Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Look Inward

by Skald

"Direct your eye right inward, and you'll find a thousand regions in your mind yet undiscovered. Travel them, and be expert in home-cosmography".


Im habitually stunned. Shocked. I find it very hard to understand-- just how little most people know themselves. Most, in fact, seem to go to great lengths to AVOID self knowledge. They avoid silence. They avoid solitude.

Given a moments peace and quiet.. they immediately reach for the TV or radio. No wonder they are such easy marks for bosses and advertisers. No wonder the mass of Americans gobble up the propaganda.

Most people, it seems, equate "reading" with reflection. Being well read, they believe, equates with self knowledge, intelligence, and originality. They parrot other people's words and consider themselves wise.

Of course we all do this.. and reading does indeed have many benefits (thus my frequent Thoreau quotes, for example).

But this is not self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is an inward.. not an outward journey. Typically, it is a word-less journey... an exploration of images, sensations, emotions, sounds.

There are many means of exploring oneself. The simplest is to sit quietly and observe one's thoughts. This is what zen folks call "mindfulness meditation". Its not as easy as it sounds. Give it a try.. if you are like most people you'll be astounded by the following: how rushed and almost random your thoughts are, how thoughts seem to arise out of "nowhere" and return again to "nowhere", how little conscious control you have over these "random" thoughts, and how difficult it is to observe quietly without trying to assert control.

Another method is vipassana meditation. Here, the focus is on bodily sensations, rather than thoughts. The meditator scans the body.. noticing, but not judging or reacting to, pain, pleasure, warmth, cold, vibrations, etc....

Then there are shamanic methods. Using various plant entheogens, the neo-shaman explores beyond-ordinary states of consciousness.. from the sensory, to the "cellular", to the "atomic", to the "energetic-quantum". Strange visions may occur. Encounters with "alien" intelligences. Or pure immersion in form, energy, wordless, immediate reality (or realities).

Back towards the everyday levels of consciousness... a daily journal is a good method. Pour out thoughts and feelings as fast as they come... watch as they evolve from day to day, year to year. A blog, in fact, can serve this purpose.

Of course, the most serious approach is to employ all of the above.. and more as they are discovered. Whatever the method, keep firmly fixed in your mind the following questions:

What/Who, EXACTLY, am "I"?
What is the nature of "myself"? What makes "me", me?
Where do "I" stop, and "everything else" start?
What is "real"? What is "not real"?
Where do my thoughts, ideas, beliefs "come from"?

Reading and other mediated/communicated forms of knowledge are highly valuable. But they are only valuable when combined with copious direct experiences of inward exploration. Without self-knowledge, we have no basis whatsoever for evaluating mediated knowledge.

Self-knowledge... direct experience... always takes primacy.

So turn off that damn TV. And the radio. Close the book. Throw away the magazines and newspapers. And for a while, turn off the computer too.

Dare to delve inward.. in silence. Alone. No guide. No teacher. No one to explain, evaluate, or interpret your experiences.

No one but you.

"Take your wisdom from your own experience.... " (Kerouac)

Monday, February 27, 2006


by Skald

"Consider first how slight a shelter is absolutely necessary. I have seen Penobscot Indians, in this town, living in tents of thin cotton cloth, while the snow was nearly a foot deep around them, and I thought that they would be glad to have it deeper to keep out the wind. I used to see a large box by the railroad, six feet long by three feet wide, in which the laborers locked up their tools at night; and it suggested to me that every man who was hard pushed might get such a one for a dollar, and, having bored a few auger holes in it, to admit the air at least, get into it when it rained and at night, and hook down the lid, and so have freedom in his love, and in his soul be free. This did not appear the worst, nor by any means a despicable alternative".


Lets be clear, governments do not want to solve the homeless problem... that is to say, they are not concerned about providing shelter for homeless people. The problem, to their mind, is not shelter, nor food. The problem is how to domesticate homeless people and turn them into dutiful wage slaves. Thus, the homeless "solutions" we get all involve massive expenditures and plenty of "social work" designed to convert folks into worker bees. That these "solutions" are statistical failures in no way causes city/state governments to change their approach.

Homelessness is very easy to solve.. as Thoreau suggests. Dignity Village proves the same thing. People do not require super-expensive "affordable housing". For a couple hundred dollars each, mad-houser style huts could adequately house ever homeless person in SF.. at a fraction of the cost it takes to run shelters and other programs. These huts would be warm and relatively safe.. and would provide residents with a degree of autonomy. Of course, thats the problem. Good citizens dont want to give these folks autonomy. Theyd rather spend ten times the money to create failed programs that include heavy doses of social control.. than simply provide for the basic needs of "the homeless".

And so the streets of SF are filled with folks camped on sidewalks, in alleys.. all over the damn city. SF's homeless are either safely regulated and controlled in shelters... or they are consigned to misery. To simply give them cheap & comfortable huts would give away all leverage... why, theyd be under no pressure to become wage slaves. Better to keep them miserable or on a leash.. whatever the cost.. whatever the damage to the city's "quality of life".

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Mental Benefits

by Skald

Up to now Ive tended to focus on the financial benefits of simplicity.... and the benefit of increased "free time". Related to these are many mental benefits.

"Our life is frittered away by detail... In the midst of this chopping sea of civilized life, such are the clouds and storms and quicksands and thousand-and-one items to be allowed for, that a man has to live by dead reckoning, and he must be a great calculator indeed who succeeds. Simplify, simplify. Instead of three meals a day, if it be necessary eat but one; instead of a hundred dishes, five; and reduce other things in proportion."


Most modern Americans (and Japanese) seem excessively frantic. Many of my friends and family are ruled by daily "to do" lists. It seems they never manage "to do" everything that needs to be done. As soon as one item is checked off the list, three more are added. They are always hurrying. They seem to feel guilty if they take a little time to relax and do nothing. And its not only work. Their "free time" does not seem very free. Rather, they impose the same regimented mentality to life outside work as is imposed on the job.

Thus, even during their meager "time off", they never really relax. I can remember being perplexed and amused, as a child, by my parents obsession with "errands". They were always running errands. There always seemed to be bills to pay, something to buy, something to fix,... and these activities always carried a whiff of obligation... as if my parents would much rather be doing something else.

I often hear adults complain that "children today" have no attention span. I find these adults are not much better than the children they bemoan. Rare is the person who will join me for a few hours in a coffee shop... just chatting, reading, writing. They quickly become agitated. I can see them running through the "to do" list... growing more frantic with each passing minute as their "free time" ticks away.

