bukowski
Bukowski doesn’t need pants. 

Whatever you do every day, you get better at. That might be chess. It might be yoga. It’s probably watching TV and eating shit food. You can get better at being nice and you can get better at being a rage filled asshole.

I used to have a seriously bad temper that would turn on instantly. I’d see red and light up whoever was in the way with a string of sharp words and gibberish. I sounded like an erudite Yosemite Sam. I’m honestly surprised I haven’t been in more than a handful of fist fights over the years.

At a certain point I just became exhausted of it and made an effort to stop. I fail all the time and disappoint myself with phases of hostility, but the difference between me now and five years ago is significant. You can’t stop. you have to fight your devils every day and sometimes you have to bury them in pharmaceuticals till they’re weak enough to smother in a bathtub.

burroughs
If you can’t be a danger to yourself, be a danger to others like Old Bull Lee.

The thing that always makes me feel better is a writing practice. I’ve been keeping journals since I was a little kid and when I’m writing daily, life just gets easier. Job offers come in. Invitations to do hoodrat stuff with your friends roll in. People flirt. There’s nothing as attractive as a creative person doing the thing they were gifted by fate to do. That doesn’t mean fate has fame or fortune in store for you. All you can really count on is the pleasure of the process. The knowledge that you showed up to an empty page and filled it with sigils that can change the perspective of another primate is enough. Or it should be.

I’ve spoken with a few people lately who’ve all said something like, “I wish I could write everyday.” You can. All of you can. Just sit down and do it. It doesn’t matter if it’s good. This isn’t good. What you’re reading right now is bad. But it doesn’t matter because tomorrow will be better.

Mary KArr
Mary Karr is the foxiest poet I know of. 

If you want to do what I’m doing, here are the rules to my blogging practice:

  1. I have to write everyday.
  2. I have to write at least three sentences.
  3. I have to include a picture.
  4. I have to post it to the internet where people can read it.
  5. At the end of 365 days I can go to whatever schedule I want.

The first few days I had a lot of excitement and it was no problem. The second week it was a chore. After a month, it has become an obsession. Hopefully it will become an unhealthy one. It takes a certain amount of mayhem and folly to be great. If you’re not trying to be great, why not?

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chain mail
Recognize the greatness, peasants.

The Mad Max franchise introduced fashion to the apocalypse. Max himself is dressed in a rugged, distressed leather ensemble. The best dressed in the wasteland was certainly Tina Turner as Aunt Entity, the queen of Bartertown (pictured above in fetching chainmail couture).

Immortan Joe from Fury Road is a close second. Everyone loves a man in uniform. Even if that uniform is made of plastic and comes with its own iron lung and six shooters.

joe
This is the leader America truly deserves. Even if he is Australian.

The cast of the Walking Dead started off dressed in whatever they happened to be wearing at the time the shit hit the fan. Or at least the Gap version of what regular ass people in Georgia wear.

guns
Pretty much a bunch of squares.

As of the current season, it looks as if Kanye West’s end-times normcore has taken over. These guys look cool as hell now with their fancy ass boots and assault weapons. The color palette is more uniform. Everyone’s looks are cool and tailored. But it’s boring. I guess Darryl’s vest is kind of butch in a leather daddy sort of way, but where are the crazy shoulder pads and mohawks? Doesn’t anyone feel the need to paint their face with quasi-tribal makeup?

walking dead normcore
This is my all time favorite soap opera.

If I was running around with Rick & Co. there’s no way I’d do a god damned thing without head to toe leathers or something. Zombies have basic bitch human teeth, but cotton is not going to stop them from eating that ass. I know it gets hot as the devil’s taint in Georgia and all, but if I went on a run outside the walls, I’d be covered with all kinds of spikes and shit. Basically I’d rock Rob Halford’s look.

rob
Death to false metal, bitches.

Another good option for zombie protection would be one of those light chainmail diving suits. You could even go commando underneath in the summer for some extra ventilation. This thing is kind of Jaques Cousteau meets Frodo’s Mithril armor.

The $23,000 chain mail suit.
Behold. The $23,000 chain mail suit.

Speaking of Lord of the Rings, how is Michonne the only person with a sword? There have got to be at least a few people out there who looted a museum. At least one or two LARPers (that’s Live Action Role Players to you muggles) should have made it out alive. They actually have an applicable skill: bopping slow moving humans in poor health on the head.

armor
This mighty armor protects their virginity. HUZZAH!

