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…When I Learn to Fly

  1. “I’ll make my way back home when I learn to fly.”
    -Foo Fighters, Learn to Fly

Friends,

I’m coming up on 5 months abroad now, the last three of which have been in Nicaragua, and, seeing as I just returned from a visa renewal trip to Costa Rica, it’s safe to say I don’t have any immediate plans to go back to Canada. I do have plans and intentions but the only person I’ve really opened up to about my intentions is fellow film-maker, Alex Loubert, but even that was a few weeks back and plans have refined since then. So for whomever is interested I’d like to elucidate upon the plans which have been formulating in my head. My intention here is to not only clarify my intent for friends and family, but to give some advance notice to those who may wish to collaborate on the ongoing art project which is my life.

OVERVIEW

Over the next two years I intend to improve myself and broaden my skill-set in order that I may live on the road indefinitely, making money as I need to and not being tethered to the balance of my savings. Also, should I ever return to Canada I want to have a skill-set which will allow me to live on my own terms and not on the indulgence of an employer.
(In the words of Cam’Ron: “Nobody gonna pay you like you pay yourself.”)
Also, and this is of equal import, I wish to improve myself while at the same time seeing as-yet-unseen parts of the world which I have always yearned to see. Perhaps at the end of this excursion I may be ready to put down roots and stay in one place.
No promises though…

WHERE TO BEGIN?…

About a month ago I spent a few days at Momentom Collective, a yoga and circus focused artist residency in San Juan Del Sur co-founded by Gabrielle Buenaciudad and Therese Lowton.

It was an eye-opening stay as I was immersed in a culture of incredibly high-functioning, supportive, positive and open people. Being there really fucked with some obsolete programming I have been holding onto for years; I kinda felt like I was short-circuiting at times as I internalized possibilities for myself which were fundamentally rooted in trusting myself and my intuition. I realized how much I second-guess my inclinations and how much this tendency has stifled me and postponed my full flowering, no homo.
(*On that note, living in Canada, especially near Toronto, with its “progressive” SJW culture, has been degenerative for my psyche, especially when compounded by working in tv/film where I felt pressure to be inoffensive due to the collaborative nature of the industry. I certainly don’t wish to offend anyone but being removed from the industry, the city and the country fills me with a sense of freedom to speak which I ironically haven’t felt since I was in the military. Go figure!).
Since my time there (Momentom) I have made a concerted effort to be trusting of my inclinations and urges and to be deliberate rather than furtive in my overtures.
It’s actually a lot of fun as a big part of it is just saying whatever is on my mind. As a role model I look to Archer and just pretend I have Asperger’s -I say some real funny shit sometimes. Bartending at Surfing Turtle has been great for this because its a license to be deliberate about opening people up and the best way to do that is often brutal, hilarious and honest observation.

But, back to the topic of self-improvement….

My friend Brandon Gowe is fond of saying, “Always have at least three hustles.” There is a lot of truth in this statement, but three is a bare minimum. Right now I:

-Sell jewelry (Occasional)
-Get paid to teach yoga (Occasional)
-Chop a dime here and there (Occasional and illegal)

As you can see my bare minimum three hustles need work. Here is what I intend to do….

NICARAGUA

I have been living in #CarpeDiemEcoProject helping my good friend, Ghislain Beauchamp build the eco-resort he has been dreaming of opening for years. We get closer and closer to completion every week and things are quickening now with large-scale construction projects commencing this week which will see the camp overrun with local contractors and carpenters as well as the usual group of volunteers building with cob.
However, the reality is that it’s getting late in the season and he has floated the idea of closing the place down for the year as soon as mid-May as opposed to June as in previous years. So, using that as a rough timeline I’ve begun to plan life after CDEP.
As mentioned, I’ve been working part-time at #SurfingTurtleLodge and I’m enjoying it immensely, so I’ve naturally thought about switching to full-time. That idea certainly has some lustre and I’m not 100% against it because it would be great hostel-work experience which will be valuable for the next two years (more on that soon), but right now I feel pulled in a different direction.

HONDURAS

Pursuant to my goal of improving myself through a broader skill-set I have set the intention of heading north to Utila, Honduras and doing a divemaster certification. Apparently it can be done for about $1000 USD and it would be a pliable skill anywhere I went in the world with a coastline. Also, Utila is a paradise chock full of reefs, whale sharks and beautiful people. Being in Central America you hear a lot of grape-vine talk about hot places to go and this is one such place which is thankfully something of a hidden gem still. As a bonus, when I mentioned it to Ghislain, a dive instructor who had lived and worked there 5 years ago, he mentioned he was thinking of going back in May for a visit. This would be amazing as I would have a knowledgeable and experienced travel companion and good friend to roll with. Fingers crossed!

POST-HONDURAS

The next for-sure mark to hit after Honduras and divemaster cert would be North Africa. Timeline-wise I’m thinking I would like to get there by late 2017 or early 2018. My intention is primarily to see the Sahara and roughly re-create Santiago’s journey from “THE ALCHEMIST,” but there’s flex on start/end points and route.

To begin with, how to get there? Well, right now the most appealing option is to hop on a yacht in the Caribbean and work as crew to get across the Atlantic. That would be dope and satisfy a longing to do a trans-oceanic voyage. Ideally I would like to end up in Spain where I would begin my Alchemist journey in Andalucia, possibly after hiking the Camino de Santiago in the north (Lukazs, Tom, let’s do this!!).

Another way I might make my way to Spain would be less direct -heading to Mexico, then up the Baja California, through Cali, Oregon, Washington and BC finally seeing the Pacific Northwest that has enchanted me for so long and possibly working as a weed trimmer there if its the right time of year -As far as trimming goes, it’s great coin, but I’m more interested in doing it for the experience before everything becomes legal. In any event, once I got back to Canada I would finally hitch-hike across Canada like I’ve been intending to for years, stopping briefly in Ontario before jumping off to Spain to begin aforementioned Trans-Saharan Caravan.