Regardless of its economic effects, simplicity is a valuable pursuit because of its mental benefits. It frees ones mind from a million trivial details.

One reason so many people forget their dreams and lose touch with their passions is that they never take the time to examine their own instincts. It takes time to rediscover ones deepest desires. It takes time to separate conditioning from deeper principles. It takes time to live deliberately. Folks seem to think a two week vacation on the beach (busily "doing things) is enough to rejuvenate. But it takes far more time.

Most people seem terrified of their own mind. Left with nothing but their own thoughts, they panic. The veneer of happy success suddenly drops away. Feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety flood forth. Most people panic... take out the to-do list... and run from their thoughts.

Reflection takes time.... and it takes a willingness to confront difficult feelings. It also takes quiet and simplicity. This is a process of months and years... not weeks.

Most mainstream folks will insist they are happy, successful, and satisfied. No doubt a few of them are. But most are putting on an act. Most are desperate. Most feel empty inside... they've lost something. Their passion for life is gone. Their sense of awe and mystery is gone. Their sense of purpose is gone. Wildness, ferocity, enthusiasm... gone. Replaced by forced joviality.

How do I know these are fake? By observing them when they are not distracting themselves with trivia. Sit them in a quiet cafe and watch what happens. Start asking tough/deep questions, and watch the agitation.

Luckily, there is an easy way out of the trivia trap. Freedom begins not with a shout... nor with rebellion. It begins in quiet reflection, born of simplicity.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Simplicity Is For Everyone

by Skald

A simpler lifestyle does not only benefit those with a small income. While I choose to live lean... on a very modest income... I by no means believe everyone must do this. In fact, a big income multiplies the benefits of the hobopoet lifestyle.

The key.. the basic principle.. is to live BELOW your means... Preferably well below. Got a big income? Bringing in $200,000 a year? Great! Its even easier for you to attain freedom and autonomy.

We all complain about money. We all think more will solve our problems. Those making 10,000 dollars a year think they'd be free, happy, and satisfied if they could pull in 24,000. But those making 24k think 35k will do it.

Its the capitalist-consumer disease... nothing is ever enough. My father was bringing in 80k. Youd think that would be plenty, but he was convinced he needed more. Even the super-rich... the likes of Bill Gates.. think they need more. They are not driven by financial necessities... yet they believe more money, more power, more influence will do the trick. While Gates may live in mansions and travel via private jet... he is, in many ways, as much a slave as the poor suckers toiling away in his offices. He's a slave to his own greed.

As are most of us.

But there is a cure to this disease... voluntary simplicity. We dont need to start by imitating Thoreau. The first step... the easy step.. is to start by living slightly below our means. Spend less each month than you make. Then, month by month, year by year.. increase the gap between the two. Keep chipping away at superfluous luxuries. Downsize your living space... go smaller, go cheaper. Downsize your transportation expenses.

The big income earners can, in this way, create a HUGE gap between what they earn and what they spend. That gap first funds a six month to one year cache... enough to live off without a job. After that, the extra can be divided among investments and play.

For those of us with modest incomes, the process is essentially the same. And while we may have less income to play with, we often have less psychological addiction to status symbols... and thus can make a quicker transition to simplicity.. and freedom.

In short-- start where you are. Dont compare yourself to me or others. Its not necessary to live in a van.. unless you want to. The important point is the direction your life takes.... Will you remain addicted to MORE. Or will you pursue the far richer path to LESS?

Wednesday, February 22, 2006


by Skald

There are many benefits to living a simpler life... but perhaps, in our modern society, time is the biggest. I remember what it used to be like for me, back in my full time wage slave days. I never felt I had enough time. What a shock it was, going from university life (tons of "free" time) to working. My first summer at IBM, I was severely depressed. I woke at 6:30 am. Commuted an hour to two hours (depending on traffic). Worked 8+ hour days (though "work" is an inaccurate word.. I was bored out of my fucking mind). I arrived home at 6/7pm... exhausted. Exhausted by boredom. Exhausted by the stressful commute.

I had two measly days, Sat & Sun, that were "mine". As each week went by, my sense of desperation grew. I felt enslaved. I couldnt imagine living an entire adult life in that way. The seeds of my hobopoet lifestyle were born then. I knew I had to find a better way. It took me many years to find the (obvious) solution.

And now? Occasionally I bitch about my 20 hour workweek. Yet I love the work I do... and most days have a great time doing it. My commute? 5 minutes walking... for a total of 10 minutes a day. I work Monday-Thursday... and so have a three day weekend. Even better, Im not only a part time worker... I am also temporary.. in the sense that I usually alternate working for a few years.. then taking a year or more off.

Compared to my wage slave days, I have plenty of time. I spend hours loafing in coffee shops. I read like crazy. I have plenty of time for this blog AND my other blog. I go to the gym 1-2 hours a day.. sometimes to workout.. often just to sit in the sauna and hot tub. I often go for long walks in the city. In fact, I never use the bus system because Im rarely in a hurry. The city is only 7x7 miles long.. so I pretty much walk everywhere (occasionally taking the subway to visit friends who live south of Mission).

Im a bit of an indy movie buff... and have plenty of time for renting or going to movies. When I want to travel, I rarely take a typical American "vacation"... ie. a pitiful two weeks. Usually I quit my current job and travel for 2 months at minimum.... longer if I can afford it.

By living a simple life day to day, I not only have time for all these pursuits... I have enough money as well.

Big noble causes are great. I wholeheartedly agree with Thoreau's big picture principles. I admire people who live simply for spiritual or environmental reasons.

But truth be told... the selfish reasons are most compelling to me. By living simpler, Im having a lot more fun in my life. Im more relaxed. Im more intellectually stimulated. I have the time to follow my bliss... anywhere it takes me. I have more mastery over my own life.

Simplicity IS a noble principle. But its also a damn practical strategy for greater freedom and happiness.

Monday, February 20, 2006


by Skald

We dont need much. Its easy to "make a living" if we will only live simply.... it was Thoreau's message.. and mine as well. Thoreau was absolutely right, most of us are needlessly enslaved all our lives. Not by force. Not by necessity. By choice... Because of the lifestyle choices we make.

We are taught that we need more more more more more more more more more. The media bombards us. But thats not all. We are also surrounded by fearful slaves eager to "protect" us from the discomfort of freedom. They are our family, our friends, our co-workers. They are well meaning, but completely in the grip of fear...

