Category Archives: words

walking the amazon.

Walking the Amazon website – Ed Stafford’s blog
Walking the Amazon Twitter – Ed & Cho’s tweets
“Must like snakes…” – UK Guardian article on Ed’s journey

I don’t really want to bother with the backstory, I trust you have the capacity to flesh out the details for yourself given the links posted above.

But I do want to talk about what Ed Stafford is doing.  To me, there is something incredibly profound about this quest.  Something exciting, exhilarating-by-proxy.  I wasn’t sure what it was at first, what so interested me in Stafford’s great adventure.  The more I read his blog updates – I’ve been glued to this for a few months now – and checked out some of the pictures and videos he has posted, it hit me…

It’s the synthesis of bare-bones backpacking and the iGeneration.  The intersection of the primitive and the progressive.  The concept that these opposing ends of the technological spectrum can not just simply co-exist, but fuse together in such a way that through our laptops and our iPhones, we can journey with Stafford and see parts of the world we could otherwise never dream of seeing.

That idea fascinates me.  Here is Stafford, starved and straining every muscle in his body to hack through razorgrass and drag his swollen feet through miles of floodwater and marsh, offering updates through a solar-powered laptop.  Placing calls via satellite phone.  Offering the world to us, provided he’s found an opening in the Amazon canopy.  So while we can marvel at this contemporary man-versus-wild story playing out in blogged or tweeted chapters, we can marvel at this story because of the technology that would seem so diametrically-opposed to the world which our hero inhabits.  Thing is, though, the more involved we become in his journey, the more vicarious it becomes…the more we realize that perhaps there is a cohesion of iPods and machetes, jungle rafts and laptops.

Beyond that thought, it’s just an incredible story.  Something about it makes you feel so inferior in terms of your own life story.  I have cousins who have stood on the Great Wall and scaled Welsh castles, friends who have been arrested in foreign countries…and I’ve never been west of St. Louis.  My New York story was bracing myself against the bitter chill of an Atlantic wind on the observation deck of the Empire State Building, seeking refuge in the sea of plastic green statues and Times Square-centered postcards in the gift shop adjacent.  My Great Wall sat in the back of Climb Time.  And the closest I’ve ever come to razorgrass was an unfortunate detour through a field of stinging nettle on a Brown County mountain biking trip, ticks more menace than pit vipers.

Reading Stafford’s story, you tend to ask – could YOU do it?  Conquer the wild?  Achieve this great sense of spiritual accomplishment, this sense that you’ve passed through the jaws of the uncaring natural world and emerged stronger for it?  I don’t know.  Personally, I tend to doubt it.  I hate spiders.  I’m allergic to mosquitoes.  The longest hike I’ve ever participated in only claimed three or four hours of my life.  Yet every time I check Stafford’s site, I feel inspired to…I don’t know…DO something?  If nothing else, to claim I did.

But then I remember that I can blog from the comfort of a black leather couch, too.

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so you want to be a writer?

bukowski
kings of convenience – the weight of my words (four tet remix)

if it doesn’t come bursting out of you
in spite of everything,
don’t do it.
unless it comes unasked out of your
heart and your mind and your mouth
and your gut,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit for hours
staring at your computer screen
or hunched over your
typewriter
searching for words,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it for money or
fame,
don’t do it.
if you’re doing it because you want
women in your bed,
don’t do it.
if you have to sit there and
rewrite it again and again,
don’t do it.
if it’s hard work just thinking about doing it,
don’t do it.
if you’re trying to write like somebody
else,
forget about it.

if you have to wait for it to roar out of
you,
then wait patiently.
if it never does roar out of you,
do something else.

if you first have to read it to your wife
or your girlfriend or your boyfriend
or your parents or to anybody at all,
you’re not ready.

don’t be like so many writers,
don’t be like so many thousands of
people who call themselves writers,
don’t be dull and boring and
pretentious, don’t be consumed with self-
love.
the libraries of the world have
yawned themselves to
sleep
over your kind.
don’t add to that.
don’t do it.
unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.

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the fitness situation

the situation

a lot of people ask me, Marc, what do you listen to in the gym to help you get so jacked and tan?? i like to bump 90s grunge, hip hop and especially love dj mixes of all these genres. these multipurpose dj mixes are usually released free online and they’re great to get drunk to or to work out/run to

here’s volume 3 of the Super 7 series. music speaks for itself. crank this on your treadmill and set the incline
Super 7 Volume 3

with everyone wanting to be their best for spring break/the new year, I’ve compiled more work out advice after the jump (i’ve always wanted to say and try that phrase)

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today is the first day of the rest of your life

crosssssfiiiireeee

WE’RE ON TO THE NEXT ONE. AFTER THE LONGEST “HIGHATUS” YET, THE JUNKFOOD IS SET TO RECLAIM THE INTERNET BLOGGING THRONE WITH HIGH QUALITY VARIABLE BITRATE MP3 DOWNLOADS OF MODERN MUSIC AND OCCASIONAL FILM BANTER AND THINGS OF THAT NATURE, STILTED WITH THE OFT-OCCASIONAL GRATUITOUS MEGAN FOX JPEG IMAGES FOR YOU AND YOUR COUSINS’ DESKTOPS AND “CONSUMPTION” or whatever.

