An intentionally arranged series of words

By Zachary Kyle Elmblad

The Long Road Home Scribd Pre-release edition

1

Copyright 2010 by The New Scum Productions http://www.thenewscum.org This is the free version, which I have sent out to be professionally edited prior to mass-market release. It is ridden with grammatical I'm into

errors, and it will be different than the printed version.

open-source, open-culture, and open-minds; so please read this- and if you like it, visit thenewscum.org and buy it when it becomes available! Some rights reserved, please visit thenewscum.org for more information and other works by the same author.

This book is dedicated to and written for the people I’ve met and the times I’ve cherished with them. Good and bad. You yourself and

the people you choose to keep around you are the only things in this world worth fighting for.

2

3

Preamble

Part One – The Past Chapter One – The Doldrums Chapter Two – California Chapter Three – The Open Road Chapter Four – Montana Chapter Five- The Fall of Rome Chapter Six – History Chapter Seven - Transgression Chapter Eight – Let’s all go to the Apocalypse Part Two – The Present Chapter Nine – I Make Burritos for a Living Chapter Ten – A Renaissance man Chapter Eleven - Love Chapter Twelve – A Citizen of the World Chapter Thirteen – A Life Raft on Stupid Sea Chapter Fourteen – When the Lights go out in New York City Chapter Fifteen – A Destination Chapter Sixteen – The Long Road Home

4

Preamble Remembering things is really fucking hard sometimes. Take, for

example, remembering to set your alarm clock, remembering your parent’s anniversary, or remembering that although you may sometimes feel invincible under the influence of alcohol; you are not actually God, nor Jesus. Deities are figments of mankind's imagination; You

stories for us to remember in times of trial, in times of wonder. are not a god, gods exist for humans to look up to and fear.

I’m totally in love with myself because I’m the only one that I can ultimately control, and at a minimum because I know I can get away with it. Egoism is a necessary asset. It's nothing close to a bad

decision, and it can definitely benefit you to think about yourself every once in a while. time. I watch people make bad decisions all the

Not like driving home from the bar, not like snorting a line of

cocaine from the toilet of a bar, but more like spending every day at the bar because they can’t force it within themselves to actually attempt a sober conversation with someone who is just as smart as they are. Wasting their time on a cheap escape when the real answers are Competing with one another, trying to

staring them right in the face. decide who's the better man. as I know I can win.

I’m not afraid of competition, as long

That’s the thin razor line we balance on when Especially while

we’re trying to actually relate to each other. intoxicated.

Remembering is a competition for truth.

Remembering, for me, came in the form of writing a sappy novel about my life called Whatever Happens, Happens. I laughed, I cried, I 5

beat dead horses with sarcasm and the whimsical wallowing in self pity of a hopeless romantic teenager. It still hasn't sold a single copy.

What I remembered, was that I had become an egotistical, emotionless, vain, and debauched ball of potential energy yearning to become kinetic – and I didn’t really mind that much at all. that’s what I had asked for. actually happened. After all,

I just didn’t expect it to be what

I always figured someone or something would just That’s how most of those stories end. Either

swoop in and “save” me.

you find love, you find religion, or you find the bottom of a bottle. I found the bottle. I fear in some abstract way that alcohol may

actually be my savior some day, which may or may not be laudable. If you think you’re right, and people always tell you that you’re right; you probably are. There is such a thing as right and wrong,

but it’s only a personal choice rooted in a personal perspective. Right an wrong are not things, but ideas. The external interpretation

may be to the contrary, but as long as what you’re doing and thinking is right for you, and you can decide it for yourself in the context of you as a part of “them”- you’re never going to fall back down. There’s a huge amount of idiots around this wonderful planet of ours, and it’s really hard to get away from them sometimes. I’d be

willing to bet that it makes you sick to you stomach to go out in public sometimes, because it sure makes my blood boil. a break from them, even just for a second. The asshole that cuts you off on the highway, the shit-head taking your order at a fast food restaurant, the person that tries to 6 You can't get

tell you how to raise your kids, the bum you give a dollar and asks you for a five, the degenerates that tag gang signs on your business bathroom walls. They’re everywhere, sucking up our precious oxygen,

and living for free for being worthless, garbage human beings that we're stuck taking care of out of some society-induced sympathetic illusion. I can’t take it anymore, and I won’t let my wonderful world get torn down by the people that don’t deserve to live in it. I invite

you to take a journey with me down a road you may never have traveled. It’s a long road out, and a long road home, but in the end- it’s better to have gone somewhere than nowhere at all.

7

Part One The Past

8

Chapter One – The Doldrums

So, I worked at this place called The Big Burrito. know, but you really can't make these things up. happen. to eat.

Pathetic, I

They just seem to

After all, you have to make money doing something if you want After nearly eight years of my life spent being a slave to

burrito manufacturing; I hate the service industry, I hate the smell of fryer grease, and I most especially hate being stuck adrift in this horrible sea of idiots encroaching on my brains like a zombie attack. Sometimes it seems like a joke. gives me heartburn. I don't even like Mexican food. It

I’m not talking about hating the people I work

with, I like them – we're all working for the weekend, but the hate lies along the lines of people queued up in front of me like cattle waiting for slaughter by brain spike. They don't even seem real.

They're caricatures of people, like bots in a first-person shooter. I don’t feel that there is anything more indicative of your mental capacity than how you order at a restaurant. a rocket scientist to order food. It does not take

If you walk in and start reading

the menu out loud to no one in particular- we will not assume you are talking to us, nor will we engage you in conversation. You get one

chance for eye contact, and if it doesn’t happen we will not look you in the eyes, because you have no respect for us. If you don’t respect I owe you

me, I have absolutely no reason whatsoever to respect you. nothing.

I want nothing from you, but you want something from me Did you forget? Which one of us has the power position 9

your dinner.

in this struggle?

We have things you want, you pay us for the You trade money

pleasure of having them- this is how business works. for goods and services.

This is America, and this system has done us Thank you for ruining that.

well for hundreds of years.

If you walk right up to the counter and start demanding things without a traditional conversation-starting word like “Hello,” “Good Morning,” or even a casual “What’s up?”, I will not acknowledge your presence. How can you do that and expect a pleasant response? We're supposed to

Interpersonal dialog begins with a salutation. learn that in pre-school.

You do not start a conversation with That’s a dead

someone you don’t know with “Lemme git one of dem…” giveaway that you did not graduate high school.

You never got the

“look the principal in the eye when he gives you your diploma, because that’s how we show respect” speech either, because you were too busy cooking up meth with your sex slave sister. Or maybe watching a So I'm an

football game, either way- it was time well wasted. asshole, huh?

Tell me something I don't know, and while you're at it,

order your fucking burrito. I can see everything. Do you think we're blind? Deaf? Dumb?

We hear what you people talk about on your cell phones while we're patiently waiting for you to order your cholesterol-ridden multiplethousand-calorie burrito. phone. It’s easy to order food while on the cell

You say “hold on one second so I can order food,” look me in

the eye, say hello and order like a human being that can speak the language of an adult.

10

If it is the first time that you have been at a restaurant, then by all means take a moment to browse the menu, we're here for your grazing after all. In fact, most menus even list commonly asked

questions like “what's in this?”, “how much does that cost?”, or “dat cuh wit unyuns?” one before. costs. One minute, max. It’s a menu, you have to have seen

It's there to let you know what we have and how much it If it’s Chinese food, don’t ask for a burger. You are all so god Where If

Read it.

it’s a pizza place, they don’t have burritos. damned stupid it makes me physically ill. did common sense go?

It actually hurts.

Where did literacy go?

How can you be so stupid Where did the rest of us

in a world that made everyone else so smart? go wrong by not teaching you? fucking moron?

When did you go wrong and turn into a Can we flip it back?

Was there a switch involved?

I’m not saying every single person I pass on the street is an idiot, far from it, although it certainly feels that way sometimes. have lots of friends, you know, other people that don't drool on themselves. They're nice enough, I guess. I know they have friends That’s a good thing. We I

that are equal to or above my intelligence. live in a society. these people.

That’s what I think makes it so hard for some of Way, way, way too many.

There’s just too many of us.

I first came to realize all of this one day when I was, you guessed it, slaving away at Big Burrito. fight over the cost of her tostada. I got in an ideological

As you may know, a tostada is a

round, flat, fried corn tortilla topped with various Mexican food ingredients of your discretion. You can argue with me until you’re

11

blue in the face about whether or not the tostada is Mexican, American, Texan, or a mere corporate creation. As far as I cared, it

cost $1.99, plus 6% Michigan sales tax, which comes to a whopping $2.11 2007 USD. That’s roughly 35% of one hour’s worth of work at That

minimum wage in Michigan, which we’ll say was $7.00 per hour.

means that this tostada would have cost exactly 20 minutes of work at a pet cemetery shoveling dirt and dog brains. An African American woman in designer clothing walks into my restaurant upon getting out of her decked out Lexus. been anyone, with any face. She could have

I've noticed that no racial or socioA rich black

economic distinction dictates an idiot-free environment. bitch. extras. minute. Are you offended?

She orders a chicken tostada with no Easy. Should take less than a

Hot sauce on the side.

“That will be exactly two dollars and eleven cents,” I say, with my pleasantly high pitched “I’m friendly to everybody that tips me” voice. She says nothing, chomps loudly on gum, and whips out the She digs through it, cracking saliva bubbles of gum the Way

Prada bag.

whole time until she pulls out a brand new touchscreen phone.

back when a touchscreen phone was the type of thing people like me looked at and went “Holy shit! touch? That thing is capable of multi-point She half drops, half

When the hell did that hit the market?!”

sets it on the counter like a useless and invaluable paperweight. Pulls out the matching Prada wallet- same ugly print as her purse. hope it gets stolen. Finds an Abe, and a Washington. I

She tosses the

12

bills on the counter, although my hand is open, face up, and less than a foot away from her sunglasses-indoors and faraway gaze. at the woman, puzzled, saying “out of… six?!” “Well, I went to college, apparently you didn’t.” That was her response. She said it. She said that, after she I looked

handed me six bucks for a $2.11 bill. actually said it.

I couldn’t believe she had I

I may be a college dropout, but I’m no rube.

know there’s no sensible reason to pay a $2.11 bill with six even. Maybe three one dollar bills. Maybe a five and eleven cents, but no No rational

way in hell should there be six dollars in my hand. possibility of the event.

Maybe eight, now that would have made even

just a little bit of sense, in a world one year later where she could trade the old five in for a new one with a bright purple numeral on the back and a spiffed-up color background for good old ironic Abraham Lincoln, great sayer of the Emancipation Proclamation. she was black- but she could have been anyone. Like I said,

It's happened just

like this a thousand untold times to a thousand cashiers every minute of every day in every country on Earth. make a mistake, just admit it. Anyway, this bitch looks at me like I am the great Satan, and proceeds to explain to me exactly how she graduated with a degree in accounting from MSU, and she can tell that I don’t know a god damned thing considering I’m employed at a place called “the Big Burrito.” Common sense, people. If you

13

I typed $6.00 into the computer system I programmed, with my own self-attained set of knowledge- no college involved. change? $3.89. What’s the

There are no computational errors on machine, or in my Get a calculator, do it in your head, whatever 2.11 subtracted from 6.00,

head, is that correct?

you've got to do- the math is right.

according to the mathematics that I know and understand, leaves a sum of 3.89. 3.89. Ok. Allow me to check my own calculator… 6.00… - … 2.11… =… I am not hallucinating. She holds out her hand, like I Like she

had- but I drop the change and the bills in front of her. had to me, minutes ago. This bitch says “I want to talk to your manager.” have the upper hand. and about-face.

I now assume I

I smile, wryly, and turn around, walk five paces I put

I walk forward and look her in the eye again.

my hand forward and say “Zachary Elmblad, General Manager. How can I help you, ma’am?” coy as a fucking virginal and unblemished fit-forsacrifice, totally white lamb. This woman is infuriated. By this time, her tostada is finished.

I calmly bag it, add the requested side of hot salsa, and hand it over. I smile, wryly again, and say “here you are, miss, all set- hot

sauce and all,” and nothing else. She stares vacantly from beyond the designer shades. my smile. I maintain

Not a word is spoken as she turns around and marches

angrily back to the Lexus, pulls back the convertible top and drives off post-haste with an angry and crudely dumb look on her face. I

14

knew what was coming.

I had mouthed off to the wrong people at work

before, and I had accepted the consequences. I fucking refuse to be treated unfairly. What better example

than some bitch black lady to epitomize my total hatred towards what the human race has become. You want to talk about being mistreated?

Yeah, so your mom's mom's mom's dad's mom was a slave way back in fucking 1886 when germs were demons. Let me play my violin while you

sing the world's saddest song for shit that happened 200 years before I was a one-year-old, diaper-shitting, ground-crawler. it, ok Lady? But. I. Am. Not. A. Fucking. Racist. I won’t accept the racial injustice of the past as an excuse for someone who accuses me of being a racist simply because I could perform simple mathematical tasks in a superior manner to her after four, no five, years in a college I couldn't dream of affording. only was I accused of being Racist, but sexist as well. Not I am a fucking burrito slave, OK? I didn't do

Do read on.

15

I was working the night shift.

Wednesday night.

That meant I

wandered in around six at night or so, sometime late in the summer of another year I've since repressed. The foul year of our lord, MMVII.

Any hope of leaving less than eleven hours from then was a lost cause. Any hope of having a meal less than eleven hours from then was a lost cause. Any hope of seeing a friendly face or a cigarette in the next I was beginning to think my hopeless I worked alone up front helping

eleven hours was a lost cause. fucking life was a lost cause.

customers, with two very nice but tragically English-inept Mexican matriarchs cooking up the savory vittles in the back. I figure it was about eleven o’clock in the evening when she pulled up. Big Burrito closed at four in the morning. I wasn't even

halfway through my shift yet.

There’s no one to talk to at that place

with a word worth hearing coming out of their mouths at that time of night. I’m a well trained restaurateur, but this was a dilemma-ridden I finally got a second to sit down, and I Not two

situation from the start.

sparked up a delicious Camel Light to take the woes away.

puffs in and her fucking Lexus speeds up as she slams on the brakes nearly missing the curb in the process. didn’t matter that she was black. I knew what was coming. It

Or “African-American.”

That still

seems to matter to people for some reason.

I wouldn’t have given a

fuck if she was a Southeast-Asian burn-victim paraplegic ex-nun postop tranny. She interrupted my cigarette happy time, which blows.

You know, maybe I was an asshole to that lady- but I don’t think it matters. I am who I am, and she is who she is. Anyway, I got

16

woken up at eight in the morning the next day (Thursday.) boss. The owner.

It’s the

I hear a familiar black woman screaming in the

background, while he’s gulping out “Dude, Zach, this lady is screaming at me about how you’re a racist, sexist, man-pig that insulted her intelligence last night and she says you discriminated against her because she was black, and because she was a woman- and she says she’s going to call the Better Business Bureau if you don’t call her and apologize. I can’t have that happen, will you please do this for me?” I had to work

I was suddenly struck with a conflict of interest.

in less than eight hours after working a twelve hour shift the last however many days in a row- it doesn't matter. I had been awoken

after three hours of sleep to be called a racist woman-hater while wandering around the living room of my parent’s house in my boxers. love chicks, of any race, so long as they put out and don't piss me off. I'm no better than the rest of you. I was not only confused, I said, “Oh, that bitch.” as I

but I was beginning to become defensive.

I slowly remembered the previous evening's interchange. He laughs, albeit very quietly. what could he do about it? He knew what she was doing, but

Mouth off to her like I had supposedly

done and risk having her actually call the better business bureau? She had left now, with her phone number on a piece of paper and a standing threat to inform the “authorities,” if there really even is such a thing. He was beside himself. right now and apologize.“ He says “you’d better call her

17

I said, “I really don’t feel comfortable doing that. she should apologize to me. you if I was a racist? different race than me. situation.” I’m not a racist.

I feel like

Why would I work for

66% of the crew that worked last night was a That makes me the minority in this

That makes one black woman, two Mexicans, and one white

guy that didn’t make nearly enough money to be accused of being a racist when that word carries such a horrible stigma. lady-loving guy being called a man-pig. I called her. I fucking did it; I'm not satan. I sucked it up. Let alone a

I took one for the team, even though altruism disgusts me. “Hello.” “Hi, this is Zach from the Big Burrito.” “Yeah, I’ve been waiting.” “Marty gave me your number.” “Yeah, I’ve been waiting, and you’d better have something to say to me considering what you put me through last night” “I’m sorry. I just wanted to smoke a cigarette, and I just didn’t

understand why you gave me six dollars for something that cost less than three, and I couldn’t figure it out. “That’s not what this is about. need to lose it. I was confused.”

You had an attitude with me, and you

I don’t think your apology is sincere.”

18

I was throwing things across the room at this point, and biting on a bandana I found in the corner in order to keep from screaming every single racial epithet I could think of at this woman, if only

to make there be a reason for her to be laying into me with such voracity. I took a deep breath, counted very fast in my head, I was trying very, very, hard not to become That shit's inhumane. No need for

backward from ten to one.

a nuclear bomb of bigotted rage. it.

“I swear to god [I figured I'd bring him in for good measure], ma’am, I meant no offense, I am sin-cere.” “I will accept your apology, but don’t ever insult someone because of their race or gender again, or I will find you” Seriously. This happened to me. I am not telling you a lie. I will I

have a notebook with this woman’s telephone number in it. fight this to the grave.

I felt like I busted up this woman’s Oh well, damned if you do,

chiffarobe and never found Atticus Finch. damned if you don’t. Right?

I am not a racist. anymore.

There really shouldn’t even be such a thing To

There really shouldn’t even be a notion of “race.”

everyone these days, you’re nothing but a screen name with a bunch of numbers after it and a weird character in it that no one can name that looks like a little “a” with a circle around it. the technical term. proud of us. What a sham. “Commercial At” is Orwell should be

Commercialspeak.

You don’t have a race, you have an ethnic background.

19

Euphemism.

You select it from a drop-down list so that you can be

some kind of fucking statistic in our own 1984 come trickling down twenty-some years late because of Reaganomics or something like that. Racism was for the idiot drunks in the south that burnt crosses in Martin Luther King Jr.’s lawn. I’m not one of them, I don’t think

like them, and I am insulted to have been accused of being like them. I read about the civil rights movement in a textbook. I didn’t live

through it, my parents did, and they were only like eight years old when Martin Luther King Jr. got shot. I grew up with people of all

races in my classrooms, and I never even looked at them as anything but other human beings, which they are, and always were, until you idiot media fucks told me think otherwise. racial disparity. These are the problems we face every day. Sometimes, we don’t Imposed diversity leads to

even know where to place our hate- so we have to take it out on those who least deserve it. In my case, it was a rich black lady with

political clout that I mouthed off to because she made a dumb mistake and I’m addicted to nicotine. In her case, she had to deal with some

long haired, pieced-eared white kid with a chip on his shoulder at the burrito place when she was only trying to get a midnight snack. WhatEVER. So I'm a racist, then. Fuck you, R. J. Reynolds. Sexist?

You've all been nothing but cold and ruthless bitches to me thus far, save for my mother the saint of all saints. As far as a sexist, or a racist- I guess maybe some people might think I am. I don’t have a problem with women, I don’t have a problem 20

with blacks, I don’t have a problem with Mexicans, Jews, Chinese, Arabs, Japanese, Europeans, Africans, Liberals, Democrats, Republicans, oil tycoons, demagogues, kings, paupers, bums, nobody, and nothing. I've met them all, save the kings and tycoons, but I What I have a problem with is Idiots, Race and socio-

arrive at a median demographic.

plain and simple. There is a clear-cut difference.

economic strata do not affect your propensity to become a dumb-fuck. But if you are a dumb-fuck, and I call you out on it- don’t call me a racist, you’re just being stupid again. Either way, we both underestimated each other, and we both overreacted. Ok, so which one of us is wrong? I don’t even think society We’re all morally

is equipped to judge which one of us is wrong. bankrupt by now, right?

If they thought Babylon was bad, I’d love to

see those Bible assholes take a walk down the Vegas strip and not blow a line of coke and get their dick sucked by a stripper. This is America. brave. Anything goes here. This is the land of the The

The land of the free.

The land of the burgers and fries.

land of the “lets grab up all the oil we can at the end of the twentieth century and fuck over our children before we make them cure our Cancer and AIDS for us.” The land of innocent until proven guilty The land of live free or

in a court of law by a jury of your peers. die, and the land of “we the people.”

Yeah, this is my big thank you to you, prick generation of dog fucking swine that gave us the internet, but neglected to take care of the wars, famines, poverty, and gigantic debt. Lazy self-serving 21

bastards, the lot.

It’s the year 2008, I’m twenty-three years old, Economic Oil dependency, nuclear

and I am fucking angry.

proliferation, the Credit Crunch, the Mortgage Crisis, the doubling of gas prices in four years, impossible to pay medical bills, robots replacing factory workers, this is what we get to deal with. Fuck

you, you never had to worry about getting your fucking identity stolen. How is that even possible? I know no one could have seen these

I get so mad sometimes. things coming at us.

I just recently started paying attention to the The world has gotten really

news again, for one reason or another. fucked up.

All my friends have gotten really fucked up, and society Am I just a pseudo-adult in a drug haze,

has gotten really fucked up.

or is there something more going on? I also spend way too much time drinking. feel it rather suits me. all say that. It’s in my blood. I am an alcoholic. I

I’m not bad yet, but we

Give me a few years.

The difference, however, is I

have finally accepted my fate. am.

My fate is to have to become what I I have to be one of the people

I finally found out what it was.

who tries to band together with the other ones that haven’t been struck drooling stupid over reality television and facebook. have one. Yeah, I

Social media is a new part of our cultural identity that we

have barely even scraped the implications of. I’m immune to your sickness. Your stupidity sickness. I’m so happy! It’s all

around me, but I can’t seem to catch it.

To think I’d

be able to stay alert throughout these years of alcohol and drug 22

abuse.

Is it, now this may be a long shot, because those things don’t I know I’m going out on a limb here, but for once in

make you stupid?

our lives, can we accept the fact that stupid people make stupid choices and end up ruining everyone else’s fun? Can we accept this?

Before I start spouting off on eugenics, I’ll step off my soapbox for a moment and accept that maybe I’m being too judgmental. we’ll give it a shot. learned from them? Have I made mistakes? Yes, many. Ok,

Have I

For the most part, yes.

Have I endangered any Rarely. Why is it,

other person but myself in making a bad decision?

then, that even though I regress at times and may lose sight of common sense at times, that in no way makes me stupid? thing? Is there a way to find the locus of human stupidity? way to define it? What is it to be stupid? Is there a Is it a subjectivity

Why is it that some

people can just make you want to grind your teeth while smashing their face against a brick wall? What is it that separates us “Normal”

people from them, the “Idiot fucks?” A long time ago, I set out to try and answer my questions. own personal metaphysical questions. My

The questions that most people

equate to “do I really want to marry this girl?” or “what is the meaning of life?” and nothing. These are stupid questions with easy answers. No,

One wrong answer will leave you with half your money Most

gone, the other will leave you with half your useful years gone. people pick one of these two things, in one way or another. like being limited to two options.

I don’t

My metaphysical questions are more 23

along the lines of “how in the living fuck can these people get out of bed in the morning? What keeps them going? How do they feel

satisfaction in their lives?

What is the source of this superficial

self fulfilling prophecy that people at bars and in restaurants refer to as “normal?” What the fuck is normal? Really. I seriously don’t know. Hasn’t “normal” become sitting around

yelling at the television, re-inventing yourself, eating fast food, and resting in the comfort of our little white picket fence financial disasters? What’s happened to us? Did we become morally bankrupt

after we started seeing horses fucking chicks in the ass on the internet? Or were we, perhaps, morally bankrupt from the start We stopped We

because we never defined what it is to be a human being? with Aristotle. What is the good life?

We never covered that.

wanted the money, we wanted the hot chicks, we wanted the fancy toys, and we wanted to fight for them. we have to pay for it. fault. So that’s what we all did, and now

And it’s not my fault, It’s your fucking

None of us ever asked to be put on this planet, we were just

kind of ejected out from your woman parts in a horror show of bloody goop and screaming. illegal in the bar. It wasn’t a choice. I hate this place. And then they make smoking I hate this planet, and I

hate every idiot fuck on it. Fuck you.

24

Chapter Two – California

I still wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to do with my life until I went to California for the first time. Is that cliché? For me, it

happened a lot differently than a lot of the people that find their calling out there in the wild west. I was only there for like four days. I didn’t run away to California. I didn’t take the actor route, I

didn’t take the hippie route, I didn’t take the escape to the palm trees and traffic route, hell I didn’t even intend on taking the writer route at that time, but here I am typing away none the less. took the Kerouac/Climber strategy. Why go? Because it's there. I

Anyway, I woke up in Redwood National Forest, which is probably one of the coolest places I’ve ever woken up in. Aside from that one

time I woke up in a big bed with five chicks, a broken phone, and an empty fifth of Jack Daniels. That was pretty sweet. It was late I’ll

winter, early spring, depending on how pessimistic you are. settle for late winter.

Kevin wakes me up by punching me in the leg.

He mumbles something I didn’t hear, and I realize we’re stopped, so I grab the flashlight to go take a leak. really, really big tree trunk. Click. Flashlight shines at a

At the same time I figured out where I

we were, the beam instinctively rose to the tops of the trees. stood in utter disbelief.

A year prior, I had been standing at the

mouth of the Grand Canyon, wondering if I would ever see anything as amazing ever again. Here I was looking right at it.