#NOTHINGISWRITTEN (NORTH AFRICA)

I’m gonna immerse myself in the desert and just get consumed by the wasteland. But I’m also gonna take my time with it, working at hostels, doing workaways, woofing if possible, learning the language and making my way incrementally across the northern part of the African continent to the pyramids. If possible I would like to do more apprenticeships with jewelers, learning local styles and improving my skill-set. In Morocco, my first country after Spain, I intend to head to the Atlantic coast there and check out the fledgling aurf scene and see if my divemaster cert could be put to use.
In the desert itself I wanna go to an oasis soooooo bad. Oases have always enchanted me so I’m gonna live in one.
For the record, I am quite frightened of possible run-ins with extremist groups like ISIS but I figure I’m gonna be more of a curiosity to them than anything. I have joked that maybe they’ll kidnap and force me to make jewelry for them which would be kinda dope, but I was only half-joking: I wanna find out for myself who’s out there instead of just believing the news. Maybe I’ll write an ethnography.
If it turns out they do want to execute me I’ll try and see the humor in it and laugh on the way to my execution -it’s the only victory we can truly have in life.
This whole African excursion is gonna be gully and by the time I get to Egypt I will be ready to begin the next phase: INDIA.

PSYCH! SAUDI ARABIA…MAYBE…

I wanna see the Arabian desert because for me it represents a wasteland more inaccessible and dangerous than that of Northern Africa. Seriously, going there scares me not because of the harsh conditions but because of the strict observance of Islamic law. If they catch you slippin’, well….. Let’s just say there’s nothing scarier than an establishment that will kill you with impunity for perceived transgressions and all the while believe they are acting righteously *cough* police *cough*…
No guarantees on this one but it’s definitely a possibility.

INDIA

I have been teaching yoga for a while, and I’ve been practicing it for years, but I have yet to get certified and thus learn much of the associated theory. Certification will also lend more credibility to me when I apply to various hostels and hospitality locations looking for work. And really, what better place than India to learn yoga? There are many great places here in Central America to get certified and I will certainly broaden my yoga skill-set over time here, but remember, an important part of these next two years is seeing places I haven’t seen. So as well as getting my cert I am going to see India , feast like a king and maybe buy a monkey. Who knows!?

SOUTH-EAST ASIA

Finally, I will make my way to SE Asia. You know, it’s a wonder I haven’t been here yet. For some people it’s their first exposure to backpacking, but even after more than ten years of excursions its uncharted territory for me. As far as self-improvement goes, all along the trip I will be developing my massage skill and reiki aptitude, and here in SE Asia I feel like I could really develop my Thai massage skill-set. Beyond that I’m not sure what I want from this place (food), but I know I gotta see it as it will (mostly) wrap up all my loose ends of bucket list places to see.

EPILOGUE

I’m not sure who I will be when this is all said and done and if I will be ready to buy property and build something of my own, or if I’ll want to come back to Canada or if I’ll want to pursue trips to Patagonia, the Peruvian desert, Antarctica, Eastern Europe, etc. (The bucket list never actually ends) I can literally do anything I want to do. My biggest challenge is aiming high.

So if you don’t know now you know, nigga(s)!

EPI-EPILOGUE

I owe special recognition to two very important people in my life who have precipitated a great desire for growth within me.

First would be Ghislain -meeting him and visiting his project last year was a very serendipitous experience for me and he embodies qualities that I aspire to embody myself. He is a skilled, positive, hard-working, dynamic individual comfortable with himself as a man and as a member of a community. It is by the strength of his will that the culture of CDEP is what it is. I admire the dude and feel honored to count him among my friends.

Second would be Marijo Lariviere. She is one of the most talented people I know whose ability to thrive anywhere in the world with her skill-set has inspired me greatly in my current path. Whether it’s yoga instruction, hair-dressing, jewelry-making, etc… She has so many valuable practical skills that it really made me reflect on what I bring to the table, what I could offer others (manual labor, carry a gun), and realize that I could do better. She made me aspire to improve myself if only to be of greater service to the people around me.

In closing I want to say I can be better than I am. I don’t say that with self-denigration or regret but with optimism, love for myself, and excitement to see the man I am evolving into.

I hope you enjoy the show too.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Eli Eastwood: Undercooked Fish

UNDERCOOKED FISH

Dinner that evening had been either humbly magnificent or magnificent in its humility: Salmon, lightly-cooked with ginger and garlic, damp, white rice and heated spinach from a can. Tim had placed the plate in front of him and gone back to the stove, and Eli, waiting for his host to to sit so they could begin eating together, leaned in to smell the meal. The potency of the seared ginger and garlic hit his nose like a pungent hammer fashioned from warm air and vapor and he leaned in further, inhaling deeper, smiling.

“Oh my God, this smells amazing.”

“I cooked the fish with ginger, garlic, sesame oil and soy sauce.”

Eli leaned in again. Yes, he could smell the soy sauce now, almost forming itself around the ginger and garlic like walls. It was like the garlic and ginger were two people co-habitating a space only to have a soy house with sesame windows spontaneously erected around them with the prevailing principle of design being to perfectly complement and facilitate the daily activities of the inhabitants.


This was the house that soy built and whether mortgaging, renting or squatting, garlic and ginger had made it their home.

Tim sat and began to say grace. It wasn’t the grace of a Christian, but rather the grace of a “Far-East Space Cowboy, Rosicrucian, spirit-walking, sovereign.”

“I’m really glad we have this meal and I’m very happy to have you here to share it with.”

“Samesies,” Eli thought, smirking inwardly at how gay the sentiment of reciprocity sounded.
“Me as well,” he said with outward solemnity.

They dug in. It was incredibly satisfying, and Eli found himself eating very slowly and deliberately even though he was usually inclined toward gulping his food down mindlessly. Such mindlessness would profane this meal though; This meal symbolized brotherhood and acceptance into one’s world that transcended the financial costs and the small (though commonplace) miracle of eating fish in the mountainous reaches of the Sonoran desert.

