"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."


I'm back in the saddle. Audentes ortuna juvat. Fortune favors the bold. That's Virgil, bitches. Old school.

I'm going to write something good and gonzo exploring the Burning Man experience this year, but that's not done yet. I will start tomorrow, as gonzo works best if it's written fresh and hot, but for now I need to wind down and get another good night's sleep.

Suffice to say, my attitude about the universe is a whole lot better now than it was two weeks ago. There were some dark moments out there -- getting in the groove was hard, frought with weakness and defeat, and exodus was fucking brutal -- but the experience was high, heady, fun and most of all enlightening and empowering. As I said, I feel spiritually cleansed. It turned me on enough to believe in the "next year" dream of really organizing a big expedition, being a camp leader. More on that later.

Getting back into civilization was a long hard run, and the Default World is unquestionably weird, but while playa eyes and a clean spirit do throw our shadows into harsher relief, it's only because they bring a lot of positive light to the situation.

Indeed, it's been nothing but aces since we made the gate. Our Pyramid Lake dirt-nap saved lives. The waitress at the Iron Skillet was a queen. I turned $1 to $40 in the penny slot. Swimming in the Trinity was divinity. Kellymundo deep-cleaned the house while we were gone. Moamar will ride again. I got my passport in the mail. The Girth's would-be lady friend called him back. With the exception of my business partners being stuck in a glass house on the beach in the middle of Huricaine Henriette, everything's coming up Cabeçon.

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Default World

Just a quick note that I'm back in the default world. Spiritually cleansed and a little crispy. All is well.

More soon.

UPDATE: Scott at North Bay Auto says all Moamar needed was a tune-up. Given the experience of a sudden loss of power, I'll have to see it to believe it, but he's the man on this, and it's good fucking news to me!

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Catching Out w/the Rastafarian Navy

Well, it's been light posting here these past few. The dog days of August are foggy in Westhaven, and the various tasks related to getting ready to leave for Burning Man have left me w/precious little time to do my creative writing exercises.

If all goes well, we'll hit the road tomorrow afternoon and get in on the midnight line. If there are snags, we may still try to make Nevada City, or we may just decide to start Monday morning. I want to be all set up be Monday night, because at 1:51 AM on Tuesday the full moon goes into eclipse.

I'm mildly perturbed that I'm not more excited about the whole event. We've got it all, of course: a huge shade structure; whiskey shotguns; bike trailers ready to blast dub reggae (or whatever); the full setup for a high quality shower structure; friends a-plenty; delectable foodstuffs; a 2000 watt generator and more. It's going to be a good little camp, and I'm definitely looking forward to getting out of America and away from my routine for a while.

Still, there's a lot of "been there done that" rattling around in my head. A disturbing trend in my life receives another datapoint. Josh Koenig needs to get out of his comfort zone.

I'm sure my sense of adventure will perk up sooner or later on this one, and in the mean time I'm having fun wrangling all the preparatory details. I plan on taking a bunch of video out there, so while I'll probably be radio-silent until early next week, I should come back loaded with the highest quality of content.

Until then, peace out.

Update: Rarrrr! Moamar blows something out ascending the first pass on the 299. The good news is we can make it home pretty easy. The bad news is my pickup is now shot and I've got to find some kind of rental solution.

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Goings Ons

Out there in the world: Happy Birthday Big Gay Frank, homeowner, and now cat-owner. And Happy Birthday Brie, and thanks for writing such hilarious haikus:

August 2006:
One year in Cali
Ashley and Cian get hitched
I just used "Cali"?

September 2006:
Internet research.
WebMD is for suckers,
More like: FearMD

October 2006:
Life changes so fast.
Space aged chairs and vitamins
But still no answer.

As for me, I arrived last night in Westhaven with NZ Jess as a passenger. She's an old monkey comrade who I haven't seen since the summer of '04, visiting the states again and bestowing us with brilliant kiwi logisms such as "the hard yards" -- whatever's difficult and often avoided, but also generally rewarding -- and "overtaking" -- as an alternative to "passing" when driving. Definitely helped make up for the lack of stereo on the drive.

It's good to be back. Mark returns tonight and we'll be doing a fair amount of Burning Man prep over the next couple weeks. Should be a fun series of projects. The Rastafarian Navy will have a shower no matter what the devils of Babylon try to do to stop us!

Other things that are going on in my increasingly bourgeoise life:

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Moamar: Back In The Fold

Well, I managed to recover my pickup from a lot in Contra Costa County today. It was an ordeal: trips to two police stations, a cab ride to nowhere in San Pablo, $650 in impound fees, and the discovery that some strange and dirty business had been going on. In addition to stripping out the last bits of my stereo, the thieves removed my futon from the bed and left a couple car batteries, and some other hardware back there. Plus about 1000 new miles on the odometer. Moamar! What happened?

This is all very frustrating, especially the bureaucratic runaround. Nobody seems to really know how anything works. The fees are an insult too (aren't I the victim here?), but luckily I can afford them and am fortunate not to lose the vehicle completely, so I'll can swallow it. But the whole thing makes me realize one again just how deeply fucked you are if you're poor in this country. Anything goes wrong and your back is up against the wall. It's a real shitty situation.

Anyway, it's interesting experience at least to see into the world of police stations and towing companies. To be honest, I really wish we didn't have such a car-centric culture. I think it would be a nicer country that way.

