Wednesday, September 28, 2011

How to Eat a Wolf

Baltimore, Maryland 

I could have saved myself at least two hours of riding if I had taken the metro to its limit.  It feels like cheating and I'm afraid they'll check my bags, but the thought remains until I pass the last station.

Baltimore is special on this trip: it's the only place for which I have a set goal.  Aside from collecting a heroin container from the sprawling, destitute set for The Wire, I'm trying to find someone here.  A few months ago, I saw a show in Tallahassee and thought the lead singer of a Baltimore band fit my standards for attraction.  I talk to her a bit while buying their album, and after hearing about their bleak housing arrangements, offer to let the band stay with me.  Everyone is exited about having a surface to sleep on, but the bassist walks over to say they'll stick with their original place, but thanks.  They continue their tour and return to Baltimore.  I feel cheated.

It's difficult to distinguish between things romantic and creepy.  This is a goal for the trip, but not the only one.  That doesn't change the fact that I'm desperately seeking a complete stranger based on an inkling that I might have a chance with her.  She's a siren, though.  Upon hearing her voice I was smitten.  I worry that if I can't get a girl considering the forethought needed to find her along as significant a trip as this I'll be forever incapable of attaining the women I seek.

I ride in through the slums of boarded windows and people on stoops, apathetic of my presence.  The streets are covered in trash.  I'm crashing with a girl from my high school, Marie Bolt.  I didn't really know or talk to her at all in high school, but we ran in similar circles and were friends on Facebook.  She's a cool cat with a half shaved head and a neat girlfriend that dresses like James Dean.  Her and her roommates are students at the art school.  I feel a little guilty and unlucky bringing up the band girl, because her roommate is adorable, dreads included.  I explain my dilemma to them and they coo at my use of "smitten" and immediately begin networking to find her.  A couple leads turn up dry, but they promise to help tomorrow. 

My replacement camera D ordered for me has arrived.  It has a working light meter, and regardless of it being the same model as the last, is a better camera.  I love the shit out of my brother.

Paige 

I had a great deal of difficulty figuring out what to write here, or if I should at all.  It doesn't matter that you won't see it, acknowledgement of any sort gives credence to the idea that I'm not over you.  Unfortunately, I think that may be true.

Eight years is a long time, especially for something as masochistic as unrequited love.  Every confession of it was met with the same response of pity and frustration.  I understand it wasn't fair to ask you to feel differently, but you made no effort to alleviate my suffering.  You always saw our relationship as a deep friendship while I imagined it an extended love affair.  We were never just friends.

It's not that I still wish I could be with you; I don't want to know you.  I'm upset about the time wasted chasing you, squandering any opportunities I had to find someone else.  Admittedly, I didn't want it, but all my time was spent worrying about you and all my choices based on how I thought you would respond.  I'm bitter that you appear now and again in my decision making; no longer shaped by beneficence, but spite.  I'm over you in any romantic or amicable forms, but I'm still resentful.  How could I not be, though?

For eight years I waited on your beck and call.  I devoted countless hours to restlessly worry about your state, yet without fail I would be passed up for some chump with a personality disorder.  It wasn't even the assholes that bothered me, they had some sort of character, but choosing to be with someone so insultingly boring and without personality was illuminating.  False modesty isn't a virtue, and I can think of no way the last guy could have even been my equal.  He made me reevaluate my perspective of you.  I was able to see the thing I longingly adored was just a projection of what I wanted, wholly apart from the reality of your being.  I don't know how long the two were separate, or if they were ever the same to begin with.  I have the habit of falling in love with ideas, and the idea of my ideal mate is no exception.  There was no way you could've matched it, but it didn't matter, I couldn't tell.

I wish I weren't so bitter, if only for my own sake.  You still haunt me before I sleep.  Everything I do I wonder how much of my motivation is some perverse desire to show you up, to show you what you missed.  It's exhausting, but it's always been.  I wish things had turned out better, and I'm not sure what that means.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

But You Don't Hear Me, Though

Washington, Pt. 2 

Metro System 

Day 1 ($8.00):  I have difficulty determining my route.  I choose the line that takes me to a central hub.  I sit with my bike near the doors in a sparsely populated train.  A man sleeps, waking occasionally to glance at the station names.

I return on a crowded train where I stand in the area between the doors, moving every time the stations change sides.  Everyone stares.  I lean on a pole and push against my bike so I'm not knocked around at every stop.  Two Columbian girls sit near the doors, a balding yuppie wearing a baggy purple button-up and jeans for 'casual friday' begins to talk to them without any introduction.  He talks about the quality of his grilled cheese, adding that less than half of the sandwich is cheese.  The conversation seems strained, but the girls indulge him.  One motions to me and all three look.  I'm not sure if it's about the bike or the beard on my shirt, but the yuppie quickly changes the subject.  An older couple point and whisper to each other about a sticker on my bike reading: "DRINK BEER, RIDE BIKES, GO FUCK YOURSELF."  I have to pretend I didn't notice, lest I have to have human interaction.

Day 2 ($5.00):  It's Saturday and everyone is in their respective college sports wear.  Over the P.A. the conductor chastises a woman for touching the train with her kid.  An Asian father and daughter travel together.  The father looks like the typical traditional, conservative Asian dad.  The daughter looks like she'll grow up to be a knockout.  From the disinterest they take in the ride, I imagine them American, with him having immigrated and her being born Americanized.  She stares out the window, his head bobs as he dozes off.  I am taken by the beauty of the scene, imagining the complex relationship between the two as she gets older and American standards begin to press up against her father's traditional views.  I realize I haven't heard them speak and have no idea as to their actual nationality.  "MLK" is carved into the panel separating seats.

