When I started this more “personal” site, sorting out what kind of content would be presented here created something of a challenge for me.
I wanted it to be distinct from my other projects, while still “scratching an itch” for me creatively, providing a roof under which I could collect my various interests in order to not dilute the signal of my other endeavors.
Today, Halloween 2018, is the first “introductory episode” of The Black Signal, which will be a broadcast on a semi-regular basis (we are currently aiming for 1 a month).
The Black Signal pairs me with co-host Voidhaunter (who some of you might know from his work both for some of my projects as well as his own, “Wolfchild A.D.”), as we discuss film, music, books, art and other esoteric topics that fall into our shared aesthetic.
Happy Halloween, maniacs- here is the first brief episode, and a bonus video of a song some of you will recognize.
The first full length episode of The Black Signal is tentatively scheduled to go live November 19th, a date significant to us.
I had been in the saddle of a Harley all weekend, and it had been a long one. Miles and miles of the sound and silence that is generated on the back of a motorcycle, alone with your thoughts on a black stretch of road.
The journey’s punctuation marks had been short stopovers with very little food, even less sleep, and a mind and heart troubled by the kind of “bad medicine” that life throws our way consistently.
As I had done so often before, I began to intone a word, over and over, as the highway stretched out ahead of me as endless as time.
As most who know me or my writing are aware, I’ve struggled my whole life with anxiety, depression, anger and despair- in other words, I’m a human being with flaws to spare, just looking to navigate them and learn the highways and backroads of my own mind and psyche.
This journey has been one of trial and error, victory and abject failure- but the only true failure is when we surrender, so even those have been teaching experiences, albeit often costly ones.
In some cases, I have traversed dark frontiers and explored them to their edges, coming back with a deepened understanding of who I am, or have come to be, and with the self, as in life, knowledge is power. Finding ourselves on the wild borderlands of our inner selves, we do battle with devils and gods there, and return changed, more aware, more holy.
These internal pilgrimages are ventures into the Great Unknown, as the reality within is a dark and vast cosmos unto itself, studded with stars and worlds beyond our reckoning. The work of the human being with a war-like heart is to fight there, to explore, to document and chronicle, and become acquainted with those joyous and awful pathways that exist unknown to the ones who live an unexamined life.
On these expeditions, one is needful of tools and weapons, because he walks a dangerous and potentially deadly terrain if he is intrepid, and goes where he fears most.
One of these weapons that has served me well is the sacred syllable, OM.
More than likely, all who read this will have heard this syllable before, and have their own hang-ups or experiences with it. When I was young, I associated it with a sort of effeminate and passive practice, sung by yoga enthusiasts in saffron robes with soft voices. The kind of people who would talk about using crystals bought at a Renaissance Faire to align their chakras, or someone 50 pounds overweight talking about “the discipline of Yoga.”
Because of this judgmental viewpoint, it was not until my twenties that I began doing my own studies into what is often termed “Hinduism,” reading the Upanishads, and intoning the sound for myself.
I still believe direct experience to be the highest guru there is, and have learned more about things by doing them than by reading about them, but in the following paragraphs, I will do my best to distill many of the things I have read, experienced, felt or believe about the sacred syllable “OM,” with the intention that you begin using it, to discover its deeper nature for yourself.
The word first appears in the Upanishads, a body of work that is a later part of the “Vedas,” a series of ancient Sanskrit texts that discuss and describe creation, the nature of reality and the universe, and the philosophies and spiritual practices of the people who wrote them. The oldest of the Upanishads are believed to have been compiled sometime around 1,000 years before the Common Era began, placing them at the very least, a few thousand years old.
As with many of these old texts, it is likely that they were written down from a previously existing oral tradition, and were created in that format before the written works that survived and are still available to us. Suffice it to say, the practice of reciting or singing the syllable “OM,” is very, very old.
In the Katha Upanishad, it is said that, “this syllable is Brahman (the Absolute), this syllable is the highest, he who knows that syllable, whatever he desires, is his.”
In Chandogya Upanishad, the work opens with the following: “let a man meditate on OM, the essence of all.”
The word is formed of three different phonetic parts, A, U and M, representing, respectively, Creation, Being/Becoming, and Destruction, or ending.
The Upanishads say that the world was not formed by a big bang, but, similarly to Norse mythology, within a great void that contained all potential within itself, consciousness arose and created friction as it experienced itself. This friction created a sound, and that sound was OM.
Even in the book of John, from the Christian New Testament, we see the verse,
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The cosmos, and all of reality, all of time and experience, is that sound, ongoing, as it expands, ultimately sustains itself, and then contracts, and finally, ends. For this reason, the silence that comes at the end of the intonation of the syllable is seen as part of the mantra.
