A Simple Question

Lesson - A Simple Question: When the question found me, my body had already been broken by a sleep-deprived week-long extravaganza of chaos at Burning Man, and with all my filters of perception completely blown. Then there, staring at me out from the photos of one dusty face after another, was a single question:

[click images to enlarge]

Simple. Powerful. Frakking important! Why had no one asked me this before? Why had I never even heard of the WDYDWYD? project before Burning Man? And the question itself? Oh, yes, I knew my answer... I knew it immediately. I had tried to think of a better answer, but I returned over and over to the very first one that my heart screamed at the moment I heard the question:

"Because second chances aren't guaranteed."

Second chances are not guaranteed. Yes, I've been given second chances before--I'm alive because of a second chance--but they're not guaranteed. Ever since that second chance at life, I've been living it on a first chance basis... and that's why I do what I do.

What was standing in front of me was a wooden wall, where the WDYDWYD? question was written. Surrounding the question were hundreds of black and white photos. Every photo was the same... and every photo was completely different. Every photo had one person at the center, looking at the camera and holding a piece of paper where they'd written their answer. Each person was different, and as unique as their answers. The answers hit me over and over like the notes in a song.

There's no "right" answer.

There's only your answer.
...and the answers of others that strike you.

The project's evolved over the years. It now includes art beyond photography. Many color photos now fill the galleries with their answers, videos are online, and the project's moved far beyond the borders of the legendary "City in the Desert" where the question started.

I've included only a small handful of the answers I saw that night. You? You need to look into their eyes for yourself. You need to feel their expression... and you need to answer this question for yourself. Maybe your answer will change over time. Since that night in 2005, my answer has stayed the same.

My favorite photo remains one of those black and whites that I saw back in '05. It is in her eyes and fingers, her mix of calm and intensity, and I've kept it with me for quite a long time. With today being the last day of 2012, I can safely say I'll be holding on to this one even longer.

So.... why do you do what you do?

All photos by Tony Deifell. And the song of the day comes from an old favorite--Little People--who are back and making music again, with many free songs already up for download. Here's my current favorite--"4 and 8" (available for free here on Facebook):

American Women in Europe

Hilarious before and after the twist in this little story, and expertly delivered by none other than David DeAngelo himself. Pay attention, however, well... if you're laughing too painfully, play it again, but there is real information here hidden inside the laughter. Enjoy!

"American Women in Europy" by David DeAngelo

12.12.12 in Reflection

People still email me about this short story I wrote in 2002: "Homelands". Even in a fantasy setting like this story, where magic and armies dominate the environment, the story's driven completely by the most essential human emotions: confidence, fear, doubts... love. I ended the story with the same words that started the story: "There was a man and a woman in a garden."

You could say I'm a bit of a romantic. Ok, more than a bit... I burn and I burn hot and my passions are animal and very thirsty and, yes, at the end of the day it is one woman I desire in my arms. On any given day, I work with some incredibly attractive artists, models, musicians, and side-by-side with some frakking hot creatures who are tribe to me... and no matter how many women, or what the day brings, or how attractive, there is still this romantic idea and desire for a "one". It is worth loving and trusting and burning completely to find that woman... and it is worth dying alone knowing I tried to find her.

I am on American shores... and here in this moment there is more pain from love than there is the pleasure of love's intoxication... and by my choice. If I had one request of my heart, it would be not to fall in love at long-distance... but I have no control over my heart, and control is a chain I would never want put over the fire and blood that burns inside me.

I do not know the future. The future is born of actions, and of the fire that fuels those actions. Slowly I am rebuilding my world, especially the memorial for the man who taught me everything I know about music--Mushuto--and rebuilding the record label that he founded. I remind myself, also, that I frakking have a war to fight... and that war does not wait for anyone.

And I have a story to tell.

"Landlore" is the first of many stories, and the horizon calls, my brother Zero whispering to me of Mexico and of the West. Expect more as I put ink to paper... as paper becomes print and as sections are shared here on the site. The world ends in just over a week... so I'll catch you all on the other side of the apocalypse.

Much love... and burn bright!
~Kantiki Jayamana Whateva

Song of the Day: Until the Ribbon Breaks - Pressure (LuQus Remix) [Free on BandCamp]

What Our Parents Never Taught Us

"Here's what our parents never taught us"
by Shinji Moon

You will stay up on your rooftop until sunlight peels away the husk of the moon,
chainsmoking cigarettes and reading Baudelaire, and
you will learn that you only ever want to fall in love with someone
who will stay up to watch the sun rise with you.

You will fall in love with train rides, and sooner or later you will
realize that nowhere seems like home anymore.

A woman will kiss you and you’ll think her lips are two petals
rubbing against your mouth.

