Thread increasingly surrounded by darkness

The thread increasingly surrounded by darkness
Riding out the winter (decline) of industrial civilization
-- winter departure
Craigslist SF—potential riding partners—decide if female makes sense
“preferably speaks French.”
Pick a good width for the vimeo window then base the site width on that
Ran is providing a good model at the moment with his cross-country trip.
Guy just asked if I was “using all these chairs” then gestured at the four empty chairs in
front of me.
Collecting evidence of the state of the empire (Kunster does this when he travels too—in
fact you have to travel to get a better picture of what’s occurring)
Signs of decay, decline as well as signs of a new order growing up through the cracks
(in the pavement)
Consider writing about indirectly linked artistic concerns—see Carson’s email.
Riding with her at night—laughing really hard—that’s happiness
Don’t make too many promises about the frequency of anything—you’ll report when
there’s news—not a travel diary.
Family video shorts
University parking structure at night
Park behind emerson, top of the rise
Headstand in a country road
Medium side/front/back shots
DVD also have selection of recent shorts
Edit moon/ice
Frozen moon
Email to Catherine immediately when things are decided—how much work
You should consider switching café’s if you end-up going back
The one south on western
The one north on damen
“Life has left no marks on him because he hasn’t paid much attention to it.”
deer in the works
The perks of surviving the war. 15 percent off your cell phone bill
California location visits:
Rancho Seco Abandoned nuclear power plant—a place where a huge piece of outdated
infrastructure—infrastructure meant to rot—has been left as part of a ‘natural’ landscape
basically said it doesn’t matter aesthetically. It might even help—add some interest to
the horizon.
South Sacramento neighborhood hit hardest with home foreclosures
Santa Barbara Women’s Car Park—middle class people living out of their cars—
Explaining shoplifting and why it’s OK to steal from corporations.
Urban hunting and gathering.
See days of war, nights of love for help
The project will have elements that border on survivalist—(but nothing too crazy
because we’re going for longevity)—the necessity to steal food is one of them
This practice is not difficult to rationalize morally:
Only take from corporate entities
No stealing from individuals—no mom and pop markets—there aren’t any left anyway
[wall-mart, Albertsons, Walgreen’s, Fred-Meyer, Whole Foods, etc.]
Theses are large faceless money making machines designed to maximize profits for the
shareholders, they are not your friends, they don’t care who you are (no matter how
much their advertising disagrees), they want only to separate you from your money—
and by extension, the precious irreplaceable hours of your life (taken in the form of hours
spent in wage labor to earn the money to purchase their products).
Remember, they’ve stolen from you as well:
The advertising they bombard you with steals precious seconds from your finite life—the
images and messages of which are stored in and clutter your finite mental space. [no
matter how much you tell yourself you can filter it out, you can’t filter everything—the
stream is overwhelming. They wouldn’t spend so much on the practice if it didn’t work]
Their giant stores and vast parking lagoons occupy land that should be controlled by
those who can say it’s part of their land-base—especially true it the land can be made
productive—it should sustain it’s inhabitants more directly. The middleman separates
the inhabitants from their land-bases, forcing them into humiliating and degrading wage
labor to earn the money to buy, essentially, what the land beneath their feet should
provide for free.
The architecture of these stores, built as quickly and cheaply as possible, are almost
completely devoid of redeeming qualities. They are each another piece of trash set into
the ugly suburban sprawl landscape that so much of this country has become. Making
the landscape sterile and robbing it of its inherent beauty and dignity also robs every
person of the richness that should accompany spending time in and moving through the
landscape where they live.
Their corporate structure with its several thousand mile long supply chains—trucks
rumbling endlessly down interstate highways-- is greatly contributing to the further
diminishment of the natural world.
No stealing for profit—food only—demonstrating a survivalist technique
Books to add to reading list:
Voluntary Simplicity: Toward a Way of Life That Is Outwardly Simple, Inwardly Rich
—nothing groundbreaking here but a good summary of related ideas
Keep in mind the word ‘simplicity’ is deceptive because it’s only materially more simple…
Ecodefense—largely a historical document although the chapter on security is full of
good stuff
Welcome to the Monkey house—selections:
‘Deer in the Works’ and…
“…Too many people!” and her words cackled and gabbled and died in a thousand
asphalt paved, skyscraper-walled courtyards.
“Well you’ve got to realize, the world wouldn’t be able to support twelve billion people if it
wasn’t for processed seaweed and sawdust. I mean, it’s a wonderful thing, really. I
guess. That’s what they say.”
Our love is like the size of this fucking NASA balloon
In the news—Ukraine and Russia fighting over gas—including hording and withholding
of supplies- using energy resources at leverage to further a political agenda—a long
established practice destined to be increasingly common in coming years.
Many forecast and preoccupy over a catastrophic collapse because it seems more
exciting than the meaningless lives most of us currently lead. How to reconcile this
Thirty-five years of finance, insurance, and real estate/(construction of the suburban
environment and its support and service sectors) (FIRE). This period is coming to an
Difference between now and the previous decade long depression: less industrial
capacity, and rapidly declining energy resources.
The dollar has been the world’s reserve currency long enough for us to accumulate
staggering debt—if those with large holdings begin to doubt our ability to repay our debs
we’re in trouble.
We are leaving the era of economic growth—endless growth on a finite planet now
seems a ridiculous assumption, especially now that we’re beginning to experience the
physical limits to economic growth (peak oil, species extinction do to habitat destruction
(to support human activities—agriculture), the dieing of the oceans, etc.
Welcome to a new paradigm—that age of shrinking numbers, the age of contraction—
watch the old huge complex systems we’ve come to rely on fall away one at a time.
Watch the new support systems, come up through the cracks.
We’ve been sucking more and more things into the money economy—things that have
for much of history remained outside it. Examples—forests, childcare, health care to
some extent—we’re now at a limit to what can be absorbed and these things will now
begin to drop out of the money economy—document them as they do.
Watch the world become de-commodified once again—(note—strong anti-advertising tie
in) the consumer economy is dieing. The propaganda (advertising) that seeks to
maintain the status qoe. should be viewed as increasingly insidious. The effectiveness of
such messages should be challenged/undermined at every opportunity.
(see adbusters one line quote)
A big one: the money tied up in suburban home building is drying up fast—this sector
virtually blowing away
The crash in the price of oil took everyone by surprise—the tsunami metaphor
A note on bicycling as a less energy intensive form of travel—perhaps the most energy
efficient form humans have been able to come up with—good tie in for energy related
components of the project.
Nonprofits and their reliance on people’s generosity—people’s wealth goes down and
they don’t have money to share—emphasis on reducing the need for financial resources
(and the skills involved) using innovation, adaptation, and frugality
Voluntary simplicity—misleading term because it leads to much that is more complex—
relationships—exchanges of goods—(barter systems and gift economies) mutual aid
Those living farther into the future than most of us are already behaving in a more tribal
manner in terms of the way they help each other out—not keeping track of how much is
being given.
Going to have to work harder outside the context of the money economy.
Community efficiency not self-sufficiency
Local political movements to try and allow people in suburban environments to do more
agriculture—farming and the raising of livestock—anything that promotes local selfsufficiency.
Shakeout of the tech system as less useful and energy intensive technologies drop out
while efficient and useful ones continue and are refined-Full social safety net—no one goes without their basic needs being met—Ecotopia
where artists choose to live at the edge of this net.
What happens to this prospect during economic collapse?
How is the cost of heath care going to go down unless the system collapses
catastrophically? There is no mechanism programmed into it for the price to go down to
a reasonable level. This is a serious problem.
Five years ago it was difficult to find models/images of the future that didn’t involve
apocalypse (every generation believes they’re at “the end of history”) or technology
taking the current paradigm and projecting it into a groovy future of flying cars.
Now there are other visions (including yours). Imagine the end of the world in
moderation. Imagine a slow long-term decline. Watch for subtle gradual changes.
Robot stairway failure.
Watch the decline unfold—observe and report on autonomous events—places—
people—things that together might create a picture of where we’re headed. Watch us
create our future collectively.
You’re astonishing. What constellation are the moles on your face? Do you speak
French? That’s ok.
But you’re too tall.
Makes me think about the way things are--about the way they could be.
But the density of city life doesn't just make it harder to focus: It also interferes with our
self-control. In that stroll down Newbury, the brain is also assaulted with temptations -caramel lattes, iPods, discounted cashmere sweaters, and high-heeled shoes. Resisting
these temptations requires us to flex the prefrontal cortex, a nub of brain just behind the
eyes. Unfortunately, this is the same brain area that's responsible for directed attention,
which means that it's already been depleted from walking around the city. As a result, it's
less able to exert self-control, which means we're more likely to splurge on the latte and
those shoes we don't really need. While the human brain possesses incredible
computational powers, it's surprisingly easy to short-circuit: all it takes is a hectic city
More than half the world’s population now lives in cities.
Compassion in the abstract is almost always a self-deception
Local/small scale economies
Gift/barter economies
Economies of reciprocation and social exchange
Close-knit communities
Community gardens
The Age of Memory—Archdruid
Among his least popular arguments is the suggestion that modern Western culture –
Faustian culture, as he called it – finished its creative age in the nineteenth century.
Even within a Faustian perspective, the completion of the Western world’s cultural
trajectory has potentials that need to be recognized.
As culture gives way to civilization, a ruthless winnowing of cultural heritage typically
begins, and those creative works and techniques that survive the process become basic
to the arts, crafts, and sciences of the mature society. From there, they move past the
periphery of the civilization and become part of the common cultural heritage of
This is the phase toward which Spengler saw the Western world advancing. Whether his
scheme makes sense of the broader phenomenon of historical change he hoped to
clarify, it provides a perspective crucial to our own time. The end of the age of cheap
energy has many implications, but one of the most important – and most daunting – is
that it marks the end of the road for nearly all the cultural trends that have guided the
industrial world since the paired industrial and political revolutions of the eighteenth
century. Those trends pursued greater size, greater speed, greater power; the
replacement of human capacities with ever more intricate machines, demanding ever
more abundant energy and resource inputs; an escape from the interdependence of
living nature into an artificial world transparent to the human mind and obedient to the
human will.
That way to the future is no longer open. The nations of the industrial world could pursue
it as far as they did only because abundant reserves of fossil fuels and other natural
resources were available to power Faustian culture along its trajectory. The waning of
those reserves and, more broadly, the collision between the pursuit of unlimited
economic growth and the hard limits of a finite planet, marks the end of those dreams. It
may also mark the beginning of a time in which we can sort through the results of the
last three centuries, discard the ones that worked poorly or demand conditions that no
longer exist, and keep what still has value. (Identify these things, document them- what
is to be saved)
Thus the faith that unchecked rationality is a ticket to Utopia, or the only hope of the
human future, or whatever other set of religious ideas might be assigned to it, is wearing
very thin these days, and the decline of today’s technological infrastructure in the wake
of peak oil may just put paid to it. Reason will doubtless retain an active role in our
collective life, just as faith has done, but other forces will likely take the lead in the
decades and centuries ahead of us.
Thus it may not be inappropriate to suggest that in a very real sense, the Age of Reason
is ending. If Spengler is right, what will follow it is an Age of Memory, where the
collective imagination of the West turns back to contemplate its own past and extract the
most useful elements from a thousand years of innovation.
To have yourself removed from the illuminated thread mailing list you must provide three
valid reasons for the request—the validity of which will be determined by B.
Going to be putting myself as far into the future as I can comfortably go—obviously
explain what this means—the limits of what is “comfortable” should stretch with time
spent on the road. Explain the future you’re projecting yourself into and what you
consider to be the type skills necessary to survive there. Intuition, ingenuity, adaptability.
Sell framed double diploma and letter on eBay—reserve price: $1500
Re-watch Nostalgia for rainy interior shot resembling Dixie Square and a potentially
great speech ending in self-immolation.
Pitch residency to the University of Corsica: the island as a model of local/artisan
economy, self-sufficiency, and sustainability in the coming age of energy scarcity. (More
research required on the island’s energy requirements and trade with mainland Europe.)
Course might include multi-week bicycle tour of the island to see key features
(conducive to self-sufficiency) first hand. Which department?
Pitch it to UCD art department
Design a class for a city college
Read the Cannon manual cover to cover before February departure.
Mail package to the Frank
Ask Brett if Aerojet would sponsor a long distance bike tour.
Read “Sculpting in time” before departure
Web address stamp for business cards
More places to hit:
Abandoned sugar beet factory town on highway one
Abandoned Naval Shipyard, SF
Abandoned urban reservoir, SF
Nuclear Plant south of San Diego
Public gatherings
E-waste drop off sites
Car park for women who have lost their homes—Santa Barbara
Stockton foreclosed properties—framed as good places for squatters
Unsanctioned Communities/homeless camps-- off the grid—
Santa Susana Field Laboratory—Los Angeles
Ontario, CA tent city
Sea Ports of LA county—busiest in the nation
San Diego’s Coronado island commute switch and the shanty town view from the giant
hotel—as well as the disjointed hodgepodge of architectural styles
California’s Largest Parking lots, including Disneyland’s parking garage.
Richmond Shipyards? Port parking lot where imported cars are being held indefinitely
Use google earth tour to present sites
“And what are moments of illumination if not momentarily felt truth.”
-from Sculpting in Time (place in with current reading?)
The purpose behind the thread is to collect pieces of a puzzle—the image that is
emerging/evolving is one of a post industrial future—the slow collapse of empire as it
progresses through successive stages of deterioration. It’s an image constantly in flux,
never static, always just over the horizon. Sometimes it look steampunk…
Another goal is to develop the ride into a sustainable organism—the object is not to get
somewhere, some glorious moment of climactic arrival, it’s to keep moving/playing (as in
the fantasy video game). Keep building and adapting the model of the future as it
continually evolves. Try not to be preoccupied with a resolution/conclusion.
Bring people into your world, share your vision,
Establish what is you’d like to say about this world and our changing circumstances and
the form of expression should become obvious
Teapot drawing with accompanying story as donation gift item
Peripheral projects section on BTF:
solar flight documentary/artistic direction
‘dream locations’ video project
‘Dream locations’ notes:
Snippets of conversations/exchanges/scenes (not explicitly related to choice locations)
In the proposal and on the BTF site have detailed descriptions of locations and their
significance as well as images in a standardized size and format. Notes on the threads
that tie them all together—the continuity
1. train episode—Anime like Japanese woman, tall, well-dressed (black jacket with
white stitching, white silk blouse with scarf like tie around the neck—black slacks
and black slip in flats, flashy diamond engagement ring, expensive watch),
perfect lips, big eyes. She talks to her father on her mobile—details of a
honeymoon in planning. Male cross isle to look out the window during a
particularly beautiful stretch. Sun, the south bay—the train passes an old salt
factory and an abandoned town sinking into the marsh. Male stretches out on the
two seats—lays on his back with head on the armrest. He intrudes ever so
slightly into the shared space of the isle —plays with his hair a bit—looks at the
sun—a white dot in the grey clouds. Both are listening to I-pods, hers is new and
red, his is smaller and older. There is some energy flowing between them but
they make no actual contact. No conversation occurs.
Solar flight video from eric:
Flight simulator—loops over Calvi
Eric interview clips—edited down to remove negative comments and to include
other images and video clips
Hand drawn of retro looking photomontage images/diagrams of each advert
neutralization technique
 Modification (culture jamming)—BP billboard
 Obliteration (burn/fell)—selections from ecodefense and my own design for
resin/acid interior cutting—with diagram
Mission: to provide tools and working models for individuals wishing to take back public
Quote: “Adbusters…the damage done by advertising”
The goal of having enough funding to pay others to realize certain aspects of my own
E-waste turn in day:
An economy in decline doesn’t produce such waste—it becomes preoccupied with
recycling and salvage. Things are made to be repairable not disposable and scenes
such as this would fade into history
Do adverts for second leg of I-thread:
 Rancho Seco
 E-waste
BTF Main—symbols of pictograms replaced by explanation text upon mouseover
“Please disseminate as you see fit”- for I-Tread return email
from Kunstler’s Jan. 26 blog:
We've arrived at a moment when a lot of people have a hard time imagining the future.
This includes especially the mainstream media, which has reached a state of
zombification parallel to that of the banks. But even in the mighty blogosphere, with its
thousands of voices unconstrained by craven advertisers or pandering managing
editors, the view forward dims as a dark and ominous fog rolls over the landscape of
I know it is difficult for Americans at every level to imagine a different way-of-life, but
we'd better start tuning up our imaginations, because endless motoring is not our destiny
Junked car lot photo montage—collect google earth screen shots of auto junk yards—
collage together to form one giant poster size image. (Donation gift)
Refer to international monetary fund’s prediction for world economic growth—(lowest in
60 years)
Kunstler—feb 2
how are we going to reform the way we live in this country and what will be the physical
manifestation of how we live in the decades to come.
Work for Davis—pre departure.
Giant concrete slab—site of tomato processing industrial complex.
Extensive grass growing up through the cracks. Possible source material for the
“reinvention of nature” piece.
Sunrise over cracked pavement-Use all the available functions of the camera including recording programs: sunrise,
backlight correction, etc.
also, try darker lens cover for concrete sunrise shot
Training advert—pushups and sit-ups outside with under armor bottoms, cutoffs and
moccasins. Cut to shirtless.
Can’t use dr. Seuss unless image taken beyond reconcilability—updated with
contemporary design elements.
Sound of boots on wet pavement, multiplied then offset by a single frame, layered many
Tie in with concrete slab, approaching off camera from really far away, gets louder of
Rumor of a giant parking lot—many miles across—like the rumor of a giant floating
island of plastic—something that shouldn’t be difficult to confirm but for some reason is.
We provide satellite imagery as well as eye level images—all falsified but still terrifying.
Animate parking lot zoom out—to emphasize scale and refer to the look and movement
of google earth.
Where unsold cars are being held at port.
Try using just the audio of the bar telephone conversation somewhere
Keep working on appropriate audio for waterfall—boots, slowed down turbine hum, etc.
“I have a responsibility to try and create the reality I see best living in”—needs work
mobilize eastern European villages toward self-sufficiency. If not the entire island of
Corsica beginning with a class at the university—popular in a town that’s the center of
the separatist movement.
More I-thread details:
Maybe get another microphone for this leg
Write craigslist ad for ride collaborator—SF
Note that content will not only be energy/industry related but will also include anything I
find interesting—broad parameters.
Note to readers, be prepared for the project to move slower in terms of miles traveled—
this wont be the sprint that the last one was—no longer being chased by weather—the
weather will actually be improving
Artist collaborator for extended bicycle tour
Project Description:
Take your artistic practice on the road and join me for the second leg of The Illuminated
Thread: an ongoing mobile art-tour/collaborative bicycle ride. [Link to the first leg:
Chicago/Portland/San Francisco] We’ll pedal from San Francisco to San Diego (and
possibly beyond) producing and posting video based art (as well as other formats) along
the way.
We’ll balance our shared time between our two sets of artistic interests while also
collaborating on some work. For example, if you’re a performance artist and would like to
do site specific performances or installations, I’d provide assistance with documentation.
My work will necessitate stops at functioning and abandoned energy installations (power
plants/refineries), an abandoned beet processing plant and factory town, container ports,
large parking lots, etc.
While we’ll be posting completed work online as we go, the bulk of what we produce will
be reserved for exhibition at a traditional gallery space upon our return. (see
documentation of Chicago exhibition close to the top of the thread)
I am:
A recent MFA graduate from the University of Chicago with an interest in the
decline of the hydrocarbon based economy, post collapse aesthetics, and the
critique of civilization
I have:
The Mobile Production Studio (link to mobile production studio diagram)
including: a relatively good quality HD camcorder, gorilla grip tripod, and
MacBook Pro.
Most of the tools required for on the road repairs
You must be:
A practicing artist—please send links to online portfolio or several images of
recent work (MFA desirable)
In good physical condition
You must have:
Must have access to a bicycle and applicable equipment for touring: panniers,
single occupancy tent, sleeping bag/pad, etc.
At least a month to devote to the project
Before departure we’ll collaborate on promotional materials and fund raising events.
Friends and family should be able to provide necessary funds for food and other travel
related expenses by donating to the project through the website. Experience from the
last leg shows that individuals can be extremely generous when sincerely interested in
and engaged with something this ambitious. (Donations totaled several thousand
Further reading:
The illuminated thread (see project description)
sonata 38 on Vimeo
Burn the Furniture
Illuminated thread tag lines:
dedicated/devoted to:
1. Document and understand the decline/contraction of the hydrocarbon [based]
[consumer] economy
2. Create a viable image of a local/low energy/post-carbon future to work toward—
even as that image is constantly in flux
3. Identify and refine/develop a skill set necessary to thrive in this new paradigm—
practical techniques for living on the margins—what we need to thrive in a
potentially turbulent/certainly austere period.
For header:
Photomontage with grey or blue fill for continuity
Include industrial structures, you, bike, etc.
Images with thin vertical rectangular tabs—perhaps colored for sorting purposes
Vids could have the same, as well as hairline borders—it’s important that vids be
incorporated into the design now that they can be embedded
Still preferable to have one image as header—something that represents the project—
(see center for land use management front page)
Dear reader,
Don’t expect things to go back to the way things were. The consumer economy is dying
a death perfectly timed with the production peak of its primary resource—oil.
Clusterfuck Nation Chronicle: February 9, 2009
Poverty of Imagination
Venturing out each day into this land of strip malls, freeways, office parks, and
McHousing pods, one can't help but be impressed at how America looks the same as it
did a few years ago, while seemingly overnight we have become another country. All the
old mechanisms that enabled our way of life are broken, especially endless revolving
credit, at every level, from household to business to the banks to the US Treasury.
Peak energy has combined with the diminishing returns of over-investments in
complexity to pull the "kill switch" on our vaunted "way of life" -- the set of arrangements
that we won't apologize for or negotiate. So, the big question before the nation is: do we
try to re-start the whole smoking, creaking hopeless, futureless machine? Or do we start
behaving differently?
The attempted re-start of revolving debt consumerism is an exercise in futility. We've
reached the limit of being able to create additional debt at any level without causing
further damage, additional distortions, and new perversities of economy (and of society,
too). We can't raise credit card ceilings for people with no ability make monthly
payments. We can't promote more mortgages for people with no income. We can't crank
up a home-building industry with our massive inventory of unsold, and over-priced
houses built in the wrong places. We can't ramp back up the blue light special shopping
fiesta. We can't return to the heyday of Happy Motoring, no matter how many bridges we
fix or how many additional ring highways we build around our already-overblown and
over-sprawled metroplexes. Mostly, we can't return to the now-complete "growth" cycle
of "economic expansion." We're done with all that. History is done with our doing that, for
So far -- after two weeks in office -- the Obama team seems bent on a campaign to
sustain the unsustainable at all costs, to attempt to do all the impossible things listed
above. Mr. Obama is not the only one, of course, who is invoking the quest for renewed
"growth." This is a tragic error in collective thinking. What we really face is a
comprehensive contraction in our activities, especially the scale of our activities, and the
pressing need to readjust the systems of everyday life to a level of decreased complexity
[and scale].
For instance, the myth that we can become "energy independent and yet remain cardependent is absurd. In terms of liquid fuels, we're simply trapped. We import two-thirds
of the oil we use and there is absolutely no chance that drill-drill-drilling (or any other
scheme) will change that. The public and our leaders can not face the reality of this. The
great wish for "alternative" liquid fuels (bio fuels, algae excreta) will never be anything
more than a wish at the scales required, and the parallel wish to keep all our cars
running by other means -- hydrogen fuel cells, electric motors -- is equally idle and
foolish. We cannot face the mandate of reality, which is to do everything possible to
make our living places walkable, and connect them with public transit. The stimulus bills
in congress clearly illustrate our failure to understand the situation.
The attempt to restart "consumerism" will be equally disappointing. It was a
manifestation of the short peak energy decades of history, and now that we're past peak
energy, it's over. That seventy percent of the economy is over, especially the part that
allowed people to buy stuff with no money. From now on people will have to buy stuff
with money they earn and save, and they will be buying a lot less stuff. For a while, a lot
of stuff will circulate through the yard sales and Craigslist, and some resourceful people
will get busy fixing broken stuff that still has value. But the other infrastructure of
shopping is toast, especially the malls, the strip malls, the real estate investment trusts
that own it all, many of the banks that lent money to the REITs, the chain-stores and
chain eateries, of course, and, alas, the non-chain mom-and-pop boutiques in these
highway-oriented venues.
Washington is evidently seized by panic right now. I don't know anyone who works in
the White House, but I must suppose that they have learned in two weeks that these
systems are absolutely tanking, that the previous way of life that everybody was so set
on not apologizing for has reached the end of the line. We seem to be learning a new
and interesting lesson: that even a team that promises change is actually petrified of too
much change, especially change that they can't really control.
The argument about "change" during the election was sufficiently vague that no one
was really challenged to articulate a future that wasn't, materially, more-of-the-same. I
suppose the Obama team may have thought they would only administer it differently
than the Bush team -- but basically life in the USA would continue being about all those
trips to the mall, and the cubicle jobs to support that, and the family safaris to visit
Grandma in Lansing, and the vacations at Sea World, and Skipper's $20,000 college
loan, and Dad's yearly junket to Las Vegas, and refinancing the house, and rolling over
this loan and that loan... and that has all led to a very dead end in a dark place.
If this nation wants to survive without an intense political convulsion, there's a lot we
can do, but none of it is being voiced in any corner of Washington at this time. We have
to get off of petro-agriculture and grow our food locally, at a smaller scale, with more
people working on it and fewer machines. This is an enormous project, which implies
change in everything from property allocation to farming methods to new social relations.
But if we don't focus on it right away, a lot of Americans will end up starving, and rather
soon. We have to rebuild the railroad system in the US, and electrify it, and make it
every bit as good as the system we once had that was the envy of the world. If we don't
get started on this right away, we're screwed. We will have tremendous trouble moving
people and goods around this continent-sized nation. We have to reactivate our small
towns and cities because the metroplexes are going to fail at their current scale of
operation. We have to prepare for manufacturing at a much smaller (and local) scale
than the scale represented by General Motors.
The political theater of the moment in Washington is not focused on any of this, but
on the illusion that we can find new ways of keeping the old ways going. Many observers
have noted lately how passive the American public is in the face of their dreadful
accelerating losses. It's a tragic mistake to tell them that they can have it all back again.
We'll see a striking illustration of "phase change" as the public mood goes from cow-like
incomprehension to grizzly bear-like rage. Not only will they discover the impossibility of
getting back to where they were, but they will see the panicked actions of Washington
drive what remains of our capital resources down a rat hole.
A consensus is firming up on each side of the "stimulus" question, largely along
party lines -- simply those who are for it and those who are against it, mostly by degrees.
Nobody in either party -- including supposed independents such as Bernie Sanders or
John McCain, not to mention President Obama -- has a position for directing public
resources and effort at any of the things I mentioned above: future food security, future
travel-and-transport security, or the future security of livable, walkable dwelling places
based on local networks of economic interdependency. This striking poverty of
imagination may lead to change that will tear the nation to pieces.
Ran on the name of the site:
“The reason I used my name as the site name is that I can write about anything without
contradicting the name. If I'd named it after a subject, I would be doomed to write about
that subject forever or abandon the site.”
Ran on Squatting in the next few years:
A couple readers send this article about Ohio representative Marcy Kaptur advising
foreclosure victims to squat their own houses. This is just an early hint of an issue that's
going to become enormous in the next few years. As the depression deepens,
Americans who can't afford rent or mortgage payments will become a political tsunami,
and the owning interests will have to make unthinkable compromises or be swept away.
Archdruid on images of the future: (and a word of caution)
Premature consensus is arguably one of the most severe risks we face just now, and
any image of the future – very much including the one I've sketched out here – is at best
a scattershot sampling of the divergent possibilities facing us as the industrial age
comes to its end.
Thus anything that tends to encourage people in the peak oil movement, or the wider
society around it, to think about the future in any stereotyped way is potentially fatal. Still,
[the site content] presupposes a worldview and a cultural and intellectual inheritance that
aren't exactly widespread in popular culture these days.
Each section retains the structure of the main thread page but has a unique header
image referring to the content. ‘Illuminated thread title text is replaced by title of each
About the project
Image: empty oil storage tank
Further Reading:
Ran Prieur
The Archdruid Report
James Howard Kunstler
The Oil Drum
Link to “Books” page
About me
Image: sitting on the curb eating apple
(liquidating old memories in the pursuit of new ones donation drive)
Image: waterfall and bridge with arm raised
Chicago/Portland/San Francisco
Image: flag garage door
What are you occupying your time with she asks:
“eating kelp, sculpting in time, and figuring out how to round the world’s corners
“I know! How predictable.”
“Well, nice chatting with you—carry on then.”
Is it possible to lump your three project goals:
Document and understand the contraction of the hydrocarbon economy.
Create a viable image of a local, low energy, post-carbon future to work toward.
Identify and refine a skill set necessary to thrive in the transition to this new paradigm:
practical techniques for living on the margins.
Into one statement that might me more accurate and at the same time leave more room
for broader explorations.
For example:
Welcome to the age of numbers getting smaller, welcome to the age of degrowth
(contraction), the backside of the bell shaped curve. Post peak oil, peak money (peak
economic activity), peak energy, peak world population, peak food production. The
climax of the industrial age. The late summer of western civilization. What will replace
our current economic system? What does it mean if the world’s resources are distributed
among fewer people every year instead of more?
Welcome to the downward slope of the bell shaped curve. Everywhere it is becoming
increasingly difficult to ignore limits to growth—see R Heinberg essay—post-carbon
institute post.
Welcome to the twilight of the hydrocarbon era.
Your focus will be on skills for the individual as opposed to policy for the masses.
Besides, the governments and systems that have been trying to solve the world’s
problems through policy tweaks have failed. They are a product of the industrial system
and will wither and die with it
Springtime in Paris. Last April a small group of scientists and policy makers met in the
city of lights to…
[see first annual conference on “Degrowth”]
Or maybe, you should just focus on really controversial techniques for bringing down the
system—focus on the “way past the time to act—now it’s an ecological emergency”.
Maybe difficult to find an audience other than the FBI.
Record the locations and security apparatus of industrial installations. Possible angles
for a strike, and anticipated result. Sounds kinda narrow and not that interesting for most
Butterflies are possible! Never stop believing.
Ran on Valentine’s Day:
Valentine's Day is the worst of all holidays, because if you're single you feel left out, and
if you're with someone you feel stressed out by the expectations. I hesitate to even bring
up the word "love" because it's a semantic minefield, with countless meanings, some of
them opposite of each other, and yet we tend to think everyone else is using the word
the same way we are. Even "romantic love" points to several completely different things,
ranging from pathological obsession to healthy but short-sighted lust to the deep
attachment that develops between long-term couples.
Of course, the best foundation for a couple relationship is not any kind of romantic love,
but compatibility. But even "compatibility" is complex and hard to define. If you look at
personal ads, people seem to think it doesn't go any deeper than liking the same popular
culture. I would say part of compatibility is comfort. Barbara Sher once wrote that a good
partner (or maybe it was a good activity) should not feel exciting, but should feel like a
comfortable old shoe. Another huge part is synergy. The test is to look at all the other
parts of your life, your relationships with friends and family, your source of money, your
creative work, or attempts to improve the world or get enlightened, or whatever good
paths you're on. Your partner should help you on those paths, or at the very least should
not hold you back.
I was open to the possibility of meeting a new girlfriend on this trip, but that wasn't how
the plot developed. My first Boston host asked me if I'm happy being single. After some
thought, I'd say that I'm happy but not satisfied. Most of the couple relationships in this
world are not as good as being single -- but the best ones are much better.
Complexity Theory argues that societies become progressively more unstable and
vulnerable as the network of interconnections within them increases -- not particularly
good news for a globalizing system in which increasing complexity is precisely the thrust
of economics, finance, manufacturing, technology and almost everything else we do.
The sobering implications may explain why many proponents of Complexity Theory
preface their comments with an apology. "We don't want to tell you this," goes the
essence of their message, "but we think you should know." When the New Scientist
published two articles on Complexity Theory (Apr. 5/08), its editor anticipated some
reader discomfort. "We are predisposed to pay attention to bad news," noted the
editorial. "There is a good reason for this. We need to be warned of difficulty and danger
so we can protect ourselves.... [But] if the warning is too scary or distressing, we attack
the messenger as a doom monger."
Complexity Theory comes with its hint of doom, ominously reminding us that no
civilization has ever survived the stresses of history, with the possible exception of China
and Byzantium -- in a much reduced state for 450 years following the 15th century Arab
invasions. But Sumer, Persia, Egypt, Greece, Maya and even Rome all collapsed,
primarily because they succumbed to overwhelming complexities.
Also, complexity is ratcheting—there are no mechanisms for removing old laws—the
result is endless paperwork and government hoops to jump through and the system
eventually freezes up.
Page 9 of the degrowth conference PDF—abstract, purpose of the conference and
good summary of the “critique of assumed economic growth”. Including why efficiency
just leads to increasing use of raw materials. Page 5 good too.
Books to steal:
Overshoot by William R. Catton Jr. (out of print)
The Limits to Growth by Donella Meadows, David Meadows, Jorgen Randers,
and William W. Behrens III. Get the original 1972 edition
Days of war nights of love
Archdruid on human limits:
Human limits, not human power, define the situation we face today, because the
technological revolutions and economic boom times that most modern people take for
granted resulted from a brief period of extravagance in which we squandered half a
billion years of stored sunlight. The power we claimed was never really ours, and we
never conquered nature; instead, we stole as many of her carbon assets as we could
reach, and spent most of them. Now the bills are coming due, the balance left in the
account won’t meet them, and the only question left is how much of what we bought with
all that carbon will still be ours when nature’s foreclosure proceedings finish with us.
Current donation gifts:
Double diploma and accompanying letter—well just one University of Chicago diploma
didn’t generate much interest so we’re adding a second, identical University of Chicago
(est. 1890). Plus a letter explaining that the second diploma should be destroyed.
1991 Lexus paint and interior fabrics option card
Teapot drawing with accompanying narrative
Inmate badge
‘pot’ note
original taxidermy lodge map
Fight Club VHS
Recite speech in a public place—record and send to donor:
Translated onto English of course. And minus the self-immolation part.
This would totally be my monologue if I we’re an actor.
Domenico's Speech
What ancestor speaks in me? I can't live simultaneously in my head and in my body.
That's why I can't be just one person. I can feel within myself countless things at once.
There are no great masters left. That's the real evil of our time. The heart's path is
covered in shadow. We must listen to the voices that seem useless in brains full of long
sewage pipes of school wall, tarmac and welfare papers. The buzzing of insects must
enter. We must fill the eyes and ears of all of us with things that are the beginning of a
great dream. Someone must shout that we'll build the pyramids. It doesn't matter if we
don't. We must fuel that wish and stretch the corners of the soul like an endless sheet.
If you want the world to go forward, we must hold hands. We must mix the so-called
healthy with the so-called sick. You healthy ones! What does your health mean? The
eyes of all mankind are looking at the pit into which we are plunging. Freedom is useless
if you don't have the courage to look us in the eye, to eat, drink and sleep with us! It's the
so-called healthy who have brought the world to the verge of ruin. Man, listen! In you
water, fire and then ashes, and the bones in the ashes. The bones and the ashes!
Where am I when I'm not in reality or in my imagination? Here's my new pact: it must be
sunny at night and snowy in August. Great things end. Small things endure. Society
must become united again instead of so disjointed. Just look at nature and you'll see that
life is simple. We must go back to where we were, to the point where we took the wrong
turn. We must go back to the main foundations of life without dirtying the water. What
kind of world is this if a madman tells you you must be ashamed of yourselves!
O Mother! The air is that light thing that moves around your head and becomes clearer
when you laugh.
You should do the rainforest video for Val and Andrew.
And take another look at the rock video.
Don’t forget to dedicate the ride
Design your own donate buttom- 333333 box with cut out text
For Cosumnes: So Sacramento county: here is where half a billion years worth of stored
sunlight is converted into electrical energy so you can toast your bread. Everyone should
know where their energy comes from.—see removal of energy map from IEA website
Upper corner for recent quotes—ideas brought in from the larger circle of experts, or
good (bad) news.—stuff that will eventually loose at least part of its relevance and can
be replaced—things you’re not responsible for, things you’ve been looking at or thinking
Explain in the further reading section that quotes pulled from these sources (as well as
books and newspapers, appear in to upper left hand corner spot
? maybe it’s a place for external links with commentary
I noted that it was raining and almost decided not to go to the café to work. Then I
remembered the forty hungry virgins waiting for me with their cunts open.
So I went.
Flirting with apples
Photo credits with initials at the bottom of each page:
All photographs this page: BT, except header: JM
Goals for today:
build basic structure of site—enter recent work—update to tolerable level
Email Heather
Decide on entry point for “forces of nature” show
Add donation items—come up with more donation services.
Do you need something to distinguish the main page form the sub pages? Like maybe
the sub pages could have a different fill for the panels?—you kinda know where to look
on the page for navigation things.—it’s so clean you cant really get lost. Still… For
Flat bottom
At some point you have to say—it’s as good as I can do. It’s good enough. And move
The blue is your flair—
Note in archive that there are no links back to this site—perhaps open in a new
Ran on two ways of responding to energy decline and climate change:
More generally, the two responses to weakness and failure are the surfaces of two deep
assumptions about the meaning of life. One of them says, we are here to satisfy our
desires and live in perfect bliss, and anything that interferes with that is wrong, and can
and must be eliminated. The other says, we are here to learn, to adapt, to get along with
other beings, and anything that causes pain is guiding us on that path, and we should
pay attention to it.
You can see these two philosophies in the two responses to energy decline and climate
change. One says, we'll just come up with a fix that will allow us to continue economic
"growth" and late-20th-century industrial affluence forever. The other says, energy
decline and climate change are forcing us to live in balance with the rest of the world.
Even if there is some easy escape from these crises, they are guiding us to make
changes that are good for us to make anyway.
So obviously I didn’t make it.
One: no money.
Two: I knew if I quit working on the thread project for too long I might not go back to it.
Anyway, that’s what I’ve been up to, riding out the winter in California: redesigning the
project’s goals and website. Staying up till sunrise then sleeping till mid afternoon.
I’ve been looking at your blog… in moderation. It makes me feel a little sad actually. But
don’t get me wrong, I love it.
So I guess this is to say that I’d like to see you again someday, wherever. And to let you
know I’m not flaky, just impecunious.
Burning equipment in giant burn pits in the desert and you want to sell me greed as not
such a bad thing.
Competing moustaches with original audio
Iraq for sale documentary ends with an, “I love my country.”
Go out and identify targets. Video people going to work at a refinery. Figure out where
executives live and record their homes. Post the locations online. I think people would
be into that. Even if half of it was made up. It’s about the pleasure of the thought.
Now that we know the bike is a viable (and much more pleasant) way to travel longer
distances (albeit slowly).—in “then why bike?”
The project would end up ultimately being about free speech—not your subject. Plus
you’ll probably get bumped off.
Fake project sponsors with adverts you made. Energy companies. Sponsored by SMUD.
Borrow audio from original adverts.
Chevron- human energy—identify audio- -- borrow logo/font,
Never admit they’re not actually your sponsors.
Sponsors are the big companies whose executives you’re identifying the homes of.
Those standing in the way of the dismantling of civilization—defending the ?current
Picard says new technologies are great. Says (basically) that renouncing cars would be
as crazy stupid as going back to cave days. Says to buy new technology and that new
technology will lead to the improvement of life here on earth. Wants to set a good
example for the people of earth—“if they made it around the planet with no energy,
maybe I can go with a little less.
Maybe you should slowly introduce bottlenecks and weak points. Pipelines and such—
supply lines, depth underground. Etc. that wouldn’t necessarily give the project away so
quickly. Just slip in a photo of a security fence once in a while for the short term.
I mean if it’s necessary you can always say you’re doing it in the name of safety—
identifying weak points as a public service.
If some of us want out of this nightmare we should be able to take steps toward what we
think will be a better more humane world. Those that wish to keep the nightmare (and if
you think it’s not a nightmare google [name of Picard’s disease charity]) going are going
to have to get out of the way.
Burning piles of machinery in the Iraqi desert
BBC—greed not so bad?
Kicked out from under a freeway overpass in the name of safety and fences.
Favorite Oxymorons:
Sustainable development- in reference to building new things
You design the far-away project (target) and I’ll carry it out remotely. After a feasibility
study. The piece is half yours.
You tube UAV kill-vids for “forces of nature”
Titled “force of nature”
I just thought physics and things exploding.
First some '"good news"; given that our world economy is built on consuming land,
resources, water and air, a recession helps the Earth.
Woolworth's workers on their final day (Image: PA)
Workers losing their jobs do not see the recession as a good thing
We fly less; we drive less; we burn less oil and gas and dig up fewer mountains to
provide iron ore, bauxite or copper.
Look back at post-war graphs and you'll find the most reliable way to cut carbon
emissions is an economic depression.
For years, environmentalists have preached on the evils of rampant consumerism; now
we have got the opposite (I don’t think an economic slowdown qualifies as ‘the opposite’
or rampant consumerism), are they smiling?
Barely, and not just because they risk offending former Woolworths or Nissan workers.
The recession has also revealed the shallowness of that philosophy. If being proenvironment means simply being anti-economy, that means unemployment, social
unrest and six billion people in serious trouble.
Oh god, social unrest! How terrible! This makes me want to stop going to BBC for news.
Six billion people are already in trouble because the life support systems of the planet
they live on are in serious danger of failing. Former Nissan workers will have to find
something to do other than build cars. You can’t change anything from within the
system. The system will not be reformed. It includes no mechanisms for reprogramming.
It must be taken offline and replaced. Sure, this will be chaotic but we have no other
choice. A global recession will be good at exposing the weaknesses, vulnerabilities and
inflexibilities of the current global economic system. Anything that slows the destruction
of the living planet is a good thing. It’s ridiculous to value the jobs of some Australian
miners over entire ecosystems and species. The only place this makes sense is from
within the current system where profits and economic growth rule. It’s over—the planet
has announced its mandate. I’m sorry miners are loosing their jobs but I’m infinitely more
happy that the destruction they do to the landscape will (at least temporarily) be
You need to stick to what you’re actually interested in—imagining a future characterized
by contraction, the decline of industrial civilization. Does it have to be relevant in terms of
life changing to your audience: maybe not. You’re projecting yourself this far into the
future and you like what it looks like there (for many reasons) so your going to identify
glimpses of that world in the current ones. Little pieces—their light shining through
cracks in the concrete. For example you don’t really mind a mega project such as a giant
container shipping port because how fucking amazing is it going to be when that place is
a big pile of rust? What will it be used for? Who will live there? Will it have spiritual
significance? It’s like reverse cultural anthropology. It’s an exercise in imagination and
balancing one’s imagination with select pieces of “now”.
Can greed be harnessed to support our world, not destroy it?
New, more efficient technology does not lead to a net reduction in the use of resources.
The opposite is true. Resource (energy) savings are sucked up in the production and
distribution of the new technology as it is made available (and desirable—advertising) to
an ever-widening circle of people (china).
We squandered a trillion barrels of earth’s most perfect energy source—used it to wield
the power of gods. Mostly to build cities and blow each other up.
Someone once asked me what we should have done with it. Left it where it was.
Levy Images:
The Earthen Levee as Civilization’s Margin
These two images were taken within minutes of each other on opposite sides of Lovdal
Levee. The trapezoidal wall of earth and stone was built to protect Sacramento and
other California Central Valley communities from the floodwaters of a periodically
swollen Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta. On this bright January morning I had
pedaled east from Davis and traversed the Yolo Bypass floodplain by way of a 3.2 mile
long elevated highway viaduct known as the Yolo Causeway. This time of year (after a
good storm) the bypass can be completely full of water, but California was in the middle
of a very dry month. I arrived at the Levee in time to witness two very different scenes;
specific enough in their implied significance to trigger a moment of clarity.
On the city side was a yellow truck rumbling down the bike path. It had been outfitted
with an array of storage tanks, hoses, and nozzles: transforming an ordinary vehicle into
a mobile herbicide delivery system. A figure, dressed head to tow in a chemical
protection suit, stood on the truck’s modified tailgate directing an unbroken stream of
aquamarine tinted liquid onto the “weeds” at the path’s edge. I tried not to breath as the
noxious cloud of herbicide mist and diesel exhaust floated past.
The floodplain side is paid far less attention. It’s been designated a “wildlife management
area” which really means that (because it’s occasionally underwater) it has little use to
humans. But the trees and other plant life, as well as the birds and small mammals that
make this area their home, aren’t no much managed as left to their own devices. It
seems to be this unsupervised quality of life beyond the levee that attracted the dozen or
so human occupants of a small tent village established at the base of the earthen wall.
Mining such an obvious dichotomy for meaning, I began to equate everything on the city
side of the levy with industrial civilization. The herbicide truck was the perfect symbol of
civilized human’s compulsion to contain and control wild nature; the epitome of the
doctrine: what refuses to conform to civilization’s rigid lines must be exterminated or
displaced. Here, safe on the inside, I felt the insulation and separateness that keeps us
cut off from the rest of the living planet. I felt the fear of the unknown; of what cannot be
A levy, in and of itself, is a structure designed to control the flooding that is natural to any
river delta. It makes the unpredictable predictable (at least until it fails). In our model it
represents civilization’s margin. It is the castle wall: tasked with keeping the messy
unpredictable world where it belongs. It is just outside this engineered security that our
tent dwellers have chosen to reside. They live without many of the comforts and
conveniences most of us are accustom to, but pay no rent, no mortgage, no property
taxes, and no utility bills. They come and go as they please with no one looking over
their shoulder. They tread lightly on the land and enjoy an amazing view of the wetlands.
They got to choose exactly how far from their tenting neighbors was comfortable,
working such details out amongst themselves.
The price to live here on the fringe is knowing your place is not permanent. It requires a
certain flexibility and mobility; a willingness to let the weather decide when it’s time to
move on; to give up control to something larger than oneself. The tent community will
have to relocate their homes when the water rises again but the process can’t be worse
than getting an eviction notice from the bank that owns your toothpick and vinyl track
I’m not trying to glorify or romanticize homelessness. I’m sure that, given the option,
they’d trade for a suburban home and a Ford Explorer in a heartbeat. I’d like to think that
fact doesn’t diminish the potency of the model they provide. As this country finds itself
increasingly impoverished, greater numbers of its citizens will gather at society’s edges,
eager to escape the chaos and turmoil of its core. As Dmitry Orlov points out in his
recent book Reinventing Collapse, “these margins may turn out to be some of the best
places to live.”
About me:
So the café where I’m working is almost full. There are no seats in the laptop section
besides the one opposite me at my table and the one across form my female neighbor.
Dude comes to sit with the woman and asks if he can put has bag on the chair—as he’s
setting it down. I say nothing because he’s off to pick up his drink. When he returns I say
I’d prefer if his bag stays off the chair because I’d rather not look like I’m occupying an
entire table in case someone wants to share. He’s surprised by this request and says no
one is going to sit there but removes his bag anyway. I say someone might because it’s
the last chair in the café (and it shouldn’t be reserved for a backpack). He mutters
No one sits at my table.
‘About me’ section Ideas:
Perceived personal weaknesses/limitations:
Introverted ?(have difficulty starting conversations with strangers)?
Judgmental tendencies
Slow reader
Oversensitive—especially to criticism
Get comfortable easily
Periodic lack of motivation (related to previous)
Slivers of hypocrisy?
Comfortable being alone
Ability to shift scale and see the larger picture.
Current reading:
Sculpting in Time by A. Tarkovsky
“And what are moments of illumination if not momentarily felt truth?”
BA, University of California at Davis
MFA, University of Chicago
Things I want to do before I die: (too romantic for the site)
Take a refinery offline
Run a café
Ride my bike around the world
Fall in love again
Artistic interests:
Contraction of the hydrocarbon economy
Post collapse aesthetics
The Critique of Civilization
Personal website:
Chevron human energy music: symbiotic by paul leonard morgan
Donation Services:
Send you something by mail—something acquired along the way?
Slow Mail:
I’ll deliver, by bicycle, a piece of correspondence intended for someone along the
proposed route. You can either email your letter and I’ll print it and put it in an envelope
or I can pick up your already sealed envelope if you’re on the route or not too far away.
Remote Open Collaboration: ROC
You design a site-specific (how specific is up to you) piece and I’ll execute it.
(after a feasibility study)—actually this is kinda like what you’ve done for Alex.
Image to Portable Device
Every day at exactly the same specified time i’ll snap a picture of whatever’s directly in
front of me with my phone and send it to your mobile or PDA.
Recite Tarkovsky speech in a town square or an equivalent outdoor public space. I’ll
record it and send you a copy on DVD.
Dumpster diving advert
Never admit that the ride and the larger project are the “art.” The larger project is simply
a context and a vehicle for producing work.
Great assignment for a class on land use: give the student coordinates they must type
into google earth then make them write about and attempt to identify what they’re
looking at
In ‘about me’—artists: (center for land use interpretation)
Figure out ‘open in new window’
Disneyland Megaresort Parking Garage
Mickey & Friends Parking Structure- largest in North America?
In 2006, Los Angeles County provided 53.22% of California's total oil refinery capacity
and 6.02% of that for the entire nation.
[This is appropriate considering they’re driving most of the cars.]
email ran and CLUI when project outline reaches completion
art related links:
Center for land use interpretation
CLUI might have some ideas for funding or want to be involved somehow
They have an exhibition space in LA
What links all these potential sites? What do they have in common?
Many of them are environmental disasters, many will be viewed as mistakes, they’re of
enormous scale. They’re scale and the materials they’re built with will insure their
survival well into the future making them potential sites of significance in a post collapse
world. Will they be pilgrimage sites? Will they have religious/spiritual significance? The
collapsing economy is a good thing for the preservation of such unique places as the
cost of demolition and cleanup becomes unaffordable and of low priority.
Richmond Shipyards
The most productive ship building center anywhere durring WWII. What are all those
idential white vehicles?
San Francisco Naval Shipyard
As in most industrial zones of the era, Hunter's Point
has had a succession of coal and oil fired power generation facilities, and these have left
a legacy of pollution, both from smokestack effluvients and leftover byproducts that were
dumped in the vicinity. The base was entirely closed in 1994, although it continues to
receive attention due to the large amounts of toxic waste remaining to be cleaned up.
Lompoc Diatomaceous Earth Mine
Basically chalk.
Betteravia, CA: Abandoned Sugar Plant and Company Town.
Santa Susana Field Laboratory
Port of Los Angeles
Plant closed since
Los Angeles County Oil Refineries
Ten total.
Disneyland Megaresort Parking Garage
Also known as the Mickey & Friends Parking
Structure, this __ acre block of concrete is rumored to be North America's largest
San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station
Afectionately nicknamed the Dolly Partons
becouce of the nippled domes of the cotainment buildings, the station was, "built to
withstand a 7.0 magnitude earthquake directly under the plant."
Hearst Castle?
Vandenburg AFB—Abandoned spaceport
Space Launch complex 10—arrange in advance
Rich peoples garbage-- landfill
Hidden hills gated town—withiest in country
Ventura oil field—tapped out?
Seal beach warship ammunition storage site
news report on cars waiting at the seaport to be moved because the dealerships aren’t
selling anything—Long Beach Port
EIA website:
Notice to Readers:
The Energy Market Maps, Energy Infrastructure Maps, and Renewable Energy Maps
were removed from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) web site on June 21,
2002, for national security reasons. We apologize for any inconvenience.
Dos Cuadras Offshore Oil Field—Santa Barbara
Be sure to mention what an oil/energy rich region your going through—see Santa
Barbara County map.
Ads for some of the locations.—the spaceport with ICBM footage?
Closest thing to an abandoned spaceport in the US—maybe Russia
Nuclear plants because of the way their built—to withstand earthquakes—will be around
for a really really long time.
Your site descriptions should say why the site is important for this project—what aspect
of this place are you most concerned with/interested in?
Diablo Canyon Tours:
Call one week before—renew request for grounds tour—said he’d call up and see if
anyone can take a few minutes to give a tour of the grounds.
(Mr. Miller)
there is a commonality among many of your sites: they are difficult to get close to.
Launch Complex Access:
The Vandenberg AFB public tour program recently resumed after it was suspended two
years ago due to heightened security levels at this active base. Tours are available the
2nd and 4th Wednesday of each month, security and mission permitting. Tours depart
from the visitor's center parking lot at 10:00am, take visitor by bus through the base and
include a tour of the Heritage Museum, which provides mock-ups of missile silos, an old
missile control station and decommissioned rocket engines. Tour duration is two hours,
and participants are encouraged to arrive 30 minutes prior to departure time.
Reservations are required at least two weeks in advance and visitors need two forms of
photo identification. No walk-ons are permitted. For reservations and more information
call the 30th Space Wing Public Affairs office at 805-606-3595.
805 606 2076
Maybe you should talk with that guy—he’s been to at least three of your sites.
The ‘inspirational documentary series’—about folks living their dreams.
Theabald—professor of ASPO committee teaching at UCD
Two students in a communication class—professor had to sneak in peak oil
Dear Mr. President, you are presiding over an epochal contraction, not a pause in the
growth epic. Your assignment is to manage that contraction in a way that does not lead
to world war, civil disorder or both. Among other things, contraction means that all the
activities of everyday life need to be downscaled including standards of living, ranges of
commerce, and levels of governance. "Consumerism" is dead. Revolving credit is dead - at least at the scale that became normal the last thirty years. The wealth of several
future generations has already been spent and there is no equity left there to re-finance.
living locally, working hard at things that matter, and preserving civilized culture.
What does the age of contraction look like—what kind of trends are it characterized by?
Things leaving the money economy—the decay of industrial infrastructure—an
improvement in the environment (quote from reinventing collapse, cleaner air—then
address job loss and mass unemployment.
Sunset on the golden age of consumption advert.
Reverse sunrise—“welcome to the winter of industrial civilization”
Welcome to the end of the grown paradigm.
Welcome to the end of consumerism
All the front doors of places you lived in college—photo project as donation gift
Freeway overpass video and audio layering/buildup as advert
Photograph every item advert—(right before departure)
Sound of the ocean with slow pan out on plant image advert
Links to everything you craigslist? NO
Upper middleclass series
—with family home tour (show previews)
Using end civ for advertising purposes-??
Use middle class dreams for advert.
Brett Prom series as donation gift.
Desert storm cards as donation gift?
Maybe at some level the species realizes it has doomed itself by making the planet
uninhabitable. Could this be behind the strange compulsion to turn ourselves into
computers?—this is so Ran.
Essay on Idleness:
From an article on urban exploration:
As abandoned buildings such as the cannery lose one purpose, they gain another.
Nature returns in dazzling and poignant ways: Rust paints steel doors in multicolored
patinas; ivy envelops offices and break rooms like a clenched fist; feral cats rest in vents.
It's this gray zone between civilization and the natural world that Tunnelbug finds
especially attractive. "As a photographer, I think the decay, how these buildings age, is
really beautiful."
It’s not just beautiful, what else is it?
Design a sound piece for inside the sugar silos—ridiculous echo.
Various links to urban exploration articles on bearings site—maybe valuable for project
A post-industrial west
Professor on ASPO committee
Contact: John Theobald, Communication, (530) 752-4916 office, (707) 322-6340 cell,
[email protected]
Things to acquire:
*Bicycle taillight
Bicycle overhaul—fix click
*patch kit
Stamp (order online)
*Small scissors
Crappy shorts
Tent pole?
Front tire?
Hard drive?
New connector bar for rear rack?
The ride begins on the west coast of the new world—the farthest into Europe’s overflow
continent—the terminus of manifest destiny expansion. Backed up against the pacific
ocean, there is nowhere else to go. Heading east is like going back in time in this sense.
Lexus Tiles- the perfect artifact of the age of exuberance
A warning to readers—this project assumes the reader understands overshoot, accepts
our circumstances and the consequence of our position. This project is not for those in
denial. (see chart)
From Forward:
One sure way to have a healthy seemed to be through rapid economic growth geared to
modes of production which consumed larger and larger amounts of energy.
They were voyages of imagination, voyages which led us on a joy ride of extravagant
But petroleum that was deceptively cheap has played a major role in nurturing this
illusion of perpetually expandable abundance.
Such a technology based ego-trip now means that the future holds for us not merely a
regrettable leveling-off of economic growth, but an institution threatening prospect of
some deindustrialization and some decline of population.
“…courage (to face the future) based upon a genuinely appreciative recollection of our
heritage, are the best means of equipping ourselves to adapt to the uncertain future
brought upon by our past “successes.”
…development of ways to exploit the planet’s energy savings deposits, the fossil fuels.
The resulting opportunities for economic and demographic exuberance convinced
people that it was natural for the future to be better than the past.
The idea that mankind could encounter hardships that simply will not go away was
unthinkable in the Age of Exuberance.
A country fumbling (with the rest of mankind) to come to terms with post-exuberant
the less optimistic the assumptions we let ourselves make about the human prospect,
the greater our chances of minimizing future hardships for our species
The alternative to chaos is to abandon the illusion that all things are possible
We became heavily dependent upon hunting for natural deposits of these substances,
upon continually vast quantities for our use. Euphamistically calling the new versions of
these ancient activities “finding” and “delivering,” or “exploration” and “production.”
Yet most contemporary political proposals for solving problems of economic stagnation
or inequity amount to plans for speeding up the rate of drawdown of non-renewable
Looking at the news: territorialist responses to the end of exuberance
42—launch complex
Little wonder that the illusion of limitlessness was reinforced by space flights.
Welcome to the winter of industrial civilization
Welcome to the twilight of the age of exuberance
Welcome to the age of numbers getting smaller
Wecome to the age of contraction
Welcome to the age of limits
because the low cost was temporary, it was an unrealistic basis for a way of life.
men and women could live in abundance, working toward their own goals in their own
way without interfering with each other’s pursuits of happiness. That was the essence
of the American dream, and that was what most fundamentally was changed by
moving into a post-exuberant age. It was in America that the dream had seemed most
obviously valid, so in some ways it was especially difficult for Americans to face the
inescapable task of reassessing customary assumptions.
Santa Barbara offshore drilling history
Project form a post exuberant paradigm—assumes that the age of exuberance is well
over and that we’ve begun the process of adjusting to post-exuberant realities
Widespread sense of despair and loss of faith in the future were expectable
repercussions of the post-exuberant condition of our world.
We are now a chronically depressed nation—loss of faith on the project of civilization
and America’s mission to export democratic capitalism all over the globe.
Living in the twilight of the American dream and of exuberant way of life is inevitably
The right kind of nostalgia can be a legitimate and rational response to irreversible
change for a nation or a world, just as it is for an aging individual.
Cultivate an ennobling form of nostalgia
106 Succession
The Age of Exuberance in which the American dream unfolded was an early seral stage
in the succession of New World community types. The post-exuberant age is a later
stage in the same sere.
109 Reducing carrying capacity by creating deserts:
burying arable land under buildings, high-ways, mine tailings, junkyards.
110—ruins, abandonments and ghost towns testify to the relevance of succession
in human history.
Nor can a fossil-fueled industrial civilization prevail as a climax (community), affording
affluence forever.
Agriculture, ecologically understood, is the continual undoing of succession.
The carrying capacity of the habitat, of course, is simply the maximum number of living
individuals the available resources can indefinitely support. It is limited not just by the
finite supply of food, but also by any other substance of circumstance that is
indespensible but finite in quantity. The leas abundant necessity will be the limiting
factor; it may not be food. For industrial developed countries it began to appear in the
1970s that the limiting factor might be oil, while in some places it was water.
Prosthetic Man: nature’s evolutionary breakthrough
A shift from: (a) selective retention of organic traits on the basis of their adaptive utility to
(b) selective retention of prosthetic tools on the basis of their adaptive utility.
They are detachable parts of extended human beings. The walls of our buildings and the
shells of our vehicles are (like the Eskimo’s fur parka) a kind of prosthetic skin with which
we surround our enlarged selves, enclosing mini-environments within them.
A way to fill niches all over the planet
Life has always depended on opportunities for living systems to obtain “resources” from
their environment, and to exhaust spent substances (with autotoxic properties) into the
environment. So the advantage to be gained by enclosing a piece of the environment
within the system has always depended on there being plenty of environment left
(Nuclear waste as the most extreme example of a human process that produces an
autotoxic substance)
161-- Africa
Collapse of fiscal webs thus confronted millions of people with loss of access to carrying
capacity, as truly as if purchasable resources has actually ceased to exist.
“Future shock” was his apt new term; forced adjustment to new ways can be as
traumatic as forced adjustment to foreign ways.
165-166—war as an accelerator of drawdown
Preparations for World War II began to spur massive industrial activity—with even more
than the usual disregard for long-range draw down costs.
The war economy nurtured demand for consumer goods for the soldiers and for these
re-employed makers of military material; furthermore, it provided “the correct
psychological atmosphere,” enabling the civilian sector to accept painful re-adaptation.
War psychology overcame natural human resistance to departure from custom. The war
also used elaborate technology and drew down the world’s stock of natural resources.
Also, war as a good way to relive some anxiety regarding one’s redundancy—it’s them
who are the surplus people.
Richmond Shipyards
William Catton points out in his 1982 book, Overshoot:
“Preparations for World War II began to spur massive industrial activity—with even more
than the usual disregard for long-range draw down costs.”
The Richmond Shipyards, which began production in 1940, epitomize the indifference to
resource limitations nurtured by the war economy. By 1944, assembly line techniques
had reached such a level of efficiency that it took a ridiculously short two weeks to
complete a liberty ship. A staggering 747 of such vessels were produced at the
Richmond site. Additionally, the war provided “the correct psychological atmosphere” for
civilians, especially women and minorities, to “accept painful re-adaptation,” enabling
them to depart from custom and occupy untraditional roles (like welding together
colossal boats for the war effort).
Although not advised, it is still possible to stroll the lengths of sub-surface quays where
thousands of shipyard laborers spent most of their workday. Like many structures built at
the convergence of land and sea, they are not faring well.
wikipedia page
37°54'26"N 122°22'3"W
(Not to mention the willingness to accept demeaning generic titles like “Wendy the
San Francisco Naval Shipyard:
You can hire a private security force to guard a place; enclose it in a ten-foot razor wire
fence, and folks are still going to find a way in to have a look around. Actually, it wasn’t
that tough getting into Hunter’s Point. Their expensive fencing has some serious holes,
and the property is so vast that it’s tough to keep an eye on. Nevertheless, I slinked
around that place like 007 in a Soviet missile silo. At one point, while waiting impatiently
for a group of construction workers to head to lunch (before daring to proceed deeper
into enemy territory), I called an old friend in the middle of his workday. I told him where I
was and asked for confirmation that this was indeed what I had chosen to do with my
life. After all, I was in my twenty-ninth year and hiding beneath a dilapidated pier on an
abandoned Navy base. On a Tuesday.
The Shipyard is an urban explorer’s paradise. I found conflicting dates for when the base
was officially closed but it’s obvious nothing has really gone on there for quite some
time. It seems the main impediment to “rehabilitation” for Hunter’s Point is the
prohibitively high cost of cleaning up all the toxic shit that’s been dumped there over the
decades. It was the military’s chosen site for the Naval Radiological Defense Laboratory
(torturing animals with radiation) and, according to hundreds of menacing yellow
placards posted throughout the property, radioactive contamination is cause for concern.
There is evidence, however, that detoxification efforts are underway. I watched a parade
of trucks pick up and carry off large steel containers, supposedly filled with contaminated
debris. In other areas, someone has done an excellent job covering football field sized
parcels with heavy black plastic. Wouldn’t want poisonous dust blowing into the lowincome neighborhood just outside the fence.
The thing is, if and when the shipyard is “revitalized,” an extraordinary place will be
replaced by more of the same. My visit to Hunter’s point included moments of
exceptional beauty (see Blue Room). I watched squawking gulls circle over a warehouse
roof carpeted with vibrant green grass. I listened to the wind slam doors inside a highrise dormitory that had long ago been stripped of its floor-to-ceiling windows. Such
experiences will not be offered by the cafés, greenways and retail establishments the
designers of “21st century living” are dreaming up. One can only hope that the current
economic climate, foiling the grandiose plans of many developers, may preserve this
unique and historically significant place a bit longer.
current revitalization efforts:
wikipedia page
37°43'24"N 122°22'4"W
We had to learn to see recent history as a crescendo of human prodigality
Already infected the other nations with an insatiable desire to emulate that prodigality.
The infection preceded recognition of the depletion
(world’s cheapest car)
Blessed are the less prosthetic, for they shall inherit the ravaged earth.
Adequate sustenance production depends on highly coordinated social mechanisms.
These can be fragile.
232-- What should we have done with the hydrocarbons:
It is high time to learn that the wisest “use” of coal and oil may be to leave them
underground as nature’s safe disposal of a primeval atmospheric “pollutant”—carbon.
Yet the abandonment of self-restraint has been naively advocated during frustrating
times by various self-appointed world-savers of either Cargoist or antinomian
General affluence simply cannot last in the face of carrying capacity deficit.
So it seems hardly probable that mankind on any large scale will adapt gracefully to dedevelopment.” The urge toward worldwide development remains strong and pervasive.
We are long out of tune with the mores of asceticism.
Is there any chance that we can learn to practice such mandatory austerity unless we
can first be spared the widespread, deliberate badgering of people into wanting more,
more, more? With the new paradigm we should begin to recognize the increasingly antisocial ramifications of advertising. We need to discredit and wind down this wantmultiplying industry, perhaps even legally suppress it. In an overpopulated and resourcedepleted world, an industry fundamentally devoted to making people dissatisfied with
what they have, however respectable an enterprise has come to seem by standards
derived from pre-ecological thoughtways, is an industry dedicated to augmenting human
frustration. In an age of overshoot it is bound to foster the resentful attitudes that could
turn inescapable competition into destructive conflict.
Ironically, the less hopeful we assume human prospects to be, the more likely we are to
act in ways that will minimize the hardships ahead for our species.
Industrialization: make use of fossil energy (def.) the draw down method of increasing
carrying capacity.
Suggested films: (in about me section?)
Isabella Huppert film—a taste of things to come perhaps
Darwin’s nightmare—a stunningly beautiful critique of capitalism/globalization
What a way to Go: life at the end of empire—not pretty but full of information
Your utopia is beyond your own lifetime—makes things difficult
Photograph myself in front of ____- post on google earth panographica
Recommended films:
Time of the Wolf (2003)
Darwin’s Nightmare
What a way to Go: life at the end of empire
Brilliance from Reinventing Collapse:
Civilizations do collapse – this is one of the best-known facts about them – but as
anyone who has read The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire will tell you, the
process can take many centuries.
Post economic collapse:
…society begins to spontaneously reconfigure itself, establish new relationships and
evolve new rules, in order to find a point of equilibrium at a lower rate of resource
Economic collapse gives rise to new, smaller and poorer economies
First of all, it smelled different: the smog was gone. The factories had largely shut down,
there was very little traffic and the air smelled wonderful! The stores were largely empty
(in the sense of being quite uncontaminated by consumer goods) and often closed.
There is a lesson to be learned here: when faced with a collapsing economy, one should
stop thinking of wealth in terms of money. Access to actual physical resources and
assets, as well as intangibles such as connections and relationships, quickly becomes
much more valuable than mere cash.
It takes a brave and independent nature to follow your own orders, rather than try to fulfill
the expectations of the people around you.
24-25—about the automobile
Not having a car makes one, within the American suburban landscape, a non-person.
The fossil fuel-based growth economy
Thus, all successful adaptations to the new circumstances will have to be made at the
local level, and will have to rely on existing infrastructure, inventory and locally available
talents and skills.
life simply slows to a crawl. The rush hour traffic is gone and multi-lane highways are
reclaimed for other impoverished uses, such as trailer parks, open air markets and
Suburbia will leave no majestic ruins, and even a post-industrial population of the future
will have little trouble reclaiming it as farmland or pasture.
…elevated roadways will be lined with barrels to collect rainwater (which will run clear
once industry and transportation have both largely shut down).
Bicycle as the ideal post-industrial form of transportation.
75—children as an industrial product
an income was not a prerequisite for survival.
Beyond the inconveniences associated with having zero disposable income, there is a
fantastic social stigma attached to being broke, although an ever-growing group of
people in the US gets along quite well without much money at all, and many more could
do the same.
There is also a growing group of conscientious economic underachievers and various
categories of the creatively underemployed,
The penniless are forcefully prevented from enjoying their freedom from economic
necessity, and only the very strong-minded ones can endure with their dignity intact. It
takes a great deal of skill to be penniless in the US even with the economy still
96-97-- education
To me, an educated person is someone free in mind and spirit to explore the universe on
their own. Perhaps to you it is just someone who can get a job that pays well; in which
case, therin lies your undoing.
It is, however, not allowable to refer to America as a chronically depressed country, an
increasingly lower-class and impoverished country or a country that fails to take care of
its citizens and often abuses them.
An equally useful quality in a crisis is apathy.
It takes a lot of creativity and effort to put together a fulfilling existence on the
margins of society. After a collapse, these margins may turn out to be some of the
best places to live.
reducing your needs…
The new normal is that nothing will ever be the same.
Normalcy is not exactly normal: in an industrial economy, the sense of normalcy is an
artifical, manufactured item.
127 group’s tendency to reject the idea of poor prospect—it’s unprofitable
in a consumer society, anything that puts people off their shopping is dangerously
129 psychological insurance:
instead of going through the agonizing process of losing and rediscovering one’s identity
in a post collapse environment, one could simply sit back and watch events unfold.
130 Detachment and indifference can be most healing, provided they do not become
morbid. It is good to take your sentimental nostalgia for what once was, is, and will soon
no longer be, up front, and get it over with.
Deprived of discomfort, our bodies turn into a tender, marshmallowy mess.
141-142 About Transience:
And so it turns out that there may be plenty of places to visit, but there may not be a
single place to go and stay.
The nomad is likely to develop heightened situational awareness and an acute sense of
danger, and flee before deteriorating circumstances instead of becoming trapped by
Discovering a good place to stay is likely to be the result of a happy accident rather than
careful planning. And until such an accident occurs, the best plan is to keep moving.
We should expect drugs and alcohol to become one of the largest short-term
entrepreneurial opportunities…
155 good stuff on human relationships having become a luxury item.
The big, rowdy party that was this country, with its lavish, garish, oversized, dominating
ways is nearing its end and soon the festive gathering will split up and people will
wander home, each their own separate way.
The “worst case scenario” industry is booming.
Furniture designed to be inherited by animals—when humans are ruptured off the
planet—sold in skymall.
Wikipedia stone tablet printing facility.
Remote stencil—you design it—I’ll print it and leave the mark.
Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station
Wikepedia article
It was springtime 1975 in California’s Central Valley when billowy white steam clouds
first peaked over the rims of the Rancho Seco Nuclear Generating Station’s twin cooling
towers. Twenty-five miles southeast of downtown Sacramento, in a relatively remote
agricultural landscape, sheep were likely the most numerous witnesses to the event.
Fourteen years later the billowing stopped and the plant’s generators fell permanently
The incompetence of its operators resulted in cost overruns and a dismal 39% lifetime
capacity average. Sacramento Municipal Utility District customers, having watched their
rates double as a consequence of such inefficiency, voted to close the plant in a 1989
public referendum (ten years before the expiration date on its operating license). Two
decades later, decommissioning operations are ongoing.
While Rancho Seco’s radioactive innards are being carefully removed and squirreled
away, its towers watch stoically over miles of rolling vineyards. Their hyperboloid
geometry makes them both visually arresting and structurally stable. If SMUD doesn’t
get the urge to blow them up in the name of “safety,” they should stand, in something
resembling their current form, for many decades. Eventually the freeze/thaw cycle will
take its toll, marring their smooth reinforced concrete forms with cracks and crevices. But
before they’re reduced to piles of rubble, there will be ample time for them to serve the
species that built them in more benign ways. Imagine their potential for cultural
significance in a post-industrial world. Maybe they’ll be adapted for practical purposes:
becoming shelter, atmospheric moisture harvesters, or enormous above ground caverns
for growing edible fungi. Perhaps they’ll gain spiritual relevance as the site of ceremonial
gatherings or the endpoint of epic pilgrimages. Or maybe they’ll just stand as monolithic
reminders of a deceased civilization’s flirtations with godlike power.
Cosumnes Power Plant
SMUD (Sacramento Municipal Utility District) had been eager to make use of its
sprawling Rancho Seco property since voters closed the nuclear plant in 1989. While the
2,480-acre site is home to some serious solar installations, the new kid on the block is
the Cosumnes Power Plant. Phase one of the combined-cycle natural gas fired plant
went online in 2006 and currently produces 500 megawatts of good old-fashioned electricity. Combined-cycle plants are all the rage right now because they are relatively
efficient (above 50%) and relatively economical to build ($600 million).
So I’m getting my shit together bought some girl’s “sideout” shorts at a thrift store today.
Waiting for a self-inking stamp to arrive by mail. Waiting for the days to get longer.
Selling Childhood possessions on Craigslist. Plus, I’ve watched a few official departure
dates come and go now and I refuse to take on any more guilt regarding such things.
Mendocino Coast Revisited
I spent a few days revisiting one of the most beautiful sections of coastline from stage
Sarah (whom Joe and I met when we rolled into Fort Bragg on election night) was a
fantastic host. We ate well, did yoga, played records, made kombucha, and generally
rejuvenated our butts off.
The town of Mendocino has a population of around 1000 and a lot of potential to remain
a well-scaled walkable community (if it can maintain its size). The relatively remote
location also bodes well for it’s future.
While I was there, this part of the world made waves in certain circles with the
introduction of Mendo Moola, a local currency backed by food.
Although there’s not a lot in the way of abandonments or energy infrastructure in a place
where the most industrial activity is logging, I did find the world’s happiest fuel tanks and
this amazing piece of rotting machinery that had something to do with processing gravel.
Imagine it’s the very top of a structure that’s like hundreds of feet tall.
In the middle of nowhere.
Cooling towers dominate the surrounding landscape—incredible size and odd shape—
not a structure designed to hold humans— similar to a damn or a set of locks in this
respect—except this structure points skyward and they have aesthetically pleasing
hyperboloid geometry-- structural strength.
Hyperboloid structure-- structural strength is used to support an object high off the
structural economy.
What function will such a structure have in 100 years? 500 years? (Assuming most of it
is still standing).
Pilgrimages—spiritual significance? Will it be occupied? What could it be used for—in a
post industrial world.
Global economy expected to shrink in 2009—IMF
From last month, prominent techie Kevin Kelly covers the Unabomber and primitivism.
Kelly raises some great issues and asks good questions, but then halfway through he
blows it with a weak easy answer: Kaczyinski said civilization robs us of freedom, when
really it gives us freedom, where "freedom" is defined as abundance of choices. This is a
semantic trick, and by using it, Kelly fails to grasp what really makes civilized people
want to go primitive, and why this civilization is dying.
A few days later he again stumbled close to understanding when he posted this video of
comedian Louis C.K. talking about how "everything is amazing right now and nobody's
happy." People complain about waiting on an airport runway for 40 minutes and then
totally fail to appreciate that they get to sit in a chair miles above the earth flying across
the continent in a few hours. But both Kelly and C.K. are missing the point. It's not that
we are idiots for failing to appreciate the miracle of flight. It's that amazement is not
what makes us happy. Amazement is shallow and short-lived, and if that's all that
flight offers us, then flight is an empty novelty, like a song that only sounds good on the
first listen.
What makes us continue to appreciate a technology, a behavior, an experience, is
integration into a world that serves our deep human needs. Two of those needs are
autonomy and meaning. American-style "freedom" means you can zip around the
world and buy toys and choose from 200 varieties of soda. Autonomy means that as
you go through your daily activities, nobody is riding you -- you're not
micromanaged, coerced, or denied participation in power. And meaning means
you're part of a larger story that you feel good about.
In a good primitive tribe, or in nature, every tool and action is integrated into a
world full of autonomy and meaning. But in civilization as we know it, most people
are denied both, and that's why we fantasize about the end of the world. Technoutopians don't understand this because their lives do have meaning, and often
autonomy: they're authors or inventors or independent consultants, leaders in a story
about "progress" and space colonies and immortal intelligent machines. They don't see
all the human lives being ground up in the gears of their shiny engines. When you raise
the issue, their easy answer is that soon all the bad jobs will be mechanized, but again
they fail to notice that humans are going to have to manufacture and repair those
machines. And manufacturing and repairing a burger-flipping machine is far more
resource-intensive and vulnerable to disruption than simply flipping a burger, and might
create jobs that are worse.
The techno-elite, lacking experience in bad jobs, don't understand what makes a job
bad. The reason we hate low-status jobs like burger-flipping and toilet cleaning is not
that they're physical or dirty. We love to do physical and dirty things like work on our own
cars and tend our own gardens and play sports and go on hikes. The jobs are bad
because they're crushed under a hierarchy, because the story they're part of is "you do
what I say" or "our company that treats us like shit is great," and because the focus is
always on quantity or speed, and never on quality.
Our quantity-worshipping culture thinks "sustainability" means not running out of
kilowatt-hours, but it's even more critical for a system to not run out of human will,
to be psychologically sustainable. Primitivists think we can only do that in a tribal
forager-hunter society, because they lack imagination. Certainly we can't do it in this
civilization, where our whole toolset is allied to central control and disconnection. But
Kelly is correct that we don't really want to go back to the stone age, and we don't have
to. What we want to do, and can do, is strip it down and try it again, to keep
building and crashing highly complex societies until we either learn to make them
serve our deep needs, or go extinct.
Thread updates: (main)
Mendocino Coast
Rancho Secco
Departure announcement
Brownlands—after second visit
Levy as margin of Civilization
Trooper remix
John Paul thank you
Single shot of bottom of water tower—echo audio, rubber rope swings for some time
then figure emerges from porthole—pink pole is visible, good low angle sun shadows
Image 3212.
Things to acquire:
*Bicycle taillight
Hub overhaul—fix click
patch kit
*Small scissors
Crappy shorts
Tent pole?
Front tire?
Hard drive?
New connector bar for rear rack?
Shoot whole process- multiple angles, climbing ladder. Climbing into the mouth of the
beast and coming out the ass. As the sun rises in the background
Trying to get yourself bumped off grizzly man style documentary.
Visit wind farm, visit wooden bicycle manufacturer.
Metals as gift levels—by tinsel strength—value based on functionality.
Those of us who have evolved to consume fewer resources—to navigate the overshoot
the deeper problem is that we live in a system where wealth and poverty have positive
feedback, where the rich tend to get richer and the poor poorer. The main feedback
mechanisms are rent and interest, massive and relentless fees paid by non-owners to
owners. If we had a system with built-in negative feedback, where the poor tend to get
richer and the rich tend to get poorer with no intervention, then the issue of taxing the
rich wouldn't even arise.
The reason so many Americans are anti-tax, even for people who make more than them,
is that they believe a weird myth: If you follow the rules, anything you gain is deserved.
First, I defy anyone to make a non-circular definition of "deserve". And second,
following the rules is slave morality. Only an obedient slave, a good prisoner,
believes there's anything virtuous about following the rules. Free people, whether
their intentions are selfish or helpful, understand that the rules are just part of the
landscape you have to navigate.
the challenge before us is to get back into balance with a minimum of violence.
Paraffin Wax--$50
Bunker Fuel—$100
Motor Oil—$200
Chevron with Techron—$3,200
Stuff to Do:
Water tower advert
Image for slow mail donation service [rejected]
Image for “your words here” donation service [rejected]
Mail Headset and Radio
Finish site posts and project description
Generate Favicon
Lay out plan for ride
Make reservation phone calls—email friends
Get stuff from eric’s—juice containers and yellow lock
The challenge is to think of all our stuff: homes, planes, clothing, as prosthetic
extensions of ourselves—as examples of the technique of enclose and control. Many
niche theory.
Other suggested sites: (maybe for the push east)
El Mirage Field for predator tests
Mirage Lake for barren landscape shots
George AFB, Victorville, CA for aircraft boneyard
LA’s tendency to accumulate unwanted things (and people—actors!)
no speculative fiction writer is really trying to predict the future, because it's easier and
more fun to create your own vision.
I imagine a messy patchwork of overlapping spheres of influence, including neofeudal warlords, corporations, remnants of national and state governments, invigorated
local governments, informal "nations" based on race or religion or culture, and tribes
based on mutual aid.
You are creating/designing your version of the future. You’re primarily interested in the
aesthetics of your world but also the social structures, commerce, transportation, tools,
innovation/tinkering, recycling renaissance, ecology,
What about a sac tent city visit before you go?
In order to be qualified to “sit back and watch” (and to adopt the indifference necessary
to watch one’s support network deteriorate) one must be as disconnected from the
money economy as possible. This means having one’s needs met in other ways.
Pen and ink drawings or watercolors on postcards as donation gift.—one per day for a
Only when grain agriculture released the energy of topsoil, and industry released the
energy of oil, did the fire of the violent tribes rise to engulf the world. Now that the fuel is
running out, we are entering a new age, neither an age of increase nor an age of lowlevel equilibrium, but an age of high-level equilibrium, more complex and chaotic
than prehistory because so many technologies and energy sources will survive.
In a world like this, it will be impossible to build any kind of enduring large system. Our
path, instead, will be to continually break down the repressive systems, dodge the
conquering systems, and rebuild good systems through the cracks, forever. Actually I
think that will be more fun than Utopia.
You need to explain that the project assumes a set of circumstances that will not allow
the current paradigm to continue. It assumes “growth” as an economic principle is dead.
(see below)
Meaning: you don’t have to paraphrase what others have said quite well already—you
can refer to such writing then move on to what you’re doing.
Money and the Turning of the Age
Charles Eisenstein
As the economic meltdown proceeds to its next phase, we begin to see the unreality of
much that we thought real. The verities of two generations become uncertain, and
despite a lingering hope that a return to normalcy is just around the corner -- in "the third
quarter of 2009" or "by the middle of 2010" -- the realization is dawning that normal isn't
coming back.
When faced with an abrupt shift in personal reality, whether the death of a loved one, or
the Gestapo coming into town, human beings usually react first with denial. My first
response when tragedy hits is usually, "I can't believe this is happening!" I was not
surprised, then, that our nation's political and corporate leaders spent a long time
denying that a crisis was underway. Consider some quotes from 2007: "The country's
economic fundamentals are sound," said George W. Bush. "I don't see subprime
mortgage market troubles imposing a serious problem. I think it's going to be largely
contained," said Treasury Secretary Paulson. "A recession is unlikely." "We are
experiencing a correction in the housing sector." "America is not in recession." "It is likely
that housing prices won't recover until early 2009."
Of course, many of these pronouncements were insincere, efforts at perception
management. The authorities hoped that by controlling the public perception of reality,
they could control reality itself; that by the manipulation of symbols they could
manipulate the reality they represent. This, in essence, is what anthropologists call
"magico-religious thinking." It is not without reason that our financial elites have been
called a priesthood. Donning ceremonial garb, speaking an arcane language, wielding
mysterious inscriptions, they can with a mere word, or a mere stroke of a pen, cause
fortunes and nations to rise and fall.
You see, magico-religious thinking normally works. Whether it is a shamanic rite, the
signing of an appropriations bill, or the posting of an account balance, when a ritual is
embedded in a story that people believe, they act accordingly, playing out the roles the
story assigns to them, and responding to the reality the story establishes. In former
times, when a shamanic rite was seen to have failed, everyone knew this was a
momentous event, signaling the End of the World, a shift in what was real and what was
not, the end of the old Story of the People and the beginning, perhaps, of a new one.
What, from this perspective, is the significance of the accelerating failure of the rites of
We like to scoff at primitive cave-dwellers who imagined that their representations of
animals on cave walls could magically affect the hunt. Yet today we produce our own
talismans, our own systems of magic symbology, and indeed affect physical reality
through them. A few numbers change here and there, and thousands of workers erect a
skyscraper. Some other numbers change, and a venerable business shuts its doors. The
foreign debt of a Third-World country, again mere numbers in a computer, consigns its
people to endless enslavement producing commodity goods that are shipped abroad.
College students, ridden with anxiety, deny their dreams and hurry into the workforce to
pay off their student loans, their very will subject to a piece of paper with magical
symbols ("Account Statement") sent to them once every moon, like some magical chit in
a voodoo cult. These slips of paper that we call money, these electronic blips, bear a
potent magic indeed!
How does magic work? Rituals and talismans affirm and perpetuate the consensus
stories we all participate in, stories which form our reality, coordinate our labor, and
organize our lives. Only in exceptional times do they stop working: the times of a
breakdown in the story of the people. We are entering such times today. That is why
none of the economic measures enacted so far to contain the crisis have worked, and
why the current stimulus package won't work either. None go deep enough. The only
reform that can possibly be effective will be one that embodies, affirms, and perpetuates
a new story of the people (if we can agree on one). To see what that might be, let us dig
down through the layers of failing realities and their relationship to money.
When the government's first response to the crisis -- denial -- proved futile, the Federal
Reserve and Treasury Department tried another sort of perception management.
Deploying their arsenal of mystical incantations, they signaled that the government
would not allow major financial institutions such as Fannie Mae to fail. They hoped that
their assurances would be enough to maintain confidence in the assets that depended
on these firms' continued solvency and prosperity. It would have worked if the story
these symbolic measures invoked was not already broken. But it was. Specifically, what
was broken was the story assigning value to mortgage-backed securities and other
derivatives based on unrepayable loans. Unlike camels or bushels of grain, but like all
modern currencies, these have value only because people believe they have value.
Moreover, this is not an isolated belief, but is inextricably linked with millions of other
beliefs, conventions, habits, agreements, and rituals.
The next step was to begin injecting massive amounts of cash into failing financial
institutions, either in exchange for equity (effectively nationalizing them, as in the case of
Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac, and AIG), or in exchange for essentially nothing whatsoever,
as in the TARP program. In the latter, the Treasury Department (using your tax dollars)
guaranteed or bought banks' toxic assets in hopes of improving their balance sheets so
that they would start lending again, thus keeping the credit bubble expanding. It didn't
work. The banks just kept the money (except what they paid to their own executives as
bonuses) as a hedge against their exposure to untold quantities of additional bad assets,
or they used it to acquire smaller, healthier banks. They weren't about to lend more to
consumers who were already maxed out, nor to over-leveraged businesses in the teeth
of a recession. Property values continued to fall, credit default rates continued to rise,
and the whole edifice of derivative assets built upon them continued to crumble.
Consumption and business activity plummeted, unemployment skyrocketed, and people
in Europe began rioting in the streets. And why? Just because some numbers changed
in some computers. It is truly amazing. It only makes sense when you see these
numbers as talismans embodying agreements. A supplier digs minerals out of the
ground and sends them to a factory, in exchange for what? For a few slips of paper, or
more likely, in exchange for some bits moving around in a computer, which can only
happen with the permission of a bank (that "provides credit").
Before we become too alarmed about the impending giveaway of $8 trillion dollars on
top of the $2 trillion we have already given to the wealthy, let us touch back again upon
the reality of money. What actually happens when this money is given away? Almost
nothing happens. What happens is that bits change in computers, and the few people
who understand the interpretations of those bits declare that money has been
transferred. Those bits are the symbolic representation of an agreement about a story.
This story includes who is rich and who is poor, who owns and who owes. It is said that
our children and grandchildren will be paying these bailout and stimulus debts, but they
could also simply be declared into non-existence. They are only as real as the story we
agree on that contains them. Our grandchildren will pay them only if the story, the
system of meanings, that defines those debts still exists. But I think more and more
people sense that the federal debt, the U.S. foreign debt, and a lot of our private
mortgage and credit card debts will never be repaid.
We think that those Wall Street tycoons absconded with billions, but what are these
billions? They too are numbers in computers, and could theoretically be erased by fiat.
The same with the money we owe China. It could be gone with a simple declaration. We
can thus understand the massive giveaways of money in the TARP, TALF, and PPIF
programs as yet another exercise in perception management, though this time it is an
unconscious exercise. These giveaways are ritual acts that attempt to perpetuate a
story, a matrix of agreements, and the human activities that surround it. They are an
attempt to uphold the magical power of the voodoo chits that keep the college grad on a
career path and the middle-aged man enslaved to his mortgage; that give the power to a
few to move literal mountains, while keeping the many in chains.
Speaking of China, I find it instructive to look at the physical reality underlying the trade
deficit. Basically what is happening is that China is shipping us vast quantities of stuff -clothes, toys, electronics, nearly everything in Wal-Mart -- and in return we rearrange
some bits in some computers. Meanwhile, Chinese laborers work just as hard as we do,
yet their day's wages buy much less. In the old days of explicit empires, China would
have been called a "vassal state" and the stuff it sends us would have been called
"tribute." Yet China too will do everything it can to sustain the present Story of Money,
for essentially the same reason we do: its elites benefit from it. It is just as in Ancient
Rome. The elites of the imperial capital and the provinces prosper at the expense of the
misery of the people, which increases over time. To keep it in check, in the capital at
least, the masses are kept docile and stupid with bread and circuses: cheap food,
cheap thrills, celebrity news, and the Superbowl.
Whether we declare it to end, or whether it ends of its own accord, the story of money
will bring down a lot with it. That is why the United States won't simply default on its debt.
If it did, then the story under which the Middle East ships us its oil, Japan its electronics,
India its textiles, and China its plastic would come to an end. Unfortunately, or rather
fortunately, that story cannot be saved forever. The reasons are complex, so I'll just point
you in the right direction if you want to research it yourself. Essentially, at some point
China (and other creditor nations) will have to appreciate its currency, replace exports
with domestic demand, and raise interest rates in order to combat disastrous inflation
caused by its pumping yuan into its economy in exchange for all the dollars flowing in
from its exporters. The result will be a run on the dollar, a global calamity that will put an
end to money as we have known it. When that happens, our government will have only
two choices: extreme austerity measures such as those we have long perpetrated on
other countries through the IMF, or a bout of currency-destroying hyperinflation. The
latter is probably inevitable; austerity would only stave it off temporarily. That would be
the end of our current story of money, for it would render all financial wealth (and debt)
When money evaporates as it is doing in the current cycle of debt deflation, little
changes right away in the physical world. Stacks of currency do not go up in flames (but
even if they did, that is not too momentous a physical event). Factories do not blow up,
engines do not grind to a halt, oil wells do not dry up, people's economic skills do not
disappear. All of the materials and skills that are exchanged in human economy, upon
which we rely for food, shelter, transportation, entertainment, and so on, still exist as
before. What has disappeared is our capacity to coordinate our activities and focus our
common efforts. We can still envision a new airport, but we can no longer build it. The
magic talisman by which the pronouncement, "An airport shall be built here" crystallizes
into material reality has lost its power. Human hands, minds, and machinery retain all
their capacities, yet we can no longer do what we once could do. The only thing that has
changed is our perceptions.
Clearly, the TARP program and other bailouts are also an exercise in perception
management, but on a deeper, less conscious level. Because what is money, anyway?
Money is merely a social agreement, a story that assigns meaning and roles. The
classical definition of money -- a medium of exchange, a store of value, a unit of account
-- describe what money does, but not what it is. Physically, it is now next to nothing: slips
of paper, bits in computers. Socially, it is next to everything: the primary agent for the
coordination of human activity and the focusing of collective human intention.
The government's deployment of trillions of dollars in money is thus little different from its
earlier deployment of empty words. Both are nothing but the manipulation of various
types of symbols, and both have failed for an identical reason as well: the story they are
trying to perpetuate has run its course. The normalcy we took as normalcy was
unsustainable. It is unsustainable on two levels. The first level is the debt pyramid, the
exponential growth of money that inevitably outstrips the real economy.
The first level of unsustainable normalcy is based on what Michael Hudson calls "the
miracle of compound interest." Interest rates always tend to exceed the rate of real
economic growth, which in the absence of defaults means that money grows faster than
the volume of goods and services it buys, and that debt grows faster than gross
domestic product (GDP). This has indeed been the case in the last 60 years in the
United States, as private debt has risen from about 50% to about 350% of GDP. This
cannot go on forever: to take an extreme example, a dollar invested at only 3% interest
in the year 1 A.D. would be worth about $100,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 today.
Such sustained exponential growth is obviously impossible, so what happens? What
must happen is that from time to time, some of this money must disappear through one
of two ways: defaults, or inflation. Both of these results are ultimately good for debtors
and bad for creditors; they transfer wealth to those who owe from those who own.
Inflation means that the real value of loans shrinks over time: loans are repaid with
cheaper dollars. Defaults mean that some creditors don't get paid back at all, and have
to take a loss.
U.S. fiscal policy for the last two generations has attempted to prevent both, but the
narrow road between them is shrinking to nothing. If income from production of goods
and services is insufficient to service debt, then the creditors begin to seize assets
instead. This is what has happened both in the American economy and globally.
Mortgages, for example, were originally a path toward owning your own home free and
clear, starting with 20% equity. Today few ever dream of actually one day repaying their
mortgage, but only of endlessly refinancing it, in effect renting the house from the bank.
Globally, Third World countries find themselves in a similar situation, as they are forced
to sell off national assets and gut social services under IMF austerity programs. Just as
you might feel your entire productive labor is in the service of debt repayment, so is their
entire economy directed toward producing commodity goods to repay foreign debt.
Eventually, debtors run out of seizable assets. The crash underway today should have
actually happened many years ago, except that various phony and inflated assets were
created to keep it going a little longer as the financial industry cannibalized itself,
covering debt with more debt. The efforts to shore up this edifice cannot work, because it
must keep growing -- all those debts bear interest. Yet the authorities keep trying. When
you hear the words "rescue the financial system," translate it in your mind into "keep the
debts on the books." They are trying to find a way for you (and debtor nations too) to
keep paying and for the debt to keep growing. A debt pyramid cannot grow forever,
because eventually, after all the debtors' assets are gone, and all their disposable
income has been devoted to debt payments, creditors have no choice but to lend
debtors the money to make their payments. Soon the outstanding balance is so high that
they have to borrow money even to pay interest, which means that money is no longer
flowing, and can no longer flow, from debtor to creditor. This is the final stage, usually
short, though prolonged in our day by Wall Street's financial "wizardry." The loans and
any derivatives built on them begin to lose their value, and debt deflation ensues.
I have just described the leadup to a deflationary depression. As it dawns on our leaders
that we are not experiencing a mere "retrenchment," "correction," or "recession," but are
at the brink of a full-fledged deflationary depression, they are now beginning to act
accordingly. When debts become unpayable, one can either reduce or eliminate the debt
entirely, or one can try to increase the income of the debtor so that he can continue to
make payments. The holders of wealth, whose interests determine government policy,
would obviously prefer the latter, since a reduction in your debt is a reduction in their
wealth. Consequently, the first response of the Obama administration to the deflationary
crisis is economic stimulus. It will be more reluctant to adopt the second option, although
we are beginning to hear calls for bank nationalizations, debt writedowns, and debt
forgiveness now as well.
Both responses have as their ultimate goal the reigniting of economic growth, something
nearly everyone agrees on. Here we enter into a second, deeper, story of money. I
believe that even the most radical measures proposed today can have at best only a
temporary effect: if they instigate economic growth it will be anemic and short-lived. That
is because economic growth as we define it today, and money as we define it today, is
part of a Story of the People that too is becoming obsolete. Reflecting this obsolescence,
the true nature of the crisis will become apparent as each progressively more radical
solution fails to restore the status quo. What we are facing today is not merely a
Minskian bubble collapse, nor merely, even a deflationary unwinding of credit: it is
nothing less than a Marxian "historical crisis of capital," resurging now at a time when all
the measures that have kept it at bay for two centuries have finally been exhausted.
The Marxian crisis is deeply related to the depletion of social, cultural, natural, and
spiritual capital I describe in previous essays of this series. I will now describe this
relationship, and then recast the Revolution in terms of a metamorphosis of the Story of
the People.
First, a simplified description of a Marxian crisis. Consider an industry, say automobiles,
comprising a number of competing firms. As competition forces profit margins lower and
lower, each firm strives to cut costs and improve efficiency to avoid going out of
business. They do this by reducing labor costs, adopting new technology, and increasing
manufacturing capacity to take advantage of economies of scale. Several vicious circles
begin. For one, increased capacity drives prices and profit margins per unit still lower,
forcing each firm to expand capacity still more to compete. The policies that benefit each
firm harm the industry as a whole: the response to industry-wide overcapacity is to build
yet more capacity. Second, reducing labor costs through wage cuts, layoffs, and laborsaving technology reduces the purchasing power of workers, leading to weaker demand,
lower profits, and the need to reduce labor costs still further. Weaker firms go out of
business, capital is concentrated into fewer and fewer hands, and unemployment rises,
leading to social breakdown and revolution.
More generally, once the fulfillment of essential human needs is removed from its
organic matrix of nature and community and taken over by machine processes, it
becomes subject to economies of scale and technological improvements in efficiency,
allowing these needs to be met with decreasing human effort. Marx, believing that profit
comes from the expropriation of the added value of labor, concluded that profits will
inevitably fall in any mature industry. In other words, marginal return on capital falls,
price competition increases, profits drop and wages drop along with them. Needs can be
met with less effort than ever before, yet because of the polarization of wealth, fewer and
fewer of them actually are met. A minority is awash in cheap junk it barely needs, while
the majority lacks for the basic necessities it once enjoyed, without exchange of money,
a generation or two before.
What is this overproduction that is so central to the crisis of capital? It means production
in excess of human needs. Therefore, one way to delay -- perhaps forever -- the Marxian
crisis is to find new needs to meet. Technology is the agent of this process: for example,
the telephone met a need for long-distance communication, opening a new industry -telecommunications -- for rapid growth and high profits. The ideology I call the
Technological Program says that there is no limit to technology's ability to discover and
meet new human needs. Economists cite this as the primary flaw in Marx's reasoning:
he didn't account for our technological ability to innovate, to constantly create new highprofit industries to supplant mature ones. This is an ideology of endless growth, an
economy of onward and upward. It scoffs at any naysayer who would question the
infinite human capacity to create and innovate. It says there are no limits to growth:
certainly not energy -- we will invent new energy technologies and reduce demand
through miniaturization and efficiency. Certainly not food supply -- we will increase it
through biotechnology while limiting human population growth and/or colonizing new
planets and eventually engineering whole new ecosystems. Marx was only right if
human inventiveness is finite.
According to this understanding, the restless anxiety and competition inherent in our
money system is a good thing, impelling us to fulfill our destiny as lords and masters of
the universe. As I have explained in earlier essays, money as we know it today has a
built-in imperative to grow endlessly. Its growth carries the underlying real economy
along with it, motivating the endless creation of new goods and services, and therefore
(our ideology concludes) the endless creation of new and undreamed of forms of wealth.
From within that ideology, the present economic crisis is seen as merely a financial
crisis, caused by the expansion of credit outstripping the expansion of the real economy.
At worst, after a wave of bankruptcies and defaults, the excess money will have cleared
away, and growth can begin anew. The possibility and desirability of renewed
growth is seldom questioned, except by committed environmentalists.