The nature of reality in these texts, again, much like the Norse myths, is cyclical, and rooted in a series of destructions and rebirths of the world, of the cosmos, of reality, much like one can hear when he sings the syllable again and again, in this way understanding the nature of time itself. Not one linear expression with a beginning and ultimate ending, but a cycle of rising and falling, creation and destruction, the endless dance of Shiva.
By chanting the OM, we create a sympathetic, or harmonic vibration with the nature of reality itself. We bring ourself to the center of all that is, and find ourselves there, exactly where we are.
In a way, singing OM is like a kind of spiritual sonar, using it to re-locate yourself and find your place in everything. In my runic drawing of OM, I place the MANNAZ rune, to signify self, the intellect, the mind, the psyche, all that we are, inside OTHALA, the world, the cosmos, ultimate reality, Brahman, the absolute. Man, the self, the soul, inside, and a part of the infinite, the imperishable, perfectly placed within it.
This bind rune is meant to represent the following verses from Mandukya Upanishad:
“That which is flaming, which is subtler than the subtle,
on which the worlds are set, and their inhabitants –
That is the indestructible Brahman.
It is life, it is speech, it is mind. That is the real. It is immortal.
It is a mark to be penetrated. Penetrate It, my friend.
Taking as a bow the great weapon of the Upanishad,
one should put upon it an arrow sharpened by meditation,
Stretching it with a thought directed to the essence of That,
Penetrate that Imperishable as the mark, my friend.
Om is the bow, the arrow is the Soul, Brahman the mark,
By the undistracted man is It to be penetrated,
One should come to be in It,
as the arrow becomes one with the mark.”
The highest goal of our existence should be to exist within that higher reality at all times, undistracted, without succumbing to the many illusions cast in our way by life itself.
In the Chandogya Upanishad, the gods take the word to themselves to use, saying, “with this song, we shall overcome demons.”
This allegorical statement has been true for me, as I have used the song myself to combat the demons of despair, isolation, frustration and sorrow.
By intoning the syllable out loud, a practice called in Sanskrit pranava, or in Old Norse, galdr, but both holding the same meaning, we drive all other thoughts and vibrations out of our consciousness by sustaining this singular one.
The breath regulates and forms a smooth, strong pattern and rhythm. Our mind does not “empty,” but finds focus on the sacred syllable, and all that entails for us. We center ourselves within its strengthening field, as our note finds a harmonic with nature and the consciousness of true reality.
This great, powerful bow fires our spirit as an arrow deep into the heart of the imperishable, and we exist there, aflame with a calm strength.
The holy sound is like a magneto, first creating a field around us as we sing the “O” or “A” portion of the mantra. As we reach the “U,” we sustain the field, and it expands to its fullest point. When we reach the “M” sound, we close the field, it collapses, and from that collapse, a spark is created that feeds the inner fire within, moving the pistons of our being.
The energy rises all around us like flames, and then as we finish each singing of it, we pull that fire inside, straight into the heart, and we sing the mantra both from our heart, and into it.
It shows us the way to ourselves.
We see the universe beyond the sun, that energy source which is mysterious and imperishable, and we know that the generator within us is powered by the same source, and is infinite, and this produces a knowledge that we are capable of overcoming, of enduring, of outlasting these temporal issues, these transient sorrows and problems and worries.
We are made of breath, fire and the sun, and we burn away all that chains us to the wheel of causality, regret, and care.
There is a war within us between heaven and hell, and “with this song, we shall overcome demons.”
Here’s a little free advice to anyone who follows my page and runs a brand of their own, no matter what kind:
Small business owner, musician, writer, blogger, artist or otherwise- whether “on the side,” or full time entrepreneur, you should be building an email list.
It might seem like an archaic or outdated way to do things, but the fact is, it’s still one of the most effective ways to communicate with the people who want to follow or interact with your brand.
With Facebook and other social media platforms limiting unpaid posts more than ever, effectively crippling the reach of smaller, more niche brands and artists, an email list provides a direct channel with which to convey information, provide value, and update your people on whatever you’ve got going on.
You can use a service like Mailchimp (I’m not affiliated with them, it’s just the one most people use) free of charge for up to 2000 subscribers and create totally personalized emails in a few minutes, delivering them straight to the people who actually show you they are interested by signing up in the first place- much more “connected” to the content you provide there than just seeing it pop up in one of their “feeds.”
Once you have an email list service, like Mailchimp, you can either add it as a pop-up to your page (if you are tech savvy or have a web guy, like I do), or you can share the link on your Facebook and Instagram like I’m about to do.
Next, give people a reason to sign up. Why should they give a damn about signing up for your list?