You will not tell anyone that you liked it.
It’s okay.
It is beautiful to love humans in a world where love is a metaphor for lust.

You can leave if you want, with only your skin as a carry-on.

All you need is a twenty in your pocket and a bus ticket.
All you need is someone on the other end of the map, thinking about the supple
curves of your body, to guide you to a home that stretches out for miles
and miles on end.

There's No Tequila in Andorra

There's No Tequila in Andorra: Andorra--the country with the highest life expectancy in the entire world. Before talking about the mountains and the refuges; before talking about the ruins, hidden backroads, and trails; before talking about the insanely cheap duty-free shopping and tax breaks; and even before talking about the almost total absence of crime, laws, and regulation; it's important to talk about something else.

I've got a question and a complaint: Where the FRAKK is the tequila?!? It's actually difficult to come up with complaints here in Andorra, and complaining that my woman isn't here with me isn't anything Andorra can fix, so I'm complaining about the dry spell on tequila... because everything else I could write would be lavish and superfluous praise.

There's no tequila in Andorra.

That's a damned lie... but it ain't far from the truth. My woman, the magical creature that she is, happened to find one hell of an incredible Mexican restaurant in Andorra la Vella... and, yes, with tequila. Did I mention I love the hell outta this woman? She's the one who found Paco's Mexican Restaurant in Andorra.

You see, there's whisky in Andorra, and a LOT of it... 'n there's bourbon and vodka and so much more. In fact, you'll pay less than half the price for a bottle of whisky in Andorra than what you'd pay in France... but no tequila. An espresso con Baileys? It'll run ya a euro and a half... but no tequila. A pack of smokes for half what you'd pay in Spain, or a third what you'd pay in France? Yup! That's Andorra... but, again, no tequila.

You see where I'm going with this?

Can a country without tequila really call itself "civilized"? Or even "modern"?

Questions of civility and modernity aside, Andorra could very well be my favorite part of Europe. What Andorra lacks in tequila it makes up for with orujo. Stay with me here. For those who know, no, orujo's not unique to Andorra... and tequila's not unique to Mexico... and, no, that comparison's NOT logical!

For those who are NOT "in the know", orujo is a digestif alcohol made from the skin of the grape, and much along the same lines as grappa, or brandy, or whisky. You know when an alcohol makes your mouth yell, "WHY? Why are you doing this to me? What did I ever do to you to deserve this?!?" Yeah, that's a digestif. In my opinion, orujo's the best of 'em! I can completely blame Marc at the Alberg la Comella for my introduction and ensuing addiction to orujo, specifically the coffee-infused orujo... so consider him blamed. Besides coffee, orujo's also commonly prepared without infusion, or infused with herbs... but coffee's where it's at.

... but no tequila ..

Have you ever heard a rooster crowing while the sun rises on a Diesel store or a BMW dealership? That's Andorra la Vella. From the commercial outlet chains that fill the center of the combined cities of Andorra la Vella and Escaldes-Engordany, you can walk five minutes into the old part of the city, taking cobblestone sidestreets and stairways... 'n discovering hidden artistic treasures and preserved buildings along the way. Another five minutes, and you'll be at the bottom of the stairs that will take you up and onto one of the two major (and beautiful) trails that surround the city from above. If you find yourself getting lost in the city, then get above it. The view is extraordinary, the trails themselves are well maintained, and there's no better way to see the city.

From either of the two surrounding trails, you can connect with other routes that will take you farther out of the city... or even begin walking to the next city over... or, as with the case of one trail, start walking around Europe. Just how far do you really want to walk? The two major trails surrounding Andorra la Vella are lit at night, including the stairs leading up to the trails. Water runs the length of the northern trail, making for an easy way to cool down under the sun... but it also makes for a water source for other creatures who live in the mountains. Remember that when walking the trail at night if any of the lights are out. To repeat the words found on many signs in Andorra: "Respect the mountain."

There are twenty-seven maintained shelters in the mountains of Andorra, each a refuge against the elements where an adventurous trekker can sleep and relax for free. These relaxed mountain shelters are seriously insulated, with more than twenty centimeters of stone and mortar between the environment outside and the environment inside. Most of these have a water source, beds, first aid, a fire place, and wood... or a saw for cutting wood. On my second day at Els Agols refuge, an Andorran named Josep arrived with a hatchet. While it's been years since I swung a hatchet, it made short work of the pine that's native to the region... and made for one indelibly warm bonfire beneath the stars of the summer solstice.