Another totally sensible thing you never see on The Walking Dead is a bicycle. Bikes make all the sense in the world. Even when the world is at its end. They’re quiet, you can haul stuff with a trailer, they don’t need gas, and there would be millions of them lying around.

bike
This would make Critical Mass even more annoying.

Now, if we put this all together we have a strong case for armor and bicycles. What could go wrong? I mean, other than looking like a total twat.

knights-500x500
On your left, knave. 

elephant

When you’re tired, you get raw. You get sloppy. Things are harder. Your brain answers all incoming questions, “blarrrgghh. Suck it. Why you on me all the time?” If you make a habit of going without sleep, you can adapt. You can get used to it, but you will suffer. You’ll get sick. You might even put on weight.

I’ve found through trial and error that 9 hours a night is perfect for me. I usually get about 6.5 because the internet is fascinating and I’m hooked on going down weird YouTube rabbit holes like this one.

YouTube is fascinating to me because it’s a place where you can just put yourself out there, find people like yourself, and thrive. Or be destroyed.

There are response videos and epic beefs that rival the East Coast, West Coast hip-hop wars of the 1990s. Paleo vs vegan. Harley vs Triumph. Cat vs dog. It’s all there and it’s deeper and weirder than you can ever imagine. If there are aliens watching us, they are definitely judging us for this content.

yogi bed
Most of YouTube is jus a DIY home shopping network.

We’d all be better off if we went to sleep when it was dark. We’re not supposed to be up at night anyway. In olden times we’d be murdered by giant rats or hunted by nocturnal flesh craving baboons.

I need to go to sleep right now. Madness is setting in.

bed
My advice to the newlyweds.

My wife and I are still down in San Diego for our friends’ wedding. It was beautiful, light-hearted, and fun. The grooms have quite different backgrounds and many of their guests didn’t know each other. Rather than act like a bunch of weird, shitty cats, they all seemed to dive right in and become fast friends. Marriages are about joining families, and this one felt like a true fusion.

I know it’s a bit gauche with you progressives to make a big deal out of a “gay wedding” these days because, other than the gender of the couple, there’s practically no difference at all. But I’m super stoked because I’ve always wanted to go to a gay wedding. I imagined it would be fun, and it was. The only difference in the ceremony was a result of how good and kind our friends are. Their rings funded clean water wells in Haiti, and there was a brief speech about that.

If people who opposed gay marriage could see how normal and happy everyone was, only the most ignorant and insecure would find issue. The only real surprise was how much pop country music was played. I figure it’s because one of the grooms is from Canada.

The guests were lovely and well-dressed in exquisitely tailored suits or stylish dresses. The couple sitting across from us were international male models. Their suits and hair had a Mad Men vibe (but updated) and thanks to a sensible dose of cannabis edibles and the classic Southern California view from the house, it felt like I was at a wedding in the late 1960s.

I wore my favorite shoes to celebrate the possibility of patching over our Canadian friend to the number one country in the world, the good ol’ US of A. My wife has lost the war on my appearance these days and I continue to edge toward the cliff of eccentricity.

shoes
These colors don’t run. Because they have terrible arch support.

Since love is in the air, I thought I’d answer some questions about long-term relationships before I hit the random shit you folks submitted this week.

How do you know when it’s time to get married?

This is going to be different for everyone, but there are certain conditions I’d imagine anyone would want to meet before signing up for an eventual divorce. Marriage is so rad, I hate seeing dickheads throw a big ass wedding and get divorced a year later. Personally, I think if your wedding doesn’t last 12 months (for reasons other than abuse or infidelity) you should refund the cost of travel and hotels to your guests.

The first thing to answer: “do you like being around each other?” This is different than asking if you’re in love. Being in love is probably just a trick your body is playing on you with hormones. All that disgustingly satisfying animal sex you have in the first six months  will eventually cool off. If you’re happy to come home and see your partner relaxing on the couch, scratching their butt, you’re probably going to make it.

It sucks to think about money, but the number one cause of divorce is financial stress. You should have a serious talk about debt, career potential, and lifestyle goals before you even consider buying a ring. If one of you wants to vacation in Europe every year, but the other really wants to see how that whole being in a band thing will play out, there’s going to be trouble. Almost every major bit of strife in my relationship can be blamed on money. We decided to use Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover plan to get out of debt and it changed everything for us. Getting your money right allows you to really build something together and if you have kids, you need to get that shit right.

