, creeds - we're all [that] you know. You… believe the illusions we're spinning here. You're beginning to think that the tube is reality and that your own lives are unreal. You do whatever the tube tells you. You dress like the tube, you eat like the tube, you raise your children like the tube. You even think like the tube. This is mass madness. You maniacs. In God's name, you people are the real thing. We are the illusion. So turn off your television sets. Turn them off now. Turn them off right now. Turn them off and leave them off. Turn them off right in the middle of this sentence I am speaking to you now. Turn them off!"

That’s ultimately what I intend to do, and what I achieved in limited amounts this summer: discover the truth about who you are, who I am, who WE are, separate from this filter and these definitions we seem to depend upon to tell us what the world is. The producers of these images and ideas coming through your television sets are simply using them to sell you something: conformity, agenda, and an idea of success and purpose through different kinds of fear. Fear of people, ideology, and imposed definitions of success… and failure. Ones that you have accepted. In the end, they demand that you to submit to a system that is NOT in your best interest; that’s meant to have you willingly enter into a state of indentured servitude; a compliant financial slavery. I intend to look beneath the image presented to us, and see for myself exactly what kind of world we live in. And…talk about it. I’ll never lack of material.

That is a very broad outline of the deeper reasons, but it’s also sad that anyone can go nearly anywhere on the globe today-all you need is money! What makes something unique is how you get there, whom you meet along the way, and how the experience changes you while deepening and broadening your perspective. You don’t get that from a window seat on a 747. There’s no adventure left in the world. Nothing left to explore. There will never be another Marco Polo, Magellan, or even Lewis & Clark. You are always following someone else’s trail. In the 21st century, you need to create your own, and it would seem that the only way to do that is to reject unnecessary convenience, which ironically always seems to be the things that cost money! So, in that sense, and Chris and I are in agreement on this, it would be pointless to stash thousands of dollars away simply to follow the paths of others. I’ve never been much of a follower.

All that being said, we’ve come up with a few rough ideas of adventures we may embark upon. I also love the idea of taking suggestions, even challenges. I believe we’re going to incorporate that idea into the overall scheme to make it a bit more interactive. We’re going to add a PayPal link so people can donate money if they’d like. Chris and I both met people who offered money, but we never felt comfortable taking it. We’ve come to the conclusion that that’s really absurd. I myself had countless people tell me that they “always wanted to do something like that”, but for whatever reason never felt they could. This was simply their way of participating in the one way they felt they could. Coupled with the suggestions/challenges I hope that we can utilize the internet to make it more of an interactive experience. Chris’ walk across the country struck a chord with people, as did my wander this summer. Why not let people take part?

Current Schemes:

The Clark- Lewis: A reverse Lewis & Clark (Map Below)

Starting in either Great Falls or Billings, Montana and kayaking the length of the Missouri River to St. Louis, then taking the Mississippi to New Orleans and the Gulf of Mexico. Quite a costly beginning to this; neither of us own a kayak, and I’ve never even been in one! This trip would be self-sustained of course camping along the river, and resupplying in river towns along the way. The route takes us through Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, along the border of Nebraska and Iowa, then across Missouri to the Mississippi. We’ve tentatively decided on this for the departure trip, to begin in May or June of 2009 because of the early spring climate in Montana. The route is in the neighborhood of 4,000 miles, is with the current, and would take several months…and cost a lot of money! We would use separate single paddler, open water kayaks and would decide where we go once in the Gulf along the way. Possibilities include paddling the Florida coast, the Texas coast, or stopping down for a month or two to raise money. And, of course selling the kayaks is a very real possibility, especially after 4,000 miles in them!

The Danube: Germany to the Black Sea (Map Below)

This sounds fascinating to me. We would more than likely fly into London, then cross the channel into France. There are a series of rivers that takes you thru Paris, to the Rhine in Germany. We would then somehow portage the (relatively) short distance from the Rhine to the Danube. The Danube begins in the Black Forrest, and passes thru Vienna, Austria then into Eastern Europe including Budapest, Belgrade, along the Serbian/Romanian then Bulgarian/Romanian borders, finally emptying into the Black Sea a bit south of Odessa (Ukraine). This route is in the 2-3,000-mile range, with the current and IS old Europe. From the Black Sea, we have plethora of options. We could take the Ob north into the Ukraine and the old Soviet Union, however that limits us due to the weather. The other, and more likely option, is south along the Bulgarian coast to the ancient Constantinople, now Istanbul. Muslim country. Istanbul connects the Black Sea to the Aegean Sea, which separates Greece and Turkey, and takes one into the Mediterranean. We would then kayak the entire northern Mediterranean coast. Greece, including Athens, Albania, Montenegro, Croatia, Italy, France, Spain, and then symbolically through the Straits of Gibraltar. This trip is a monster, and I love this idea!