I would like to point out a fatal flaw in this logic, one that does not deny the infinite
creativity of the human spirit. I find most limits-of-growth arguments dispiriting, as they
imply an arrest of our unique human gifts, culture and technology. But there is a flaw in
the critique of the inevitable Marxian crisis that does not depend on denying our gifts.
You see, generally speaking, technology does not actually meet new needs; it merely
changes the way in which existing needs are met.
Consider telecommunications. Human beings do not have an abstract need for longdistance communication. We have a need to stay in contact with people with whom we
share emotional and economic ties. In past times, these people were usually close by. A
hunter-gatherer or 14th century Russian peasant would have had little use for a
telephone. Telephones began to meet a need only when other developments in
technology and culture spread human beings farther apart, splintering extended families
and local communities. So the basic need they meet is not something new under the
Consider another technological offering, one to which my children, to my great
consternation, seem irresistibly attracted: massively multi-player online fantasy role
playing games. The need these meet is not anything new under the sun either. Preteens and teenagers have a strong need to go exploring, to have adventures, and to
establish an identity via interactions with peers that reference this exploration and
adventure. In past times, this happened in the actual outdoors. When I was a child we
had nothing like the freedom of generations before us, as you might read about in Tom
Sawyer, yet still my friends and I would sometimes wander for miles, to a creek or an
unused quarry pit, an undeveloped hilltop, the train tracks. Today, one rarely finds
groups of kids roaming around, when every bit of land is fenced and marked with No
Trespassing signs, and when society is obsessed with safety, and when children are so
overscheduled and driven to perform. Technology and culture have robbed children of
something they deeply need, and then, in the form of video games, sold it back to them.
I remember the day I realized what was happening. I happened to watch an episode of
the Pokemon television show, which is basically about three kids roaming around having
magical adventures. These on-screen, fictitious, trademarked characters were having
the magical adventures that real children once had, but now must pay for the privilege of
watching. As a result, GDP has grown. New "goods and services" (by definition, things
that are part of the money economy) have been created, replacing functions that were
once fulfilled for free.
A little reflection reveals that nearly every good and service available today meets needs
that were once met for free. What about medical technology? Compare our own poor
health with the marvelous health enjoyed by hunter-gatherers and primitive
agriculturalists, and it is clear that we are purchasing, at great expense, our ability to
physically function. Child care? Food processing? Transportation? The textile industry?
Space does not permit me to analyze each of these for what necessities have been
stolen and sold back to us. I will offer one more piece of evidence for my view: if the
growth of money really were driving the technological and cultural meeting of new
needs, then wouldn't we be more fulfilled than any humans before us? As Henry Miller
wrote in The World of Sex,
We devise astounding means of communication, but do we communicate with one
another? We move our bodies to and fro at incredible speeds, but do we really leave the
spot we started from? Mentally, morally, spiritually, we are fettered. What have we
achieved in mowing down mountain ranges, harnessing the energy of mighty rivers, or
moving whole populations about like chess pieces, if we ourselves remain the same
restless, miserable, frustrated creatures we were before? To call such activity progress
is utter delusion. We may succeed in altering the face of the earth until it is
unrecognizable even to the Creator, but if we are unaffected wherein lies the meaning?
Despite what the GDP statistics say, what has happened is not the creation of new
wealth at all. What has happened is the conversion of existing wealth into money. We
have converted nature into commodities and relationships into services. From time to
time throughout modern history, our ability to do this has reached a temporary impasse.
Whenever that happens, a Marxian crisis of capital looms: falling returns on capital
investment (falling profit margins), falling real wages, transfer of investment into financial
speculation, rising indebtedness, and so on in a self-reinforcing circle of misery that can
only end in systemic collapse. So far, the powers that be have successfully postponed
the crisis each time. There are several ways to do so, but each is a temporary solution
unless it can escalate indefinitely. One is colonization: to find distant people who still
meet their own needs without money, stripmine their natural resources and social capital
from them, and sell enough back to them to keep them alive. This strategy manifests as
low wages and commodity exports. Another strategy is war, which consumes vast
amounts of production and destroys productive capacity and infrastructure so that it may
be rebuilt again. That was how WWII ended the Great Depression, and that is why so
many companies lined up hungrily behind the United States armed forces hoping to get
a piece of the reconstruction contracts for Iraq. However, war too is becoming obsolete
as a solution to the crisis of capital. For one thing, productive capacity rises faster than
the military industry's ability to absorb it. Secondly, with the advent of nuclear weapons,
total war is no longer an option.
To maintain the exponential growth of money, then either the volume of goods and
services must be able to keep pace with it, or imperialism and war must be able to
escalate indefinitely. All three have reached their limit. There is nowhere to turn.
The credit bubble that is blamed as the source of our current economic woes was not a
cause of them at all, but only a symptom. When returns on capital investment began
falling in the early 1970s, capital began a desperate search for other ways to maintain its
expansion. When each bubble popped -- commodities in the late 1970s, S&L real estate
investments in the 1980s, the dotcom stocks in the 1990s, and real estate and financial
derivatives in the 2000s -- capital immediately moved on to the next bubble, maintaining
an illusion of economic expansion. But the real economy was stagnating. There were not
enough needs to meet the overcapacity of production, not enough social and natural
capital left to convert into money.
Today, the impasse in our ability to convert nature into commodities and
relationships into services is not temporary. There is little more we can convert.
Technological progress and refinements to industrial methods will not help us
take more fish from the seas -- the fish are mostly gone. It will not help us
increase the timber harvest -- the forests are already stressed to capacity. It will
not allow us to pump more oil -- the reserves are drying up. We cannot expand the
service sector -- there are hardly any things we do for each other that we don't pay
for already. There is no more room for economic growth as we have known it; that
is, no more room for the conversion of life and the world into money. Therefore,
even if we follow the more radical policy prescriptions from the left, hoping by an
annulment of debts and a redistribution of income to ignite renewed economic
growth, we can only succeed in depleting what remains of our divine
bequeathment of nature, culture, and community. At best, Obama's policies as they
stand today will allow a modest, shortlived expansion as the functions that were
demonetized during the depression are remonetized. For example, because of the
economic situation, some friends and I cover for each other's child care needs, whereas
in prosperous times we sent our kids to preschool. Our reciprocity represents an
opportunity for economic growth: what we do for each other freely can be converted into
monetized services. Generalized to the whole society, this is only an opportunity to grow
back to where we were before, at which point the same crisis will emerge again. "Shrink
in order to grow," the essence of war and deflation, is only effective, and decreasingly
so, as a holding action while new realms of unmonetized social and natural capital are
The story that is ending in our time, then, goes much deeper than the story of money. I
call this story The Ascent of Humanity. It is a story of endless growth, and the money
system we have today is an embodiment of that story, enabling and propelling the
conversion of the natural realm into the human realm. It began millennia ago, when
humans first tamed fire and made tools; it accelerated when we applied these tools to
the domestication of animals and plants, and began to conquer the wild, to make the
world ours. It reached its glorious zenith in the age of the Machine, when we created a
wholly artificial world, harnessing all the forces of nature and imagining ourselves to be
its lords and possessors. And now, that story is drawing to a close, as the
inexorable realization dawns that the story is not true. Despite our pretenses, the
world is not really ours; despite our illusions, we are not in control of it. As the
unintended consequences of technology proliferate, as our our communities, our
health, and the ecological basis of civilization deteriorate, as we explore new
depths of misery, violence, and alienation, we enter the final stages of a story
nearing completion: crisis, climax, and denouement. The rituals of our storytellers
are to no avail. No story can persist beyond its ending.
It is time, therefore, to enter into a new story, and a new kind of money that embodies it.
Just as life does not end with adolescence, neither does civilization's evolution stop with
the end of growth. We are in the midst of a transition parallel to an adolescent's
transition into adulthood. Physical growth ceases, and ones vital resources turn inward
to foster growth in other realms. In childhood, it is right for a person to do what is
necessary to grow, both physically and mentally. A good mother provides the resources
for this growth, as our Mother Earth has done for us. We began in the womb of huntergatherer existence, in which we made no distinction between human and nature, but
were enwombed within it. An infant does not have a strong self-other distinction, but
takes time to form an identity and an ego, and to learn that the world is not an extension
of the self. So it has been for humanity collectively. Whereas the hunter-gatherer had no
concept of a separate "nature" distinct from "human", the agriculturist, whose livelihood
depending on the objectification and manipulation of nature, came to think of nature as a
separate category. In the childhood of agricultural civilization, humanity developed a
separate identity and grew large. We had our adolescent growth spurt with industry, and
on the mental plane entered through Cartesian science the extreme of separation, the
fully developed ego and hyperrationality of the teenager who, like humanity in the Age of
Science, completes the stage of cognitive development known as "formal operations",
consisting of the manipulation of abstractions. But as the extreme of yang contains the
birth of yin, so does the extreme of separation contain the seed of what comes next:
reunion. Because in adolescence, you fall in love, and your world of perfect reason and
perfect selfishness falls apart as the self expands to include the beloved within its
bounds. Fully individuated from the Other, you can fall in love with it, and experience a
reunion greater than the original union, for it contains within it the entire journey of
separation. The environmental movement and numerous spiritual movements are all
evidence that we are falling in love again with planet earth.
From this perspective, it is obvious that a money system that compels continued
physical growth, that compels taking more and more from the earth, is obsolete. It is
incompatible with love, with reunion. That is why no financial or economic reform can
possibly work that does not include a new kind of money. The new money must embody
a new story, one that treats nature not as a mother but as a lover. We will still have a
need for money for a long time to come, because we need magical symbols to reify our
Story of the People, to apply it to the physical world as a creative template. The essential
character of money will not change: it will consist of magical talismans, whether physical
or electronic, through which we assign roles, focus intention, and coordinate human
I have described the currency of Reunion in previous essays in this series, as well as in
The Ascent of Humanity. I want to emphasize that there is a personal, some might say
spiritual, dimension to the metamorphosis of stories that we are entering. Today's usurymoney is part of a story of separation, in which "more for me is less for you." That is the
essence of interest: I will only "share" money with you if I end up with even more of it in
return. On the systemic level as well, interest on money creates competition, anxiety,
and the polarization of wealth. Meanwhile, the phrase "more for me is less for you" is
also the motto of the ego, and a truism given the discrete and separate self of modern
economics, biology, and philosophy. Only when our sense-of-self expands to include
others, through the process called love, is that truism replaced by its opposite: "More for
you is also more for me." This is the essential truth embodied in the world's authentic
spiritual teachings, from Jesus's Golden Rule, which has been misconstrued and should
read: "As you do unto others, so also do you to unto yourself", to the Buddhist doctrine
of karma. However, to merely understand and agree with these teachings is not enough;
many of us walk around with a divide between what we believe and what we live. An
actual transformation in the way we experience being is necessary, and such a
transformation usually comes about in much the same way as our collective
transformation is happening now: through a collapse of the old story of self and world,
and the birth of a new one. For the self, too, is ultimately a story, with a beginning and an
end. Have you ever gone through an experience that leaves you, afterward, hardly
knowing who you are?
The transition from the small, rational, ego self to a larger, more connected one normally
happens in late adolescence and, according to Joseph Chilton Pearce, corresponds to
developments in the mysterious "fourth brain": the prefrontal cortex, whose functions are
largely unknown. Ancient tribal cultures had various coming-of-age ceremonies and
ordeals that purposely shattered the smaller identity through isolation, pain, fasting,
psychedelic plants, or other means, and then rebuilt and reincorporated it into a larger,
transpersonal identity. Though we intuitively seek them out in the form of drinking, drugs,
fraternity and military hazing, and so on, modern men and women usually have only a
partial experience of this process, leaving us in a kind of perpetual adolescence. It ends
only when fate intervenes to tear our world apart. Then we can enter a wider self, in
which giving comes just as naturally as taking. Naturally, you give according to your
abilities and, linked with others of like spirit, you receive according to your needs.
Not coincidentally, I have just paraphrased a fundamental tenet of socialism: "From each
according to his abilities, to each according to his needs." This is a good description of
any gift network, whether a human body, an ecosystem, or a tribal gift culture. As
previous essays describe, it is also a good description of an economy based on
demurrage currency -- money that, like all things of nature, decays with time. Demurrage
currency contributes to a very different story of the people, of the self, and of the world
than usury-money. It is cyclical rather than exponential, always returning to its source; it
redefines wealth as a function of one's generosity and not one's accumulation; it is the
manifestation of abundance not scarcity. It has the potential to recreate the gift dynamics
of primitive societies on a global scale, bringing forth human gifts and directing them
toward human needs. It nullifies the discounting of future cash flows that enables us to
destroy the future for the sake of the present: under demurrage, the best business
decision is the best ecological decision and the best social decision. It is thus a currency
of sustainability. Because it is not compelled to grow over time, neither does it drag more
and more of the world into the realm of commodities and services.
I remember as a teenager reading Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged, whose black-and-white
characters, hyperrationality, and moral absolutism appealed strongly to my adolescent
mind. The book is a manifesto of the discrete and separate self, the mercenary ego, and
it appeals to adolescent minds to this day. Alan Greenspan is a great fan, though
perhaps he too is going through a transformation as the world falls apart. In any event,
the book devoted its most vitriolic ridicule to the phrase "From each according to his
abilities, to each according to his needs," painting a picture of people outdoing each
other in their self-portrayals of neediness so that they could be allotted a greater share of
resources, while producers had no motivation to produce. This scenario, which was in
certain respects played out in the communist block, echoes a primal fear of the scarcityconditioned modern self -- what if I give, and receive nothing in return? This desire of an
assurance of return, a compensation for the risk of generosity, is the fundamental
mindset of interest and, as I have described, an adolescent mindset to be superseded by
a more expansive adult self that has matured into full membership in the community of
being. But don't just take my word for it. A little reflection reveals that no one can be
fulfilled without the opportunity to give fully of her gifts. What makes a job unfulfilling? No
matter how highly paid, if you lack the opportunity to fully apply your gifts toward a
purpose that inspires you, any job eventually becomes soul-destroying. We are here to
express our gifts; it is among our deepest desires and we cannot be fully alive otherwise.
The Marxian crisis of capital offers another perspective on the expression of human gifts.
Most needs have been monetized, while the amount of labor needed to meet those
monetized needs is falling. Therefore, in order for human gifts to receive their full
expression, all this excess human creativity must therefore turn elsewhere, toward
needs or purposes that are inimical to the money of Separation. For indeed, the regime
of money has destroyed, and continues to destroy, much that is beautiful -- indeed,
every public good that cannot be made private. Here are a few examples: a starry night
sky free of light pollution; a countryside free of road noise; a vibrant multi-cultural local
urban economy; unpolluted lakes, rivers, and seas; the ecological basis of human
civilization. Many of us have gifts that would contribute to all of these things, yet no one
will pay us to give them. That's because money as we know it ultimately rests on
converting the public into the private. The new money will encourage the opposite, and
the conflict between our ideals and practical financial reality will end. The era of taking
will be over. The era of the Gift will begin.
Usury-money is the money of growth, and it was perfect for humanity's growth stage on
earth, and for the story of ascent, of dominance and mastery. The next stage is one of
cocreative partnership with earth. The Story of the People for this new stage is coming
together right now. Its weavers are the visionaries of fields like permaculture, holistic
medicine, renewable energy, mycoremediation, local currencies, restorative justice,
attachment parenting, and a million more. To undo the damage that the Age of Usury
has wrought on nature, culture, health, and spirit will require all the gifts that make us
human, and indeed is so impossibly demanding that it will take those gifts to a new level
of development.
Just as usury-money has mobilized humanity's gifts for the purposes of growth and
domination, the new money will mobilize them for healing and beauty. Because money
will not be under compulsion to grow, no longer will art be under compulsion to
sell itself. Today, any endeavor that does not involve an expansion of the realm of
monetized goods and services must go against the economic current. (good for
support section “until this occurs”) for Such is the character of exponential
money. But cyclical money has a different character: anything that violate's
nature's law "Waste is food" will go against the economic current. The division
between work and art will disappear, and it will no longer be possible to be a
sellout. The conflict between our idealism and economic necessity will vanish.
This might seem hopelessly naive, vague, and idealistic. I draw out the logic in The
Ascent of Humanity and the previous essays in this series. My upcoming book will flesh
it out in greater detail. For now, weigh the competing voices of your idealism and your
cynicism, and ask yourself, "Can you bear to settle for anything less?" Can you bear to
accept a world of great and growing ugliness? Can you stand to believe that it is
inevitable? You cannot. Such a belief will slowly but surely kill your soul. That is because
it is not true. The mind likes cynicism, its comfort and safety, and hesitates to believe
anything extraordinary, but the heart urges otherwise; it urges us to beauty, and only by
heeding its call can we dare create a new Story of the People.
We are here to create something beautiful; I call it "the more beautiful world our hearts
tell us is possible." As the truth of that sinks in, deeper and deeper, and as the
convergence of crises pushes us out of the old world, I think that more and more people
will live from that truth: the truth that more for you is not less for me; the truth that what I
do unto you, so I do unto myself; the truth of living to give what you can and take what
you need. We can start doing it right now. We are afraid, but when we do it for real, the
world meets our needs and more. We then find that the story of Separation, embodied in
the money we have known, is not true and never was. Yet, the last ten millennia were
not in vain. Sometimes it is necessary to live a lie to its fullest before we are ready to
take the next step into the truth. The lie of separation in the age of usury is now
complete. We have explored its fullness, its furthest extremes, and seen all it has
wrought, the deserts and the prisons, the concentration camps and the wars, the
wastage of the good, the true, and the beautiful. Now, the capacities we have developed
through this long journey of ascent will serve us well in the imminent Age of Reunion.
Oil Drum:
From a peak oil perspective, the notion of returning to days of vibrant economic growth
is simply not in the cards. Economic growth takes oil; world production has already
started to drop; and there will be much competition for that which is left. While gasoline
is currently cheap, three to five years from now it won't be, as a combination of slowly
increasing rates of oil depletion and lack of investment in new production will lead to
shortages and growth-stifling prices.
Weight at departure: 129.4
I’m on the road after a one-day delay due to the catastrophic failure of my digestive
system. I don’t know… maybe food poisoning, perhaps the stomach flu… certainly bad.
Not to paint too horrifying a picture but my body has been liquefying everything I eat and
passing it straight through. Anyway, it’s consistent with my established pattern of being
in poor health at the beginning of long, physically demanding journeys.
I was planning to kick off stage two by documenting the iconic “mothball fleet,” a rusty
assemblage of Navy and merchant ships anchored in Suisun Bay, but you can’t get
anywhere near these vessels without a boat of your own. They’re part of the National
Defense Reserve Fleet and can supposedly be readied for service within 120 days in the
event of a national emergency (requiring a significant increase in shipping capacity).
Probably most will end up being sold for scrap.
Just up the road from the floating rust buckets is Valero’s Benicia refinery. The sprawling
facility is equipped with a subterranean network of bunkers built into a nearby hilltop. As
far as I could tell, they’re meant to be the safest places for terrified refinery workers
when things go to hell. Imagine being trapped underground while thousands of gallons of
highly combustible liquid hydrocarbons burn hopelessly out of control on the surface.
Although there were no towering infernos on this particular day, I did stop to watch the
installation of a new pipeline: an improvement to the refinery’s asphalt producing annex.
Images of imported automobiles stockpiled at shipping ports have become alarmingly
common lately. A company called AMPORTS, which “processes” imports at the Port of
Benicia, has spots for 42,000 vehicles. They must be close to capacity because they had
cars packed in just about everywhere they could park them.
Although most of the day consisted of headwinds, rain, and desperate searches for
suitable shit spots, there was a clearly identifiable high point. Meeting Jeff and his
adorable daughter at a picnic site overlooking the Carquinez Straight vastly improved an
afternoon characterized by difficulty and discomfort.
It was finally time to move on today after bumming around the bay area for over a week.
Ryan, Sameer, and Carey were each incredibly generous and I will miss them and their
homes immensely. Their kindness made it that much more difficult to leave a part of the
world which I already adore.
The separation anxiety was tempered by a day of riding that couldn’t have been more
different from the miserable experience that was day one. The sun was brilliant, the
winds were favorable, and my body felt healthy and strong. I put eighty miles of hilly
coastline behind me with effort to spare. In one exceptional moment of pure elation, I
found myself being blown down a long steep hill, the windswept Pacific to my right, with
BOC’s Dayvan Cowboy piped in from the shuffle.
After leaving the city, the first conspicuously tall structure to appear on the horizon was
CEMEX's Davenport cement plant. During its 100+ years in operation, the facility has
provided the primary building material for a long list of megaprojects. My favorite among
them is the California Aqueduct, or as I prefer to call it: the river that flows uphill.
Davenport residents are breathing a little less mercury this spring due to a scheduled
six-month closure of the plant: undoubtedly the result of an economy that is not
producing a whole lot demand for their product.
I’ll be hangin’ loose in Santa Cruz for the next few days, trying to figure out which of the
town’s abundant coffeehouses is best for meeting girls working in.
Thanks Jeff-- $20
Thanks Ryan and Keely
Cary (and housemates)
Premises under which the project operates:
The reader may or may not accept the following premises as fact, regardless, they must
be clearly stated. They form the foundation on which later points will be based.
1.) Growth is dead.
The main reason is that the global economy is being deprived of the single most
important ingredient necessary to maintain growth.-2.) The global human population is well beyond permanent carrying capacity. This
overshoot has been made possible using phantom carrying capacity supplied by vast
inputs of hydrocarbons.
3.) We are entering a new paradigm of numbers getting smaller—de-growth, deindustrialization, post-exuberance, etc.
1.) Gather and present evidence of an empire in decline:
2.) Highlight the aesthetics and spirituality of the post-exuberant age.
3.) Develop a skill set for post-exuberant living:
Being on the outside as a necessary point of reference from which to observe the
decline. From the inside you are biased and prone to denial and self-deception—the
unwillingness to accept that your support network is unsustainable and going to
eventually become unrecognizable.
4.) Evidence of new support systems coming up through the cracks in the old system.
5.) To get people to stop torturing themselves and abandon the growth/money
economy—this requires trust—evidence that it can be done. Forget about economic
recovery, forget about your advertising career, just let go—reconnect with the world.
to get others (readers)—a relatively small group of individuals, to step forward—to draw
these people out, to identify those ready to begin the process and to encourage them the
be excited about rather than dread the coming age of contraction.
Why Abandonments?
Our industrial sites are tangible reminders of the process of succession as applied to
human communities and living patterns. To highlight the beauty that’s revealed in this
process of deterioration. These sites actually become more alive, richer, and more
beautiful as time and the elements work their magic. They are a prelude the increasingly
de-industrialized world in our future. We shouldn’t fear this place or consider the project
of civilization a failure for having failed to reach it’s ambitions—(never did get those flying
cars). Plus, seeing such structures as symbols of renewal and rebirth may help to
mitigate the anxiety and frustration that is sure to characterize the post exuberant age.
It’s comforting to know that these places naturally drift toward greater complexity,
diversity, and beauty. We shouldn’t be so quick to destroy them and erect new ugliness
in their place.
Why energy infrastructure/Oil?
Oil will be the limiter for the developed nations—it will be the essential substance in short
supply—the first thing to limit carrying capacity.
Ran on the changes to come:
As I've said many times, I don't believe in the coming instant and obvious "Crash".
Whatever future historians call it, we are in it now, and this is what it looks like: banks
failing, people losing their jobs, weather getting more extreme, cities bulldozing
abandoned houses to prevent the poor from living free, adaptable people learning to
grow food and catch rainwater and repair things. These changes will continue for
years, and bring new changes, until we're living in a radically different world.
Also, I don't think we're coming to the end of manufacturing, high technology, big
systems, or suffering. The main thing we're coming to the end of is growth. The present
system is designed for a world where the numbers keep getting bigger forever, and as
the numbers get smaller, it will fall apart. And then the surviving parts will adapt and form
new complex systems that do not require perpetual growth. I don't know if there will still
be cars or computers in 50 years, but overall I expect the ongoing crisis to drive a surge
in human creativity.
Marin Headlands:
The rugged terrain immediately north of the Golden Gate has, since the 1890s, been the
chosen strategic position from which to defend the bay and bridge from enemy attack.
The hillsides are littered with a variety of military fortifications built over seventy years to
guard against a periodically updated list of potential threats. Having never been called
into action, the abandoned bunkers and batteries are currently suffering the ravages of
urine and spray-paint that befall such sites whose locations are widely known. Although
it’s a bit disheartening to witness the accelerated decomposition of these structures at
the hands of tourists and teenagers from the city, there’s consolation to be found in the
fact that they were designed to withstand far more destructive forces.
wikipedia article
37°49'27"N 122°31'42"W
Getting in and out of this dark place was relatively difficult. At one point I found myself,
having just negotiated a narrow gap between a pair of two-by-fours, hanging some
distance off a concrete floor hidden beneath liquid of unknown depth. (The inevitable
drop was unkind to my right ankle, which later swelled dramatically.) Fortunately, the
visit was well worth the painful price of admission. The wooden planks that cover this
basin have swelled and contracted enough that sunlight streams in through abundant
gaps. Swirling dust is illuminated in diagonal shafts of light mirrored by the watery floor.
Scraggily creepers, sent on a fruitless search for nutrients by healthy plants above,
dangle from the ceiling. The white noise of city traffic is intermittently punctuated by the
unusually distinct splash of drips percolating through from the surface. This dazzlingly
beautiful place appears to wait patiently for the day when it will again be called upon to
collect drinking water for the citizens of San Francisco.
I couldn’t resist the temptation to return to Hunter’s Point. It had been calling me back
since the first visit and could no longer be ignored. I chose a quiet Sunday morning and
emerged on the roof of the shipyard’s tallest structure in time to witness the sun clear the
horizon across the bay. With not a soul around, I was free to explore at leisure. I poked
into workshops where fragments of half disintegrated equipment littered the ground like
leaves on a forest floor. I descended an escalator (allegedly once the world’s tallest) that
led to a cavernous space drenched in enough light to support its own grassy meadow.
“Blue room” was more orange and green in the a.m. light, with long golden shafts
projected across its red-tiled floor.
Blue Room
On a wall in the stairwell leading up to this place, someone scribbled: "heaven this way."
The otherworldly character of the space does imbue it with an undeniably spiritual,
perhaps even divine, essence. At the very least it’s one of the most breathtaking interiors
I’ve found myself in. Its ethereal beauty owes much to the thin layer of water that covers
its floor. Of course, this feature was never part of the room’s original design. A sequence
of changes, that began only after it was abandoned by its human occupants, had to
occur for the space to be elevated to its current condition. Windows shattered, floor
drains clogged with debris, and a leaky roof failed to keep out the pounding rains of
Skills posts:
1. shoplifting food
2. shitting outdoors—the beday method—psychological barrier that prevents one
from getting too far from plumbing for too long
3. managing your small collection of personal possessions—each with a lot of
value—when constantly changing locations.—don’t allow yourself to put things
down in too many places—group them and you’ll be less likely to leave
something behind. The only thing I’ve lost so far is a bar of soap in a plastic soap
4. Sleeping in unusual locations
Add to SF Naval Shipyard text: Could somebody get on saving this place? I don’t
know… lawyers?
Donation Gift Additions:
1. Celibacy
2. Dream Water Bottle—the London square Karla dream
3. Diablo Canyon Package:
 Photograph stolen from the Diablo Canyon Information Center
 Point Buchon Trail Map
 Brochures
 Sample Nuclear fuel pellet
4. A place to settle down: I’ve been asked several times if any place I’ve been to
has really called to me to stay. A place with just the right combination of attractive
elements to make it desirable enough to give up the road. i’ll send you the name
and location of the place I find the most appealing as a place to settle— (maybe
top three) this may also be the most difficult place to leave. You can either keep it
a secret, potentially moving there yourself of you can intentionally ruin it by
posting it on FaceBook. Note: this one may take several years—in the butane
category—take ambiguous image of SB architecture and landscaping for this gift
5. Take ecstasy with me…
External Posts:
1. And why is everyone picking on the homeless?
2. Trampled in the shopping rush
Thank You:
Lorenzo Parra, Bicycle Connection, Lompoc, CA: inner tube
Tony and Shalini Tolani: Vegetarian Restaurant Meal
Marion: $20—80 years old and heading to Patagonia
Ellie at Diablo Canyon Information Center: Taking my calls and providing
5. Jeff Palumbo: $20
6. Sameer—food and “watch out for bears” mix
7. The kids at for the food, wine, and sharing your campfire.
8. Terry in Gorda for the extra shot of espresso
9. Dennis (the guard at the mine): for allowing forbidden photography
10. Jessica Iverson
11. Alex Z
12. Stephanie—for the pair of fiber-one bars
13. Nick, Leslie, Nathan, Jessica
Things to relate:
1. Color-changing pen and the woman
2. “Oh, my prosthetic third eye—yeah, it was taking too long to evolve an eye in the
back of my head by traditional means.
1. Domestic nightmare at ryan’s
2. Retard hike/girl/boy scout award (family guy head)
Ran on the new territory of the coming age:
In the coming age, the money economy will be shrinking, or stable, or bouncing up and
down, but never steadily growing. The rich will no longer have the political support of the
middle class, because without a "rising tide that lifts all boats", middle class people will
no longer believe that they'll be rich some day. There may not even be a middle class!
But it won't be like the 20th century third world, because those societies were dominated
by economic growth in the first world. We are entering completely new territory: an age
with high technology, highly complex societies, cities, corporations, governments,
socialists, anarchists, pirates, global commerce and communication, but without
increasing numbers. How it will play out is anyone's guess.
see, Kunstler thinks a return to early 20th century morality is the best way to deal with our
changing circumstances. Like if the builders of new structures would just take
responsibility for making sure they’re of high quality—civic beauty. But we’ve been doing
things as cheap as possible for so long that it’s anyone’s guess as o whether these
values will ever return to practice.
Davis Brownlands:
When I was growing up in this valley town, a food processing plant stood here. I believe
they made ketchup. When the north wind blew it filled our neighbor with the pungent
smell of boiling tomatoes. I came back one day after being off in the world for several
years and the site had changed dramatically: the buildings were gone. It was like a bomb
had gone off and everything over fifteen inches just blew away. What remains is a vast
concrete slab with hearty primary colonizer plant species exploiting its cracks.
For some reason, the bulldozers spared a water tower that’s now a favorite hangout for
teens looking to escape the prying eyes of parents and law enforcement. The view from
the structure’s top is quite lovely and provides a good aerial look at the piles of concrete
rubble and twisted rusty rebar.
My first experience with this variety of odd urban void was in Chicago. A large parcel of
land, just south of the loop, has been left undeveloped because whatever industrial
process was removed left a legacy of contaminated soil that can’t be built upon at it’s
current level of toxicity. The high cost of removing and properly disposing of thousands
of tons of dirt and debris makes redevelopment a prohibitively expensive proposition.
Spending time in the Brownlands, a term borrowed from the Chicago site, one feels
removed and isolated despite proximity to a population center. I also associate being
there with exclusiveness: an impression that has much to do with squeezing through a
small gap in a fence in order to gain access. The chain-link barrier filters out everyone
but the most modestly sized, as well as anyone unwilling to become a trespasser. But
the reward is worth the risk. Once inside, it’s possible to observe (up close) the forces
with which nature is reclaiming the space: reshaping it according to it’s own vision. The
gradual process of ecological succession is a process of healing. Perhaps in patiently
bearing witness to its subtleties, we might augment the restoration of ourselves.
Day Fourteen: Santa Cruz, CA to Moss Landing, CA
An unintentional sleep-in translated to a late start out of Santa Cruz. I had been up till all
hours sitting in the backyard darkness reading National Geographic’s cover article: Our
Vanishing Night. Collin and her housemates (and their boyfriends) were incredibly good
hosts and I rolled out of SC with nothing but fondness for the place. I’d selected a
favorite coffeehouse, strolled a farmer’s market with my fingers covered in sticky sweet
dates, and gotten way too stoned.
The breeze that carried me out of town smelled of strawberries and heather. I passed
the KOA where I had long ago camped with a girlfriend and another couple. It triggered
the memory I have of us waking up in the middle of the night on hard ground after our air
mattress sprung a leak and deflated.
The town of Moss Landing is Monterey Bay’s midpoint and an easy thirty miles from
Santa Cruz. It has a small harbor and a sleepy downtown with a couple of restaurants
and a few struggling antique dealers. There was still plenty of daylight left upon arrival
and I went to work documenting the power plant I’d come to behold.
As extended twilight gave way to darkness I scrambled down a steep bank to the harborside campsite I’d selected earlier. Although the site felt secluded, it was directly across
the highway from the plant and steam could be seen drifting seaward above a canopy of
Eucalyptus. A cushy matt of edible wild lettuce (I planned to munch on in the morning)
added extra comfort to my normal bedding.
Tucked in and preparing to drift off, I took stock of all the ambient sounds I could
positively identify. Among them: a fog horn, the barks and grunts of sea lions, the
squawks of gulls, small harbor waves lapping against nearby rocks, Highway One road
traffic, the high-pitched whine of plant turbines, and the wind rustling leaves overhead.
Earplugs were never such a godsend.
Moss Landing Power Plant
Those twin 500-foot stacks with the lovely blue tips belong to supercritical steam units 6
and 7. Approaching half a century of service, the units employ outdated technology and
are only run during periods of high demand. Even with the addition of selective catalytic
reduction and digital control systems in 1998, the units and their iconic towers are
nearing the end of their working lives. The plant added two shiny new combined-cycle
units in 2002 that have since done most of the work.
wikipedia page
36°48'17"N 121°46'57"W
Day Fifteen: Moss Landing, CA to Lucia, CA
It was not to be the luxurious night sleep I had hoped for. The cacophony catalogued the
night before induced some exceptionally odd dreams and there were several early
morning events impossible to sleep through. I remember being woken first by the
blinding lights of a fishing trawler leaving the harbor, then again some time later by a pair
of loud steam bursts released from the plant. A shower of fine mist followed each blast,
adding to the terror and confusion of being ripped from sleep by thirty seconds of
deafening white noise. Listening to a sea otter choke on his breakfast was what finally
compelled me to give up and greet the day.
With my breakfast of leafy greens looking much less appetizing in light of the power
plant’s midnight sneezes, I packed up and left my hidden grove. My first stop was the
plant’s security gate where I inquired about the availability of a tour. The pudgy woman
in the booth (apparently not accustom to visitors rolling up on bicycles; asking to be
“shown around”) was a bit taken aback and responded to my request with a line I’ve
come to despise: “Not since 9/11.”
The first magical moment of the day was spotting this pair of cell phone towers. Beyond
what appeared to be a redundancy in placing them so close together, one screamed its
identity while the other was poorly disguised as an evergreen.
I’m delighted to report that the economic downturn does not seem to have affected life
on the Monterey Peninsula. People were out in droves, golfing, painting the seacoast,
walking their dogs, and riding around in large vehicles. The wildflowers were blooming
and the weather was perfect.
Beyond Pebble Beach Golf Mecca and the old money village of Carmel-By-the-Sea is
the rugged
Big Sir Coastline. This dramatic landscape is normally experienced through the windows
of an automobile flying along at whatever maximum speed the hairpin turns and steep
grades will allow. Abundant pullouts and vista points provide opportunity for crappy
digital photography. What ends up occurring is a kind of spasmodic movement of autos
along the route as everyone stops for the same view then tries to make up time by
gunning it to the next one.
I realized while biking this section of coastline that the people in the cars passing me all
day must form one of two very different impressions of the kind of time I’m having, and
that which impression they got was likely based on whether I was climbing or
descending when they passed. For example, descending: “Shit, he’s really moving—
what a rush!” And climbing: “Yeah that looks really hard—why would anyone do that?”
While we shared a pullout, a gentleman driving an RV told me I was crazy. My response:
“No sir, for it is you who is crazy. To see this land by any other means is to deny its
glory.” Actually… that’s a lie; I laughed and agreed with him.
I arrived at a rather full Kirk Creek Campground in time to watch the sun sink into the
Pacific. Everyone was anxiously awaiting “the green flash” that never seems to occur. I
was delighted to discover that, having arrived under my own steam, I had priority in
claiming one of four “hike in/bike in” campsites.
I had planned to eat the absurdly expensive zucchini bread I’d purchased from the only
store within thirty miles then turn in, but a group of incredibly great people changed the
course of my night. What started as an invitation to share their campfire quickly became
hot food, wine, and a chance for me to talk about the project. The three couples were
down from Berkeley where they maintain Among them was Casey
Fenton, the service’s founder.
Day Sixteen: Lucia, CA to San Luis Obispo, CA
I hadn’t planned to visit Hearst Castle. I had, however, been looking forward to passing it
since it sits at the halfway point between San Francisco and Los Angeles. But when it
appeared up on that perfect green hill I thought: maybe it would be fun to have a peak at
the palatial estate of a richer than God newspaper mogul. So after getting all excited
about photographing the trappings of phenomenal wealth, I was disappointed to learn
that the tour costs twenty bucks. I poked around the visitor’s center for a bit, helped
myself to a yoghurt, then moved on.
Morrow bay has two iconic objects that stand out against its sweeping coastline: Morrow
Rock and the Morrow Bay Power Plant. Of similar height and in relatively close
proximity, they face each other in a kind of silent standoff. While the ex-volcano clearly
wins, the plant’s stacks hold their own.
The freeway between Morro Bay and San Louis Obispo took me passed a high security
prison and a National Guard armory. Arriving in the college town after dark, I booked a
bottom bunk at Hostel Obispo.
Morro Bay Power Plant
The Morro Bay Power Plant has much in common with Moss Landing. Both facilities
burn natural gas, both were shuffled through the hands of several energy companies
during California’s experiment with energy deregulation, and both have uncertain
futures. During my visit the plant was completely silent and appeared virtually deserted.
Dynergy Inc., the plant’s current owner, has plans to modernize with a combined-cycle
replacement but the proposal is stuck in legal purgatory while the courts and the EPA
figure out how the Clean Water Act applies to power plants. There’s fascinating debate
among locals regarding whether or not the three 450-foot stacks should be preserved.
For some they’re landmarks that, since the 1950s, have been a familiar feature of the
Morrow Bay landscape. For others they’re simply eyesores; best removed and forgotten.
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant
top left: No, the plant is not still under construction. That’s 1972.
bottom right: If this siren is going off, expect an earthquake, a tsunami, or to be
bombarded with radiation.
They build Nuclear power plants in the most inconvenient locations. This one went up in
the early 70s on one of the last chunks of undeveloped coastline in California. Before
making the arduous trek out to the only point where one can get a glimpse of the Diablo
Canyon facility, I went to visit Ellie at the plant’s community outreach center.
It was good to finally meet face to face with the woman who’d been taking my phone
calls for the past month. I’d been trying in vain to secure official access to the plant and
she’d been my only ally in the endeavor. That morning I’d called for what turned out to
be the last time and had, predictably, gotten her familiar voice on the other end. I told her
I was in San Luis Obispo (less than ten miles away) and she insisted I come by the
visitor’s center and she’d try and get me in.
When I arrived Ellie gave me the news I’d been dreading. Feeling genuinely sorry about
not being able to grant the single wish of someone who’d ridden their bike 4000 miles,
she tried to be obliging in other ways. We talked for a long time about the plant and
when the subject inevitably made its way to security, she laid a tactical gem on me. It
was obvious she’d been doing some thinking on the issue and almost seemed eager to
share. She had concluded that to attack the plant itself would be wasted effort. It’s
heavily guarded and built like a fortress. She suggested targeting the transmission lines
that carry energy away from the plant. They’re relatively unprotected and with a little
monkeywrenching one could keep maintenance crews busy for days while the plant was
effectively disabled.
After perusing the interpretive displays and collecting a bundle of brochures and
pamphlets on waste storage, Ellie and I said our bittersweet goodbyes. I hopped back on
the bike and began the long ride north to the Point Buchon Trailhead. Allegedly, there
was an overlook somewhere on the newly opened coastal trail that provided a distant
and only partially obstructed view of the plant. I had set aside the entire day for the
purpose of acquiring Diablo Canyon imagery and was not about to give up, even after
such a disappointing setback.
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power plant it surrounded by 12,000 acres that has largely been
maintained in its “natural” state. This land functions as a “buffer zone,” keeping the plant
out of sight and out of mind. Several years ago, when PG&E wanted to construct an on
site above-ground storage facility for the plant’s highly radioactive used reactor fuel, The
California Coastal Commission required that they open a portion of the land for public
access. The 3.5 mile long Point Buchon Trail opened in the summer of 2008 and marked
the first time in hundreds of years the public has been allowed on the property.
At the trailhead stands a small shed manned by two security personnel. Their job is to
require prospective trail users to sign a waver, limit the daily visitor total to 275, and
make sure everyone is off the property by 5:00. They are not employed by PG&E, but by
a private security company responsible for maintaining the Point Buchon Trail. If you’re
not back at the shed by 4:45 they come chasing after you in a little four-wheeled ATV. If
you’re hiding, they call the guys with guns at Diablo Canyon security.
After battling a headwind over miles of hilly terrain then signing my life away to a private
security force, I was beginning to doubt whether this view was to be worth the effort.
Fortunately, the lovely weather and nearly deserted trail were enough to ease my
misgivings. I bounded along the edges of bluffs and across wildflower meadows on the
way to Windy Point: the often-blustery overlook from which the plant becomes visible on
a distant horizon. While the windy spot is the trail’s highpoint, its not its endpoint and I
decided to press on and see if the plant would re-emerge. After another half mile the
official trail ends with a rope barrier and a slightly unnerving sign that warns of the use of
deadly force in the interest of protecting the plant (see image). With part of me expecting
to be picked off by a sniper’s bullet, I stepped over the rope and started up a gentile
incline in the direction of the plant. Sure enough, after a few hundred yards a fence
appeared along with a second (much closer) view that was obviously meant to stay
hidden by ending the trail in that particular location. Feeling proud of myself for in some
way having foiled the plant’s defenses, I took a second round of shots from this
forbidden territory.
What started as a stroll back in the direction I’d come soon became a run when I
realized I had a long way to go before check-out time at the security shed. Arriving at
5:00 on the dot, I cheerfully reclaimed my bicycle then got the hell out.
What links Diablo Canyon with the other power plants I’d visited in past few days is that
they all were built at the continent’s edge to access seawater for cooling. This particular
plant lacks the highly visible cooling towers normally required to vent the immense heat
generated when atoms are split. At Diablo Canyon, that heat is simply diffused into the
ocean. Ellie put it quite gently when she credited the process with creating a miniature
Southern California marine environment off the Central California Coast. How nice. This
system works very well from an energy generation standpoint but is an ecological
catastrophe for local marine life.
wikipedia page
35°12'41"N 120°51'19"W
Day Eighteen: San Luis Obispo, CA to Lompoc, CA
top right: I love maps painted on walls. According to this one in Guadalupe, Los Angeles
is only twenty-two bricks away.
I ate a giant undercooked pancake at the hostel before saying a few goodbyes and
setting off under foreboding skies. It was raining steadily by the time I reached the coast
and I stopped at a café in Pismo Beach to dry and wait out the weather. The
coffeehouse I’d chosen was cozy and staffed by three attractive girls which meant a
longer than anticipated stay.
Consistent with the established routine, I stopped in at a Conocophillips refinery in
Arroyo Grande and requested a tour. Actually, I had already snapped a dozen images by
the time security showed up for the meet and greet. It seems the September eleventh
event has fixed it so that the only people who see the inside of such places are
employees. I mean I kinda understand: the yellow threat level placard on the front gate
did read ELEVATED.
Just south of the refinery, the road enters Santa Maria Valley. The valley is a highly
productive agricultural region producing strawberries, broccoli and wine grapes. Also, if
you’ve eaten one of those bagged supermarket salads, there’s a good chance the
lettuce was grown here. In the middle of the valley I passed a large refrigeration and
packaging facility where food is put in deep freeze before being shipped to distant
corners of the globe.
Tattered remains of the storm system that dampened my morning continued to make
their way through the area; adding cumulous drama to my photographs. The sky was
especially dynamic during my visit to the abandoned Betteravia sugar plant. I’d been
looking forward to Betteravia more than any other site on the itinerary and it’s difficult to
convey my excitement as I watched its giant silos grow larger in the distance. The low
afternoon sun gleaming off their rust patinated surfaces was enough to make me giggle
with joy.
Having spent a bit too much time climbing around Betteravia, I’d committed myself to
crossing the vast emptiness of Vandenberg Air Force Base in darkness. I had tried to
cram too much into one day and it was inevitably catching up with me. With the light
fading from the most brilliant sunset I’d seen in a while, I began to feel loneliness. The
sensation was one I’d been able to avoid on the trip thus far, but something about being
alone on what was basically a freeway crossing miles of coastal scrub was too much to
handle. I turned to the moon and the wind for companionship, thanking them for lighting
my way and blowing me ever closer to my destination. As I’d been doing a lot in recent
days, I spoke to myself. A lot. I spoke with force as if addressing a room full of people. It
just felt natural to make noise—something to interrupt the monotonous sound of cold
night air rushing past my ears.
I expected my arrival in Lompoc to break the spell of loneliness but it actually worsened
my condition. The businesses in this dreadful place all shut down at ten so my prospects
for finding a hot meal were poor. I remember asking a dude outside a Subway in the
middle of a sea of strip malls and gas stations where the town center could be found.
“You’re looking at it,” he said. I rolled up to several Mexican restaurants that were just
locking up before I found a Chinese joint that would sell me some takeout. I ate my spicy
eggplant sitting on a concrete curb overlooking a vast empty parking lot. My fortune:
disappointingly unmemorable.
Simplot Soilbuilders:
300 million years ago there was a vast inland sea covering much of the North American
continent. Prevailing winds picked up dust particles of a certain composition; carried
them out over this sea and then dropped them. The particles sank to the bottom where
they joined other compounds and accumulated in sedimentary strata. This process of
sorting and sedimentation continued for some 15 million years until a 350,000 square
kilometer area, encompassing present day Idaho and Wyoming, had accumulated a
layer of relatively homogeneous phosphate minerals.
Fast forward to present. The sea is gone, replaced by high desert, and the layer has
become phosphate rock: 420 meters thick in some places. An advanced species of
terrestrial mammal has discovered that if this rock is dug up, crushed, and combined
with phosphoric acid, the resulting substance can be applied to topsoil where it replaces
a missing nutrient necessary for healthy plant growth. Since the members of this species
are so numerous, and their demand for plant derived sustenance so great, they have
come to rely heavily on this and other “inputs” to support their bloated population.
Why the geology/human ecology lesson? Consider it background information to help
make sense of what it is that Simplot does. Their Smokey Canyon mine in Southeastern
Idaho is the largest of four in the region and supplies high quality phosphorite ore to their
Pocatello fertilizer plant via a 140-km-long slurry line. Joe and I stumbled upon the
sprawling plant on our way out of town one frosty morning in October. We took these
images of it.
Already somewhat acquainted with Simplot after looking into their Idaho operations,
coming across one of their retail locations in Guadalupe was like bumping into someone
you’d connected with at a party, but since forgotten about. I had now seen two points in
the phosphate fertilizer production and distribution system and could pretty well infer the
steps in between.
But getting to know an industry means uncovering its hypocrisies and half-truths. The
most glaringly obvious is Simplot’s deceptive subtitle: Soilbuilders. Their fertilizer
products don’t build anything, least of all soil. Any farmer or gardener worth his salt will
tell you that the only way soil gets ‘built’ is through a complex combination of physical,
chemical, and biological processes acting upon a variety of organic and inorganic
compounds. Paradoxically, the use of synthetic fertilizers actually depletes soil over
time. Sure, maybe it’s just clever marketing but its going to sound particularly perverse
when the last of the topsoil blows away.
A propaganda document outlining Simplot’s Pocatello plant reads: “…by improving the
efficiency of food production, the fertilizers and feed inputs produced at the Don Plant
help to feed our nation and the world in an affordable fashion.” The word efficiency is
here used in an ambiguous and misleading way. It’s important to keep in mind that
improvements in efficiency related to fertilizer use, one aspect of the so-called “green
revolution,” are strictly economic in nature. From any other standpoint, including energy,
efficiency is not the correct word. What’s really been realized through technological
progress over the last century are new ways of harnessing prehistoric sources of energy
and nutrients to increase the productivity of the planet’s acreage. Because the time and
energy it took to create these ancient resources is absent from the equations we use to
calculate efficiency, we’re looking at some seriously skewed results. Remember, the
Permian Phosphoria Formation took 15 million years to form. We’ve dug up a significant
portion of it in a fraction of that time. In other words, modern man has allowed himself to
mistake prodigality for efficiency. Simplot is a perpetuator of this dangerous illusion.
Vandenberg Air Force Base
My visit to Vandenberg Air Force Base was a let down. To be allowed on the base as a
civilian I had to sign up for one of their bimonthly tours. It was the only part of the ride
that required advanced scheduling and I was unprepared for the anxiety of having to be
at a particular place at a particular time. Also, I had hoped to photograph an abandoned
spaceport but all that remains of Space Launch Complex Ten is a slab of concrete the
tour guide failed to point out. Fortunately the experience wasn’t a total loss. A few
highlights worth mentioning are covered below.
The first stop on Vandenberg’s tour is a full-scale replica of an LGM-30 Minuteman
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile. Pointed threateningly at the sky, it stands at the center
of a large concrete circle surrounded by well-tended sod. Having cleared the base’s
main security gate and arrived at the missile site, my tour group and I reluctantly piled off
the 60s era school bus we’d only just been packed on to. There was further hesitation
when the retired military men and their families remembered they were caring cameras
but only started snapping after the first brave soul had stepped forward to have his
picture taken with a nuclear weapon.
After quick stops at a Korean War memorial and a tank sitting on a pile of rocks, the bus
lumbered out to the tour’s main attraction: The Space and Missile Heritage Center.
Vandenberg’s website sums up the center with this awkward run-on:
The Space and Missile Heritage Center preserves and displays artifacts and
memorabilia to interpret the evolution of missile and spacelift activity at Vandenberg from
the beginning of the Cold War through current non-classified developments in military,
commercial, and scientific space endeavors.
It was kinda fun looking at the museum’s collection of bulky outdated guidance
computers and thinking about how much technological envelope pushing the military is
responsible for. (Does anyone know what percentage of MIT graduates will go into
military funded research projects?) ICBM technology seems to have peaked with the
diplomatically dubbed Peacekeeper. The weapon was equipped with up to ten
independently targetable re-entry vehicles, each with its own 300-kiloton warhead. The
program was scrapped, along with the Soviet version, as part of the START II
disarmament treaty. The weapon’s hypothetical ability to wipe out much of the enemy’s
nuclear arsenal in one fell swoop meant striking first became really important. This
preemptive first strike strategy was rightly identified as just a bit too risky to remain on
the table.
These days, preparing for nuclear war is lower on the list of priorities at Vandenberg.
The last stop on the tour was SLC-6, an active site where Google’s satellites are
launched into polar orbit. We had to promise not to take any pictures here. The ones I
took illicitly through the window of the bus all came out blurry.
Betteravia Sugar Plant
The 15th of January 1919 was an exceptionally warm day for mid-winter in Boston. At the
Purity Distilling Company, an enormous molasses tank reacted to the heat by rupturing
and spilling over two million gallons of its sticky sweet contents into the city’s streets.
The ensuing wave of molten sugar (between eight and fifteen feet high and traveling at
thirty-five miles per hour) swept buildings off their foundations and carried rail cars,
people, horses, and dogs for several blocks. The Great Molasses Flood, my favorite
historicized term for the event, is a catastrophe that could only have occurred at a time
and place when and where sugar was being produced and stored in large enough
quantities to actually flood—and flood severely enough for twenty-one souls to have lost
their lives. It’s a disaster that belongs uniquely to the Industrial Age. At the time,
incidentally, alcohol distilled from molasses was a key ingredient in the production of
munitions. The dark brown liquid awaiting transfer to the Purity plant on that tragic day
was likely to end up killing people even if it hadn’t drowned them on Boston’s North End.
So why begin an entry on an abandoned beet processing plant in California’s Santa
Maria Valley with an account of the Boston Molasses Disaster? The short answer is that
both Boston and Betteravia are sites at which sugar was once produced on an industrial
The now defunct company town of Betteravia, a name that refers to the French word for
beet root, at one time supported a community of 350 residents. Many were employees at
the Union Sugar factory, which persisted in various forms from around the turn of the
20th century until closing permanently in 1993. The facility extracted sucrose from sugar
beets: a highly engineered tuber from which thirty percent of the world’s sugar is derived.
While most of the town’s cottages and other structures were either moved or razed in the
1960s, the site still boasts two enormous hermetically sealed silos, a more or less intact
refinery building, and a towering furnace stack.
While the visual aspects of an abandonment normally demand most of my attention, I
was pleased (and a bit unnerved) by Betteravia’s odd symphony of noise. A gusty
breeze played long thin strips of shredded aluminum siding by picking up the dangling
ribbons and throwing them against the silos’ outer walls. A flock of tiny birds added sonic
texture by chirping incessantly.
I spent the most time with the silos; exploring their flooded subterranean passages and
pitch-black interiors. I witnessed sunset from one of their shallowly sloped roofs then
crossed the bridge between them to watch a full moon ascend from the opposite
horizon. The refinery building was a bit tougher to access; requiring a tight squeeze
under a wall panel that had been pried at the corner by a previous visitor. It’s interior was
a dramatic assemblage of boilers, piping and shattered gauges—the floor a thick mat of
droppings and feathers.
Betteravia, like Boston, was the site of its own (less catastrophic) industrial disaster. A
dust explosion and ensuing fire occurred at the plant in 1988 and critically burned seven
workers. The event marked the beginning of the end for the factory, then owned by
Imperial Holly. The years ahead will see more of such endings, associated with the
decline of industrial food production, as the model proves too unwieldy and complex to
adapt to an energy scarce world. They’ll be fewer floods and fires, and more dilapidated
factories to wander through as they begin the second half of their lives as industrial
Day Twenty: Lompoc, CA to Santa Barbara, CA
How many of one’s days begin by climbing to the top of a rusty industrial edifice?
(I imagine it’s a pretty rare occurrence for anyone that doesn’t have some obscure and
dangerous job fabricating offshore oilrigs).
Greeting the rising sun from Betteravia’s furnace stack, high above a misty Santa Maria
Valley, was one of those rare moments when you can honestly say there’s no place
you’d rather be. My twenty-nine yeas of life seemed destined for that exact place in
space and time. From what was easily the highest point for miles, I gazed down at the
little outdoor room I’d created by abutting my tent to a decrepit piece of farming
equipment. Flashes of reflected sunlight glinted from the nearby silos’ untarnished strips
of stainless steel and a flock of tiny birds orbited nearby, annoyed I’d invaded their
After descending and polishing off a modest breakfast I raced the clock into town to
catch The Breese, a commuter bus that runs back and forth between Santa Maria and
Lompoc. I had ridden it in the opposite direction from Vandenberg the day before and
had had a particularly bad experience with the driver. I was displeased to see him again,
especially after he scolded me for not loading my stuff fast enough.
The Breese dropped me back in shitty Lompoc and I headed straight for the town’s only
node of cool—a coffeehouse facing its main intersection. I pulled up to a couple of older
gentlemen sitting at an outside table and asked if they knew where I might find a large
open-pit mine. They exchanged knowing smiles as if my question made perfect sense in
the context of their conversation. One asked, “Are you looking for work or do you just
wanna check it out?” I briefly entertained the thought of driving a bulldozer through a
barren white wasteland then answered, “Yeah… No, I just thought I’d have a look at it.”
One would think it difficult to hide the world’s largest open-pit diatomaceous earth mine,
but hidden is exactly what it is. Small peaks with no public roads cradle the mine and
obscure most of its exposed terrain. My search for a good shot of the site took me seven
miles up into the mountains and, despite lots of altitude gain, was relatively fruitless. I
don’t know if it’s intentional but public outcry must remain at a minimum if no one ever
sees the place.
After checking in with security at the mine’s main gate (no tours), I headed south. As the
road hit the coast and veered east, an exceptionally strong tailwind blew me the last
thirty miles into Santa Barbara. A bustling State Street welcomed me to town.
Celite Corporation’s Lompoc Diatomaceous Earth Mine
I’ve already mentioned how difficult it is to photograph this place. Its location on a
mountainous tract of private land effectively limits access and keeps the ruined
landscape out of sight/out of mind. There is, however, a single road that leads into the
heart of the operation where a towering industrial erection is superheating the white
sedimentary rock; pulverizing it into a fine powder.
On the day of my visit, a friendly young man named Dennis was standing guard over the
facility’s entrance. Assigned to the mine a year earlier by the private security company
whose uniform he adorned, it was Dennis’s last day on the job. Obviously looking
forward to the transfer, he was in a decidedly chatty mood. After a supervisor (who
emerged briefly to confirm that I was indeed a “tourist”) had scurried back to the hole he
came from, Dennis and I were free to talk. He described the hidden topography as a
nearly unbroken expanse of pure white: blinding to look at. Rubbing his palms together,
he insisted that getting the powder on your skin induces extreme dryness and the
immediate desire to, “wash it off.”
Apparently a mysterious Frenchman owns the mine. His employees will confirm his
existence although none seem to have ever actually seen the guy. Perhaps the most
interesting of Dennis’s tidbits dealt with an environmental upgrade the mine had been
forced to make. Because of their operating costs, recently constructed cleaner-burning
furnace units have made the facility unprofitable. Like many industrial installations
suffering in the current economic climate, Celite’s Lompoc mine appears to be facing an
uncertain future.
Thanks Dennis for the info and allowing these forbidden images to be taken.
Knapp's Castle
I don’t know much about this place other than it was probably a grand structure before
being destroyed by fire. A few stone walls, arches, stairs, and the base of a chimney
remain to give the site the feel of a Roman ruin. Views of the surrounding Los Padres
National Forest wilderness are breathtaking and likely what attracted the builder to such
a remote location.
Jessica was correct in assuming I’d dig the place and lovely enough to pack a few
snacks and drive us up. It was chilly at altitude and without the warming effects of
alcohol we didn’t stay long, leaving the incredibly romantic spot to a couple that had
arrived for the sunset with a bottle of red wine.
Day Twenty-five: Santa Barbara, CA to Ventura, CA
The prevailing winds that made the final leg into Santa Barbara so effortless were back
with a vengeance to make this short hop even shorter. I kept thinking how miserable it
would be if I were heading the opposite direction, and only spotted one determined
cyclist making an attempt.
The most curious thing encountered on the ride was a line of RVs parked single file
along a bleak stretch of windswept coastline. Many of the wheeled homes sported flags,
adding to the remote outpost feel of the transient community. As I passed by the blur of
bad graphics and beach chairs, I realized that not a soul was about. I wondered if this
was how they envisioned their motorhome vacations on the day of the big purchase: the
family huddled inside a fiberglass box watching television. I’ve never understood the
logic of RV living, thinking it just another monstrous manifestation of the automobile age.
It amounts to saying, “Hey, lets go hang out in a parking lot with our cars!”
My intention for planning an overnight in Ventura was to visit the well-into-decline
Ventura oil field. The field apparently remains productive enough to require security, and
its wells are hidden within the mountainous terrain west of the entrance gate. All was not
lost, however, and my ride up into the canyon yielded a valuable discovery: an
abandoned refinery.
Ventura Refinery
The Ventura Refinery’s reason for existing vanished when the nearby wells that fed it
went into rapid decline. Today it’s a rusting industrial city with processions of enormous
aboveground reservoirs and oxidized distillation towers. Bundles of pipe in every
diameter crisscross the property, sometimes running twenty feet overhead before
plunging underground. The whole place smells faintly of the petroleum derivatives that
permeate the bone-dry ground.
I’d arrived at the forgotten metropolis late in the afternoon and the remaining daylight
proved insufficient to complete my documentation routine. Intending to photograph the
facility bathed in warm, early morning light, I bedded down beneath two immense
spheres designed for the storage of some highly volatile gas. Hundreds of swallows had
built mud huts around the tanks’ equators and orbited incessantly in loose formation—
gorging themselves on twilight insects.
Waking with the sun in the middle of such a severe landscape put me in a heedless
state of mind. I behaved as if entirely alone on what might as well have been another
planet. I clambered up and down rust-covered spires and across the wide, flat tops of
empty storage tanks, each step a noisy rap on an oversized steel drum. I poked into
bombed-out control rooms where walls of gauges once reported the real time
movements of refined product from one end of the plant to the other. I was a child—
completely enraptured.
Awareness of a world outside the refinery’s walls returned abruptly when my body
crossed the threshold of a window armed with a motion sensor. As an alarm blared
monotonously, I scolded myself for having been so careless. Cursing the last boobytrapping members of whatever alien civilization abandoned this city centuries before, I
continued my explorations with added caution.
I might have stayed at the refinery all day if a security officer piloting a pickup hadn’t
interrupted. He appeared twenty minutes after I triggered the alarm and was frustratingly
persistent in his search for whomever was lurking about. Our extended game of hideand-seek had me performing duck-and-cover maneuvers amid scattered chunks of
concrete and steel. Half an hour of simulated post-apocalyptic urban warfare came to an
end when I slipped through the fence hole that was my exit portal.
Day Twenty-six: Ventura, CA to Los Angeles, CA
left: "Construimus, Batuimus"
right: This billboard overlooked a BMW dealership. A stretched Hummer sporting a ‘for
sale’ sign was parked on the street nearby. Perhaps it’s the metaphorical center of LA.
Driven out by security, I reluctantly left the abandoned Ventura Refinery where I’d spent
the previous night and most of the morning. After a stop at the market for breakfast
complimented by a flattering remark on the quality of my “rig,” I started off on an
improvised route across town. Several frustrating dead-ends later, I broke out into the
agricultural lands of the Oxnard Plain. The lowland confined by several mountain ranges
is known for having some of the world’s most fertile soil. This geological endowment,
coupled with a coastal climate, makes it an extremely productive strawberry growing
region. As I’d done several times before on the leg, I bought a basket of the fruit off the
tailgate of a pickup parked on the side of the road.
A military firing range sits at the spot where The Pacific Coast Highway is forced back
against the ocean by the Santa Monica Mountains. The red flags were flying (which
means the bullets were too) and I felt a bit anxious snapping pictures from the perimeter
fence. I deduced from some rather conspicuous signage that the “SeaBees” were the
battalion with the guns. They’re the navy’s wartime engineering and building force
deployed at nearby Point Mugu Naval Air Station. E-2 Hawkeyes, aircraft piggybacked
by 24-foot rotating domes, had been flying touch-and-goes from the base all morning.
A considerable portion of the day was spent pedaling through Malibu’s “27 miles of
scenic beauty” (a misleading thing for the town to proclaim since, unless you’ve got
ocean frontage, there’s not much beauty to behold). A strip of mansions owned by the
movie industry’s darlings hardly qualifies as a town anyway. Besides the smell of
affluence wafting about Malibu, two things told me I’d arrived in Southern California. The
first was that the safety buffer drivers afforded me suddenly shrank to a few inches. The
second requires a more thorough explanation:
Since many of Malibu’s residences overlook the ocean, they have long driveways that
connect the home to the main highway. Lavish front gates control access to the
driveways and very little property lies between them and Route One: at most a shallow
pullout and a bit of landscaping. Having found these pullouts to be safe places to pause,
I pulled off the road to rest after climbing a substantial hill. While I straddled my frame,
taking great gulps of water, the sprinklers started up on a thin strip of nearby lawn. The
overspray was in dander of wetting the bike and I, thinking my timing impeccable, rolled
a couple feet toward the highway and safely out of range. Seconds after I’d moved the
sprinklers shut off. This couldn’t be a coincidence. I’d been shooed off the property by
someone insane enough to be watching their front gate on closed circuit television with
one trigger-happy finger on the watering cycle start button. I flashed the bird at the
invisible eye and started off down the road feeling angry and confused. Welcome to
Malibu bleeds into Santa Monica, which bleeds into Los Angeles. By the time I reached
the Beverly Center Mall I was thoroughly exhausted and Alex, the friend I’d be staying
with, volunteered to intercept me. We chose the Mobil at La Cienega and Beverly
Boulevard as the pickup point: a location with a certain irony I wouldn’t recognize until
later. The leg began at a decommissioned oil refinery and ended seventy miles away at
a Los Angeles gas station.
Time in LA:
Standing in an afternoon shaft of sunlight stretching—watching the cars stream by.
The Carls Jr. coupon book fundraiser lady. Outside the Walgreen’s.
Los Angeles, CA to Fullerton, CA
upper left: I’d be surprised if whatever deal is in the works here had anything to do with
all that crap on the sidewalk.
lower left: How most Los Angeles residents experience their city.
lower right: This muffler shop avoids becoming a meal for its predators by displaying
these dazzling stripes.
It’s difficult to say exactly what it is about Los Angeles that makes me so anxious.
Perhaps it’s the frantic pace everyone seems to be keeping, or the crushing monotony:
block after block of RiteAids and fried-chicken shacks. Maybe it’s the police helicopters
that circle incessantly, or the necessity to drive everywhere. It could be the perpetually
sunny weather, or the cell-phone towers painted blue to match a dingy cloudless sky. Or
maybe it’s in the simple declarative statement I overheard spoken by a teenage girl as
she passed on the sidewalk: “See that’s the thing about LA—you can’t just cross the
street when you want to.”
I’d been staying with Alex at his place in Atwater Village. We’re good friends from our
undergraduate days in Davis and as we did when we lived together, spent hours
discussing our respective artistic pursuits. Before my time with Alex was up, we’d seen
an Armenian comedy show, biked the LA River, visited an abandoned zoo, and strolled
a private farmer’s market. Alex was an incredibly generous host and beginning to feel
guilty about all the meals he insisted on paying for was what prompted me to move on.
The route from Los Angeles to Fullerton tours the Mexican neighborhoods east of the
city before passing through the successive (but indistinguishable) towns of Montebello,
Pico Rivera, Whittier, and La Habra. Early in the leg I’d happened upon The Brewery Art
Colony: a vast industrial space converted into hundreds of studios. The collective of
mediocre artists was in the middle of an open-studio’s weekend and I sauntered in and
out of workspaces while casually keeping an eye out for a toilet. As my need grew
increasingly desperate, it became clear that they’d hidden (or at least locked) any
restrooms within the sprawling complex. Forced to inquire, I was informed of a small
contingent of porta-potties marooned in a remote parking lot. Insulted by the lack of
accessible indoor plumbing, I refused to use them.
The extraordinarily poor condition of LA’s streets finally knocked my rear wheel out of
alignment. Nevertheless, endorphins from the day’s ride prevented the slight wobble
from dampening my triumphant arrival. Awash with self-confidence, I sat myself down at
a café table occupied by three college-age girls. I’d just completed my first solo tour and
someone (attractive) was going to hear about it.
Postscript: Reaching Fullerton marked the beginning of my multi-month stay in Southern
California. That night was the first of many I’d spend in the guestroom at the Fullerton
House, which in the weeks ahead, would come to be referred to as “Brett’s room.”
Jessie, Nathan, Nick and Leslie were incredibly patient as my plans changed weekly and
I gradually became the household’s fifth member. I thank them for their generosity in
sharing their space.
Disneyland Garage
Wanting to get a sense of the typical Disneyland visitor’s first impression of the park, I
rolled into this immense structure on one of several entrance lanes fed by an I-5 offramp.
(Picture that scene in Star Wars where the Death Star swallows the Millennium Falcon.)
Assuming no one at the happiest place on earth would mind, I set up the camera and
started shooting. In reality, I’d vastly underestimated security’s level of seriousness.
Caught up in documenting the cavernous interior, the sudden appearance of two bicyclemounted officers took me by surprise. They had been sent in ahead of the supervisor
who arrived a minute later in an SUV. (I was pleased to find him resembling a young
Walt Disney; an incredible likeness in his bone structure and thin moustache.)
While my photography had gotten their attention, declining to hand over my identification
was what really set them off. I realized I’d made a tense situation worse when two
officers, dispatched by the Anaheim Police Department while I was still under
surveillance, turned up and were visibly unamused. My little act of defiance had been
interpreted as one of self-incrimination. I was ordered to dismount and sit on a curb
where they hit me with a barrage of questions. When I happily surrendered my driver’s
license to one of the two real police officers, explaining why I don’t give my ID to private
security, they lectured me on choosing my battles more carefully.
The encounter dragged on and threats were made. I was told I’d need to erase the
images I’d taken but the officers quickly backed down when I vehemently refused. Then
there was the ludicrous assertion that, had I fled before being questioned, they’d have
had no choice but to assign a helicopter to follow me around. It took the group, now six
or seven, an exceptionally long time to arrive at a consensus on what was to be done
with me. My numbers had come back clean and, after receiving a stern warning not to
return, I was escorted off the property.
I’d gotten some excellent shots, but not having explored beyond the garage’s first floor
meant the mission was a failure. I would have to go back. Considering all the fuss
surrounding my initial drop-in, an alternate and perhaps softer approach was in order.
Several days into my banishment I wrote to the Disneyland department that handles
press visits and park photography:
To Whom It May Concern:
I am writing to request permission to photograph the interior and exterior of Disneyland’s
Mickey & Friends Parking Structure. I’m a visual artist with a graduate degree from the
University of Chicago and am currently traveling the country by bicycle: visiting,
documenting, and writing about various structures and sites along the way. I’m
interested in the Disneyland garage because of its immense scale and cultural
significance, as well as aspects of its design and construction. I intend to place lowresolution versions of perhaps six to ten images in the context of a blog I’ve maintained
throughout the ongoing journey. The project is non-profit and none of the images will be
sold. I am not a professional photographer and photograph the sites I visit as a visual
supplement to the articles I write about them.
I have already visited the garage once, and my presence was met with suspicion among
Disneyland security personnel. I hope to avoid repeating such an uncomfortable
situation by announcing my intentions in advance and having a future visit sanctioned by
official channels. I understand your security policies have changed since 9/11 and do not
wish to complicate the lives of Disneyland employees. However, I am deeply concerned
by the fact that an architecture buff such as myself can not take a few snapshots of a
structure used by thousands of individuals a day without being suspected of mischief.
Whatever help you can provide on this matter would be greatly appreciated.
Brett Tracy
Not surprisingly, my request for an authorized visit was ignored. Also not surprisingly, I
went back anyway. Assuming the weekend security staff would be unfamiliar with my
appearance, I chose a late Sunday afternoon. I was sneakier with my image taking this
time, getting the shots I wanted before security caught on. When they eventually did, I
disarmed my captors with light conversation while we waited for Anaheim Police. The
Mexican bicycle-mounted security officer, tasked with making sure I didn’t cut and run
before their arrival, told me he averages thirty miles a day within the garage: repeatedly
riding the elevator to the top then descending through the structure’s six levels.
Both discussions with park personnel centered on the difference between an innocuous
snapshot and a security breach. The Disneyland property is one of the most heavily
photographed places anywhere. But because no one ever takes pictures of the parking
garage, doing so raises a great deal of suspicion. I was told that a tourist photo’s key
ingredient is people. If security spots a guest clicking away at buildings and rides with no
sign of the wife and kids, they drag them in for interrogation. I promised that in the future
I’d bring a human subject to stand in front of the concrete pillars I wanted pictures of.
It’s not inconceivable that I was allowed, both times, to keep my images. After all, I
spoke the truth with regard to the nature of my interest in the structure. Enthusiasm in
my voice, I persuaded the officers I believed the important piece of architecture should
be documented for anthropological study. Supporting my case, I informed them of its
longtime reign as North America’s largest parking garage: over 10,000 spaces. I
revealed that, because of a design flaw, the northern half had to be torn down and rebuilt
at enormous expense. I even shared the horror stories of friends lost in its labyrinthine
interior. But what really convinced them I wasn’t a threat to public safety was one tall
handsome officer bringing up The Illuminated Thread on his PDA.
Brea, CA: ecology of an oil town
Upper left: God was like, “Yeah… thanks for the effort guys but this structure ain’t
honoring shit.”
Upper right: “When we build the Utopia, Phil Collins will be heard from every street
Lower left: Take another look at that window.
Lower right: Things found in the backyard: patio furniture, grill, dog’s water bowl, 30-foot
brick wall.
Jessie and Nathan were adamant about me experiencing this place. They had gone to
see a movie in the town’s heavily redeveloped entertainment district and discovered a
“creepy” residential neighborhood adjacent to the equally weird downtown. The three of
us got on our bikes and pedaled over the hill from Fullerton, arriving before dusk to stroll
around and snap some photos.
A quick Wikipedia read on Brea reveals it to be an interesting case study. Recorded in
its history is the evolution of a town that got its start in resource extraction. Brea is the
Spanish word for tar, a reference to the “black gold” that attracted the area’s first
corporate landowner: Union Oil. Typically when the original resource dries up, the
boomtown either dries up with it or adapts to exploit some other local resource. When its
oil production began to wane, Brea’s succeeding resource was a climate suitable for
growing citrus trees. After WWII, its orange and lemon orchards were gradually replaced
by residential developments: the beginning of the Great Suburban Build-out that so
thoroughly ruined much of the American landscape. Highly symbolic of this process was
the 1956 opening of the first two restaurants in the now ubiquitous Carl’s Jr. franchise:
one in Brea, the other in nearby Anaheim. Although accompanied by some industry, the
construction and servicing of tract homes, strip malls and fast-food joints is a
questionable foundation for a local economy. In some ways, Brea is a microcosm for the
country as a whole, demonstrating how our national economy came to be one based on
real estate (suburban home building) and credit spending (shit to fill the homes with). In
the long run, such an economy produces little more than waste streams and is about as
real and substantial as that painted on window.
It’s useful to think of Brea’s history in ecological terms. In a process not unlike that by
which a meadow becomes a forest, the town has passed through several stages of
succession before arriving at its current form. The wooden oil drilling towers that first
sprouted on the hills gradually gave way to citrus trees, which in turn gave way to singlefamily homes. Each local economic model replaced the one before it as niches
disappeared and new ones emerged. Said another way: oil production was an early
seral stage in the succession of Brea’s local economy types. The master-planned
downtown with its shops, movie theatres, sidewalk cafes and restaurants is a later stage
in the same sere.
So why is downtown Brea (a.k.a. Brea Downtown) so strange? The primary reason is
that when the 50-acre swath at Brea Boulevard and Birch Street was torn down and
rebuilt in the late 90s, it was likely done as cheaply as possible. Low-bid construction
employs corner-cutting techniques that can make a place appear slightly off. Second,
successful downtown districts, like those found throughout Europe, have taken many
years to become what they are. Charm takes time; more of it than developers care to
admit. Brea Downtown is a caricature of a successful downtown district. The parody is
based on a handful of architects’ collective vision of what such a place should be (or at
least look like).
Postscript: To be fair, Brea’s waste streams do provide a source of income. In addition to
receiving a third of Orange County’s trash, Brea’s Olinda Alpha Landfill actually imports
garbage from neighboring Riverside, San Diego, San Bernardino and Los Angeles
counties. In fact, 35% of the waste that ends up there originated outside the county. The
importation scheme began in 1994 when a bankrupt OC desperately needed to generate
some cash. The county has since raised millions of dollars letting outsiders contribute to
Brea’s heaping pile of refuse. The landfill was supposed to close in 2013 but its life (and
projected size) was recently extended—a move worth $30 million dollars to the city over
the next twelve years. We can (appropriately) write in “importing trash” next to “retail
shopping” on Brea’s list of revenue sources.
Check out this report by the OC Register. I’ll bet that mountain hits the 1,415 foot mark
before 2021. Then they can plant some trees on it and pretend it was there all along.
Orange Crush Interchange
I’ve never experienced the displeasure of being patted down on the side of a freeway—
not before today that is. I tried not to take offence since it appeared to be a procedural
formality associated with riding in a patrol car: another first. Apparently more than one
concerned (read: over concerned) citizen called to report my suspicious roadside
behavior and a CHP motorcycle unit was dispatched to intercept me. I did my best to
play stupid (“What signs?”) but the officer wasn’t buying it and wrote me a ticket. I wasn’t
allowed to leave under my own steam since it would have required further lane
crossings, and a cruiser showed up later to taxi me back to where I’d parked the bike.
I have some experience documenting freeway interchanges. Their massive scale and
wide flat forms make them particularly difficult subjects. They’re designed to be as
unobtrusive as possible, both visually and audibly, and are often at least partially
surrounded by large walls. To fully comprehend the magnitude of the space they occupy
one must view them from above.
The Orange Crush is a special case, even by Southern California standards. According
to The Center for Land Use Interpretation, the structure “provides 34 routes (including
onramps and offramps) for 629,000 cars a day, traveling in 66 lanes over 13 bridges.”
The 2002 edition of the Guinness World Records book credits the Crush with being “the
most complex road interchange in the world.” The concrete trough known as the Santa
Ana River crosses in the vicinity, adding a sub-layer to the clusterfuck.
The Crush is unarguably a feat of modern roadway engineering and I’ll attest to its
absurd level of complexity. I’ve driven through it, circled its vast perimeter, and
wandered deep into its core yet remain unable to produce a comprehensive mental map
of its twists and turns. There’s an overwhelming moment, even as a passenger, when
you drive beneath a baffling line of signs identifying which lane you’re meant to be in.
Making sense of what exactly I was doing there, the highway patrol officer asked the
usual questions. We had a marginally successful conversation over the sound of tractortrailers thundering by at freeway speeds. With the arrival of the inevitable exchange
concerning why it’s not ok to photograph overpasses, he actually used the phrase: “not
in this day and age.” While renewing my disgust for the meaningless cliché, I made an
important realization. The qualities that make a structure a good case study for postindustrial decay also make it a potential terrorist target.
Large overbuilt pieces of infrastructure like bridges and power plants are designed and
built for permanence. They represent enormous concentrations of public wealth, making
their premature replacement almost unthinkable. Their sudden disappearance would
have immediate and dramatic effects on commerce and the day-to-day operation of
civilization. For these reasons, they’re expected to live out the entirety of their design life.
Also, constructions in this category tend to have a significant presence in the landscape.
They become landmarks, and in some cases landforms.
Structures as durable as an elevated section of freeway have the potential to outlast the
function they were built to perform. I’d like for them to inherit new uses as those for
which they were created fade into history. Above all, I imagine a reframing of their value
as they go form being utilitarian infrastructure to monuments of the industrial age. And
the longer they’re around, the more of their natural decomposition may be witnessed by
whoever is present. When the Crush is no longer choked with cars, but harvesting
rainwater from a passing storm, our descendents will gaze at its sweeping curves and
marvel at the strength of its massive columns. They’ll say to each other, “Look at what
our fathers and mothers built!” instead of, “Damn it! This thing needs like three more
Note: The “PEDESTRIAN ON FREEWAY” ticket is available in the support section. Don’t
be surprised if those three words end up as the title of a documentary.
AES’s Huntington Beach Power Plant:
Orange County uses vast sums of energy but only produces a modest amount within its
borders; importing the rest from neighboring territories. Its only power plant is a natural
gas-fired operation near Huntington Beach, just north of where the Santa Ana River
trickles into the Pacific. The plant itself is relatively unremarkable but notable still for
what it’s surrounded by. A wastewater treatment plant, an extended family of oil storage
tanks and a 40-acre parcel that was used as an oil drilling waste dump for sixty years
are all within the vicinity. In case you’re just dieing to know, waste at the superfund site
includes chromic acid, sulfuric acid, aluminum slag, mercaptans, drilling wastes and
styrene, all substances classified as “toxic” by the EPA.
My visit to Huntington Beach would have been routine if it weren’t for an odd roadside
interaction I had with a fellow cyclist. The gentleman, probably in his late fifties, had
closely cropped white hair and beard and a kind face with a brilliant smile that activated
the lines around his eyes. I’ve dubbed our chat “Sermon by the Sea” because what
started as a pleasant talk on vintage bicycles and the wonderful coastal climate became
an indictment of my sinning ways.
“Have you ever stolen something—even something small?”
“Have you ever lusted after a woman?”
“All the time.”
“Have you ever used the lord’s name as an expression of discontent?”
He then gently delivered the news that I’d flunked his little test and was headed for
eternal damnation unless I accepted Jesus into my heart. His logic was infallible so I just
asked if this was his typical morning: riding up and down the coast rescuing sinners. As
we prepared to part ways he added:
“May your journey deliver you to the foot of the cross.”
“—Or to the base of a nuclear power plant,” I countered, anticipating San Onofre later in
the day.
“You’ve got a good spirit Brett.”
He had presented me with a little folded up pamphlet pulled from his bicycle seat bag.
When he’d disappeared down the road I read the words printed in some childish font on
its cover: Are you good enough to go to Heaven?
San Onofre Nuclear Power Plant:
In terms of access, San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) couldn’t be more
different from Diablo Canyon, its sister plant on California’s coast. When the tide is out
you can actually walk the thin strip of beach between the plant and the ocean, bringing
you right up beneath the security fence. There are rules though and a ban on
photography in the vicinity is strictly enforced. My breaking of this rule did not go
unnoticed and, interrupting my sandy march back to the bike, a barely discernable
warning was squawked at me from a loudspeaker:
“…[unintelligible] camera [unintelligible] restricted area…”
I answered with a generous wave and continued up the beach. With the afternoon’s
reconnaissance work complete, it was time for a swim. The water was cold and the
seafloor rocky so, leaving the surf to the surfers, I dried in the sun then headed inland.
As I exited through the state beach’s park gate, the nice woman I’d spoken to when I
entered popped out of her little shed and hollered:
“We’re you taking pictures of the plant?”
“Plant security called—said they were looking for a guy in a yellow shirt.”
“Thanks,” I returned, glancing at my sleeve, confirming its color and resolving to perform
a costume change as soon as possible.
The next day I approached the plant from the south. It was a grey misty morning and the
beach was deserted. Repairs to the plant’s seaward facing fencing were underway and I
sat casually on a driftlog while crews worked nearby. When I returned to the trailhead, a
park service security officer was waiting for me.
“Were you taking pictures of the plant?”
“What were you taking pictures of?”
“The sea cliffs… and… the surf!”
“We got a call from plant security. They get kinda nervous since the whole terrorist
The lie I’d fed him was a private joke because it’s safe to assume plant security knew
exactly what my camera was pointed at. He took down my driver’s license number but
sent me on my way before the inquiry’s results had returned. I sped off like I’d just
robbed a bank wondering if having your name run through law enforcement databases is
anything like having your credit checked. If you’re screened too often do you
automatically become a criminal in the eyes of the system? Following this paranoid line
of thought, I imagined the government’s profile on me as it currently stood: power plants,
freeway overpasses, Disneyland. I’m sure they’re thoroughly confused.
Annie at Bubble Tea for the sandwich to go
Lisa, Paul and mom for the open fridge and bottom bunk.
Border Field:
This site has the feel of a militarized security zone. With helicopter’s flying about, border
patrol agents on ATVs, surveillance towers and a formidable fence, one might mistake it
for the West Bank. I was the only civilian for miles on the US side and kept expecting to
be picked up and detained for questioning. Instead, I was studiously ignored. It seemed
not being Mexican made me invisible. Even when I approached an agent at the window
of his pickup he appeared distracted and paid me minimum attention.
You can thank the Clinton administration for the heightened security. The upgrades were
part of Operation Gatekeeper, an effort to, "restore integrity and safety to the nation's
busiest border." The first phase of the operation, focusing on the five westernmost miles
of the border, succeeded in shifting migration routes east and benefiting professional
smugglers by increasing demand for their services.
While we’ve stemmed the flow of Mexico’s citizens through the area, we’re unable to
redirect the course of its water. The heavily polluted Tijuana River crosses the border a
few miles from the ocean and must be treated (like raw sewage) before its waters are
released into a large flat estuary and eventually the Pacific.
Update post on state of mind:
On what your days consist of. I find myself with only a very slight sense of
dissatisfaction—perhaps the lowest since childhood. Maybe add that you’re doing what
amounts to a feasibility study for extremely low-budget transient living—figuring out how
to best manage it—a guide to post-industrial living
Collecting food stamps is strangely like passing go in monopoly. It’s cyclical, occurring
once a month, and it’s $200!
Crazy shit for the radio show:
Met founder of, Casey Fenton at a campground in the middle of the
big sur coastline.
Meeting Jessica in the paradise that is Santa Barbara.
Noticing what type of rack a town went with.—Santa Barbara being the worst with the
pole and loop.
Touring the California coast with the cars and the pullouts—just arriving after the climb
as they’re jumping back into the car—“yeah it’s a nice one – enjoy it.”
Realized that depending on where in the ride they’re passing me—climbing or
descending probably completely affects how they interpret the kind of time I’m having.
Sleeping in strange places—abandoned sugar plant, across the street from a massive
power plant (steam bursts)—abandoned refinery—see the sites throughout the diurnal
cycle—morning is often some of the best lighting—and also lowers the chance that you’ll
be bothered
Questioned at the Disneyland parking garage—then escorted out.
One of the most photographed places—yet only specific spots—and only certain types
of images allowed.
Avoiding security at the refinery—after setting off an alarm.
Another Disneyland Adventure—betrayed by security girl.
Getting food stamps—no bike rack at social services? The paging system.
Girls in Santa Barbara.
Malibu Sprinklers.
Shitting Outdoors: The Water-Bottle Bidet Method of taking a shit outside: very
important psychological barrier to overcome before setting off to places without toilets—
letting that leash go. We’ve been shitting outside for a really long time—it’s only
relatively recently that we’ve required indoor plumbing.
1. Selecting a spot (sometimes your on a bluff watching the sunset—in a redwwod
grove—next to
2. Securing water (Richmond example)
3. Digging a hole
4. Shitting
5. Cleaning
6. Covering
Don’t shit where you or someone else is likely to go for some time.
Military types on the train
Blog talk radio call in:
Project Notes:
On Being poor:
Humbling, impossible to think of yourself as the center of the universe when you stand in
line for food stamps. More interesting challenges: how am I going to acquire the things I
need without access to money? Plus all the good stuff from DO.
Perpetual economic growth is a lie.
Entering a new era of post exuberance—contraction—numbers getting smaller
Developed nations just had their first experience with production (deceiving word) limits
and it threw the global economy into turmoil.
What do these sites have in common—they tend to be places where cameras are not
welcome—places that are large in scale, often severely degraded and contaminated,
although in some cases are making a recovery.
To get readers to welcome the shift to the new paradigm and to perhaps hasten its
To see that collapse can be engaging, inspiring, etc.
I want people to look at these places and think: “they are more valuable to us in their
current form than they ever were when they were processing resources of producing
whatever. They are valuable as a reminder of our industrial past, and as a welcome
symbol of our future as we lay them to rest as we carry on into a more humane and
human paradigm.
getting outside the money economy. You can’t critique, and it certainly doesn’t make
sense to undermine a system you’re part of—one that you depend on for resources. But
once outside you can 1. See it for what it is without looking through a filter of bias 2. Help
others get out by providing your services for free, and setting an example 3. Undermine
it and work toward a shift away from it.
a large part is showing how beautiful and spiritually healing (in not such a new-age type
of way)
Gary, Indiana- industrial ghost city—Cathedral—in a rain storm—very tarkovski
You should totally mine the television series for sites.—you’re kinda the reflective
version—the Tarkovski version—but no following.
Atlanta-- images are carved into the rock—not making good photos --- largest piece of
exposed granite.
Migraines: your medical condition.
Other Southern California sites:
open pit mines and City of Industry
gravel mine and power plant off the Antelope Valley train line—just after Sun Valley
Operating energy infrastructure—to document the sites before the industrial decline
gains traction—for historical purposes. The before image in the before/after pair.
Also—shortages in fossel fuel based energy will be the first thing that really curtails
growth and sends us down the backside of the bell shaped curve. We’ve already seen
this invisible ceiling in action.
And to create an archive of sites if any coordinated effort to derail civilization ever gets
under way.
The project is also about getting imagery of sites where photographs are typically not
permitted.—tie this with creating an industrial target archive.
Things are so fucking predictable. I’d like to have to exercise my ingenuity, creativity,
intuition and adaptability
The illuminated thread is currently marooned in Southern California and needs to raise
$2000 for stage three: Los Angeles, CA to Houston, TX
Please help by donating or spreading the word to those that can.
CLUI exhibition space: open Friday/Saturday—Culver City.
Eventually you may ride with someone else again. (hey! This is before meeting Jessica
more things you need:
soap box
soft sack for camera
moccasins-- $30
two new tires/break pads-- $100
external hard drive-- $150
food (LA to Houston)-- $1750
Hosting expires in August-- $50
Total: $2050
Stage three: LA to Houston sites:
El mirage dry lakebed—see list above
Largest aircraft graveyard-- AZ
Tucson, AZ missile site
Overnight Millionaire’s bachelor pad, New Mexico
Houston Petrochemical patch
Future stages: (add to the bottom of the ‘about’ page)
East coast—rust belt
England’s industrial ruins—
Eastern Europe including Germany and the struggling post-soviet states—lots of soviet
era abandonments
Chinese coastline—world’s busiest container port
[Shizuishan City in Western China was once described as the best place to make a film
about the end of the world.]
Japan and Korea—offshore coal producing island/abandoned futuristic beach
Cuba and the Caribbean including Haiti—model of self-sufficiency
Archdruid on varying experiences during collapse:
another thing that happens when civilizations break down is that historical events
downshift to a more local scale. To borrow Thomas Friedman’s metaphor, civilizations
flatten out the Earth, but this is a temporary effect; when civilizations decline and fall,
roundness returns, and communities once bound into a sprawling whole find themselves
cut loose to shape their own histories.
(only possible if communication isn’t occurring? Not necessarily the case.)
Commencement speech
learning how to think really means learning how to exercise some control over how and
what you think. It means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay
attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you
cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.
so I’m biking around southern California listening to:
gently caress the outside of your thigh with the tips of your black painted fingernails. Play
absentmindedly with your ring, flip your hair over your shoulder, balance your crossed
leg on the heel of you boots.
Gps lines
People wil fucking shit themselves if this is done right
On Plexiglas
Painted with a computer’s assistance—one really big one, you could design the rides to
look good after some practice—to be aesthetic in three dimensions.
Red and blue lines—or color changed (subtly) as speed changes.
Rides around Los Angeles
Tracked in three axis.
Medical on UCLA neighborhood
Deliver here.
Or work making coffee or tea.
You should do a “worlds largest cities tour—crowded metroplexes of planet EARTH.
UCLA med center has it’s own power plant.
Shoot it
Falling in love with the view at Westwood. The moon coming up between the buildings.
The flickering television sets, the building that looks like a flat façade, the glints of
reflected afternoon sunlight.
Anything local, DIY, cooperative, dealing with alternative modes of exchange, subversive
of the status quo, or on the margins of legality. Count me in
A letter to Walkabout Jones
I can’t remember how I came across the website for your delivery service. I think I was
We could play up the qualities of each variety—give a really good presentation. Make it
all sheik and Hollywood—if it isn’t already.
The bicycle delivery could be a ‘reduce your carbon footprint’ bullshit option [link to coral
reefs article]—eventually a bit more—just tip based initially. Super approachable—un
assuming—disarming—personality traits. I’ll work for tips for a week—see if there’s
interest—till it’s established.
Probably still more efficient at certain times of the day—with traffic and all.
Would really help out the project—a different type of scholarship.
More captions-Really? We’re going to let the coral reefs die? Has anyone out there ever seen one of
Post with carbon emission politics wanky. Where is the direct action? Are we really going
to let this happen while these wankers drag their feet? Yes, we are—truthfully, at this
later stage there’s nothing we can do to stop it.
trampled at mall reminder links—lots of examples of these strange incidents. China, UK,
US—imagine being the person responsible for reporting the death to their families—
“yeah, your son died at his Wall Mart job this morning when he was trampled by
shoppers looking for deals on patio furniture. I’m sorry for your loss.”
Automobiles enjoying the Anaheim sunset.
From nick’s perspective—yeah I got this unemployed dude (that never seems to wear a
shirt) living in my guest room and doing ecstasy with my girlfriend.
[Transcript of a text message based conversation I had with an 18-year-old girl]—maybe
[lost when phone was flushed]
So ur note was really
More gifts:
-- Transcript of Julia text exchange—find out what happened when she reveals her age.
-- Legal parking notice single sheet used for the storage and transportation of a small
amount of marijuana.
-- café cover letter or craigslist email package.
-- add pedestrian on freeway to ticket package
-- mailing of something random
-- hottest image moment
-- train experiences including soldiers—1000 rounds—picturing some beach littered with
rifle shells, video game, and digging bike out of tetris luggage problem
-- unemployed in southern California—mental report, plus some practical advice
-- review of texas oil—cramped—good audio. A little confused in terms of what to do with
the information—very little of it will be retained so it just becomes overwhelming—flier—
texasoil—is the name I propose we give to toxified soil not safe to grow food in.
-- review of World made by hand—just a few criticisms here. Women? More projections
of recent technology being carried forward—tinkering—unnecessary catastrophic
events. Seems to be saying that organized groups get more done. Recycling
renaissance—I mean this could just because it sounds good to me. What about the
language reverting to old west? Dumb.
Welcome to the post-exuberant era: to the age of contraction.
Those of us alive today are living through a particularly momentous time for the human
species. Peak everything.
Headstand class pitched to a high end LA yoga studio—30 minutes—three “flushes” with
stretching of applicable muscles in between—the goal is to improve comfort and
endurance in inverted poses.
Inverted [yoga] poses provide the anti-aging benefits that many people are seeking.
To Katie:
When you two go out would you say you go out to look good?
Does he dance?—dancing is sexual confidence.
Asking her if he’s played anything for her she’s liked. I doubt it! ha!
Can he dance? Dancing is sexual confidence.
My logic may not be perfectly sound, although I think it is…
…shouldn’t she want to be spending her time with me?
I suppose this is a naive assumption. Maybe she really wouldn’t be happier with me.
Clark Kent’s strange spike in traffic.
You’ve had me at me best—the best version of me—why would you want the shitty
friend version?
Proposal for Kyle
Plexiglas cubes
[email protected]
[From the guy who somehow got himself lost in The Meadows apartments last
Hey man-- this may seem a bit out of left field but I assure you it’s been in the works for
quite some time. Also… I don't know how to say this enthusiastically without the subtle
inflections of the human voice but trust me; it's there-- oozing from every pixel.
For me, Saturday night in Culver City bore one of those life moments that seem straight
out of a film. It was the part of the flick where the main character—whose retrospective
thoughts the audience hears as a Wonder Years style voiceover—is about to enter a
strange and wonderful new phase of his life. The transition into this new paradigm is
compressed into a single pivotal scene. The other night at Melissa’s I briefly stepped out
of my head (yes, before the bong rips) and experienced this scene unfold in my movie. I
watched myself sit down on the floor of that bedroom and heard my narrator (me) say,
“…And that’s when I met Kyle…”
So after that elaborate introduction, an attempt to convey my seriousness, I have a
proposal for you. I assume that for logistical reasons your clients can’t all be coming to
you. You must be doing some delivery—or at least you’ve had requests. I’d like to
perform this function for you: by bicycle.
I’ve been thinking about delivery for a long time—I’ve seriously considered moving to
New York to perform just such a function. There are lots of personal reasons why I find it
so appealing—I wont go into them here—but trust me, my heart is in it. What’s more
important is that I’d be exceptionally good at it. After completing graduate school in
Chicago, I rode my bicycle from Chicago to San Francisco via Portland. After waiting out
the winter, I’ve just completed another leg: SF to LA. What I’m saying is: I was made for
this. I've been doing 80-mile days with 50 pounds of gear for months now.
Santa Barbara has so far been the toughest place to move on from (partly because it’s
where I met Jessica and partly because it’s beautiful). I’d like to spend as much of my
summer there as possible before I pedal on to Texas. I’ve just needed something to do
there besides sit in a coffeehouse, ogling girls. (Plus, LA is destroying my soul.)
So in case you’re not like, “Fuck yeah! This is the best thing I’ve ever heard!” let me pitch
it a bit further:
Some benefits:
1.) Incredibly reliable:
I put 5000 miles on my bike this year alone. I crossed the Rockies in a snowstorm on it.
It just doesn't break down. I can change the occasional flat in ten minutes. (Try getting a
car back up and running that quick).
2.) Fast:
I ride like the wind. Santa Barbara is the perfect size for this kind of thing.
3.) Low profile:
Nobody is more innocuous than a dude wearing a bicycle helmet.
4.) It’s green! (Like the product):
That's right, no gas. Actually, no insurance, no parking tickets, no accidentally killing a
small child. I can almost hear the backyard conversations of your clients: "yeah, our guy
is sooooo progressive. He delivers by bicycle courier." Everyone can feel all warm and
fuzzy about offsetting their carbon footprint: very SB. Plus, I feel like there’s something
inherently sleazy about delivery by car that isn’t attached to the two-wheeled alternative.
5.) Capacity:
I have four waterproof Ortlieb panniers with plenty of room: almost too much. Unless
you're delivering over sixty pounds at a time then there shouldn't be a problem.
I’d also be totally into learning about the various strains and refining a sales pitch. I
imagine it would be the kind where you lay some samples out on the coffee table,
articulately play up the qualities of each, then let the client do some sniffing before
making a selection.
Ok, I’m donezo. If you've read this far and are genuinely interested than may I suggest a
trial period of sorts. Let me do this for you for a week and if it works out we can proceed
from there.
Think it over. If you’ve got questions, which you very likely do, ask away.
[email protected]
In case you're interested in those cross-country rides, which are actually an extension of
my work in grad school:
So I’m at a shitty starbucks in Fullerton. If the music coming from the single wall
mounted speaker gets any worse I’ll be forced to take myself elsewhere. There’s a
dude—seriously red in color—wearing a really hideous shirt and playing roulette online.
One table over from him is another dude with a crazy white beard playing some video
game. So basically I’m hanging out with a bunch of losers with way too much time on
their hands. Coming here is as close as I come to having to a routine.
The house I’m staying at is like a time warp back to the 70s. There’s wood paneling in
the living room, four cats, one incredible afro, and a glass piece that never seems to be
empty. Last night I went with a couple girls to pick up $280 dollars worth of ecstasy and
mushrooms. So that’s the OC third of my life at the moment.
I met a designer of eco friendly wedding dresses who I’m more or less entangled with
romantically. She splits her time between Santa Barbara and Westwood Village and I
strut my stuff for her gay roommates so they don’t notice I’ve basically moved in. She
has a four-year-old daughter, an ex-husband, and is almost five foot ten.
Meanwhile my ex has arrived in LA with the spectacle that is Dirty Dancing the musical
and I’m trying (half heartedly) to steal her away from her new boyfriend. Imagine
Superman if he grew up in Canada instead of on planet Krypton. That’s my competition.
This guy seriously picks people up and twirls them around over his head with one arm.
Only slightly exaggerating here. So far my efforts have been less than fruitful and it’s not
helping my small guy complex.
Last weekend I went to a party in Culver City and got seriously lost inside a giant
apartment complex. I thought I had somehow crossed over into another dimension
where there were no exits and all the paths led back to the same point. The Labyrinth
basically. I was gone for so long the apartment party organized itself into a search party
and set out to locate me—which they eventually did.