25

Kevin has been my friend since I was seven years old, in second grade when I moved to Kalamazoo. His first words to me, and I will

never forget, were “hey kid, want to join our club?” Other than my family, no person on Earth has known me longer than Kevin. I feel sorry for him because I’m so crazy. Sometimes

Although our paths have

separated a few times since that day in Mrs. Enderson’s second grade classroom, we’ve always managed to stay in touch. Kevin and I took it Enter

upon ourselves to go adventuring in the way only we knew how. the American road trip psychodrama.

Zachary Kyle “Kerouac” Elmblad.

This was right before gas prices started getting to be such a wreck on our economy that you couldn’t turn on a form of mass media without hearing about it. We took two major trips. The first in 2007, which took us

through the southern half of the United States to the grand finale of Las Vegas, and a second in 2008 which took us West by Northwest to the root hub of the modern idiocracy, California itself. I’m not going to

take my California-bashing much further, because I think California is a beautiful piece of Land. We had to leave town. Until you hit San Francisco. We had to escape. That much was clear.

We spent the last few months of 2006 and the first half of 2007 sucking down cigarettes in a twenty-four hour coffee shop in Kalamazoo called Fourth Coast. It’s a dive of a joint, and I’ve spent enough

time in there to notice how much of a culture-fuck it is in that place. It’s near downtown, in the part of Kalamazoo now co-occupied

26

by the dregs of society and college students. down the street.

For a while, I lived

As likely as you are to see a drunken college fucker wandering around, you will see the bum stumbling down the road talking about an imaginary Asian hooker he fucked in the bushes last night sipping his cheap vodka through a missing-tooth gap in his crooked smile. them all. I see

The transvestite with a fresh surgically-created vagina Fat middle-aged washout with

hopelessly trying to attract a man.

licorice in his pocket picks at his sweaty armpit before approaching a sixteen year-old girl smoking cigarettes and wiping ashes off her vinyl skirt to give her a piece. purse “for later.” razors. life. There’s the chick against the back wall wearing too much patchouli and stinking up the place. The text-book alternateen She smiles, puts the candy in her

I always wondered if it was drugged or ridden with A stranger with candy. In real

He’s there all the time.

flipping through some modern vernacular bible translation and Chicken Soup for the Teenage Soul. There’s the strung out couple arguing

about the direction of their relationship at the one lonely table across the room near the payphone that doesn’t work. The punky

looking blonde with patches all over her messenger bag, and gagues in her ears nodding her head to the garage band on the radio and writing in a notebook. There’s a rapper making beats with an MPC and some

cheap over ear headphones nodding his head and furiously punching buttons. There’s a greasy dude with tattoos all over his face sucking

27

down hand rolled cigs at a rate that would put me to shame.

The

businessmen come in early for a cup of coffee and a copy of USA Today. The college kids study for their exams and show each other flashcards at the bar. A hipster mac user uses photo shop filters and checks out The poor baristas split their tips and

his hair in a pocket mirror.

complain about how much their laptops cost them. I always sit in the corner seat, the one with the windows all around it. coffee. It's easy to conceal the Jager you're pouring into the

That spot that’s always taken unless you show up at four in It’d been eight cups of black coffee, a pint of Jager,

the morning.

twelve hours since I started working on my book, and forty eight hours since I’d last been asleep. Ah, the life of an artist. Kevin strolls The

in, taking the seat across from me.

Transvestite waves hello.

barista knows us by name, He’s Ben, one of my ex-girlfriend’s best friend’s ex-boyfriends. school and never ends. We had to get out! That’s life in Kalamazoo. It starts in high

You’re always running into people you know. We planned our first road trip so well. We

worried about how much time it’d take to get to each place, tried to budget out the gas exactly, talked about what kind of food we’d bring, and how much time we'd spend at each stop. what we wanted to see. country was. Where we wanted to go,

It’s the first time I realized how big this

I’d been to Egypt, but never really got a taste for the When you’re

vastness of what three thousand miles actually was.

flying over the Atlantic Ocean, you don’t get much of an appreciation for how humongous some of these spaces are. I’m not even going to

28

bother trying to put into words the majesty of some of the scenic roadside stops along the road in America. beautiful. The Redwood National Forest rests just shy of Oregon at the Northwesternmost point of California. place is magical. Away from all the people. That This place is absolutely

The green of the land leaks out into the road as

nature makes one last vain attempt at getting rid of our dominance. The Pacific Ocean smacks up against the rocks with the giant old growth trees in the background. up yet. We were only there for two days. It didn’t matter, all it took We haven’t managed to fuck that place

was ten minutes on a rock watching the waves come in for me to make it all click. There it was, right in front of my face. The answer to

all of my problems.

I was in some totally foreign place to me,

digging the fuck out of the scenery, pocket full of cash, a thousand some miles behind me, and several days away from home. I finally knew what I wanted from life. wanted to see everything I could possibly see. I remembered. I just

I can keep going with

this charade of burritos and button pressing I call a life if I can keep seeing things like that. I can keep up with the constant demand

of whatever thankless job I’m performing if I can sit on a rock and stare at the ocean for two hours every year. I can get through

whatever problems life throws at me if I can just know that I can be walking the streets of New York City in less than a day. going if I know I can escape. 29 I can keep

I knew right then and there that I could never go wrong.

As long

as I kept moving forward, and as long as I always remembered that I can always escape. I may not always have the money, but I will still

be able to keep going just knowing that the chance for me to see something new is out there. I will never be happy just sitting in I may as well just be

front of a T.V. waiting for a phone call. sitting there and waiting to die.

I’m frustrated with what society asks us to deal with.

I’m I’m

frustrated with the way people chose to approach their defiance.

frustrated with everything I see around me, but at least I know that there’s a rock in Northern California where I never had a worry in the world. I still know there’s a cave in eastern Kentucky that’s really, I still long for the I still know that

really, quiet inside, about a mile back.

comfortable anonymity of a large urban sprawl.

there are millions of things for me to see and hear about in this life, and I can get up in the morning and be at peace with the fact that I’m on this planet. I do not want all of these idiots ruining it for me. preachy hippie. I’m not an environmentalist. I’m not a

In fact, I really don’t

want to be an anything-ist.

I just want to keep seeing things like

the Redwood National Forest kept away from the reaches of spaced out shit heads that will fuck it up for the rest of us. alive. I want to be

I want to access all this world has to offer me, and these

people keep getting in my way.

30

Maybe this is a clue.

It’s a step on the road to understanding

the differences between myself, the people I keep as company, and all of my other varied Earthly co-inhabitants. Could it be that we’re all That doesn’t

just looking to escape everybody else for just a second?

explain why some people are idiot fucks, but it’s going to get us started. I can’t assume that everyone should think like me. That’s

out of line.

I want you all to listen to me very carefully, because I

think I might be on to something. It starts here. We’re all stuck on this fucking rock together.

It’s getting more and more crowded, and it’s getting harder and harder to escape. We’ve gotten a good start at destroying this rock,

especially in places where there happens to be a lot of us, or there’s something we want. I’m not just talking about obvious things like the I’m also talking

trees, the oil, the water, and the ozone layer. about the other things.

We robbed all the graves of our ancestors.

We charge money to look at the public buildings of Greece, the Pyramids, or pretty much anything we can throw a value on. a funeral, right? at all. Tickets to

Not that I disagree with people making money, not

Not that I believe artists and architects should create Not that

things without being compensated for it somehow, not at all. I even really disagree with grave robbing.

We have commoditized everything that we could for so long. that we have the Internet, all of that has been blown to bits.

Now Art,

Music, Literature, News, Socialization- it’s all there, and it’s all free. You can’t keep us away from it anymore. It’s over. There are

31

like six something billion people in the world this year, and now we’ve all got a reasonable chance of talking to pretty much anyone else on the planet. And we’ve all come to the consensus that

something is terribly wrong. Some agree more than others, but I hope that everyone can see the signs. In the past, we’ve always had something to blame for our Think all the way back. Egyptians blamed the gods. Greeks

problems.

blamed each other.

Romans blamed pirates and rival nations.

Europeans blamed fellow land-owners for about a thousand years, and then everyone started arguing back and forth until we all had the United States or Russia to blame, depending on which side of the argument sea-fence you were on. Now we have China and India knocking

on the door, the Middle east pointing nukes at each other, Europe uniting into some kind of nation conglomerate-slash-commune called the European Union, settlements on Antarctica, and population crisis in, well, just about everywhere except the polar caps. South Americans

feeding the drug abuse of the United States, Japan covered in concrete, hell we’re even driving over ice roads in Canada to get supplies out to the idiot fucks up there. Why? We just kept running away from each other until there was Then we started

nowhere to run, and nothing but people everywhere.

building up walls and roads so we could have little horse-driven carriages, then cars to drive in and avoid people and homes and businesses so we could limit which people we ran into most of the time. Then we stopped talking to each other accidentally. Then we

32

all started to develop regional differences, and started to fear each other. Then we started having all sorts of differences, and invented

free speech to cover all the brilliant new ideas we were coming up with. Unfortunately, that let the Idiots have free speech too. Then

guns got involved, and the guns got really big. rockets.

The guns turned into Then everyone got

The rockets turned into nuclear weapons. Totally fucked.

them, and here we are.

Traditionally, the people that were smart and built things were kept separate from the people who worked and made things happen. Not

until these last few centuries has man been able to both be smart, and get things done. Power is not placed through a crown to a teenager in Power is given to a

a ring kissing ceremony with swords anymore.

leader, if not by the people themselves, then by the graciousness of their begrudged agreement. The source of the power can be

questionable, but even the inner ranks of a corrupt administration can be counted on to act corruptly. sometimes. normal is. So maybe being normal could be as abstract as not being normal. Shall I make a categorical syllogism? Acceptance of “norms,” in the People need to be predictable That’s what

We can’t all break the mold all the time.

sociological sense, implies that norms are counterpointed by what isn’t acceptable to a particular society or culture. If normalcy is

determined by its inverse, or what’s not normal, then to be normal is equal to the state of being non-normal, by a rule of balance. respect, anything is really dependent upon its inverse. In that

Love and

33

hate, black and white, rich and poor, light and dark, agony and ecstacy, life and death, and all the stupid concepts we invented contingent upon the existence of each other. Are you confused yet? I

don’t think Aristotle would really like that one, but I don’t think it really counts as a categorical syllogism anyway. probably wouldn’t have known anyway. Oh well, you

We’ve come full swing back Society exists as a

around, this time with much bigger toys.

constantly changing mass external reaction to opposing conceptual forces. The Greeks were the first to start seriously asking metaphysical questions, and they did it mostly for the right reasons. Times were

great, everyone had a bunch of wine, slaves, money, and time on their hands. They got together, drank a bunch of wine, fucked little boys,

and then started asking questions like that stoner kid that thinks life is nothing but Pink Floyd and smoking blunts. the way I saw blue was, like, the way you saw red? “Dude, but what if So, like, maybe we Wouldn’t

all have the same favorite color, but I just see it as blue. that be trippy, man?” Fuck you, you stupid hippie.

Blue is motherfucking blue.

If you

want to start talking about philosophy, read a six foot tall stack of books and get back to me in a few years. You have to read them all

the way through, not just put them on a shelf and tell everyone you read them. Stop telling me “fuck the establishment” while you drive a Tell me who

Jeep to your two hundred dollar fucking Phish concert.

the product of fascist consumerism is, you idiot fuck that bought up

34

all their live albums with the special binder, and followed them around for years because Jerry Garcia was dead and you couldn’t suck his big money cock anymore. similar to dog vomit. This brings me back to our topic and matter at hand- California. The great golden state of California. Schwarzenegger. Governed at the time by Arnold You know what? Patchouli smells eerily

Not only is he not an American-Born citizen, he’s Not that I have anything against movie

also a meat head movie star.

stars turned politicians, or even transplants, but come on- only California would elect Arnold Schwarzenegger as it’s governor. I

think, however, that this particular joke has been played to death, so we’ll stray away from that one. How about the Haight district, the hometown hotbed and breeding ground of the hippie culture? I drove through it. Nothing but the

very same consumerist garbage they tried so hard to escape fifty years ago on the east coast. fire. Fuck ‘em. I hope they die in a patchouli

Sissy rainbow loving crap it is, nothing but new age crystal Bad Vibes, Bad Karma, Bad Aura.

gripping mystical magic mumbo jumbo.

Maybe these people just don’t like me, but for as much as they talk about not labeling people they certainly seem to have plenty of labels for me. it! Especially when I fuck their girlfriends, god how they hate

You know what, dude- you’re girlfriend is pretty hot naked after Save your recalcitrant complaining,

a shower and a close pussy shave.

new age hippie movement, you are all a bunch of lazy pieces of shit

35

that make bad music, bad art, and bad smelling incense. the Indians, theirs smells much better.

Leave it to

You are also idiot fucks.

I was even more shocked to see Big Sur, which I heard so much about from Jack Kerouac. It would have set us back eight bucks to I didn’t even

walk down a flight of stairs and look at a waterfall.

bother trying to see the rest of the place after that, I just kept looking out at the Ocean, wishing I was back on my rock. I’m sorry

for what they’ve done to the place, Jack- but I’m sure you saw it coming. There’s a man to look up to: Jack Kerouac. shit his fault, too? Beat culture? Isn’t a lot of this

I wonder if that isn’t part of Isn’t that

the reason why The Beatles is spelled that incorrectly. where modern Jazz and poetry came from? accepted by popular culture? movement?

The first time blacks were

Possible precursor to the civil rights What happened to him? Drank

Jack Kerouac is the shit.

himself to death because he couldn’t escape anymore. Hunter S. Thompson? years. Holy shit. Yeah, he’s dead now.

Fucking sad. Been a few John Lennon,

You might as well be looking at a caricature.

Martin Luther King, Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Robert F. Kennedy, Kurt Vonnegut, Jim Morrison, George Harrison- all of your heroes are dead, parents of our generation. What did we get? All of your heroes are dead.

Larry the cable guy, Paris Hilton, and the I hope you all get nuked to

nameless dog fuckers on American Idol. bits.

We got youtube, a way to publicly share all the visual

capabilities of the planet, and you film yourselves kicking each other 36

in the nuts with boots on and eating each other’s shit out of an ice cream dish. graves. How did we get ourselves into this mess? I wanted to know, I had God I fucking hate all of you. Dig your own fucking

to know- I decided I would roam around the country a little bit and see if it was the same everywhere, or if I lived in some kind of idiot bubble. It’s a shame it didn’t turn out to be the bubble, because I

could have popped a bubble, but there was something more going on. California was just a destination, as good as any other. It’s

one state out of fifty, and I had never really even had a reason to go to California until I realized where and what the Redwood forest actually was. It was near Humboldt county, home of some of the I had suddenly become very

greatest weed our country has to offer.

accepting of Kevin’s plans for our road trip to end in San Francisco. As long as we made it through Humboldt and I could find some weed, everything would be great. So after I realized where we were, and that the trees were really cool, we had to bide about two hour’s time before sunrise. Kevin

napped in the front seat while I sorted through the last few days worth of pictures on my laptop. Once we could see the sun peaking through the tree tops, I hopped in the driver’s seat and started my first experience driving on the Pacific Coast Highway. Fucking gorgeous. Every few miles, the curves

break from the forest and rock cliffs to provide you with a

37

breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean, complete with waves crashing up against the rocks about two hundred feet below. If you ever get a

chance to drive the Pacific Coast Highway, take it- you won’t regret it. We stopped at the National Forest information center to talk to the rangers about the possibility of rock climbing, seeing as how that had been a major impetus for our road trip wanderings anyhow. Our

first trip had started in Kentucky where we tried sport lead climbing for the first time in the Red River Gorge and really gained an appreciation for the sport, and for the experience of going to the middle of nowhere, climbing a rock, and staring off into the distance. I’ll never tire of it. I redpointed my first 5.8 sport lead in the

gorge, got to the top, and realized I didn't know how to clean. Bummer. I had to back-climb a clip and risk life and limb to escape Wicked.

the 40 foot whipper.

As it turns out, there was a bit of a problem with climbing hereyou can only boulder, and the Native American people living in a reservation there don’t take kindly to climbers slapping chalk all over their sacred rocks. Shotguns were rumored to be frequently We decided to respect their

involved with the eviction of climbers. wishes.

It didn’t really an issue that we couldn’t climb there,

because the scenery was good enough that just walking around the place seemed to be fulfilling enough as it was. We spent most of that day wandering about the tide pools, looking at the foreign ocean creatures there. It was the first time I had 38

seen the Pacific Ocean, and the first time I had been to the Ocean since I was in Sharm El-Sheik back in Egypt. That brings us to my rock. a cave near a waterfall. I smoked my last bit of grass inside

As I was appreciating the view, I was

wondering how I was going to make it through another week of being stuck in a car without weed to smoke. to vacate. regimen. I was on vacation, and I wanted

That meant lots of weed, and a considerable alcohol I have developed a taste for fine tequila. I had already

gone through a quarter of the best weed in Kalamazoo, but I was nearly two thousand miles from home, so that meant I couldn’t call Kenny to score a bag. Bummer. I emerged from my cave

At least the scenery was pretty good. after a cigarette. rocks with sticks.

Kevin was about a mile down the beach, poking at I walked out to a cyclopean rock with waves After

crashing up against it, and climbed up to the pinnacle.

reaching the top, I sat down and brushed the ocean creatures from my pant legs. I happened to glance out to my left to see the distant fog

rolling out from the green hills into the cliff face and through the tops of the redwoods out to the sea. that before. I had never seen anything like There was little wind, Suddenly reading

Everything seemed so perfect.

and no sound but the gulls and the waves crashing. “Some of the Dharma” made a little more sense.

I figured out why it’s so cliché to walk along the beach and listen to the waves. There’s something uncannily soothing about that The fresh ocean smells, the beautiful 39

situation and those sounds.

land, the captivating fog, the total lack of wandering idiots. Walking on beaches is for fags, I'd rather play Call of Duty. I don’t have a clear idea at how long I sat at the top of that rock just vacantly staring out into the Ocean. moments that you refuse to end voluntarily. the moment for you. life. All of a sudden, I felt an incredible urge to drink. Not because It was one of those

You need something to end

A wave caught my foot and stirred me back to

I was depressed, and not because I wanted to celebrate anything, but more because I had all of a sudden begun to feel very heavy. here, in that hippie washout kind of mental way. that I was finally doing what I wanted to do. Heavy,

I had remembered

I was free from my I

taxing mental burdens for that small sliver of time on that rock.

had totally been lost there staring at the ocean, and I had forgotten what it felt like to just let myself go free and relax. My life has always been a non-stop party. good and bad. Party in all aspects-

Sometimes there’s that point at the party where The cops show up, some chick starts puking all

something bad happens.

over everything and dying of alcohol poisoning, someone drives home after one too many and hits a tree. There’s always a chance of

something ruining the party, but as long as you make it home- or to the nearest couch (or bed if you’re lucky,) you’ll be fine to party another day.

40

I don’t want to get into the “live life day to day” mantra bullshit, but this is a good analogy. without a purpose, I feel dead inside. If I’m sitting around at home I always need to be going

somewhere, writing something down, getting ready for work, recording music, driving somewhere, checking my Email and facebook, or doing anything other than sitting around doing nothing, really. breeds ignorance. That was the first clue I had. in my head. That’s what got the ball rolling Idle time

I suddenly felt uneasy on my welcome back into the world.

I had always felt like something was wrong with the world around me, but now I felt closer to figuring out what it was. I felt one of

those “urges” or “callings” that people always talk about, but can never really nail out a good explanation of what it is. those things that you can’t read in a book. That’s one of

You actually have to take

an active part in living your life to really appreciate what it means to be alive. theirs on TV. fucks. You can’t just sit around and watch other people live Maybe too much idle time has turned you all into idiot

41

Chapter Three – The Open Road My biggest personal problem has always been my tendency to overthink. Usually it helps to be constantly analyzing the situation Probably

you’re in, but sometimes you honestly just want to sleep.

the best place to contemplate things of a purely mental nature is a long stretch of highway in the small hours of the morning. When Kevin and I road trip, we treat it like it should be treated: like an adventure! The trip involves going as far as we can

with the allotted time, visiting as many places as we can, and sleeping as little as possible. dining. There’s no hotel rooms, no fine

We eat ravioli out of the can, shop at gas stations, and It’s a rite of passage.

sleep in the car while the other is driving.

Anyone who hasn’t involved themselves in the American road trip psychodrama has surely missed out. There’s something so appealing to

me about driving great distances in a car. You know you can go pretty much anywhere, yet you’re confined to the safety and familiarity of your car and the road. home while you’re abroad. It’s a great feeling. You can feel at

Any time you feel

uncomfortable, you can just escape to the open road and be gone in an instant. The best time to experience most of the long highway hours

is to drive at night whenever possible, and stop at as many truck stops as you can. There’s always some colorful characters in a truck stop. Obviously, there’s the truckers. Those guys are quite a bunch.

42

Chewing tobacco spitting, drunken rambling, cigarette smoking, foul mouthed, womanizing sons of bitches. truckers. My kind of people. I love

Although they appear rough and unmannered, at least they It takes a high enough level of intelligence to

aren’t idiot fucks.

operate a giant truck barreling seventy miles an hour through the rocky mountains and not get yourself killed. hanging out at truck stops. That’s why I love

You may run into some strange people, but They have no business being Idiot fucks

you will rarely run into an idiot fuck.

there, unless there’s a McDonald’s inside the truck stop. are for the city. It’s our own special sociological breed.

The single best thing about truck stops is that no matter if you’re eating, sleeping, coming, or going- It’s only temporary. Temporary and extremely forgettable. There is no sense of

permanency at a truck stop, unless you’re the poor fucker who has to ring us up. I don’t envy you.

If the truck stops are the best place to forget, it makes sense that the open highway is the best place to remember. trip, remember I did. I had a lot to remember. And on this

Life has its own

little way of reminding you it’s there. head full of Acid.

Especially when you have a

When we left for California, it was exactly one half vacation and one half escape. I had been diving headfirst into a nice couple of It happened to be the first time I As with any

months of moderate L.S.D. use.

could ever find any, and I had always wanted to try it. drug, L.S.D.

has the potential to be both very good and very bad. 43

For me, it wasn’t really either.

It was a catalyst.

Some

psychologists say that using heavy psychedelics can trigger psychosis or exacerbate pre-existing mental conditions. didn’t have a “bad trip,” I didn’t go crazy, I

I didn’t turn into a maniac.

The strange thing about L.S.D. that I’ve noticed is that there’s no real way to place the feeling you’re having. sense itself. It’s really weird. Your brain can’t

For all the good it does us, you It’s

can’t feel your own brain. disappointing.

Even while tripping on Acid.

When you smoke pot, you can feel your lungs burning.

When you snort a line of cocaine, your nose burns and you can feel it mixing with mucus in the back of your throat and dripping down. When

you eat mushrooms, your stomach feels like its being eaten from the inside by weasels. When you drink you feel like you’re heavy and the When you eat some acid- it comes out of You just kind of slowly fade into it. Kenny was

ground is waving around. nowhere, and never hurts.

The first time I tripped on Acid was at Ken’s house.

this guy I had gone to high school with, lived with for a while, and was in a band with. It was a long Tuesday at work. I had worked a

ten hour shift, and I was ready to go smoke some pot and play my drums. When I got there, Ken looked at me really seriously, and threw

a piece of tin foil at me and said “eat this.” I’m like… that hurts your fillings. carefully, and eat it” He says “No, Idiot- open it,

I do, and see three little pieces of what

looked like a cross between dead skin and the inside of a jelly bean. Gels! I said “dude, is this Acid?!” 44

I threw two of them in my mouth right away, without thinking about it that much. I had spent so much time wishing I could try Acid I left one, because I

that it didn’t take me more than a second. didn’t know how much it would cost. said “how long do I have?”

I set it down on the table and

“I say let’s listen to some music, and when you’re feeling fuzzy, it’s working.” “How much do I owe you?” “Twenty, doesn’t matter anyway- I don’t need it ‘till next week” “Right on, let’s start drinking” So we went across the street and grabbed some beers. About an

hour after I ate it, I started feeling what I can only agree with Ken and call “fuzzy.” We listened to Camel’s Mirage, which is this wicked Around the time “Nimrodel” came

British prog from the seventies.

along, I had the distinct feeling that liquid was pouring down my spine, and then everything started to shift and quake and I knew that it was happening. Throughout the second half of the album, I was

hearing the flute parts dancing around the room, and hearing the lyrics come from the middle of the room. one.” The feeling of “tripping” is impossible to describe. One must L.S.D. Ken says “eat the other

experience it first hand, and it is not for the weak-minded. is real drugs. fast.

The kind of drug that can fuck up your life really

I try to do as little of these drugs as I can get away with, 45

but there’s just something about tripping on Acid in that you can’t live without doing it at least once. It’s not necessarily in the

actual peak of the trip itself, which is more mind boggling than it is anything else. It’s the recovery stage afterward that serves as the I find that part of the Seeing the walls move,

Timothy Leary kind of “spiritual” thing.

experience the most worthwhile and rewarding.

and having super sensitive hearing is pretty cool, but the best part is laying in your bed trying to sleep after the fun is over. where I can imagine people get lost in the psychedelic haze. To me, it feels like after a good ripping Acid trip you have to lay in bed and listen to your favorite music while you put your mind back together. nowhere. So many strange thoughts seem to just pop up out of This is

Thoughts you hadn’t had in months or years just sort of It can be very damaging to your psyche if you

appear out of nowhere.

don’t know how to handle it, but internal mental affairs have never really been difficult for me. The concept of putting my mind back

together piece by piece isn’t nearly as daunting as it sounds. Acid is like living really, really fast in a world you’re familiar with, but everything seems to look, taste, sound, and feel just a bit different. You feel like you’ve gone on a trip, and that Tripping balls.

must be why that’s the colloquial way to phrase it. For sure. There’s nothing like it in the world.

