Sunday, October 26, 2014

Never Stop Exploring

Have you ever followed an expedition?

Who stokes the fire?

There are heroes in every generation.

Never Stop Exploring


Friday, October 17, 2014

It's Just A Shirt.

At an early age my family relocated to a new subdivision that was on a reclaimed swamp down here in south Louisiana. The area was drained, dried, partially cleared and eventually ready for development.  This re-purposed wilderness turned into my childhood neighborhood. Luckily we were in the first ten houses in the area. Parts of it were still slightly wild and yet to be denuded. Groves of Cypress interwove with Palmetto, there was Swamp Maple and Wax Myrtle, Bulls Tongue, cattails and Louisiana Iris.

I challenged the neighborhood kids to stop playing football in the streets and tearing up the empty lots with our dirt bikes and four-wheelers that were laid up from hunting season (this is growing up in south Louisiana guys). The way I got them to do it was through building trails in our grove of lowland swamp/forest. The trails were used for riding but also to eventually interconnect a number of tree houses and other forts. Out of this land we built a kingdom, but my unquestioned reign of this realm could be historically contested.

We were all in. It was coolin' off in the shade now. We had iron horses, trade routes and a number of outposts in our miniature wilderness. What was missing though was identity. Sure we were the neighborhood kids but identity? Solidarity?

On occasion, my father has bestowed on me some of his clothing that no longer fits. At this same age he gave me a collection of shirts. It was the whole rainbow of solid colors. They were collared and fairly soft to the touch. They really didn't fit me yet but they had a cool logo. It was something we could all relate to: An alligator.

What my father gave me was a complete collection of vintage Lacoste/Izod shirts (they were still the same company).

I gave them out to my friends and guess what. We had a club.

They got trashed.


It was glorious.

I had a closet a college kid would drool over but what did we care as a group of wild youths running around the woods? A quality wardrobe? Beliefs that it is our stuff that makes us? Attachment to physical, overpriced, replaceable, consumer possessions that have little to no real practical application?  Ha, no, we were kids and, hey, it's just a shirt.

* * *

Last week, for a special occasion, I went out with a few of my favorite members of the fairer gender for a night of dancing.  While dancing may be one of my weakest art forms (and far worse than my writing), it is still one that brings me physical and emotional enjoyment. It is social, sporadic and expressive. Every so often I "get down" and really have a good time. This was one of those nights.

Getting up off my thang', I just so happened to land the heel of my foot, ever so unintentionally, upon the shoes of a well-dressed gentleman in a nice sport coat. He had been trying to return to his party with drinks. The momentum from my uncalculated placement of an appendage caused this respectable citizen to lose the liquid contained in his glass. This resulted in the unfortunate consequence of wetting his coat. 

Appearing angered by the incident we had a visual exchange. His formal wear against my casual stained blue jeans and brand placement outdoor t-shirt must have been a sight of true contrast. Crowded bar? Walking through dance floor? Over dressed for the venue? Was he really unsettled? Should he have been irritated? Ha, no, we are adults and, hey, it's just a shirt.


Monday, October 13, 2014

Happy Columbus Day

It was not a recent development that I could be an outdoor curmudgeon. It has been a quality I have possessed for a few years now. Believe it or not, it has driven me to write, and offer critical judgment, on the way we live as Americans, Westerners and people who embrace modernity.

I personally feel the way we conduct our lives in modern society is a grave affront to our humanity and limits us in our full range of experience. In short, I feel the world homo sapiens-sapiens  evolved in has been left behind and, with that departure, we have also lost the deep wisdom humanity gained through, literally, hundreds of thousands of years of paleolithic history. It is the loss of this wisdom and way of life that ultimately disturbs me. How it has been almost wiped out from history. Sometimes, though, my thoughts on this can get radical and downright offensive to some. I try to limit the expression of these concepts but, when you write about the things I do, it is a hard subject to avoid.

In that light, I found this lovely piece in my archives I wrote for Columbus Day in 2010. It is a great example of my continued and historical disgust of the world mankind has built. Enjoy!


* * *

Today we celebrate  a great  day in American history. This is the day we set aside to remember when the first Europeans discovered the new world. It was a new world filled with beauty and bounty. A land with diverse ecosystems, flora and fauna, with wide expanses of plains, mountains, hills, rivers and supported great numbers of animals.

It is not only the remembrance of the discovery of this "new" land, but also the discovery of a "new" group of people. They had a significant population that possessed societies that were complex, pastoral, agricultural, nomadic, and some even remained hunter gathers. Today is the day we remember the discovery of these things but if you try to experience them today they can no longer be found in the quality or quantity they once were. This is a changed continent.