I have almost no money. I feed myself with a delicate balance of shoplifting and food
stamps. Every day is vastly different from the previous. Not having any particular place
to be is a weird condition. You really have to be honest with yourself about how you want
to spend your time. Some people can’t handle it and I’m beginning to understand why. It
takes creativity and homegrown motivation to not sleep all day. I’ve been riding around
LA a lot—just for fun, and recently finished the coast highway—riding all the way to the
US/Mexico border.
The “project” is going fine, I’m just way behind on the writing and my hard drive is now
completely full which means I need to find work. I finally met a dealer with enough
connections in SB that I may be able to start delivering soon. We’re meeting Thursday to
hash out some details- pun intended.
So that’s the situation.
Now you go…!
[email protected]
Hey! [I apologize for not catching your name]
I realize you don’t need messengers at the moment but I thought I’d at least put myself
on your radar for future consideration.
I finished graduate school in Chicago last summer then rode my bicycle across the
country to San Francisco via Portland. I’ve recently pedaled the rest of the way down the
California coast and am looking to spend a few months in Santa Barbara before heading
I’ve wanted to deliver for a long time but the whole artist’s career thing has gotten in the
way. I’ve been doing 80-mile days with fifty pounds of gear for months now meaning I’m
basically made for it. I’m educated, articulate, good with navigation, and I ride like the
Documentation of the cross-country tours if you’re interested:
So maybe I’ll stop in one of these days and introduce myself in person. If, in the
meantime, if a tour bus hits one of your couriers: drop me a line.
[email protected]
Ran on not fighting the unplanned thing:
in some ways, collapse will improve our quality of life. I've written plenty about this
already, but here's another way to think about it: The culture of Empire fears anything it
didn't plan. Anything that goes "wrong" is not just a challenge to be overcome, but a
threat to our feeling that we are in control. Consider how people react to disease, or
"terrorism", or unruly kids, or weeds. The best thing to do is keep it from happening in
the first place. If that fails, we must forcefully destroy the unplanned thing, or build a wall
against it. And if those moves fail, we are ruined, game over. What we don't consider
is that our plans might be mistakes, and that if we don't fight the unplanned thing,
but listen to it, it will guide us back into balance.
Shoplifting episode:
First in the “how I would have behaved differently“ series—tow versions of particularly
vivid episodes. One, what actually happened, and Two, what I’d with I’d done. There has
to be some overarching theme that ties everything together and adds up to more than
the sum of the fragmented episodes. What would you be saying about how one should
live one’s only life?
Make a big scene—where is you allegiance people?! Seven dollars?! From Albertsons?!
I’m trying to feed myself here. I’m trying to get my antioxidants
I could see this series becoming: “how I would have behaved if I wasn’t a pushover”
What has to be the problem here?
Write, write write—don’t stop until something intelligent comes out—no anal punctuation
behavior. Please. Ok so why is she here? I mean I know why but in the larger
philosophical context of the universe? The “meant to be this way” path opening up
before you—the “this has got to be occurring for a reason.” Dimension—the unplanned
“plan” going completely according to plan. No she just works here—she’s here all the
time—but that skirt is ridiculous. Seriously. So good. Really good. Great actually. She’s
absolutely prefect. No correcting asshole. She has no idea. No idea—no idea—no
idea—no idea—no idea. That didn’t go so well. Forward? Maybe. Progress. Why does
she have to be so young? Fucking ridiculous. Fucking hell man. Unfair! Truly unfair!
Anyway- may have to just let this one go. Not likely to work.
So you’re in charge of figuring out your life this weekend—to make a plan of action—to
establish your goals-- To make USEFUL lists. What’s important? What are your needs?
Are they being met? God everything about her is perfect. Forget it! FUCK! She is the
center of the universe. Too much man, too, too much. Anyway—stay focused. I’m like a
blind spot in the room she can’t look at. I don’t want that to be the case. No, really—not
at all. That would be awful. Like a certain kind of hell. Got the look of recognition from
beard dude like, “oh hell—how are we supposed to deal with this? It’s beyond our power
of male self-control what you’re asking here.
take it delicately.—lightly—easy steps—baby steps—not too aggressive—subtle. Classy
yet kinda dirty at the same time—because lets face It, it’s a bit dirty in general. You could
do it slowly like a glacier [said with an English accent]. Glacier—one cute text at a time.
Just completely pretend not to be paying attention. She’ll dig it, or be really creaped out.
Either way, could by fun. This is seriously the most ridicules way to spend your time—it’s
like pure time wasting—nothing short of--- in its most concentrated form— maybe not—
watching sports maybe takes it. I swear to god my pits produce acid when I’m nervous—
like sulfuric acid—that feeds crazy acid loving bacteria that swarm and reproduce and
put out some super stinky smells. She can’t know what she’s missing. Can’t know with
whom she’s dealing. Right? Don’t delude yourself man. No good.
Seriously, you make working here really inefficient for me.
Not that I was getting anything done before she got here but now there’s absolutely no
Now we’re into new territory. No response—that guy’s either a dealer or a pimp. Oh, the
phone is out. It’s like—see, I’m not responding on purpose. I’m ignoring you. That would
be mean though. Oh, what the fuck are you doing you asshole. Grow the fuck up man.
Putting your ignoring skills to the test.
Then she puts my bloody valentine on again and my heart breaks.
--Establish an income that will provide for the next leg. You need several thousand
dollars to get you to the east coast.
--Finish the site! That’s right—you should feel stupid that you’ve done so much but not
taken it that last little bit.
--get the word out—emails to all potentially interested parties.
-- Grant proposals.
Wow, you don’t have too many, goals do you? But the ones you do have are pretty
involved—multi stage affairs. Maybe you should add “fall in love” or maybe just “do
ecstasy with someone that’s into you.” That is certainly on the agenda. Nice—otherwise
just enjoy your summer to the fullest. Like best summer ever!!! That’s pretty ambitious
Herman Daly: From a Failed Growth Economy to a Steady-State Economy
I think the answer is distressingly simple. Without growth the only way to cure poverty is
by sharing. But redistribution is anathema. Without growth to push the hoped for
demographic transition, the only way to cure overpopulation is by population control. A
second anathema. Without growth the only way to increase funds to invest in
environmental repair is by reducing current consumption. Anathema number three.
Three anathemas and you are damned—go to hell!
And without growth how will we build up arsenals to protect democracy (and remaining
petroleum reserves)? How will we go to Mars and Saturn and “conquer” space? Where
can technical progress come from if not from unintended spin-offs from the military and
from space research? Gnostic techno-fantasies of escaping earth to outer space, and of
abolishing disease and death itself, feed on the perpetual growth myth of no limits.
Digital-brained tekkies, who have never heard of the problem of evil, see heaven on
earth (eternal growth) just around the corner. Without growth we must face the difficult
religious task of finding a different god to worship. Too scary, we say, let’s try to grow
some more instead! Let’s jump-start the GDP and the Dow-Jones! Let’s build another
tower of Babel with obfuscating technical terms like sub-prime mortgage, derivative,
securitized investment vehicle, collateralized debt obligation, credit default swap, “toxic”
assets, and insider slang like the “dead cat bounce”. (If you drop it from a high enough
tower of Babel even a dead cat will bounce enough to make some profit.)
Hum, hum—a game in the park—lots of other people—very public—probably a good
place to start. Potentially awkward but also potentially really fun. I knew it! I knew she
was intrigued. Unless this is about getting more people to play—which is unlikely. You
should be thrilled. You’ve had a fantastic couple days. You danced until sunrise on top of
a mountain for fuck’s sake.
What’s to be done with lots of unstructured time post: You have so much time to
manage your relationships—that is such a blessing. I don’t mean manage in the sense
of manipulating people-- you can evaluate how you’re treating people—how well you’re
able to empathize with them. You should send more emails though. Send more love out
into the world.
Link to idle foundation site.
Turning coffee into a verb…
…you’re such a dick.
Reread picture of Dorian grey—somewhere there’s a painting of me looking really bad.
Literary reference.
Send Kyle black book gift.
It was great seeing her in your fleece—mostly because it’s totally not her style—but she
still pulled it off
The dried flower that came home in your hair.
I hate getting on an airplane for something that isn’t completely worth it.
A day with Kyle and Ariana: Post—party on the mountain.
For project description—allude to the lifestyle—how you live in between stages as an
equally significant component of the project—how you spend your time—how you
manage to thrive on so little.
How to introduce industrial targets aspect: include in ‘why energy infrastructure’
section of project description. If at some point we decide that the prudent course of
action is to jump the tracks and derail industrial civilization then this map of industrial
targets should give us something to aim at. (with a brief discussion of whether or not this
is a good idea.)
On the importance of being idle.—on the “in between time” of a multi-year project.
Dropping a Prius key down an elevator shaft—
The more complex the systems we depend on become, the more of a pain in the ass it is
when they fail.
Post on—unusual camp sites—with site images taken from above—skills post.
Dream- reading a coffee table book on crash-landed and abandoned military aircraft (the
Balkans, China?) in some really mountainous areas from the top of a pole I’d climbed.
From Tom:
Be specific and honest with yourself regarding what it is you want out of life.
Seemed to be a really good exercise in taking direction. I watched.
The only thing I have to bring to the table in this business partner thing is myself.—my
body really although I assume I’d be good at marketing.
You could shoot the Domenico monologue in the concrete riverbed near orange.
Someone is going to enjoy me.
West-Minster refineries. Southern California destinations.
D. Orlov lecture: on the point at which high energy costs cause economic collapse
Back to what is actually happening right now. There seems to be a wide range of opinion
on how to characterize it, from recession to depression to collapse. The press has
recently been filled with stories about "green shoots" and the economists are discussing
the exact timing of economic recovery. Mainstream opinion ranges from "later this year"
to "sometime next year." None of them dares to say that global economic growth might
be finished for good, or that it will be over in "the not-too-distant future" -- a vague term
they seem to like a whole lot.
And so, the actual limiting price, beyond which no economic activity is possible, is
certainly a lot lower, and last summer we seem to have experimentally established that
to be around $150/bbl. which is something like 25% of global GDP. We may never run
out of oil, but we have already run out of money with which to buy it, at least once, and
will most likely do so again and again, until we learn the lesson. We will run out of money
to pump it out of the ground as well. There might still be a few gushers left in the world,
and so there will be a little bit of oil left over for us to fashion into exotic plastic jewelry for
rich people. But it won't be enough to sustain an industrial base, and so the industrial
age will effectively be over, except for some residual solar panels and wind generators
and hydroelectric installations.
harness the heirloom technologies that can be sustained without an industrial base,
then we can stretch out the transition far into the future, giving us time to adapt.
Global GDP is a function of oil consumption; as oil production goes down, so will global
GDP. At some point, the inability to invest in oil production will drive it down far below
what might be possible if depletion were the sole limiting factor. Efficiency, conservation,
renewable sources of energy all might have some effect, but will not materially alter this
relationship. Less oil means smaller global economy. No oil means a vanishingly small
global economy not worthy of the name.
Lastly, we can concentrate on what is important: preserving a vibrant ecosphere that
supports a diversity of life, our own progeny included. I can imagine few short-term
prerogatives that should override this - our highest priority.
Market research shows that there is a great reservoir of pent-up eco-guilt out there for
marketers and advertisers to exploit. Industrial products that help the environment are a
bit of an oxymoron. It's a bit like trying to bail out the Titanic using plastic teaspoons.
The biggest risk of all, as I see it, is that the industrial economy will blunder on for
a few more years, perhaps even a decade or more, leaving environmental and
social devastation in its wake. Once it finally gives up the ghost, hardly anything will
be left with which to start over. To mitigate against this risk, we have to create
alternatives, on a small scale, that do not perpetuate this system and that can function
without it.
The idea of perpetuating the status quo through alternative means is all-pervasive,
because so many people in positions of power and authority wish to preserve their
positions. And so just about every proposal we see involves avoiding collapse instead of
focusing on what comes after it. A prime example is the push to develop alternative
energy. Many of these alternatives turn out to be fossil fuel amplifiers rather than selfsufficient resources: they require fossil fuel energy as an essential input. Also, many of
them require an intact industrial base, which runs on fossil fuels. There is a pervasive
idea that these alternatives haven't been developed before for nefarious reasons:
malfeasance on the part of the greedy oil companies and so on. The truth of the matter
is that these alternatives are not as potent, physically or economically, as fossil fuels.
And here is the real point worth pondering: If we can no longer afford the oil or the
natural gas, what makes us think that we can afford the less potent and more expensive
alternatives? And here is a follow-up question: If we can't afford to make the necessary
investments to get at the remaining oil and natural gas, what makes us think that we will
find the money to develop the less cost-effective alternatives?
Collapse with preparation is an eccentricity
Collapse-avoidance is sham-avoidance
Collapse-proof personalities: indifferent, determined, self-reliant, unreasonable
self-reliance: the ability to persevere in spite of loneliness, lack of support from anyone
collapse happens one person at a time, and is always mistaken for personal failure.
Even if you get out of the collapsing system and thrive, you will be seen as an eccentric
loser by people who are still in it.
A bit of a challenge to make collapse seem “non-threatening, inspiring and engaging”
to the general public. [Rob Hopkins]
The profit motive is socially corrosive because the satisfaction of greed is very unlikely to
be mutual.
In all, the profit motive fails to motive altruistic behavior, because it is not reciprocal. And
it is altruistic behavior that increases the social capital of society. Within a gift-giving
system, we can all be in everyone's debt, but going into debt makes us all richer, not
In the current economic scheme, we are forced to barter our freedom, in the form of the
compulsory work-week, for something we don't particularly want, which is money. We
have limited options for what to do with that money: pay taxes, bills, buy shoddy
consumer goods, and, perhaps, a few weeks of "freedom" as tourists. But other options
do exist.
1. Conserve energy: get plenty of rest and sleep a lot. Sleeping
burns ten times less energy than hard physical labor.
2. Save time: avoid living by a schedule. Choose the best time to
do each thing. Work with the weather and the seasons, not
against them.
3. Pick and choose: always have more to do than you ever plan to
get done.
4. Have plenty of options: You don’t know what the future holds, so
(don’t) plan accordingly.
5. Think for yourself: the popularity of a stupid idea doesn’t make it
any less stupid.
6. Laugh at the world: make sure to maintain a healthy sense of
So what are we to do in the meantime, while we wait for collapse, followed by good
things? It's no use wasting your energy, running yourself ragged and ageing
prematurely, so get plenty of rest, and try to live a slow and measured life. One of the
ways industrial society dominates us is through the use of the factory whistle: few of us
work in factories, but we are still expected to work a shift. If you can avoid doing that,
you will be ahead. Maintain your freedom to decide what to do at each moment, so that
you can do each thing at the most opportune time. Specifically try to give yourself as
many options as you can, so that if any one thing doesn't seem to be working out, you
can switch to another. The future is unpredictable, so try to plan so as to be able to
change your plans at any time. Learn to ignore all the people who earn their money by
telling you lies. Thanks to them, the world is full of very bad ideas that are accepted as
conventional wisdom, so watch out for them and come to your own conclusions. Lastly,
people who lack a sense of humor are going to be in for a very hard time, and can drag
down those around them. Plus, they are just not that funny. So avoid people who aren't
funny, and look for those who can laugh at the world no matter what happens.
Controlled Demolition: Hope International University's Terrace Office Center
I watched this late-60s-era structure come down over several days with the help of an 8ton wrecking ball and a handful of bulldozers. The exposed innards, fragments of
concrete, and twisted rebar recalled the Okalahoma City bombing, highlighting the
aesthetic similarities between controlled and un-controlled demolitions. It’s a strange
thing having the chaos of a half-destroyed seven-story structure interrupting the order of
the urban landscape. It becomes sculptural, quite beautiful actually, and I was sad to see
the razing completed.
Demolitions like this one will be increasingly rare as financing for new building projects
continues to be scarce. Instead, we’ll get to watch structures crumble much more
gradually as plants, weather, and gravity pull them apart.
There’s debate taking place in several rust belt cities as to whether or not vacant
properties should be demolished, the land returned to nature, so that municipal
resources can be diverted elsewhere. Those against the “Shrink to Survive” plan seem
to possess that black and white mentality insisting growth is always good while
contraction is always bad.
For me, to-bulldoze or not-to-bulldoze depends largely on what type of structure we’re
taking about. Wooden-frame clapboard and vinyl homes in the outer suburban asteroid
belts are difficult to squat and of little aesthetic value to begin with. They’re cheaply
made and, in most climates, their decompositions are quick and unimpressive. We might
as well give nature a head start in reclaiming the land they occupy. Conversely,
structures made of masonry and stone have many years in them, even when no
maintenance is being performed. The influence of time on our larger, more durable
constructions is likely to be rewarding to witness unfold.
The Orange County Register's report on the Fullerton demolition
An article from The Telegraph: US cities may have to be bulldozed in order to survive
On April:
What a strange relationship—so brief. What does it offer? First—the age gap. Immaturity
means not knowing what one wants. What one wants from life and from a relationship.
Immaturity means not recognizing when something is “good” and often results in the
waste of great potential. You never know what you had until you’ve lost it. It means
making a mistake and learning from it. You try and teach in positive [reinforcement].
There’s a chill in the air.
it’s the evening chill that follows perfect daytime temperatures in coastal towns. The
blonde with the loafers and the fishing cap beams her look across the room. My mood
shifs with each change of the music. fucK! Trying too hard with the writing again. Wait,
where is this going. Probably better to have a gestination? Guesstination.
Our Gazes brushed delicately over each other’s features. The French countryside
schoolgirl look is fucking too adorable—really—like we should be filming a French new
wave in this café. The blue raincoat dress, the dark brown loafers, the cap you see
actresses wearing in the rain during films made in the 40s. With slightly off teeth, and full
lips on an otherwise small featured face. Eyes that sparkle with innocence.
Good progress today though—a light conversation, typical of the beginning of a good
stable [sexually charged] friendship. Some solid laughs. I bit over her head but a good
enough match.
You just can’t stay away? The serious barista/security with the moustache.
You should shoot the passage again—recreate each shot as close as possible.
Also, find the time to do something in ND.
Seriously, you have to respect what can even sort of be read as linear and unbroken
when you know the guy gas one camera. That means solid editing.
Books to read:
Small is beautiful
The long decline—greer
Limits to growth
Hemingway’s “A movable feast—restored version” about living cheap in Paris
Released July 14, 2009
Monday, June 29, 2009: Fargo, SD
The following reminiscence details a dream that came to me last Monday in Fargo, North
Dakota. I was there for the funeral of my grandmother who died peacefully in her sleep
at age ninety. You’re the dream’s central figure and I thought you might be into it.
London: a few days before Christmas. The atmosphere is modern-day Dickens: crowds
of shoppers in scarves and dark wool coats. You and I are walking side by side (you on
the right) through some high-end department store. Maybe Saks 5th Ave. Our strides are
long and assured—we’re only passing through. You wear tall boots, black stockings, a
skirt, a modish light-grey coat, and a red/blue plaid scarf. Adorable. Your hair is well past
shoulder-length and flutters along behind you like we’re shooting a shampoo advert. I
wear a long wool coat: tiny black and white hound’s tooth so it looks grey from beyond a
few feet.
Just before reaching the exit we pass a pair of well-dressed couples. Defining the ‘young
urban professional’ type, the women try on fur coats while the suit-and-tied men watch
from a distance. [I’ve traced the fur coat image back to a 1939 film called The Women.
My sister and I briefly had it on in the hotel room the night before. In one scene, an
actress adorns an enormous white fur coat that I remarked probably cost the lives of
several polar bears. For some reason clothing, and fabrics in particular, were significant
in the dream.] As we move beyond the wealthy foursome, we exchange knowing
glances of disapproval.
We plunge through the main doors into a bright sunny square bustling with Londoners. A
blast of cold air awakens the skin of our faces. The department store’s large front
windows line one side of the outdoor space and display a Gap-esque photographic
image: models in wintry garb lined-up in a white void. The image’s central feature is a
pair of enlarged male hands, bound in handcuffs. [Although clearly out of place in
retrospect, this somewhat brutal and highly symbolic focal point embedded in an
otherwise unremarkable image arouses no skepticism within the context of the dream.]
You spring into action. Within moments you’ve recruited half a dozen young people from
the crowd and equipped them each with a blunt orange crayon. Following your lead, we
begin writing directly on the windowpanes, referencing the advertising beneath the glass.
Some write words and phrases, others simply doodle. I’m preoccupied with my own
marks but glace up long enough to see your focus is on the oversized hands. Without
getting a good look, I simply know whatever alterations your crayon brings forth will
change the meaning of the original with some biting stroke of social criticism.
Then, as abruptly as we began, we turn and disband: disappearing into the crowd. You
and I are separated for several minutes. For me, this period is characterized by an
overwhelming feeling of joy, welling up from deep inside. The euphoria is tinted with a
sense of pride in you and what you’ve accomplished. I resolve to tell you I love you when
we’re reunited.
When I spot you again, you’re standing at a street vendor’s table lackadaisically turning
over the handmade knit goods. I come up behind you and, sensing my presence, you
turn to face me. You’re smiling. No… You’re beaming. You grab my hand as you pass,
and lead me toward the center of the busy square. Neither of us speaks. I glance in the
direction of the storefront windows, now thoroughly marred with orange. Someone
official-looking is inspecting our work, shaking his head in frustration. We navigate the
shifting sea of anonymous woolen figures and arrive at a small clearing that’s opened for
us. Holding both my hands now you look into my eyes and say, “I love you.”
I’m pierced by a twinge of regret for having failed to say the words first but it’s quickly
swept away by a flood of perfect happiness. You’re extraordinarily beautiful. I feel warm
and lightheaded. The joy finally bubbles over and I’m overcome: dropping to my knees. I
gaze up at you through a blur of tears.
[I woke with salty rivulets running down both sides of my face. A shaft of grayish predawn light spilled in from the far edge of the hotel room’s curtained window. The joy was
gone, replaced by the starkness of morning in an unfamiliar place. I closed my eyes and
saw us standing in the square, but from high above. We were infinitely small, surrounded
by a vast space. Feeling completely drained; I dressed and headed downstairs to write
these words.]
I hope you’re well.
It was joy beyond anything I’ve ever felt.
—the kind that one only experiences a few times in one’s life.
I’d like to know if she cried when she read this—if she showed any emotion at all.
Remember the color of life, the details are always vulgar
The ice machine that sounds like that radiohead song.
Learning to navigate the seasons—to survive in a new town until the conditions are right
to move on—this is its own skill and ties in with being able to live extremely frugally—
and to ingratiate myself into peoples lives and homes.
Living a crash-proof life, disentangled from the money economy—learning to satisfy my
needs in other ways.
We’ve proven we can take over the planet, dominate nature, change the climate—live in
a million different ways—in this drive, this push to do more, build more, grow and
expand—we’ve failed to ask ourselves if this is how we want to live. It’s time to ask that
question. I’m providing one model—one possibility in an infinite number of others. It’s
how I see us living more rich and fulfilling lives filled with moments of exquisite pain and
Are you just passing the time?
On talking about one’s goals:
people who talk about their intentions are less likely to make them happen.
Announcing your plans to others satisfies your self-identity just enough that you’re less
motivated to do the hard work needed.
Ran on production vs. consumption in curbing emissions:
they always talk about reducing consumption, and never about reducing production.
Economists assume that demand drives production: if we burn less, the fields will pump
less. This is exactly backwards. In reality, production drives consumption: whatever the
fields can pump out, someone will burn.
ME: Other ways (besides political) of curbing production—direct action
To do:
call Sameer about overshoot book and mix CD
The GPS ride could be a tour of your favorite architecture in Chicago
One of several approaches to getting people excited about collapse—including the
aesthetics angle—the human creativity/ingenuity angle—the resurgence of nature
More to do in SB
Buy drugs
Email Karla
Get a tan
See Julia
On call for Kyle
Good emails to Eric and co.
At least one new entry
At least one proposal cover letter
Drop in at the Hostel
Drop in at the delivery service
Drop in at the bike shop
Complete your brutalist architecture tour of Chicago image collection
Begin website for Geller!
To add to ‘living poor’ skills post
Best looking homeless guy in all of Southern California
The only homeless guy that rides his bicycle around with a flat iron in his paineers
About the jealous gay dude—wish I had someone that would take me in and let me stay
for free.
Sell all your possessions, ride your bike 4000 miles, and eat fruit, yoghurt, and granola
for every other meal and I guarantee someone will.
Also, being a good live-in friend is a full time job.
Actually intentionally dropping my weight to consume fewer resources—less need for
food. A hyper-efficient body type—like the fishermen on lake Victoria—only consuming
enough to support your current level of physical activity (eat when you’re hungry, eat
according to your activity level)
Sleeping a lot is another option approach
(Covered a bit in email to Katie)
plus, if you’ve got very little money, it’s unlikely you’re getting in anyone’s way.
Coffee as an unusually large percentage of my personal budget.
Your own potential clients might include Julia’s crowd, Kendall’s crowd, the Fullerton
house, etc.
Record your court date audio.
Aerial images of crowds
Profeta or tea place for exhibition spaces
Lofty work trying to steer the direction of humanity.
It like for people to stay interested because they’re anticipating what’s coming next
whether It be an incredible shot in one of the vids, or a piece of writing, or a visit to a site
they knew something about.
Chasing the neon blue toilet dragon
On taking lots of drugs
On Facebook becoming a monster raging out of control—a tool for a bunch of selffocused exhibitionists to post pictures of themselves that most of the time don’t look
anything like them. Plus, because it’s never been cool to just post pictures of yourself all
over the Internet. How fucking self-congratulatory is that? It’s like a big popularity
“How to travel in an age of global contraction”
Pitch to travel magazine—budget adventure travel, or maybe a really heady publication.
“How to see the world on $10,000 a year (and we do mean the world.”
To add to camping skills post: unusual places—what’s unusual about the images is that
they’re both taken from high above.
Google trends—search terms throughout the year
She’s super hot over there in the corner. All stretching and shit—no bra, nice haircut—
good glasses. Eating a banana. Pretty eyes—all seductive like—pouty lips. Good height.
Writing a book about a girl that meets a photographer and begins to take on the
idealized characteristics he’s projecting upon her through his photography.
Kendall—Another fucking K!!—what the hell. At least it’s a new K. Late for class she
makes herself. Says call if you, “need anything” I say. “What would I need?”
Oh you should totally do a more formal post on retarded sperm:
I heard cyclists who cover more than 186 miles a week on their bikes have less than 4%
normal sperm. The remaining 96% go retarded from being bounced around all day. This
side effect should be viewed as desirable. Since retarded sperm are unlikely to fertilize
anything, a serious cyclist is less likely to get you pregnant. A lot less. Upon receiving
this information I resolved to increase my weekly mileage.
Trains and their stations are some of the most romantic places around A.K.A. A
Contemporary Romantic Railroad Encounter
One might make a lovely setting for a scene in a post collapse romance set in a
crumbling post-industrial world of exceptional beauty. That is if the trains can believably
still be running. [I’m also thinking of one of my favorite cinematic moments where the
man and woman (strangers) briefly join hands while descending a stairway in a crowd—
then part ways.]
So the ride to the station is made that much more lovely because you’re following a
wonderfully scented girl with lacy black underwear. She stops at a light and turns to face
the direction she’s come from—the afternoon sun hits her face and she’s this gorgeous
European looking blonde.
Then there’s a bunch of girls already waiting at the station. There’s pretty bicycle girl,
and slightly confused blue sweatpants girl, and white shirt girl who you orbit slowly with
the clicks of those noisy shoes. Oh, and who could forget the pack of Japanese girls with
the black thigh-high stockings and the sparkly Michael Jackson shirts and the perfect
doll hair and makeup. Mine god.
Then there was the discovery of the SB bike crew with their genuinely awesome vintage
frames. Gathering at the train station on a lovely summer evening—a Wednesday at
6:30. A critical mass perhaps?
And this after a great day of deliveries, cafes, and meeting girls. Kendall at Java Jones
(yes, another “K”), French-country sighting (with boyfriend) at Peat’s. Perfect weather.
The late train is where all the romance is concentrated. The sunset is the key to this as
riders watch it unfold over the pacific. Everyone is winding down form a frenzied summer
So where you going pretty bicycle girl? Want a blackberry? [who doesn’t want a
Then there was meeting Jessica on the train—waiting for the sunset to complete itself
before asking to join her. It’s all about waiting to approach at the apex of romance—the
ideal moment, when the sun has reached that ideal distance from the horizon—after
having written down all the great moments of the day—clearing them from a burdened
mind. She says, “you’re the first person I’ve met who’s doing exactly what I want to
be doing.”—an incredible compliment. She’s into the inserting one’s self into tourist
photos project and agreed that technology is improving the viability of such a venture.
She’s just back from china where she painted tiny watercolors of a massive elevated
freeway as seen from her studio window. (this is totally the direction she should take with
her work.) Described being under the structure as “like being in a cathedral”—I was like,
“you’re totally speaking my language right now.” [and who ever speaks your language?]
Glass island. She’s into the vids which you’ve exported for her in their full glory.
Then you fail to get her phone number. You’ve even said, “I think were going to be good
friends.” All you know is that she lives in Brea. [It’s already incredible that you’re both
traveling between the same two stops.] absolutely meant to be—or meant to be a sign
that she’s as close as it gets and you should take it or leave it.
Someone should make SPD shoes with some real style for all the pretty fixie-hipsters.
SB with its midget town drunk.
When what is essentially a business operated by one individual grows to a certain point
where it’s beginning to be difficult for the single to handle all the responsibilities, then it’s
showing signs of needing to add a partner. But for the business at that level to support
two individuals instead of one, the original must take a temporary quality of life hit while
the newcomer must barely scrape by for a time.
One more flush of ugly MJ monster faces in the checkout line before we never have to
look at him again.
Good trends, resolutions to keep:
 Eat slower—chew each bite completely
 Don’t push too hard for anything—gentle nudges at strategic points is all
that should be required to maintain momentum
 Emails of quality: revealing and well written
 Always be reading a book
 Try and commit to one post a day to catch up—you’ll feel better once you
can write about current things.
 More stretching and meditation—maintain the evening workout routine.
Hi Brett,
That was quite a vivid dream, I don't really know how to reply. It is always strange when
you don't hear from someone in a long time and then you catch a glimpse into something
quite personal. It seems almost bold that you sent me this, although coming from you, I
am never quite sure. This made me think of an alternate reality- one that could have
been had you and I chosen different paths. Seems like a middle ground- we are both
dressed quite well, perhaps signifying well paid jobs. On the other hand, we engage in
some social activism, staying true to our beliefs as they were in Claremont.
The reality is- neither of us are anywhere near that middle ground. In fact, we have
diverged completley. I am the person in massive debt who works hard to work even
harder. I sometimes feel trapped, so I buy into and buy more of what I once deemed
unnecessary. I am about to start crazy work in the hospital on Monday and anticipate no
time to myself for the next year.
You, on the other hand, appear to be living more freely than ever. Stark opposite, aren't
you still roaming the country, documenting? Free from many modern life pressures, but
perhaps you live a lifestyle that is not so conducive to relationships, or other
attachments. Hard to say based on your website.
I guess I can only reiterate that we are not those people at all, but that was an interesting
Stay safe B,
One actual question embedded in an email doesn’t exactly beg a response but I figured
I’d write one anyway.
Yes, I’m still roaming the country (and ultimately the world), but on a multi-year
timescale. I see the current project lasting well into my thirties and likely evolving into
something else instead of ever officially ending.
I’m glad you thought the dream was interesting but I hope you can see it as a gift as
“It was joy beyond anything I’ve ever felt.
—the kind that one only experiences a few times in one’s life.”
At least at some level it can be said that you (or your image) embody the feeling of joy
for me.
On being paid in mushroom chocolates
“I hope you do not reach a stable state—a stable state is death.”
“Seeing one’s life in perspective and having a clear sense of purpose.”
Date with Kendall—leaning on the bike—a sort of channeled energy. Hemingway
On why dating younger girls is great!—purity of mind—less emotional baggage—more
open to radical thinking—a less locked-in outlook for the future—which makes them
great to talk to about big changes.
Also, they tend to have fewer STDs.
I like how this turned into “why dating young girls is a terrible idea”—incredibly flaky
(insert speculative analysis here)—unfamiliar with their own desires. (I can deal with
casual—in fact I prefer it at the moment—but I won’t tolerate flaky.
Strange that the young girls will date sleazy older guys but are afraid of the genuinely
good ones. (If that’s indeed what you are)
On the thinks you carry with you—tie in supermarket cards [plus, maybe it’s being
paranoid, but I kinda don’t want my Albertsons purchases being tracked.]/coffee cards,
every object being special and something you like having with you—on being organized
and not letting your stuff occupy too many corners. On carrying everything you need on
the bicycle.
Phone down the toilet—on not doing well with small electronic devices—key tie in
On meeting Jessica on the train—not getting her number and never seeing her again.
Put “build Drug Empire” on list of things to do.
On Hemingway: There’s even some bicycle racing in it.
Delivering ecstasy to the couple in the rose garden— her on top—pink underwear (18)—
clearly enjoying the afternoon, the garden, each other’s bodies, and their youth.
And this is where we cross over into the realm of fiction.
An artist whose life (organization/structure) is entirely “the piece”—but this isn’t
allowed—why? What are the precedents?
You will make money in a different way each time you run out. You will create a new
niche from scratch—this is extremely difficult. (that doesn’t necessarily mean a new
product or service, it means a new way to meet your (economic) needs by being a
valuable asset to those around you—by being able to offer something. Ideally each
niche would be one designed for the age of contractions. For example, the illegal drug
trade has incredible prospects moving forward. Get used to making new friends and
quickly gaining the trust of others—a really valuable skill to have.
The project is you setting an example, demonstrating a certain mode of living—how to
use a surplus of free time to build a new society through the cracks in the old. That’s why
it sucks when people treat the search for a job as a job in itself—(they leave no time for
other, perhaps more beneficial activities)
You have a head start—all those people that will loose their jobs—their incomes—will
have to learn. You intentionally let all your economic capital drain away. But the
difference is that you did it on your own terms. Those that loose their jobs will be forced
into the position. They might do well to look to you and others for guidance on where to
go from here. You, unlike them, do not derive your sense of purpose and importance
from somewhere else (a job/others). It comes form within you and can’t be taken away.
More on having your name cross-checked on the terrorist watch list:
So the FBI and the department of homeland security are putting together a terrorist
profile based on all the sites I’ve been “checked” from. All the structures I seem to be
interested in. I wonder what it adds up to in their analysis.
I’m trying not to support the government [on not paying taxes]—said with a smirk—
further undermining the establishment
Public pool images (England) from GOOD magazine.
Send blue room vid to online version of GOOD.
Your intelligence lies in your ability to filter information, to choose where you focus your
attention, and to connect the dots between trends and events.
Santa Barbara is pretty girls carrying plastic yellow “Forever 21” bags up and down State
Inventing your own (economic?) niche—take control—refuse to accept the limitations of
the obvious ones that everyone can see.
Two groups important not to lock up when your civilization is in crisis: artists and writers
(and anyone taking psychedelics)
Being able to project yourself into someone else’s movie—to empathize.
Writing series—seven perfect summer afternoons
1. the rose garden
Post on the Jensen article and perhaps the future report reported on by the guardian
On places you can occupy for free:
There are fewer and fewer
The beach
You ride your bicycle around all day. It’s like you’re living in a beautiful film set in Italy,
(but by a Russian film maker)
Get images from Kyle’s camera. as potentially subversive—the site undermines the hotel industry
by making expensive lodging an unnecessary expense.
Plastic pencils: “disposables” gaining value in a deindustrialized world where
they’re not being replaced my Papermate Sharpwriter #2 USA mechanical pencil just ran
out—it’s meant to be disposable—not refillable—imaging a would where people highly
value such objects—where they have barter value because the would isn’t going to be
producing any more yet: it’s lightweight and writes well. I like seeing things that are well
cared for—fixed many times, even things that are still currently easy and cheap to
More on delivery: a trust building exercise, communication, improvisation—improvised
communication, time management, navigation, being observant, business sense,
juggling a bunch of complex numbers/amounts/transactions—and doing it mostly in
one’s head.
(I mean viewed as investigative journalism—it’s pretty sophisticated work) I mean the
most difficult part (besides juggling many unpredictable and volatile relationships) is
designing and carrying out the actual exchange/transfer.
It’s about slowly being able to break the law further and further (as the risks and the
stakes rise accordingly) until you’ve left laws behind and are operating under your own
moral code.
So how does one keep track of how many levels deep in the shit one is? How deep to go
if the levels can be established (and how can they be?)
This goes along with having a clear and accurate perception of where you actually “are.”
You’re actually less fragmented, more clear in your thinking. You’re focused on only a
few (meaningful) things at once. You’re not scrambling to add trivial things to occupy
yourself with.
Ran’s reaction to Jensen’s piece on the ineffectiveness of personal action:
You might have seen Derrick Jensen's new piece in Orion: Forget Shorter Showers. I
made a similar point in my July 2 post, that climate change has been framed in terms of
reducing consumption, when it's a better tactical move to increase the costs of fossil fuel
production. And in this post in 2007, I linked to a 2005 interview about garbage, which
mentioned that in 1953, polluting industries formed an organization called Keep America
Beautiful, which reframed saving the Earth "as an individual responsibility, and not one
connected to the production process."
So, if personal conservation doesn't help, what can we do? Of course, Jensen ends up
arguing that we should bring down industrial civilization. But check out his historical
examples: "Nazi Germany, Tsarist Russia, antebellum United States". Nazi Germany
was not brought down by internal activists, but by Hitler's decisions to invade the USSR
and declare war on the USA. American slavery was not stopped by activists, but by
violent conquest by a stronger industrial power. And Tsarist Russia was indeed
overthrown from within, but the system that replaced it was much worse!
I'd like to see a historical study of how exactly bad societies turn into good societies.
Certainly not through violent revolution! It seems to happen through non-destructive
changes that give ordinary people more autonomy. Do you know why Americans are
not going to blow up dams, or blockade Monsanto, or even put effective pressure on
Congress? Because they're too busy at their jobs! And they're terrified of losing
their jobs because then they would quickly go tens of thousands of dollars in debt
to the medical industry. That's why I've repeatedly emphasized that the point of
disengaging from the system is not to avoid guilt but to get free, to shift your time
and attention and energy away from forced labor and toward activities that you
find personally enjoyable and meaningful.
So turning off that light is not going to help, but dumpster diving, gardening, buying
clothing from thrift stores, selling your car, improving your health, and densely sharing
living space, are not only helpful but possibly necessary, to build the foundation that
makes effective action possible. (Even turning off lights might help, if it makes you feel
less dependent on electricity.)
Of course, as the depression deepens, millions of people will lose their jobs and
involuntarily get lots of free time. That's why it's important, for those of us who have
a head start, to set an example of how to use free time constructively: to grow a
new society, through the cracks of the old, that preserves human autonomy and
restores the land.
On having the single most insightful and intelligent conversation of the stage while
standing in my underwear at a gay club in West Hollywood. The age if exuberance—age
of contraction.
Sameer has Overshoot
More to do:
Call Jess about phone and package—(media mail)
Call Jessica Lah
Get phone switched over
Davis House-sits
Bicycle tune-up
‘Galapagos’ Quote: page 291
Somewhere in Mandarax there should have been, but was not, a warning to this effect:
“In this era of big brains, anything which can be done will be done—so hunker down.”
A moveable feast Quote:
A girl came in the café and sat by herself at a table near the window. She was very
pretty with a face fresh as a newly minted coin if they minted coins in smooth flesh with
rain-freshened skin, and her hair black as a crow’s wing and cut sharply and diagonally
across her cheek.
Delivering to Alex and friend
Alex in her Bikini—the pair more than ready to party (so to speak)—said I wish I’d
delivered in the other order—(the “optimized” GPS suggestion). Them pulling out their
new (giant) bong for show and tell. All this happening right after Alex Z. asks about any
deliveries having resembled the start of a bad porn (and at the time I dad to tell him no).
This coming after delivering to Tim (apparently a spoiled gay dude) moving into his
beautiful new place on the hillside at the end of a long driveway—and that terrace with
the incredible view!
Earlier in the day meeting with John at Java—A platonic man-date with good
conversation. Yet still not enough to make me trust him completely—suspecting his
friends and his brother are DEA—worked into the plot to confirm that I am who I appear
to be.
Graph your expenses from start to finish—use the generated graph image for entry on
On measuring/gauging the passage of time with the growth of one’s hair and nails—
the shave cycle—how often you’re needing a haircut or to cut your finger/toenails. This
as opposed to the typical measures of the industrial age—the seven day work week and
the monthly calendar.
Erica from San Louis Obispo
surfs, originally from OC?
Making eyes on the train to SB—peaking back at her from between the two seats—
making sure she has her turn to look when I look somewhere else. Big lips and big
eyes—tanned skin and golden arm hair. Wearing those blue pants of incredibly light
fabric with that “wife beater” top. We come to walk side by side after getting off the train
and I’m reminded of that brief scene in the film where the strangers walk holding hands
down the stairway then part ways—and there’s a naturalness to the whole thing.
[You should get in the habit of pairing your meetings (of girls) to passages or scenes in
literature or cinema.]
Then we stand face to face and I tell her she’s incredibly beautiful.
“Come to San Louis—I want to hear about your adventure.”
Thought seriously about getting off the train in SLO but Erica was in Berkeley.
Sitting next to the hyper-texter (100-150 a day) with the boy watch shirt—an employee of
the DMV.
Sameer and I doing the same drug in the same form on the same night (and doing
remarkably similar things) in two different parts of the world—proving, for whatever it’s
worth, that we’re still in sync.
You need to develop a writing style that matches how you’re living—how the episodes of
your life are structured. Hemmingway is good at this.
Raine (19) daughter of two successful acupuncturists—the exchange of glances—the
walk to the beach (fucking happy dolphins, laughing at us)—making out under the
Riviera palms—almost dropping her (embarrassing for both). Her kisses too hard. That
spot in front of Ash’s car with the Bogenvia and the lamppost.
Being at Red’s on mushrooms—putting out the “I’m judging you” vibe without intending
to—making that girl in the fuzzy white slut boots feel self-conscious—maybe ruining her
night but at the very least feel stupid in that outfit.
Southern California Romances:
April (22?) FLAKE
Julia (19?) FLAKE
Jessica (SB—25)
Kendall (19) FLAKE
Jessica (Brea—23?)
Raine (19)
Leigh (23) FLAKE
Meeting the ex-private security guy at the SB station—picking his brain about refinery
security procedures- main gate—weighing trucks. (half a dozen guards and a
5lbs. off of what the paperwork says and entry is denied (2lbs. during periods of high
The mirror for inspecting the undersides of trucks—wires, lights, anything out of the
Rocks putting the truck over weight
He worked at Valero, which is a great “full circle” for stage two.
An FCG could be exchanged for an object of exactly equal weight.
Another addition to the “off the clock” entry:
Everyday experiences seem richer when they’re not diluted by the background noise
and anxiety of trivial everyday responsibilities—rent, insurance, job, car, etc. You can
more fully live in the present moment, focus your attention, and take things in more
completely when you don’t have to be at work in an hour.
Design a survey to be completed by everyone whose home you’ve shared regarding
how it was to have you there—your performance as a house guest so to speak. The
results, besides being insightful for future stays, could be compiled into an autonomous
piece. (complete with pre-addressed stamped emvelopes). Make identifying yourself
1. please estimate how many nights the subject spent at your residence
You should ask Katie to send you an eight by ten of herself in exchange for fancy
cigarettes—the pair of actress headshots would make a great donation gift.
Find somewhere to talk about the desirability of sitting in court and listening to the
prosecution build a case against you—tell your story from their point of view.
Another train meeting:
In between stealing looks at Erica—talking to the kid from Santa Maria about Michael
Jackson’s trial (the single most eventful thing that’s occurred in his town in the last
decade) and the memorial outside Neverland ranch where he bought a button form
someone cashing in on the pop star’s death.
To my few and faithful readers:
Most of you know by now that I’ve returned by rail to the sweaty bosom of my
hometown. Unless the stars align for a return to Santa Barbara, I’ll be here in Davis for
the next couple months to write and secure funds for stage three: Los Angeles to
Southern California was a maelstrom of sinful exploits and it’ll require what remains of a
sweltering central valley summer to process what’s occurred. So in addition to the
numerous ‘text’ placeholders on this site being replaced by actual sentences, expect a
few revealing accounts of what it was to exist on the margins in some of California’s
most desirable neighborhoods. When the deserts of the Southwest begin to cool this fall,
I’ll be ready to traverse them: aiming the thread east for the very first time.
On just starting!
Fear of failure
Get good at starting—sucked for a long time—must be ok with this—get comfortable
with this.
Fingers must move for a bit before you actually write.
Starting—set aside blocks of time—work on multiple projects at once so that you can
switch between them.
Keep the work going—keep moving forward
Develop a tolerance for not knowing what something is going to turn out to be—have a
tolerance for not knowing where something is going.
Keep doing it until it starts to get better
Move beyond starting—polish
Learn how to tolerate not knowing everything
Manage your attention!
No more input until you’ve made something—that’s what you’re doing—suspend the
southern California process and write about it.
On not taking grant money until the project goals are more clearly established.
Can’t have any surplus funds—only the bare minimum, if you’re to continue the learning
A bunch of random bits from Kunstler Casts
Electric cars are coal-powered cars.
A profound cultural transition.
Opportunities for enterprise in the age of contraction: there will be ample opportunity for
young people to: make a buck, be of some value to their fellow citizens, and learn to
navigate new and more meaningful relationships.
How difficult it is for people to imagine living differently, and in contrast, how differently
they end up living anyway.
Maybe visit Kunstler in upstate NY at the end of the East Coast stage—make an
appearance on the Kunstler Cast.
The tendency to label someone a “doomer” comes from individuals who see the end of
the AOE as a catastrophe. The fear that life simply can’t go on without cheese-doodles,
cable television and cars.
There are people cheerleading for the consumer economy to fall on its ass.
Greer (arch-druid): “The Long Descent”—catabolic collapse
J. Hansen: “doomer porn”
We excited the solar economy at a global population of around one billion, around the
year 1800.
Everyone has a different worldview and sense regarding where destiny is taking us—the
illuminated thread represents one of these perspectives.
We (humans) like fresh starts—there is an appeal in wiping the slate clean—this is a
component of “doomer” thinking. That we yearn for a cleansing rain to come in and wash
away a bunch of the bullshit and garbage—leaving us to begin anew with what matters.
As life has gotten increasingly complicated—there is more and more junk to be swept
Many of us yearn for everything to just be still for a moment.
Out of death comes re-birth (we like this story). We are looking at a perverse human
system that needs to die—or at least be pruned back some. Clearing out the garbage
and beginning a cycle of redemption (for the way we’ve treated our home)/resurrection.
It’s important to remain interested in your world and what’s happening in it.
One who is not busy being born is busy dieing. (Dylan quote)
We’re at our best when we’re completely engaged in something (creative).
Obesity in children finally linked to the design of the built environment (suburbia).
Our physical dispositions have degenerated to such a poor state—and just as we’re
going to need our bodies to be strong.
De-complexify/simplify/contract and the diminishing returns of technology. Is it even
possible to de-complexify a civilization when it appears to be a ratcheting system? Is
collapse the only alternative?
intended for or likely to be understood by only a small number of people with a
specialized knowledge or interest
A strange last night in the mountains
Listening to KunstlerCasts in the hammock
Hot tub with perfect-bodied college freshman and mother—good chat—good questions.
Even dad liked me.
Nick? WTF? A bear at the dumpster. (Nick’s insistence that I watch for an a bear
ambush from the flanks.)
Dancing and walking on my hands while everyone else sleeps.
“You’re a good friend!” shouted by the sixteen year old cock-tease as she bounds off to
her room, leaving the dude alone on the last night of his week in paradise. Bitch [joking].
The earth in paradise until it just isn’t anymore.
It’s like the smarter you are, the more ways you can come up with to lie to yourself.
I try to avoid feeling jealousy, but fuck man—Hawaii is flipping awesome. I’m picturing
you both doused in tanning oil sipping drinks with umbrellas (while skydiving over a pod
of majestic whales. Wait…no, riding naked on the back of a giant sea-turttle).
Let me begin by saying that, in no small measure thanks to you, my time in Santa
Barbara has been amazing. I’ve got more friends (and potential lovers) there now than
anyplace outside Chicago. I’d be thrilled if it somehow became possible to remain there
until November; maybe make out with Raine in someplace other than a parking lot.
As usual, the problem is money—specifically a general lack of it. I’m a pro at living on
almost nothing, but at this point in the summer I need to be putting away cash for the
ride to Texas. Also, the couch surfing has been pretty good but I’d feel better about
myself if I could pay for a cheap sublet somewhere instead of frustrating everyone’s
housemates (house-sitting is another option). I guess what I’m saying is that the delivery
gig needs to pay like an actual job if it’s going to work. Thing is, it seems like your
current operating margins are enough to sustain one individual, but probably not two.
This means that taking on a full-time delivery person would have to allow business to
expand enough to support the dude performing that function.
That last trip through SB was so good—I felt almost silly leaving when I did, especially
after you offered to let me run things for a bit (If I’d stayed I would have been on that shit
like kefir and granola). The deliveries were all great and I had that little voice yelling at
me: “this is what you should be doing!” Unfortunately, Davis is a bit too far away to make
weekend trips from. If I come back now it’ll have to be with the full intention of staying.
For support section:
Working toward the ideal sized audience—just large enough to support
continuous/ongoing low budget travel and research for one by distributing the economic
burden between a few hundred.
Ask joe the name of that band that opened for health—the one with that gorgeous
female singer
Ask Brett if he has any left over pairs of riding glasses he wants to donate to the project.
You shouldn’t have let that girl leave—really—she just walked by, slipped through your
fingers. Life will do the same thing if you let it—no more of this bullshit—take control—
this passive approach will not get you the things you want—you need to turn up the push
factor just a bit or you’ll stall out.
Pitch for big-dick Tom:
See if Tom would be into supporting a little continuous low-budget travel. Write him a
nice long email including:
Account of your meeting
A bit of ass kissing
Katie NY referral
Financial success—two houses and weekly flights across the continent—probably
wouldn’t even notice the money being transferred from your account every month.
Suggest an amount
Bicycling in common—his need to blow off surplus energy on the stationary bike—how
this relates to the project
Pull something inspiring out of his lecture that supposedly made you think he might be
into supporting
A supporter of the arts—understand you’ve been to like hundreds of plays
Thought it couldn’t hurt to ask
Make sure to establish legitimacy
I mean you should really be doing this in Europe soon
Marveling at Nick’s stupidity regarding the Bear ambush.
No one will ever marvel at your scribbles
Two pink Flamingoes stolen from my neighbor’s yard—donation gift
For mushroom date—I’ll do my hair up real fancy and futuristic like and we’ll go
someplace really dramatic to watch the sunset. Lovely.
Mushroom sunset at the water tower—might be nice
Our collective debts will never be repaid because it is future growth that must cover the
accruing interest. If growth is dead and the money supply is unable to expand further,
there will never be funds to repay these debts. Money can no longer be loaned into
existence in a contracting global economy. We are just beginning to figure this out. Debt
forgiveness is inevitable.
You should make avoiding the repayment of your student loans a piece that can be
given away as a donation gift—include all official documentation and include the “rights”
to the piece. [high level item]
I’d like to spend my thirties biking around the world and my forties engaged in planning
and executing serious acts of ecotage.
Please blow up my car Conan—and give me a space age hybrid. Yeah, we know what
this is about. We know how were supposed to respond. We get the point.
More work at the Davis Browlands
Some full zoom shots of activity at the top of the water tower. Lounging, enjoying the
sunset, exercising, dancing, etc. Showing only the top portion of the structure. Plus shots
of other things that are moving—the cobwebs on the light—the spider web, etc. the
camera must be shielded from the wind on the ground to prevent shake.
Shot of you lying at the bottom—whistling—with proper exposure
You should consisted attempting to fix those moccasins—that sewing machine would
probably do it.
Note: for stage three—are the daily log posts really necessary?
Something has got to be done with the acoustics in there—the clicking sounds as
elementary echolocation practice.
It might be nice to have some kind of seat to stop and sit on half way down so that the
sound can be enjoyed as well as the view.
Something should be done with the podcast audio—chopped up and sampled at least.
Redemption is key—it’s a huge part of the motivation. Redemption from having spoiled
our home.
The short about the pair who rides at night—around their suburban town. They’re soul
mates but they never meet somehow, always a block or more away from each other.
Then they eventually do meet and one is killed by a car—for having deviated from their
established route. Shot on 16mm film.
From Ran’s ‘Dropping Out’ essay via e-beats article:
“It’s funny,” says Ran Prieur, whose influential essay ‘How To Drop Out’ still gets 2500
hits a month on his site, “The 21st century used to mean flying cars
and now it’s looking more and more like the fall of Rome. I think future historians will see
this as the century when industrial civilization broke down, so it’s a great time to learn
different ways of living. Specifically, the money economy will never again be as dominant
as it was in the late 20th century. In the future, as in the past, success will be
measured more often by direct useful actions than by the ability to go out and
earn tokens. Many of the tasks that are now being done for money will disappear and
the people who did them will have to learn stuff like how to grow food and repair
bicycles. So ‘dropouts’ who already have practice living at the edge of the money
economy are going to be leaders.”
It will be about access to resources—having allies, having support networks.
without growth, businesses and governments are unable to service their debt.
In essence, the present welfare of the economy rests on debt, and the collateral for that
debt consists of a wager that next year’s levels of production and consumption will be
higher than this year’s. Given that growth cannot continue on a finite planet, this wager,
and its embodiment in the institutions of finance, can be said to constitute history’s
greatest Ponzi scheme. We have justified present borrowing with the irrational belief that
perpetual growth is possible, necessary, and inevitable. In effect we have borrowed from
future generations so that we could gamble away their capital today.
[The glass ceiling of global energy production]
My conclusion from a careful survey of energy alternatives, then, is that there is little
likelihood that either conventional fossil fuels or alternative energy sources can be
counted on to provide the amount and quality of energy that will be needed to sustain
economic growth—or even current levels of economic activity—during the remainder of
this century. (19)
But the problem extends beyond oil and other fossil fuels: the world’s fresh water
resources are strained to the point that billions of people may soon find themselves with
only precarious access to water for drinking and irrigation. Biodiversity is declining
rapidly. We are losing 24 billion tons of topsoil each year to erosion. And many
economically significant minerals—from antimony to zinc—are depleting quickly,
requiring the mining of ever lower-grade ores in ever more remote locations. Thus the
Peak Oil crisis is really just the leading edge of a broader Peak Everything dilemma.
We are at a historic inflection point—the ending of decades of expansion and the
beginning of an inevitable period of contraction that will continue until humanity
is once again living within the limits of Earth’s regenerative systems.
If humanity has indeed embarked upon the contraction phase of the industrial pulse, we
should assume that ahead of us lie much lower average income levels (for nearly
everyone in the wealthy nations, and for high wage earners in poorer nations); different
employment opportunities (fewer jobs in sales, marketing, and finance; more in basic
production); and more costly energy, transport, and food. Further, we should assume
that key aspects of our economic system that are inextricably tied to the need for future
growth will cease to work in this new context.
At the heart of this general re-education must be a public and institutional
acknowledgment of three basic rules of sustainability: growth in population cannot be
sustained; the ongoing extraction of non-renewable resources cannot be sustained; and
the use of renewable resources is sustainable only if it proceeds at rates below those of
natural replenishment.
A case can be made that after all this is done the end result will be a more satisfying way
of life for the vast majority of citizens—offering more of a sense of community, more of a
connection with the natural world, more satisfying work, and a healthier environment.
Studies have repeatedly shown that higher levels of consumption do not translate to
elevated levels of satisfaction with life. (35) This means that if “progress” can be thought
of in terms of happiness, rather than a constantly accelerating process of extracting raw
materials and turning them into products that themselves quickly become waste, then
progress can certainly continue.
There may be temporary rebounds that take us back to some fraction of peak economic
activity, but these will be only brief respites.
Today’s civilization is global, and its fate, Earth’s fate, and humanity’s fate are
inextricably tied.
You need to maintain you’re role as a generalist. Avoid too much specialization. Look at
all the dots to be connected and keep an eye an all sectors to make sense of what’s
going on, Make sure you stand far enough back to see the whole (big) picture. We need
more generalists!
Asking for corporate sponsorship amounts to using the old system as a resource with
which to build the new system. There is absolutely nothing wrong or hypocritical about
this. The problem arises when sponsors make specific demands and place limits on
what you can say or show.
Format changes:
Label’ external links’ column
Add ‘current location’ in upper left corner.
Make sure that ‘return to main’ links for stage one go where they’re supposed to
The Joy of Infinity
For 2nd version post:
The joy of infinity is of course a reference to the open-ended design of the larger
illuminated thread project as well as structural elements within the piece itself: the audio
track that loops within the piece, or the place that sound goes as it quiets away beyond
our hearing. Or it could refer to some of the clips—specifically the first—the sunrise as a
clear horizon/vanishing point also refers to the infinite. The infinite is always referred to,
or pointed in the direction of.
Shots from stage two (worth working with):
Best of the unused footage—montage.
Sunrise over SF bay 3/29
Tanker with smoke 3/29
Santa Clara gas station
Exhaust stack steam (multiple) 5/26
At the Diablo Canyon fence 4/06
Disneyland tram
Border field onlookers 5/28
Water tower sunset
So you may want to be picking out things within each scene to be linking them with their
neighbors. For example: the freight train has a cell phone tower in the background that
can be linked to the cell phone repair guys. Something for the advanced audience to
look for.
Cell tower > freight train
Freeway dust > moon clouds
Onlookers with pigeon > roof with gulls
This piece is stage two’s version of Sonata 38 [link]
[un-messed with audio recorded in an empty water tower]
I wonder if you could stage the exit from the tower as sort of dropping through the hole.
I like days that I can recall the events of clearly, months later—days with substance and
Entries for stage three can be shorter while maintaining quality and insight—just a few
sentences is all that should be required.
Images from Erin:
L. Casta
Jet Ski—maybe use for (end of growth article)
Maybe go see what the source of all that midnight racquet is.
A contemporary romantic train encounter.
Play this song while you think about it—MP3 download.
Police helicopters that circle incessantly, or
Block after block of riteaids and what?
Sea bees caption “can do” or another motto
Move the chocolate down to cheap. $100?
Where I’d spent the night and most of the morning
The passage part two:
Perhaps shoot others making the passage—their first trip through. You could recruit
people (craigslist post) you think could handle it. The transitions between shots could be
blended to create a continuous flow of individuals down the rope and through the
opening—then the piece looped.
Regarding the donation gifts:
By being life detritus its project/artistic detritus—it’s the remnants—the cast-offs—the
‘Human remains’ vs. ‘human detritus’ for entry heading
It’s interesting that that Jenner girl interpreted the project as having a science fiction
component—then not long after you’re making a direct reference to Close Encounters.
Southern California Posts:
Living Off the Clock
Living poor/jobless in Southern California
Including an account of its effects on your psychological wellbeing
Time management
Odd jobs—night at numbers could go here
On riding the train
Long list of notable train interactions going way back-As Kunstler put it recently, “we’re not through torturing ourselves with epic traffic jams
A Contemporary Romantic Railroad Encounter
On meeting both Jessica and Erica
Include little highlights of other good and bad train experiences
create your own niche theory
I’d almost certainly still be doing it if the economics part of the experiment hadn’t been a
Santa Barbara Delivery Service
Numbers geisha
Chasing the Neon Blue Toilet Dragon
On taking drugs
Retarded Sperm/evolving for the age of post-exuberance
On why women should be into this—on evolving to become an efficient biker—and the
desirability factor. Dad starting the process.
Could be part of a larger post on human evolution—selecting for traits useful in the post
exuberant age—good bicycling—the need for fewer resources—smaller bodies—less
Mom had dating in the dark on… going through their cars
Transience and personal relationships
On gauging the health of one’s relationships
On dating younger girls
Skills Posts:
Could put all these together
Most people assume that its only ok to spend the night in certain designated places. This
is because we assume all places are “owned” and that to occupy a place where we
haven’t been given permission to be there is trespassing. Well, it is. However, the
relatively low likelihood of being charged for trespassing is worth the risk. Choosing sites
where you’re unlikely to be discovered further reduces the risk.
While Joe and I chose most of your sites with stealth in mind, the opportunity to spend
the night at an abandonment should not be passed up.
Both images taken from above—set up at the base of something tall you can climb in the
morning. Why not have your oatmeal at the top of a
Shitting Outdoors: The Bidet Method
Living off the Bike: or, Keeping all your shit together or love the objects you’re
surrounded by
“Do you have a coffee card?”
“would you like to start one?”
“No thanks”
“they’re free—are you sure?”
“Yeah I’m sure, I’m not into carrying ‘em around.”
“Because I don’t wanna open my bag and see the card and be reminded of something
as addicting as coffee. Now I gotta deal with a craving when maybe I’d rather be without
“it’s four seventy-five.”
how not to loose things
see ‘plastic pencils’
why carrying a few well designed items is good—items you enjoy—objects with the right
memories attached to them. Also its important that, if you’re sensitive to design, the
items appeal to your aesthetic sense.
Maybe include video with still frames of all the items you carry.
Davis Doors:
Photograph the front doors of every place you lived in Davis (during college) every hour
on the hour starting at 12. (In chronological order)
12:00—211 Dorms
1:00—The Trees
2:00—Bates Drive
3:00—with Ruben
4:00—with the gay dude near stonegate
5:00—house with Karla
figure out how much it would cost—how many people it should be divided amongst then
pitch it to all the men you’ve met. What? Three? You need to start meeting a few rich
article on the price of sugar to be added to Betteravia
think about entering a piece in the Stonegate artfest (sept.)
This piece could be considered stage two's Sonata 38. The audio was recorded in Davis
on August 8 and both it and the video are more or less un-trifled with. Do your ears a
solid and listen with some headphones.
The goal is to make something of such quality that your audience wants to know things
about it: how it was made, where was that audio recorded—and then further, to
speculate on interesting possibilities.
Oh shit—girl with the nappy hair has amazing legs. Fucking really attractive—looks a
little dear in the headlights—but not too bad. Gorgeous legs. Pretty arms—good skin. I
wonder if they can tell I’m bothered: If it’s obvious. Probably not paying attention—and
for good reason. Buy something—anything! Ice tea! You should have said something
you, you… ridiculous human. All wrapped up in your fears and insecurities. This totally
doesn’t go in this section—pretty out of place. So the Brea post has got to be done
today—no excuses. Eye contact—you should go chasing after her when she leaves.
Maybe not the best plan you’ve ever come up with but could be worse.
It’s probably good for me to have some kind of interaction with the pubic. CAFÉ
I like to make believe people are gossiping about me. That’s probably either really sad or
really great. Probably both.
Great because it’s sad—ha ha
Hey lady, don’t you shame us for not socializing when you didn’t.
yeah in some ways the vignettes are designed to establish setting--not for a short film
but for a coming age of dramatic deindustrialization. For this reason they're stronger as a
whole-- as an archive-- because they all point in the same direction, collectively
reinforcing and highlighting the aesthetics of an anticipated period of contraction.
For eric’s film project—just arrive at the Café on the bike, all sweaty and oiled—shirtless.
Roll up outside, blot your forehead with a handkerchief, throw a shirt on then come
inside all nonchalant.
America’s fastest dieing cities: a.k.a. possible sites
Canton, Ohio
Youngstown, Ohio
Flint, Mich.
Scranton, Pa.
Dayton, Ohio
Cleveland, Ohio
Springfield, Mass.
Buffalo, N.Y.
Detroit, Mich.
Charleston, W.Va.
Watching your shadow fade as you ride between streetlamps.
Picking out a different album each night and riding around town for its entire duration.
On trying to draw out or attract those ready to begin the process.
To welcome instead of dread the coming age of austerity. To get others to drop out
voluntarily—to begin the process of building alternative support systems and networks.
My feral existence— in a wild state, esp. after escape from captivity or domestication
Kunstler on the Automobile die-off
the first "die-off" of The Long Emergency will not be one of human beings but of our
beloved automobiles. Personally, I think the car die-off will come on with stunning
rapidity as a combination of factors merge to make these colossal traffic jams staples of
nostalgia in decades to come.
By nutrition content I eat cheaper that anyone I know.
United States and Europe
Food: $30 per day
Shelter: (approximately one hotel room per week) $10 per day
Incidentals/repairs: $10 per day
Included: additional travel costs including airfare between continents
Occasional equipment upgrades—cameras, hard drives, software, etc.
$50 per day.
$1,500 per month
$18,000 per year
Provisions should be written in for emergency replacement of bicycle, laptop, camera,
etc. in the event of failure/damage, loss, or theft.
Provision for unlikely legal fees or infraction bail amounts.
So I need 30 people donating $50 a month (they’re funding one day out of every month)
or 60 people donating $25 a month.
$10,000 dollars a year provision
(plus $2,000 annually for repairs, equipment upgrades, and air travel)
Approximately $27 a day
Might be a good idea to begin the project description with a bunch of your favorite
compiled quotes
Also, explain why it’s being filled in now.
There are others who have the technical aspects down—what you have to offer is the
romance, the beauty, the welcome home.
So here’s a plan flow chart:
Stonegate office job > write grants
No Stonegate office > Santa Barbara > work > write grants
Q and A section of project description:
Why the Bicycle?
biking is just a more pleasant way to get around.
Human scaled speeds—take in more
Self sufficient makes it very post-AOE
Are you worried you’ll die?
If I die I’ll have been doing something I was meant to do—much better than dieing in a
car on the way home from ___, or dieing of cancer that was given to me by toxins in my
Can I find you on any social networking sites?
No, operating under these corporate sites, I give up control over the aesthetics and
functionality of my posts—plus, they advertise. In addition—they would create a
Facebook search vitamin M
Other site tweaks:
Current financial need including % of goal for support-upper-left?
Final stage two post—specific thank-yous
Image/map for main-upper-left?
Update and add CV
Sleeping in peculiar places post
Objects post
Coordinates solution
Get spelling errors form Lauren
***Project description***
>>> then launch it out into the world in a big way.
o artdirector at
editor at
The rest of the U of C mailing list
Donor list:
Big Dick Tom
Les Spindle
Jeff Palumbo
Greg Lentz
Chris Galloway
Pieter Patoor
Mike Parator
Rick at The Waterboy
Ran Prieur
The authors of the two urban explorer texts
Have an interview series at the end of the next few stages: Daniel Quinn in Houston and
JHK in Upstate NY.
Plot ‘fastest contracting cities’ on US map
You’re getting better at self-critique—essential for post grad school work
Stage 2 site descriptions for project description page (since removed):
Richmond Shipyards
The most productive ship building center anywhere during WWII. Decaying semisubterranean walkways border each of the facility’s five slips or "quays."
37°54'19"N 122°21'54"W
San Francisco Naval Shipyard
The base was entirely closed in 1994. It's been very much left to decay on it's own
because of the extraordinary cost of cleaning up the toxins left behind by a cocktail of
industrial processes.
37°43'24"N 122°22'4"W
Moss Landing Power Plant
Twin 500 foot stacks make this natural gas burning plant difficult to miss.
36°48'17"N 121°46'57"W
Diablo Canyon Nuclear Power Plant
The first of two nuclear power plants on the itinerary, this one is surrounded by a buffer
zone described as, "thousands of acres of land controlled by [PG&E's] paramilitary type
security force." Recognized as one of the strongest structures on the face of the earth,
this place will be around for some time.
35°12'41"N 120°51'19"W
Betteravia Sugar Plant
Officially closed since 1993, this sugar beet processing facility boasts two enormous
hermetically sealed silos rumored to possess supernatural acoustic properties.
34°55'1"N 120°30'59"W
Vandenberg AFB Space Launch Complex 10
Built at the beginning of the American effort to explore space, SLC-10W is basically an
abandoned spaceport. Completed in 1958 for the U.S. Air Force's IRBM Testing
Program, the complex was later adapted for space flight purposes. It's last launch was in
1980. There's nothing like a space flight to reinforce the illusion of limitlessness.
34°45'53"N 120°37'20"W
Lompoc Diatomaceous Earth Mine
Here they've been tearing up the landscape to get at the fossilized remains of diatoms, a
type of hard-shelled algae. The chalk-like sedimentary rock is used as a filtration aid, a
mild abrasive, an insecticide, and an ingredient in dynamite among other things.
34°36'22"N 120°26'38"W
Ventura Refinery
Built to process crude from a nearby oilfield that, at its peak, produced 90,000 barrels a
day. Now abandoned, the complex is rusting slowly in the dry Southern California
34°19'5"N 119°19'24"W
Stage three planning:
Fullerton to Houston via 190/193
Palm Springs, Phoenix, El Paso, Austin
1,550 mi.
35 days @ $27 per day is $945 (round up to $1000)
45 days @ $27 per day it $1,215 (round down to $1200)
Santa Susana Field Laboratory
This facility has a fascinating history of research initiatives involving rocket and nuclear
technology. It also has a horrifying accident record including meltdowns and radioactive
Southern California Logistics Airport
Company logos removed or covered immediately to preserve an image
Another example of the desert's propensity to accumulate unwanted things, Southern
California Logistics Airport in Victorville is currently providing "transitional parking" for
around 200 commercial jetliners.
Kaiser Steel Plant Site, Fontana, ca
Note: you should visit the plant’s new site in China
Stage two’s first site visit was to the Richmond Shipyards. The steel used to build
hundreds of WWII liberty ships at that location was produced at this one. Mostly ruins
remain after a Chinese firm bought the operation and shipped it back to China in 1993.
The final battle with the T-1000 at the end of the second Terminator film was shot here.
One of the largest steel plants in the world once stood at this site in Fontana. The plant
was originally built here in World War Two, to supply steel for Kaiser's wartime
shipyards, which produced hundreds of ships on the west coast in just a few years. The
plant, built inland from the coast to stay out of the range of enemy fire from the sea, was
upgraded and modernized after the war, with a new 23 story high, $287 million plant built
as recently as the 1980's. After three years of use, this most modern plant was bought
by the Chinese at bargain basement rates. A team of 300 Chinese workers came to
Fontana in 1993 to disassemble it, and ship it to China, where it was reassembled.
Kaiser is no longer in the steel business. Portions of the site have been redeveloped, but
portions of the old plant remain as ruins, mostly concrete slabs. Part of the site was
turned into a major racetrack called the California Speedway, and part of the steel plant
is still producing steel, operated by California Steel Industries, which processes steel
that comes in from South America and elsewhere. Though a fraction of the tens of
thousands that worked at Kaiser Steel in the old days, at 1,000 employees, this is still
one of the largest steel operations on the West Coast. As one of the few remaining
heavy industry sites near Los Angeles, the site is a common filming location. It was
used as a location for the film Black Rain, and for the Schwarzenegger showdown with
the cyborg in Terminator II. The film Pearl Harbor was refused permission to film at the
site because the current operator of the plant, California Steel, is partially owned by
Kawasaki Steel, a Japanese company.
Southern California Logistics Airport (partially abandoned), Victorville, ca
This is an interesting airport, emerging from the remains of George Air Force Base,
which was closed down in 1992. Much of the former base is abandoned and in a state of
slow decay, but as many of the buildings were constructed during the 1970's and early
1980's, they are still in good condition. The city of Victorville is developing the base as
the Southern California Logistics Airport, and some local businesses have begun moving
in. The runway area is used for aircraft storage by major airlines, as at Mojave Airport.
Before being slated for closure in 1988, it was home to a tactical fighter wing, and
employed around 5,000 people. A new federal prison was built in 2000 across the street
from the main entrance.
There’s also a prison and what appears to be power plant nearby.
Aviation Parts Warehouse Inc. Scrapyard
Aviation Graveyard
This 15-acre site is the movie industry’s source for aircraft chunks. A bizarre collection of
cowlings, fuselages, jet engines and other fragments lie baking in the desert sun.
An aviation parts yard, with an unusual collection of aircraft hulks and fuselages, used
primarily by the movie industry. Pieces from this yard have been trucked all over the
country and used in over 300 feature films, including "Speed" and "Hero." This 15-acre
site is Aviation Parts Warehouse Inc.'s largest yard, though the company owns other
El Mirage Flight Test Facility—violent technology
Predator drones, remote-controlled unmanned aerial vehicles used by the military for
reconnaissance and attack missions, are tested here. The scary looking aircraft fly out of
this modestly sized airfield almost continuously.
This small airport is used for flight testing related to the development of Unmanned
Aerial Vehicles (UAV's), which are small, remotely operated aircraft used primarily for
intelligence gathering (though also for weapons delivery). Facilities consist of small
hangar structures, support buildings, and a runway, adjacent to El Mirage Dry Lake in
the Antelope Valley. Owned by the Aeronautical Systems division of San Diego-based
General Atomics, which developed the Predator and Gnat UAVs. The company also
recently purchased the former McDonnell Douglas/Boeing Gray Butte Radar CrossSection facility, located south of El Mirage.
Predator drones fly out of this relatively small airfield on an almost continuous basis.
Lockeed Rocket Test Site (abandoned), Beaumont, ca
A large abandoned rocket test site once operated by the Lockheed Corporation.
Former rocket test facility, operated by Lockheed. Clean-up of the site was delayed due
to a potential threat to the federally protected Stephens kangaroo rat. It remains a vast,
closed-off area, with a few test stands and industrial areas, unmanned and abandoned.
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Array
The world’s third largest windfarm (number one and two are also in California), the
twelve square mile site…
The 4,000 or so windmills on these twelve square miles of land produce energy for about
100,000 homes. Though an impressive site, it is actually the smallest of the three major
wind arrays in California (others are at Tehachapi Pass, and Altamont). This is still the
third largest windfarm in the world.
Salton City, Salton Sea
A 19,000-acre planned community on the western shore of the Salton Sea. Its 250 miles
of suburban roads connect far fewer homes than its developers intended. Apparently
water skiing through rotting algal mats just isn’t that fun.
The Salton Sea is an example of changing environmental conditions spoiling the plans of
Salton City is a planned community, which never fully developed as intended. In the late
1950's, M. Penn Phillips and the Holly Corporation built 250 miles of suburban roads on
a 19,000 acre site on the western edge of the Salton Sea. The Salton Bay Yacht Club
and other resorts were popular, until flooding, algae blooms, and increasing salinity
made the sea a less desirable vacation and retirement location.
Westmorland Chemical Waste Facility
When you produce a substance so toxic it has to be buried out here…
Not surprisingly, Safety-Kleen, the hazardous waste handling outfit that operates the
landfill, did not make Fortune’s ‘100 best companies to work for’ list.
A major chemical waste disposal site, that accepts contaminated soils, filter cake, and
other non-fluid toxic industrial wastes. The material is placed in plastic-lined pits, or
"cells," and covered with soil. When it is filled, a cell is visible as a raised rectangular
mound. It is one of 11 landfills in North America operated by the hazardous waste
handling company Safety-Kleen, which bought several landfills recently from Laidlaw,
including this one. Westmorland is one of four similar facilities in the southern half of
California (the others are Kettleman Hills, McKittrick, and Buttonwillow, all of which are in
the southern San Juaquin Valley).
New River Terminus
Bombay Beach
I won’t be the first artist to have photographed this trailer community sinking into the
Salton Sea. Its decline was triggered by the same changing lake conditions that
sabotaged Salton City: rising water levels, increasing salinity, and pollution.
flooded/abandoned trailer community, Salton Sea
A partially-flooded trailer community with a few hundred homes, on the east shore of the
Salton Sea. Once a popular water skiing and fishing location, Bombay Beach has
suffered a decline, due to the rising lake levels, the increasing salinity of the Sea, and
related pollution and bad publicity. It is a remarkable looking place, as evidenced by the
increasing number of contemporary photographers who have photographed the slowly
rotting trailers on the edge of the sea.
North Shores Yacht Club
This is where all the vacationers and retirees that never materialized were meant to
spend their leisure time. It too is abandoned, a fate that epitomizes the Salton Sea
region. Architect Albert Frey, the father of desert modernism, designed it.
Designed by the Swiss-born Palm Springs modernist Albert Frey, the building is
abandoned and very scenic.
Hinds Pumping Plant
This is the westernmost of five pumping stations along the Colorado River Aqueduct.
The water it moves must travel 242 miles from Lake Havasu to Lake Matthews in
western Riverside County before it can be put to use rinsing suds off Camaros at Good
Tyme Car Wash in Pomona.
Hinds is the last of five major pumping plants along the Colorado River Aqueduct, which
is one of the three major aqueducts that bring water to Los Angeles. The aqueduct was
completed in 1941, and carries water 242 miles from Lake Havasu, on the Colorado
River, to Lake Matthews in western Riverside County. Each of the remote art-deco style
pumping stations has a small village to house the operators of the facility and their
Palo Verde Nuclear Power Complex, outside Phoenix, AZ—violent technology
Online since 1988, the three reactors at this site west of Phoenix have a combined
capacity of 3,663 megawatts: enough electricity to power the televisions and toasters of
four million people. The complex took twelve years to complete at a cost of nearly six
billion dollars. Word on the street is we’re too broke to build any more of these.
Largest nuclear power complex in the country and the 12th largest in the world. The
facility cost nearly $6 billion, and took twelve years to build, with the last reactor
completed in 1988. With a net capacity of 3,663 megawatts, the three reactor units
generate power for nearly 4 million people, and the complex is a major source of power
for Phoenix and Southern California. It is operated by the Arizona Public Service
Company, which also operates the Cholla and Four Corners coal-fired plants.
Something interesting in Phoenix—regarding sprawl
Abandoned subdivisions and retail space
Pinal Airpark
Civilian aircraft boneyard
Asarco Mission Mine
One of the largest copper mines in Arizona, 100,000 tons of ore are pulled from this pit
every year. It’s two and a half miles across at its widest point and 1000 feet deep.
This part of the country is big for copper mines—here’s the first stage in the process.
One of the largest mining operations in the United States, the Mission Complex is a
copper and silver mining network, with an underground mine and two open pits: the
Mission pit, and the smaller, adjacent San Xavier North pit. The mine is operated by
Asarco (which was purchased by Mexico's largest mining company Grupo Mexico in
1999) producing around 100,000 tons of ore a year, with an expected 510 million tons
remaining. The main pit is 2.5 by 1.5 miles, and 1,000 feet deep. In 2000, Mission was
the third largest copper mine in Arizona, the state that produces 65% of the nation's raw
Sierrita Copper Mine
Titan Missile Museum—violent technology
A decommissioned Titan II Intercontinental Ballistic Missile silo now run as a museum.
Currently the only Intercontinental Missile (ICBM) silo complex in the country that is open
to the public. Most of the hardware is still in place, including the 110 foot tall Titan II
rocket. The facility consists of three underground structures, connected by tunnels: the
control center; the silo; and, in between them, the blast lock structure, which contains the
access portal and the stairwell that brings you 35 feet underground and through the blast
door into the facility. This site is one of 54 Titan II silos, in use from 1963 to 1984, and
located in three separate silo fields: this field of 18 silos, in the vicinity of Davis Monthan
Air Force Base, in Tucson; another 18 near Little Rock Air Force Base in Arkansas; and
another 18 near McConnell Air Force Base, in Wichita, Kansas. The Titan II was the
largest ICBM ever made by the USA. The last Titan II silo was decommissioned in 1987,
replaced by more advanced Minuteman and MX Peacekeeper ICBMs, deployed in 1,000
silos across the Great Plains. Many of the Titan silos were sold to the public at auction,
after the Air Force detonated the launch duct and salvaged reusable equipment (the
access portal and control centers were left intact and some are used now as storage,
and in some cases even as homes by their new owners). The Titan II rockets have been
refitted and used for satellite deployment. There are still around 500 currently active
Minuteman ICBM silos, located mostly in the great plains states.
309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group, a.k.a. “The Boneyard”
This 2,600-acre site near Tucson stockpiles surplus aircraft from all branches of the US
government. A few find post-retirement work in the air forces of foreign governments but
most just sit, are parted-out, or scrapped. If you were here in the mid-90s, you’d have
witnessed a 13,000-pound guillotine chopping B-52s into pieces.
Illustrating the incredible excess of the world’s most well funded military, the facility
maintains 4,400 aircraft including 700 F-4 Phantoms originally purchased for an
estimated 27 billion dollars.
meant to store excess Department of Defense and Coast Guard aircraft, but has in
recent years been designated the sole repository of out-of-service aircraft from all
branches of the US government.
Tucson's low humidity, infrequent rainfall, and alkaline soil. The hard soil makes it
possible to move aircraft around without having to pave the storage areas.
sold to friendly foreign governments.
Asarco Copper Smelter
The most conspicuous feature of this 123-acre plant site is its 828-foot sack. That black
line in the satellite photo is the towering structure’s shadow.
One of two copper smelters owned by Asarco (the other is in Hayden, Arizona, closer to
the company's mines in Arizona), El Paso has a 828-foot-tall stack, at this 123-acre plant
site. When operating at full capacity the plant employs over 400 people. Phelps Dodge
also operates a copper refinery in El Paso.
El Paso Copper Refinery
Employing continuous-casting methods, this sprawling complex is one of the world’s
largest electrolytic copper refineries.
The Phelps Dodge Mining Company's refinery in El Paso is one of the world's largest
refineries of electrolytic copper. At this plant, which employs about 280 people, the
copper is refined and formed into a continuous-cast rod, which can then be turned into
electric wire and cable.
Sierra Blanca Sludge Ranch
If you took a shit in Manhattan between 1992 and 2001, there’s a good chance it ended
up at this remote 80,000-acre property in West Texas. What’s likely the world’s largest
sludge dump is currently idle.
Between 1992 and 2001, as many as 45 train cars per day brought sewage sludge from
New York City to this 129,000 acre West Texas property, where it is spread out on the
ground like peanut butter. The waste site is a former resort called the Mile High Ranch,
and is owned by a Long Island New York company, Merco Joint Venture. The contract
with New York City was terminated in June of 2001, and the sludge ranch, possibly the
largest in the World, is now idle.
Houston Petrochemical Patch
From Alan Weisman’s The World Without Us:
The Industrial megaplex that begins on the east side of Houston and continues
uninterrupted to the Gulf of Mexico, 50 miles away, is the largest concentration of
petroleum refineries, petrochemical companies, and storage structures on earth.
Several of the country’s largest refineries are located here as well as…
I’m well into the planning phase for stage three (Los Angeles to Houston) and will begin
raising funds in September. The route is 1,600 miles of desert and loosely follows
Interstate 10, passing through Phoenix, Tucson, El Paso, and Austin before reaching the
Gulf. Major side trips include a northward jaunt out of San Bernardino to visit El Mirage
dry lakebed, as well as a loop around the Salton Sea.
Scattered throughout the Southwest’s vast tracts of wide-open land are places long
forgotten. Some of what the desert keeps out of sight and out of mind would be
problematic placed closer to population centers and its arid climate and seismic stability
are ideal for the long-term storage of everything from hazardous waste to aircraft. 65
percent of the nation’s raw copper is produced in Arizona and I expect to see much of
the industry’s workings.
Logistically, the leg will be the most challenging yet. There are several remote stretches,
greater than 70 miles, where neither food nor water will be available. Trees and other
natural windbreaks are few and far between. In such a depopulated part of the country,
the psychological effects of prolonged isolation will not go unnoticed. It should take just
over a month to reach Houston but I’ll budget for 45 days.
See about the project page for the official waypoint list.
What draws us into the desert is the search for something intimate in the remote.
--Edward Abbey
For there are two deserts: One is a grim desolate wasteland. It is the home of venomous
reptiles and stinging insects, of vicious thorn-covered plants and trees and unbearable
heat... visualized by those children of luxury to whom any environment is intolerable
which does not provide all the comforts and luxuries of a pampering civilization.
The other desert -- the real desert -- is not for the eyes of the superficial observer or the
fearful soul of the cynic. It is a land which reveals its true character only to those who
come with courage, tolerance, and understanding. For those the desert holds rare gifts.
--Randall Henderson
The board-up company in Chicago spray painting their logo and phone number on the
wood panels used to secure doors and windows. Advertising on top of the carcass of a
dead business. Capitalism at its finest. People often joke that the last businesses
standing will be the ones servicing the ones who have already died.
Films to see:
Skinektody, NY
City of Cranes
Saltan Sea Documentary—plagues and pleasures on the salton sea
Black Rain—filmed at Fontana site
Crash—film on street traffic
Forgotten Places: Urban Exploration, Industrial Archeology and the Aesthetics of Decay.
The Limits To Growth
Conversations on the edge of Apocalypse
Experimental Geography—Trevor Paglen N8217.G437 T46
Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality-- T37 .E33 2005
Access All Areas: A User’s Guide to the Art of Urban Exploration
Corporate Wasteland: The Landscape and Memory of Deindustrialization HD5708.55.U6
H54 2007
Beyond the Ruins: The Meanings of Deindustrialization HD5708.55.U6 B49 2003
The Illuminated Thread project’s aesthetic trio:
Web, images (video and still), writing
To go with money quote:
Econometrics as the basis of our value system in this country. Things assigned value
based on how much money they make, people assigned value based on how efficient a
worker they are. The thread’s value must be judged using another value system, it can’t
be judged based on how much money is involved, on its production scale (i.e.—people
involved, cameras, support, etc.)—but what is this, what is the replacement system
when money is downplayed or removed?
Monuments of the industrial age as reminders of the cyclical nature of civilizations
I like that (and am only just realizing now) that the setting for Katie’s first profession of
love for me was high up on a rusty abandoned railroad bridge. Perfect.
Related: A New York Times article on economic contraction in the Sunbelt. I’m sill
looking for unique sites in Phoenix but beginning to think I might just document empty
retail spaces and abandoned subdivisions. I love how the owner of the soon to be failed
home-furnishings business uses the chirping crickets cliché to convey how quiet it is in
his parking lot. His comment of course connotes gloominess: an empty lot means no
customers. But I think it lovely that the sound of a living creature has replaced the drone
of automobile engines. Also, (and I’m at risk of sounding callous here) Mr. Preciado will
be given the opportunity to occupy himself with something a bit more meaningful than
hocking window coverings.
Binaural microphone—
Trevor Paglen, a visual artist with interests that overlap my own. According to his bio:
Trevor Paglen is an artist, writer, and experimental geographer whose work deliberately
blurs lines between social science, contemporary art, journalism, and other disciplines to
construct unfamiliar, yet meticulously researched ways to see and interpret the world
around us.
“Information activism” buzzword
Shot in between the hangars
Picturing the fields as white sand instead of brown dirt preparing for the desert leg
Triangle formation- carrying something of value with two at the lead for guidance and
protection—you as the cargy guy. Carrying something of enough importance that it risks
getting stolen—something small and light—journey is routine—or at least the route is.
The first scene is that snowfall in the desert image
150 years later, or the date
The first scene is the trio whizzing along through the night—locator blinkers on—in
formation—cruising really well—just zipping along then some huge object is hit and it’s a
catastrophic moment for a bit. The bikes and their cargo go everywhere. Then one
stands up, brushes of the dirt, glances over at the bike and cargo then shrugs and starts
picking things up.—cut to scenes of the period—people working in the fields, scrapped
together structures
Then there’s the windy scene high up on the broken wind turbine.
Elements of a new animism—imagining that the owl has screeched, wishing you a safe
Announcement of new Bp oil find with a tint of desperation-- post
What scenario would have to be unfolding for you to steal a plane?
A city blowing up?
A really toxic spill?
Send me the pretty pictures folder
Meeting with Edith:
Is there too much content? Is it overwhelming?
I think it might be for the new reader—the one who tunes in the middle—but if you’ve
been paying attention all along, the pace at which things are added shouldn’t be too
much to take in.
What do you want your audience to take away—how would you like it to affect them?
Do you expect them to be captivated?
Orlov is popular because he provides a vision of the future—he’s an entertainer in this
regard—people like imagining the world he describes—something about it appeals to
them. What is appealing about your vision—is this the role you want in sharing your
vision? Do you have any expectations regarding how people should react?
The magic is in the meditative component—the stillness, the quiet, which fits in nicely in
terms of what you see people yearning for—this moment of stillness (like the
woman with the dogs)—that (especially those living in places with poor prospects for
the future) is assumed will come after some kind of catastrophic event when really the
volume, the activity level, the frenzy will gradually be turned down (or will follow each in
a series of less catastrophic events: like descending stairs)
Post on LA fire—sitting in traffic watching a towering inferno burn up the hillsides around
you. What anxiety this must produce, what desire for the nightmare to come to an end.
Let it go.
What’s appropriate to reveal for the infinity piece?—I think in the writing, almost
everything. Audio source, intent, collage, cutting room floor—in using these clips that
didn’t fit anywhere else you kinda close the leg, put it to rest—archive it—cap it off.
For audio—include moments before and after where its just the audio so that the listener
can really get into that space—can think about just the sound without having to be
considering the visual material.—more meditation
But how much? One cycle, one note?
To Ran: I’m stealing your ideas, adding a few of my own, and taking it on the road.
Thought you’d like to know.
You said a while back that you hoped this would occur.
Structure the project and the site exactly the way you want before making any
provisions, compromises and changes based on the advice of others.
Damn-it with the logging and the PRISONS and the fucking medical industry. Assholes.
Why are prisons privatized—why isn’t someone looking into that one? Lawyers? Where
you @ yo?
What does that say when someone can profit form someone else being locked up?
BP in 'giant' new oil discovery. Every time an announcement like this is made, euphoria
descends upon Wall Street and the suits roll around on the ground in fits of ecstatic
rapture (BP stock up 4.3%). Hey guys, is it cool if we just leave that primeval
atmospheric pollutant (safely sequestered) right where it is?
The standard poodle is the quintessential suburban animal requiring expensive haircuts,
suffering from bouts of depression, and
Fixing a date using the position of the sun relative to an industrial relic—like we know it’s
the first day of summer when the sun can be seen through a particular hole in a water
Lauren—way to plant the seed. Nicely done
Drive around Dearborn, learn about Islam
Call up your local bank, request a tour (winter advisory: take off your ski mask before
entering the bank)
The Muslims were like: “pretty good job Jesus but we’re gunna hold out”
It’s a really long shirt: makes perfect sense.
From Adbusters #83
I found a pretty good article that actually applies well to both our artistic practices. I
wanted to share the section on street art with you. Apparently you’re part of “the first real
defining aesthetic of a new age.” You should consider responding to this type of thing in
your artist’s statement. At the end when he says: “The artists may not be able to
articulate it,” I wonder if they should and kinda hope they do.
From an article by Sarah Nardi, Adbusters #83
Mark Schiller, curator of the New York-based Wooster Collective—a website that
chronicles street art around the world—is more optimistic. According to Schiller, we
already have evidence of a burgeoning movement, the first real defining aesthetic of a
new age. He sees street art growing out of a resistance to the proliferation of mass
media advertising worldwide and emerging as a counterblow to the capitalist obsession
with private property and development.
So is it a cohesive, insurrectionary aesthetic movement?
“Not every act of street art is necessarily one of protest,” explains Schiller. “But
every act carries with it the risk of arrest and no one will take that risk without some
sense of purpose and deeper motivation.”
“The artists may not be able to articulate it,” he continues, “but there is a common
theme and it’s absolutely socialist in nature.”
The article goes on to say that artists working within the same aesthetic movement
commonly share a “broader philosophy” or a “loosely unifying worldview.” Do you feel
like the philosophy behind the street art movement is clearly enough defined and if not
you should get on that.
Good artists will make love among the ruins…Good art will always take us by surprise.
--Dave Hickey
Steve Smith: Age of dissent
After the crash, there will be fewer resources, fewer products, less advertising… and
fewer designers. There will be no more sumptuous coffee table annuals, no more massmailings on creamy paper inviting members to attend gala events in distant cities. Phone
messages will be left unanswered, email unreturned, websites unsurfed. There will be
less paper and more trees, fewer cars and more walking, less airtime and more air.
People will feel less assaulted by images and products and more attentive to the spaces
between them. And they will begin to call these undersigned spaces ‘nature.’
--Barry M. Katz, “Endbegin,” Metropolis
Our lives are now mediated through the aesthetics of consumerism, through images so
commanding that we imitate their inanimacy and deadness
--Daniel Harris
Archdruid: on a healthy ambivalence—
Kingsnorth rejects all this. He insists that collapse can't be prevented, and in any case
should be allowed to happen, because industrial civilization is a "planetary weapon of
mass destruction" and letting it collapse is less destructive than allowing it to continue.
He cites my concept of the Long Descent to argue that the end of industrial civilization
could be a lot less traumatic than Monbiot thinks it must be, insists that ecocide is
inherent in our present society rather than in humanity as a whole, and suggests that
whatever replaces our society is bound to be less dreadful than what we have now.
We are not going to have a future better than the present: not in our lifetimes, and not in
those of our grandchildren's grandchildren. We collectively closed the door on that
possibility decades ago, and none of the rapidly narrowing range of choices still open to
us now offers any way of changing that.
It's nonsense to claim, as some inevitably do, that this realization makes taking action
pointless. Our efforts, given hard work, wisdom, and a substantial dollop of luck, may
well succeed in making the future less difficult than it will otherwise be. It may be
possible for us to save a few things worth saving that would otherwise be lost, to stem
some little of what will be an immense tide of human suffering, to do what we can to help
stabilize a damaged biosphere so Nature doesn't have to rebuild it entirely from scratch.
All of these things are profoundly worth doing. None of them will change the fact that the
future ahead of us will be a profoundly difficult time in which many of the things that are
most meaningful to each of us will inevitably be lost.
During the age that is coming to an end, the billion or so of us who have lived in the
industrial world have enjoyed comforts and opportunities that our species had never
known before and almost certainly will never know again. Those could never have been
anything but temporary, they were distributed no more fairly than anything else passed
around by human hands, and a wiser species would likely have had more common
sense than to launch itself on the trajectory we followed, but it's as distorting to dismiss
the extraordinary achievements of our age as it would be to ignore the terrible cost for
those achievements that will be paid by us and our descendants.
So many of us want things all one way or the other, all good or all evil, without the
terrible ambivalence that pulses through all things human as inescapably as blood. So
many of us want to see today's civilization as humanity's only hope or as ecocide
incarnate, and long for a future that will be either the apotheosis or the final refutation of
the present. It's far less popular, and arguably far more difficult, to embrace that
ambivalence and accept both the wonder and the immense tragedy of our time.
Still, it seems to me that if we are to face up to the challenges of the future that's bearing
down on us, that difficult realization is an essential starting point.
Your project insists that decline/contraction/collapse/deindustrialization is inevitable—I
take the ambivalent viewpoint of the scientific observer. To accept, and view with
curiosity, “both the wonder and immense tragedy of our time.”
Small is Beautiful:
Schumacher’s holy trinity:
Health, Beauty, Permanence
For support section:
The project is ‘uneconomic’ in that it contributes nothing to the growth of goods and
Attempting to remain uncommodified:
Nothing with a price is sacred, and since a sacred spirituality is one thing the project
hopes to uncover, it’s advantageous to keep money as far out as possible.
This could be the hook at the end: help keep this project free and void of advertising,
uncommodified so that it may honestly be said to represent the sacred. The model by
which I’ve chosen to fund the project is a model we might take forward with us into the
age of contraction—it forgoes growth and expansion, adopting ideals of permanence,
long-term viability, human-scale, etc.
A more human-scale, spiritually satisfying future.
On why the bike:
A crank is a small, safe, cheap, comprehensible, nonviolent, and efficient, a perfect tool
of intermediate technology. And he would add, very good for starting revolutions.
It’s also something I can maintain and power myself—supporting autonomy. I can look at
every part and understand its function—it is within my complexity range. Also, the speed
at which it moves is human scaled—slow enough to take in the details of the landscape
being passed through yet fast enough to cover significant distances. Being a relatively
old technology—improved in only minor ways over the decades, it’s still the most
efficient way to move a single human over smooth terrain.
P4—“small is free, efficient, creative, enjoyable, enduring”—for such is the anarchist
P5—we find so many desperate and often resourceful efforts among young dropouts to
make do in simple, free, and self-respecting ways amid the criminal waste and
managerial congestion.
Postindustrial society—has left behind its lethal obsession with megasystems of
production and distribution.
P31—the conditions of unbalance may then no longer apply to specific points but have
become generalized.
P34—there can be “growth” towards a limited objective, but there cannot be unlimited,
generalized growth.
The cultivation and expansion of needs is the antithesis of wisdom. It is also the
antithesis of wisdom and peace. Every increase of needs tends to increase one’s
dependence on outside forces over which one cannot have control, and therefore
increases existential fear. Only by a reduction of needs can one promote a genuine
reduction in those tensions which are the ultimate causes of strife and war.
P36—Huxley: …and a blessed freedom form the silly or pernicious adult education
provided by the mass producers of consumer goods through the medium of
P40—resisting the temptation of letting our luxuries become needs; and perhaps by
even scrutinizing our needs to see if they cannot be simplified and reduced.
P44—Anything that is found to be an impediment to economic growth is a shameful
thing, and if people cling to it, they are thought of as either saboteurs or fools.
P45—the judgment of economics, in other words, is an extremely fragmentary judgment;
out of the larger number of aspects which in real life have to be seen and judged
together before a decision can be taken, economics supplies only one—whether a thing
yields a money profit to those who undertake it or not.
P47—As far as the religion of economics is concerned, the consumer is extra-territorial.
P62—As physical resources are everywhere limited, people satisfying their needs by
means of a modest use of resources are obviously less likely to be at each other’s
throats than people depending upon a high rate of use. (Too poor to be in anyone’s way)
P108—Among material resources, the greatest, unquestionably, is the land. Study how
a society uses its land and you can come to pretty reliable conclusions as to what its
future will be.
P130—if energy fails, everything fails.
P135 Industrialization was spread right across the world, carried forward mainly by the
power of oil. When the supply of oil wanes that power will subside and industrialization
will begin its long retreat.
P146—The most massive wastes are, of course, the nuclear reactors themselves after
they have become unserviceable.
Disused nuclear power stations will stand as unsightly monuments to unquiet man’s
assumptions that nothing but tranquility, from now on, stretches before him, or else—that
the future counts as nothing compared with the slightest economic gain now.
Leaving radioactive waste for future generations to contend with is a rotten thing to do.
P163—The technology of the production by the masses, making use of the best of
modern knowledge and experience, is conducive to decentralization, compatible with the
laws of ecology, gentile in its use of scarce resources, and designed to serve the human
person instead of making him the servant of machines.
Intermediate technology, ground-up technology, bottom up technology: it takes a certain
flair of real insight to make things simple again.
“a breakthrough a day keeps the crisis away at bay.”
