The Nature Boys - 1940s Hippie Predecessors, Without The Drugs

Comment

The Nature Boys - 1940s Hippie Predecessors, Without The Drugs

Eden Ahbez

Eden Ahbez

Long before the more obvious cultural explosion of the 1960s, a group of Californians were cultivating an alternative lifestyle that would come to influence later movements and culture at large. They called themselves the Nature Boys.

From the early 1900s on, they wore their hair long, skin tanned from reverence of nature and the sun. Jack Kerouac mentions them in “On The Road”, telling us that while traveling through Los Angeles in 1947 he’d see“an occasional Nature Boy saint in beard and sandals”.

The Nature Boys were proponents of a vegetarian lifestyle, living primarily off of fruits and vegetables. In fact, a popular Nature Boy hangout was a health food store in Los Angeles’ Laurel Canyon founded by German immigrants. The Eutropheon, Greek for “good nourishment”, was a bustling community center where lectures about raw foods and natural living took place.

The  group included Eden Ahbez, a musician and songwriter who often performed at the Eutropheon, playing piano, and flutes he made himself. He eventually wrote a hit for Nat King Cole, it’s title “Nature Boy” an obvious homage.  

A frenzy ensued after the song hit number one for eight weeks straight, eventually to be performed by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, and Peggy Lee. 

Despite the attention Ahbez brought the Nature Boys, they themselves often lived the lives of hermits, wandering the hills, taking up dwelling in trees and caves. Eden himself sometimes slept under the first L of the Hollywood sign. 

A prominent group of Nature Boys, including Eden Ahbez, lower left.

A prominent group of Nature Boys, including Eden Ahbez, lower left.

The term Nature Boy was a loose translation of naturmenschen. Most of the practicing youth were either German immigrants or followers of German immigrants who taught what was called Lebensreform,  or life-reform. 

One early Lebensreform influencer and Nature Boy mentor was Bill Pester. He fled Germany at the age of 19 to avoid military service in 1906.

His philosophy of nature worship, passion for literature and writing, musicianship,  nudism, and raw foods diet set the standard for the lifestyle.

He came to settle in Palm Springs where he often walked barefoot through the desert and played his guitar. Pester lived in a self-made cabin and was well liked by the local Native Americans. For some reason the Native American census at the timeeven included his name.

 

At the outset of the 1960s, aging Nature Boys could be found at music festivals of the dawning era.  They served as gurus and role models for the rebellious youth that would become known as Hippies.  But the Nature Boys were not proponents of all aspects of Hippie culture. 

The philosophy of Lebensreform, and its strict adherence to natural lifestyles, diet, and yoga would have discouraged drug abuse. 

Bill Pester at this palm log cabin in Palm Canyon, California, 1917.

Bill Pester at this palm log cabin in Palm Canyon, California, 1917.

Gordon Kennedy is the author of “Children of the Sun” a book that pins the origins of the Hippie Movement to 19th century Germany. The book is hard to find, available only for very high prices—around 1,000 dollars new. I found a relevant forum discussing the book and his 2003 article on the same subjects.

Kennedy says, “The California Nature Boys didn’t seem to have any interest at all in drugs, even though the Beat thing was dawning during the late 40’s, the beats were largely urban and into black jazz and urban nightlife, reefers etc. Nature Boys avoided urban scenes and smoke in any form.” 

It seems the Beats, as well as Timothy Leary and his Harvard LSD researchers, brought the party favors. The Nature Boys provided a life model that worked once the party was over. 

The American counterculture has deeper roots than we know, beyond the Hippies, and beyond even the Beats. 

Distinguishing these movements from that of the Nature Boys and Lebensreform teachers might change our minds about the Sixties, and even the modern consciousness movement taking hold worldwide right now.

The simple tale of middle class dropout youth is only the hippy tip of the iceberg.  A deeper story extends into the 1940s with the Nature Boys, then into Lebensreform and health movements imported by German immigrants. 

Question:

Were drugs the defining characteristic of 1960’s subculture? Can you think of other movements during or before this era that practiced a similar lifestyle (with or without the mind-altering substances)?

This article was originally published on REALITY SANDWICH MAGAZINE

References:

Gordon Kennedy, Author "Children Of The Sun"

Comment

1 Comment

10 Amazing Facts About the American Government's Psychic Program

Transient

1.

The American government used psychics in operations and experiments for over 20 years, with total funding of $20 million—eventually known as Project Stargate.


Transient

2.

Starting in the 1970s, psychics were researched and trained at Stanford Research Institute (SRI).


Transient

3.

Psychics produced detailed renderings of secret Soviet bases, the whereabouts of Red Brigade terrorism hostages in Italy, and the location of victims in the Israeli/Iran hostage crisis.


What color are my knickers?

What color are my knickers?

4.

A media frenzy ensued when  the Project Stargate was declassified in 1995 (Ted Koppel's Nightline, ABC, The Washington Post, The New York Times, etc.)


Hey, Joe.

Hey, Joe.

5.

On ABC's Nightline, one of the operatives, Joe McMoneagle was put to the test by ABC anchor Ted Koppel. He proved the authenticity of remote viewing in front of millions.


6. In 1984 SRI psychic researchers organized successful 10,000-mile remote viewing experiments between Moscow and San Francisco with a famous Russian healer Djuna Davitashvili.  Djuna successfully described where a colleague would be hiding in San Francisco, the experiment closely guarded by the USSR Academy of Sciences. 

Remote view me anytime, Djuna.

Remote view me anytime, Djuna.


Drawing's (right) accurately illustrating a crane inside a Russian underground base from remote viewing psychics.

Drawing's (right) accurately illustrating a crane inside a Russian underground base from remote viewing psychics.

7.

The project began in 1974  when psychics accurately described a secret Soviet weapons laboratory in the far reaches of Siberia. The trial was so accurate that a formal Congressional investigation was launched to determine if there had been a breach in National Security. There hadn't been.


8.

Data from formal scientific Stanford Research Institute investigations over the course of 20 years were highly statistically significant—thousands of times greater than chance. The results were published in prestigious scientific journals—Nature, The Proceedings of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and The Proceedings of the American Academy of Sciences.

Remote peer review.

Remote peer review.


This movie sucked.

This movie sucked.

9.

In 2009 the Hollywood Film Men Who Stare at Goats—starringGeorge Clooney,Ewan McGregor, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Spacey—satirized the Stargate Project. Unfortunately the movie’s farcical nature served only to make a joke out of the program's research legacy spanning two decades. 