Coming back I've learned to be unobtrusive and wedge my bike in front of the emergency exit, away from any traffic.  It's a more reserved trip with people keeping to themselves.  A boy with a skateboard sits shrewdly, taking great pains not to look at anyone.  A gorgeous girl in sweat pants stands in the center of the car and I'm annoyed when she sits down.  I watch through to the car in front of mine, the framing between our windows makes for interesting movements.  I wait for the sporadic moments of perfection when all the poles in the car before mine line up into one.  I try to cheat and move myself to see it but am blocked by a pole in my own car.

Day 3 ($6.25):  Two young boys sit by the emergency exit, their chaperone and another boy sit in front of them.  I move to the aisle and stand next to them against my bike.  An old woman asks them to move over and sits beside them.  Obviously uncomfortable, the boys stop talking.  A young black guy steps in and the boy in front gives him a head nod.  The black guy laughs and the boy, embarrassed, rests his head on his father's shoulder.  As more and more people pile in, the black guy perfects his craft, gesturing with his hands and rapping to a music only he heard.  I see one of the boys has a birthmark on his calf that looks like a leach.  I wonder if it's permanent and wish it was a leach.


I see a girl on the train back that was on the train going.  I doubt she realizes or cares.

Day 4 ($5.00): Engraved into a panel someone wrote:

Fuck
   Tron
RIP Off!

Two teenagers throw their legs over the seats and talk loudly while everyone else is silent.

At the station coming back a guy in a button-up stares at me.  I make eye contact and he maintains his stare adding a flair of eyebrow lifts.  The exact meaning is lost on me.  Another guy across the car seems to stare at me too.  I attribute it to nerves and figure he's staring into space toward me.  Two guys have a conversation about sports populated by statistics and name drops without any significance beyond who knows more.

Power 

Throughout this trip I've ridden by battlefields and monuments of the Civil War; Arlington is as far north as I'll find them.  People are often intrigued by the Civil War and remark on how odd it was that it could happen in our country.  The threat of civil war isn't absurd, a threat of physical violence is pervasive throughout politics.  That's not to say it is unique to our society or that we live in a particularly volatile time, but a threat of violence is a fundamental feature of political systems.  

If there was no possibility of violence the system would not function as there would be nothing to enforce accountability or follow through.  Both parties in a two party system are held accountable by fear of retribution from the other.  Even in a one party system, power is consolidated by subjecting dissenters to acts of aggression by the ruling party.  If it were possible for a pacifist government to come into power it would paradoxically require it to use violence to gain or retain it.  A truly pacifist system would be quickly overthrown by a group willing to use force to take and maintain power.  Pacifism only works when those in power bend to it for fear of violence, or revolution, or foreign intervention.  I'd like to see that pussy Ghandi take my vicious body blows and still retain control of his idealist baby nation.

A Note About D.C. Drivers


I always thought the "drivers from [state] are so bad; they're the worst," was bullshit.  Everyone in every state is a bad driver, but good God, they raise the bar in D.C.  I can't say yet if it's D.C. specifically or urban areas in general, but I've never seen more cutting lanes and horn honking.  Every horn and siren is amplified between the skyscrapers and echo for blocks.  People here honk for seemingly no reason, including taxi drivers who think it appropriate to announce their presence every time they're behind me.  I saw a woman honk across an intersection at a car honking at another.  I don't know what to make of that.

I sure don't.

D.C. Kill Count 
Squirrel: 1

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Chew Yung Phat

Washington, District of Columbia

Coming into Washington today, I stop to take a picture of a military neighborhood barricaded and posted with military warning signs.  My camera won't turn on and has moisture behind the screen.  Rightfully so, the whole trip in I bug the fuck out.  I get into the surrounding D.C. area fine, but looking for directions on my phone the service unavailable.  I try to call someone for directions only to hear my phone service is on hold because a bill hasn't been payed.  For the next four hours I ride around blind, stopping frequently to look at maps and on-display iPhones until I find the place I'm staying.

My cousin is putting me up for a few days.  I haven't seen her since I was two, but growing up had seen pictures of her.  With our shared experiences of the family it's easy to feel familiar.  She works for the State Department and served in the Peace Corps in Togo, a little African country bordering Ghana.  She's remarkably intelligent and it's refreshing to be able to talk to someone else intelligently about the family.

Patriotism 

She couldn't bear to get rid of her Bush poster.
I doubt these monuments would bear any meaning to me if they lacked their cultural context.  If I were to go to another country to view their cultural landmarks without a historical basis, I might be taken with their complexity or artistic significance, but would feel no personal connection to them.  Being here I feel personally affected.  Large, marble constructions draw symmetric parallel lines, framing tributes to important events and people.  Between tourists reinforcing squirrels bad behaviors and numerous groups of foreign tongues, the sight seems more realistic and beautiful.  The monuments don't need some artificial purity or seclusion for a photo-op, they need to show the crowds of tourists come to see the capitol of the Western World's cultural standard.

I don't feel it right to begrudge these privileges granted to me by living here.  To decry a hegemonic beast while safely resting on its shoulders seems a privileged position in and of itself.  But I'm not angry like some.  I'm frustrated, I hope for accommodations to what I think is right, I regret a less than perfect record.  But no place is a utopia and I don't feel shame for pride.  We've fucked up in the past and present and will again in the future, but by and in large we are progressing toward something better.  People in empires before have likely argued a similar stance: not perfect, but better.  What differs between them and I is that I live here and now.  This empire and culture are mine, and through all its tribulations and history, there is a general movement toward better ethics.  

I don't need her to always be in the right to love her, nor is my affection any less when I criticize her.  I think this is the most important distinction for patriotism.  Questioning the country does not make you unpatriotic.  The unflinchingly single-minded who defend the country against all concerns are not patriots but Jingoists.  To follow devotedly without ever analyzing her actions will not make the country stronger or more resolved, but will bring about stagnation and radical festering.