I’VE BEEN THINKING IT’S TIME TO LEGITIMIZE THIS BLOG ONCE MORE AND ESTABLISH IT SOMEWHERE AMONGST THE HIGHEST REGARDED IN THE VAST, EVER-EXPANDING BLOGOSPHERE. MAYBE NOT A STEREOGUM OR A GORILLA VS. BEAR OR EVEN A KANYE UNIVERSECITY, BUT PERHAPS WITH A FEW YEARS TIME I COULD GET A DISCOUNTED RATE ON COACHELLA TICKETS (ROTHBURY CANCELLED WTF!).

HAVING BEEN EXTREMELY LAZY AND LISTENING TO ALL THIS GREAT MUSIC AND THINKING ALL THESE POTENTIALLY NOTEWORTHY RAMBLING THOUGHTS TO MYSELF AND NOT SHARING ANY OF IT IS PRETTY SELFISH OF ME. AND PEOPLE HAVE LINED UP TO SQUINT AT MY PRINT ON PIECES OF PAPER AND COMPUTER/SMARTPHONE SCREENS IN THE PAST. THEY KEEP MAKING VAMPIRE MOVIES AND TV SHOWS. ANDY MILANOKIS IS A 33-YEAR-OLD DUDE WHO RECORDED VIDEOS OF HIMSELF FREESTYLING AND HE HAD HIS OWN TV SHOW AND WAS IN A COUPLE OF B MOVIES. I’M IN THE LAB ON THE T-PAIN APP EVERY SINGLE DAY JUST RECORDING BANGERS. LET ME GET MY SHINE SON!

IT DOESN’T REALLY TAKE ALL THAT MUCH TIME TO DO THIS AND I HAVE SO MUCH TO SHARE EVERY DAY. EVERYONE KNOWS WHAT YOU DO ON THE INTERNET WILL OUTLAST YOU ON THIS EARTH. LIKE FARMVILLE

SO MANY HOMEYS HIT ME UP ALL THE TIME FOR MIXES OR CD’S OR DAVE CHAPPELLE’S “RHYME OF THE AGES” TUPAC IMPERSONATION. AND I DON’T EVEN HAVE VERY MANY FRIENDS IN REAL UNPLUGGED LIFE THAT LISTEN TO SIGUR ROS OR EVEN VAMPIRE WEEKEND. I JUST MOSTLY DIG MUSIC AND HOW IT CAN AFFECT YOUR OUTLOOK AND I LIKE LOTS OF OTHER COOL THINGS THAT I THINK OTHER PEOPLE WOULD BE BETTER FOR LIKING, SO THAT BEING SAID LET’S DANCE

AND EXPECT REASONS TO CHECK THIS DOMAIN DAILY. DO REMEMBER! CLUE CLUE

MJF

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the coup.

I guess it’s only fitting that I stumble across some accessible material from the Oaktown-based rap/funk duo on 9/11.

If you don’t know the story, Boots Riley and DJ Pam the Funktress had created the above album cover for their 2001 album Party Music.  It was scheduled to be released shortly after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.  All artwork was done prior to the attacks, it just turned out to be an eerie coincidence.  Of course, the album was delayed due to fear of doing anything remote anti-American in the time immediately following 9/11, and consequentially suffered poor sales.

Anyway, most recently they put out Pick a Bigger Weapon and got some help from MCs like Black Thought and Talib Kweli.  Always nice company.  Here’s a sampling from the album.

The Coup – My Favorite Mutiny (feat. Black Thought and Talib Kweli)
The Coup – We Are the Ones

Thoughts on 9/11 after the jump.

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thoughts on michael jackson.

First I have to say, it’s beyond creepy that I write an entry in which I profess my great admiration for Michael Jackson’s work, and then five days later he dies.

Weird.

But that’s Michael Jackson.  The enigma.  Strangeness personified.

I’m feeling pretty conflicted about all of this.  And before I talk about MJ, I have to say that it’s unfortunate and uncomfortable that Farah Fawcett died on the same day.  You hate to make the joke, but she picked the wrong day to die.  Not that this message will in any way make it to her friends and families, but condolences – that was one brave woman who just left this Earth.  I hope I have that kind of courage when I meet my end.