10.

In 1995 the Stargate Project was terminated, not because the psychic phenomenon didn’t exist—it was statistically verifiable. But the techniques were varied and results often vague. In the words of the final report “Though a statistically significant effect has been observed in the laboratory…we conclude that continued use of remote viewing in intelligence gathering operations is not warranted.” With drones who needs psychics? 

For more information, see this Reality Sandwich article on Project Stargate, from which these points were based.

 
Or is it?

Or is it?

1 Comment

Comment

Bad Futurism - Materialist Geeks Want To Dominate Your Future

Transient

When we delve the depths of contemporary futurism, a dangerous dualism becomes apparent.

One group of futurists wants to manipulate your DNA, upload your brain to a computer, and live forever. The other group believes in harmony with nature and the preeminence of the human spirit (over domains such as technology). These two groups may someday engage in battle, intellectual or actual, for the future of humanity.  

Futurism is a loose term. Many self-proclaim the title. The vague umbrella includes forward thinking scientists, engineers, science-fiction writers, mystic receivers of futuristic revelation, artists, filmmakers, and entrepreneurs.   

Ironically, those "futurists" who claim to be the most rational, skeptic, and scientific may be the most dangerous. 

In this article I'll explore—in a totally biased semi-fictional narrative—the dichotomous futuristic visions presented by materialist techno-optimists vs. the pioneers of spiritual science that are destined to win the battle.

How did we get here?

In the last century, science began to understand the true foundations of matter. Humans mined the quantum realm, presenting scientific theories that stirred the mystic's age-old fantasy of becoming one with everything. Our power to manipulate the physical world to our own ends reached its pinnacle. We've successfully engineered ecosystems (not always for the better), towering cities, global transportation and international commerce. We also create, on a different scale, with microchips and the processing power they make available. Indeed, when we conceive of technology now, we often think of software, the internet and its world of information.

The various data—personal, social, and commercial—accrues at a furious rate as processing power improves exponentially. Singularity is near.

Meanwhile, despite this exciting realm of pure information, the environment plunges deeper into crisis as our inoculated environmentalism falls deeper into one of those too-long naps it shouldn't have taken late mid-afternoon.

Our dual futurists have different visions of where this is all going.

Even our techno-optimist seeks an escape from the mountain of exterior knowledge he downloads daily, juggles, and regurgitates. However, he seeks his rapture not away from, but through, technology. He fantasizes about merging with the machine, uploading his mind onto a computer. He believes technology can and will solve everything.

This brand of futurist sees the quantum realm, but through Google goggles. Though he's read up on all the quantum physics discoveries of the last century, the information just doesn't quite settle in. The quantum fields smudge on his screen, becoming particles. He sees the world as physical chunks, not waves. It's easier that way. 

Now that our pragmatist has found his particle, he can get back to what he really cares about—what he might build with it. Computers, microscopic video cameras, fast cars, speedboats, rocket ships; virtual reality video games, prescription methamphetamine for the modern businessman.  Reality is starting to look like his techno-fantastic dreams. 

As technology advances further, however, "reality" just isn't good enough anymore.

The everyday world is stale compared to the vastness of the imagination, stale even in comparison to the 3D gesture-sensing entertainment future-minded individuals prefer to consume. 

Exploring ways to continually fix reality, active participation in one's own evolution becomes necessary. Possible solutions include DNA manipulation and cyborg add-ons. 

But alas, this fellow has been polluting that which he sought to fix for quite a while now. Thus, we have no other choice but to label him the Bad Futurist.

His building block understanding of the world may be the only thing that needs fixing.

What if the building blocks are made of consciousness?

To this point, some dare not venture. Though quantum physics discoveries and a growing list of scientific experiments offer ample evidence of non-local consciousness—a non-material field from which human awareness finds its source—whole communities of supposedly forward-thinking individuals turn a blind eye to the facts. Our Bad Futurist is one of them. 

But there is a utopian visionary with the bravery to embrace the implications of the quantum realm—the Good Futurist.

She's a cultural engineer, a visionary seeker who embraces technology, but also history, and our greatest heritage: Planet Earth. She sees nature as something technology should mimic, not fix. Furthermore, she questions the idea of progress, while recognizing those culturally and technologically advanced cultures of the past. Frankly, she finds our modern culture, economics, and politics to be savage in many ways.

This Good Futurist sees consciousness as the supreme technology.

She knows that an internet-like system has been available for aeons to those who venture to meditate and to learn the mechanics of consciousness-based healing. The human body, human mind, and human spirit make up the most advanced mobile device the world has ever seen. Current technologies, like b-day reminding iPhones and wifi, merely imitate the inherent technologies of the mind-body-spirit. Yes, I'm talking about psi phenomenon—telepathy, remote viewing, and the vastly altered states offered up by meditation, yoga, and dream practice.

The Bad Futurist seeks transcendental experiences too.

He seeks ever higher states of consciousness brought on by intellectual stimulation, entertainment, adventure, power, and maybe even drugs. He seeks virtual realities that will free him from the mundane body and stressful physical world. He attains weightlessness during trips to outer space that cost him $250,000.

Like his counterpart, he also sees his body and brain as technology—albeit hardware, not spiritual software. Accordingly, he seeks an upgrade. 

The Bad Futurist soon finds himself chasing the ultimate prize, coveted by alchemist and bored billionaire alike. Immortality. 

The spiritualist has an interest in immortality as well, but it's different. Evidence of reincarnation suggests immortality is already ours. Meditation makes the eternal realm more tangible in the here and now. In addition, the Good Futurist may live a perversely long and vigorous life due to a moderate diet and emotional well-being. 

The alternate life-extension method is DNA manipulation and cyborg add-ons to the human body. As we look a little deeper, it becomes clear that extreme techno-optimists seek a prize more illusive than the modern health-conscious alchemist's—physical immortality.

If vampiric plans for physical immortality fail, there's plan B—uploading the human mind into the body of a robot avatar. Alternatively, we might hook ourselves up to a computer and mentally travel into a sphere of purely digital existence, like Tron or The Matrix. And let's not forget manipulation of the cellular atomic core to attain a state of pure electro-magnetic frequency. If we can manipulate the nuclear core of matter, we can, by all means, manipulate our body's matter to reach a higher state. (I once heard a futurist and professional media figure actually propose this.) 

Meanwhile, the Good Futurist says, "I'm already there." And she got there without DNA manipulation, prescription drugs, or cyborg add-ons.

Whose Utopia? 