FREEDOM
Patriotism is not an unquestioned devotion nor in the removed clades of those critical of anything the country does.  The concept lies between the two, with an appreciation for the benefits granted but a critical eye focused on decisions to make us a better nation.  Just please, let me smoke my weed and have my abortions in peace.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Pratterpillar

Fredericksburg, Virginia

[My camera was broken here but there wasn't anything to take pictures of anyway.]

Fredericksburg isn't far at a little over fifty miles, but I feel tired.  I have a large breakfast of a portobello omelet, rosemary taters, fruit, and giant biscuits with pork gravy.  It rules and I talk with the waiter about my syrup consumption from an earlier visit.  I run into one of the guys from the night before and say hey, but keep walking.  Another guy hollers at me and I realize the friend who had given me food was there too.  I walk back and talk with them some.  I feel like an asshole for not having done it for the one I was less familiar with.

I get to Fredericksburg and am overly optimistic about finding my scene here.  I've been spoiled along this trip.  I find the only place I can ask about dive bars.  It's a small, semi-trendy thrift shop dealing old nintendo games and t-shirts.  I consider myself learned in t-shirt style and lore and think their collection impressive.  I imagine the group interested in this town isn't big enough to snatch the choice shirts quick enough.  I bemoan my circumstance.  In this Shangri-La of shirts I can take nothing from it.

I meet my host, Berricks Grudef.  He's a young guy working for the Department of Defense.  He diets with nicotine patches.  He's a big dude and we talk about rugby over beers.  He tells me lurid accounts of the girls he's boned in the room we sit.  I don't want to be rude, so we continue talking about it.  I don't know if it wasn't entirely sober or just didn't care, but the conversation wasn't that off putting or bizarre to make me uncomfortable.  I thought it weird enough to write about, though, so I'm not quite sure how I really do feel about it.  Berricks was nice, anyway.

Monday, September 19, 2011

The Least Most

Richmond, Pt. 2 

I didn't want to overstay my welcome with my first host, so she sets me up with another.  He works as a legislative assistant for some representative.  He's just as boring as his job title implies.  It seems as though he's been living alone too long.  He smells everything he comes in contact with, including anything before handing it to me.  It's an odd compulsion.  He recognizes the strangeness of it, becomes embarrassed, yet continues to repeat it.  The next morning he leaves me waiting for two and a half hours for him to return and lock up the house so I can leave.  I get frustrated, lock the handle, and leave anyway.

Scouting around the city for food, I run into some people who attempt to call a friend to put me up.  They aren't able to get in touch with him and I go into the restaurant they leave to get a sandwich.  It's a two foot long french baguette filled with jerk chicken, cabbage, and banana ketchup.  My gut is full of battery acid that breaks down any food intake and metabolizes it instantly.  Either that or I don't understand how digestion works.  I finish the sandwich in one sitting.  I feel fine, but looking at the cutting board the sandwich was brought out on, I'm disgusted by the thought that something that big is now existing, condensed, in my body.

While eating, the people I saw earlier came back to the restaurant to give me their friend's number, who was open to my staying with them and was expecting a call.  I forget if I'm apathetic from the trip or if that's an appropriate amount of effort to give a traveling stranger.

This is in front of Richmond Dank House
I meet Lilho out front of a broken house with a tall bike outside.  The house is dirty, filled with bikes, and there's a rock climbing wall in the stairwell.  In short, it fucking rules.  We walk over their now defunct bmx track in the backyard to find Rogen trying to get his newly acquired moped to work.  Lilho asks Rogen how his trial went.  As I find out, a group of them were caught trespassing in an abandoned building when a group of different kids was caught trying to break in.  Lilho stayed on the roof while Rogen and some of the group went down and got caught.  The trial went poorly and the owner showed up for the prosecution.  They were trying to charge Rogen with trespassing and vandalism damages for up to $20,000, despite there not being any evidence or new graffiti.

Lilho takes a nap and Rogen and I hang out a bit.  We play video games, and in this dirty house I feel like a little kid.  A stoned little kid.  Rogen asks why I didn't get sponsored.  I tell him I doubted I'd get anything from the brands my bike is advertising and that it felt presumptuous to assume I should.  I also didn't think it'd be right to go around getting high and drunk in support of little bald kids.


We get some free food from his friend and Rogen tells me about a bike messenger race he did in Guatemala after some landslides.  It became a relief effort in addition to the race, where they were feeding displaced people in their free time.  He rode around Hawaii too and we talk about bikes and SPAM.  He reveals that he got off free at the trial, and that he and his friends are lying to Lilho in an attempt to freak him out for not coming down with them.  The owner came to the trial, but in support of Rogen and his friends thanks to a few calls the lawyer made.

After riding around some, we return to the house where Lilho and some of the bike club kids are hanging out before their weekly meeting.  One of the kids talks about a mural he painted with primer in Lilho's room, still visible under the paint.  It's of a guy watching HBO and playing put-put with his penis while behind him a fish jumps out of a water hazard to eat the man's shit.  The bike club is one of a couple in Richmond, which is new to me.  They congregate and have family time: a checkup on each of the members' weeks and mental well being.  Someone lets slip that the trial went well leading to an anticlimactic response from Lilho.  The family time strikes me as a great idea for a group of friends to give summary to a week.  

Friends

Aristotle has a pretty elegant theory of friendship.  He argues there are two forms: friends you value for what they do for you, and those you value for their character.  Friends valued for an end are not without worth, but are easily lost when the end is no longer fulfilled.  It's a cliche, but the idea of a conversation that never ended between good friends holds true so long as their characters remain the same.  A friendship based on the person neither needs nor desires anything but the friend themself to exist.  I'd like to argue that valuing people for themselves is just valuing them for the happiness or enjoyment they provide through their character.  That doesn't make it untrue.  I can value a person without liking them, even be friends with them, without valuing anything they give me.