Not to sound like a

drug addled maniac, but there’s just something about a good session of psychoactive substances that makes me feel more alive. enhancement and satisfaction. It’s a form of

Not for children, and not for idiot

46

fucks, but totally useful for adults who are in control of themselves and feel like exercising their mental abilities. your head. Literally and figuratively. Drugs are all in

I find it hard to explain to I’m intelligent, I have

others what it is I like about drugs so much.

a good job, I haven’t fucked up my life anymore than anyone else has. I just happen to like drugs. the drug use. I am not a criminal, if you don’t count

I don’t think I’ve ever broken a law that didn’t I can eloquently express myself in a

involve a plant or chemical.

state of intoxication, and I harm no one in the process of my chemical intake. I’ve never been pulled over for speeding, I’ve never been

formally arrested, and I’ve only been in a few car accidents, mostly involving snow or animals. But, still, there’s something “icky” feeling about being a drug user. I don’t even like to call myself that. To me, a drug user is

someone habitually snorting cocaine and selling their furniture to buy a new hypodermic needle set. one. Herion, even worse. I do not do cocaine. That one’s a bad All of those

Methamphetamine?

Disgusting.

should be illegal.

Acid, that one’s on the fence because although

it’s really cool, I can totally see how someone’s mind could be completely destroyed by taking it. I don’t have a problem with these I agree. These things

things being controlled like nuclear weapons.

should not be in the hands of idiot fucks that will ruin their lives or other’s. And now, on the other hand, I would like to personally kick in the head the idiot fuck that decided marijuana, a plant that used to

47

grow on the side of the road in much of America, needed to be illegal. How do you make a plant illegal? plant. Why did we let this happen? It’s a No

You smoke it and it makes things go slow for a while. Wrong.

problem, right?

Some guy named Anslinger got it up his ass I’ve never felt the

that it made you go crazy and rape little girls? inkling to rape a little girl – EVER.

Especially when I’ve smoked a

lot of marijuana, when my mind is generally focused on whatever I’m doing instead of maniacally seeking a rape victim. psychobabble horse shit. What it is, is blame placing. people just suck. No one wants to accept that some Some people are We always have What a load of

It’s time for us to get over it.

walking stereotypes, and you know exactly what I mean. to blame it on something: stress syndrome.

alcoholism, depression, post traumatic

We’re always hiding the fact that some people can

handle themselves a hell of a lot better than some other people. That’s not good or bad, it’s a fact of fucking life. down the street and feel better than a bum, you are. When you walk When you walk

down the street and some slick dressed business mogul walks past you, he’s probably better than you. Those people at the Olympics flipping Maybe not at anything Maybe you’re That’s OK.

in the air and shit are better than all of us.

but flipping in the air, but that’s still something. really good at baking bread.

Maybe you’re better than me.

It’s good to know where you stand in life. can expect.

What you are, and what you

Learning new things, dreaming outside of your reach, and

making goals are all good things, and so is climbing the socioeconomic ladder, but don’t ever think for a minute that everyone is the same 48

and everyone is good, because it’s just not true. really fucked up. Did you ever have the urge to fuck a horse?

People are really,

Me either.

Dude,

just go on the internet and type “chick fucking horse” into Google and see what happens. Everyone is different, you have to accept it.

There’s no way of getting around it, and there’s no way of convincing yourself that you’re right about everything because you aren’t. There

are billions of different people living billions of different lives, and you can’t control them. It’s impossible. No matter how much you

want to try, and no matter how much it would benefit you, you ultimately have no control over any human being other than yourself unless they give it to you or you take it by force. You will not

take my mind from me unless you are prepared to fight for it. I have an interesting little example of all of these concepts. For about two months before I had left for California, I was living in a house in the student ghetto of Kalamazoo with my buddy Seth, who I had known for several years by now. We were living it up, going out It was nice to have a

to the bar and keeping the house clean.

respectable place to live for once, without roommates that would rather throw their dirty dishes into the kitchen from the living room. However, Seth was moving to Washington D.C. to take a good paying job, so his little brother Will was going to take over the spot on the lease. We didn’t really have a lease, because I was living in one of the rental properties a landlord buddy of mine couldn’t fill. We were 49

just paying him to stay there, without much documentation. fraudulently, but that’s not my business. little house to keep me warm in the winter.

Maybe

Either way, I had a nice

After Seth had been gone a week, I began to start seeing more and more black people at my house, which didn’t really bother me at first. As we’ve discussed, race doesn’t affect your propensity to be an idiot fuck. Some of the guys were really cool, and I could have a

conversation with them. I had to listen to a little rap, which I wasn’t accustomed to, but when people know me they have to put up with death metal, so I can’t hate on rap. dealers. I can, however, hate on cocaine

Especially those that take over your house, turn it into a

crack store, and start filming trashy porn in the empty rooms and fucking up your guitars with their greasy fried chicken hands. five in the morning. It started out innocently, with a few of them snorting lines in the bathroom. I was alright with it. I didn’t really want it in my At

house, but if that’s what Will was into, I couldn’t tell him how to live his life. I just stayed upstairs and left them alone. I figured

they would respect that, and follow suit.

They did for a while, but

slowly they began to filter upstairs over the weeks of constant partying that was going on in my house. I would leave for work at

five in the afternoon, and there would be three guys in my living room snorting lines off the coffee table. I’d come home at four in the

morning and they’d be right there, but this time there’d be fifteen of them. All drinking cheap cognac and snorting cocaine. Disgusting

50

human beings.

I’d try to go to sleep and hear nothing but the “bump

bump bump” of rap music through the floor, and the random screams of belligerent idiot fucks. I couldn’t take it anymore when one night, a shirtless man came into my room without knocking and just started yelling “hey” until I woke up and asked him what he wanted. I got out of bed, and looked

past him down the hall to see two black women (it hurts me to call them women) with gap teeth and horribly colored weaves on Seth’s mattress, naked, on all fours, one of them getting pounded in the ass by a naked black man. There was a video camera on the ground, and a He says

giant pile of cocaine on a mirror in the middle of the room. “You wanna get your dick wet, homie? You wanna get fucked?”

I started screaming at him, “what the fuck is your problem, you degenerate piece of scumbag dog shit? Why are you fucking hookers in

your friend’s house at five in the morning while he’s out who knows where doing god knows what while I’m stuck here trying to get sleep with your disgusting sex acts going on down the hall from me. Stay

the fuck out of my room, and stay the fuck downstairs if you have to be here!” He starts getting falsely apologetic, and backs away, but this time I’ve had it. I go down the hall to the room where I kept all of

my records, and I see my first pressing copy of Nirvana’s Nevermind on the floor with a straw and a razor blade. I had bought that record

for twenty five dollars near mint, and now there was cocaine residue all over the back of it, and fade marks from having coke ground up on 51

it and into the label. Disgusting idiot fucks.

Motherfuckers.

Goddamn pig fucking swine.

My blood pressure shot up so high I’m

surprised I could see colors other than red. I walked downstairs, out the door, and down the street to Fourth Coast to call the police. I hate cops. Not the people, but the idea.

I don’t like to call the cops on other people, because I don’t want to get involved in their affairs, but I couldn’t take it anymore. I

called Kevin instead, who helped me rationalize and not call the cops. It would get messy, and the dudes would have a vendetta against me. didn’t need that in my life. When you call the police on people like I

that, you’d better hope they get put away, because if they don’tthey’re coming for you. Just what I need. Very quickly. If they were

I decided I would just move out.

gonna take over the house, they could have it, but the person with all the money and all the expensive toys was leaving. I didn’t want my

drums, guitars, computers, thousands of dollars of audio gear, and hundreds of CDs and Vinyls getting destroyed or worse yet stolen by a pack of cocaine thugs and their gap-toothed whores. We left Fourth

Coast, which was exactly 187 steps away from my front door, if you were to include the three front porch steps. I counted one day. As

we were walking back, I could see the front door was open and all the lights were on, but the cars were gone. ran up to the house. I started to get scared, and

I looked in, and every single knife, fork, and

kitchen utensil with a blade or long handle was stabbed into the walls. A piece of art that Seth had made with our friend Katie was

52

ripped into a hundred pieces after being stabbed repeatedly with knives (there were hundreds of knife marks in the wall where the poster had been. On the chalkboard was scrawled the esoteric message I called the police.

“yall don unastand an yalls neva wil.”

After loading up the most important and expensive of my possessions into my car, I drove to my parents house at four in the morning to get some much needed sleep. Later, when my dad came

downstairs to wake my brother up for school, he found me passed out on the couch with another ridiculous story to tell him. I was completely

moved out of the house in less than twenty four hours, and more than ready to leave town for a couple weeks to hit the open road. That made our trip to California even more of a top priority in my mind. I was sailing through the winds of change again, hardly a

surprise, and nothing sounded better than a good old road trip across the belly of America to the eponymous crescendo of Manifest-Destiny expansion. Sometimes, when the shit hits the fan and everything

around you starts going bat shit, you just have to leave town for a while. I called my friend Glenn, the owner of the house, and let him At that point he didn’t really care, because the

know what was up.

economy of the State of Michigan was totally fucked anyway, and his mortgage on the place was essentially worthless and he was desperately trying to avoid bankruptcy. We waxed poetic about how both of our

lives sucked so bad sometimes, and we tried to get Will to kick out the coke heads. He tried to get Glenn to let them move in. Mister

Glenn, as I liked to call him considering he was my parent’s age,

53

headed straight up to wherever you go to issue an eviction notice the next day. Poor, Poor Mister Glenn. I’ve put so many unsuspecting

landlords through hell as a result of my idiot friends. I was sitting in my parents basement looking at a giant pile of my belongings. A familiar sight by then, I’ve since forgotten how They just kind

many times I’ve moved out and then right back there. of laughed and said “welcome home!”

I’m really glad my parents are

cool, because I totally would have gone insane by now if it weren’t for them just laughing with me through all of life’s day to day bullshit problems. Gazing on my bulk of possessions, I thought about how many times I had packed them up and spread everything out in another house only to take it all back down again and stack the boxes in my parent’s basement. agree more. They say that home is where the heart is, and I couldn’t Home may as well be some ex-girlfriend’s couch, or the It really doesn’t matter where you live, it’s

backseat of your car.

what you’re doing with your life that’s important. For two weeks, home was my parent’s couch while I waited for my little brother Josh to move out of my old bedroom and back to his. After that, it was going to be the back of my PT Cruiser. We took one

of the seats out of the back so we could lay down our bouldering crash pad to use it as a bed. dirtbagging. In some climbing communities, this is called There’s

It’s an adequate description of what it’s like. From your boots, from your clothes, from the

dirt everywhere.

climbing gear, from everything. 54

Our first stop was South Dakota to see the Badlands, Mount Rushmore, and hopefully do a bit of climbing at the needles. nice drive out of town. It was a

The snow had just stopped a few days before,

and we made it west through Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. I drove through the night from Kalamazoo halfway through We pulled over in Blue Earth We were

Minnesota while Kevin slept in the back.

because we thought it was a pretty cool sounding place.

filling up the gas tank when I gazed across the parking lot only to see a giant Sprout statue (the Jolly Green Giant’s son or sexpot or whatever it is) holding a giant foamy beer. On a sign nearby, it said

to check out their hundred feet or something tall Jolly Green Giant nearby. We followed the signs and found the giant and took some It was like four in the morning so no one else was

tourist pictures.

around for us to be embarrassed in front of. I woke up in the great plains, which was the first time I saw them. It was really cool, especially the prairie dogs. We like to

stop at all the scenic pull offs we can. going to see.

You never know what you’re

Some crazy rock formation, a breathtaking view, an Usually

animal habitat, a sandy beach, or a world war two monument. it’s something cool.

I like cheesy stuff like pretty trees and rocks.

I’m a sucker for nature, despite how much I love the city. After wandering around the rolling South Dakota hills, we made our way for our first stop. The badlands, if you’ve never had the

opportunity to see them, look like what I hope hell would look like. Literally. Imagine a square that was about a hundred square miles and

55

made out of grey plaster.

If you were to just hit the plaster in

random places with a hammer for about a million years, you would end up with an accurate model of the badlands. The rocks aren’t really It’s a dried up ocean

rocks, the mountains aren’t really mountains.

from millions of years before the dinosaurs or something, and as a result of the sea bed drying or whatever, it became a big block of tightly packed sand that has been eroded by rain and snow melting since our unicellular ancestors. Pretty cool.

We spent a few hours roaming aimlessly around the Badlands taking pictures and climbing to the top of giant piles of sand that, if we were more “preservation minded,” we probably would have stayed off of. I can’t help my urge to explore. Neither can Kevin. Ever since we

were kids we spent most of our time together wandering around being mischievous. After our romp at the badlands, we tried to hit the needles, but it was still closed for the season. We weren’t too shocked,

considering there was still a couple of inches of snow in some places, the sky was grey, and we could see the flakes starting to come down. We figured our chances of climbing anytime before we hit California were pretty much crushed. It was too early in the year, and too far

north to do any rock climbing that didn’t involve ice tools or frostbite. After the obligatory stop at Wall Drug, which everyone should see at least once, we decided to take a snowy trip to Mount Rushmore, the classic road trip destination. We had to be cliché at least once on 56

this trip, if the Jolly Green Giant wasn’t our first cliché roadside attraction. amazing. Mount Rushmore is impressive, but not really that

Faces we’ve all seen in books and on TV since birth carved

on a mountain that probably looked nicer before there were presidents on it. Our next stop was supposed to be Yellowstone, but almost the entire park was still closed for the season, so we decided to head straight to the next destination, Portland, and prepared ourselves for a hell of a drive through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, and Washington. Kevin drove from South Dakota through most of Wyoming, where we stopped to get some gas in some scary bilge water town at the foot of the mountains with not much more than a road and a gas station, where I took over driving. After finding a highway rest stop with a good

view, I listened to the weather report on the radio while smoking a bowl. Snow in the mountains. Wonderful. We were going to be driving Rockies, then the

through the mountains for the next day and a half. Cascades.

As we gained in elevation, the light rain turned heavy, the heavy rain turned to slush, and the slush turned to ice, and then it got nasty. I didn’t stop to think about how sparsely populated that area

of the country was, and we made it to a Wal-Mart about a hundred miles south of Montana with one squeaky windshield wiper, a shot of gas in the tank, five hundred miles over the oil change mark, and one barely awake driver with white knuckles and a full bladder. We gassed up and

57

headed to Billings, Montana to sleep in a parking lot until we could get an oil change. Around five in the morning, or so, a knock at the window rouses me from a restful sleep. Cops. I punched Kevin in the shoulder,

grabbed the keys to turn on the battery, and rolled down each front window to greet the police officers at either one. I kicked the bowl

under the seat, and grabbed for my wallet- which was under the knife I used to eat my can of ravioli. The officer at the passenger window

puts his hand nearer to his gun and says “Please do not grab that knife, sir,” as I showed him my empty hands. Walgreen's called the

cops on us, the suspicious vehicle from Michigan occupying the shady spot near the dumpsters. Kevin had chosen a bad place to park.

They let us go after they checked our ID's and all of that. “We're just trying to make sure you're not drug runners or serial killers is all.” Fair enough, right? We asked them directions to the

nearest wal-mart so we could get an oil change.

58

Chapter Four – Montana

We woke up around nine in the morning in the back of a Wal-mart parking lot in Billings, Montana. After getting a quick oil change we

gassed up once again, grabbed some food at the truck stop across the street, and made our way for Idaho. We enjoyed a scenic trip through

the mountainous stretch that makes up western Montana and the Northern strip of Idaho. Beautiful snowy mountain passes, and a heavenly After Kevin’s drive through the rest

descent into Eastern Washington.

of the Rockies, it was my turn to head to the end of our seemingly endless trip from Indiana on I-90. The western terminus of I-90, in

case you ever wondered, is a not-so-ceremonial fork in the road in a mass of intersecting highways somewhere in Seattle. There’s something unnaturally calming about Montana. There’s not

much there but open space, which is probably why they call it big sky country. Most people that go there are probably just passing through,

most of the people that live there probably dream about leaving if they aren’t in the position to come and go as they please. It feels

like it’s not real, it’s only a temporary place that exists when you go there, and doesn’t exist any other time. the same place, it never looks the same. Even if you go back to

As I was smoking a cigarette

and mindlessly chatting about my earrings with a truck stop employee in Billings, I looked off into the early morning horizon and saw nothing but blue sky and endless possibility both in the terrain of Montana, and in the terrain of my mind. 59

Here I was, again, far away from home and lost in the endless ebb and flow of life. was going in life. Surfing the tides of change, wishing I knew where I Sure, I had my life planned out years ago. Music,

Art, Rock Climbing, dreaming, and mind altering substances.

That’s

what my life has always consisted of, and hopefully always will consist of. I can’t help but find solace in the uncertainty of where I could be a destitute wandering vagabond, or I will most likely fall somewhere

I’ll be in five years.

a successful writer and musician. in the middle.

The only thing that’s really ever stayed consistent in my life is the uncertainty of the future, which has led me to wonder if the future is really even a real thing, or just some idea that we came up with so we could put off things we really wanted to do until we had “time” some “other time.” I don’t give two shits, nor a fuck about the future. I’m concerned, there’s only the past and the present. and whatever’s happening right now. As far as

What happened,

I can make plans to hang out with

you tomorrow, but if your drunk driving ass wraps your S.U.V. around a tree, that won’t work very well will it? Time moves in a straight

line backwards from right this second to back when some asshole decided to divide into increments the movements of the sun from East to West relative to a fixed position. Long before we knew it was a

giant ball of gas thousands of miles away spewing out the nuclear waste of hundreds of atom bombs every second, we thought it was a

60

chariot of fire being driven across the sky by flying horses and some giant man who knew how to make it so. When you don’t care about the future, what “will” happen becomes what “might” happen, and once you get over the need to put things off, it becomes “what’s gonna happen that you don’t care about today.” Call me a pessimist, but it wouldn’t surprise me a bit to not wake up one day. In fact, I wouldn’t even know I hadn’t woken up, because I There’s no guarantee that I’m going to make

wouldn’t exist anymore.

it home from Fourth Coast as I’m typing this. You can’t change the past, you have little to no control over the present, and if the future even exists, it isn’t here yet so you can’t react to it- and you can’t promise that anything will happen just because you said or thought it would. Maybe the future is useful for

the calendar industry, but if you don’t make calendars for a living, then stop worrying about next week and start making today the most important section of time on your mind. this, but no one ever listens. Everyone always tells us

If today is your last day on earth,

who gives a fuck if you broke a heel? It’s kind of hard to keep yourself in check when you have such a vivid imagination. I’ve imagined myself as thousands of things, some The first thing in life I ever wanted That one got

attainable, some not so much. to be was a ghostbuster. shot down real quick. attainable.

No ghosts, no ghostbusters.

The next was Astronaut, that’s a little more

Still, however, mathematics have not always been a good

friend of mine, especially those involving variables, or “letters” as 61

I call them.

That makes astrophysics a bit out of my range.

No

astronaut antics for me.

After that it was musician, and I never

really gave up on that dream. While all the adults in my childhood told me I could be anything I wanted, I was always stuck with wondering how, exactly. wanted to be an animal? A raccoon, maybe. What if I

I’m about five feet taller

than a big fucking raccoon, I lack the requisite fur, and have a much larger brain. If I had asked one of them, the response would have

been either “well, not exactly…” or “why would you want to be a raccoon?” Endlessly debunking and questioning.

Suppose I was a little more realistic or cognizant as a child, and I said to myself “I want to be an alcoholic restaurant manager making only enough money to keep me alive but right where I am on the socio-economic ladder with no hope of going up a rung, being constantly berated by fools” and I probably would have drank the stuff under the sink my dad drew a skull and crossbones on, waiting for the sweet darkness. I might have a little more faith in myself than that, regardless of how much faith I lack in life. This is where I have to point out Right now, I have

the eerie correlation between “faith” and “hope.”

no fucking idea how to rescue myself from the peril of being far more useful to people than my spot in life requires of me. seek less work, less responsibility, less thinking. Most people I want nothing

more than to be pushed to the limit, accountable, and intellectually challenged. Unfortunately, however, I’m stuck without a college 62

education for “proof” of my abilities, the finances to move out of state and “re-invent” myself, and the financial support of friends or family to financially rescue me from my college predicament. isn’t a world for glory-seekers. Does that mean I need to lash out with temper tantrums, a hostile demeanor, and vast reserves of self pity? to get back on the horse and keep trying. No. It just means I have This

Challenges in life are

there to allow you to prove to yourself and others that you can rise above the petty crap that keeps us from getting what we want or need from life. I know I’m no failure. The only people that fail are those that Hurdles are to be jumped over, and

can’t take things as they come.

limitation is just another way of saying “challenge” as far as it comes to “life.” There’s another one of those mystical concepts, life. it? The status of being alive? What is

Does that include consciousness? They may or not be alive, Are animals

Plants are alive, right?

Ask any hippie.

but some of them sure are fun to dry, burn, and inhale. alive? They eat, shit, fuck, and move around.

Some of them are even Are they alive? As

capable of showing emotion, like cats or dogs. far as I’m concerned, no.

Plants and animals don’t have to wake up in Animals don’t need

the morning and worry about being late for work.

to worry about how they’re dressed and how great their hair looks in order to get laid. months late. They don’t go to court when the rent is three

They cannot operate a computer, they cannot remember pi 63

to any decimal.

Life is a concept we invented to refer to the

psychodrama that we create around ourselves as a result of having too much intellectual capacity, and living in the same world as animals that shit without wiping their ass with ground up and bleached trees. When you’re driving through Montana, you are driving through what separates us from all of the animals we gave funny names like “squirrel” and “porcupine.” You see the road carve gracefully through You see a gas station attendant

the snow capped rocky mountains.

wearing a “USA” T-shirt with a menacing bald eagle on it that cannot for the life of him figure out how my earrings work. fascinated! He was

I had two hollow gauges in each ear, #2, with captive He just says

bead #10 rings going through them, all stainless steel. “did that hurt?”

I said, “like a bitch, but I’m not a fucking pussy. I’m pretty

I drank a fifth of vodka and bit on a piece of leather.”

sure I convinced him they hammered out a cumulative inch of my earlobes to put those gauges in. I can’t really say I convinced him, He didn’t

I had just said it like I meant it, and he believed me.

believe me because I was telling the truth, he believed me because he thought I was telling the truth. There is a clear distinction between

people who make and understand facts, and people who hear and interpret facts. conundrum. What if I told the guy that my earrings didn’t exist, that he was slipped L.S.D. in his coffee, his wife is dead, and I am with the I.R.S. coming to collect six million in back taxes before I inform the This makes for an interesting epistemological

64

D.E.A. and A.T.F. about the illegal gun cache slash meth lab In his basement. Would he have believed me then?

What if it was all the truth, and I was just telling you a true account? Fiction, non-fiction, newsspeak, political pundits, reality

television, national public radio, Harry Potter, and papal decrees are all the same these days. facebook and sip coffee. Coming up in the RSS feeds while you chat on We have so much of a hard time trying to

sort between what was reality two days ago and what was reality just now before it changed again, that we didn’t even realize that there was a difference until just recently. We have all sorts of “concepts” like irrational numbers, the grace of god, and the internet. no-thing. They are nothing in the essence of

They are linguistic and pseudo-visual representations of

ideas commonly held to be true, to varying degrees of “truthiness.” God is a reason for us not to hate this life in hope for a better one later “at some time”, irrational numbers are a way for us to poke at the correlation between things we understand and things we don’t, and the internet is a worldwide haze of charged particles flying through copper yet connecting us all in this terrifying amalgamation of zeitgeist window slash porn machine slash music store. We live day to day with heavy concepts running through our brains so much that we forget to say thanks to the dude that held the door for us at the gas station, we talk about community action and never show up to committee meetings, we call ourselves one nation under god even though we have a thousand different interpretations of that word 65

and a good deal of people not even acknowledging its existence, we’d rather watch sports on television than election coverage in a presidential election year, we’d rather buy McFastfood than bake a potato and grill a burger ourselves, and we’d rather pay someone to groom our landscapes than learn how to prune a rosebush, much less appreciate the history and people that brought you that money, privilege, botanical knowledge, land, free time, and then not even look at the god damned roses let alone smell them because you’re too busy thumbing away on the old blackberry to notice the colorful plant your gardener just put there. wouldn’t care anyway. But I digress; our social problems can’t be solved by an angry twenty three year old in a coffee shop with a laptop, so let’s get on with the story. Montana is beautiful. It also serves, at least to me, It’s her favorite flower, but you

as a “gateway” of sorts from what I knew (Michigan and the east side of the country) and what I didn’t know (the Pacific Northwest.) It

served as a good metaphorical bridge between moving out of a crack house and moving forward in life. I think I might put a little too

much emotional investment into my road trips, but I’m getting away from town in more ways than just one. A road trip is just the long road home. You’re not truly putting things behind you. doing? You’re only escaping. Is that what we’re all

Running away from life slash reality and trying to escape it? The desire to escape, and the

Is that both our desire and our demon? want not to have to?

So is what’s keeping me going the same thing

66

that keeps me from getting where I want to go, or am I serving my own destroyers by allowing my desires to be provided to me by mass market advertising and people that don’t matter to me on a personal level in the slightest? Will I spend the rest of my life in mental Montana,

somewhere on the northern border stuck in the mountains wishing I was in Washington, D.C. making a difference by forcing my opinions on others with slimy rhetoric and soft money, or in D.C. wishing I was in big sky country without all the noise and people? Is there even a

valid point to all of this drunken nonsense I and we call life, considering we just die at the end of it? fails? What happens when the bank

Did Hunter Thompson blow the last hope of the American Dream Who is John Galt?

out from the back of his skull?