To the Good Futurist, humanity's next step is a world of creativity, spiritual exploration, expanded consciousness, communal living, healthy ecosystems, fair and just economics, real-time democracy, and long life through natural means. With a dash of automation, rapid worldwide transportation, and tasteful gadgetry.

The alternate future entails continual domination of the biosphere, manipulation of natural systems and the human genome, science for profit (not the advancement  of mankind), and manic states brought on by pharmaceutical drugs without bothering to recognize the tried and true power of consciousness. Oh, and vampire-like immortality, cyborg add-ons, and robot avatars. Sexy.

Whose future sounds more crazy?

Comment

Naturally, Buddha

Comment

Naturally, Buddha

*This article was inspired by David Grubin’s film The Buddha: The Story of Siddhartha. Available on Netflix.

AS A WESTERN GUY interested in global spiritual practices, the story of the buddha stands out as the archetypal quest for enlightenment, a flight from the world we all call ordinary.

But after hearing the story many times I’ve come to believe its not about escaping reality, it’s about re-entering the reality of nature, as opposed to that of our distracted modern mind.

The story of the buddha is not one of escaping the world, but escaping the manmade world—and mind—of modern civilization.

You may be thinking that the story of the buddha dates back to about 600 B.C.—how is that modern? Well, at that point the structure of modern agricultural civilization was fully erected, accompanied by a stratified society of haves and have-nots. The kings, warriors, and priests at the top; merchants, famers, and the untouchables—conquered peoples of  foreign cultures who were effectively slaves—at the bottom. Siddhartha  was, within in this structure, pretty well-off.   

So here’s  how the story goes…

Siddhartha is a prince, walled-off in his palace, enjoying all the pleasures of food, sex, and princely pampering.

However, he grows up and eventually sees the outside world and all its suffering.  He sees old age, poverty, sickness. Viewing the life of the peasant is just too much for him. This triggers his desire to change. 

It must be noted that this outside world of sickness is actually the shadow side of a system of hierarchy that Siddhartha enjoyed from the inside. As I mentioned, the caste system of India was  intense in its day—with priests and warriors at the top of the pecking order. The rest were second class citizens. So in effect, Siddhartha is shocked by the world that his class has created in its subjugation of others.

Siddhartha then sets out on the very male path asceticism. He tries way too hard to escape the world he grew up in. That world is evil. The body is evil. Nature is evil. This path is emphasized by his renunciation of his wife and children, a renunciation of the feminine—a male march out the family to engage in spiritual battle. But he doesn’t win the battle. For years he tries and fails.

Emaciated and almost dead, Siddhartha is nourished by a passing maiden who gives him milk and rice. This symbolizes a return to the world and the feminine. Not a transcendence, or an escape.

It’s only then that Siddhartha finds enlightenment, sitting beneath the Bodhi tree. The symbolism couldn’t be any stronger. Like the Semitic Tree of Life or the aboriginal World Tree, the Bodhi tree shows us that enlightenment comes from a return to nature, seeing the connections of all things to one another like branches.

When final enlightenment comes, the Buddha points to the Earth. The earth itself is the one who will testify that he is worthy of the title “He Who Has Awakened”. The story ends here in the real world, on earth, in a recognition of the patterns of nature.

But again, twisted through the lens of traditional spirit and body dualism of both East and West, we tend to look at the story of enlightenment and nirvana as an escape from the world. It is not.

Perhaps Samsara—the Wheel of Return—is the endless return to the mind of violent civilization, and our resultant heightened sense of ego. Nirvana might have been here all along, waiting for us in the fields, gardens, and forests.

Comment

On the Set of Daniel Pinchbeck’s Gaia TV Show “Mind Shift”

Comment

On the Set of Daniel Pinchbeck’s Gaia TV Show “Mind Shift”

Daniel Pinchbeck hosts a new show highlighting the cutting edge of the consciousness movement.

Guests include the likes of visionary artist Alex Grey, science and economics author Howard Bloom, and modern Jewish Buddhism expert Jay Michaelson, to name a few.

Conversations ensue about psychedelic influence on modern religion, creative subcultures infiltrating media,  and alternative economics.

Artist Alex Grey talked about the return of what he calls Sacramental Religion, religion that dispenses divine experience through sacraments—namely, sacred psychedelic substances.

He says history’s greatest religions engaged in initiatory rites and most used psychedelics of some sort. Semitics ingested Syrian Rue, Egyptians evoked the eternal with Blue Lotus Flower, the Vedic Hindus sipped Soma. 

Grey calls the return of sacramental religion the real “Second Coming”. He points to the sprouting of Ayahuasca churches whose psychedelic use is legally protected under American religious freedom laws. One such organization, the Santo Daime church, mixes psychedelics, native Brazilian beliefs, and Catholicism.

Grey says a vein runs through all visionary religion. Creativity. He even goes so far as to say art is the religion of the future, the exchange of cultural knowledge and media fostering communication and spiritual innovation.

What happens when a traditional religion like Islam meets psychedelics? 

Michael Muhammed Knight, author of Tripping with Allah, answers the question. He details a lurid psychedelic visitation with the naked Fatimah, daughter of Muhammed. Knight sought the feminine within what is generally a male-dominant religion and got what he wished for when he took Ayuasca. Fatimah’s apparition told Knight, “The Koran is for the boys,” and insisted that her body was the door to the mosque. He proceeded to enter.

Knight describes walking into a traditional mosque the day after the experience, doing the all the usual things, but with a new expanded understanding of his religion. Author Jay Michaelson emphasizes that more people are meditating today in America than in any other time or place in history. 

1 million new people try meditation each year. Michaelson is enthusiastic about the implications. He says healthcare will be hugely affected, the results “econometric” as healthcare costs decrease by billions. 

Michaelson who has studied Jewish mysticism, history, and Buddhism looks at the practice of meditation as technology. But he admits such technology can be used for good or for bad, using the example of the meditating warrior whose extreme skills of focus are used to kill. He also points out that Goldman Sachs hires Meditation Consultants, potentially using the eastern philosophy of non-attachment to engage in immoral activity while maintaining a calm state of mind.

Michaelson defines a new generation of meditators who tend to hold down regular jobs, have a sense of social responsibility and lack the self-centered spirituality of their predecessors. Narcissistic spiritual practice is a Baby Boomer thing, he says. 

Unfortunately, we had to roll out before Howard Bloom spoke; he was the PR guy for Michael Jackson and Prince back in the day. 

