"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

A Prologue

Morpheus: You're here because you know something. What you know, you can't explain. But you feel it. You felt it your entire life. That there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is, but it's there. Like a splinter in your mind -- driving you mad. It is this feeling that has brought you to me. Do you know what I'm talking about? You can feel it when you go to work, or when go to church or when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.
Neo: What truth?
Morpheus: That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else, you were born into bondage, born inside a prison that you cannot smell, taste, or touch. A prison for your mind. (long pause, sighs) Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is. You have to see it for yourself. This is your last chance. After this, there is no turning back.--The Matrix

Since I was 4 or 5¸ I’ve felt Morpheus’s splinter. It was sometimes more noticeable than others, but always there. It affected me in various ways:  teenage defiance and rebellion, intermittent alcohol abuse, non-stop restlessness, and constant dissatisfaction. I knew there was something besides the flickering shapes on the wall; something outside Plato's Cave. I just couldn't see the way to the exit. 

Along the way, I was convinced there was something wrong with me, and the institutional handlers agreed! Well-meanng but clueless counselors helplessly hoping to herd me into conformity’s cage. My already fractured family, a bewildered mother and two older half-sisters, wondering when I was going to grow up, hold a job, get married & anchor myself down with kids. Accept life as offered; chase the disseminated definition of success. I found that ridiculous. They had chased it and were utterly miserable! Three women: 5-divorces, not even counting my own sperm-sprinkler of a father who'd happily bred with another woman then vanished after making a ridiculously low one-time payoff (that his mother paid) around the time I was born.
Picket fence? Keep it.

That being said, I eventually tried playing along. I worked as a radio announcer/producer on-and-off for 11-years, and also as a cameraman/stadium DJ for the Colorado Rockies. Yet, the longer I ignored them the more troublesome and infectious the splinters became. 

I was fired from one radio job in '02 for an (impressive!) alcohol related incident involving jail, state lines, razor wire, and a ridiculously hot glorified she-carnie at an amusement park in Sandusky, Ohio! The few who've heard the tale have been sworn to secrecy but trust me: it's glorious! What they didn't know when they rightfully fired me was that for months I'd been melting down in silence; suffering thru month-long splinter-induced bouts of depression. I would go hours without speaking during my radio show, more than once hurled stacks of CDs across the studio, and was becoming increasingly reckless in both my personal and professional lives. The night I got myself fired, I knew how it was going to end and that it was for the best. The job, money, women were great; it was a job at a station I'd worked hard to get. Holding on to it was killing me.

Ironically, few years later, shortly after I began moving down this path, I left my Rockies dream job to fulfill a persistent 10-year old radio dream to work for someone I greatly respected. I'd deluded myself into thinking that THIS would be "Radio Shangri La in Santa Fe". The job started 6/1/07 and by 6/10/07 I knew it was a colossal mistake. Worthwhile radio was terminal in '02, and by '07 was dead. They'd just propped up and doused perfume on the corpse.

A few months later, watching on TV, I seethed as the Rockies went on a historic September run and marched into the World Series against the Red Sox. The insult to mental-injury was seeing the guy I'd trained on my camera during one of the games on FOX! Cookles was close enough, and got enough national airtime, to make FOX's pilot episode of "When Cameramen Attack". I imagined him reaching out and fisting Craig Sager and his goofy coat, if he chose to...while I languished in radio purgatory. It was then that I fully realized that I'd sold myself out and would have the rest of my life to remember it. A huge lesson.

I was incensed and, not coincidentally, fired barely a month later for failing to "get on board". If you missed the memo, that's radiospeak for being a production director who blatantly despises the sales staff, tells a program director he was incompetent and his station blew (it did!), and questions the OWNER'S motives and general acumen on a daily basis. I honestly don't know what took them so long.


Te Nosce

With that, I finally put some tangible action behind abstract yet powerful ideas that had sprung from stream-of-consciousness exercises centering mostly around these decades old splinters.
I began selling my stuff and struggling to muster the courage to simply load up the backpack and...go. Where? Just, out there...