67

Chapter Five – The Fall of Rome The bastardization of our wonderful western mindset of heroes and success chasing has been solely at the hands of the people that didn’t bother studying history because it was “boring.” Instead of having

values like an impressive vocabulary, we abbreviate words that don’t need it. Instead of valuing athleticism, we’ve become a nation of fat Instead of

couch potatoes watching sports and daytime television.

gathering together to exchange ideas, we go to the bar and get trashed on money that would have been better spent on books. Instead of

trying to better ourselves and valuing progress, we create the welfare system and allow idiot fucks to breed more idiot fucks and spend more and more of our tax dollars on housing and feeding a new batch of criminals and miscreants. Instead of valuing our wonderful system of

capitalism, we seek any free handout invented by some asshole that felt he should get something for nothing for being different in some way from everybody else, be it his age, skin color, inability to pilot a global financial entity, or stupidity-related, disability-causing accident. Instead of valuing ourselves, we take every opportunity to

demonize others for whatever they’re doing that we don’t like, even though it doesn’t affect or concern us in any way. Instead of valuing

the freedom our forefathers fought so hard to guarantee us, we seek whatever means necessary to limit the freedom of others to worship Satan, abort fetuses, and have gay sex while heading straight to the authorities if someone tries to limit your freedom to worship god, have your unviable child and hate it, breathe our second hand smoke, Instead of having 68

or to protest what you don’t like or understand.

our own values, we ask religious communities and mass media conglomerates to tell us what’s important, how we should feel and act, and what we should look like. Instead of valuing anything, we expect

some kind of artificial and esoteric morality that condemns us for being who we are while demanding that we must think for ourselves. we have no access to our own freedom to live life, do as we please, and pursue personal happiness, we are morally bankrupt. We have no capacity whatsoever to decide what’s good and what’s bad. If we have no freedom, to do what we want or say what we want Nothing. When If

out of fear of “offending” someone, we have nothing.

they wrote “we” as the first word of the constitution, they meant all of us. Not just me, and not just you. Limiting freedom is It cannot be

impossible.

Freedom is a means and an ends in itself.

defined, contained, or limited because it is the essential lack of definition, containment, and limitation. Freedom is to live free, and You may not

any attempt to add an exception makes it non-freedom.

like it if I say fuck in front of your children when you’re the one that brought them to a bar after ten, but I don’t like it when you tell me that god doesn’t approve of it. says I can’t say the word fuck. exist when the bible was written. well have been the Atlantic Ocean. ruled by the Roman Empire. For thousands of years since we figured out what freedom was, we’ve been trying to keep it for ourselves and take it away from other Show me the bible verse that

Fuck is an English word that didn’t In Greek. Back when America may as

Back when “to be free” meant to be

69

people.

Freedom remains nothing but an ideal, a concept we spend all

our time citing as an impetus for our actions that destroy the freedom of others. It’s the same shit that’s been going from the beginning of

human dominance on the earth to the minute the idiot fucks could get on the internet at the library and post belligerently and illiterately on message boards. About two thousand years ago, mankind had its first major struggle with one of its own. Christ. I am not talking about Jesus paciWhen our robed rabbi was

I am talking about Caesar Augustus.

somehow miraculously sucking tit milk from a virgin in a stable somewhere in the desert, Augustus was busy forming the largest Mediterranean Empire of the western legacy. This came, more or less,

as a direct result of his own personal diplomacy, cunning, and tenacity. Not until Descartes did we know the concept of “I” again.

I blame “love your brother” Christianity which at the same time quelled intellectual uprisings and neglected the need to educate ourselves about all the rotting buildings and manuscripts around Europe while enabling the mass mobilization of troops for a “religious crusade” to “convert the infidels” who busily developed algebra, the concept of zero, and took the time to try to preserve the knowledge we figured out thousands of years ago, and “god” told you was blasphemous because it was made by pagan scum. Fuck you!

Soon enough, all it took was another “egomaniac” trying to take over Europe again. This time, the big bad U.S.A. was around to smack

Hitler down, piss off Russia, bomb the Japanese, and create Israel

70

(and another century of problems,) with one great bludgeoning from our continent-sized dick. bit the dust. Now it’s about 2000 years or so after Augustus

We have fixed most of the diseases except the really

scary ones, and we have much flashier toys than any roman emperor could dream up in a million years. 2000 year old problems. poor? But here we are still, stuck with

How do we kill/educate/manage/feed/avoid the How do we combat or What do we do

What is the role of religion in a society?

deal with nature in a megalopolis oil sucking economy? with all the dead people? piss us off? it?

What do we do with the living ones that What is Justice? Who administers

How do we punish them?

If our grandfather built a building, do we have the right to tear What do we do when we run out of a natural resource? Who decides which is right when we Who decides? Who How do

it down?

we manage natural disasters? argue?

What manner of dress/speech is appropriate? Who decides?

will lead us?

These are all ancient questions, which Without

many have tried to answer, but all have ultimately failed.

question, we are bankrupt on the morality required to make such decisions. What made us morally bankrupt? The sudden need of morals?

Is it because we finally have the ability to intentionally destroy our planet? Do we? Have you ever even personally seen a nuclear weapon? But we know they exist, because we (“America”,)

I sure haven’t.

dropped a couple of them on Japan, a place I’ve never been, in 1945, forty years before I was born. Yet here we are, here I am, in 2008 in

Kalamazoo, Michigan, fearing in some detached kind of way that some Islamic Extremist is going to send one our way.

71

Just flip a coin and say it’s us getting bombed by them.

Are

Islamic Extremist terrorists just idiot fucks with guns and a head full of Orwellian propaganda? I’m sure there are an equal proportion I’ve known intelligent

of idiot fucks in the Islamic world to ours. Muslims. I lived with a few of them.

I never felt threatened by

them, or their beliefs.

How did our hate shift so easily from Did

communists and drug lords to Allah worshippers and oil tycoons? our national priorities change outright, or did our national

priorities reiterate themselves into the new communists and the new drug lords? Are we always just stuck perpetually hating those that

think differently than us, and those that bring us what we want but won’t admit to wanting? Blocking the citizens of a middle eastern country into “A-rabs” is no more intelligent than calling all of us Americans “whitey,” “WASP,” or “Yankee.” People are people. It doesn’t matter where

they’re from, only where they’re going, and what they take on airplanes. What is the fucking point of devoting the entire

civilization’s intellectual efforts on bickering back and forth about metaphysical afterlives and sucking our limited supply of precious million year old organic material into S.U.V.’s that we drive to mega churches. And if a loving mother wants to waive her right to bring

another poor innocent child onto this trash heap of a planet, she has to get guilt tripped and harassed by the religious right. I’m not

going to start getting on a soap box about “the issues” like some delusional politician that thinks he can somehow bamboozle the entire body politic to think, talk, and act just like him. There’s a reason 72

we have a congress.

Things like war, abortion, immigration, taxation,

and health care are things that have so many different facets it becomes wholly impossible to settle upon some majority consensus. That’s why we’ve been mired in legislation since the moment John Hancock signed that god damned paper. I’m not knocking on John Hancock, or any of those dudes. all. We all hang together in treason, right? Not at

I’m just saying it

didn’t smooth out all the kinks, and I think they realized that when they wrote it. All of those papers. The articles of the

confederation, the constitution, the declaration of independence, the bill of rights, and the emancipation proclamation, just to name a few, were certainly not drafted by idiot fucks. These men knew exactly

what they were doing, acted mostly together, and left us with infinitely customizable executive, judicial, and legislative branches of government, all aligned in some renaissance golden triangle of checks and balances. slave. It’s supposed to work. It works like an injured

It works because it has to, but can’t operate to peak Our entire government and We’ve been

efficiency outside of the lash's reach.

political process is centered around debate and argument.

customizing it ever since in order to perpetuate the continual fucking of the everyday Joes on behalf of major corporations you've never even heard of. History, as they say, has a way of repeating itself. I recall

browsing a book store the other day and noticing the title “Are we Rome?” in the modern issues section. I couldn’t help but laugh. I

73

didn’t even need to read the book.

I know enough about the Roman There’s Or

period to understand all the connotations of that phrase. another bromide I recall.

It goes “what goes up must come down.”

how about “what goes around, comes around.” happens”

Maybe “Whatever happens

Romulus founded it after killing his brother and sucking wolf tits, the families made it powerful after raping the sabines, the republic made it great, Julius Ceasar made it all powerful, Augustus brought it back together, and then Christianity destroyed it hand in hand with the moral decay that Christianity was protesting. Now if I

say “Columbus found it trying to find a cheap way to get spices, the immigrants made it powerful though continental genocide, the constitution made it great, the westward expansion made it all powerful, Martin Luther King, Jr. brought it all back together, and then Christianity destroyed it hand in hand with the moral decay that Christianity was protesting,” would you know what I was talking about in 2000 years? Don't you people understand that the world exists how

we've made it, not how we wish it was? If history is repeating itself, how is it that we can watch television on our cell phones but we still can’t figure out that we’ve been trying to figure out why Rome fell since it fell? We were

wondering about the fall of the Roman empire when “we” were still “Romans” and “now” was 1500 years ago. In the comic book Transmetropolitan, no one knows what year it is. They just refer to “then” as “X amount of years” ago. I always 74

liked that little bit of social commentary. what year it is?

Does it really matter

We’re counting off since “the birth of Christ” which

was arbitrarily suggested as the twenty fifth of December, but somehow the year magically begins on January first. Seriously, we base our

calendar year on a fictional event that doesn’t even happen on the new year! What is wrong with us?

75

Chapter Six – History Well, on the topic of the past, I shouldn’t limit it to my own, or even just to Rome's. Earth before we got it. There have been a lot of people on this

They all had to get up in the morning just

like we do, they had to meet chicks and get laid, they had to find food and money, they had to build nice places to keep their chicks, they had to figure out their roles in society, and they all died just like we will. Before we had the ability to write down what we were talking about with each other, we had to conquer a few things first: fire,

animal husbandry, agriculture, specialization, trade, language, and socialization. I remember hearing a lecture once that started “History begins at Sumer.” This is commonly accepted, because we don’t have any written

record of what happened before the cultures that developed in the four river basins: Nile, Tigris-Euphrates, Yellow, Indus. Notably,

Egypt, the Middle East, China, and India. now?

Sound a bit more familiar

These writings found somewhere around the Tigris-Euphrates, are actually triangles poked in mud with sticks and then dried. These

people were the first to invent a way of tracking their thoughts in a physical form, and thusly, the most commonly known example that follows near the end of the “History begins at Sumer” in history textbooks is the Code of Hammurabi. Laws literally written in stone.

76

We get writing, and what do we do? knowledge across generational lines?

Figure out how to transmit useful No. We map out how to punish We fucked up from the

people that don’t do what we think they should.

start, and we just kept pouring salt in the wound. After the Sumerian’s descendants and neighbors made boats and started calling themselves Phonecians, they crossed the Mediterranean and found the Egyptians there building pyramids and were like “wow, other smart people- that’s awesome!” reason to. theirs. They didn’t fight! They had no

The Sumerians had their river, and the Egyptians had

They didn’t even know about the other guys, and the other Since they were both smart, they started Egypt makes money, Sumeria No one really knows why.

guys didn’t know about them.

learning from each other and selling shit. becomes Babylon. They both built pyramids.

After a while, people took their boats to different parts of the Mediterranean and found a bunch of places to live where there were no idiots and they could fuck their wives in peace. Also, dudes from

India started talking to dudes from China, and then the Babylonians met the dudes from India, so now we all knew there were a bunch of other people, and that we had a bunch of land between all of us. began selling shit to everybody! Everybody stacked money piles, We

everyone fucked, everyone built buildings. After a while, society wasn’t based on what river you lived nearest anymore. control. We could tame the rivers with irrigation and flood

We had merchants, kings, farmers, blacksmiths, and soldiers.

Then instead of just trying to sell our stuff to people, we realized 77

we could just beat them up and take it. innovators to brutes.

We moved, then, from being

It was more important to have a huge army than We didn’t want new

it was to be smart and invent new stuff to sell.

stuff, we just wanted more- and we didn’t want to pay for it, we wanted to take it from other people that worked hard to make it. Then Greece came along. Greece was a little bit different.

Instead of having rivers to deal with, they had mountains separating them into little isolated communities we call “city-states.” feuded amongst themselves, allying and backstabbing. They

There were

several notable city-states, but the one we know most about is Athens. That’s where a lot of the coolest shit went down that we hear about all the time. Names like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Pericles,

Eurypides, Xenophon, Thucydides, and Sophocles. They decided that there were still questions to be answered, and they developed things we now call philosophy, science, mathematics, physics, biology, rhetoric, and politics. They invented this thing

called democracy, where they all tossed pot shards in a bucket to decide which guy was right when they argued. Democracy, as we We’re talking

understand it in modern terms, is very far from this.

about a bunch of people who got together on a Saturday or what have you, and just talked about stuff. Everyone could hear everyone else,

and it only mattered how good you were at talking if you wanted to get something done. Society became more and more stratified, but it wasn’t as bad as what was going down in India- by that time they had already decided 78

that all the things Greeks were arguing about were decided by gods, and that those gods dictated your life. Also, they had this awesome

thing called a caste system, where you were born into a social strata that not only dictated who you were, what you did, and what you could get, but you couldn’t escape! Bummer!

The Greeks figured out a bunch more shit, invented a few gods of their own, and built some really cool looking buildings. They decided

that not only was writing words cool, but coming up with words for things that weren’t necessarily real was even better. figure out what made the world work. They wanted to

They started “schools” to teach

younger people what they had figured out in hopes that the younger ones would elaborate on it. Then what did we do? We killed Socrates

for making people think for themselves.

That was the moment western

civilization turned into war-mongering and intelligence-fearing sociopathic curmudgeons. Greece wasn’t the only place full of people to start building buildings and getting smart. People all over what we now recognized

as a big place, Earth, full of little places we named arbitrarily. Like Kalamazoo. time. We really got into naming things for a long, long,

We named things like bronze, iron, spear, shield, sword, blood,

violence, foreigner, and war. Then there was a brief glimmer of hope when some kid named Alexander decided to take over what we then recognized as the world and make everybody Greek. make them the same as him. He didn't want to kill them, he wanted to He came pretty fucking close. He took on 79

his dad Philip’s fight to destroy the Persian empire, like the two dudes we know now both called George Bush. The Persian empire, which

is what Babylon had become, was the bridge between Europe and India, thusly China. The middle East. Instead of relying on Babylonians to

sell Greeks stuff, Alexander wanted the Greeks to have all of it- and he wanted everybody to start drinking and having a good time while getting smart and making cool statues. He got all the way to India,

but instead of taking it over, his soldiers were just like “eh, whatever, fuck it- you guys just fight with the Chinese.” Then he

unexpectedly up and died, forgot to leave an heir, and his generals split up the territory back into what it was before. Egypt became perpetually ruled by Greeks named Ptolemy. Greece

fizzled out and got taken over by Rome, who now had the biggest dick. Rome took all their cool ideas, renamed the gods, forced the smart ones to teach their kids, and then inherited the legacy. Rome came up

with the republic, where individual people were elected by a big group of people to represent them in government because everyone couldn’t get together on Saturdays anymore. Some of them lived across the

ocean, some of them got too drunk on Friday, and some of them didn’t care- so now we had politicians to “speak for us.” We just kept with

the frantic pace fucking up and shooting ourselves in the metaphorical foot. The Romans started by taking over the rest of the Italian peninsula, and moving on across the ocean to Northern Africa, but stayed away from Egypt. They needed Egypt to sell them food, and

80

their dick wasn’t big enough to hit Egypt from all the way across the ocean yet. Besides, Egyptians were ruled by Greeks called the

Ptolemys, which were installed after the whole Alexander thing happened. Egypt was hundreds of years old back then, and they took to Alphabetic language? Whoa! After

Hellenization like ducks to water.

spending a good amount of time arguing amongst themselves, and taking over other societies, the Romans finally got too big to be ruled by arguments between old men called senators. They needed a dashing A few

young man like Alexander to get them fat paid and fat laid.

dudes tried, named Marius and Sulla, but their dicks weren’t big enough. Then came the biggest dick of them all, Julius Caesar. He

whooped ass on all of the hippies dancing around fires in what is now France and Spain, and then butted heads with the other guy trying to take over the world, Pompey Magnus. Pompey allied himself with what

was the faltering Roman republic and pussy slaveland Greece, and Caesar took all of his soldiers, promised them a bunch of money, land, and women, then proceeded to totally whoop ass until he got taken down by those old men in the senate. Before he died, he adopted some kid

named Octavian he had paid to go to school and get smart, and left him the keys to the kingdom. Since Octavian was still a kid, Caesar’s general, Mark Anthony, tried to take it all for himself. it happen. Octavian was a bit too smart to let

He was like “nah, how about we just team up with this guy

that has a bunch of money and political clout, Lepidus, and with our three dicks combined, we can get super laid!”

81

Mark Anthony was dumb as a post, so he was like “sure, why notone third king is as good as one whole king, right?” soldier, not a scholar. He was a

Octavian realized he could steal Lepidus’

money and political clout, that he was smarter than the old men in the senate that hadn’t gotten such a rad education, that once he got money and political clout he could totally whoop Mark Anthony’s ass, change his name to Augustus, and then show that his dick was bigger than everybody else’s. He won, and he did a pretty good job of leaving a

system that could support itself even if someone that was a total idiot fuck was running it. Then a bunch of idiots ran it straight into the ground, and eventually they fucked it up bad enough that the smart ones couldn’t compensate anymore, and after taking over a good chunk of the world and getting a bunch of money, the Roman empire split into two parts. All of a sudden, it was the Europe half, and the Babylonian half again. The eastern half called themselves Byzantium, the western half Both were still centered around

became the Holy Roman Empire. Christianity.

By utilizing Christianity, and the belief in one god

that would punish you in an eternal afterlife if you didn’t do what his earthly representatives asked, some idiot fucks in Rome suddenly had a strangle hold on everyone. This is where Europe falls into a

state of feudalism, resulting in the dirt farming dark ages. Now, instead of learning from the people that came before us, we left it up to some concept we invented called god that told us what to do via the people we paid to save us from him. After dealing with

82

this, somehow, for about a thousand years, people figured out how to write down what they were thinking again, and some dude named Gutenberg figured out a way to not just write stuff down, but to write it down again and again and again. on a mass scale? The fucking bible. What’s the first thing we printed Nothing but mistakes.

While the idiots around Europe tore down the cool buildings because they had nothing better to do, and destroyed all the knowledge we had because it was thought up by “pagans,” the folks in Byzantium were nice enough to remember it all for us as best they could. After

we had a bunch of bibles printed up, we thought we were cool, so we decided to go on a “crusade” to bring bibles to those Byzantium freaks that had their own new version of monotheism. They didn’t want our

bibles, so they sent us back with spices, algebra, and reminded us that there were other places called India and China that we could bring our bibles to. So we started building bigger boats to carry more bibles around that irritating continent of Africa to get to the other places faster than walking through Byzantium, because they wouldn’t let us take the bibles through. Then some ass hat named Christopher Columbus, from Portugal, decided that instead of going around Africa, we should just go around the world. Considering there wasn’t anything but ocean to the West,

he should just be able to hit India without having to go all the way around Africa. Brilliant. He ended up finding out that there was

83

another two continents, both a shit ton bigger than Europe, that were chock full of people to bring bibles to! Turns out that not only did these people not know about Jesus, but they didn’t even have huge buildings like the ones falling apart in Egypt, Sumeria, Greece, Rome, India, and China. surely needed bibles more than anyone else. bibles, either. These people

They didn’t want our

Instead of just ignoring them like we did the people

to the East of Europe, we set about destroying them so we could build big buildings on their land after we took it from them. While the super Christians were out evangelizing in the new world, there were a lot of smart people left where Rome used to be, which they now had divided back into city states and took the books the people in Byzantium had saved for them and started learning from history, picking up the pieces where they left off with Augustus. They figured out how to build cooler buildings, make cooler statues, paint cooler paintings, and they started valuing being smart again. Finally. A good decision. We call that the Renaissance. We started

making cool words for concepts again, but they all start ending with ism. Humanism, secularism, altruism, and scholasticism. While all of this was going on, there was still an ass hole in Rome that was now called pope, who called all the shots. His

authority wasn’t given by having a large army, being smart, or having a big dick. He just told everyone that he was the only one that could

talk to god, and since there were only a small number of smart people around still, we all believed him and did everything he said. 84

Sporadically, all across Europe, people began to wise up and be like “yeah, whatever, I don’t know about all of this pope to god conversation business. “ Then some guy named Martin Luther wrote down

some words on a paper that said, among other things, that the pope was a charlatan, and he didn’t mean shit. Religion was just about god

again after that, and hopefully we keep it that way. After this took place, some people in France decided that not only was the pope thing a stupid idea, but so was the idea of having a king or emperor there to tell everyone what to do. the enlightenment. They called this

Back to India and China, who had a bit of an Seeing as how they had spent most of

“enlightenment” of their own.

their time to themselves, not involving themselves with the two river basins to the west of them arguing back and forth buying all their stuff. While there was still a caste system in most of India, some of

the Indians and most of the Chinese came up with this idea they called “Buddhism,” where there wasn’t a god to venerate, but a really smart guy that showed everybody how to think for themselves. We, western

civilization, thought that Idea was ridiculous, but our dick couldn’t reach far enough to hit them with it yet. How could those people get

by without god telling them how to live their lives? After the French people had the French Revolution and got rid of the king, they tried to use what the Greeks and Romans had used in some weird combination. Instead of having the “senators” just be old

guys, they were elected by normal people, who had now become used to having to think for themselves again instead of farming like their

85

parents had done for the last thousand years. elected senator if they got smart enough. to be senator. They had other options.

Now they could be

But maybe they didn’t want They could own a business.

They could make stuff and sell it to other people instead of taking it from them. We started to get civilized again.

Then, all the smart people realized that the super Christians had taken over this place called America, where there was a bunch of land to be taken, buildings to be built, and idiots to take advantage of. Perfect! Just a generation or two later, there were some very smart

“senators” that decided if we wanted to become really cool, we needed to have our own place called America, not a bunch of colonies owned by European governments. We asked the French to help us kick ass on the

British dudes who wanted to tax the fuck out our tea, wrote the declaration of independence, and all those smart people in that room signed it, paving the way for us to fuck it up again. the founding fathers. We call them

Really smart people like Thomas Paine, Benjamin

Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, and other names you've read a thousand times in American history books. These guys spoke multiple languages,

built things you couldn't imagine building, and thought about concepts that don't get covered on American Idol or Monday Night Football. They did a better job at making sure the government perpetuated itself than Augustus did, because they were able to learn from the past. They made decisions for an entire nation of people based on What is

asking metaphysical questions, and actually answering them. the role of religion in society? Personal.

It has nothing to do with

86

government.

Who leads us?

Somebody smart, in conjunction with

another much bigger collection of smart people that have the authority to call him out if he isn’t acting smart. Who decides? Us! But

now, what if those people try to fuck us over? factor to the equation. makes three.

We added another Now that A self

The judicial branch of government.

One to lead, one to question, and one to answer.

perpetuating, self balancing government. this for us were so awesome! always do. We, the people.

The people that designed

We just fucked it up again like we

After fighting with the British, and ultimately winning, America decided we didn’t want to have anything to do with fighting between each other like Europe did, so we expanded on the city state idea, made them a bit bigger, and just called them states. Now instead of

having one law that bound the whole nation, we decided that we would agree on broad issues at the national level, but then leave each individual state to solve its own unique problems. Cool.

Localization helps manage local people locally in the broader context of a conglomerate nation of nations. We began to have a national We

identity as the people who figured out how to live the good life. called it the American Dream. going to stop you anymore.

Become what you want, because no one’s

There isn’t some big ass hole in the sky

telling you what to do, there isn’t a dick pope in Rome with a million dollar hat telling you what to do, there isn’t a king telling you what to do, and there isn’t a feudal lord telling you what to do. Just you

doing whatever the fuck you please wherever you feel like doing it.

87

We reveled in it for a while, but forgot to realize that the rest of the world was still mired in the river basin fight over who had the bigger dick and who got to sell who what. The smart people in

America, and also in Europe, kept inventing things that made life easier. We called them machines. At one point, someone started

powering machines with the fire that we discovered at the beginning. Talk about learning from the past. energy. When things burn, they release

Contain that burning, contain the energy -ergo- Internal Some things release more energy when they are

Combustion engine.

burned, and can power machines by converting heat energy into mechanical energy by using pressurized steam. industrialism, and the industrial revolution. After the industrial revolution, it was almost clear that America had the biggest dick. For some reason, we forgot about that for a Then we got

while and started fighting with each other over whether or not we would have slaves, and whether or not the southern half of our country would become a separate country. We killed each other for a while,

and then a badass giant named Abraham Lincoln steered the smart people back to their senses, planted the seeds of the civil rights movement, and brought our feuding nation back together. What did we do? Shot

him in the head while he was trying to watch a play. After a few years of rebuilding our war-torn nation and our relationship with the folks down south, we built a stone dick in Washington D.C. called the Washington Monument so everyone could come and see in effigy how big it really was. It took two world wars and

88

an economic crisis to prove it, but with one big swoop of that giant American dick, we crushed Japan, saved Europe from total destruction and sadistic genocidal occupation, and everybody started sucking the big American money:power dick. naturally offended us. Then Russia spat out the cum, which

Communism.