One night in Raleigh, I went to a going away party for a kid going to Peru for the Peace Corps.  The party was populated by his family and close friends and me, a stranger.  It was very personal and touching, with the host choking up giving a speech.  Between this and family time I've been able to experience personal situations without any sentimental connection of my own to it.  They haven't made me realize any deep, philosophic ideas.  They have made me realize I value my friends in the same as everyone elsewhere, and that even alone on this trip, from these situations I find appreciation for my own friends back home.

Virginia Kill Count 
Cat: 2
Deer: 2
Fox: 2
Opossum: 9
Raccoon: 2
Small Bird: 2
Snake: 9
Squirrel: 3
Turtle: 9
Unknown: 8

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Androgyny Weekly

Richmond, Virginia  

My shit schedule is all kinds of fucked up.  My normal, scheduled morning shit has long since gone out the window.  Now it's determined by accessibility and whim.  It's not guerrilla shitting, but is opportunistic.  Bathrooms on upper floors of academic buildings on college campuses are ideal, but supermarkets (save for Wal-mart) are sufficient.  This high protein, high calorie diet is having its way with me.  I am now a shell of a man whose life is dictated by his bowels. 

Richmond I had always heard was kind of a hipster headquarter and it totally is.  There are a bunch of single-speed basket bikes here without foot retention.  Aside from the initial hill entering the city, it's pretty encompassingly flat.

I'm staying with a girl whose boyfriend is doing a tour with some friends from Richmond to Tallahassee and then across to California.  She didn't expect me to stay with her on account of her responding late to my request, so she made plans that night to drink in Williamsburg.  My first night in Richmond was spent in Williamsburg.  There was a bar crawl there for the students of the local law school, starting at a Buffalo Wild Wings.  I spend my time drinking and eating overpriced food and watching a football game.  There are small pockets of Florida State fans here.  We end up losing.  I end up drunk and tripping over myself trying to dance to shitty dubstep at the brobar where the group was.  I offend my Williamsburg host's on-and-off girlfriend by saying women have intrinsic value.  My Richmond host is surprised the next day when I tell her I expect to stay longer, but puts me up anyway.  I hit on her roommate and we all drink at an empty bar the next night.

Art 

I went to the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and it's my first foray into a large city art museum.  From the experience I'm able to say I hate Jackson Pollock just as much in person.

I think for me the aesthetic is more important than the intention.  If I don't find a piece visually appealing it isn't good.  Maybe that's a plebian view, but the Rothko-esque piece of four single color slats of different widths that somehow is supposed to represent the Virgin Mary upon learning of Christ's conception isn't engaging, it's pretentious.

I'm not the artist, and while knowing what the artist's intentions might be interesting, and add to my own interpretation, ultimately they don't matter.  Art, in all forms, appeals to the viewers subjective interpretation of it.  That's how art becomes moving: by the associations people draw to it through their own experiences.  These old ladies in their expensive pastel pantsuits don't care about how the art makes them feel.  The sentiment is lost on them.  They pretend to enjoy it under the pretense of "this is what old ladies do," touching the glass, and musing on how they don't understand a certain piece.


A large banquet was set up with tables in a central room obviously meant for the wealthy old folks.  I scoff at the fact that these people clearly don't understand nor are they affected in the same way as I am.  I remember that art is an expensive and resource intensive pursuit and that moments earlier I was ruminating on art's subjective nature.  I'm angry at these sweet old ladies for not appreciating the art as I think they should.  What kind of self-righteous asshole gets upset at innocent old women?  Someone who understands that just because they're old doesn't mean that they're any different than the vacuous sorority girls they were before Jesus lost his battle with Roe and before The Darkies could vote.

All girls are sluts.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Creamtree

Blackstone, Virginia  

FUUUUUCK YOUUUUU
Central Virginia has been ass to ride through.  It's got some pretty heavy gradients in the landscape and around 12mph winds, only slightly less than the windiest ride going into Brunswick.  It's pretty beautiful even without all of the visual variety of North Carolina.  It's just started to get cool, which is uncomfortable in the mornings but keeps me from sweating much, if at all, during the day.

Initially worried by the experience staying with Olds in Pawley's Island, the past two older people I've stayed with have been great.  Here I'm staying with Kent Cablos, a fifty one year old atheist in the military.  He deals with explosive disarming of some sort for the Navy.  I didn't ask his rank because that's rude and who gives a shit?  Single and laid back, Kent is real easy to get along with.  An avid hunter and traveler, he spends most of his disposable income to fund trips on his motorcycle or in his plane, to hunt or just knock around different countries.  We talked about our traveling experiences and the similarities traveling on our respective bikes.  He told me about his plans to visit Namibia in March and to ride across the world in a few years when he retires.

Expectations  

I expected my Pawley's hosts to be murderers disguised as an old couple based on their Couchsurfing page.  I expected Kent to not be an atheist based on his being in the military.  Obviously wrong on both counts, it seems I should assume less.  Fuck that, though.  Hume can eat a dick, induction is wicked useful.  Sure, I was wrong about my hosts and it's wrong to draw assumptions about people, or whatever, but by expecting the worst I found myself pleasantly surprised when wrong.  Expecting the worst is stressful, but so is being wrong about an optimistic assumption.  Knowing the truth ahead of time is boring.  

I know where I'm staying in Richmond.  The couch is lined up and I don't need to find a place, but I wish I did. Not knowing what to expect from a host is fun and makes you work and intellectually probe at how you should interact with these people.  A hipster paradise, like Portland, might be intellectually unstimulating because you would know exactly what to expect, with the only sort of challenge being what color Chuck's are most trendy.  Expectations are good for mental preparation, and if you remove the need for them the mind atrophies and you become one of those "people are good" zombies.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I want dat meatball

South Boston, Virginia

My dearest Caroline,

It has not been long since I left your side, yet already my heart aches with grief.  I did so enjoy seeing your face that it made up for all the tribulations I had to overcome to see you.  Your beautiful, radiant visage and gentle contours have done a great deal to soothe my wearing mind and aching body.  I await my return to your arms with impatience and long to be held again in your warm embrace.