Now Bloom writes prolific books that explore the bridge between science, the human spirit, and economics like The Genius of the Beast and his latest work, The God Problem. Can’t wait to see that episode.   

The series still airs on Gaia TV with guests like Russel Brand.

Comment

CULTIVATING THE ARTIST’S VISION

Comment

CULTIVATING THE ARTIST’S VISION

Meditation is a great tool for artists.

Altered states have been central to the experience and creation of art since we started painting in caves thousands of years ago. You might say that it’s the artist’s task to document heightened perceptions and share them with the world—perhaps, in turn, altering the audiences worldview. Various substances have been used to attain such states, but they aren’t necessary. 

Here’s one small step towards a shift in consciousness that may inspire your own artistic practice.

Practice Open Eye Meditation. 

Start by staring at an object in the room or a single point on a wall. Focus inside the lines of the object, or intensely at one point.

Now keep your eyes on the object but be aware of the space around it. Don’t move your eyes, but look at the whole room.

Then go back to only being aware of the object. Then the room. Object. Room. Object. Room.

Eventually you’ll develop a heightened form of vision that uses more of your peripheral vision, a relaxed focus, and an awareness of the interconnectedness of all elements in your environment. Including you.

Don’t close your eyes, or a weird old guy could creep up on you. “Meditation #2 " by  Geoffrey Chandler

Don’t close your eyes, or a weird old guy could creep up on you.

“Meditation #2 " by  Geoffrey Chandler

Comment

Smells Like Hipster Spirit

Comment

Smells Like Hipster Spirit

IS THE NEW HIPSTER SPIRITUAL?

Yes. Here’s why. The many subcultures the latest incarnation of hipster emulates and imitates—only aesthetically—have deep roots in various forms of radical spirituality.

In order to prove the point, let’s define what a hipster is. And more importantly, what spirituality is.

“Hipster” as a term that may be on its way out. It describes the indie aesthetic and taste preference. Eventually, underground cultures and aesthetics make their way into the mainstream. This may have already happened for all things hipster.

Let me break down the hipster into two subsets. One is materialistic, dressing the part and partaking in the general aesthetic—the lame wanna be. The other type is actually the real influencer.

Oh yeah, spirituality… just read this wikipedia definition if you don’t know what it is.

THE ARTSTER

An artster is a creator. They set the trends that others end up emulating, often years down the line. A fundamental assumption is that Artsters influence hipsters as a whole. Then generic hipsters influence what has become a visible component of mainstream media and culture.

As creators, the Artsters take at least some of their inspiration from intellectual, art, and cultural  movements of the past. 

Pyramid in Space. by Nick Nelson

MODERN HIPSTER LINEAGE

Hipster (Original)

Also known as a Hepcat, this particular 1940’s subculture member was an aficionado of Jazz and Bebop. Many etymologists believe that the terms hip, hep and hepcat derive from the west African Wolof language word hepicat, which means “one who has his eyes open”.

Their style of dress was that of the jazz musician. They enjoyed the use of recreational drugs and cannabis while emphasizing self-imposed poverty. Open sexuality, relaxed attitudes, and sarcastic humor prevailed. This culture was experienced and documented by Jack Kerouac and Alan Ginsberg. This movement can be characterized as spiritual in that its participants sought personal and moral freedom and the experience of transcendence through music. 

The Beats

The Beat culture was a post-World War II generation of poets, artists, and experimenters. They rejected materialism, expressed interest in Eastern religion, and dabbled in alternate lifestyles fueled by drugs and free sexuality. These were the forerunners of the later hippies.

The cultural effects of this single movement, along with the hippies, can be traced in civil rights, anti-censorship, anti-war, new spirituality, freer attitudes toward drugs, rock and roll, and ecological consciousness. 

The Hippies 

The name itself is derived from Hipster, a term that was also used to describe the Beats. Hippies took the beat ethic of experimentation and intellectual rebellion even further by creating a whole breakaway culture. They lived communally and fully embodied the ideals of the beats.They were instrumental in civil rights, protesting the Vietnam war, and psychedelic rock that hit the mainstream. Eastern spiritual influence,  Western pagan revival, and a shared perception of a spiritual renaissance were evident. 

Surfers (& Skaters)

I’ll group these two together, since the first skaters were surfers, entertaining themselves when the waves were crap. The surfers were influential even before the 60’s cultural revolution. They guided the West Coast evolution of the hippies. To be a surfer was to skip work whenever the surf was up, live like a nomad, and get high on sea, sky, and sun. 

Punks

This was birthed by, and also a response to, the hippie movement and the later commercialization of it. As what was hippie became mainstream, the punks revolted with a retro-trash aesthetic and simple raw style of music that despised musical virtuosity. Though not overtly spiritual, the spirit of rebellion, tribalism, and nihilism exhibited by the punks remains inspirational to cultural rebels today.   

Grunge

Another obvious suburban youth movement evolved after punk became a cliche.  As a counterpart to primarily urban punk rock, it evokes a back to nature, or at least back to the suburbs sentiment, and stands as our definitive 90’s dropout archetype. Spiritual? Ask Kurt

Indie Kids

The parent of the modern hipster, the indie kid with the ironic T-shirt and trucker hat, and a lame piercing or two was aware that mainstream society was kinda lame. She or he probably studied liberal arts before the economic downturn of 2008. They were thus afforded a sense of classlessness through knowledge and lifestyle choice, “but able to use college-taught skills of classification, collection and appreciation to generate a superior body of cultural "cool.” Not innately spiritual, but creatively inclined and well educated, which is a good start.

What’s next? The Spiritual Hipster.

The hipster is the evolution of the above movements. It mimics all that was Beat, Hippie, Punk, Indie, and Grunge,  but dabbles in mainstream culture and pop cheesiness. It also appropriates the aesthetic of “every unmelted ethnicity”,  pointing to an unconscious affinity for lineages of art and patterns from our collective indigenous past.

Haters have said that the hipster discards the philosophies of the subcultures they mimic. But do they? Maybe mashup styles combined with education and artistic curiosity eventually blossom into real culture. 

This hypothesized cultural archetype, Spiritual Hipster, seems to be manifesting in a new generation of shamanic cool kids. They believe in astrology, love crystals, talk to plants. They’ve gone to a psychic before, do yoga, and meditate regularly. They may have participated in an illegal Ayahuasca ceremony. They’re obsessed with health and are most likely vegetarian, perhaps indulging a grass-fed steak once in a while. 