They decided that it wasn’t selling shit to each other that was cool, but that everyone should be treated the same. They didn’t

acknowledge that people were the same only in body and not in mind. That totally didn’t work, but they were willing to try really hard so we let them. Well, we may have let them, but we watched closely, and

made smart Germans we didn’t kill in the war build us dick shaped bombs to shoot across the ocean, and across Europe right at them. They were like “fuck that, our dick’s bigger and we’re gonna build bigger dick shaped rockets.” dicking. Inter-continental ballistic deep Eventually, we made the dick shaped

Remote-control dicking.

rockets so big that we could shoot them all the way out of Earth’s gravity. Then we got to thinking “let’s go to the moon.” What the

hell, why not, right?

Our dick shaped rocket made it, and a few And

Americans got to show Russia how big our dick was from the moon.

Neil Armstrong was like “That’s one small step for man, on giant leap for mankind” … so suck it. Then America had a personality crisis. After all those guys had

traveled around Europe showing everyone how big America’s dick was, they wanted to start fucking chicks with it instead of showing it to other guys and arguing about the size. Fuck they did, producing the

89

generation we now call “baby boomers.”

A few decades before the They

second war, we had decided that women were actually pretty cool.

had brains just as big as men’s, and were capable of doing everything a man could do. dick. The only real difference was, they didn’t have a If it isn’t the

That posed a very interesting question to us.

big dick that makes us cool, what is it?

That led to even bigger

questions, questions we had put off answering for a few thousand years while we were busy looking at dicks. We started including women, and

then we realized that we were oppressing people based on race as well. We always had been. After all, we had decimated an entire race of Our country had a very

natives in our land before we made it America.

large population of humans that happened to have extra pigment in their skin, which we used as an excuse to make them subservient to people who didn’t have as much skin pigmentation. Those people didn’t like it, but didn’t have much of a way to fight back – so they dealt with it by inventing a new kind of music. The blues. The blues was an “uncivilized” form of entertainment off

the traditional road of oil paintings, poetry, and classical music. It centered around a couple of dudes with some instruments in the back room of a bar singing about what made them sad. Talking about the

sadness somehow connected with other people that were feeling sad. That music turned into Jazz when it stopped just being sad and progressed into a style of music that emphasized personal expression. But if black people are sub-human, how can they express themselves? It was music, I think, that ultimately convinced white America that black people were indeed cool. For the late fifties on into the early 90

sixties, everyone was listening to black people make awesome music on the radio, and then being shocked to find out they were black when they went to see them live. Imagine going to a segregated concert. Less than 50

Wild, but it existed within some of our parent's time.

years go, man- black people were being treated like a sub-human species. Second class citizens.

After the beat culture of white kids hanging out with black jazz cats and writing poetry on Benzedrine, we got the Beatles, who created pop music by having white faces playing black music. This was 1963,

one year before Martin Luther King, Jr. came out of the woodwork and showed the idiot white guys that still couldn’t believe black people could be smart that they were totally wrong. Martin Luther King

didn’t bring about a social revolution by sticking his fingers in people’s faces and blaming them for what had happened for two hundred years, he just wanted it to stop. change. Reason had begun to win for a

After agreeing with him, and taking massive steps in not just

understanding that black people were cool, but that everyone had the equal propensity to be cool, we shot him dead in 1968. bad decisions. About that time, we decided that we wanted to take communism down once and for all, but still didn’t want to touch Russia with our dick, and we came up with this concept called “mutually assured destruction” that meant if our dicks crossed, the world would end. instead of crossing dicks and ending the world, we decided to make sure that Russia remained the only communist nation by sending So We keep making

91

airplanes full of eighteen year old men into the jungles of Southern Asia to prevent Russians from rubbing their dick on Vietnam and giving them communist H.P.V. We didn’t have A.I.D.S. to worry about yet.

Everyone in America, including the blacks and the women, decided that showing our dick to Vietnam, and thusly to the rest of the world, simply wasn’t going to work anymore, so we got the hell out of there, and started listening to disco and snorting cocaine. We kept fucking

each other, but now since the sixties blew social reservations out the window, blacks were fucking whites, chicks fucking chicks, dudes fucking dudes, and no one cared about who had the bigger dick, because everyone got to play with one if they wanted to. The world caught up,

and most of the cool people decided that killing each other was ultimately pointless, so we came up with the United Nations, which is as close to ruling the world as Hammurabi, Alexander, all the Caesars, Christianity, and the pope ever got combined. After a few years of making lots of money, building cooler toys, and making more music and art, everyone started to get closer to answering the metaphysical questions we had been asking since we were getting together on Saturday mornings at the acropolis. couldn’t get to the biggest ones. But we still If it’s

What is the good life?

not selling stuff to other people, taking it from them, showing them our dick, or getting laid- then what the hell could it possibly be? would like to, jokingly, suggest smoking weed every single day. at least drinking some whiskey. my pants. Or I

My dick does just fine hanging out in

92

Chapter Seven – Transgression Growing up in the Catholic school system, I was always forced to feel sorry for my transgressions. own self-hatred. Forced to perpetuate my

Forced to self-suppress my dissenting opinions,

forced to name by name the things I had done that the church didn't agree with. When I thought impure thoughts about the chicks in my

class, when I said 'fuck' too much, when I stole beer from the keg after the fish fry on Friday night during lent, or when I lied to my teachers about sleeping in class. I was expected to confess before In this case, Father

god, but more importantly before the priest. Mike, our parish priest.

From early on, I had reservations about

standing up, kneeling, making gestures, and speaking openly with a group of people in unison. Back then, I had no idea why, I just knew This, coupled with my constant

it made me feel dirty in some way.

fear of transgression, caused me to buckle and kneel before the priest that I knew had a personal relationship with my parents, and to tell him things I would never openly tell a middle aged adult male in my adult life. child. You don’t need to feel sorry for aborting your rape You don’t need

You don’t need to feel sorry for masturbating.

to feel sorry for saying “god damn, I can’t take this shit any more, fuck it.” You don’t need to feel sorry for feeling like you’re a You don’t

Nazi when you stand up and sit down like a sheep in church. need to kneel before anyone.

I’ve always been a big fan of the History channel, if you couldn’t have guessed. I remember noticing an uncanny correlation

93

between the marching Nazis in black and white and the uniform “sign of the cross” making going on at mass. seem to be much of a difference. I couldn’t help it. There didn’t

Blindly following a leader just

because you’ve always followed him and everyone else you know does, too. Then, when I wanted to do something stupid with my friends, my

parents or the idyllic “parent” would say something to the effect of “if all of your friends jumped off of a bridge, would you?” I wouldn’t do something so stupid. in the middle school football field? than jumping off of a bridge. I have many transgressions. I could list them for you, if you Fuck no.

But shooting off illegal fireworks That sounded a lot more fun

wanted me to. I harbor a small amount of that famous Catholic guilt to this day. Everything I’ve ever done that anyone ever told me was bad

still resonates in the back of my mind like I should still care about it. I guess this is supposed to be called a conscience, but that’s

just another concept invented by us to refer anything other than the guilt put on us by others. I love to transgress. Illegal drugs,

drunk driving, sex before marriage, one night stands, obscene language, blasphemy, pornography, strip clubs, lying, cheating, stealing, gambling, anything. I’ve read the Satanic bible, and I

found it more personally fulfilling than the entire Christian bible. I’ve broken every commandment with the exception of “thou shalt not kill.” Unless you count small animals. All seven deadly sins, every

venial and mortal sin I can think of with the exception of the above stated. I’m a proud, gluttonous, lustful, lazy, wrathful, greed

filled, and envious sinner. 94

Any person who tells you how to live your life is a piece of shit. That decision is yours alone. It is solely up to you to decide Your

who’s advice you follow, and who you tell to fuck themselves. choice. Your mind.

The only transgression is failing to decide

something for yourself. That’s it. The locus of human stupidity is the inability to If you can’t think through the outcomes and make This is the

choose for yourself.

a good decision for yourself, you are an idiot fuck. clear line that separates us.

Those that can take care of themselves,

and those that need to be told what to do because they lack the required intellectual tools to judge for themselves. This is what our

fore fathers intended the voting body to be, and that’s why we have the electoral college. It’s an idiot buffer. If the presidential

candidate told you he’d give us all free pizza every day for four years, a free line of coke, and a six pack of strippers, he might win just for that- and that’s why we need smart people in the government to act as a tidal dam for the flood of idiocracy that has taken over. But this negates the claim that the government is run by the people, for the people. How can we balance this without adding some sort of We have

public assembly outside of the three branches of government? tried many solutions.

Lobbyists, special interest groups, government None

watchdogs, and vigilante investigative journalism to name a few. of these things seem to work. The problems are too big on a scale

that affects the lives of millions of disagreeing people with individual problems and needs.

95

You can, I wholeheartedly believe, teach yourself not to be an idiot fuck. You can learn. It’s what we do as humans. You had to Take

learn enough to eat food and not die, you have gotten that far. some time to notice what’s going on in the world around you.

Instead

of drooling over the football stats on Monday night, and wasting your life away at the bar the other six, flip the channel to a twenty four hour news network. So it's slanted and biased, at least it's better than sports statistics. Take a look at what’s going on in the You have to live here with them, you It isn’t a

different places on your planet.

should at least pay attention to what they’re doing.

transgression to think for yourself, it’s a requirement and a responsibility that you have as an adult capable of having children. I understand more than you know the need to escape. football is your only love in the world. Maybe

It makes you so happy to

watch those guys play a good game, and you feel like knowing the stats inside and out makes you more equipped to talk to your friends. That’s fine. something. At least you’re putting some intelligent thought into Football isn’t a fool’s sport. It requires strategy,

athleticism, and a sharp wit.

But there just seems to be an

overwhelming amount of idiot fucks that vacantly stare at a football game because that’s what they feel like they’re supposed to do. It’s

no better than standing up and sitting down in church without truly believing what is going on. I also can’t knock anyone for their personal beliefs, no matter how much they disgust me or I disagree with them. As long as you

96

chose it for yourself.

With all the thought and decision making

required. If you cannot, you are an idiot fuck. There are billions of people in this world. together, whether we like it or not. like it or not. We’re all stuck here

We have to get along, whether we We

We’re all different, whether we like it or not.

speak different languages, we have different standards of beauty, different understandings of law, different takes on spirituality, different cultural undercurrents, different customs, different dreams, and different personalities. that. No amount of arguing is going to change

No amount of diplomacy is going to make large, diverse groups

of people over a broad geographical area agree on every little aspect of life. This idea is tedious and retarded. I’m just

I’m not admonishing anarchism, or even moral anarchy. saying that sometimes we’re not always going to agree.

It’s both a

secular and religious law that forbids killing, but it happens every day in our cities, and often enough on government sanctioned battle grounds. We will never escape violence, we will never escape

categorization, we will never escape each other, we will never escape the Earth, we will never escape death, and we will never escape the struggle of dealing with a complex society. I think it might be time for a new revolution. Not some stupid

“lets grow out our hair, rub patchouli on our bodies, and smoke pot while watching a jam band” revolution. A real one. Like the

industrial revolution, the technological revolution, the sexual revolution, the civil rights revolution, or the internet revolution. 97

This time, we need to get to the root of what’s been plaguing us all this time: the god damned motherfucking intellectual revolution. It’s not that hard, people. It’s time for us smart people to

stand up and say, “we’re not going to cater to you idiot fucks anymore, we’ve had enough- and we’re doing something about it.” Educating the next generation is the most important thing we need to do. We can’t tolerate letting them turn our kids into glue sniffing,

hygienically challenged, date raping, society deteriorating psychic vampires!

98

Chapter Eight – Let’s All go to the Apocalypse! I had a dream. One of those dreams. The dreams that seems to The kind

permeate your waking mind for days and days after it occurs.

of dream that would cause some guy named John to write the book of revelations. The kind of dream that you can’t easily write off as a The kind of dream that seems

figment of your overactive imagination. as if you’re telling yourself something.

It was another dream in a long stream of reoccurring dreams set in a large city, seemingly in the present. would travel from my apartment to various During these dreams, I destinations, usually

accompanied by real life friends.

We would encounter normal things, Bums on the

nothing out of the realm of real world possibility.

street, a swanky uptown bar, a shopping mall, maybe a nice stroll in a dream city park. This dream, while beginning in the same city, took a bizarre turn for the downright apocalyptic. now familiar city. This I found myself in a new part of the a dimly lit bar inside an

time around,

airport gate. because it has

This is obviously a special, privately owned gate, a distinct hunter’s lodge feel. Looking out the

windows, I can see a long sea of pavement where airplanes are taxied down runways with a cityscape backdrop of high-rises and smog. There

is ancient-looking stained wood paneling on the walls, and various sporting antique man fly memorabilia, fishing rods much and like bolt a theme action restaurant. rifles There’s near

mounted

taxidermies of a vast array of wild beast and fish. 99

I’m sitting at a circular wooden table with five other people in black hoods. We all drink gin from dark hand-carved wooden cups. I

can taste the gin, and feel the familiar warmth of it flowing down my throat. I have an eerie sense of perception in this dream world, now

– as I am familiar with it and comfortable in it, even while in a dream state. I ask one of the hooded figures where we’re headed. One turns

toward me, face shrouded by a shadowy black veil, who calmly mutters, “Belize” in a low, but oddly reassuring whisper. I look past him

through the window to see a 1930’s era prop plane with what seemed like yellowing canvas wings and ancient engines sputtering thick black smoke. We all silently stand and file out the doorway to the tarmac,

where we are motioned by airport personnel to climb the staircase to the airplane. At the base of the staircase, we meet the pilot, none

other than Teddy Roosevelt, 26th president of the United States, long since dead. He’s not I know by now that I am in for a hell of an adventure. a black cloak like us, he’s dressed in his

wearing

stereotypical suit and monocle, looking eerily similar to the monopoly man. After a long, bumpy ride low to the ground, which magically lasted a short time in my dream world, we landed in a grassy airstrip far away from any cityscape or natural feature I am familiar with, though the terrain is obviously earthen. I’m used to having strange

dreams, and I’ve always taken extra care in noticing details so as to broaden the experience.

100

After getting off the airplane, we walk a few hundred feet down a dirt trail to a horse stable, where we are told by Teddy to “mount and ride” as we begin a single file descent on a dirt trail to the lush river valley. There are wildflowers and long grasses growing

everywhere in this stunningly beautiful tract of land.

We follow the

river to a delta, presumably now in Belize, where we are introduced to a small, dark skinned, Spanish speaking man named Pietro, who motions toward a small, rackety looking boat with a seemingly underpowered outboard motor. Teddy politely takes his leave, with a graceful bow

and the tipping of his hat. The figures and I board the boat, as Pietro sets off to sea from the river delta, following close to shore. We bear south, with rocky The boat, although Off in the

sandstone cliffs jutting up on our right side.

sadly underpowered, makes its way slowly down the coast.

distance, I can see a canyon materialize from the fog on the horizon that seems to be cut straight down by a narrow river. We turn into

the river, sailing down a corridor of sheer cliffs rising up at least three hundred feet in the air. The river flows into a small circular

pool, also surrounded by sheer cliff faces with a small sandy beach opening into a cave on the far side of the circle. Over the mouth of

the cave flows a raging waterfall, falling from the height of the rock faces around us. I found myself wishing inside my dream that it

wasn’t a dream so I could take advantage of such a picturesque scene. Pietro ties the boat ashore after running it up onto the beach. He points, and for the first time speaks. His words come out as

101

Spanish, but somehow I understand what he’s saying perfectly.

My

Spanish is alright, but not nearly as good as it would have required to understand what he was saying to me. He says “only one may enter.” Dreams

Sounds exciting, and I’m willing to bet it’s going to be me. have a way of working out like that.

The hooded figures all bow their heads, and Pietro points at me and says “You have been chosen,” and moves his gesture towards the waterfall. voluntary The dream is not lucid, as I don’t have a necessarily control of my body and thoughts, but I feel extremely

compelled to do as this man says.

As I walk through the waterfall, I

turn back to see Pietro sailing the figures away back down the narrow channel we had just sailed through. I take a deep breath and enter

the cave proper, which opens up into a surprisingly large cavern, with an obvious path straight ahead, through a narrowing passage that fades into darkness. I take a burning torch from the wall, and proceed down the path. After passing, I encounter another large room, where I see three doors with distinctly Mayan looking carvings all over the walls and on the posts and lintels of the door frames are perched three different

figures and symbols. carving of a sun

On the farthest to the left, there is stylized with rays radiating from a half circle.

rising

Inside the pediment rests the figure of a bird with wings outstretched to the sky. On the center door, there is a carving of a setting sun,

with rays radiating downwards, and a jaguar figure waiting to pounce. On the right door, there is a circle with a dot in the center. Inside

102

the

pediment an

rests

a

crouched of

human

figure

with

four

faces,

each and

displaying ambivalence.

expression

excitement,

sadness,

happiness,

This is where it starts getting intense. closely examine the door on the left. hear a noise behind me. doorway, leaning on

I am compelled to

I press on the cold stone, and

Wheeling around, I see Pietro standing in the one wall. He calmly says, “witness the

beginning.” The door fades away like a dissipating fog, and I see a grassy hill on the other side. Stepping out onto the hill, I can see a

landscape that stretches as far as my eye can see. Gently rolling hills and grassy fields reminiscent of the airstrip’s surrounding area with one clear distinction. As I gaze above the horizon, I am

encountered with the night sky as it appears on Earth, just without the familiar stars twinkling against the black backdrop of space. The

area around me is still lit somehow, and I can see as if it was daylight, but the night sky seemed to be more clear and dynamic than I was familiar with, despite the unnerving lack of stars. As I focus my gaze on a nondescript point somewhere far in the distance, larger. a bright white dot of light appears, and rapidly grows

I hear the shrieking scream of a giant bird as it swoops in

from the right side of my peripheral vision across my field of view like a bolt of lightning. As it comes into contact with the dot in my

view, the universe seems to violently erupt and explode in front of my

103

eyes, and the bird leaves in its wake the familiar night sky, with millions of tiny speckles of light permeating the darkness. As the bird passes my field of view back on the other side of the horizon, I hear the word “witness” resound through the hills and

seemingly through space itself.

A great gust of wind nearly knocks me

off of my feet as the ground begins to crack and break around me, tossing me violently and making a god awful racket. As the hill I’m

standing on breaks off and appears as if it’s going to sink into the abyss, it turns into a giant wooden sailing ship as the blowing grass and crumbling earth transform into a raging ocean tempest, with

powerful wind and driving rain coming from black clouds that have quickly rolled in from my left, obscuring my view of the sky as the ambient light fades away. bird, now gilded, I look up to the tallest mast to see the atop the mast like a harbinger of

perched

destruction. With a

I am no mariner, and that bird was no albatross. burst of lightning, and an immediate loud crack of

thunder, the seas calm and the storm clouds fade away, revealing a bright blue sky. I find myself floating in Pietro’s boat, staring at Pietro asks of me, “do you

the waterfall from the center of the cove. wish to continue?”

I never reply, at least not vocally, but I can

sense at this point that Pietro is some sort of guide, not there as a part of the experience, but merely an arbiter. I step back onto the

shore, cross under the waterfall, and head back into the cave without turning back.

104

Where the door I entered had stood was now a ruinous pile of dead looking stone, and the stone bird was nowhere to be found. I notice

the eyes of the stone jaguar above the middle door have turned an iridescent glowing jade green, glinting in the light from my torch. I

hear Pietro say “proceed” from behind me, but I already know what must be done. As I approach the door, it swings open, smacking the stone

wall with a tremendous thud resounding as the world around me fades away. The ground disintegrates, and I float in space like I’m

swimming in a pool with no water.

A cobblestone bridge appears under

my feet, bridging nothing, going nowhere, with no supports or final destination in sight. I start running as fast as I can towards the fading lines of the bridge far off of in the distance. I notice that I am no longer I turn to my right to see a As I look into it’s eyes, The

clothed in a black robe, but stark naked. jaguar running next to me and keeping pace.

I hear Pietro’s voice softly speak the words “Witness the end.”

Jaguar immediately speeds up to an incredible speed and screams “I am the end” as it becomes a glimmering black and jade streak fading into the horizon. where the I can see land materializing at the end of the bridge figure has faded into the black. The bridge

jaguar’s

terminates onto the grassy hilled landscape of my previous experience in the last room. night sky. I see the unrestricted view of the dazzlingly clear

The golden bird screeches in the distance like it had

before, but as it reaches its apex, the Jaguar leaps from somewhere in the hills and grabs it by the neck in mid arc.

105

Whoa. Everything begins to rumble and quake around me again as the universe begins to suck itself back inwards towards the point at the center of my vision. I feel myself being pulled very quickly towards The land around me

the center along with the rest of the universe.

falls away as I begin to float past planets, comets, stars, asteroids, nebulae, galaxies, and cosmic debris as I come to a stop, floating just outside our own solar system. I arrive just in time to see the

golden bird burst from the center of the sun as the planets align like pigs for slaughter allowing the bird to blow through them like a bullet through glass. As I watch our entire solar system get

systematically destroyed one planet at a time, I start rushing with the cloud of debris I hit and quickly it, the toward the center of the universe with the

(apparently.)

which whole

happens nine

very

chaotically and

spaghettification black.

yards,

everything

turns

In the distance, I see the fading specter of a jaguar in the

distance carrying the now limp and stone colored bird proudly in its jaws by the broken neck. The cave rises above me in an instant, and the second door has now crumbled to dust and the third door is left wide open, with Pietro perched at the top. had been previously. He’s crouched in the same position as the figure He looks me sharply in the eyes, catching me off You have no choice.”

guard, and says “witness your true nature.

With that, he jumps from his perch, walks coldly past me and through

106

the waterfall where he dives into the water and swims top speed toward the river on the opposite side. I reluctantly enter the room on the other side of the open door, where I am confronted with a small circular stone room that seemed like a castle tower. Light comes in through skylights in the rafters,

and the air seems musty and thick with dust that scatters the light into visible beams stretching down to the floor. The beams of light

fall on various broken and fading musical instruments surrounded by crumpled up pieces of loose leaf notebook paper. The floor is sandy,

but firm to walk on, and I pace about the room trying to make sense of the crumpled paper and broken instruments. I glance over to a broken

half of a cello, as a puff of smoke rises taking the form of Pietro who has a sad look on his face. speak as he slowly utters He seems reluctant, yet determined to cannot go forward, it has been

“We

interrupted.” As he says those words, I am shocked back into reality by the screeching yelp of my alarm clock next to my head. I rub my eyes in I fall I

angered disbelief, and violently strike the snooze button.

quickly back asleep, and find myself in an obvious tourist shop.

look around to notice that the shop décor is uncannily similar to the décor in the airport lounge. I walk over to a map display, and pick

up a map that says “A sailing sportsman’s guide to the coastlines of Belize.” I tear open the map and frantically try to locate the cove I had been occupying, to no avail. I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn 107

around to see a fat middle aged woman with graying hair and a camera strapped around her neck. you take the coastal tour? soon.” “You wouldn’t believe the half of it, lady,” I say with a movie star smirk. As I look over her shoulder and across the room, I see She flashes a friendly smile and says “Did These things always seem to end way too

Pietro leaning against a rack of pastel shot glasses staring right at me over the brim of a wooden gin cup grinning wryly as my snooze fires up again. I tear the alarm clock from the outlet and throw it across

the room unable to fall asleep again as I’m forced to accept that I can’t find my true nature in a dream, and have to get ready for work. Dreams are very interesting. I’m not much for interpreting There

dreams, nor do I believe that they necessarily have meaning.

just seems to be some dreams that scream “I’m trying to tell you something.” I remember watching a movie called Waking Life that

brought up the cool little pseudo-philosophical idea that you can relive your entire life, or have a different life entirely, in the dream world in the first few minutes before your death. It was interesting. There’s a few

Mostly avant-garde and artsy, but the point got across.

sequences near the end about lucid dreaming and finding out if you’re in the dream world. It’s worth a watch if you ever get the chance.

It just goes to show you how some people can find meaning in the strangest parts of the world. There always seems to be some new angle

on an idea you’ve heard a thousand times, and as soon as you think you’ve gained an understanding about something in this constantly

108

changing world, you’ll come to realize that you don’t know a fucking thing.

109

Part Two The Present

110

Chapter Nine – I Make Burritos for a Living Oftentimes, standing behind a cash register for twelve hours in a day makes me want to shoot the brains out from the back of my skull. The dreadful barrage of mindless idiot fucks that can pour into a restaurant is physically disgusting. Everyone has to eat, right?

That means we get everyone at a restaurant; every little stereotype, archetype, and mongoloid personality prototype. Jung would have

gained a much broader appreciation for psychology if he worked at a shitty hole in the wall restaurant. I’ve seen them all. The guy that pretends to be an expert on

everything with the horrifically giant thing growing on the back of his greasy head. white ponytail. The never say die hippie washout with the Tevas and The drug dealing black guy with a diamond stud in his

ear big enough to put on a Stepford wife’s ring, rope thickness gold chains, platinum tooth covers, and a six inch stack of fifty dollar bills that walks out to a shit pile car from the eighties. The

crooked toothed bitch of a fat woman with body rolls leaking from her sweat stained sleeveless plain color cotton tee shirt. The drunk Fed-

Ex guy that has such an unhealthy obsession with sadomasochism he can’t shut up about it. The lonely balding thirty something staring

at the bartender’s ass wishing he had found the one before it was too late. boat The immigrant, doesn’t matter where they’re from, fresh off the visibly struggling to remember how to say “onion.” The

narcissistic spray tanned sorority girl loudly chomping on gum and chatting away on her phone. The greedy yet thrifty business man in a

111

polo

shirt

who’s

bumming

about

the

economy

and

his

wispy

stock

portfolio, so uses a coupon and tries to talk me into giving him extra meat for free. The well meaning, but neurotic frizzle haired lady

that’s trying to convince me the tomatoes in the salsa have “gone sour.” The charlatan art school students with turtlenecks and berets.