Ran on writing a successful blog:
Nobody has ever asked me for advice on how to write a successful blog, but I want to
give it anyway. First, some general advice for writers: 1) Fewer words. 2) Practice
empathy with your audience. Another way to say this is, you can only be a good singer
by listening to the voice coming out of your mouth, not to the voice in your head. 3) From
comedian Bill Hicks: Be yourself, because nobody else can be you, so you have supply
and demand covered. 4) From songwriter Warren Zevon, and this doesn't apply to blog
posts, but it totally applies to songs, essays, and books: The title is the little miracle -everything else is just a job.
There is a special rule for blogs or anything else where you're trying to hold an audience
over time: it's like feeding a fire. The fire is the attention of your readers, and your writing
is the wood. Of course you need clean dry wood and not soggy dirty wood. But also, if
you go too long without throwing wood on, or if you throw too much wood on at once, the
fire will go out. I don't look at Sharon Astyk's blog because on some days she writes
more words than I read. But if you sometimes go three weeks between posts, then
anything new you post, you should not expect it to be noticed for three weeks, if at all. If
you're going to post infrequently, do it on a strict schedule, like the Archdruid or
The Long Decline:
“It’s not going too far, I think, to call belief in progress the established religion of the
modern industrial world. In the same way that Christians have traditionally looked to
heaven and Buddhists to nirvana, most people nowadays look to progress for their
salvation and their explanation for why the world is the way it is.”
1979—peak of global per capita energy use—the apex of civilization. You were born the
first year into the decline—the other side of the bell shaped curve.
White’s Law: a widely accepted rule in human ecology that takes energy use per capita
as the primary measure of economic development.
All time peak 1979 after which two centuries of explosive progress began to unravel.
The industrial age is a pulse waveform, a single bell shaped non-repeating curve
centered on 1979.
More project assumptions:
Rejects the myth of progress and places are position squarely on the downward slope—
preventing the industrial age form ending is an impossibility.
On placing yourself in the future:
the resulting paradox being a source of creativity and insight. P62
Documenting the ruins left behind by the retreat of industrial civilization
On Becoming less prosthetic—(“the less prosthetic will inherit the earth.”) meeting one’s
needs with less, the art of going without. P89
Introduce your vision of spirituality and explore it and it’s teachings in the context of the
deindustrial age.
The bicycle as an efficient way of converting human muscle power into mechanical
energy—a technology that should be preserved and perpetuated into the deindustrial
age. P158
P170-171 Meeting all the needs of a technology appropriate to the deindustrial age.
Durable, independent, replicable, transparent (understand how it works by looking at it.
Post prosthetic society:
Focusing on human potential may be a better option.
In the process of creating a prosthetic society over the last three hundred years, we
have vastly expanded our technological capacities at the cost of systematically
neglecting the potentials within our own bodies and minds.
Specialized functions once performed by computers and complex machines returning to
specialized humans—fascinating character list. The villager in charge of history—
remember events, passing them on. The one good as calculating math in their head.
P204-205 good advertising quote regarding magic
You’re looking for the emergence of a post-industrial spirituality.
An attempt to (in addition to your vision) introduce on a mythic level, an emotionally
powerful and symbolically meaningful narrative.
A new vision of destiny
The reason visions are hard to come by is because the progress myth has dominated
the scene for so long and is wearing thin now.
Those who attempt to imagine the next economy, the next society, or even the next
energy system might be well advised to take at least a passing glance in the direction of
the next spirituality as well.
To outgrow the habit of mind that subordinates human values to the needs of technology
Those who accept the reality of decline and get by on less energy, fewer resources, and
less technology than their competitors will win out.
After a prosthetic society
On the Gazprom post: a good example of Greer’s catabolic collapse theory, a civilization
eating itself by increasing capital costs (building elaborate palaces for the ruling class).
The Long Emergency:
Increasingly and intensely local and smaller scale
The scale of all human enterprises will contract
Project goal: (in vision section)
An attempt to stave off the “collective paralysis, indecision, and cognitive dissonance”
likely to be commonplace in the years ahead.
The fate of megastructures
The end of nonstop marketing. P257
“What we live in” on the fate of various types of structures. P260
riding the interstate highway system into its twilight. P266
Sunset in the Sunbelt: p275
Habitable solely because of cheap energy
Explosive growth phase—last 50 years.
Exceeded its natural carrying capacity by such a degree that even mild to moderate
disruptions in the energy supply system will be disastrous.
Southwestern cities will painfully discover that they exist in deserts (having been able to
forget this)
“A region built on the conquest of vast distances by the automobile, the conquest of
unbearable heat by air conditioning, and the conquest of thirst by heroic water diversion
projects will find itself hot, thirsty, and stranded.”
Sunbelt cities will never again support the populations that were possible during the
height of the cheap oil blowoff. P279
A barely habitable arid scrubland filled with abandoned tract housing, deserted freeways,
vacated strip malls, decommissioned fast-food emporiums, and all the rest of the
equipment that could be of use only in a cheap energy economy.
(the Salton sea provides a glimpse into this future.)
the metaphysical vanities of contemporary architecture
implied superiority: that material progress has provoked a parallel evolution of human
A tragic view of life is likely to re-assert itself
Keenly aware of the limitations of human nature.
Life getting much more real.
Irony, hipness, cutting-edge coolness will seem either quaint or utterly inexplicable to
people struggling to produce enough food to get through the winter. P303
The idea of beauty will surely return from it’s modernist exile, as one of the few
consolations in the years ahead will be our ability to consciously craft things for reasons
other than to merely shock and astonish.
What to call it: a.k.a pick one of these.
The Long Emengency—(Kunstler)
Post-cheap-oil-and-gas world
Post-peak oil era
The Long Descent—(Greer) the declining arc of industrial civilization’s trajectory through
The Long Decline
The age of limits
The age of Contraction
The age of post-exuberance (The post-exuberant age)
The Deindustrial age
The Deindustrial revolution
The twilight of industrial society
The end of the industrial adventure
To Dad:
I mean what is your hope for this because I’ve never been happier; I’ve never had such
a high level of personal satisfaction and fulfillment. I’ve never felt this much value in what
I’m doing. I’ve never been healthier or had less stress. I feel like I’m on the right path.
You’re asking me to derail these trends by wasting precious time in wage labor where I’d
be using my intelligence at a fraction of how I’m using it now.
I don’t subscribe to the belief that hard work is inherently virtuous
Collapse preparedness in eccentricity—I certainly don’t mind and actually quite like
being poor. I’m not about to spend my life earning tokens I don’t particularly need.
Notes: 30 September, a Wednesday
New Donation Gifts:
Audio CD with 12 of my mother’s all time favorite songs
I’ve been doing a little driving lately and noticed on a recent trip between Davis and
Sacramento 15 miles away, that I found myself drifting into complacency. Could have
something to do with the squishy smooth ride and the easy chair feel of my mom’s car,
Or that the car practically drives itself, But it was an experience quite different from the
certain level of alertness and vigilance that’s required to pilot a bicycle. I don’t like the
idea of complacency when operating…
So some shitty stuff is happening in Africa right now. Link to forest drought article. The
plan is to kick everybody off their land and replant the forest. I’m pretty sure the corrupt
politicians that illegally sold those parcels should go to jail.
Care package for Katie:
Mix CD: Beach house, the XX, wave machines
Remaining Chocolate Cigarettes
Stage 1/2 DVD
Stage three postcard
“heard the dream had taken you to a city far from home so I thought I’d send you a care
package.” Track jacket for biking,
Yellow postcards should go to art departments, past donors, etc.
“to request a potential donor packet, see ____.
Link to resume video but don’t embed it?
Wildlife magazine postcards—pick the best design and work with that one.
Great how having a stack of Wildlife art magazines around went from being something of
a burden, to a limited resource as soon a way to exploit them was discovered.
Eagle with the twin towers to DOVA with a post request—slow connections beware
Change fall to winter
Search Sacramento area industrial ruins for a possible overnight.
Welcome post when adverts do out—if you’re overwhelmed, I suggest you look at ____
for starters. Also, if you want a potential donor packet or stage two DVD mailed to your
home or office, send me an email.
“New” gift designator.
Start cropping corner images better—it’s just too easy to do with photoshop
Colossal Land Vehicles: the real and the fantastic
I found this image (left) of a German bucket-wheel excavator and imagined discovering
the hulking mass rusting in some played out strip mine a hundred years from now. The
13,500-ton mobile mining machine is pictured here crossing a road during a fourteenmile journey that took three weeks to complete. A friend remarked that it looks
“steampunk” and Howl’s Moving Castle came to mind. The 2004 Miyazaki film features a
magic fortress that wanders the countryside on four improbably scrawny legs.
While the Bagger 288 is powered by 16.56 megawatts of externally supplied electricity, a
fire demon by the name of Calcifer keeps the castle in motion. As real and fantastic
versions of colossal terrestrial vehicles, the pair embodies that all-important duality: the
everyday versus the supernatural. One is the cursed home of a narcissistic wizard, the
other a product of an energy hungry society. If the thread makes it to Germany, “The
Bagger” will be high on the list to visit.
Currently used in German strip mining operations for coal.
Will definitely make stop at whatever coal mine it’s currently digging.
Brought to mind Miyazaki’s Howl’s Moving Castle—the real and fictional version of
colossal terrestrial vehicles.
Differences—while one is designed for tearing away the landscape, the castle is the
magical mobile home of an attractive but vain and immature wizard. The front door is a
porthole that leads to a handful of other places.
One powered by a fire demon named Calcifer
Calcifer is a fallen star who was caught by Howl. Calcifer didn't want to die, so he struck
a deal with the wizard. Calcifer got Howl's heart and a prolonged life, and Howl received
full access to all of Calcifer's considerable powers.
Discovers that the front door is a magic portal leading to several places
and operated by an attractive but vain and immature wizard named Howl.
.[1] It can travel 2 to 10 m (6.6 to 33 ft) per minute (0.1 to 0.6 km/h)
It can move 240,000 cubic metres (8.475 million cubic feet) of earth per day (same as
Bagger 288).
terrestial vehicle in the Guinness Book of Records
largest and heaviest land vehicle.
Alternate history-- Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual
artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual
and musical artists have been described as steampunk.
Corporate Wasteland notes:
Industrial landmarks were once the proud symbols of human progress and modernity.
The birth of a new American Landscape, a deindustrial one.
…interrogating the cultural meaning of industrial ruins…
…evocative people-less landscapes of dereliction…
The Deindustrial Sublime
There has been a rush to photograph these transitional places before they fall victim to
the wrecker’s ball.
Abandoned industrial sites also appeal as “ruins.”
The aesthetics of industrial dereliction: “modern gothic”
Abandoned mills and factories provide space for leisure, adventure, cultivation,
acquisition, shelter, and art.
The popular belief that the industrial era is ending is reinforced by the orderly demolition
of former economic landmarks…
There is no mistaking the ritualistic nature of these public demolitions.
Re: demolition montage piece
The message seemed to be that there was no going back. If industrial demolition served
to confirm this transformation at a local level, its message was communicated far and
wide by the media and the Internet. The cultural meaning of deindustrialization is
embedded in these universalized images of falling smokestacks and imploding factories.
To enter an abandoned site is, in some small way, to cross an imaginative divide
separating the post-industrial present from the industrial past.
“deindustrial sublime”: a sense of being swept away by the beauty and terror of
economic change.
Plant closings and their subsequent demolition are secular rituals that dramatize North
America’s transition from industrialism to post-industrialism.
Not just about the inevitability of change, but about the obsolescence of the past.
The post-industrial ethos is graphically represented by the “wrecking ball,” the falling
smokestack, the pulverized grain elevator, and the shattering implosion.
Falling smokestacks
Many of the cultural symbols, beliefs, and values that once fortified a sense of industrial
order were cast into doubt by the demolition of industrial landmarks.
Public spectacle, festive mood, visual drama
But this innate appeal does not fully explain the continued facination.
“provide the occasion for an important kind of ritual communication.”
A ritualized marker of economic change.
In viewing industrial demolition as a sign of social progress. Falling smokestacks, like
other ritualized moments marking the economic transformation underway, are thus
contested symbols.
Falling smokestacks have marked the triumph of the post-industrial era.
They make North America’s transition from industrialism to post-industrialism appear
natural and inevitable.
Could this assertion be adapted to mean that they make the end of the industrial age
appear natural and inevitable. Maybe such an assertion isn’t contested—it’s what comes
next that is disagreed on. Your argument being that what comes next is a kind of postindustrial dark age, not an information age with a service economy.
***The importance of appearing honest and earnest***
…an established order must make its world view appear taken for granted.
The toppling of large industrial structures—the “visual signatures” of industrialism—
signals the transformation underway.
Urban Exploration and the Aesthetics of Deindustrialization.
Dark tourism
Loss and nostalgia
Abandonment is a powerful cultural motif in the modern world. postmodern version of Fodor’s
“partitioned space” that was set apart from society and outside the usual dictates of time.
Among the most authentic and exciting playgrounds on earth.
Popular with young adults unhappy with the “spatial homogeneity” and commercialism of
the modern city.
Provide a rare authentic experience
Higher purpose: to record abandoned buildings before they are demolished or converted
to other uses
The aesthetic categories of the picturesque and the sublime—understanding the
magnetism of the industrial ruins
The search for the sublime in the built environment is at EU’s very core.
“truly decay at its finest”
The genre of travel narrative
Urban explorers regularly compare industrial ruins to the natural world.
Values: the intensity of emotion and sensation that these places inspire
Urban explorers may not have traveled great physical distances (you are the exception),
but they have traveled great social distances—
To enter an abandoned site is, in some small way, to cross the imaginative divide
separating the perceived post-industrial present from the industrial past.
…political potential of urban exploration to reclaim our cities for people, and of industrial
ruins to subvert notions of social “progress.”
It’s assumed our material progress has been paralleled by a social progress—that as our
stuff has improved we’ve become better people (kunstler)—industrial ruins subvert this
Industrial Ruins (via Corporate Wasteland): wild places of tremendous beauty and
Politics often ambiguous
Engaged in the mystification of former industrial sites, transforming them into mythic
In reminding us that nothing lasts forever, he believes that the site of ruined industry
raises questions about the “persistent myth of progress.” These industrial ruins thus
“tempered the optimism of modern industrial development.”
Industrial ruins rebuke visions of progress. (?) or are they more likely to confirm notions
of progress? (as opposed to subverting them)—by confirming the inevitability of change.
Then he goes on to assert because they are places of play that they are inherently
apolitical. Also because the changes are assumed to be inevitable and rarely questioned
by urban explorers
Just urban tourism?
“empty picturesque”
a consumption of “the little differences in the lanscape”
reexamine our motivation for poking around such places, once drawn by the prospect of
an authentic experience, now merely looking for a good picture.
Most only value the intensity of emotion and sensation that these abandoned places
afford them. Little more than post-industrial playgrounds. Nostalgia takes a back seat to
the thrill of transgression.
This certainly describes the experiences with the Betteravia and the refinery. But with
the play comes a kind of spiritual communion as well—touching the deindustrial sublime.
Karla’s birthday—the 6th of October
Proper name for stage three—referring to the desert
Document causeway as rugged post collapse structure
More evenings spent in candlelight
To description for ‘a place to settle’ gift—a better name, plus a reference to it being a
good place to weather the deindustrial age
DVD to anyone that wants one post—maybe in with announcement post
To do tonight/tomorrow:
Edit moonrise and waterfall
Build DVD menus
Export for upload:
End civ
Dixie square skate
Dixie square the zone
Burn and preview DVD test copy
Audio CDs for karla and Katie
Collect addresses and mail DVDs
Welcome video for kickstarter
Finish DVD mailings
New donation gifts—take images, write descriptions.
Bagger 288 post
Read and process ‘industrial ruins’
Continue work on project description
Map for upper left
Re-do funding need list—recalculate
(What about a recent donations area?)
Update current reading—pull quotes
Add friends (and to thank you list stage 2)
Ana Gonzales
Eric Lentz—much help in planning
Amanda-- $30
Add email addresses to mailing list
DVD post including links to vids discovered during housecleaning
Artfest images from Wendy—post
Write ‘sleeping in ruined space’ post
Write sound post
[email protected]
Check in at the university
Stage three corner map
Link to apocalypse vintage
Add bigger continuation links at the bottom of the page
Steampunk as a romanticized do-over, a setting back of the clock. A merging of
Victorian ideals (the fetishization of the hand crafted object) with the early steam
technology that launched the industrial age.
Why biking is so great (yet another reason):
It’s not subject to the same regulation and ordering that keeps automobiles channeled in
narrow grooves. There is much more improvisation, room for different kinds of
maneuvers, use of different surface types—navigation of narrower spaces, against the
regular flows—things that if you tried in a car you’d probably kill somebody, or at least
end up in their living room.
Improvised use of space means turning when you want to, in whatever direction, going
against sanctioned or established flows within the urban environment.
Skateboarders and rollerbladers enjoy a similar freedom from regimented use of urban
I like having an intimate knowledge of the cracks and bumps in the pavement along the
paths and streets I use most often. This is a kind of tactile knowledge that doesn’t
accompany driving.—this goes along with the awareness while riding thing.
Car post support—industrial ruins page 84
Sensual experiences while riding—the smells of food—passing through urban space—
the Chicago and Davis at dinner time.
On being attracted to the Jehova’s witness that comes to the door—how often does
someone come to you wanting to discuss the existence of a soul—death, big life
questions? These conversations normally come up between individuals with an
established intimacy—not between perfect strangers.
A defense of critical mass: (she did work on the 14 floor of a glass tower in the middle of
a large city)
But what does is actually accomplish if people just get back into their cars the next day?
An interruption of flows within the city—vehicular flows translate to flows of money as
stuff isn’t delivered, people don’t make it to meetings, people don’t shop when their
trapped in their cars, man hours are lost—this throws a wrench in the system.
Plus, since the events are scheduled for the same day each month, maybe some drivers
choose to not drive on those days. Also, it serves as a reminder that bikes use the same
road surfaces—we’re here, don’t forget us.
Normalcy isn’t exactly normal—in a capitalist society it’s a manufactured condition.
Regarding the removal and reintroduction of archaeological items from abandoned
industrial sites:
By claiming these items and reintroducing them into the world as commodified items with
an assigned value—recovered from the trash heap—They have already passed through
the process of becoming waste but then are re-figured, re-categorized as valuable
“found sculpture” proving obsolescence can be a somewhat fluid category.
Industrial ruins critique of progress page 101
What insight is gained through watching the structures we’ve built fall apart (return to the
earth)? I thing first, it becomes apparent how much energy went into keeping them from
falling apart: constant maintenance, painting, cleaning, etc.
Official title for desert leg:
The desert: out of sight/out of mind, a place without a future.
Email to T. Ednsor:
Besides intruding your project with links to the most applicable vids, turn him onto stalker
as a unique way industrial ruins are used in cinema. Of course inquire about funding.
You should write more about how the spaces are coded for certain behavior, uses,
who’s there now? Animals? The incredible value of a disordered space.
Earnest—resulting from or showing sincere and intense conviction, is the work entirely
without cynicism?
The perfect commercial for apple’s i-phone: paul trying to break his phone so that his
employer replaces it with a newer version—but it doesn’t break no matter how poorly he
treats it.
When it’s a chore to get to the end of the notebook, you know you’ve been working.
Leading stalker-esque tours into the brownlands—guiding people through ‘the passage’
Could have a Chicago version that’s also a donation gift. Guide you through the place—
inform you of the hazards—point out what’s there—take you safely to the room that’s
rumored to grant one their innermost desire. Frame this as a kind of anti-tourism—draw
heavily from ‘industrial ruins’—this might need its own main page post.
Experience the intense materiality and strange juztapostions of displaced/disordered
objects in a space that is vastly unlike the highly ordered/coded spaces in which we
spend most of our time. Lay out the itinerary—mention that you’ll fly to Chicago—give
the tour.
If one is able to make it appear that one isn’t impinging on anyone else’s pursuit of
happiness (difficult in an age of ever scarcer resources) then one is less likely to be the
target of misguided malicious mischief.
The cyclist that carries his shelter with him, can live cheaply, cover long distances, and
not adapt to a variety of people and situations is the most well adapted character type in
a collapse scenario—highly evolved for the age of contraction—this goes in with the
evolution post. Survivability is everything when it comes down to it.
Frame Edith as a collector—the first major benefactor, the first major ‘collector’ of your
You’ve aligned things rather well for yourself—you just have to have some followthrough.
The peculiarity of private aviation—being able to assemble the resources that would
allow one to be able to fly through the air in a contraption that uses highly refined fuel,
An amendment to the film—someone discovers a bunker full of something really
special—like giant rolls of sandpaper—the “lost” industrial material is introduced in a low
energy, future, well into collapse and sets of a renaissance in something—perhaps
Also—if you knew anyone who might be into the project—I can send them to anyone
with an address—they make a lovely gift.
You should probably just make that industrial ruins book your bible.
…and is currently my bible. (liberated from the library)
comes highly recommended.
You might be able to fit a few of those black and white screen shots into an image that
makes them look like printed, matted, framed—packaged for sale—ready to hang.
Memory and dereliction
I’m going to miss you until I see you again.
Yes, actively.
Project goal number five can be explained in a post that’s relatively short and sweet—
basically: tried it, it didn’t work, lets try something else—lets get ready for what’s coming
next. Well we tried it guys—turns out trying to turn everything around us into money just
isn’t a practice compatible with a healthy planet. Now lets get on with it and turn our
attention to what’s next.
Make the offer to send a DVD a large part of the welcome post
What about stenciling the water tower—is it appropriate to leave your mark on
something you often treat as a specimen for study—practice leave no trace?
Record high-resolution wave file of water tower performance—with binaurels—as a test
recording for the microphones and for the recorder. Maybe add some texture—have
someone climbing down or up the ladder.
You’re starting with your core then expanding out from there.
Tonight: emails to Chicago crew
Patrick Holbrook—any documentation of the forces of nature show?
Joseph Miller
Jason Pallas
Catherine Sullivan
Heather Haley
Valerie Snobeck
Christopher Smith
Julia Hectman
Scott Wolniak
On bringing the use of sound in your practice to the level of the visual. Edith giving you
that book. The world is never without sound—the sound of the universe—coming from
every atom
To both heather and Erica—our relationships are romantic because the passions remain
unfulfilled—direct Erica to that scene in that film with the strangers at the train station.
The history of television advertising is like a historical document outlining which
industries were enjoying success at any given time in history. Also, what do the products
for sale tell us about us as a culture? Sounds like an assignment for a freshmen level
college class
Subjecting a bunch of dumb eighteen year old would be models to the horrors of the LA
streets—traffic jams, parking, miles of intimidating urban fabric—hilarious and clearly the
most difficult part of the ‘challenge’
The passage as donation gift?
Brett Tracy
I’ve argued in previous posts here that the industrial age is in some sense the ultimate
speculative bubble, a three-century-long binge driven by the fantasy of infinite economic
growth on a finite planet with even more finite supplies of cheap abundant energy.
Industrial Ruins: Space, Aesthetics and Materiality
Ruined space is ripe with transgressive and transcendent possibilities.
The production of spaces of ruination and dereliction are an inevitable result of capitalist
development and the relentless search for profit.
Demotition montage
The demolition of large chimneys being the most spectacular sign of this replacing of
one industrial template by another.
Contest the notion that ruins are spaces of waste.
Davis Brownlands: stripped and then cleared to encourage property speculation.
The picturesque and the sublime
Such a melancholic aesthetic tempered the optimism of modern industrial development,
for ruins signified the transience of all earthly things despite the utopian promises of
endless social advancement.
Rather there is an unpredictable immanence of impression and sensation. Yet
intimations of transience are far from absent. Instead, the influences of the past emerge
from a rather less controlled environment, one that is not devised to transmit ideological
Modern Gothic emerging out of a ‘post-industrial nostalgia.’
To enter them is to venture into the darkness and the possibilities of confronting that
which is repressed. These pleasures are of a vicarious engagement with fear and a
confrontation with the unspeakable and one’s own vulnerability and mortality, a diversion
which is also a way of confronting death and danger and imagining it in order to disarm
it, to name and articulate it in order to deal with it.
Industrial ruins similarly question the persistent myth of progress. [???]
Gothic interpretations usefully foreground continuities with the romantic tradition in which
ruins rebuke scenarios of endless progress, a notion that I will also explore, though as
more of a critical appraisal which understands industrial ruins as symbols through which
ideologically loaded versions of progress, embedded within cultures of consumption and
industrial progress, can be critiqued.
Disintegration of the ordered
Ruins epitomize transgression and the collapse of boundaries.
Acknowledge the blurring of boundaries and also the inevitability of death and decay—
but positioned in a celebratory fashion.
They gesture towards the present and the future as temporal frames which can be read
as both dystopian and utopian, and they help to conjure up critiques of present
arrangements and potential futures.
Capture something of the sensual immanence of the experience of traveling through a
Possibilities, effects and experiences they provide. Used for accommodation, ecological
practice, adventure, play, recreation and creativity.
He sees these environments as providing so much—in particular a sensual, rich,
authentic experience that is difficult to come by in our ordered urban spaces—it brings to
mind the question of why don’t are cities provide this—because we wouldn’t need to buy
trinkets to simulate (as stand-ins) the effect if it did.
As spaces of disorder, they critique the highly ordered/regulated urban spaces that
surround them.
The contingent, ineffable, unrepresentable, uncoded, sensual, heterogeneous
possibilities of contemporary cities are particularly evident in their industrial ruins.—a
celebration of the mysteries of the world.
Contemporary Uses of Industrial Ruins:
Ruins also provide spaces where forms of alternative public life may occur, activities
characterized by an active and improvisational creativity, a casting off of selfconsciousness conditioned by the prying gaze of CCTV cameras and fellow citizens, and
by the pursuit of illicit and frowned-upon activities.
The looseness of ruined space permits a wide range of practices.
They can serve as erotic realms where sex can take place beyond prying eyes
A large unsurveilled space for play
Pleasurable activities which are usually forbidden but allow a spectacular engagement
with the materiality of the world.
Cinematic tropes:
Backdrop for action sequences
Imaginary dystopian future
Nostalgically lament the passing of the industrial way of life
Deviant activities positively reclaimed
Vitality of opposing tendencies:
‘Sinking from life’ while simultaneously ‘settings of life’
This rapid colonization testifies to the scale of ongoing human attempts to banish from
urban settings all but the most favored companion plants and animals from their midst.
One might say that factories, which were devoted to the transformation of nature in the
from of ‘raw materials’ into manufactured goods, when ruined return to nature once
more, and are subject to its temporalities as the illusion of permanence dissolves.
Ruins are heterogeneously co-produced by humans and non-humans which are
connected to the site by numerous flows, routes and networks of association.
All these practical uses are at variance to conventional notions about what urban space
ought to be used for, and they are enabled by lack of surveillance and regulation, by the
under-determined characteristics of ruined space.
Ruins and the Dis-ordering of Space
Challenging prevailing forms of spatial organization… through the aesthetic encoding
which produces normative visual conventions across space.
The internalization of these spatial norms about how to act in urban space also fosters a
reflexive monitoring of the self and a watchfulness towards fellow urbanites, selfsurveillance and the surveillance of others.
Primarily, spaces of consumption multiply and are managed to facilitate consumeroriented activity as opposed to other practices.
Designers have ‘learned from Disney’ in the combination of social control and aesthetic
…ruins are excess matter, containing superfluous energy and meaning, which as
disorderly intrusions, often in more central areas of the city, always come back to haunt
the planners’ vision of what the city should be.
Production always generates its negative
Ruins are exemplary spaces that simultaneously produce disorder and semiotic and
material excess. They contain manifold unruly resources with which people can
construct meaning, stories and practices.
Heterotopia – an unrepresentable space ‘whose very otherness disturbs speech and
dissolves myths—language is brought to the threshold of impossibility
The affective, peculiar sensations experienced in the ruin slip away from those
normative procedures through which the space is represented and categorized.
…dislocates the tendency to classify and categorize experiences.
This also reminds us that one of the most vital yet unrecognized signs of mundane
ordering is the work that goes into keeping decay and non-human intrusion at bay, in
keeping out damp and spraying weedkiller.
This rampant exploitation of derelict space reveals that nature is not separate but will
always ignore previous attempts to maintain boundaries between culture and nature,
and will thwart the assignation of plants and animals to specific ecological niches or to
agricultural, domestic or ‘wild’ domains.
The disorderly aesthetics of ruins
Unfamiliar and hugely varied textures emerge
These spaces are dis-ordered by the agency of non-human life forms which seek out
opportunities for spreading and colonizing, and by the contingencies of climate.
The notion that space should be divided up to prevent different elements from mingling
is part of the normative aesthetic ordering of space, a modernist aesthetic regulation
replete with design codes purporting to embody common-sense notions through which
‘appropriate’ visual appearance masquerades as objectively correct.
Ruins entirely rebuke these normative aesthetic orderings and accordingly are
ubiquitously described as unattractive or ugly. My own view is that, conversely, they gain
an aesthetic charge by virtue of this difference, in that their disruption of these
conventions is evident in markedly alternative sights which simultaneously highlight and
enforce semiotics of space.
Unexpected juxtapositions of objects offer disorganized scenes, and an abundance of
hybrid forms deny the designed separation of colors, objects and textures, providing an
alternative aesthetic of dissonance and peculiar associations.
The happenstance montages of ruined space, however, comment both ironically on the
previously fixed meanings of their constituent objects, and the ever-so-carefully arranged
montages of commodified space. Pleasurable by virtue of the interaction between
objects bearing different semiotic charges, and the arbitrary relationships between
different forms, shapes, textures and materialities, the unending diversity of uncoded
material juxtapositions stimulate ineffable sensations. These are connected to the
variable materiality and tactility of the world, and the surplus meanings which emerge
from unexpected conjoinings.
Performance and sensation in Ruined Space
In the contemporary city the body has become ‘primarily a performing self of
appearance, display and impression management.’
Choreographed performances—on ‘stages’
Flows of people through the city, and hence their potential for enacting varied
performances and being subject to rich experiences, are minimized as they are
organized to surge through specific conduits. (shopping!)
The presence of these marginal spaces such as ruins, which produce a blurring of
boundaries and ‘constant ruptures in terms of value,’ provide unfamiliar contexts for
more improvised performances which respond to chance meetings and contingent
events and facilitate the enaction of different pathways.
The CAR:
In the case of the car, the physical efforts – the ‘micro movements’ – used to negotiate
space are minimal, producing a desensitizing effect.
Accordingly, the sensations of the city are dominated by the visual in accordance with
the requirements of producers of simulations and spectacles. (Billboards!!!)
‘new urban prosthetics’—a system of smooth and sealed walkways, escalators, bridges,
people conveyors and tunnels.
In the same way that there are no social barriers to movement across space, there are
no temporal restrictions that determine how long one should stay in any location, no
curbs on loitering and lingering, and no conventions that prevent slow movement or
stillness, fostering a freedom over spatial temporalities that can contrast with the fast
world outside with its purposive directedness.
Rather than functional rooms, such spaces seem akin to caves, passages and other
archetypal dream spaces.
Why you need a high resolution WAVE recorder: sound post
In a large abandoned factory, the initial peculiarity of finding oneself alone in a vast
space, devoid of other people and often stripped of fixtures, is compounded by the
shroud of quiet which covers space and heightens awareness of sound. This relative
quiescence contrasts with the dense soundscapes of other urban space, a hubbub
composed of effusive machinery, blaring sounds and loud conversations. Yet as one
becomes more habituated to the ruin, as it becomes more homely, other sounds
emerge; for whilst the ruin insulates against the tumult of the outside world, a plethora of
lower-decibel murmurs, soft echoes and scurries of unseen movement are enclosed to
produce a more delicate soundscape.
Would be so good to do an audio recording at the rocket test site—a site where the
noise would have been so intense, probably incredibly quiet.
You should totally post on the sound component becoming a bigger part of the project.
The eye moves across space but is generally not directed to carefully situated
spectacles and signs, and visual experience is synaesthetic and affective.
Industrial ruins to critique the over-regulated character of contemporary urban space.
Resist commoditization:
Accordingly, the regulation of the urban everyday becomes manifest by its absence and
by the possibilities made available in the ruin. Because ruins are difficult to bring into
dominant systems of representation, because they can’t be commodified without being
entirely transformed, they contrast with the spectacles of the postmodern, themed city,
and can stimulate imaginative, alternative practices which bring forth alternative and
critical forms of consciousness. Fostering notions about how the world might be
differently ordered in accordance with looser aesthetics, less managed spaces, bodies
and things, and multi-interpretable signs, ruins can hint at potential futures in which
individual creativities and desires are nurtured rather than being subsumed under
individualistic consumption.
Dixie square gift:
Exploring a ruin as “anti tourism”
Not a smooth movement through the space—obstacles and tough passages, often
On obvious spectacles around which to organize a tour
No enforcement of performative norms
Sights indecipherable
Nothing to buy
Experiences cannot be into a pre-arranged vocabulary or classified as “exotic” or ‘typical’
Materiality in the Ruin: Waste, Excess, and Sensuality
In one sense, modern capitalism proceeds by forgetting the scale of devastation
wreaked upon the physical and social world, for obliterating traces of this carnage
fosters the myth of endless and seamless progress. However, lost and abandoned
objects vividly convey this destruction.
Page 101- critique of progress
The myth-of-history as progress breaks down and impacted objects reveal the cracks in
its construction’, because it embodies a continuous process of composition and
decomposition in which everything, including power itself, is constructed and transient.
The barrier between one thing and another evaporates as they merge to from
indistinguishable matter or a separate hybrid artifact.
Objects—often appear as sensuous and peculiar sculptures, taking on a curious,
appealing resonance by virtue of their chance recontextualisation in space.
The experience of materiality in the industrial ruin has the potential to alter the normative
apprehension of objects.
These artifacts pose an alternative way of relating to objects that goes beyond buying
and possessing them, domestically displaying and enfolding them, and using them as
common sense fixtures around which everyday life is organized. Such objects
interrogate the normative placing and ordering of material which binds the social and
commodity worship and possession, confounding notions about use and exchange
Spaces of memory and the Ghosts of Dereliction:
The transience of all spaces
Most dramatically, the stillness of ruins provokes a comparison with the fast urban world
outside, full of urgent mobilities and social and industrial processes – which require
perpetual inputs of energy to keep things efficiently ticking over to ensure profit
The ruin is a shadow realm of slowness in which things are revealed at a less frantic
Just as visiting ruins is a kind of anti-tourism, the ruin itself stands as a sort of antiheritage.
Sights, smells, delicate soundscapes—all at variance to the sensually ordered world
outside—a childish sensuality is engaged when the desensualised body experiences the
jarring shocks of these unfamiliar sights, smells, sounds, textures—as well as being
dirty, contorting the body in accordance with the ramshackle environment, picking up
and playing with an object—an individual can be catapulted back to childhood
The variegated atmospheres, aggregations, textures, sounds and smells of ruins means
that they are places in which to remember otherwise, realms rich in potential for the
evocation of involuntary memories. Along with other places on the margins of regulated
space, ruins are ‘points of transition, passages from reason to myth, moments of magic
that exist at the interstices of modernity.’
Dixie square tour:
P160—in this sense, one conception of walking around a ruin might be to construe it as
a walk through memory, a walk which also produces a compulsion to attempt to narrate
that which is remembered.
And by looking at ruins we might learn to adopt a more contingent and open approach to
reading and narrating urban space, to look for the multiple signs that hide behind the
themes and official stories of place.
Lack of narrative in the work:
In this regard, ruins foreground the values is inarticulacy. The disparate fragments,
juxtapositions, traces, involuntary memories, inferred meanings, uncanny impressions
and peculiar atmospheres cannot be woven into an eloquent narrative.
And inarticulacy is present in the blurred, partly eradicated legends that advertise
products manufactured in the factory, a present indecipherability which mocks the
energy expended on fixing meaning through branding and advertising.
…as glaring signs of instability, ruins deride the pretensions of governments and local
authorities to maintain economic prosperity and hence social stability, and give the lie to
those myths of endless progress which sustain the heightened form of neo-liberal
philosophy through which a globalizing capitalist modernity extends.
All subsides into rubbish in the production of vast quantities of waste.
Concentrate on the vitality, seething possibilities and manifold forms of life (and past life)
which dwell within ruins.
[Ruins] reveal that the city is not constituted out of an organized web of interconnected,
discrete spaces. Instead it includes spaces incommensurable with such containment.
For besides ruins, cities also contain scruffy areas behind advertising hoardings, rubbish
dumps, undeveloped brownfield sites, culverts and canals, land underneath motorway
flyovers, the surroundings of rail lines, junk and scrap yards, and many species of
Rather than those spaces of ordered disorder, in which the carnivalesque is
manufactured and the preferred disposition is a controlled decontrol of the emotions,
ruins are spaces in which alternative emotions, senses, socialites, desires, and forms of
expressiveness and speculation are provoked by their disorder and affordances.
There is a case for a politics which allows them to remain, to crumble at their own pace,
to ultimately form a gap which reveals where something was in contradistinction to
spaces of memorialisation…
Will Rogan:
Thursday, October 22—4:30 PM—Technocultural studies building
James and Sameer coming Nov. 6-8
Bicycle Hall of Fame opening ceremony—Nov. 7
Southern California was a maelstrom of sinful exploits and it’ll require what remains of a
sweltering central valley summer to process what’s occurred. So in addition to the
numerous ‘text’ placeholders on this site being replaced by actual sentences, expect a
few revealing accounts of what it was to exist on the margins in some of California’s
most desirable neighborhoods.
The Possible Audible
Visuality overwhelms aurality in the cultural balance of the senses. The light that sparks
the presence of objects and environments seems to be instantaneously everywhere and
thus assumes a state of being that has proved to be particularly attractive to Western
culture, whereas the actions that produce sounds appear scattered in space and time,
tied to events that merely take place within a larger state of being.
--Douglas Kahn, Noise, Water, Meat: A History of Sound in the Arts
The author goes on to discuss how artist John Cage “set out to tilt the balance in favor of
the ear” with work that disassociated sound from singular events and reminded his
audience of its ever-presence. Because the atoms that compose matter each vibrate
continuously with a resonance that can be “heard,” even the most unyielding of objects
can be said to have a sound.
In an attempt to abolish the sensual favoritism evident in my own artistic practice, I
intend to focus a good part of my attention on the varied soundscapes the desert has to
offer. From the whine of Predator drones over El Mirage to the whispers of polyester
clad spirits haunting the North Shores Yacht Club. My hope is that when the artistic yield
of stage three is appraised, aural elements will be heard carrying as much weight as
their visual counterparts.
A fresh artistic approach often requires a new set of tools. In this case it’s a pair of
binaural “in-ear” microphones and a high-resolution WAVE recorder. The binaurals, worn
like earbuds, pick up the sound collected by the pinna or fleshy outer ear. This
positioning imbues the recording with spatial cues that provide a naturalistic sense of the
three dimensional world. Since everyone’s pinnas are unique, your brain may be slightly
confused by a recording made with my ears. Don’t be upset however since this is more
likely to be a pleasurable sort of confusion than the type responsible for anxiety.
Becoming proficient with tools of the sonic trade should facilitate a honing of my acoustic
sensibility. I expect to build upon the foundation laid by The Joy of Infinity and make the
evocative quality of its audio the standard for future work. So dust off the headphones
your mom bought you when she was sick of hearing “that infernal racquet” coming from
your bedroom. You’ll want them for this one.
I have much in common with the Victorian thinkers in terms of the importance of beauty
in one’s life. This spills over into conceptions regarding the value of youth—vanity, etc.
Kickstarter Welcome Video:
stuff to cover:
Project goals
What’s been accomplished so far?
What to expect from the next leg—sites, work
What sets the endeavor apart?
Explain the latter half of the industrial adventure
Some will insist that technology will bail us out—I’m among a growing chorus of voices
that has looked carefully at the numbers and concluded that
Why they should be a part of it—
Gifts—emphasis on being integrated into the project. Let me send you
Must be:
Visually interesting
If it manages to be all those things then yahoo.
These are difficult places to get to—places you might not get to see otherwise
How about a 123,000 acres of sluge covered west texas ground
Bicycle shoes—from bicycle shoes to moccasins—a nod to Mr. Rogers—jacket to
sweater, outdoor shoes to indoor shoes.
Hello neighbor
Well hello heighbor,
You’ve caught me at one of my favorite places—what was once a sprawling industrial
complex that turned tomatoes into soup and ketchup, is now a fragmented slab of
My needs are relatively modest.
I already have most of what I need—my bike needs some new tires, and I was
An invitation to come along on the adventure—to engage with the work directly.
So come along with me as I cross miles of desert, explore the ruins of a
Begins with a few shots on the bike—the approach—get the bike into the space—
So why should you want to be a part of this adventure?
Closing shots montaged in from previous edits
Eno or Maus
Or maybe my voice is heard behind the opening montage—I thoughtful fragments—“I
see a world where…
Address what people have done—
It’s time to try something different—we tried converting everything around us into money,
and we almost succeeded, but it’s now glaringly obvious that this approach will not do.
Ever heard that cynical statement: if they could figure out a way to charge us for the air
we breath they would… well lets hope they don’t get a chance to try.
I intend to go out into the world and take a closer look at our changing circumstances, to
document the onset of the Deindustrial Revolution.
If the myth of progress has been the dominant religion of our time, the belief system that
most people look at for their explanation of why the world is the way it is, for why their
lives are the way they are, for why they must put up with the bullshit they do—because
overall, things are getting better and better.
That old track that was appropriated by Philips—maker of television—well it’s a nice
song, but it’s a lie. No story can persist beyond its end.—a dubious belief system with
fewer and fewer subscribers every day, what kind of spirituality will emerge in the void it
leaves as it fades into history?
Maybe layout goals systematically—even number them
One: I’m not looking to predict the future, I’m telling one possible story, speculative
fiction, making some educated guesses about how certain things might unfold. Think of it
more like storytelling—if you like the story, you’ll keep watching.
The bicycle honestly just seems like the most practical and pleasurable way to get
around and it fits in well with many of the project’s themes.
So what makes this one different? Why not raise thousands of dollars for skin cancer or
global warming or children in Africa.
This project isn’t about curing cancer or raising awareness of global warming or
Open ended-It’s not so much about the cycling—It’s just my chosen form of transportation since it
allows me to be extremely self sufficient.
The Illuminated thread is essentially a research project. I’d like to document the
contraction phase of the industrial age is it grinds to a close.
Remember that future? Is someone still toiling away somewhere trying to cram a turkey
dinner into something the size of pea?
This is my theory on why people like to hang out in the Apple store: because it reminds
them of that sleek future that never arrived.
My parent’s generation bough into this story story—when another wonder product hit
the shelves every week and it seamed there was no limit to what science could come up
with to improve
To have a long and short version of the welcome video.
or hop into an aluminum cylinder and be transported halfway around the world in a
matter of hours. Some of us even got to fly up to the moon and play golf.
Now I know what you’re thinking:
But technology! [in a primal yell from the top of the water tower
Well it just so happens that technology is not the same thing as energy and is subject to
the law of diminishing returns.
And having gotten us into the situation we’re in, it would be unwise to count on it to get
us out, or to prevent the conclusion of the industrial age.
So yes, the party’s over. Actually, it’s been over for a while, it’s just that the DJ hasn’t
noticed that everyone is bored stiff and on antidepressants.
When you’ve got it into sections—clips—then think about possible shots that would
parallel the content of each section—climbing the diagonal bar, ups and downs over
concrete stumps, etc.
Back to the future intro
Personal faith in a dazzling future
Explain the “story” myth of progress—linear incremental progress throughout history
Limits don’t apply—technology, innovation
Reveal the fallacy of the “story”
History is not linear but cyclical—civilizations rise and fall, often when they exhaust their
resource base (limits). knowledge is sometimes lost
Fossil fuels allowed us to leave the agrarian pattern behind, gave us incredible powers
and allowed us to believe somehow that we were exempt from history’s cycles. Our
lifestyles are a product of that extravagance
Facing the end of the industrial age—the contraction phase
Questions about where were headed
Welcome to the illuminated thread
Structures and landscapes
Telling a new story
I was nine when back to the future two came out in theatres. My friends and I all wanted
hoverboards and there was absolutely no doubt in my child brain that I’d someday pilot a
car that not only flew, but ran on banana peels and stale beer.
My faith that this dazzling future was just around the corner isn’t so much a testament to
the genius of the film’s special effects as it is to the power of a story that I learned at an
even younger age. It’s a story that each of us knows well because it’s been endlessly
retold in millions of different ways for generations. In fact, we hear it so often that most of
us take it to be self-evident truth.
As the story goes, history is the story of incremental human progress from our primitive
cave dwelling beginnings to our high technology present. As we’ve improved ourselves
we’ve improved our lot. This trend toward better and better living will continue until all of
humanity is living amongst the stars in a science fiction utopia.
Before you book that Mars cruise, I have some news that may come as a surprise. It
turns out this story was just that all along—a grand tale of destiny, with little regard for
the reality we live in. In other words—it’s a myth, the Myth of endless progress, and it’s
built on expectations about the world that just don’t hold water.
Social evolution doesn’t proceed in a straight line but tends to go in cycles. Civilizations
have a relatively predictable lifecycle that includes a rise and inevitable fall [walking over
a concrete block]. Often when civilizations fall, knowledge is lost and things have to be
reinvented from scratch—debunking the idea that we’re continuously advancing and that
were firmly standing on the technological achievements of the past.
The industrial age isn’t so much built on the foundation of the past as it is a single
critically important innovation. The ability to harness the energy stored in hydrocarbons.
Until that point people lived a relatively similar lifestyle, dependent on the energy that fell
upon the earth as sunlight as it drove the weather that turned the windmills and water
wheels of the pre-industrial world. It was fossil fuels and only fossil fuels that allowed us
to break that agrarian pattern and build the industrial world.
Strangely, the myth assumes that limits don’t apply to modern man because the forward
march of human progress eclipses all else. We have science and technology—and
there’s no kind of trouble we can’t innovate ourselves out of. Maybe the power that
hydrocarbons have given us has gone to our heads. But we know from past examples
that when civilizations outrun their resource base, they go under. It’s nieve and counter
productive to assume we’re somehow exempt from history’s cycles just as it is to
assume people of past ages weren’t as resourceful or igneous as we are.
Yup, the tremendous gifts of the industrial age were made possible by extraordinary
amounts of cheap and reliable energy—the lifestyles we’ve grown up treating as normal
are entirely a product of that prodigious spending of that energy. When those deposits
are no longer able to be retrieved cheaply and reliably because they are in fact finite, the
industrial age will grind to a close taking with it many of the luxuries we’ve come to take
for granted. Someday we’ll look back either nostalgically or with disbelief at the
incredible extravagance we once considered normal.
As two hundred years of exuberant growth begins to disintegrate, beginning with the
hyper complex systems of global production and trade that were the last to arrive on the
scene, what we are most likely facing is a long bumpy ride down the backside of
industrial civilization’s declining arc through time. Not the sudden collapse that
Hollywood has taught us to expect and certainly not more of the same. As we leave
behind the age of exuberance and enter the age of limits—what will our lives be like?
How will we meet our needs? What will this world look like? What gods will we pray to
and what stories will we tell our children when that ask us why the world is the way it is?
What cultural and technological knowledge should we retain and what can we let fade
into history?
Riding my bicycle through the world’s industrialized nations, I’ll be looking for answers to
these and other questions.
What you’ll see is content derived from looking outward, exploring, investigating—a
direct engagement with the world.
I plan to spend much of my time on the road visiting and documenting some of the
structures we’ve been able to build with all that ancient sunlight—buildings where atoms
are split, rivers that flow uphill. I’ll look at some of the places that have already been left
behind by capitalism’s relentless search for profit as they have much to tell us about who
we are, where we’re headed, and . I’ll expose the beauty of these places and their
potential to memorialize the way humans lived during this extraordinary but fleeting
moment our history.
I take the ambivalent viewpoint of the scientific observer. To accept, and view with
curiosity, “both the wonder and immense tragedy of our time.”—to simultaneously hold
both views—to not see civilization as either good or evil—to not ignore the immense
price that has been paid and will continue to be paid
What I won’t be doing is trying to predict the future. I’d much rather tell a story based on
a little informed guessing about the type of future I believe we face. It’s important that my
story be seen as only one amongst an infinite number of possible others, each
alternatives to the myth of progress which has for too long been the filter through which
we’ve seen the world. It’s important to have these options because the stories we tell
ourselves will play a significant role on the world we create at the end of the industrial
Reporting from the future. Not a future with flying cars and space cruises but one where
orchards grow along the ruined interstate highways. Where someone is running a beat
up old laptop with a scavenged alternator and a handful of radiator fans turning in the
breeze. Where one is more likely to hear the neigh of a horse than the internal
combustion engine. Where there are more fish in the oceans and yes, fewer of us.
It’s going to be strange, it’s going to be beautiful. Come along.
that that things move in one direction western industrial civilization at the end of a long
line of false starts and failed civilizations—as if it was the culmination of thousands of
years of cultural evolution —always toward better and better living until all of humanity is
living amongst the stars in a science fiction utopia.
A while back things were messy, difficult, primitave—but since our humble beginnings as
cave dwellers we have been climbing the ladder of better and better living, improving
ourselves incrementally over the ages right up to the present. Things will continue to
improve until…
All of human history is a grand tale of human improvement—people climbing step by
stem up the ladder of progress. Accumulated knowledge allowed each culture to go
further and accomplish more than the one before it. Eventually we will leap from our
home planet and embrace our destiny among the stars
It’s the story of perpetual progress and few of us realize how much it affects our thinking
about the future.
Underlying this story is the assumption that limits don’t apply to us. if we want something
badly enough—a limitless supply of energy for example, we shall have it because
human progress trumps everything else.
The faith in progress lies on the unstated assumption that limits don’t apply to us
because the forward momentum of human progress automatically trumps everything
else. If we want limitless supplies of energy, the logic seems to be, the world will give it
to us
How about the idea that there’s no problem we can’t innovate ourselves out of. That we
can look forward to faster and faster cars, better medical treatment, and __ as far as the
eye can see. We may encounter bumps in the road but in the long run the economy will
keep growing and computers will keep shrinking.
Sound familiar?
Pretty good right?
relies on assumptions about the world that don’t stand up to critical examination
the past isn’t the linear story of progress the folklore of the industrial age would have us
Since the agricultural revolution 10,000 years ago, daily life has been pretty much the
same for most humans.
Throughout history knowledge has been lost and in some cases never relearned.
Societies that outrun their resource base go under
Some things about it can be predicted by comparison with past examples
the conviction that the united states is exempt from history: that today’s gleaming
industrial cities might someday become crumbling ruins is outside the realm of the
imaginable for most people today.
The conviction that history’s cycles don’t apply to us is counter productive.
It’s arrogant to insist that people in past ages weren’t as resourceful and ingenious as
we are.
What is exceptional about industrial civilization is that ? After all, the Romans weren’t
cruising around with a million songs at the tip of their fingers. The difference is that we
discovered how to harness the power of ancient sunlight in the form of concentrated
hydrocarbon deposits—oil coal and natural gas. This tremendous source of energy, the
product of hundreds of thousands of years worth of photosynthesis, allowed us to follow
our aspirations farther than any civilization has in the past. Wielding the tremendous
power of hydrocarbons tricked us into thinking we were the masters of the universe and
made the myth of endless progress seem like a realistic possibility.
The lifestyles we’ve grown up treating as normal are entirely the product of that
Fossil fuel energy and only fossil fuel energy made it possible to break the old agrarian
pattern and construct the industrial world.
Surplus population and an impoverished planetary biosphere combined with the plain
hard reality of vanishing fossil fuels and the myth of progress becomes a mirage
Having been able to jump into our own two thousand pound climate controlled bubble
and be whisked off to the frozen yogurt shop.
gradual disintegration (not sudden catastrophic collapse)
250 years to complete the process of decline and fall- no one alive today will see the
process completed
A long uneven decline into a new dark age which, centuries from now, the civilizations of
tomorrow will gradually emerge.
Preserve essential cultural and practical knowledge for the future.
Information and connections that people need to adapt constructively to the changes
brought on by the decline of our civilization.
Because the stories we tell ourselves will have an immense impact on the world we
create at the end of the industrial age.
Because the more stories the better.
We’ll be jumping around in time. sometimes I’ll come to you from 50 years from now,
sometimes 200
We are at a historic inflection point—the ending of decades of expansion and the
beginning of an inevitable period of contraction that will continue until humanity is once
again living within the limits of Earth’s regenerative systems.
Help from greer:
Industrial civilization on the downward slope of its history
The declining arc of industrial civilization’s trajectory through time
Societies that outrun their resource base go under
Some things about it can be predicted by comparison with past examples
Encountering the limits to growth
The collapse of civilizations is a natural process
Built our civilization on a nonrenewable resource base
gradual disintegration (not sudden catastrophic collapse)
250 years to complete the process of decline and fall- no one alive today will see the
process completed
A long uneven decline into a new dark age which, centuries from now, the civilizations of
tomorrow will gradually emerge.
the conviction that the united states is exempt from history: that today’s gleaming
industrial cities might someday become crumbling ruins is outside the realm of the
imaginable for most people today.
The conviction that history’s cycles don’t apply to us is counter productive-- #5—more
on page 58
Preserve essential cultural and practical knowledge for the future.
Information and connections that people need to adapt constructively to the changes
brought on by the decline of our civilization.
All of human history is a grand tale of human improvement—people climbing step by
stem up the ladder of progress. Accumulated knowledge allowed each culture to go
further and accomplish more than the one before it. Eventually we will leap from our
home planet and embrace our destiny among the stars
This myth relies on assumptions about the world that don’t stand up to critical
The faith in progress lies on the unstated assumption that limits don’t apply to us
because the forward momentum of human progress automatically trumps everything
else. If we want limitless supplies of energy, the logic seems to be, the world will give it
to us.—this belief is reinforced every time we hear about some new technology that will
allow us to continue our motoring ways—or cover our homes with photovolcaic paint.
Hundreds of millions of years worth of photosynthesis.
The lifestyles we’ve grown up treating as normal are entirely the product of that
Nor is the past so much of a linear story of progress as the folklore of the industrial age
would have it.
The limits of available energy imposed a common framework on human societies
This stable pattern changed only when we were able to harness the stored energy of
fossil fuels
It’s arrogant to insist that people in past ages weren’t as resourceful and ingenious as
we are.
Fossil fuel energy and only fossil fuel energy made it possible to break the old agrarian
pattern and construct the industrial world.
Surplus population and an impoverished planetary biosphere combined with the plain
hard reality of vanishing fossil fuels and the myth of progress becomes a mirage
The hidden presence of myth—stories we tell ourselves to make sense of the world
The story is invisible to those who believe in it.—so pervasive that few people notice how
completely it dominates out thinking about the future.
The myth of progress as the established religion of the modern industrial world.
The myth’s emotional appeal—comforts those who have made their peace with society
as it is and want to believe that the compromises and frustration of their lives are part of
a process that will eventually lead to better things
Entering a world of hard ecological limits, restricted opportunities, and lowered
expectations—why it’s good to take stock of what we have accomplished with a focus on
the objects that will follow us into this period.
The need for more stories through which to interpret the world
Because the stories we tell ourselves will have an immense impact on the world we
create at the end of the industrial age.
Differences between the futures we anticipate and the one we are most likely to get will
challenge us to the core.
If you’ve got questions, that’s good.
But the conclusion of the industrial age means some changes are underfoot and we may
wake up ten or twenty years from now and find ourselves living in ways we never could
have imagined.
But it won’t be all bad—we may find some of the changes to be quite positive—we may
be eating food that’s better for us, spending more time with the people we love and less
time alone in our cars.
So… if what I’ve asserted is true and we are at a historical inflection point and two
hundred years of explosive growth is in the process of reversing direction—this certainly
means we’re in for some changes.
So what I intend to do is bike around the world and take a good look at this process—
this historical inflection point.
[B-roll begins]—I’d like to take a look at some of the structures
I want to tell a story—a story of my own design, about what I think this new world might
look like.
What should you expect to see and read?
Accounts of what it’s like to live
If all this sounds absurd to you, you’re probably still hung up on that progress myth—
and, while you’re likely to be disappointed, maybe this project isn’t for you.
If you’re a believer in the myth of progress, or the other version: the myth of apocalypse,
then maybe this project isn’t for you.
So what’s in it for you?
Well, besides the tremendous feeling of satisfaction associated with such a worthy
project- an endeavor with nothing less than the potential to redirect the our cou
It’s getting harder and harder to ignore limits to growth on this finite planet of our—the
short version is that, as we are on the cusp of this new period, period of contraction
Where 200 years of exuberant growth is about to reverse directions. Instead of more
every year there will be less. Fewer and fewer resources to be divided amongst a global
human population that is still expanding.
If you’re a subscriber in the myth of endless progress then maybe this project isn’t for
But if by chance you live in a reality based world where the laws of physics and geology
still apply, then this project may have something to offer.
Each leg of the journey—and this next one will be…
I’ve got the bike: (fast montage of bike images flash by.
I’ve got the camera.
I recently read your Industrial Ruins text and wanted to thank you for your incredible
insights. The book is my new bible and accompanies me everywhere. You’ve put into
eloquent prose many of my long held convictions regarding the value of industrial
I’m on the verge of launching a long-term research project I thought you might be
interested in. For the next few years I’ll ride my bicycle through many of the world’s
industrialized nations—documenting and interpreting the contraction phase of the
industrial age. My primary focus will be the structures and landscapes left behind as 200
years of exuberant growth slows and begins to reverse direction. I’ll also be looking at
some of the megastructures (nuclear power plants, elevated roadways) that are likely to
persist as monuments in the long term.
I wanted to turn you on to a couple films that apply to your book’s section on how ruins
are portrayed in contemporary cinema—maybe you’ve already seen them, but just in
case. The Russian filmmaker Andrei Tarkovsky often used such sites as realms that
embody a kind of deep personal introspection. In his film Stalker, shot mostly at a
breathtakingly beautiful abandoned hydroelectric plant in Estonia, there is a room deep
within the ruin that’s said to be able to grant one their innermost desire—even if the true
nature of that desire is unclear to its subject. The spiritual and the supernatural abound.
Both films contain scenes where it rains indoors—an effect made possible by the
permeable nature of the ruined spaces the director uses.
Although my background is firmly rooted in the visual arts, I’ve found myself doing a
great deal of writing on my topics of choice lately. I’m currently writing a piece, using
your work as a foundation, on sleeping in ruined space and how the dream like nature of
ruins means waking up in one is somehow parallel to that ‘dream within a dream’
experience we occasionally get. I wondered if you had any expanded thoughts on ruins
as dreamscapes—perhaps as physical manifestations of our collective unconscious
filled with disembodied half forgotten fragments of memories, hopes and aspirations—all
floating around together in this disorganized space we tend to collectively repress. (Or
something like that.)
Here are a few links to some video work I’ve done with abandonments. Most are pretty
short and I think you’ll really like them.
Blue Room: SF Naval Shipyard (1m 6s)
Richmond Shipyards (42s)
Betteravia Sugar Plant (1m 26s)
Ventura Refinery (44s)
Dixie Square Mall (19m 37s)
The joy of infinity (2m 27s)—the audio track for this one was recorded inside a disused
water tower near my home. No manipulation.
I’d be happy to send you a compilation DVD of this work if you’d like to watch them again
in their full resolution glory. Just email me your address.
And lastly, here’s the link to the larger project’s website. It’s called The Illuminated
Thread and isn’t a small site so slow connections are not advised.
All the best and thanks again!
Brett Tracy
[email protected]
see collapse with Michael Ruppert
When an empire is about to dissolve, it builds its most outlandish monuments
Advertising quote:
The primary “immature” cultural concept—“You are the most important person in the
world”—is shouted is shouted at us daily through TV, the primary spokesvehicle of our
culture. The constant reinforcement of this message keeps our culture immature and
prevents us from growing in maturity.
Freedom from want
The reason for the persistence and intensity of these messages is simple: when people
behave like children, wanting immediate gratification for their every desire, they are the
ideal consumers. Only when we turn off the messages can we begin the process of
maturing—and this is rarely done.
You should perfect your brownlands workout—maybe shoot it or at least write about it.
Might make a funny piece
Shoot it over a few days so your clothing changes.
Ruso Became
Need relationship advice?
Have an idea you want to hash out?
Need to vent about work, school or family?
Concerned about the collapse of industrial civilization?
Need to be talked into/outta doing something potentially drastic?
Or just wanna gossip about your strung-out roommate…
…lets talk.
Tête-à-tête with Brett
When your friends tire of hearing about that dude or gal who’s playin’ you like a Casio
keyboard, I’m your intimate in reserve! So change your g-chat status to “over-n-out
suckas!” and sit across from another living breathing human being. We’ll talk about
whatever you want while our warm beverages steam up a café’s windowpanes on a
chilly fall afternoon. No subject is taboo or too mundane (although I’ll struggle with team
How it works:
You buy the espresso (or an oatmeal cookie) and for one hour, my ears belong to you.
All ages, genders, ethnicities, political affiliations, sexual orientations, social classes, and
physical dimensions welcome. (no police officers or vampires please)
First choose a Downtown Davis café:
Tea List Tearoom
Rainforest Café
Delta of Venus
Then choose a time:
Seriously whenever so check the hours of your preferred café and email me at least a
day in advance of when you’d like to meet.
I have:
a master’s degree
excellent hearing
twenty-nine years of life experience
vast blocks of unstructured time
a sense of humor
I haven’t:
any official counseling credentials
fluency in a foreign language
a sinister ulterior motive
a facebook account
the swine flu (as of this writing)
references available upon request.
see also:
So Miran Park emails in response, which is good because I was beginning to think there
was something screwy with my email. And I respond:
P-A-N-D-A hello!
It's good that you asked about the "why"-- gives me reason to answer if for myself.
"busy in life" is exactly what i'm not-- a condition that's taken much work to arrive at. I
have an affinity for cafe's (that actually more closely resembles an addiction) and am
always looking for new ways to rationalize spending so much time in them. I'm not doing
anyone any good staring at a laptop screen and people always wanna talk so...
Maybe its my little way of subverting the trend toward technologically mediated
communication displacing face to face interaction but i'd imagine I'm at least like five
years behind the curve on that one-- it's almost cliché to critique that shit at this point.
I'm actually not stellar with interpersonal communication so maybe i'm forcing myself to
practice-- Oh!... !... and practice in a way that is (supposedly) free of the responsibilities
(and expectations) that come with relationships not neatly contained by a one-hourappointment.
Not sure why i wrote the post in the language of advertising-- i guess it just seemed like
the most craigslisty approach plus maybe there's a touch of irony in there somewhere.
Hopefully that didn't completely satisfy your curiosity and void your reason for wanting to
meet. I did just include three "maybes" in like not too many sentences so you shouldn't
consider this a thesis statement or anything. Maybe there's more.
(plus it’s funny/ironic that we’re communicating by email if you’re critiquing
technologically mediated communication)
plus, it’s nice to have a stranger buy you something even if it is a $2 espresso.
I don’t think this has direct relationship to your work? I mean how could it not to some
extent—you did come up with it—but that doesn’t explain everything
I think it’ll be pretty interesting to see how this pans out in terms of expectations—both
for looks and personality. The facebook check was bad but it was a temptation that had
to be yielded to. We shall see.
Windmills are flippin’ great.
Wind powered factories: history (and future) of industrial windmills.
Greer reminds us that: “Windmills with a net energy of 5- or 6-to-1 are hopelessly
inadequate to power an industrial society, but deindustrial societies with grain to grind,
water to pump, and many other uses for mechanical energy will find them just as
economically viable as did the agrarian societies of the past.”
So ran beat you to this one. But his main point doesn’t really overlap yours—although its
better. The decentralization thing is part of having to use the energy on site.
(Not to be confused with wind turbines—kinetic to electrical. Windmills are kinetic to
Here’s a thorough article on their history
(you’ll need some way to identify images not attributed to you)
To generate an electric current from mechanical one must use a dynamo, a generator.
Generators have magnets of very specific shapes—they require copper coil which
requires mining, refining, and shaping—all processes that can’t really be done without a
functioning industrial base. But a windmill where the mechanical energy is put to use on
site can be built out of things just lying around, aluminum sheet metal—someone in the
article’s comment section believes truck axles would be a great and readily
scavengeable component of a home or locally built windmill. No complicated parts.
I especially like the section on the little design tweaks the Dutch came up with to
“automatically” adjust to varying wind velocity. The technology is based on spring-loaded
shutters that open to spill air in excess of what the sails can handle. It’s exactly the kind
of intermediate transparent technology we’ll want to carry into the deindustrial age.
Also, Ran points out that the electrical energy produced by our modern wind turbines
can be transmitted and therefore centralized. But windmills convert kinetic energy
directly to mechanical energy that’s used on site, making them “allied to a more
decentralized society.”
Also interesting is how steam powered mills came along and derailed windmill
technology just as innovators were hitting their stride.—As it’s been done many times
before, this moment can be famed as a kind of separation point—where we gave up
using ambient energy and started borrowing from the past/future. Another point where
the moment of humaniti’s break from using ambient energy to a drawdown method is
clearly visible.—see overshoot.
The people designing these things today would have a speed control system operated
by computers—little servos made at some (fossil fuel run) factory in Korea. If something
broke the little part would have to be shipped half way around the globe. This is fine if all
the complex systems of manufacture and delivery are still in operation and they’re still
making these little micro-chip parts somewhere. But not so feasible if it’s not. The
important thing is—can the thing be built and maintained using materials and skills
available locally—the workings of all components should be visible meaning one can
discern how it works just by looking at it. If it needs a computer to function forget about it.
Simple, elegant design.
From the comment section:
In the comment section everyone seems to want to put “an army of techno geeks” on
improving windmill design but they’d all want to just make them huge, out of some exotic
composite material with computer speed control—make them complicated basically.
“and that is the future that everybody has in mind.”
Of course it is impossible to operate a flat screen television or a laptop with mechanical
energy, but many other processes could in principle still be driven in that old-fashioned
way. Grain still has to be ground, wood still has to be sawn, seeds still have to be
pressed, but now we use electricity to drive machines that perform the same processes.
This electricity can be generated by means of modern wind turbines, or other renewable
energy sources, and that is the future that everybody has in mind.
However, there are some reasons that might make it interesting to revert to a direct
conversion from kinetic to mechanical energy. Planting a few million high-tech wind
turbines, covering deserts with solar plants and developing a smart grid and an
elaborate electrical car infrastructure all sound attractive, but the most important
question is whether there are enough material, energy and financial resources available
to make those dreams ever come true.
Windmills that convert kinetic energy directly to mechanical work could be operated
without exotic materials.
Materials found closer to home
Kinetic to mechanical vs. kinetic to electrical—we’ve gotten used to the convince of
electrical energy—generated at one point, used at another. So we convert kinetic into
electrical then convert it back into mechanical.
But in taking a look at what mills were used for—food, paper, textiles, lumber—
essentials basically—not for making DVD players and automobiles.
There will be many thousands of heavy duty trucks sitting around and the drive line
components are admirably suited to recycling into windmills.
Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse
Brownlands Fitness
This piece was meant to be much less ambitious. It was shot over seven afternoons and
I almost broke a leg falling off a wall (yes the camera was rolling). As far as how this ties
into the larger project:
Méthode Naturalle is —pioneered by a French naval officer that was super impressed
with the fitness level of a tribal group he encountered while stationed in Africa. He
recognized that their athleticism was a product of their lifestyle. Practitioners of the
hunter/forager subsistence that characterized the human existence for most of our
specie’s history—their days were filled with running, leaping, carrying, climbing,
balancing, and throwing. The Frenchman designed a workout around these skills with an
emphasis on balance and harmony and trained the French Navy with it. This article
sheds some light on the modern day manifestation of his method.
The training is actually more like play than anything else. You slow down when you need
to but strive to be constantly in motion. You’re outdoors jumping over, running along,
leaping from, climbing, carrying and throwing objects of unusually varied shape and
texture; engaging with the materiality of the world.
Closely tied to Méthode Naturelle is Parkay and its more embellished and stylized
cousin: Free Running. The predominantly urban activities involve tracing a swift and
efficient path through the city. My favorite thing about Parkay is its potential to subvert
established routes through the city. Walls are scaled, rooftops leaped between, and
benches vaulted while sidewalks and paths are generally ignored. Jump London is the
definitive documentary on it. The black guy in the film who’s credited with being free
running’s first, is ripped yet still moves with grace.
On a treadmill it’s possible to zone out. I’ve nearly fallen asleep on one. The running
surface is so regular that it requires just enough concentration to maintain a straight line.
Not so out in the real world where the uneven pavement and irregularities of trails
requires sure footing. The brownlands provide an extreme version of this real-world
inconsistency. Running through the space demands an appraisal of each stride’s
potential landing. Avoiding an ankle twist requires uninterrupted focus.
Methode Naturelle declined to almost total extinction and failed to propagate itself into
the modern era
Will we once again live in a world where these types of movements are a daily
necessity—not just the privilege of a few super fit dudes swinging around in the
Brazillian jungle
Once a space of regulation, has since become deliciously disordered
transgressive and transcendent possibilities.
The joy reaped from being able to act out of control
Engage with matter
The materiality and status of the ruin as waste means that it is constituted to
accommodate these spectacularly deviant acts.
Radical engagement with the material world.
A large unsurveilled space for play
A casting off of self-consciousness
The looseness of ruined space permits a wide range of practices—frowned upon or
marginalized elsewhere.
Few preferred routes along which bodies are channeled and little semblance of material
and spatial order to suggest that bodies should engage with space in preferred ways.
To show that assumptions about their social uselessness, derived from assignations
based on economic value and utilitarian notions of order, are groundless.
Because Methode Naturelle is normally practiced outdoors in a “natural” setting,
shooting it in what was formally the most unnatural of spaces is…
Once a space of regulation, has since become deliciously disordered
Tim Edensor describes how the many obstructions and obstacles within ruined space
impel one to pass through it like a child at play:
“The moving body must perform in accordance with these contingencies and thus it is
coerced into a more flamboyant, expressive, improvisatory passage through space at
variance with the minor movements of a usually self-contained bodily comportment
through the city, where a fixed stride, steady gate and minimal gestures delimit
interaction with the environment. The body is thus enlivened by the varied operations it
needs to perform in order to negotiate this obstacle course. Jolted out of its fixed
composure, the body can rediscover unfamiliar exercises in which a more expansive
physical engagement with surroundings is induced, a somatic experience bearing the
memories of childhood play…”
While aesthetics was clearly a concern, I thought it more valuable to give the brownlands
a voice. The writing is on the wall and clearly states the desire of those who currently
use the site, for it to remain feral. I’m sure its non-human inhabitants (including a thriving
colony of frighteningly large rabbits) would agree.
Radical engagement with the material word—the brownlands potential.
At odds with the smoothed over textures of the city.
appear naturally accommodated disorder and the status of the ruin.
Drawn to the industrial abandonment’s potential to critique the highly ordered spaces in
which we live, I’ve begun to consider practices particularly suited to the disorder of
ruined space. In doing so, I hope to expose widely held convictions regarding the social
uselessness of such places as shortsighted and naive. In this spirit, I set out to design a
physical training program that would make use of the Davis Brownlands’ varied forms
and structures. Loosely based on Georges Hébert’s Méthode Naturalle with a nod to
Parkour, the idea was to see the space as a vast playground; to evaluate the objects
within it for their potential to be scaled, lifted, leaped from, or bounded over. Once home
to a sprawling tomato processing plant, most of the site’s original constructions have
been removed, erasing the spatial order they provided. Very little remains to suggest
how the space should be engaged with or to delineate routes along which bodies should
move. This blank-slate condition permits a freedom of movement greater than that found
in parks and other spaces designed for exercise. There are no illustrated placards on the
site’s blocks, short walls, chunks of concrete, and jungle gym water tower explaining
how to use them or which muscle group they’re intended to strengthen, yet each begs to
be incorporated into the routine.
The fact that the space is between uses and therefore under-determined, a non-space
set apart from the city, means it’s beyond the prying eyes of fellow citizens. It’s a space
in which one is free to act in ways that might elsewhere be limited by a restrictive selfconsciousness. I was running at the site one afternoon while a barely-clothed couple
shot gender reversal themed fashion photos of each other. Although the space feels
remote, the existence of a world outside the fenced tree-lined compound is occasionally
brought to one’s attention by automobiles trickling along the horizon.
What you’re hearing is me pounding on the inside surfaces of the same empty water
tank that provided acoustic enrichment for some recent whistling performances.
Because there’s nothing like raping out a high-decibel noise to get you pumped up to run
around, primal drumming with two halves of an old broomstick became a pre-workout
ritual. The sound waves have nowhere to go and bounce around inside the enclosed
column until they coalesce into a thunderous roar better heard through earplugs. It’s a
noise that would certainly draw attention and probably concern were it made in a more
regulated part of the city. The production of an insanely loud sound, typically considered
antisocial behavior, is afforded sanctuary by ruined space.
In some ways this piece is related to the Dixie Square Skate video I shot some time ago.
Both involve physical activity performed in an abandoned space and highlight the
transgressive potential of such environments. Because they’ve been relegated to the
world of trash, derelict spaces don’t shoulder the burden of having to provide a revenue
stream. The activities they accommodate can be partaken in without money exchanging
hands. The choice to set both videos in the context of ruined space implies a refusal to
participate in commercialized, officially sanctioned forms of recreation.
I sent the video to Erwan Le Corre, founder of “MovNat®,” who’s life goal is to
commodify Méthode Naturelle. The dashingly handsome Frenchman had this to say
regarding my contribution to the discipline:
Very honestly Brett:
That is just parkour to which you have added a vague lift and throw. You definitely move,
but obviously without any method, it is just random, and you have added elements that
have nothing to do with Methode Naturelle, so clearly you are missing the point and
naming this "La methode naturelle" only contributes to spread misconception about what
it is.
So basically, you may think it looks cool, but it is definitely not helping actually.
I do encourage you to go on training outside and broaden you skill, that is super positive!
But I certainly do not encourage you to call what you do "methode naturelle" unless you
extensively study the method first, and have an experience of training by the method
with competent people. You need knowledge, and knowledge is not to read a few hints
about it you can find on the internet. Right?
Think about it, and maybe you want to learn with me one day.
Best regards,
Erwan Le Corre
Founder of MovNat
I suppose if you’re claiming to be the founder of a way of moving that’s innately human,
anyone who demonstrates that it’s possible to move naturally on one’s own is a threat to
the business. Very honestly, I resent the implication that I’ve so completely lost touch
with my “true nature®” that I need an expert to sell it back to me in the form of a
“seminar.” I’d love to train with you Erwan Le Corre but I can’t afford the $240
registration fee. Maybe I’ll develop a method for “optimally efficient” digestion and we
can trade secrets.
I did however take Erwan’s thinly veiled suggestion that I change the piece’s title,
replacing it with one I think he’d approve of.
Look and think like children
Thought of as discipline
The city as a playground
Never go backwards
People like to watch people being physical
Enhanced spatial awareness
Jump London
Methode Naturelle
The aim of the Methode Naturelle is to develop a complete and healthy human being
physically, mentally and morally through the training of the vital natural capacities of the
human species that were necessary for our survival as hunter foragers. Georges Hebert
the founder of the Methode Naturelle was a French soldier who served in Africa and was
inspired by the natural athleticism of the natives he encountered there. The motto of the
Methode Naturelle is etre forte pour etre utile meaning be strong to be useful. The
training of the Methode Naturelle is not to reach an aesthetic goal or to win an athletic
competition it is to prepare the individual to be a strong useful person capable of helping
him or herself and the others around them in wide variety of situations.
The vital movement capacities of the Methode Naturelle are to walk, run, jump, climb,
quadruped, balance, swim, lift, carry, throw and defend.
A Methode Naturelle training session should be between 20 and 60 minutes and include
as many of the natural capacities as possible (generally). The ideal conditions for
Methode Naturelle training are in a natural environment with as much of the body
exposed to the elements as possible while maintaining modesty. Which is not to say you
cannot train the Methode Naturelle in the city or a gym or with shoes on only that this
training is not the ideal.
Training should be daily or close to it.
Parkour—see wikipedia
Explain how you and the couple were there doing your things at the same time.
Faster editing—just nonstop running, jumping, climbing, scaling, sprinting—exhausting
to watch.
Two versions—one with best clips only to sticks audio—short
One long version with every take—ambient audio—day separation (almost a ‘making of’
Questions to resolve:
Scene order will be critical because
Duration—as long as the actual routine, incredibly long, short and sweet
Audio—music, binaural, rhythmic drumming inside the tower or on the outside surfaces
maybe with some primal howls
When to shoot—over the course of a day so that lighting changes can be detected,
within the same half hour window each afternoon for a week or more?
You should begin with a bunch of running only clips—the tight one’s first—just your feet
landing then your legs, pulling away with each shot
then work in the walls. There would be the possible illusion that you’re being chased—
running for your life from something. Then start dropping in the climbing clips—the
handstand clips and it shifts to something voluntary—something motivated by fun rather
than fear, but it mimics the a sort of primitive survival feel—that run for your like—flight
response—and the setting is kinda scrubland prairie with a concrete base.
Good way to work in the nice graffiti—which would be another good clue on what the
space is and what the piece is about.
This piece has ties to a bunch of stuff:
Methode Naturelle
The transgressive potential of ruined space. —see Dixie square skate edit—
Basically its just one more way that the undetermined quality of ruined space makes
them perfect for transgressive behavior such as this.
The audio track was once again recorded inside the tower—it’s really loud—its noise on
an order of magnitude that would attract attention anywhere within the city’s regulated
spaces—I mean where else can you bang as hard as you can on the inside of an
enormous steel drum while shouting primal streams at the top of your lungs.
Also—I wanted give the space a voice—it speaks through the words painted on its
surfaces. It clearly wants to be left alone.
Recorded over seven days—that same late afternoon window
During five days of shooting I came a cross a group of skaters shooting a video, a
couple high school kids shooting something and a couple doing a fashion shoot—all
creative endeavors.
This audio is the ritual before starting the workout or after finishing
Because it’s so undetermined I can make an amazing amount of noise unlike what
would be allowed anywhere else.
It might be nice to have a version that’s one uncut shot.—the best back and forth
Maybe keep it in chronological and watch your clothing wear our rather quickly with tight
Its actually reasonable to be shooting it because it’s better exercise repeating the same
drill a couple times—it reflects more accurately the exercise component of the piece.
Something is happening when the clips are edited well—there’s a subtle illusion that
you’re actually just bouncing or picking the tie up immediately—the immediate turn
around illusion
Drumming tips—do your build-ups and taper-offs more delicately—keep time but start
really quiet, building slowly and steadily.
You still need to work in the “reflect” stencil
The sticks feel magic—they have the energy of pounding on the tower stored up in them
afterward. They’ll make a great donation gift.—maybe a whole series all broken and
The difference between yours and Greg’s approach to overpopulation:
His is a political viewpoint where the world is divided up into countries and birthrates are
analyzed. It’s a political tweak that needs to be implemented, in this case, a woman’s
rights thing—problem solved.
You approach from an ecological standpoint—we grew more food, population grew
accordingly—population growth is directly tied to hydrocarbon use- the oil we eat, so the
solution becomes stop propping up populations in marginal areas—population will
always expand into the availability of food.
Sometimes I just feel like I make better work when I have a muse around—someone
that’s into the work and makes me want to get better—someone to talk through ideas
with. Ya know! That’s not such a bad thing—were designed to be social creatures right?
Second run editions – first ten to donate also get a stage one adverts DVD. Of which I
will not be producing any more. (don’t forget to link to support section item in
amendment post)
Manhattan’s Highline photographed by Joel Sternfeld.
One of New York’s few remaining feral spaces has finally been purified and absorbed
into the regulated urban fabric; reincarnated as a park. “Weeds” have been replaced with
preferred species neatly contained in beds, sending a clear message to creatures and
plants that might attempt to play an active role in the making of an environment: “hey
thanks nature, but we’ll take it from here.”
Urbanites can take their lattes up to what was once a disused elevated rail line
overgrown with and sit on brand new benches and walk along . because decay is not
allowed to occur in a modern city because it makes the seamlessness of modernity
seem preposterous.
The high line—lower manhattan—industrial ruin to a public amenity
Kunstlercast website images
Peculiar urban structure
Velocity of industrialization
A freak of urban nature that people are enjoying
From un undetermined space to one regulated by the NY department of parks. I think I
would have preferred it in it’s earlier manifestation.
This is the kind of abandoned urban space I would have preferred left undetermined. But
such a space, one where the forces of decay are clearly visible, cannot be allowed to
exist in the modern city—it challenges the illusion of seamlessness of modernity (see
ruins book) Now you have to enter at certain times and will be directed to a hotel where
you can buy a drink. Kunstler called the space a freak of urban nature wondering why
we cant just design good outdoor public spaces instead of having them just appear by
Ruins Pages: 101, 165, 71-72, 98, 42, 47, 58-59
The fabric of the past must be trampled down or converted into a sandblasted
approximation of its former self…
Frenetic impulse to smooth and encode
The world of creatures and plants as active agents in the making of environments
remain firmly outside the city limit.
Replacing “weeds” with preferred species contained in beds, it’s like the parks
department said, “hey thanks nature, but we’ll take it from here.”
It’s a threat to the conventional orderings of rural and urban
Demonstrating the biotic blows between the urban and the rural
We’re about to embark on a fantastic adventure together.
You’ve been hand selected to support the endeavor
What an awkward party
The thing about Halloween costumes is that everyone is allowed to put down one
thing—usually An uncomfortable mask or prop.
People with multiple uncomfortable props may need to choose wisely
My costume name:
Highly evolved human
Super anything
Super hero
Highly evolved man
Super B
Causeway postcard (wikipedia) and alternate shooting location for workout
The videos will be the story’s illustrations to help establish setting/context and make the
story more vivid—visual context material—like the opening scenes of a film establish a
I’ll be riding through the world’s industrialized nations— documenting with precision the
monuments we have just built for the future—
Bay bridge image—at night—video maybe.
The eventful bikeride
Almost hit by a tanker truck
Team America passing
Flat tire
Both of us running off the road
Pink top gray shorts girl.. “Hello!”
that was good, now all we have to do is wait for her to show up at Mishka’s.
Crop tight for constant movement—tiring to watch but beautiful—actually tiring to watch
sounds like a bad thing.
Make sure you continue to emphasize the power plants, containment domes and
elevated roadways as monuments to be—what we were able to build with all that ancient
Maybe start working in a few fiction posts—like the three riders at night that hit
something big.
Or from the top of a rusty turbine
Of the passer-bys that hear the far off sounds of someone drumming on the inside of the
My best guess is that we're headed for a steampunk future, something like Gene Wolfe's
Book of the New Sun or Philip Reeve's Hungry City Chronicles, a mix of industrial
scraps, low tech, high tech, and post-mechanistic paradigm tech, or "magic".
Add to booklist
James mentioned the microwave as being “magic”
I agreed.
Anything that I can’t look at and explain to you how it works—that’s magic.
JP’s future floor cleaning robot vid.
Nuclear bomb drop
Walk the entire causeway for documentation.
Do the port of Sacramento concrete piles
Add these to shooting locations for welcome video
Under causeway
Port of Sac—concrete piles
The pretty spot where 80 crosses the Sacramento River
Edward Burtynsky photographs, “both the epicentres of industrial endeavour and the
dumping grounds of its waste.”
Manufactured Landscapes, a beautifully shot documentary by Jennifer Baichwal,
chronicles the artist’s work in rapidly industrializing China.
"begs to be hung on the wall, studied, absorbed, and learned from"
“in the hopes of opening their eyes to the realities of the contemporary world.”
Current exhibition: Oil
Witness the landcapes “we’ve created in the pursuit of progress”
global cycles of energy, production, and waste
The industrial sublime
Incredible music
Follows the global flows of the materials of the industrial age
First, thanks for getting back to me—I know you’re busy so I certainly appreciate it.
Yeah, your favorites are my favorites. I envision the project to be a multi-year, multicontinent research endeavor where I’m cycling solo through the world’s industrialized
nations, documenting the inflection point between the growth/contraction phases of the
industrial age—perhaps ending up in China—the last country likely to launch a full scale
industrialization effort. I want to tell a story about what this period might be like using
video, audio recordings, still photography and writing—sometimes projecting 50, 100,
even 200 years into the future. I’d visit, document, and write about specific sites—
industrial ruins, megastructures (framing them as monuments to the industrial age), and
landscapes of industrial production and waste a la Edward Burtynsky. The project’s
goals are as follows: (in order of relevance)
1. Document and interpret the contraction phase of the industrial adventure with an
emphasis on the landscapes and structures left behind.
2. Piece together a viable image of a stable low-energy future.
3. Identify and refine a skill set necessary to thrive in the transition to a new paradigm:
practical techniques for living on the margins.
4. Offer potential symbols and narratives of a new spirituality emerging on the heels of
growing disillusion in the religion of progress.
5. Encourage readers to accept the impossibility of preventing the industrial age’s
conclusion, face the coming age with courage and begin mitigation activities in earnest.
The main thing I’m unsure of how to proceed on is funding. I don’t have a place to “keep
up” and would essentially be living and working on the road. I estimate I could do this for
at least the next four years for around $10,000 a year. Ideally, I’d have a modestly sized
group of supporters, maybe 200, that annually donate collectively just enough to support
ongoing research and bicycle based travel. The project obviously produces a lot of visual
material as well as found objects I’d like to channel into an incentive program that would
allow donors to be part of the project. I’d also be into grants but have no idea where to
start here—any ideas?
The next immediate step is to produce a welcome video debunking the myth of progress
and introducing people to the project. When this is done I’ll launch a Kickstarter
campaign to raise the $2000 I need to get from LA to Houston. This amount includes a
high resolution WAVE recorder (focusing more on sound in stage three) and some
required bicycle upgrades. Then it’s off to Houston ASAP.
Any suggestions, criticism, contacts—send em my way.
Thanks again,
Press Release:
There has to be an event—a reason to be delivering the release. A departure date, a
fundraising event, ect.
Event—the meat of it
Summary/Background-- generic
Private message
The Illuminated Thread announces departure date for Stage Three
The Illuminated Thread, artist Brett Tracy’s multi-year bicycle-mounted look at the
wonder and tragedy of the industrial age, is about to begin its third stage. A January 28
departure date has been announced for the forthcoming leg: a circuitous route
connecting three of the desert southwest’s most car dependent suburban metroplexes:
Los Angeles, Phoenix, and Houston. Tracy will visit and document aircraft boneyards,
open-pit mines, an abandoned Salton Sea yacht club, the country’s largest nuclear
power complex, and an 80,000-acre sludge ranch before reaching the Texas
Petrochemical Patch east of Houston.
Rejecting the imperative of endless growth, Tracy positions the human species at the
end of its industrial phase. Using video and audio field recordings, the artist reveals a
world built with phenomenal amounts of fossil energy and imagines the more
ecologically aware human-scaled world to come.
Project Background:
After receiving their MFA degrees from the University of Chicago in 2008, Tracy and his
colleague, Joseph Miller, left the windy city behind and set off across North America on
their Bicycles. During the 60-day ride to San Francisco via Portland, OR, the artist duo
photographed sites of energy production, from wind and hydroelectric to coal and
Going solo for Stage Two, San Francisco to the Mexico border, Tracy added
megastructures and sites of industrial ruination to the itinerary. Abandoned shipyards, a
derelict refinery, a defunct sugar plant, Disneyland’s 10,000 capacity parking garage,
and the world’s most complex freeway interchange all made the list.
Tracy has global ambitions for the project, planning to crisscross Europe’s most
industrialized nations after completing his loop around the US.
Visit the project’s website,, for more information.
Welcoming the phase, and the world he see that might follow when the oil runs out
image is a constructive one, welcoming of a new phase change. A chance to
A witness to the end of the age of cheap energy.
The research endeavor committed to documenting and interpreting a world built with
fossil energy.
The Project’s foundation more generally
The Illuminated Thread is a bicycle-mounted research endeavor committed to
documenting and interpreting the contraction phase of the Industrial Age.
A visual artist traveling the world by bicycle—telling a new story about mankind’s
future—an alternative to the persistent myth of (perpetual) progress that has for too long
been the filter through which we’ve seen the world.
As he crisscrosses the world’s industrialized nations, he’ll take a close look at some of
the structures we’ve been able to build with the energy stored in hundreds of millions of
years worth of ancient sunlight (hydrocarbons)—[maybe an amount here—half the
world’s allotment]. It’s a story about the end of the industrial age and the beginning of the
next phase of our specie’s history. But it doesn’t match the story we’ve been told—it’s a
story about…
A year after arriving on the West coast after a tour from Chicago to San Francisco, a tour
on which he documented power plants and other energy infrastructure.
Its been a year since artist Brett Tracy completed his first cross-country bicycle tour from
Chicago to San Francisco, documenting power plants and energy infrastructure along
the way. Drawn to their immense scale and the incredible investment of energy and
resources they represent,
The next stage will take him across the deserts of the southwest. Stopping along the
way to take in the sorrow of the Salton Sea, the mind-boggling aircraft boneyards of
Tucson, an open pit copper mine, and a ___ acre sludge ranch before arriving in
Houston—home to the world’s largest concentration of refineries, chemical plants, and
storage tanks on Earth.
Using video, still photography, audio recordings and the written word, Brett interprets
and documents a world built with vast sums of prehistoric sunlight (hydrocarbons). and
pieces together a portrait of the world that will slowly replace it as the days of cheap
energy fade into memory. There are no flying cars in his world—few cars at all actually.
Rejecting the myth of perpetual progress and the economic imperative of growth—he
(anticipates) the inevitable end of the industrial age—seeing it as an opportunity to reconnect with a living planet and each other—to enter the next phase of our specie’s
development as we learn how to inhabit this planet more lightly-- without reeking havoc
on the biotic systems with which we share it.
A chance to put the bad habit of needless consumption behind us and focus on attaining
our highest potential as humans.
Challenging the species to move beyond its adolescent stage of self-centered
materialism and on to adulthood—fully realize our potential as humans.
We’ve demonstrated to ourselves that we can take over the planet—move trillions of
pounds of carbon from under the ground to the air and the oceans. Construct gleaming
cities, bridges, dam the world’s largest rivers, set foot on the moon, grow food on nearly
every square mile—now it’s time to pull back—to consider how we might inhabit the
planet long-term—within the limits of its regenerative systems and in a way that adds to
instead of diminishes its glory.
Being ok with industrial ruination—not so quick to wipe out such sites—is a good step
toward being able to leave the industrial age behind as we look upon what we’ve built
with a melancholic nostalgia and turn to face what’s next.
The industrial sublime—image of the tiny figure passing through a sweeping industrial
landscape. Nice image.
Bring into the loop:
Casey Fenton
Joe Shaw
Summed up by Bill Gate’s response to a question regarding the investment potential of
alternative energies. “Just because it’s hot doesn’t mean it’s a good investment”
meaning just because it’s hot doesn’t mean it will ever be profitable.
Producing energy takes energy, and thus is just as subject to rising energy costs as any
other productive activity; even as the price of oil goes up, the costs of extracting it or
making some substitute for it rise in tandem and make investments in oil production or
replacement no more lucrative than any other part of the productive economy. Oil that
has already been extracted from the ground may be a good investment, and financial
paper speculating on the future price of oil will likely be an excellent one, but neither of
these help increase the supply of oil, or any oil substitute, flowing into the economy.
I suspect that the unsteady but inexorable rise in energy costs over the last forty years or
so may have had much more to do with the gutting of the American economy than most
people suspect.
If this is correct, now that petroleum production has encountered the same limits globally
that put it into a decline here in the United States, the same pattern of disinvestment in
the production of goods and services coupled with metastatic expansion of the financial
sector may show up on a much broader scale.
It's all too easy to foresee a future in which industry, agriculture, and every other sector
of the economy that produces goods and services suffer from chronic underinvestment,
energy costs continue rising, and collapsing infrastructure becomes a dominant factor in
daily life, while the Wall Street Journal (printed in Shanghai by then) announces the
emergence of the first half dozen quadrillionaires in the derivatives-of-derivatives-ofderivatives market.
This pattern produces more ruins as chronic “disinvestment” in the production of goods
and services means factory closures.
So a global rise in the price of energy translates to a chronic disinvestment in the
production of goods—factory closures then ruins.
NY times opinion piece on the need to have a persistent threat.
On the left, there’s an enduring fascination with the pseudo-Marxist vision of global
capitalism as an enormous Ponzi scheme, destined to be undone by peak oil, climate
change, or the next financial bubble. (I like how these are really huge things being
treated like.. ah.. whatever.)
And it may be that the only thing more frightening than the possibility of annihilation is
the possibility that our society could coast on forever as it is — (vulgar, decadent, cruel
and eternal) -- like a Rome without an Attila to sack its palaces, or a Nineveh without
Yahweh to pass judgment on its crimes.
Humankind fears judgment, of course. But we depend on it as well. The possibility of
dissolution lends a moral shape to history: we want our empires to fall as well as rise,
and we expect decadence to be rewarded with destruction.
Not that we want to experience this destruction ourselves. But we want it to be at least a
possibility — as a spur to virtue, and as a punishment for sin.
This could be why we don’t celebrate the anniversary of 1989 quite as intensely as we
should. Maybe we miss (I can’t miss this because I never experienced it—right) living
with the possibility of real defeat. Maybe we sense, as we hunt for the next great
existential threat, that even the end of history needs to have an end.
For “tell a story” section:
Part of your thing is to get to the bottom of why there’s this fascination with ending
civilization—because it’s a scary thought that it might go on forever. But those with more
than a superficial grasp of history knows that every generation believes they are living at
the end of history—and are always proven wrong—the world is much too complex, and
our systems too unstable to go on forever—great things end, small things endure. I’m
not hunting for an existential threat, I simply know that the world around me cannot last.
This sense permeates everything around us. I challenge anyone to stand on a freeway
overpass, watching a stream of cars and trucks thunder along below—and argue that
such a thing could continue indefinitely—with or without a clear “existential threat.”
It’s important to have a sense that there are forces at work that will change the way we
live—that we are not at the end of history.
When you think about it, the most exceptional people should be the most generous. If
you're truly confident in your ability to create things of value, you don't mind losing
everything, because you can just make more.
We met at Numbers. I was cruising the floor in my skivvies. You bought me a drink. We
chatted. As was revealed at the time: I’m not a gay porn star… I’m not even gay. I was a
tourist that night, a visitor in a foreign land who had chosen a really intense way to make
a few bucks.
I may have mentioned a bit about it already but I wanted to let you know what it is I
actually do—I think you might be into it. I’m currently preparing to leave on the third leg
of an extended bicycle tour dubbed The Illuminated Thread. The project’s primary goal is
to document and interpret the contraction phase of the industrial age. I visit power
plants, industrial abandonments, and anyplace with the potential to memorializing this
very special period in human history. I’ve come many miles already, but have much
farther to go. My next stage will take me through the deserts of the Southwest from LA to
Houston where, among other sites, I’ll visit aircraft boneyards, abandoned Salton Sea
developments, an open-pit copper mine, the country’s largest nuclear power complex,
and an 80,000-acre sludge ranch.
While I’m doing this work on an extremely tight budget, I do need to eat, and the bike
needs new tires. My goal is to raise $2000 before setting off on the two-month/1,800mile journey sometime in December. Have a look around the site and if you like what
you see consider supporting the endeavor. I’m trying to remain advertising free so
donations from individuals have been crucial. Also, feel free to forward the site to any LA
movers and shakers you think might find it interesting. Finally, I genuinely enjoyed our
brief exchange and would love to meet for an espresso before I set out into the desert.
All the best,
Brett Tracy
[email protected]
Brett CC:
Brett’s great as the everyman. He’s invested in a home—has a family, including a young
child. He has a 9-5 and is a ardent consumer. It’s interesting to watch his response to
the idea that his son will have a tougher life than him with less available to him, more
competition for resources, more manual labor, etc.
Brett’s into the human side—interactions—relationships—he responded to the images
with people in them—the morning montage where we share a space and a meal with
It isn’t quite clear how the tips for living on the margins can be applied to anyone not
already living nomadically--- think about how this can be framed in a scalable way so
that a larger audience can benefit.
Move to the “tell a story” section:
Although you don’t use the words “collapse” or “chaos” or other’s like them Brett still
doesn’t know how you can expect people to be into the idea of things falling apart. I tried
to explain that the story I want to tell contains elements across the whole range of
human experience—joy as well as sorrow and suffering—to be a really good story—
believable—it has to contain both. Can’t be all sunshine and bunny rabbits. It has to
contain elements of redemption and a fall—a cleansing of all the bullshit that’s
accumulated during the industrial age.
The idea is to put the industrial age to rest—to face what’s coming next. To recognize
and pay tribute to the heights we’ve reached, the accomplishments of the industrial age
(to take a good look at what we’ve built then prepare to watch it crumble as we’re
reminded of the cyclicality of all things—that great things end that worldly things are
fleeting—including whole cultures and ways of living—but that new life springs from the
ashes of the old. Recognize that it’s a living pattern not compatible with a living planet—
or fulfilled humans, to move on a wiser species. To ask ourselves how we’d like to live
and is that possible within the limits of the earth’s regenerative systems. To design a
world with beauty, simplicity and elegance instead of greed and waste.
Also, I thought it interesting how Brett would refer to all sorts of adaptations that are
essentially illustrations of contraction, but wouldn’t say the word—wouldn’t apply the
term to the whole system at once—only small parts. Given, it goes against everything we
saw and were told growing up. Interesting that he gave us plenty of time to make the
necessary changes, to develop the technologies so that no turmoil or
He gives the American populace too much credit—what we need is nothing less that to
adopt a whole new way of thinking about the world—not just a few new spiffy products
for people to buy. Americans will cling to their entitlements until they absolutely have to
let them go and in some cases not even then.
Re listen to Kunstlercast to pull out spirituality concepts
Generalists (and their role), generalism, generalizations
The danger of hyper-specialization
The traffic engineer—been allowed to do what they do—move traffic efficiently—and in
the process destroyed the city
Statistical analysis and econometrics—we bring these arguments to all our problems—a
terrible approach.
We use math and formulas for everything—econometric models as a substitute for
You’re a generalist by default if you don’t have any official certifications.
You have the things your interested in--- which you’re mostly self-educated in
Your strength, your specialty must be capturing images—a refined way of seeing the
world. Then you apply this to what you’ve interested in. It’s better that you don’t have
training in geology, etc.
Tremendous unspoken boundaries in our culture that limit what’s ok to say, think. People
take comfort in adhering to these boundaries because you can get on with your life
without hassling people.
On working to break through these boundaries and foster conversation.
Hyper-individuality—can’t form a consensus, the battle of style. Self involved narcissistic
form of design.
Design for us isn’t design—its shopping—go buy the materials
Hung-up on the idea that nothing can be any better than anything else—the universe is
organized hierarchical. This admission is painful for some.
Inability to form a consensus on what is happening to us and what we’re going to do
about it—inability to make collective decisions. Void in leadership.