When I lived in my van, I was plagued by doubters. I had enough of my own worries, and they fed off them. My family filled me with fears about criminals assaulting me. They fretted about the weather.. surely I would freeze. They were horrified by the "hardship" I would endure.

Though I no longer live in a van, the steady stream of worries continues. They fret because I dont have health insurance. They fret because I sleep on the floor (a mattress, seemingly, is now a "necessity"). Everyone is convinced that I cant possibly be happy in a tiny one room studio, sleeping on the floor. How can I survive without cable TV? How can I sleep without a $200 mattress? How do I tolerate the "hardship" of walking down the hall to use the bathroom? How can I possibly get by without a car? How can I continue to live a "student lifestyle" at my age.... I should be living in a McMansion, paying off a $150,000 mortgage. I should have a car payment. I should be stacked with credit cards.

The shock extends to dating. Its one reason I am no longer interested in dating American women. They are, as a general rule, superficial. Theyre looking for expensive clothes, a "cool" apartment, and plenty of cash. If/when I describe my lifestyle, the horrified shock instantly flashes on their faces.

Its amazingly easy to be free. Contrary to the mass conditioning, we in fact need very little in terms of material possessions.

The hard part is not living simply, the difficult challenge is pyschological-- dealing with the relentless assault from media and people in our social circle. Its not easy. It took me a great deal of time to unravel this mass hypnosis... see it for what it is. It took me even longer to accept that Id forever be outside the "mainstream"... that most folks would never understand or accept my lifestyle.

However, it was worth the effort. I passed through several lonely years. But if you follow your principles, eventually opportunity opens. As I committed to an autonomous life, I gradually met like minded people. Over time Ive built my own hobopoet tribe. And Ive even had a very healthy dating life.

And so, with the benefit of hindsight, I offer this advice: Endure the doubts-- your own and those of others. Endure temporary loneliness. Endure the criticism and worries. Go forward boldly, with faith in yourself and your convictions. Do so, and doors will open where you never imagined they'd be (Thoreau).

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Entheogen Info

by Skald

"Documenting the complex relationship between humans and psychoactives"

Thats the tag line for Erowid, the most extensive web site (I know of) about psychoactive substances. The site is a rich storehouse of information... scientific, experiential, and legal. For accurate information about drugs and their effects, including shamanistic uses, check out this website. Erowid presents clear minded information, without the "thought crime" hysteria found on most sources re: this topic.

Read Erowid and just say "yes".

Great Blog

by Skald

I just realized that another of my posts has disappeared. It was there yesterday, gone today. What the hell is going on? Is blogger censoring me, or just screwing up my blog out of incompetence? If its censorship, couldnt they at least do me the courtesy of INFORMING me?

Anyway, here's the other missing post:

I highly recommend an anarchist blog/site called the Anthropik Tribe. The tribe writes about ecology, anarchism, primitivism.... and various other heresies.

Check them out at: Anthropik

Escaping the Blogger Censors- Suggestions?

by Skald

Looks like I need to find a different host for my blog.. as I cant tolerate the suits at Blogger/Google deciding what is "acceptable" and what is not. Google has clearly crossed over to the dark side.. enthusiastically teaming up with the Chinese government to censor web content. Do a search on Google's China site and you will find no mention of the Tiananmen Square massacre... just pictures of smiling happy people. Will Google help the Chinese government track down dissidents who disobey the censorship laws (as Microsoft and Yahoo have)? Im sure they will.

Its all about cash. Corporations and the people who work for them have no principles.. other than profit. For enough profit they would sell their mothers into sexual slavery, no doubt. For the billions they'll make from China, they will become an active agent of censorship and totalitarianism.

They extend this policy to the US, albeit in more subtle ways. Theyve chosen to censor my writings about ganga (even though these activities are, in fact, legal in the state of California... where I live). Google/Blogger has stepped over the line from a search and storage company to a company that decides editorial content. Theyve appointed themselves judges of what thoughts may be expressed and which may not.

Which is unacceptable to me. And so I need another host for this blog. I need a host that will not censor my writing.. or otherwise interfere.

Any suggestions?

Google Is Evil

by Skald

Apparently Google (parent company of Blogger) does not confine its censorship activities to China. My last post, titled "The Grey Economy", has mysteriously disappeared. Here one minute, gone the next. I got no notice from anyone as to why it was removed. Creepy.

This is the very definition of a "thought crime".... suppress the expression of certain thoughts, and the writing of certain ideas.

Just in case you missed the post... it was about the "grey economy" in SF. Specifically I wrote about my encounter with ganga growers in the city.. and how this "industry" seems to supplement a large number of people's incomes. I also recommended that readers in liberal locations (ie, with medical ganga laws) consider joining this grey economy as a means of living more autonomously.

But these are heresies in America.. and much of the world. So much so that the inquisitors cannot allow the ideas to be published... there can be no debate, no open discussion.

Internet censorship is not just for the Chinese... its alive and well in the good ole USA as well.

The High Cost of Driving

by Skald

"In the eyes of the Bush administration, however, Iran’s worst transgression has less to do with nuclear ambitions or anti-Semitism than with the petro-euro oil bourse Tehran is slated to open in March 2006. Iran’s plan to allow oil trading in euros threatens to break the dollar’s monopoly as the global reserve currency, and since the greenback is severely overvalued due to huge trade deficits, the move could be devastating for the US economy."

--From Common Dreams

Deja vu. The above statement has an eerie resemblance to the situation in Iraq, shortly before we invaded. At that time, Saddam Hussein was also moving to switch from dollars to euros as the accepted currency for his nations oil. During the buildup to our invasion, many pegged the dollar to euro switch as the underlying reason for the invasion... the US simply cannot allow one large oil producer to get away with this.

Now its Iran's turn. By most expert accounts, the country is at least 10 years away from having an atomic bomb (assuming they want one). More to the point, why souldnt they have nuclear weapons? How can the US, Britain, France, Russia, China... justify being armed to the teeth with nukes (and intercontinental missiles)... yet piously declare that no other country may have them. Even this declaration is a lie, as the US has embraced both India and Pakistan despite their "illegal" development of nukes. Finally, what sane country wouldnt want nukes. Nukes are currently the only defense against an American invasion. Iraq didnt have them and they got pulverized. Iran doesnt have them, and they are in the crosshairs. N. Korea does have them... so America doesnt dare attack. Given America's psychotic bullying, Iran would be crazy NOT to develop a viable nuclear arsenal.