They’d had fish (sole) the night before and the night before that also (whitefish…tuna… he wasn’t sure) and in all cases Tim had cooked the fish gently which had made it juicier and more flavourful.

One could almost imagine themself a bear in the Pacific Northwest catching a salmon right from the river and biting into its still-living flesh with relish while eating fish cooked so non-committaly.

Over last night’s meal of near-raw sole, their pre-dinner conversation about women and meeting them on other planes of existence than this prompted Eli to tell Tim about the one girl he’d been dreaming about -V, a significantly younger and very naive former conquest. She wasn’t the one he thought he should be dreaming about, which might present problems down the road, but right now he was more concerned that his dreams of her had been scenes of violent fuck-making. He vividly remembered slapping her in the face in the midst of a sexual struggle, then turning her over and sodomizing her while pinning her arms behind her back (he woke up with damp shorts for his troubles). All the while she seemed to be enjoying the degradation, and the pain and most of all enjoying the…

There was one more thing she was enjoying but the realization hadn’t reached his conscious mind during last night’s meal because Tim began responding to Eli’s dream revelation with his peculiar brand of paranoid/enlightened stream-of-consciousness and the monotonous gravitas took over Eli’s thoughts -not effectively enough as to imprint its content on his memory, but enough to distract him from the mystery of V’os implacable enjoyment of being roughly, even “sinfully” taken. Instead, while Tim droned on, Eli’s mind had wandered to the thought of how appropriate it was to be having a conversation about hatefully defiling a sweet young girl while thoroughly enjoying a piece of undercooked fish.

Last night’s conversation about his dreamed depravities with this young girl had also been something of a milestone in his relationship with Tim. He had spoken openly and vulnerably, not attempting to humble-brag when describing that the dream girl was actually someone real he had slept with, and someone who was furthermore almost every bit as pliant and submissive in real life as she was in the dream (God bless her heart). But tonight was a little different; Tonight they were talking about ____________ and the young man felt compelled to talk about Mindy, a story he couldn’t relate without a modicum of humble-braggadociousness.

“I was leaving Florence a few weeks back, heading to Phoenix…” Eli related how he’d found Florence depressing with its surfeit of correctional facilities and sleepy population, and after spending one evening and one morning

NOT IN JAIL; JUST VISITING

in the town he had set out hitch-hiking toward Phoenix. En route, a woman had reached out to him and made conversation. She was Hispanic, and had a cute, round face. She asked him about where he was from and what he was doing dressed like a paramilitary. He explained that he was a film-maker and told her of his journey, and she suddenly asked if he was hungry.

He knew what this was and had mixed feelings, but also had personally challenged himself to always say “yes” to new possibilities. They walked 10 minutes to her small one-bedroom house in the ghetto outskirts of an already ghetto town, all the while talking about her recent abandonment by her boyfriend. When they arrived she entered first to calm her dog, a yappy chihuahua named Chili. ‘Yappy chihuahua’ he mused; a redundancy if there ever was one. He supposed his general dislike of the breed went back to his teenage years when his Salvadorean girlfriend at the time had babysat a couple of them for a few weeks. It was bad enough to have to wait for her parents to go upstairs before making a move, but when the dogs alerted her parents to every shift of his ass cheek with a shrill series of barks…well, he didn’t like the breed. However, he felt he could get past his dislike today as he suspected that there were no parents here to be alerted and maybe there never had been.

“This is caldo,” she had said indicating a pot of hearty-looking soup on the stovetop.

He glanced in: potatoes and meat.
He looked at her: same.

He smiled at this thought and she smiled back as she began serving him.

The soup, caldo, was quite good on its own but he poured in some of the offered hot sauce. She watched him while he ate and talked about her life, and circumstances, and kids, and plans to leave this town. He put his bowl on a side table when he’d finished and then moved to the front porch and began packing his corncob pipe with some tobacco he’d purchased from a Circle K mere minutes before meeting her. It was a rough smoke; he should have expected as much when the teenage, skater townie joking with the clerk reassured him that he smoked this brand all the time. Still, it was tobacco, and he let her take a hit off his pipe which they both realized on some level was an overture toward some greater sharing, if not an escalation.

“It’s hot as a fuck out here” he observed, benevolently, if profanely. He moved back into the house onto the love-seat where he had been sitting for the meal. She sat beside him and started talking about _______. He cast her a series of sidelong glances, meeting her eyes a few times but mostly observing her in profile. He could tell she was kind and decent and tried to do well. He knew too that her kindness had been wasted upon sleepy people who had been cruel or indifferent to her. She wasn’t lovely but she had a loveliness about her, and she needed something from him. What though?

Some dick?
Maybe, not primarily.
She needed intimacy that was kind. It didn’t have to be deeply satisfying, earth-shattering or even lasting; just kind intimacy with a kind person.

He needed something too. But he was only prepared to give so much of himself. He knew he didn’t want to kiss her and he knew he didn’t want to make love to her, but his libido had been piqued and a blowjob sounded just fine.
Knowing now what he wanted, he struggled with how to broach such an indecent proposal.

“I wanna ask you something but I don’t know how to say it.”

“Just use your mouth.”

“That’s what I was hoping you would do.”

She looked over at him a little surprised and he grabbed her left hand and placed it on the bulge in his fatigue trousers. She seemed a little flushed and a shiver went through her. “Hold on,” she said and went into the kitchen to pen the dog. He unbuckled his utility belt and undid his pants, still very much locked into his rig -a tactical vest laden with pouches, secured to his belt and pants with keeps -but his dick was free.

She came back into the living room and her eyes widened. Sitting beside him she started stroking.
“This is the biggest dick I’ve ever seen.”
He smirked at this observation and attributed it to her lack of sexual experience. He knew he was average-sized and when women said this kind of thing he knew they were being kind and took it for what it was.

