“There was only one road back to L.A. US Interstate 15, just a flat-outhigh speed burn through Baker and Barstow and Berdoo, then on to theHollywood Freeway straight into frantic oblivion: safety, obscurity, justanother freak in the Freak Kingdom” .- Fear and Loathing
Hiya everyone :)
22.18gmt, my uncle dave’s house, south London, my flight leaves in 8 hoursso going to make this as short and sweet as a miles davis solo when he wasin a bad mood. The last couple of days have been a jet lagged daze ofchasing after bits of paper around the capital- letter of endorsement fromSOAS for my research (failed on that one), lawyer documents for the twins, yellow fever certificates, you name it, I had to sweat to get it. But everything is pretty much lined up now; I even have a bumbag. I realise I missed England now I am back- the non-fancy number plates, the sophisticated advertising, steak bakes, interesting architecture, thinroads, mmmm its good to be home, even though I CAN’T SMOKE IN PUBS! Can there not be a smoking room in a pub that staff don’t have to go in, or could be paid a little more to work in? I would work in one. Perhaps the future is squat gigs and illegal bars.
The highlight of the 2.5 days Ihave been here though was seeing Samuthka, the sharpest former-marxist inthe northern hemisphere, we last saw each other almost 2 years to the dayin Pune, India, at a pretty bullshit ‘young people change the world’conference, we stayed up all night being righteous and the last thing shesaid to me was something like ‘when you get to my age you will have givenup your ideals and anger too’ and I was like ‘no fucking way!’, and Ithink we were kind of both right, I think I am less about fighting now andmore about building out of the (ever growing) cracks in the system thesedays, cos the bubble that capitalism works within now cannot survive theharsh wind of DWINDLING NATURAL RESOURCES and when the average man whocares about his family can no longer be persuaded that capitalism islooking out for him, then he will need an alternative, and there needs tobe a good one in place, or at least a good way by which each individualcan realise his own alternative and the necessity for direct human solidarity, and that is where our energies can be best used I believe.Capitalism will destroy itself, we just need to have some sort of glue toput the pieces back together in a less headfuck way. But I digress, shecooked me a fat south Indian meal with her grandma’s special spice mix andthen there was no need to argue anymore. But yeah isn’t it cool when youthink your never going to see someone ever again and then you do? Bonanza.
So remember the last blog? I was just about to go to Vegas. Well I did andit was actually really amazing! As rich said, it’s a Disneyland for therich adult, the best food, the best ways to spend money and make money,(allegedly) the hottest and most dirty women, the best drinks, a hot tubin my room, the best entertainment, we went to see ‘Zumanity’, a kind oferotic cabaret with, amongst other things, two girls in a giant fishbowlbeing nymph like, crazy acrobatic silk things and the spectacle of tworandom members of the audience on stage being tested to see how liberatedthey were, very very funny. And wow the most juicy steak I have ever hadin my life, bloody hell that thing was amazing, I still dream of it. Ilost all my gambling money, even though I was doing quite well for awhile, but hey, what do you expect. Vegas is really mental though, eachcasino has a theme, one, themed on Venice has a canal system in it,another a roller coaster in it, another a lake with a pirate ship… smooth
Then boom back to San Fransisco, an Mbira lesson and words of advice aboutUganda in Berkeley, then Santa Cruz, I was itching to get on the road andit rained and I had no money, pretty tedious couple of days punctuatedonly by a final naked swim in the sea with the Duffman, but then thumb outsouth with Nick and by evening we are in Big Sur, ‘the greatest meetingof land and sea’, just in time for an outdoor Open Mic at the Henry Millerlibrary (H Miller was another writer of the beat generation who wasostracised even amongst his own peers for being too sexual) with the bigsur locals, a lovely night full of fairy lights and faeries (and faerywannabies), I played Mbira and it went well even though I was drunk;forgetting the words isn’t so bad when they are in a language that you are99% sure no one in the audience speaks, ended up camping in the forestwith a guy who had open mic’d NWA’s fuck the police on acoustic guitar :).Next day me and nick went to a beaut beach and read Steinbeck’s TravelsWith Charley (Charley was his dog) aloud to each other and then hitchedback on (not in) the boot of someones car! Now that was fun.
And me andnick said goodbye and now the sign I found back in april could be usedproperly
first car that drove passed me picked me up, an Isreali couple who livedon a Kibbutz, all the way to San Simeone. I was meant to be meeting withJono that night but the sun set (there is no way you can get a ride whenit is dark) but not to worry! By the last light of the setting sun Iwalked back up the coast and found a beach that the town looked over, butwith a perfectly sized and positioned log so I could sleep right up nextto it and be invisible to the road and the town. I drank the beer nick hadsent with me and revelled in my solitude. Travelling with someone isreally nice, but there is nothing like just having noone to answer to orrely on or entertain but yourself (and the birds), just walking with thewaves eddying around your feet, doing a little dance, smoking a wholespliff to yourself, singing to the seagulls, reading your book, stashingyour stuff, climbing a rock, its like a constant silent scream of joy justexisting in situations like that. I was in a completely arbitrary place,meeting completely arbitrary people, and I could not exist to all extentsand purposes, and when you might not exist you can do ANYTHING YOU WANT.
So quite a lot of people have been asking me about the practicalities ofit, so please indulge me whilst I pretend to know all the answers, youneed:
A strong bag
Bread and cheese or similar basic but filling foods, I like bread andcheese because I love cheese and a loaf of bread and a block of cheeselasts a day and a bit for me, which is perfect.
Something to readA
And that’s it really. Honest. Perhaps I knife if you are in hostileterritory (or pepper spray, but I don’t carry either). People have hadthat for hundreds, if not thousands of years, generally if you are in abeautiful place that is enough mind stimulation, and whoever picks you upgenerally talks quite a lot, and is interested and a nice person(otherwise they wouldn’t have picked you up in the first place) and incali I never waited more than about an hour for a ride, maybe 2 hours onceor twice, but generally about 20 mins, and each car on the horizon is ahope, so you don’t really get bored, and the feeling when a car pulls overis really one of the best. Thing is, like alida, if you put yourself outand are relying on the human spirit there people just go out of their wayto help you precisely BECAUSE you have put yourelf out there. Everyonewants to live in a world where there is no fear and people help eachother, but is just the fucking daily mail and rich security companies thatturns neighbours into strangers. I look in the eyes of so many people Imeet and they have the same lust for travel that I am quenching, and it isjust like JUST DO IT! You don’t need to buy your entertainment, there is awhole fucking planet of it and your very own feet can take you there!
ButI also take
Mbira, Penny whistle
Sewing kit, camera
Spare shirt, a little money
Bivvy bag, chocolate, diary, pen, tobacco
And you kind of collect things on the way. By the time I got to LA I had aCoyote bone and two eagle feathers (all from the same great guy), a thicksheepskin jacket, a flick knife and lots of bellies full of food. And lotsof music recommendations. People just like helping people, that’s allthere is to it. And those that don’t don’t pick up hitchhikers, and that’sfine with me.But I digress, next morning a cereal bar, a long wait then a short ride toa bigger village, Cambria. Get picked up from there by Joe, a Vietnamveteran with lots of stories to tell, all of them really depressing,razorblades in Vietnamese prostitute’s arses, falling down a gold minewhen he was 28, got out of hospital in a wheelchair to find his wife hadspent all his gold money and was moving away with his best friend, carcrashes on the way to funerals, ‘I sure hope there is reincarnation,because this one has sure fucked me over’, we smoked and Jono called justas I was getting out of the car, Joe was like ‘have you got everything?’and I was like ‘yeah yeah’, got off the phone and wheres my bag? Ohfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuckfuck joe had driven off with my passport, myclarinet, my visa….fuckfuckfuck!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! uh oh, panicstations. I didn’t have his number, couldn’t remember his name, or hiscar, I just knew loads of peripheral details about him, like how he wasdoing up his uncles house, and how he was born in Idaho.
But then jonoarrived with his magician friend Eric (who had been ‘outside of thesystem’s radar’ since the Vietnam war) and they were very pragmatic andwere like ‘so what if you have lost your passport and can’t get home andcan’t go to Uganda and have no money?’ think of all the things you CAN do!And it was a sunny day and really nice to see jono and me and eric hadread the same obscure book about a tribal people called the Ik, who onlyknew hate, and that was exciting, and Jono’s mum swung into motherlyaction and sent emails round to all the people who might know Joe, who atthe time I thought might be called Jesse, and I mellowed and then Jeffturned up all the way from Santa Cruz and we bought a big bottle of whiskyand went ‘on the ranch’. Jono lives in a small Beef wild west town namedSanta Margharita with a saloon and a single jail and a rodeo and suchlike,and the whisky and jamming (we had, amongst other things, a bohran, irishframe drum) and tree climbing and last night magic meant I once againfound myself putting my finger up to the ticks, taking all my clothes off,dancing and cawing like a seagull whilst jeff and jono screamed eulogiesto the moon. It got quite tribal.BOOMBABABOOMBOOMcawwwwwwwwwwwBOOMBOOMbOOMBABA…
What do males have these days that isn’t consuming that bonds them? Prosport- consuming. Drinking- consuming, women- all consuming. I feltsoooooo good on that hot night running around in circles screaming, thecoyotes screamed back, I think I might start doing it on every full moon,though maybe it was just warm enough that night and that’s why peopledon’t do it more often.Next day all day back in the village I got picked up in, trying to find mypassport, posters up in every window, not looking good, intrigue at thepharmacy, tight lipped locals at the Mexican restaurant, then to cut along story because my little cuz wants to go to bed and so should I, joecalled my mum (I gave him my number in England incase he wanted to come toEngland when his terminally ill wife dies) and my mum called me, prettypissed off, and everything sorted itself out. And I made a good friend injoe, god/nature/the chaos theory works in mysterious ways.
Then one big fat ride in the back of a huge motor home the size of a bus(I kid you not) from san luis Obispo straight to the heart of the City ofAngels, we stopped in santa Barbara for ham sandwiches and minestronesoup, they were totally not going to give me a ride except they neededhelp fixing their motor home and I provided it, and they realised what aplucky young Englishman I was and didn’t want me getting bumraped by anyold person so ofcourse gave me a ride. I slept on their sofa and wasallowed to smoke rollies. They had one of the biggest TVs I have seenabove their drivers seats. Did you know you can stay in any walmartcarpark for free overnight if you have a huge ass camper van?LA- I had been before with my mum over Christmas and, frankly, didn’t likethe place, but this time I saw it through the eyes of the locals, firstTravis, a great kind of skater kid who lived in affluent north LA,Glendale, him and his friends showed me how they live, driving acrossfreeways to this person or that person, always trying to find somewhere toblaze where suburban curtains wouldn’t twitch.
Then 2 days later a ridedown to Carson, seen by many as ghetto LA, right down by the huge stinkingoil refineries and docks, to stay with good friend and amazingly naturallygifted drummer Moises, a second generation Mexican immigrant, but don’tlet that define him, he is one of the kindest, coolest, hippest and mostsensitive cats I have ever met, he took me to a crazy part of the LA coastwhere a road had fallen half way down a cliff and the locals had turned itinto a big graffiti space and skatepark. Amazing.Ok shit I really have to get some sleep, I have to get up again in 2.5hours and fly around another good chunk of the world. Life is amazing.Well then, Mrs mack would complain this is all description and noanalysis, but whatever, it is late, you’ll here from me again if you emailme, otherwise ill see you in a month, and this time I am HOME. But fuck,is noone coming to WOMAD? Behla? George? I can’t dance by myself you know.