For example, if you sign up for mine at that little link above- you’ll get exclusive content to your email from time to time (no spam), that isn’t available on my website- a lot of brief pieces just like this one, mostly business and brand related, as well as discount codes and other thank-you’s to show my appreciation for the people who were interested enough to read this long post to the end.
So, click the link, sign up for the email list, and then start building your own.
We had been studying feudal Japan in our schooling, and had embraced the topic wholeheartedly. Generally, in our childhood, my brothers and I went through things in phases, during which time we would be so immersed in whatever it was, that it was our entire world for however long that phase lasted.
If we were in a pirate phase, every book on pirates would be rented from the library. Ships, cannons, and bloody conflicts would be drawn on any blank surface in the house. Paper shopping bags were cut into pieces, crumpled and un-crumpled until they took on the texture of old leather, and treasure maps carefully scrawled onto them. Shipping routes were charted, and white paper stained with coffee and burned at the edges for an authentic feel.
Ditto for our current interest in the far east. Rice paper and chopsticks were turned into official looking scrolls. Old watercolor brushes were used with bottled ink to paint images of pagodas, severe looking shoguns, and of course, samurai.
We went so far as to create our own alphabet by making symbols that looked like kanji, and attributing to them the value of an English letter on a 1 for 1 basis, using this cipher for coded notes between us, and to increase the secrecy around our newly formed gang: the Black Dragons.
The Black Dragons came about as a product of reading a piece in one of the books on “ninkyo-dantai,” or “chivalrous groups,” also known in the western world as Yakuza, the Japanese equivalent of the mafia.
Coming about in the Edo period of Japan, Yakuza groups were originally known either as tekiya, if their business was mostly fencing goods, or bakuto if it revolved around illegal gambling. The name Yakuza is sort of a Japanese version of the term “snake eyes” and refers to a particularly bad and unlucky hand in a popular regional card game.
Run as secret societies based around protection, extortion, gambling, prostitution and so on, the largest Yakuza family in Japan is estimated to have around 58,000 members in the present day.
After reading about their history, their position as an outsider organization, the elaborate tattooing and strict adherence to internally determined honor systems, we were ready for the big time, and decided to form a neighborhood “family” of our own.
Our center of operations was the large, sprawling tree fort in our side yard in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Built years earlier by our dad, who probably didn’t consider that in a short time it would become the crime base of a fearsome American Yakuza family, the tree fort and rope swing attached made our yard pretty popular with the local kids- a draw we would capitalize on as we formed our sinister network.
Our reign of terror began with attacks on the neighborhood itself- adults we had grudges with, perhaps due to late payments on my older brothers paper routes, or other (possibly imaginary) slights on our honor. With the kind of fireworks available in Wyoming that are illegal pretty much everywhere else in the states unless you work for an industrial mining company, we wreaked havoc on the mile radius around us. Large scale mortar attacks on sides of houses. Incendiary magnesium strobes duct taped together and allowed to burn through new wooden porches. Screaming bottle rocket batteries in the middle of the night, and everywhere, our gang’s sign left as a warning.
We soon graduated from these kinds of activities as they generated too much neighborhood “heat,” and began to build our empire in earnest. Kids from other areas encroaching on our turf were threatened or beat up, and on our BMX bikes, we began to strike out across town on what we called “missions.”
These missions would usually involve some variation on the following:
Bikes would be safely kept somewhere nearby the “objective,” that being a convenience store, book store or magazine stand. Our group of Yakuza youth would walk into the store, innocently looking around and spreading out through the floor plan.
As the youngest, smallest, and most disarming looking of the bunch, I would find the desk clerk or main employee and ask a series of long and involved questions about where a certain item might be, such as “hi, I am doing a book report and need you to show me the section where magazines on monster trucks are, and then also need to find books on how castles are built,” or “I hurt myself on my bike, can you take me to the bandaids?”
While the smiling, charmed worker graciously took me to wherever I needed to go, my loyal brothers in the Dragons would rob the place absolutely blind.
At the time, our main target goods were cigarettes, cigars and smoking paraphernalia of any kind, and we had developed a bizarre and not easily explainable obsession with pocket watches, which had become a major status symbol in our gang. The more you had, and the nicer they were, the more you were envied in our small circle.
The tobacco became a gambling currency, and we began holding card games in the tree fort. The amount of contraband in that place was pretty staggering for 9 and 10 year old kids. Cigarettes were smoked until the place looked like the Russian roulette scene in the Deer Hunter, cards hurled down in indignation and rage, and piles of smokes and pocket watches changed hands at the turn of a card.
Like all criminal enterprises, we were bound to take a pinch if we kept carrying on in such a brazen fashion, and we finally did.
My dad started to wonder what the hell we were getting up to out there, spending all our time in the tree fort, and I imagine we reeked of tobacco and probably slunk around like jackals, eyes filled with distrust and disdain for all authority figures we saw as the enemies of our enterprise.