But all this is just hype. Another ploy to whip the timid American masses into fearful hysteria. Americans are easy to scare, and easy to control once they are afraid. But they arent completely cold hearted. Invading Iran to bolster the US dollar simply wouldnt fly with most folks. And so we get this constant stream of smug bullshit about the "Iranian threat".

Keep your eyes on the calendar. The attack on Iran should closely coincide with congressional elections this coming Fall.

Will it work? Will mainstream Americans be fooled again? Will they wave the flag, "support the troops", wear yellow ribbons, and declare their moral superiority? Will they vote to keep the Republicans in office in order to "protect us from Iran"?

Of course they will.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


by Skald

Is it possible to be a hobopoet AND have a spouse/children? I have neither, and so the lifestyle is fairly easy for me. But recently Ive been thinking about family and babies. My sister is having a baby. A good friend and his wife recently had one.

In fact, I suspect Im in the very tiny minority as someone who is not interested in having kids. Must every would-be hobopoet live as I do? To be free, is it necessary to be single? Or at least childless?

I dont think so. Once again, massive conditioning overcomplicates the issue. Parents must not only deal with the normal barrage of work/consume/die propaganda... they must also deal with the guilt messages of the media & society. Parents are sent a very powerful message, massively repeated: good parents indulge their children. While its tolerable (barely) for adults to do without modern luxuries... it is cruel and irresponsible to deny them to children. Children, therefore, "need" their own room. Children "need" new clothes. Children "need" TV ("children's TV). Children "need" expensive plastic toys, electronic gadgets, computers, etc...

Parents who dont supply these things are "weird" at best, "neglectful" at worst.

But these messages are lies. None of this bullshit is necessary. Previously I wrote about a family in Thailand that lives together in a small, one room apartment. There are four of them, wife, husband, small boy (kindergarten age), and newborn. The children wear inexpensive "hand me down" clothes. They have no electronic toys or expensive gadgets.

I can imagine the reaction of typical Americans to this arrangement: a family of four in a tiny studio apartment... what a "tragedy".... "how sad for the children". And yet, this family seemed more intimate... more unified.. than any Ive seen in America.

Children require no more luxuries than we do. In fact, they are far more adaptable than adults. For thousands of years, children have lived in huts with their entire family... and have been happy to play outside. Theyve used cheap/free simple toys... and their imaginations. Parents raised their children with help from grandparents, uncles/aunts, friends, and their community.

I believe that a hobopoet family is possible. What's more, I think such a family can be healthier than what now passes for normal. Today, "normal" families live in isolation... two parents struggling to do it all alone. "Normal" families have two working parents.... and put their children in daycare... to be raised by strangers working for an hourly wage. "Normal" parents often confuse love with consumption... believing they must buy their children's respect/happiness with toys. "Normal" parents are exhausted from working to pay for their own unnecessary luxuries, plus the expensive luxuries they shower on their children.

I cant be totally sure, but I imagine most children would prefer more time with mom and dad... and fewer video games. I imagine they would thrive more by having a community of "godparents", uncles/aunts (genetic or "adopted"), and family friends. I imagine they would do better in the long run by reading used books than watching TV or playing the latest Nintendo game. And I imagine that parents would form a deeper connection with their children if they followed this approach.

Simplicity, autonomy, and freedom are not only for single people.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Media Fast

by Skald

Fasting is an ancient means of purifying and healing the body. When an animal is sick, it usually stops eating and rests. When people fast, their body's focuses on eliminating toxins. A four day fast (water only) will eliminate almost any non-chronic disease. Its also great for the mind... clearing it as powerfully as meditation. Check out Paul Bragg's books on fasting for more about its benefits.

Fasting is great physically,... and it can also have great emotional/intellectual benefits if applied to media. Many folks have difficulty going cold turkey off TV (and other media).

As a first step, I suggest a media fast. Try, for just one week, to eliminate all exposure to media. No TV. No movies. No newspapers. No magazines. No internet. No music. No books. Also... no writing! You may have to read/write... or use the computer.. at work, but otherwise avoid all mediated experience. Focus only on DIRECT sensory experiences... ie. where you are and what you are doing.

Try this for 7 full days. As the week progresses, notice your mind, notice your emotions. Its not uncommon to become extremely agitated in the beginning. We are so used to titillation that resting quietly with our thoughts & senses can seem quite scary at first. But stick with it. By the end of the week, you should notice your mind calming. You may notice you feel less of an urge to buy crap. You may notice less fear, worry, and anxiety.

Whatever you experience, examine it closely..... through this direct experiment, try to gauge just how you are influenced by media... and how you might change if you reduced your exposure to it.

Give it a try.

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Against Legalization

by Hakim Bey

Needless to say that I consider the Drug War an abomination, and that I would demand immediate unconditional amnesty for all "prisoners of consciousness"—assuming that I had any power to make demands! But in a world where all reform can be instantaneously turned into new means of control, it makes no sense to go on demanding legalization simply because it seems rational and humane.

For example, consider what might result from the legalization of "medical marijuana" clearly the will of the people in at least six states. The herb would instantly fall under drastic new regulations from "Above" (the AMA, the courts, insurance companies, etc.). Monsanto would probably acquire the DNA patents and "intellectual ownership" of the plants genetic structure. Laws would probably be tightened against illegal marijuana for "recreational uses." Smokers would be defined (by law) as "sick." As a commodity, Cannabis would soon be denatured like other legal psychotropics such as coffee, tobacco, or chocolate.

Terence McKenna once pointed out that virtually all useful research on psychotropics is carried out illegally and is often largely funded from underground. Legalization would make possible a much tighter control from above over all drug research. The valuable contributions of the entheogenic underground would probably diminish or cease altogether. Terence suggested that we stop wasting time and energy petitioning the authorities for permission to do what we're doing, and simply get on with it.

Yes, the Drug War is evil and irrational. Let us not forget, however, that as an economic activity, the War makes quite good sense. Im not even going to mention the booming "corrections industry," the bloated police and intelligence budgets, or the interests of the pharmaceutical cartels. Economists estimate that some ten percent of circulating capital in the world is "gray money" derived from illegal activity (largely drug and weapon sales). This gray area is actually a kind of free-floating frontier for Global Capital itself, a small wave that precedes the big wave and provides its "sense of direction." (For example gray money or "offshore" capital is always the first to migrate from depressed markets to thriving markets.) "War is the health of the State" as Randolph Bourne once said --but war is no longer so profitable as in the old days of booty, tribute and chattel slavery. Economic war increasingly takes its place, and the Drug War is an almost "pure" form of economic war. And since the Neo-liberal State has given up so much power to corporations and "markets" since 1989, it might justly be said that the War on Drugs constitutes the "health" of Capital itself.