I am staying with General Lee's mistress, Virginia.  Beautiful though she is, she is of a stormy disposition and prone to longwindedness.  From my space here I can smell the manufacture of that hound's meal they've been sending to the front lines.  This war shall soon be over after the Yankee scourge is dealt with.  I pray that happens before Lincoln's savages are able to molest us further.

Your adoring husband,
Col. Chester Worthington, Mrs.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Lou Reed

Raleigh, North Carolina

Today was a short ride of 50+ miles that took longer and felt harder than it should have because of the stupid long ride yesterday and the late start from Fayetteville.  Central North Carolina has some hills and Raleigh is especially replete with them.  Otherwise, North Carolina is gorgeous all over.

After briefly listening to the local black university band practice, I made my way over to the place I was staying.  Initially worried by the tight trim of his facial hair and neatness of home, I really enjoy my host Haigler and his roommate.  I would come to find that they both are studying material research at NC State, a subject dealing with the chemistry and physics of metals and polymers for novel uses.

We went to a bar, Sadlacks, to get me food and have a few drinks.  We happened to walk in on free bingo night.  It's a game entirely dependent on luck and usually played in silence by large groups of Olds.  Here there was an interesting dynamic of BINGO references and friendly competition between strangers.  The crowd knew all the in-jokes for any number, of which "Oh, sixety-nine," seemed to be a crowd pleaser.  It was a clique that could be held by perfect strangers.  It was also the friendliest competition I've ever been involved in.  A Jamaican guy complimented my shirt, remarking "cool doug."

Cliques 


There's an obvious appeal to being around like minded or similarly interested people.  A group allows you to have interactions with people without having to constantly explain or qualify yourself.  Cliques are groups of people with a greater potential to be friends with one another than with random strangers.  Or maybe that's just from dialogue.  You're more open and likely to form a friendship if there is some initial dialogue between parties.

With cliques there is an obvious shared set of interests held by those within it.  It could be this similarity of views which allows the relative ease of making friends within the group.  Or it's all arbitrary.  Humans are naturally communal and tribal animals, and outside of the geographic restrictions and need for communal hunting bands, this my be how evolutionary predispositions are modernly expressed.


I express my loyalty to my tribe by the clothes I buy, the music I listen to, and the hobbies I take interest in.  What is more influential, though?  Is my wanting to belong in a certain scene the motivation for my tastes or do I relate to this group according to and because of my tastes?  It's probably both and that's a boring cop out.  I want to know if I actually enjoy these black framed glasses and tight jeans or if I enjoy them for the sake of others' perceptions of me and how that makes me feel.

Is my hesitation to take upon any views not predetermined by my clique the same mentality of the redneck who think their truck and trailer are better than anything those faggots in New York have?  Theirs is spawned from a lack of knowledge which makes it easier to defend if you claim you didn't care about it in the first place.  It might be that these Urban Outfitter catalogs play the same role.  With the camaraderie of a clique comes equal resentment of Others.  I want to say that's wrong or bad, but I'm damned comfortable in these expensive graphic tees, and I'll kill any fucker who thinks me the same as some Ed Hardy douchebag.

North Carolina Kill Count 
Baby Gator: 1
Cat: 4
Caterpillar: 1*
Deer: 1
Opossum: 6 
Owl: 1
Raccoon: 8
Skunk: 1
Small Bird: 6
Snake: 2
Squirrel: 4
Toad: 3
Turtle: 7
Unknown: 16 
Vulture: 2

*saw it, was awesome

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Rim Job Massacre

Fayetteville, North Carolina

I've been so separated from media this trip I forgot the about September 11th until today.  I'm sure I know what they played, though.  Endless visual allusions to the attack with video of before and after the attack, and only an occasional shot of the planes hitting the buildings.  Then cut to a New York firefighter, Giuliani, and gratuitous footage of George Bush walking over rubble and shots of him looking determined out a window or something.  Thanks media.

Today was the longest ride I've done this trip and will continue to be for the rest of it.  It will probably be the longest single distance I will ride, ever.  Due to some stupid turns and bad routes, today's ride was one-hundred and forty miles.  That's twelve hours of riding and double my average for a day.  Getting water, one guy in a tie and gold chain stopped me and asked outright for twenty dollars, halving the amount each time I told him no.  I nearly strangled that 5'1 fuck.

Methodist University has a shitty security guard who gets upset if you try and bypass his booth on a bike.  He takes your ID to let you on campus.  I got my ID back after hanging out with the host kids awhile, only to be kicked out of my bed because sleeping in a girl's dorm room is a travesty against God in all situations.  I woke up the next morning to the fiasco of a broken phone and my things still trapped in the dorm.  It wasn't until noon that I was able to get everything sorted out and be on the road to Raleigh.

Privacy


Not being able to sleep where I like or store my weed where I choose makes me feel violated.  Methodist University was very good at making me feel that way,

Unlike the sprawling, lenient, public universities I'm used to, Methodist University treats me to the feeling that my property can be searched at any time, a threat that feels more real than other times the ability has been claimed.  I guess there's some sort of tacit agreement between student and school, but it seems a poor compromise.  Come to our strict, religiously run school of two thousand and we'll give you a complete lack of privacy and freedom!  Maybe that kind of legislating is important to some people, but coming from a campus where I have openly been intoxicated, it seems boring and overly restrictive.  A sheltered college experience is one wasted.  Hey, Methodist, I had enough weed on your stupid fucking campus to send me to jail prison.  How's your shitty campus security working out?