One day we were summoned outside, and my father demanded an explanation on the sizable pile of illicit profit, stored in wooden crates, ripped out car consoles, and underneath benches, in tool boxes, and anywhere else we could fit the amassed wealth of the felonious family.
We saw no choice but to plea-bargain, and we came clean.
Our small Yakuza firm stood silent and grim as our dad piled all of it up on a concrete slab, and lit the treasure trove of bootleg goods ablaze, watching as our burgeoning empire’s nest egg went up in flames.
I still remember the feeling I had as I stood there, unrepentant, with my honorable brothers- none of us had sold each other out. We all took responsibility, and shared in the punishment.
Having tasted the forbidden nectar of the underworld, I knew I could never go back to civilian life again.
I had my knuckles tattooed by my brother Coyote, somewhere around 7 or 8 years ago.
The right hand said “Wolf,” the left one “Kvlt,” signifying the most important aspect of my life, as a founding member of the Wolves.
At the time we created it, some 13 years ago, there was nothing like it that we were aware of in any country on earth. It was our destiny, we felt, to bring back the ancient wolf-cult, and spread it, living again, to every corner of the world.
There’s a great deal to say regarding that journey, and the many experiences that came along with it so far, but that is a story for another time. Within the tattoo, I hid a few concepts that had special meaning to me, both on the right and left hand.
On the middle finger of the right hand, beneath the “L,” I first branded a bind-rune of the Elder Futhark “Algiz,” one ascending, the other descending, representative of Yggdrasil, the World Tree, its roots and branches. The symbol also stood for the Younger Futhark runes “Man” and “Yew,” which have at times been usedin Europe on grave stones to represent “Birth” and “Death,” and I wear them as a kind of memento mori, to remind myself every day that what man creates is bound by time and death, and that we always have less time than we think.
Since then, and before, my knuckles have been marked with the natural signs of a life that was no stranger to violence, and the bones and skin on right and left have been broken and healed and re-broken again many times. I consider all of these markings in the same way I consider the tattoos I have collected- way-marks of experience, mistakes, victories, and stories I have lived. Good or bad, positive or negative, all experience is ultimately distilled, transmuted into gold.
The O in the tattoo was made as a “circumpunct,” a circle with a dot inside.
This is a symbol that is very old, and has been used many times in many different cultures to signify a variety of meanings, so I will stick to the reasoning behind mine.
First, it is representative of the the beginning of creation- the moment that all that is came into being. The first spark of the big bang, if you will, or the flame of Muspel meeting the frost of Niflheim. It is the alchemical sign for “gold,” as well, and as such for me represents the concept of the Great Work of transformation that begins as soon as we are born, and continues throughout our lives, and possibly beyond.
The beginning of creation is the beginning of consciousness, and so indicates the mind, and reality, and our connective tissue between the two, that is, how we interact and approach the world.
Second, it is a symbol of the solar system, with the sun central, and a dual meaning of “man in the middle.” For me, the circle is the blank canvas of reality, with the dot as the individual central to his own myth, prepared to create upon that canvas as he can, as he sees fit.
The idea of creating, of seeing the world as your own place to experiment, to grow, to change, and to make those things manifest that you wish to bring forth into it, is an idea very important to me, and absolutely central to my personal philosophy, so you could say the symbol represents the heart of my personal ideology, too.
The individual is an alchemist, and reality, the cosmos, his laboratory, or he is the magician, and this existence is the circle of art within which he conjures and evokes.
Finally, it has a connection to an old Russian convict tattoo that I saw as a teenager that meant “trust only yourself,” or, “I am alone in this world,” or could mean “I am in the zone all the time,” the zone in Russia referring to the barbaric Communist Gulag system.
This idea of “trust only yourself” indicates a caution when dealing with others, but also a sort of “to thine own self be true” admonishment, meaning to not forget who you are, what you are, what you are trying to accomplish in the face of all the distractions and pitfalls of this life.
The “I am in the zone” portion for me is representative of my status as an outcast from the mainstream society, and the constant “doxxing,” media hit-pieces, and accusations that I and my brothers in the Wolves have experienced and continue to deal with on a regular basis.
When you declare yourself an outlaw from their world, simply by choosing to believe something that is no longer resonant with the popular narrative, and not abandoning those beliefs, choices and convictions, friends and so on, you will live in this place “without” all the time. Hunted and reviled, like the wolves of old, the enemy sets snares for you, and sends its poisoned darts at you- but your armor is this same conviction, these same beliefs, and your fury is antidote to their poison.