The wandering schizophrenic that asks me if I had seen Santa Claus just now because that motherfucker owes him money. The smelly

unshaven fat guy with the all your base shirt that you know just wants to go home and spill burrito all over his keyboard jerking off while he pretends he has a personality in an internet webcam chat room account his mom pays for. There’s always the nameless scruffy “rebel” face with the mallbought pre-torn khaki pants and a factory faded Che Guevara shirt. The terrifyingly cute, yet tragically clueless blonde in the giant bug sunglasses and a striped pink and white sundress that barely goes down her thighs. The couple that argues with each other about whether or

not the wife has a hat like mine, which turns into an argument over whether or not the husband likes hot sauce on his tacos. The

grandfatherly wise old black man with the classy hat to match his three piece suit, with a soothing southern drawl that, although very nice, is holding up the now very long line. party weasel that drinks free tap water The squirmy democratic while reading newspaper

articles out loud standing so uncomfortably close that you can feel his rotten breath on your neck. The sunken eyed bulimic that orders

something the size of her torso, and pukes in the garbage can instead of the toilet. The balding middle management jackass that won’t stop 112

giving me cliché in-store marketing ideas.

The flashy rich kid with

his pink collar flared up, too much gel in his short bleached-blonde hair, and aviator sunglasses that might hide his bloodshot eyes but can’t cover the white powder stains on his nostril. The stuttering

meat head that just wants meat and cheese, so he can drip another stain on his fading NBA jersey. The cheerful blind guy with a wild

beard that comes in to chat it up with me about classic rock while ‘accidentally’ bumping into women’s chests. The spaced out soccer

moms way too fucked up on vicodin and xanax to be driving a two ton truck full of children. The psychotic leather skinned cougar in a

tight black dress sucking down Marlboros and well whiskey like there’s no tomorrow. The all too familiar “wishing for something better” look

in the eyes of a fellow restaurant slave in a food stained uniform. The vapid stare of a teenage girl that doesn’t want a taco, but that’s what abusively drunk daddy is going to buy for her, god damn it. The

groups of military recruiters who bring in fresh meat for preliminary brain washing sessions. The wandering Jesus freak that tells me to The chatter

walk in the footsteps of the lord and have a blessed day.

jawed meth head that comes in and talks to me about Slayer albums, and how bad Metallica has sucked since they met Bob Rock, and even though the new album is good without him, they’ll never be the same again. The gay old man with dangly earrings that calls me “sweetie” and “hot buns.” The screaming red faced drunk idiot that met the owner at a The

bar some time last March and demands a discount because of it.

street kids that come in for a drink of water, then use the bathroom to piss on the seat, wipe shit on the walls, plug the sink, and carve 113

“fuck” in the mirror.

The “insert random face here” teenagers in

European soccer uniforms that make me turn off the history channel so they can watch poker on the T.V. with audio. The guy in the decked

out Jeep that gets mad because the drink isn’t free with his burrito on Wednesdays, only on Fridays. Then, of course, there’s the long haired white guy wearing too much stainless steel jewelry that’s behind the counter ringing you up and wishing he could take a break just long enough to head out back to the cooler and kill himself, but he won’t be able to step away from the cash register for the next six hours. I could go on and on for

forever and a day about the people I see while standing behind that screen and pressing buttons. One of them told me once, “it takes a I guess so, huh? Some of them tell

lot of people to make a world.”

me we’re all the same, and some people tell me we’re all individuals. No matter what side of the fence you’re on, the next time you stop at a restaurant, take a second to step back and see what that poor fucker behind the cash register has to deal with for a change. in his tip jar, because he deserves it. Put a dollar

If he’s an asshole to you,

don’t take it personally- it gets really hard to tell who’s going to treat you like shit and who’s going to be that refreshing face in the crowd that says “hello” back to you before going ahead with making demands to fill his stomach. There’s a good side to this equation as well. piece of shit, saying that would be out of line. of perfectly pleasant people. Not everyone is a

I’ve run into plenty

People that return your eye contact and

114

greeting with a smile, a friendly hello, and maybe even some sort of bland conversational bromide like “crazy weather, huh?,” or “how’s your day,” or sometimes even “ooh! I really like your earrings!” The

lady that came in last week, and remembered the conversation you had with her about your trip to California. after you remembered his order, and The guy that asked your name then shook your hand with

respectful vigor while looking you in the eye and honestly saying “pleased to meet you.” The family with children that stay

respectively silent when in line, order their food politely, and don’t make a mess of the table. The strippers that toss a few free passes

into the tip jar with one of those winks that would sell her to any joe six-pack stupid enough not to figure out what’s happening to him, but can also tell a long story about the girl’s comfort level with herself. The guy next door at the pizza place who just came upon some The people who say

killer weed and wants to spark one up after close.

“excuse me” before they interrupt what I’m doing to ask me to get something for them. There is always the kind old man with a dear old

lady that wisecracks his way through the whole transaction with the whimsy of wisdom beyond words. Anyone, really, that’s nice enough to

look you in the eye, speak politely, and show some small sliver of respect. That’s all we’re asking for. You don’t need to ask us about our Just be pleasant,

personal lives unless you’d really care to know. and we’ll probably do the same. talk on your cell phone,

Don’t make ridiculous demands of us, your trash everywhere, hit your

leave

children, or fight with your wife in front of us.

We don’t want to 115

see it anymore. personal

Keep it at home, America. are yours

Keep it at home. to cope

Your own but

transgressions

alone

with,

transgressions are only side tracks on the path. the poor guy at the restaurant in your

Just don’t involve struggle for

personal

understanding. feet.

March from birth to death with your own god damned

Jesus won’t carry you down the beach, and I won’t either-

unless you’re a chick and you’re going to suck my dick. We’re all wondering what the hell the point of all of this is, and we’re all stuck wandering around with our heads up our asses thinking we know everything about whatever’s going on when the truth is that none of us know a god damned thing in comparison to what we all know together. like It’s to a world a made hand for in a nice global ivory tower

philosopher

myself

lend

the

misguiding.

There are so many avenues to explore as a human, so many different circumstances you can be born into and rise above, so many different people you can see and interact with, so many monuments that we watch fall into disrepair and crumble to ruins as reminders of how great some dude was that most people don’t care about anymore anyway. So I keep beating around the bush with this concept of “the good life.” What is it? This is where I climb to the highest part of my

ivory tower and say the good life is a life lived free from regret. Free from fear of transgression, and free from fear of reprisal. Free from

Free from random acts of mindless terror by idiot fucks. corrupt government.

116

The good life is not a life free from pain, suffering, contempt, reaction, disagreement, death, consequence, fear, and anxiety. are still things that occur out of random chance that we There cannot

control or avoid. for the future.

There is eternal uncertainty, but that’s a matter The good You can’t

You have got to take the good with the bad.

life cannot be lived without understanding the bad life.

ever know everything in your life time, but there’s no sense in giving up the attempt. The trying times in life allow us to enjoy the times we’re happy, and sadness reminds us that we’re human. limited amount of time. Anxiety reminds us we have a

Suffering reminds us of all the other people Pain reminds us

in the world that have things worse off than we do.

that no matter how strong our convictions, sometimes it’s hard to accept what happens around us. The death of others reminds us that Contempt reminds us we can’t There are make our

we, too, will die like everyone else.

always be right, and that everyone has a different opinion. many conceptual forces that intertwine with reality to

surroundings a dynamic place where we are left to wander around and try to find our way. The good life, itself, might be the end goal that we’ll never be able to reach as a society simply due to the fact that it can mean so many different things to so many people. The good life functions as

both a distant point on the horizon, and a never ending ideological quest to render some sort of ultimate realization of what we want but can’t have.

117

Can I live the good life while spending my life wanting more, and making burritos for a living? I don’t know. Sometimes I can’t see

what the point of wondering, or even hoping for a better tomorrow is. Any way you slice it, it’s going to be a long road home. And in the

end, whether we figure out ourselves and the balance between who we are and what we want out of life or not, we’re all still going to die. Fuck.

118

Chapter Ten – A Renaissance man We have a tendency to grow up really fast these days. We’re

subjected to the visceral images of an intellectually diverse world from an early age. Some of us are born into strange circumstances,

but we’re all forced to come to grips with reality sooner or later. It doesn’t matter how silver your spoon is, some time you’re going to have to eat with it. Mankind has begun a conceptual struggle with what its technical makeup is. The ideological attempt at “diversity in unity,” and the

global crusade to bankrupt itself fighting hunger and poverty in rat hole nations with corrupt governments has left us wondering if we’re really doing any actual good. ways of life? Are we right to interfere with their

Are we right to question other people’s right to live What if you

in, love, and lament their seemingly forced predicaments?

had the misfortune of being born into some bombed out wasteland, trying to pick up the pieces of other people’s lives while simultaneously trying to create your own? Would you want someone else

coming in and talking about how great they have it and how they can help you as long as you do what they tell you to do? Why should we, as a nation, bankrupt ourselves interfering with the lives of others? We, as Americans, eliminated racism and sexism

in our society with the exception of the few outliers and people no one else likes anyway. A “man,” in literary terminology, as a member

of “mankind” has become an ambiguous, nameless, faceless, shapeless

119

pseudo-ideal that we all metaphysically long to become in our constant search for what we call “fulfillment.” Functioning in the world today requires a tremendous amount of knowledge that some people just aren’t capable of possessing. Social

evolution has become so frantically paced that we find ourselves all floating in a sea of technology, networking, interfacing, downloading, uploading, communicating, searching, and classifying. represent his or herself as an individual? How does one

How does one receive the How does one How do

fifteen minutes of fame we’re all supposedly granted?

step out of line, think outside the box, or leave their mark?

we allow the ideas of billions of people become amalgamated into some kind of ill conceived pseudo-philosophical collection of bromides in inspirational self-help books? Love your brother, do unto others as you would have them do unto you. What the fuck are we talking about here? Accepting each other,

fearing each other, and avoiding each other? We should all be butting heads and arguing, not pacifying each other out of fear of offense. For so long, we feared divine retribution for our thoughts, actions, and transgressions that we never learned the true meanings of the words life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. We’re so close to

having the good life that we’re willing to take any risk, any shot in the dark that might offer some sort of solution to the problems facing us as the human race. We’re all bound equally by our need to be That which

around each other, and our need to escape one another.

binds us is our desire to break that which binds us, forever mired in

120

ideologically frustrating conflicts of interest we escape by any means necessary. chemicals. Some escape, as I’ve said, through love, religion, or We’ve all got to cope with the same day to day stressors Seeking to be both united and different at

that everybody else does.

the same time, embracing logical paradoxes like a drunk hooker on ecstasy. We divide ourselves into little sub culture sub group

pockets and try to forget that some people think differently than us. No matter how desperately we try to forget, we can’t escape it. We face, as a society, the choice between what we call a “melting pot” where multiculturalism means altruistic acceptance of anyone doing

anything, anywhere, or a “salad bowl” where multiculturalism refers to some kind of esoteric acceptance of different people that offend each other perpetually in a battle for cultural dominance. Both of these

concepts perpetuate the belief that a cohesive “we” must be developed by fairly representing the beliefs, traditions, rituals, thoughts,

convictions, causes, and desires of everybody, everywhere, all the time. That is totally fucking impossible. Realizing some sort of self-image is a simple function of

socialization these days with a “self” being constructed via a series of embarrassing photographs and factoid summaries of your “key

statistics” on some stupid website like facebook.

Age, sex, location,

favorite quotes, books, movies, music, marital status, race, name, educational and employment histories, all adding up to paint some kind of personality portrait. We’ve started commoditizing ourselves so

much that we feel like we are required to write all these things down

121

to prove that we are, in fact, a person; and, in fact, possess an identity all our own. We’ve leveled the playing field to such an

extent that we have no motivation whatsoever to become “different,” so standing out of the crowd is just another personality archetype more than it is a desire to actually change things. Self marketing has caused a widening diversion between perceived self image, displayed self image, internet self image, intellectual self image, and actual personal thoughts. With so many versions of

“self,” we create a personal history that is so complex that we find it increasingly difficult to objectively define who we are, what we stand for, what we want, and what we believe in. Our opinions change We’re masks

by the minute with every fleeting passion and shattered dream. all attending a daily masquerade where we put on different

depending on who we’re around, where we are, what’s going on around us, and how we’re feeling at the time. facets of self and personal identity, With all of these dynamic how can we settle on a

definitive representation of who we are as an assembly of action, reaction, thought, image, history, dreams, opinions, and

interpretations? Descartes wrote “cogito ergo sum,” which means “I think,

therefore, I am.”

Was he the first to learn how not to be an idiot,

or just the first to notice that to float around mindlessly without thought was to, literally, not be alive in his understanding of the concept. Surely Descartes wasn’t the first intelligent person in Descartes,

history, but he certainly was one worthy of recognition.

122

and all the people after him that have benefited from the Latin phrase he first uttered so many years ago are intellectually indebted to him, and that realization that helped society remove itself from the depths of an economic, intellectual, artistic, and moral dark age. To be a renaissance man, one needed to be educated, active, creative, and enlightened to the perpetual discovery of knowledge; both personal and in the framework of improving the world in which he lived. To be a renaissance man in modern times means to have an

intimate understanding of the things that make people different while at the same time learning from all the lessons taught us by the

countless people that existed before us and left their legacies in the form of words, thoughts, actions, images, defiance, and sacrifice. We have a lot to learn, but no one can learn anything if we don’t teach each other. Why does the word “dream” mean both ‘what happens

in our minds while we sleep,’ and ‘what we wish reality and, moreover, the world could be’? A funny concept, words.

123

Chapter Eleven – Love I am a man. I love women. Unfortunately, it seems to be rooted Sex is one of those

in that biological, “my dick fits in them” way.

things that we have to do, but have invented an entirely separate life and identity devoted to its hunt and capture. relationship. I’ve never had a stable

By this time, I’m just beginning to think it’s a I know this is hard for many people to agree

pointless waste of time. with.

What I see people calling relationships are a waste of time. Men and women are entirely

Romanticism and Sex, however, are not.

equal except in the fact that the sex organs of one go out, the sex organs of one go in. They fit together nicely, like puzzle pieces.

It’s fun to put the puzzle together. For me, it pretty much ends there. Talk to them. Make friends with them. I like to look at women. Buy them shots at the bar.

But at the end of the night, when most of them go home with other guys, I’m headed to the coffee shop to write for four hours in a notebook. I’m a social creature, but I can only take so much of the

garbage dialectic. I appreciate balancing the fine lines of socialization. to hang out in groups. I like to fuck chicks. I like

I even like just

sleeping with them, it’s all good- sex and sexuality in the twenty first century are nothing but concepts just like anything else. My

entire social life is nothing but a carefully executed production from the second I wake up to the second I pass out drunk on the bathroom

124

floor of an unfamiliar house. thinks otherwise.

I’d be scared to think that anyone else

We get up in the morning (or late afternoon in my case,) clean ourselves off, shave faces and legs, apply various lotions and cosmetics, browse a large collection of clothing deciding which is an appropriate costume for the occasion of the day, and we go around to places that fit with what we’re pretending to take interest in, all in hopes that we don’t end up sleeping alone our entire lives. I grew up like every other guy, thinking I was going to marry a barbie doll and have a nice house with kids and a dog and a bunch of money to throw around on things I don’t need. My parents met their

junior year of high school, and have been cutely smitten with one another ever since. myself. Wrong. I guess that’s kind of what I expected for

My parents come from a different time, when their

parents were members of the post world war two generation porking all the time and settling down to newfound prosperity. My parents grew up

in the wake of the civil rights movement, were children in the sixties, junior high for disco, and graduating from high school before coke hit big. My dad played sports, and my mom hung out with the My smart fucking dad got a

other chicks and worked at J.C. Penny.

scholarship and graduated with a nice degree, married my mom, had me and my brothers, and lived the American dream. Then I was around to watch the whole god damned American Dream thing fall apart like glass under boot. I woke up the other day to A cheery, yet 125

MSNBC playing softly in the corner of my room.

strangely distant voice says “and in the markets today, and unprecedented drop in the Dow Jones Industrial average.” Stock market crash. What luck.

Not quite as bad as it was before World War Two,

but scary enough to make me sit straight up. Our society has become this constantly changing, shifting, boundless network of connections made and broken at whim. For about a

year and a half, I went to a bagel shop every Thursday morning at Six Thirty A.M. for a salt bagel with plain cream cheese. There was a

cute girl that worked there that I think I went to high school with. I barely recognized her, I’m sure she had no idea who I was. at her, she smiled back, and I put a dollar in her tip cup. I just stopped going. there since. I smiled One day,

I don’t know why, but I’ve never been back

It’s not that I don’t like bagels anymore, in fact I That’s beside the

could probably go for a salt bagel right now. point.

I still wonder sometimes if that girl still works there. sure she does.

I’m

She’s probably struggling through college, bouncing

from major to major like she bounces from boyfriend to boyfriend. She’s a cute blonde with piercing eyes. The kind of girl that looks She was very cheerful.

like she drew horses in high school art class.

She always knew my order, and yelled it back to the cook as soon as I walked in the door. Zach. I’ve had a lot of girlfriends, and fuck buddies (“friends with benefits,” the chicks say, but “sex with a friend,” I say) over the 126 I liked that. She remembered my name. It’s

years but none I really cared about except a handful.

They were all

unstable relationships at best, most were fleeting, and some were adulterous and alcohol fueled. about two of them. In Whatever Happens Happens, I wrote

They added a nice literary contrast to each other,

one being an innocent high school fling, the other a full fledged relationship trainwreck. I’ve always viewed the stable relationship I grew up watching as a fantasy. I listened to my friends tell me about their drunk

parents, abusive parents, divorced parents, step brothers, step sisters, and heard news people talk about gays, teen pregnancies, and polygamists. All of these concepts were completely foreign and

abstract to me until I left the safety net of my picture perfect family and catholic school system. Sex and sexuality are very interesting to me. I like to think

I’m a fairly perceptive person, and I can’t help but notice what’s going on around me. I choose to take an active interest. When I’m

walking through a city, sitting at a bar, smoking cigarettes in a coffee shop, or standing next to the keg at a party nursing a solid colored disposable plastic cup that cost five bucks, I hear and see all sorts of things that entertain, confuse, and interest me. I’ve known so many people. girlfriends come and go. I’ve seen their boyfriends and

I’ve watched them soar high on that rushing

feeling you get when you meet a new person that adds some excitement to your life. I’ve watched them get mutually and subsequently crushed I’ve seen them get drunk and 127

when the rushing feeling goes away.

fight.

I’ve seen them cheat on each other, lie to each other, make I’ve seen dudes get saved by I’ve

up, break up, and drag each other down.

their girlfriends, and chicks get destroyed by their boyfriends. seen people meet, marry, and have children.

I’ve even seen a couple

of my friends get divorced already, and I’m only twenty three at the time I write these words. The only times I wish I had a girlfriend are when I feel like I need to be showing one off. I feel kind of sick about that inside.

We crossed the line when we commoditized love, sex, and sexuality. Now marital status has become a conceptual drop-down list just like everything else. adventure. marketed to. “Do you have a girlfriend?” “no.” “Oh. Why not? You’re cool, you’re kind of hairy but not ugly” Straight, gay, bi, trans. Choose your own

Another fucking statistic, another demographic to be

“I don’t want one” “why not, don’t you like getting laid?” “yup.” “got the HIV?” “nope. Clean.” “medical problem?” 128

“nope, healthy.” “why don’t you want a girlfriend?” “because it’s pointless” “but don’t you want love?” “I have it.” “What?!” I have romantic interests. I like sitting by a fire over a glass I like holding hands and walking

of wine and laughing with a woman. down a city street at night. park.

I like watching the snow fall in the I like to walk down beaches and

I like to sit under the stars.

listen to the waves.

I like meaningful conversations, holding hands, I like to go to the woods in the fall and All that crap. I love my life, I

and walking in the rain.

look at the colors of the trees.

love being alive, and I’m happy that I can share that love with other people. There's so much to enjoy in the world around us, I just don't

understand why people waste their time with people that drag them down. I am not callous, nor heartless. I like hugs, and passing notes. If I get drunk

I like pet names, I like the smell of fruity shampoo. enough, I’ll dance.

For every time I get angry or upset about life, A

all I ever have to do is think of a moment like this in my past. brief memory of time well spent. A passing daydream of what might

129

come.

A fading reverie of a time when things weren’t as bad as they

are now. I had a girlfriend, once, that I wanted to impress with some crazy gift on Valentine’s Day. I learned how to make fortune cookies, I

which really wasn’t that hard, and I hand wrote messages to her.

went out and bought a nice looking red heart shaped box, wrapped the cookies in tissue paper all artsy and whatnot, and tied it shut with a ribbon. We went out to a movie, and afterward, I handed her the box.

I said, “I made something for you, I hope you like it.” She takes the box, opens it, looks at them, closes it, throws them in the backseat and says “I’m not hungry, let’s go back to my house.” I cringed as I heard the cookies break from the impact. I

brought her back, and she left them in my backseat. Ever since then, I have hated Valentine’s Day. to get meaningful gifts like that.

I was crushed.

I thought people liked

I guess I thought wrong.

For all the benefits of a valuable relationship with another human being, whatever level, I just can’t ever seem to be fully satisfied. I’ve had, and still have, friends that I wish I could

spend every minute of the day with, but the good times never seem to last. I’ve never felt totally comfortable with another person to such

an extent that I thought I could spend the rest of my life living with them. It’s something I’ve begun to think is just another concept we

invented to keep ourselves wishing for something better while accepting what we have in front of us.

130

I don’t want to have a girlfriend just because I feel like I should have one. I don’t want some girl hanging off my arm unless she How is that not slavery? Love is

honestly wants to be there.

something everyone seems to feel and know exists, but no one can define it or control it. Love can mean many things. Passion, desire,

sex, friendship, dedication, commitment, charity, sacrifice, salvation, comfort, safety. of the whole. All of these serving as only a fraction

I love this, I love that, I love you, I love him, I

love her, I love it, I love them, I love nothing, I love everything, I love someone, I love my cat, I love something, I love chili cheese dogs. day. All things I hear and say all the time. Words we use every

Concepts we throw around at each other, hoping the other has the

same opinion. Love has just become another commodity to be bought and sold through valentines, chocolates, prophylactics, flowers, and cheap red things shaped like hearts. Love has become something that everybody But how

wants, everybody expects, and everyone feels empty without. can you take away emptiness with empty love?

Why do I see so many

people with such bright futures committing themselves to some person arbitrarily just because they feel some weird need to be held by someone? Why dedicate yourself and your love to a single person with Why

no intent whatsoever in staying with them on a long term basis? would you dedicate yourself to anyone other than yourself?

You should be looking out for yourself, not participating in some sort of courtship fallacy that obviously exists only in outliers and

131

story books. take the pill.

Want to have meaningless sex?

Do it.

Wear a condom, If you can’t We’re supposed to

If you want to have kids, have them. These things are self evident.

raise them, don’t. have sex.

It feels good, but happens to ultimately result in

propagating the species unless otherwise thwarted by chemicals, surgeons, or plastic barriers. Want to have a boyfriend? Have a girlfriend? Do it, why not? Make some bucks Want to get

rubbing your clit on the internet? married? Want to get divorced?

Go for it.

Kids make for great tax

write offs. up.

They also must be a lot of fun to teach and watch grow

I just can’t imagine that I’ll ever find what I really want in my

lady fantasy, and even if I do she’ll probably be dating some idiot fuck with a six pack and a healthy tan like always. to commoditizing the concept of the ideal. We’ve also taken

Ideal body, ideal house, If we don’t

ideal job, ideal spouse, ideal gym, ideal neighborhood. have it, we want it.

If we can’t have it, we rest assured knowing

it’s there to be had if we were only to wish hard enough to make it so. Anything we invent about the interaction between us and them can

be commoditized in real life by some accessory or self help course. We’ve grown to accept some kind of alternate reality based on ideals and concepts, completely separate from the reality of life, death, tragedy, inconsistency, truth, and ignorance. We’ve separated

ourselves on so many levels that we are identified by what makes us different, all of a sudden seeking that difference as a definition

132

instead of perpetuating our traditional forms of family life, cultural identity, sexual identity, and virtue. All of these concepts dictate that we cannot feel “complete” without a spouse, or in my age group, a “girlfriend.” does that term even mean? What the fuck

It supports some sort of committed feeling

to some other person that the other person may only feel to a certain degree. Girlfriend has an ambiguous nature. I have always had a lot

of friends who were girls. I mean, they're half the population, you know? I have close relationships with them, I care about them. don’t want them to get hurt. I

The same as any other friend I have.

They’re definitely not my girlfriend, but when I’m with them- we get asked all the time. They explain, I lament.