Friday, September 9, 2011

Bumbaclot: A Study in Patois Dialogue

Wilmington, North Carolina


I rode through Myrtle Beach today, the last place to solidify my hatred for South Carolina.  A surrogate Daytona Beach replete with gift shops, mini-golf, and chain restaurants.  It even has its own bike week, full of the same bearded businessmen riding forty-thousand dollar Harley's acting hard, as in Florida.

I was confused as to the type of person that takes a vacation to Myrtle Beach.  Is there really that large of a population of vacuous, unmotivated people whose only desired experiences are Puddfuckers and Red Lobster?  Do the people in those commercials really exist?  There were a dozen mini-golf courses all down the same strip of U.S. 17.  Their variability ran the gamut of all possible put-put themes from volcanoes and tikis, to pirates, to live alligators, to crashed planes, to dinosaurs, to crashed planes on dinosaur island.  Every one of them with the same distinctive dull, opaque blue water required for a put-put licence.  The overwhelming corporatism of it was dumbfounding, with every sort of overpriced, crappy tourist attraction I'd ever seen along one long strip.  Planet Hollywood and Hard Rock, Wonderworks and Ripley's, Dolly Parton presents Pirates! and a large television advertising "BATS."  The sign telling me that I was entering "the most military friendly state in the nation," was the most welcoming sight thus far.

Wilmington was the longest trip at one hundred miles.  It wasn't unbearable, but I'm glad to take the next day off.  I spent the night in the middle of some heavy girl-talk that would've made me fret endlessly in high school.  I woke up the next day to an underage girl trying to discreetly bone her military boyfriend on the futon near my head.  I tried to sleep as long as I could amid the unintelligible whispers breaking the rhythm of wet kisses.  They finished whatever they were attempting and I overheard them talk about the guy on the ground.  The girl thought him funny, but wouldn't let a stranger into her house because she says she has trust issues.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Picnic Attack

Pawley's Island, South Carolina


I left Charleston, and after dealing with South Carolina's unstimulating countryside, landed in Pawley's Island.  It's a pretty area with a lot of expensive houses.  After countless pier after pier marked private, all reaching into the grassy waterway opposite the beach, I found one belonging to a house for lease and without a private posting.  Walking across was a self conscious and nerve wracking experience.  Alone on a pier in funny clothes, stepping over skinny, broken planks to reach the end and be the only person in the waterway.  I worried some overzealous neighbor would come out and lecture me on property rights, then realized there were no neighbors.  Aside from a few scattered houses, the majority of the homes were vacant, serving as an occasional summer home for some assholes who lived elsewhere and probably use words like "synergize" and "coupĂ©."


This guy is nowhere near the coast.
I went to the beach and found it unfamiliar to most of the beaches I had seen in Florida.  Houses on stilts held walkways to the beach and long jetties of rock kept the surf from eroding them into the sea.  I got a call back from Sally Waipend, wife of Lieft Child, who I had talked to about staying with.  She passed the phone to her husband, a man with staggered speech and terse tone.  He asked where I was and attempted to calculate in brief pauses the time it would take for me to ride to their house, only to give the phone back to his wife.  She politely asked what I wanted to do, whether I was tired, and if I wanted to stay at the beach for some time.  Again the phone was traded and Lieft gave me a direction to head with the suggestion to "get peddalin', man."  I met Lieft at the gas station he had designated and found an old man with white hair and a station wagon.  I got into the car and wondered how many times I would have to call him "sir" before the night's end.  On the phone I was reminded of the alpha male posturing of any father whose daughter I was trying to hang out with.  Upon meeting him, he wasn't necessarily warmer, but lacked the machismo grunting bullshit he used on the phone.  He repeatedly explained on the ride with short, cut-off sentences that trailed off midway through that his wife was a retired teacher and he used to travel to Hawaii to surf when he was my age.  He gave an audible scoff when I told him I was twenty-one.

We reached their house in the middle of a country club in Litchfield and I exchanged the typical small-talk introduction I'm constantly giving on this trip.  Sally seemed committed to being open and welcoming despite her husband's obvious view on the situation.  A young stranger was staying with two older adults in their house and without charge.  I tried to alleviate the situation by being ultra-polite.  I was raised to be exceedingly polite around adults, but only while with adults I was familiar with.  Being alone with the middle aged is not an etiquette with which I'm familiar.  Lieft gets frustrated with my constant deflection of "whatever is most convenient," and in jilted sentences, repeatedly says "we're just nice people","we're cool."  Lieft is a chef at a local restaurant and cooks filet mignon and grilled vegetables.  My steak is overly rare and Joe takes it back to recook it.  As he moves outside I noticed he didn't seem to have any balance.  He has perpetually bleeding cuts on his legs from stumbling over.  Between this and his staggered cadence, I wonder if he's had some sort of stroke without any facial paralysis.  We pray before dinner, eat, and retire to our respective rooms. Sally tells me to make myself at home.  I masturbate and trim my pubes in the bathroom.

Aging 

Death doesn't make aging scary, aging does.  Death is inevitable for anyone at anytime and more of a second thought when ruminating on growing old.  The fear towards aging is the fear of restriction and the loss of ability.  Lieft wasn't upset I was staying in his house.  He was upset that I stood as a testament to how he was and the ability he once possessed.  He can't surf again, much less walk a straight line.  His posturing might have been funny were it not so sad.

Aging is mental confinement.  The being that has existed in your form the whole of your life persists, but the body continues to whither and crumple.  Paleolithic man came to his natural end at the ripe age of thirty.  It's not wrong that we've stretched our longevity to more than double that, but it comes with the consequence of frailty.  Death is scary from the biological, evolutionarily ordained sense, but conceptually the real horror is aging.  You're trapped in a body that has declined in utility since your twenties and a mind that erodes away those fantastic Seinfeld quotes you once knew.  It's difficult to deal with the recession of one's capabilities, especially if it means I'll never keg-stand again.