I cannot be fired from my job because I work for myself. I cannot have my social standing destroyed because it is held with other outlaws, and zealots, whose minds are not controlled by media and madness. I cannot be threatened with various sanctions, because I already operate by broadcasting a pirate signal, and when one is threatened or attacked, I move to another and continue my work.
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I’ve known Cody only for a short time in the grand scheme of things- maybe two years or so, tops, but we had been sort of pen pals before that time. He was living in the Maine woods in a cabin, and would occasionally shoot me an email.
Those who know me are aware of my often abominable correspondence return habits, but there was something about Cody, even via the sterile environs of the internet, that struck a chord with me, and we maintained an irregular communication for probably a few years before we met in person.
If I had to nail it down, I’d say it was the sincerity that came through in his missives that kept me responding. Those who have met him in person know what I’m talking about- there is something so ultimately genuine and real about him, and his honesty and openness is so disarming that it takes you by surprise when you see what he looks like.
Big, powerfully built, and covered in tattoos from head to toe, Cody doesn’t look like the kind of guy you’d just walk up to in a bar and strike up a conversation with, until you see the warm, open and friendly way he talks to and deals with those around him, no matter who they are. I’ve seen him angry before too, and he’s not someone on whose bad side I’d like to end up, but mostly, he’s the sort of guy that once you start hanging out with, you feel as though you’ve known forever.
I first met Cody, fittingly, on a road trip to go meet up with some guys in northern Pennsylvania and spend the weekend boxing, camping, and eating mushrooms in the woods. These things in combination are sort of the guy’s quintessence. He has spent his life chasing ecstatic experience, communion with nature, and a first-name relationship with violence and danger.
Shortly after this experience, he joined my friends and I on a Transcontinental motorcycle journey, which can be read about in my book “Liber IV.” During that time, I got to know the man a lot better, and came away from that trip even more impressed with his ability to articulate his position on life and what he saw as his purpose within its greater framework.
We talked about the idea of the Wandervögel, a German youth movement that encouraged fitness, hiking, and shaking off the restrictions of society to rediscover their freedom in the natural world that they loved so much.
It was very much informed by romanticism and a spirit of adventure, an overwhelmingly positive message in the face of the changing world and political climate, as well as world wars and totalitarian governments (who would later on attempt to co-opt the movement for its own aims).
In 1933, the Reich outlawed the Wandervögel and most other youth movements that were not official Hitler Youth. After World War II, the movement saw a resurgence, and still exists in Germany today, albeit in a much lessened and more tame incarnation.
The movement found its way to America in the form of the so-called “Nature Boys.”
“Nature Boys” as they were later called were without exception either German immigrants or American youths whose lives were influenced by transplanted Germans that spread their Lebensreform (life-reform) message to anyone ready for a radical departure from the accepted boundaries of 20th century civilization.
Modern primitives, naturmensch, wandervogel, bohemians, reformers, wayfarers, and vagabonds are all expressions that evoke a tone of something wholly apart from the orthodox.”
– Hippie Roots and the Perennial Subculture by Gordon Kennedy
The attitude of the Wandervogel movement can perhaps be best summed up in the Goethe quote, “God can be worshipped in no more beautiful way than by the spontaneous welling up from one’s breast of mutual converse with Nature.”
From the same article cited above:
“Another group, called the “Wandervogel”, was founded in 1895 by Hermann Hoffmann and Karl Fischer in Steglitz, a suburb of Berlin. They began to take some high school students on nature walks, then later on longer hikes.
Soon a huge youth movement that was both anti-bourgeois and Teutonic Pagan in character, composed mostly of middle class German children, organized into autonomous bands.Wandervogel members, aged mainly between 14-18 years and spread to all parts of Germany eventually numbering 50,000.
Part hobo and part medieval, they pooled their money, wore woolen capes, shorts and Tyrolean hats and took long hikes in the country where they sang their own versions of Goliardic songs and camped under primitive conditions.
Both sexes swam nude together in the lakes and rivers and in their hometowns they established “nests” and “anti-homes”, sometimes in ruined castles where they met to plan trips and play mandolins and guitars.
Their short weekend trips became 3 to 4 weeks long journeys of hundreds of miles. Soon they were establishing permanent camps in the wild that were open to all.
Mostly the Wandervogel sought communion with nature, with the ancient folk-spirit as embodied in the traditional peasant culture, and with one another. They developed a harmonious mystic resonance with their environment.”
Cody has taken it upon himself to reawaken the Wandervogel spirit here in the United States, and I conducted the following interview with him to shed some light on his project, and his thoughts on how it will develop.
PW: Cody, tell me about the concept behind the Wandervögel project you’re working on. What was your inspiration for it and where do you see it going?
CQ: Wandervögel is a wilderness cult. A reawakening, rooted simply in getting outdoors and having fun. It’s my attempt at connecting the dots, so to speak. To build a community for outsiders, ramblers and forest folk.
