As a young man I lived extensively on the road, I traveled by freight train, hitchhiking, walking of course, to and fro across the US, then across the Mid Pacific and Europe. I was constantly moving along, busking and working as opportunity presented itself. I slept where I could, in communes, parks, garages, along railway tracks, on the beach and in the deep woods.
I settled down for a bit, finished school, and then joined the work world. I moved frequently though, often living in one location for less than 6 months. This lasted a few years until I returned to my nomadic life. In London one early December I was waylaid by Love, and though we were now two, and married, we still bounced around between Europe and the US. Together we wandered and it was a wonderful life being with someone you love and exploring together. Then as it often happens having a child eventually made us finally put our roots down. It’s a funny process. Some of us never take to it, and others decide after years of the ‘civilized life’ to chuck it all in and hit the road. Some have never leave the road, they are born on it, and they die on it.
I met a few of the Travelers and Gypsies in my time, some, by choice others by the society that they were born into. I used to see the wagons of the Gypsies in rustic areas of the UK, and even the settlements of pure chaos in London when the Gypsies would take over an abandoned lot. In the city it was not the most pleasant of set ups, and the area was generally overwhelmed by trash etc. pretty quickly. In the country encampments not so much.
The newest phenomena in the UK is “The New Age Travelers”; tribal in nature, emerging from the countercultures womb in the late 60′s (but really this is far older), vans, busses, lorries decked out in paint showing up at the festivals, and ranging up and down the spine of Britain. Similar groups are to be found in Ireland, more related to the Tinkers I would think, and I have seen similar groups in France and Germany as well. We have them here in America, with The Rainbow Gathering and other events being the locus social events for the wanderers. They are harassed here in the States, and in the UK by the local authorities. It seems their very existence threaten the social order if you read between the lines. The truth of the matter is that they do threaten the social order, and the ‘social order’ has tried to eradicate them time and again without success like the Gypsies have been across Europe and elsewhere. They threaten the social order in that they are chaos embodied opposed to the stasis of the state and economic model. They are a danger to some as they awaken memories that many wish that were forgotten of other times, and ways of life. Yet they continue, and continue so hold up a mirror if someone is looking.
There is something in our nature that crops up. I used to call it The Horizon Line. I long at times to just cut loose, and Mary & I have discussed it frequently. There may come a time soon when we give up and just follow our noses down the road. Mind you, I love my town, my friends, our home. I am very comfortable in the life I have. That may be the key to all of this; comfort. Perhaps we need something to goad us on. Something to shake us, and makes us head up the path, down the road, take to the sea, hop a freight, to wander, just wander.
It seems more and more people are now either forced to the road by the economics of the times, becoming homeless or by choice. It reminds me that humans have been both nomads and homesteaders for a very, very long time. Curiosity drove us out of Africa, or Asia (or both), we wander across the land, the seas, and now it seems the skies. It can be a good life, better for some then being trapped in some god-awful job or situation. I see so many young ones out there now. Maybe more so than when I lived on the road. People like to construct reasons for what they see; horrible family lives, poverty, drugs, alcohol. Perhaps for some, but not for all. Some wander just to wander and that is okay.
My friend Walker wanders quite a bit. I admire his skill in finding old growth, un-touched mountain lakes, hot springs and the hidden places. His occasional photos of his latest adventures will drift up to the web, and I feel the stab of beauty from what he has sent along. With the pictures comes longings, dreams, and memories of waking up beside the ocean in a sleeping bag with the morning fog still up. He wanders by choice, and I truly admire that. We should not forget the nomadic urges that have driven us, as well which drove our ancestors to new horizon lines. The road surely goes on forever.
On The Menu:
Richard Thompson – Beeswing
Gary Snyder Poems
Hakim Bey: Waiting for the Revolution
New Age Travelers Documentary
An English Gypsy Tale: -De Little Bull-Calf
The Levellers – Battle Of The Beanfield
Richard Thompson – Beeswing
Gary Snyder Poems:
“I feel ancient, as though I had
Lived many lives.
And may never know
If I am a fool
Or have done what my
What You Should Know to Become a Poet
all you can know about animals as persons.
the names of trees and flowers and weeds.
the names of stars and the movements of planets
and the moon.
your own six senses, with a watchful elegant mind.
at least one kind of traditional magic:
divination, astrology, the book of changes, the tarot;
the illusory demons and the illusory shining gods.
kiss the ass of the devil and eat shit;
fuck his horny barbed cock,
fuck the hag,
and all the celestial angels
and maidens perfum’d and golden-
& then love the human: wives, husbands and friends
children’s games, comic books, bubble-gum,
the weirdness of television and advertising.
work long, dry hours of dull work swallowed and accepted
and lived with and finally lovd. exhaustion,
the wild freedom of the dance, ecstasy
silent solitary illumination, entasy
real danger. gambles and the edge of death.