South Carolina Kill Count
Armadillo: 7
Cat: 3
Deer: 1
Dog: 1
Opposum: 5
Raccoon: 8
Small Bird: 9
Snake: 4
Squirrel: 4
Turtle: 5
Unknown: 12
Vulture: 2

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Dead White Girl Storage

Charleston, Pt. 2

My last night in Charleston was easily the best for the city, but it doesn't make up for how much South Carolina sucks.  I left Ron's in the afternoon and carted around on my loaded bike until I got in contact with Adel Fish.  I went to her house where she lives with her Belgian boyfriend and another couple.  The house was covered in art but of a more refined sense of the typical "shit I got for free" sort that adorns the houses of people my age.  There's no TV in the house and after getting sufficiently baked, we sat around and talked about tiny houses and waxed poetic.

At one point they asked me to help them tear a giant sheet of paper that came with the water heater for the tiny house they were building.  I couldn't understand the purpose but they kept saying "chicken bedding."  It didn't make sense until they explained they kept their own chickens.  They're hip vegetarian kids who eat food they grow and eggs they collect from their chickens.  They're the definition of DIY and sustainability.  They'd be expected to be the most pretentious douchebags imaginable, but they were completely unjudgemental and open, with no sign of the pompousness usually shown by hardcore sustainability proponents.  I love them all very much.


Protest

I could understand the reasons behind protest, but I don't think I ever really "got it."  Protest is a way for average people and the disenfranchised to publically air their grievances to bodies which would not normally hear them.  That's how most people perceive it, but the actual motivation and results seem to be less than altruistic.

When people protest, it often becomes for the sake of protest rather than for the issue on which the protest is based.  The same becomes true for whoever the opposition is, as they focus on the protest rather than fixing the issue.  That's the point: to get the opposition to notice, but it seems like a pretty limp dick way to do it.

Protesters take up an us-and-them mentality that results in a screaming match between the two sides, and ultimately solves nothing.  It might fix the one issue in public focus, but doesn't change the underlying problems leading to it.  The hippies were impotent.  They were more caught up in having an ideology than what it focused on.  Today we have baby-boomers involved in the hippie movement that either gave up and assimilated unto common society or became the iconic aging leftist that didn't change anything, but fight the power, man!  The hippies changed nothing except protest, but ideologues in college anarchist clubs still approach it the same way.

I think the much more powerful and influential approach is what Adel and her roomates are doing: changing how they live and informing others when they ask, not by yelling at them.  It's a grass roots approach that denies an acknowledgment of the opposition's points as irrelevant, and focuses on the personally responsibility for fixing the thing you rally against.  It's communal and less boisterous, but telling someone to do something is much less influential or lasting than explaining the actions and being a template for change.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tooth Hurty

Charleston, South Carolina

Oh yeah, Charleston floods a bunch.
I'm into the swing of things with my rides now.  There's no fear I won't get to where I need to be, just a bet on when I'll arrive.  South Carolina is muggy with an unengaging coast line.  This seems odd coming from the parallel lines of Georgia pine forests, but whatever it was about Georgia, it has a more enjoyable peripheral view.  Patterns of straight pines rolling by is more interesting than the constant flat landscape of reed marshes and wide, open woods.

I got to Charleston with the knowledge that there were hostels as a last resort, keeping me from the same panic I felt entering Savannah.  I start prowling the busiest street, profiling hipsters and asking where their colony was.  I met a girl who called around and found a place for me with Ron Chalest.  Ron has toured from Oregon to San Francisco in the past and knows the deal.  Incidentally, he's roommates with a guy I requested to stay with on Couch Surfing who never responded.  I wouldn't have responded either.  My request probably had something slightly gay in it about us both having red beards, like "cool red beard, I too like cocks."

I ran into a biology professor I had at FSU in Charleston University.  When I was in school I had given him organic, squishy balls of gel from Tampa Bay to do a DNA analysis of them.  (It came back inconclusive.)  He recognized me and we talked a little bit.  Before leaving he talks about a nuclear bomb lost in the swamps of South Carolina near Charleston.  He misspeaks and says, "The world is stranger than reality."  There's not much relevance of this to anything, but the statistical probability of us running into one another is zero.  It is logically impossible what occurred.  The universe has been destroyed and reformed like three times because of this incident.

The campus here has a three to one female to male ratio.  I got a ton of looks when I was wearing my jersey with a loaded bike, all of which I'm sure were of a sexual nature and not because I look like a tool in Lycra.  Now I'm riding around in regular clothes and not getting glances.  That's why I took this trip: it's a two thousand dollar ice breaker that may or may not get me laid.  I hope these ladies are into fingerless glove tan lines.

Local Ron Paul supporter, quoth "Don't tread on me, bro"
I'm writing in the science department on campus, a single building downtown.  Touring the school I missed mine and wished I was still able to exploit the free seminars and student privileges.  Then I remembered that's a stupid idea and that I wouldn't have used that ability any more than I did.  I have a weird feeling of superiority being here.  I'm writing in a diary for fun and these kids are drawing the chemical structure of complex carbohydrates.  I want to tell these nerds to stop working because they'll never have graduated before me.  Earlier = better than.


Ownership

I don't think it exists, but I'd like to know if there's a disease where someone has no sense of ownership.  The confusion of someone who couldn't conceptualize belongings and privacy for himself or others would be awesome to see.  The oddity of it wouldn't appear when they're alone, but with others it would be an absurdly alienating issue.

The local stroke victim grafitti team kOOit and BleviR have no respect for ownership
Having no idea of ownership seems like a theoretical possibility, but why doesn't it happen in reality?  Is there no one place in the mind where ownership as a legitimate concept exists?  If not where does the idea come from?  Is it an amalgomation of other ideas arising from the needs of survival?  If I want to survive I need a conception of what food is mine, what house is mine.  I think it's less of an ideological belief than the result of a basic evolutionary need.  Sharring is nice but a nigga gotta eat.