Overall, it's clear that the classic hipster makes the historical counterculture ideals and lifestyle digestible to the mainstream. Some claim that only the surface elements, and not the essence, of the imitated movements are transmitted by such popular poseurs. We hope the Spiritual Hipster will prove otherwise. 

Since a version of the hipster aesthetic has already gone globally mainstream, it seems likely the spiritual hipster, what some are calling the Silverlake Shaman, may be priming us for a global renaissance of a less material kind.

Note - This Article Predicted The Movement Described Later In Articles Like This.

Comment

Cultivate Permanence- The Relatively Unknown Benefits of Permaculture

Comment

Cultivate Permanence- The Relatively Unknown Benefits of Permaculture

Artist: Robert Johnson - Signs Of Autumn

Artist: Robert Johnson - Signs Of Autumn

Permaculture is the practice of cultivating multiple crops in a given area with care and attention paid to the natural ecosystem, crop rotation, and the maximum longevity of the land. 

Permaculture’s Core Tenants are: Care of the Land- No healthy land, no healthy humans; Care of the People- All people get access to the resources of the community; Return of Surplus- Reinvesting the derived goods into land and people while recycling all waste products in an intact sustainable system.

What it’s not: Monoculture

Monoculture is the opposite of permaculture. A single cash crop is grown on vast amounts of land. Through expensive water infrastructure, pesticides, and other technologies, cost is cut to a minimum.

But the efficiency of monoculture is not due to higher yields, but cuts in labor costs

Monoculture doesn’t produce higher yields than permaculture. In fact, yields have been shown to be lower.

Charles Eisenstein, author of Sacred Economics, says in the article linked above, “Conventional agriculture doesn’t seek to maximize yield per acre; it seeks to maximize yield per unit of labor.”

Eisenstein cites the work of David Blume who achieved organic yields eight times what the Department of Agriculture said was possible.  

In a time when unemployment is a global issue should we be encouraging technologies that are inefficient, detrimental to ecosystems, and also kill jobs? 

Here in America, a shift to permaculture would mean a significant “Back to the Land” movement, as only 10% of the population is actively growing food. But in other countries people are just now being forced out of traditionally agricultural lifestyles

Part of the global unemployment crisis is related to global trade, exportation of cash-crops, and the influence of new agricultural technologies. Large corporations buy up land and push out smaller farmers who use traditional methods. People are forced into cities where they compete with each other for limited jobs. The result are large slums we see surrounding all “developing” global cities, the home of those who can’t compete and adjust to city life.

The Downside is an Upside

The fact that permaculture necessitates more labor is actually a positive in a time when millions of people are out of work. Permaculture work programs would invigorate the economy and strengthen communities.

Follow-up studies of Chinese areas that have implemented permaculture tactics to reinvigorate decimated land, confirm that incomes increase three fold as a result. 

Imagine new rural developments, with housing surrounding farms that feed both local and nearby urban populations.

The communities might be so environmentally and socially efficient that they actually encourage migration out of overcrowded cities.

But a few industries are bound to be disrupted.

One can assume these industries have a stake in keeping permaculture from catching on. Energy companies, the oil industry in particular, the makers of pesticides and herbicides, and of course big agriculture companies all benefit from the “efficient” labor-free systems now in place.

Profits are up, but so is unemployment, while growth is down. We need to put two and two together,  then make the shift to a system with higher yields and positive economic and social impact.

If we want to lasting place on this planet, permaculture offers a solution.

Permaculture’s Benefits

  • Restoration of ecosystems, effectively reversing the causes of global warming.
  • Increased yields.
  • Soil longevity.
  • Independence from chemical fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides.
  • Averting the dangers of genetically modified organisms (GMO’s) both for human health and compromising of heirloom genetic strains.

Comment

Lady Gaga Attains "The Great Crystal"

Comment

Lady Gaga Attains "The Great Crystal"

Lady Gaga appears (nude) in a strange meditation video, engaging in what’s deemed the Abramovic Method.  

We are most interested in the GIANT CRYSTAL she cuddles, convinced it is the Great Crystal referred to by the 19th century's most famous psychic, Edgar Cayce, in numerous trance readings. Cultie is determined to attain the crystal in order to realign the Merkaba fields of planet earth and bring forward the prophesied future Golden Age. (We reached out to relevant parties with no response.)

The video appears on a Kickstarter campaign for the Marina Abramovic Institute, a proposed center for awareness and performance training.

Marina Abramovic is a Serbian New York-based performance artist who began creating art in the 70s. A recent notable project was the “The Artist is Present” in 2010 at the MOMA, a piece that involved Abramovic sitting in a chair for 736 hours. Viewers were allowed to sit in front of her one on one, gazing into the artist’s eyes for extended periods, often with mutually emotional results.

Abramovic plans on building an institute in upstate New York serving as a laboratory for art, science, technology, and spirituality.

Her “method” is focused on enhancing the performance and appreciation of long durational work, that is, performances that are over 6 hours long.  

As for Gaga, it’s clear her career has ensured access to resources most of us can hardly imagine, including elite performance training. And the biggest healing crystals money can buy.

To be sure, her enthusiastic participation has kicked the fundraising up to a higher frequency.  

NOTE TO GAGA: GIVE US THE CRYSTAL OR SUFFER UNREQUESTED LONG-DISTANCE REIKI!

Comment

White Indians of the Canary Islands, the Last Stone-Age Europeans

Comment

White Indians of the Canary Islands, the Last Stone-Age Europeans

Prior to its conquest by the Spanish in 1402, the Canary Islands were home to a post-Neolithic culture living in a manner similar to Native Americans. 

The only other late European culture living indigenous-style is the Sami—the reindeer herding, fishing, and hunting hut-dwellers of what is now northern Sweden, Norway, and Finland. 

Known as the “Guanches”, the Canary Island natives lived a proper Stone-Age life, having migrated to the islands around 1000 BC. They wore animal skins, using spears and chiseled stone tools in their daily work. They worshiped nature deities, practicing their religion under what they considered sacred trees.

The Guanches were considered “Indians” by Christopher Columbus and the Spanish, as it was thought that the Canaries were the East Indies and the Caribbean Islands the West Indies.

The Guanches also developed a whistling language to communicate over long distances and mountains that Canary Islanders still know and use today. It’s considered a phonetic language, unintelligible to most, but containing rhythms and tone complexes that represent actual words.

It turns out the Canary Islanders may have a genetic link to the Berbers, light-skinned inhabitants of northern and Mediterranean Africa. Full circle— the Sami of Scandinavia have Berber blood too. Recent DNA analysis shows a link originating around 9,000 years ago. 