I lament because I feel like I should be saying yes, I may wish I was saying yes, but I’m not. care? Why should they assume? Why should they

Why can’t they just assume I’m trying to have a good time like Why do I need to be identified by my relationship status

anyone else?

with someone I’m just trying to party with and hold down the keg? I can’t help but finding myself asking the question: “why don’t you have a girlfriend?” I recall a picturesque late summer moment in

a park somewhere in Chicago not too long ago with a friend of mine, being confronted to supply an answer to that question. just given up. It was the truth. I said I had

I’ve met so many people in my I have

wanderings around this planet, and specifically my country.

heard so many stories, seen so many people at so many different stages in life. So many opinions, so many ideas. 133

I guess there’s some biological urge to propagate my species that makes me attracted to every woman that pays attention to me. know what it is. I don’t

I hold my female friends in higher regard than my I’m vain and narcissistic, and I love to be

male friends, generally.

seen with good looking chicks, even if they aren’t my “girlfriend.” But that’s not even part of why I hang out with them. I’ve found that some of my most meaningful friendships have been with women. It never lasts, because they don’t want to be my

“girlfriend,” but we always have a good time while we’re together. I’ve seen them meet guys, break up with guys, cheat on them, fend them off, and cry over them. I see their boyfriends treat them like taken They take them out to the bar and show

for granted piles of meat.

them off to all of their friends, and then I have to hear the girls talk late at night when the boyfriends are gone about how they don’t give them orgasms and can only fuck for ten minutes. I’ve listened to this garbage. They move on, leave town, graduate, or stop drinking, whatever. It doesn’t matter. else, man or woman. They’ve moved on from life just like everyone Things come up. People come and go. You never Years and years

know who’s going to stick by your side. You know what? The whole god damned process makes me sick. I

don’t spend my precious spare time wandering around looking to get my dick wet. I absolutely love having sex. I just don’t feel the need

to pursue some other person and make them shape their life around mine just so I can fuck them. It’s not that big of a deal to me. It’s 134

just one of many pleasures on this wonderful planet that we try our best to keep each other away from. I’m not into the whole twisted Hollywood sexuality either. I’m

not gay, for whatever reason I don’t really have any gay friends, I don’t know any swingers, and I try to stay out of the affairs of strippers and prostitutes because I learned my lessons with them. Sadomasochism blanketing sounds kind of fun, but yet not really my thing. The term The

politically

ambiguous

sexuality

identifying

“alternate lifestyle” denotes two things; a moral, and a virtue.

moral choice is what kind of people bring sexual pleasure, the virtue is to vocally admit it. Ideally, I would picture myself with a girlfriend, but I’m not going to just accept any girl that comes my way so I can select “in a relationship” in my drop down lists. If I’m going to devote any of my

precious time on earth into a relationship of any kind with anyone; be it of a romantic, sexual, economic, or friendly nature, it better be fucking worthwhile. I want to learn something about other people and I don’t seek to spend all my It’s

about myself by having a relationship.

time devoted to one person that may leave me at any time. terrifying.

I have plenty of love to give, and I feel loved from the I don’t see love as something I only

second I wake up in the morning.

give one person, it’s something I give and receive to and from many people in varying levels. For someone to make the demand that I would be only with them all the time, or insist that they are attached to me when in public, would 135

only result in repulsion. and I want to talk to

I like being touched, but if I’m at a party my friends, I would expect my friends or

“girlfriend” to have them as well. all of their valuable time hanging

I wouldn’t expect them to spend off of me like an expensive I don’t

accessory that I keep around with presents and mind games. have the heart to put into such a meaningless exchange.

I’m very selective in the people I choose to spend my time with. If I don’t like you, you’d probably know it. I don’t waste my time.

I don’t believe in god, which means I don’t believe in an afterlife, which therefore means that you can be fucking sure that I won’t be wasting my precious time on fool’s errands. I will go to great

lengths to help out my friends and ensure that they have a good time when they are with me. in my life. My friendships are the things I value the most

Whether they know it or not, or even care, all of my

friends have more of my admiration and respect than I could ever communicate to them, even in a drunken stupor. I guess it’s not that I don’t want a girlfriend, it’s that I don’t need one, and I’m “picky” as they say. The reliable sex would

be nice, but it’s not necessary to me for a feeling of fulfillment and completion in life. Honestly, it’s only spent ejaculate. Sex to me Sex is that

is not something that requires total devotion and commitment. not Love. It’s just something that people can do

together

happens to feel extremely good.

I wouldn’t expect some woman to hold

me in some elevated regard, because I am not perfect in any sense of the word. I can’t expect the same of them. I could perpetuate a

136

monogamous relationship, but only with a person that I honestly felt I wanted to be around for an extended period of time. I never know how to approach the whole thing anyway, and it seems like every chick worth having is hanging on to some idiot fuck anyhow. I don’t understand it, I don’t think I ever will, and therefore I am giving up. I will never actively seek a girlfriend again in my life.

If I find some brave woman that naturally just assumes that position by her own right and certainty of that right, I suppose that’s the only way it’s ever going to happen. whatever level, is not something in that The love of another person, I take sea lightly. of Treading it’s

metaphorical

water,

afloat

some

giant

stupidity,

absolutely imperative to associate with other humans that you value and care for. That’s what love is. Not some stupid fucking

valentine.

It’s a two-way, mutually beneficial desire to spend your Its ultimate fruition is a marriage

valuable time with someone else.

in the civil union and tax sense that allows you to pool your assets legally because you feel that you can rely on the other person to take care of your old decrepit ass as it falls apart from too much

partying. Be it directed to a person, place, thing, animal or concept, love is just another name for an idea we all seem to share. concept depending on feelings and other concepts in order Another to be

explained. I wish and hope for a love like that, but I don’t honestly think it will ever happen. That kind of love is rare, and I spend entirely

too much time devoted to my own ends that I don’t think anyone could

137

ever tolerate being around me for that long. blame them, either. Forever is a long time.

I can’t say I would In the meantime, and

perhaps forever, I am content with myself enough that I don’t feel the need to have a girl around constantly to tell me how cool I am. already know, I don’t need to be reminded. feel like I should have to pay for. I want a woman as an equal. But what do you care anyway, John. Q. Public, you’re dating that hot blonde behind the counter at the bagel joint. You are an asshole. I

It’s a commodity I don’t

I don’t want a woman as a prize,

I doubt you care, Suzie B. Hugetits, because you’re getting stuffed every night by a meathead with a middle management income and the IQ of a promising toddler. Have fun with the three kids after the

divorce and inevitable weight gain.

I hope you spend your forties

taking xanax and wishing you hadn’t married that piece of shit waste of life that spends his time drinking beer, complaining, watching football, and breaking things he’s trying to fix. Don’t take yourself lightly. You’re all you’ve got. Don’t

dedicate yourself to some mindless charade, love life or otherwise. No sense in faking anything these days, we all know everything about everybody else anyway. I feel like if I got a girlfriend all of a

sudden, and I called my friend they’d just say “yeah, I got the update from facebook on my phone in class… what’s her name?” already because it’s on the fucking facebook. I remember being in law class back in high school and hearing the phrase “never ask a question you don’t already know the answer to.” 138 But they’d know

That’s some really interesting advice.

Doing dumb cartoonish shit

like stressing over who I was going to take to the school dance was never in my bag, anyway. Tenting it up on the sunny face of some Now that's my cup of tea. I'll rephrase

mountain in the middle of nowhere?

Never ask a question you don't know the answer to.

it, and add a clause- Don't ask if you don't know, or have a really good idea. Better to spend your life taking it as it comes, face Know what you're getting yourself

forward, as a citizen of the world. into.

The only other way is to be come a television dependent idiot

fuck with a dumb wife a dumb kid.

139

Chapter Twelve – A Citizen of the World What does it mean to be a citizen of the world? ever had that distinction in the history of the world? When have we Is it really

possible to be a citizen of the world without understanding to a certain extent how the world itself works? Is that even possible? What could it mean, really, to be a citizen of the world? Aren’t we all citizens of the world? one of them. I mean, we really only have Is that the Is

Is that really the top of the hierarchy?

ultimate form of society?

Could that be a bad thing in the end?

that where we’re all headed?

Down the funnel from the melting pot to Is the

become a long line of blank faces dressed in ambiguous grays? concept of global citizenship a sign of the apocalypse? Orwell and Huxley saw?

Is this what

If we have no lines to separate us, what If everyone is allowed

happens to the healthy and necessary debate?

to go wherever they feel, do whatever they want, say what they want to say, and think what they want to think without fear of reproach, then will we all just accept mental stagnation as we simply give up the attempt to answer all the questions of the universe? Will mankind ever reach a point where there is no frontier? No

new ideas, no new technology, no new conquest, no new destinations, no new development, no desire, no fear, no need, no want? Is that

utopia? utopia?

Dealing strictly with concepts again, what is the concept of A perfect place where no one disagrees, you get everything Would you want that No doldrums to 140

you want or need, and no one ever has to suffer? for yourself?

No anguish to counteract your highs?

balance your winds of change? heaven? Do we really want that?

No ideological conflicts?

Is that Is

Wouldn’t that really be hell?

there any difference between the two? from any concept to any other? corrupt facade?

Is there really any difference

Is everything we hold dear just a

We’ve come to this juncture as a result of our own insistence. We solemnly kept up the search for “truth.” We’ve got the possibility

to end the world sitting in the bottom of thousands of missile silos all over earth, just waiting for our world leaders to have a nicotine fit and press the proverbial button. We lost our innocence as

humanity the day America brought us all into the nuclear age.

That

point has been argued to death, along with every other point any one had, ever, since the whole fucking thing got started with the dick face in the Tigris-Euphrates river basin that drew triangles in a block of mud with a stick. There’s something about being a citizen of the world, and our communities at the same time. While relying on what divides us to

separate and stratify ourselves, we also use that very distinction to recognize each other and identify ourselves. Every once in a while

you find a person you can actually relate to, even thousands of miles away from your comfort zone. They do exist.

When we were lost in the Redwood Forest wandering around trying to find a campsite, we came across a few descent ones, but nothing that really caught our attention. There was one site we almost took,

consisting of a communal picnic table, six well groomed sites, food 141

safes to keep the animals away, and a wooden latrine all centrally located around a fire pit with a metal ring. It was less than a mile We thought about it

away from a paved parking lot with running water.

for a moment, until we noticed a fat, wheezing group of teenagers hiking coolers full of beer down the paths. Here I am trying to enjoy

the wilderness in quiet solitude, and I am still confronted with the prospect of listening to idiot fucks bitch about their venereal

diseases in loud drunken yelps. We left, and decided to find the most remote campsite we could. We drove down a rutted out two track designated on the map as a cliff line area near an old World War Two outpost. We barely made it back We figured there the parking lot

there, dodging overgrown roots and foot deep ruts. was little chance of human contact, considering

dropped off three hundred feet to the Pacific Ocean, and the campsite was a mile hike up the hill with barely a path and no lights at night. Real camping. We brewed some tea on the camping stove we brought with Redwood is famously difficult to

us, and got to setting up camp.

burn, so as we were struggling with creating the fire, we hear a voice call out from the distance. “Hey!” Being in the outdoor enthusiast community generally means you’re going to find a lot of like-minded folks in your wanderings. pass a fellow woodsman, you say hello. mutual show of respect and understanding. When you

It’s common courtesy, and a

142

“What’s up?,” we respond immediately. “Hey guys, how’s it goin?” we hear again, with the sound of rustling grass and footsteps. A guy about our age approached, looking Unshaven, long-ish black

fairly stereotypical for an outdoorsy type.

hair, flannels, gleam in the eye from the overwhelming surroundings. He comes up, shakes our hands and introduces himself. “Hey, my name’s Nate – you guys from Michigan?” We’re a little taken back, and I say “…yeah, how did you know?” “Oh, there’s a car parked in the lot with a Michigan tag on it. I’m from East Lansing, I moved out here a few years ago after I visited. Got a job down in Arcata, and I’m staying with the logging You guys smoke bud?”

guys from Humboldt State. Of course.

Meet someone in Humboldt county, even if they’re from “Yeah, we smoke- but I just ran

Michigan, they’re gonna smoke bud. out this morning”

“It’s all good, I’ve got a joint left that we can smoke after I set up camp. I have some sausages, too, if you want them- I can’t eat Plus, if you guys are headed south tomorrow, I can in town if you don’t mind checking out

them all myself. probably Arcata.

find you a sack

We can get a beer or something and I can show you the city.” Not only did we find a new friend a few

Fucking righteous.

thousand miles away from home, but we had a few things in common, and

143

better yet he was going to solve my weed problems. awesome,” I say with an ear to ear grin.

“That’s fucking

Nate took his leave, marching back down the hill to get his gear and set up camp. I began to feel a little under the weather, so I got An hour or so later, I heard Nate come

in the tent to take a nap.

back up, and he smoked the joint with Kevin, but I had a pounding headache and just wanted to sleep. I know it must have been bad In my light nap, I

considering I passed up a smoke, which I never do. heard Kevin and Nate talking by the fire.

I listened to the sound of

the animals, the peace of the starry sky, the crack of the fire, and the low chatter of two new found friends. good. Life at that moment was

Nearly as peaceful as my moment on the rock earlier that day. I was beginning to feel a little more comfortable with myself,

finding some profound satisfaction that there was another person I could relate to so far away. around me. A life raft on the sea of stupidity Pick your metaphor, it was a

A friendly face in the fog.

good thing to know we weren’t alone in our pursuit of intellectual happiness and mental peace. Nate went on to tell Kevin the story about how he ended up out in California. I’m sure everyone’s heard a lot of stories about people It seems to attract those types of people It must be sad when they I

ending up in California.

seeking escape from the rest of the country.

get there and find out it’s all the same no matter where you go. had already learned those lessons.

144

I was having a hell of a time trying to get some sleep.

My

heartburn was flaring up, my head was pounding, my mouth was dry, I had no water, and I was in dire need of a lengthy piss. I finally

shook myself awake around two so I could go down the hill to the car and find my TUMS and Aspirin. I grabbed for my headlamp and walking

stick, and headed down the trail for a dark and treacherous voyage through the overgrowth toward the car. As I step out into the clearing next to the road, I hear Nate call my name. He tells me he’s about to head home due to the cold,

and gives me his phone number so we can call him in the morning and get directions to Arcata. I thanked him, and told him we had a nice He didn’t.

fifth of Patron Silver to crack open if he didn’t mind.

He hopped in the truck and took off down the dirt road, and I went for the meds. Dwelling on the prospect of hiking back up that fucking hill in the middle of the night, I opted for a warm nap in the back of the car. After a healthy swig of water, some calcium carbonate, and a bit

of blood thinner, I was finally in a position to get some restful sleep. I woke up shortly after dawn, with a breathtaking view of the pacific ocean from the cliff we were parked on. I couldn’t help but I couldn’t help

smile, being in such a god damned beautiful place.

but smile even bigger knowing I was going to be scoring some legendary Humboldt grass later that day.

145

After some personal time pondering what I was experiencing, I set up the hill to the campsite to see if Kevin was awake. poking at the fire with a stick, brewing a cup of tea. I found him I told him I

had slept in the car, and he told me about his conversation with Nate. We broke camp and set out south in search of good food, hot coffee, and cell phone service to call Nate. After some breakfast and purchasing supplies in town, we put in the call. Arcata was about two hours south of us right off the As we

Pacific coast highway, nestled on the other side of the ridge.

got off the exit, I noticed that there was no real sign of habitation anywhere. Since we had been told, we figured it was the right way to

go, but if we hadn’t been told there would have been no reason to suspect that any civilization was anywhere near that exit. We took the exit, followed the roundabout, and drove about three miles down the road as instructed, turned right, and found ourselves descending into a beautiful valley town. As we rolled down the hill,

the sun poked out from beyond the broken horizon and punctuated the quaint city skyline. I muttered, jaw agape, to Kevin, “I think we

have just stumbled upon paradise.” We drove to the obvious center of town, as instructed, parked and set out on foot to the pedestrian square. After a short walk, we came After the

to the statue in the center of the park, where we met Nate.

obligatory handshakes and hellos, we sat down on the bench to enjoy the surroundings. He told us a bit about Arcata, some of the cool

places in town, about the college, about the beautiful women, and 146

about the perfect weather. surrounded by the Redwood

Pacific Ocean less than an hour away, Forest, a few hours north of the San

Francisco smog, nestled in the mountains, rarely snows, never over eighty, never below freezing. Sounds like paradise to me.

It was about noon, and the dude with the grass didn’t get back from logging camp until five or so, which left us with a few hours to kill. We shot the shit a while, checked out a local donut shop with

some fucking delicious cake donuts, browsed the used bookstores, and enjoyed the aforementioned female scenery. Paradise, surely it was.

Nate had to go to class for an hour or so, and left us with directions to his house. We grabbed a late lunch waiting for him, and

I found an ATM to get the seventy bucks to get the quarter of grass. Seventy a quarter was thirty less than I had been paying at home, and Humboldt grass is rightfully legendary. already obvious, I was delighted. We drove down the dirt road to the farm that Nate was staying on. It was a pig farm, and the farmer had allocated a small amount of land for a small real estate venture, along with a few spaces for R.V.’s. It was a nice place, just out of town. Rustic enough to call Needless to say as it is

peaceful, close enough to civilization not to go crazy.

I found the

buried bottle of Patron from the back of the car, and we knocked on the door. Nate answered, and introduced us to his roommates. We all shared

a shot of Tequila, and talked about where we were all from and how we

147

got to Arcata, California.

There were a lot of interesting stories, It seems like people that

as any experienced traveler can testify to.

live with the understanding of an entire world around them always have good stories to tell. After another round of shots, we headed out back to the R.V. with the dope. The guy, I can’t remember his name, reminds me it’s seventy I surrender the cash, he retreats into the R.V.

for the quarter.

while I pour another round. After adventures. he comes out, he takes the glass, we toast to great

He smiles, pulls the bag from his hoodie’s front pocket,

and says “this is a grip more than a quarter, welcome to Humboldt.” In my had drops an entire ounce of the best marijuana I have ever seen in my life. Had I not been three double shots of Patron down, I I just smiled, and said “thank

would have ejaculated in my jeans. you” about ten times.

We went out back to see the pigs and smoke a

farewell cigarette, and Kevin and I loaded up the car for the drive south to San Francisco. We took one last round of shots, thanked everyone for their hospitality, exchanged numbers, addresses, and E-Mails, and promised to stay in touch. As Kevin and I pulled back on to the Pacific Coast Highway, we were presented with a classic Pacific Ocean sunset to add a perfect end to a perfect day. I left that city with a new feeling of

fulfillment in life, and a satisfaction that I wasn’t the only person 148

on this Earth that loved his life and yearned for the experiences it has to offer. Being a global citizen means many things. It implies an acute

understanding of how small one person is in relation to the global expanse. to It implies a level of intellectual awareness that allows you things you outside your the own frame has of reference. faces, It

contemplate that

requires

understand

world

many

cultures,

opinions, customs, and ideas.

It goes without saying that you would

possess the social skills to interact respectfully with people on a personal level. It’s a strong bet that you yearn for the new, respect Being a

the old, and take full appreciation of the time between.

global citizen means you have reached a new level of existence, as a child of history, and a recipient of its bounty. is the next intellectual paradigm, and the Global citizenship progenitor of an

intellectual revolution.

149

Chapter Thirteen – A Life Raft on Stupid Sea When we were young, Kevin and I took a trip to Colorado. thirteen or fourteen, I guess- I think it was right before high school. His dad flew out there with us, rented a car, and drove from We climbed a We were

Denver to a little town in the Rockies called Leadville.

mountain called Mount Elbert, which is the highest mountain in Colorado and the Continental United States. It’s not much of a There’s not

technical climb, there’s a path that goes right up it. much glory to be had by conquering the mountain.

The point of going was never to climb the mountain, it was to go. To enjoy ourselves in the mountains. We camped at the base of Mount The scenery is

Elbert, in a nice campground called Half Moon.

idyllic, and you can drive around the mountains and view a hundred years of mining history. The town itself isn’t that big, but has a There’s a

nice downtown area with shops like any other American town.

main street that runs through the major business area, and out into the mountains. Just before you leave town, there’s a small restaurant

called “The Golden Burro Café.” It’s nothing special, just your normal American spread. Hamburgers, chicken strips, soup, salad, meat loaf, fries, generic desserts, all served up by a middle aged woman with a cigarette torn voice writing your order on a pad of paper she took from her stained apron. America. How I love it here.

150

We ate there a few times during our stay, and I’ve always remembered it. From where we always chose to sit, there was a

beautiful view of the mountain range we were staying at the foot of. I’ll never forget the experience. It’s one of those moments I cherish I’ve been friends

and keep in the back of my mind for trying times.

with Kevin for so long that he and I have been able to share many moments like this. Beautiful scenery, time well spent, and memories

to share and tell stories about. There’s a guy that comes into Big Burrito named Bruce. older guy, well traveled and well spoken. He’s an

He orders tamales, loves

the hot sauce, and compliments me on my ability to make a margarita. He usually puts a dollar in my tip jar, and when we talk he remembers what we talked about. He knows my name. He told me he

One day, we were both on the subject of travels. was born in a small mining town in Colorado. said, “Leadville?”

Out of the blue, I just

He laughs deeply and says “Yeah, and I think

that’s the first time anyone I’ve met has known about that town.” I immediately asked him about the Golden Burro Café. He laughed

again, and said he remembered the food not being so good, but recalled it being a good place none the less. it fondly.” place. “Ah, the metal ass, I remember

It wasn’t that crushing to hear a different view on the

I had always revered it as some perfect place of my distant It’s just another trashy restaurant in the American A dick smack spot on the map with no significance but what

memories. wasteland.

people make of it. 151

Memories aren’t always so connected with the places as much as the entire experience. Having a memory allows us to add so much more

value to our time spent on this planet and around all these people. We remember what we like, and what we need to stay away from. They

say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a good chunk of time well spent is incapable of being put into words. It exists as a memory

that you respond to emotionally and often share with other people. Finding another person that you can spend valuable time with, and a good place to spend it is like a life raft on stupid sea. Every day

we have to put up with so much shit that we don’t want to involve ourselves with, it’s so nice to feel alive every once in a while. walk the city streets dodging beggars and idiot fucks, and you duck into a coffee shop to see a guy in the corner reading Atlas Shrugged with wide eyes flipping pages furiously. I love it. You

You know, maybe it’s not so bad that all these idiots are around. Someone has to mop the floors at night, right? me as just another idiot fuck. Maybe some people see

Wandering around, talking about how

ridiculous marriage is and how god is a stupid concept we invented to hold shit above people, all while I make burritos for a living and pretend to be an author. I don’t care. I have my life rafts, and I I wouldn’t trade It belongs to

have my moments of glory and my moments of pain. them in for anything, for any price. me, and no one else can have it.

I love my life.

My time on this Earth is very What do you value?

valuable to me, and I refuse to waste it.

152

Life rafts on stupid sea are the escape we all desire. escape from the world around us as a whole.

The

Our friends, our business The shelter from

partners, our lovers, our houses, and our hang outs. the rain.

This concept we’ve created in what we call “society” Personal highs and lows that are only Existing only

rewards us with these dynamics.

felt conceptually, but as real as any physical thing.

by yourself and in a world with no other humans to interact with would surely be hell. Even if you only hate them all, it’s still an impetus We exist

to better yourself and prove them all stupid and worthless.

as an individual only because there’s a group to individuate ourselves from. Relationships come and go, just like life rafts sink and get busted up on the docks. Sometimes you can build the raft in to a These are the relationships you

ship, and keep it in the harbor. spend time cultivating. others.

The ones that mean more to you than the

Ship building is a good metaphor for friendship, I guess.

You have to have a ship to sail the sea, and the more equipped the ship is to keep you afloat and comfortable, the better. The best

ships can weather the most powerful of storms, yet take the most to build, equip, and maintain. never to be heard from again. We don’t know what to do with the people that just don’t get it. Some of them we label as criminals and put them in prisons. Some of Sometimes ships sail to seas unknown,

them we label as retarded and we put them in asylums or heavily medicate them and pay someone to keep an eye. Some of them get it

153

enough to exist in the world, but can’t progress. our thumbs with religion, the economy, and fear.

We keep them under Some of them are

close to where they need to be intellectually to take full advantage of the world, but just can’t seem to cross the line. These are the All

people we try to help, and try to steer in the right direction.

of them are separated from us solely by their personal and individual ability to exist in the society we created. What do we do? Exist as we always have, using our differences Do we try to Can you cater to

both as an identification and a source of repulsion? change things? Are there really any other options?

one side of a conceptual balance without taking away from the other? How do we exist together as people, yet identify ourselves as individuals? When we’re talking about concepts, there has to be a The intellectual

balance between one side of the fence and the other. haves and have nots. It’s depressing.

Is it our right to wish for a Can we steer our

better world when we know it will never happen?

ships toward the setting sun without fear of intellectual pirates? What could the intellectual revolution be revolting against? tyranny of the stupid over the smart? The It’s

That’s not right either.

doomed to failure because of the ability of the intellectually baseless to improve their predicament. tyrannis. Drawing a clear line between smart and stupid is impossible just like anything else being relative, externally interpreted, personal, and individuated. Can we revolt against conceptual balances? Can we Sic semper evello mortem

154

revolt against the idea that we have to be on one side of the fence or the other? Will America continue to be divided into red and blue There’s a nice clean

states, or can we all register as independents?

similarity to the conceptual struggles we know and lament in the American political system. We are all Americans. We are fifty states united under a federal They

government of individuals representing groups of individuals.

argue back and forth about theoretical concepts, and create laws and rules to try to organize society and deliver justice to those who chose to deviate from those rules. We have a two party system that

divides groups of people with the same goals of existing and prospering into “republicans” and “democrats.” There are other

parties, but none with enough numbers to matter in Washington. There’s a very small ideological difference between the two that’s just as foggy as it is small. Republicans traditionally support Democrats

smaller government, less taxes, and a free market economy.

traditionally support government spending on social programs, labor unions, and cultural diversity. While seemingly fighting for opposite

conceptual sides of fences, they are only establishing where the fence is. There was never a dispute over there being a border, only where

the border lies. Buddhists talk about the middle way, which is a nice way to wrap up the whole process. lay in concept. People do not completely agree on anything that Concepts

Physical things are unerring and permanent.

are esoteric and liquid.