That brings me to kids. Decide if you want them and make a real plan to raise them before you get married. There are three predictors of stability in the United States: holding a job (any job), graduating high school, and not having kids before marriage. Almost everyone who checks those three boxes does ok in life.

Should I have a destination wedding?

Are you and your friends and family wealthy? If so, have at it. If not, it’s a dick move. The main reason to have a wedding someplace exotic is to weed out people from the guest list. If you plan to elope, you can go wherever the fuck you want.

Is eloping bad? 

No. It’s awesome. The average wedding costs something like $25,000. Can you imagine how fun your honeymoon would be if you dumped that amount of cash on it? A few old people might be angry you robbed them of a couple photo ops, but seriously, fuck them. Marriage is about you and your love. Plus you can get married in jeans and no one cares.

All second marriages should be done by eloping. Your friends have probably already shelled out a fortune at your first wedding ceremony and had to endure months or years of you crying about your divorce. Save us all the trouble and just get right into your happy do over without us.

RHPS-WeddingPhotoL
I saw Rocky Horror like a hundred times before I noticed Frank, Riff-Raff and Magenta in the opening wedding.

Do people even need to get married anymore? 

If you love each other and have kids, you should get hitched. If your religion has a rule where you burn in hell for putting your most sensitive monkey parts in another monkey before a witch doctor or priest says it’s ok, you should examine how gullible you are, then get married.

These days you probably don’t have to get married, but it still carries weight in society. I was very surprised to see how differently I was treated as a married man (it implies some seriousness I guess). It’s like that scene in The Departed where Alec Baldwin’s character tells Matt Damon’s character about marriage:

Marriage is an important part of getting ahead. It lets people know you’re not a homo. A married guy seems more stable. People see the ring, they think ‘at least somebody can stand the son of a bitch.’ Ladies see the ring, they know immediately that you must have some cash, and your cock must work.

Even little interactions like checking in at a hotel or asking your doctor if Oxycontin is right for you are a little different after you’re married. You might not care about an oppressive financial arrangement from an ancient culture, but other people do.

anchor

San Diego is one of my favorite cities. It’s warm, it’s clean, and they park cool looking battleships in the water. The first time I came here I was driving from San Francisco to Cabo San Lucas on a Vespa.

I was with three other guys and we stayed at one of their friend’s houses. The hosts were Straight Edge guys and they ran some kind of skateboard company out of their house. If I remember correctly, they were all vegetarians. It was kind of a live work commune, which seemed like a cool way to live.

My wife used to come down here to work during her energy drink peddling days. I think I’ve been down at least twice for that. Once we actually got a few hours at the San Diego Zoo. Normally the idea of caging up a bunch of wild animals seems sad to me, but this zoo is badass and huge, like this monkey.

monkey
Collar popped, bitches.

I’d never seen Galapagos tortoises before that day. Those cold-blooded little bastards are about as cool as it gets. They look like dinosaurs that decided to turn themselves into football helmets for bigger dinosaurs. A weird little thing they don’t teach you in high school is that they hiss loudly when they’re trying to have sex, like vampires from True Blood. 

One of my favorite trips down here was back in around 2006 when I came to run the Camp Pendleton Mud Run with a bunch of people from Crossfit Oakland. This was in the early days of Crossfit and the training wasn’t nearly as dialed in as it is now. The Mud Run used to be pretty tame back then, too. The average Tough Mudder looks to be way more challenging and painful.

We completely overtrained for things like jumping obstacles and climbing walls, but did zero running. In hindsight, this wasn’t such a terrible strategy, our team finished pretty well, but it made me start to re-consider the value in sport specific training. A few years later, Crossfit Endurance emerged, showing that at least a little bit of running is helpful.

hulk
9000/lb deadlift. 14:30/mile marathon pace

Anyway, I’m going to cut this one short as I’m headed to a wedding in a couple of hours and I have to go shopping because I forgot to pack the clothes I was going to wear (I do have my sweet camo sweatpants, though). Our friends are finally getting hitched and I finally get to attend a gay wedding. Hopefully there will be some gay hymns.

I actually really love weddings. Being married has been such a great part of my life and I totally cheer for people getting hitched. The world is hard and cold and it helps to go through it with someone you like and can depend on.

wedding
Dearly departed, we are gathered…

 

 

Hank

The best era of country music was the gangster ass, Outlaw Country of the late 1960s to early 1980s.  It was a time for cocaine and all white Nudie suits. Oceans of Budweiser  and Jack Daniels mixed with trucker speed in the stomachs of the greatest Southern musical heroes of our time. These were the decadent decades of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, and of course, Hank Williams Jr.