Sunday, September 4, 2011

Fake Funk, Nasty Dunk

Beaufort, South Carolina

WE JUST REALLY LOVE TREE PULP IN THE SOUTH
One of the neat things about riding fifty to seventy miles each day are the perceptable changes in environment between each leg of the trip.  It wouldn't be impossible to see the difference in a car, but it would be diminished.  On a bike you're in the shit and have to deal with the changing humidity and temperature from place to place.  In a car you're in a little hyperbollic chamber of comfort where you rarely have to experience Road Smells.  I think that's the easiest change to notice, the smell.  Hay fields in Georgia smell different from the pine forests and the bogs and beach.  I'm not especially fond of the smell of the bogs.  Methane from anaerobic bacteria breaking down rotting marsh grass, along with the weight of humidity, impresses on you an overwhelming sense of decay.  But, when mixed with the smell of the ocean it becomes less unbearable and more familiar.  Going up the coast I encounter this more and more, and while it's still comfortable, it doesn't hold the same relaxing effects the longer you stay in it.  I need variety to break up the similarity of the coast.  I need the sporadic, tight wooded areas to keep things fresh and from getting bored.

Orlando

Go Gators!
Orlando's probably a good place to grow up.  It's not completely suburban - save Windermere - and it's not overwhelmingly urban.  It has a bunch of places to take a kid, but lacks culture.  It has a culuture, but no actual culture.  It's a series of tourists and visitors who happen to be staying for a long period, only for another tourist to fill their spot upon their inevitable move back to whatever "better" city they moved from.  No one grows connections to the city.  For Orlando residents, it's a temporary domicile where people get stuck, yet never lose the mentality of  "I wish I was in [previous city]."  When these people have kids it thrusts them into a city without any history or achievements beyond being a successful experiment in family friendly consumerism.  From this are born native Orlandians who develop their entertainment separate from the tourist economy.  They aren't loath to it, just ambivalent.  The majority of these kids become the same outward facing money-hounds as their parents.  They become the UF fans who think showing your devotion means being the loudest.  Maybe that's what this all is about, the noise.  The boisterous hoots and hollers of peers, the constant shuffling of tourists, the precisely timed fireworks.  It doesn't crush spirits, it gives headaches.

Amid evangelical churches and billboards for the newest million dollar attraction are generations of kids doing things identical to kids in every other city.  This shouldn't be seen as a banal acheivement toward some mutual mediocrity.  In spite of the restrictions of being in the cultural epicenter for projecting propaganda for the atomic family, there is a group of normal, nonterrible people who have established a place for themselves.  From this culture of corporatism and apathetic rebellion come some of my favorite people.  I'm probably not a good judge of this, though.  I'm just another person who left and and removed any connection to the city.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Six Pants None the Richer

Savannah, Georgia

The ride in to Savannah yesterday was the easiest of the four, save for all the chaffing. I don't expect it to get any hotter than it has been further along the trip. I'll be going North along the coast until North Carolina, so I reckon I'm in the clear for heat.

I arrived yesterday in a panic, not having a place to stay nor the internet to find one. I hadn't bathed since Waycross and was covered in the bodily detritus and excretions equivalent to a 150 mile ride. Smelly and anxious, I found downtown Savannah from the help of a bum and a Houseman. Looking around for skyscrapers to find the center of the city, I saw some bike kids and chased them down, asking if they knew where the hipsters hung out. They told me about the local coffee shop which is nigh indistinguishable from one in Tallahassee. From there I was able to contact the lead organizer for Savannah bike polo, Nana Vash. I've been staying with him and his roommates, all of whom are fun guys.


We went to some bar and between the other people who dressed like me, the old, rustic brickwork, and the humidity reminded me of Tallahassee. I started thinking about how much I enjoyed Tallahassee, and that if this place made me feel similar I might want to move here. Then I realized I shouldn't immediately fall in love with every city I stay in. Presumably, I'll be able to find similar experiences in other cities too. But I wonder how different they'll actually be. I'm not out of the South yet and I'm drawing conclusions about cities of which I have no knowledge.

One of Nana's friends, J, said he knew a guy who shot a two year old in the head on accident the other day and turned himself in. I guess some things do stay the same no matter where you go.

Waste

When I started thinking about waste it seemed like a legitimate concept somehow based in reality and judged by common sense. Upon any sort of reflection it's much less than that, being a wholly egocentric and instrumental concept. Regardless of intent or use, I can't think of anything that doesn't decay or fall into disuse given sufficient time. An idea of waste isn't about how much is used but how much isn't. Despite how much of a meal is eaten, it's how much of the food is left proportional to the start that defines what is waste or non-waste. Either way, if the food is eaten or thrown out, it will become non-food as a result of both, but only one is considered "waste."

It's also based on relative worth based on who makes the judgement. A half-eaten fast food meal isn't considered the same waste to a soccer mom as it is to someone in poverty, just as the opulence of the super-rich is horrifically wasteful when considered by human beings.

But waste has nothing to do with the item, beyond its perceived utility and scarcity to people. Remove everything that could judge things as waste and you remove the concept itself. The universe becomes a system of change and nothing more without anything to label one form of substance better than another. So I think I'm justified in saying, that throwing at all of my anime was a WASTE, Mom.


Georgia Kill Count
Armadillo: 10
Chicken/Crow/Other: 3
Crab?!: 1
Deer: 1
Dog: 2
Frog: 5
Hawk/Vulture: 4
Locust/Butterfly/Dragonfly/Etc.: Innumerable
Opposum: 5
Racoon: 4
Snake: 5
Skunk: 1
Unknown: 5