To foster higher values, stewardship of the land, and building solidarity through communal activities.
The inspiration for Wandervögel came from a series of conversations that you and I had right after the Transcontinental. We were talking about traveling, being nomadic and by-gone hiking movements.
Think, “Black Metal Boyscouts.” Half joking, but it’s actually a great idea. I’d say the Darkthrone song, “Hiking Metal Punks,” had a lot to do with it, too.
Besides that, I grew up hanging with a lot of crust punks, which is a culture that has sunk really low.
I’d like to offer those folks something better to be apart of. Thus, Wandervögel begins.
I see a lot of potential for Wandervögel building a righteous community globally. People are bored, discontent about the world around them. Folks are looking for alternative solutions, for experiences over comfort- they are searching for answers and new meanings.
A lot more people are going outside again- I want to show them they are on the right path.
I believe it will also become a beacon for those already in the fringes of society, but who lack community.
Wandervögel is a revolt and it’s here, man. We are going to grow!
PW: I know that you have traveled extensively through America by truck, motorcycle, train and bicycle. How do you think that travel has shaped your worldview, for better or worse, and how has it colored your perception of modern day America?
CQ: Personally, I feel optimistic as fuck! I’ve basically had an epic adventure for 10 years straight. My worldview is simple: go, and go now!
If I’ve learned anything from traveling, it’s that there is absolutely nothing stopping you from having epic adventures, except your own doubt. Traveling is more accessible and people are not as fucked as the television tells you. You just have to be willing to take risks and leave your comfort zone.
It’s really just the cities that are in bad shape. Modern America is basically a corporate fiction, and I’m not interested. You can buy into it and get swept into the rat race, or you can come party with us in the woods.
PW: It seems the “modern condition”, is man’s disconnection from the natural world, and over-dependence and addiction to technological conveniences, something that all of us are guilty of or suffer from to one degree or another.
Do you see these things as a problem?
How can they be combated or moderated?
Why do you think being outdoors is so important anyways?
CQ: I mean you have people in this country who have been neighbors for more than ten years and have never even had dinner together. I think that says it all.
I think it’s a huge problem. I see the natural world being destroyed in the name of consumerism. I see human interaction and real experience being traded in for video games and virtual reality.
People are detached from the truth. The truth of who they are, where their food comes from, where there water comes from and what’s happening to those water sources.
We are conditioned to view strangers and animals as predators, and to be afraid of the dark. There seems to be this strong, modern narrative of separating people from each other and from nature. Which, in my mind, is of course separating us from our own true nature. Look at the world around us, look at the general health of people.
How do you moderate It?
Well, there’s that age old expression, lead by example. You have to reach out to people. Break the mold, shake their realities. Offer new methods and invigorate them with experience. Give them new perspectives. Live with such boldness and joy that it becomes contagious.
For me, that is happening out on the road and deep within the wilderness. That’s what Wandervögel is all about. Excitement, adventure, and a bit of danger.
As far as combating it goes, well, you can join us in our forest-folk revelry, for starters. You can shoot your TV, and cancel your Netflix subscription, put your phone in the microwave. You can drop off the grid and become a homesteader or a hunter/gathering type.
For me, being outdoors is so important, because it teaches us that “child” is not an age, it’s an energy. Think back to playing in the woods, or even riding bicycles around when you were young. When’s the last time you felt that joy of youth? It’s still out there. It’s waiting for you to cannon ball into that lake, to yell as loud as you can on top of that mountain. It’s hiding at the top of that tree, you just have to climb it. It’s out in some meadow, underneath the stars.
All you need is some friends, or your lover, a campfire and a bottle of wine. You can tap back into that youthful bliss. What greater rebellion is there? Besides that, it’s free!
PW: What books or albums changed your life or worldview, and why?
I remember asking my grandmother to read me this book every time I saw her as a very young child. It’s a story about five puppies who are siblings. The main character is too curious for the mundane activities of his siblings and takes to wandering, often causing mischief, but dodging punishment because he’s always gone exploring.
Until it ends with him getting no dessert because he’s late for supper. Turned out to be a foreshadowing of my childhood! I was even given the name, “Late for Supper,” on the Appalachian Trail.
This 13 year old kid crash lands a plane in the Canadian wilderness, being forced to survive with just his wits and a hatchet. I read this book when I was in 5th grade and it basically shattered all fear of living alone in the woods for me. In fact, I began daydreaming of it. It also sparked an obsession with hatchets and axes- I mean, I have two tattooed on my face.
My grandfather and I used to watch the Arnold Schwarzenegger “Conan” film religiously. When I was in middle school, around 13, he turned me onto several of Howard’s stories, this one being my favorite. If you’ve never read it, correct yourself immediately. If you have, re-read it now!