If you’re one of these post-hipster quasi-rockabilly types you might only be familiar with Johnny Cash. That’s ok, he was the man, but you should also get on your lame Spotify or Pandora app and discover the work of the other all time greats.

Cash and Willie Nelson are probably the biggest mainstream successes. David Allen Coe rocked the underground with a raw sound, producing big hits like “Take this Job and Shove It” (later recorded by Johnny Paycheck and then The Dead Kennedys).

Coe’s Underground Album is perhaps the most controversial country album ever recorded. Neil Strauss, author of the best rock biography of all time, The Dirt (about Motley Crue), wrote an article about Coe calling the effort, “among the most racist, misogynist, homophobic and obscene songs recorded by a popular songwriter.” Having listened to it myself, it would be hard to dispute those claims, though Coe claims it was written in prison for his fellow inmates, and that both black and white prisoners liked the album because they “got the jokes.”

I don’t think that qualifies him for a racial pardon, but I do believe intent and context matters. There were some bits on The Chapelle Show you might consider racially insensitive, however, it’s explicitly a comedy show and you get you’re supposed to laugh. I’d be willing to bet my dog that even if Coe’s prison buddies thought the album was hilarious, there are at least a few peckerwoods out there who take it 100% seriously. And that certainly has to be considered.

racist
Easily one of the weirdest album covers ever.

One of my favorite songs from the outlaw country cannon is Hank Williams Jr.’s A Country Boy Can Survive. This song came out in 1982, at the end of the outlaw sound, when things started walking back towards slick production and family friendly themes. The song basically exposits a dystopian view of city life while affirming the capability of skill-sets used by people raised in the country (anywhere from Alabama to Northern California).

Lyrically, the song is just a list of all the shit that helps Daryl Dixon survive on The Walking Dead. This got me thinking if the world actually dips into some kind of Trumpocalypse or post-nuclear war situation, the country people described in his song would actually be fairly well insulated against annihilation, especially compared to urban cubicle dwellers like myself.

trump-apocalypse
Y’all are fucked.

For a couple of years now I’ve kind around the idea of writing a book about learning all the skills from the song. I’ call it A Country Boy Can Survive: Essential Lessons for Surviving the End Times. It would be one of those experiential journalism books where the author is a fish out of water and learns about life and such by mastering something or embedding with an outsider group.

Just looking at the lyrics of the song gives me an idea for chapters and layout. I figure this book would take about 18 months to research and write. Let’s walk the idea out a bit by going through the lyrics:

The preacher man says it’s the end of time
And the Mississippi River she’s a goin’ dry
The interest is up and the Stock Markets down
And you only get mugged
If you go down town

This intro seems to be a fairly reasonable assessment of  American modernity. In the opening of the book, I would describe my own living situation and survivalist urges, plus survey some of the more likely scenarios that could bring about civil disruption (defined as no more hot water from my shower head).

I live back in the woods, you see
A woman and the kids, and the dogs and me
I got a shotgun rifle and a 4-wheel drive
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

Two of the key skills I’d be learning are the handling of firearms and the use of off-road vehicles. I have a bit of experience with both, but for the book I would like to get some 3- Gun training like Keanu Reeves and take a cheap 4×4 truck, or one of my beloved Volvo wagons, to an off road course.

I can plow a field all day long
I can catch catfish from dusk till dawn
We make our own whiskey and our own smoke too
Ain’t too many things these ole boys can’t do

This is the agricultural section. Plowing a field all day long could be done on any number of farms in Norcal. For catching catfish, I’d head back home to New Orleans and try to find someone to take me catfish hand fishing (AKA Noodling). There are plenty of home-brew nerds in the Bay Area, so I imagine learning to distill whiskey wouldn’t be impossible. I don’t drink, so I think I’d go light on this one, or perhaps see if the folks at Hanger One would let me intern for a bit.

I’m going to just assume “smoke” means weed. I doubt finding someone to teach me to grow the magic herb is going to be a problem.

We grow good ole tomatoes and homemade wine
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

More farm life. The guys I’d ask about weed also grow tomatoes, so that’s taken care of. My sister in-law has made wine, but Napa is just across the Bay, so I’m sure that’s not going to be too hard to figure out.