This whole project of civilization has to do with the sacredness of the human life and this
human project—whether were on the side of the angels
If were going to assume godlike powers do we owe it to ourselves to be good gods? Not
demons—show goodwill to the universe
Formulate general rules about that—tough but we do it.
Sorting trash as spiritual ritual.
piece by Ugo Bardi on the fall of Rome. Bardi concludes that the best thing for the
Romans to do, if they had understood their situation, would have been to go voluntarily
into the Middle Ages, to decentralize, demilitarize, and regrow forests, through reform
instead of through catastrophe.
And from Orlov:
I think that the lesson from all this is that we have to prepare for a non-industrial future
while we still have some resources with which to do it. If we marshal the resources,
stockpile the materials that will be of most use, and harness the heirloom technologies
that can be sustained without an industrial base, then we can stretch out the transition
far into the future, giving us time to adapt.
My position is that property is theft, and intellectual property is theft on stilts.
This is why Le Corre is a dick.
Orlov on the importance of not knocking down buildings—to create intentional ruins
Without much help from anyone, ruins can tell us of our history as a species. Every year
millions of people flock to the Roman Forum, the Parthenon, the ruined medieval
abbeys, cathedrals and castles, the pyramids at Giza, Cholula, and Chichen-Itza, and
the temples at Angkor Wat.
The choice need not be between finding a new use for an old building and knocking it
down: a better choice is to let it mellow, along with the rest of the country.
Even in their natural, entirely neglected state, ruins are, in fact, useful: they can provide
a picturesque spot for a picnic, an instructive site for a school outing, a refuge for wildlife,
a source of employment for tourist guides, and a place for archaeologists to dig around.
A good ruin right in the center of a busy city is a poignant memento mori for the hurried
people who rush about it. Should any of them find an empty slot in their schedules to be
still for a moment, they could gain a precious bit of perspective by gazing at a ruin,
thinking, sic transit gloria mundi. ("Thus passes the glory of the world". It has been
interpreted as "Worldly things are fleeting.")
This shit ain’t funny anymore—it’s only in a culture of luxury—awash in cheap energy—
that you can appreciate a vulgar building for its vulgarity. The ability to be ironic will
vanish with the cheap energy culture.
Resentful of the bad choices that were made—same attitude toward burger king as the
Nazi regime is to the Germans.
Television and a legion of internet gossip sites are about getting everyone to pay
attention to the same (limited set) of things while there’s an infinite universe full of other
things they could be focusing on and aren’t. There’s that feedback loop where the
masses are given what they want—more of the same-- which translates to a distracted
populace being fed information that has no bearing on reality—not getting the
information they should have.
What are you really interested in? Has it changed, have you evolved again? Is it more
specific now? What are you absolutely sure of? What are you not?
Industrial ruins—spiritual aspects of—witnessing the deterioration of as a way of letting
go of the industrial age.
Other relics of the industrial age—waste piles, holes in the ground.
Megastructures as monuments to the industrial age.
What can be saved/salvage/recycled/adaptively reused—how?
What things, beliefs, structures, practices can be walked away from.
Spirituality is particularity important to this phase as we look for new direction and
meaning in the human project—while we look for a new project for that matter.
Spiritual component of celebrating the earth’s limited carrying capacity—this is a total
reframing—the earth is not for us to use. Figuring out how to live here longterm is the
new human project.
It feels weird to repeat what’s already been covered so thoroughly by others—sounds
awkward restated.
You need to come to terms with the fact that writing isn’t your strength—its adequate—
perhaps more than adequate but you write much too slowly to make this a writing
project. Say what’s required with words and the rest with images.
Searching for a Miracle:
From the press release: "An alarming new study jointly released by two prominent
California-based environmental/economic think tanks, concludes that unrelenting energy
limits, even among alternative energy systems, will make it impossible for the industrial
system to continue operating at its present scale, beyond the next few decades. The
report finds that the current race by industries and governments to develop new
sustainable energy technologies that can replace ecologically harmful and rapidly
depleting fossil fuel and nuclear technologies, will not prove sufficient, and that this will
require substantial adjustments in many operating assumptions of modern society."
The same thing is happening now with TV and the internet, and not just on the level of
emotions, but on the level of facts. Less and less of the content is derived from looking
outward, exploring, investigating, and more and more is derived from feeding back what
the audience wants.
We've come to the end of our ability in this world to increase energy inputs to the global
Kunstler and Ran are essentially saying the same things—that people are not paying
attention to the right things—they are looking only at what they want to see and the
various media outlets are happy to provide the crap people are seeking in a sort of
unhealthy feedback system. Meanwhile what’s actually going on is studiously ignored.
Ran puts it this way: “the veering away of human perception from what we need to see
to what we want to see.”
Celebrate the ultimate limits of earth’s carrying capacity—presently being dramatically
An investigation of the hydrocarbon based systems which built industrial society—and
brought us to this grave historical moment.
The status quo will not survive.
You’re bogged down and suffering form a lull brought on by the onset of winter. Write for
the pleasure of it—write anything—just write. Fill up space, break through that last wall
and get on with it—the world is out there—it’s waiting patiently for you. There’s no one
here for you—if there is you would have found her by now. The universe wants you on
the road—it believes in your ability to make meaningful things—to present your version
of the world. Oh, the sweatshirt is working for you—it makes you more approachable. It’s
pretty annoying that everyone comes here with other people—makes them difficult to
meet. You should do on the spot mix CDs for people in the café—music you think they’d
dig based purely on looks. Every time you stop to look at the music, she looks back.
What nonsense you can produce—what meaningless chatter you can fill your hard drive
with. What dribble! It’s a good thing it doesn’t actually take up any space. Maybe you
need a book to read—nonfiction again—always be reading something they say—always
be exercising that part of your brain.
Ok—make another plan and a schedule you can commit to. Feels good. Satisfies a
In order of priority:
Project description writings—keep them short
Welcome writing/video
Write press release
Personal emails
Mass email
Post to blogs
Dream within a dream piece
Stage 2 thank you post
I hope this finds you well. It’s been some time since our chance meeting at that pretty
picnic spot above the Carquinez Straights. You had just moved to the Bay Area and had
your adorable daughter and wife with you—both sleepy from the car ride. I was in the
middle of my first day back on the road—stage two of an extended bicycle tour that’s
been my world for the past year and a half.
I wrote this that night:
Although most of the day consisted of headwinds, rain, and desperate searches for
suitable shit spots, there was a clearly identifiable high point. Meeting Jeff and his
adorable daughter at a picnic site overlooking the Carquinez Straight vastly improved an
afternoon characterized by difficulty and discomfort.
Here it is in context:
The fact is, it was the day’s only bright spot and had I not encountered you and your
family that afternoon, I very likely would have ended my journey prematurely. I wanted to
thank you again for your generosity and the enthusiasm you showed for the project.
In case you’re wondering, I made it to LA. Documentation of the breathtaking sites I
visited along the way are all in the site’s ‘archive.’ (I highly recommend ‘Blue Room’ and
‘The Joy of Infinity.’) Unable to cross the deserts of the Southwest before the heat
arrived, I spent the summer orbiting around Southern California. The fall has been
mostly research and a re-evaluation of the project’s goals and I’ve arrived at a much
more clearly defined sense of what I hope to accomplish. Have a look at the ‘about the
project’ page.
So you’re all caught up. The next stage (stage three) will take me 1,800 miles from LA to
Houston. I’ve pre-selected some fascinating sites along the route—among them are
aircraft boneyards, abandoned Salton Sea developments, an open-pit copper mine, the
country’s largest nuclear power complex, and a sludge ranch. I’m physically and
mentally ready for the ride, but haven’t yet raised the $2000 I need for bicycle repairs
and food for the month and a half long journey. If you’re still interested in supporting the
endeavor I’d be eternally grateful. Also, I’d love to send you a compilation DVD with all
the video work the project has produced so far—just send me your address. Finally, feel
free to forward the project’s site to anyone you think might be interested. I wish you and
your family the best; have an amazing holiday season.
Much Love,
[email protected]
Next to read:
Catton’s sequel to overshoot: Bottleneck: Humanity's Impending Impasse (Paperback)
Maybe you frame the project in a way that’s not based on conclusions already made—
you want to find out what all this talk of collapse is really about, because no one knows
for sure. Is the human species entering an unprecedented phase change, where might
the evidence for or against this assertion be found? What would it even look like? Is the
human species evolving the wisdom to handle the industrial world it’s built or did we
build something that will be our undoing?
On Population and scarcity:
The key element is scarcity which first was created by humankind’s total demand
exceeding the earth’s “ability-to-carry.”
“However, as scarcity increases it causes increases in conflict and redistribution.
Redistribution increases the separation between the rich and poor which creates more
scarcity. This new scarcity creates more stress and conflict.
“Conflict diverts resources from supporting people to aggression or defense and this
creates more scarcity. More scarcity creates more conflict. More conflict creates more
scarcity. The two variables pump each other up until civilization collapses.
“This figure shows that to prevent civilization collapse, with all its attendant injury,
scarcity must be ever-decreasing.
“My suggested process to create “ever-decreasing scarcity”, (described in SKIL Note 41)
is ever-decreasing population.
“In notes 42-65 I explain that a one child per woman behavior must be adopted until
population is so small there is essentially no meaningful scarcity. My estimate for earth’s
sustainable human population (where scarcity does not lead to civilization collapse) is
below 100 million.”
It is about the possibility of having another life, of letting go of the stuff around us and
examining our deepest fears.
Its about making connections with others—about networking, about supporting each
People seem to think that their possessions somehow validate their existence when in
fact this isn’t true at all.
Again, what are your fears:
Never falling in love again
Failing to meet your potential
At least two of those contain elements that are beyond your control
A bittersweet goodbye to the industrial age as we celebrate its accomplishments and
recognize the terrible price paid for reaching such incredible hights.
An affirmation of its conclusion and a turn to face what’s coming next.
The bicycle as the image of the tiny figure in the sublime landscape.—the industrial
sublime. To accept nature’s will—to be forced to move with the seasons and the rhythms
of nature.
It’s getting better all the time:
The 20th century was one of enormous improvements in the human condition.
There was more improvement in the human condition in the 20th century than in all
previous centuries.
Significant improvements in the human material condition
The greatest moment on earth
The objective long-term trend of improved living standards for all of humanity, but
particularly for those living in the United States since 1900, has no precedent.
Most of human history has been one prolonged era of non-progress—imperceptible
gains from generation to generation.
But starting in the mid-18th century with the dawning of the industrial age, the first flickers
of real sustainable progress emerged.
The 20th century produced majestic quantum leaps in the quality of life.
We seem to “create” more than we consume but what are we creating exactly?
So how is it argued that we’re special?
Unlike previous eras of progress, the gains that have been made in the 20th century are
truly irreversible because they are primarily the result of the wondrous advances in the
storehouse of human knowledge that have accumulated in this century. That knowledge
can never be erased.
Actually, they are primarily the result of finding new ways to exploit the earth’s onetime
allotment of hydrocarbon deposits—of discovering new ways to use harness this
incredible source of energy.
We are convinced that 20th century progress has not been a mere historical blip but
rather the start of a long-term trend of improved life on earth…
We now stand on the shoulders of our anscstors and are able to draw upon the
accumulated knowledge and know-how of the past two centuries.
The power to mobilize (This assumes that nature is ours to “mobilize.”)
nature to our advantage rather than to just accept the random fates of nature. There is
no turning back the clock, only boundless opportunity for future advancement.
This is the best time on earth to have ever lived—except for tomorrow.
These men will have difficulty returning home.
On Dubai’s stranded emirate population.
Peak oil: the summit that dominates the horizon
oil sands, northern Canada
The debate has intensified in recent weeks after whistleblowers claimed the IEA figures
were unreliable and subject to political manipulation – something the agency
categorically denies. But the subject of oil reserves touches not just energy and climate
change policy but the wider economic scene, because hydrocarbons still oil the wheels
of international trade.
(that’s putting it mildly)
"The fields which are producing today are going to significantly decline. We are very
worried about these trends," says Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the IEA, who has
gradually ramped that depletion figure upwards and has expressed deep concerns at a
huge fall-off in the current levels of investment in the sector. (doesn’t seem like behavior
that would indicate anyone in the oil business expects to hit that 105 barrels a day mark.
Maybe wishful thinking.)
They point out that the world's big recessions tend to have been generated at least in
part by sudden escalations in energy costs. (What happens when those sudden
escalations occur more often—and ratchet up gradually in intensity. Not so good.
Things absolutely necessary to include: (maybe all you need)
Admittedly, there are few stories less popular these days than ones that point at human
The project is a long-term bicycle-mounted research endeavor aimed at exploring
several questions pertaining to the end of the industrial adventure—the end of cheap
A look at the hydrocarbon based systems that built the industrial world, bringing us to
this historical impasse.
Holding the objective viewpoint—the industrial age was a very special time in the life of
our species—one that will seem brief and frenzied seen in the rearview mirror of history.
A particularly brief and intense period. Pay tribute to its accomplishments while
recognizing the incredible cost paid for them. The industrial age was neither a good thing
nor a bad thing—simply a period our species had to inevitably pass through on its
evolutionary path.
This objective viewpoint is held by preparing in advance for such a period—to learn to
live in relative comfort with very little in the way of material possessions. As thin a
relationship as possible with the money economy—collapse proof. An objective outsider
viewpoint facilitated by maintaining a low dependence on the money economy.
What technology and cultural practice/adaptations should we perpetuate into this period
of contraction—this of course limits anything that requires a fully functioning industrial
base to be maintained or produced—which includes a lot of stuff that fills our lives. Much
of what surrounds us. Exploring new routes while mining the last several thousand years
for valuable innovations.
The megastructure’s potential to memorialize the way we lived during this brief and
intense period—the industrial age.
Lately, the much-repeated aphorism has circulated around the Web that civilizations
build their most extreme monuments at the very moment of collapse.
The industrial abandoment’s (and abandonments in general) potential to help ease us
into the period. To have something to give us solace that leaving this period behind
really will open the doors to a healthier more beautiful world if not a chaotic, confusing
and difficult one. Letting them stand as a reminder of the wrong turn.
The space opened up for new forms of spirituality emerging to fill the void that will open
when the myth of perpetual progress proves to be the cruel farce that it is. One that
celebrate the limits of the planet—and our place in it as a beneficial species—one that
improves the health of the planet—supports biodiversity and creates things of beauty.
The tendency throughout history of persons not wanting to document their civilization’s
failures leads to a lack of historical accounts of collapse situations. Lets try and see if we
can’t study this one a little on the way down. This goes all the way back to orlov’s
suggestion, reiterated by Ran, that should you find yourself in a collapse, stop and take
a look around—they’re incredibly fascinating. Preserve for future reflection—don’t try
and repeat this process
Mr. Analogue
Guy with the records—you’re not going to tell me what its about—well it was nice to
meet you—then he excuses himself.
Oh, its nothing important” in response to “what’s the speech about?”—curious about her
motivations for not wanting to share—I point to her self given value judgment on her
work being given instead of a answer revealing her topic. Which is great because its like
what’s your first question when someone tells you you’re writing a speech? “oh, what’s it
on?” Pretty straightforward. So I guess denying the answer really does put the breaks on
the conversation.
Solo’s are suspicious.
Will you give this speech? No, practice speech writing.
I’m gunna guess that it was either about nothing—or maybe she was writing her eulogy.
Over-did it a little:
The Pellegrino with the espresso—none of these people need these computers—
alluding to the suggestion that nothing anyone is doing is of any real importance
I’m gunna call him Mr. analogue even though I think his name was Justin. A closet
computer user. Full fledged old world café-goer complete with the hat and the coat—
laughed out loud at his book. We don’t need these screens! none of them
Went home to listen to his newly acquired miles davis records.
What else is interesting about this guy’s comment is that it implies everyone that spends
their day in front of a computer, from graphic designers to currency traders, is effectively
accomplishing very little in the physical world. In that sense, he’s absolutely correct in
accusing those around him of kidding themselves regarding their usefulness.
I think I would be even more depressed if I had the kind of access into my ex-girlfriend’s
lives provided by facebook
You gotta practice with the dancing in your off time. You should also be stretching more.
Wealthy Yemeni with ready cash can buy clean water shipped across the country in
guarded tanker trucks. The rest of population has only one option – wait for the rain to
Pull watercolors—put together set for street sales. A very European thing—may not work
I mean feel free to format things anyway you feel works best.
Maybe just pick a quote for each goal and leave it at that—including the well-written
project brief.
Black Friday:
this is so good because is contains, simultaneously, two images of irresponsible
resource consumption. The electrical and the direct burning of hydrocarbons.
Video for Greg’s new flat screen television—the fireplace burning natural gas behind it.
Then shot again from the same position so that it lines up precisely.
Picture of the fireplace to play on Greg’s new television. Like looking through a frame—
the fake gas flame is a good touch. Installation piece.
Donation gift eventually. Get the sticks on.
The text for black Friday piece.
isn't it interesting that our society now vests all its hopes and wishes for thriving -- indeed
survival! -- on a yearly ceremony we have come to call Black Friday.
I made this video so that if the homeowner ever felt the need to be reminded of what’s
behind his television he could just pop a disk into the old blue ray and have a look.
Maybe chill some Champaign and put it on to dampen the visual weight of the monolith
in your living room to set the mood for a romantic evening at home.
. Built with expensive, energy intensive materials imported from abroad. equivalent to
building our monuments before the empire falls apart—but our version is to put a big
black monolith a la Kubric’s 2001 in each of your own living rooms. Maybe the enormous
flat screen television’s hocked so furiously this time of year will be the our empire’s sad
little monuments—squirreled way in living rooms scattered all across the land.) It’s not
surprising they’re perhaps the least useful (and highly resource intensive) thing we could
acquire before a long industrial contraction. But then again, monuments are generally
not very practical.
I suggest as an alternative, a block made out of the hardest stuff the human species can
synthetically produce and put it somewhere as a monument to industrial man, homo
colossus as ___ is fond of renaming us. It can be dug up by some alien civilization
sometime in the distant future. Nice block guys.
You could even have two options—fire on, fire off. I mean it may not match up with your
Maybe a good headline for collapse readditt
Welcome to the holiday shopping season orgy.
People continue to consume in the face of accelerating ecological devastation because
that’s what their televisions are telling them to do. Money Is rapidly evaporating from the
system (broken promises to pay back the money used to build luxury towers in the
desert), and yet advertising is still at full throttle telling people to spend money they don’t
have on things that wont be of use in a time when anyone still watching a flickering
television screen better be a paraplegic.
Do word processing programs with programmed (fixed) rules for grammar slow or
accelerate the evolution of language? The first answer is intuitively slow, but what if
versions and updates come out at such tight intervals and the updates are just adopted.
I guess more goes into forming language than word processing programs but it brings up
a few questions.
That golf course must get more of its value from the list of movers and shakers on its
member roster than from actually being a place where people pay gross sums to play a
being a rapidly accelerating-Frame sticks as, if you ever want to go pound on some large pieces of metal at the
edges of your town, you’ll have the tools you need already.
As maybe an amendment to the brownlands fitness piece.
Brownlands food chain has finally developed to the point where large carnivorous birds
have moved in, ecologically supported by the thriving rabbit and squirrel populations.
You should dumpster dive some particularly interesting davis institutions—scaling a
fence to get at
Oh the watertower gang—staying at the girlfriend’s—hangin’ in the nearby brownlands—
baking pot cookies, dumpster diving, camping stove, piss, squirrel, and ?
The disk full of password protected mp4s. makes a shitty holiday gift for your loved ones.
Other shitty gifts perhaps.
Are you a Romantic?
Of course, but I think I’m a romantic in the way that oscar Wilde and miusaki are
romantics: to exist in a world of beauty is of particularly high priority for maintaining good
spirits. Something we’ve largely forgotten: letting our built environments slide
dramatically in the last half century.
Insert first paragraphs of second section into the first?
Plenty of difficulties stand in the way of making sense of the economic realities we face
at the end of the age of cheap abundant energy. Some of those difficulties are inevitable,
to be sure. Our methods of producing goods and services are orders of magnitude more
complex than those of previous civilizations, for example, and our economy relies on
treating borrowing as wealth to an extent no other society has been harebrained enough
to try before; these and other differences make the task of tracing the economic
dimensions of the long road of decline and fall ahead of us unavoidably more difficult
than they otherwise would be.
I suspect most people are aware by now that there’s something seriously askew with the
economic statistics cited by government officials and media pundits. Recent rhetoric
about “green shoots of recovery” is a case in point. In recent months, I’ve checked in
with friends across the US, and nobody seems to be seeing even the slightest
suggestion of an upturn in their own businesses or regions. Quite the contrary; all the
anecdotal evidence suggests that the Great Recession is tightening its grip on the
country as autumn closes in.
Still, current political and social arrangements may turn out to be a good deal less
permanent than they sometimes seem. What might replace them, here and elsewhere,
is a topic I plan on exploring in a future essay here.
Squat project—introduce yourself as the squatter/caretaker for a few days—basically
need to request permission of the neighbors—see if they’re friendly.
Is your life on a collision course with mine?
Craigslist ahead for accommodations—host a friendly bicycle tourist in your home—give
him a roof, a shower and a bed and he’ll warm your heart with stories from the road.
Artist’s forum? General?
Take corporations: the term "corporation" is actually a clever misnomer, because a
corporation is, in fact, incorporeal — lacking a body. It has many of the same rights as a
person, but in place of a body it has a "corporate veil" which, once pierced, usually
reveals some cringing nincompoop who screwed up the paperwork and is now
personally liable for his corporation's debts and transgressions. Since a corporation has
personhood but lacks a body, it is, in a technically precise way, a phantom. Like other
kinds of monsters, it is immortal, and very specific steps must be followed in order to kill
it. Now, not all phantoms are monsters, but I hope you will agree that the potential is
proximity is the single most important factor in deciding whether a story is newsworthy in
the mainstream media.
That’s why with more peole on the planet than ever before, we still get the same shitty
amendment for flooded NY post.
And another view:
Link to Orlov radio interview.—cartoon consumer and advertising’s sophisticated
methods to get everyone behaving the same way—thinking the same things in order to
fit in.
What’s your beef with advertising?
Advertising is what’s keeping us from evolving, from growing out of our selfish, “I’m the
post important person in the world” juvenile mentality. It’s an incredibly sophisticated
form of social control and I’ll have nothing to do with it. Selling people things they don’t
need is not something I’m interested in being a part of.
Oh—you should check with the two businesses and see if they would let you work for a
room. Barter a little labor for room and board.
Between that and couch surfs, you could almost pull it off.
Pair the latest collapse links—the orlov speech and the telegraph article—both mention
the fact that new investments in oil production aren’t being made. Certainly not the one’s
necessary to meet everyone’s high expectations for growth.
The washed up racing cyclist. With the carbon fiber bike. Begging for change. Racing is
hard man—race against Italians.
Related: A couple of
Couple of related collapse links. A radio interview with Dmitry Orlov and a peak oil
update from The Guardian. Both mention a “fall-off in the current levels of investment in
the [oil production] sector.” Orlov explains why the oil companies don’t seem invested in
reaching the IEA’s predicted 105m barrels per day mark by 2030.
Stage Three Overture: California's San Joaquin Valley
Having ridden California’s coast from top to bottom, it feels wrong to snub its inland
valley. Before officially beginning Stage Three, which launches from LA, I’ll get myself
from the Bay Area to Southern California by loosely following Interstate 5 along the
western edge of the San Joaquin Valley. I’ve packed an ambitious seven sites into
what’s shaping up to be a 450-mile jaunt expected to take ten days or less.
In addition to paralleling the state’s primary north/south automobile conduit, I’ll never be
far from the 444-mile long California Aqueduct. The river that flows uphill is the main
artery of the California State Water Project: one of the world’s largest water storage and
transport systems. I’ll take a look at the pumping station that starts off the Aqueduct as
well as the country’s largest off-stream reservoir.
A 250,000-acre semi-arid grassland plateau is also on the list. The rare and fragile
ecosystem of the Carrizo Plain supports the state’s largest concentration of endangered
species. The most substantial chunk of native grassland left in the state is also home to
an abandoned photovoltaic array: once the world’s largest.
The oil production at the valley’s southern end is the other mega-system on this mini-leg.
Besides paying my respects to California’s single most productive well, the Lakeview
Gusher, I’ll swing through the 75 square mile Elk Hills field with its 2,387 active wells and
three power plants. Before reaching Santa Barbara for a few days rest, I’ll cross the
mountainous Los Padres National Forest and over 5,020-foot Pine Mountain Pass.
Related: Invisible-5 Audio Project
Today, the SWP provides drinking water for over 23 million people and generates an
average 6.5 million MWh of hydroelectricity annually. However, as the largest single
consumer of power in the state, its net usage is 5.1 million MWh.
Related: Invisible I-5
1. Pittsburg Industrial Belt
This eight-mile stretch of heavy industry on the southern shore of California’s
Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta is home to the state’s largest steel mill, a Dow
chemical plant and four power plants with a combined capacity of 4500 megawatts.
Eight mile stretch of shore
4500 megawatts - largest electricity producing area in California
Contra Costa County Power Plant
Pittsburg Power Plant
Los Medanos Energy Center
Dow Chemical Pittsburg
USS Posco Plant—steel plant—bay area’s largest steel producer
Delta Energy Center
[To view the industries along the shore, starting in downtown Pittsburg, head east on
East 3rd Street (to get to downtown from Highway 4 take the Railroad Avenue exit, and
go north to 3rd). The road dead-ends at a USS Posco gate.]
2. Harvey O. Banks Pumping Plant
This facility is the beginning of the California Aqueduct. It siphons water from the
Sacramento River Delta and gives it enough potential energy to travel 80 miles to the
next station.
This pumping station marks the beginning of the 444-mile California Aqueduct, the
central artery of the State Water Project, one of three major aqueduct systems in the
state. Water is drawn out of the Sacramento River Delta through this plant, and begins
its journey through the largest aqueduct system in the world, finally ending up in Los
Angeles. There are many canals, reservoirs and pumping stations along the course of
this aqueduct which travels down the western edge of the San Joaquin Valley, and
supplies water to the agricultural communities of much of San Joaquin, and urban
Southern California. The California Aqueduct is a major component in the State Water
Project system that was initiated in the early 1950's and continues to be under
construction today.
3. San Luis Reservoir and Dam
A 305-foot embankment dam holds back the country’s largest off-stream reservoir. Offstream means it’s not fed significantly by any natural watercourses. Water is pumped
uphill to fill what amounts to a 12,700-acre water storage basin.
, the power generated by its modest hydroelectric plant ever so slightly offsets the cost
of operating the State Water Project.
Largest offstream reservor in the United States,
The San Luis Dam is the fourth largest embankment dam in the USA, and holds back
the 12,700-acre San Luis Reservoir. This reservoir is part of the California State Water
Project, a network of dams, reservoirs, pumping stations, and 550 miles of canals and
major conduits, that distribute water from Northern California to the agricultural industries
of the San Joaquin Valley, and to the metropoli of Southern California.
World’s largest parking lot sign.
Carizo Plain:
4. Abandoned Solar Power Plant
As recently as 1994, 100,000 photovoltaic arrays soaked up sunshine here on the
Carrizo Plain: one of the sunniest places in the state. Oil remained cheap during its
operating life, and the facility was never profitable against hydrocarbon-based methods
of energy production.
5.2 megawatts at its peak.
The remote Carrizo Plain's status as one of the sunniest places in the state was
exploited by the solar power industry from 1983 to 1994. This was by far the largest
photovoltaic array in the world, with 100,000 1'x 4' photovoltaic arrays producing 5.2
megawatts at its peak. The plant was originally constructed by the Atlantic Richfield oil
company (ARCO) in 1983. During the energy crisis of the late 1970s, ARCO became a
solar energy pioneer, manufacturing the photovoltaic arrays themselves. ARCO first built
a 1 megawatt pilot operation, the Lugo plant in Hesperia, California, which is also now
closed. The Carrizo Solar Corporation, based in Albuquerque, NM, bought the two
facilities from ARCO in 1990. But the price of oil never rose as was predicted, so the
solar plant never became competitive with fossil fuel-based energy production (Carrizo
sold its electricity to the local utility for between three and four cents a kilowatt-hour,
while a minimum price of eight to ten cents a kilowatt-hour would be necessary in order
for Carrizo to make a profit). Another photovoltaic facility was planned for the site by the
Chatsworth Utility Power Group, and with an output of 100 megawatts it would have
been many times larger than the existing facility. But the facility never got off the drawing
board. The Carrizo Solar Company dismantled its 177-acre facility in the late 1990s,
and the used panels are still being resold throughout the world.
5. California Valley
Much like Salton City, scheduled for early in Stage Three, California Valley is a failed
development on the Carrizo Plain. Streets were laid out and lots sold, but almost no
homes were ever built.
California Valley was an attempt at development of the high and dry Carrizo Plain, a
wide, remote valley in the mountains west of the San Joaquin Valley. In the 1950's and
1960's, house lots were sold for small sums, often to buyers who were acquainted with
the site only by brochures. Most of the lots were never built on, and the motel and gas
station in town are open only occasionally. Much of this valley is now managed by the
Nature Conservancy.
6. Elk Hills Oil Field
The federal government operated this highly productive field for 86 years as part of the
National Petroleum Reserve. In what is still the largest divesture in American History, it
was sold to Occidental Petroleum in 1998 for $3.65 billion.
This is one of the most productive oil fields in the country, and for 86 years it was owned
by the federal government as part of the National Petroleum Reserve. In 1998, it was
sold to Occidental petroleum for $3.65 billion, the largest federal divestiture in American
history. The National Petroleum Reserve was established in 1912 as a backup source of
crude oil for the federal government, originally for the Navy (it is often still referred to as
the Naval Petroleum Reserve). Four sites in the country comprised the Naval Petroleum
Reserve: Naval Petroleum Reserve No. 2 is adjacent to Elk Hills, and encompasses
another major oil field, the 30,000 acre Buena Vista field; No. 3 is near Casper,
Wyoming, and No. 4 is in Alaska, and is shut down. The Reserve gained notoriety for the
Teapot Dome scandal of the 1920's, which involved Elk Hills, but primarily the Teapot
Dome reserve in Wyoming. Before being sold to Occidental, Elk Hills was owned by the
Department of Energy, and had been selling its crude oil on the commercial market
since 1977. In addition to producing over 1 billion barrels of oil since 1912, Elk Hills is
the largest producer of natural gas and natural gas liquids in California, and is the11th
largest oil field in the United States. Elk Hills is a 47,000 acre (75 square mile) field with
over 1,000 individual oil pumping units, three power plants, and a co-generation facility.
7. Lakeview Gusher
The single most productive oil well in California earned its title when it spewed an
estimated nine million barrels before being brought under control a year and half after it
was first tapped in 1910. A stone monument now stands in place of the 60-acre lake of
crude that formed during that magical period of superabundance.
The most productive single oil well in California, spewed as much as 90,000 barrels of oil
a day, for 18 months when it was first tapped in 1910. A 60-acre lake of oil formed on the
site, on which several people floated about in small skiffs. Eventually 2000 wooden oil
derricks were erected to drill for more in the area. Now marked with a stone monument.
Maybe—Frito Lay Kern Plant (tour)
Man made (the show)—crazy things that people built.
Dedicate stage three to that conservation biologist
Brownlands fire night
Buy the property for conservation purposes—it has to be found to be un-developable—
worthless or it won’t be saved
The unfathomably gorgeous
That’s “tits”
But the actual reality is that they grew up together and fell in love in Petaluma the their
lives took different paths but they’re hanging on even though its clear they got
problems.—so it’s a love story in some ways
Small science fiction element on the level of ‘stalker’—remains vague, understated and
under explained.
Always perfectly lit-- always
Point of view for this film—can’t be the male’s—makes is to autobiographical—I suggest
The protagonists version is that she’s a university student in anthropology, sophomore,
dating this dude for research, they’re both looking into the “travelers”—a nomadic tribal
group that lives off the scraps of humanity, him because he’s into their lifestyle as a
survival method for the age of contraction.
Eric’s nightmare—climbing the hill—what’s on the other side is foggy greenbelt meadow.
About the one hair over dimension—the ideal reality—as you envision it—for most its
relatively close to reality reality
The bicycling greenbelt grass/pavement analogy
The bicycle image as a gift from one’s ideal reality—leaking through—gorgeous frame
shot in front of Amish fall background
Where is this going? What are the spiritual implications—
Cultural anthropology
Extremely beautiful
Always seen in perfect light
Fire light—on her face
Removing the hood when the fire flares up. Revealing golden hair— straight but with
She goes through her schedule, casually—not too much on it—but the sound of her
voice is amazing.
yeah she did seem curious when I answered.
Documentation of the “bonfire event is audio recording—binaural—highlights, the
entirety-- selections
Both from Petaluma
Knew in high school—not close
She went to school, he started traveling
Would like to be one of them but doesn’t connect, but for what reason—what is the
foundation of her motivation? Something more deeply rooted than her area of study.
Had a feeling about both the bikes and that she was going to somehow be extremely
attractive—or rather I’d hoped at least
Interested in “travelers”- nomadic tribes—traveling really light, with the seasons,
Had that strange encounter
Surprise to see these two on the circuit—
So you live here in town, what do you do?
Go to school.
UCD. You?
I grew up here
Coming around the corner describing her beauty—it’s unclear whether or not she heard
We’re not going anywhere—we’re here riding our bikes around.
I’ll always have the skills to transport myself with relatively little help from any complex
support systems that may not be functioning. Or functioning well at least
May you dream of sierra—
You cleared up your reality—you dissolved the unknown that was the source of anxiety
in your dream
Tennis courts on right—people playing
There’s a hill—we look—it’s there
Trolley car filled with gymnastics girls—blue uniforms—trolley through the forest—
awkward, given suspicious looks
Cement blue box metal door—girls deny him, saying no!
The recurring nightmare—over the hill—the unknown—what actually lies beyond is no
nightmare but a beautiful foggy frosty greenbelt meadow that Brett goes riding across
The feeling of riding on frosty grass is like skiing, the sound is amazing, the bike drifts
around corners. Induces giddiness
Both trying to become them but for different reasons—
Realize they’re after the same thing
Shakespearian in an un-tragic kind of way
Yeah how could they be a couple if this is true of her? Calls himself piss
Abducted by aliens – monkeys/chimps same experience of terror and confusion that
humans would experience
This to further the parallel universe thread
I refuse to believe that people are only into stories with idyllic endings—they like tragedy,
it appeals to they’re sensibilities. They like redemption, they like struggle as long as
there’s beauty—as long as they can feel the earth healing
You would need to create.
Tiger in the rotted out boat.
Working in Corsica—one month to work on one project-- uninterrupted.
Another example of trying to write an interesting script by living an interesting life—by
complicating your existence.
You could get close to Sierra by buying drugs from her.
even if most of these ventures miss their mark, as doubtless most of them will, the
chance of finding useful strategies for a difficult future goes up with each alternative
The end of the Age of Abundance promises to tip the world’s industrial economies into
permanent contraction, leave political parties without the resources needed to buy
support from increasingly needy constituencies, curtail the global military reach of
industrial nations, and foreclose most of the options for the future on which industrial
society relies.
The global warming story, if you boil it down to its bones, is the kind of story our culture
loves to tell – a narrative about human power. Look at us, it says, we’re so mighty we
can destroy the world! The peak oil story, by contrast, is the kind of story we don’t like –
a story about natural limits that apply, yes, even to us. From the standpoint of peak oil,
our self-anointed status as evolution’s fair-haired child starts looking like the delusion it
arguably is, and it becomes hard to avoid the thought that we may have to settle for the
rather less flattering role of just another species that overshot the carrying capacity of its
environment and experienced the usual consequences.
It’s hard to think of a less popular claim to make these days.
The southern economy—all about suburban building. Motoring and air-conditioning. A
dicey place. Allowed their towns and cities to commit suicide. Heedlessly destroy things.
Southwest—extremely troubled. Won’t support a population of any size.
Arizona, Phoenix, Tucson—AC, food, problems with heroic irrigation
Las Vegas already drying up and blowing away—construction projects just stopped—no
horizon in the losses being incurred.
LA—water imported from elsewhere—entering a dryer period.
Boise, ID—better situation
Brownlands Settlement
To be used for stage three launch event when complete.
The object—to build a simple structure out of materials found on site
Cinderblocks, bricks, chunks of concrete, branches, mud,
Using an existing on-site form to build off of—
Passive solar heating
Maybe just an outdoor partly sheltered fire pit area.—ceremonial spiral
Possible stage three print adverts:
That image of you on the computer at dad’s new place: “probably how I’ll identify this
time period many years from now.
An auditory adventure—with your glowing ear and freshly cut hair.
Good first date question: have you ever tried to exploit your looks? Sent an image to a
modeling agency, had portraits taken, or at least intended to?
Enormous bank built/owned skyscrapers (like B of A’s) green tower in Manhattan,
represent enormous concentrations of wealth—like piles of money. It’s like we’ve run out
of places to put all this accumulated wealth so were piling it up here in the form of a
spire—an enormous “green” phallus.
Budget for drugs—at least $100 (pharmaceuticals)
Centralia, PA—abandoned due to underground coal fire—will is burn for another 1000
years? Really?
I need your brain (again). You probably remember—I’m the guy who did the refinery
video; you warned me not to trust anyone who offered to help. No one did.
I’ve been following your work for a long time; we did an interview quite a while back. I
said this before but my work as a visual artist is heavily based on your writings. If anyone
is going to “steal” your ideas and take them on the road, it’ll be me.
Speaking of taking it on the road, I finished my master’s at University of Chicago and
rode my bicycle from the windy city to Portland, OR then down the coast to the Mexican
border—a project I titled: The Illuminated Thread
( Along the way I shot video of energy
infrastructure—power plants and refineries, and industrial abandonments. The next
stage will take me from LA to Houston. Sites along the proposed route have been preselected and are described on the “about the project” page. I’ve spent the last few
months reevaluating the project’s goals and trying to figure out how to fund ongoing
research and bicycle-based travel. The goal is to spend the next five or so years
pedaling through the world’s industrialized nations—maybe ending up in china,
documenting and writing about the post-exuberant age, the deindustrial revolution, the
age of limits—numbers getting smaller as you might put it.
The problem seems to be (as Greer pointed out recently) the story I want to tell—
regarding the contraction phase of the industrial age, is one people commonly have
trouble with. I’ve opened up the project’s goals to include elements of spirituality (post
myth of progress) and positive aspects of the world deindustrialization is leading us
toward, but what I’m most into are the hydrocarbon-based systems that built the
industrial world, as well as megastructures and their potential to memorialize this brief
and very special time in human history (“look what we built with all that ancient
sunlight!”). Also, I would hope people are into stories that aren’t all bunny rabbits and
sunshine—that contain the full range of human experience: from suffering and hardship
to great joy and pleasure.
I was hoping you’d take a look at what I’ve done so far, read the project’s goals, and
offer any advice you might have before I complete the critical project statement. Perhaps
most important, what would you want to see and hear if you were sending a scout armed
with an HD camcorder, binaural microphones and a hi-res WAVE recorder out into the
world during this strange time? Something about the tiny figure passing through the
sublime industrial landscapes of container ports, sprawling refinery complexes and
nuclear power plants is greatly appealing to me but I need others on board—at least
watching if not offering support. I’ve had huge writing blocks lately and I think it’s due to
having absorbed too much information in too short a time, having not allowed enough
time to process it and boil it down to what’s most relevant. This correspondence is an
attempt to push through that with some thoughts from someone who’s understanding of
the subject matter is deeper than my own.
Part of the project is leaning how to live and travel on the margins—as disconnected
from the money economy as possible (sound familiar?). Bicycle touring requires a ton of
calories but I estimate I could continue this for less than $12,000 a year. There would
undoubtedly be some overlap in our audiences and I’d love it if you could do a post
when I’ve got everything finalized. Whatever insight, suggestions, epiphanies come to
mind would be greatly appreciated. I hope you dig the project. Along with Kunstler, Orlov
and Greer, you’re a cornerstone of its conceptual underpinnings.
All the best,
[email protected]
navigation notes:
You may not approve of the site’s structure. I intentionally compress the images only
minimally so the pages are large and cumbersome. I believe they’re worth waiting for.
The vids are hosted on vimeo. The best way to see them smoothly is to hit play then
pause until they’re fully loaded (they look best full screen). If you can’t watch them at all
or would prefer not to wait for them, send me your address and I’ll mail you a DVD.
Past stages are available in the 'archive' but if you don’t feel like exploring I recommend
these two:
‘Blue Room’
and ‘The Joy of Infinity’
the five project goals as they currently stand are at the top of the ‘about the project’
I’m the project’s sole creator, creative director, videogragher, web designer, staff writer,
photographer, audio technician, bicycle mechanic, and researcher.
I have no research assistants, no copy editors, no video editors, no web designers, no
travel coordinator, no audio technician, no PR person, no financial advisor
I find the micro-movements required to pilot an automobile
I’m into the freedom of movement provided by the bicycle. Auto’s are
It’s not subject to the same regulation and ordering that keeps automobiles channeled in
narrow grooves. There is much more improvisation, room for different kinds of
maneuvers, use of different surface types—navigation of narrower spaces, against the
regular flows—things that if you tried in a car you’d probably kill somebody, or at least
end up in their living room.
Improvised use of space means turning when you want to, in whatever direction, going
against sanctioned or established flows within the urban environment.
Skateboarders and rollerbladers enjoy a similar freedom from regimented use of urban
I like having an intimate knowledge of the cracks and bumps in the pavement along the
paths and streets I use most often. This is a kind of tactile knowledge that doesn’t
accompany driving.—this goes along with the awareness while riding thing.
Car post support—industrial ruins page 84
Re: demolition montage piece
The message seemed to be that there was no going back. If industrial demolition served
to confirm this transformation at a local level, its message was communicated far and
wide by the media and the Internet. The cultural meaning of deindustrialization is
embedded in these universalized images of falling smokestacks and imploding factories.
Plant closings and their subsequent demolition are secular rituals that dramatize North
America’s transition from industrialism to post-industrialism.
Not just about the inevitability of change, but about the obsolescence of the past.
The post-industrial ethos is graphically represented by the “wrecking ball,” the falling
smokestack, the pulverized grain elevator, and the shattering implosion.
Falling smokestacks
Many of the cultural symbols, beliefs, and values that once fortified a sense of industrial
order were cast into doubt by the demolition of industrial landmarks.
Public spectacle, festive mood, visual drama
But this innate appeal does not fully explain the continued fascination.
“provide the occasion for an important kind of ritual communication.”
A ritualized marker of economic change.
In viewing industrial demolition as a sign of social progress. Falling smokestacks, like
other ritualized moments marking the economic transformation underway, are thus
contested symbols.
Falling smokestacks have marked the triumph of the post-industrial era.
They make North America’s transition from industrialism to post-industrialism appear
natural and inevitable.
***The importance of appearing honest and earnest***
New Reader Orientation
Welcome to The Illuminated Thread: a journey by bicycle into the murky unknown of the
deindustrial age. You’ve come at an exciting moment. The first decade of the twenty-first
century is behind us and Stage Three: Los Angeles to Houston is just over the horizon. If
it’s your first time here let me suggest a few places to dig in:
The project’s goals and upcoming sites can be found on the ‘about the project’ page. If
you’re thirsty for more, there’s a thorough Q & A section at the bottom.
A lot of ground has been covered already (Chicago, Portland, San Francisco, Los
Angeles, San Diego) and it’s all waiting for you in the ‘archive’.
Blue Room and The Joy of Infinity are video favorites from Stage Two. Stage One’s
golden boy is Sonata 38. They look great full screen and the best way to avoid infuriating
lag is to hit play then pause until they’re completely loaded. If you’re missing a plug-in or
would prefer not to wait, I can send you a DVD. The whole collection can be viewed on
my Vimeo page.
Down with words? There’s Brea: anatomy of an oil town, Simplot Soilbuilders, and ____
as well as reams in between.
Finish the tour on the support page, pick out a donation gift and help get this bird off the
ground. I’d like to be on the road again by the end of January but it won’t happen before
another $1,700 is channeled into the project. Yes I realize it’s winter (not traditionally the
best time for bicycle touring), but the days are already getting longer and I’m headed for
the desert.
If you’d like to be added to the mailing list, have a burning question, or just wanna get in
touch, I encourage intelligent communication. The email is brett [at sign] burnthefurniture
[dot] com.
navigation note:
No, it’s not your connection or your imagination: the pages are large and cumbersome.
I’ve intentionally applied only minimal compression to the site’s images. I hope you’ll
agree they’re worth waiting for.
short clarifiers under each project goal:
Industrial ruins, refineries, power plants, heroic water diversion projects, mines, chemical
dumps, megastructures, container ports, heavy industry, and boneyards: a long last look
at the industrial world.
I’ll take a look improvised ground-up support systems as they emerge in the cracks of
the old industrial model. Expect images of organic farms, co-ops, innovative recycling,
repurposing and retrofitting efforts, intentional or lifeboat communities, sustainable
building models, squatting, alternative modes of exchange including gift and barter
economies, decentralized energy production, technological garage tinkering, and sites of
ecological recovery.
Shitting outdoors, sleeping in marginal places, living on an extreme shoestring budget,
being a good houseguest, dumpster diving, time management, situational awareness,
intuitive navigation, the effect of transience on relationships, working with the weather
and the seasons, and bicycle maintenance all fall into this category.
Were not going to do anything about overpopulation.
Process of attrition
Lower birth rates
Compromised immune systems
We see nothing around us that doesn’t indicate a breaking down of the old system—a
transition to something new we don’t quite understand yet.
What to expect/what you’ll see:
As the old system disintegrates, bottom up efforts to provide for people’s needs will be
increasingly common. These People growing their own food, creative repurposing,
squatting, sustainable building practices, cooperatives, gift and barter economies,
garage tinkering,
Anything local or ground-up intended to
this is mostly implicit in the project but…
OKCupid Profile:
I am evolved, adaptable, and composed.
My Self-Summary
I’m pretty convinced that industrial civilization has begun a long slow decline and that the
complex systems that sustain us will falter and eventually fail in an energy scarce future.
Air travel for the masses won’t be around much longer and we’ll all be growing our own
food and milking goats in a decade or so. I might be living in a fantasy but it’s my
fantasy, it’s comfortable, and it’s no more delusional than the managerial economics
major who thinks there’s a job waiting for them when they graduate.
I went to graduate school in Chicago where I made instructional videos on how to
destroy oil refineries. Then I rode my bicycle back to California.
I spend a lot of time alone and an abnormally high percentage of my budget on
I see human babies as larval intruders I’ll have to compete with for increasingly scarce
resources. There are more than enough of us here already.
I’m a good listener, usually relaxed and easy going, sensitive to design and aesthetics,
articulate and periodically hilarious.
I take exceptionally good care of myself and consume large quantities of kale and kefir.
What I’m doing with my life
I'm almost never asleep before three AM or awake before noon. I'm currently spending
most of my hours in a cafe working on a long-term project called 'The Illuminated
Thread': a multi-year bicycle tour through the world's industrialized nations
( Otherwise i'm cycling, running, shooting/editing video, at the
market, listening to a KunstlerCast, or watching the sunset from the top of an abandoned
water tower. I just started a side project: building an elaborate fire ring at a local
brownfield site using only found materials.
I’m really good at
Giving relationship advice, photographing industrial ruins, cutting my own hair, detailing
bicycles, accessing restricted areas, dancing like its 1987, whistling, building campfires...
The first things people usually notice about me
I'm eating cereal.
My favorite books, movies, music, and food
'The Picture of Dorian Grey' was incredibly influential (not in the "good" way) and the
only book i've read twice. Catton's 'Overshoot' turned my world upside down.
Andrei Tarkovsky is far and away my favorite director: 'Stalker' and 'Nostalgia'
Really into female voices at the moment.
Chelsea Wolfe, El Perro Del Mar, Beach House, Chromatics, Sharon Van Etten, The XX
you can borrow my shuffle.
The six things I could never do without
My bicycle
My computer
A good facial moisturizer
(oh that's only three)
I spend a lot of time thinking about
The world that will supplant the industrial one.
On a typical Friday night I am
Tuesday is my Friday: dancing at Old Ironside's 'Lipstick' in Sacramento.
The most private thing I’m willing to admit here
I signed up because i thought the name was a reference to Radiohead's masterpiece.
Wait... is it?
You should message me if
you're down to bundle up and pedal around on a moonlit night, chat about the collapse
of industrial civilization, or picnic on abandoned private property.
Message to Alysia:
the source of my artistic inspiration…
It’s been awhile since I thought about that—its probably good you asked, the question is
sure to come up again.
I don’t know how thorough an answer you’re expecting but I tend to be wordy so here’s a
barrage of information.
There are four authors/thinkers whose work supports the four corners of my practice
(conceptually speaking of course but I picture them holding up some heavy piece of
stone whenever I use that analogy.) They are: John Michael Greer, James Howard
Kunstler, Ran Prieur, and Dmitry Orlov.
To vastly oversimplify, we’re all looking into the decline of the industrial age: a longterm
contraction precipitated by the global peak in hydrocarbon-based energy production.
Basically, the end of the 200-year oil-fueled fiesta and the beginning of a messy period
of restructuring where the complex systems that sustain us (industrial agriculture, etc.)
will need to be replaced by local, bottom-up efforts.
Phew… ok.
So my thing as the visual artist in this “doomers” club is to not only muse about what the
deindustrial age might have in store for humanity, but to take a look at some of these
ridiculously complex systems we were able to build with millions of years worth of
ancient sunlight (oil/coal/natural gas) and to frame them as monuments to what will
appear in hindsight to be a very brief and special (400-year-long) moment in our specie’s
I photograph and write about power plants, refineries, mines, megastructures, water
projects… it’s a long list. I’m also very into industrial ruins—abandoned places, mostly
for their beauty and spiritual potential.
Another component of my work deals with this persistent ‘myth of progress’: the bullshit
idea that the future holds only boundless opportunity for advancement; that our modern
civilization is somehow exempt from the lifecycle of rise and fall that has been the
dominant pattern throughout history. Because the myth is THE religion of our time, most
people’s explanation for why the world is the way it is, when it’s exposed as the lie it is
and walked away from, it’ll leave lots of room for emerging spiritualities, new stories
about the human project, fresh ways of thinking. Telling my own “new story” is pretty
much what I’m up to.
Well there you have it. As is probably obvious by now, I can go on about this for days
(but I usually don’t). When it comes to other people I’d much rather be biking around or
getting coffee, or biking to get coffee. Or dancing, which I must admit I excel at.
Anyway, I think I’m going to delete my profile but I feel like we might get along so we can
pick this up on email if you’re down.
brett [at sign]
or the alias:
jockstockholm [at sign] if you g-chat
As is the routine, I’ll be at old ironsides on Tuesday night. Come with your entourage and
we’ll take over the dancefloor.
Scratch the hypocrisy question.
its time to go. No more delays, no more bullshit—we’re off.
Look at it this way—50 dollars is two days worth of food, it’s 130 miles farther into the…
Wisdom from Edith:
Remember, never close any doors, never in contrast to one’s position, focus on yourself,
speak from your perspective—“this is what I do…” the energy it takes to repel another’s
position is wasted, to actively exclude—it’s too judgmental and makes you look like a
Miru Kim
Documenting isn’t enough
A living body inhabiting these derelict spaces—a character without cultural signifiers—
Realized that things can fall into ruins really fast—the man made world
Berlin—lots of ruins
Some of the best artists have defected from other disciplines. Miru Kim was going to be
a doctor before she started photographing herself naked in abandoned factories and
tunnels. Here’s her TED talk.
Animate and humanize the spaces before they are lost forever.
A playground—childlike
Do you guyse live existential lives?
I get the felling it’s a bit existential for you guys
Yeah when all you’ve got to do that day is figure out what its all about
Re-cut Koyaanisqatsi as one-month project for Corsica-- new audio, no stupid overlays.
The climate all shifting around.
Koyaanisqatsi: Life out of Balance & Powaqqatsi: Life in Transition
The first two films of Godfrey Reggio’s Qatsi trilogy have been captivating stoned
undergraduates since the 80’s and, on the doorstep of a new decade, deserve a fresh
look. Although a bit heavy-handed and didactic by today’s standards, the films are shot
at a level of cinematic intelligence I’d be lucky to someday reach. None of the little
moments of extraordinary depth and beauty that make the films worth watching were
manufactured; the filmmakers were simply at the right place and time to capture them.
It’s in this documentary sprit that most of the video content on this site is made.
Although Reggio frames the binary as the northern hemisphere (Koyaanisqatsi) and
southern hemisphere (Powaqqatsi), It could similarly be thought of as first world versus
third world or industrialized economies versus developing. I like to think of the pair in a
temporal sense—with the human powered world depicted in the second film occupying
space on either side of the Boeing 747-shaped curve that describes the industrial pulse.
Koyaanisqatsi relies heavily on time lapse, an approach that speeds an already hectic
industrial world, making us and our activities look ugly and absurd. By contrast, all the
slow motion in Powaqqatsi evokes dignity, grace and harmony. Although I’d like to avoid
relying too heavily on speed adjustments to the footage I take, cinematographer Ron
Fricke’s work dissolves any apprehensions I’ve had about taking really long shots. Not
one of Fricke's but perhaps my favorite sequence from the first film is its rocket launch
finale: not only amazing to watch, but a good metaphor for the industrial age.
The films have an anthropological lean that further ties them to my recent work. With the
pair, Reggio has constructed a global cultural identity—a portrait of humanity (in the
1980s). He describes it as an attempt, at the moment of crisis, to take a step back and
evaluate our specie’s situation. It’s this broad view of the industrial age’s conclusion I’m
suggesting I can capture by giving The Illuminated Thread globally scaled ambitions.
Koyaanisqatsi touches on a bunch of my current interests: abandonment, demolition,
power plants and energy, resource flows, freeways, consumerism, technology, space
flight (as a symbol of limitlessness), megastructures, mining, modernist architecture and
as the filmmaker puts it, “The beauty of the beast (our shining way of life).”
The films' official site.
The films are anthropological snapshots: portraits of a global cultural identity.
Global portrait of humanity
Parallels to the project
As director puts it, show:
The beauty of the beast (our shining way of life).
High tech base—
Not hypocritical to use the medium you’re critiquing
The medium most capable of revealing to us our situation
Reveal the subject most clearly
Avoid becoming
The computer
Highest magic, produces what it signifies—more symbols, more abstractions
More time lapse in the first—makes our activities look ridiculous
Slow motion—more beauty more dignity, more human, more delicate and more beautiful
A whole section shot through cars—transitions/cuts with traffic
The first is the way up—I’m looking at the transition on the other-side of the bell curve—
images that look similar to how much of life will look in the industrialized nations as
There’s not enough time and not enough materials and not enough capital to construct
We got so busy selling each other stuff that we failed to notice or chose to ignore what
we were doing to the habitat that sustains us.
Three sentences on the film pair—
Third/first world
The type of cinematography I aspire to be as good at someday
Recording what’s there—no manufactured situations
Capturing a lot of amazing moments—collecting them and assembling them into an
an anthropological portrait—but aspiring to represent a global culture—a mix-ed up
Parallels to your work:
Energy, power plants, power transmission towers, megastructures, the critique of space
flight endeavors (reinforcing limitlessness)—as a symbol of goals that must be
abandoned, abandonment, demolition, freeways and traffic flows, energy flows, resource
flows, consumer culture, debilitating and humiliating work and living spaces (little boxes).
Hyper-consumption, a disconnection from the planet, etc.
Watching the film with each person as the guest. Taking notes of what they said during
the film—this is the gift
So clearly we’re an absurd species.
I just saw Godfrey Reggio’s experimental 1982 film Koyaanisqatsi. Ron Fricke’s
cinematography is some of the best I’ve seen and only improves in the films’s sequel.
Focus on the absurdity of the things we’re doing, the things we’re building, strapping
ourselves to sophisticated canisters filled with incredibly flammable liquid and launching
ourselves into space
The indignity of the places we’ve built to house ourselves—the tiny boxes many of us
spend long hours in. ok, we’ve got everything we need scattered all over the surface,
now just ease up on the throttle there—back it off a bit.
Type out a monologue for each shot sequence—audio recording might help with this.
Such a terrifically ugly species in many ways.
Interesting that the chosen word came from a Hopi tribe. A group very much in synch
with their environment—treading particularly lighly on their landbase.
No more shooting off rockets people—we are going to have to put those toys away
indefinitely. We live here assholes. It’s bleak out there. “But there might be stuff we can
use!”—“something else we can burn to keep the cars and all the stuff flowing around,
tv’s circulating the globe. Build more cars!” (demonic cackle-- )
In its openness—removed is the task of having to focus on a narrative—you get to sink
into the cinamatorgraphy, the images, to have trust in the filmmaker’s decisions—the
editing, the pairings—
Leaving more work for the viewer—space to draw their own conclusions, to make their
own connections, to dawn their own insights.
Not trying to romanticize the southern hemisphere—saying that there isn’t just one
lifeway—that these other lifeways are threatened because they’re human, fragile. The
world of the machine is hard and brutal and self-perpetuating—means it creates its
Portrait of humanity in three volumes.
Re-listen to the filmmaker’s opening remarks on DVD “impact of progress” what this
series is about
Although not without its faults—layering the first world people walking over third world
children may have been a poor choice. Heavy handed and didactic, as well as some
jarring transitions and weaknesses in Glass’s score.
Represents an epic portrait of humanity— comprehensive in scope
Represents un-fathomable amount of work
For some reason the disk still has subtitles—oh, for the
Really, watch it with the whole family on Christmas day.
Recommended for Christmas morning family viewing if its at all possible to arrange.
That final incredible shot of a failed rocket launch with the piece of flaming debris
hurdling back to earth—miles and miles so that it takes several minutes—and just goes
into this slow counterclockwise rotation.
Train shot—really long.
Kinda where I want to be in terms of an openness—nothing set up, no narrative, just
showing, and letting the audience work a little harder, create their own narratives, come
up with things in their own—connections/insights that they discovered, not that were
handed to them
Also “pure cinema”:
Pure Cinema is the film theory that a movie maker can create a more emotionally
intense experience using autonomous film techniques, as opposed to using stories,
characters, or actors.
Unlike nearly all other fare offered via celluloid, pure cinema rejects the link and the
character traits of artistic predecessors such as literature or theatre. It declares cinema
to be its own independent art form that should not borrow from any other. As such, "pure
cinema" is made up of nonstory, noncharacter films that convey abstract emotional
experiences through unique cinematic devices such as montage (the Kuleshov Effect),
camera movement and camera angles, sound-visual relationships, super-impositions
and other optical effects, and visual composition.
Television shots—really frightening, frenetic, anxiety inducing.
The projects in St. Louis, Mo—abandoned then demolished.
What will future cultures think of us when they find the ruins of the modernist boxes we
filed ourselves away in? God these people really hated the world—or were really
frightened of it.. they just constructed smaller and smaller boxes to put themselves in.
It makes watching things of lesser quality seem like a huge waste of time.
This might be setting the standards a little high but I’d like to get to this level in terms of
my shot construction—and composition, to introduce tracking
Some of the best cinematography I’ve ever seen.
difficult to force two images together—don’t like the overlaps—justified use of excessive
slow motion and time lapse imagery. Drugs come highly recommended for this one.
A but didactic at times with the whole exploitation if the third world—but if you view it as
exploitation of the whole planet
How heavy handed is the soundtrack?
Makes you not worry about doing particularly long shots.
The United airlines taxi sequence—the longest single shot is incredible and a fantastic
advertisement for United Airlines.
Advertisement for united airlines—coming through the heat waves.
Train passing, long pan across the facades of white high-rise dwellings.
Just stand somewhere with your computer running video—see what happens.
Oh you should learn how to disengage the auto aperture so you can let shots run in
changing lighting conditions and you won’t feel that camera adjusting
To—nomadic existence essay
Doing this project that attempts to travel using minimal transactions involving money—
trying to directly exchange labor for food or lodging whenever possible—
Santa Barbara Hostel
KunstlerCast #93
Academia is a rough racquet and its getting rougher
Your virtual self—you represented through the internet.
Cartoon of yourself
Suni, Albany campus—environmental science green monstrosity—dark satanic mill—
updated version, enormous
Techno-triumphalism trap we’re falling into—techno yourself through the bottleneck—
very poor idea to follow
Invocation of the connection of all things together—how we’re connected to everything
else, articulated by architecture—informed by the structures that surround us
Discontinuity, intrusion, obscuring the relations of things to each other—object’s built
today are this—interruptions. Things that suggest a fragmentation.
Cockamamie narrative to explain what he’s doing—because they’re paying the architect
so much of the stuff we build reflects a discontinuity as a culture and as a nation.
Parking – inhospitable zones
The end of irony—if you can’t make yourself comprehensible doing whatever it is you
do—then forget it—we won’t have the time or the money to listen
College as a commercial activity is over with.
Diploma mills
It’s the thought that counts—as the national slogan
College campuses built like office parks.
A portrait of the world we’re engineering built with images—and words.
Destroys hierarchical relationships—some activities are better than others, some
pursuits, some human activities—just because there’s demand doesn’t mean it’s a good
way to devote shared resources toward.
But someone owns those resources, they paid for them—whomever lives where they’re
being stolen belong to those resources.
Evoking the death of the system—what things are we building/making that do this
monumentally monstrous and horrifying,
a culture not worth carrying forward
programmed to think cynically—leaving poorly designed college campuses—the world is
already a horrible discontinuous, disorganized place
Does your story with the travelers have another chapter?
Donation gift:
Writing service—after conducting a thorough interview, I’ll write your OKCupid profile for
you. $100
And the Baristas that were working at the Café where I spend my time all long for the
days of late summer when I would come in wearing moccasins.
You could formalize the brownlands building project—live in the structure for a week,
explore squatting laws and absentee landlords. You could own that property! The
implications of building structures on “owned” property without permission. Ceremonially
turn over the structure to the travelers when its finished
Maybe perform the tarkovski monologue at the brownlands—a place where it can be
done loud and clear.
The NY green skyscraper—represents a huge pile of money—a tower of concentrated
resources all brought to the site and stacked up. It’s great that we’re thinking clearer
thoughts on the whole energy dilemma but if the usefulness of this thing in a very
different paradigm isn’t being questioned then that’s a problem—I mean its still a
intended to hold a bunch of drones shuffling numbers all day—totally abstract stuff that
has a thin connection to meeting people’s actual needs.
Performance: running naked through the pitch black night on a perfectly smooth surface.
Like running through the void. Is there a way to document this?
To the CLUI team:
I wanted to bring to your attention a project I’ve been engaged with for over a year.
There’s significant overlap with the center’s arenas of interest and I’m wondering if there
might be potential for a collaborate effort. The endeavor, known as The Illuminated
Thread is a multi-year bicycle-mounted research project aimed at documenting and
interpreting the contraction phase of the industrial age. Within the context of an
independent cycling tour that began in Chicago and has made it all the way to the
California/Mexico border, I’ve photographed and written about a variety of sites related
to the industrial age: refineries, power plants (both hydrocarbon fired and nuclear),
abandoned shipyards and industrial food production facilities, mines, megastructures
and many more. I produce a short video vignette for each site I visit. The evidence is all
archived on the project’s website: Because of the sheer amount
of content, the site can be a bit overwhelming for new readers. There’s an ‘orientation’
post at the top of the main page that provides a directed first look.
I’ve used your land use database extensively for research and to select sites. The next
leg I hope to do, Los Angeles to Houston, is packed full of odd desert stops including
aircraft boneyards, copper mines, water pumping stations, chemical dumps, that sludge
ranch in western Texas, the country’s largest nuclear power complex, and others. The
stage’s finale will be arrival in the Texas petrochemical belt outside Houston.
Although I’ve only just begun to consider how the work might be integrated into CLUI’s
mission, I envision the ride being this line (a “thread” if you will) that connects a bunch of
your sites of interest. It could be done thematically: taking a look a the California Water
Project by visiting pumping stations, reservoirs, and following the aqueduct from one end
of the valley to the other, or geographically: taking a close look at sites along a
predetermined route.
I received my MFA form the University of Chicago’s department of visual art and have
exhibited material produced for the thread. I have plans to collaborate on a future leg
with another artist, Jessica Lah, a Southern California native who’s finishing up her
undergraduate (visual art) at Long Beach State. She was recently at your Culver City
space and would be more than happy to represent the project and meet face to face with
a member of the CLUI team. I can send her in with a sampler DVD and a more formal
project proposal should the opportunity arise.
Thank you in advance for your time,
Brett Tracy
[email protected]
I would do it this way but would totally be open to suggestions if you’ve got any.
Include Jessica in the project proposal-providing her qualifications—she’s just been in
china, just had a show. Also describe what the work might look like—the audio, the
images—could be as connected or separate from the umbrella project as they see it—
welcome collaboration in creating the project parameters—a sub-project done
specifically for the CLUI. CLUI’s dessert southwest—a collaboration with the illuminated
Connecting a bunch of the sites on your land use database—thematically, as well as
linearly in space an time—a cross section. Also, a closer examination of the sites—a
micro examination—a close up view revealing far greater detail. Or could be organized
by megasystem—the state water project—or oil production. Or do it regionally—a look at
land use in the dessert southwest.
Jessica could even go in and represent the project at the culver city space—drop off the
proposal—a packet with a DVD, etc.
On the e-cigarette
I actually “smoked” one of these. It was a weird experience and seems like a really odd
way to use electricity—it plugs in, has to be charged. It relies on intricate microtechnology (the thing costs like $50) and is a great way to push nicotine addiction into
the next century. You buy little refills for it so the cost is protracted. The makers of the
really tiny parts inside as well as big tobacco benefit.
Just because there’s demand for it doesn’t mean its an appropriate thing to be
converting our resources into.
On genetic tests for dogs-- $70. This question generated a heated conversation on
whether it was an appropriate thing to be devoting resources to—the assumption being
that if there’s demand for something it automatically means it “should be done” this
throws out other determiners of value and places all things on the marketplace as
without inherent hierarchy beyond what someone is willing to pay. We had better get
used to the idea of letting the locals make decisions about the resources found where
they live—that is if we’re concerned with avoiding an exceptionally poor transition to a
vastly lower energy state.
my arrow may take a circuitous rout to reach its mark but have no doubt, my sight is
trained on your city.
Your name has to begin with a “K”. I know it seems arbitrary but for some reason it’s my
most consistently required feature of a woman.
Link to hinter’s point property—from placard.
the rust belt as the El Dorado of Urban exploration—Detroit. We shall see if a city whose
legacy is cars, has any reason to continue existing in an age where their wares are no
longer viable.
The gift card—you get to carry around and keep track of this little piece of advertising
for us—funds we’ve already taken and might give you something in exchange for
provided you don’t loos the little strip of plastic.
Three ways of asking for a cigarette. The flirt, the buy, the authority/hierarchy/teammember.
Experiments for the tower
Side repel
Bouncy balls
Ground bloom fireworks
Record primal screams with binaurals
Support Page Brief:
There’s no advertising anywhere on this site. I’d shut the thing down before cluttering it
with banner ads. Although I paid for Stage Two by selling my childhood on Craigslist,
most of the funding for this project has come from the generous individuals whose
names appear to the left.
If you’ve had a look around and share my belief that this endeavor is well worth
continuing, consider becoming a part of the adventure with a donation of your own. Food
being by far the largest expense, you’ll effectively be refueling the tour—propelling it
farther along in space and time.
If you’d like to support the thread in a non-financial way, I’ve got a bunch of ground
support jobs I can delegate. Anything from research assignments and editing to setting
up appointments and locating places to stay. Just email if you’re interested: brett [at
sign] burnthefurniture [dot] com.
Here’s a more academic explanation outlining the project’s approach to money.
I’m a practicing artist: this project is what I’m doing with my life—I have no day job, no
apartment, I don’t even have a bed beyond my therm-a-rest.
I’ve run out of childhood things to sell
I’ll leave as soon as the money to make it there is secured.
It wont get done without you
Non-financial ways of supporting the thread:
Research assignments—information gathering
Editing tasks
Ground support
Finding places to stay
Setting up appointments
And generally helping to get the word out and expand the scope of the project.
And if you still need a reason to donate:
keep this page advertising free
be a part of an epic adventure-- To be a part of something potentially as thought
provoking as it is beautiful (for example)
the comforting thought that at least someone is out there doing exactly what they were
meant to be doing—using many of the skills they have to do something of value.
New Support page intro:
From stage one:
The realization of such an ambitious project is going to require resources beyond what
two ex-students have at their disposal. We are actively seeking assistance from our
friends and family as well as anyone who sees the same potential in the project that we
do and would like to help it become a reality. Our largest single expense is likely to be
food, with lodging (the occasional camp ground fee or hostel stay) a distant second.
Even on a shoestring budget of $35 per person per day, 50 days on the road brings our
total operating costs to nearly $4,000. Additionally, we've acquired only some of the
computer and video equipment we would ideally have along to make the kind of work we
want to make.
Although financial support gives us the most flexibility, we’d also greatly appreciate
equipment donations or loans. Drop us a line if you think you have something we can
use. Finally, whenever possible we’d like to stay in people’s homes. This practice not
only makes our nights on the road more comfortable and less costly, it gives us the
opportunity to discuss the project with our hosts. If you (or someone you know) live
along the route and would be willing to open your home to us, the hospitality and hot
water would be greatly appreciated.
Based on what’s already been done, as well as plans for its future,
This is a terrible way to pay back my student loans but its what I’m meant to be doing
Keep the site free of advertising
Basically paying for food
Seeing potential in the project—based on past work.
Doesn’t pay well, doesn’t pay anything actually.
Being a part of a great adventure.
we're doing a poor job of constructing a coherent consensus about what is happening to
us and what we are going to do about it.
I submit that we would benefit more if we acknowledged what is really happening to us
because only that will allow us to respond intelligently.
In the year ahead, the sense of contraction will be palpable and huge. Losses will be
obvious. No amount of jive-talking will convince the public that they are experiencing
"recovery." Everything familiar and comforting will begin receding toward the horizon.
Japan's financial disarray runs so deep that it could crash its government even before
ours. It has no fossil fuels of its own whatsoever. And in a de-industrializing world, how
can an industrial economy sustain itself? Japan might become a showcase for The Long
Emergency. On the other hand, if it gets there first and makes the necessary
adjustments, which is possible given their discipline and common culture, they may
become THE society to emulate!
I believe United (Airlines) will be the first one to go down in 2010, a hateful moron of a
company that deserves to die.
the cheap oil life of convenience, comfort, obesity, and social atomization.
I phone or not to I phone
It’s looking like I might have a partner for stage three: my surrogate brother Eric. He’s
building a bike and preparing for life on the road. Eric and I have been tackling the
question of whether or not to add an I-phone to our touring toolkit. It’s a difficult decision
that demands a consideration of more than simply how much weight it’ll add to our rig.
We’d use it for directions, to set up stays, and probably a million other things (there’s an
app for identifying wild mushrooms). I’ve left the decision up to Eric but my own opinion
is that the device is a shortcut I’d prefer not to take. Ran enters at the perfect moment to
provide direction on the matter:
Two loose ends on the technology subject. One issue is whether shortcuts are
necessarily good. To extend the rock climbing metaphor: Why bother solving a
crossword puzzle when you can just look up the answer? Why ride a bicycle across the
continent when you can just get on a plane? Why learn to make something with your
own hands when you can just buy one made by somebody else? It comes down to the
meaning of life. If you're here to accomplish things, then you might as well just sit in a
box pushing buttons. If you're here to explore and learn, then the long road might be
more valuable than the short road. And if you're here to have a good time, then what are
you doing on such an awful road that you're in a hurry to get to the end?
The other issue is how and when technologies make us weaker. One of the many things
we can ask, when considering a tool, is whether the tool focuses our native strength, like
a knife or a pencil or a biofeedback machine, or whether it does the work for us, like an
engine or a calculator or a wire in your brain.
A more profound question is: "Does the presence of this thing make me stronger in its
absence?" That's what a good teacher does, and oddly, it's what a crutch does,
completely unlike a metaphorical "crutch". If your leg is broken, a crutch lets you walk
around and keep the rest of your body in shape until the leg heals. And if you're building
a permaculture seed community to survive the collapse of industrial civilization, you can
use a truck or a backhoe to strengthen your position for a world without engines.
Vaccinations are an interesting case. Individually, they make us stronger, but as a
species they make us weaker, by preventing us from adapting to diseases on the level of
genetics or culture.
What if a technology makes us stronger in its presence and weaker in its absence, and
we go ahead and use it anyway? Then we are making a lifelong alliance with that
technology, and that means both our individual lives and the life of the human species.
In either context, if we ever break the alliance and give up or lose the technology, then
we will have to pay back all the benefits. Our primitive ancestors made alliances with
fire, stone tools, and clothing. Our more recent ancestors did it with metal tools, grain
farming, machinery, electricity, the automobile, and most ominously, economic growth.
In our own lifetime we've become dependent on computers -- although some uses of
computers do make us stronger in their absence, like sharing information about biosand
filters and rocket mass heaters.
I don't think our permanent alliances are limited to the ones we made tens of thousands
of years ago. But it's going to be interesting to see which modern technologies can break
free of their debts to the extractive economy.
For a minute there, I lost myself—I lost myself. Got a server job and started sleeping
with someone I met at work.
I take care of my vessel.
KunstlerCast #94:
The fakery used in creating Disneyesque places (a façade over a megastructure) is
registered by even by most vulgar—painted on windows.
Bossart industrial structures—the oldest ones—built of stone and masonry.
Think of this as the opposite of a cable television advert.
“I’ve no earthly gifts to bestow upon my brethren—to the marketplace of ideas I’m
headed with my wares!”
That’s right, I could have spent my life learning how to sell you stuff you don’t need, but
I’d rather do this.
Dubai tower image—printed in tiles. White bottom border due to imperfect fit.
Eric’s action list:
Identify and locate steadycam software
Shot list for steady cam practice advert
fire ring design/construction work
Locate state and national parks to work into route
Editing duties for Q & A section—evening
Sensors/trackers from brad-- email
Resolve i-phone dilemma
Welcome back email:
Longtime readers and new arrivals:
The Illuminated Thread is back: re-imagined and reborn into a new decade. Taking a
long last look at the industrial age, we’ll witness the wonder and tragedy of a world built
with phenomenal amounts of fossil energy.
The departure date for Stage Three is rapidly approaching, cautiously set for 28
January. The winding route through the desert southwest connects three of the country’s
most car dependent suburban metroplexes: LA, Phoenix, and Houston. I’ll visit an
abandoned solar array, sprawling aircraft boneyards, open-pit copper mines and an
80,000-acre sludge ranch just to name a few.
As always, support is greatly appreciated. I’m $1300 from being able to feed myself all
the way to the gulf. Also, now is the perfect moment to share the project with the people
you love.
Happy New Year and welcome back!
I’d like to formally announce a January 28 departure date. I’ve added several sites to the
itinerary, extending the leg by between 600 and 700 miles at a time when I should
probably be scaling the project back for lack of funding. If you’re planning to donate
eventually, now is a good time.
The audio recorder has arrived and is undergoing extensive testing in inclement
weather. Although its primary tasks will be field recordings and interviews, it’s got me
thinking about doing a podcast.
Perhaps the most significant piece of news: I’ve taken on a collaborator. "E" (not the one
from Eels) will be joining the thread and is building up an oldish Raleigh frame he once
referred to as a “space bull.” E studied film at UCSB and is gifted with bikes and video
equipment. His lifelong interest in aviation should be well rewarded by several stops on
the leg. He's terrified of UAVs and hasn't ruled out a written piece on the politics of
remote warfare. The decision to remain anonymous is tied to a fear that large
corporations may not be as likely to back his own future endeavors if he's associated
with this one.
Lastly, several clearly identifiable themes are emerging for Stage Three. In no particular
order they include:
water projects—it’s dry in the desert so pump in water from somewhere else.
alt. energy—it’s also sunny and windy.
utopian architecture/settlements—“we’ll build it out here where no one will stop us!”
prison camps—undesirables isolated from the population.
mines—extracting resources from the ground.
dumps/boneyards—depositing waste back into/onto the ground.
aviation research and development—Skunkworks, drones, missile testing, private
E and I were looking at a video clip on mothballing passenger jets for long-term storage
and he mentioned how mindboggling it’ll be for some desert dwelling future human to
come across hundreds of half-buried airliners centuries from now. A monument from
antiquity if there ever was one.
Using a sort of national geographic aesthetic to shoot the sites.
The arrival of key tools/bicycle repairs
Utopian architecture/community thread
Mines and dumps—metals yanked from the ground—from borates and copper to
limestone. then scattered all over the surface in the form of airplanes.
Might do a podcast—which could be simply a conversation we record while riding.
Added an estimated 600 to 700 miles to the leg bringing it to 2,400.
Try and post weekly.
View from the top of the Dubai tower (BBC)—we did it. look how small everything is
down there, it’s like the Jetsons!
Behaving honorably is currently out of fashion. Some people are simply thrown off by it.
Put the holidays to rest
Apocalypse week on the history channel
“After the Apocalypse” documentary
Hashima Island—abandoned coal mining community—well documented, high population
density when inhabited. Finally abandoned in early 1970s
Goldsmith’s College, London—To embed the artist in the visual culture
Sometime this week you’ll receive an Illuminated Thread: Stage One/Two DVD. There
are 38 vignettes on the disk so I thought I’d provide a little guidance. The 12 pieces
under the Stage Two menu are the most representative of my current work. Of the
twelve, these are my top picks:
blue room
betteravia sugar plant
the joy of infinity
from stage one, Sonata 38 is a reader favorite
In the extras section I’ve included some related work I did in grad school
demolition montage (installed as a wall size projection, a two-hour loop)
end civ
dixie square (zone edit)
the passage (I rarely put myself in front of the camera but it happens)
Thanks for watching. Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated.
I think that beneath all events is an invisible Flow that is intelligent and loving. I think that
any human system that goes out of balance with human nature, or with other life on
Earth, is doomed to fail. I think that in all possible futures, dandelions will grow through
ruined Wal-Mart parking lots. But within this optimism, I see room for epic catastrophes.
And some catastrophes are now so far along that "what can I do to stop it" is the wrong
question, and the right question is "what can I do to survive it, to help others survive it, to
minimize suffering and prepare for recovery?"
The title of my talk was "Weeds through Pavement", because when pavement turns to
forest, the pavement does not turn green and put down roots -- plants crack the
pavement and grow through it. So do that.
Utopian Desert Architecture thread:
Geodesic sphere house
Siler Lakes Development
Lake Havasu Resort Community
Salton sea Club—retirement communities—your little slice of paradise
Biosphere 2
Prison Camps thread:
WWII internment camp.
The scrapping of the ghost fleet—find out where the ship breaking is occurring.
New Site Descriptions: (get CLUI and Wikipedia where applicable)
White Sands Missile Range Museum
The museum associated with one of the largest military facilities in the country, 4,000
square mile White Sands Missile Range, has a large collection of vintage projectiles.
White Sands Missile Range (WSMR) at nearly 4,000 square miles, is one of the largest
military facilities in the country. It is primarily a test range with the main function of
supporting missile development and test programs for the Army, Navy, Air Force,
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), other government agencies and
private industry. Like most large military installations in the West, White Sands was
created during World War II. It was officially established on July 9, 1945, one week
before the world's first nuclear explosion, the Trinity test, was performed at its northern
end. Over the years, most of the missile systems in the U.S. arsenal were tested at
WSMR, including the V-2, Nike, Viking, Corporal, Lance and Multiple Launch Rocket
Systems. The range has developed launch facilities in other areas of New Mexico, Utah,
and Idaho for long-range testing. In such tests, missiles from these locations fly over the
countryside and impact on White Sands. White Sands also provides an alternate landing
site for the space shuttle program. In 1982 the orbiter Columbia landed on the range's
Northrop Strip after its third flight into space. The WSMR employs 8,800 people, and is
under operational control of the U.S. Army Test and Evaluation Command (TECOM),
located at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland.
U.S. Borax Boron Mine
From this 500-foot deep open-pit mine, the largest in California, come more than half the
world’s borates. What the hell is Borax? Just try making anti-fungal fiberglass, indelible
ink, or jet fuel without it.
Curing agent for snake skins
to color fires with a green tint
jet fuels and other aerospace and military technologies—proximity to aerospace
development facilities.
This mine is the largest open pit mine in California, and the largest borate mine in the
world, supplying more than half of the world's borates, and it employs over 800 people.
The mine and refinery complex was established in the late 1920's, after a large source of
borax was discovered here. Prior to this time, borax was mined out of Death Valley and
hauled to the railway at Mojave by the famous "20-mule team." This mine consists of a
500 feet deep pit more than a mile long by one half mile wide. The substances obtained
from the borates extracted from this deposit are used in numerous products, from soaps
to jet fuels. Boron in particular is an element that has many applications in aerospace
and military technologies. It is a component in high-strength fiber composites and in
rocket fuels.
Sounds like a name somebody came up with in the 1950s thinking it sounded
advanced—or something from a Dr. Seuse book
Solar Two Experimental Solar Facility:
Rumor has it that this facility has been dismantled.
This experimental solar facility, the largest of its type in the country (and only one of two
similar structures) was built by the Department of Energy in 1981 as Solar One. This
was the first solar power plant in this area, which has since become the solar capital of
the world. Unlike the commercial solar plants in the area, Solar Two, as it was later
renamed, is a central receiver-type system, with a 200-foot collector tower onto which
nearly 2,000 reflectors focus the sun's energy. Each of the reflectors is positioned
automatically with a heliostat to track the moving sun. The heat transfer medium, which
was heated in the "solar power tower", was circulated to the steam and electric
generating facilities. It was a mixture of sodium nitrate and potassium nitrate with a high
heat retention capacity, maintaining its temperature long enough to be stored in tanks
after being heated, and can be used as much as several hours later to generate steam
and, subsequently, electricity. The DOE and Southern California Edison, which owns the
ground, closed the power facility in the late 1990's. It is now being used as a gamma ray
observatory by the University of California, Riverside.
In 1995 Solar One was converted into Solar Two, by adding a second ring of 108 larger
95 m² (1,000 ft²) heliostats around the existing Solar One, totaling 1926 heliostats with a
total area of 82,750 m² (891,000 ft²). This gave Solar Two the ability to produce 10
megawatts. Solar Two used molten salt, a combination of 60% sodium nitrate and 40%
potassium nitrate, as an energy storage medium instead of oil or water as with Solar
One. This helped in energy storage during brief interruptions in sunlight due to clouds.
The molten salt also allowed the energy to be stored in large tanks for future use such
as night time.Solar Two proved it could run continuously around the clock producing
power. Solar Two was decommissioned in 1999, and was converted by the University of
California, Davis, into an Air Cherenkov Telescope in 2001, measuring gamma rays
hitting the atmosphere. Its name is now C.A.C.T.U.S..[2] Solar Two's 3 primary
participants were Southern California Edison (SCE), the Los Angeles Department of
Water and Power (LADWP), and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).
"We're proud of Solar Two's success as it marks a significant milestone in the
development of large-scale solar energy projects," said then U.S. Energy Secretary Bill
"This technology has been successfully demonstrated and is ready for
commercialization. From 1994 to 1999, the Solar Two project demonstrated the ability of
solar molten salt technology to provide long-term, cost effective thermal energy storage
for electricity generation.", Boeing
On November 25, 2009 the Solar Two tower was demolished [3] The mothballed site
was levelled and returned to vacant land by Southern California Edison. All heliostats
and other hardware were removed.
Boron Air Station and Prison
Born as the Boron Air Force Radar Facility, the site was later converted into a federal
prison camp where some 500 inmates rebuilt forklifts for the army. The prison was
closed in 2000 and is currently abandoned.
At a remote desert site six miles north of Kramer Junction is a former Federal Prison
Camp [maybe reason to bring in internment camp—deserts as remote places to put
criminals], which closed in April, 2000. It was one of around 47 minimum security federal
prison camps in the country, and housed about 540 male inmates. Workers in the prison
assembled parts for military vehicles and rebuilt forklifts for the army. The boarded up
prison facility is located on the site of the old Boron Air Station. Also known as the Boron
Air Force Radar Facility, it was managed by nearby Edwards Air Force Base, and
consisted of several barracks and administration buildings spread out over a few
hundred acres, with a large radar dome at the peak of the hill. It was once a part of the
National Air Defense Command. Most of the facility was later used by the Prison Camp,
and it is now abandoned and being vandalized. It may eventually be sold as surplus
property through the GSA. The domed structure at the hill top is still in use by the Air
Force and the FAA.
Portland Cement Plant
This 9,000-acre site is one of three cement plants operated by CalPortland Company
scheduled for Stage Three. Their website’s header image, featuring a slice of the nearby
Tahachapi Wind Farm, is a comically blatant attempt to invoke “green by proximity.”
Sorry Allen, nobody believes you’re running that place with three turbines.
The California Portland Cement Company's Mojave Plant employs 150 people to extract
limestone and produce cement at this 9,000 acre site. The plant opened in 1955, after a
nine mile rail spur connecting the site to the main line at Mojave was built by the
company. The plant has been expanded and modernized a number of times, most
recently in the early 1980's. It is one of three locations for this company: the others are at
Rillito, Arizona, and at Colton, California (where a literal mountain of limestone can be
observed slowly disappearing, on the south side of Interstate 10). Cement from the
Mojave facility was used to build the Bonaventure Hotel in downtown L.A., Dodger's
Stadium, and the second L.A. Aqueduct.
Harper Lake Solar Electric Generating Station
In terms of output, the largest commercial solar power plant in the world.
This is the largest, in output, commercial solar power plant in the world, generating
around 160 megawatts at its peak. It is one of three separately owned sites within 40
miles of one another, that make up the nine solar fields in the Solar Electric Generating
System (SEGS). Harper Lake was the last of these built, and is designated as SEGS 8
and 9. Together the facilities can generate about 354 megawatts at peak output,
comprising mostof the commercial solar power currently produced worldwide. These
solar facilities are referred to as "advantageous peak facilities", as they operate at their
peak when it is sunniest, which is also when local power requirements are greatest, due
to increased air conditioning demand. The facilities regulate their power supply through
the use of supplemental natural gas fueled electric generating plants. This plant was
built on top of the remains of the aircraft R&D area at Harper Lake, which included
facilities owned by Howard Hughes, and Northrop, which tested flying wing aircraft out of
Harper Lake. Also on the grounds of the Solar Plant (and razed for the construction of
the plant) is the site of much of the town of Lockhart, which was known for its beef cattle
In terms of energy output, the largest solar array anywhere.
Tehachapi Pass Wind Farm
A third of the state’s 15,000 wind turbines are located here. Employing multiple
generations of turbine technology, the dozen private companies that run the farm
collectively deliver enough electricity to satisfy the residential needs of 350,000 people.
In a state approaching 37 million, that’s small time.
The Tehachapi Wind Farm, with around 5,000 wind turbines, is the second largest
collection of wind generators in the world (the largest is at the Altamont pass, near
Livermore and the San Francisco Bay area), but is now the largest wind power array in
the world in output. The turbines are operated by a dozen private companies, and
collectively produce about 800 million kilowatt-hours of electricity, enough to meet the
residential needs of 350,000 people every year. With over 15,000 turbines in the state
(7,000 at Altamont and 3,000 at San Gorgonio Pass, near Palm Springs), wind power in
California makes up about 1% of California's electricity.
Largest wind farm in the world
Mohave Power Station
The operators of this coal burning plant once responsible for dirtying some billion gallons
of water a year decided to close the facility down instead of installing the necessary
pollution control measures imposed by a lawsuit. Thanks guys!
Mojave Airport
Company logos removed or covered immediately to preserve an image
Hey, if it’s good enough for Sir Richard Branson’s SpaceShipTwo, the Rocket Racing
League and Kevin Costner’s watery post-apocalyptic sci-fi epic, Waterworld, it’s good
enough for me.
See if you can get eric to find someone to give us a flight out of here—to do some aerial
God, you can totally talk all about the civilian space flight thing-This remote former World War II desert airfield has developed some very interesting and
unusual features. It is a center for civilian aviation R&D, a major aircraft storage and
scrap yard (possibly the largest nonmilitary one in the country), a busy film site, and is
the home of the National Test Pilot School, the largest civilian test pilot school in the
world. The school trains over 300 students annually and has 46 aircraft, from fighter jets
to sailplanes, which are kept in four hangars at the airport. Several aerospace
companies have facilities here, including BAE, GE and Northrop-Grumman. Also located
here is Burt Rutan's Scaled Composites company, where many innovative aircraft
designs have been conceived and constructed. Mojave Airport is also where many
commercial carriers store surplus or otherwise in- limbo airliners. There are currently
around 90 airplanes waiting to be sold, repaired or reused here, including several 747s.
As is the case with many sites in the Antelope Valley, Mojave Airport accommodates
films and advertising productions of all sorts. For example, the all-wet epic movie
Waterworld filmed scenes which included a model of the Exxon Valdez at Mojave
The center of civilian aerospace research and development—Richard Branson’s Space
Ship One is based here.
The designer of which is probably as close as our civilization will come to producing a
“space cowboy.”
Lake Havasu/Parker Dam
A bunch of things come together to make this an interesting site. The world’s deepest
dam holds back Lake Havasu, the shores of which are dotted with verdant golf courses
and resort communities. It’s also the point of origin for two important aqueducts that
deliver water to Los Angeles and Phoenix.
wikipedia page (dam)
wikipedia page (reservoir)
A weird little resort community sprung up on the shores of this reservoir.
Biosphere 2
Earth is “Biosphere 1.”
So from this we learned that a complex and balanced closed ecosystem is beyond our
ability to engineer.
The idea was to create a miniature earth inside a greenhouse and see if people could
survive there. As you can probably imagine, the endeavor was a failure.
Silver Lakes Development
A residential development “nestled” in the Mojave with two manmade lakes almost
completely surrounded by single-family homes. The microorganisms thriving in the
stagnant water are just one reason why such ventures are ill-conceived.
The microorganisms that make bathing unpleasant proving once again that establishing
lakes in the desert is a poor course of action.
Silver Lakes is a large housing development near Helendale, next to the Mojave River,
where two artificial lakes contain numerous bulldozed peninsulas and inlets, maximizing
the number of house lots with shore frontage. Like many of the artificial lakes in the
desert, the stagnant water at Silver Lakes has developed micro-organisms that make
bathing unpleasant.
You could send the paper announcements from the road, a few at a time.
Really excellent painter $10 per hour.
I only wanna be your one life stand… tell me do you stand by your man?
Also, get that track from Geller—if it’s good enough for an advert you could do a lo-fi
Train passing as audio test
So I thought to myself, what am I doing when the most people are paying attention to
me? Dancing.
One life stand dance advert
Pop culture
Your best moves
Inside and outside scenes—splice back and forth
Tight shots, wide shots.
Multiple locations
Primal scream as recorder audio test sample.
Pick the single most interesting fact and paraphrase
Cynthia Hopper
Industrial waterways
Horizontally linear shots with centrally composed vanishing points that cross dissolve
into each other.
Cynthia Hopper’s recent work follows the courses of several highly managed industrial
waterways. An exhibition featuring seven of her films opens January 22 at CLUI.
Music Video locations:
Painting – the end of the living room.
113 between the lanes
bicycling- you need eric for this.
maybe all central composition vanishing point shots.
on being scrappy
on campfires with the homeless youth of Davis. On learning from them.
At least two of ClUI’s land use sites are out of date
Treehugger Staff:
So I thought you should hear about a project that’s right up Treehugger’s ally. There’s
this artist (me actually) that wants to roam around the planet ** and take pictures of
power plants, mines, boneyards, farmers markets, alt. energy projects and more! I think
it might just be a look at the next chapter in ultralowenergy living habits embedded in a
cross-country bicycle tour. What more could you ask for?—right? Seriously. Oh, I
wanted to say, great job on that “vote for the newest and coolest green cars” piece.
Thanks for the work you put in on that one. Might want to reign it in a bit on the free
advertising though: wouldn’t want people to think you’d become automobile sales people
or something equally preposterous.
Here’s a link to the project’s ‘about’ page:
and the homepage:
So yeah, please take a look if you will darlings.
Thanks eversomuch
Brett Tracy
[email protected]
** by bicycle
You could submit a tip about this artist that’s written a threatening letter to a high traffic
“GREEN™" news website.
when you ask for a girl’s number you’re asking something of her right from the start
when you could be giving the (assumed) “gift” that is your number.—hopefully it turns out
to be for her sake.
[documenting the decline of western industrial civilization]
Mr. Coolidge, it would be a shame if this didn’t happen.
Dumpstered university student brewed Oktoberfest beer that someone threw out a whole
case of. I actually got pretty buzzed drinking it.
Enjoying the sexual tension in the awkward silence
Basically I want to become collapse proof to demonstrate that it can be done and I want
you, who are not collapse proof, to pay for it
Always just trying to make out what people are thinking.
Post on eric’s monitor when it gets going
Vid: foggy dusk pinkish grey—shot of fire ring from top of water tower—does golriz have
this image?
So as of tonight I can add sickly and self-loathing to my list of undesirable qualities.
Removed January 19 for Treehugger resubmit: (replaced Feb. 1)
"Take Ecstasy with Me"
Yes, we're aware those aren't pills. They're mushroom chocolates: the alternate option
for this incredible gift. Brett will do his hair all fancy futuristic and the two of you will take
drugs someplace dramatic. An opportunity that's not to be passed up! Listen to this tune
and consider it.
$100/Bunker Fuel Level
Stage Three PDF Flier selection:
Ear—an auditory adventure
Campfire from water tower
Factory illustration from book
Blue room—general
The oil well—general
It looks like we’ll be deferring the departure until February 5. Eri—oops! (Sorry Eric). E’s
rims won’t show up on time and we’ve decided to complete and properly document a
construction project we started some weeks ago (more on this later). Meanwhile, E and I
have begun the transition out of civilized society by taking middle of the night
conditioning rides in full rain gear. In addition to working a series of neighborhood
strength building stations (monkey bars) into the training loop, we’ve incorporated little
mission objectives like make an audio recording or locate and purchase an obscure type
of battery, all while soaked, cold and borderline delirious.
Actually, the pressure of the last session set off some minor controversy. Eric has been
all about imposing systems for streamlining our riding: hand signals and positioning
protocols. I’ve resisted, arguing that such things should evolve out of necessity. Also, I
know from the first leg with Joe that when two people ride together for days on end, they
naturally fall into synch, anticipating each other’s movements, communicating with subtle
body language.
Also, because of it’s intelligence and propensity for play, as well as the slippery
streamlined look provided by our waterproof shoe booties, the dolphin has been
designated the ride’s official power animal.
Would you circulate this announcement (and associated PDF and JPG attachments) via
the regular channels?
Thanks Love,
Brett Tracy (class of ’08)
Friends and Colleagues:
The Illuminated Thread, my multi-year bicycle-mounted research endeavor, is about to
make its long awaited return. Taking an extended last look at the industrial age, we’ll
witness the wonder and tragedy of a world built with phenomenal amounts of fossil
Stage Three, scheduled to begin February 5, follows a wandering route through the
remote desert southwest connecting three of the country’s most car dependent suburban
metroplexes: LA, Phoenix, and Houston. I’ll visit an abandoned solar array, sprawling
aircraft boneyards, open-pit copper mines and an 80,000-acre sludge ranch just to name
a few.
here’s the ‘about’ page:
Also, please get in tough with questions or feedback. If any ambitious art historians want
to write about this, I’d be honored.
[email protected]
Please see attached press release and image.
Geller has it in for you. Stop falling into her traps.
Selling DVDs street side is an interesting prospect because of end civ and its unwanted
information. “Yeah, this guy on the street sold me a vid on destroying refineries.”
To retrieve:
Atlas Sound, Beach House, Caribou Tour CD, Liars, Friends Grizzly Bear EP
VGA-DVI converter
Books: Ishmael, World Made by Hand, and Dorian Grey
Two Radiohead singles
You should try for five media outlets per day.
KunstlerCast #96
Utica NY—population ruptured off the face of the planet.
Abandoned Ski Resort- NY
The road trip: liberate from the routines or your everyday life. The freedom of the open
Hostage to the time you’re living in
Excitement about the recovery and bounce back of small towns—revitalization.
Motoring as an empty exercise.
I apologize for being harsh with my request. I meant no disrespect. The problem was
that after politely requesting my disks’ safe return, you presented me with nothing but
blank-faced indifference (twice). Not cool. I needed you to know that their return by your
own accord was long overdue and that it was upsetting to discover them, loose of their
cases no less. I’m aware you view such things as trivial (and in the scheme of things
they are), but it isn’t up to you to set the value of objects for other people. Those are
some of the last CD’s I’m likely to purchase and many have strong memories and
emotions tied to them. For example, Katie bought that Caribou tour CD for me at a show
we went to. I was seriously pissed at myself for having lost it—a consequence of your
Also, lets not use that “I’ll leave you alone in the desert” threat. To begin with, it’s empty
and meaningless. If we really are in the thick of it, you can’t leave me any more than I
can leave you. Remember, we’re carrying things we share. If we’re somewhere where
it’s cool (from a safety standpoint) for you to bail, you’re perfectly welcome to do so. I’ve
been out on the road alone before so be assured, the tour will continue with or without
you. I’m excited to have you along, but not with the constant threat of abandonment
looming overhead.
Lastly, this may be a good time to mention something that’s been a problem for me in
the past. What I do on the road is work. This is my career. I went to school for this, spent
heaps of money (as you’re finding out) on equipment to do this. Of course my highest
priority is maintaining our safety and health, but beyond that it’s getting the recordings. If
I were to pick a route for a scenic pleasure ride it wouldn’t be this one. What I’m
awkwardly trying to convey here is that I can’t worry about whether or not you’re
enjoying yourself—whether or not you’re having a fulfilling experience. I encourage you
to be honest and open about how you’re feeling, physically and emotionally, but I’ll take
zero responsibility for the latter. This was a big problem on the first leg as I wasted
considerable energy confirming Joe’s satisfaction with how things were going. Bicycle
touring evokes the full range from absolute misery to untold bliss. Please prepare
yourself for both.
If you want the bicycle loop to be part of Saturday’s events, figure out what time it should
begin and end (if the bonfire starts at twilight (around 5:30 or six) and get in touch with
the Bike Church dude(s). What do they need from us in terms of publicity materials, what
formats, whatever…
I think that’s it. Oh, if that Grizzly Bear disk is around do bring it by.
Donation Gifts to Add:
Circle K Charity Calendars with receipt
This Document
the illuminated thread stage three sendoff event
saturday, january 30, 2010
4:00 – bike the loop
Starting at Davis Little League Park (Covell Blvd. & F St.), we’ll bike our 14-mile training
loop one last time. Come do it with us!
6:00 – brownlands bonfire
We built a fire ring at an abandoned industrial site. Come get cozy under a full moon.
We’re grillin’ so bring something to throw over the coals.
From Davis Little League Park call 530.902.9300 to be escorted in.
[note: the Davis Brownlands is private property. Although we don’t anticipate trouble,
trespass at your own risk. Consider this cancelled if it rains.]