Beyond (or aside from) economic considerations, the ban on (some) psychotropics can also be considered from a "shamanic" perspective. Global Capital and universal Image seem able to absorb almost any "outside" and transform it into an area of commodification and control. But somehow, for some strange reason, Capital appears unable or unwilling to absorb the entheogenic dimension. It persists in making war on mind-altering or transformative substance, rather than attempting to "co-opt" and hegemonize their power.

In other words it would seem that some sort of authentic power is at stake here. Global Capital reacts to this power with the same basic strategy as the Inquisition --by attempting to suppress it from the outside rather than control it from within. ("Project MKULTRA" was the governments secret attempt to penetrate the occult interior of psychotropism-–it appears to have failed miserably.) In a world that has abolished the Outside by the triumph of the Image, it seems that at least one "outside" nevertheless persists. Power can deal with this outside only as a form of the unconscious, i.e., by suppression rather than realization. But this leaves open the possibility that those who manage to attain "direct awareness" of this power might actually be able to wield it and implement it. If "entheogenic neo-shamanism" (or whatever you want to call it) cannot be betrayed and absorbed into the power-structure of the Image, then we may hypothesize that it represents a genuine Other, a viable alternative to the "one world" of triumphant Capital. It is (or could be) our source of power.

The "Magic of the State" (as M. Taussig calls it), which is also the magic of Capital itself, consists of social control through the manipulation of symbols. This is attained through mediation, including the ultimate medium, money as hieroglyphic text, money as pure Imagination as "social fiction" or mass hallucination. This real illusion has taken the place of both religion and ideology as delusionary sources of social power. This power therefore possesses (or is possessed by) a secret goal; that all human relations be defined according to this hieroglyphic mediation, this "magic." But neo-shamanism proposes with all seriousness that another magic may exist, an effective mode of consciousness that cannot be hexed by the sign of the commodity. If this were so, it would help explain why the Image appears unable or unwilling to deal "rationally" with the "issue of drugs." In fact, a magical analysis of power might emerge from the observed fact of this radical incompatibility of the Global Imaginaire and shamanic consciousness.

In such a case, what could our power consist of in actual empirical terms? I am far from proposing that "winning" the War on Drugs would somehow constitute The Revolutio --or even that "shamanic power" could contest the magic of the State in any strategic manner. Clearly however the very existence of entheogenism as a true differenc --in a world where true difference is denie --marks the historic validity of an Other, of an authentic Outside. In the (unlikely) event of legalization, this Outside would be breached, entered, colonized, betrayed, and turned into sheer simulation. A major source of initiation, still accessible in a world apparently devoid of mystery and of will, would be dissolved into empty representation, a pseudo-rite of passage into the timeless/spaceless enclosure of the Image. In short, we would have sacrificed our potential power to the ersatz reform of legalization, and we would win nothing thereby but the simulacrum of tolerance at the expense of the triumph of Control.

Again: I have no idea what our strategy shall be. I believe however that the time has come to admit that a tactics of mere contingency can no longer sustain us. "Permitted dissent" has become an empty category, and reform merely a mask for recuperation. The more we struggle on "their" terms the more we lose. The drug legalization movement has never won a single battle. Not in America anywa --and America is the "sole superpower" of Global Capital. We boast of our outlaw status as outsiders or marginals, as guerilla ontologists; why then, do we continually beg for authenticity and validation (either as "reward" or as "punishment") from authority? What good would it do us if we were to be granted this status, this "legality"?

The Reform movement has upheld true rationality and it has championed real human values. Honor where honor is due. Given the profound failure of the movement however, might it not be timely to say a few words for the irrational, for the irreducible wildness of shamanism, and even a single word for the values of the warrior? "Not peace, but a sword."

America: Butt Ugly

by Skald

Went to the annual Chinese New Year parade last night.... Id been told it was the biggest Chinese New Year parade in the world, outside of Taiwan/China. Id seen one in Bangkok's Chinatown last year, so I was looking forward to dragon dances, firecrackers, Chinese music & dance, etc.

These things were present, but they were overwhelmed by a massive assault of corporate marketing. I had flashbacks from last week's super bowl. It seemed every other group was carrying corporate logos. Ford had a huge and incredibly tacky display... maybe a hundred Chinese people carrying white flags with the Ford logo. They also had a very nice float that looked like a traditional Chinese theater... which would have been beautiful except for the gigantic Ford logo on its front.. which was lit up.

Then there was the worst of all... the McDonalds float. It looked like it had been thrown together by a group of High School kids and was the most sickening example of racial pandering Ive seen in a long time. I can imagine a McDonalds executive committee somewhere, "We need a float for Chinese New Year.... why don't we stick Ronald Mcdonald on a trailer with a bunch of Chinese kids... and some huge blow up pics of cute Chinese kids too... we'll show em that Asians love McDonalds".

Cingular cell phones had a float... and it too was tacky and ugly... a lame copy of their logo with chinese lion heads on top. There was also an obnoxious display by UPS... their big brown trucks pulling smaller floats. Bank of America had one.

But the big sponsor was Southwest Airlines (I didnt realize they flew to China.. :) In fact they co-opted the name. Its increasingly difficult in America to have any kind of public event without it being stolen by a corporation. And so this was the "Southwest Airlines Chinese New Year Parade". In keeping with corporate tradition, they had a hideous float.. with their dorky employees wearing hats shaped like airplanes.

And so, overall, the parade felt as "Chinese" as I am. Beyond that, it was simply a tacky and ugly display. In America, beauty or elegance for its own sake is despised. Only things which generate money are honored. Every festival, every big sports game, every parade, every public holiday is seized upon by corporations and turned into a marketing event.

We are a crude and ugly nation.

Saturday, February 11, 2006

No Nukes

by Skald

"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."

--Hakim Bey

The nuclear family is a depressing, isolating, force of conformity. I grew up in just such a family. My father, mother, sister, and I lived in a sealed environment. Though we had a "neighborhood" we knew none of the neighbors. In fact, I don't recall my parents having any friends at all. They never had guests at our house, except the rare visit from a relative. Other than Sunday golf, my father seemed to have no meaningful relationships other than our tiny family. My mom was the same.

We were not unique. The 1950s nuclear family is a death-trap. Its a one way ticket to boredom and stagnation. Its a recipe for loneliness and disaster. The sky-high divorce rate comes as no surprise to me. Youve got to be half dead to stomach that kind of life till you die.