She went down on him.

He applied gentle pressure to the back of her head as she did so. It wasn’t the best blowjob he’d ever had but it was the best one he could remember at this moment.
Something about the whole situation was primal and visceral and greasy.

Greasy. That word kept going through his head. A kind of catch-all term for debauchery he’d picked up watching The Trailer Park Boys, but also greasy in a more tangible sense. He hadn’t showered in about 24 hours (not his longest unbathed stretch to be sure) but he’d done some hard-marching in that time and she was paying especial attention to the bits of him which would become unpalatable quickest of all. He felt vaguely bad for her in the same way Al Swearengen must have felt vaguely bad for his whores when he stripped down to his dirty long-johns and got a blowjob from them after a long day of running the Gem. Eli wondered idly if those feelings of pity only turned Al on more like they did him in this moment as the meat and potato woman paid his dick the highest respect one can pay a thing (to put it in one’s mouth).

“Mmmmm…you’re the best” he muttered. She stopped sucking and lifted her head to face him.

“You can say what you want but you don’t have to lie to me.”

“I’m not lying.”

She looked at him skeptically for a moment then resumed her veneration.

“Poor girl,” he thought to himself, “She doesn’t believe me.”

At length she’d finished, they’d talked some and he carried on north. Later that afternoon when he’d arrived in Phoenix as a result of some fortuitous hitch-hiking, he found a note Mindy had tucked into his bag while searching for his journal:

“Her note said I was the highlight of her year,” Eli said as Tim sat listening with an ambivalent, though attentive expression. The expression didn’t change and so Eli elaborated.

“She fed ME and sucked MY dick and I was the highlight of HER year.” A smirk developed on Tim’s face upon Eli’s articulation of this realization, implying that he too had been the highlight of the year for many women before his self-imposed exile into the remote reaches of the Sonoran desert.

Eli withdrew into his mind not wanting to think about Tim getting his dick sucked. He focused on his own experience; he liked the idea of being the highlight of someone’s year simply by allowing them to feed and blow him. It satisfied his ego. He thought there was something Christ-like about it (“Take this all of you and eat it; this is my body…”). Perhaps his Light was so strong that contact with him -“helping” him actually elevated others. By that rationale he had made Mindy better, elevated her, by allowing her to partake of him.

And at this thought he realized what he hadn’t the night before, what V, the girl from the from the dream he’d discussed had enjoyed so much beyond the pain and the degradation.

“I slapped and anally raped her and it was the highlight of her year because in the dream (as in real life) she believed I was better than her and any contact with me elevated her.”

Eli’s eyes widened while squinting at the pleasant discomfort of this thought. This was powerful. Some cult shit. He had a fondness for these women (though no admiration) but they idolized him and wanted to partake in his Light, even if the illumination apparatus was a greasy, average-sized, non-consensual dick.

He looked down at his somewhat diminished plate of undercooked fish.

Perhaps last night’s comparison of defiling a young, pliant girl to devouring a piece of undercooked fish could be taken even further into a metaphysical conceit of Donne-esque proportions, but Eli had no inclination to do so.

As if on cue, Tim’s voice began to register and he listened to the old hippie’s deconstruction of reality with a quiet mind as he cleaned his plate.

@dreguan

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Limiting Beliefs as the Pillars of Human Civilization

Friends,

Recently, I had a conversation with my friend and colleague, Peter Mazzucco about the USMC’s “40% Rule.” The rule itself has interesting implications for will-power, but it also gave me pause to think back and reflect on something which had occurred to me months back then I was on the road shooting my upcoming adventure-documentary, Just Might Be Ok. I was somewhere in Mexico sitting on a rock taking a mid-day water break from walking. I had done 30 km already and was fairly impressed with myself. I reflected on how I had prepared for this undertaking: several full days every week spent in the late-summer heat walking the Hamilton region. My feet had toughened, my endurance had gone up, and the muscles in my legs, hips and lower back had developed to accommodate these new weight demands. But did these factors actually enable me to walk 30+ km every day encumbered with gear, or was I always able to perform this feat and I simply needed to convince myself that I could (with training and gains).

I found it to be an interesting question with wild implications. First and foremost, if a proverbial “97 lb. weakling” who never worked out walked into a gym with a deeply enough held belief that he could lift 400 lbs., could he?  On the other side of the spectrum, is the professional body-builder able to lift the 400 lb. weight because he has increased his muscle tissue and bone density through his workouts or have those physical changes simply had the desired effect of convincing him that he could lift the 400 lb. weight?

henry-ford-think-quote-mood

What we’re really talking about here is the relation of thought/belief to reality. At this moment, there is a Playstation controller on the table in front of me. In theory, if I have a deeply enough held belief that I can’t lift the controller or if I have some fear-based aversion to touching it, it’s not getting lifted, regardless of how much I have worked out. On the back end, isn’t that the same as not being able to lift it?

Ability has at least as much to do with mentality as it does with outward physical appearance and musculature. However, our mentality shapes us and so those with strong mentalities, disciplined mentalities, typically have bodies which reflect this. This too, could be seen as an indication of the relationship between thought and reality.

When discussing this idea further with my roommate, Kelton, he broadened the question by asking if the 97 lb. man could use levers and pulleys and other such machines to perform the lifting feat. I figured that that still counts as exerting one’s will upon reality and so I said sure. When you think about it, this is how society works: We can’t do something; “fly” for example, so we build machines like planes which allow us to do just that and see our will imposed upon the world around us. But this also made me think of another aspect and nuance of the question: We have laws and regulations governing aviation, what if we had laws and regulations prohibiting the use of levers and pulleys? Well, in absolute terms, the 97 lb. man could contravene the law and still lift the 400 lbs., but assuming he came up in the authoritarian public school system and our society more broadly, he would likely have a deep-seated fear-based aversion to using prohibited machinery. Again, on the back end, this is the exact same as not being able to lift the 400 lbs.