In May 2008, I finally did. At first I intended to eventually disappear into the mountains or perhaps Mexico and writing about it was not part of the plan! However, this odyssey immediately took on a life of its own. It proved itself to be less about cynically dropping out, and more about investigating how society and its imposed standards of success and happiness violated my sense of reason, discovering who I was by confronting my once-met father, meeting his family, and discovering who we all are collectively. 

There's something very interesting and difficult to articulate that happens when you abandon the wealth-quest, ignore convention and imposed expectations, and focus on seeing and experiencing people--and the world--as they really are rather than thru fear-based, agenda-driven rhetoric and lazy electronic eyes.
This obscure little cyberspace outpost holds what I’ve found. So far.

I hope that in some way I can encourage others to trust themselves and their own voice of discontent. Life isn’t preordained, and the Ministry of Standards & Practices (friends, family, media, fear, expectations) have no real hold on those who persevere to fight thru the inevitable failures and fear; to muster the courage necessary to be pioneers of their own lives. 

It Aint Lonely Planet!


Be warned: unlike “travel writers”, I’m not engaging in public relations. I deal in authenticity. My unique currency is an exclusive, honest perspective. My experiences don't always feature heroic, noble characters, “amaaaazing places”, or cherry picked happy endings!

Also, I won’t try to tell you that life's grandeur depends only on a contrived personal attitude or trite little mantra. In my view, it requires an immense amount of courage and sacrifice to live a unique, original life. Nor will I claim humanity is composed solely of divine, precious, noble critters. As I see it, humanity's biggest flaw is an egocentric inability to see what's right in front of our nose. Therefore, most of us are obliviously self-delusional and tend to tribalize ourselves into groups of who find similar delusions comforting. More still are also dishonest, greedy, manipulating, bizarre, creepy, predatory scum. Fortunately, in my experience, and the experience of many others I've met, the overwhelming majority aren't on that list despite what the media tells you! In the end, we're all much more alike than we'd care to admit. In the words of one of my more influential (and infamous) encounters, Ray: "We're all flawed human beings." Terrified of our inevitable mortality and helplessly frightened and confused about the world. We tend to hide in our caves and seek out anyone who will soothe the confusion while providing the illusion of elevating our minuscule personal place in the universe. Even if that thirst for perceived significance means embracing delusion and living outright lies. 

Some of my more interesting encounters:

    '08: Crossing the Rockies with a man who eventually shot and killed a cop then himself. My first “real” ride!
    '08: Freight train hopping across Oregon
    '08: Hitching the California and Oregon coasts
    '08: A night with a Christian biker group in North Carolina
    '09: Meeting two sisters, a brother, and several nieces and nephews for the first time
    '09: A weekend in Portland with a terminally ill billionaire philanthropist
    '09: Paying homage to Chris McCandless with beer at the Cabaret in Carthage, SD
    '09: Veggie busing across the country
    '10: Slab City, California
    '10: The Asscrack Incident
    '11: San Cristobal, Mexico
    '11: Palenque, Bonampak, Ciudad del Carmen, & Campeche, Mexico  
    '12: Cancun, Tulum, San Cristobal, Puerto Escondido, & Mazunte, Mexico
    '12: The End of the World Apocalypse Rainbow Gathering in the Palenque Jungle
    '13: Hanging out with a coked-up deported coyote in Guatemala
    '13: Roatan and the rest of Honduras
    '15: Backpacking from Mexico thru Colombia
    '15: Two months at a hostel situated 13,000ft up in the Peruvian Andes Mountains

Finally, I'm still traveling but if you've found this you'll discover that post-2014 material isn't posted here. I've decided to consolidate three earlier blogs with this one and beginning with 2016 move my writing to another site: here. Yes. There IS a reason for that. Does it really matter?

As for the Toddzilla X archives, you'll find a collection or blogs and video/picture podcasts containing of "random" connections that seemingly pass along at "the perfect time," as well as social, political, & theological commentary. Taken from the beginning, they'll slowly simmer into an evolving, original outlook on our common experience: life. It continues to be a remarkable experience!