Our ancestors wisely had much larger social networks. Anthropologists and sociologists typically put the "ideal" social network between 50-200 people. Most humans seem to thrive in such an environment... when they have a close core of about 20 family/friends and an extended network of another 30+. Below these numbers, depression, isolation, boredom, and alienation typically ensue.

The nuclear family is a device... a destructive meme-idea that keeps us weak and disconnected. Spouses are encouraged to abandon their friends and eliminate their social networks and rely solely on the nuclear family. Ive seen this advice in countless mainstream magazines (especially women's magazines). These articles decry men who continue to "go out with the boys". With a condescending tone, they imply that a man who keeps his friends after marriage is somehow immature. The woman is encouraged to break him of this habit.

Likewise, many women lose their social network after marriage. They too buy the lie. What's worse, many insecure/controlling men work actively to isolate their wives. They are threatened by her friends. This reaches its extreme with abusive men... whose first step (before the physical abuse begins) is to drive away the woman's social support network.

Its a sick sick sick dynamic.

But other options are fast becoming popular... as Hakim Bey notes. As conservatives love to moan, the nuclear family is falling apart... and thank god! The divorce rate has had one very beneficial side effect... men and woman increasingly realize that they need more than one person in their lives. They are building their own tribes, their own bands.. .their own extended families. Women have made great strides in this area... few women today buy the lie that they can depend on a man for life. They realize theyve got to take care of themselves... economically, socially, emotionally. And thats great!

Ive followed this new path and have found it very satisfying. It took time, but Im now part of a tribe.. an extended family. The core of this group consists of like-minded nomadic hobopoets. We've traveled from South Carolina, to Georgia, to Thailand, and now to San Francisco together.

In the past, moving to a new city was a very lonely experience. Not so now.

In addition to this core nomadic group, Ive also got many good friends all over the world.... and with the internet/email, its easy to stay in touch. Should I want to relocate to Kyoto or Osaka, Ive got a ready made social group already waiting. The same is true of Bangkok, Thailand.... or Georgia, USA.

How have I done this? In truth, Im a fairly standoffish guy in person. While outwardly friendly, it takes a while for me to warm to people. So if I can do it, anyone can.

One thing Ive done is to remain friends with most of my ex-girlfriends. This is rarely easy, but has been very rewarding. Ive never understood the idea that you can be intimate with someone one day... then hate their guts the next. It strikes me as an incredibly immature (and insecure) attitude. I also make a point of keeping contact with those rare and glorious hobopoets I befriend during my life.

Capitalist culture seeks to isolate us. Companies want us to be isolated, insecure, needy consumers. They love lonely and depressed people because they are more vulnerable to marketing. Lonely people can easily be convinced to shop in order to feel better. Depressed people will gorge themselves on food and products to fill the void.

People who are happy, who have a vibrant network of friends, family, lovers, etc... are less easily manipulated. They find happiness in their everyday social connections... and have less need to buy buy buy to fill the lonely hours.

A band/tribe is imperative. Dont buy into the bitter addiction to loneliness.... and dont buy the nuclear family lie.

Create your own band. Build your own tribe.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

No Sweat

by Skald

"In short, I am convinced, both by faith and experience, that to maintain one's self on this earth is not a hardship but a pastime, if we will live simply and wisely; It is not necessary that a man should earn his living by the sweat of his brow, unless he sweats easier than I do."


That is, perhaps, my favorite quote from Thoreau (which is why its on the Hobopoet banner, of course). What I love is not only Thoreau's sane observation, but the grin with which he delivers it. Thoreau reversed our modern mental disease... he held contempt for the rich and ridiculous.

He saw the futility of chasing society's bangles.... noticed how many minds and lives were wasted by the ridiculous pursuit of social "status". Things have gotten much crazier since his time. And while I do feel despair and anger at times, increasingly I find myself laughing.

What I find funniest is the way everyone is sweating, sweating, sweating to maintain themself on this earth. Why do they make it so damn hard on themselves? Why do they buy 100,000 dollar houses? 200,000? More? (The AVERAGE price for a house in SF is 700,000 dollars!!!). Why do they spend 10,000 dollars for a car (or more)?

They then must work their asses off to keep this shit. Husband and wife both must work, so the kids are thoroughly neglected. The bulk of their waking hours are spent preparing for work, commuting to/from work, and at work. The typical American gets two weeks of vacation a year! All my "normal" relatives complain of overwork. They seem frazzled.

It doesnt have to be this hard. While I now "work",... I work only 20 hours a week. My "commute" is a five minute walk to school. I consider my apartment expensive, but for SF its quite cheap. Like Thoreau, I say this not to brag but to encourage other people. Its possible to have plenty of time and money. Its possible for life to be a pasttime, not a long hard slog.

I have a three day weekend. On the other four days, I average 5 hours a day. And since my needs are few, I can be picky about the kind of place I work. I actually love what I do (though I wouldnt want to do it more than 20 hours a week).

Mine is only one example. There are countless paths to ease. Its possible to have plenty of time for art, children, fitness, fun, friends, community, sleep, and doing nothing.

Like many, Im frustrated with the direction this country has taken. It saddens me to see so many desperate, overworked, lonely, frustrated, unhealthy people. Their loss of dignity and autonomy angers me... for I remember well how it felt.

But Im not a pessimist. Im an unabashed optimist. For despite all the bullshit, its not only possible to live free--- its easy.

We are enslaved by "mind forged manacles", its true. But we also hold the key to freedom....

Let go of social conditioning. Dare to remember your highest aspirations (or set off in search of them).

There's no need to sweat.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

They Live

By Skald

One of the best benefits of living abroad was that I did not understand the language. In particular, I could not read Japanese or Thai.

I love travel and Im a passionate language teacher. And yet, I have never been able to muster the motivation to learn a foreign language. In both Japan and Thailand, I learned just enough to get around. Once I could navigate markets, taxis, and other everyday encounters... all motivation to learn the language vanished.

Ive contemplated this phenomenon often. As a language teacher (English, of course), I feel a certain "obligation" to learn another language. Im certainly smart enough to do so. I picked up survival Japanese quite quickly, for example. So whats the problem?

Well, there isnt one. Ive come to realize that deep down, I dont want to be fluent in these languages. Why not? Because a great deal of mental peace comes with not understanding the predominant language where you live. Sitting in a coffee shop in Thailand, I found it easy to concentrate-- even when surrounded by talking Thais. But in America, one loud person will grate on my nerves and distract me.... I just can't tune out what they are saying.