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Scenes From The Suit-Wearing Day

Spent the day yesterday with my suit on, something that I get to enjoy as it's not what i have to do every day. It was good. Quickly:

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Pure Fun

Remeber fun? Pure fun? I miss pure fun.

Somewhere along the way I started being more "serious" (and I mean that w/quotation marks) and it was good and important to be able to do, but it became a norm. I've been waking up to the fact that my seriousness, my skepticism, my increasingly reserved nature have pushed out other things that I love and are natural, really part of the organic composition of my soul. The human flower sprouts not from plastic, and so on.

There's no use in getting serious if you can't have fun. All the points you can rack up are... uhh... pointless, unless you can enjoy them, si?

The utilitarian view, that human hapiness as the only verifiable good is pretty persuasive. It's a basic thing that drives the emergent complexity of life, a rich tapestry of experience, etc. Happiness itself is complex, I think, because over the long run it rests on contrasts, challenges, risk, novelty, and most of all the happiness of other beings. It's certainly greater than stimulating a pleasure center in the brain; I'd argue that most crackheads aren't really happy, and those monkeys who starved themselves to death didn't seem to be enjoying it too much eaither.

In my mind there's an antogonistic relationship between recreation and responsibility. Is this true? I remember a common catchphrase from my youth, the "consequence free environment." That was Fun.

Can Coach Koenig learn to cut loose? I don't really know. I don't know that Coach Koening is doing a very good job right now, so I'm wary of even trying. But it's an issue, and it's one that's probably not going away.

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Las Vegas airport has free wifi, which happens to reach the airplane while we wait for fuel (delayed by lightning). I'm in the midst of a travel run and it's wearing on me. New York was a much much better visit -- real good to see the Fam and have more time for enjoyment -- but I got sick again, probably from staying out all night on Saturday and maybe sleeping w/air conditioning.

It's not an evil flu, but rather a pernicious cough. I'd probably have it beat, but yesterday I flew real early back to Oakland, and today I'm my flying to Chicago started early as well. Nothing like sleep deprivation and air travel to boost the immune system. Still I feel I'm fighting through it. Feeling better today than yesterday, etc.

Life seems to be firing at me with both barrels though: I discovered last night when I got home that my car was stolen! Moamar, come home! Now, we always knew this was a possibility. It's easy to break into my car, and you can start an '88 Toyota pickup with virtually any car key, or the same screwdriver you used to break in even. Still, it's a bummer. The Lande man is flexing his Pig contacts to track it down, but I'm not holding out too much hope.

Possessions are fleeting, and we shall overcome. It's just a wrench in the works with a high cost of hassle.

UPDATE: Fortune smiles! My truck turned up impounded in Richmond, just as predicted. Moamar apparently got mixed up in a Grand Theft Auto, as a suspect was caught on video leaving my vehicle and breaking into another. I'll have to talk to him about getting involved with the Wrong Crowd, but I'm glad to know he's safe and sound.

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Travelin' Man

I have returned to the Bay Area, where I will take up in a new sublet o'er in Berkeley through mid-August. That is, except for the two weeks I'll be spending back in NYC and in Chicago.

I'm more or less of a ramblin' man -- something I've tried to fight before, yet am beginning to accept about myself -- but this summer's schedule is wearing me down. I think it's because most of the travel is predicated on fulfilling social, familial and career obligations: clients, weddings and family get-togethers have been behind most of my excursions (certainly almost every trip outside California) so far this year. It's not really "ramblin'" when you're doing it out of duty.

So I went from moving out to the hills to settle down, to being driven back out on the road by work and other obligations.

The past five days in Westhaven were good and recuperative, and I started to feel like I wanted to stick around and try to have a life there again. The past calendar year has been one of transition for sure, a little intentional experiment at "nesting" with some friends, a bigger experiment in starting a business. I haven't really "landed" yet, and I'm still not sure where how how I want to do that. Hopefully this fall it will happen, and the next leg on my cosmic journey through space and time can begin in earnest.

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Me And Maslow's Pyramid of Human Needs Down By The Schoolyard

I've been contemplating Abraham Maslow's Pyramid of Human Needs a lot lately. He actually called it "the hierarchy of needs," but I like the words Pyramid and Human more; better branding. In any event, it's a really handy idea to have in your toolbox, one of those semi-obvious insights into human nature that's easy to miss, or forget, but never gets old.

Basically, you start at the bottom with your fundamental Physiological needs, starting with the need to breathe, because if you can't breathe or eat or perform certain biological functions, those things more or less take over your existence. That's the bottom line, and most of us first-worlders have it covered, thank goodness. Direct manipulation through the withholding of food and water is rare in our lives.

After that you climb up to the level of Safety. If you don't have a sense of security about yourself and the things you consider yours, be they material, familial, or whatever -- if you're afraid -- you're stuck with that, and you really can't go much further as a human being. Safety is a psychological concept of course (real security is impossible; you can't control rocks in space that might fall on your head or wipe out your species) but it's important for this concept to make its way into your mind, however that happens for you.

For most of us, being in debt, especially "bad debt," can stick us at this level. Sickness definitely pegs us here. Also, this is arguably the level on which a lot of politics operates; overt fear-mongering, appeals to anxieties about "them," the specter of ruin, apocalypse, etc. Unfortunately, when an appeal to this psychological level works, it's very potent.

Assuming you're able to rise above the chains of fear, uncertainty and doubt, you reach the level of Social needs, summarized as:

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