Oh you westerners who brought such great things to this land! How can you ever be repaid? You brought to this wild strange land order! You cut down the imposing expanses of forests and "controlled" those pesky native "savages". You did all of this so that we might have a newer, more complex, modern society. One of economic opportunities that did not simply use the land but exploited it for its deeper value. You brought to us systems of law that set our behavior in accordance with what is just  and right.  You gave us direction as "civilized" people. You took this foreign virgin land that no true "civilized" group of people could exist in and created the systems that afforded us the comforts of economic success. The trees alone would not bring me that kind of comfort so you taught me to cut them down and raise great dwelling places with their wood to keep all of my possessions that I had purchased from your economic system in. Because of what you have done I have become comfortable and so happy  in this great bountiful land.

Thank you so much for taming these wild lands. We surely could never have existed humbly or happily had you not brought to us modernity that has allowed me the luxury to be free from the "dangerous" wilds. I could never have survived with any degree of comfort in this land had I needed to live like those "savage" natives.  Never could I have used my days hunting in the forests with my kinfolk and friends or learning pastoral farming practices. How could I ever live in a civilized manner if my hands had to be stained with the blood of my meal for that evening? Never could I bear to have to learn to read the land to find the life-giving sources of water or if I had to dirty my hands in the soil of the earth hoping for a good harvest. No civilized person would answer to a tribal elder that bestowed wisdom based on experience and philosophical  reasons, no, civilized men direct their behavior by the logic of law. Oh how glorious is the authority of law and our western economic systems! No longer do I need to learn the skills to find and provide food  from the wilds or rely on my companions to make a successful hunt where I failed. No longer do I have to search for water! I am so thankful for the opportunity to learn  a better, much more useful, practical skill: making money. No longer do I have to deal with the burdens of an uncivilized state, now we possess the skills of making money to buy food, supply water ,and to purchase shelter! How grateful am I to have learned this!

So on this Columbus day let us remember and thank Columbus and the Europeans who wanted this kind of life for us in this great land. They brought this rich land a new order that gave the people of this land the skill of making money by exploiting the bounty of this place. Forever man has searched for the true meaning of existence. I think that what our modern system has done is allowed us to fulfill what really has to be the meaning of existence. That meaning of existence being making money.

P.S.  The Europeans called the native Americans  “Noble Savages” but I ask who really was noble and who was savage?

-MG 2010

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Night Movie? Union Glacier

Antarctica holds a very prestigious place in the mind of an adventurer.



These are names that will be echoed for ages.

The southern most continent of our planet has held a reputation for extremes.The tales of severity and hardship endured in the exploration of this region have been told time and time again. Even with our advances in technology this place still possess a formidable threat. In the tradition of recounting the challenges of the Antarctic (and most other outdoor disciplines) the medium of modern outdoor cinematography has recently taken precedence. This is our fire side storytelling.

Enjoy this prime example of Antarctic legacy and amazing documentation:

Welcome to Union Glacier from Studiocanoe on Vimeo.


Friday, October 3, 2014

I'm Sorry You Have A Job.

It would be a lie to say I have not had difficulty adjusting to life back in a more civilized state. Over the past few years of travel and spending a substantial amount of time in the back country, I have experienced major changes in my personal perspective on modern life.  Many of these have come to a boil now and I no longer care to restrain myself from expressing them. I want to tear this dam down. Let the river run.

On a recent morning I realized how far I've come in this continued, subconscious rejection of traditional lifestyles. I spent a night in my Jeep that was everything less than pleasant. Intoxicated, I lumbered in after my neighborhood bar rounds and dropped my back seat. Giving little attention to details, the therm-a-rest and sleeping bag liner were prepared and my road trip bed was set up. The burden of hellish heat and unforgiving New Orleans humidity was complemented exquisitely by my personal cloud of mosquitoes. I got to work early, showered, and was still in a great mood. It was that morning that I realized I had one last thing to do before I became a true dirtbag.

* * *

We were at one of Mid City's illustrious watering holes last night and the gents restroom here has one of my favorite bar features: a chalk board above the urinals. I love to write stupid jokes or witty witticisms. Last night though I was caught in the act of psychological warfare. Halfway through committing my sentence to the destructive medium of the chalkboard another male entered the chamber to relieve himself. To finish my act of social terrorism or not?



Finally, Courage. 

The phrase was completed. Without lapse my random victim had begun to read it. Then after a brief pause, eventually, with complete eloquence, the man spoke. "That would suck!"