Another benefit: I can't understand, and am therefore uneffected, by local marketing. The billboards are there, but I cant read them. The radio commercials seem just as banal, but I dont understand them. And so, though surrounded by blaring marketing messages.... and chattering small talk... I move in relative mental peace.

This is not so much the case here in SF. Try as I might, I cant avoid the damn marketing messages. They are everywhere. I dont watch TV... but ads are plastered on walls, on billboards, on taxis, on T-Shirts, on the sides of buses. I can read and understand every one of them.

The worst jolt for me, upon returning to the US, was this assault on my mental tranquility. My first week back I took a ride with my friend in his car. Automatically, he flipped on the radio. For the next hour I was assaulted by tired oldies and relentlessly smirky ads. I became jittery and agitated. I asked him to turn it down, but he seemed annoyed. I tried to think, or just quietly observe the landscape,.... but I couldnt get the damn radio out of my head.

There are people, MANY of them, who live most of their day like this. They wake up and read the newspaper over breakfast. They get in the car and immediately turn on the radio. When they arrive at work, they've got a radio there too. Its kept on during the entire work day. They then drive home with the radio blaring yet again. After munching a bit of food, they turn on the TV.

At the gym, you seem them with headphones in their ears. You get the feeling they are terrified of being quietly alone with their thoughts for even one minute.

Which brings to mind the fantastic B-movie by John Carpenter, "They Live". If you havent seen it, RENT IT. I think it was made in the 80s (or early 90s). The acting is cheesy, the budget is low, but the theme of the movie is dead-on. Its a great spoof (and criticism) of the way we are mentally conditioned by marketing and media. As an extra bonus, it stars "Rowdy Roddy Piper", a former professional wrestler (of the WWF type)-- and has one of the greatest (and most ridiculous) fight scenes on film (how many times can a man get kicked in the balls and still function?) !!!!

The movie is ridiculous and very tongue-in-cheek, but subtract the sci-fi elements and you've got a pretty accurate critique of our mental landscape.

After watching the film, try playing this game in your home town: whenever you see a piece of marketing (or hear one), try to decipher its central message (other than, obviously, "buy this"). Think, what exactly is this saying.... pay particular attention to the images used on TV ads or on billboards. Ive found the following messages to be most common: "You can fuck lots of women if you buy the right stuff", "You will be cool if you buy the right stuff", "Never tolerate discomfort, buy the right stuff to prevent it", "Be admired-- buy the right stuff", "The world is scary and full of danger, buy the right stuff and protect yourself", "Buy the right stuff and become powerful",.... and finally (per Fight Club)... "You are the money in your bank, the car you drive, the clothes you wear, the products you use... you have no internal worth separate from these things... you will be judged solely on these criteria".

If you think these messages don't effect you, you're kidding yourself.

Friday, February 03, 2006


by Skald

Our German Hobopoet's scooter trip got me to thinking, again, about conditioned expectations. So much is possible that we never consider or imagine. We are brainwashed to seek luxury and comfort always. The conditioning is so pervasive, so relentless, and so powerful that most Westerners can no longer distinguish between discomfort/inconvenience and deprivation.

The scooter trip is a perfect example. To make such a trip, most folks will tell you a car is necessary. Many will insist that a fairly new car is necessary... one that has been checked, tuned, etc. In America, most people will tell you that they "need" a car.

But our German Hobopoet took his tiny scooter on an international trip with little trouble at all. He had a few inconveniences. But thats it. In exchange, he paid MUCH less money for his vehicle, he used MUCH less gas, and his vehicle occupied MUCH less space on the road. Do we really "need" cars? Wouldnt a scooter serve most of our needs... even in car-culture America?

Lets face it, Americans have become effete, spoiled, babies. They bitch and whine at the slightest inconvenience. They sell their time, their dignity, and their souls in order to acquire gadgets that will eliminate all discomfort and inconvenience from their lives. They have absolutely no perspective, no idea what deprivation really is.

A small example from my own life: Currently I live in a small one room apartment with a shared bath. I must walk down the hall to use a communal bathroom. Also, I dont have a bed, so I sleep on the floor. When I tell this to people, they act shocked. They immediately start to give me advice... to save me from the "suffering" I must be enduring. They recommend that I borrow money to buy a bed. They caution me to wear sandals in the bathroom, lest I catch some horrible disease.

For most Americans, a private bathroom is a "need". And so is an expensive, high, soft bed.

What's worse, our "needs" keep multiplying. A refrigerator is now a "need". A microwave is a "need". Most Americans would also list the following as needs: TV, stereo, oven, a bedroom for each occupant, a car, brand name clothes, a music collection, & health insurance. The media is working overtime to convince us that a cell phone, a computer, a home internet connection, a digital camera, a DVD player, a house, an ipod, and a host of medications are also "needs".

No wonder we are in debt. No wonder we "need" to be full time wage slaves. No wonder we are such crybabies.

Thoreau wrote, "A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can let alone" ... or do without! At the deepest level, its not even our jobs that enslave us. Its our craving for comfort,... our spoiled insistence that life always be convenient and without discomfort. We are enslaved by full time jobs only because we must pay for all this shit.

But pampered convenience comes with a big price: your mind, your autonomy, your soul.

Scooter Trip!

After travelling 832kms I have just arrived back in London with my Zoomer. The trek took a little over 3 days in total.. going on a slow bike you need to choose a very different route so it ended up being a lot longer than expected.

Overall, it was cold but fun! Especially going through Holland was like some sort of "Ruckus Adventure Themepark", with every possible trick you could do being required at least once. But let's start from
the beginning: After taking delivery of the bike in Bad Kreuznach on Saturday morning, my first trip on it was to the outdoor sports store next day to buy some snowboarding pants. This turned out to be the best investment of the whole trip as it was COOOLD. On average it was about 0C (32F) with the coldest being way lower than that.

So, if you ask me, what kind of clothes should I be wearing driving a Ruck across Europe in January? the answer would have to be "All of them". On top of each other. I was wearing a pair of pants under my snowboard pants, a t-shirt, fat sweater, windproof jacket and snowboard jacket over the top and at times I still got stiff... but I made it without serious discomfort and/or getting sick, after all!