I first heard this during the summer between 4th and 5th grade. I was probably 10 years old and Nintendo 64 was really big. I had a lot of friends staying indoors, due to video games, instead of playing outside, so the lyrical content matched my frustrations with technology.
I remember hearing “Last Caress” and “Angelfuck,” and also thinking “man, this sure ain’t my mom’s music!“ so it was the start of rebellion as a youth for me.
The opening to this album sent chills down my spine. When I realized Danzig was the singer for the Misfits, I only liked it more. In my opinion this is one of the greatest albums ever recorded. It’s proud and muscular as fuck! I spent a lot of time lifting weights and smoking cigarettes to this album in my mom’s garage as a kid.
At the end of this article, you will see a few links to recommended books- these will take you through to Amazon, as one of the ways we fund the work that goes into this site is through these “affiliate links.” Rather than try to pass this off, or hide the fact, we’d ask that you consider using our links to do your Amazon shopping as a direct way to support and vote for more content on this site.
This article is narrated above, with a few side notes and recollections that came to me while reading- you can either read it yourself, or click play and I’ll do it for you.
“Get the fuck up, you pussy!” I yelled through clenched teeth, hot blood running red rivulets out of my nose, down my chin, spattering across my lean, wiry frame.
I was breathing hard and fast, a teenage brawler high on adrenaline, liquor and hatred. My shaved head was sporting some fast rising knots from the alley altercation I was currently involved in, and I was pissed off enough to feel like I could breathe fire on this guy as I beckoned him to get up.
He was lying prone, covering up in the classic fetal position, after a withering combination of strikes and head butts from me had split his face open and left him punch drunk on the ground.
The “pussy” in question, we’ll call him Chuck, had me by about 70 pounds, and had done some boxing, and I guess he was about 5 years my senior. I was 18 at the time, and like all my friends, I lived to fight.
Currently, we were having our scrap in a breezeway/alley type thing next to my best friend Sam’s apartment in Cheyenne, Wyoming, where on the weekends (or any other day of the week we had enough money to buy booze), we’d gather our ragtag crew of skaters, punks and skins, metalheads and rockabillies, and as many girls as possible- to drink, fight and fuck ourselves stupid all weekend.
They called us the “17th Street Psychos.” Not a very inventive name, but if you partied with us around that time, you’d understand why this simple, ignorant moniker was applied. Beatings and various types of “pain Olympics” were de rigeur, from two guys holding a lit cigarette between their forearms as long as possible, the loser getting slapped or punched in the face, to girls playing “Bolivian slapping contest” (it doesn’t take a great stretch of the imagination to figure out what this game entailed) to impress the guys with their tolerance level.
Slicing someone open with a knife or broken bottle and drinking their blood was considered a good way to “show some class,” ditto for branding, usually done with a Zippo and boot knife, and all kinds of violence, degradation and over the top male aggression was the gold standard of the day.
On the night in question, Chuck had run afoul of a friend of mine named Johnny, a platinum blonde punk from next door who had a reputation as a ladies man and tough motherfucker in one. Like Casanova meets Cassius Clay, he went from the romance to the rowdy-dow in short order.
I had no idea how it happened, and honestly, it could have been anything from a sideways glance to a mouth running off from too much Mickey’s Ice or Carlo Rossi. The upshot of it was, people had gathered around what looked like another beating about to be delivered from Johnny to some poor bastard, and I walked over to watch.
I knew Chuck a little, never really cared for him one way or another, but at parties like these, everyone showed up from all scenes to score or see how they measured up, so I was as curious as the next guy as to how the melee would play out.
I could see he was already acting like a punk, holding his hands up, looking for a way out, showing his weakness all over his face, when he should have just been swinging his way through the much smaller Johnny, who had a cold glare on his face as he shit-talked and intimidated this big quivering fish.
The guy was blubbering and looking for any kind of loophole he could find.
Johnny was telling him, “listen, you fuck, there’s no way you’re walking out of this place tonight without getting the shit kicked out of you. That’s just how it is,” and the guy’s eyes cleared as he seized on his chance.
“Okay, well I will fight someone, just not you,” he stammered, casting his eyes around him for someone that he felt more confident his abilities could manage. I had no idea how anything he could do after this would save the face he’d already lost with all his cringing and whinging, until his eyes settled on me.
“How about him? I’ll fight Paul,” he said, gaining some evenness and strength in his tone.
Johnny looked over at me and raised an eyebrow. “That’s a bad move, amigo,” he told Chuck. “This dude is gonna fuck you up worse than I would- he’s mean as shit.”
I met his questioning gaze with a shrug.
“I’ll fight him.”