But with their lack of technology and pre-conquest life style during the Middle Ages, the Guanches qualify as the last  Stone-Age white culture on earth.

For more information on the Guanches:

Check out Gordon Kennedy’s book The White Indians of Nivara, The Untold Story of the Last Stone-Age Indo Europeans Tribes  at his site WhiteIndians.com

Comment

The Biological Roots of Demonization

Comment

The Biological Roots of Demonization

When hatred rears its ugly head, anyone can be demonized.

Of course, we’re all guilty of demonizing others in one way or another. Some blame the over-copulating poor, as I’ve heard an otherwise well-intentioned person do at a recent cocktail party—ironically, they came from a historically persecuted culture themselves. Others point the finger at the elite. Islam, socialism, and capitalism are other common objects of demonization.

Is hatred instinctual? 

Studies show that it may be, but that it can be transcended by the more recently evolved centers of the brain. The illusion of separation is rooted in the more primitive parts of the brain, or the reptilian brain.  I’m not talking about the reptilian overlords, I’m talking about the limbic brain. It decides when we should fight or flee.  The more recently evolved brain components, namely the neocortex, have the ability to bypass the primal instincts of fear that lead to hatred.

One basic, but very effective, illustration is provided by experiments in which black people were shown images of white people, and vice versa. 

Without exception participants initially reacted in fear and tension as reflected in polygraph measurements. But if both white and black people were shown images of a situation that went against expectations, the frontal cortex bypassed the fearful response of the reptilian (limbic) brain with feelings of trust. One such image was that of a black doctor treating a white patient.

In turn, we need to re-envision our relationship to the other if we are to create a better world. But that takes effort, openness and the willingness to think differently. 

The problem of demonization has roots in our biological history.

Back in the day, humans organized in tribal units that functioned much as a pack of wolves might, viewing the tribe as self and any outsiders as other. This is reflected in the fact that almost any culture’s translation of their tribal name means “The People”. Other tribes were often viewed as non-human. Our tendency to fear cultures different than ours is rooted in ancient times when different species and cultures did indeed represent a threat that warranted a fight-or-flight response.

We can do better.

Using the more highly evolved centers of the brain can bypass these primitive instincts, or at least manage them. Logic and even compassion are qualities associated with the neocortex, and indeed, brain scans of meditators reveal active frontal lobes with mediating connections to the primitive limbic brain. However, when the limbic brain is activated by a flight or flight response, most often experienced by modern folks as stress, anger, or nervous paralysis, it is cut off from the neocortex. 

When you fear, hate, and demonize others you become isolated from logic and compassion. Likewise, when you meditate, use logic, and make an effort to think differently you activate the “new brain” and mediate your instincts and, most likely, make things a little more enjoyable. 

Comment

Tech Spotlight: The Future Looks Like the Sixties in this Vogue Shoot Featuring Google Glass

Comment

Tech Spotlight: The Future Looks Like the Sixties in this Vogue Shoot Featuring Google Glass

Google Glass is heralded as one of the hottest technologies to come out of Google for a while. Basically its a pair of glasses that also acts as a viewing screen displaying information normally available on a mobile device.

Google Glass will most likely offer up information about the user’s direct environment, stores with products the user might like and wikipedia information about specific landmarks and locations.

There are a few reasons why I think Google Glass will fail, especially for males.

Nobody is a good multitasker. Men in particular have a problem lending attention to multiple tasks and sources of information input. Google Glass will lead to a massive amount car accidents if used while driving. (That is of course, unless they are in a self-driving Google Car, but that’s another story.)

Can you imagine talking to someone at a party wearing Google Glass? They’d nod, “Uh-huh, yeah…” all the while they’re checking their Fantasy Football scores online.

Now let’s get to the way they look. Wearing Google Glass is like wearing one of those wireless earsets—you know, the Star Trek style that were popular for a while. It doesn’t look cool.

The only way to pull it off is to totally futurize your entire outfit. The result might be something like this Vogue shoot.

Which brings us to an even deeper issue— why does the future look like the 60’s? 

Maybe our visions of futurism and technological utopia haven’t really advanced much since then.

Comment

Scientists Discover The Tree of Life is REAL!

Comment

Scientists Discover The Tree of Life is REAL!

Nature. Nature is you. Get in touch with yourself. Send you a postcard. Better yet, get some real face-time.   

When we reconnect with our biological ecosystem—our environment—we also reconnect with our spirit. It may seem that nature is merely the physical world around us, the world ruled by physical law and materiality. However, nature is everything—from the wave to the particle, from the subtle energy of the universe to we what we know as the “real” material world.

When I think of the word “nature”, what often comes to mind are the science and nature TV shows I grew up with as a child. So it’s through this filter that I often conflate nature and the world of biological science. This must a be common experience. But when I am out in nature myself, I feel I’m connected to a being greater than myself, a far cry from acting as an objective observer. When I look at the ocean, I feel the ocean is alive. When I look at the stars, I feel the particular celestial collective I’m gazing upon is gazing back, communicating to me through light. When I’m in a forest I feel the trees, the rocks, and the earth are all supporting me and embracing me.

They say that John Muir was often found a walking through the great Yosemite park talking to trees, and furthermore, listening to them.

That offers up a great point… to communicate to nature, you don’t need to talk to it—although, you can do that if you’re alone, or simply don’t give a sh-t. Listening to nature is probably the best way to communicate to nature.

Now, the biological structure of nature is beautiful.

The vast array of chemical interactions, microscopic compounds orchestrating themselves into broader hierarchies of mineral, plant, animal, and finally ecosystem, is nothing short of a miracle. But there is another aspect of nature that includes all of that, but also includes the more subtle realities—those that ancient cultures named spirit, but that modern physics also validates. 

There is a pattern in nature, and also in the mind, and in the body, and in the spirit.

That pattern might be called the “nature of reality”. That pattern can be seen by those spiritual adepts who have trained in meditation, attaining what might be called clairvoyance. For others the pattern can be felt, perceived when you feel at one with nature, and also literally seen in the twisting surface of the natural world. The organic-feeling, yet subtle and energetic, pattern has been called many things. It has been called the Tao, the Merkaba, the World Tree, and also the Tree of Life. The references many world religions and myths make to a sort of cosmic tree, which is entangled in the material world, but also has its roots in the spiritual realms, illustrate the kind of awareness I’m talking about—a sort of unifying, organic-feeling, spiritual awareness. 