After leaving Bad Kreuznach I went the scenic route over smaller roads north-west. I have to say this must have been easily the worst day of the trip because it wasn't only cold, but also WET. Just cold is fine but cold + wet is deadly. The moisture will creep into your gear andslowly rob it of its insulating properties leaving you freezing todeath. There was snow on the ground in some places and overall the scenery was pretty cool, lots of forest, rivers and going up and down hills. At the end of the day I stayed in a little guesthouse in a little town in the mountains near the famous Nurburgring. The hot shower felt like heaven. I partied it up a bit in the bar with some locals who were singing along with the radio and waving sparklers in
the air and buying me round after round.

The next morning I set out early and made it up to Aachen in the afternoon. Before I could get going I had to wipe the ice of the seat of the Zoomer. At times it was so cold there was also some ice on the speedometer -- I'll post pictures of this later. In Aachen my buddy wasn't in unfortunately, and I was dismayed to find out my favourite place to eat had folded!! I carried on west over the border into the Netherlands, and stopped in Vaals to have a fockink coffee at De Fockink Cafe. The next couple of hours were pretty shitty, going through a piece of Belgium. Generally Belgium just sucks. The people
were rude as shit. Some assholes shouted obscenities at me out of the window of a wannabe gangster BMW with tribals in the back window. I gave them the one fingered salute.

Way after dark I finally made it into the Netherlands again -- and this is where the best part of the trip starts. The Dutch are mad about bicycles. Bicycles get their little lane everywhere, with their own little traffic lights, bridges, and everything. And: small motorcycles get to use the bike lanes as well! So going up towards Eindhoven was a breeze. There was a designated cycle route in the forest running alongside the main freeway going north. Trees on the left and right and a smooth paved path right down the middle where you could easily go flat out.. what fun!

Later that night I arrived in Eindhoven, tired, cold and in need of a warm place to stay. After some hunting around I got a room in a place called Benno's, which was funky and inexpensive. I had a few beers and hit the sack.

The next morning I had some coffee and set out towards Rotterdam/Hoek van Holland. Leaving Eindhoven to the west I found an awesome mud trail again running along the freeway. Zooming through there with trees on either side and flat frozen mud was a blast and really woke me up. At the end of the trail I had to go down a 45 degree vertical slope, which I barely managed braking with my feet and holding both brakes. For breakfast, I stopped at this AMAZING McDonalds just west
of Eindhoven in a place called Best. Outside, they had a 20 foot statue of Michael Jackson (ahem) and inside it looked a bit like "Jack Rabbit Slim's" from Pulp Fiction.. Old American cars hanging from the ceiling, an old Vespa and a statue of Marilyn Monroe perpetually getting air blown under her skirt. Pretty amazing attention to detail for a fast food place for sure..

Going further west the journey got easier and I got to see firsthand to what the extend the dutch are bicycle crazy. Where in Germany going on two wheels at this weather elicted stares and "you are crazy" type opinions, in the Netherlands EVERYBODY WAS OUT RIDING. And I mean everybody. Mothers with the children in a kiddy seat in the back, all bundled up. Old women. People on tandems. People on other scooters. People on weird bicycles you sort of lie in and pedal a wheel in the
air. And where people looked at the Zoomer, it drew smiles.

Late in the afternoon I was closing in on Rotterdam and this is were the Crazy Stunts section of the trip was. At some point the bicycle/moped path went up about 4 flights of metal stairs onto a bridge to cross a river. To facilitate this, there was a sort of metal guide rail going up the middle the stairs you can slot your wheels into while pushing the bike up. Even though the Zoomer tires were a bit too fat for the groove, I managed to get the thing up the stairs by walking next to it and gunning the throttle. Picture that!

Once I reached the river I needed to cross to get into downtown Rotterdam things even got more insane. I followed the signs all the way to the tunnel where I expected to be able to cross. Only: there was nothing there except for some weird building right on the waterfront. I inquired to a local and he pointed me towards the building. Inside, there were 3 big long wooden ESCALATORS where people were holding on to their bikes on the way down into the tunnel. I asked the local security guard about if its okay with the scooter and he said "Yes. Just don't drive it when you get to the bottom onlypush. And hold the brakes on the escalator".

So head down first I crammed the Ruckus on the escalator and half expected it to go tumbling down the stairs. Somehow I managed to get to the bottom and warmed up nicely pushing the thing down a 2km long tunnel while all the bicycle riders sort of ride past you grinning where you passed them grinning on the scoot 5 minutes ago on the cyclepath. On the other side there was another escalator I had to get the scoot up and this time I managed to get some cool pictures of it
as well!! You really have to see this -- stay tuned for the "A Ruckus on an Escalator" pics.

Back at the surface the path was extremely nice, following along a canal with barges passing by, the sun beginning to set and many cool little elements like cycle-only bridges. I reached the ferryport in Hoek van Holland and booked a ticket on the 10pm ferry to England and killed the remainder of the time shopping for tasty Dutch food to bring back home and chilling at a local coffeeshop where you could buy ready-rolled joints for 3 euros.

At around 21:00 I drove the scoot onto the ferry. They let me cut in front of all the cars and trucks and get in there as one of the first. On the boat the Ruckus got tied up by an old English guy who said "how far do you expect to go on THAT THING?" When I said I already rode 600kms on from Germany he got pretty quiet.

On the boat I had some dinner, smoked the doobie I got in Holland on the deck and went to bed early in my cabin, which was pretty comfortable, if somewhat claustrophobic because it was on the inside of the ship with no windows.

I got woken at around 6am by the announcement that all drivers please get on the car deck for disembarkment. I had overslept and cruised off the ferry as one of the last vehicles out and started the wobbliest part of the trip.

England overland, in sharp contrast to Netherlands, SUCKS on a scooter. Most of the roads are dual carriageways and you are within inches of your life riding on them when people are blowing past you at a hundred miles an hour. I had some close calls when a normal 2 lane blacktop I was on all of a sudden turned into a freeway and I was stuck on the shoulder. After a while the shoulder ended and I had to ride on the mud/grass on the side -- it was very hairy indeed.

Eventually I found a nice route using B-roads through little English villages most of the way to London. Then closing in on London centre something funny happened. Up to about Ilford everybody was passing me. After Ilford I tended to pass them, sitting in queues with me just breezing by next to them.

Central London was really fun -- you never really reach your 30mph top speed and pass people left and right. I snapped a pic with the scoot at Big Ben for good measure, and drove to the office to work the rest of the day.

Some conclusions: The scoot rules for central London and Holland, but overland Belgium/UK it is just too slow. Make mental note to organize a ride over to Holland with some other UK peeps. Overall, what an adventure. Stay tuned to this place, I'll upload the pics asap -- and you're gonna want to see them!