How rare to be born a human being!
Wash him off with cedar-bark and milkweed
send the damned doctors home.
Baby, baby, noble baby,
We Make Our Vows Together With All Beings
Eating a sandwich
At work in the woods,
As a doe nibbles buckbrush in snow
Watching each other,
A Bomber from Beale
over the clouds,
Fills the sky with a roar.
She lifts head, listens,
Waits till the sound has gone by.
So do I.
Anger, Cattle, and Achilles
Two of my best friends quit speaking
one said his wrath was like that of Achilles.
The three of us had traveled on the desert,
awakened to bird song and sunshine under ironwoods
in a wadi south of the border.
They both were herders. One with cattle
and poems, the other with business and books.
One almost died in a car crash but slowly recovered
the other gave up all his friends,
took refuge in a city
and studied the nuances of power.
One of them I haven’t seen in years,
I met the other lately in the far back of a bar,
musicians playing near the window and he
sweetly told me “listen to that music.
The self we hold so dear will soon be gone.”
Hakim Bey: Waiting for the Revolution
HOW IS IT THAT “the world turned upside-down” always manages to Right itself? Why does reaction always follow revolution, like seasons in Hell?
Uprising, or the Latin form insurrection, are words used by historians to label failed revolutions–movements which do not match the expected curve, the consensus-approved trajectory: revolution, reaction, betrayal, the founding of a stronger and even more oppressive State–the turning of the wheel, the return of history again and again to its highest form: jackboot on the face of humanity forever.
By failing to follow this curve, the up-rising suggests the possibility of a movement outside and beyond the Hegelian spiral of that “progress” which is secretly nothing more than a vicious circle. Surgo–rise up, surge. Insurgo–rise up, raise oneself up. A bootstrap operation. A goodbye to that wretched parody of the karmic round, historical revolutionary futility. The slogan “Revolution!” has mutated from tocsin to toxin, a malign pseudo-Gnostic fate-trap, a nightmare where no matter how we struggle we never escape that evil Aeon, that incubus the State, one State after another, every “heaven” ruled by yet one more evil angel.
If History IS “Time,” as it claims to be, then the uprising is a moment that springs up and out of Time, violates the “law” of History. If the State IS History, as it claims to be, then the insurrection is the forbidden moment, an unforgivable denial of the dialectic–shimmying up the pole and out of the smokehole, a shaman’s maneuver carried out at an “impossible angle” to the universe. History says the Revolution attains “permanence,” or at least duration, while the uprising is “temporary.” In this sense an uprising is like a “peak experience” as opposed to the standard of “ordinary” consciousness and experience. Like festivals, uprisings cannot happen every day–otherwise they would not be “nonordinary.” But such moments of intensity give shape and meaning to the entirety of a life. The shaman returns–you can’t stay up on the roof forever– but things have changed, shifts and integrations have occurred–a difference is made.
You will argue that this is a counsel of despair. What of the anarchist dream, the Stateless state, the Commune, the autonomous zone with duration, a free society, a free culture? Are we to abandon that hope in return for some existentialist acte gratuit? The point is not to change consciousness but to change the world.
I accept this as a fair criticism. I’d make two rejoinders nevertheless; first, revolution has never yet resulted in achieving this dream. The vision comes to life in the moment of uprising–but as soon as “the Revolution” triumphs and the State returns, the dream and the ideal are already betrayed. I have not given up hope or even expectation of change–but I distrust the word Revolution. Second, even if we replace the revolutionary approach with a concept of insurrection blossoming spontaneously into anarchist culture, our own particular historical situation is not propitious for such a vast undertaking. Absolutely nothing but a futile martyrdom could possibly result now from a head- on collision with the terminal State, the megacorporate information State, the empire of Spectacle and Simulation. Its guns are all pointed at us, while our meager weaponry finds nothing to aim at but a hysteresis, a rigid vacuity, a Spook capable of smothering every spark in an ectoplasm of information, a society of capitulation ruled by the image of the Cop and the absorbant eye of the TV screen.
In short, we’re not touting the TAZ as an exclusive end in itself, replacing all other forms of organization, tactics, and goals. We recommend it because it can provide the quality of enhancement associated with the uprising without necessarily leading to violence and martyrdom. The TAZ is like an uprising which does not engage directly with the State, a guerilla operation which liberates an area (of land, of time, of imagination) and then dissolves itself to re-form elsewhere/elsewhen, before the State can crush it. Because the State is concerned primarily with Simulation rather than substance, the TAZ can “occupy” these areas clandestinely and carry on its festal purposes for quite a while in relative peace. Perhaps certain small TAZs have lasted whole lifetimes because they went unnoticed, like hillbilly enclaves–because they never intersected with the Spectacle, never appeared outside that real life which is invisible to the agents of Simulation.