Africa: Volunteering/Observing

This is the one that is perhaps the “most” everything. Adventurous, dangerous, rewarding, educational, enlightening, and utterly infuriating. Somehow, I believe this one will happen. Chris and I both have connections with relief agencies, and a desire to get on the ground, help out, AND see for ourselves not only the state of humanity in Africa, but how these “relief” agencies actually operate…and the levels of corruption on all sides. This has been of personal interest to me since I volunteered in New Orleans & Mississippi after Katrina. I was astounded that even through all that destruction and suffering, agenda, corruption, and self-interest reigned supreme. I’ll never give a red cent to the Red Cross, and know of many other who are disgusted at their for-profit practices under the guise of charity. How quickly we forget the scandal after 9/11. As was the case after Katrina, when you attempt to go thru the “proper channels”, you’re ultimately told that it would be best to send cash. Horseshit. If you do a little research, you’ll find how most of these organizations are in the business of direct marketing. Marketing to naïve, idealistic college students. Selling “relief” as an “experience” and a chance to immerse yourselves in a quaint culture! Of course, you pay a hefty price for this “experience” $3,000 to upwards of $10,000 not including airfare. There’s cover charge to volunteer. After chatting online with a young lady who has actually LIVED there her entire life, my suspicions were reinforced. She advised that one could indeed ignore the “for-profit non-profits”, and once you were on the continent, and if you had an idea of where to go, they would most definitely put you to work. Creating safe water supplies requires labor, not a trust fund or ideology.

Latin America 2k9

This has been the constant. Mexico, along with Central and South America has always lured me. This is the most obvious example of economic colonialism that I can think of; it’s in our own back yard. The Sandinistas, Iran-Contra is still fresh, while United Fruit is still nestled in my mind. I was raised to fear Latin America as some sort of uncivilized zoo, where “freedom fighters” are fighting “guerrillas”, and where “leftist” death squads are roving the back roads killing priests and anything loving “freedom”! The realization that most of the death squads were actually right wing and sanctioned by the US government, and that we were also killing priests while toppling governments and propping up dictators like Pinochet has raised questions that neither agenda-fed faction has been able to answer. I’d like to sit down with a Nicaraguan family, and listen to the effects of economic imperialism. Ask why they believe that, with all the resources available, Latin America has remained in a retarded state of development. I suspect I know the answer already. In addition to that, I’d like to get to Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca, Lima, and see the Nazca Lines, as well as all the Mayan ruins I can take in. Venezuela also, just to see how oppressive that “evil Commie” Hugo Chavez is. Rio, and Buenos Aires also. Rest assured however, I don’t foresee any kayaking of the Amazon! There is a road in Bolivia that’s known as the deadliest in the world. Wouldn’t that be a fun hike? There’s an untold story down there, and something beyond that I sense. What? I have no idea. Finally, this is the expedition that has garnered the most interest in participation from others. I know of no fewer than 7 others who have expressed sincere interest in this, including a guy who flew to Paris to join the Foreign Legion! No Shit!! He came home only after his knee gave way. He’s trying to rehab to give it another try. Ah, the people you meet…


Not a lot to add other than Chris and I both would love to do a walkabout here. We both have friends in Mumbai (Bombay), and I personally think that observing the separation of wealth in this emerging economic powerhouse would be interesting, plus maybe I can meet a few of the folks who snatched our jobs away!

Kayaking the Nile: Lake Victoria to Cairo to Alexandria

A long shot. Depends on the political situations, and how well we adapt. Would take us thru places like Kenya, and the Sudan. If we pulled this off, I could officially tell Bear Grylls to kiss my ass.

Hit up the poll; which of these do you think would be the most interesting to read about?