A'ite, time for nomz!! Because the mountains provide many a tasty treat for those who know where to look. Marc showed me mushrooms bigger than both his hands that put the taste of crimini mushrooms to shame. Shame! Frilo showed me a stalked legume with a less stringy texture than celery, but with a taste similar to (but more subtle than) cauliflower... and Jean-Michel made a rich salad from a small green legume that grows almost everywhere on the mountain. Although I don't like fish, the lakes in the mountains are full of 'em, and many Andorrans venture into the mountains to catch them.

I'm a creature of tides, deserts, mountains, and wind... of fire and jungles. If I don't stop myself from talking about the mountains, this entry would fill a book. To see the pillars of the setting sun from atop the mountains is to mark a memory of Andorra that you'll not soon forget.

For those with a consumerist bent, Andorra's a duty-free shopping extravaganza! I don't even get into the shopping "thang", but the country tempts even me with cameras that are half what you'd pay in Spain... and paying two euros for a full bag of tobacco nearly made my jaw drop. Also, it's the first country I've found in Europe that carries my favorite brand of cigarettes--Djarum Black clove kreteks. For anyone else looking for a quality clove cigarette in Europe, the store you'll find 'em at is called The Cigar Store, and they even have their own smoking room downstairs. Enjoy!

But what the frakk is up with the fascination with watches? Peeps already have the time on their cellphones, and the watches aren't all that cheap... and yet watches fill one shelf after another in the stores of la Vella. Tick-tock arm-leashes aside, the shopping really is legendary, drawing in crowds every weekend from Spain, France, and many other parts of the world. The crowds can look all they want, but they're not going to find any tequila here. Those who don't like the crowds should avoid the hell outta the weekends, or check out the smaller cities, or check into the mountains and above the crowds.

There's something more to be said here about tobacco in Andorra. No, no, not the price. Yes, it's cheap as all hell. Yes, you can smoke inside bars, restaurants, and many other places. In fact, I'm smoking inside the Juventus diner while I write this, drinking coffee 'til they kick me out at closing time. No, what more needs to be said is the problem that Andorra poses to the world, with a population who smokes heavily and yet has the highest life expectancy on the entire planet.

It's a similar problem posed by other high life expectancy, high tobacco consumption countries such as Japan and Iceland. The additional problem that Andorra poses is that only 33% of the population is native Andorran, while the life expectancy statistics include the other 67% of foreign residents. That means the life expectancy is NOT genetic. It's environmental. And smoking is nothing new in Andorra. There's a museum of Tobacco in Sant Julia de Loria that pays homage to how heavily intertwined tobacco is within the weavings of Andorra's heritage... and yet Andorran residents live the longest in the world.

A part of the answer is simple. Lung cancer is genetic, with only 10-15% of smokers dying from lung cancer. The health detriments to the heart can be countered with changes to the environment of the body, to personal life, to the work environment, and to the communal environment of the city. Sure enough, Andorrans have free health care, they are extremely active in sports and the outdoors, there is almost no pollution and no jet fuel from a major airport, and the economy and work environment remain strong while much of Europe falters. Of course, all that aside, it could just be something magic in the water. I actually prefer the water from the fountains on the streets or the rivers to the bottled water in the stores.

In a country where smokes are easily bought from a vending machine, any attempt to enforce a "minimum age" is entirely illusory... not that Andorra really has or enforces many laws. The country's penitentiary is smaller than a hotel, and the entire government is housed in a building not much bigger. Even on a backstreet in the darker hours of the night, crime is almost non-existent. And with armories selling guns in downtown, a criminal could easily arm themselves... and, just as easily, anyone else could easily arm themselves and remove said supposed criminal from the gene-pool. One time, and at about four in the morning, a police truck slowed as if it was interested in me. I nodded my head at them and they drove on past. Another time, some officers woke me up because I was sleeping in the park, then left after I told them I would be moving soon. The police in Andorra are far removed from infamous departments such as the LAPD, the federales of Mexico City, or the police gangs of Paris.

The laws on companies and banks are also relaxed, a fact that shows in the strength of the economy. The private banks run without regulation, attracting big money and investors from around the world, and with the incredibly low taxation that Andorra's known for... and Andorra is a small country for very big business to a lot of people. You'll hear Andorra referred to as "Europe's 'other' tax haven".

So why is there no crime? I have a few guesses: there are plenty of jobs, apartments are cheap, partying and shopping are cheap, outdoor activities abound and at no cost, the cops aren't militarized like in most of the world, and there are less laws to turn peeps into lawbreakers. Tell me if any of that sounds crazy. Again, however, it could just be something in the water. It sure as hell ain't the tequila!

The lack of laws and regulation is one of the reasons that Andorra's refused to join the United States of Schengen. It's a recognized country by the United Nations, but it's not a part of the Schengen Zone and it's not a part of the European Union. For those in the USA, imagine a state in the middle of the country that wasn't a part of America. That's Andorra. Any travelers measuring their days in Schengen should hit up the Duana de Andorra to get a stamp on their passport and stop the clock on their Schengen balance until they've left... not that anyone checks at the borders. I've been in and out of both borders and never once got stopped or asked for papers.