Babylon takes its abstractions for realities; precisely within this margin of error the TAZ can come into existence. Getting the TAZ started may involve tactics of violence and defense, but its greatest strength lies in its invisibility–the State cannot recognize it because History has no definition of it. As soon as the TAZ is named (represented, mediated), it must vanish, it will vanish, leaving behind it an empty husk, only to spring up again somewhere else, once again invisible because undefinable in terms of the Spectacle. The TAZ is thus a perfect tactic for an era in which the State is omnipresent and all-powerful and yet simultaneously riddled with cracks and vacancies. And because the TAZ is a microcosm of that “anarchist dream” of a free culture, I can think of no better tactic by which to work toward that goal while at the same time experiencing some of its benefits here and now.
In sum, realism demands not only that we give up waiting for “the Revolution” but also that we give up wanting it. “Uprising,” yes–as often as possible and even at the risk of violence. The spasming of the Simulated State will be “spectacular,” but in most cases the best and most radical tactic will be to refuse to engage in spectacular violence, to withdraw from the area of simulation, to disappear.
The TAZ is an encampment of guerilla ontologists: strike and run away. Keep moving the entire tribe, even if it’s only data in the Web. The TAZ must be capable of defense; but both the “strike” and the “defense” should, if possible, evade the violence of the State, which is no longer a meaningful violence. The strike is made at structures of control, essentially at ideas; the defense is “invisibility,” a martial art, and “invulnerability”–an “occult” art within the martial arts. The “nomadic war machine” conquers without being noticed and moves on before the map can be adjusted. As to the future–Only the autonomous can plan autonomy, organize for it, create it. It’s a bootstrap operation. The first step is somewhat akin to satori–the realization that the TAZ begins with a simple act of realization.
New Age Travelers Documentary
An English Gypsy Tale: -De Little Bull-Calf
Centers of yeahs ago, when all de most part of de country wur a wilderness place, deah wuz a little boy lived in a pooah bit of a poverty 1 house. An’ dis boy’s father guv him a deah little bull-calf. De boy used to tink de wurl’ of dis bull-calf, an’ his father gived him everyting he wanted fur it.
Afterward dat his father died, an’ his mother got married agin; an’ dis wuz a werry wicious stepfather, an’ he couldn’t abide dis little boy. An’ at last he said, if de boy bring’d de bull-calf home agin, he wur a-goin’ to kill it. Dis father should be a willint to dis deah little boy, shouldn’t he, my Sampson?
He used to gon out tentin’ his bull-calf every day wid barley bread. An’ arter dat deah wus an ole man comed to him, an’ we have a deal of thought who Dat wuz, eh? An’ he d’rected de little boy, ‘You an’ youah bull-calf had better go away an’ seek youah forchants.’
So he wents an, an’ wents an, as fur as I can tell you to-morrow night, 2 an’ he wents up to a farmhouse an’ begged a crust of bread, an’ when he comed back he broked it in two, and guv half an it to his little bull-calf.
An’ he wents an to another house, an’ begs a bit of cheese crud, an’ when he comed back, he wants to gin half an it to his bull-calf.
‘No,’ de little bull-calf says, ‘I’m a-goin’ acrost dis field into de wild wood wilderness country, where dere’ll be tigers, lepers, wolfs, monkeys, an’ a fiery dragin. An’ I shall kill dem every one excep’ de fiery dragin, an’ he’ll kill me.’ (De Lord could make any animal speak dose days. You know trees could speak wonst. Our blessed Lord He hid in de eldon bush, an’ it tell’t an Him, an’ He says, ‘You shall always stink,’ and so it always do. But de ivy let Him hide into it, and He says, It should be green both winter an’ summer.) An’ dis little boy did cry, you ‘ah shuah; and he says, ‘O my little bull-calf, I hope he won’t kill you.’
‘Yes, he will,’ de little bull-calf says. ‘An’ you climb up dat tree, an’ den no one can come anigh you but de monkeys, an’ ef dey come de cheese crud will sef you. An’ when I’m killt de dragin will go away fur a bit. An’ you come down dis tree, an’ skin me, an’ get my biggest gut out, an’ blow it up, an’ my gut will kill everyting as you hit wid it, an’ when dat fiery dragin come, you hit it wid my gut, an’ den cut its tongue out.’ (We know deah were fiery dragins dose days, like George an’ his dragin in de Bible. But deah! it aren’t de same wurl’ now. De wurl’ is tu’n’d ovah sence, like you tu’n’d it ovah wid a spade.)