10:00 – aftergathering/danceparty
Houses without furniture are great for parties. Brett’s on the decks.
3305 Chesapeake Bay Ave. (a.k.a. “The Plex”)
Davis Little League Park on Google maps
The Plex on Google maps
People to see before departure:
Brett CC
Add to mailing list:
[email protected]
For bonfire:
30th birthday
explain the fire ring project—haven’t built something with my hands lately.
not a fundraiser
I’d like to thank Edith, the wheelbarrow—very stoic.
Brownlands Spiral:
I made it most of the way through the landscape architecture program at UC Davis
before I realized I was an artist and changed majors. This project may have something
to do with that part of my history coming back to haunt me. It had been awhile since I
built something substantial—something with a degree of permanence—using my body
and my mind. It was great working outside for a change.
Eric and I set out to construct an outdoor gathering space within the fences of the Davis
Brownlands—a feral space once occupied by a Hunt’s Cannery. The property is owned
by a developer that gave up on developing it so technically
Many discussions on making unauthorized improvements to owned land.
About the design:
Putting the hearth at the center was an obvious decision. The spiral motif evolved
naturally. I like it because it’s a shape found in nature-- so universal (like a circle or a
line) that it carries no specific cultural signifiers. The spiral provides seating at varied
distances from the hearth it’s possible to find that ideal distance from the flames.
Presented it as a gift to the community leaving it stocked with firewood and ready
On the race to document the space between storms
It had been a while since I put my physical labor into making something outdoors.
Maybe this is my history with landscape architecture coming back to haunt me.
To create an outdoor space—an outdoor room—with a hearth—a place for fires
basically. A gathering space— for ceremonial rituals?
Spiral a universal symbol—like a line or a circle—found in nature and in all human
cultures going way back.
1. Built entirely out of materials found within the property’s fence.
2. Built with simple hand tools—shovel, saw, broom, bucket (wheelbarrow on
site)—this was also a practical necessity since there was no power available.
3. Had to work with the space—integrate whatever built with existing features—so
no ripping out saplings, no deeper than superficial excavation.
I like how the finest materials, the rarest, the easiest to build fine grained complexity with
are concentrated in the center and give way to cruder more common materials as the
spiral continues outward. From steel to concrete rubble.
It was nice building something outside—with my hands for a change—something in the
“real world” something substantial that may be around for a long time. Also, after two
weeks of rain the site was beautiful—reflective puddles—brilliant green moss patches-I present it to the community—here’s this space you’re welcome to use whenever—I
built it for you. Handed it over Saturday night officially.
Plan to work on it whenever I return to town—to keep the ‘improvements’ going.
Substantial garden, net inside the tower, more substantial structures—probably also
made of carefully assembled rubble. Water collection/filtration, maybe try and snare a
rabbit. Maybe even move in for a bit.
Brownlands settlement piece:
Introduce the piece with shots of the fire ring and the slow pinkish grey fire pullout shot.
Slowly develop the site using human muscle power and simple tools.
While squatting the property
More permanent structures constructed
Trash removed/graffiti covered
Water collection projects
Water tower improvements—net, rope
Transforming the brownlands site into a mythic ruin—what goes on there now will
become a part of its legacy—but for it to mean anything they’d have to plant gardens,
build livable structures, hunt a bit, subsist on that parcel almost entirely.
Let me take you on a tour of this site (from up here) as I see it 50 years from now.
You could always get really deep into the brownlands project as a backup—would tie in
nicely with the squatting midway studios piece.
You could get John Edwards to do a story on it.
Squatting—owned property.
Just start living there—put in a garden, chop wood, build structures—slowly develop it by
hand—and document the entire process.
Do a Kickstarter campaign to hand-develop the brownlands site with only materials
found on site. Tools brought in OK.
Shots of you hunting
Slipping effortlessly through the gap in the fence—the legal frontier.
Voiceover narration.
I like how gene includes this disclaimer with her description of the project:
“While the end of the industrial age might not be an accepted fact, Brett sees evidence
everywhere that humans are coming to the end of their industrial phase. He imagines
that a more ecologically aware human-scale era will replace it.”
Images for John Edwards—caption info—on CD
Mail CD to Gene.
Calendar additions:
Thai out Friday
John Edwards 3:00 Monday
Tuesday: John: 12:00, Edith: 3:00, REI, Brett’s for dinner, Lipstick
Golriz Monday or Tuesday
Document fire ring
Get Brett’s images from Saturday
Online backup!
Print more DVDs
Sendoff post: Wayne Tillcock—enterprise photographer
Stuff to get:
Warm Socks
Arm sleeves
Fingerless Bicycling gloves
Bicycling Shorts
Sleep Sack
Le pen
Small Watercolor set/postcards
Smartwater slim
Flexible tripod
To Do:
Press release
Mail DVD for Kevin
Email to Matthew explaining DVD
DOVA email announcement—with image
Add: John Edwards, Matthew, and Ran to the mailing list
Add new sites to waypoints list
Trip to Macy’s for exchange
Re-submit to treehugger
Plan event
JP Tune-up
Black electrical tape racks
Change tire
Advert Concept using audio recorder
Fire ring post
Finish painting-- money from Dad
Music from Eric
stuff back form Eric, kylie, geller
Renew driver’s license
Music vid advert
As I watched eric with the dexcon seven—I thought to myself…
Montage image of the command center—from the center of the room daylight—packing
Place to stay in Pittsburg/Antioch
Sew button on shorts
Davis to Antioch: 57 mi
Locate backup gloves
Phil Fisher—Arkansas nuclear one
David S. Holloway
Brooklyn Based Photographer
Sendoff Event post:
‘About’ supplements—challenging our species to move out of its adolescence and into
The ecological unconscious.
The aqueduct trail as the sort of bicycle-mounted epcot center—educational. Over here
is the pumping station, over here is the mine, etc.
Hi everyone! Just wanted to check in and let you know we’re on the road. I’m going to try
and stick to a weekly posting schedule and since we left Davis a week ago today, here
are some images. I’ll fill in the text as I find the time and vids will be added as they’re
completed. Enjoy.
Eric says: don’t do anything to antagonize the husband with all the guns. Forgetting this
then remembering it as she’s pressing me into a lower back stretch.
Perfect roads—perfect conditions
Floating through the oil field at night—the smell of sulfur, clusters of odd structures all lit
up floating by at varying distances. Spooky quiet well pumps bobbing up and down—
occasionally screeching or clicking.
Eating ice cream rolling down the meanest streets in California. the hardest town in
California—located next to a prison eating ice cream sandwiches we bought from a
Mexican woman driving an ancient yellow ice cream truck we chased down.
We found the only pot smoking yoga enthusiast in the Taft area
We make piles of stuff. Good caption for the piles of sticks.
Not far from these woodpiles were piles of old tires, piles of rusting farm equipment and
piles of hay bales.
We interrupted our descent to bandage a fallen Harley rider. Although shocked and
delirious, he turned us on to the rails-to-trails bikepath that would safely take us the last
six miles to the ocean. the last miles He was clearly in shock and a bit delirious but told
us of the bike path that would safely take us the last __ miles to the ocean.
Record the audio walking around a pumping unit—the creepy squeaks and groans.
The end of the oil age has already arrived for this little filling station on the Carrizo Plain.
I like the cinderblocks holding the corrugated sheet metal roof down.
de-complexifying and re-localization
the difference in stop activities between bikers and cyclists.
The article also mentions that kids are being trained to have extrinsic goals: money,
status, material possessions, power over others. In almost any time and place in history,
that value system would be foolish. But in the USA from 1950-1985, it actually made
sense. Americans had so much power that you could reasonably expect to set and
achieve extrinsic goals. Now that the Empire is declining, extrinsic goals are no longer
realistic, and we need to shift back to intrinsic goals -- or better yet, intrinsic processes:
doing what we find most meaningful, and following it where it leads.
In a few years, when it becomes obvious that energy is declining, the industrial economy
is collapsing, and the climate has gone off the rails, there will be a lot of anger, and it will
probably be displaced from the people who deserve it and redirected at anyone who
can't defend themselves. And there will be a lot of depression -- especially if the
antidepressants run out! Most collapsists focus on technical challenges, but the
emotional challenges might be more difficult and important.
Donation gift (dedicated to taft woman)
We’ll call a person of your choice from an inspirational place and give them some piece
of life wisdom (from you)
On being in bed with the Jehova’s witness that wont touch your cock while that text from
Sameer arrives—his 22 year old girlfriend still wants to have sex after telling her he’s not
into the relationship.
On masturbating to her smell left behind on the pillow—on the crazy amount of cum that
built up during all that teasing. On the challenge—on getting her wet through her
underwear, on her “forgetting” her sleep shorts.
Guidelines for daily posts:
1. two or four images with smartly written captions. The images will carry more
weight—tell the story
2. try and say things relevant to the larger project’s conceptual base. You will
naturally photograph these things anyway. Bridges, infrastructure, oddball
Americana, industry.
Day One: Feb. 6
Noon departure—on the dot. Chesapeake crowd gathers for sendoff. Our fathers ride us
out of town like some greek ritual. Wayne with that enormous telephoto lens. Document
tomato plant. Headwinds, picking our way through thunderstorm cells. Fields of cows run
with us. The horizon dotted with sheep and wind turbines. Eric gets first flat of the tour as
dad intercepts us. Warm downwind leg, sun at our backs, thin shoulder and traffic into
rio vista. Sandwhiches, Uma Thurman crossed with an annime babe: red hair and bangs
(later spotted bagging groceries at the supermarket.) Sandy beach campsite. Eggs,
avocado, bread. Forgoe the hot showers and the rowdy campers. Tucked away by 9:00.
Drift off the whine of some distant piece of industrial machinery humming away in the
Wind farm—what the future is supposed to look like. But probably the main reason is
Kunstler on towns persisting where they are because they occupy important sites—Rio
Vista is at a bridge crossing—on the river—trade route, etc.
Day Two: Feb. 7
Creepy/friendly camp maintenance guy with prefect teeth greets us. Says he saw as at
the market the night before and followed us in. Coffee pastries and conversation with a
group of campers on our way out of Sandy Beach Campground—got the senior
discount. Cross Rio Vista Bridge. Great bike shop donates map. Mexican/Italian with
cute/attitude waitress. Climb muddy hill to picturesque camp site above Antioch
Reservoir. Overlooking the city’s water supply: something reservoir. A particularly
difficult place to reach but totally worth it.
Our campsite overlooking Antioch’s water supply: Contra Loma Reservoir. That hill
behind our tents provided the early morning shots that start off the Pittsburg Industrial
Belt vignette.
The bicycle is a ship—an island. Everything on it has a value—serves it’s function, and
is difficult to replace. Even the lowly zip tie where at home there are containers full, the
limited supply on the bike has concentrated value.
Eric as a datacenter—information flowing through him.
If you’d like to donate toward a specific item, here’s the project’s current wishlist:
gorilla-grip tripod: $40 (medium priority)*
fingerless biking gloves: $30 (low priority)*
directional microphone: $150 (low priority)
sleep sack: $65 (low priority)*
moccasins: $30 (low priority)*
* replacement
Everything site that has a wikipedia page—you should post a link to the video or
images—great job for the non-existent intern.
Annoying industrial noises trio.
19 year old Raine—incredibly blue eyes-- lashes with curve. Aware beyond your years.
Set up an appointment to see Matthew at CLUI
So it turns out there’s a road the runs almost the entire length of the San Juav valley that
you can bike on for days and not expect to encounter more than half a dozen vehicles.
Closed to all but white department of water resources pickup trucks and cyclists, the
road at the edge of the river that flows uphill took us 144 carefree miles. Ah, but their
must be a catch you say.. well indeed there is. Every time the aqueduct crosses a street,
from the interstate to ruttiest forgotten back road, there must be a gate, bridge and gates
at each entrance to the maintenance roads on either side of the concrete trough.
Stream crossings.
Every time we
Wondering what the thing will be like when the pumps stop pumping—when the water
flows the other direction. When the collapsed concrete bridges built for street and stream
crossings become the rapids.
Following the water—in a sense you become one with the waterway—even up the 300
feet to the reservoir.
Here's a short audio piece, binaural recordings from three locations:
1. part of the cooling system of a combined cycle power plant in Pittsburg, CA
2. a really obnoxious pump on the aqueduct
3. unidentified piece of equipment in the Elk Hills Oil Field
sucks to live your entire life standing in your own shit only to have a spike shot through
your skull.
Examining the human habitat from an anthropological perspective. An alien visitor,
examining a civilization: what they’ve built and how they put their resources to work.
So wait a sec… it's a pumping plant and a generating plant? Well done guys... well
done. Apparently we were so convinced there should be a lake here that we built a three
and a half mile long earthen wall to a height of over 300 feet and pumped in 652 billion
gallons of water. Lets go waterskiing!
This is my first time authoring a DVD from the road-- a practice i'll try and keep up. Of
the 14 new vids on the disk, five were shot and edited less than a week ago. It was a
modest run and several copies are already spoken for so if you want one speak up. Here
it is in the support section.
One of the four "extras" is fitness (extended). A bit too long
to be worth uploading, it's a week worth of training at the brownlands site condensed into
thirteen minutes of concentrated effort. Exhausting.
The Port of Long Beach provides a rare opportunity to view multiple stages in the oil
"production" process. There are pumping units sucking crude out of the ground,
refineries, and facilities further treating the byproducts extracted at the refineries (see
sulfur dunes and calciner rotary kiln.) A staggering amount of resources, from
manufactured goods to raw materials, is channeled through the port every day. Tractortrailers idle in long lines, monstrous cranes load and unload around the clock, oil tankers
dot the horizon and helicopters circle overhead. Everywhere you look are containers in
orange green and blue, stacked to the sky. The noise, filthy air, feverish activity and
sheer scale of the operation make for predictably unpleasant conditions if you're not
sealed in the cab of a truck.
This 120-acre city of silver spires, storage tanks and miles of tangled pipe refines
135,000 barrels per day. Its desulfurizing capabilities make it particularly hungry for the
lower-grade high-sulfur crude that arrives by tanker from far away lands. In addition to
the usual suite of refined products, Valero Wilmington supplies Southern California with
15 percent of its asphalt so Los Angelinos can continue to sit in traffic on well-paved
As it slowly rotates, this 270-foot long steel pipe superheats and dries a refinery
byproduct called “green coke,” turning it into a calcined product with various industrial
uses. Its 13-foot diameter makes it one of the world’s largest such contraptions. It has
quite a presence and puts off enough heat to warm the whole block. Grinding along
since 1982, the kiln has acquired a gorgeous patina of rust. Cryptic numbers and letters
are etched into its surface and oil stains sparkle in the sun. I became quite enamored
with the massive object and spent a good portion of my time at Long Beach watching the
late afternoon sunlight gradually warm the colors of it surface. Beautiful in its texture and
terrifying in its steady dogged movement.
Watching these cranes work was like watching dragons feed. Harbor Patrol Officer
Michael Mayor interrupted the shooting if the piece's daylight half with a thorough frisk
but let me off on account of not being a legitimate enough threat. While searching my
bags he says, sounding almost disappointed: "This is all just bike stuff." This was of
course after he'd recited the "(not) since 911" monologue I’ve heard quite a few times
I'm really into the video's editing, thinking it some of my best work in this regard. The
audio is essential so no laptop speakers. And yes... that is indeed a dolphin swimming
through the shot. I like the way the spreader appears to watch the animal for an
extended moment before plunging into the hull for another container.
Sulfur is not something you wanna to be pumping into the atmosphere (acid rain) so
most refineries remove it from their refined product in a process known as
hydrodesulfurization. Nearly all of the 64 million tons of sulfur produced annually
worldwide is byproduct from refineries. Alberta, Canada, with its oil sands industry,
literally has more than it knows what to do with.
This facility liquefies the yellow powder and sends it away in tanker trucks. If it doesn’t
keep up with the local refineries’ output, it’ll be buried under mountains of the stuff. As
sour (high-sulfur) crude increasingly becomes the standard, will the citizens of Long
Beach find themselves battling their way to work through blinding sulfur storms? Kidding
aside, the dunes are truly a sight to behold. Oxidation takes their bright yellow through
shades of decreasing saturation to a dull greenish yellow-grey.
On the ride out to culver city
Mom and son scurrying across the street pushing a stroller and a little plastic lawn
mower respectively, across a wide busy street. Though about doing a series—catching
people crossing the street in LA.
Then the black kid with the blue bike asking if I knew of a pawnshop he could sell his
bike to. Told him not to sell it—he says, “trying to pay the rent.” I think: that thing should
be the last thing you sell. Better not own a car.
Kids gather to watch the tire change.
Guy pushing the dead car out of the intersection—sitting on the bumper—a beautiful
effort—cigarette dangling in his mouth.
Terminal Island—terminal—as in “going to die from it.”
On Mar 1, 2010, at 11:12 AM, <[email protected]> <[email protected]>
Jonathan Edwards' article in the Enterprise was fascinating, and I've been looking at
your photos online. You are one of the few I've seen who mention that the "green"
energy things, like solar panels, take energy (read oil) to make and put in place. But you
don't mention nuclear energy, or anyway Edwards didn't. Of course building nuclear
plants takes energy too, but once built, aren't they supposed to last so long that it would
be worth it? I know, danger, waste, everything -- I'm not a fan. I'm just wondering if
some people won't think that this is the answer, and what is your answer to those
Thank you for mentioning those I-5 feedlots. I hate them too. No civilized people
would have something like that around.
Diane Moore
Ah yes... nuclear energy: the salvation of modern industrial civilization. But France does
I think the problem is fundamentally one of capital-- specifically a lack of it. As
hydrocarbon energy inputs taper off, strangulating the global economy by cutting off its
lifeblood (ENERGY fuels growth-- steadily increasing energy inputs are what fueled the
growth of the last 200 years), there will not be the enormous blocks of capital necessary
for such phenomenally costly projects. the reactor trio i'll be visiting outside Phoenix cost
like six billion dollars. We simply wont be an affluent enough society for more of this.
Today i stopped to watch some scary piece of construction equipment slowly drive a
foundation pylon into the ground. The thing was moving imperceptibly slow yet the rig
was banging away-- bursts of bluish exhaust pumped out in time with each metallic thud.
I thought: try doing that with a piece of equipment that only runs only on electricity. We
need the energy released by the combustion of hydrocarbons to do what we do-- to build
what we build. You're not building a nuclear power plant without fossil energy-- you're
not mining the concrete, you're not transporting the (hydrocarbon run factory produced)
machinery from distant parts of the globe, you're not building the thing with electric
heavy machinery. And they would need to be built and rebuilt-- relatively often. the
design life on a nuclear power plant is relatively short-- maybe fifty years. it's because of
the absolute necessity that that containment dome remain structurally sound (perfect).
Also, we're out of time. Nuclear power plants take many years to permit and construct
(palo verde: 12 years just to assemble-- we would have had to have started a massive
reactor building campaign by now for nuclear to be effective at cushioning our descent.
Also, we can already see the last of our supplies of fissionable uranium at the end of the
James Howard Kunstler has a good chapter on the false promises of nuclear energy in
his book The Long Emergency.
Yes, we may push farther down that irradiated road-- but all it'll allow us to do is keep the
lights on a bit longer.
Thanks for getting in touch. enjoy the thread. tell your friends.
We have blown past the thresholds of hyper-complexity so that further hyper-complexity
only make things worse.
an exercise in the diminishing returns of grotesque additional hyper-complexity.
Jessica Lah
809 Mira Mar Ave.
Long Beach, CA 90809
Katlyn Carlson
20-37 31st St. #2
Astoria, NY 11105
Edith Sauer-Polonik
3307 Chesapeake Bay Ave.
Davis, CA 95616
‘The Giver’ Quotes:
a story where a guy, realizing he lives in a world of sameness—without color—takes off
on his bicycle to find a place with love, rich sensations and experiences.
“There’s much more. There’s all that goes beyond – all that is Elsewhere – and all that
goes back, and back, and back. I received all of those, when I was selected. And here in
this room, all alone, I re-experience them again and again. It is how wisdom comes. And
how we shape our future.”
“Our people made that choice, the choice to go to Sameness. Before my time, before the
previous time, back and back and back. We relinquished color when we relinquished
sunshine and did away with differences.” … “We gained control of many things. But we
had to let go of others.”
All of it was new to him. After a life of Sameness and predictability, he was awed by the
surprises that lay beyond each curve of the road. He slowed the bike again and again to
look with wonder at wildflowers, to enjoy the throaty warble of a new bird nearby, or
merely to watch the way wind shifted the leaves in the trees. During his twelve years in
the community, he had never felt such simple moments of exquisite happiness.
Is there an ecological unconscious? (NY Times Magazine):
…anxious, unsettled, despairing, depressed—just as if they had been forcibly removed
from the valley. Only they hadn’t; the valley changed around them.
…solastalgia is not limited to those living beside quarries—or oil spills or power plants or
Superfund sites. Solastalgia … is a global condition … felt increasingly, given the
ongoing degradation of the environment.
…trace a direct line between the health of the natural world and the health of the mind…
emotional costs of ecological decline: anxiety, despair, numbness, “a sense of being
overwhelmed or powerless,” grief.
“psychoterratic syndromes”: mental health issues attributable to the degraded state of
one’s physical surroundings.
…nature’s significant restorative effects on cognition.
…two powerful historical trends: the degradation of large parts of the environment and
the increasingly common use of technology (TV, video games, the internet, etc.) to
experience nature secondhand.
“epistemological fallacy”: we believed, wrongly, that mind and nature operated
independently of each other. In fact, nature was a recursive, mindlike system; its unit of
exchange wasn’t energy, as most ecologists argued, but information. The way we
thought about the world could change that world, and the world could in turn change us.
…to understand what it is to be whole, we must first explain what is broken.
How does this relate to your work? You speak of witnessing local ecological recovery,
especially at former industrial sites, as being emotionally and spiritually healing. Letting
this process proceed uninhibited is likely more valuable and wiser than continuing to
force a site to meet our expectations whether they be rehabilitation or redevelopment.
Santa Susana Field Laboratory
This facility has a fascinating history of research
initiatives involving rocket and nuclear technology. It also has a horrifying accident
record including meltdowns and radioactive fires.
wikipedia page 34°13'53"N
This is the only new construction shipbuilding center on the West Coast. Since
production began in 1959, the 147-acre facility has churned out some 300 military and
commercial vessels: the infamous tanker Exxon Valdez among them. NASSCO was
bought by conglomerate General Dynamics in 1998; making it the fifth largest defense
contractor in the world. They also build jets, tanks and gatling guns.
I found the cranes’ triangular shapes referencing sails and shot them drifting across the
sky as if propelled by some terrible wind. Their bulk and persistent beeping, however,
cancels out any grace they might have.
With well over a century of commercial production behind it, this is one of the oldest
businesses on San Diego Bay. They harvest 75,000 tons of salt annually from
evaporation ponds occupying 1,200 acres at the bay’s southern end.
There were no devotees—no pilgrims gathered in warship at this crater near Maricopa,
CA. It was eerily quiet, just the sound of multicolored triangular plastic flags flapping in
the breeze. The flags, along with a stone monument, are the only visible signs that
something significant went on here.
It was a much different picture, almost a hundred years ago to the day, on March 14,
1910. The drilling of an exploratory oil well tapped a gusher of biblical proportions. For a
year and a half, oil spewed uncontrollably from the hole, pooling into a 60-acre lake of
viscous black liquid people floated on in wooden skiffs as if escaping some purgatorial
flood. The well’s driller later commented that his borehole "must have cut an artery of the
earth's great central storehouse of oil, whereas all previous wells had been merely
pinpricks in the earth's thick hide."
Pardon all the theological references, but if the religion of progress had established sites
of homage, this one could be high on the list. Officially America’s most spectacular
gusher, the well produced nine million barrels of oil during those magical 18 months of
At the remote site near the burnt-out oil town of Miricopa. Apparently
The scab of a burst and dried out pimple on the landscape.
A landscape architecture professor I took a class from in college referred to the
California Aqueduct as “the river that flows uphill.” His words left such an impact that
they still resonate years later.
Stream crossings.
Pumping stations.
Ran on saving a look at our time for people of the future.
This goes back to the subject of saving information for the future: the most valuable
thing you can save is a glimpse of what it's like to live in another world, and
therefore, what other worlds are possible.
This is one of the project’s main concerns—that a look at what we built—how the
industrial world operates—be preserved for future generations. Can the DVDs
accomplish this? Not really—they wont outlast the
University and park—7:30
Another category is history. On the broad scale, it will be obvious to everyone that we
mined all the metal and built giant steel-framed buildings. But what about medium-scale
history, the stuff historians write about? If we find it helpful to read Herodotus, people of
the future will want to know the same kind of thing about us.
What I find most interesting is human-scale history. If you imagine going back in a time
machine, what exactly is exciting about it? Most of us are not looking for the technical
details of Damascus steel. We're wondering what it's like to live in a different time. And if
you could go thousands of years in the future, what would you want to talk about? And
what would they ask you about?
Diane points out that everyone will know how wasteful we were by digging up our
landfills. But will they know how we felt about it? Will they see us wallowing in hedonistic
pleasure, or will they know how many of us were depressed? Will they know that people
went to jail for taking food out of the garbage, because the authorities were envious of
people living outside the waste economy, but could not admit it consciously? Will they
guess that at the all-time peak of energy consumption and individualism, so many of us
felt individually powerless?
Will they know what made us happy? That's too big of a subject! But I can't think of
anything there that's easy to send into the future.
In the future, even if there isn't a collapse, there will be no crude oil from the ground.
Records will exist of it, but future people will have no material example of the substance
our society runs on. Crude oil might be seen as a mythical, magical substance,
something made up.
Corollary: what non-renewable resources might precursor civilizations have used up that
we'll never know about? What "mythical" materials actually existed but don't anymore?
The recession-depression-whatever-you-want-to-call-it that we're now in is going to be a
long, gruesome slog, perhaps an abiding condition ushering in a new dark age. Without
an ever-increasing supply of energy resources, the operations of compounding capital
growth cease. This much is already self-evident, despite the dazzling accounting tricks
of the big banks, the Federal Reserve, and the government agencies that abet them.
A few centuries from now, the memory of today's normality will seem like the most exotic
wonder that the human race ever produced. But most of it will be gone.
Neil Weismiller and I chat about photography, art and post-apocalyptic aesthetics while
he paces me through a sunset shooting session. Neil lives in this aviation scrapyard just
off Davis Monthan AFB and makes furniture from aircraft fragments. The walls of his
open-air shower are aluminum wing sections and the floor is paved with concrete tiles:
little green plants sprouting in the cracks between them.
Clips are ordered chronologically and the audio remains synched with its corresponding
video. As you can probably tell, Neil and I got along well.
Return Email:
Hello all:
A clipped version of Stage Three is complete and I find myself in Tucson selling plasma
for coffee money. But the desert yielded some rapturous moments. Please have a look:
‘stage three: overture’ is archived here.
The three-month stint on the road produced thirty-three video vignettes. These are my
Salton City
Ray Mine
The Boneyard
Copies of the stage three DVD will be mailed in the coming weeks. If you’d like one let
me know. Also, please get in touch with comments or questions. The Illuminated Thread
will remain on extended hiatus until funds for the next stage are secured.
From Yusef Komunyakaa’s 1984:
The year burns an icon
into the blood. Birdlime
discolors the glass domes
& roof beams grow shaky as old men
in the lobby of Heartbreak Hotel.
Purple oxide gas lamps light
the way out of this paradise.
We laugh behind masks & lip-sync Cobol.
We’re transmitters for pigeons
with microphones in their heads.
Yellow sky over stockyards,
& by the grace of God
rockets hum in white silos
buried in Kansas wheat fields
or nailed to some ragged hill
zoned as a perfect fearscape.
Flagstaff is a 4 or 5 day ride.
Joseph Tainter, The Collapse of Complex Societies
Pick up poster from Katie’s place
Stage Three DVD:
Salton City
Salton Sea Geothermal Plants
Salvation Mountain
Slab City
Bombay Beach
Sun City Palm Desert
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Array
Lockheed Rocket Test Site
Aviation Parts Warehouse Inc. Scrapyards
Tehachapi Wind Farm
Rio Tinto Borax Boron Mine
London Bridge
Parker Dam
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
Ray Mine
Biosphere 2
Titan Missile Museum
Twin Buttes Mine
ASARCO Mission Mine
The Boneyard
Sub-Headings-- categories
Cities That Aren’t
Aircraft Scrapyards (metals recycling)
Energy Production
Pilgrimage Sites
Regional categories:
Include times for each section.
Salton Sea (6) – “toothed fish”
Salton City
Salton Sea Geothermal Plants
Salvation Mountain
Slab City
Bombay Beach
Sun City Palm Desert
San Gorgonio Pass (2) – “mountain turbines”
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Array
Lockheed Rocket Test Site
Mojave Desert (3) – “India aircraft nose”
Aviation Parts Warehouse Inc. Scrapyards
Tehachapi Wind Farm
Rio Tinto Borax Boron Mine
Lower Colorado River Valley (3) – “homes on havasu”
London Bridge
Parker Dam
Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station
Arizona Upland (6) – “tri-colored drifts”
Ray Mine
Biosphere 2
Titan Missile Museum
Twin Buttes Mine
ASARCO Mission Mine
The Boneyard
Extras: (5) – “power plant lapse”
NASSCO shipyard
South Bay salt works
El Mirage Introductions
Sundt Station
What is American Power?
Energy tourism
Snazzy website
Run in’s with law enforcement
Photographer Mitch Epstein’s multi-year photo essay on energy production and
consumption in the US. Epstein’s knows that to understand energy is to better
understand, “the relationship between American society and the American landscape.”
There are some exceptionally beautiful images in this set—take your time.
1984—109 (poetry fragment for future post or return email)
Yeah, I saw a lot of theses (mines)
Each site seems to have its own source for that hum, that buzz. The Green Slime, the
wires, the mountain side?
The sites remain in the order I experienced them along the route.
Tied to assemble an audio track that would work with each site. Something else to unify
the group.
I think the second one (a fresh wound) because of all the red suggests flesh—especially
in the fist two clips—
like the skin of some beast has been cut and torn away: exposing the muscle
a feeling of violation—filleted
A tailing is anything leftover—the residue of a process.
Clips taken at these six mining sites wouldn’t support a vignette so they’ve been
dropped in with the rest to form something more substantial.
Turns out to be a great series—each with its own distinct textures and atmospheres to
compare with the others.
Six of the nine mines I visited—lumped into one piece. They’re not identified individually
to boost group cohesion.
The audio track has a menacing low end so get yourself a subwoofer or shove those
buds in deep.
I came to this site expecting an abandonment. To my complete surprise, a team of
contractors were putting the finishing touches on the facade of a brand new building.
Apparently several months before they'd razed the derelict yacht club and rebuilt it from
scratch. What? Likely the only construction project being undertaken in the Salton Sea
region, the questions were obvious. Who's funding this and for what possible reason?
Does Albert Frey, the building's designer, have a society of deep-pocketed architecture
buffs preserving his career highlights? With brackish foul smelling water lapping at its
shores, fish and pelican carcasses rotting in the desert heat, and literally nothing of
interest for miles in any direction, whom do they expect to come here? It'll be especially
ironic when the second version of this bizarre building befalls the same fate as its
predecessor, becoming another ruin at the edge of a dead sea.
This piece was shot at two separate sites: one on the fringe of Southern California
Logistics Airport near Victorville, and the other in the tiny town of El Mirage. The same
guy owns both yards. A lot of chunks are sold to Hollywood movie studios for use in films
(one of the latex python models from Snakes on a Plane was dangling from a nearby
tree). Other pieces are shipped to far off lands, mostly Europe and Asia, to become
wacky architectural features. Imagine some themed Shanghai restaurant or hotel lobby
you enter through a 747-fuselage. During our visit they were preparing to ship the last
piece of an airliner to Malibu, CA where one very wealthy woman is building a home out
of it.
408 230 (72) dimensions for DVD menu images
Imagine lake mead dries up (projected to by 2021 at current rates) the dam produces no
energy, it’s abandoned, the gates are made permanently open—the Colorado river
squeezes through a deteriorating concrete wedge in a dramatic dessert canyon. Crazy
Stage three DVD recipients:
Fullerton House
Brett CC
Karen Kubey
Jessica Lah
Christopher Smith
Matthew @ CLUI
Only my return to you will be a sweeping epic story of struggle and triumph, love and
beauty. And you get to watch it unfold before you on HD DVD’s sent to your doorstep.
That Davis tower is a really special thing—you don’t get acoustics like that very many
places. It’s a finely tuned instrument of immense size—the perfect shape to produce
extremely activated sounds.
Then you read her mind—she said “---not into it” in your head on that wild noisy dance
Dancing so much you bruised your foot.
And Alex steps in with the just enough of a push to commit to staying. Don’t interrupt the
project. An improvised life—move like water—no pushing, move instantly to fill up any
Three arenas in which you are rapidly improving: sex, dancing, (the third one is the
I feel the same way, and not just about techniques for attracting women, but any
techniques for influencing people on a subconscious and senseless level. The better it
works, the more I despise them, and I don't want to spend my life among people I
despise. If I'm applying for a job, and I hear that wearing a certain kind of pants will make
them more likely to hire me, I have a strong urge to wear exactly the wrong pants to
wake them the fuck up.
But it also occurs to me that this is a luxury. If your kids are starving, you're going to
wear the hypnotic pants. We live on a planet of zombie monkeys, and we have to
choose our battles, and compromise between meeting our needs and making the world
Ran’s straight and patient road of not-seduction. Here's a little list of rules:
1. Be Transparent. Show what you're feeling; say what you're thinking. Offer and accept
communications at face value. Do this from the beginning, and the bad relationships will
run from you like shadows from the light. Now, this doesn't mean you can't use nonverbal techniques to make people feel better -- but here is the test: If you were to explain
everything you are doing and why, would the other person feel exploited, or honored?
2. Become Skilled at Being Single. Learn to make good food, pay your bills, motivate
yourself, stay sane, and get sexual release, by yourself and with help from friends. Then
why do you even need a partner? Exactly. But you might still appreciate a partner, which
is a stronger position.
3. Embrace the Friend Zone. Having friends is a good thing. The suffering of the "friend
zone" is an illusion created by desire. Let go of desire and the prison becomes paradise
-- or the false friendship is exposed. Of course, you might still fantasize about another
kind of relationship. The key is that you are not holding tension between where you are
and where you are not.
4. Broaden Your Standards. Typically, guys who complain that women are attracted to
assholes, are themselves attracted to asshole women. (Actually, this explains a lot about
pickup artist culture.) Remember that nice person who you rejected for not being sexy
enough? That's karma: you must follow the rules you make. At the same time, nobody
wants to be settled for. Practice valuing qualities that are valuable.
5. Be Like Water. Do not push anything, but move instantly to fill any opening. This
will not generate nearly as much sex as aggressive seduction, but it will make it better,
by filtering out sex for the sake of proving something, and leaving only sex based on
strong mutual attraction.
6. Sex Is Not the Goal. There is no goal. There is only the process: be who you are, and
engage with what you encounter on that road.
Notes for brownlands audio:
Keep it out of the loud end of the spectrum—distortions and unevenness in your voice
becomes detectable
Add “no exit” to reading list.
Start photographing your favorite bikes in town—photo series.
Settling in post—barracks—like living on a really casual submarine.
Free store
Tuesday night rides
80’s night—the white Michael Jackson’
shooting the hip/hop promo for Pauhouse
The Black Demon
And the prophet delivers the news
A black demon called oil.
The planet is bleeding oil
When a toxic soup of water, oil, and dispersant is picked up by a hot swirling mass of air
a hundred miles wide and hurled with great force against every structure In its path,
coating everything with a flammable brown sheen
A biblical catastrophe.
A cascade of global extinction emanating from the Gulf of Mexico dead zone spreads
across the planet leaving us the last miserable species on the planet to contemplate
what we’ve done. It’s the ecological apocalypse.
“The human species needs to be brought to its knees”
Think about the 1950s, everything was new, new gadgets, new buildings, new roads.
The sky was the limit. So growth was accelerated—it was delivering untold gifts—it was
assumed by most that the party would continue indefinitely.
Fine tuning the dumpster pursuits.
Framing neil and the bone yard as a pilgrimage site, how it already functions that way.
How the site and the objects within it complicate the images taken there—both
intellectually and visually.
Boneyard dance vid— out on the wings with no waivers and no insurance.
DVD’s for sale—good practice for screenings—living room screenings, consider it fine to
wander in and out of the room, ask questions. I might talk over some, I might just let
others play through.
Image of the apocalyptic novel poster at the airport
“energy without limits on the cover of Discover magazine—fucking irresponsible
you drivers are feeding that demon—it’s past time the kick the habit.
speaking of irresponsible behavior, the tow biggest are: having a child and driving a car.
Because it’s the automobile drivers who are feeding the demon in the gulf.
Avery new child puts us farther in into carrying capacity overshoot and should be
considered a liability. No more people. Name the movement.
Get used to wearing those microphones. Start photographing your surroundings—parts
of the hostel, the table, the storage locker, your stuff there.
The hostel dynamic, as a living organism, changing and evolving with the people in the
A communal living model
One more relationship not based on money (which overwhelmingly is the norm) and it’s
a big one: shelter.
David Aguirre/Dinnerware Artspace
[email protected]
Hi David—
I’ve been meaning to get in touch for a while now—just had to get myself squared away
first. Tonight, assuming I can get into the building, I’ll be leaving two disks in your Shane
House mailbox. The first is a DVD with twenty vignettes shot and edited on the last stage
of the tour and the second contains a quicktime video: The Joy of Infinity: part two, which
features an un-tampered with audio track I recorded inside an abandoned watertower
back in my hometown of Davis, CA. The mp3s on the disk are from the same recording
session. Audio is best heard through headphones or good speakers.
Dino may have mentioned a bit about the umbrella project for all this work. It’s called
The Illuminated Thread and I started it immediately after graduating from the University
of Chicago’s MFA program in 2008. It’s a globally scaled bicycle-mounted multi-year
look at the glory and tragedy of the industrial age. Basically what I’m doing is cycling
from one industrial site to the next taking video and audio recordings and editing them
into 3-5 minute vignettes. The archive, which contains something like 70 sites now, is
intended to show the industrial world at its most hectic and troubled moment still
chugging away on fumes, and to preserve this image into a period of prolonged
contraction. It effectively highlights many of the often-missed connections between
seemingly unrelated pieces of industrial infrastructure. For example: in a screening I
might begin with the California Aqueduct before showing images of the remote concrete
plant that provided its primary building material, as well as the power plants that produce
the energy required to keep its pumping stations humming. For a more comprehensive
explanation of the project’s goals have a look at the website’s “about the project” page.
And here’s the recently archived page with all the content from the last leg:
My plan for the summer here in Tucson is to put together at least one artist’s
talk/screening (more if possible), maybe a gallery show, and to secure funds for the
project’s next stage. When the desert cools in the fall I’ll continue east across the Deep
South then up the Eastern Seaboard to NY. The rust belt will cap off the US circuit,
leaving me in Chicago where I started. From there it’s off the Europe.
I’d love to meet for coffee and hear any suggestions you might have. Items at the top of
my to-do list include securing a screening/exhibition space, and generating some
income. I’ve got lots of skills: videography, writing, design, bicycle maintenance, interior
painting, etc. If you know of anyone who might need help within these arenas, do let me
know. Also, I recently helped Eric Firestone pack up his galley for the Hamptons. You
mentioned you’d be moving your space soon so if you need another hand…
I’m at 530.902.9300 but email is a good way to reach me.
thanks in advance,
[email protected]
What all this implies, in a single phrase, is that the age of abundance is over. The period
from 1945 to 2005 when almost unimaginable amounts of cheap petroleum sloshed
through the economies of the world’s industrial nations, and transformed life in those
nations almost beyond recognition, still shapes most of our thinking and nearly all of our
The European Christian monasteries that preserved Roman culture through the Dark
Ages did not offer anyone a middle class lifestyle by the standards of their own time,
much less those of ours. Neither did the Buddhist monasteries that preserved Heian
culture through the Sengoku Jidai, Japan’s bitter age of wars, or the Buddhist and Taoist
monasteries that preserved classical Chinese culture through a good half dozen cycles
of collapse. Monasteries in all these cases were places people went to be very, very
poor. That was the secret of their achievements, because when you reduce your
material needs to the absolute minimum, the energy you don’t need to spend
maintaining your standard of living can be put to work doing something more useful.
In a contracting economy, it becomes easier to notice that the less you need, the less
vulnerable you are to the ups and downs of fortune, and the more you can get done of
whatever it is that you happen to want to do. That’s an uncongenial lesson at the best of
times, and during times of material abundance you won’t find many people learning it.
Still, in the world after abundance, it’s hard to think of a lesson that deserves more
careful attention.
You’ve reduced your material needs to a minimum so that you can move freely and
lightly through the world with plenty of time to observe and document the breakdown of
the industrial world.
Bisophere 2 as both a failed ecosystem and a failed utopian venture.
If there’s one lesson history teaches, it’s that human societies are organic growths, and
trying to invent one to fit some abstract idea of goodness is as foredoomed as trying to
make an ecosystem do what human beings want.
Failed utopian society as well as a failed ecosystem.
Listen to what a baby hears
The industrial age is coming to an end.
Here’s what it looks like
Growth is dead
The industrial world we’ve built over the last 200 years with the power of fossil energy is
about to enter a period of prolonged contraction/disintegration.
The diminishing returns of ratcheting complexity.
Peak energy
themes of the day: (almost always occurring in pairs)
Wed. June 9, 2010
That strange collection of chairs at the hangar
Yellow shirts:
Ben the Frenchman and the computer users at shot in the dark
improper use of scarves
tied around your handlbars
Tucson in June
Vibram five finger shoes—on Kate, and mentioned by Justin—another daily double
chasing the train through Tucson. Falling star over the congress hotel.
The trigger effect—film to see
In a moment of rage, throwing your wet shorts at a passing car.
We met out front of Mishka’s Café a couple months ago. I wanted to say hello and run a
proposal past you.
You may know of the former Hunts cannery property north of Covell Blvd. and east of F
Street. When they razed the industrial complex to encourage property speculation, they
left an enormous steel liquid storage receptacle, presumably to live on as a feature of
the residential/commercial development slated to next occupy the site. The development
fell through and almost a decade later, the white cylinder with the funnel shaped bottom
stands alone on a weedy stab of concrete.
While dramatic from the outside, the structure’s most interesting feature is the sound
altering qualities of its internal geometry. Difficult to describe, I’ve attached an mp3 file of
a recent recording made within the space. A pair of binaural in-ear microphones was
used and no filters have been applied. An authentic playback requires headphones.
I’d like to propose a class, perhaps for next year, with this industrial relic at its center. I
imagine students would spend the quarter performing and recording original
compositions within the structure—elevating the giant receptacle into a musical
instrument (you sit inside). Work produced by both art and music majors would fall
across the spectrum, from more traditional musical structures to ambient recordings
where wind and weather activate the object.
Of course official permission from the property owner would have to be secured, but I
foresee weekly class meetings at the site along with a classroom component where
recordings would be reviewed, edited and critiqued. The class would also cover skills
related to audio field recordings: balancing levels, file handling, microphones, postproduction and mixing would all be part of the curriculum.
My ultimate goal is to save the site from development—to highlight the value in its
disorder, to watch the foundations slowly crumble as the decades pass. It affords a
certain set of activities that cannot occur in the ordered spaces of the built environment.
If there’s promise in the idea I’ll develop it further and create a provisional syllabus.
Thank you for your time. I look forward to hearing your thoughts.
Brett Tracy
[email protected]
additional recordings can be found here:
I’m attracted to the site—feral, disordered, in-between functions. Nature is having its way
with it—designing it according to its rules. Transforming it into a mythic ruin, a spiritually
rich place.
More To Do:
Prepare artist’s talk/screening
Plastics PSA
Call Raine
DVD + Reka bonus disk mailings
Post on hostel as communal living model
Post on moving from plastic to glass
order replacement wind screens for binaurals
The first sign of foreshadowing—carrying around a glass bottle which is basically a
heavy projectile that fractures into sharp splinters on impact.
You’re also documenting Neil—his shower, his home, the landscape where he lives—
throughout the summer. You should bring pot as an offering.
Contact the boneyard’s owners for chopping dates.
Boneyard update post—this aircraft did go away—chopped into pieces and sent off to be
You replaced the smell of heaven with the smell of a dog. You did it—you made it
happen. You either tainted that perfect memory, or killed it to facilitate moving forward.
Jonesie predicts something unexpected will happen—how about getting high in Dave’s
Neil is the unofficial keeper of the boneyard: theses are a few of his personal effects.
He’s been "enfacinated" (enthralled/fascinated) by post-apocalypticism for some time
now and has surrounded himself with home furnishings made of aircraft fragments and
bizarre cultish objects. He wakes each morning into a disordered landscape of
enormous metallic corpses strewn about a parched slab of earth. Coyotes trot along
perimeter fencing and tank-killing jet aircraft pass low overhead. It’s scorching hot an
hour after sunrise, but with copious amounts of water and a Peruvian straw hat, Neil
thrives. Perhaps more than anyone, he knows the beauty and spiritual value of this
otherworldly place. “People come here to pray,” he said to me at the end of a recent
visit. His words confirmed my suspicion that the yard has not only become a node of
creative production, but a place for quiet contemplation (periodically interrupted by earsplitting noise). Wandering amongst the severed heads of cold-war era bombers and
dismembered C-130s, it’s easy to imagine the end of an age where a magical black
liquid, a gift from the prehistoric past, kept these awkward birds aloft.
Hostel journal—test entry:
A mother and her 16-year-old daughter have moved into Private no. 1 with their golden
retriever. I put them there to kill the sent left by Reka. As of now it somehow seems
they’ll fail. Their last stay was apparently so long they were gently pushed out by Tanya.
They’re my lest favorite guests so far and I’m finding myself avoiding the main house
where they’ve set up in front of the television. It’s weird watching their faces react to the
images on the screen. They’re captivated—completely unaware of the room they’re
sitting in. I wish they’d take their stupid grins elsewhere.
Not to spew negative energy but I’m pretty annoyed when groups move chairs around
and trap you at your table. Gotta leave me an escape route guys.
This download may be the best decision you’ve ever made.
And j revels some insight into dance floor telepathics: the rhythm brings us together—it
synchs up our minds. He’s absolutely spot on.
He also insists that by the time I leave here I’ll have learned what I needed to.
Wait, is everyone already communicating using only heir minds? This isn’t something
I’ve been left out of is it? Everyone’s waiting for me to catch on.
Why is dance music being pushed along so quickly—almost accelerating. Is it that
people who dance burn through (out on) it so quickly?
Delivery service
Santos the saint
Carrying a beer to his mother’s house
Things to have mailed:
Bike light
Digital to analogue cable
Running shoes
Dance shoes?
‘Industrial Ruins’
another shirt?
Donation gift packages-- later
Ed’s place in the desert
His stories were rehearsed, fixed—his insights made long ago, now fixed in stone.
Kurt vile
Hey now I'm movin’
In all three of these cases, the decision to add an additional layer of complexity to an
already complex problem was an attempt to maintain business as usual, while the
simpler option that was refused would have required the decision makers to abandon
business as usual and accept a degree of austerity and limitation very few people find
congenial these days.
To turn away from complex systems on that individual level, in turn, is to undercut the
basis for social complexity, and to begin building frameworks for meeting human needs
and wants of a much simpler and thus more sustainable kind.
A video based serial
Open the door! Open, blast you! I’ll endure anything, your red-hot tongs and molten lead,
your racks and prongs and garrotes—all your fiendish gadgets, everything that burns
and flays and tears—I’ll put up with any torture you impose. Anything, anything would be
better than this agony of mind, this creeping pain that gnaws and fumbles and caresses
one and never hurts quite enough.
Accepting the glory and tragedy of the industrial age—the balance of the two.
Economic optimists never tire of pointing out how enormous the resource pyramid is
when viewed as a whole. When society is desperate, they say, we will go after energy
resources and raw materials no matter where they are, no matter how expensive the
process, and no matter how much environmental destruction comes with it. We’ll solve
problems that arise as best we can and move on. Growth is inevitable and unstoppable,
and if fuels and materials that enable growth exist, we will find and use them.
In reality, though, things may not work out that way. New extraction projects require the
cooperation of many functioning systems including manufacturing/fabrication, finance,
insurance, regulation, and advanced technical education. As that system of systems
becomes more complicated, the sites of potential breakdown multiply. The current
economic crisis is likely to rupture the system in multiple places, crippling extractive
industries. Much of the remaining oil, coal, gas, and mineral resource base that could
technically be extracted may well end up staying in the ground simply because society
can’t continue to organize itself functionally at a high enough level to maintain the
growing effort needed.
In short, the Deepwater Horizon story is not just an environmental tragedy. It is a story
about the limits of both extractive technologies and the increasingly complex societal
systems that support them. It’s a reminder that the whole project of basing unending
economic growth on ever-increasing rates of extraction of depleting nonrenewable
resources is wrongheaded from start to finish. And it’s a signal that hopes for our
economy to magically “dematerialize” have turned out to be just that—mere hopes.
But the era of cheap, easy petroleum is over; we are paying steadily more and more for
what we put in our gas tanks—more not just in dollars, but in lives and health, in a failed
foreign policy that spawns foreign wars and military occupations, and in the lost integrity
of the biological systems that sustain life on this planet.
That black demon killing the Gulf of Mexico belongs to you, motorist.
The enormous steel cylinder, whose internal geometry is responsible for elevating and
refining my voice, is effectively a musical instrument (you sit inside). I’d like to see it, and
the biologically rich land it sits on, preserved for its cultural potential. I'm convinced it is
more valuable now than it ever was during its stint as a receptacle.
You should just do a series of musical compositions for abandoned industrial
infrastructure. Maybe commissions.
Living in a vortex—jumping from vortex to vortex—because that’s where the interesting
stuff is happening. Where the minds have gathered.
Richard misrach—photographer
Dessert cantos
Bravo twenty—the bombing of the desert west
Mark klett—third view.
“With Japan also now looking to wield the fiscal axe, some may wonder who is actually
going to spend money in the world economy.”
It all comes down to one thing: the world is mismanaging contraction. The world will not
solve the problems of massive over-complexity with more complexity. But scaling down
is apparently not an option, though it will happen whether we participate or not. The
USA is like Herman Melville's Bartleby the Scrivener who, when asked to do anything,
replied, "I prefer not to." His preference led him to a pauper's grave.
One thing President Obama -- nor anyone else with an audience or a constituency -- will
speak a word about is our massive, incessant purposeless motoring.
We decided to de-complexify the hard way, the way that brings about as much pain and
disorder as possible until we discover that the long emergency beats a path straight into
a world made by hand.
Greer is worried that a "revitalization movement" of fanatical utopians might do terrible
harm, and he says you can guard against this by telling yourself, "There is no brighter
future ahead."
I think he misses the mark, but not by much. Almost everyone reading this has the
opportunity to navigate the coming changes into a brighter future. We should all be
collapse optimists. What we have to guard against is passive hope, where we think that
the future will be better without us having to do anything, and also utopian thinking,
where we can make the world better in such a clever way that it will stay good without
our descendants having to do anything.
The standard jargon for phenomena of this kind is revitalization movements. They
happen when a society is hit by repeated troubles that cut straight to the core of its
identity and values. In such times, when existing institutions fail and the collective
foundations of meaning crack, there’s a large demand for some new vision of destiny
that will make sense of the troubles and offer a way past them to some brighter future.
The economics of popular belief being what they are, that demand very quickly finds an
ample supply.
For the moment, though, I want to pass on the counterspell against incantatory thinking
that I mentioned at the conclusion of last week’s post. Like the magic spells in fairy tales,
it comes with a taboo that limits what you can do with it. The taboo is this: you can use it
to guard yourself from incantations, if you think about it and understand it, and you can
pass it on to someone else who’s ready to receive and understand it. If you give it to
someone who’s not willing to accept it, though, it will cause exactly the flight into
incantation and fantasy it’s meant to prevent. Here it is:
There is no brighter future ahead.
Doesn’t ring too well.
women are so sticky—like spiders.
Titan Two
Titan of War
Buried in the desert south of Tucson sits the only remaining Titan II
Intercontinental Ballistic Missile site in the United States. Once the backbone of
the United States nuclear missile arsenal, the Titans were made obsolete by the
Minuteman series (500 Minuteman IIIs are presently located in North Dakota,
Montana, and Wyoming) as well as nuclear weapons on submarines and heavy
bombers. Following the signing of the Salt II Treaty in 1982, sixty Titan II sites in
Arizona, Arkansas, and Nebraska were decomissioned and all the missiles, except
for this one, were removed from their silos and dismantled. Today, USAF Titan
Missile Complex 571-7 is a museum to a Cold War relic from the era when peace
was never fully won; it was only kept minute to minute.
Above ground, there isn't much to see, other than a huge cement door on tracks.
Since the other Titan silos were dynamited into rubble piles after the Salt II Treaty,
one of the requirements for establishment of the Titan museum (other than
removal of the warhead) was placement of barriers on the tracks so the door
could not be opened. Russian satelites watching from high above regularly check
on the site to make sure no funny business is taking place. Not that sneaking one
additional missile into the current U.S. arsenal of 3,700 nuclear weapons would
make much of a difference, but hey, an agreement is an agreement.
Five stories below the surface is the launch control center. Protected by concrete
walls several feet thick and steel blast doors weighing 6,000 pounds, the room is
designed to withstand either a direct hit from an incoming warhead or accidental
explosion of the bad boy sitting 250 feet away.
Another fascinating engineering feature was how the entire complex sits
suspended on massive springs. A necessary component, when you consider over
400,000 pounds of thrust would be pushing an object weighing 270,000 pounds
out of a hole in the ground.
A total of four airmen would be inside the complex at any given time. Every 12
hours, two man crews would rotate duty at the control center. Had the relationship
between Moscow and Washington DC ever spiraled into Def Con 1, a series of
numbers and letters would be transmitted over the speaker atop the control panel.
Both airmen would write the code in notebooks. They would then switch
notebooks and the code was read again.
The airmen would then open this cabinet (each had the combination to one of the
locks) and compare the launch code to the codes inside. If there was a match, a
numerical code would be revealed. This number was entered into the control
panel and unlocked a butterfly valve inside the booster rocket of the missile,
allowing the propellant fuels to combine for ignition and lift off. Then the airmen
would simultaneously turn the launch key at their stations and thirty minutes later,
the warhead would reach its target. Both men carried .38 revolvers on their belts,
in the event the threat of force was necessary to ensure the launch order was
followed to completion.
The Titan II carried the largest thermonuclear warhead ever deployed in the U.S.
arsenal. With a yield of 9 megatons, the Titan II warhead had 700 times more
power than Little Boy, the first nuclear bomb used in WWII (15 kilotons). The blast
alone from a Titan II warhead would result in a fireball 1 mile wide lasting 12
seconds. The radiated heat could be fatal to a 20 mile radius. Blast effects would
collapse most residential and industrial structures within a 10 mile radius. Within
3.5 miles, virtually all above-ground structures would be destroyed and blast
effects would inflict near 100% fatalities. Envisioning the destruction these
weapons can render is mind boggling, especially when you consider some 27,000
active nuclear weapons are currently deployed throughout the world.
If a launch ever occurred, the crews had 30 days of food and water and perhaps
two weeks of oxygen within the complex. At some point, they would have to enter
a new world, a nuclear world. And they would've been among the very few people
on earth still alive.
Connect with those first moments—those steps into a brave new world. What was it like
to sit in that thing knowing that if something happened, you and your three fellow airmen
might be the only ones left alive. That you would emerge after your twenty days of
oxygen ran out the world would be a smoldering radioactive nightmare where everything
you loved, your world entirely destroyed.
Carrying a revolver so that the order could be carried out in the event that one of the
crew members objected the launch. What were they thinking when they were making
that rule?—haven’t we gone down a dark road for fucks sake? Also convenient for
suicides. What about a piece on the warhead that failed to launch because of the crew’s
Maybe present the
‘Eighteen Tombs of Titan II’
Capture somewhat of the look and feel of what it would have been like to emerge from
that tomb, one of likely only a few spread across the land.
for clui:
It would make a really good high resolution aerial photography series
Most impressively to me, all 54 launch sites were built in parallel, without any full
prototype having been completed or tested before the work was started. And all of this
happened in the early 1960's, without the benefit of microprocessors or the Internet.
You will find them using hand drawn maps derived from satellite imagery.
Throughout the Arizona summer.
Command center up in the mountains above Tucson.
9000 feet up on top a mountain—a view of the vault doors twenty miles away.
A web site kindly revealed the coordinates of each site’s location.
Does each have at least one of any feature?
You want to emphasize the pilgrimage aspect of each one—the specialness of the
underground monuments.—talk to guys at the museum—email
The place high up in the mountains where you can see the base where you can see the
enormous storage Manzano storage facility
Site of the nuclear stockpile—Manzano base
Between twenty and fifty miles off so the the longest round trip would be 100 miles
You will visit all 18 missile sites, starting with the easy ones and ending with the most
difficult, some have been built upon: homes, a church, and a nursery. Others partially
Above ground, there isn't much to see, other than a huge cement door on tracks. Since
the other Titan silos were dynamited into rubble piles after the Salt II Treaty, one of the
requirements for establishment of the Titan museum (other than removal of the
warhead) was placement of barriers on the tracks so the door could not be opened.
Russian satellites watching from high above regularly check on the site to make sure no
funny business is taking place. Not that sneaking one additional missile into the current
U.S. arsenal of 3,700 nuclear weapons would make much of a difference, but hey, an
agreement is an agreement.
Spend one shift there or as close to there as you can get—document the sound?
Take something away? Don’t be overly complicated—something simple and elegant is a
far better plan?
Yesterday I saw this reddit comment thread on printers and how they never work right. I
live in a house with two printers and I can't get either one to work on either of two
operating systems. On my winter tour 18 months ago, everyone I stayed with had a
computer, but almost nobody had a working printer. When I want a hardcopy of a google
map, I trace it from the screen.
What's going on? I think this is something deeper than incompetence or profiteering, and
NiceDay4ASulk is on the right track with the comment that printers are "the bridge
between the digital world and the physical world." Maybe this has something to do with
entropy: the physical world is like a higher energy state than the virtual world, so it's easy
to take a picture of a physical object and put it in a computer, but to go the other way,
and turn bits in a computer into a physical object, is extremely difficult.
Some techno-utopians think we're going to have home fabricators, where you can
download information and "print" any physical object. But printing text on paper is harder
now than it was 20 years ago. As information systems get more complex, and available
energy gets lower, we are moving in the opposite direction, copying physical stuff into
the digital world, and moving our consciousness there with it.
The problem is that our consciousness is tied to physical bodies that need food and
shelter. Where the digital world does not feed us, it starves us, and then starves itself.
Or, as I've written before: every sub-world must justify itself in terms of the world that
contains it. It would be wonderful if we could use computers to print bacon and glassy
metal building blocks, but realistically, if we are using them at all, we will be using them
to share information about how to eat cattail roots and build houses out of sand and clay,
with our hands.
An especially insightful post by ran and another solid from greer.
The project’s font is appropriately titled:
scheme |skēm|
a large-scale systematic plan or arrangement for attaining some particular object or
putting a particular idea into effect : a clever marketing scheme.
• a secret or underhanded plan; a plot : police uncovered a scheme to steal paintings
worth more than $250,000.
• a particular ordered system or arrangement : a classical rhyme scheme.
Some nice image pairings:
Fish with the aircraft heads.
The diagonal shadow on bldg. B and across that plane.
Princess B
French Eyes/Shorts
What's that sound I hear? Oh, it's the hum of millions of envirotwits furiously
masturbating to what their dim minds can only perceive as a world-ending calamity.
Matthew-I wanted to say hi and get your opinion on a project I’m designing for the summer here in
In the early 60s, the government built 54 underground launch silos for this country’s
largest intercontinental ballistic missile: the Titan II. 18 of the silos were clustered around
Davis-Monthan AFB near Tucson, AZ (where I’m currently toughing out the June heat).
Almost 30 years after decommissioning, the 18 once identical sites have taken divergent
trajectories. After being welded shut, dynamited and buried, a handful were sold and
started new lives in the civilian sector. There’s a nursery, a home, and a Methodist
church. Some are partially excavated, and a few have become almost indistinguishable
from the surrounding desert terrain.
18 Tombs of Titan II will take a look at how the sites are evolving, delve into their unique
histories, explore their potential as mythic ruins or sites of pilgrimage, and pay homage
to the structures as well as the service men and women who kept watch over the
weapons for two decades.
I’m still developing the project and would love to hear your thoughts. The satellite
imagery on the attached PDF is pretty amazing (zoom in). I'd like to be able to compare
them in high-resolution aerial photographs. The differences are astonishing considering
they were all built to the same specifications (without a prototype) in alignment with the
cardinal points.
Hope you’re well.
Brett / [email protected]
A note on site IDs: the CE designation stands for ‘Corps of Engineer’ and SAC is
‘Strategic Air Command.’
No Turning Back
assemble similar actions:
drinking water
carrying/setting down laptop
shoes and socks on/off
splice in speed shifted clips from earlier work
cloud time lapse
you’re gunna need more dancing—a second location?
For close ups?
The silhouettes are good
Exposure adjustments as flashes
Cut clips in time with cycles in track—should be of regular length
Do advert for staying at the boneyard. Brett will make a MORNING MEAL.
Plastics PSA
An Aircraft boneyard
lots of different materials out there
among them is plastic
Plastic is plentiful today, but it’s made from oil. As the cost of oil rises, so will the cost
and availability of this miracle substance of the twentieth century. The value of plastic
may be much higher in the future. Within my children’s lifetime, plastic could be worth its
weight in gold.
That’s because of two important factors:
1. plastic has an astonishing number of uses.
And 2. Plastic degrades when exposed to sunlight, leaving it brittle and of little use to
anyone except the jewelry makers of tomorrow. (on buying a paint factory—making
jewely out of years worth of paint buildup on the walls.
You’re probably asking yourself: “What should I be doing to protect my plastics. The
answer is simple:
Most importantly, keep them out of direct sunlight.
And don’t crush or wrinkle them—this further shortens their life.
See, that’s all…
Follow these two simple rules and your plastics will provide you with many years of
faithful service.
Oopps.. coy with the ancient water bottle.
plastic is one of them.
It’s possible you’re a better artist than you are a biologist. don’t get sucked in now
darling. For a first gallery show—I think you should be happy. I’m totally into it and have
a couple good art questions to confront you with. We should buy bowls of granola and
wander the length of your images together. Soon.
and in case I was intimidated retarded the other night by your artistic genius: my project
is here:
let the vids load completely before playing
the use of headphones is highly recommended. (Actually they’re required.)
the night starts here by the stars.
Rekawears the same Victoria’s secret lotion that Merriss did. Made me loose my shit—got all
fuzzy brained—and how it lingered—like leaking from the building and drifting down the
walkway. I love sean’s observation: “someone sure smells good in there”
“yeah man—it’s killing me”
so every man in the household gets up early, even the gay one, and decides they’re not
incredibly sick of the waffles served every morning. but actually thery’re there to see the
two attractive girls off, one of them a 19 year old Hungarian princess.
Stop outside the window to smell the scented air being pumped out her window.
Lingering for hours after she’s left. And that outfit to leave in—that shirt with the artfully
torn up back and fucking bright pink pants—tight pants.
Imagine she travels around the world checking into hostels and lying around naked in
her room rubbing glutious amounts of victoria’s secret lotion into her already moisend
skin—tourturing the male staff, even the gay ones.
we’re like a
Hey it’s the guy who checked you in. Some really recent video work—what I do when I’m
not cleaning toilets—for you. When the posttraumatic stress from your bus ride wears off
you should call me.
1. The Joy of Infinity: part two
2. No Turning Back (warmup)
3. The Boneyard (AM)
heaphones required.
no turning back:
one vantage (excluding after images)
two shots—twice through the track
sorted then whole clip burned to DVD.
As donation gift—whole unedited dance takes, sponsor a session.
space used must be kept within the hard drive which means unused footage after sorting
must be discarded and time lapse must be saved as sped and original space recycled.
Less sticky this way. Keeps it fresh—always moving forward.
save performances as MOV exports on DVD-R disks to free up drive space. After pulling
the best moments
Turns out this fuselage is even more dramatically lit at sunset. I think I’m gunna try and
do weekly trips out to the yard (nine miles away)—always at the extreme ends of the
day—to throw my body around for the camera. I'm short on hard drive space so I’ll pull
out the finest moments then delete the long takes. Eventually I’ll have enough to compile
into a full-length video of pulsing, gyrating madness. Here are the rules I’ve set to give
the project some structure:
1. One vantage per session, so one "set" or shooting location.
2. Two takes per session, so I’ll dance through the track twice.
3. At least one time lapse take of the sky to work in as supplementary visual material.
Locate this piece opposite the original—a PM shoot. Besides this difference and
obviously no Neil, the camcorder's audio has been replaced with a single binaural
recording made on site. That intermittent roar is coming from nearby Davis-Monthan Air
Force Base. Daily jet engine tests remind us that the military is still second to none when
it comes to burning huge amounts of highly refined aviation fuel. We’re running out of
oil—quick, burn it faster!
Sustainable building outside tuscon? Rancho something?
Studies show that if you base your decisions on what you are able to explain to other
people in words, you will make bad decisions, but if you don't care whether you can
explain your decisions, you will make good ones. I don't know what this has to do with
"introspection", since less than five percent of my own introspection is cooking up words
to justify what I'm doing. Is it possible that this is the main thing that most people do
inside their heads? How profoundly depressing! Imagine, if you can, what it would be like
to spend hours and hours doing stuff inside your head, without ever using language. (I
also wonder: does video technology train us to think in pictures more, or does it destroy
our ability to think in pictures, by creating the pictures for us?)
A day of flakiness—loosing Neil, Jonesie, and a waffle maker
Spending two hours at Café Passe with Grace then licking sweat off each other back in
the green room.
The highly evolved male
Rides a bicycle
Knows his neighborhood
Can walk a rail
Heals himself
has an infinitely strong core
anticipates the weather
digests kale
scales fences
moves with grace, elegance, and efficiency
glows from the inside
walks on his hands
knows where he is
communicates without words
has his own scent
is trusted
sleeps when he needs to
things to expand
a dream—fathers nuclear crash test
a French moment—Justin and Anna
a walk along the railroad tracks—Justin and David
reading heinberg’s excerpt on how economists tend to ignore the limits to growth—with a
polish economics professor in the kitchen.
Do an information summary page for each of the titan sites—with satellite imagery
Books for tombs of titan:
Titan Tales: diary of a Titan II missile crew commander—John W. Womack
Titan II: a history of a Cold War missile program—Davis Stumpf
UG1312.I2 S78 2000 Science-Engineering Library
Eighteen Tombs of Titan II: SAC 570-2
Date Activated: May 1, 1962
Date Deactivated: December 2, 1983
Latitude: 32°6'4.05"N
Longitude: 111°15'45.19"W
Nearest town: Three Points, AZ
Visited: August 1, 2010
Distance from home: 21.3 miles
CP access advisory: 570-2 is easy to get to and is not posted [no trespassing]. So feel
free to look
around. Beware snakes.
Two hours for visit
Nice weather—also easy
Ryan Airport, breakfast runs, drinking fountain, bathrooms—support station for that
strand of sites.
Evidence of encampments—burn piles
Christian religious objects: vinyl, cassette tapes of sermons, recipe for Lavha bread,
Objects for children: pens, colored pencils
Lots of clothing, caught in trees
Less like a trash pile and more like an archeological site—length time passed
Car parts, hypodermic needles
Allowed to take one artifact, or set of related artifacts.
Standing water, tadpoles
In the fear of the Lord is strong confidence: and his children will have a place of refuge.
An earlier visitor to my first Titan II missile site had highlighted the above passage
(Proverbs 14:26) in his bible before abandoning it to the elements. Strangely, 570-2 was
littered with ecclesiastical objects: a vinyl record titled In the Name of Jesus, sermons by
William Branham recorded onto half a dozen cassette tapes, a recipe for unleavened
bread. Graffiti on the walls of a sunken concrete box, perhaps the entrance portal,
identified it as the “WAY TO HELL.” It matters little whether or not these desert
evangelicals were aware that the ground beneath their feet once sheltered the most
destructive weapon ever devised. In such a place, their celebrations of the divine are a
potent allegory.
It had rained hard a couple days before and the complex’s concrete surface features had
prevented some of the water from soaking into the porous soil. The largest puddle, on
one of the fuel hardstands, was teeming with tadpoles frantically devouring the algae in
their rapidly shrinking world.
Examining the human detritus at the edge of a large burn pile was like working an
archeological dig site. There were odd ceramic figurines, hypodermic needles, scraps of
fabric, the tip of an aluminum hunting arrow, tin cans, and colored pencils for the kids. It
felt appropriate not to disturb the artifacts and the ‘leave no trace’ ethic of treading lightly
and taking only photographs will be protocol within the boundaries of the launch silo
[*CP is my contact at the Titan Missile Museum. He’s provided access information for
each of the sites including potential hazards.]
Bhairavi is the Hindu Goddess of decay. She is one of the Mahavidyas, the wisdom
Goddesses. Bhairavi is the transformation that comes with destruction, which is not
necessarily negative. She personifies light and heat that can burn away the
imperfections in the soul. She is usually depicted as having red skin, three eyes, and
blood smeared on her lips and breasts. She smiles softly and wears a moon on her
crown. Bhairavi’s name means “terrifying” and she is also known as Tripura Bhairavi
(supreme terror in the three worlds).
Sanskrit: the power of terror
A name most often used to indicate the "dark" and "terrible" aspect of the goddess who
is the force of aging, the silent but ever-present decay and destruction of all that lives.
For fear of this "demonic force" who represents the inevitability of death, people have
never built a single temple to her!
However, it is also said that the infinite variety of beings and forms in this universe is due
to Bhairavi, which makes her less sinister and shows something of her creative side.
The fountain—film recommended by Cassandra
A sour plan for elephant socialists.
You can never use anything like that because it’ll be read as political
Things to currently be found at illuminated thread:
A particularly interesting cum stain currently on my mattress.
Images of the highline – before and after.
You’re fetish is for feral spaces within urban places.
List of posts to make:
Inspirational email post (and response) – apparently I’ve also inspired both a dance
party (which I cant afford to attend)—and a haircut allegedly
The sermon tapes (plus donation gift.)
The sponsor a pilgrimage program.—send an informational packet to you so that you
may choose one that interests you.
Gift includes documentation (video and audio recordings in full) plus the acquisition of an
artifact recovered from the site.
Sponsor my trip to a party inspired by me. Includes whatever documentation shows up
on facebook. Plus my personal written reflections on the affair.
Sponsor my attempt to start a:
freshness delivered with grace and speed.
by B
add distance from home to titan II site info sheet—plus remaining images
then send to Matt.
that ruins of all scales may turn into sites particularly ripe for warship level reverence. In
many locations this is already happening. The Aircraft boneyards of the Tucson area,
Detroit (dude proposed ruin park.), California City, CA—link?
I feel like an alien having dropped into a strange civilization built for the automobile
(large, heavy, noisy objects that kill people)
The rights to Sameer’s beach photoshop image which you should do.
it’ll be fun telling your work buddies at the bar later that you got seven cassette tapes in
the mail today which look like they’ve been sitting in the Sonoran desert since 1998
(because they have)
oh but you can’t do that now.
We actually don’t sleep when the sun goes down—I finished this provisional version at
3:30 the other morning. I thought I better get a rough cut up before someone else makes
a cloud time-lapse video for Adrian Lux’s buoyant composition (expected any day now).
With the exception of four, shots were taken from the top of Sentinel Peak, all within a
week’s time. The peak is only 520 feet off the valley floor but gets you above the city
haze, provides clear shots of the horizon and brings you close enough to the level of
passing thunderstorms that you effectively enter their world. I never seem to leave
myself enough time for a leisurely ride and end up sprinting to the top to avoid missing
the best light.
Shooting good time lapse requires anticipating what will occur within the camera’s frame
over awkwardly long durations. With each five or ten second cut representing between
six and twelve minutes of real-time video, the sunset window is usually only long enough
for three or four takes. When the monsoons return, I’ll do a few more ascents and
complete the piece.
Then Imagine this projected over a dance floor awash with pulsating sweaty bodies on a
dance floor somewhere in Jordan.
Eric has spent a lot of time near clouds and should appreciate this.
Buy another copy of that poster (better have coffee with Katie first)
I find it rewarding and encouraging to hear stories about how the museum staff (some
once stationed at titan II sites as enlisted personnel) treat even the castrated missile that
sits at 507-2 as an object of extreme veneration.
You don’t dance well enough darling.
Sponsor the GPS modeling tracer project
Cancel your cable contract and re-channel the same amount of funds my way—
(someone you’ve actually met) and I’ll let you know how it’s going.
Overheard someone the other day telling the old lady that he doesn’t really mind prison
so much—the worst part is when they take away the TV—other than that he doesn’t
mind it so much.
I’ll walk into a retirement condo near where I live and take a binaural audio recording of
the passage from one entrance to the other at the opposite end of the building.
(Or a recording of whatever series of events ensues when I attempt to do so.)
"The bicycle is its own best argument. You just get a bike, try it, start going with the thing
and using it as it suits you. It'll grow and it gets better and better and better" -Richard
A global network of videographers doing nightly time lapse of the sky—uploading to un
unbroken internet stream.
Ran on Greer’s wealth and poverty in America. Summary: Americans have been
brainwashed with the puritan work ethic, and instead we should be idle and happy and
poor -- but don't let on that you're happy or you'll get in trouble, because "if the poor can't
be made miserable, then what exactly is the point of being rich?" Meanwhile, the rich are
truly miserable -- until they lose all their money and get their heads straight. Related: the
NY Times writes about people becoming happier by adapting to the economic collapse.
(At first I thought the title, "What are you breeding for?" meant "Why are you having
new external posts:
Orlov on living poor
Gorilla Gardner
We have only a verbal contract
No identification. No last name. it’s the direct need of shelter satisfied directly with labor
focused on the home sphere—
Sometimes I walk the two and a half blocks to Congress, drink two cups of water from a
plastic cup and dance to house of jealous lovers then head home.
The sprint shift and the marathon shift.
The open living—everyone sees what you eat.
I’ve had arguments with people who seem to believe that whatever one chooses to do
with one’s time should be of no business to anyone else as long as it’s not illegal. If the
activity makes money for the person it’s further legitimized.
We should be holding each other to higher standards. In the coming age of scarcity
there will be activities that help and practices that don’t—and we should lay plenty of
social pressure on the folks that insist on perpetuating the latter. Because it’s profitable
is not longer an acceptable rationalization for continuing a counterproductive activity. We
cannot grow our way out of trouble any longer
California Valley was on the waypoints list for Stage Three Overture but had to be cut
because reaching its remote location on the Carizo Plain was beyond our means. Here’s
an LA Times article on California City, a town in the Mojave with a similar story (and
name). Dark tourists come a hundred at a time to gawk and snap photos. They’re led by
writers/thinkers framing the miles of empty streets as a uniquely American ruin: “…a
ghostly monument to overreach that, from above, looks like a geoglyph left by space
Conversations at the table
Strange combinations of guests
Everyone seeing what you eat/wear—comments
Meeting almost everyone that comes through—the travel vibe
Never buying home goods
Always clean
Many abrupt exits and entrances people make.
Memorizing the fixtures—moving your fingers over them with loving movements
Short commute
Pride in the house—improving the condition of your environment
Wild swings between 5 to one gender ratios—with the house experiencing associated
shifts in mood and energy.
Any work you do improves your own environment and that of your friends
We naturally claim tasks—one of mine is to zen rake the pea gravel aound the trees into
concentric circles. I always do it as the sun is setting.
Mindfulness of movement. To move with grace and efficiency—you value this—the way
a woman moves is especially important. You’re so Victorian London.
So I looked up the economy of Dutch Antilles—now awkwardly called Netherlands
Antilles: petroleum refining—tourism—international finance—so its funny Cathy asking
the Dutchman about opportunities for work there.
The highly evolved male:
Has retractable testicles.
Being in the presence of someone who can understand what you’re saying by reading
your lips. This is a godlike person to the onserver. But the outside observers have no
connection with his reality—so they make it up themselves and wonder why it doesn’t
jive with their reality when he shoots himself through the heart—but that’s a spoiler.
A BBQ for surviving without Tanya.—the Egyptian cal-tech hema and christa the 30 year
old run away. We get a lot of people through the hostel that are trying to reinvent
themselves with a journey, but its closely tied to finding a job—presumably because
one’s been lost.
A cluster of breakups—karla, people in Grace’s life—a reshuffling, Tanya, Melo, synical
hema, christa. Is it worth entering if you can already anticipate the end? Grace thinks
our. cultural attitude toward this is shifting.
Grace thinks she’s
Carrying the ring—flashy object likely to shoot light beams across the street—something
potentially perceived valuable from a distance but in reality having no real value
whatsoever- except maybe decorative. It goes from being this highly personal object
Its ok to let It degrade—for it to get additional marks-Its becoming a fetish object:
Might be the most attractive part of the car.—like eggs buried beep inside the warm
safeness of a mammal’s ovarian sacks—and it slips out all coated with motor oil like
one of those videos of a colt being born—all covered in placenta.
Only water here—with a note that you’ll be drinking it later.
And the flights cutting across the frame: “we don’t waste no precious time.”
Post collapse weaponry—arm the citizens—ring and light fabric—the glass bottle—fits in
the bottle cage—use sparingly.
For dance piece REINTRODUCTION:
Fallout with Neil
Into mindfulness and grace of movement—a quality I’m working on improving in myself
A honing of one’s movements.
A rare self portrait
Shooting from the top of a mountain (A Mountain)—there is human settlement in almost
every direction. The glass boxes of downtown Tucson, the interstate highway with
flickering automobile headlights trailing off toward Mexico, and miles of sprawl—
blanketing every square inch of the valley—lapping at the foothills of surrounding
mountains. I’m careful in my recent compositions to omit this development—to show
only the sky and the tops ridges. Why?
The big necessity—waste water treatment book
On no turning back:
You’re self conscious about the close shots.
Clusters—sort into similar styles/speeds—then drop into sections of the track where
most appropriate.
Risks on deeper wells/complexity
On the recession becoming history—on a past period of greater prosperity being
referred to briefly with nostalgia—and a touch of confusion. Haunted by the ghost of our
more affluent self.
excavated for fill dirt— former surface level
bullet holes in the dome—bullet marred concrete forms
the projectile—from bullets to ICBMs
feeling like objects left by an alien civilization—
gone only 24 hours but the feeling of having explored another planet
hunters at sunrise—driven out by uncomfortably close gunfire
sleeping on center column—awaking with a tarantula
With the exception of the torn up motorcycle fuel tank—the objects in the above images
were once underground. Like excavating a tomb
alien civilization—blocks like the monolith in 2001.
Los Angeles Times article on California City
"When we think of ruins, we typically think of European castles and churches," Manaugh
said. "But the U.S. also has ruins. It's just that they're made of different stuff. In this case,
it's the ground itself and what was done to it."
The battle to save the roads to nowhere is without end.
California City public works employee
"It's a city abandoned in advance of itself," said Geoff Manaugh, an architectural writer
and instructor.
In March, he led a tour of California City that was part of a worldwide event promoted by
Atlas Obscura, a Web-based travelogue devoted to strange and overlooked
Teaching myself to live in close proximity to a variety of personality types.
Post on bicycle/pedestrian crack down
The very people’s who’s energy light behavior should be commended—we’re harassing
toward inconvience. “If I’m gunna still get tickets and must obey a set of operating rules
designed for vehicles in the several thousands
Tony at performance cycles—off Monday and Tuesday.
Sites in England, from an English girl:
London docks
Clay pools
Batasy power station
Ride the aqueduct—document the journey. California’s is open—Raises the question of
why Arizona’s is not. Determine how much effort it would be to have me let through the
maze of gates
Sponsor the ride project. Complete audio notes as a gift.
Link to objects—
Complete photo set
more shotgun shells
rearby mines—taking turns making soft blasting noises. Link to audio file].
Be more explicit about the gift being a sacred object— an artifact.
Gift--It should have been: as many bullet shells as I could find on the site.
Or a carefully assembled (glued and reassembled clay pidgeonns. This could extend to
Bowling ball, clay pitcher. : Things brought to the site to be blown up or shot at—to be
treated violently. Reassembled. Television system, with internal parts. Treated as
artifacts recovered from the site. More shells. Brought there as impotent representative
behaviors mimicking the destructive potential of a hydrogen bomb. Lets lay this era to
rest if we could.
This one is a prelude to the future when erosion reveals these forms in some wind swept
desert of a thousand years from now. They’ll swear a supernatural force left them
behind as some ominous reminder of where not to take your civilization.
Post entire titan museum audio.
As publicly
Glass on top the entrance portal.
Ride the slurry line.
The Central Arizona project by bicycle
Stats: length, number of pumping stations, amount of water
They may not let me ride the dirt banks of the canal—but I’ll follow it as closely as
possible on public roads and visit all the pumping plants in the southern region.
Ride the aqueduct—document the journey. California’s is open—Raises the question of
why Arizona’s is not. Determine how much effort it would be to have me let through the
maze of gates
“an upper limit imposed on spending or other activities”
An inflexible ceiling—water as a limiting resource for growth
Central Arizona Project is designed to bring about 1.5 million acre-feet of Colorado River
water per year to Pima, Pinal and Maricopa counties. CAP carries water from Lake
Havasu near Parker to the southern boundary of the San Xavier Indian Reservation
southwest of Tucson. It is a 336-mile long system of aqueducts, tunnels, pumping plants
and pipelines and is the largest single resource of renewable water supplies in the state
of Arizona.
During the early 1900's, the seven states of the Colorado River Basin: Arizona,
California, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming, Colorado, and Utah negotiated for shares of
Colorado River water. In 1922, representatives from the seven states and the United
States government created the Colorado River Compact, which divided the states into
lower and upper basins and gave each basin 7.5 million acre-feet of water to apportion.
Arizona, California, and Nevada were sectioned into the lower basin, and were
instructed to divide their 7.5 million acre-foot allotment among themselves.
Arizona was in dispute over its share of the river, however, and was the last state to
approve the Compact in 1944. Today in the Lower Basin, Arizona has rights to 2.8
million acre feet of Colorado River water per year, California is entitled to 4.4 million acre
feet per year and Nevada has annual allocation of 300,000 acre feet. One acre foot of
water equals 325,851 gallons, the amount used by a family of four in one year.
In 1946, the Central Arizona Project Association was formed to educate Arizonans about
the need for CAP and to lobby Congress to authorize its construction. It took the next 22
years to do so, and in 1968, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed a bill approving
construction of CAP. The bill provided for the Bureau of Reclamation of the Department
of the Interior to fund and construct CAP and for another entity to repay the federal
government for certain costs of construction when the system was complete.
In 1971, the Central Arizona Water Conservation District was created to provide a
means for Arizona to repay the federal government for the reimbursable costs of
construction and to manage and operate CAP. Construction began at Lake Havasu in
1973 and was completed twenty years later south of Tucson. The entire project cost
over $4 billion to construct.
Tucson Aqueduct
The Tucson Aqueduct begins at the terminus of the Fannin-McFarland Aqueduct, and
ends 87 miles later southwest of Tucson. This aqueduct - which includes nine pumping
plants, one major inverted siphon and two major pipeline sections - has an initial
capacity of 2,250 cfs, which is reduced to 200 cfs at its terminus.
Power Sources
The Colorado River Basin Project Act allowed the federal government to participate in
the non-federal Navajo Generating Station (NGS), near Page, Arizona, to provide power
for pumping water along the CAP aqueduct. NGS provides electricity to customers in
Arizona, Nevada and California. Reclamation's share of NGS' annual output is 24.3
percent, or 546,750 kilowatts per year for the CAP.
Lifted 3000 feet
Nearly five billion to construct making it the most expensive water diversion project in US
2.8 million megawatt hours annually
5 million people—80% of the state’s population
1.5 million acre feet
2,800 foot lift
the recharge stations—replenishing the aquifir
the unseen connection between power generation at the Navaho generating station and
Central Arizona Project (CAP) is the largest source of renewable water in Arizona. It's
also the biggest user of electricity in the state. Last year, CAP used 2.8 million
megawatt hours to deliver more than 500 billion gallons of Colorado River water to a
service area that includes more than 80% of the state's population.
Why so much power? Because between Lake Havasu and the end of the CAP system
south of Tucson, Colorado River water flows 336 miles and ends its journey 2,800 feet
higher than when it started. Almost all of the power CAP uses to move this water
comes from the coal-fired Navajo Generating Station near Lake Powell.
Because the Navajo plant is near a dozen or so National Parks, monuments and
wilderness areas, controlling emissions released from the plant into the air has been a
priority for CAP and the power plant owners for decades. In the 1990s, the plant owners
invested more than $400 million in scrubbers that take out sulfur dioxide (SO2), a gas
that can cause acid rain.
In 2008, installation began on Low-NOx burners to reduce emissions of smog-forming
Nitrogen Oxides (NOx). The job will be finished in 2011 at a cost of approximately $46
million. The U.S. EPA is in the process of setting rules to control NOx at coal-burning
power plants like Navajo to protect visibility in the region. The EPA is looking at the LowNOx burners. They are also considering a very different NOx control system known as
Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR).
An SCR system could cost up to $1 billion, at least 15-20 times more than the burners.
Recent research shows the difference in visibility won't be perceptible to the human eye.
The high cost of SCR could lead to an energy rate nearly 20% higher than the current
rate - and much higher if the equipment cannot be financed over a 20-year period. This
will affect anyone who gets water from CAP. In fact, the higher energy costs will hit
almost everyone in the state.
Worse, in the face of other uncertainties facing the Navajo Plant, including regulation of
greenhouse gas emissions, the cost of installing SCR could make the plant too
expensive to operate and force it to close down. This would be an economic disaster for
the people of the Navajo Nation and Hopi Tribes, and CAP would have to buy higher
cost power elsewhere resulting in a doubling or tripling of energy and water rates.
CAP, cities, legislators and many others have written to the EPA asking them to allow
the Navajo Generating Station to use the Low-NOx burners to control nitrogen oxides
and evaluate their performance for the next 10-15 years. This will give CAP time to find
and link up to other sources of energy.
mark wilmer
824 feet—
6—60,000 horse power pumps—1500 gigawatt hours of energy
Kayenta Mine on Black Mesa—one of the largest trip mines in America.
“the large hole forming from the removal of coal on Black Mesa is the physical byproduct
of electrical consumption in these urban areas.”
“Coal travels from the mine on a 17 mile long, elevated conveyor belt to a large silo,
where it is stored and loaded onto rail cars, on the only railway on the Navajo
reservation. The 75 mile long private railway connects directly to the power plant, and its
only traffic are the coal trains. Three electric-powered, 80-car trains deliver coal to the
plant every day.”
The coal is burned to create steam that turns three 750 MW turbines—converted to
electrical energy- a quarter of which goes to pumping plants along the CAP
24.3 percent, or 546,750 kilowatts per year for the CAP.
The electrical energy is transported by high tention power line to the mark wilmer
pumping plant where 6 60,000 horse power pumps lift water 824 feet over buckskin
mountain, beginning its 336 mile long journey that will take it through 14 additional
pumping plants for a total lift of almost 3,000 feet. It’s only through seeing the threads
that connect these systems—the movemt along these conveyance corridors. That
ancient agee from the sea that once covered much of north America is being used to
provide water for 80% of Arizona’s population.
High up on Black Mesa, 1000 feet above the surrounding semi-arid grassland of
northeastern Arizona, seams of bituminous coal are unearthed and shaved off by
mechanized strip mining equipment at an average rate of 15 tons per minute*. The coal
is placed on a 17-mile long elevated conveyor belt that lowers it off the mesa and
deposits it into a large silo. Three times a day, the silo fills a string of 80 rail cars pulled
by 50,000-volt electrified locomotives. The trains travel 78 miles along a dedicated line to
the Navajo Generating Station near Lake Powell. Here the coal is pulverized into a fine
powder and burned to create the superheated steam turning the plant’s three 750
megawatt turbines. A significant portion of the resulting electrical energy** is transmitted
along power lines to the Mark Wilmer Pumping Plant at the southern end of Lake
Havasu. The plant’s six 60,000-horsepower pumps lift 3000 cubic feet of water per
second from the reservoir to the top of Buckskin Mountain. The water summits 824 feet
above lake level before discharging from a 22-foot diameter tunnel that’s funneled it
seven miles through the mountain. From here it begins a 329-mile long journey inside an
open, concrete-lined channel. Before arriving at a terminus a few miles southwest of
Tucson, it’ll pass through nine siphons, fourteen more pumping plants, and be lifted an
additional 2000 feet.
Starting way back on Black Mesa illustrates CAP’s impressive reach. The Central
Arizona Project, costing almost $5 billion dollars over its twenty-year construction period,
is the largest and most expensive water conveyance system in the country. CAP’s
website brags: “Last year, CAP used 2.8 million megawatt hours to deliver more than
500 billion gallons of Colorado River water to a service area that includes more than
80% of the state's population.”
Like the California Aqueduct, CAP is a river that flows uphill. It’s a complex system
requiring minute-by-minute monitoring, constant maintenance, and a phenomenal
amount of energy. Unlike the California Aqueduct, whose canal flanking maintenance
roads have been opened to cyclists, The Central Arizona Project flows along behind
chain link fencing and padlocked gates. My ambition with C.A.P is to document features
of the system’s southern section that, for various reasons, typically remain out of sight
and out of mind.
A cap is an upper limit—a ceiling beyond which further expansion is either undesirable
or impossible. In the desert southwest, a region with inherently marginal carrying
capacity, it’s the availability of fresh water that will cap further growth (read suburban
development). The Colorado River, which feeds the Central Arizona Project from behind
Parker Dam, is already strained to its limits. If a proposed emergency conservation plan
goes into effect, significantly less water could be flowing into the CAP system in the not
too distant future.
* based on a reported 8 million short tons per year
**24.3 percent for CAP as a whole. Mark Wilmer uses more than half of this.
You’re trying to draw out he connections and relationships in these industrial systems.
Your description offers two reservoirs created by dams along the Colorado river—
another industrial system—and the web continues. You’re exposing these relationships
with your route.
The seams, ranging in thickness from three to fifteen feet, are the compressed and
heated remains of organic material laid down by prolific peat bogs when they covered
much of North America 300 to 360 million years ago. The coal is loaded onto an above
ground conveyor belt that moves
Black Mesa is a large plateau in northeastern Arizona. 1000 feet above the surrounding
semi arid grassland of the Colarado Plateau. Occupied by humans for at least the last
7,000 years—the land is shared by the Novajo Nation and Hopi tribes. The land gets its
name from the dark coal seams that darken its
The 3-18 foot thick seams are the remains of prolific peat bogs that covered much of
North America 300 to 360 million years ago.
Other rides:
Bisbee and surrounding mines
To the top of Mt. Lemmon
Colossal Cave
Nuclear attack suggested escape route into the mountains
Gasland documentary
Add introvert as personality type on about me page. With link to article.
Start putting a date stamp on newly added donation items.
Favorite desktop wallpapers edition—as donation gift.
For end civ—anyone who watched the video was implicating themselves with prior
knowledge if such a scenario ever played out. The pure white plastic furniture is the
selling point.
Essentially an unwanted gift.
More unwanted associations:
I will fell a billboard near where I live—you can choose to be mentioned anonymously or
Missions for tonight:—billboard and first look at slaughterhouse.
When a
Al the text messages in my phone at the moment of your choosing—forwarded to your
mobile device.
Plus the links in my browser’s favorite folder.
Speak extemporarily about the central Arizona project.—OR a miuzaki film
Craigslist post—anyone wiling to speak extemporaneously about one of three possible
topic of interest. I’ll come to you by bicycle.
A pairing: the high line before and after.
How to destroy an oil refinery—a public talk with B. Tracy
California City was on the waypoints list for stage three overture but had to be cut
It’s the little things like “oh, the waffle iorn is especially clean this morning, or thoughts
about the sheets you see all the time.
Flee to the hills.. ride the officially designated escape route out of the Tucson basin in
the event of nuclear attack.
There are the annoyances though—contest over lighting—hotly contested—we all keep
adjusting each other’s light directions and bulb choices.
I might be pushing too hard. For seven days I’ve been eradicating my (carefully
cultivated) bacterial colonies with antibiotics. And I’m getting a cold. But the waffle iron
was especially clean this morning. It’s the little things that keep you going.
No Turning Back: Sep. 17 edit
This is a draft version
The Lifelike remix of Demon’s Happy Therapy it the track I’ve used most often to critique
my movements and whittle down the footage. The movements are not timed with the
beat yet the edit still moves pretty well.
chronological ordering
Logan phylipps—verbal balla
IT corrections to make:
Wrong word in Bombay beach post
Change ventura refinery to Ojai Refinery and above ground
Richmond shipyards—nontraditional
Unintentional exponential curve
Friend—brownlands spiral
Jervis bay—shooting of
You told me once that my eyes reflected the beauty I’d witnessed throughout my life, but
that their glow had grown faint and the effect had been lost. Your words weighed heavy
and I’ve considered them often in the years since. I wonder what you’d see in them now.
One of my projects for the summer has been to document the monsoon in time lapse: (let the video load completely before watching.)
I’m sorry you’re relationship ended. I wish I had more to offer your search for answers.
Just because your time together didn’t culminate in marriage, doesn’t mean it wasn’t
immensely valuable and you undoubtedly learned much from each other. I’m sure you
know this but it’s good to hear. I’d encourage you to view your romantic life not as a
search for the one, but as a series of distinct chapters in which your experience overlaps
with that of another. The pressure of marriage applied too early in a relationship can be
stifling—don’t even let the idea in until it’s appropriate.
I hope you don’t mind me admitting I’m excited about seeing you again. It was great to
hear from you—call me anytime. Really.
Include water tower class proposal—IT
Include badge contact with pick—IT
tonsillitis—a throat filled with puss and blood I finally cured with Tea tree oil, MRSA, an
antibiotic resistant staff infection that caused deep and extremely painful boils to form on
my face and neck, one of which had to be drained several times and has left an ugly
scar, followed by a persistent feverish flu and a spine/rib strain the left me virtually
unable to move for three days. All this suggesting that continuing this project on $200 a
month worth of food stamps may not be possible much longer.
I was in touch with Yancey almost a year ago about launching a campaign for an
ongoing project called The Illuminated Thread ( Although I was
given the go-ahead, I ended up with enough funding from other sources to continue the
project for another year without kickstarter’s help. Which brings us up to now…
First, I’m preparing for another stage, one that will take me all the way from Tucson, AZ
to Manhattan, and I’d like to find out if the invite still stands. The project is two years old
now and has much to show for itself including seventy something meticulously edited
video vignettes shot at industrial sites across the country, lots of writing and plenty of
stunning imagery. Here are some fresher favorites:
and the whole lot is here:
Second, and certainly more urgently, I want to do a one-month campaign tentatively
titled: The Last Days of Dixie Square.
The country’s first suburban mall, Dixie Square has sat quietly abandoned south of
Chicago for three decades. It’s an epic ruin: incredibly photogenic. The half a dozen
visits I made to the site during graduate school three years ago were both sensually and
spiritually rewarding. Regretfully in my opinion, the five million dollars necessary to finish
the razing of the sprawling structure has been secured by the state of Illinois
( and demolition is expected to begin in November. Yes, I
realize that’s next month, but these things rarely proceed on schedule and I think there’s
still time to do a proper documentation of the ruin before it’s reduced to rubble. I’ve done
some work there already (see and
but have yet to take high-resolution images or audio recordings of the bizarre place. I
see the endeavor producing large format digital prints that would make perfect backer
gifts, as well as a modest run of printed catalogue style books containing images,
historical notes, and essays. I’d also like to shoot HD video and take some binaural
audio recordings that could be compiled onto an accompanying DVD. As a supplement
to the project I’d consider organizing an informal tour of the mall in the spirit of dark
tourism and urban exploration so that others can share the memory of Dixie Square’s
last days. I realize this is a lot but I’ve developed a certain love for the place and am
prepared to put in whatever time and energy is necessary. I’d need to raise enough
money to cover transportation costs, a DSLR camera, prints, publishing, DVD authoring,
etc., totaling several thousand dollars. Let me know what you think—it’s demolition will
be quite absolute, erasing in a few months the subtle beauty and disorder that took thirty
years to ripen.
Brett Tracy
Additional information:
Dixie Square on The Atlas Obscura:
The country’s most well know dead mall, Dixie Square, is approaching the end of its
thirty year life as a ruin. Illinois Governor Pat Quinn recently announced the allocation of
$5 million to raze the 800,000 square-foot structure south of Chicago. Demolition is
expected to begin next month.
“The Last Days of Dixie Square” seeks to document this final chapter in the mall’s history
with digital photography, video, audio recordings and interviews. After Dixie Square’s
final moments of stillness have given way to a cataclysm of falling brick and cinderblock,
“Last Days” will be it’s visual and auditory eulogy.
Much loved by urban explorers, the site has been photographed regularly throughout its
decomposition. In addition to producing new imagery, “Last Days” will function as a
survey of creative work inspired by Dixie Square. Discrete photographic moments culled
from the past, the collection will animate the disordering processes forced by human and
non-human life forms and an unforgiving Midwestern climate.
Certain to be a contested symbol, the leveling of America’s first suburban mall is ripe
with social and cultural implications. Simultaneously an architecture of loss and a feral
garden of rebirth and renewal, the structure’s passing will spark celebration in some and
lament in others. Through the lens of Dixie Square’s Last Day’s, we’ll examine the
cultural motif of abandonment, the arc of our consumerist tradition, and the value of
ruined space.
Rejecting the imperative of endless growth, Brett Tracy positions the human species at
the beginning of its deindustrial phase. Using video and audio field recordings, Tracy
reveals the glory and tragedy of a world built with phenomenal amounts of fossil energy
and imagines the more human-scaled world to come.
“Last Days” endeavors to serve as a visual and auditory eulogy
Maybe no Trespassing.
The book
The prints
The tour
The interviews
Offer downloads link with each embedded vid.
If you’ve got the time, you can download a file nearly as high-resolution as the original
uploaded file.
Writing gig
If I’d write about one thing full time it’d be this hotel. If anyone wants to push that
Inside the unlocked or doorless doorways is a space beyond the language of design.
Surprising and exotic textures and forms are visible within the faint remnants of the
familiar commercial layouts of the 1970’s branded spaces. The interior lighting, natural,
haphazard, and high contrast, brings full visibility to some spaces, while others remain
occluded and mysterious, where senses other than sight are summoned to experience
the space. A true manifestation of a deconstructed architecture, inside veneer exfoliates,
panels peel, and drop ceilings drop. Holes appear, and spread, giving angular views of
the structural layers.