I would go further in fact to say that all laws and their corollary rights fundamentally serve as limiters of possibility. They limit what we believe we are capable of. I used to look rights and laws as opposite ends of a continuum, both flowing from a central point (the state/authority/power), the former protecting the individual and the latter protecting the collective, and always in a constant state of tension. There is truth to this view, but within the context of limiting beliefs I began to conceive of a new conceptual model for our relationship to rights and laws.  Imagine that same central point (the state), but it is above us and it projects beams downward and outward to envelope us in an upside down funnel shape. These beams are rights and laws, and while they are touted as guarantors of freedom, they actually act as bars caging us into the activities and potentials the state has dictated to be acceptable.

5-ways-to-overcome-limiting-beliefs

Every law and right is in fact a micro-aggression which limits our possibility. Even the most well-wrought, agreeable laws, against killing perhaps, even these still limit our conception of what is possible for us in this world.

It’s at this point where the unimaginative might derisively retort, “So are you saying that we should get rid of all laws, you anarchist?” -as if such a proposition is completely ludicrous. I think the abolition of laws and rights is a desirable state to get to but it is a state we can’t discuss without talking about other societal changes which are beyond the scope of this post.

For now, it is simply important to recognize that every new law, rule, right, guarantee, statute, and stipulation is coercive. Recognize that you have been conditioned to be afraid of force being used against you for contravention of the laws. Recognize that a law against stealing means that there are consequences for stealing, it doesn’t mean that you can’t steal.

You can do anything. Convince yourself of this. Believe it at an experiential level, and begin to undo a lifetime of limiting programming.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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Nintendo: Once and Future Overlords of Gaming (and the World?)

Friends,

On July 6, Nintendo/Niantic released the “augmented reality” game, Pokemon Go. In this new instalment of the franchise, players are required to move around the world, the real world, in order to capture monsters digitally super-imposed onto the landscape around them and observed/detected/captured with their smartphone.

While an interesting idea, I was a little cynical when I first read up on this mechanism of the game. Why cynical? Well it seems to me that Nintendo has been trying to incorporate physical activity into gaming since the release of the Wii in 2006 (although in a broader sense they have been trying to get gamers out of the house more since the release of the Game Boy back in the 80s). While I appreciate this good intent, I remember that on the handful on occasions I played Wii, after the initial novelty had worn off, I kinda just wanted to play sprawled out on a couch in a dark room with the blinds drawn and wearing dirty track pants, like nature and God had intended.

But this is different. The memes tell the tale.

Cm-KlcYUEAAm_NX

Cm-LbeIVYAA2uJe

Or, most tellingly…

sorry-mom-ill-be-leaving-our-hometown-next-year-to-1213139

People are literally being mobilized to go out into the world in a way that video games have not been able to (nor sought to) make them thus far.

 856347
Far-Fetched? Maybe, Maybe Not…

Why is this incredible? Well, Nintendo, or more specifically Niantic has figured out a way to not only get people to move around in the world, but has theoretically also found a way to get mass groups of people to all congregate in certain places at certain times. If you look at Niantic’s last augmented reality game, Ingress, you see a world where people try and dominate the global-digital landscape with whatever colour they have chosen, blue or green.

ingress-screenshots-r471x

They can “attack” and thus take over any region held by the opposing team provided they physically go to that area. However, beyond co-ordinated attacks or other such player-driven events, there is nothing driving people to be at a certain place at a certain time. In the case of Pokemon GO, all the Pokemon (at least those which have been released thus far) seem to be distributed more or less evenly in the countries where the game can played*, taking into account of course that certain types are only found in certain geographic conditions i.e. water-type Pokemon only found by bodies of water, etc. But as suggested by the above Bear Grylls meme, what’s to prevent Niantic from placing a Legendary (thus rare and prized) Pokemon like Articuno, somewhere inaccessible like Everest Base Camp? Nothing, save for the limitations of Google Maps.

But let’s take it a step further. What if Niantic released a statement saying that a certain incredibly rare Pokemon would appear only on the lawn of the White House, and then only for twelve hours? People would MOB D.C.!

……

Okay, this scenario is probably beyond a “step further” but I think you get my point. Even if Niantic did a 5-day Pokemon appearance event in a certain city, we could see mass-migrations of people. How serious am I about that? Well, according to Wikipedia, the app, after less than a week of being released, and then only officially in three countries, topped daily usage of Facebook, Tinder, Snapchat and Instagram. That means, it’s beating out people’s libidos and narcissism -no mean feat.

The effort put into capturing Pokemon may seem unbelievable to non-gamers, but is it that surprising? We take our games very seriously especially when there is a ranking structure and an opportunity to demonstrate our prowess and superiority. MMOs in recent years have seen this vulnerability exploited as people will stay indoors on a beautiful, sunny Saturday playing games online in order to take advantage of Double XP weekends. It’s about bragging rights and Pokemon GO differs only in one critical arena -your couch is the last place you wanna be.

Artificial Scarcity
I’m fond of talking about the power of scarcity to motivate people and games truly exploit that power. Whether it’s reddit karma, Pokemon in your pokedex or having a Vex Mythoclast in Destiny, these are things that take work to accumulate/acquire. It’s hilarious because they are digital constructs -lines of code, which by their nature are infinite. But, limit their available quantity or occurrence, attach some status to possessing them and all of a sudden people will scramble.

712862

For now, this is all guess-work and hypothesizing on my part. But it seems foolish not to make the thought-experiment. Maybe this potential hasn’t occurred to Niantic/Nintendo or maybe they are just waiting for an opportune time to mobilize their willing army of Pokemon trainers against the regimes of the world.

All I know is, if it turns out that there are to be different Pokemon in different parts of the world, I will be on the front lines becoming the greatest Pokemon master of them all.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

*The game has at this point only officially been released in the United States, Australia and New Zealand, but lo and behold, here is a picture of me playing it in Canada…

IMG_1609
Fuck the P0-lice!