At this point I was disgusted and little pissed off at the guy- how does someone shift the buck from someone who wants to fight them to a guy they’ve never had a problem with? I guessed that my short, 135 pound frame was a more attractive opponent than Johnny’s taller, heavier one, and I was younger, and probably seemed like less of threat in general.
I started to take my rings off. “Why head-hunt the guy?” I thought to myself, and as I did so, there was a surge in the crowd as a sucker punch made white hot light explode behind my eyes and my right leg went weird and weak. This prick, I thought, as my hands shot up to defend my head. Not even the common courtesy to square off in an arranged match.
He rained shots at me, and I kept my head down and tried to keep it moving as I shook off the blow I’d been dealt. Everything then went into a red blur, as the action took over. Punch after punch glanced off of my short cropped scalp, my head moving and weaving and my hands up to protect myself as I moved in, short, fast crow hops to close the distance and make angles, and then I started a barrage of my own.
A jab popped satisfyingly past his sloppy guard, clean on his chin, and a cross followed, then a lead hook, and I closed the distance with a head-butt to the nose, and big Chuck collapsed in a heap like a rag doll, covering his head, sputtering through the blood, “I’m done, I’m done.”
My ego had taken over. I wanted to make a display in front of the assembled crowd.
“Get the fuck up!” I beckoned him savagely to get back to his feet as I spat blood down on him, getting closer and closer to him like the dumb girl does to the masked guy you know isn’t dead in a bad slasher film.
He got up. Quick for a guy his size, and straight into a wrestler’s shot, a double leg takedown that I was not experienced or smart enough to expect. My legs went out from underneath me, I saw sky, and then came crashing down to the broken bottle covered concrete with all Chuck’s weight slamming into my ribs. I felt broken glass dig into my exposed back, smelled stale beer and piss as the rough concrete ripped my skin off like sandpaper.
Oof. A stupid sound, when you get the wind knocked out of you.
Panic as I tried to get my breath and couldn’t. You know it’s just temporary, but survival takes over and tells you you’re dying, every time.
Chuck takes advantage. Grabs my head by each side of it, and starts smacking it off the concrete. Each time he drills my skull into the unyielding surface, stars go off like supernovas in my head, and I am vaguely aware that I’m starting to get hurt badly.
I strike back, throwing a short elbow from the bottom hard into Chuck’s face, and he staggers back off me into a half crouch, holding his new wound.
I try to regain my feet, wobbly like a fucking baby deer, I think dimly, keenly aware of how stupid I look to the crowd, but my head and perception is wrapped in a gauzy cotton, like how your tongue feels after novacaine.
I stagger as I stand, my back toward Chuck, scrabbling to get off the ground.
He throws all his weight and strength into a Hail Mary haymaker, and Mary hears his bareknuckle prayer- it connects with the corner of my eye at the orbital bone, and my brain turns off.
I’m out on my feet, and I come back like a fluorescent bulb buzzes on after moments in between darkness and light. I can feel hot blood pouring down my face. I can’t see out of my left eye, and it feels like it might be gone. I seriously believe for a moment that his knuckle caught me hard enough to punch my eye out, because that’s what it feels like.
Instinctively, I put a hand to it, and feel the eye is intact, but there is a long split where my eyelid is hanging open, wide open, and just dumping blood out like a rusty faucet.
I numbly watch as Johnny steps in and two pieces the guy, then soccer kicks his face as he goes down, then stagger through the crowd, feeling like I’ve slammed a 12 pack of beer, but I haven’t.
That night, after crashing out, I sleep for a day and a half, which they tell me is a bad idea with a concussion. My head is covered in bruises and knots and splits. My eye takes weeks to heal, and is closed up for days. Probably could have used stitches. My pride is much worse, and takes even longer to recover.
Never stop before victory is decisive.
I promised myself after that night I would never again make the mistake of stopping a fight until I was positive the other guy was either unconscious or headed to the hospital, utterly unable to offer any further resistance, and I kept my promise in the dozens of fights I had after, through my twenties.
Then, a few years ago, at my first Jiu Jitsu tournament, I lost a match on points to a guy I had given up 15 pounds to, due to a shoddily run event.
He came up to me after, as I was pacing around dealing with the ego blow of a hard loss, and said, “man, you should’ve held that guillotine like one second longer. I was gonna tap.”
I felt the same sting of “shoulda coulda woulda.”
This is true in every area of life, not just fighting and competition, it’s just sometimes the most obvious there.
Keep swinging, keep the pressure up, keep moving forward, especially if it seems like all is lost, because at the end of the day, take it from me- it’s not about who is best. It’s about who is left.
If you enjoyed this piece, check out the article “Go Fight!” in Operation Werewolf’s “The Complete Zines Vol. 1” availableHERE