This “dead” mall is actually more alive than many of its living counterparts: the building
lives through its continuous transformation and integration with its surroundings. Visitors
are free to interact with the space, to make modifications, adjustments, renovations, as
they see fit, and to make it their own, if only for indefinate moments. Organic matter lives
and thrives, especially in the random atriums formed by the partial roof collapses. Grids
of floor tile are covered in carpets of moss, with flooded puddles, which resemble a
landscape of forests and lakes seen from above, teasing one’s sense of scale and
cartesian formality.
This is an inside out architecture, where full trees have reclaimed some of the interior
space, breaking through the linoleum and the concrete floors, and where drifts of snow
are free to migrate through the corridors as far as they can, and hallways become
avenues of ice. Conversely, some of the interior materials have begun to spill out the
service doors and other apertures, a belching of soaked drywall, carpet, mattresses, old
appliances, display cabinets, bringing some of the inside out to the exterior spaces.
The half a dozen visits I made to the site during graduate school three years ago were
both sensually and spiritually rewarding.
20-day campaign.
Forgive them. they know not what they do.
Extemporaneous speaking on the project—everything you can think of then edit it down.
Your voice over the existing video images from the skate and zone edit Vimeo
Points to cover:
Length of abandonment—and tie in with length of life.
Previous work completed there
Tour—dark tourism-Sound recordings
Plans to raze—cost—rehabilitate with big box
I’d like to show it’s value—where it lies—mourn its loss and preserve its memory/image.
Air-- $900
Large Prints: (40”x60” archival inkjet prints on Hahnemuhle photo rag bright white) $250
DVD authoring—printed jacket—black on white—250: $600 ($2.36 per unit)
Books: 200 copies $3,000
Essay Commissions-- $300
multimedia disks—25 units @ $3.45—$260.00 (with printed wallet)
Kickstarter kickback-- $100
Funds will go toward the acquisition of a DSLR camera, transportation to and from
Chicago, The printing of ten large-scale archival digital prints, the authoring of several
hundred DVDs with printed jackets, the commission of essays, and the publishing of 200
copies of the “Last Days of Dixie Square” Book. You may email requesting a more
detailed breakdown of funds allocation.
$9,000 Total
40”x60” archival prints
book/DVD/multimedia package
2 disk multimedia package/w 8”x10” print
Project Timeline:
The documentation phase of “Last Days” will take place between November 1, 2010 and
early December, encompassing Dixie Square’s last days of relative integrity and the first
ten to twenty days of its four to six month demolition. Interviews will also be conducted
during this time. Over the following four months, photographs will be processed, video
edited, prints made and essays commissioned, culminating in a gallery exhibition the
following spring. The “Last Days” book will be designed, printed, and distributed within a
year of the initial documentation phase.
Dixie Square is an abandoned mall south of Chicago in the economically depressed
town of Harvey Illinois. While currently still standing, the mall is slated to be demolished
beginning in November.
Its exceptionally long life as a ruin, spanning over thirty years, has allowed Dixie Square
to reach a rarely seen state of decomposition. This has given the mall its otherworldly
atmosphere and an undeniable mystique.
“The Last Days of Dixie Square” is intended to be a visual and auditory eulogy for this
unusual structure. I’d like to bear witness to its final days of stillness as well as the
spectacle of its demolition.
The centerpiece of the project will be a book that showcases not only new images, but
much of the creative work Dixie Square has already inspired—a sort of retrospective. It’ll
also contain essays and interviews—decoding the meaning of the mall’s life and death.
In addition to the book, I’d like to do a walking tour of the site before the demolition
begins. Video and audio recordings will accompany ten large format digital prints in a
gallery exhibition this coming spring.
I encourage you to delve deeper into Dixie Square’s bizarre past, and to support this
endeavor if you can. Thank you for watching.
The “Last Days” DVD is an assemblage of video work depicting the dead mall in glorious
100% Cotton Hahnemühle Photo Rag with archival ink
Multimedia Package
A pair of data disks containing selections from the project’s digital output: ambient audio
recordings, interviews, still images and movie files, much of it saved from the cutting
room floor. This gift includes an 8”x10” print.
Using Dixie Square as exhibit A, the artist will discuss the value of ruined space, current
trends in urban exploration, and the politics of allowing contemporary ruins to crumble at
their own pace. The multimedia presentation will integrate video clips, audio recordings
and still images. Transportation to anywhere in the lower 48 states is included in the
package. Approximately one hour.
“The Last Days of Dixie Square” Book (Limited Run)
This extremely limited run (200 copies only) publication will be the project’s centerpiece:
a hundred or so pages of color photographs, essays, interviews, and other reflections on
the life of America’s most infamous “dead” mall. Photographs sourced from the past
thirty years will trace its dramatic transformation, culminating in yet to be taken images of
its swift violent end. This gift also includes the DVD and Multimedia package.
Large Archival Prints
Catalogues-DVD-Audio recordings/Interviews—binaural audio package
Edensor Quotes:
Rather than those spaces of ordered disorder, in which the carnivalesque is
manufactured and the preferred disposition is a controlled decontrol of the emotions,
ruins are spaces in which alternative emotions, senses, socialites, desires, and forms of
expressiveness and speculation are provoked by their disorder and affordances.
… there are no temporal restrictions that determine how long one should stay in any
location, no curbs on loitering and lingering, and no conventions that prevent slow
movement or stillness, fostering a freedom over spatial temporalities that can contrast
with the fast world outside with its purposive directedness.
… the stillness of ruins provokes a comparison with the fast urban world outside, full of
urgent mobilities and social and industrial processes – which require perpetual inputs of
energy to keep things efficiently ticking over to ensure profit maximization.
In ruins, instead of pre-arranged spectacles, the visual scene beheld is usually
composed of no evident focal point but an array of apparently unrelated things. There
are extraordinary and incomprehensible objects which are not commodities,
indecipherable scrawls, obscure functions and sensations to assimilate. This
decentering of visual order contrasts with the dominant aesthetic order of the city, for the
smooth surfaces and tidy consignment of things to maintain preferred notions of
attractiveness are absent in ruins. Through this aesthetic divergence, the disarray of
ruins can promote an awareness of the constructedness of normative visual encodings
and suggest that there are alternative ways of looking at space.
Both staying in the hostel, a Mexican girl and a German guy just made plans to meet up
in New York. Then they hugged awkwardly and said goodnight. Should I warn them on
your behalf?
Then there’s the tall black man Kenneth, with the possibly constructed identity. Insists he
knows Denzell Washington, Spilke Lee—And John Legend. Has two advanced degrees.
has photos with then—rather suspicious photos with blown out flash reflections like
someone in the was holding a mirror while they were having they’re picture taken with
spike lee on a cold day in Detroit. I’m not calling you a liar Kenneth but why are you
making chicken in a hotel in Tucson and not a porn shoot in Westwood? That’s been a
theme lately. and extensive scratching and graininess. He carries photocopies of press
releases for a new film project
And the hostel briefly becomes a seniors hostel with 6 out of 7 seven guests over 55.
I was looking through quotes taken form corporate wasteland. At the end of the section
was a note that Karla’s birthday was the 6th of October—Meaning, that I had roughly the
same themes floating around in my head a year ago to the day.
Racing against Time
[email protected]
The “zone” refers to the Tarkovshi film.
I have a lot of history with it—it was my first ruin. And it’s soon to be gone forever. Sad.
Primary project goals:
The book
The walking tour
Coverage of the demolition
10 images for gallery exhibition.
To do:
Phone calls—Iverson, Raine
18 tombs writing
no turning back
IT mailing list email:
Here’s what’s going on:
Final edit of cloud lapse and download
A project aimed at drawing attention to the cultural significance of a particularly
photogenic ruin. A eulogy for an abandoned mall.
Pilgrimidge rides to abandoned ICMB silos
And a look at the country’s most expensive water diversion project: CAP.
Thank you emails
18 Tombs—the description of the deactivation is important—it’s the sealing of the tomb.
The order is important—warhead, fuel, salvaged equipment—the raiding of the tomb—
followed by a specific set of instructions for sealing—blast—viewing period—fill in—
concrete plug-- tack weld the blast doors shut. Then the operation moves on—it’s a
Vanessa with the winged cleavers below her collarbones—that performance with the
As part of the decommissioning protocol for the Tiltan II sites, grout—basically concrete,
was to poured down the ventilation shaft that would have provided fresh air, and an
escape route for the crew in the command center. This was to prevent entry to the three
story command center. In the case of 570-3, this step in the tomb sealing ritual was
somehow overlooked.
Well I appreciate your paper saving ways
Update #4: here are a couple additional photos I’d include.
With links
Getting into the curatorial spirit, I’ve been combing through Dixie Square imagery looking
for photographs that convey
The author of Corporate Wasteland asks if maybe it’s not time to reexamine our
motivation for “poking around” such places
For some there’s a higher purpose—to record ruins before they are demolished or
converted to other uses
What was once a search for a rare authentic experience has become simply a search for
a good picture.
He suggests that
Just urban tourism?
“empty picturesque”
a consumption of “the little differences in the lanscape”
Reexamine our motivation for poking around such places, once drawn by the prospect of
an authentic experience, now merely looking for a good picture.
Most only value the intensity of emotion and sensation that these abandoned places
afford them. Little more than post-industrial playgrounds. Nostalgia takes a back seat to
the thrill of transgression.
This certainly describes the experiences with the Betteravia and the refinery. But with
the play comes a kind of spiritual communion as well—touching the deindustrial sublime.
Michael Brown
Dark tourism
Loss and nostalgia
Abandonment is a powerful cultural motif in the modern world. postmodern version of Fodor’s
“partitioned space” that was set apart from society and outside the usual dictates of time.
Among the most authentic and exciting playgrounds on earth.
Popular with young adults unhappy with the “spatial homogeneity” and commercialism of
the modern city.
Provide a rare authentic experience
Higher purpose: to record abandoned buildings before they are demolished or converted
to other uses
The aesthetic categories of the picturesque and the sublime—understanding the
magnetism of the industrial ruins
The search for the sublime in the built environment is at EU’s very core.
“truly decay at its finest”
The genre of travel narrative
Urban explorers regularly compare industrial ruins to the natural world.
Values: the intensity of emotion and sensation that these places inspire
Urban explorers may not have traveled great physical distances (you are the exception),
but they have traveled great social distances—
Politics often ambiguous
Engaged in the mystification of former industrial sites, transforming them into mythic
While the politics of urban exploration remains ambiguous, documenting ruins before
they are demolished is often sited as its “higher purpose.”
While most photographs portray Dixie Square as a place haunted only by the invisible
ghosts of shoppers, here are two images by Michael Brown reminding us that a living
human held the camera.
Exterior (January 27, 2008)
Interior (August 28, 2008)
Why is this contingent of urban explorers so eager to climb around in a crumbling
building guarded by feral dogs? Are they drawn by the prospect of a rare authentic
experience, or is it about fetching compliments on UE websites with snapshots of
peeling wallpaper? The authors of Corporate Wasteland suggest we reexamine our
motivations for entering such places. Last Days will attempt to do just this.
do a mix CD of Take On Me covers—as gift.
Sharing a bowl of pomegranite seeds with Jeff. Radionics, curing botulism, frustration,
patience and destroying the self.
Re-release brownlands extended mix—without ‘reflect’—maybe change the order.
Another palace built with oil money. Long after Mukesh has fled his rooftop by helicopter
and the hordes from Mumbai’s slums have gutted Antilia of every last salvageable scrap,
her remains will provoke wonder at the depth of our greed.
Above is a construction photo I think makes the building look abandoned. Considering
it’s been built to withstand an 8.0 earthquake, Mammon’s new temple could be standing
for centuries.
Life expectancy of concrete structures.
Read construction milestones page for the structure.
Earthquake activity around Mumbai.
Kickstarter—fly to Mumbai to photograph the structure. Ten prints.
Mr. Mumbai—I’d like to shoot a movie in your home where hordes of slum dwellers
tromp through your space.
the shell of this structure will persist
The aesthetic similarities in buildings—between construction phase and decomposition.
The sea wall protecting the Houston area—anther example of a highly engineered
Hi everyone,
I’m still in Tucson trading my labor for a room at the Roadrunner Hostel—communal
living at its most dynamic. The thread is currently pursuing three projects in various
stages of completion:
Eighteen Tombs of Titan II
Overnights at decommissioned cold war-era intercontinental ballistic missile silos hidden
deep in the Sonoran Desert.
C.A.P—The Central Arizona Project by bicycle
A look at the country’s most extensive water conveyance system.
The Last Days of Dixie Square
A retrospective of creative work inspired by the country’s most well-known dead mall.
Here’s the project’s Kickstarter campaign page (34 hours to go as of this writing). Please
pledge if you can, but have a look even if you can’t.
This cloud time-lapse video for Adrian Lux’s Teenage Crime was a summer side project.
It’s a meticulously edited portrait of the monsoon shot over several weeks from the top of
Sentinel Peak.
Removed 10.31.10
Here are the rules I’ve set structure:
1. One vantage per session: one "set" or
shooting location. 2. Two takes per session: I’ll dance through the track twice. 3. At
least one time lapse take of the sky to work in as supplementary visual material.
Thank you everyone for your pledges. Your trust in me is humbling. I hesitate to include
these because they both contain some serious inaccuracies, but to tie up loose ends,
here’s what the press said:
U of C Grad Seeks Funding for Documentary of Dixie Square Mall
The Chicagoist (October 21, 2010)
Hope for Harvey
The Columbia Chronicle (November 1, 2010)
To be clear, I don't view the "redevelopment" scheme as a positive. Building big box
retail on Dixie's grave is unlikely to improve the lot of Harvey’s residents. I'd much prefer
the mall be allowed to continue deteriorating at its own pace. Getting others to recognize
its value as a ruin is at the heart of the Last Days project.
I intended this quote, “If we’re finally knocking this thing down, it must mean the
economic tide is changing,” to express the casual observer’s point of view—it's the
"hope" that the demolition ritual is supposed to embody. But I don't see much actual
hope for Harvey. In economic terms, things are more likely to get worse, not better.
Sky the witch and the run up to Halloween
Until I was her hoofing it down the block—her life tucked into a shopping sacs—Bag
lady, not witch. But the pink feathered pointed cap?
Thank you for your pledge. It means a lot.
The universe said no this time, but 'The Last Days of Dixie Square' may yet be realized.
Send me an email ([email protected]) and i'll add you to the (seldom used)
mailing list.
Check out my ongoing bicycle-mounted look at the decline of industrial civilization:
Yancey Strickler
Ken Parmalee
Kristine Roper
jessica Lah
Brett CC
Sameer Tolani
Edith Sauer Polonik
Lynn Tracy
Erin Tracy
Laura Montagna (Erin’s friend)
Katlyn Carlson
Marianne Morris (Grace’s mom)
Lisa Kopper (Coreen’s Aunt)
Grace Larson
Stacy Schreiner
Robert Shupe
Karen Kubey
sabrina downard
Pieter Pastoor
Michael Tracy
Matthew Remmele
Laurenn McCubbin
Jeremy Fuksa
Laura Davis
Brett Camper
Lawrence Lin
Update CV-- Scott’s show/DVD project
Formalize Last Days proposal
Write titan descriptions—the ravens at the last one
Finish No turning back
Jeff (add to mailing list + others)
Bike gang trios?
Tucson: Max, James and I
San Jose: Sameer, Eric, and I
But you can’t be in both
Thank you everyone for your pledges. Your trust in me is humbling. I hesitate to include
these because they both contain some serious inaccuracies, but to tie up loose ends,
here’s what the press said:
U of C Grad Seeks Funding for Documentary of Dixie Square Mall
The Chicagoist (October 21, 2010)
Hope for Harvey
The Columbia Chronicle (November 1, 2010)
To be clear, I don't view the "redevelopment" scheme as a positive. Building big box
retail on Dixie's grave is unlikely to improve the lot of Harvey’s residents. I'd much prefer
the mall be allowed to continue deteriorating at its own pace. Getting others to recognize
its value as a ruin is at the heart of the Last Days project.
I intended this quote, “If we’re finally knocking this thing down, it must mean the
economic tide is changing,” to express the casual observer’s point of view—it's the
"hope" that the demolition ritual is supposed to embody. But I don't see much actual
hope for Harvey. In economic terms, things are more likely to get worse, not better
In six months’ I’ve conditioned myself to live with almost every conceivable personality
type—but it’s exhausting and I’ve suffered tonsillitis, the flu, and an antibiotic resistant
staff infection that caused deep boils to form under the skin of my face. (I have a scar on
my jaw that doesn’t grown hair anymore to mark the occasion’s suffering.)
You ran a good campaign I think. You won over a few. There will be another.
The white surveillance blimp. The white diamond
What happens to the useless people in a contracting world?
Artist seeks funds to document the decline of industrial civilization.
I think I could get along with your employees.
I’m attracted to you.
A population on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Throwing down meat for the dogs
Stop flying those planes overhead.
The passing of a train.
The sound of gunshots and the squealing of tires.
It’s the west man you gotta be hard. Where are the boots?
You can’t go over because her roommates don’t like you.
It was several things—his last words.—If I die. tomorrow I write these as my last words.
Recordings of a train—and I want really badly to impress you. He’s clearly the oldest.
not afraid of death.
They’re the —print a hard copy.
I also need to stop staring into a computer screen, which makes me even more likely to
be a happy employee.
I have a hard time selling my time—and would prefer to trade it for something I need.
New walk. With boots.
The species.
At night she sits on the counter
The next morning for breakfast she sits on a stool at the table—terrifying. November 1.
More and more self aware—as if the walls were closing in on you. Forget the self you
I’ve walked in their shoes dude.
[picture of the moccasins]
You’re asking to get fired. With those shoes on the counter. Not listening to anyone’s
stories. But remaining humble For whatever it’s worth.
Things get done—things move forward. Put the brains at the front—it’s the part of the
body that hits the danger first. So much militarization at this here border. Bought some
It’s too hard.
Fund a hard copy.
Don’t think of this as a high responsibility thing, but could you print a hard copy of this* in
either of these two scenarios:
I should need it.
I’m crushed by an automobile or die by some other means.
A many-page word document containing quotes compiled in recent months plus
personal reflections. file* [updated often]
Henry Lefebvre's Urban Revolution
Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse
What’s with you and Kevin Bacon? Footloose and Quicksilver?
Import email exchanges
How come everyone gets in touch after the campaign, after it’s over! Fuck people!
Asbestos abatement.—leave it where it is—it’s benign until its disturbed—the dust
allowed to float about.
All souls – everyone drives in, paint themselves as the dead for a walk through the
town’s commercial district—then returns to their cars and drives home. Image of all souls
driving their car home in the dark. It’s including the drive to and fro in the ritual.
Christopher’s Betrayal
I'm sorry I haven't replied to your e-mail sooner; I've been very busy at work, and thus
have been somewhat lax about checking some of my e-mail addresses. I checked out
your video. It's very well done, and did, indeed, explain your project quite well. I did
notice that the time elapsed without raising the necessary funds; how does this affect the
status of your project?
You probably know that I spent over 3 years photographing Dixie square, starting in
2000. Much of that work (more than 50 images from the series, plus historical
info/photos of the mall, essays, and personal commentary) saw publication in my book
back in 2008. My last trip back was in 2009. Much had changed, but not for the better.
To make a long story short: though I developed quite a fondness for Dixie during my
many hours there, it's way past time that the structure was demolished and the
surrounding community was able to move on. So many people see Dixie Square as
something exciting: a cool urban ruin, a time-capsule of 1970s retail architecture, or a
place of pilgrimage for Blues Brothers fans. But to the people of Harvey, who live there
day in and day out, it's just a dangerous eyesore and reminder of the economic inertia
gripping the area. I'll be happy to see it go, assuming that THIS demolition attempt pans
out (and isn't just election-year grandstanding by Pat Quinn). I'd be glad to further
discuss my experiences and work there if you'd find it helpful. Feel free to contact me at
this e-mail address or via phone at (205) 435-0648.
There are some other people you might want to contact. Chuck Janda also spent a fair
bit of time photographing Dixie Square:
Paul McVay (a Columbia alumnus, I think) completed a documentary film about Dixie
Square that has yet to see release. I think you can find him on Facebook; I can try to dig
up an e-mail address for him if you like.
My book has a Facebook group as well:!/group.php?gid=37301811510
Do let me know if I can assist you further in any way. I wish you the best of luck with
your project.
Thanks for getting in touch Chris. With Kickstarter, the funding is all or nothing so i'm
back at square one in terms of backing. But i've made several contacts and become
aware of a lot of amazing work. I imagine it coming together and furthering the dialogue
surrounding the life and death of Dixie Square.
I see no evidence that the "economic inertia" gripping Harvey will in any way be reversed
by building bigbox retail on Dixie's grave. With entrenched unemployment, who's going
to shop there? Have you spoken to any of Harvey's residents? Do they actually believe
that building a Home Depot on the site is going to improve life in their town? I don't mean
to be insensitive, but this country needs to distance itself from false promises of a
pending economic sea change, and accept the reality that a growth economy based on
consumer debt spending is not coming back. Especially not to Harvey. The sensation of
"moving on" invoked by the $5 million-dollar demolition spectacle will be shallow and
Breaking up a section of the mall's parking lot and establishing a community garden
could quickly change how it's viewed. Tuck a skill sharing center in a reinforced corner
and Harvey's residents begin to derive real value from the site; on their own terms. This
is only one scenario, and it's not without precedent. The Los Angeles Forum for
Architecture and Design posed this very question in a design competition exploring ways
to "re-animate the dead and dying regional mall." None of the finalists proposed building
more of the same architectural garbage the American landscape is currently choking on
( Germans have been
creatively repurposing their contemporary ruins for some time now.
It's important to be reminded that decomposition completes the cycle of rebirth and
renewal, even for buildings. Dixie Square has many more seasons of dramatic decay in
front of it and it's unfortunate the process will be interrupted.
Your thoughts wold be greatly appreciated.
and to Lisa:
Notice that Chris fails to include himself in the "so many people" interested in Dixie, and
champions its destruction despite clearly having developed close ties to the place. My
guess is that he'd like to see the mall razed so that his experience with it becomes
unrepeatable and his book becomes the definitive text. He of all people should know it's
value yet he's willing to betray it-- advancing the pretense that its demolition is in the
best interest of a poor black community he knows little about. I've noticed this
possessiveness with other artists documenting ruins-- it's pretty interesting.
How can it function as the reminder when the whole region is in some form of decay.
This is not the key to reviving the whole south Chicago region and it’s dangerous to
believe that it is.
The uniqueness of the mall’s decomposition process backed up by the amount of
creative work it has inspired—there’s something special going on here.
Cognitively move on, it’s been 30 years!—see and acknowledge its new identity.
His experience becomes a unique one– one that can no longer be had. an arrogance
moving forward—wants to cut off the experience for others.
paper over the decay-- the illusion of continuity
It's just reinforcing the idea that we've conquered time-- decay, and death when really
we're just interrupting the cycle—the organic process
(a. (instead of expecting a be activating the site leave the rest of the structure to
continue breaking down-- becoming more alive in the process.
Be carful how loudly you champion Dixie's destruction Chris. I understand you've had
your time with the mall and may want to close the chapter in your own life, but don't
close off the experience for others under the pretense that it's in the best interest of a
community you don't belong to.
There are fewer and fewer places in America's urban landscape that provide an
authentic experience. others the experience. sell a few more copies of that book
Witnessing Dixie's ongoing deterioration may actually promote healing.
a process like this should not be interrupted under false pretenses.
A monument to shallow consumerism becomes a garden of rebirth and renewal. What
about literally establishing a community garden in the open space surrounding the mall
(preserving a fair section of parking lot to watch breakup)? A community skill sharing
center tucked unobtrusively in a reinforced corner of the mall. The rest allowed to
complete its decomposition cycle while the process is witnessed. It want's to go this
way. Harvey's resident's will be playing an active role.
the interruption if an organic process under pretense.
You of all people Chris!
get adbusters involved
people need to see that decomposition completes the cycle-- especially for buildings as
alive as dixie square.
i doubt its still a reminder-- having long since become a part of the landscape.
They must see the white people come and go with their tripods and camera bags. Do
they wonder what compels them to come?
"it's time to talk about what you want out of your toilet paper."
very important to see this process-- should not be convinced of the illusion of continuity-the energy into preserving the finished facade.
its like cutting back the streets of California city. upholding the illusion of continuity---the
illusion that nothing ever rots. that we've succeeded in freezing time. this is part of what
people need to see. it's the root of a deep anxiety. The cycle appears incomplete.
And let's be honest: explored with common sense, Dixie isn't really that dangerous.
The Kickstarter Model-- expanded
Get individuals and businesses in need of photo work to pledge toward the purchase of
a camera in exchange for discounted services. They invest in you—providing you with
the tool you need.
Stringing the witch along was part of what drove me out.
The fragmentation caused by having different parts of the house spread so far apart.
Having to put on the façade—behave a certain way—indeed sober up—before entering
your own kitchen.
This Ronan guy is the worst. Leaves food packaging on the counter. But he’s so
unaware he’s annoying. The night before is was leaving a bunch of dishes. His stuff
doesn’t move for long periods. Such inertia. And that strange face. Horrible.
An item selected from my desk drawer
The textbook wall installation.
One dollar a day for half a year form grace’s mom.
Introduce the guided pilgrimage ride.
The California Aqueduct—(include links to all related vignettes.)
The Salton Sea Loop
18 tombs
with path’s shape as a simplified design element.
Wall size satellite image with all but the CAP removed in white.
giving that girl at Lucce the seeds of a successful music program for kids.
Rhythm and melody
Have them build instruments first—bring in simple materials.
favorite moments at Passe—
Sabine cleaning the fish tank in the morning light.
Finding two blue index cards on the table with “I love you.” written on them in ink.
Cinematic patio slow motion walk through with mirror ball effect and perfect female
vocalist audio.
You should sill try and identify the tune in that passé binaural recording.
see if they keep the old calendar sheets—ask Tanya—as a reminder of who stayed.
Jorgen Leth-- stars and watercarriers, a Sunday in hell
What’s the next dance piece? Where? It’s a strength man—use it.
For each discrete piece, there should be a gift package. Map of Lake Havasu City for
London Bridge for example, artifact and audio notes for each titan tomb. With link to gift
in support section.
Setting the tone in the house during your evening shift—strongest for the final Thursday
night. Academic.
This thanksgiving I was thankful for the guardrail—a ubiquitous structural element
preventing inadvertent falls into dangerous territory. This piece was shot during a thereand-back ride from downtown Tucson to the Arizona Portland Cement plant twenty miles
north along the Santa Cruz River. Chronologically ordered.
system designed to keep people or vehicles from (in most cases unintentionally) straying
into dangerous or off-limits areas
Shot Thanksgiving Day along the Santa Cruz River between Tucson’s downtown and
the Arizona Portland Cement plant twenty miles north. Ordered chronologically.
Hostel Guest List
Saving up Chi
The three French boys
“Don’t look at me, I’m strangely retarded”/ass crack fetal position
East Asian with the two laptops tapping directly into the modem. Sending state secrets
back to the mother country
Mom/16 year old daughter/golden retriever in the room after Reka—watching lots of TV
Gorgeous couple in love—big feet, amazing eyes
Marni—Meditated too hard and went out of her mind. Threw her purse out the window of
her car. The vitamins she left behind made Kelly sick.
Cathy—cranky well traveled woman. Robe at the breakfast table. Very politically
Kelly—obsessed with better times in the past. Nightshirt with no pants. Would talk at you
Freya—comments on everything. Making this… wearing this... would tuck her teddy in.
James Giza
Michael P.—really into law enforcement. Shaved head.
Petra—Dutch, tall, colorful. Line drying laundry, folding bike, all smiles.
Hema—arrogant misogynistic prick. BBQ crasher, failed to sweep an ex-girlfriend off her
Robyn—old gay fisherman from Alaska. Pissed himself, fell up the front steps, started
the day with a Milwaukee’s Best
Erica—thigh high argyle socks, tiny shorts. Supposedly slept with Max. Needed
attention, at home on the couch
Victoria—came from a ‘retreat/detox’. English and pretty. Went to Mexico to teach
scuba, selling the white van.
Belinda—Australian, very cute, short kimono style dress
Paola—Mexican New Yorker. Came to photograph immigration
Martin—German—here to consult on solar panel installation
Micaela—sexually confused, opinionated hippy chick that Max took on a near-death
Morgan—worked for whole foods, a little too into nutrition and microbrews. Got burned
by a girl.
Tanya—fired from SCC. Big on sharing food. Rainbows and unicorns, strange deflective
façade. Getting by on smiles. Blesses everything in Hebrew. in the doorway wearing
only a towel. Dreads and some cut shoulders and back.
Blonde Latvian sorority princess here to look at Psychology PHD program.
Reka—maybe the best smelling female ever. Lingering presence. Intoxicating sent.
Gorgeous. Hungarian.
Jazzy Jazz—really into scooters and weed. Vet. Lots of knowledge on the system and
how to exploit it.
Sky—the witch
Tiffany—a fresh face when we needed it most. Face glasses come down. Dressing
young for her age. A bit trashy but totally sexy.
Ronan—did me in. Always surrounded by trash. Lots of time in the couch. Irish.
Super smart guy here to to a seminar on a new theory on the expansion of the universe.
Kimya—long term sourpuss.
Kate and Tristin—part of the origial staff when I joined. The sounds of brief uninspired
sex. Joining the special forces. Kate becomes pregnant.
Eliza—French. Relationship with Justin. Helping with CAP
Cowboy David
Crazy Helicopter Mike-Dom and Tony—form Buffalo, making rap vids with nice cameras.
Three British Girls
The Bookbinder—shortest stay ever
4 18-year-old boys road tripping from Idaho. Constantly looking for weed.
Sin—into cigars, bourbon and Hondas.
Josh—glasses, totally out of it. went a little crazy
Jimmy—Brooklyn. Ate frozen pizza—smoked on the back deck—broke my pipe
Awkward Jewish Boston hitchhike fail
Ace—gay with Jonsie. Backwoods eating. Killed a deer with his hands
Drew—fat slob eating wings within two feet. Heavy on the keyboard
Lisa—“I gotta get outta here” but actually I love it here.
John E. (Johnny) amplifier headphones—selective attention/listening
Fat cancer music engineer and wife—all day plans to acquire social services
Jeff—through hike radionics
Conception- surly faith healing old woman. ‘Cured’ Sean’s back pain with the power of
Julien-- the rude French guy—lancing an infected foot in the dining room, starting heated
political debates and trying to get someone to go in on some pasta with him (already ate
at the senior’s center and before that had jack in the box—standing there in a walker and
a brown sweater.)
Claire—English girl living in LA—studying the ways of the honeybee. Looked great in
that off the shoulder 80’s outfit.
The hot couple from Belgium—with her dark hair and their dark clothing
The biker with the handlebar stash who took the cell phone image of you—story of his
“girl” getting kidney stones on their ride.
Jared—dreaded Canadian street performer—got a bad tattoo
Doug—the old prospector to be—was once a monk, crazy white beard—piercing blue
From Sameer:
make a list.
one for tucson,
and one for staying with eric and i.
the things that you do there,
and the things you hope to do here.
send it to me.
then think about what you want to accomplish over the next year or so,
and which locale is more accommodating to that vision.
write it out,
and send it to me.
where will the day to day
fulfill the big picture.
that is the question.
and we will find the answer.
Exit Tucson One: the one-month plan
I’d work a total of eight more shifts at the hostel throughout the month of December—
Wednesday nights and Thursday mornings through the 23rd. $125 dollars in food
stamps is included in the deal. This, plus my own stamps and cash in the bank should
provide for the increased nutritional demands of a month crammed with long-distance
rides to as many titan sites as possible. Although it’s unlikely I’d reach all 18, this high
intensity approach is conducive to great work. Between Christmas and the new year, I’d
pack up belongings, mailing many of them to Davis, then follow on the train with the
bike. During a brief Davis layover, I’d reconnect with the brownlands, see the family,
meet with Edith, and use Brett CC’s camera and product photography skills to document
the “artifacts” I’ve collected over the past ten months. With these images, lots of raw
footage, new water tower audio recordings, and endless topics to write on—I’d move
myself to San Jose to join the Topeka house sometime before my birthday.
First priority in San Jose would be the processing of accumulated material—mostly
editing and writing, with some structural and conceptual changes to the project, reflected
on the website. A much needed flushing out. Attention would then turn to funding the
next major equipment upgrade: a DSLR camera to replace the camcorder. Additionally,
much of my existing touring equipment has been worn ragged and needs replacing. The
bike is tired. The rest of my time and energy would go to you and Eric—training rides,
dance parties and drugs.
The strongest hesitation I have regarding this scenario is that it represents a clear break
from the eastward push—its effectively a retreat, a turning back, when I’ve committed to
staying the course. This might not be important to anyone else, but as yet another
interruption of what’s designed to be sustained movement in one direction, it would be a
blow to confidence and the integrity of the Thread.
Exit Tucson Two: the second term plan (6+ months)
If the first Tucson term was the hostel, the second term would be work at Café Passe—a
position I’ve already secured but have some reservations about. Many of the same goals
would apply, but it’s clear that balancing an artistic practice with wage labor is incredibly
difficult and, although the work would continue, it would be at a much slower pace. The
café isn’t exactly a cash cow and in a few months I’d seek to increase income by
establishing a delivery service with product imported from California. Of course many
uncertainties remain concerning this option.
Staying beyond the new year here in the desert would mean establishing my own
household—a move that represents a settling—a domestication with uncertain
implications. I’d likely continue dancing a lot, and seeing Grace, although lately my
attention has wandered and I’m not convinced we’d stay together. There would be plenty
of time to complete the 18 Tombs pilgrimage tour as well as the other ongoing projects
based here—CAP, climbing Mt. Lemmon, and a few others—although, again, the overall
pace of Thread related work would be slower. I’d hold out here (conceivably as much as
a year) until I’d acquired the DSLR, gotten the touring equipment in shape, and set aside
enough money to take me all the way to New York.
Additional disorganized thoughts:
I have some good friends here but obviously no one like you or Eric. You understand the
work and I think I’d benefit from having someone familiar with the project goals to
bounce around ideas with. Grace is really the only one here for which the work makes
much sense. But I actually really like this city and feel at home here. Living in the city
center has many benefits and as an urban environment, I think I’d prefer it to San Jose.
There are some serious climbing rides just outside the city that have kept me
conditioned. Also, it should be said that the females here are top notch. I’ve never been
anywhere where the girls have diverged into so many unique types—each sexy and
sophisticated in their own way. This seems like a blessing but it’s also a major
distraction. There’s more but here's a start.
A single strand of blonde hair left behind the night before.
The bicycle communities in many urban centers are drifting further into tribal behavior.
Unlike the nearly ubiquitous automobile culture, there is mutual respect between most
cyclists in a given territory.
Write on Tuesday night ride.
Write on sickness and injury during your time in the desert.
Notes: The Ecotechnic Future:
Today the modern industrial economy seems as permanent as any human reality can
be. That sense of permanence, though, is an illusion.
Daily—84 million barrels of oil
12.5 million tons of coal
8 billion cubic meters of natural gas
equals as much energy as one-fifth the sunlight absorbed by all the world’s green plants
each day.
In hindsight, the entire period from 1980 to 2005 will likely be seen as one of history’s
supreme blind alleys.
The crisis of our time can be understood as an unrecognized manifestation of a common
ecological pattern.
Resource depletion and pollution aren’t accidental outcomes of industrialism. They are
hardwired into the system: the faster resources turn into pollution, the more the industrial
economy prospers, and vice versa.
…social change may also be shaped and driven by ecological factors, rather than being
purely a matter of collective human decisions.
Even if a society accepts the hard limits of ecological reality, it will still fail if another
society competes for the same resource base more effectively.
scarcity industrialism—the age of salvage—the ecotechnic age
Only when coal and oil are rare curiosities, and the remaining legacies of the industrial
age no longer play a significant economic role, will ecotechnic societies some into their
Incremental changes and experimentation rather than a imposing a rigid break with the
Sprawling Sun Belt cities with little water and no resources will shrivel and die as the
energy that keeps them going sputters and goes out…
It’s not accidental that Brittan, the first nation-state to break through to industrialism, was
also one of the first western states to form a coherent national identity.
Easy travel and mass media, at this point, provide most of the glue that holds the United
States together, and the breakdown of that glue will likely see the unraveling of the
United States as a focus of collective identity.
The triumph of the market economy over culture:
A faux mass culture designed by marketing experts, produced in factories and sold over
the newly invented mass media, elbowed aside the new and still fragile national culture
of the United States and then set to work on the regional and local cultures the latter had
just begun to supplant.
Culture death is usually by force:
… what the American experience shows is that people can also be bribed by prosperity
and cajoled by advertising into doing the same thing.
A nation that has sold its culture for a shiny plastic counterfeit risks a double loss if that
counterfeit pops like a soap bubble in its collective hands. Equally, a people that has
come to see itself as a passive consumer of culture, rather than its active maker and
transmitter, may have very few options left when the supply of manufactured culture runs
The unraveling of today’s industrial society can be expected to take place against the
tempo of ordinary life.
The new human ecologies that emerge in the aftermath of our age will not be more
evolved than industrialism; they will simply be different.
Evolution is a process of adjustment to circumstances, not a ticker to Utopia; to expect
something different from it this time around is to bet the future on the fantasy that a
miracle will bail humanity out from the consequences of its own mistakes.
The currents of change shaping today’s world … will not be interrupted by miracles.
The global drawdown of resources erases the possibility that societies of the
future will be able to duplicate the industrial model as it now exists.
This is a super important point. The resources have been spent. Emergy or embodied
energy. The energy is in the structures that will persist into the future. Relics from the
period of greatest energy use by a singe species in the history of the earth.
Archeologists around the world recognize the distinctive traces of a collapsed society,
and one of these is the recycling of old structures for new uses.
… made their cooking fires and their simple pottery in the midst of crumbling splendor.
… when a civilization breaks down, the most efficient economies are most often those
that use its legacies as raw material.
… the most abundant source of readily accessible emergy consists of the material
remains of the collapsed civilization.
Industrial society contains much that is worth saving alongside much that belongs in
history’s dumpster.
Solvitur ambulando—“it is solved by walking” or “you’ll find the answer as you go.”
Dissensus is not simply the vacuum left by a lack of consensus. It has its own methods,
value and style, and its results differ in kind from those of consensus or other methods of
decision-making such as majority rule. The most creative periods in the arts are
generally times of dissensus; it is precisely when innovative minds reject the consensus
or the majority opinion of their time and strike out along the lines of their own individual
aspirations that the most innovative cultural creations come into being. Nearly all great
artists are masters of dissensus, and so is the greatest artist of all, Nature.
The best society imaginable cannot survive if the conditions in which it must exist do not
support it of favor some other society more.
Many modern residences make room for sleeping, consuming manufactured products
and very little else—a staging area for consumption.
A building exists in time as well as space, and it grows and changes throughout its life
from the first clearing of the site to the last swing of the wrecking ball.
Other demands for resources in the decades ahead of us will inevitably take precedence
over the massive re-engineering project needed to replace the suburbs, or urban and
rural landscapes that duplicate its car-dependent features.
The United States has spent most of the last century moving as much as possible of the
household economy into the market sphere.
The availability of cheap abundant energy was the most significant factor contributing to
this shift. It primarily required the building of the interstate highway system and truck
based delivery network.
141- The beliefs, as devoutly held as any other religion, that history progresses straight
to us, that any other social arrangement is simply some version of our own outmoded
past and that our peculiar way of managing human communities is thus as inevitable as
it is necessarily beneficent.
A central fact at this juncture of history is that the way things have been in the world’s
industrial societies over the last century or so is wildly abnormal by the standards of the
rest of human history. The transition away from that abnormal experience to a more
normal one—from an economy of abundance to one that is limited by scarce and
expensive energy—is beginning now.
The societies of the “post-industrial world” are just as dependent on industry as they
have ever been; they simply export the industries to the Third World countries where
labor is cheap and environmental regulation nonexistent, and continue to reap the
benefits back home.
153—on abundant fossil fuels making It more profitable to replace human labor with a
machine. This is still people’s definition of a more advanced technology—one that
requires less human skill and effort to operate. Points to the fully automated fantasy
The innovation fallacy—it’s a common belief that technological innovation can always
trump resource limits, but history shows otherwise.
Since it takes energy to concentrate energy, the net energy of renewables is relatively
low, and so trying to collect and concentrate them in order to power the extravagant
needs of a modern industrial society is like trying to make a river flow uphill.
The paradox of production: This effect unfolds from the awkward fact that all alternative
energy resources depend on an economy and an industrial system powered by fossil
fuels, especially petroleum. “energy subsidy”
The end of the energy subsidy will inevitably impose drastic changes in the availability of
materials and the feasibility of manufacturing processes.
Only in the eyes of those seeking Utopia is unfettered local power always a good thing
…tourists of the far future will likely stroll among the fallen skyscrapers of Pheonix or Las
Vegas as their equivalents today visit Teotihuacan of Chaco Canyon.
When human beings set out to re-engineer a nonhuman ecosystem to suit their own
preferences, all to often they assume that their new ecosystem will remain stable,
balanced and healthy and give them what they want. The results of this display of hubris
are usually disastrous—and the same thing is commonly true of attempts to re-engineer
human societies along similar lines.
Related—story on reengineering the gulf and the Mississippi delta to be an industrial
port then wondering why the health of the place plummets.
A civilization enters decline, in turn, when its dominant minority looses the ability to
inspire and settles for the power to coerce. As it’s role as a source of inspiration
dwindles, so does its role as the focus of mimesis.
197—on the retreat of fine art into the realm of obscurantism.
…like every other aspect of contemporary life, the information technologies that underlie
this access to cultural resources depend on cheep fossil fuels, and more broadly on the
survival of complex technologies that will be unsustainable after the industrial age.
The most obvious difficulty is that the forms now used to store information depend on
specific technologies dependent on the industrial system.
I suspect this should be reflected in your work. A viable way of preserving cultural
knowledge from the industrial age might be in establishing a spiritual practice base on
visiting, with reverence, key relics built during this time.
Cultural conservers: individuals who take personal responsibility for preserving
some part of the world’s cultural heritage.
In your case it’s the structures and landscapes created during the industrial age.
For a cultural tradition to survive in an age of decline, it needs to find a constituency that
values it enough to put the survival of the tradition ahead of more immediate needs.
Motivation for cultural conservation is almost always drawn from religious beliefs.
The belief in progress redefined religion as a movement for personal and collective
betterment instead of contacting spiritual realities that transcend the human world
The practical benefits of science must be weighed in the balance against the
dehumanizing effects of scientific reductionism and horrific results of technology run
amok in the service of ambition and greed.
It is when the questions that science can answer are treated as the only questions worth
asking, and when the picture of the world that can be gained by scientific inquiry is
mistaken for the world itself, that science begins to transform itself from a means of
inquiry to an ideology destructive to all those human values that lie outside its scope.
Human limits, not human power, define the situation we face today because the
technological revolutions and economic boom times that most modern people take for
granted were a product, not of science or such intangibles as “the human spirit,” but
simply of a brief period of extravagance in which we squandered half a billion years of
stored sunlight. The power we claimed, in other words, was never really ours, and we
never “conquered” nature; instead, we raided as much of her carbon assets as we could
reach and went on a spending spree three centuries long.
The end of the road for nearly all cultural trends that have guided the industrial world
since the revolutions of the 18th century.
In the near future, as the failure of progress becomes harder to miss, the need for new
visions of the future may become an overwhelming force.
Wired from all the exercise but completely exhausted
Still smell like bleach
Itchy in the bed—crumbs
Edits to the fingernails
Major structural changes
Emotionally cold
“Love will guide you”
unable to work with Grace looking over my shoulder. She suggests this might be why I
always leave luce in a bad mood. To divide my attention is to get nothing done. And it
feels like a waste of time.
Like the silver keyboard: fetish object
Take a yoga class
Quit passé
Notes from Greer
Mail DVDs
Export ‘tailings’
Export lapse leftovers
Move link way down the page.
Download audio—try with guardrail.
Walk completely around the perimeter of the construction site
Ask ran about the physicality gained from working on his land.
Thanksgiving ride highlights:
Woman pushes a man in a wheelchair out into a parking lot. Something around her
neck, presumably a necklace, projects light patterns across his back.
The elevated section of trail trough the Santa Cruz wash—Northbound: flying along with
a flock of birds. Southbound: keeping pace with a mountain biker down below, his dog
running beside him.
Dec. 7, 2010: hell is other people. Record audio daily—a tighter routine. Use the
binaurals as separable L/R channel pickups. Image of the bikes leaning against the
stone wall beneath the A—city in the background. (“A” mountain, aka sentinel peak, is
strange for outsiders when locals refer to it without explanation.) More with the structures
under construction. Afternoon reflections off the buildings. Throwing yourself over the
hoods of large automobiles. Taking liberties. One’s own moral code. A ten-day ride
connecting titan sites.
Shoot another ‘about me’ page header image—with bicycle.
Fax to Loan holder
Cancel Arizona medical insurance
The bicycle is the best example of appropriate technology I can think of. This makes it a
nice structural element of the project as its usefulness and beneficial qualities are
displayed again and again.
Take another audio recording from the top of A. train passing for the series. Maybe late
so the road noise is less.
Walk around the downtown construction site.
18-tombs of titan II—monologue—reading sealing process from titan book. Or from
tales. This with images of the sites in their current state.
Are we fond of the children?
Ran dangling the virtual reality existence. (the holodeck will be our last invention)
Weirdness with the phone—loosing it, swearing it off for a moment of respite, folding,
then immediately becoming tied to it for Sabine’s call. Like I’m being punished for going
back on what I pledged.
Watching Inception at the hostel—Grace has a lucid dream, James has a prison anxiety
Data visualization guru does mortality/income—countries of the world—200 years. “I see
a clear trend toward a future where all may reach the rich/healthy corner”
With no mention of the role of fossil energy in getting everyone there (except the
indistrial revolution)—what we must visualize is the next 200 years where declining
energy resources take back the progress. Did the representative size of the population
bubbles grow with population increase?
“with aid, trade, greentechnology and peace—we can all make it to the rich/healthy
And a comment: a reader just sent me a gallery of "urban decay" photos, and it occurs to
me that you almost never see images of modern ruins with green stuff growing through
the cracks. The photographers seem to purposely go in winter when everything is brown
and dead looking. I think there's a taboo! If the ruins are bleak and lifeless, then human
civilization is the only game in town, and we have to bring back all the seamless
buildings and pavement. But if there's green stuff growing through the cracks, then the
collapse of our civilization is not such a bad thing, and might even be an improvement.
Write voiceover script for eighteen tombs
The hardships of today do not represent a dip in some regular cycle of financial pushme-pull-you. This is a systemic, structural change in the socio-economic ecology of
human life.
1-866-BREVILLE (1-866-273-8455) 8am to 5pm Pacific Time
Email the Wilson’s
Juicer repair
Cover art for ‘Dinosaurs On Mars’—mid January—take image in or around San Jose—
eric’s 13mp camera.
Mailings—see list above ‘stage three DVD recipients’—add Emily, Tom, and Lisa
The collapse of complex societies—‘library liberation’
They’ll stop whaling when they can make more money selling the entertainment of an
escalating pirate battle in the southern ocean. “we drove this thing around the world as
fast as we can—now we’ll break it in half for entertainment. we’re packaging and selling
our asses direct action—making it seem trite.
I presume it was a good time to press the reset button. Honestly, I’m not sure.
‘World Without Sun’—documentary on Conshelf Two. An underwater architectural ruin.
Do a series of voiceover pieces for all ongoing projects—good for various forms of
distribution—a useful habit to cultivate. Use what was learned during the Kickstarter
The decline effect: The truth wears off.
Call Jessica Iverson/Alex
Schedule medical card appointment
Thursday 80’s night—ATOMIC
Get in touch with Carry Lin
Call dispensaries re delivery
Put together a sampler DVD for distribution
Longer-term reminders
Brooks bar tape—middle of Jan.
Brake levers—?
To Acquire:
Cycling shoes
Running Shoes?
Backpacking mat
California ID/driver’s license
Medical card
Replacement binaurals/windscreens
Replace bike light
The Titan Circles
The circle as symbol of continuity and the cyclical nature of the universe.
Suggestions from the girl at Macy’s
Norte Poland
Projects for San Jose:
Titan Circles
Reka DVD and mailings
New donation gift posts
Compile ‘last days’ into proposal
University of Corsica proposal
UCSD application
Grant proposal
Get a job
At the south end of the Bay:
Power plant
At least two major wastewater treatment plants
Salt evaporation ponds
Abandoned quarry
Ghost towns/relic bridges
Aqueduct crossing
Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition
San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art
560 South First Street
San Jose, CA 95113
Tel: 408.283.8155
Regular Gallery Hours
Tues – Fri: 10am - 5pm
Sat: 12pm - 5pm
First Friday of the Month: 10am - 10pm
Amsterdam's Garden Cannabis Club
1174 Lincoln Ave, San Jose, CA
Leads from Elaine:
510 S. First Street, San Jose Ca 95113 Phone: 998-ARTE Fax: 998-2817
Fred Salas
Program Coordinator - Performance & Literary Arts
(408) 286-8695 | fred(at)maclaarte(dot)org
Anno Domini // the second coming of Art & Design
366 So. First Street map
San Jose, CA 95113
Cherri and Bryon
Citadel Studios
855 N. Fifth St., San Jose, CA, 95112
Artist Studios & Functioning Cannery
Community access television
[email protected]
re: production job
[email protected]
re: barista position
The shootings of Congresswoman Giffords and all the others took place in front of a
Safeway Supermarket in a strip mall in a city of strip malls and housing subdivisions many of them failing financially. It must be unbelievably difficult for a young person to
make sense of such an incoherent environment and such cruel swindling culture. A
society that habitually and incessantly lies to itself is apt to choke to death on its internal
contradictions. Jared Lee showed an unusual concern for language and literacy. His
videos were all words, no pictures. I wonder if the word SAFEWAY flashed through his
brain when he pulled the trigger.
My ex-girlfriend is visiting the Bay Area and emailed suggesting we, “grab coffee this
week and catch up.” I reported this to a friend who asked what the pretext for getting
together would have been before there was coffee?” I didn’t have an answer for him, but
the thought of a world without espresso made me cringe.
Yes, coffee brings people together. It also stimulates the intellect and facilitates the
exchange of ideas so where there’s coffee there’s often conversation. Face to face
discourse is becoming increasingly rare in an age of digital communication. If we’re to
remain a civil society, we must look each other in the eye once in a while. Why not do it
over coffee and a scone?
The café (and I’m thinking of the European ideal here—only occasionally duplicated in
the states) is the public space where coffee is most often enjoyed. Almost everything
about the café experience, from the lighting to the furniture, says slow down. In an
increasingly fast paced and fragmented world, a beverage meant to be savored is a
Finally, the antioxidant content of coffee should not be ignored. With cancer rates on the
rise and a generation of people who have logged countless hours with electronic devices
an inch from their brains, a substance that helps tackle those free radicals should find its
way into each of our lives. Here’s to not getting cancer—drink up!
Ride to Santa Barbara
It’s 321 miles from San Jose to Santa Barbara
5 days
Through King City makes it around 275 miles
4 days?
Tom Kiefer
531 Solana Ave
Ajo, AZ 85321
New Donation Gifts:
Stainless steel ring
Found on the side of the road covered in grease. Presumably from an automobile.
Since become a fetish object
Petroleum sphere
Found on a dirt trail crossing San Gorgonio Pass.
Tucson Feathers
All the feathers I found during my stay in the desert.
Polyamide Fabric—received as anonymous gift, April 29, 2010 at the Rialto Theatre,
Tucson, AZ.
Incineration and recycling
Various nylons break down in fire and form hazardous smoke, and toxic fumes or ash,
typically containing hydrogen cyanide. Incinerating nylons to recover the high energy
used to create them is usually expensive, so most nylons reach the garbage dumps,
decaying very slowly. Some recycling is done on nylon, usually creating pellets for reuse
in the industry, but this is done at a much lower scale.
Stainless Steel Target Plate
Free standing sculpture or wall mount
In Japan, individuals who photograph industrial sites belong to a subculture called Kojo
Moe. The "geeky hobby" is another example of the Japanese compulsion to document
artifacts of the industrial age. Also see Hashima Island.
When looking into this we were also reminded of the abandoned former coal mining hub
that was Hashima Island in Nagasaki Prefecture, re-opened to tourists last year.
Domestic sightseeing might just be going industrial…
Guadalupe River Trail
Photograph Late afternoon. Concrete structures. Vegetation. Failed/abandoned utopian
city’s river promenade. The terracing, the concrete pillars.
Polybutadiene Sphere—found March 15, 2010 crossing San Gorgonio Pass
Images of circular objects and surface features found within Titan II launch compounds.
Ideally installed as a looped video projection accompanied by quality audio reproduction,
particularly at the lower frequencies.
This series in intended to supplement ongoing documentation of the site at seasonal
intervals. And inspire me to upgrade my camera.
Who steals someone’s bike light at rush hour dusk? Good luck out there with all the
angry divers who can’t see you. You forgot to steal the clip asshole—don’t you have a
flashlight at home?
On the challenger disaster
(in his address) The president touched upon previous explorers such as Francis Drake,
who he said had also paid the ultimate price for their bravery. It was a message many
commentators said summed up the national sense of disbelief that space travel could be
Occurring on your birthday, a pivotal event putting an end to the fantasy that our journey
to the stars was inevitable—a foregone conclusion.
The Topeka house could really be a wonderful thing to offer couchsurfing travelers. We
could screen films, there are plenty of instruments to play, there’s a market around the
corner, we’re interesting people. Could bring in some stuff from the hostel to formalize it.
Now there’s a bike to borrow.
Packaging for Reka—plastic sleeve with paper insert. Pages cut from Japanese
architecture book.
Update burn the furniture with plan/diagram outlining billboard felling operation.
concentrated hydrochloric/sulphuric/nitric acids
Nitric acid and concentrated hydrochloric acid can dissolve steel or iron.
Trihedron Unipole Billboard
W=18m,H=6m,H1=15m, D=1.0m,
The structure of billboard is rolled steel
with galvanized.
Outdoor advertising is the oldest form of advertising and with the continued
fragmentation of the media market, outdoor is growing in importance in media mixes all
over the world. It is no secret that outdoor is by far the most cost effective form of
advertising. Outdoor has the BEST IMPACT, the BEST COST PER THOUSAND, the
of any medium in the advertising industry. It does not discriminate whatsoever. The
population as a whole is targeted. Long term exposure and creative impact of billboards,
build deep reach during advertising campaigns making them the perfect medium for
building long term market presence. Located on major arteries, billboards are past
frequently by the same consumers as they commute to and from work. Broad social
trends favour outdoor advertising compared to most other media, because people are
spending fewer hours at home with traditional media and more time in their cars. Our
fast-paced society is always on the move. Outdoor advertising works well. You cannot
turn it of, throw it away or click on to the next page. The message is reaching the
customers everywhere, all the time, every day. Outdoor penetrates areas were the
advertiser’s coverage is limited or unavailable. Due to the following reasons there has
been growth in the advertising market: Advertisements on television and radio are too
condensed and sometimes do not reach their target market. Research has shown that
the public gets annoyed when advertisements interrupt their leisure time, due to
information overload. Media fragmentation, not only on television but also in the printed
media, has made it increasingly difficult for advertisers to reach their target market.
Audio recorded under I** overpass.
A sound piece by SJSU faculty member—installed under overpass
Everything is in real time.
This piece was shot over five days along the Guadelupe River where it cuts through
downtown San Jose, CA. A river draining 170 square miles of watershed regularly gets
unruly. Floods and course changes are to be expected. The City of San Jose has
attempted to lock down the river’s , to freeze its path in place with heavily fortified banks
Cutting through San Jose’s urban core (the Adobe Towers are just off its fortified banks).
A freeway passes overhead—one flow meeting another. And incredibly durable concrete
structures were required to manage the interaction. It’s yet another lame attempt to
control the unpredictable whims of a watercourse that, before being confined to a
concrete channel, regularly flooded, delivering nutrients and enriching the soil of this
once fertile valley. The hundred-year flood will be the river’s revenge—it is.
Stranded review:
The indignity of being left dead in a spacesuit on mars.
Well written but strangely overacted.
The aerial shot where the color is twisted slightly to make the ground look green. It’s
weird how Vincent gallo’s films all seem to be about satisfying his character’s weird
sexual fantasies. Like a long drawn out lead into a strange porn where he’s the star.
We’re not going to live on mars—the planet is too inhospitable to accommodate surplus
humans from a damaged earth. This film feeds the fantasy by hinting at the potential to
grow things there—they even shift the color filter briefly as a visual hint.
18th and Missouri
the joy of infinity: part 2
the boneyard (AM)
cloud lapse
last days
titan circles
NTB (screen test)
lapse leftovers
30 copies in the first run.
New Trends in Japanese Architecture—paper inserts
I work very hard at something that provides almost no income.
Soapy tea-The social dynamics of Farley’s coffee shop.
KSCU—radio on campus
Looking for DJs
[email protected]
03.09.10—joy of infinity part 2
you’ve decided to do something magical—a long journey. By the end of your first day
you’re sitting comfortably in the living room of thee gentlemen you’ve known less than an
“Lights bassnectar remix”
The social networking film
Degraded by the sun’s ultraviolet rays, this petroleum-derived object began its life as a
Super Ball.
Edes Prize for Emerging Artists
February 28th
Documentary Photography Audience Engagement Grant
Letter of intent (optional): Friday, March 11, 2011, 5pm EST
Completed online application: Friday, May 13, 2011, 5pm EST
Megasites of modernity-The functioning industrial sites lend themselves to being viewed as ruined—fencing,
absence of people, chemical staining, structural complexity
Ruin Value—form a bridge of tradition
"is the concept that a building be designed such that if it eventually collapsed, it would
leave behind aesthetically pleasing ruins that would last far longer without any
Although "it is probably impossible to build so as entirely to avoid the ultimate effects of
pleasing decay" (Piper 1948: 94), the 'theory of ruin-value' requires that the aura and
aesthetic appeal of the ruined building in the future would already be present in the mind
of its architect. The prospective memory implied in such reasoning takes into account
natural decay and cultural ignorance over very long time periods.
Hitler: Ultimately, all that remained to remind men of the great epochs of history was
their monumental architecture, he remarked
The opposite of planned obsolescence
Antilia and Jamnagar
"Here are statues which stand before the shores of Atullia (ante ripas Atulliae) and which
have been set up for the safety of sailors; for beyond is the vile sea, which sailors cannot
How are these two sites connected—besides the wealth?
The company town
Antilia and The Russian Palace
Oil wealth and the building of opulent homes.
The Salton sea as a human catastrophe—the site of a seasonal cycle of suffering and
death, both human and animal.
Interesting paradox—the industrial world has reached its most frenetic moment yet the
vignettes portray many of the industrial sites as places of modest activity—sometimes
I never intended to become an activist on these subjects -- and I'm not. I feel like more
of an observer, someone reporting my own subjective take on things. Our cities are
alive, like us; they have both a deep intelligence that guides them and a physical
presence. They're both a brain and a body. They are our neural networks writ large, our
psychological drives made physical, and by changing and fixing our cities we are
reflecting similar change going on inside. When our built world does not accurately
correspond to our vision, to our physiology, and to our innate psychology, we suffer, and
feel alienated, as if we are inhabiting the wrong body or mind. When our surroundings
are more aligned with us, we fit better, more comfortably. The rewards are immense
and wide-ranging.
But mostly it's just more fun.
Commission musicians to draft compositions for the water tower. Series of recordings.
Offer a collection of recordings done by musical friends—while staying at their respective
Domestic duties.
Sit up and work for me.
Recordings of what went on in the home.
Tips on communicating with your husband or children.
Dale Earnheart jr. jr.—best of list.
Line down—when things get held up on the assembly ilne.
Fat people are the human embodiment of the idea of over-consumption.
Urinated all over this apartment then lay in it for days
Walked the entire island of Manhattan. Didn’t sleep or eat for days.
A poor reaction to depression medication.
On leading a sheltered life. On the satisfaction of providing a home for someone away
from theirs. How to
People reflect Eric’s lifestyle back at him, and he’s uncomfortable with what he sees.
He’d rather not admit that he questions the validity of what he does with his time. Which,
by the way is predominantly abstract thought.
Thinned from Edes proposal:
His system of research and production functions as an embodiment of his concept by
exemplifying new, low-impact models of behavior and artistry. It is connected socially
and temporally to the living world- the antithesis of advanced industrial mechanization.
Practice new low-impact models of behavior and artistry in line with the approaching
paradigm: ‘scarcity industrialism.’
Each represents a high concentration of emergy (embodied-energy), or all the energy
that went in to producing and assembling
If we start looking at such structures in this way now—they may serve to temper the
disillusion associated with letting go of techno-utopian fantasies cultivated during the age
of abundance.
An anomalous event rather than a stable condition.
Today the modern industrial economy seems as permanent as any human reality can
be. That sense of permanence, though, is an illusion.
The innovation fallacy—it’s a common belief that technological innovation can always
trump resource limits, but history shows otherwise.
The Illuminated Thread is an exercise in cultural conservation, preserving some part of
the world’s cultural heritage. In your case it’s the structures and landscapes created
during the industrial age.
From Scott:
Geo-social significance
empirical research
ontological (the nature of being), real-time approach
He has determined what art practice and global citizenship mean on his own terms, with
results that are critical but optimistic, conceptual and experiential.
Transforming them into mythic ruins
Megasites of modernity-Other questions/interests for artist’s statement
(1) Diminishing returns/instability of ratcheting complexity
Implications of peak energy
(2) The religion of progress and the effects of growing disillusion.
(3) Mystification of the contemporary ruin
(6) The Industrial sublime
(4) The process of succession as it applies to human living patterns—identifying and
practicing/cultivating the rituals and behaviors appropriate (conducive to success) for the
next seral stage—the age scarcity and deindustrialization.
Developing a skill set for the age of scarcity—disentangling/de-monetizing,
Living on the margins
(5) Heroic efforts to exploit the environment in pursuit of progress—move mountains—
harnessing a godlike power—rivers that flow uphill.
Hyper-complex energy intensive systems
Highlight the interconnectedness- the matrix,
Understanding/appreciation for the resources that built and sustain the industrial world—
the singularity of this age—
Benefiting from seeing the
Taking utilitarian structures—typically seen as purely functional, often ugly—and
reframing them as heroic—infused with emergy.
Gives a more accurate sense of the scale/concentration of
resources/interconnectedness of these structures. Bicycle provides a human-scaled
(both in size and speed) mode of experiencing these sites and the landscapes in which
they are situated. Recon work – acting as a reporter and bringing back pieces of
documentation of what has been witnessed.
Wean others off the notion of endless progress. Help others recognize that the level of
build-up/growth we’ve achieved is undeniably excessive, and at this point, harmful.
Buffer the decent with a healthy appreciation for the splendor—look back on with awe
and reverence. Tempers the embarrassment negative feeling associated with
megastructures/systems loosing their original function. Value is retained—transformed.
Archive stronger as the sum of its entries.
The structures become a “bridge of tradition”—transmitting the accomplishments of our
age to the cultures of the future.
Advert Sampler: Sep. 14, 2008
Stage one/two: Oct. 14, 2009
Stage three overture: Feb. 27, 2010
Stage three: Apr. 27, 2010
Reka: Feb. 9, 2011
Artist wants to clean your toilet(s).
I’m a 31-year-old visual artist with a master’s degree from the University of Chicago. I
spent much of last year working at the Roadrunner Hostel in Tucson, AZ. I’ve since
moved to the South Bay and am looking for ways to increase the time I spend doing
domestic tasks. After months taking care of travelers coming through Tucson, I
genuinely miss putting my time and energy into maintaining a home. I’m a cleaning
machine and do well with yard work, laundry, and light sewing tasks. I iron, chop veggies
and oil squeaky things. I’ll do errand runs as long as the cargo fits in my bicycle panniers
(a substantial grocery run fits fine). I live in San Jose but will travel to any neighboring
community within 20 miles. I’m fit and articulate—a pleasure to have around. References
galore. If you think you might benefit from my services, drop me a line and we’ll meet for
also, my artistic productions are compiled here:
“What’s mined is yours.”
Where’s the maid—where’s Rosie.
On the Tower of David.
On RISK—the last game on earth and the only one that wont feel trite.
In between Pleasanton and Livermore—absurdly scaled dirt ramps.
When the iphone screen shatters—how long will you let it cut you?
On long abandoned open pit mines becoming holy sites.
When the building has no elevator the equation inverts and the lower floors become the
more valuable. This is more stable, less top heavy. The higher the floor, the more
remote you are.
Read journals into recorder—elaborate on what you remember
The business of advertising and public relations (formerly known as propaganda!) has
advanced to such an extent that one needs the skills and dedication of a professional
detective to filter out the truth in respect to almost anything you read, hear, or look at
directly these days.
No wonder trust is so low. We’ve been lied to over and over.
A more modern example of intended ruins are the planned warning signs for the
proposed nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, which are intended to endure for
10,000 years, and yet still convey an enduring (if negative) impression on future
generations: "Keep out. Don't dig here."
It’s all about editing—everything is filtered.
You’re taking in wide streams of information and narrowing them—thinning them down
into what’s most relevant.
On the importance of good transitions
Topeka parties as Japan is hit by disaster. We dance as they climb from the rubble
Chores beginning March 28, 2011
Clusterfuck Nation
Roll Joints
Po box
Sharon—quote article
Nicole—a proposal?
Call Brett CC/Max/James
Clean Bathroom/sweep bedroom floor
Apps at Whole Foods/Peet’s/Good Karma—check in at others
Mountain Charlie Cycling Caddy Write Up
Craigslist Housekeeping
Burn the furniture additions
Preview new music
Pay off farm delivery service
Compress and remove cloud lapse files
Write up trip notes
Download new video/audio
Abandon soundcloud on BTF, add link to archive
Write to touring company, Silicon Valley Bicycle Coalition, Hostels in SLO and on coast
Transportation to Tucson
More mailings—get addresses
Compile Erickson’s tracks
I’ve only recently moved to the South Bay area from Tucson, and a friend and fellow
touring cyclist brought you guys to my attention.
Monday, April 18
Depart San Jose: 12:20
Arrive Tucson: 3:15
Saturday, April 23
Depart Tucson: 3:30
Arrive San Jose: 8:15
Santa Barbara via 101 tour—March 2011
Crossing the pass—2300 feet then making the decent—meeting four racers in formation
at the bottom of the hill and being completely ignored—not even a glance—despite their
awareness of what you’ve just done. Chasing them stubbornly in the wrong direction.
Arriving on St. Patrick’s day without a clue—décor on state street reveals the occasion.
Dancing with Jessica and her friend—tech house—smelling ripe
Jaccuzzi glass save—close to esp.
That unbelievable café in San Louis Obispo—the feather earrings.
The man at the train station apologizing for the shortsighted mistakes of his generation.
Would have done things differently if he’d known.
Elevate the engineers, let them build their megaprojects—suffering will be seen at a
scale we can scarcely imagine.
“should resist the naive nature warship” and “seek to direct and pacify its destructive
“We shouldn’t hail the nobility of the Tohoku earthquake a la John Muir; we should
redouble our efforts, however imperfect, to tame the Earth.
--LA Times opinion piece
1. Mother Nature and human nature can't be contained.
We've done such a remarkable job at reshaping the physical world to suit our wants and
needs that it takes disasters like that in Japan to literally jolt us out of our complacent
belief that we are masters of our domain. As PCI Fellow, Bill McKibben states:
What the events reveal is the thinness of the margin on which modernity lives. There's
not a country in the world more modern and civilised than Japan; its building codes and
engineering prowess kept its great buildings from collapsing when the much milder
quake in Haiti last year flattened everything. But clearly it's not enough. That thin edge
on which we live, and which at most moments we barely notice, provided nowhere near
enough buffer against the power of the natural world.
Look into dedication ceremonies for megastructure projects—bridges, dams, power
plants, etc. Ceremonies, the forward march of progress
Looking at that Japanese comic depicting a drowned city—only a couple days before the
Personal skills hierarchy of importance
Caring for your vessel—have control over the physiological aspects of your own body—
the regular maintenance. Take care of your teeth, cut your own hair, rest as much as
you need. Stretch. Stay away from doctors and practitioners of services aimed at
removing these skills.
Transportation—moving your vessel around: if you drive, be able to fix you own car—if
you can’t, you shouldn’t be driving. If you bicycle—know your ride inside and out. Do
your own repairs.
Food and housing?
President’s nobel peace prize ‘lecture’ paired with the Liberia documentary—vice guide
to travel.
On facebook reinforcing herd behavior—you do what you see others doing.
On being followed by owls. Perhaps a list
Hats, rings, depicted on walls, in plastic on rooftops, flying overhead
Owl warship
Rice Guide to Travel: Liberia
A reminder that the industrial age has created places of concentrated suffering—
perhaps greater than at any time in history. A hell on earth haunted by bloodthirsty
Pointing out obamas wars in spite of his nobel peace prize.
This is almost a cliché now.
You should post the whole exchange between you and Terresa—when it’s complete.
Monkey Wrench Gang:
Page 16—titan bases referenced
Black mesa coal mine referenced—p25/26
You should find the negatives and have nice prints done of your night images—
Claremont. Freeways. Etc.
The new artifacts shot on the table would make a good trio for Jess and Nathan as well.
Could be really clear.
Bring back the tennis skirt ladies.
This oversijed meathead dude just looked me over—sized me up.
On the accomplishment of not selling your time to wage labour since Claremont.
You should make it an internship with a stipend. Avoid the taxes.
I want in to this organization—however unhip it may be.
Tapping back into the flow. The strong themes that pop up when things are riding along
well. Desert canyons, red rocks, thirst, water in the desert. Survival. Dehydration.
127 hours
The Monkey wrench gang
Stranded (Vincent Gallo on Mars)
Quotes from MG—on the police looking like the army.
On motivations—the machine—describing its reach.
Room available in intellectually inclined cyclist oriented household
expended worldview a must.
San Jose’s Rosegarden
Around the corner from market.
Garage and shed storage
In two bedroom (+sunroom) one bath 50s era cottage home. Hardwood floors.
Small monthly dance parties likely.
Fit and attractive 31-year-old houseman keeps things tidy and prepares meals upon
Must have college degree or equivalent intelligence.
Copy of letter—text only.
As males have entered into the housecleaning occupations once exclusively reserved
for females, there has been difficulty in nomenclature. While males did not seem to
object to being called "Nurses," or "Teachers," when they moved in to those formerly
female professions, the deep gender association of the term "Maid" was seen as
emasculating or demeaning by some. "Manservant" was the an early attempt to create a
male parallel, but now seems pretentious to many people and is problematic in its
implication that servants are otherwise women. "Houseboy," was another parallel, but its
use of the juvenile diminutive is considered demeaning to adult males. "Houseman" has
a long history, but is not widely used today.
Add on craigslist including description of the live-in help.
Start putting together hypothetical exhibitions for your work—titan sites—images and
video with actual tomb sealing plans if available.
When the student becomes the teacher.
Alvin Toffler
See how he takes to this one.
Increasingly impatient with mediocre looking things viewed on screens.
Ann 408.561.2373
Jen. Fucking hot shorts. incredible legs. Tucson Christa’s dopple.
I love you. I love you. Index cards and ecstasy tablets.
Email Christa trade proposal
Call Jessica Iverson
CAF Cover Letter
Post Mix
Pull quotes from Monkey Wrench Gang—post
Post on the moon/Mars war/peace film pairings
Battle of the X-planes
Email touring Company
Email Teri
Fix bike light
Exercise video
Get in touch with San Jose’ only decent gallery
Contact coastal hostels—SLO
Fred Sales?
Post on both domestic craigslist posts
Cut hair
Monkey Wrench Gang
The wilderness once offered men a plausible way of life,” the Dr. said. “Now it functions
as a psychiatric refuge. Soon there will be no wilderness.” He sipped at his bourbon and
ice. “Soon there will be no place to go. Then the madness becomes universal.” Another
thought. “And the universe goes mad.”
When the cities are gone, he thought, and all the ruckus has died away, when
sunflowers push up through the concrete and asphalt of the forgotten interstate
freeways, when the Kremlin and the Pentagon are turned into nursing homes for
generals, presidents and other such shitheads, when the glass-aluminum skyscraper
tombs of Pheonix Arizona barely show above the sand dunes, why then, why then, why
then by God maybe free men and wild women on horses, free women and wild men, can
roam the sagebush canyonlands in freedom—goddammit!—herding the feral cattle into
box canyons, and gorge on bloody meat and bleeding fucking internal organs, and
dance all night to the music of fiddles! banjos! steel guitars! by the light of a reborn
moon!—by god, yes! Until he reflected soberly, and bitterly, and sadly, until the next age
of ice and iron comes down, and the engineers and the farmers and the general
motherfuckers come back again.
Their view from the knoll [overlooking Black Mesa coal mine] would be difficult to
describe in any known terrestrial language. Bonnie thought of something like a Martian
Invasion, The War of the Worlds. Captain Smith was reminded of Kennecott’s open-pit
mine (“world’s largest”) near Magna, Utah. Dr. Sarvis thought of the plain of fire and of
the oligarchs and oligopoly beyond: Peabody Coal only one arm of Anaconda Copper,
Anaconda only a limb of United States Steel; U.S. Steel intertwined in incestuous
embrace with the Pentagon, TVA, Standard Oil, General Dynamics, Dutch Shell, I. G.
Faben-industrie; the whole conglomerated cartel spread out upon half the planet Earth
like a global kraken, panten-tacled, wall-eyed and parrot-beaked, its brain a bank of
computer data centers, its blood the flow of money, its heart a radioactive dynamo, its
language the technetronic monologue of number imprinted on magnetic tape.
But George Washington Hayduke, his thought was the clearest and simplest:
Hayduke thought of Vietnam.
The Dr. was thinking: All this fantastic effort—giant machines, road networks, strip
mines, conveyor belt, pipelines, slurry lines, loading towers, railway and electric train,
hundred-million-dollar coal-burning power plant; ten thousand miles of high-tension
towers and high-voltage power lines; the devastation of the landscape, the destruction of
Indian homes and Indian grazing lands, Indian grazing lands, Indian shrines and Indian
burial grounds; the poisoning of the last big clean-air reservoir in the forty-eight
contiguous United States, the exhaustion of precious water supplies—all that ballbreaking labor and all that heartbreaking insult to land and sky and human heart, for
what? Why? All that for what? Why, to light the lamps of Pheonix suburbs not yet built, to
run the air conditioners of San Diego and Los Angeles, to illuminate shopping center
parking lots at two in the morning, to power aluminum plants, magnesium plants, vinylchloride factories and copper smelters, to charge the neon tubing that makes the
meaning (all the meaning there is) of Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Tucson, Salt Lake City,
the amalgamated metropoli of Southern California, to keep alive the phosphorescent
putrefying glory (all the glory there is left) called Down Town, Night Time, Wonderville,
“But about your question: It’s seeing too much insulted tissue under the microscope. All
those primitive blood cells multiplying like a plague. Platelets eaten up. Young men and
women in the flower of their youth, like Hayduke there, or Bonnie, bleeding to death
without a wound. Acute leukemia on the rise. Lung Cancer. I think the evil is in the food,
in the noise, in the crowding, in the stress, in the water, in the air. I’ve seen too much of
it, Seldom. And it’s going to get a lot worse, if we let them carry out their plans. That’s
“That’s why you’re here?”
“But they have everything. They have the organization and the control and the
communications and the army and the police and the secret police. They have the big
machines. They have the law and drugs and jails and courts and judges and prisons.
They are so huge. We are so small.”
“Dinosaurs. Cast-iron dinosaurs. They ain’t got a fucking chance against us.”
Trouble on the moon and mars.
Stranded on Foreign Bodies film pairing.
Bad times on foreign bodies. The interior environments are well designed in both. And
the exteriors are breathtaking. Industrial mining on the fucking moon!
Both deal with death on the frontiers of human exploration.
Incredible shots of the industry on the moon – and the incredibly destructive “harvester
that collects ‘clean’ energy bound for earth.
The garbage pickup event— once a year San Jose, Monday April 11. Spring Cleaning—
the rubbish is laid out in front of each house—some piles larger than other. Wood
scrapes, furniture—a monolithic television stands alone—a sign tapes to its face: “sill
works.” A scrapper loads part of a child’s bedframe into his already heaping pickup then
floats on down the quiet street.
Sealing your unwanted past in a tomb—buried deep underground.
Do people seem to want to tell you what they think of you—offer a critique—both the
positive and negative.
Tuesday, April 12, 2011
Miki Garcia and the Contemporary Arts Forum group:
I’m excited to be considered for CAF’s next Education Coordinator. From what I know
about the position, it seems well suited to both my interests and talents. Below are a few
thoughts pertaining to my background in education—an attempt to highlight my suitability
for the EC role within your organization.
A longtime friend of mine, familiar with the accumulated months I’ve spent bicycle
touring The States, recently asked me whether I’d prefer to ride with someone
commanding more or less touring knowledge than myself. What he was asking was, in
this context, which role I should be cast in: that of student or teacher. Finding myself with
surplus expertise vis-à-vis the ins and outs of spokes and paineers, less was my answer.
I’m approaching the same inflection point in my artistic life—a protracted moment where
my place in the art world shifts away from student and moves tentatively toward
instructor. While there is always more to learn, especially in art, a graduate level
education and years as a practicing artist have readied me for the transition. I see the
EC position at CAF as a bold step toward assuming my new responsibilities as educator
in the arts.
While I’ve yet to work for a nonprofit in such a capacity, I have demonstrated my
educational abilities in several arenas. I completed eight seasons as director of the
Stonegate Country Club Sailing Program—teaching nine to fourteen year olds how to
navigate a complex vessel over water. I designed the curriculum, taught the classes and
maintained the boats. I’ve been told I should “write the book” on how to set up a junior’s
sailing program.
Recently retired, my mother was an elementary school teacher for thirty-eight years.
Teaching art lessons in her fourth grade classroom was my first experience in arts
education. From informal exercises with paint and charcoal to step-by-step drawings of
an elaborate eight-pointed star, my mother periodically handed me the reigns to her
classroom. It was an exercise in patience and confirmation that teaching really was in
my blood.
Most recently, I was given the opportunity to share my artistic knowledge in a collegelevel setting. During graduate school at the University of Chicago, I was hand chosen for
two course assistantships. The first was a beginning level photography course taught by
Julia Hechtman, a talented Boston based artist. I ran critiques, met one-on-one with
students to discuss their portfolios, held office and lab hours, and graded work.
The second assistantship, the last quarter of my second year in Chicago (2008), was a
visual language course I taught alongside a recent graduate of the program. With almost
no guidelines on how the class was to be structured, the two of us designed it from
scratch. Adapting favorite lessons pulled from the years of art courses behind us, we
effectively made them our own.
Thank you for your time and attention. I look forward to working with you and the rest of
the talented folks at CAF. I hope to be a valuable contribution to your already remarkable
Brett Tracy
Much of my work, including writing samples, can be found at
[Nicole would you forward this on to Miki for me]
Miki and Nicole,
I enjoyed sitting down with you both yesterday and I hope you found our conversation as fruitful
as I did. I wanted to relate a couple things that occurred to me after our visit.
Since you mentioned it, I’ll say that working exclusively with women isn’t likely to be a problem for
me. I lack most of the typically male traits that trip things up. I’m uncompetitive and don’t naturally
seek positions of greater control or influence. I possess an almost complete lack of interest in
sports and don’t need male camaraderie to get me through the day. I have no issues taking
criticism or direction from women. I’ve found my niche in otherwise entirely female (and incredibly
cramped) workplaces before and undoubtedly will again.
I’m totally on board with maintaining wide-open channels of communication. I imagine that kind of
thing is pretty essential for a well functioning office, and especially important for a nonprofit. I’m
inclined to behave this way anyway.
You asked how the EC position at CAF aligns with my career goals. My artistic practice is moving
steadily toward a lecture/screening/performance format where I employ my own images and
sound to advance understanding of a complex and often foreign set of ideas. The educator
emerges here as well. It’s in my interest to cultivate skills useful in demystifying not only my own
subject matter, but also contemporary art as a whole. I believe there are still unexplored ways of
making art more accessible and techniques countering art's trend toward esoteric obscurity. I
look forward to joining you on the “font line” with fresh ideas of my own on.
I’d like to send a DVD of some recent work to CAF. Please let me know whether I should use the
gallery’s posted address or an alternate.
Thanks for meeting with me. The gallery is quite beautiful—certainly a space i'd quickly grow to
All the best,
The candle must be kept burning. Put in a new one
“What is this?” He says—looking at the poster on the floor. “This looks like it’s supposed to be
Christa proposal. A trade.
Including a couple of well-constructed mixes that have already proven a good match for this
particular drug—take em or leave em.
Disk to Dad
Camera to Dad.
ORION magazine—great cover image of boulders strapped to flatbed.
“A pipeline runs through it”
Asks: Will the pipeline become an industrial ruin, a tourist attraction, or simply a road that takes
you as far north as you can drive?
(I’d say it’ll end up being all three.)
Megamachines—arctic mining
The moon
Stranded—on mars
War pair
Desert landscapes—marginal environments
Designing the joint strike fighter
Battle of the X-planes
Would make a great fiction drama—film
Justifying the need to upgrade weapons
Visiting that giant kiln for its acoustic properties. The closing of the door—the end of the tube plus
all the alarms and activity. Slowly sealing shut.
Lockheed’s computer automated milling machine at work—world’s largest—the pink liquid
squirting—long real time piece. The Titanium Plate.
The best engineers in the world are building weapons.
They could build race planes says Eric. At least its not destructive.
The movement of the rear exhaust port—the F-35. Like a sophisticated alien warship from the
future—unnatural movement. Precise—computer controlled—totally science fiction
German Bunkers opening up—east Berlin
Forever Dolphin Love and the slaughter of the (magic) pink Amazon River Dolphin.
So I didn’t get this grant. I wasn’t even in the top three. Consequently this two-wheeler
ain’t going anywhere any time soon. I’ll continue to make work here in San Jose. And
post it here as long as is seems appropriate to share using the medium of the internet.
Mostly work produced on travels within the state.
Haunted by an owl spirit—the gods don’t go easy on you.
The girl with the owl tattoo. What if she talked her out of it? The owl at boneyard. Was
that a friendly encounter or another warning? In the Owl House so to speak.
Sending a
Trust the path you’re on.
Everything happens for a reason—maybe you were guided into taking mostly video.
All gotta be
Tattooed bike girl—owl on chest
Owl context – sandwich board outside passé.
Owl hat in Santa Barbara.
Owl ring on bus
Owl print shirt
Jesus died for you sins.
Time for a resurrection.
But if your sins can be washed away—why would you change your tune?
What if the owl spirit is responsible for all three?
Jess—the owl haunting has continued. In a manner that is hard to ignore and quite
disconcerting. Can you try and determine what the owl in this piece is trying to tell me? I
need to know.
Sana Ana River—3.16.10 – no.4—export 2
LA River—with alex—zoo images—4.16.09—stills only
Californa Aqueduct—export 2
Central Arizona project—outside phoenix?
Look for canal image long beach day?—stills only
Thansgiving dry drainage?
Los Gatos Creek
Rigid and flexible on resurrection day
Rigid Resurrection
Are you scared you’ll die?—remove
Terry—I can’t thank you enough for the visit. The experience recovered a day that had
sent morale into a nosedive.
The footage looks really good, especially the clips from the C-5 cluster. I’ve got a rough
cut done already. I’ll send a link to the final when it’s done.
Thanks again.
The Squadron Reanimated
Begin with animated parts—close ups—before takeoff. Then they fly along, introducing
the characters one at a time—smallest of the group to the largest. Pneumatic system—
opens the doors—releases the cargo. Then is the golden reflection a flash from the
result of the release or the sun? Then the bay doors open, something is released, and
the fleet flies off into the sunset. The owl seems in command of the whole operation. He
gives the release order
Ways to reinforce the narrative—
Faster editing in the final sequence—the action bumps up. The swoop/pass then the
drop. Then the bright flash and the owl watches the aftermath/sunset.
The Fleet Reanimated: A sanctioned visit to the military's repository for disused aircraft
I made a return trip to Tucson last week to photograph the AMARG. Vignette
This apparition appears in your doorway every afternoon. Enjoy the magic.
The cutting off the wings—the owl/the B-52
Industrial flow bonus—audio recording of river creek sound. If it can’t be incorporated as
an alternative audio track.
The title should refer to the journey the water makes, the implied transition through the
mountain—then down the spillway. Here’s a hint for the viewer. Out of the underworld.
Above all to be my authentic self.
A wolf in sheep’s clothing—your hair flares out like the rabid animal’s tattered ears. The
black wool/the grey wool.
Rigid Resurrection.
Shot form a suburban roof on Easter Sunday. Crosses.
discordant drainage
Styx—mythical river, greek, formed the boundary between earth and the underworld.
Pronounced (lee-thee), in greek mythology the river flows through the plain of __. Past
the final resting spot of the virtuous.
Also goes well with ‘Reka’ and ‘Cryptomnesia’.
Follow the River of Oblivion through underworld.
literally means "oblivion", "forgetfulness," or "concealment"
the Lethe flowed around the cave of Hypnos and through the Underworld, where all
those who drank from it experienced complete forgetfulness.
Ameles potamos (river of unmindfulness)
The rivers Styx, Phlegethon, Acheron, and Cocytus all converge at the center of the
underworld on a great marsh, which is also sometimes called the Styx. The other
important rivers of the underworld are Lethe and Eridanos, and Alpheus.
Lethe (lee-thee), the river of forgetfulness, was one of the five rivers of the Greek
underworld, the other four being Styx (the river of hate), Akheron (the river of sorrow),
Kokytos (the river of lamentation) and Phlegethon (the river of fire). According to Statius,
it bordered Elysium, the final resting place of the virtuous. Ovid wrote that the river
flowed through the cave of Hypnos, god of sleep, where its murmuring would induce
The River Lethe flowed through the plain of Lethe in Hades. Also known as the Ameles
potamos (river of unmindfulness), the river flowed around the cave of Hypnos where its
murmuring induces drowsiness. The shades of the dead were required to drink from its
water in order to forget their earthly life. In the Aeneid, Virgil writes that it is only when
the dead have had their memories erased by the Lethe that they may be reincarnated.
Poets frequently use Lethe as a metaphor for the underworld in general.
"Near the Cimmerii a cavern lies deep in the hollow of a mountainside, the home
and sanctuary of lazy Somnus, where Phoebus’ beams can never reach at morn or
noon or eve, but cloudy vapours rise in doubtful twilight ... there silence dwells: only
the lazy stream of Lethe 'neath the rock with whisper low o'er pebbly shallows trickling
lulls to sleep. Before the cavern's mouth lush poppies grow and countless herbs, from
whose bland essences a drowsy infusion dewy Nox distils and sprinkles sleep across
the darkening world."
-- Ovid, Metamorphoses
Going with the [industrial] flow.
The names of the waterways come in at the end like a cast of performers.
Paula via Mythodrome
Most of us are probably used to seeing growth and decline represented as a bell curve
that goes up, then back down. But it is equally valid to flip that graph upside down, and
view growth and decline rather as a descent and subsequent ascent. This would
certainly have been the perception of the ancient proto-Hebrews, recorders of the
Genesis “Fall” narrative, who observed the advent of farming, understood its corruption
and wanted nothing whatever to do with it. The spread of cities and the rise of empires
were, to them, a great tragedy.
From this upside-down perspective, the growth of civilization is evident in the underworld
descent phase of the resurrection myths. Our progress, which we envision as
proceeding upward, is actually a sharp downward motion — a “fall,” if you will. We have
built for ourselves an underworld of death separate from the life — i.e., normality —
going on above us.
And just as the divine protagonists’ descent into the underworld was an anomaly of a
limited duration, so too is civilization’s reign over the natural world an anomaly of limited
duration. It can and will end because it has to. It is simply not sustainable in any fashion.
Often this industrial river literally goes underdground—siphon.
Los Gatos creek waterfall with twin platforms—another nice spot along the route. Both
dams are good as well.
Sometimes light and shadow are enough.
Pair the light in the room with the light on the pines from stage one and the light inside
the watertower piece. Needs some better audio maybe.
Skaters using abandoned warehouse concrete forms alongside train route—Martinez
Always look younger than your age:
Get enough sleep, but don’t sleep on your face.
Three products—exfoliating cleanser, masque, moisturizer with low SPF.
Spend time each day inverted
Don’t stress
Keep your sex drive up but your testosterone levels in check
Kale, kelp, and carrots
Once the restrictions and taboos of civilization are removed, the watchful eye of one’s
fellow citizens—as is the case when one steps into a feral space, a repressed sexual
energy quickly comes to the surface, demonstrating the extent to which it’s held back
under normal circumstances within the urban environment. A scrap of pornography
that’s laid, decomposing in the muck all winter, provides a spark and the urge to
masturbate. A 13-year old exploring forbidden territory, a ditch near the home, an
abandoned structure. He escapes momentarily from the prison that contains him.
The Fleet Reanimated: A Final Mission
End titles:
April 20, 2011
special thanks to Terry and the 309th AMARG
Lacking a reward system, lacking a support system.
“Yeah I read that article in the Enterprise—I thought he was homeless.”
Not sure how to interpret that dude. Need more information.
People have begun using the internet to find other members of their tribe.
Kickstarter for Castration program. Raise funds to cover vasectomy surgery(s).
What to do with those removed stickers from the fridge in the garage? They still have
some stick.
Polishing a plastic platinum debit card.
Email John Edwards—
This is this kind of thing I’m most particularly adept as shooting. It should be noted that
there’s often news surrounding such places.
Get out of the daily stuff—larger ideas. Pieces that unfold a bit more slowly.
An ambitions young journalist.
Pelted with ice on the Dancefloor, friends of Ann.
A euphoric event
An incredible full body flush—without the fear of loosing consciousness.
Twice, occurring less fully the second time. Related to a headrush.
a euphoric event among friends.
Share a euphoric moment with friends
If we like what we do in our life—how we spend our time, we end up looking for a mate
that matches those interest. We end up looking for ourselves.
Shot April 20, 2011 at Davis-Monthan AFB near Tucson, AZ. Underling the editing in this
vignette is a loose narrative animating the final mission of a phantom fleet and its
brooding flight commander. Terry was an excellent guide. For four hours we wandered
through the rows of creaking metal hulks, finding the beauty she knows well in this
strange place.
Spomenik by Jan Kempenaers:
Some photography I wish I’d done: 25 Abandoned Yugoslavia Monuments that look like
they're from the Future. Those socialists built for permanence and created some objects
with undeniable ruin value.
I’d like to wrap these into a pilgrimage tour—visiting each one by bicycle.
Ongoing list of pilgrimage ride segments. For Hire
Coastal Cooling: power generation on the California Coast
The California Aqueduct and
Romanian monuments
The Central Arizona Project
The Salton Sea Loop
3 days
18 tombs of titan II
The lethee can grow—add segments in the future—a dynamic piece—shown in
The domesticated/feral dichotomy to be found, unknowingly, on BTF.
Ruin value. Structures intended or designed to become more beautiful as they
disintegrate over hundreds of years—changing imperceptibly slowly as monumental
works of art. Many of our concrete forms, even those built for a global war, on a long
enough time line become understood simply as monuments to Industrial Civilization.
Domestication vs. the feral human
Don’t let superstition spoil your weekend. Join us at TOPEKA for a euphoric night among
friends. Although probably no one will come, close invites only please.
#3271bc—btf blue
visualizer package:
hang glider
cloud lapse
the perfect man
No Turning Back
Brownlands fitness—extended version
Insects up close
Google street view
tiny submersibles
Particle accelerator animation
Hi Jordan. So we’ll introduce you to Redberry on Wednesday. Attached is the flier for
Friday night. Hopefully you and some friends can make it. If you would invite Jen of The
House of Jens, that would be great. I saw her at the workout first Friday but forgot to
mention it.
Seeya soon.
Send resume
"Freeloading" is a healthy response to disempowerment. If you find yourself in a system
that demands your labor but denies you participation in power, the right thing to do is to
"game the system", to follow the letter of the law while taking more than you give until
that system collapses in a heap and you can replace it with something alive. This is the
main thing I learned in 18 years of schooling. The problem is that gaming the system
becomes a habit, and this habit carries over into situations where we do have
participation in power. This is why people remain selfish in communities with consensus
decision making, and it's why we become depressed when we live without a job. It takes
years to learn to trust other people and find the life inside us.
The task before us is to help as many people as possible through this transition.
High resolution version of vizualizer killer—projected over dancefloor
Presented in numerical volumes.
Exercise cover image stretch with plant.
Also—other sites to exercise, pull up bars by the dam
yeah people like something to look at when they need a break from looking at each
Burn copies of the visualizer killer with mp3 of mix.
Switch over accounts on pay-pall and music downloads
You’ve got this rigid idea of whom you’d like yourself to be—with high standards. It’s
become too much pressure to maintain. Don’t compartmentalize your relationships.
Don’t hyper structure them. Let your walls down. Be vulnerable. Allow yourself to
become why you are—you’ve got good instincts and solid direction—and allow yourself
some leeway. Ann says your work takes as much or more out of you as a full time job.
The choking feeling—the invisible hands around your neck
Forced enthusiasm. Part of the American’s propensity for lying to ourselves. Greetings
aren’t genuine—both parties are pushing the ‘likeability’ quotient—and really completely
missing the introduction—little regard as to whether the person has any qualities they
desire—whether they have anything to offer. You know the American—there’re the one
overenthusiastically reacting to what someone is telling them, whether they care or not.
You’re considered “cold” if you don’t.
The set ends—the final tune is perfectly timed—embraces, departures, elation, euphoria.
You hug Jenn and thank her for coming. She says she likes your music style.
Things end with Ann. Very adult. Admitting there’s not a lot holding the relationship
together besides physical attraction. Her insights and honesty are welcome and you’re
up all night with things to think about.
The Man in the window—7:00AM—snuggles the big black and white cat.
7 Towns Where Land is Free
“Dude check on my Megan’s law profile!”
amendment: Didn’t get this grant. In fact, I wasn’t even among the top three.
Hi Ran. I’ve got a couple new vignettes up on The Illuminated Thread site that I think you
might be into. The first relates to Paula’s post on Civilization being a dip into the
underworld. It’s called Lethe—incidentally (and coincidentally) named for one of the five
rivers of the underworld in Greek mythology. The piece follows an imaginary river
course—contained by concrete at every turn—sections of industrial waterways shot in
California and Arizona.
The second—Brownlands Late Spring—is the newest (at the top of the page) and has
some nice images of hares playing on and plants busting through a massive concrete
slab in the town where I grew up. A Hunts cannery once stood here.
Have a look if you will. As usual, they’ll play more smoothly if allowed to load completely
The Asphodel Meadows is a section of the Ancient Greek underworld where indifferent
and ordinary souls were sent to live after death. Americans!
Inquiry and dialogue are encouraged.
Removed from site: May 19, 2011
Welcome to the Deindustrial Revolution
We are at a historic inflection point—the ending of decades of expansion and the
beginning of an inevitable period of contraction that will continue until humanity is once
again living within the limits of Earth’s regenerative systems. --Richard Heinberg
18 February 1979, frozen atmospheric water vapor fell from the sky over southern
Algeria. The freak weather event, lasting only thirty minutes, brought the Sahara’s only
snowfall in recorded history. In June of the same year, a blowout at an exploratory oil
well leaked 600,000 tons of crude into the tepid waters of the southern Gulf of Mexico:
more than any other unintentional spill to date. But while snow was falling in the world’s
largest desert, and thousands of endangered sea turtles were being airlifted out of the
path of an oncoming oil slick, a pivotal event in human history was occurring unnoticed
in the background.
Sociologists commonly look at per capita energy use to gauge
how far a culture has progressed along its evolutionary trajectory. Economists refer to
the same statistic as a measure of economic development. What the ratio provides on a
planetary scale, global energy use divided by the earth’s population, is an annual report
on the progress of industrial civilization. After increasing exponentially for some sixty
years, global per capita oil production (synonymous with energy use) reached an historic
peak in 1979. Healthy population growth then sent the figure across a bumpy plateau to
the present. The inability to drive oil production beyond current levels will soon find it
arcing steeply downward, ushering in the final chapters of humanity’s industrial phase.
The long view will reveal the industrial age to be a non-repeating bell curve with those
aforementioned desert snows dusting its lofty summit.
As we lose our ability to
increase energy inputs into the global economy, the growth that’s characterized the
previous two centuries will sputter out and an extended period of contraction will set in.
Localism will gradually replace globalism and the scale of nearly all human enterprises
will diminish. We are entering the age of limits: the age of numbers getting smaller.
such a bleak prognosis for industrial civilization sounds rash, it’s because we grew up
during a century that produced what one author described as “majestic quantum leaps in
the quality of life.” There was no reason to believe that this trend wouldn’t continue
indefinitely since it appeared to be supported by “wondrous advances in the storehouse
of human knowledge.” In reality, the industrial world wasn’t built with knowledge, but with
phenomenal amounts of fossil energy. Since the lifestyles we’ve come to treat as normal
are entirely a product of our prodigious use of the earth’s onetime allotment of
hydrocarbons, the waning of those resources has tremendous implications.
While it’s
easy to find poetic resonance in peak worldwide per capita oil production occurring the
same year as a massive oil spill, tying in Saharan snowfall is another matter. I like
thinking of the singular event as a subtle herald of monumental change. Of course the
desert dwellers who felt the icy chill of those unlikely flakes couldn’t have known that a
slow disintegration was about to supplant two hundred years of exuberant progress. Still,
it’s a potent image with which to mark the onset of industrial civilization’s long winter.
Because advertising seeks to deliver its message to as wide a demographic as possible,
the viewing of its content has a homogenizing effect antithetical to a healthy culture.
Additionally, by encouraging endless consumption in the face of obvious resource
limitations, it retards the move toward a much-needed freedom from want.
Upside down bell curve- a dip into the underworld-- the Lethe text
Post closing statement?—against the economic flow. Doing things over here at BTF
The industrial age is often described as a rise and subsequent fall, but it can also be
described as an inverse bell curve—a dip into the underworld and subsequent assent or
resurrection. A return to life after passing through a landscape of darkness and suffering.
Lethe is the industrial river—the
Anti-life, literally dips underground, flows through pumps, mountains and under
freeways—the siphon. Structures that are anti—life.
bonus: Here’s a raw audio recording of an industrial cascade along the Los Gatos
Creek. The uncomfortable sounding auditory oscillation seems related to the uniformity
of the concrete form and the unvarying pace of the water flowing over it.