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Whitey’s Goin’ to Mars

I can’t pay no doctor bills,
But whitey’s on the moon.
10 years from now I’ll be payin’ still
While whitey’s on the moon.”
-Gill Scott Heron, Angel Dust

Friends,

Yesterday I decided to take a relaxing bath and listen to a 70s funk classics playlist. I don’t know too much funk but I liked the genre a lot in theory and principle because I know how extensively it influenced modern hip-hop, especially the aptly named “G-Funk” sub-genre. I was enjoying the playlist quite a bit, but it was the above song by Gill Scott Heron which really caught my attention, specifically the beat poetry portion at the end where he scathingly yet humorously criticizes the establishment for having a space program when people (black folk) in inner-cities are starving. It made me think a lot about the Jenga metaphor I used to use frequently to describe our social progress in the current paradigm: Essentially, we tend to try and build higher and higher with new innovations and achievements without broadening our base for more stability. This leads to a certain precariousness and imbalance where people are dying on the street in Karachi and they’re trying to create black holes at CERN -its kind of absurd that these two realities are existing on the same planet simultaneously.
To take the metaphor further, imagine we built a broader base for our Jenga tower, analagous to say, making sure everyone was fed and sheltered and educated, how much higher could we then ultimately build?

Jenga
Fuck it! Let’s toss time travel in there as well!

I don’t know, it just seems to me that there wold be more minds to advance our civilization ultimately further if we didn’t have a good many of them struggling to procure their next meal.

Buuuuut, I’m not here to talk about this metaphor as I have discussed it at length in older posts. Instead I want to talk about what “whitey” means when Gill Scott Heron says it.

So Who is Whitey?

This is really the question isn’t it, as its a bit of a polarizing moniker. I certainly don’t feel like whitey, nor would I wager do most of my light-skinned friends. So a question then: Would Heron’s sentiments have been different if there had been a black man on the Apollo 11 mission?
Perhaps, perhaps not. But this is the problem with framing activism and criticisms of the system along racial lines; it’s relatively simple for a established powers to deflect allegations of racism by “uplifting” a minority to a position of superficial primacy as an overt demonstration of how fair and egalitarian the system is. We saw the same thing when Obama got elected. Yes, black Americans got their black president so racism is over right? Tell that to Trayvon, Sandra Bland, Sean Bell, and countless others.

“I have much more in common with most working and middle-class white people than I do with most rich black and Latino people. As much as racism bleeds America, we need to understand that classism is the real issue.  Many off us are in the same boat and its sinking, while these bougie motherfuckers ride on a luxury liner. And as long as we keep fighting over kicking people out of the little boat we’re all in, we’re miss an opportunity to gain a better standard of living as a whole.
-Immortal Technique, The Poverty of Philosophy

George Carlin once observed that he felt the civil rights advancements made in the 60s were an accommodation, and I tend to agree with this sentiment. Nothing really changed beyond perhaps perceptions. Instead the system merely “contracted and expanded” to accommodate and placate a critical mass of people with grievances.

So does that make Obama et al. “token blacks”? No. I don’t think it does. There are enough dark-skinned people in positions of power to effectively refute allegations of racial barriers in the context of a debate. But the fact that there are “positions of power” is perhaps what is the real issue, and the one which Gill Scott Heron was reaching for in his spoken word. Whitey can really be decoded as the powerful. Black people, Asians, Aborigines can all be whitey because whitey is a class construct more than a racial one, and I think that people are starting to realize this.

As a progressive (and I’m assuming you are if you’re reading this blog) you may probably get irked by white people who scream “REVERSE-RACISM” when they feel marginalized by the advocacy of another race. You may feel like they are being petty and overly sensitive. However, the existence of these opposing voices indicates more than just intransigence and privilege; it reveals that things are tough all over.  Racial bigotry notwithstanding, everyone is in a survival struggle of some sort -this is in fact an unspoken assumption of our scarcity-based economics system. It’s a system that emulates the animal kingdom in its ruthlessness and dispassion. So when I as a white man hear a black man complaining that he should have a job instead of me, it’s analagous to if I were I were a gazelle and a wildebeest being eaten by a lion was like, “Not fair, you should be eating more gazelles!”

Fuck that! I’d be like, “Motherfuck you and every wildebeest who looks like you.” -Facetious or not, I basically just explained racism.

IT’S A ZERO-SUM GAME, PEOPLE, and just because the gazelles have typically been able to elude lions better than the wildebeests in this particular corner of the Savannah (the Wesstern world) doesn’t mean they don’t taste just as good. In fact, whitey in this example would be all of the gazelles, wildebeests, boars, etc. who were fast enough to evade the lions and/or make deals with the lions by selling out their fellows. So let us not lose sight of the fact that if we are gazelles, our problem is not wildebeests, or vice versa. Our problem is what it has always been: LIONS. Or more accurately, scarcity and the survival anxieties it foments.

Scarcity will kill us. Fear of it will have us kill each other.

So Whitey’s Goin’ to Mars Now?…

It seems so. It’s funny, as a kid I was fascinated by space and the cosmos and my explorer spirit made me want to be a part of this new and exciting frontier. Buuuttt, something isn’t quite right about it. It doesn’t seem righteous to me. We haven’t figured out our shit here on Earth and we’re going to other planets.?Seems a little reckless.
Also, it scares me that certain “nation-states” will be going there and carving up the Martian landscape, declaring ownership and restricting access to future visitors.
And finally on a more philosophical slant, are we really the best representatives to go out into the universe and start colonizing other worlds? This human species has great potential but we are currently so fucked up and troubled that we aren’t really poised to make a splash as upwardly mobile galactic up-and-comers when we make the definitive move of colonizing another planet. We’re like the out-of-shape, obnoxious, combative, and smug debutante at the ball. Who would fuck us, let alone marry us?

Something Conclusive-Sounding….

I started writing this post a couple of weeks ago. Since then, in just the last few days actually, two black men have been killed by cops in the US and a black sniper retaliated by killing 5 white cops and injuring more in Dallas. Racism, or at least its perception, is alive and well and its very tempting to reduce these instances and countless others to racism alone. But there’s something of an awakening happening. Mycah Xavier Johnson, the aforementioned sniper, specifically targeted police. He allegedly preferred to kill white cops but his primary focus was on their “cop-ness” and not their whiteness which means he recognized it was the status-quo protectors who were the devils he had to bring it to. He understood that his enemy was the lion and not the gazelle.
Now I gotta qualify this train of thought by saying I don’t believe in “enemies”, much less the use of violence, but I want to make the controversial point that Johnson’s anger was at least aimed in the right direction. Pun intended.

Police are the gazelles, wildebeests and boars that have made deals with the lion and sell out their fellow herbivores. They have thus effectively become predators in their own right and their intentions BUT they are neither as noble or evil as we would like to believe. They are simply trying to ensure their survival. However the existence of this constabulary class with a monopoly on force and legal authorization to kill you if they deem it necessary should bother you at a deep, existential level. Every cop is an iron fist and many don’t even have the decency to glove themselves in velvet. They are our brothers and sisters in an absolute sense, but as long as they are the enforcement arm of an establishment which seeks to keep you pliant, dependent and obedient, they can not be trusted.

This didn’t start out as a rant about cops but rather a discussion of racism vs classism.

Its’s funny how senseless violence can change things so dramatically.

Best,
-Andre

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Becoming a Pillar of the Community

Friends,

I often talk about building a strong community; the kind of place with trust and reciprocity where I would feel comfortable raising a child. But as of late I haven’t been living that goal to an extent that satisfies me. So last week I decided to fill my schedule and do something that thrust me into the community every day. I started Saturday…

Saturday June 18/2016
After spending a day outdoors rediscovering the beauty of nearby Dundas Valley, I showered up, put on my best grey wife-beater and headed to a tantric sex seminar at local community hub, Avalon House. It was a small, intimate setting and the attendees were all quite friendly. My only qualm was the instructor; she wasn’t the greatest presenter of information and was someone who I got frustrated with just listening to. At one point she demonstrated synchronized breathing with me (I breathed out with my mouth while she inhaled with her nose, and vice versa, while staring into each other’s eyes) and it was really tough to make a spiritual connection cause her breath was really bad. Plus, she kept trying to overtly demonstrate mastery in extraneous ways -i.e. when she asked if anyone had ever been massaged I mentioned that a girl I dated used to give me massages. She was quick to point out that the girl probably didn’t really know what she was doing. I didn’t have the heart to tell her that the girl was a licensed massage therapist who worked at the Renaissance Hotel where pro athletes stay when they visit to play the Jays. Plus, she kept implying that I was gay in spite of the fact that my interest in women had been established naturally in prior conversation. I wasn’t bothered by this, but it felt like a heavy-handed neg.
I had to depart early and head to the Summer Solstice ritual for the Wiccan Church of Canada, but alas when I got to the venue I discovered that they weren’t there which was kind of a bummer because I was looking forward to sacrificing a small mammal and then smearing its entrails all over my genitals before engaging in a ritualistic orgy.
PILLAR OF THE COMMUNITY!

Sunday June 19/2016
Mostly took it easy, although later in the afternoon, Kelton, Kay and myself did go check out some open houses. Trying to make ACCESS as reality….
Later in the evening I headed back downtown for the SalsaSoul social. It was a lot of fun. There was a lesson in Zizomba (not Zumba) and then after basic steps were learned it transformed…degenerated….evolved maybe?… yeah, it evolved into a dance party with salsa in the main hall and Zizomba on the patio. Since I don’t know how to Salsa I spent most of my time on the patio but it was a great learning experience. I’ve never had much in the way of formal training in dancing but some older ladies there who were a lot more experienced and forgiving of my newness made for great partners as they knew how to follow and it made me better at leading.

QUICK TANGENT: Men and women have different roles to play in dancing, but noone is crying SEXISM! And why? I think it’s because even though the man “leads” (and he most certainly does), what is he without his partner? Nothing. They are not equal, insofar as equal implies sameness, because they are most assuredly different. But they are complementary (not complimentary….I hate when people mix these two up) and therefore both completely necessary, inextricable and beautiful in their paired completeness.
I know, I know, caveman misogynist thinking…..

BACK TO DANCING…. It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed the social -beautiful people (WOMEN!) of all different ages dressed casually and everyone was so warm and welcoming. It felt a lot more organic and conducive to making meaningful connections than being at a nightclub. This is good, because I do want to go out dancing more. In fact, dancing once a month is a resolution of mine and it seems a lot more attainable now that I’ve found not only a venue but a scene in which I feel I can thrive.

Monday June 20/2016
Today, I did some work for my friend, Amy. It’s nice working for her; she feeds me well, makes great espresso and she pays cash. I jetted home around 2:30, grabbing a bottle of Campari en route then drew a bath, smoked a little dope and indulged in the liquor while listening to a 70s funk classic playlist on youtube. Incidentally, this playlist gave me the idea for the title of my next post which will tentatively be called, “Whitey’s Goin’ to Mars” so look out for that -it’s gonna be hot. Also, I think I’m gonna start learning how to play bass…
What does this have to with community engagement? Well, not much except to point out that I was still kinda drunk and high when I went to my first Toastmasters meeting. Now I wasn’t killed or anything but I certainly felt…..expanded. Going in as a guest I figured I would be silent and observe but after I introduced myself during introductions, a longtime member, Nathalie, felt that I was ready for prime-time. When the chair indicated it was her time to relate a humorous story she passed the buck to me, feeling that I had the confidence and the chops to do so. Faced with no choice but to rise to the occasion I got up and reverted to this sort of default faux-bewildered posture I put on when I’m trying to come across as endearing to crowds. I’m not sure how it comes across to my audience but to me it feels Matthew McConaughey-ish. If you’ve ever seen me affect this persona and disagree as to the extent of its McConaughey-ishness please keep your opinions to yourself. IT’S MCCONAUGHEY-ISH DAMMIT!!
So I told a humorous story and then later during a portion called table topics I gave a riveting one-minute speech about play-doh. How do I know it was riveting? Because I got a shiny gold trophy, BITCH!!

 IMG_1459
“Best Table-Topic Speech.” -Damn, it feels good to be a gangster.

So, basically I can retire from Toastmasters undefeated at this point. Ha, just kidding going back next week (blind, stinking sober) to give a speech of the
“life lessons” variety. So that should be fun.

So, What Does Tomorrow Have in Store?
Well, I have tentative plan to go to improv tomorrow, and after that a writer’s group I’ve been meaning to attend on Wednesday. But this feels cool and right to me and its amazing how quickly a “should” becomes a necessity when you put it into your phone’s daytimer.

Anyways gotta sleep now.

Annnnd maybe just one more Campari….

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

 

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“31, Numb, but the Hurt is Gone…”

Friends,

I’m 31.

31 stony grey steps toward the grave if I’m looking to be poetic and needlessly morose.

It’s certainly been a full 31 years, but even in light of everything I have experienced thus far, I feel in some ways like I am just getting started.

Not at life, mind you, but at living.

This is gonna be a big year for me. How do I know?

Well because it has to be. I can’t keep on the way I have been thus far or I will keep getting what I have always gotten.

And I’m bored of that.

2015 was a big year for me. Monster was my operative word. It was my theme for the year if you will. It was on my tongue for everything I wanted to do career-wise.

And, it became a self-fulfilling prophecy: It was my biggest year in film (such as it was), and certainly I could have kept said momentum up and kept growing, albeit in a linear fashion.

But that didn’t seem righteous to me. Essentially, there were other areas of my life I had been neglecting during my entertainment pursuits, most notably my aspirations as an adventurer, and to keep on the same way I had been would have been to repress those longings.

So I donned the sombrero and poncho of el peregrino and made my first foray into Latin America where I partook in ayahuasca and shot a film. This satisfied my longing for adventure while reassuring me that I wasn’t losing too much professional momentum. I got two birds stoned at once as it were.

But now I’m back home. Back for over two months actually, and I stand at a bit of a crossroads: Where do I go from here? I could go back into that linear progression but it doesn’t feel righteous; that is to say I don’t find myself pulled in that direction. After all, do I really wanna spend the rest of my life only telling other people’s stories? No, mine must be the priority.

I feel on a very deep level that to keep pursuing the same things, the same way in the same place is to do myself a disservice and squander my potential while ignoring my passions.

If the theme of 2015 was Monster, the theme for 2016 is Evolve. I have known this…felt this, since mid-2015. I’ve recognized this need for a quantum-shift for that long.

So how do I plan on evolving?

Well, I am precipitating said evolution assymetrically and on many fronts simultaneously, developing existing aptitudes and even trying my hand at new endeavours not strictly film or even adventure related. That’s a big step for me.

So what are some of my approaches?

Well, there is another adventure documentary in the works which will be my greatest undertaking yet. I can’t speak too definitively about it right now simply because I’m not producing/organizing it (which is kind of a relief), but if it doesn’t get deferred until 2017, it will begin this October. Stay tuned for that.

But, I’m kinda sorta almost hoping it does get deferred until next year because my back-up plan is pretty damn sweet too. I’ve started making some inquiries about this one but I can’t start making arrangements until my new passport comes in over the next couple weeks…

On the home front I am starting a collective which at this moment I am simply calling ACCESS. It will be a first furtive step in the direction of embodying a set of values important to me and my partners in the project, values such as sustainability, abundance, collaboration and skill-development to name a few. We are still selecting the property we wish to purchase for this endeavour, and there is a strict set of criteria it must meet, but I am confident we can have that portion of it sorted out before any departure I may be inclined undertake in the fall. This will be a long-term project that will grow and develop as my partners and I do, and I’m excited to begin living values that I have thus far just been discussing.

With regard to strictly creative endeavours, I’ve done something I’ve been meaning to for some time now which  is to lay down vocals for a hip-hop track. Director and Rapper, Matthew Luppino is producing it and it should be out over the next few weeks. I love rhyming and playing with words and so this is a long-overdue step. I want to challenge myself to write a few tracks a year as a way of harnessing this skill. I’m nice at writing bars. Now the world will see this.

Film-wise, I haven’t been applying for auditions but I have kept busy enough through referrals and the like, and for about a month of my time home I was pretty goddamn busy doing stunts on Blood & Fury: America’s Civil War. This latter was actually really important because it gave me that feeling of still being in the game which is so useful for combating feelings of idleness during this period of reflection.. But the whole time I’ve meditated constantly upon how to evolve. A seemingly obvious step would be to finally look into getting an agent but I’m not 100% sold on that…yet. I think there are other ways in which I can transcend where I’m at before I allow that influence into my life.

Finally I am going back out to comedy shows after a lengthy hiatus. This time however I am more aware of how I present myself on stage and going to try new means of delivering my ideas which will hopefully add to their efficacy.

Like I said earlier, I’m 31. I am LITERALLY in the prime of my life when all factors are taken into consideration. True, my body may have some wear and tear (I was in the army for 10 years), but that is mitigated by eating well and keeping fit. And really, from a physical fitness perspective, I’m still easily in the upper 20th percentile of North American men my age. But even if I wasn’t that lack would be offset by the fact that I’m smarter, wiser, more focused, more established and freer than I’ve ever been. I am at a singular moment in my life where I can do ANYTHING. So it’s very important that I don’t squander this time with vain pursuits because I will never be able to achieve like I can achieve now.

Evolve.

Best,
-Andre Guantanamo

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