155

Establishing a middle ground is for extremists.

Average people

don't fall into the extremes, they capitulate somewhere near the middle of ideological fights. good argument. Most people can reason both sides of a

While sailing the stormy seas of society, what have we

but ships, sailors, harbors, and cargo?

156

Chapter Fourteen – When The Lights go out in New York City Is there really any point to seek to remove ourselves from this struggle? Is there any way to make Atlas shrug? I’ve mentioned this

a few times, but one of the best books I have ever read is Atlas Shrugged, by Ayn Rand. It’s a hell of a book; half philosophical mind

fuck, half literary masterpiece. In it, the life and times of a country of people are decided and affected by influential people that argue constantly over the good life, what it is, and how to get it. We encounter characters Dagny

Taggart, Hank Rearden, Francisco D’Anconia, Hugh Akston, John Galt, Ragnar Danneskjold, and others united in a struggle against idiot fucks and their Washington counterparts James Taggart, Orren Boyle, Wesley Mouch, and Dr. Robert Stadler. Like it said on the back, the book is tremendous in scope, a literary classic, and equally distributed in those that read it, hated it, and loved it. I am one of the people that read it several times,

found solace in the ideas of Ayn Rand, and urged others to read it and appreciate it as I had. John Galt, the leader of an intellectual revolution, comes to the realization that he is living for other people that feed off of him and his ideas without acknowledging his accomplishments as his. He

invents a radical new invention that converts the static electricity in the atmosphere to kinetic energy that can be applied to a motor. This would obviously change the world around him very rapidly, but he

157

doesn’t want the world to benefit from his invention while ideologically supporting this idea that what he did was done for humanity as a whole. Although it was meant to be delivered to

humanity, John Galt struggled with his ability being capitalized upon to reward his inferior co-workers. Although appreciating the fact that humanity would benefit from his invention, he works at a company that has been sanctimoniously dumped in the hands of the workers. This has resulted in the men

being paid according to their needs which are decided originally by the mass, but eventually decided by someone arbitrarily put in charge of deciding what a person’s needs were. They were forced to work

according to their ability, which meant that John “needed less” based on his lack of a family, but was able to work more due to his enormous intellect. If the problems in this are not self evident to you, allow me to explain. If you are someone capable of creating something, anything,

be it a new idea, a new machine, a new piece of music, or a new piece of art, you deserve recognition and respect for the formulation of that new contribution to society. This is not a characteristic to be taken lightly, and as John's character shows us in the book, he doesn’t take it lightly either. Instead of letting the company take all the profit and credit to further its ridiculous needs, he quits and takes his new ideas with him.

158

He’s lucky enough to have a few friends that act as life rafts on stupid sea, sharing his ideas and respect for what it means to have them. All the men in Washington are seeking to make money for

themselves by influencing business and the stock market to take advantage of people not equipped to take care of themselves and profiting from their inabilities. They construct a flawed economic

system doomed from its beginnings in a room full of pig-headed sociopaths. John and his friends Francisco and Ragnar seek to use their abilities as an inventor and progenitor of revolution, a global financial entity, and a pirate, respectively, to undermine the global society of idiocracy perpetuated by old money ass holes that don’t have the intellect or foresight to handle the lives of other people. They target the individuals in the world that possess the ability to come up with new ideas, and ask them to quit that life to join John Galt, et al. in a place nestled in the Rocky Mountains called Galt’s Gulch where they can exist to freely interact and re-create a society founded on mutual respect of fellow human beings that love their lives and won’t let themselves be ruled by other people and the economy. Their oath to each other states “I swear, by my life and my love of it, that I will never live for the sake of another man, or ask another to live for the sake of mine.” Throughout the book, the ideas presented by Ayn Rand through her characters form a philosophy that is almost as all-encompassing as the refutations to it she supplies in the text. The ultimate struggle is 159

to convince Dagny Taggart, brilliant manager of a transcontinental railroad, that she needs to join the intellectuals that have retreated from society. She maintains the belief that society doesn’t need to

be changed, but just needs to be fixed. She fights the intellectual revolution to the end, supplying every possible explanation to avoid it. Washington destroy the world. In the end, the looters of

As John Galt and Dagny Taggart fly over

New York city, the lights go out symbolizing the end of the old world. There’s only so much stock you can put in a book. It’s

impossible to lay out every single opinion you have and every single thing someone might say to oppose it. Ayn Rand tried very hard, but Through Dagny she

still the only solution she could offer was escape.

tried to offer an explanation for the call of society to be repaired. It still can’t work, though. Galt’s gulch is a fictional place just

like utopia, heaven, Care-a-lot, and Candy Land. Society can’t be fixed by taking out the best of us all and then letting the rest destroy themselves. That doesn’t solve anything, it

just perpetuates the whole dynamic of the intellectual haves and the intellectual have nots. change. Social change is rooted in the need for

There has to be a majority consensus that there is a problem Change is a concept rooted in time, Change

before a change can be made. another concept.

Change exists in past, present, and future.

can be personal, broad, and externally viewed as right or wrong.

160

Some day in the future, will the people that inherited the earth from us wander around the ruins of New York City like we wander around the ruins of Rome, wondering about the people that lived and worked there? When the lights go out in New York City, will it be the end of

humanity, or just the end of New York City? Ayn Rand purports that society will, and must, be saved by the select few possessing the ability to save it. in our social stratification. This idea is supported

There is a pyramid of economic society,

with the power elite at the top, the debt slaves at the bottom, and a hierarchy of “middle class” between them with a ladder that only goes so far. Mobility is possible in our society, as evidenced by John

Galt’s rise from obscurity to greatness. The future will happen whether we are ready or not. It will

come, and we will be forced to endure what it brings whether we are ready or not. Intellectual society is similar to the economic pyramid

with idiots at the bottom, and wise men at the top, but the key difference is that the ladder goes from the bottom all the way to the top. There’s nothing keeping you from intellectual greatness except

your own will to continue learning. In that respect, an intellectual revolution wouldn’t be a revolution at all, just an acceptance of the need to progress as a society and on a personal level. transgression and regression. Progression is balanced by

You must struggle to achieve greatness.

Greatness is defined externally.

161

When Ayn Rand’s Atlas shrugged, it was because the metaphorical motor of the world had been stopped by John Galt and his associates removing themselves from society and manifesting it in a new direction in a new place. It resolved the philosophical problem of escape, but

it did not offer a solution in the real world, only a fictional world created by Ayn Rand that while bearing a striking resemblance to ours, is not. When the lights of Ayn Rand’s New York City went out, there was no internet, there was no facebook, there were no cell phones, and nuclear war was just beginning to offer a realistic and tangible end to society and moreover, the world. The civil rights movement was yet

to come to fruition, and Jack Kerouac was just beginning to publish his writings about his late nights of pot smoking in black jazz clubs. Martin Luther King, Jr. was just another black guy in the south getting oppressed by white idiot fucks. Nuclear war never happened, but neither did nuclear disarmament. The civil rights movement happened, and it at least dissolved one of the stupid differences we separate ourselves by. right. At least we got that

History shows a line of progression, regression, and

transgression building up to the present, yet still offering us an unlimited amount of ideas to build on. Change happens every day as we We will never stop it,

march through the inevitable passing of time. and we shouldn’t try.

We’re all going to die, and so will New York City.

Our lights

will go out long before the great cities we’ve built, but everything 162

comes to an end. eternal.

With the exception of concepts.

Concepts are

As long as there are people, they will agree and disagree.

163

Chapter Fifteen – A Destination So, we have a destination. The future. We march forward

in time, but measure it backwards from arrival at our destination. The hardest part of any trip is the long road home. The anticipation

lies in the approach, the value in the destination, and the meaning in the return. Life is a long road home to death. Marching on

endlessly, our existence just a shit stain on the universal blanket of time. Things fade away as we grow older, ideas we held fast evaporate Our reveries We

as if we had never questioned them in the first place.

of childhood dreams are crushed by nightmares of adult reality. dream of being Ghost Busters and wind up doling out burritos in another stupid dot on a map.

Every night I like to take at least a couple of minutes to look at the sky. There’s not much that is more breath taking to me than a Ever since I was a kid, I I

good view of the stars on a clear night.

liked to stare at the stars and wonder how far away they are.

remember lying in my bed one night, very young, thinking about the vastness of space. to contemplate. My dad had just read me a book about the planets, about the names and what they were made of, and how long it would take to drive to one in a car. I got to thinking about that kind of distance. I knew how It’s a pretty big concept for such a young child

long it took to drive to Grand Rapids in a car, we used to go there all the time, and I had lived there once. away. I knew it was kind of far

Farther than I could walk, at least, or ride my bike. 164

I thought, If I were to drive a car to the moon, it would take a really, really, long time. I also knew that when I stood and looked

at things in the distance, the smaller they were, the farther away they were, at least in general. perception, after all. So I thought to myself, if the moon would take a really long time in a car, and I couldn’t even see the other planets, but knew they were really big just like the earth, how far away could the stars be? And, if space is like a swimming pool filled with glitter, what is beyond that? Then, I thought to myself, this place is really big. A Humans are born with depth

lot bigger than me, a lot bigger than my house and my school and my city. I thought about where the god I heard about every Sunday fit He created Earth and all, but 2000 years ago, They

into this equation.

they didn't even know that Earth had an entire other half.

didn't even know there was indigenous people there, let alone the fact that there were other planets hundreds of times the size of ours – they thought the planets were gods watching over them. I remember a few years earlier than that, we're talking toddler days, meeting a friend of my parents that was a pilot. My first

logical question was “did you go to Care-a-lot and see the care bears?” He told me that Care-a-lot wasn’t a real place, and that the

clouds weren’t solid enough to build a castle on, because they were made out of water. I wasn’t crushed, I wanted to know more.

“If the clouds are made of water, how do they stay up in the sky?” 165

“Well, there are different states of matter, solid liquid and gas. Matter sinks, liquid runs, and gas floats. “Oh. What about air?” “Well, that’s a little more complicated, but the air is something, too- everything is made out of little pieces called atoms” I should have pressed further, but I was only seven, and I had some playing to do. I wandered downstairs to talk to the little kids I Ice is water, too”

again, and we built a fort underneath the air hockey table.

remember sitting there, listening to the other kids talk about the cartoons we were watching, and I couldn’t help but keep wondering about what that man had told me. No Care-bears, huh? Why are some

things around me real, and some things aren’t? watch what I say around little kids.

Just makes me want to

A year or so later, my mom told

me the Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters were also fake, which I had more or less figured out. Life didn't look like a cartoon, afterall. I It

was like a moving book, that wasn't difficult to get over.

systematically extrapolated that to Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, The Tooth Fairy, and every other childhood illusion. my mom told me he was real. Confusing. I thought, if the When I came to god,

So there were no Care-bears in the clouds.

astronauts went to the moon and they didn’t find heaven, then maybe god wasn’t real, too. I couldn’t have been more than seven years old. If god wasn’t real, and Earth

I was prepared to go beyond that.

wasn’t the only planet in the universe, then what else could be out

166

there?

What other gods might people have?

If other stars are like

the sun, how many planets could there be? Is there a grand architect to everything? greater than I design the whole place? universe was around? white? Did someone far

What was it like before the How could there be

Nothing but endless white?

No one would have a concept of white because no one would be What was white,

there to see it because they wouldn’t exist yet. really, but just a word- a concept. Heavy.

It was a bit too much for me, and I slowly drifted off to sleep. Problem was, when I woke up the thoughts wouldn’t go away. have. Maybe that’s when I first realized how big it all is. The They never

Everything, the world around us and the world around our world. ultimate entirety of the universe is so incomprehensibly vast.

Sometimes I don’t think most adults realize how big it all is, and how small they are in all of it. The world is so much bigger than you, The solar system

your house, your town, your state, your country.

full of worlds, the galaxy full of solar systems, the universe full of galaxies. We’re insignificant. Sad but true. All doomed to be stuck on a

rock together with nothing to do but argue with each other, make babies, and invent concepts to further complicate our already busy lives until we die. We engineer expensive electronic toys to make

communication easier, but we talk casually among each other at parties about sports scores, hair color, and sales at Wal-Mart. isn’t it? Sickening,

Of all the things to do and see, we keep ourselves in the 167

little bubble of 'community' we've assembled around us.

It's a shell

keeping out the blinding light of profundity that is the world around us. World not in the sense of the Earth, but world in the sense of

everything, everywhere, small as an atom, and as massive as a galaxy. I’ve spent my entire life trying to answer questions I come up with lying awake in bed at night, or dumbly staring at the starry skies. I don’t know why, I just do it. I have yet to seriously ask

myself the question “does everyone else think about these things, too?” I’m scared as to what the answer might be. Sometimes I think

people really don’t bother asking questions about what’s going on around them. It’s sad more than it is scary, I suppose. They just

walk around letting other people tell them what to do, acting like the melodramatic assholes on reality television. Re-enacting the scene

from the latest viral video, quoting lyrics by the latest corporate create-a-band, re-tweeting, and status-updating. down boxes. I saw a shooting star a while ago for the first time. After all Filling out drop-

my years of staring up there in the black abyss thinking about concepts like infinity, god, and the universe, and I had never seen something as common as a shooting star. I was lucky enough to be in the company of a good friend. been out drinking with her roommate and a few of her friends. We had One of

them had stuck around after we went back to her place, wanting us to go somewhere else. mundane like that. To the bowling alley, or something stupidly We were standing in the front yard transfixed on 168

the sky, excitedly pointing and yelling at every meteor that streaked across the sky. It was a meteor shower, like the ones you hear about I had never remembered to go outside

on television all the time.

during one, even if I had ever had the time. We ditched the loser, and headed out to an open field, with as few lights as we could find in the city. away. It was only a few blocks

I was surprised to see that no one else was out there enjoying Oh well, I guess maybe no one else cares. The

the view.

We laid out a blanket and watched the sky for an hour or so. vastness of space seemed, at that moment, so familiar and tangible. The meteors may appear thousands of miles apart, hundreds of miles above us, but we saw them in transfixed spacial perspective that painted a uniquely human picture of inescapable beauty. staring, until the meteors seemed to die down. in a moment like that. We waited,

I could live forever

Seeing something amazing for the first time, I said once that life is

good company, good stories, good times. nothing but a bunch of stories. and more as time goes by.

I’ve come to agree with myself more

That moment was much like my moment on the rock, or my moments staring out at the rocky mountains from the golden burro café. Snapshots in time that I will carry with me for the rest of my life. If I died tomorrow, I wouldn’t be afraid. I have seen and experienced

so much in my years on this planet, and I wouldn’t give up those experiences for anything.

169

Just the other day, weeks after that moment had passed, I wandered home drunk after a long night of partying and typing late into the night at Fourth Coast. As always, I took a fleeting moment As I looked up,

to stop in the front yard and gaze up into the sky.

just above the top of the house, a shooting star streaked across my view. I smiled, remembering the last time I had seen one. Then, just

for a second, I thought I might see a golden bird get caught midflight by a black jaguar. Maybe it was an acid flashback, now I know You'll just have to see it for

what people mean when they say that. yourself.

I only entertained the thought for a second, as I walked into the house, down the stairs, and fell into my bed in a wretched exhausted hump. I laid there, again, thinking about the stars like I always do,

and thought that maybe it wasn’t so bad, all the crazy shit going on around the world, and around me. As long as the stars are in the sky,

and as long as there’s rocks in the Pacific Ocean, I’m going to die a happy man. There's a level of involvement we maintain as we trudge A balance, a middle-way, a homeostasis, a It's good to see both Stay in the

our way through existence. harmony.

That's what we should be seeking.

sides of the fight, it's a good perspective to keep. middle, face-forward and ready for the day. the journey, and for the long road home. is a constant battle.

Ready for the new, for

Life, I've heard people say,

If it's a battle, it's time to put on your game Die facing forward, with the zeal of your

face and fighting stance.

youth and the wisdom of your age etched in your face for all the world to see. 170

Chapter Sixteen – The Long Road Home We got to San Francisco, a disgusting mass of smog and cars lining ridiculous hills full of row houses. Kevin drove in as I slept

like a newborn high on Humboldt grass, and found a nice scenic overlook with a really good view of the Golden Gate bridge. He

decided to take a nap, and woke up with a knock on the window from a man with a shiny badge and a flashlight. Cops. Kevin turns on the car, rolls down the window. We had been woken

up by cops once in Oklahoma City, and once in Montana, all as a result of our choice of parking spots for sleeping. It’s admittedly a little

suspicious to see a car with a Michigan license plate and foggy windows just sitting in Golden Gate Park in the early hours of morning. Sometimes I disagree with Kevin’s judgment on places to Oh well. The cop happens to

sleep, although it was a gorgeous view.

ask the question, “Are there any weapons or drugs in the car?” I swallowed hard. Kevin has a vocal opposition to telling a lie.

I can’t hate on the guy for having values, but there’s a time and a place to divulge crucial information; particularly when you have the right to remain silent. stay. We had a gun. I just wanted to get home without a prison

We were staying in the wilderness for large It

tracts of time, who knows what the fuck we could have run into?

was perfectly reasonable to have a firearm in our possession, and it was completely unnecessary to speak on the matter. Kevin would rather

171

have been perfectly honest, I would rather have remained perfectly silent. grass. It was a nine millimeter, fully legal and licensed to Kevin. dirty weapons in my car. No To each his own, I suppose. At least he didn't mention my

Unfortunately, as we found out, California

law says that if you have bullets in the case, it’s considered loaded. Also, only law enforcement officers are allowed to have twelve shot clips, or whatever crazy shit he had. Another cop pulled up, after we had been asked to exit the car, hand over the keys, and sit helplessly on a log next to the car. was sweating bullets. I

There was an ounce of Humboldt County Chronic

just barely concealed in my open backpack, which was sitting on top of the mattress in the back of the car, which was covering an open bottle of tequila. The gun was under the other end of the mattress, which is I had given Kevin the “Please let me speak to

what we told the cop.

these people, I know exactly what to say” look, and he picked up on the vibe. He opened the back hatch, lifted up the mattress, which

caused the backpack to fall forward and fully conceal the bag of grass. I imagined the backpack helping me out intentionally as I He opened

heard the satisfying sliding sound of fabric against vinyl.

the gun case, inspected it, compliments Kevin on the cleanliness, and let us go free with a warning not to carry concealed handguns in the state of California. The other cop, having been a California import himself, escorted us to a nearby youth hostel where we could sleep uninterrupted in the 172

parking lot. terrifying.

That was my first taste of San Francisco.

Fucking

I smoked two bowls before I went to sleep that night,

fighting off the shakes of adrenaline the whole time. When you play with fire, you’re going to get burnt. quick brush with reality that day. We had a

It was nice, however, to be

treated ethically and respectfully by the police, who understood our situation and didn’t try to be overtly authoritative as much as they did informative and helpful. That’s how the police are supposed to I’m just really glad

act, and I was really happy to have seen it.

they didn’t see the bag of weed and the open intox. We woke up and drove back to Golden Gate Park to take pictures and stretch our legs. We wandered over the ruins of machine gun

entrenchments from forgotten days, imagining the lives lived out there protecting the bay. from the inside. We walked along the streets, feeling the city

This was the destination, the point where the trip

comes to an end and fades out to the long road home. We wandered around Chinatown, in and out of the shops, buying trinkets and smelling the smells of hundred-year old fermenting teas and oriental incenses. We sat at a Chinese restaurant, scooping rice

with chopsticks and discussing our departure. We paid the bill and left town to check out Big Sur, our final stretch of the near entirety we drove of highway one. Kevin had been

enticed by a picture of this place in Big Sur called McWay cove, a nice protected beach with palm trees and a waterfall. It had become

173

his sole obsession of the trip.

The whole paradise bit, he seemed to A place to

be searching for a place to imagine as his happy place. visualize himself in during trying times.

After pulling to the side

of the road several times to take pictures, and soak in the view, we found the parking lot for McWay cove. We found out it cost eight

bucks per vehicle, and the waterfall had run dry. I swear, for a second, that I almost saw Kevin shed a tear. How

horrible it is, to come to see paradise and find out it costs money to walk down the staircase and look at where the waterfall used to be until all the assholes in San Francisco and Los Angeles sucked up all the water. They had commoditized his paradise into a farce. I asked

him if he wanted to go down, he just said “let’s get back in the car and find a view of it from the road and take a picture” with a far away look in his eye, as if he were fighting the urge to cry. hear his voice shake ever so slightly. I felt bad for him. commercialization, too. I had been feeling the overwhelming sense of There was something different about that I could

stretch of the drive than the serene scenes on my rock of solitude. We left Big Sur not quite sure how we felt about the whole situation. Surely it was beautiful, surely it was amazing, but there was just a sordid feeling that we were part of some sort of institutionalized escape fed to us by societally-induced visual archetypes of freedom. It was driven by thousands of people every day, just the same. Nothing about it was unique or memorable despite the fact we had decided it was our destination. For some passing through, it was a

174

drive to work or play.

For us it was supposed to mean something.

Something we could remember as an escape, but ended up remembering as a sort of disappointment. What was this feeling I had? Surely the

land was beautiful and the journey was a triumph, but I felt it lacked substance. Big Sur. It lacked meaning outside the bragging rights of cruising We hadn't discovered or uncovered it's beauty, we had been

duped by commercialization to go there and “know” it was beautiful. We drove post haste southeast towards Death Valley. Kevin drove.

Madly he drove through the night, disgusted with Big Sur, the big money America machine, and particularly with McWay cove. He woke me up in the geographical center of Death Valley, as far as he could reckon, in the still dead of the desert night. smoking a cigarette. check out the stars.” We got out of the car and sat in the middle of the road for a long time, listening to the animals in the distance chattering mindlessly and relentlessly about being in the middle of nowhere and how many stars there were in the sky. beautiful than any view of Big Sur. beauty, one with an actual meaning. It was a thousand times more It was a visceral and personal An experience with fulfillment He was

He just said “we’re in the middle of the desert,

that didn't feel as if we were marking a box on “Life: The Checklist.” It was a random experience in the dead of night, one that has certainly been had by others but not capitalized on and commoditized like that stretch of coastal highway bridging terror-tropolises Las Angeles and San Francisco. Untold millions had uttered about the

175

beauty of Big Sur over soy lattes, taking the natural surroundings as taken-for-granted fixtures of their daily lives. I stared into the

limitless expanse of the universe and wondered how many of those people had taken the time to drive three hours away and check out this scene, which I found exponentially more appealing than a stretch of highway between cities. It was only then that I realized why it was The value of the trip was in The long road home

we were traveling around the country.

the unexpected personal experiences along the way.

wasn't a sad decrescendo of the trip, it just another part of the trip. The trip hadn't been about going to San Francisco, it was about

two buddies hitting the road with an idea of a destination and a thirst for new experiences. just happen. Two days later, we were home. Kevin drove almost the whole way. It wasn’t that we were angry You can't plan those things out, they

We didn’t talk much for the whole ride.

with each other, we were both just so disappointed with what we had seen that we’d rather just get home and deal with it in our own personal ways. Denver. There’s not much to be seen after you get through

Kevin and I had spent our time in the Rockies, we were

homeward bound. It’s a clear shot through the Midwest back home to Kalamazoo. stopped in St. Louis for a change of scenery and a quick look at the Arch. It cost money to take the ride up it. Everything costs money. We

We commoditized everything. Here you go, America, have this Arch. It’s going to represent the spirit of adventure as the metaphorical

176

gateway to the West. is.

Gateway to a consumerist garbage wasteland it

When we got home, nothing had changed but the season.

It wasn’t

winter anymore, the snow was melting away and it was time for spring again. away. I still had to go on making burritos, my memories now fading Kevin had to find a new vision of paradise, and I had to figure

out how I was going to settle back into a familiar world full of idiot fucks and life rafts on stupid seas. What did the future hold for me that summer? I continued to make

burritos, I continued to live, I continued to pursue those moments where I didn’t care about anything except what was going on right then. I ended up going to Pennsylvania a few times, I drove to

Washington, D.C. to visit Seth, I went to Chicago a few times, I went to Cedar Point with my little brother, I went camping in central Michigan, I stayed out late drinking and having a good time as much as time and finances would allow. I made a lot of new friends that I loved

summer, some I hope to keep around for a good long time. every fucking second of it. don’t regret it.

I spent my money, I didn’t care, and I

I love being alive. All sorts

There are a lot of concepts flying around these days.

of things we have to worry about, and things we have to take care of, but just want to put off to another day so we can enjoy the little time we have. I’m just like everyone else. I wake up, I do my job, I

try to enjoy my life as best as I can.

Even though there’s so many

questions still unanswered, so many questions still yet to be asked, 177

and so many more things to see and experience, there’s always going to be times where I wish I was somewhere else. There will continue to be times standing behind that cash register where I just can’t make sense of the world around me. Times

where I feel totally helpless moving in and out of my parent’s house, trying to carve my path through the wilderness and staring up at the stars late at night in a drunken haze, wondering what it all means. Times when I'd swear life couldn't get any worse, and times where I'd wonder if it could get any better. Life is a wholly-encompassing

experience of soaring triumphs and depressing defeat holding the extremes about a middle-way for you to walk your line from birth to death. It's your line, stretching forward to meet new experiences,

and stretching backwards as a long road home. I hope you have learned something on this journey with me. your road, and it’s a road you must follow alone. It’s

Don’t worry, all of

your friends will be there to help keep you along the way. History brought us to where we are, and it’s up to us to perpetuate and add to it. Who cares about the idiots? Let them be idiots. There will be

good times, and there will be bad, but we can all rest assured knowing that tomorrow is another day, and there’s always a new road to travel. Home is where the heart is.

178

Enjoy your journey.

179

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful