Monday, May 30, 2005

The Thrill of Travel

by AJ

Not sure what's wrong with me. In many respects, I never grow up.

This is certainly true in regards to travel. I still feel a thrill before every journey,... even the one week visa run Im about to make. The moment I step into a train station or airport, my mood lifts.

I love the break in routine.... and the promise of the unexpected.

And I love movement......

"Going from, towards".... that's what much of life is about (Thoreau).

....

Hittin the Rails

by AJ

My Japanese friends can't believe how long it takes to travel from Bangkok to Malaysia by train... "20 hours, it sounds like you are going around the world".

Unfortunately (or, perhaps, fortunately) there is no shinkansen in Thailand. No bullet train to Malaysia. On one hand, this is indeed a pain in the ass. Id love to shoot down there, spend my few days in Penang, and then shoot back.

On the other hand, there are benefits to slow travel. Slow travel feels more intentional. It provides more time for thinking and reflecting. Slow travel is more contemplative......

On my journey to Malaysia, Ill read a new book... stare out the window at the Thai landscape, chat with other passengers. Ill write in my journal. I make notes for article ideas.

And in this way Ill make a slight mental transformation... a small inner journey... to match my outer one.

For this purpose, slow travel seems superior to getting there quickly.

....

Saturday, May 28, 2005

Cheap Livin

by AJ

Moved into an apartment yesterday... the monthly rent will be 2600 Baht (less than $80). Fresh fruit (pinapple, papaya, mango, etc.) is only 10 Baht on the street (25 cents). An omlette and rice.... less tahn 50 cents. A movie (such as Star Wars)... 100 Baht ($2.50).

Im back to cheap livin... and its a good thing too, as Im flat broke. Luckily, SE Asia is a place where you can live fairly comfortably on very little.

Which is another reason I enjoy being in this area. On the same budget, Id be fairly miserable in the States..... but here, I know my necessities can easily be met.

This represents a different kind of stability and security. There is the stability. that comes from a high-paying job with good benefits and good "job security"...... the kind favored by most suburbanites. But this security is mostly an illusion, as the increasing ranks of the "downsized" show. Lose your job and it all quickly goes down the drain.

Simplicity offers a more enduring form of stability. When you need very little, when you can get by on very little,... you are indeed in a more secure situation. Unemployment is not so scary in such a situation.

Needing less, being able to get by on less..... that is true security. True stability.

.....

Thursday, May 26, 2005

Study Kickboxing In Thailand

by AJ

Face- neon red. Legs- trembling. Toes- blistered. Body- soaked in sweat.

"I've got a horrible headache. I think I'm dehydrated......and my legs are killing me."

Kristin had completed her first Thai Kickboxing workout. For two gruelling hours she trained at Sorvorapin Gym, located in the heart of Bangkok's backpacker zone.

Sorvorapin Gym evokes the gyms of Stallone's Rocky films: Inside the open air structure, black mold creeps towards the tin roof. Sweaty feet shuffle back and forth on a ragged carpet. The "inscence" of body odor, pollution, and lemongrass hangs in the air as 70s disco (Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive") spins from overhead speakers.... punctuated by a cacophony of "hoomphs", thuds, grunts, and growls.

No saunas at Sorvorapin. No motivational posters. No snack bar. No chrome machines. No peppy personal trainers in spandex. No air fresheners, no air-conditioning, no stylish decor.

Old school.

FUN, FITNESS, FIGHTING

Muay Thai kickboxing is a popular international sport and a respected martial art.

While many people study for self defense benefits, large numbers of foreigners embrace the sport for its fitness, rather than its martial, qualities. Training delivers excellent health benefits- greater strength, fat loss, increased endurance, increased quickness, tremendous flexibility.

As the sport increases in popularity worldwide, a number of foreigners are flocking to Thailand to train in the sport's homeland. Some studyfor a week or two, while serious fighters may spend years honing their skills.

A number of gyms in the Kingdom welcome both serious fighters and those interested in a less intense experience. Gyms assign a personal trainer to each student- who works with them one on one for the entirety of their workout. Instructors tailor the routine to the individual goals of each fighter (fun, fitness, sport, or
professional).

A CULTURAL EXPERIENCE

While the sport offers powerful self defense and health benefits, many cite cultural reasons as their prime motivation for studying Muay Thai in Thailand. Chris Moses spent two months in a gym in Chang Mai. He trained three times a week, but had no intention of entering the ring against an opponent.

Rather, he trained as a means to a deeper experience, and told me it was fascinating watching and talking with the Thai fighters- as Muay Thai is more than kickboxing, its a unique part of the country's culture. Through training, Chris met Thais he would never have met on the tourist trail.

Kristin trained for similar reasons, "Honestly, I hate to exercise. The thing I liked most was working with the Thai instructors, meeting other fighters, learning about the sport, and going to professional bouts. I got a deeper understanding of Thai culture by doing this... instead of just site-seeing like a typical tourist".

A deep cameraderie often develops between fighters at a gym. Social events facilitate this. Students attend professional matches together, and support fighters from their own gym when they face an opponent in the ring. These events offer opportunities to form lasting friendships.

A TYPICAL TRAINING REGIMENT

Most workouts consist of six, thirty minute segments: warmup, shadowboxing, bagwork, padwork, clenching, and conditioning.

Kristin's warmup began with 10 minutes of jump roping. She smiled and laughed through the routine.. stumbling and tripping as other fighters cut the air. Her trainer then led her through a series of callisthenics and stretches.

Step 2: Shadowboxing in front of mirrors. This is where students learn proper technique. Kristin's instructor, for example, taught her the basics of stance, jab, punch, front kick, knee kick, and roundhouse kick. For thirty minutes she practiced these in combination, in front of the mirror. As she did so, the trainer paused often to correct her technique, adjust her position, or demonstrate an important point.

After fine tuning basic techniques, the fighter moves to the third element of training--heavy bagwork. This is where the student learns to make contact.

After the bag comes pad work. The instructor dons long pads on his arms, chest and legs. As the instructor shouts out commands, he moves forward and back, left and right. Now the student learns to execute the techniques against a moving opponent.

Clenching practice is the next stage of the workout. In professional Muay Thai fights, a great deal of the action takes place when the fighters clench their arms together.

To simulate this, the trainer wears a thick chest protector. The student clenches arms with the teacher and practices knee kicks against the pad. Clenching is tiring work.

The workout wraps up with conditioning work. This consists of basic strengthening exercises such as crunches and push ups, followed by cool down stretches.

The average time for a full workout is three hours. However, most gyms caution new fighters to start slow and rest often. Kristin, for example, quit her workout after two hours. Enjoyment and safety, not machismo, are the driving tenants of most gyms.

GYMS

Muay Thai is popular throughout the Kingdom so gyms can be found in every town and city in Thailand.

Studying kickboxing in Thailand facilitates a deep cultural encounter- an opportunity to go beyond the typical tourist experience. To learn more about specific gyms, see the websites listed below.

--------------------
Many gyms throughout Thailand welcome foreigners. Most convenient is Sorvorapin Gym,
located in the Banglumpu section of Bangkok... five minutes from Khao San Road.

Sorvorapin charges 400 Baht ($10) for one workout, 3700 Baht for 2 weeks, and 7000 Baht for one month. Weekly and monthly rates include up to two (three hour) workouts per day.

For more information see Sorvorapin's website: http://www.thaiboxings.com

Fairtex Muay Thai Fitness Camp, on the outskirts of Bangkok, offers a more comfortable and upscale experience. Facilities look clean and modern.

The camp offers a variety of packages for foreigners: A shared room with fan plus full day training (two three-hour sessions) costs 963 Baht per day ($25). At the high end, a private aircon room plus full day training costs 1650 Baht per day ($45). A half day of training (one threehour session, morning or afternoon) costs 386 Baht ($10).

For more information, see the Fairtex website: http://www.fartexbkk.com

The Thonburi Boxing Training Camp, located on the western side of Bangkok, charges only 4000 Baht per month ($100).

Their website is at: http://www.smartthais.com/ST/TBx.html

In the south of Thailand, in close proximity to beaches and resorts, is the Phuket Muay Thai Gym. They charege 400 Baht per day and 2000 Baht per week (up to two workouts per day).

http://www.martialartsphuket.com/

For those who prefer the mountains in the north, Siam Number 1 Gym is located in Chang Mai. They charge 300 Baht per day, 1500 Baht per week, and 5500 Baht per month.

For more information, see: http://www.siamnumberone.com

A list of additional Muay Thai gyms in Thailand can be found at:
http://www.thaiwebsites.com/muaythai.asp

..........

Baked Brains

by AJ

Have been out of commission for a few days... acting as a tour guide to Shiori, who was visiting from Japan. While doing this, I finally learned the meaning of the phrase "only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun." To that list you can add Americans and Japanese.

Thailand in the hot season is nothing to take lightly. On the first day I failed to drink enough water. I ended up with a splitting, pounding, migraine-esque headache.... plus I felt tremendously fatigued.

I slugged a couple Gatorades that night, plus some water,... took a cold shower... popped two Tylenol... and went to bed. I awoke without the headache, but still fatigued.

There followed two more days of walking and intense heat. I used an umbrella for portable shade. I drank more water (causing me to run to the bathroom every hour or two). I sweated. I sweated. And I sweated some more.

As did Shiori. By the end of three days I think we were both exhausted.

I fear her main memory of Thailand will be of three days of sweat.

As for me.... Ill be back and posting regularly soon, but first another Gatorade, Tylenol, and cold shower are in order.

..........

Saturday, May 21, 2005

Pirate Utopias and Bands

by Hakim Bey

Pirate Utopias and Bands

THE SEA-ROVERS AND CORSAIRS of the 18th century created an "information network" that spanned the globe: primitive and devoted primarily to grim business, the net nevertheless functioned admirably. Scattered throughout the net were islands, remote hideouts where ships could be watered and provisioned, booty traded for luxuries and necessities. Some of these islands supported "intentional communities," whole mini-societies living consciously outside the law and determined to keep it up, even if only for a short but merry life.

Some years ago I looked through a lot of secondary material on piracy hoping to find a study of these enclaves--but it appeared as if no historian has yet found them worthy of analysis. (William Burroughs has mentioned the subject, as did the late British anarchist Larry Law--but no systematic research has been carried out.) I retreated to primary sources and constructed my own theory, some aspects of which will be discussed in this essay. I called the settlements "Pirate Utopias."

Recently Bruce Sterling, one of the leading exponents of Cyberpunk science fiction, published a near-future romance based on the assumption that the decay of political systems will lead to a decentralized proliferation of experiments in living: giant worker-owned corporations, independent enclaves devoted to "data piracy," Green-Social-Democrat enclaves, Zerowork enclaves, anarchist liberated zones, etc. The information economy which supports this diversity is called the Net; the enclaves (and the book's title) are Islands in the Net.

The medieval Assassins founded a "State" which consisted of a network of remote mountain valleys and castles, separated by thousands of miles, strategically invulnerable to invasion, connected by the information flow of secret agents, at war with all governments, and devoted only to knowledge. Modern technology, culminating in the spy satellite, makes this kind of autonomy a romantic dream. No more pirate islands! In the future the same technology-- freed from all political control--could make possible an entire world of autonomous zones. But for now the concept remains precisely science fiction--pure speculation.

Are we who live in the present doomed never to experience autonomy, never to stand for one moment on a bit of land ruled only by freedom? Are we reduced either to nostalgia for the past or nostalgia for the future? Must we wait until the entire world is freed of political control before even one of us can claim to know freedom? Logic and emotion unite to condemn such a supposition. Reason demands that one cannot struggle for what one does not know; and the heart revolts at a universe so cruel as to visit such injustices on our generation alone of humankind.

To say that "I will not be free till all humans (or all sentient creatures) are free" is simply to cave in to a kind of nirvana-stupor, to abdicate our humanity, to define ourselves as losers.

I believe that by extrapolating from past and future stories about "islands in the net" we may collect evidence to suggest that a certain kind of "free enclave" is not only possible in our time but also existent. All my research and speculation has crystallized around the concept of the TEMPORARY AUTONOMOUS ZONE (hereafter abbreviated TAZ). Despite its synthesizing force for my own thinking, however, I don't intend the TAZ to be taken as more than an essay ("attempt"), a suggestion, almost a poetic fancy.

Despite the occasional Ranterish enthusiasm of my language I am not trying to construct political dogma. In fact I have deliberately refrained from defining the TAZ--I circle around the subject, firing off exploratory beams. In the end the TAZ is almost self-explanatory. If the phrase became current it would be understood without difficulty...understood in action.

--------------------

First, we can speak of a natural anthropology of the TAZ. The nuclear family is the base unit of consensus society, but not of the TAZ. ("Families!--how I hate them! the misers of love!"--Gide) The nuclear family, with its attendant "oedipal miseries," appears to have been a Neolithic invention, a response to the "agricultural revolution" with its imposed scarcity and its imposed hierarchy.

The Paleolithic model is at once more primal and more radical: the band. The typical hunter/gatherer nomadic or semi- nomadic band consists of about 50 people. Within larger tribal societies the band-structure is fulfilled by clans within the tribe, or by sodalities such as initiatic or secret societies, hunt or war societies, gender societies, "children's republics," and so on. If the nuclear family is produced by scarcity (and results in miserliness), the band is produced by abundance--and results in prodigality. The family is closed, by genetics, by the male's possession of women and children, by the hierarchic totality of agricultural/industrial society.

The band is open--not to everyone, of course, but to the affinity group, the initiates sworn to a bond of love. The band is not part of a larger hierarchy, but rather part of a horizontal pattern of custom, extended kinship, contract and alliance, spiritual affinities, etc. (American Indian society preserves certain aspects of this structure even now.)

In our own post-Spectacular Society of Simulation many forces are working--largely invisibly--to phase out the nuclear family and bring back the band. Breakdowns in the structure of Work resonate in the shattered "stability" of the unit-home and unit-family. One's "band" nowadays includes friends, ex-spouses and lovers, people met at different jobs and pow-wows, affinity groups, special interest networks, mail networks, etc.

The nuclear family becomes more and more obviously a trap, a cultural sinkhole, a neurotic secret implosion of split atoms--and the obvious counter-strategy emerges spontaneously in the almost unconscious rediscovery of the more archaic and yet more post-industrial possibility of the band.

...................

Loneliness and the Road

by Skald

Longterm traveling isnt always easy. There are many rewards, as Matt and I continually point out. But there are difficult challenges as well.

Perhaps the greatest challenge comes from loneliness. When you stay on the move it becomes difficult to keep a social network. Im facing this problem now as my longterm travel partners consider a return home.

But this problem effects non-travelers as well. Modern life makes "convivial gatherings" (to use Hakim Bey's term) quite difficult. We become increasingly separated. Work, economics, media, and mobility serve to isolate us.

Most of my adult life since college has been spent in a continual struggle with isolation. My hometown had few economic opportunities... just a large university... and so my friends always moved away. Lately, Ive been the one on the move. In either case, Ive found it damn hard to keep a vibrant social life.. especially as Im not a particularly extroverted person.

But Im not alone. Most of my friends have the same struggle. Most adult acquaintances over age 28 complain of the same challenge. There's a larger societal process going on here, one which hits the nomad and the stationary wage-employee just as hard.

The esteemed Mr. Bey, in fact, identifies loneliness at THE big weapon of corporate power, "Capital", wage-slavery, etc. Convivial gatherings outside of work/authority (ie church) become rarer and rarer. People plug into TV to fill the gap. They consume to soothe their dissatisfaction. They plunge into the virtual reality of media because their real lives feel so disconnected, lonely, and boring.

Mr. Bey urges us to fight this trend.... to make spirited efforts to establish convivial social groups... ones which do not revolve around work or consumption... but rather around play. He calls these Immediatist groups.

My questions....

Can neo-nomads establish such groups too?

Is it possible to live a nomadic life with other people?

Or is this nomadic (vagabonding) life inherently a lonely solo undertaking?

........

Friday, May 20, 2005

Heartbroken

by Skald

My gut churns when I see him, my chest tightens, my face turns downcast.

I cant ignore him. I cant dismiss him.

He is a homeless man in the Banglumpoo section of Bangkok. He wears only a tattered pair of shorts. He sleeps directly on the sidewalk... no pad, no cover. He has some sort of debilitating condition that makes walking difficult. He cannot straighten his legs completely, so he shuffles/lopes along the sidewalk.

He is covered in dirt. I pass him many times... usually he is passed out on a sidewalk.

When I see him, Im overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness. For brief moments I try to imagine his day to day life. I try to imagine myself in his position. Its a painful exercise. I know, with complete surety, that I could not survive it.

Strip away the politics, the rhetoric, the statistics... and this is what homelessness and poverty is: horrible suffering. I have no immediate solution.

I feel helpless and overwhelmed by this mans condition.... and all those like him.

.....

Thursday, May 19, 2005

"Radical" Islam

by Hakim Bey

Islam has seen itself as the enemy of imperial Christianity & European imperialism almost from the moment of its inception. During the 20th century it functioned as a "third way" against both Communism & Capitalism, & in the context of the new One World it now constitutes by definition one of the very few existing mass movements which cannot be englobed into the unity of any would-be Consensus.

Unfortunately the spearhead of resistance -- "fundamentalism" -- tends to reduce the complexity of Islam into an artificially coherent ideology -- "Islamism" -- which clearly fails to speak to the normal human desire for difference & complexity.

Fundamentalism has already failed to concern itself with "empirical freedoms" which must constitute the minimal demands of the new resistance; for example, its critique of "usury" is obviously an inadequate response to the machinations of the IMF & World Bank. The "gates of Interpretation" of the Shariah must be re-opened -- not slammed shut forever -- and a fully-realized alternative to Capitalism must emerge from within the tradition.

Whatever one may think of the Libyan Revolution of 1969 it has at least the virtue of an attempt to fuse the anarcho-syndicalism of '68 with the neo-Sufi egalitarianism of the North African Orders, & to create a revolutionary Islam -- something similar could be said of Ali Shariati's "Shiite socialism" in Iran, which was crushed by the ulemocracy before it could crystallize into a coherent movement.

The point is that Islam cannot be dismissed as the puritan monolith portrayed in the Capitalist media. If a genuine anti-Capitalist coalition is to appear in the world it cannot happen without Islam.

The goal of all theory capable of any sympathy with Islam, I believe, is now to encourage its radical & egalitarian traditions & to substruct its reactionary & authoritarian modes of discourse. Within Islam there persist such mythic figures as the "Green Prophet" and hidden guide of the mystics, al-Khezr, who could easily become a kind of patron saint of Islamic environmentalism; while history offers such models as the great Algerian Sufi freedom-fighter Emir Abdul Qadir, whose last act (in exile in Damascus) was to protect Syrian Christians against the bigotry of the ulema.

From outside Islam there exists the potential for "interfaith" movements concerned with ideals of peace, toleration, & resistance to the violence of post-secular post-rationalist "neo-liberalism" & its allies. In effect, then, the "revolutionary potential" of Islam is not yet realized -- but it is real.

Religion, Anarchy, and Revolution

by Hakim Bey

The psychedelic movement, which offered a kind of "scientific" (or at least experiential ) verification of non-ordinary consciousness, led to a degree of rapprochement between spirituality & radical politics -- & the trajectory of this movement may have only begun.

If religion has "always" acted to enslave the mind or to reproduce the ideology of the ruling class, it has also "always" involved some form of entheogenesis ("birth of the god within") or liberation of consciousness; some form of utopian proposal or promise of "heaven on earth"; and some form of militant & positive action for "social justice" as God's plan for the creation.

Shamanism is a form of "religion" that (as Clastres showed) actually institutionalizes spirituality against the emergence of hierarchy & separation -- & all religions possess at least a shamanic trace.

Every religion can point to a radical tradition of some sort. Taoism once produced the Yellow Turbans -- or for that matter the Tongs that collaborated with anarchism in the 1911 revolution.

Judaism produced the "anarcho-zionism" of Martin Buber & Gersholm Scholem (deeply influenced by Gustav Landauer & other anarchists of 1919), which found its most eloquent & paradoxical voice in Walter Benjamin.

Hinduism gave birth to the ultra-radical Bengali Terrorist Party -- & also to M. Gandhi, the modern world's only successful theorist of non-violent revolution. Obviously anarchism & communism will never come to terms with religion on questions of authority & property. But it seems clear that without religion there will be no radical revolution; the Old Left & the (old) New Left can scarcely fight it alone.

The alternative to an alliance now is to watch while Reaction co-opts the force of religion & launches a revolution without us. Like it or not, some sort of pre-emptive strategy is required. Resistance demands a vocabulary in which our common cause can be discussed; hence these sketchy proposals.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Spiritual War

by Skald

Our grandparents had their Great War and their Great Depression. Our War is a Spiritual War.... our Great Depression is our lives.

Thats a paraphrase from Fight Club. For me, it sums up my generation and those that have followed.

Make no mistake, we are engaged in a spiritual war with profound stakes.

And what is the nature of this war? Its a war for our psyches. Its a war to preserve poetry, euphoria, ecstasy, and transcendence. Its a war to reclaim lost archtypes: the shaman, the poet-warrior, the knight, the pilgrim, the hobopoet.

Its a war to decide if monotony, profit, banality, and bureaucracy will dominate the souls of most human beings.

Its a war of quality (direct experience, direct engagement) versus quantity (virtual reality, abstraction, numbers, money).

Its a war of machines & virtual machines (corporations) versus in-the-flesh human beings.

The battlegrounds are our consciousness, our values, our beliefs, and our everyday experiences.

Will we surrender? Will we accept a grey dystopia? Will we surrender to monotony? Will we define our lives by numbers (the number of dollars in our bank account)? Will we accept TV as reality while rejecting/neglecting the direct experience of our lives?

To get to the pulsing heart of the matter... travel, for me, is a crusade. It is my crusade in this spiritual war... my desperate act of defiance against the banal rule of business.

At times it is a euphoric crusade. At times it is lonely and heartbreaking.

For the one question I cannot escape is,... Have we already lost?

..........

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Racial Fear & Tolerance

by Skald

Matt's recent post got me to thinking about race, racism, racial fear, and racial tolerance.

First, Ive noticed the same phenomenon he has. I feel none of the uneasiness I sometimes felt in America. I readily walk into "low income" housing areas populated by people of races other than mine. No one hassles me. I feel comfortable. In fact, except at reflective moments like this.. I dont even think about it.

But as I contemplate this issue I come to the conclusion that much of the fear in America is completely unfounded. I used to feel afraid of being in a (so called) low income black neighborhood. Why? Because Id been fed a steady diet of cop shows and media horror stories about black neighborhoods. I was sure theyd yell at me.. or maybe pull out a gun.

When I became a social worker I often went into these neighborhoods... and I discovered that the stereotypes were a crude joke. No one pulled a gun, or threatened me.

This reminds me of the scene in Bowling For Columbine... where Moore and Glazer visit southside LA... supposedly a super-dangerous place. They are perfectly fine. No one hassles them.

Wealthy White America is bred with fear. They are propagandized to keep them docile and obedient. They fear African-Americans. They fear muslims. They fear latinos. They distrust Asians. They cant tell a Sikh from a Muslim from a Hindu. Hell, they fear other white people who aren't as wealthy as they are.

As a social worker I worked with many so called at risk or troubled people of different races. These people always treated me with dignity and respect. And I them. I didnt fear them and they didnt seem to resent me.

But I saw many such "clients" get hostile with arrogant, condescending, and pushy staff members. Respect and dignity, rather than race, seemed to be the most important factors.

So while Matt is right about the greater racial tolerance in SE Asia... we should realize that most of the fear in America is unfounded and artificially generated.

White people need to loosen up and realize there are no brown hordes (inside or outside the country) plotting to attack them.

.......

End of a Myth

Somehow I grew up with this idea that everybody in the world wanted to come to 'Merica and they all wanted what I had (whatever that was) and they wanted to take it from me.

I'm not sure where that came from... but it seems real somehow.

As McMericans we are trained that way. We think everybody wants what we have. As a result, we're willing to fight anybody that wants our supposed superior and 'high' standard of living.

Well, you can imagine my surprise when I met many folks from Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines who had no desire to visit much less live in 'Merica. It's true! Somehow these 'naive' and 'poor' people of SE Asia have no desire to go toi McMerica!

How could that be?

I thought I was supposed to be afraid and angry at everybody else in the world for wanting what I had and wanting to take it from me!

Maybe it ain't true!

But how could that be?

Step off the porch and maybe you'll find out!

-Mattt

Getting Lost

Tonight I went for a short hike in Kuala Lumpur. I was in a neighborhood not far from the city center.

My friends and I wandered around and found a trail.

Shortly we found ourselves in a makeshift plywood village. We smiled. "It's always and adventure!", Mike said.

"Yep", I replied.

They didn't speak Bahasa Malaysia. They didn't look Thai or Indonesian. So who were they?

"AH... I bet they're Bangladeshi", I said confidently.

I remarked about how when I worked in construction I wanted a cold beer and a nice air conditioned room to sleep in after work.

These guys were not drinking cold beer nor sleeping in a nice comfortable bed after work. Instead, they had a plywood floor, an outhouse for a toilet, and a bowl of rice until they woke up the next morning to go back and pound a hammer into some wood.

"I bet they make $5 a day, if that", I proclaimed.

It must be better than what they have back home or they'd leave.

So what's the point of all this?

Well, I realized how 'soft' I am compared to many folks in the world. My days of working construction were hard. I worked in the blazing Georgia sun laying shingles, digging ditches and painting houses.. but at least I had a nice bed and cold beer to go back to.

These people had a plywood shack and a bowl of rice. Yet somehow they are more welcoming and appreciative of what they have than many McMericans I have met with the 'somebody owes me something attitude' of so many folks back home.

I also realized how eager I was to go stumbling into a 'ghetto' or 'barrio' type 'hood full of strangers with dark skin! I think it's mainly because I never felt threatened by the dark skinned inhabitants. Maybe they aren't as bad as I was raised to believe in the South of 'Merica?!

Hey, did I mention that I had just been to the bank and had $1000 local dollars in my pocket?

'Land of the Free' they call my place of birth. So why can't I do what I just described back home? Why did I have to come to SE Asia to discover racial tolerance, religious acceptance and freedom to walk around in a strange place full of strangers and feel comfortable?

Maybe McMerica isn't what it's cracked up to be after all?

-Matt



Doubt

by Skald

Good American citizens wave the flag and cheer the troops. Good Christians spew hate towards muslims, gays, liberals, feminists. In the name of patriotism, torture is condoned. In the name of religion, murder is justified.

Few in America question the propaganda: “America is the best country in the world”, “America is the freest country in the world”, “America has the highest standard of living in the world”.

Most people who profess these things have never been abroad... or their travel experiences are limited to short package tours. They have no frame of reference for comparison, yet are steadfastly sure of the superiority of their country.

This reminds me of a quote from Bertrand Russell I recently came across. To paraphrase: “The problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so sure of themselves, while wiser people are so full of doubts”.

Patriots and Christian fanatics run rampant in the country of my birth. Despite their lack of knowledge of the world, they are very confident-- completely sure of themselves. They entertain no doubts. FAITH (ie blind acceptance of dogma and propaganda) is their favorite word.

But doubts are not necessarily bad. Doubts lead to questions. And questions lead to greater wisdom. Likewise, cocksure arrogance leads to hubris.... and hubris has a way of striking down the overconfident (witness the slow motion unravelling of the American Empire).

A huge benefit,... perhaps THE BIG BENEFIT of travelling and living abroad-- is that this process creates doubt. The longer you travel, the more you doubt the trite propaganda you were raised on.

Travel to a muslim country, and soon you start doubting that muslims are horrible people. You start doubting the official Christian doctrine that they are going to hell. You start doubting that they hold blind hatred for Americans. If you are particularly sensitive, you may begin to understand their anger-- to see its justification.

Travel to another country and you may soon doubt the statement, “America has the highest standard of living in the world”. Maybe you experience the satisfaction of a slower and more relaxed life (as seen in many tropical countries). Maybe you see the benefits of public welfare, public transportation, public healthcare, and public infrastructure... of a commitment to the public good in general (as seen in Japan, Europe, Canada, and others).

The longer you travel, the more you doubt. Eventually, you may begin to doubt the whole concept of nationalism... this ridiculous division of nation-states.... the idiocy of obedience to a particular government or religious institution.

Those doubts may lead you to accept a wider sense of belonging. You may begin to see yourself more as a human being, a world citizen, and less as a rabid American supremacist.

To my mind, doubt is a very very good thing. Christians and Patriots are terrified of doubt.

But zen masters say, “Simply cease to cherish opinions”.

The world could use more of that kind of doubt.

........

Benefits of Homelessness

by Skald

Im a man without a home. Though born and raised in America, I no longer consider America my home. I feel no special loyalty to the place.

Nor do I belong to another country. Though I loved Japan and the Japanese people, I
knew I could never be accepted as a part of their society. Id always be an outsider.

The same is true of Thailand. I love this country. But Ill never be Thai. In the future I may travel and live in Central or South America. Perhaps Ill settle in Mexico. Or Ecuador. But Ill never be Mexican. Nor Ecuadoran. Maybe Ill make my way to
Europe some day. But I will never be European.

This depressed me for some time. I dwelt on the negative. I felt lonely and disconnected. But lately Ive flipped my perspective. I realize that if no particular place is home... it can also be said that everywhere is my home.

And that feels true. I feel very comfortable in a variety of places. I loved Hiroshima. I loved the beautiful, sweet natured, poised Japanese people. I loved the trees. I loved the bike paths. I loved the public transportation system. I felt at home in Hiroshima. I love the city and I love the country (except for the job situation... which is another problem entirely.. one that seems to transcend borders!!).

And I feel comfortable in Thailand. I love the spicy food. I love the controlled chaos. I love the laid-back attitude. I love the islands and the mountains. I love the temples. I love the tolerance of other religions.

My perspective is broadening. I identify myself with humanity at large now... not with the tiny worldview of America and Americans only.

As I do so, a sense of loss is replaced by a feeling of tremendous gain. Of freedom.
The entire world seems open to me.

There are benefits to homelessness, after all.

........

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Luke Tan: Freelance Musician

I recently got an email from Athens based Hobopoet Luke Tan. Luke is a freelance musician who gives away his music for free.

Below is an excerpt from the email he sent me. Check out his album.

I am trying to do some online marketing for my new album, "life is but a Wheel",.......

Something about myself:

I myself am a 'hobopoet', or in other words a folk singer. I give my music away for free, on the internet or on the streets.

I haven't become an ex-pat yet, but my disinchantment with the current state of affairs in the US has led me to lead my present lifestyle. Not roaming, but homesteading. Trying to live below the radar, grow my own food, barter work for other needs. Anything to live below the poverty lline and not have to pay taxes to contribute to an unjust war. No credit cards, no phone, etc. I come to town to use the internet at a local coffee shop.

About the album:

The album is an interesting story, regarding life/love lost, remorsed, regained, and lost again. Has a lot of eastern philosophical influences, yet still plays alot with christian imagery. Here is a blurb that someone once wrote about it:

"Life is but a Wheel" is a narrative album that provokes the simple sound of a powerful song writer and his humble guitar. The most dominate theme, given away by the albums title, successfully presents the listener with the circular nature of life's unanswerable dualities in a subtle, intimate way. The album contains a
distinct mix of upbeat songs like "Die To Get Reborn" that are offset
by the sad realities life can toss out in "Prayer of the Young Widower". "Life is but a Wheel" bundles a country/folk sound that grabs any ear with steadfast lyrics that will satisfy the deepest critic.

You can download the album from my web site:
http://www.luketan.com

Thanks, and I hope you are doing well in your travels on this earth...


.....

Rushdie on Religion

by Skald

Yesterday, I read an interesting interview with Saldman Rushdie. Much of the time he spent criticizing the role of religion in world affairs. In particular he focused on fanatic Christians and Muslims and the incredible suffering they have caused... and are causing.

He noted that religions are now political organizations, who seek power and control.

My reaction was, "well, duh". This is certainly not a new phenomenon. Christians have been persecuting and murdering their opponents for years. So too Muslims.

But we should be careful. Its not so much "religion" that is the problem as "organized religion". Religion as political body. Religion as authority and control. Religion as fanatic obedience to a book or leader.

That certainly is the most popular form of "religion", though I argue its not religion at all-- but an authority cult.

Mystics, shamans, and the likes of Aldous Huxley have pointed to a different type of religion... one which has not, traditionally, been saddled with the evils typical of organized religion.

Today, these mystical traditions are often labeled "spirituality" in order to distinguish themselves from the organized murdering cults. These traditions include neo-shamanism, sufism, grassroots zen, some Hindu offshoots, vipassana, ancient and neo-mythology (ie the works of Joseph Campbell), many indigenous religions, some Buddhist sects, etc...

These variations of the "Perennial Philosophy" have many similarities. But their most important trait is their lack of organization. These practices stress individual experience, rather than obedience to dogma. They do not claim to present "The Way" but rather "a way". Many, such as the more radical forms of zen & shamanism, are forcefully anti-authoritarian....

Its unfortunate that Rushdie didnt mention these during his interview. Perhaps he is unfamiliar with them (he strikes me as a somewhat stuffy Brit, at times).

There is a tendency to dismiss spirituality and philosophy in the face of fanatics who have hijacked religion. But we must remember that theirs is not the only way.



........

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Do Nothing, Do Something

by AJ/Skald

For three years I have embraced the title "Do nothing man of Tao" (stolen from Kerouac, among others). I worked part time. I lived in a van. I enjoyed blissful unemployment. I loafed in SE Asia.

And I, in fact, did very very little:
.... long hours lounging in coffee shops
.... lazy days on tropical islands
.... long walks with no destination
.... hours of contemplation
.... pages of writing

But a strange thing has happened recently. After three lazy years, Im itching to do SOMETHING. Im restless for action. Now that Ive purged the expectations of wage slavery, Ive discovered my own ambitions.

Ive discovered that I love teaching-- ideas bubble furiously in my brain. Im eager to implement them. Im eager to launch my own program, however small. Teaching... on my terms.. brings me bliss and fires my imagination. And dammit, its fun.

Likewise with writing... good or bad, I love doing it. I want to write more and I want to improve. Im getting more ambitious in this area of my life too... not content to just scribble in my journal anymore..

My progression is a natural one... it echoes ancient cycles, ancient archtypes. Except for a few rare individuals, most people do not want to retreat from the world forever. Most people have dreams (however deeply buried). Most people want to engage the world vigorously. Most people want to work & play with passion.

The problem is, most are doing other people's work-- a recipe for depression, helplessness, and disaster. Most have forgotten their dreams. Most bend under a load of fear.

The first step, therefore, for most... is to shed the burden of wage slavery. Do nothing for a long, long time. Do nothing but loaf, recover, question, observe, and listen. Do nothing but probe for those lost dreams and ambitions. Do nothing but awaken intuition. Do nothing but de-program and de-condition your mind. Do nothing but find your bliss.

Then, and only then, are you ready.

Then, and only then, is it time to DO SOMETHING again.

Then, and only then, is it time to work (play).

It will happen of its own accord, without striving or effort.

........

Wednesday, May 11, 2005

Good Advice

I clearly remember the advice I received from one of my professor's in college.

I had enrolled in a class in classic Greek literature. The whole semester we read the Homer classics The Iliad and the Odyssey. We came to truly know the meaning of the word arete (virtue or reaching your highest potential).

About the first day of class he came in screaming something or other in Greek. Then he finished his impassioned speech in English and said 'The BEST thing you can do is get out of school. Get out of University. And go out into the world and LEARN something!'

I got my degree. I took his advice. I got out into the world. And Ive never looked back!

Thanks Professor. May be the best advice I received in ALL of my University courses combined.

-Matt

The Taoist Poet

by AJ/Skald

Just found an interesting post on an excellent blog called The Taoist Poet.

Here's a quote:

"So travel may potentially serve as an inspiration to help widen your field of knowledge and understanding, to help you see things from a larger more global perspective, but it's not a guarantee, it depends on the person, on how they interpret things, on whether their mind is open or closed, whether their heart is filled with love or hate."

I agree. This echoes much of what Hakim Bey, Philip Cousineau, Thoreau, and others have written. Without an attentive and open mind, travel degenerates into tourism-- a vacation, a transaction, a controlled experience.

But there is another way, as Hakim Bey notes, "We suspect that even though travel in the modern world seems to have been taken over by the Commodity - even though the networks of convivial reciprocity seem to have vanished from the map - even though tourism seems to have triumphed - even so - we continue to suspect that other pathways still persist, other tracks, unofficial, not noted on the map, perhaps even «secret»- pathways still linked to the possibility of an economy of the Gift, smugglers' routes for freespirits, known only to the geomantic guerillas of the art of travel.

As a matter of fact, we don't just «suspect» it. We know it. We know there exists an art of travel. "

..................

New Experiences

Things I have done since living abroad (and could not- or would not- have otherwise done back home)

In no particular order:

1) Been a groom in a Hindu wedding
2) Witnessed an Islamic Malay wedding
3) Swam with green sea turtles
4) Seen Orang Utan's in the wild
5) Witnessed some of the last Proboscis Monkey's in the wild
6) Published travel articles (and gotten paid for it!)
7) Eaten fish-head curry
8) Tried at least 10 new kinds of beer!
9) Learned how to play Rugby
10) Watched a game of cricket- and mostly understood it
11) Learned how to speak a new language- sort of (enough to get by!)
12) Traveled to Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines all for free! (paid for by my school)
13) Lived in Indonesia for 6 months and gotten paid to do it!
14) Visited Bali
15) Caught 3 species of fish that I've never heard of
16) Seen 5 species of Hornbill in the wild!
17) Played in an International Ultimate Frisbee Tournament
18) Snorkelled in coral reefs
19) Learned my passport number by heart!
20) Presented a workshop at an International Teachers Conference
21) Learned the difference in North and South Indian food
22) Overcome some of my own bias and stereotypes about foreigners
23) Stepped outside of the fear generated media of the US
24) Learned to drive a scooter around a major city
25) Made this list!

That's enough for now.. it's 3:30.. enough work.. time to go home and play!

-Matt

My First Hummer

I am sad to say that yesterday I saw my first super SUV HUM-V or Hummer in Kuala Lumpur.

It took me a minute to realize what it was.

I was greatly saddened to see such a behemoth in the narrow streets of Asia.

Undoubtedly, the owner has some money...

I sped past him on my scooter. His truck way too big to go fast in the Asian-sized streets of KL.

I couldn't help but wonder about his ego and some sort of inverse relationship between the size of his gas guzzling vehcle and a certain part of his anatomy.

-Matt

Another Perk

There are SO many reasons for leaving McMerica and living abroad. Food is one of them. I've railed against the bland 'Merican food before and probably will again.

Back home quantity wins out over quality in many restaraunts. When I visit the US I am always astounded at the size of the portions. You'll hear many foreigners that visit the States comment on the same thing.

Today was teacher appreciation day at school. The mom's got together and cooked up a feast. We had hummus, sushi, rissoto, lasagna, Thai beef, glass noodles, curry puffs, salads, curries, and the list goes on and on! All cooked by natives of the countries they represented.

Once I went in to a Chinese restaraunt back home... surprise, surprise they were trying to pass off Mexican cooks as Chinese! And the best part.. many 'Merican's didn't know the difference! (IT REALLY HAPPENED!)

The desserts were even better! I needed a big nap afterwards!

The mom's out did themselves.

When you teach in Asia you are truly respected. The kids are nice and polite and the parents give a lot more respect to teachers. In Asia teachers are highly regarded.

I truly felt appreciated.

Yet again my decision to sell everything I owned, jump on a plane and leave the States has been confirmed.

What are you waiting for? If not now, then when?

-Matt



Tuesday, May 10, 2005

PlanetWalking Hobopoet

[Here's a profile of a very interesting Hobopoet, taken from Grist Magazine]

John Francis, a "planetwalker" who lived car-free and silent for 17 years, chats with Grist

By Mark Hertsgaard

10 May 2005

How long could you survive without your car? For the many Americans who think nothing of driving 10 blocks to buy a gallon of milk, the answer is obvious. But before any of you dedicated pedestrians and die-hard cyclists start feeling smug, try this question: How long could you survive without talking?

Chances are, nowhere near as long as John Francis did. After a massive oil spill polluted San Francisco Bay in 1971, Francis gave up all motorized transportation. For 22 years, he walked everywhere he went -- including treks across the entire United States and much of South America -- hoping to inspire others to drop out of the petroleum economy.

Soon after he stopped riding in cars, Francis, the son of working-class, African-American parents in Philadelphia, also stopped speaking. For 17 years, he communicated only through improvised sign language, notes, and his ever-present banjo. The environmental pilgrim says he took his vow of silence as a gift to his community "because, man, I just argued all the time." But it may have been Francis who benefited most of all. For the first time, he found he was able to truly listen to other people and the larger world around him, transforming his approach to both personal communication and environmental activism.

Francis started speaking again on Earth Day 1990. The very next day, he was struck by a car. He refused to ride in the ambulance, insisting on walking to the hospital instead. With a Ph.D. in land resources (earned during his silence), he was later recruited by the U.S. Coast Guard to write oil-spill regulations and by the United Nations Environment Program to serve as a goodwill ambassador.

Francis, the author of Planetwalker: How to Change Your World One Step at a Time, is now preparing for a second environmental walk across America. He spoke with writer Mark Hertsgaard about how social change happens, the decency he encountered among red-state Americans, and the importance of bridging the chasm between white and black environmentalists.

Read the interview at: Grist Magazine

Do Now, Think Later!

by AJ

Teaching at McEnglish was a demoralizing experience.

But good things have grown out of it. First, I committed to writing. Second I decided to launch a pilot language program once I get based somewhere. I've had enough. The only future for me is an autonomous future. While I may need to work to keep income flowing, it is time to stop bitching and start launching demo projects.... published articles, more writing, more posts, simple research studies on our Effortless Language Acquisition methods, and an Effortless English class taught out of my apartment (once I get one).....

All of this can be summed up with the phrase, "Do now, think later!" Im usually guilty of the opposite... too much thinking and planning and not enough doing. Its a disease common to many. It paralyzes us and kills our dreams.

Whatever those dreams, reach them through action followed by analysis... rather than the reverse. A grand journey? Work abroad? A novel? A freelance business? The desire to be a writer, artist, actor, filmmaker.... All reached best through action, action, action first-- then contemplation.

Contemplation is absolutely necessary. Vital. But we must first give ourselves something worthy of contemplation. Grand experiments. New experiences.

For my own inspiration, Im reading some of Tom Peters' quotes. Below are a few of his best, the sort of thing that attracted me to his blog in the first place. Here's a sample:

Have the sheer audacity to challenge conventional wisdom, accept the lumps upon lumps associated therewith- and persist until victory.

All progress depends on counterintuitive leaps into the unknown. Do now, think later! At the very least you'll have something to think about since you've just done... something.

Plans do not make the world go around. What does? Demos! Stories! Heroes! Tests! Palpable Experiments! Prototypes! So: Go concrete! Fast! Gimme a .... Hero. Gimme a .... Story. Now.

For failure is the mother of success. "Fail faster. Succeed sooner."


Yeah, thats it.

Enough with mediocre successes. I've reached a turning point. I simply cant stomach mediocrity anymore. Better poverty. Better another stint of voluntary homelessness. Better to be fired. Better to be a poor writer & failed freelancer than a well paid slave.

Better to fail gloriously.


.....

Monday, May 09, 2005

Jobs In Thailand

by AJ

Im desperately trying to get some articles written in order to stave off starvation, so the posts will stay lean and direct for a while.

Sick of grinding it out in America, the UK, Japan, etc.? Yearn for sun, spicy food, beautiful islands and beaches? Want a more relaxed lifestyle? Looking to escape the rat race?

Then come on down!! SouthEast Asia awaits you.

Check out Ajarn.com, a website dedicated to jobs in Thailand. Now is the perfect time, as many schools are hiring this month and next month (though there are always plenty of jobs to be found).

Enough thinking. Enough planning. Join me in blissful poverty. Join Matt in decadent reverie.

Book that plane ticket.....

We're waiting.

Jobs in Thailand
http://www.ajarn.com/

........

Cultural Sensitivity

Ahhh... they say that the Indians are the Irish of the East... meaning that they appreciate their drink.. especially Chivas and Johnny Walker Whiskeys. As a family member I am obliged to partake. Somehow I don't mind.

By 4p.m. today I was on my 2nd Chivas (refer to previous posts about working too long and too much.. I have a built in aversion to working past 4 p.m.) with coke and ice. By 7 p.m. eating a divine Indian classic meal.. Rather, a Sri Lankan meal. Don't you dare confuse Sri Lanka with India. They aren't anywhere near the same I am told!