Back to MJ, though…I am feeling conflicted.  I wrote this on 5/20, on an entry listing the 10 most influential songs of my childhood (#1 of which was MJ’s “They Don’t Care About Us”):

Michael Jackson was hands-down the defining artist of what I consider my childhood.  Resisting urge to make joke.  Hey, how could we know how he’d turn out?  Still, I try to separate the present day tabloid magnet Michael from the Michael who made incredible music.  And he did make incredible music.  I think that fact gets drowned out by all the unfortunate crazy shit he’s done in his washed-up years.  Some of the stuff Michael put out there…well, without it, we wouldn’t have some of the stuff we have today (for better or worse.)

And my thinking then was: wow, what a great artist.  What an influential arist.  To not only create as many possibilities for music out of his own career, but to create so many possibilities for future generations of musicians.  To do what he did – the complete package – singing, dancing, writing…performing.  And to do it to the degree of perfection that he did.

All those things, and all that stood witness to them were the tabloids.  That’s what I thought then, as recently as 5/20.  I thought that it was a shame such a supremely talented individual would go down in history as pedophile and not the star that he was.

But now I’m not so sure.

First – I have to wonder where all this MJ was before.  Everyone just made MJ jokes all the fine.  And that’s fine and all, but what, were they closeted MJ fans?  Did no one want to admit it?  One of my best friends and I have been bumping MJ our whole lives, even at IU.  I’ve always admitted to being a huge fan, even with the controversy associated with the man.  Where was everyone else – who apparently were also huge fans – during the controversial years?  They weren’t parading their fandom.

It just feels kinda bandwagon-y to me, that suddenly everyone is such an MJ fan.  But whatever.  What doesn’t feel bandwagon-y these days?

What’s interesting to me, today at least, in light of his death, is that I think the media coverage has actually been too lenient.  Everyone wants to remember MJ for the star he was.  Which is exactly what I was hoping for on 5/20.  But I don’t feel that way anymore.  For some reason, now that all this has happened, I feel differently.

I think an interesting and important read is the 5-page sworn declaration of an alleged 12-year-old victim of MJ’s molestation, found over at The Smoking Gun.

And let’s face it – MJ did it.  He’s guilty as hell.  If not here, then somewhere along the line of sharing beds with pre-pubescent boys and getting them drunk off Jesus Juice.  He’s the OJ of the kid-diddling crowd, except instead of an incompetent jury and judicial process, there were just a ton of bank notes exchanged between MJ and the offended parties.

(An old favorite scenario we brought up at IU was always: come on, wouldn’t you let MJ fondle you if you knew you could score a couple million outta the deal?)

Another tangent entirely is how selfish it is that most of these kids’ parents effectively sold out and settled these cases out of court, if only because it just enabled MJ to keep doing it.  Which fueled the downward spiral that ended with his death at 50 years old.  But that’s another tangent entirely, so I’ll try to avoid the discussion of parental responsibility.

What I’m thinking today is that MJ was probably a bad dude.  He did some good things with his fame and his fortune.  He made great art.  But he also did some really bad things, things that can and almost always do scar a kid for life.  I don’t think we should “overlook” that in his death.  I know I said something different as recently as the last entry.  But I don’t think we should just forget his transgressions due to this notion that, because he is now dead, we should only perpetuate “honorable” memories.

MJ was a very complicated person, and in the end, that was his undoing.  I don’t know what the autopsy is going to reveal, but I think there’s a fairly clear culrpit – stress.  The man was weakend to the point of nearly dropping below 100 pounds.  He’s lost most of his worth in the past few years and spent the last decade in various court rooms trying to convince the world he didn’t have his hands down any young boy’s pants.  He’s had a love-hate relationship with his family and a hide-and-seek relationship with the media.  More than anything?  He suffered the same fate as Elvis in that everyone lined up asking him to line their pockets.  I think all those things, compounded by his strenuous effort to prepare for a comeback concert in London, just crippled him.  And he died, as mysteriously as he lived.

He died one of the greatest musicians of all time.

But he died with his bad side, too.  And after hearing about how great he was for the past few hours, I’m now thinking that it’s important that we remember his dark side too.

If nothing else, as a cautionary tale.

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hail on earth.

This probably would have been a more appropriate entry last night, but I fell asleep shortly after 8pm.  I’m more restless tonight.  So here it is.