In course he done as dis bull-calf tell’t him, an’ he climb’t up de tree, an’ de monkeys climb’t up de tree to him. An’ he belt de cheese crud in his hend, an’ he says, ‘I’ll squeeze youah heart like dis flint stone.’
An’ de monkey cocked his eye, much to say, ‘Ef you can squeeze a flint stone an’ mek de juice come outer it, you can squeeze me.’ An’ he never spoked, for a monkey’s cunning, 1 but down he went.
An’ de little bull-calf wuz fighting all dese wild tings on de groun’; an’ de little boy wuz clappin’ his hands up de tree an’ sayin’, ‘Go an, my little bull-calf! Well fit, my little bull-calf!’ An’ he mastered everyting barrin’ de fiery dragin. An’ de fiery dragin killt de little bull-calf.
An’ he wents an, an’ saw a young lady, a king’s darter, staked down by de hair of her head. (Dey wuz werry savage dat time of day kings to deir darters if dey misbehavioured demselfs, an’ she wuz put deah fur de fiery dragin to ’stry her.)
An’ he sat down wid her several hours, an’ she says, ‘Now, my deah little boy, my time is come when I’m a-goin’ to be worried, an’ you’ll better go.’
An’ he says, ‘No,’ he says, ‘I can master it, an’ I won’t go.’
She begged an’ prayed an him as ever she could to get him away, but he wouldn’t go. An’ he could heah it comin’ far enough, roarin’ an’ doin’. An’ dis dragin come spitting fire, wid a tongue like a gret speart: an’ you could heah it roarin’ fur milts; an’ dis place wheah de king’s darter wur staked down wuz his beat wheah he used to come. And when it comed, de little boy hit dis gut about his face tell he wuz dead, but de fiery dragin bited his front finger affer him. Den de little boy cut de fiery dragin’s tongue out, an’ he says to de young lady, ‘I’ve done all dat I can, I mus’ leave you.’ An’ you ’ah shuah she wuz sorry when he hed to leave her, an’ she tied a dimant ring into his hair, an’ said good-bye to him.
Now den, bime bye, de ole king comed up to de werry place where his darter wuz staked by de hair of her head, ’mentin’ an’ doin’, an’ espectin’ to see not a bit of his darter, but de prents of de place where she wuz. An’ he wuz disprised, an’ he says to his darter, ‘How come you seft?’
‘Why, deah wuz a little boy comed heah an’ sef me, daddy.’
Den he untied her, an’ took’d her home to de palast, for you’ah shuah he wor glad, when his temper comed to him agin. Well, he put it into all de papers to want to know who seft dis gal, an’ ef de right man comed he wur to marry her, an’ have his kingdom an’ all his destate. Well, deah wuz gentlemen comed fun all an’ all parts of England, wid deir front fingers cut aff, an’ all an’ all kinds of tongues–foreign tongues, an’ beastès’ tongues, an’ wile animals’ tongues. Dey cut all sorts of tongues out, an’ dey went about shootin’ tings a-purpose, but dey never could find a dragin to shoot. Deah wuz genlemen comin’ every other day wid tongues an’ dimant rings; but when dey showed deir tongues, it warn’t de right one, an’ dey got turn’t aff.
An’ dis little ragged boy comed up a time or two werry desolated like; an’ she had an eye on him, an’ she looked at dis boy, tell her father got werry angry an’ turn’t dis boy out.
Daddy,’ she says, ‘I’ve got a knowledge to dat boy.’
You may say deah wuz all kinds of kings’ sons comin’ up showin’ deir parcels; an’ arter a time or two dis boy comed up agin dressed a bit better.
An’ de ole king says, ‘I see you’ve got an eye on dis boy. An’ ef it is to be him, it has to be him.’
All de oder genlemen wuz fit to kill him, an’ dey says, ‘Pooh! pooh! tu’n dat boy out; it can’t be him.’
But de ole king says, ‘Now, my boy, let’s see what you got.’
Well, he showed the dimant ring, with her name into it, an’ de fiery dragin’s tongue. Dordi! how dese genlemen were mesmerised when he showed his ’thority, and de king tole him, ‘You shall have my destate, an’ marry my darter.’
An’ he got married to dis heah gal, an’ got all de ole king’s destate. An’ den de stepfather came an’ wanted to own him, but de young king didn’t know such a man.
The Levellers – Battle Of The Beanfield
“I must down to the seas again to the vagrant gypsy life,To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife; And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover, And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s o” – John Masefield