Where was I? Ah, yes... thank you...

Come with me now, Chillie Pie... come with me onto the older streets and into the ruins. No, we won't find any tequila here... because these treasures aren't measured in dollar signs. Many Andorran cities have an "old part", and remnants of the Roman Empire still dot the mountains and mark the interior of the cities. If you want to follow your nose instead of following a map, just find one of these remnants inside a city, then start wandering the sidestreets until the brick turns into cobblestone... until the mortar starts to crack... until the stairs fall away at sharp diagonals down passages that are barely large enough for even one person to descend.

You're there!!

Take your time. Breathe. Wander. Take in the buildings that've been nested into the sides of the mountain... oftentimes carved into the sides of the mountain. Explore! The ghosts of the centuries walk with you. Do you notice something about the stairs you're walking on? You know how the stairs in your loft, or even on most streets in other countries, have a little vibration when you walk on them? Almost like they're moving? Yeah, the steps in Andorra don't do that. They're stone. They don't move. Not even a little. None!! Maybe I'm overly sensitive to these things, but it surprised me how the steps in Andorra do not move at all below my feet.

Ok, ok, now that you know I'm crazy, come with me a bit farther. I don't know if this is specific to Andorra la Vella, or if it trends across the country, but the sculptures on the streets of la Vella are not to be missed. The best of these are on sidestreets, so you'll need to "oops" your way onto them... or be damned thorough in how far you explore. The melted clock ala Dali that sits a block down from the Pont de Paris is beautiful, but it's somewhat misrepresentative of most street sculptures in Andorra la Vella. Most of the sculptures are forged from metal and stone, with heavy industrial influences and explicit psycho-emotional symbolism. If you're wandering the sidestreets of the old city, perhaps you'll come face-to-face with a very special creature who you'll find in meditation on a trapeze.

You could say the country's won me over, but I'm biased. I love walking places, and pedestrians own the road in Andorra. If you want to cross, you pretty much just take the road. I love to walk at night, and the mountain trails and city streets are open 24/7. Bars, clubs, and restaurants like the Juventus close at 3am, but I'd love to see a 24-hour cafe-bar here with WiFi... and tequila. I'd frakking rent a room above the place! How's the saying go? Ah, yes.... "You can't have everything." I'll just need to build the place myself.

Cars are well outnumbered and outgunned by the pedestrians in Andorra, but less than half of the wheeled population actually consists of cars and trucks. Most of the wheeledfolk are motorcycles, scooters, four-wheelers, dirt bikes, dune buggies, and other assorted ATVs. One bastard actually got a dirt bike up the side of the mountain and to where I was staying at the top. My surprise at hearing a motorized vehicle scaling the mountain cannot properly be expressed in words. After calling him the bastard that he is, and earning a laugh in return, I offered to trade him my backpack for his dirt bike. I'll let you guess the outcome of that offer.

Another reason I'm biased is that I'm here in summer. Not one city in Andorra is called a "ski town" because of the sunny beaches that it's known for... and those cable cars don't just run because of the beautiful view of the mountains they provide. It snows here... that white sparkly snowcone stuff in the sky that means death to anyone sleeping outside. And it doesn't just snow a little. One snowfall, and the entire country is singing along to the tune of "White Christmas".


One day here in the snow, and this entire entry would read: "Cold... bought smokes and hitched to Spain. Cheers y'all!"

Speaking of hitchhiking, many people here hitchhike to-and-from work every day, hopping cities with ease and making hitchhiking around the country extremely easy for the rest of us. Pas de la Casa on the French border is the most difficult hitch here, with a fellow traveler named Lucie waiting almost an hour for a ride. But an hour? Compared to days waiting in some other parts of the world? I would go so far as to say the hitching's easier than in Mexico. Yeah... I went there. Do something about it! Don't worry, Mexico, I still love you... you AND your dirty rotten tequila... and your mezcal.

One final reason I'm biased is that Andorra's rather well-wired. The Internet's not particularly fast, but WiFi connections abound in the larger cities. The Art Hotel in la Vella broadcasts a signal that's strong enough to reach the bus station from almost two streets away. You'll find free WiFi hotspots in central park, in the Escale shopping center, and in the park outside the Caldea Spa. McDonalds has one of the city's worst signals, but they have multiple power outlets to plug in to. Before Andorra, I had been inside a McDonalds less than twenty times in my entire life. After Andorra, and completely because of their outlets and WiFi, I've been into the la Vella McDonalds more times than all other McDonalds combined. The best WiFi I found was easily the signal in the Salon de Tele at Alberg la Comella. Best!! The worst WiFi is easily the weak connections dotting the city of Pas de la Casa. Worst!