The last seven days, so far, have produced two of the scariest driving experiences of my life.  The first, which isn’t the focal point of this post, was last Thursday.  I was driving back from Broad Ripple around 3:30am, speeding up from Binford to get on northbound I-69.  As I was doing this, a black man wearing black clothes darted out maybe 30 yards in front of me.  I slammed on my brakes and veered into the right lane, not even thinking if there was traffic there – thankfully there wasn’t given the time of night – but solely focused on avoiding hitting this man.  I watched in a stupor as I passed him, as he stood by another man next to a car on the side of the highway, large bag over his shoulder.  No idea what that was about, but Christ…if I hadn’t taken a wrong turn earlier that night, if I had left sooner etc etc, I would have surely killed this man.  I mean, who runs across an interstate, right?  Especially with oncoming traffic.  I realize I mentioned this incident in a previous entry (“Designated Driver Blues”), but over the past few days it’s really dawned on me how a certain series of events led me to arrive at the interstate at just the right time to avoid him.  It could have been different, though.  And I could have hit him.

So there’s that event, and as if that wasn’t enough, I had to take to the roads Tuesday late afternoon.  Well, at least this time, my dad was driving.

The object was to do what every red-blooded American does: visit the local library to check out DVDs, not books.  As we were leaving, I pointed toward the sky just slightly southwest of our house, which looked incredibly nasty.  Now, I’m no meteorologist (though I’m sure my forecasts are just as accurate.)  But near-black is a bad color for sky, right?  My dad, however, assured me that the storm would stay south of here, so we took off.

I remember the exact moment when we realized the decision to leave the house was a bad one.  We were stuck on a bridge over the interstate, suburban rush hour and all.  Not moving, just waiting for everyone to spill out of the adjacent office park.  And we’re looking down the interstate during this long span of sitting in traffic, and you can see it.  It’s like a wall.  Like a tidal wave.  Just coming down the interstate.  One minute, the horizon is blurred and obscures so many cars.  The next minute, so many more cars are blurred, out of sight.  It reminds me of a hallway at night, in a building where lights are automated and motion-sensitive.  Gradually, they just begin to turn off in the distance, leaving behind a trail of darkness.  That’s what this was like.

As we’re sitting there, we start to hear what sound like remarkably fat raindrops landing on the car roof (not related to any bastard child of Tay Zonday and Bowfinger.)  Figuring nothing but trouble resides in those stormclouds, we cut off this road and peel back around the interstate, attempting to do something that nobody ever really manages to do in these situations: beat the storm.  I can “beat the storm” walking my dog before it hits.  I can “beat the storm” mowing the lawn before it hits.  But every time I’m stuck in traffic?  I never beat the storm.  That trend continued here.  And the storm even worsened.

Because then came the hail.  And it was bad.  I’ve been in hailstorms before.  They’re nasty, but they usually pass quickly, and the hail is usually of a fairly insignificant size.  Not this hail.  It ranged from golfball-to-baseball sized.  I don’t think you can really convey how frightening that is while driving.  First off, you’re certainly worrying about whether or not it’s doing damage to your car.  But more than that, there’s the immediate safety risk of the hail creating a visibility nightmare – try driving with this stuff pelting your windshield with more frequency than the rain, and yes, I’m convinced there was actually more hail than rain for a majority of this.  And the lingering fear that the stuff is going to actually break through your windows, shower you with glass and start pelting you.  So I looked frantically out of the side for some kind of shelter, a gas station or storefront or whatever, but everyone else had the same idea and there simply was no room.  We pulled off the main road and weaved back through the municipal complex, going back to the library parking lot.  Everyone had managed to cram under the overhang there as well.

Figuring there was nothing more he could do, my dad parked between two vans and we just waited it out in the car.  And that hail…I can’t really describe, with any justice, the velocity at which it was coming down.  It was tearing limbs off trees.  It was just smashing against all the parked cars.  Just scary as hell, I found myself shielding my face in case any of the windows were going to give.  And my dad and I thought, surely, if the hail was this bad and if the wind was whipping the debris around this bad, a tornado was going to follow.  We kept looking around for a funnel cloud but found none.  Which is sort of odd, because you only really ever see that intensity of hail when associated with a storm that produces tornadoes.

Anyway, it turns out we got lucky.  The part of town we were in mostly “just” got two-inch, golfball-sized hail.  Just up the road from where we were, there was baseball-sized hail.  Hail that shattered storefront windows and turned neighborhoods into the visual equivalents of warzones.

(If there was a positive from that, though, it’s that it severely crippled my former place of work, destroying most of their inventory, so that twister I’ve been hoping for that puts them out of business should be just around the corner.)

So, yeah, the experience was pretty terrifying.  There was a point in time where I was just certain the window was going to give.  Luckily it did not, and the car remained largely intact.  Saturn might be dismantling due to GM bankruptcy, but damn, their cars could survive WWIII.  That’s a good thing.

I guess that does it as far as my (interesting?) story.  Today I cleaned out three mouse nests in the frigid rain.  It almost made me long for the hailstorm.

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