Normally what I ate would be served on a banana leaf with the rice in a big heap in the center and the curries spread about like kids sitting around a campfire. Top it all with yogurt and garnish with chilies soaked in buttermilk then fried and a bit of pickled mango. Call it PURE gastronomic heaven. A perfect compliment to an early afternoon Chivas buzz.

Tonight the curries were: stewed tofu, potatoes mashed with onions, chilies, cilantro and yogurt, vegetarian fish curry, and dahl (a thick lentil stew). None of it had much more than a speck of oil. All of it was SPICY!

These are the things you are forced to endure when you leave the bland McD's scene of suburban 'Merica. Living abroad isn't for everyone. Especially those who love to work long hours, eat bland food and drive their SUV's from the box of home to the box of a strip mall in Bush and Co. induced stupor.

-Matt


Sunday, May 08, 2005

End of the Year

When youre a teacher you think in two separate calendars. The regular yearly schedule- January-December and the academic August- June.

The end of the year is coming up.. and I'm looking forward to 2 months of fun: reading, exploring, eating, drinking, swimming, traveling, fishing, running and pursuit of other interests.

My contract is for 185 days a year.. I work a few extra here and there but not many... and as I've said before from 7:30 a.m. until 3:30 p.m. My goal is to leave school by 3:30 at the latest.

Not bad to work 1/2 the year and have the other 1/2 off.... especially on a pretty decent salary in a foreign country!

There's just simply no need to work everyday... every week...long days... or really even more than half of that.

-Matt

Euphoria

by Skald

Bliss. Divine freedom. The lightness of shedding shackles. How I love to leave a job.

Im free again....

Last night I poured sweat- from the combined effects of blistering hot weather and blistering spicy food. It was a sweet pain.

Ive always known that meals taste better when camping... but they taste better, also, when you are free.

I dont know what, exactly comes next.

But that uncertainty feels euphoric. It is a signal that monotony has ended.

Thats what journeys are all about.

......

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Kudzu!

by AJ

I rolled the jelly-like sweet around my mouth. It slid smoothly on my tongue... slight powdery taste and a strong dose of sugar.

Shiori told me how the delicacy was made: Take the roots of the kudzu plant, mash them and add water, Heat this mash and cook until sticky, Then add sugar and mix in cherry blossoms, beanpaste, or other flavorings.

We sat and ate at Tsukino Usagi, a traditional-style tea and dessert shop near Yokogawa train station. The owner, Kawaoka Yukiko, brought clay cups for tea... green and tan with rough glaze. We sat at a blond wooden table-- horseshoe shaped, fresh flower arrangement in the center of the curve.

We sipped Hajicha (Roasted tea) and nibbled kudzu cakes.

"Sometimes kudzu is used as a medicine to improve metabolism. Its also good for menopause", Shiori told me. "Its a little expensive".

My mind drifted to the rolling seas of kudzu that cover Georgia. Georgians have been trying to hack, burn, and poison the stuff for years... but it keeps rolling over the landscape- consuming hillsides and trees.

Perhaps we've had the wrong idea. There may be opportunities here-- harvest that redneck vine and ship it to Japan! And why not create our own kudzu delicacies?

I gulped the cake and washed it with roasted tea, thinking "the folks in Georgia don't know what they're missing."

--------

Shackles Broken

by AJ

Goodbye to wage slavery. Goodbye to pimping for McEnglish. Goodbye to ridiculous and outdated teaching methods. Goodbye to controlling management. Goodbye to 12 hour days.

I've left David McEnglish... and Japan. On to sun. On to writing. On to travel. Back to working for myself and my dreams... not theirs.

Im euphoric... and sad. Sad to leave good friends. Sad to leave a wonderful city. I loved Hiroshima. But I found the work situation unbearable. I just can't go back to being a wage slave. Ive written it before.... once you take that big step into freedom, you have crossed a line. Your life changes. At first, you may not realize just how deep and profound that change is.

But Im getting it. Having tasted freedom, I can no longer stomach the kind of brain-dead wage slavery I encountered at David McEnglish. Just cant do it.

And so its a bitter-sweet parting..... bitter to leave my friends, sweet to leave the job.

Im a hobopoet once more.

......

Tuesday, May 03, 2005

Some Good News and Some Bad News

by Skald

Have read quite a few dire predictions for the American Empire recently... in a wide diversity of publications and sites (everything from Business blogs to Rolling Stone).

Not sure how on-target they are, but certainly hope there is a kernal of truth in them. America lost its soul when it became and empire... how nice if we went back to being a normal country again.

Now all of this seems scary or annoying to many good American citizens, no doubt. The old suburban-corporate-white world is threatening to crumble. White collar jobs seem to be bleeding abroad just as manufacturing jobs once did. A flood of immigrants from south of the border bring a deluge of Spanish and new culture. China grows stronger everyday, and India too. Iran threatens to go nuclear. Cheap oil may be gone.

But if you're not attached to the suburban-nightmare, all this carries tremendous opportunities. If the American empire wanes, much of the rest of the world rises. Asia, Latin America, Europe... they are booming. Hobopoets have many opportunities. Most of these regions, for example, are hungry for English. So its easy to get a teaching job and have your travels funded. International schools are also breeding like mushrooms in a cow-patty.. presenting another educational field full of opportunities.

Internationally minded folks can find other opportunities as well.... writing, import/export, selling artwork, tour guiding,

For cyber geeks, the Cyber Hobo route presents a fantastic chance to work and travel. With a laptop and a good connection, you can do your work from anywhere. "Work at home" is an option, but so too is "work from the beach"... or "work on the road".

Those who cling to the old suburban Empire will suffer; but those who embrace the change will find a world of fabulous opportunities.

Are we entering the Age of the Hobopoet?

..........

Monday, May 02, 2005

Go

by Skald

"Always go where you want to go -- where your body and soul want to go. " --Joseph Campbell

Campbell wasn't big on grinding it out in a monotonous situation for money or security. Neither was Jack Kerouac. Nor Thoreau. Nor Rumi. Nor most of the people I admire.

And neither am I.

Before heading to Japan I realized that the number one reason I was going was for money. I had attacks of doubt,... for I'd written this phrase many times in my journal: "Whenever I do something primarily for money, it always ends in disaster".

But I dreamt of hordes of cash... and more specifically, of the ticket to South America it would buy... the freetime to wander that continent,... the Spanish lessons,... the salsa lessons,... a big stash in a savings account.

But it was about the money... and it has ended in disaster. I can't grind out a monotonous situation for cash. For higher purposes, maybe. But not for money. I'm just not built that way.

...........