Because you can’t starve us out
And you cant makes us run
Cuz we’re them old boys raised on shotgun
And we say grace and we say Ma’am
And if you ain’t into that we don’t give a damn

I interpret “can’t starve us out” to mean food storage, and that means preserves and charcuterie. I’ll check in with some old farmers marker cronies for the preserves. The charcuterie is definitely going to involve some conversations with John and Analiesa from Clove & Hoof.

We came from the West Virginia coalmines
And the Rocky Mountains and the and the western skies
And we can skin a buck; we can run a trout line
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

This will likely be the most controversial area of exploration. Skinning a buck will probably  involve shooting a buck, which my half-vegetarian ass might not be too down with. I could have an “out” just skinning the buck after someone else shoots it, but that seems counter to the spirit of this thing. I believe running trout lines might be disallowed by the Fish & Game people, but I think this could be substituted with a single line if necessary.

I had a good friend in New York City
He never called me by my name, just hillbilly
My grandpa taught me how to live off the land
And his taught him to be a businessman
He used to send me pictures of the Broadway nights
And I’d send him some homemade wine

But he was killed by a man with a switchblade knife
For 43 dollars my friend lost his life
Id love to spit some beechnut in that dudes eyes
And shoot him with my old 45
Cause a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

These sections don’t really require much beyond developing skills with and old .45. I prefer Glocks, but I think a Colt 1911 is the most thematically sound pistol to choose here. They’re also a little fussier and more interesting to learn my way around.

Cause you can’t starve us out and you can’t make us run
Cuz we’re them old boys raised on shotgun
And we say grace and we say Ma’am
And if you ain’t into that we don’t give a damn

We’re from North California and south Alabam
And little towns all around this land
And we can skin a buck; we can run a trot-line
And a country boy can survive
Country folks can survive

The song is pretty much wrapped up at this point, but if a person knew how to do all that stuff and lived in a neighborly rural area, they would have a much higher chance of surviving any zombie apocalypse.

There’s actually a pretty good sized audience for a book like this: prepper/tactical nerds, country music fans, liberals who want to read about how fucked up rednecks are, rednecks who want to read how awesome rednecks are, etc.

All I need now is a book deal, a few guns, a truck, and a fishing pole.

you_may_be_high

burbs1

I love the smell of fresh cut grass. I have an obsession with high performance station wagons. Living in a house with a garage is a bucket list item I’m desperate to fulfill. All of my fondest memories as a child involve rolling around manicured cul de sacs with a pack of kids on bikes, like something out of The Goonies.

These are not urban longings. They are the desires of The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit. The cleanliness and order of a planned community offers assurance against all the mewling horror and social entropy of the world as it is. It offers some possibility of control. This is an illusion.

burbs
Even in the burbs, survival is not guaranteed.

After living in San Francisco for fifteen years, you begin to wish for all the things you took for granted growing up. Affordable, predictable restaurants. Parking spaces in front of your home free of meter maid surveillance. An extra room.

We have these things now in West Oakland. It’s not the suburbs. There’s grass, but it’s full of dog shit and broken glass. For every cool mural, there are a thousand shitty tags. For weeks a burnt tire has leaned against a tree outside our gate. I should probably move it, but it seems to fit.

I’ll say this about West Oakland. The people are surprisingly friendly. I know more of my neighbors (including the tent and RV folks) after two months than I did in years of holding on to San Francisco. And for some reason, there are Volvo 4WD wagons all over this place.

suburbia
This view of Suburbia is closer to my current reality.

Even if we did find a nice little  craftsman in an inland city, it wouldn’t matter. The lifestyle that came along with the suburban home is a thing of the past. You and your partner are going to have to work. Full time. If you have kids, they’ll be raised by a nanny. You will be in fear of losing your job at all times. This fear becomes terror when you look at the interest sheet on your mortgage.

If you want to escape this, you’ll have to be excellent. It doesn’t matter what it is. Somewhere there’s a pool cleaner crushing it. He’s going to be fine. That marketing guy with the degree in communications who’s been coasting on buzzwords and Fast Company CliffsNotes? He’s fucked. Instagram dropping chronology just turned his world upside down.

I’d give almost anything to count on a pension and be able to come home to a 2 bedroom with a garage and a pool each night. That’s not the world we live in. We get shared workspaces and ISIS.

office space
Who even knows anymore?