An organic pattern of light is often perceived by meditators, and entheogenic participants.

In fact, there is a scientific term for the light perceived when none enters the eye—phosphene. The easiest way to induce phosphenes is by rubbing the eyes, but the resulting perception is crude. Meditators may experience a more stabilized, or crystalized, perception of what might be a phosphene field, a source of perceivable energy beyond physical light. The award winning scholar and professor of Cognitive Archaeology, Dr. David Lewis-Williams believes phosphene perception—perhaps enhanced by psychoactive plants—influenced the cave art of Paleolithic peoples. His books include The Mind in the Cave: Consciousness and the Origins of Art. 

Perhaps this type of awareness is what modern physics concepts such as String Theory are hinting at as well.

Maybe we can think of these strings—which represent multiple dimensions crisscrossing the realms of both matter and immaterial energy—rather, as branches. We can think of these strings as leaves, roots, or even cosmic neurons. Overall, what we see is that nature is a unified whole. We also see that nature is has its roots in an immaterial world of energy—this is what modern physics tells us is true. 

So it isn’t, as the more shallow new age philosophers try to tell us, that this world is an illusion.

It is the divisions we create, with our judgment and perception of the world, that are the illusion.  There is a greater whole, there is a larger pattern, and in perceiving it, we realize that we are utterly connected, indeed one, with nature and everything that exists. When I reconnect with nature, when I’m out in nature—near the ocean, or in a park, or hiking in the hills—I can feel that. I can also see it. Therefore I believe it, connecting to nature is one of the best ways to connect to your spiritual nature.

 

Comment

Futurism, Material or Spiritual? Jason Silva and Daniel Pinchbeck Approach Singularity

Comment

Futurism, Material or Spiritual? Jason Silva and Daniel Pinchbeck Approach Singularity

WHAT IS SINGULARITY? 

Futurists theorize that rapidly accelerating advances in human technology, merging with the powers of human consciousness, will send us into an unimaginable world of super-intelligence. That’s singularity.   

But two camps are watching the evolutionary convergence with different core assumptions. At a recent Evolver event at Tammany Hall in New York City Daniel Pinchbeck and Jason Silva engaged in a lively conversation about singularity. They agreed that we humans are in for some amazing leaps in technology and consciousness, but they inevitably highlighted how different their visons actually are. 

Daniel Pinchbeck is the author of Breaking Open the Head and Quetzalquatl 2012. Pinchbeck has a spiritual perspective and a futurist’s vision guided by philosophy and traditional spiritual practices like shamanism. He’s one of the founders of web magazine Reality Sandwich, and its complementary social network Evolver. 

Jason Silva, formerly at Al Gore’s Current TV, now hosts National Geographic show Brain Games.  He’s a new media artist who creates inspirational, and very viral, videos that highlight the convergence of human evolution and rapidly advancing technology. I first saw one of his inspirational video performances as part of a TED talk. Silva’s brand of futurism is positive about where humans are headed, giving occasional shout-outs to genetic engineering, and maintaining the faith that technology can solve technology. 

I’ll come right out and say I align more with Pinchbeck’s spiritual perspective, yet I appreciate the exploratory spunk of the more mainstream—and apparently materialist—Silva. Pinchbeck has studied spiritual practices of global cultures and visited with traditional shamans and healers worldwide. He has occult interests but is pragmatic, mainly looking for systems that can really work for people today.

Silva shared one of his major influences, Ernest Becker’s The Denial of Death, a book that appears in Woody Allen’s film Annie Hall, when the death-obsessed character Alvy Singer gives it to his girlfriend as a gift. Becker’s book postulates that most human endeavors, and civilization itself, are attempts to create systems that transcend death, fueled by the concept of heroism. Such attempts are called immortality projects, religions a perfect example.

According to Becker, many of the world’s problems and conflicts derive from competing immortality projects—competing philosophies, religions, world views, or national pursuits of conquest. Problematically, in the Age of Reason, traditional religion is no longer satisfactory immortality project. We don’t buy it anymore. Silva portrayed The Denial of Death as an affirmation of the materialist perspective, which I’m not sure it is.

Ironically, Silva’s own theories of convergence appear as a sort of exterior hero-system where technology and evolution save humanity, while Pinchbeck’s “immortality project” is much more internal.

Pinchbeck discussed reincarnation and the cosmology of the 19th-century spiritualist Rudolph Steiner. While he got into the most occult aspects of Steiner’s admittedly strange philosophy, a young guy passed out behind me, distracting the crowd with his own—probably alcohol induced—out of body experience.  

In response to Silva’s inference that technology may one day facilitate a sort of physical immortality, Pinchbeck expressed disturbance at the desire for carnal extension so many imaginative materialists display.

Pinchbeck asked the crowd, “How many people want to be (physically) immortal.”  About ten raised their hands. 

“How many people think they’re already (spiritually) immortal?” he asked. About the same amount raised their hands. 

I wish I could believe I was immortal,” Jason Silva said, blushing a bit in recognition that there were two different camps—materialist and spiritually inclined—in the room. 

The discussion culminated when Jason Silva proposed a future reality as weird as any religious mythology. In response to an audience member’s question about raising consciousness with technology, Silva described a world where technology controls atoms, altering their state from particle to wave phase. Applying the technology to our own atoms, we would disconnected from our current version of reality, our minds melding with technology as we “enter the matrix”. Silva’s visionary climax portrayed the materialist’s version of enlightenment. He described total technological manipulation of physical matter leading the to an almost-spiritual reality.

As wild as Silva’s postulated world of techno-enlightenment was, Pinchbeck assured us it wasn’t that out there. “Sounds like some of my Ayuasca experiences,” he said.

In affirmation, an audience member opined that we have had the ability to experience such “virtual realities” for centuries—within Hindu, Buddhist, and traditional shamanic practices. 

Silva’s vision of reality is beautiful. He sees the grand orchestra of stars and planets. He sees humans as instruments of an amazing process of evolution. Unfortunately, as magical as the world looks to him, it has no soul. 

Jason Silva’s enthusiasm was a great balance to Daniel Pinchbeck’s curmudgeonly presence, symptomatic of a misunderstood mystic. Silva’s youthful rapture is charming and contagious. However his vision is decidedly exterior, all yang and no yin. No matter how small the particle, how micro the understanding, how exponential the processing power, how accelerated the human evolution— it’s all exterior.