But WHY does the tourist information center not have WiFi? No one knows... but they DO have maps, and you wouldn't believe how important these can be here. I'm normally a "pick a direction and just start walking" type of person, but finding anything specific in Andorra poses a rather unique challenge.

Most streets have two or three names--one name in Catalan, the official language of the country; another name in Spanish, the language most people (including myself) use here; and another name in French, the language especially popular in Pas de la Casa and Soldeu. The same confusion spreads to the names for places. Even GoogleMaps appears confused about Andorra. The local postal system "gets it", and it's actually free to mail something inside of the country, and the Andorran's seem to "get it" also, but consider yourself warned. If you don't mind getting yourself lost like I do, then you'll be in good company. At least Andorra has a good reason for the confusion, whereas places like Austin, Texas will have five names for a street and with no good reason for the confusion. Goddamned dirty hippies!

But Andorra's not for everyone. There are no skyscrapers other than mountains, no subways, and no beaches. There's no major airport, and a bus into the country is at least a three-hour trip from either Toulouse or Barcelona. Anyone with no desire to explore the land, the mountains, and the lakes is going to find Andorra to be a very small country. Anyone uninterested by the shopping, the monuments, and the old towns is going to find the cities to be rather hollow. And anyone without the lung capacity to walk steep streets isn't going to make it far from the shopping centers... or even get out of their car. For everyone else, consider the fact that I've only just scratched the surface of Andorra with these words... and that I'm still discovering more here myself.

Do you know what the punchline is to all of this? Although I'd heard about Andorra's high life expectancy, I'd never really considered visiting here before. Quite simply, no one told me. So, for all of you who knew and didn't tell me: You Mothafukkaz!!! I will kill every last one of you, cutting out your hearts and throwing your lifeless corpses down the steepest sides of the mountain!!! Nothing personal. But, for everyone else, listen to your long lost brother Tiki: Come to Andorra. And, for the love of all that is good and holy, bring some tequila with you!

Song of the Day: :PAPERCUTZ - Rivers (Synkro Remix) [Free on XLR8R]

Related Stories:
• (Pending) Squat -- Prat Primer
• (Pending) Explosions on Saint Joan's Day
• (Pending) SpeakEasy -- Juventus Bar & Restaurant
• (Pending) X -- Paco's Mexican Restaurant
• (Pending) Squats -- Alberg la Comella
• (Pending) SpeakEasy -- The Cigar Shop
• (Pending) Story -- The Hotel Pyrenees & the "Pool on the Roof"
• (Pending) Squats -- Els Agols Refuge
• (Pending) Story -- The Day Out of Time (Pts 1, 2, 3)
• (Pending) Resources -- DirectBus, Andorra by Bus, & 5am
• (Pending) Gear -- WiFi Extender Antenna
• (Pending) Trails -- Lake Engolasters
• (Pending) SpeakEasy -- La Mafia, La Borsa [Closed]
• (Pending) Squats -- Lake Montmalus Refuge
• (Pending) Resources -- P2P Housing
• (Pending) Story -- Pas de la WiFi
• (Pending) Story -- Little Fluffy Clouds
• (Pending) Story -- Closing Time in Pas de la Casa

Related Resources:
• Main Site: Andorra dot AD
Andorra Tourism
Mountain Refuges in Andorra
Hitchwiki: Andorra
Monuments, Churches, and Art Galleries in Andorra
Living in Andorra
Know Your Exports (Duana and Customs Allowances)

The Day Out of Time

The year comes to an end, and the Day Out of Time is tomorrow on the 21st... and then the Year in a Day the day after, a day that comes only every four years. There is so much that has happened in the past four years I need to reflect on.... and, looking to the future, so many things to work towards in the next four years.

I am in the country of Andorra, too far from the woman I love, but fighting for ways for us to be together. I have learned more about the laws of the Schengen Zone in the past month than I think anyone should know. Before, I ignored those laws like many others... but I am no longer alone, and ignoring them could mean being exiled more than 10,000kms from my woman.. and other dangers also. Level of everything-hell-the-frakked-up at well over 1000% and killing me.

Tomorrow, on the Day Out of Time, I will walk and climb into the mountains of Andorra and away from the world... returning in a few days. There are many, many mountain refuges here in Andorra. I will be hiking to the Els Agols Refuge [Latitude: 42.51108325890067, Longitude: 1.6089284420013427, PDF]. It is the tiny dot under the green arrow [Here on GoogleMaps]. If you zoom in, you can actually see the refuge.