Norrköping, Sweden
Beautiful designer white leather chair and ottoman set
Contemporary design
Very comfortable
High-polished steel and soft leather
Unbelievably well made—very heavy
Come have a look! (and bring your pickup)
Price negotiable
Social Services
Case#: 1b2dg95
Undiscovered Country Bike Tours,
I’d writing to ask if you might need a bicycle-touring guide to join your team. I’ve spent
over 135 days on the road during the last several years, some legs as a solo and the
rest with a partner. I’ve done Chicago to San Francisco via Portland, the length of
California three times, and San Diego to Tucson, AZ (including a loop around the Salton
Sea). I spent seven months working in a hostel and get along well with an exceptionally
wide range of personality types. I’m an adaptable fast learner with good intuition. I’m
mechanically adept and competent with most on-the-road bicycle related repairs. Having
long ago given up on the automobile, the bicycle has been my primary means of
transportation for the past six years. I have a Master’s degree from the University of
Chicago and can write and communicate well. I was made for bicycle touring and find no
other activity as satisfying. I’ve recently moved to the South Bay area but having grown
up in Davis, CA, have good knowledge of the state’s geography. Much of my touring is
documented here:
The project is a bicycle-mounted research endeavor committed to documenting the
contraction phase of the industrial age. Please have a look around—there’s an extensive
archive. All the content is my own.
If you think you might have a use for my skills, I’d love to meet. My summer availability is
wide open.
Thanks for your time,
Brett Tracy
Write your talk
Magazines and other organizations
The 100th vignette
College of digital arts east bay/academy of art university
Parke & Ronen suit.
The False prophet—or “the man who wanted to live forever as a machine.
Space is determined to be too much of a problem because the amount of metal needed
to be sent into the cosmos. And the complex program to do it cannot be maintained in
the chaos tha’s only been increasing.The singularity comes to pass. Wealthy humans
begin uploading their consciousness into a huge online database. —it’s a rushed job
because they see the end of a healthy planet closing in on them—and fear being
overrun by a runaway human population increasingly desperate for a dwindling share or
resources. Nanotechnology is accelerated and devices that scan the neural electrical
activity occurring in mapped brain regions. The regions are given best guesses as to
what emotions they control or memories they keep. Over several years people who can
afford the deices have their brains “scanned” and added to the growing database—
effectively cloud computing—all knowing of what’s going ion inside it by all parts at the
same time – ALMOST A COLLECTIVE CONCIOUSNESS. Maybe godlike. Meanwhile a
temple is constructed to house the computer that will run the program—designed to run
for eternity. A large server is built. Nuclear power source—the sun? —built to last, and
housed in a bunker in a stable place. Programmed to protect itself. The Device
maintains itself—replacing its own parts—recycling metals as needed. The select have
their brains scanned brain or program a machine to self perpetuate and then
effectively handing their souls/lives over to a machine and the engineers that designed
and built it—a godlike body—a vessel, the crown jewel of the industrial age. The backup
systems add layer upon layer of complexity so that materials may be brought from other
lands to an automated work site—automating a large part of the industrial process. All
this is set up with military protection. The program might resemble second life, and does
begin expanding as the designers intended it to. A simulation—people flying about,
orgies. (but its limited by what was being experienced by the people whae it uploaded,
the. Overwhelmingly what is “built” in this virtual environment represents a kind of hell—
a meaningless purgatory. But the computer hums on—a slow drip of energy—keeping
the circuits alive. The centuries pass. The human population begins to stabilize. The
industrial age gives way to scarcity industrialism then the age of salvage. Disease and
famine, high infant mortality and some conflict are the main drivers of the population fall.
High technology fades as the energy needed to maintain it withers and the industrial
base crumbles. Monks. But the temple hums away. The program clamors on. The
bunker is largely forgotten about as life shifts back to an awareness of the land—
primarily agricultural, pastoral lifestyles—an ecological awareness. Tribal behavior, myth
and spirituality. The opening shot take place 400 years in the future—when some supply
line begins to wake up and move.
The gentler version:
The internet repository—only the power to keep so much data alive—about the selection
process. Having your work entered—to be perpetuated, to ride out the decline and see
the renaissance on the opposite side.
The ipad is the first device since the automobile and the leaf blower I’d actually have the
guts to shame people for buying.
I wonder
Sameer Tolani
Bee Knees
@ Good Karma Vegan Cafe
37 S 1st St in downtown San Jose
Thursday June 16th
kept yourself mostly out of the depression associated with having lots of unstructured
time. Energy focused on artistic practice, persistent exercise, and dancing. Friends with
a sense of humor help. Coferee Helps. But mostly it’s having a sense of purpose.
Your world is so fragile—so brittle and paper thin.
Toro Y Moi - Still Sound (Voodoo Bear Remix)
He just told her I was home doing the opposite of what he’s about to do. Buy a suit.
Don’t know about all this
Background checking
Bank Account into
Too much information
Feels like a scam
A fall and a redemption. A reemergence from the underworld.
The Man who never missed
Steve Perry
—p120. The microthin plastic felt like cobwebs on his skin, and Khadaji quickly cleared
his mouth and nostrils so it wouldn’t be sucked in as he breathed. The thinfilm sheet had
already conformed to his body to form a water-repellant layer. It had a half-life of ten
minutes before it would begin to die, but it would keep him dry long enough to reach the
terminal. In twenty minutes, the material would be completely gone, evaporated
harmlessly into the air.
Dialogue in a parallel universe:
You’ve been living with him right? And he’s been poor this whole time?
And you’re interested in how he lives—at least from a philosophical standpoint if not in
Yet you came here to buy something expensive in the name of vanity.
I don’t care a whole lot about how I’m seen by most people, but this doesn’t apply to
Karla. She was always wary of Ran and the disentangling process. But I stood by it as it
more and more became my identity. So this much time goes by and the people closest
to me are still behaving in ways completely at adds with the example I set. It’s as if
they’re saying, “Yeah, how quaint. Not for me though.”
Karla sees that my friends are buying suits and cars and homes and assumes I’m still
shouting into the wind, deaf ears all around. I look ineffectual—what I’m doing seems
trivial. And she further writes me off.
Well said Sameer.
It’s the contrast thing.
Although I accept it was not meant in a malicious way, “dropping” a sum of money that
would keep me in tires for decades on an outfit that’s especially important to look good in
this one time, feels a bit like being mocked. I don’t mind being an inside joke between
you and your trainer (may he rest in peace), but I don’t want to be one between you and
Or maybe I need vitamin D
I understand your desire to make a “grand exit” but be careful you don’t make the
process of leaving behind industrial civilization look like showing off. The transition need
not be so abrupt.
Your truest friend,
Thanks for being honest.
Best not to be a gimmick.
Rejecting the religion of progress doesn’t mean artistic, creative or cultural progress had
been subverted. In fact, these types of progress should accelerate after a long period of
stifled freedom of thought. The interest will come at the intersections of things like
energy scarcity and electronic music—a rapidly accelerating creative genre that depends
entirely on an uninterrupted flow of electric current.
I’ve looked at the documents you sent over and I must admit that I underestimated the
complex and humiliating hoops that must be jumped through in order to work with
children. Fingerprinting was not required during the eight years I taught kids how to sail.
Unfortunately that’s a paper trail I’m not prepared to leave behind.
If you can waive the fingerprinting and reimburse me for the CPR certification then
consider me all in. Otherwise you’ll need to hire someone else.
My sincerest apologies for the inconvenience so late in the process.
Patch elbows of grey sweater
Brownlands dance footage
Tap out beat inside tower for possible audio replacement
Final showdown with security
Fix and photograph spiral site—it’s future is in question
Early morning rings routine
Williams syndrome
Lack of social inhibition
Authentic displays of empathy
Vaguely elfish look
Good vocabulary
(“can’t draw a house properly”)
Missing some genes.
Love to dance and make music
We should be following their example
All you can remember about the interaction with security:
The SUV was white and perfectly clean. Its approach wasn’t even noticed although it
had looped all the way around the outside of edge of the property to arrive at that spot.
The unifrm was equally starch. The man was pudgy—pot belly tucked in tight. Indian. Of
standard height. I waved as he pulled up. Shirtless and filthy, glossy with sweat.
Finishing up three house of moving bricks around in the brilliant June sunshine.
“What is going on here—quite a project. Are you building yourself a house?”
Doesn’t return my handshake
Tell him I know the company that owns the property—the absentee landlord.
“Where did you get the blocks (bricks)?”
“From over there,” gesturing vaguely toward a distant corner of the property.
He takes a picture with his phone.
He climbs around on it—testing the durability of the construction—kicking parts with his
booted foot. “Forget about all this, forget about this.” He seems frantic and a bit distort—
emotionally affected by having to destroy what clearly took time and skill to build.
He waited until I’d begun to leave before he started destroying it.
Tells me they’re watching by satellite. That he knows the place we’re entering from. That
there are no trespassing signs posted and that I’d be arrested if caught again inside.
Tells me his company “manages” the property for the landowner.
Probably dispatched from Sacramento
Rolls up after I’d already crossed the fence. Presumably having finished his demoltion
work—but he misses the fence passage, preserving the lie that I “just walked in.”
Repeat this piece somewhere else. ‘Improve’ a site using material found on the property.
Document the process.
Facebook face recognition and “check in” features.
Hey facebook users, you guys all look ridiculous handing over your social lives (not to
mention your whereabouts) to a rich advertising company.
Dealing in valuable data—habits, preferences, friends.
A TED type series for the underground Topeka crowd. TOPEKA talks.
I just turned down a job because I didn’t want to be fingerprinted. So no, I don’t want my
location reported by other users. That should be obvious.
h Gate
human growth hormone and a smart drugs. An unfair advantage—further fracturing the
Notes for Brownlands Dance Shoot:
Similar style block end stages can be used in strategic cuts/fades/connections
Pick a doable number of stages and focus on those. Three perhaps?
The shadows make some of the blocks look like they’re floating. Play up this effect.
Must be shot from identical tripod height and distance. (measured using string)
Stage c good for silhouetted footwork
Even this modest use of energy (this trickle)
If you want high quality versions of any piece, I’d appreciate the help perpetuating the
fragile images I’ve collected into the future. Format is no good. And I’ll continue to move
away from anything that requires plug in energy, and anything that entangles one in
unwanted responsibility.
Well designed card goes a long way.
Delivery service—barter and donation based payment/reward format/. also welcome.
Other kinds of deliveries available as well.
The look and shape of the energy you put out is particularly readable. It can almost be
seen with the eyes. Being aware of this makes social interaction difficut. Then another in
this small town. Another reader. Another onlooker.
You should make another large chart on paper. What do you understand at this time.
How everything is connected. Figure out how much your computer is
Ask Joseph miller if the chart is among the things being stored.—maybe you sent that
piece home? Because that’s a key to the puzzle. Either way I guess we can assume it’s
out there in the world—hopefully not burried 30 feet deep in a landfill squashed between
plastic milk jugs and
Fund the printing of this file—one for the benefactor, and an artist’s proof. On acid free
I believe you’re turning into an owl spirit my friend. Those tufts created by the headband.
The sunglasses. Silent flight as a virtue. But you’re not a carnivore. Top predator. These
are the species least likely to persist much longer.
One buyer.
What the fuck Jenn?
Email Jessica Lah
Looking for things to do—places to shift into. Have you any?
And Atlas Obscura again.
Hi Atlas creators, map makers, cartographer
Anthropological/Cultural Cartographers
I have a sophisticated system set up
I’d ask for help acquiring a new camera and for daily expenses (modest—campfire
dinners and the occasional cheap hotel stay when the weather turns foul.
Too much
I hope you guys can use me because I like what you do. Silent flight/silent type. You
gotta watch the quiet ones.
Guy looking at his planner—look! I’ve got this then this then this to do.
Yes, I shuffle data. I have no use in the future I imagine. Other skills must be cultivated.
This process has already started. Half a lit keyboard.
Still sound out the 20—this is when you should start the process.
The stages are good but they’re probably not going anywhere. That’s what’s nice about
working with ruins—they naturally move toward more beauty. It’s only when the process
is interrupted.
The artistic process as well. Very disorienting to be pulled out of it.
Resentment is understandable.
It’s the wisdom of the time that pushes priorities in parenting. And if the wisdom is:
program your child to be just like you—a good consumer, then we can see how we
quickly get into a situation where we have a hollow culture with little direction except to
digest the latest technology and consume resources at high rates. Advertising,
especially television, seeks to maintain the illusion that we’re all meant to be spending
our time either working to acquire the funds to consume, or actually consuming. This is
the highest a person is meant to strive for.
Currently with fetus
Brett CC (2nd child)
Angie Andrews (this is awful)
Ryan Nelson (and his sister with her second)
Shave your / head out
Cabin boy/deckhand—for international voyage.
The trust of youth
The Mendopendence Conference
Limited work trade opportunities available. Please contact us at
[email protected] for more info.
I’d at least like to come and talk to the speakers.
Go and do a screening/talk in the sidelines—test your ideas as the outsider.
As projects come up, they get written up. With preliminary research done.
Emails to:
Sarah Bodnar
Sarah Geller
CLUI re bike tours.
Dance magic.
Hi Sonya.
Thanks for hanging out. I was nearly ready to write that place off before we met and i’m
glad to have a friend in my hometown again.
First, I may have mentioned this but our next TOPEKA Second Friday danceparty is July
8 here in San Jose (flier attached). If you can shift some lessons around and come
down, we’d love to have you and your shifty hips grace our dancefloor (which you should
know is just our livingroom). I know how much you like getting away form Davis. Molly
will likely be available if you’re so inclined (and willing to bring your own sleeping gear).
Then spend the rest of the weekend with your sister in Santa Cruz! Right on.
Second, although I’m not sorry we can’t be facebook friends, you do seem to rely heavily
upon it for your interpersonal communication. Hopefully you know you can call or email
me anytime.
Third, I’m looking for an excuse to ride my bike to Northern California but mostly think I’d
enjoy spending time around a good smelling plant. If there’s anyone you can put me in
touch with I suspect I trim like a madman (in the most productive sense).
K solong fornow
The internet and aging. Because old stale web pages don’t break down like things in the
physical realm, we look to their design to determine age.
The room is largely windows on three sides and invites study of my home life—Like a
specimen in an observation enclosure.
Do a write up for each ride. Illuminated Tread Ride. Each should get a ‘cover design’
with applicable image and standardized text layout. List of applicable vids
espresso shifts:
Sorry we didn’t connect. My timing with some people has been alarmingly off lately.
Sorry again for reacting with exasperation to your pregnancy announcement. I’ve just
been forced to think about this alot lately. Not only are you and Justin with fetus so to
speak, so are Angie Andrews (who I never got my second romance with) and Ryan
Nelson. Hopefully you understand how I might be troubled by this flight from my own
childless state. It doesn’t make me want one, just feel a little alienated from people i've
known a long time. But I’m happy you’re happy.
Anyway. Any thoughts on Nikon’s D5100? Seems like it’s unquestionably the most
awesome camera at this moment.
Oh those invisible lines:
Hi Sarah! Maybe you’re on another continent, but in case you’re not, we should meet up
in the city for coffee. I’m approaching desperate for cash and need to sell that drawing
you’re holding onto to a Davis woman that’s taken an interest in my work. It is of course
yours to claim if you’d like to keep it. (You could ask that highrollin man of yours if he’ll
buy you a present.) Talk to you soon.
Ask Sameer if he has Rachel’s email—you should keep her as an ally
Edit train piece.
Audio should be of boy with catalogue
Should be room on hard drive no.4
Organize new photos onto no.5
Process audio and written notes
Topeka Speaks
I’m honored to know someone engaged in the proliferation of such advanced and much
needed ideas. Thank you so much for this.
Because the beginning of the Deindustrial Age has such broad implications, I have lots I
can talk about. Below are six topics I came up with in the last ten minutes. Any one of
them could be expand into a short talk. I’d pull vignettes from my archive and splice
them in—one or two at a time to say what cannot be said with words. Maybe a 50/50
split between words and video.
If you’re thinking you’d rather keep the conference topics more firmly rooted in
Mendocino issues, I also wouldn’t mind just screening some stuff in the sidelines—as
ambiance. Between or after talks perhaps.
1. Rise From the Underworld: inverting the bell-shaped-curve of the industrial age
2. The Deindustrial Revolution and the Age of Salvage
3. Megastructures as Monumental Mythic Ruins
4. The Value of Ruined Space
5. City Planning after the Automobile: retrofits and reversions
6. From Black Mesa to Tucson: water conveyance in California and the Desert
I’ll talk to you soon.
Next day flyers
order number
¼ page club flyer
Matte finish
File Name: spomenik_second_friday_PRINT.tif
File Type: TIFF
Width: 5.251 in
Height: 4.126 in
221.5 dpi
White borders are part of the design and image is centered in field. File does not need to
be resized or stretched in any way. Just add canvas if you need more bleed.
They did it anyway.
Can one’s intuition be exercised?
The destruction of the Bamyan Buddhas became a symbol of oppression and a rallying
point for the freedom of religious expression. Despite the fact that most Afghans are now
Muslim, they too had embraced their past and many were appalled by the destruction.
The day of Buddhas—the investigation above and the statuette on the floor in the Los
Gatos Yoga Center where the Shamanic Disco is held every Wednesday. Beautiful
Wendy on the decks.
Another talk:
Saved by the Superfund—how a toxic legacy can guard against irresponsible
redevelopment—preserving ruins.
Lost Coast Culture Machine
The culture is fixed. The writing is clean. The dogs don’t like the explosions. They bark
and cry.
The boss
For Sunday:
Record sound from outside the building, broadcast into outdoor space.
And start shooting the audience via the mirror.
The concentration of energy in hydrocarbons is often overlooked—especially with regard
to the trade off.
76 advert campaign
Yeah that was probably just a bump in the road
In 2055 you’ll need a pilot’s license to drive a car. And you’ll still get free gas.
Bascom: Timeline.
scan list for Patrick
just trying to reduce your stuff is simple-minded, and instead you should make sure you
have "smart stuff" -- that the stuff you have fits into your life. My favorite bits: "What
keeps nomads smart is that having to constantly pack up and move keeps them
sensitive to the meaning and purpose of all the stuff in their lives."
Also, how much of our excess mental "stuff" is in service of physical stuff? Wipe your
feet off, put that drink on a coaster, don't eat in that chair. These are middle class rules:
poor people have nothing to lose and rich people can afford to not care. Here's one rule
that can take the place of many rules: if cosmetic damage to an item will bother you,
don't own it.
For mom.
Import audio:
Import conference video. Begin edits
Complete industrial rail scan piece. Audio? Voiceover? Chickens clucking in the
Many industrialized humans would rather die than learn a whole new way of living. I
think the best strategy is to stay out of the way of the stubborn people, and try to
organize the adaptable people.
Leave San Jose. Move to Mendocino.
Can Cuddle Party restore your faith in humanity? It just might. But at the very least, you’ll
have a great time, and leave feeling relaxed and inspired.
The dawn dissolved any remaining cynicism. Her innocent and earnest way. Her
Another pleasure flush. Mein Neues Fahrrad - Boys Noize Edit, a stretch of the
July 2011- Sameer acknowledges a certain loss of innocence in adopting an expanded
worldview inclusive of the suffering and havoc of our current age.
Tucson city rant
A Twitter account attributed to the suspect has also emerged but it only has one post,
which is a quote from philosopher John Stuart Mill: "One person with a belief is equal to
the force of 100,000 who have only interests."
Philippines opens Bataan nuclear plant to tourists
FNPPs are a new illustration of the perspective to use the world’s oceans as industrial
Banksy says: at some point you have to stop collecting data and make something with it.
You need to replace those binaurals and start recording voiceover.
Maybe it was the trackjacket. Maybe it was Ibiza. Maybe it was Sean Slaughter. Maybe it
was Applegate.
Anita you nearly tarnished the sanctity of my conscious dance experience. All I could
think about was how good your legs looked in that dress. Are those beads that dangle
off the hem?--fucking sexy. I would have played dirty dancing with you last night but I’m
still learning the etiquette—the taboos of the dancefloor. However I do know the way you
move is fantastic and I’m super attracted to you.
Regrettably this is all just for your amusement because I’m moving in two weeks and
have a friend in town after tomorrow night. I wish I’d found my way into that auditorium
six months ago. Blasted calendars! Anyway, thanks for engaging with me. May your
days be filled with romance and intrigue.
Vacuum tubes use plenty of power and convert most of it into heat, and the sturdy
structure made necessary by that inefficiency makes tubes shrug off sudden transient
pulses of the sort an EMP generates. Modern integrated circuits are many orders of
magnitude more efficient, and so those same transient pulses go right into the heart of
an IC chip and destroy it.
[The move toward efficiency created the vulnerability both at the refinery’s micro and
macro levels.]
Still, downscaled expectations will be among the most common themes of the decades
ahead of us, and those who have the uncommon sense to figure this out in advance and
start getting ready for a less efficient future will very likely benefit from the increased
resilience that will provide.
Todd has completely staked his claim on efficiency. Everything is planned out—no time
is to be wasted. Except he’s left no room for chance occurrences and disruptions. So the
plan lacks resiliency.
People In San Jose:
Couchsurfer vouches:
Center for regenerative design
Regenerative Design Center
0031—reclamation panel
0038 Green business certification. Sarah talking about Mendocino movement
0040—food panel start
0041 Tanya on stewardship-- 8:45
0080—defense of the term “sovereign”
0079—re-branding of the environmental center
Binaural acquisitions
Literally Pointing at Corners (can only be viewed here)
Interview series—because people are looking for information about the future—and the
best sources are the people around them.
replace audio of declaration reading
replace last scene with bench/kids. can’t deal with that pullout shot
and titles/ names?
Tanya’s needs trimming—head drop, deep breaths endtitle
Dig into intro audio—Saturday morning welcome talk-- 0029, 0030
Justin has a bit on bringing resources together.
Consider a change in order…
Reevaluate growing food back and forth dialogue between Michael and Marty.
Add fire where there’s a lack of it. get the kids involved
If you don’t want them, stop having them.
add cisterns for water collection
re-write voicover for FLNG
you could also use this for a k campaign
Dance church.
RDC—regenerative design center
Justin and Sarah are becoming better speakers by the day. Their styles are
complementary. He waxes poetic and she cleans up the mess.
This office is going to be incredible. Built in 1880—beautiful unfinished wood floor—
these fold down tables—reclaimed wood sanded incredibly smooth and very lightly
2nd screening.
The savvy cannabis club guy. On the sustainability movement colliding with the indoor
growing industry. The grower’s position.
The business of perception management
Four tet—locked
Radiohead remixes
being uncomfortable and self conscious about broadcasting your sexual fitness.
Making the mill property look magical- getting access for an image taking session.
Justin’s camera. 11-3—Dan
Import Casperfest footage—audio—Sarah: infrastructure. Justin—dairy shutdown and
“this is real deal stuff”. Food farm woman.
Dance mix onto ipod
Reformat resume for innkeeping—print at office
Drop off around village—check in at MacHouse
Find sunglasses
Upload clip for Becky—email
Remove vids from u-tube
Bright and shiny
Isolate your introduction audio—to grace for consideration
Call Justin
Strangeness at the beach
father surfer—incredibly lean—every vertebrae perfectly visible.
Muscular horse with improvised theatrical garb
Man burying his dog’s feces in the sand
In alignment somehow!
That giant house out on the point—following the contours of the terrain.
Justine and Joseph (Joey)—Mendocino coast environmental center.
Evo—Portugal—girlfriend is artist in residence at Mendocino art center.
Wed. 24th presentation to shoot—at center
Continue bookending presentations with establishing shots from within the watershed.
Families in the surf under the bridge. Lighthouse.
She’s not fond of showers because it’s cold when she gets out.
She recommended a book (she seems to have read) on goats. She told me many things
about them. She sings to them.
She liked the image of the Buddha more than the actual. The lighting was better.
Her red hair, still damp when she hugged me.
Michael Foley
Marty Johnson
Andy Pothas
John Richardson
Steve Heckeroth
Tanya Wyldflower
Dr. Richard Miller
Charles Cresson Wood
Sarah Bodnar
Norman Solomon
Jim Tarbell
Justin Calvino
Scott Cratty
Doug Mosel
Hi John,
I understand you’re looking for hospitality staff at Glendeven and wanted to pass along
my resume (attached). I might be the perfect person for this position. I worked seven
months at the Roadrunner Hostel in Tucson then moved to Jan Jose and established a
free hostel with the help of a friend. I’m an astonishingly thorough housekeeper and get
along well with a wide variety of personality types. I take sincere pleasure in keeping a
home. I have a master’s degree and good wine knowledge. Anyway, we should meet.
I’m living in the village and available often. Call or email if you’d like to set up an
Also, here are the phone numbers of a couple people who can attest to my
cleaning/people skills:
Tanya (my manager at the Roadrunner Hostel)
Sameer (we established the Topeka House together)
Brett Tracy
[email protected]
ps—I dropped in earlier today during a bike ride. The property looks amazing—I’m
excited to see more of it. Also, I do this if you’re interested:
Thank you again for meeting with me yesterday John. Glendeven is an exceptionally
beautiful place and I’d be honored to join you and the others in perpetuating its legacy.
Whether or not you decide I’m the right person to help behind the desk (and the bar), I’d
like to again offer my video production capacities. Because they are each so unique, I
could see the benefit in doing a tour for each room—leaving a few surprises for the
guest’s arrival of course. While you can get a pretty good idea of my style from the
vignettes in the archive (, I thought I’d compile
some shots taken in the area in the last few weeks. I’ll send you a link when i have a
rough edit. We could also do a updated version of the vid you currently have on the
website-- perhaps with some voiceover.
Also, I wanted to present an idea I’ve had for some time now. I could see myself as a
guide for any guests wanting to explore the coast by bicycle. With my relatively large
carrying capacity, I could pack along essential tools for minor repairs and flats, extra
clothing, cameras, etc.—anything the guest couldn’t or preferred not to carry, leaving
them delightfully unencumbered. Included would be a full picnic lunch—maybe wine and
cheese, bread and fruit. I’d have picnic spots scouted in advance. While some might be
intimidated by automobiles and the rugged terrain, many will embrace the local routs,
finding them some of them most picturesque anywhere. I don’t do the spandex thing and
would perform this role with grace, style, and competence.
While I think I’d be great in the consulting and planning stage of any personalized outing,
I’d want to also be responsible for the execution. The not driving thing makes this difficult
of course but I’d be willing to put in what I can. While it’s true I’m not a local yet, I’ve
explored much of the coastline and have a number of favorite spots already.
Thanks again for your time,
sarah seems troublingly unserious
justin has too much going on—he’s struggling to support his family and has no time
the plants got sunburned—one less thing to provide a sense of purpose
the abandoned house has mice
your insight and skill sets are vastly underappreciated
you have no real friends here
justin wants to make bad videos
gossip all around
poor listeners—they’re not interested in your thoughts
waiting for the universe to provide—“manifesting” instead of doing what’s required
enough about fucking burning man
he gave me his hats to shrink—his head’s too big
I’ll take what I need in food and shelter if there’s no money. When there’s nothing left to
learn from you I’ll move on.
Your possessions migrating deeper into the red head’s room—paths across the shaggy
white rug.
Is it something you’re doing—is there pretension?
Questions for Foley—
Hi Michael—
I’m editing the audio and video I took at your farm the other day and needed to ask a
couple questions about what is and isn’t ok to include in a finished piece intended for
public consumption. First, you indicated you were uncomfortable with anything pertaining
to the dairy share model. It seems like useful information but I’ll understand if you’d still
prefer to leave it out. Second, I’d really like to include your anecdote about the
Mendocino County Agricultural Commissioner explaining why we’re unlikely to pass a
law banning raw milk. It’s an ideal lead in to discussing who such laws are meant to
serve. Lastly, at the conference you estimated it would cost a million dollars to bring the
farm in line with the codes for a licensed dairy. During our interview at the farm you said
a quarter of a million. I’m probably rather use the clip from the farm but both sound good.
Which is more accurate?
Thanks so much for your time. The footage looks great and I’ll be sending you a link to
view the finished piece before it’s made public. Keep up the good work!
Brett, thanks for asking all this. First, on the model, I'm fine with anything that explains
the model. We just don't want anything on film that outright says we're doing it now. We
are probably overly cautious on this, but it's the advice we get from our lawyer and other
folks embroiled in conflict with CDFA.
Second, I think it's OK to include the Ag Commissioner's comment. I was a little sorry I
said "he actually admitted that," because I think he's probably as skeptical of that sort of
influence as we are.
Finally, I think the quarter million dollar figure is the more accurate. In the first case, I
was going off of what I understood a local, licensed dairy had spent -- but they're much
bigger. So then I started thinking about the costs of doing it from scratch on a small
place like ours. A quarter million is still a ballpark figure, but it's the one I'm using
regularly now.
I'm only sorry Sara didn't get on this one!
Psilocybe atlantis is a rare psychedelic mushroom which contains psilocybin and psilocin
as main active compounds. It is a close relative of Psilocybe mexicana and has been
recorded only from Georgia. It has a pleasant taste and smell.
Psilocybe atlantis has been found in grassy lawns and vacant lots in Fulton County,
My education is being intentionally played down—it’s mostly indoctrination she says, a
waste of time. This is the rationalization used to undervalue me. Why am I here?—I
could be with my love. The value of my relationship with Grace is played down—you’d
jump to someone else in a hot minute he says. My physicality is downplayed. I ride 15
miles into town. He hires someone to move a hottub with the money he owes me. I don’t
have to be here. Three nearly dead animals on the way in—removed from the road. Two
dragonflies locked in mating ring and a beautiful snake—quite shocked and not
completely dead. Deer grazing in the meadow nearby as I read under an apple tree that
drops its fruit every few minutes. Even Sarah is doing it, “now that I’m a bicycle
commuter (having done the ride only once and mostly out of necessity)…” She wants
the halo but can’t live without the Benz.
Why am I here again? Remind me.
We're leaving behind that kind of economy, with secure salaried plug-in positions
provided by giant corporations and governments. We're headed into a world not of "jobs"
but of vocations, trades, crafts, situations, and a lot of casual labor, largely self-guided
by those with who possess a functioning internal compass.
Walking the Labyrinth at the Methodist Church Titan Site. Part of the pilgrimage.
What part does a pilgrimage play in one’s broader spiritual journey?
The weirdly off timing continues with Jenn and she acknowledges it in text.
Build Mendoccino views project—email Jonathan
DVD’s burned to hand out on Saturday—or eventually anyway.
Clean Office Space
Corrections for Mendopendence:
Where’s the intro audio?
The last section needs to go—the audio is terrible.
A place for keynote as well as other process recordings. Marketing has had its time…
But what’s the base audio track—pull the original audio back in.
Longer blank between credits.
Campaign to fund the interview series
What is the ambition?
Portrait of a local food sovereignty movement—the figures involved, their individual
stories and how they overlap to tell the larger story.
How many interviews? With Whom?
What’s to be produced?
Web series? DVD? Book
What is the money for?
Publishing, design work
Stencil Hard Drives—big white numbers
Curate show on Salton Sea Art
Proposal for FLNG construction documentation project
Interview Questions (general):
2. What do you grow, raise, preserve or prepare here? Describe your operation and
something of its history.
3. How do you encourage others to eat locally? What are your talking points?
4. Describe your role, as you see it, in the move toward a local food system.
5. What do you understand to be the major impediments to building a thriving local
food economy (in Mendocino County)?
6. What advantages or unique resources does this region have that might facilitate
the transition to a locally-based food system?
7. What do you see as an achievable level of sovereignty for Mendocino County?
High personal standards
A night with Greg Gordon the celebrity portrait photographer and his student/model
Something very strange with the world
Life is an unfortunate cliché.
He’s coming out—balding guy looses the hat.
Unbelievable pictures of the
The mullet and the sculpture gardnder
He seems to want what we want at the most basic level. Receiving a download while
holding space.
Very awkward moments—and he’ll never change.
Establishing boundaries.
I was thinking about cleaning a beach with some artists
There was a slide where her hips look fat. “Damn those catered lunches.” Making the
model look
an audience when dancing.
A weak ego
Bought, used then returned a can opener from Harvest. Strangely that other guy in line
buying another one.
Admired an early harvest
Well trimmed bud
What are they doing in that office there? They aren’t pedaling anything. Very peculiar,
Picnic at a pot farm
You all with the money—lighten the up will you.?
Apart from your typical humble company. To eat and drink feast and the finest of wines.
It’s sad, maybe the photographer will reevaluate his life. Maybe you’ll live in his studio.
Karla and Oscar Wilde taught you. There is nothing on the world but youth.
Chris Burden has designed
Well edited and scored.
She said it made her queasy. I think something about the audio.
The dash is more finely detailed than anything i've ever seen
you can't tell a story in the modern world without advertising for something you can buy.
The spirit of Rome is alive and well.
What are the girls told about the plants
Love without condition.
A manhunt at the edge of a forest. Lights on but no sirens.
He’s lived in the woods for years
It’s risky to flush him out.
And she comes for a visit. She emerges from the woods—a goddess.
Early harvest.
Beef and pork and an exquisite salad.
Beating back the smell of rodent urine.
No beating around the bush, no gossip no small talk.
No one likes a moral genius. They make everyone’s behavior seem juvenile and absurd.
Meat prepared with love
And no dessert is meant to leave you wanting more.4444
Jacob's print is fantastic.
A world where the food doesn’t have to be locked up at night. More bodies with which to
channel resources to the top of the Aztec pyramid.
Interview yourself.
metropolis is fantastic
some pictures of you taken with expensive cameras. The last night of a portrait
photography class.
Steam coming out of your mouth. The farthest point out.
Another attempt to write you off. Oh you were inspired by them…
get me sally’s phone number for an interview and a visit.
You’re so cool, with your models and your stoner boytoy. Captions you were up late
writing. Not a delay pedal bass cellist. A recording.
That’s what you’re working on? second Friday. It will be your idea.
Hear what he hears.
Ryland—waking to a half plucked chicken. The Yurte. The goat milking, the owl flying
over silently, ordaining the friendship. Hand picked.
Video Production Package
Produced monthly:
3 video compositions with overlapping content
Advert: 30 seconds
PSA: ~2 minutes
Serial: ~4-5 minutes
(a 10-minute composition could be produced in lieu of the usual three)
2-3 location/field shoots each month (within a 50-mile radius)
Informal concept generating sessions
Voiceover recording/audio processing
Basic titling
DVD formatting including menus design
Compression (compositions readied for upload to video sharing websites)
Extras (not included in the monthly rate):
Longer video pieces (15-30 minute compositions)
Still photography and graphic design work
With polished video and design work, a fresh aesthetic will challenge the tacky colors
and fonts that have thus far defined the cannabis industry. The ambition is to build upon
Mendocino County’s well-deserved reputation as a premiere growing region producing
superior product. We’d like to produce work that will position your collective at the
forefront of this ongoing branding process.
Ideas for Serials:
The serial is the
Emphasis on the series. Audience will anticipate the next. Build a following.
1. Enter the grower’s world with a series of video pieces focusing on various stages
in the production cycle. The highly developed methodology of growing would be
revealed in a multi -- Get in to A series Follow the production process from
planting to trimming. Give the viewer a sense of the grower’s world. Not an
instruction manual, but a window into the methodology—the decision making
process, the care and deep understanding of the plant and its cultivation. The
intuition of the grower—what they put in.
2. Featured Growers. Each month a Mendocino grower gets the spotlight. Because
they’re plants are often grown in picturesque locations, the ambiance of the
setting tells much of the story—the mystique of a beautiful hidden away location.
3. Products and services offered by your dispensary. Delivery, edibles, special
offers. Show them in a decidedly flattering light.
4. Varietal of the month. Testimonials, interviews. Focusing on the unique qualities
and growing requirements for each strain. , images.
Applicable qualifications.
Bicycle mounted cannabis delivery in Santa Barbara, CA
MFA, University of Chicago, 2008.
Content shot in high definition format
Passing through the industrial phase, safely to the other side.
First euphoric episode since the move. In the office bathroom. 7:11 PM Saturday,
September 24, 2011. Dinner is prepared. Audible sound is discovered to be possible.
Second Friday Dance Period at the RDC
Sarah moves the handbill—ruled to center from its leftward position.
Equinox dance party at the RDC. September, 23, 2011. Just me.
I think they can sense I don’t care about wine. I think its all very silly this leisure life. Go
back where you came from and do something worthwhile.
You’re so anxious—so worried LooK at the path you’re on… look at how you spend
you’re time. It’s a privileged existence of your own design.
Delivery. Growing. Marketing.
The vet on the beach with the PTS service dog. Anger issues. Rehabbing Buffalo
homes. Shipbuilder—installing weapons systems. Fucked by a priest. Lives off his
Equinox ceremony. Aztec circular plaque—very 2012. Slept on a torpedo. Small fire,
small offering. A gathering of minds. How the world is changing.
Ceilings are higher, rooms larger when you’re small.
Try and always be grateful.
May it never be definitive.
What if everything you said and did was being recorded. You were singled out for
surveillance. Seems he has a genuine disregard for centralized control.
Apologizing to the natives.
The first television advertisement was broadcast in the United States on July 1, 1941.
The watchmaker Bulova paid $9 for a placement on New York station WNBT before a
baseball game between the Brooklyn Dodgers and Philadelphia Phillies. The 20-second
spot displayed a picture of a clock superimposed on a map of the United States,
accompanied by the voice-over "America runs on Bulova time."
The effect upon the viewing public of commercial advertisements, and mass media in
general, has been the subject of philosophical discourse by such luminaries as Marshall
Ma Muze
OZ Farm
The mirror that is new people. Not reflecting back the image of yourself you’re familiar
with. A self consciousness—a reexamination of self. Golden Waves crashing against the
headlands reef.
Do you often physically position yourself below another? They sit on the couch you sit on
the floor. A submission, a humble gesture.
Hitched back to town from navaro ridge. In three segments.
Screen print on butcher paper, Jacob’s imagery, single color on white ground
List of needs and wants:
A space to occupy
replacement front wheel
Replacement binaurls.
Exit cash
We live in a world of shadow, outside is a world of light, and the purpose of art is to use
deeper shadow to show the way to light, without trapping us in shadow.
My favorite vision of the future is Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou: a low population, lots of
overgrown ruins, and life is relaxed and peaceful. This could actually happen! But the
way to get there is not to force some sudden radical change, which would cause a lot of
trauma and make people mean and short-sighted. The path to utopia is to minimize
trauma and be patient.
So, will energy decline and climate change cause severe food shortages and drive
violence per capita up to what it was a thousand years ago? I think there's a bigger
threat to stability, something the champions of modernity are missing. If the world really
is getting better, why do we feel that it's worse? If strong central control reduces
violence, why have the people always opposed it? Our culture tells us that lack of pain is
the best measure of quality of life, but it's not, or we would all live in padded cells. The
best measure of quality of life is meaningfulness of life, and most of us will risk a lot of
pain to feel alive.
We don’t venerate a perpetuator of the progress myth. No oxidizing apples for the
Moran Plant, Burlington, VA
Abandoned nuclear reactor shell—used as a set in the film The Abyss. South Carolina
Transparent hearts—starring daphnia pulex
Starting narrow—widening to end with the full crowd shot.
People sometimes tell me I should be more emotional or engaged, which puzzles me,
because I'm engaged and feeling emotions all the time. What they mean is, I need to
practice widely focused attention.
Steve Jobs said he wanted to destroy Android and would spend all of Apple's money
and his dying breath if that is what it took to do so.
According to extracts of Mr Isaacson's book, obtained by the Associated Press, Mr. Jobs
said: "I'm going to destroy Android, because it's a stolen product. I'm willing to go
thermonuclear war on this."
He is also quoted as saying: "I will spend my last dying breath if I need to, and I will
spend every penny of Apple's $40 billion [£25bn] in the bank, to right this wrong."
Sarah makes another list and deems it a productive morning.
This is not about you.
Things have gotten downright unfriendly with Sarah and I’m unwilling to deal with her
Mendocino collected feathers package.
Pop culture is anything infecting public consciousness that’s primarily intended to make
Wolf of the steppes—leering toward the warm center from outside on the margins
Scan list for Patrick.
Hi John—hope all is well and that you’re enjoying Chicago’s dramatic offerings.
Regarding your last email—I’m ninety percent sure I didn’t pour a Pinot flight the night
you were asking about. I’ve always made sure to enter anything I’ve poured.
Regretfully, this correspondence is also a letter of resignation. As you know, my patch of
living room floor here in the village is, as of today, no longer mine. I’ve not found
alternative lodging within my means and must forfeit my spot in Mendocino. Additionally,
things have descended into downright nastiness with Sarah and the hope of us ever
having a healthy working relationship has vanished. Most importantly, it’s way past time
that I applied my skill set to an undertaking with substance and collaborated with folks
appreciative of what I offer. Indeed, a life of quality is a life with meaning. I hope you
I’ll complete all shifts for which I’m already scheduled but will be unable to appear after
Monday, November 7. I’ve very much enjoyed you and the rest off the staff (and
animals) at Glendeven. I wish you all the best.
Shipping Mendocino overflow to Davis
Passport renewal
Wheel/lighting system-- $600
Riding gloves—rapha-- $100
Replacement binaurals-- $100
Travel Tripod
Edelux light-- $200
Wilfried Schmidt SON28 36 hole dynamo hub-- $300
Mavic CXP 33 (36 hole)-- $85
In the works:
Separate and mail home Mendocino overflow
DVD’s for Sarah
Artist’s list for Patrick—select and scan
Mildred interview—Nov. 9 or 10
Mind map—brown butcher paper, black sharpie
Transparent hearts
Mendocino B-roll comp
S4 DVD comp with vintage book packaging. Title?
Burlington professorship app.—CV and cover letter—Nov. 15 deadline
Music mixing ongoing
Package for jillian—copy of the workout DVD, Reka, and stage three overture/stage
three DVD, $10
Big jet plane—aircraft footage?
Sublime means no ridiculous editing. Let the images and the music come together
without forcing it.
Move with grace and lightness
Be less prosthetic
Eliminate superfluous speech
Pleasant headrush—a touch less oxygen to the head.
Sarah stomping around in her clunky heals—Driving her heavy car.
What I wouldn’t give for a light-footed female in flats around here.
Impersonation: “I (presumably) use social medial all the time and I’m as lonely and
unhappy as anyone.”
It’s just strange to learn your anxiety is so transparent.
Long-term storage of the digital self. “Your body might not survive the apocalypse but
your digital self surely will.” Emphasis on the weakness of the larger platform, its
prospects for the future.
Enjoy your carbon subsidy (while it lasts).
"My riches consist not in the extent of my possessions, but in the fewness of my wants."
-J. Brotherton
all the tourists peering in through the glass, wondering what’s going on in there.
The table setting at Glendeven’s farm to table dinner. Setting the dynamic.
From the most exquisite of suppers to the most humble:
Small chunk of smoked salmon, lentil soup form a can (a good can), added: green onion,
Russian kale from Justin’s farm, red onion. Tomato slices topped with pesto. Plain
yoghurt with frozen blackberries (mashed up)
Ties to the middle class (Hesse’s frivolous bourgeois society) yet pulled toward the feral
life (the Steppenwolf).
Questions for Mildred:
describe the form your life has taken over the past few years—moving onto properties
and taking charge of food production.
why have you decided dedicate so much of your time to growing food?
Describe what your life here (at the Calvino Farm) has been like.
sewing and mending
wash & pack
market gardening
(primitive) tool fabrication
foraging and salvage
bicycle maintenance
cover cropping
plant science/breeding
CSA logistics
winnowing (beans)
tree care
stable logistics
homestead dairy
off grid spring water and solar
canning/food preservation
1. skills
Generally, what determines which skills get absorbed? Are you seeking out particular
ones or has it been circumstance and necessity?
Do you have a larger vision for the kind of farmer you’d like to be? Is there an intention,
something bigger you’d eventually like to apply your vast and varied skill set to?
2. transience
You’ve been particularly transient by most standards, often moving with the seasons.
What’s triggering these moves in general? Is it the seasonal shifts, relationships, the
feeling that you’ve learned all you can in a place?
What’s important to have learned when living transiently?
3. value
just want a sane and valued role growing food...
You also mention having to bug an employer for your stipend.
There’s nothing more fundamentally important than growing food, yet farmers are
consistently undervalued. Sports stars and actors are practically worshipped yet they’re
providing entertainment. Why do you think this inverse relationship exists?
4. legacy
You’ve planted seeds all over the country by setting up gardens and helping to establish
CSA’s and a co-op.
Is it important that something you’ve applied yourself to or been involved in the building
of (the co-op, a garden somewhere) persist after you’ve moved on? It this an intention?
5. proper respect for nature
In your memoir you mention two hailstorms, one that misses you, one that hits your
lettuce crop directly. You also mention drought.
Whether we like it or not, understanding of how our fate it directed by our environment—
climate —the whims of the natural world. The hailstorms and drought that destroy our
crops. The industrial age has largely been about controlling or taming the natural
world—Why do you think it’s important
6. prospects for the underground food economy
Do you feel you are part of an underground food economy—operating on the margins,
subverting the larger money economy—do you think this way of operating will eventually
succeed the industrial model, countering the dominant trend of the past two centuries:
Taking into account what’s happening with industrial organic, are we moving toward or
away from industrial agriculture at this moment?
Anything else you’d like to mention?
Barter—trade experiences, work trade
Fundamental—not getting wrapped up in needing to make money. By farming you were
able to make earning money secondary. Not having a car. How did you get here?
Grateful— a privilege to be able to garden. So many people want to garden and don’t
have time—need to earn money.
Soon all the farmers will be rock stars. People are getting into it.
Thinking of market gardening as subversive—a painful realization because why should it
What’s at play here? What forces are holding this process back?
Get her to make some suggestions for other people?
Define your vision.
The backyard gardens are producing an undeterminable percentage of what we’re
eating. The numbers coming out of the industrial production are much easier to track.
Feeling the safety net of industrial food production. The surplus.
Surplus resources in cities. Use what’s available, what’s lying around.
Living off the waste—the streams of surplus spun off by the industrial machine.
Going back to the plots you’ve started, checking in.
It’s weather, it’s bugs—it goes around. Describe your attitude or approach to the reality
that out fate is tied to unpredictable events—the whims of wild nature.
A balancing—sometimes thrown together—sometimes more time spent to make things
Books—country living encyclopedia.
Commitment to soil—this extra sense.
Setting an example
Second Round:
You’ve said that you’re grateful to be able to garden because so many people want to
but can’t. How have you structured your life so that you can? (Living simply/barter/work
trade/not having a car. How have you made money secondary?)
You’ve said: “soon all farmers will be rock stars.” What’s behind the attention farmers
have been getting lately?
What’s the larger vision behind your skill set?
Explain the realization that you’re part of a “subversive” underground food economy.
Why is it subversive and how did we get to a place where growing food challenges the
status quo. Do you envision a shift away from industrial agriculture and toward kitchen
gardens and smaller scale farming? Is this backwards—a return to an earlier model?
Any words of advice for young people wanting to get into market gardening?
Describe your commitment to soil.
Do you see yourself as setting an example?
Third Round:
1. How have you made making money secondary? What has this allowed you to
do? What have you sacrificed?
2. Does being able to grow much of your own food and make your own warm
clothing give you a sense of security? None is able to pull the carpet out from
under your life.
3. Do you have a sense of where our food system is headed?
4. Describe your commitment to soil.
5. What insight might we pull from The Ox Cart Man or any other books you might
have read as a child?
6. What experience or knowledge do you have of the salvage/scavenge economy in
larger cities?
We’re so scared of pain—of risking our bodies. Too afraid of death.
Pop culture identifiers/Grace’s 80s film revue
The kid in The Neverending Story.
Luke Skywalker
The robot in short circuit
Paranoid delusional episodes
One at the RDC, one at Sameer’s place in downtown SJ.
The hotel at the base of Pikes Peak—a fantastic ruin—animals living in the ballroom.
Massage your third eye
Youth with a mission > Youth with a meeting.
Steppenwolf Quotes:
A wolf of the Steppes that had lost its way and strayed into the towns and the life of the
herd, a more striking image could not be found for his shy loneliness, his savagery, his
restlessness, his homesickness, his homelessness.
In his youth when he was poor and had difficulty in earning his bread, he preferred to go
hungry and in torn clothes rather than endanger his narrow limit of independence. He
never sold himself for money or an easy life or to women or to those in power; and had
thrown away a hundred times what in the world’s eyes was his advantage and
happiness in order to safeguard his liberty.
The man of power is ruined by power, the man of money by money, the submissive man
by subservience, the pleasure seeker by pleasure.
Without really wanting to at all, they pay calls and carry on conversations, sit out their
hours at desks and on office chairs; and it is all compulsory, mechanical and against the
grain, and it could all be done or left undone just as well by machines; and indeed it is
this never-ceasing machinery that prevents their being, like me, the critics of their own
lives and recognizing the stupidity and shallowness, the hopeless tragedy and waste of
the lives they lead, and the awful ambiguity grinning over it all.
Qualities that must be brought to dancing: gaiety, innocence, frivolity, elasticity.
126—There are always a few such people who demand the utmost of life and yet cannot
come to terms with its stupidity and crudness.
You are much too exacting and hungry for this simple, easygoing and easily contented
world of today. You have a dimension too many. Whoever wants to live and enjoy his life
today must not be like you and me. Whoever wants music instead of noise, joy instead
of pleasure, soul instead of gold, creative work instead of business, passion instead of
foolery, finds no home in this trivial world of ours.
Laughter of the immortals:
154—It was a laughter without an object. It was simply light and lucidity. It was that
which is left over when a true man has passed through all the sufferings, vices,
mistakes, passions and misunderstandings of men and got through to eternity and the
world of space.
… true humor begins when a man ceases to take himself seriously.
“This is the art of life,” he said dreamily. “You may yourself as an artist develop the game
of your life and lend it animation. You may complicate and enrich it as you please. It lies
in your hands. Just as madness, in a higher sense, is the beginning of all wisdom, so is
schizomania the beginning of all art and all fantasy.”
I was a child in the stream of sex, at play in the midst of all its charm, its danger and
surprise. And it astonished me to find how rich my life—the seemingly so poor and
loveless life of the Steppenwolf—had been in the opportunities and allurements of love. I
had missed them. I had fled before them. I had stumbled on over them. I had made
haste to forget them. But here they all were, stored up in their hundreds, and not one
53—In fact, the vital force of the bourgeoisie resides by no means in the qualities of its
normal members, but in those of its extremely numerous “outsiders” who by virtue of the
extensiveness and elasticity of its ideals it can embrace.
Random horoscope sent by Jillian:
According to my reading of the omens, Aquarius, you can finally take advantage of a
long-standing invitation or opportunity that you have always felt unworthy of or unready
for. Congratulations on being so doggedly persistent about ripening the immature parts
of yourself. Now here's an extra bonus: This breakthrough may in turn lead to you finding
a lost piece to the puzzle of your identity.
Dan sorry I couldn’t answer your question well before getting through it. but you should
watch these if you have access to fast internet and I’m almost certain you must.
I feel like an Egyptian prince wearing your hat. It reminds me of Arnold
Schwarzenegger’s Predator and references medieval armor yet it’s comfy knit wool! An
incredible gift to be sure. Hopefully you meant it to be a gift. I was uber stoned when you
gave it to me and had trouble reconstructing the event when I sobered. I’ll understand if
you want it back.
I’ve begun a multi-stage move back to Tucson for the winter. The interview footage looks
quite good and I should be uploading the first chunks of it in a few days. I’ll send a DVD
from Arizona when it’s all done.
I have tremendous respect for what you do. You’re one of the few people I’ve met that
I’m truly inspired by. Thank you again.
Brett Tracy c/o Grace Larson
2427 E Mabel St.
Tucson AZ 85719
I overreacted to you taking the rings. I’d started a video piece in which the rings were a
key component and their removal not only aborted the project, but temporarily derailed
my artistic practice. I apologize for reacting the way I did and for not making their
importance know to you.
I’ve successfully earned my keep in non-financial ways for several years now and I’m
sorry you didn’t find value in my upkeep of the house. The place had become one big
mess of your making before I arrived and, in fairness to Sameer, that had to change.
The white chair was your bad. The object embodied your thoughtlessness and it had to
go. You were given explicit notice that it was on the way out.
We have a long history you and I, and I have many fond memories in which you play the
central role. You have an incredible mind and I’m impressed by the endeavors you’ve
chosen for your attention. You’re aesthetic sense as well as your design and engineering
skills are top notch. The bikes I’ve watched you build inspire deep respect and
admiration. Despite all this, I’m strangely poisoned by you. Perhaps it’s related to the
passive aggressive atmosphere that settled over the house, but I often felt physically
choked in your presence—like some invisible hand around my neck. Fucking Darth
Vader shit. You should know that in addition to all your positive attributes, you’re
condescending and manipulative.
I’ve been living in the village of Mendocino for the past few months and had the
opportunity to do some outdoor growing. I’ll be coming through Santa Cruz in a week or
so and would love to pass along some of the harvest as an offering of peace.
I wish you all the best Eric.
Artistic Influences (an incomplete list):
Camilo José Vergara
Werner Herzog
Andrei Tarkovsky
Godfrey Reggio
Hubert Sauper
Hayao Miyazaki
Jan Kempenaers
Cynthia Hooper
Miru Kim
Edward Burtynsky
Trevor Paglen
Hitoshi Ashinano
Center for Land Use Interpretation
Murmuration—starlings in a massive shape-shifting cloud
Mendo B Roll:
Audio—either existing audio or recent watertower sessions.
Mildred interview:
Cut up into digestible sections—no b roll, or calvino farm b roll bookends?
Daphnia Pulex:
“There’s been a long time since I had some fun.’
A rift of unusual size. The madness of San Jose downtown.
Find a book describing the typical characteristics of a pilgrimage site.
The wolf and the owl.
Mendocino to SF—three days of cold, wet and wind
Jumping in between the storm cells after the downpour in the village. Riding the clearing
all day. Meeting John in front of Greg’s place—Pacific Reefs. We hug and he takes my
picture. Eric innkeepers—the Lord’s Land and the Surf Motel. Trimmed in room 113.
Dried by the fake fireplace. The gorgeous pair of teenage girls at the Lord’s Land. Long
eyelashes, green sweatshirt, died dark hair, fair complexions, always laying across each
other or holding hands, legs tangled up. Dillon introduces me to Paul Fenn of Local
Power in Tomales. A rainy night under the bench in the gazebo. Scooting up and back to
avoid the all-night sprinkles. No gloves.
Future waypoints for an industrial tour of the same route:
Yellow house with boarded windows
Bodega Bay nuclear start
Watch tatoo reality show with Amber and newer film with Katie—good series.
All the best to you Blue Butterfly. I keep you in my troubled heart.
Advice from the dream book:
Journaling mobilizes intuition
More alive to the dreamlike symbols and synchronicities of waking life
Track your progress toward (or away from) your larger goals.
Make a clear request to improve dream recall
Clear channels—fewer drugs
Accept and work with the dreams that are given to you
A nightmare is an aborted dream—unwilling the accept the message.
Write a speech for Occupy Wall Street
Visit your student loan holder in Knoxville.
Get in touch with Lucy Pulls
A machine the quantifies human suffering—to weed out the liars
The street cleaner out on a windy fall day-- showered in leaves.
Employees taking about wrinkles at Noah’s in sac before haircut.
On being the second to pull away from the hug.
The homely overweight white woman with the tiny pink Victoria’s secret bag on her arm
and a bouquet of white carnations. Onto the bus.
I rarely feel encouraged to be myself despite feeling like my endeavors have tremendous
transformative potential.
Still trapped in the Religion of Progress—modernist ideals.
How is everyone?—still trapped behind your facebook masks?
A crack in the wheel and the rider begins to crack-up.
Staying at my mother’s house is like living in a furniture gallery only the television isn’t
cardboard and it’s on all the time.
Record voicemail via binaural—beat and greeting. Then change the greeting.
Tecate, Mexico and Rancho La Puerte
Rolling the The Incredible Heat Machine back and forth down the hall between the
bedroom and the common room.
Silent but the cries of ravens and the wind blowing through trees.
Dogs everywhere—wandering the streets.
The Border fence like a Christo earthwork.
Discussions of Vietnam with Rob in the sauna
A vulture sunning itself on a utility pole—the heat-distorted air rising from its dark wings
Christmas eve fireworks
The talent of two musical women. Abigail Washburn and the opera singer from NY.
Half squalor and deprivation, half luxury and abundance.
Mildred Piece: Written component
I met Mildred in Mendocino, CA while working with the Regenerative Design Center.
I asked for a resume and got a stream of consciousness memoir detailing her seasonal
movements about the country, woofing, interning and acquiring…
I’ve met few others with such a well rounded food-related skills set, Including: (list)
I rarely meet someone who’s acquiring genuinely valuable post-industrial skills—her
example is one that’s to be emulated
She’s grounded in the present—she doesn’t see her skill set building up to anything
she’s not already doing.
The video interviews will function as a portrait of the subject—intended to show her
demeanor, her level of contentedness and happiness.
Maybe mention how the ‘subversive’ question is answered in realizing that she wasn’t
going to talk about certain things that you wanted addressed.
Emphasis on her living outside the money economy—her ability to grow much of her
own food and produce much of her own clothing, the ways she’s discovered how to
make money secondary. She can move around and make herself a valuable addition to
any farmstead.
Mildred interviews:
Part one and two (audio interview remains withheld as preparatory material)
Your voice is largely cut, questions appear in text.
Date’s and locations of interviews in end titles
Midland Texas—Let in come down
Abandoned skyscrapers in the West Texas wasteland
As of today, five of the forty downtown skyscrapers in Midland are completely vacant.
Permian Building and Gihl's Tower
Midland Savings Building
Metro and First National Bank buildings
We’re building the machine that will be our captor. We give it eyes when we install video
Given up on an occupation—everyone go back to what you were doing.
Drivers undermining my ability to maintain optimally healthy respiratory function.
Cheating. Generating resentment.
Choose an edes direction.
1. Mumbai—Antillia plus refinery town. Myths sprouting up around the Mukesh family
and the daily goings on inside Antillia. Would feed well into the Gasprom palace outside
Moscow. Difficult and expensive transportation needs. Culturally difficult. Unfortunate
parallels to Michael Moore chasing GM.
2. FLNG construction—Korea—expand to make it a portrait of the Korean shipyard and
include Maersk’s 10 new eee-series container ships. Hypothetical Megastructure. A
thirst for energy. Tentacles reaching to the ocean floor.
3. Curatorial exercise—Dixie Square Mall.
Cancels out poor quote.
choosing Chicago. Choosing grace.
Clear set of questions already flushed out. A last chance to declare its ruin value—to not
leave it unfinished. Feels like treading water. Solicit designs for alternative use of
surrounding space. Aerial photography. Demolition itself gets only a small presence—
perhaps a local news photograph. Commissioned essays are a must. Jon Revelle is a
Thumbtack-like Tribulus terrestris nutlets are a hazard to bicycle tires.
Aka Goat’s head
Used for assassinations—dipped in poison and left where one will sleep.
Used as a supplement for bodybuilders, something to do with regulating testosterone
Pure embodiment of evil.
Nice formal variations—some dark to light, some with holes. Macro Lens large format
Vid of hand stabbing collection method. And a lecture by the artist opening night.
Could be ground into a powder and seeped in hot water
Could be sealed inside an airless glass cylinder
Could be strung on a line and worn like Jesus
Add first Nov 30 audio recording to the B-roll post and La Casona to Las Delicias post.
Quotes: The People of Paper
Los Angeles—where people who have lost their civilization and are afraid of the rain go.
A world built on cement.
Giving yourself a burn as a treatment for sadness
“And then there were no rivers, instead irrigation ditches and piping and obedient
streams at attention, channeled by furrows.”
“The moments where we look back and think about other loves and towns. Places we
have visited and think that maybe we belong, among the orchards and shade of oaks,
that place with real rivers and seasons. Or with that other person, perhaps, with her in
that other town where there are no flowers or ash. Rarely does anything come of this,
but at least you exercise the memory and the muscles of nostalgia.”
Follow Jillian’s model. Take a well-presented representation of your skill set to a
potential employer.
Eric Firestone presents… the boneyard revisited
Yeah wont this be great. Now we can spend our Saturdays standing in line waiting for
retail sales to open. Crop-dusting the parks and public spaces with automobile exhaust.
The worlds of pulp fantasy are by and large worlds in decline, strewn with immense ruins
and scattered with artifacts no one can duplicate any more. The heroes of pulp fantasy
are caught up in the undertow of decline, and their battles and quests are generally
defined by legacies of the pre-decline past that have to be preserved or destroyed
before the future can begin to take shape.
Andy Grimm, Chicago Tribune reporter
Dixie Square Mall has endured an exceptionally long decline, notes visual artist Brett
Tracy, who began a documentary on the site while in grad school in 2010 at the
University of Chicago, and is one of the few people who will mourn the mall's demise.
"Harvey has been such a poor city, and it would take so much (money) to demolish it
with the asbestos and everything, that it really has allowed it to survive as long as it has,"
Tracy said. "Most places, it would have been demolished years ago."
Now, thanks to fans of the movie and urban explorers, the mall has achieved must-see
status from connoisseurs at websites such as Hundreds of photographs
of the darkened guts of the mall posted online attest to regular visitors.
"It's been a ruin for longer than it was a functioning mall," Tracy said. "That's really been
it's legacy. That's how it will be remembered."
I also love the desert, we may be in our next life.
I love you very much,
Your friend and sister crazy Wind
A Dyson sphere is a hypothetical megastructure originally described by Freeman Dyson.
Such a "sphere" would be a system of orbiting solar power satellites meant to completely
encompass a star and capture most or all of its energy output. Dyson speculated that
such structures would be the logical consequence of the long-term survival and
escalating energy needs of a technological civilization, and proposed that searching for
evidence of the existence of such structures might lead to the detection of advanced
intelligent extraterrestrial life.
Since then, other variant designs involving building an artificial structure or series of
structures to encompass a star have been proposed in exploratory engineering or
described in science fiction under the name "Dyson sphere". These later proposals have
not been limited to solar-power stations. Many involve habitation or industrial elements.
Most fictional depictions describe a solid shell of matter enclosing a star, which is
considered the least plausible variant of the idea.
Joan Didian—The white album
May 20, 2012—solar eclipse at sunset over western texas and New Mexico
OK Pal (Original Mix) - M83
Blink And You'll Miss A Revolution - Tornado Wallace Remix - Cut Copy
True Romance (Gigamesh Remix) - Citizens!
Do You Believe? (Amen Brother Remix) - Poolside
Ocean (Ray Mang remix) - 2020 Soundsystem
When You're Dancing ft. Induce (Extended Version) - Gigamesh
I Don't Know What to Do feat. Jeppe (Original) - The Magician
Time Better Not Stop (Mark & Stevens Remix) - WE TRUST
Parfait Tirage (Original Mix) - Paradis
Stratosphere (Zooash 6am Edit) - Digitalism
Sprawl II (thunderlust remix) - Arcade Fire
Four Four Letter - Black Van Remix - The Glass
Ari-es (Grum Remix) - Keenhouse
A Lost Era (Original Mix) - Gesaffelstein
Golden Cage - Fred Falke Remix - The Whitest Boy Alive
Driving To Your House Party - Xinobi Remix - Coupons
Boy From School (Erol Alkan's Extended Re-Work) - Original Mix - Hot Chip
Walk And Talk (Original Mix) - Benoit & Sergio
Big Jet Plane (Adam G Remix) - Angus & Julia Stone
Follow Me feat. Annie - Lifelike Remix - Annie, Ercola
Luminary Ones (Adrian Lux Remix) - Rebecca & Fiona
Royal Dutch Shell’s FLNG project is a hypothetical megastructure that, if realized, will be
the largest floating object ever constructed. Perhaps more than its scale, the facility’s
potential for industrially-scaled disaster has captured my imagination. It’s an audacious
challenge to the sea and yet another measure of our specie’s thirst for fossil energy.
Proper respect for the destructive power of the ocean and the weather.
Although the 1.6 million man hours that have already gone into the design of this
CCCP: Cosmic Communist Constructions Photographed. This incredible book could be
used to plan a tour of monumental Soviet architecture. Many of the structures it features
are already abandoned and ripe for pilgrimage visits.
This incredible architectural survey could be used to sketch out a bicycle-mounted
pilgrimage tour of the Soviet Empire’s outlying territories. If anyone wants to do that.
Space Party
Friday, Feb. 3
2427 E. Mabel
Photographer Alicia Rius is based in the Netherlands. Her series, From the Back Seat of
My Car, is a testament to her vision of viewing abandoned objects as ‘hidden treasures’.
She writes: ‘I did not plan this project. I never looked for these cars, and in fact, I think
they found me. I wanted to immortalize their beauty and turn them into something
Even among those who recognize that the age of cheap energy is ending, the most
common first reaction is to try to find some way to keep some favorite type of machine
running—automobiles, the internet, the space program, you name it.
Thus one of the greatest challenges ahead of us as the age of abundance ends is
nothing less than the rediscovery of the possibilities of our own humanity. The work that
needs to be done—and in an epoch of decline, there will be plenty of that—will have to
be done with the capacities woven into the human body and mind, along with those
additional capacities that can be developed in both by training and practice. The effort
that nowadays gets poured into teaching people how to manipulate machines will need
to be redirected into teaching them how to bring out the creative and productive
capacities in themselves.
What things in your life to you mine—skim off the good stuff and discard tailings. Books
for architectural squares, blogs for dance music. You tube for very specific footage.
Matthew Coolidge
Monday, February 20, 2012, 5:30 PM
Center for Creative Photography 108
Korea's Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering Co. Ltd.
Samsung Heavy Industries’ Geoje Island ship yards in South Korea. The Samsung
ship yard is one of the few yards in the world big enough to construct a facility of this
Geoje Island Project—be present for the construction and launch of both the FLNG
facility and Maersk’s 10 new triple-e class container ships. The enormous floating
objects will be built within a few miles of one another on an island off the south eastern
coast of South Korea. Completion of the ships, although staggered, will reach a peak
sometime around 2014 and FLNG should be on the water by 2017.
Ship Launch Ceremony—another public spectacle—a ritual of the religion of progress
just as the demolition spectacle is (demolitions piece)
I’ve been looking at the spectacular industrial ship launching ceremony as another ritual
belonging to the religion of progress. This piece from grad school is related.
Similarities to the energy demolition montage:
A singular spectacular event (irreproducible)
Sirens and horns for warning and celebration
Lead up-- relative silence, waiting in anticipation for the special moment—climactic event
Clapping afterwards
A public gathering of jovial spectators
The inclination to document for posterity
Maybe a separate out HD footage
Editing methodology:
Crop text
clip all peripheral shots—before and after the main event. Exceptions made for cuts
revealing other viewpoints but covering the same action
Remove clips of intolerably low quality
What if there’s a bunch of leadup or tail end material—good or bad—in the same shot?
Clip or not to clip? Some of the material is particularly revealing of the spirit of the event.
A few are stretched
Crop all fades and transitions—original editing
And the big one: to flip and/or reverse.
Moodmasters Netherlands—video production company specializing in industrial events.
Bird audio with FLNG clip.
Achill-henge: A monument that divides Ireland
Hi Mildred!
As has been known to happen, I got distracted after the move to Tucson and am only
now returning to the projects I started in Mendocino—including our interviews. Below is a
link to a draft version of Part One—the bit we shot at the Albion Farmer’s Market.
Although there are obvious problems with sound quality, camera focus and you being
pretty over-exposed, I think the content holds up well. In the past I’ve avoided the “cross
fade” to smooth cuts, but it’s an accepted technique and relatively unobtrusive—so I’m
giving it a try. Approve? Hate it? Perhaps most importantly, I need to know your
preference for how your name will be displayed. We can limit it to just your first or leave
it how it is—though i'm not sure if Amanda is your middle or last name. Also, I’ll be
writing a short piece that will help put the interviews in context for a viewer that won’t
know anything about you and what you do. Part Two is nearing completion but is
actually proving more difficult to edit. My hope is that you’ll be happy with what I produce
so please voice any concerns. Oh also, in Part Two I may identify the farm in the titling. I
know it remains unofficial, but can we call it ‘Seven Wells’ for the moment?
A note on the vid:
Vimeo hosts larger files that may lag if you don’t give them time to download. I
recommend loading the entire piece before viewing.
Making dance mixes has ties to the glass bead game.
You could totally put together an equivalent Power Point on touring-- making sure not to
make any product endorsements. He seemed to be selling a lot of very specific items.
It’s hard to say. But yeah, with better images, design, depth of knowledge and available
in fucking PDF. Fucking trailer guy.
Wasteland Twinning:
Urban wastelands are at the centre of conflicts around cultural, economic and historical
hegemonies. The common notion still remains that wastelands are of no value until
developed. However these types of spaces hold a unique and valuable role in the future
of humanity as we question notions of progress and strive for more sustainable models
of living. Urban wastelands support inner city biodiversity, provide carbon sinks, improve
hydrological attenuation, provide open space and represent freedom from the controlled
built environment. As metaphors wastelands typify the cause and effect of our constant
‘Promoting the idea of wasteland is obviously a tricky idea politically, since wasteland is
a symbol of the withdrawal of the public authorities – withdrawal, not abandonment.’
Gilles Clément, 2008,
“The voids of the city are spaces which disrupt the urban tissue, leaving it incomplete
and throw into question the use of those spaces. Sometimes called urban ruins, they are
at the limit between private and public space, without belonging either to the one or to
the other. Urban voids are containers of memory, fragments of the built city and the
\’natural\’ environment; memories of the city which constitute a random, unplanned
garden.” Noll and Scupelli, 2009,
Wasteland Twinning hijacks the concept of ‘City Twinning’ and applies it to urban
Wastelands in order to generate a network for parallel research and action. By
subverting a concept which aims to parade a city’s more predictable and mainstream
cultural assets and shifting the focus to Wastelands, questions of value and function will
be raised. From these questions, new practices will be developed. Wasteland
Twinning aims to develop an understanding of the potential of these sites through crossdisciplinary models of practice. A hub wasteland in central Berlin has been established.
The founding group of artists and researchers are now reaching outwards internationally
to individuals and organizations to take part.
The online network – will function as a catalyst for
collaborative research approaches, critique and experimentation.
Wasteland Twinning provides the potential for cultural comparison to take place on a
local, national and global scale. Wasteland Twinning is engaging with the notion of
wastelands as a complex inter-working of social, natural, and technological worlds and
providing a unique link between people and landscape. This act of formalized solidarity
between land and people will go beyond simple gesture to provide practical platforms for
cross-cultural exchange.
Stalking the Zone
19/01/2012 - David Bell
A couple of months back I watched Andrei Tarkovsky’s Stalker for the first time.
Returning to our site on the 22nd December for an exploration with fellow Nottingham
explorers Rebecca and Mat – and Will from Berlin – I was really put in mind of the ‘zone’
in which so much of Stalker‘s action takes place. There’s a strange timelessness to the
wasteland- particularly in the area around the former Great Northern Railway
warehouses – and it’s not too much of a leap of the imagination to think that the usual
laws of time and physics might not apply, as appears to be the case in Tarkovsky’s great
I am, however, wary of narratives of timelessness: as John Cunningham has pointed
out, the fetishisation of industrial ruins can lead to a worryingly apolitical narrative which
strips humanity of political agency. And the way we’re thinking through the site at the
moment is very much concerned with notions of (a disrupted) temporality: our site seems
haunted by what it was, what it could have been and what it could yet be, and we’re
hoping to use this project to confuse these visions- an ‘archaeology of the future’ (to
borrow a phrase from Fredric Jameson) to go alongside a suggestive archaeology of
the past.
Your FLNG project has captured my imagination and I’d like to devote myself to
documenting the grand effort. I think the construction of such a monumental object
should be properly documented. As one of the crowning achievements of the industrial
age. Having spent several years capturing industrial infrastructure in the United States, I
have a special skillset.
Sometime I feel like there’s a large group of people that have already internalized their
oneness and are ready to ascend. Some of them are people I know. They are waiting for
me to join them. They are waiting for me to extinguish my ego self.
Divinity of the Radiant Dawn
Eostre, the Celtic version of Ostara, was a goddess also associated with the moon, and
with mythic stories of death, redemption, and resurrection during the turning of winter to
spring. Eostre, too, was a shape–shifter, taking the shape of a hare at each full moon; all
hares were sacred to her, and acted as her messengers.
Ostara, Eástre seems therefore to have been the divinity of the radiant dawn, of
upspringing light, a spectacle that brings joy and blessing, whose meaning could be
easily adapted by the resurrection-day of the christian's God.
“Little else [...] is known about [Ēostre], but it has been suggested that her lights, as
goddess of the dawn, were carried by hares. And she certainly represented spring
fecundity, and love and carnal pleasure that leads to fecundity.”
-- John Andrew Boyle
"The consort of "EOSTRE" - was none other than a hare (rabbit) - that great animal
symbol of fertility."
Packard Plant attracts dozens on heels of news it may soon be razed:
As word of the Packard Plant's potential demise spread Friday, people from across
metro Detroit showed up, many with cameras in tow, to explore the ruins. / Mike
Brookbank / Detroit Free Press 3/2/2012
Something, Something, Something, Detroit
Lazy Journalists Love Pictures of Abandoned Stuff
Thomas Morton / Vice Magazine
(Italian for "tail", plural code) is a term used in music in a number of different senses,
primarily to designate a passage that brings a piece (or a movement) to an end.
Stage Four Cycle: 26m 32s
1. Eostre: Divinity of the Radiant Dawn
2. Tucson Commute
3. Lethe: River of Oblivion
5. Las Delicias
4m 24s
3m 25s
6m 28s
8m 39s
3m 36s
Interviews: 23m 11s
1. Michael Foley: Green Uprising Farm
2. John Richardson: Noyo Hill Farm
3. Mildred Amanda (Nov. 13)
4. Mildred Amanda (Nov. 16)
4m 33s
5m 14s
6m 55s
6m 29s
Regenerative Design Center: 22m 49s
1. Mendopendence Conference
2. Casparfest
19m 45s
3m 4s
1. brownlands screen test & camera trial
2. Equipotential Space
2m 0s
1m 45s
3. Transparent Hearts
4. A New Ordinance
5. The Joy of Infinity: Part 3 (Mendocino B-roll)
6m 49s
2m 0s
3m 13s
Online disk duplication:
$128 for 100 ($15 shipping)
At subanesthetic doses, ketamine produces a dissociative state, characterised by a
sense of detachment from one's physical body and the external world which is known as
depersonalization and derealization.
Depersonalization (or depersonalisation) is an anomaly of the mechanism by which an
individual has self-awareness. It is a feeling of watching oneself act, while having no
control over a situation. Sufferers feel they have changed, and the world has become
less real, vague, dreamlike, or lacking in significance. It can be a disturbing experience,
since many feel that, indeed, they are living in a "dream".
Derealization (sometimes abbreviated as DR) is an alteration in the perception or
experience of the external world so that it seems unreal. Other symptoms include feeling
as though one's environment is lacking in spontaneity, emotional coloring and depth.
An entheogen ("generating the divine within") is a psychoactive substance used in a
religious, shamanic, or spiritual context.
Psychonautics (from the Greek ψυχή (psychē "soul/spirit/mind") and ναύτης (naútēs
"sailor/navigator") – a sailor of the mind/soul) refers both to a methodology for describing
and explaining the subjective effects of altered states of consciousness, including those
induced by meditation or mind altering substances, and to a research paradigm in which
the researcher voluntarily immerses him/herself into an altered state by means of such
techniques, as a means to explore human experience and existence.
The Glass Bead Game
facing a void… great material scarcity… premonitions of doom.
They had just fully realized that the youth and the creative period of our culture was
over… the inauthenticity of art… the music of decline.
Cynicism—people went dancing and dismissed all anxiety about the future as oldfashioned folly.
p.29-30 temptuous music, temptuous tonal effects, a bit on dance
p.82-83 on doctrine and truth and the deity within
p112. On dating within Castillia, on men giving more of themselves because there is no
money or offers of marriage.
Before his evening meditation he and his aids, the coach and the meditation master,
were supposed to review each official day, noting what had been well done or ill done,
feeling his own pulse, as meditation teachers call this practice, that is, recognizing and
measuring one’s own momentary situation, state of health, the distribution of one’s
energies, one’s hopes and cares—in a word, seeing oneself and one’s daily work
objectively and carrying nothing unresolved on into the night and the next day.
The question is only: Where do we classify this phenomenon? What do we call it, how
explain it? That sounds like the pedantic schoolmaster, but we Castilians are
schoolmasters, after all; and if I want to classify and find a term for your and our
experience, it is not because I wish to destroy its beauty by generalizing it, but because I
want to describe and preserve it as distinctly as possible.
“That is exactly what I am denying. World history is a race with time, a scramble for
profit, for powers, for treasures. What counts is who has the strength, luck, or vulgarity
not to miss his opportunity. The achievements of thought, of culture, of art are just the
opposite. They are always an escape form the serfdom of time. Man crawling out of the
muck of his instincts and out of his sluggishness and climbing to a higher plane, to
timelessness, liberation from time, divinity. They are utterly unhistorical and
“Your love for culture and the products of the mind does you credit. But it happens that
cultural creativity is something that we cannot participate in quite so fully as some people
think. A dialogue of Plato’s or a coral movement by Heinrich Isaac—in fact all the things
we call a product or the mind or a work of art or objectified spirit—are the outcomes of a
struggle for purification and liberation. They are, to use your phrase, escapes from time
into timelessness, and in most cases the best such works are those which no longer
show any signs of the anguish and effort that preceded them. It is a great good fortune
that we have these works, and of course we Castillians live almost entirely by them; the
only creativity we have left lies in preserving them. We live permanently in that realm
beyond time and conflict embodied in those very works and which we would know
nothing of, but for them. And we go even further into the realms of pure mind, or if you
prefer, pure abstraction: in our Glass Bead Game we analyse those products of sages
and artists into their components, we derive rules of style and patterns of form from
them, and we operate with these abstractions as though they were building blocks. Of
course all this is very fine; no one will contend otherwise. But not everyone can spend
his entire life breathing, eating, and drinking nothing but abstractions. History has one
great strength over the things a Waldzell tutor feels to be worthy of his interest: it deals
with reality. Abstractions are fine, but I think people also have to breathe air and eat
…reached the point at which great men must leave the path of tradition and obedient
subordination and, trusting to supreme, indefinable powers, strike out on new, trackless
courses where experience is no guide.
[the impossible task – to continue a life in the Castilian sense in the midst of worldliness.]
…this very practice of meditation, the cultivation and exercising of the psyche, was what
isolated me, made me seem so unpleasantly strange to others, and actually rendered
me incapable of really understanding them.
What I am seeking is not so much fulfillment of idle curiosity or of a hankering for worldly
life, but experience without reservations. I do not want to go out into the world with
insurance in my pocket, in case I am disappointed. I don’t want to be a prudent traveler
taking a bit of a look at the world. On the contrary, I crave risk, difficulty, and danger; I
am hungry for reality, for tasks and deeds, and also for deprivations and suffering.
Toto looked eagerly toward the dark crest of the mountain, behind which the sky pulsed
in the morning light. Now a fragment of the rocky ridge flashed violently like a glowing
metal beginning to melt. The crest blurred and seemed suddenly lower, as if it were
melting down, and from the fiery gap the dazzling sun appeared. Simultaneously, the
ground, the house, and their shore of the lake were illuminated, and the two, standing in
the strong radiance, instantly felt the delightful warmth of this light. The boy, filled with
the solemn beauty of the moment and the glorious sensation of his youth and strength,
stretched his limbs with rhythmic arm movements, which his whole body soon took up,
celebrating the break of day in an enthusiastic dance and expressing his deep oneness
with the surging, radiant elements. His steps flew in joyous homage toward the victorious
sun and reverently retreated from it; his outspread arms embraced mountain, lake, and
sky; kneeling, he seemed to pay tribute to the earth mother, and extending his hands, to
the waters of the lake; he offered himself, his youth, his freedom, his burning sense of
his own life, like a festive sacrifice to the powers. The sunlight gleamed on his tanned
shoulders; his eyes were half-closed to the dazzle; his young face stared masklike with
an expression of inspired, almost fanatical gravity.
Lately I’ve been finding the project's embedded structures to be rigid and limiting. My
thinking has become increasingly static because of a perceived need to maintain
conceptual continuity within the thread. What’s called for is a freer and more agile
consideration of possibilities, in multiple arenas.
I’ll be wrapping up The Illuminated Thread in the next month or so to pursue other
interests. The collection of implicit rules guiding the project has become increasingly
rigid and refined, framing and restricting my practice. Laden with a desire for continuity in
the archive and assumptions about what type of piece fits within the Thread, I am (if only
subconsciously) overlooking a broader set of creative possibilities, and am predisposed
to approach new material in a way that consigns it to fit within the mold of prior work.
Additionally, I am beginning to question the value of adding more photographs and video
to a world already saturated with this sort of material. I’ve learned much that will be
carried forward into future endeavors. My sincerest thanks to everyone who took an
interest in the project. I encourage you to explore the archives.
through which I develop and evaluate new ideas for work, allow to consider the full
spectrum of possibilities
often rejecting possibilities that don’t reflect the core concerns of the project.
In essence, The Illuminated Thread now acts as a lens, filtering my awareness of
stylistic and conceptual possibilities for new work.
Tewaterlateing cont.—rotate 180, flip, reverse, mirror. Replace sound with something
less abrasive. Perhaps a beat. One more layer of processing. Select visually interesting
fixed position shots. Streamers and confetti are nice. Consider music. Consider
transparency and overlay. Think the approach/reverse is a better version of the two
directions possible for playback. In most cases—maybe alternate in and out—
respiration—repeated penetration.
Protocol—if it’s going to be upside down, which they all should be—export at 640x480
rotated 180 degrees.
All other effects can be applied later with no quality loss.
Trying to increase ambiguity in terms of the type of vehicle moving through the frame.
Add filters one at a time, in a certain order, until ambiguity threshold is reached.
180 rotate > reverse playback direction > flip over vertical axis > mirror
or pursue the most visually interesting combination
conservative use of mirroring—sprinkled in
More ambiguity weighted toward the beginning. The patterns should be difficult to
recognize. Boats launching in reverse creates an additional layer of complexity.
Imagine a sci-fi world of giant ships launching into Jupiter’s gaseous atmosphere.
Parallel Worlds Edit
patriotic ship launch song:
composé en 1906 par Charles A. Zimmerman
‘Anchors Aweigh’—American Military March and official song of the US Navy
Brownlands Work:
The Passage
Eostre: Divinity of the Radiant Dawn
Brownlands Screen Test
Brownlands Satellite Composite Image
Brownlands Return Images
Brownlands Fitness: Short & Long Edit
Spiral Hearth
Audio Class Proposal
Audio Recordings both performance and ambient
Tower Lapse
Human Remains—vans, torched and extinguished
Davis art center as venue for future Brownlands exhibition
Tree Shaker
Apparently this process kicks up so much dust that neighbors are instructed to stay
indoors while shaking is occurring.
shake (another's) tree Slang
To arouse to action or reaction; disturb
A good blog post on what they describe as a post industrial heritage park. Immerse
yourself in Burtinski landscape next time in Spain.
Hi Matt
Checking in with you.
I’d definitely enjoy creating some visual material for your dancefloor. I have lots of ideas.
Is there a theme or an essence, or perhaps a spirit for the event on the sixth?
If you’re occupied and can’t get in touch I’ll understand, but I'll be forced to lower my
expectations and download a beat matching cross-fade plug-in for itunes (and nobody
wants that).
Talk to you soon I hope,
Mendocino Coast Novel
‘The Shipbreaker’ notes:
on the beach burning fine furniture from the wrecked clipper ship.
“she’ll need a fire if you want her to live.” Burn the furniture.
Kudzu vines pervasive
Scavenge economy/spirituality
Drowned coastal cities—submerged buildings create a dangerous reef
Brutal competition for resources
Rigid hierarchy
“Feral” overused
Loyalty and trust—major themes
“The Accelerated Age”
Post-oil world fiction series, great seminar class
The Univega tells its story in pictures
You are only the center of your own film.
Crista's Totally Fit Health & Wellness Center
(520) 398-9940
70 W El Burro Ln, Tubac, AZ 85640
Uses for coconut oil:
Skin Moisturizer
Shoe polish
Massage oil
Thermostat—melting point near room temperature
Hair product
Matt McCoy DJ seminar
week one assignments:
Clean up album artwork and ID3 tags for tracks in primary playlist
Add cue points to active playlist tracks
Balance levels where appropriate
Do another set with Final Cut timeline
Play around with scratch live—loops, crates
Categories: Hard electro, eighties (sounding), eighties, comedown
Why are the cool ways of dropping out so difficult, and the easy ways so uncool? I'm
totally in favor of living with your parents, going on the dole, investing in Monsanto,
marrying into money, selling ads on your blog, whatever your easiest path is to the
foundation and precondition of true meaning in life: giant blocks of time when there's
nothing you're supposed to be doing. This is what I was getting at in How To Drop Out,
when I said it's better to get a slack job you don't care about, than try to get a job doing
something you love. Because you don't even know what you love until you break your
life down and build it up from giant blocks of unstructured time.
If an emotional display comes raw from inside you, you will most likely be punished for it;
if there is an emotional display that you are rewarded for showing, most people who
show it will be faking it.
This applies not only to emotions but identity. Our culture gives us a set of cliches, or
myths, or stereotypes. The more you show yourself as you really are, the more you will
come into conflict with people who want you to fit a box that's already in their head, so
they don't have to think to understand you. And the more perfectly someone seems to fit
one of those boxes, the more likely they're faking it. (There's a grey area between
pretending to be what you're not, and changing yourself, which I'm not going to get into
sound of noise film
destabilizing a society
the addiction to digital communication technology is a weakness. Imagine how many
would have nervous breakdowns if they couldn’t get a call through. Start taking out cell
towers and people will loose their shit fast.
Chef Ryan delivered a well stated message during the brunch group’s impromptu
meeting out back today. He said we all need to be professionals for the restaurant to
thrive. Well I didn’t feel like a professional at all today and I think it was obvious to most
that I was at my limit. Adding insult to injury, the guy that didn’t tip me on mother’s day
came in and was particularly generous with Adriel. The last thing I want to do is let my
co-workers down so I may need to quit the team. Also, I’m feeling particularly disliked by
the kitchen staff. This much said, I remember the cheeses.
Though you should know where my head is at. Please Advise.
The Abandoned Remains of the Superconducting Super Collider
Waxahachie, Texas
The shipbreaking yards of Chittagong, Bangladesh
Shipbreakers (2004) is a documentary film. A co-production of the National Film Board
of Canada with Storyline Entertainment directed by Michael Kot, the film explores the
practice of ship breaking decommissioned vessels in Alang, India.
The Shipbreakers from: International Labour Organization
Ready notes for print—
And we’re leaving some plank pages in the spiral to continue plans in analogue
Copy for Sameer to keep and proof.
Dreams of crushing marble Greek statues with concrete blocks hoisted to the high
corners of temples (a parking lot nearby) a witness only/Jimmy and Tanya/Sparkroot
Goat Milk Latte fail/
Fighting Traffic Quotes:
p.30 Speed, Danger and Motor Tyranny. “In the early 1920s most people found the
blame for pedestrian casuaties very easy to deduce. According to prevailing opinions,
when a motor vehicle was involved in the injury or death of a pedestrian, responsibility
lay entirely with the motorist.”
p.66-70 Pedestrians’ Rights
p.79 “Challenged by an automobile, most people on foot conceded the roadway
(including crosswalks) as a matter of practical necessity, leaving aside finer matters of
custom, right, or equity. This change in habits lent support to those who claimed that
pedestrians did not belong in the streets. “The custom which made the common law is
likely sooner or later to change it,” one journalist observed.”
p.107 engineers and social control “The experts who formulated the elements of social
control were often engineers. In the Progressive Era, the language of engineering was
extended to include the ordering of society; no longer was it confined to the design of
masonry abutments, iron drive shafts, or electrical windings. Engineers developed their
own forms of social control to manage the problems of modernity. “We are trying to
accommodate human nature to new physical facts,” Engineering News-Record
editorialized in 1924. Traffic control was one such effort.
p.119 conditions of natural monopolies
p.124 a “rational engineering model based upon empirical considerations of urban
p.135 central control of timed signals “At 8:00 A.M. on Sunday, February 7, 1926, Mayor
William Denver threw a knife switch, starting the system.”
p.138 “[engineers] narrowed the functions of both the sidewalks and the roadway. This
formalization of traffic forever changed the character of city streets. Within a decade,
p.156 new capacity inviting new demand
p.164 “the old common law…
p.166 each year
the introduction of electric lighting and a change in biological rhythms
Sao Palo rectangle images—locate originals
Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 Macro USM Lens - $430
Field Notes Transcribed:
Discussions at Shot in the Dark: How to run a collective, a socialist organization.
Discussions with Rob: how to return the Rancho to a collective mode.
I overloaded my ride trying to eat like Mildred and had to walk it home.
The turn to glance out the glass front door and catch the little girl in pink with her arm
spread out the backseat window of her father’s SUV. The energy building whose glass
façade reflects the setting sun directly at your front door. (on a particular day of the
year). Blinded by copper light as you lock the door behind you. Rolling fast down
Sentinel Peak, shot from the top of the energy building downtown. A manic day fueled by
highly nutritious concoction. A chat with Tribune reporter about Dixie Square.
Dixie Square—who will witness the demolition? Any devotees? Any last respects?
An alternate trajectory. Outer sections of the structure are periodically reclaimed as they
“open up,” urban agricultural plots slowly push toward a sanctified core that remains a
space for exploration and quiet contemplation.
The Domes north of Tucson
Six Flags New Orleans—spent some time underwater—abandoned
Preston and Ed finish your ride with a steel tab painted black
Tucson wastewater treatment plant’s eternal flame
Molten ore dumped on a hillside, glowing in the twilight—smelter waste product
Mining vintage architecture books for visual material
This American Life—China’s electronics production
Supernatural Norms—something in an everyday context that breaks through into the
supernatural, however briefly.
REI Garage Sale—a consumption frenzy with hundreds of “outdoor enthusiasts” and
there’s space to park in the four bike racks. People barely holding on to their civility. The
shoe table attracts a high concentration. Being the first to leave emptyhanded.
If you’re still being proud of yourself. Tack this on and send you east into the desert.
Animal TOTEM cutting—very high value.
The tractor trailer that transforms into a trade show tent
A moment to count brand logos within your field of vision (partial and complete):
Edirol/Roland, Crown Royal, Verizon, Samsung, ArtTool, Staedtler, Sunset, Marmot,
Bell, Eddie Bauer, Gore-Tex, 5/10, Ted Baker, SON, (that’s fucking 16!)
Needs to sit for a bit
Needs to be more of a help
Needs to realize his strength is diminishing
Humbled by such apparent wisdom
Charcoals hung on the walls of abandoned office building lobbies
Giant green plastic round dumpster sitting in the wash’s sand waiting for the monsoon
paddle downstream.
The Motley at Scripts, yellow legal pads, seal courtyard, the guilt of invading a forbidden
The ongoing zombie apocalypse. Or ‘Saturday Morning Pursuits’—Consumption based
activities. America greets itself out in the consumption zones.
The Final Empire – William Kotkey
I used to be aware that worry was all in my head—paranoia could be almost entirely
avoided. Now reality seems more out of my control—less easy to brush off. Less a
product of my imagination. I feel out of control—more at the mercy of events.
A healthy level of apathy and disconnect
Poisoned again
Doing lots of expanding,
Lots of hard listening and haircuts.
Reached a peak on that night
More and more
Ego self all the time.
When Telepathy strikes you as boring.
Nasa TV rocket test clips
He remembers how to apply his leverage.
Frightening indoor topography,
And the eyes drift toward each other
Living during a time before good characters, gifted humans.
Its his escape
Live at the time
Then they’re off for more sounds.
Admits to a flaming rock from space
Testing the waters
Coming clean
Time for sleeping in
Ron’s ride—Ron’s Produce, Ron Barber—after thinking of grandfather’s de and the
golfer cake top figure he had out on his desk. There is a nice charcoal of this
Hypr3D—3d modeling software using multiple images
Expecting to die any day
Happy to have made it to another stage
Passion lacking
Cult of the deindustrial future—creating a religion is difficult
Two references to keeping old numbers in your phone: Adriel/Nadine
Two references to spending less time before screens: Nadine/Caitlin
Rarely feel enchanted
Don’t like using the vacuum. It’s noise and obviously high electrical drain makes me feel
rushed when it’s running. When I feel rushed I don’t feel like myself.
People are giving meaning to their lives with pursuits that that are largely shallow and
often harmful. Consumption based activity—buying things, getting the sweet deal.
Operating automobiles and generally looking for ways to continue using excessive and
irresponsible amounts of energy
Water has been summoned again. Aquarian. On Mt. Lemon today, water arrived shortly
after its critical need was admitted. It came in a plastic bottle carried by a black jeep
(intended for the dog). Hands back the empty container and thanks the woman
Eclipse dried laundry
Eclipse ice cream man
Lunar grazing
A table’s son shares your first two names
You tell people what you think they want to hear
Substantial promise
Everyone’s time becomes cheap to buy, everyone is eager to sell.
The appealing drama of Mexican gang carnage
Where one’s time goes
Unplugging the vacuum robot during its first charge cycle—damage. Shouldn’t be
operating. Let the technology die. Let the modern gadgets go. Eternally optimistic about
his own condition. Best Practices, that’s Taylor.
Phonier people never lived.
Godly sick of academics.
Where one finds meaning.
Ultra archival—the story is passed down. The seeker
Cat flea infestation
Implant from todd
Revel in a place’s spiritual history—elevate its value as a site
Learning to read minds—getting people to speak their thoughts
Cheese plate and a diet coke—the sheriff coming to check my progress
Requiem for a ring tone
Failed collider ring, ripe for a visit
You’re not convinced these are the final seconds of your life. You could stab or slit his
throat but you don’t and so you die.
Current Pursuits:
Grace’s dawn
The ant and the goat’s head—journey across the yard
Mildred interviews post
Titan posts
Wasteland Twinning research proposal—compile brownlands work
Call Wally—the disk needs to be returned—it’s part of the collection.
Email Moodmasters—Netherlands
England—if anyone over there needs a caretaker…
Have CODA DVD’s made online—distribution
Have notes document printed at 400 pages—proof
Party planning
Tucson to Chicago:
1,781 miles
Allow 38 days minimum
Tucson to Burlington, VT:
via Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Columbus, Pittsburg, NY
2,730 miles
Allow 60 days minimum
Hi Nadine, it's Brett, I thought, If you're gonna come by and and. I don't know if you're
sunsets no backyards and spoke Smash and maybe watch movie One of those things
but. I would like to see it. So, gimme a call when you can.
Lessons of Darkness (German: Lektionen in Finsternis) is a 1992 film by director
Werner Herzog. Shot in documentary style on 16mm film from the perspective of an
almost alien observer, the film is an exploration of the ravaged oil fields of post-Gulf War
Kuwait, decontextualised and characterised in such a way as to emphasise the terrain's
cataclysmic strangeness. An effective companion to his earlier film Fata Morgana,
Herzog again perceives the desert as a landscape with its own voice.
Mirage—another curated visual program for dancefloor screening (2 hours)
1. Blowup
2. Zabriskie Point
3. The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner
4. Fata Morgana
an optical illusion caused by atmospheric conditions, esp. the appearance of a sheet of
water in a desert or on a hot road caused by the refraction of light from the sky by
heated air.
something that appears real or possible but is not in fact so.
Themes: play, flight, steam, transit/voyages, atmospherics, the desert, ice & snow
5. Blowup (model shoot, romp with girls)
6. Zabriskie Point (roll in the dust, slow motion explosions montage)
7. The Great Ecstasy of the Woodcarver Steiner (slow motion flights)
8. Fata Morgana (Planes landing, dunes)
9. Airbus approaches
10. Snowfall
11. Insects in flight
12. Desserts
13. Lessons of darkness—helicopter flyovers (flipped for further decontextualisation)
14. Tewaterlating (Parallel Worlds Edit)
15. Market Street streetcar voyage—1906
16. Dolphins playing (from Oceans III—French documentary)
17. Shaky eclipse
18. Avalanche approach
19. Crystals
20. Fantastic Voyage (first look)
21. Voyage in Time—Tarkovski Documentary (girl with balloon and Roman bath)
22. Space Shuttle Start
23. Chinese marching
24. Deserto Rosso (Steam release)
25. Winged migration
Bus stop riff-raff compilation—daily shots of folks gathering at the bus shelter, warm lateafternoon light bathes the scene.
Condo Crawl. trash liners scented and spiced
Deep end—referring to the deep house on the playlist. Abandoned pool image for flyer.
boulder fantasy
There’s a really good massage school in Boulder—like one of the best. I could totally
see me going there while you go to cooking school. We’d be roommates again—off to
our respective campuses each morning, eating well, doing outdoors shit. Sounds good
Goat’s heads are sprouting in the yard, revealing distribution patterns and much about
their structure and how they germinate. Also, the big black desert ants are collecting
them like there’s no tomorrow, making long journeys across the yard, hauling the
awkward objects over gravel and rough terrain. Around the nest is an abundance of
spent nutlets, suggesting the ants are sprouting underground then hauling out their
trash. I’d venture to say it’s their main energy source, at least at the moment.
Assignment: document the entirety of one of these exhausting journeys, from source to
nest. Over boulders, through young Tribulus Terrestris forests, ending with an arrival at
the entrance to the nest.
Saturday, August 4, 2012
Die große Ekstase des Kellners Tracy
The great Ecstasy of the Waiter Tracy
‘Mirage’ Projection
3 hour 10 min ‘spring mix’ (with alternates)
premium vodka, mixers
at least six hits of molly
the last joint
other drugs?
Finalize spring mix—balance levels, check transitions, export, upload
Call Patrick
Write invite email template
Request Sunday off
Do Arrival map with satellite
Pull incredible journey clip—replace window content
Or woodcarver Steiner with blue void for bold white text
Hyper 3d the interior of the living room
Lounge light photograph
Invite list:
Caitlin, sparkroot (1st)
Michael, gay men (1st)
Nadine (1st)
Maynard’s (Melanie, Karolina, Gage, Carson, Gaby, Christian, Rip?, John)
Dino, Joe
Julie, Ashley, yogis
Matt McCoy (1st)
Amber (1st)
Visualizer Killer Content:
Email JP when mix is done re bottom bracket, and Joe
Chairs are about status, power, and control. That’s why we like them. Ask any furniture
historian about the origins of the chair and they’ll gleefully tell you that it all started with
the throne.
As chairs became prevalent in schoolrooms, they became a tool for teachers to control
the movement of children, whose healthy tendency toward activity made them difficult to
teach. Today, children in the developed world learn early that sitting still in a chair is part
of what it means to be an adult. The result is that by the time they actually reach
adulthood, most have lost the musculature to sit comfortably for prolonged periods
without back support.
Burn the furniture
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