The refuges in Andorra are stocked with water, beds, and often have wood and a fireplace. There are 27 of them around the country, secluded away in the mountains and free to anyone who wants to stay there. The government uses helicopters to deliver food and remove garbage. You can find out more about each refuge [Here on the Main Site]. If I can record at least a few seconds of video from the refuge, I will... but the power on my laptop is literally measured in minutes (if not seconds).

Andorra is a country of many beauties, merging so many things from the modern world with wonders of the natural world... a land of wind and stone. Stay tuned, I will definitely share more about this beautiful country.. but first I hope to share this beauty with my woman, and soon. Cheers lovelies!

You can only be married on Saturdays

You heard that right: "You can only be married on Saturdays." *

Now, this is France I am talking about, and I am going completely on word-of-mouth.... BUT, the word is: you can only be married on a Saturday. Divorced? ANY DAY!!! Ooooh yeaaah! Laugh now, but I think that this could be a very very good idea. Listen! France has 10% (or more) less divorces than America. W00T!!! AND, France also has about 30% less marriages than America. Win again!! Less money going to the government for a legal paper that says "I love you", and less money going to the government for a legal paper that says, "I hate you". Why do we need these government-signed pieces of toilet paper anyway? You see!?? This is all win! I think it is time to experiment with this "only married on Saturday" concept in other parts of the world. Any takers? America, I'm looking at you.

But that's not all, I also need to talk about a very special beer, specifically to those poor souls who have NOT tried it yet.. Desperados!! All in the video...

Note: This post is for entertainment purposes, and I have not verified that there is any legal ban on marriage outside of Saturdays. Marriage quite possibly CAN happen on other days, and France naturally has lower divorce and marriage rates.

ILLEGAL!!! Feeding People, Walking, Sitting, Giving Money, and MORE

No, the title is not a joke. In fact, it's even worse than the title suggests. My sister Gaea sent me an article that (at one moment) literally dropped my jaw... and I can tell you the moment: when I read that a homeless mother who had tried to get her child education was charged with first degree larceny, and that the woman who tried to help the mother and her child was, herself, evicted for trying to help them. This is not some third world country. This is America... "the land of the free".

10 Unbelievably Sh**ty Things America Does to Homeless People (AlterNet, April 5, 2012)

Here are some summarized snippets from the article (and with one of my own thrown in):

It's illegal to feed people
It's illegal to go to school
It's illegal to walk *
It's illegal to sit down
It's illegal to sleep
It's illegal to clothe people
It's illegal to donate money

* The article mentions jaywalking, but it does not mention the laws in almost all states against hitchhiking. It's illegal to walk on the interstate.

And, after posting this article to Facebook, some biting satire and humorous wit ensued... and I just couldn't resist sharing it. Click the image so you can read the actual conversation:

Related Article:
• "Los Angeles accused of criminalizing homelessness" (Reuters, July 14, 2009)

Song of the Day: Jamie Woon - Spirits (sy.ic Edit) [Free on Tumblr]

1 Week With My Woman

1 week and 1 day, and here I am across the ocean avec the woman I love, and time to take a brief moment to update everyone. Yesterday, my woman took us near the center of Paris and to the Eiffel Tower, including and especially the nearby super-fountain, as well as the parks, the monuments, and the beautiful weather that came to Paris on Saturday. And best of all, passing the day with this incredible beautiful creature in my arms.

Note: Daylight Savings time is being fired!! I lost one hour in America before I flew over the ocean. Now, because Europe changes the time later than America, I lost 1 MORE HOUR on this side of the ocean. Can't we stop this Daylight Savings craziness already??

Song of the Day: San Jaya Prime - Watch Me [Download]

Places No One Has Ever Been

"The one who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. Those who walk alone are likely to find themselves in places no one has ever been before." ~Einstein

A Different List

This Friday, I get on a plane to cross the ocean. Normally when I'm packing, I tell all of you what I'm packing and why I'm packing it. Not this time. This time's different. This time I am not flying to a place, in so much as the place is inconsequential, because this time I am flying to a person. I am flying to the woman I love, and who fucking loves me. I am flying to a woman who also hears the call of the horizon. And this is not a trip or a visit, but something entirely new.

Since I won't be covering "the list" this time, let's look back on other lists. The easiest is from my journey into Mexico with my brother Zero in 2004. Other than the clothes I was wearing, this is all that I took with me:

Yes, I took juggling balls with me. My passport, a compass, a Swiss Army Knife, a book that I will not name here, and a bag with items that I will not disclose here. We were riding on the winds of fate, and we were well taken care of. Mad love for Mexico!!

My very first journey hitchhiking started on June 30th of 2000. Let me tell ya, I had a lot to learn. I took a backpack that was too small, with more than 10 books, and almost no clothes. In 2 days I was giving books away, in 3 days I was changing out clothes, and in a week I was learning on an hourly basis!! I also had no idea about first aid at the time, but as usual, nothing was going to stop me.

One more, my loveliez, one more list... one of the more detailed lists, and after years of experience to help with the packing. On November 1st of 2007, I got on a plane with my sister Gaea and my friend Darth Murphy, heading to Ireland and then onward to the European mainland. And the packing manifesto was as good as it gets for such a trip with no definite ending:

Me (or, more appropriately, ON me):
• Pea Coat
• Hoodie
• Glove-Mitts
• 5.11 Swat Boots
• Birkenstock Sandals
• Pocket Raincoat
• Eagle Creek Meridean Backpack
• Neckstrap Wallet [contents undisclosed]
• Death's Head Pirate Coin
• 2 Rings
• 3>1 Necklace
• Cigarette Case
• Cigar Cutter

Top Drawer (Outer-Most Minipocket):
• Pilot G2 Pens, Black
• Sharpies, Black
• Scissors
• First-Aid Kit Pouch
• Lip Balm
• Raspberry Emergen-C
• Spork

Washroom (Larger, Outside Pocket):
• Deodorant
• Toothbrush and Singing Toothbrush
• Crest Cinnamon Toothpaste
• Mach-5 Razor
• Shaver
• Shaving Cream
• Hand Lotion
• Nail Clippers

Bedroom (Inner Chamber Pocket):
• 2 Bandanas
• 4 Sock Pairs
• 3 Jeans/Cargo Pants
• 4 Shirts
• 1 Cloth Cleaning Bag

The Study (Inner Chamber Pocket):
• 2 Composition Books
• [Book] Mark Danielewski - House of Leaves
• [Book] Tom Stoppard - Rosencrantz & Guildenstern Are Dead
• [Book] Edward Fitzgerald - The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
• [Book] Italian in 10-Minutes a Day

Electronics Department (Inner Chamber Pocket):
• PSP, PSP Camera, and Photo Editing PSP Disc
• Gen-1 and Gen-2 iPod Shuffle
• Various Connectors
• 240 > 120 Power Adapter
• Music Library on DVD

Pocketbooks (Wherever):
• The Pocket
• Quick Notebook
• Moleskin, Madrid
• Moleskin, Miniature
• Truths and Meditations Journal
• Passport
• [Book] Victor Frankl - Man's Search for Meaning

Also, my REI Multi-Towel got draped thru the handhold at the very top of my pack. The sucker worked wonders when it came to how quick it could dry, and exposure to air increased the hell outta that speed. The Electronics Department, the Study, and the Bedroom each had their own dry-sacks, as I prefer to enjoy rain when it's warm and without worrying about anything important getting "the drench". The Top Drawer and the Washroom, however, were only shielded behind freezer bags and/or sandwich baggies. Don't laugh! It works.

Tomorrow is Friday. Tomorrow I fly to the woman I love. This is a very different adventure, and together, there are a million horizons for us to fly to. Cheers y'all... and much love!

Tiltshifted Carnaval

Not everyone is fortunate enough to make it to Rio for Carnaval. And for those who don't make it, this tilt-shifted video makes for one hell of a runner-up for the experience.

Click play. Enjoy!

Tilt Shift Video - The City of Samba
Carnaval party in Rio de Janeiro - Brazil

[/w thanks to Marf for sharing the video in the first place!]

Wherever You Go

"If you're twenty-two, and physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel -- as far and widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them -- wherever you go." ~Anthony Bourdain

Paulo Coelho on the Meaning of Life

Paulo Coelho, who wrote "The Alchemist", "The Pilgrimage", "The Valkyries" (and many others), talks about the meaning of life. Normally when any person starts talking about the meaning of life, the speaker does not even realize the subjective nature of the meaning of life. Coelho focuses on the subjective nature of the meaning immediately, then follows with brilliant examples to show how the meaning of life reveals itself to each person. Beautiful!!

Your own skin

"Your first time out of the country of your own skin, I didn't bring a map. You always hated that I'd been lucky enough to pick my way through streets I couldn't pronounce to find cathedrals, graveyards. If you were a city, you said, I'd only like to know your suburbs. If you were a city, I said, I'd like to know your poor neighborhoods, your inner parts. Read your graffiti. Drink your tap water. Feel your smog and dirt stick to my sweat. Hear your orchestra of sirens and gunshots. I'd know which of your streets to walk. If you were a city, I'd expect to be robbed." ~Heather Sommer

Lesson - Archive, Pack, 'n Purge

Lesson - Archive, Pack, 'n Purge: One o' the most gratifying ways to say goodbye is by making gifts of all the "stuff" you'd otherwise be leaving behind. Instead of paying to store it, you have a gift to give away with each farewell. You don't need those possessions any more... 'n it's exciting to go thru each item and think of who it's perfect for. "Who will enjoy this the most? Who needs this? Who'll get the most use out of this?" You ask yourself these questions, 'n you'll find that you already know the peep an item's meant for.

When you give things away to the peeps they're meant for, you'll find that you naturally remember who has what. If you want to re-read a book or re-watch a movie, you know exactly where to find 'em... 'n it gives you another connection to see a friend at the same time. This is the very essence of a gift that keeps on giving.

A purge like this is only for the more experienced travelers... those who've already had their hearts set on fire by the road. If you run into things you can't bring yourself to give away... but can't carry on your back... then pack 'em down as tight as they'll go 'n ask a friend to store it. Someone'll say "yes"... 'n it's hella cheaper than storin' it. I have a large suitcase that I call my "closet". Peeps all over Austin have stored it away for me... sometimes years at a time... 'n it guarantees that I'll see those faces again as soon as I return. If your archive is any larger than a suitcase, though, be prepared to hold a garage sale or check back into a storage unit.

You'll find that purges make for some o' the most memorable moments. You've given a gift that matters to a person who matters. It sticks! One of my most memorable purges wasn't to a friend though... it was to a young boy with bright eyes 'n a big smile. My friend Tink 'n I were sharing coffee 'n conversation at our favorite pancake house when I spotted the kid. There was a bag of Lego blocks on our table that'd caught the boy's eyes. The Legos had their own story... but they were about to change storytellers. As we made to leave, I asked the boy's mother if she'd object to me leaving the Legos with him. Although surprised, she gladly accepted. And the boy's expression of delight is a look that I'll never forget. This is an action with an impact. Never underestimate the power of a gift that is given in the absence of gain.

Song of the Day: Of Porcelain - Still in Motion [unreleased]

True - A Most Interesting Story

"Old Man and The City" by burningmonk (Lukasz Kazimierz) [CC BY-NC-ND]

A Most Interesting Story
from [Here on Snopes]

A man sat at a metro station in Washington DC and started to play the violin; it was a cold January morning. He played six Bach pieces for about 45 minutes. During that time, since it was rush hour, it was calculated that thousand of people went through the station, most of them on their way to work.

Three minutes went by and a middle aged man noticed there was musician playing. He slowed his pace and stopped for a few seconds and then hurried up to meet his schedule.

A minute later, the violinist received his first dollar tip: a woman threw the money in the till and without stopping continued to walk.

A few minutes later, someone leaned against the wall to listen to him, but the man looked at his watch and started to walk again. Clearly he was late for work.

The one who paid the most attention was a 3 year old boy. His mother tagged him along, hurried but the kid stopped to look at the violinist. Finally the mother pushed hard and the child continued to walk turning his head all the time. This action was repeated by several other children. All the parents, without exception, forced them to move on.

In the 45 minutes the musician played, only 6 people stopped and stayed for a while. About 20 gave him money but continued to walk their normal pace. He collected $32. When he finished playing and silence took over, no one noticed it. No one applauded, nor was there any recognition.

No one knew this but the violinist was Joshua Bell, one of the best musicians in the world. He played one of the most intricate pieces ever written with a violin worth 3.5 million dollars.

Two days before his playing in the subway, Joshua Bell sold out at a theater in Boston and the seats average $100.

This is a real story. Joshua Bell playing incognito in the metro station was organized by the Washington Post as part of an social experiment about perception, taste and priorities of people. The outlines were: in a commonplace environment at an inappropriate hour: Do we perceive beauty? Do we stop to appreciate it? Do we recognize the talent in an unexpected context?

One of the possible conclusions from this experience could be:

If we do not have a moment to stop and listen to one of the best musicians in the world playing the best music ever written, how many other things are we missing?

To Continue: Now, go back to the photo at the top. Obviously, this is NOT Joshua Bell. After reading this entry, do you think this man is really homeless, or is this photo created to make it look like he is homeless? Go look and come back. And also, no matter what your answer is, does the man in the photo look like he would stand out anywhere (with the homeless or anywhere), or that he would blend in with "the crowd"? In Tokyo, with more than 13 million people, you would not believe how many people know the homeless man in the photo above. His name is Hatori-san. The word "small" just doesn’t apply to Tokyo, but if you're in downtown, your odds of finding Hatori-san are surprisingly high. In fact, it's likely that he'll find you.. . and he's honest about what he's gonna buy with the change that you give him. He's one of the few legendary figures who still lives on the streets of this world. You can spare a few yen for a smile. And today's song of the day is with Hatori-san, who appears in the official music video for Rhian Sheehan's "Standing in Silence Pt. 4".