But it seems the two sides of this (perhaps unintended) debate are headed straight towards each other. Indeed, enthusiastic materialists and matter of fact spiritualists might have something to learn from each other…as they battle for control of the future universe!

Comment

Origins of The Soul Surfer

Comment

Origins of The Soul Surfer

What is the Soul Surfer?

First coined in the 1960s, it denotes a surfer with an apparent ability to merge with the wave. They surf for sheer joy, revering the ocean and living a simple life.

All who look upon the Soul Surfer’s sweet style are healed. He or she may not be the most radical shredder, but all are moved and influenced by their somatic expressions.

The concept can be applied to various other arts where the practitioner is recognized for having that “something special”. Even a marathon runner can be a Soul Runner if form and spirit are emphasized.

But surfing is special. It has overtly spiritual roots.

All surfers would be Soul Surfers had the original Hawaiian tradition been passed on intact. Alas, the X-treme! sportsman flaunts a grotesque mutation of the founding spirit.  

The kahuna’s of Hawaii used surfing as a religious tool, paddling out to honor the god Lono and others, expressing gratitude, and demonstrating spiritual power through extraordinary feats.

The kahunas were shamans, wizards, and experts of art and healing. They chanted spells to christen new surfboards, beckon swells,  and invoke courage.

Ancient Hawaii was ruled by a code, kapudenoting sacred, holy, marked-off or forbidden. Kapu regulated eating, cultivation of food crops, weather prediction, surfboard building, surf conditions prediction, and even surf condition manipulation through calling on the gods. If there were no waves, you made them—with a little divine assistance.

Indeed surfing was called The Sport of Kings, as chiefs were the ones riding the biggest waves. There were certain reefs and breaks “marked-off” for royalty, while others were for the people. If by chance your were surfing near those of royal blood, it was the gravest of offenses to drop in on them. (For non-surfers that means catching a wave that someone else is already riding, a real no-no to this day.)

Commoners had boards that were about 12 feet long, while those of chiefs and royalty were often up to 24 feet. (Size mattered, as did the motion in the ocean.)  

Colonization brought a gradual end the kapu system. By the 1800's Calvinist missionaries were insisting that the Hawaiians wear restrictive clothing, go to western schools, and get serious. Surfing was discouraged, although missionaries claimed that native Hawaiians simply lost interest in it after living modest Christian lives. Bullshit!

James D. Houston and Ben Finney writes in Surfing: A History of the Ancient Hawaiian Sport:

“For surfing, the abolition of the traditional religion signaled the end of surfing’s sacred aspects. With surf chants, board construction rites, sports gods and other sacred elements removed, the once ornate sport of surfing was stripped of much of its cultural plumage.”

But the Soul Surfer carries the almost extinguished torch towards the horizon, reminding us what all surfers could be, or already are—wave-riding wizards, killer kahunas, gnarly nobles, and shredding shamans.     

Resources:

From Polynesia With Love
The History of Surfing From Captain Cook to the Present
By Ben Marcus

http://www.surfingforlife.com/history.html

Comment

Comment

Interview With Artist Shantell Martin

An Interview with Shantell Martin

- Previously Published on Artlarking.com

Shantell Martin crosses boundaries with her art and the media she uses to create it. She’s an illustrator who made her mark drawing live projected images, often on people, in Tokyo megaclubs. She then moved on to lecture worldwide on the creative process and perform in galleries like the MoMA, and many others. She exhibits her hand-drawn illustrations as well, with upcoming solo shows in New York and Florida.

Martin’s work, web presence, and ability to tell her personal story are impressive. So check out her site and hear what she has to say in answer to a few of Artlarking’s inquiries. She’s a definite case study for wide-eyed emerging artists to learn from.

What motivates you, makes you get up in the morning, and keeps you creating despite outer influences telling you what to do and how to do it?

For some reason, could take a long time to explain, I’ve never really felt that strongly pressured by what other people think or suggest I should do. I go with my own flow. On the most part I wake up and I naturally want to make, create and share my works, but every now and then I don’t and I have to just ride it out and find other things to do with my time.

What gives you sustenance and allows you to relate to your environment as if it were home despite alien surroundings, new places, and new faces?

Growing up in the London I always felt like a bit of an outsider. An alien. Perhaps that has something to do with being mixed race and never really being accepted as “English” (like the English side of my family). We are given the title of “British”, which kinda makes you feel like a 2nd class citizen. So, at least when I am in foreign countries and environments, feeling like a foreigner seems normal and enjoyable.

How do you create opportunities for yourself within the community of art and business, doing all the awesome projects you do? A lot of artists want advice on how to represent themselves, and how to engage the world as an artist and a business.

Since leaving school I am yet to have an agent, manager, publicist, gallery etc. I have not been opposed to the idea of any of these, quite the opposite, but as I’m a bit of a hybrid (illustrator, visual artist, performer) people don’t really know what to do with me.

As most of my work, especially the live projection work is in public and on a large scale, I create fans and opportunities to meet with people at every show. If people like what they see, they will talk about it and come and talk with me….

It is still hard to show people my real passion though – my illustrations on paper.  They are very small and take time to sit down n view. I’m working on showing more people in the future though, by releasing a series of books.

If I were to give any advice, I would just say – get out there!

See more at www.ShantellMartin.com

Comment

New Regionalism - Review of New Magazine "California Nothern"

Comment

New Regionalism - Review of New Magazine "California Nothern"

California Northern is a new magazine published biannually about this western plot we call home. It avoids cliche depictions of Napa Valley, Silicon Valley, and leftist San Francisco. It asks us to question who we are and where we are.

Articles outline just how diverse California is. We’ve got ex-hippies, rednecks, techies, valley conservatives, farmers, immigrant workers, left-leaning urbanites, and some straight up paradoxes. Like the redneck-hippy hybrid who has dreadlocks, grows weed, and drives a dirty truck with a George Bush sticker on it.

An interview with L.A. Times veteran journalist, Mark Arax, reveals one common California thread. Our willingness to experiment. What happens in the rest of America happens in California first, he says. This includes movements in civil rights, innovations in agriculture, and  of course the creation of world changing technologies. But considering the diversity and the separateness of all these distinct types of people, is a pioneering spirit enough to hold us together? It’s a question that pops up throughout the pages of the magazine.

The editors of California Northern, claim that they want to document what’s happening here, not depict the world the way they wish it to be. But even in the subtitle, A New Regionalism, I can’t help but sense the desire to create a new way of seeing the world, locally, that can serve as container for all the contradictions. That might mean redefining a somewhat unifying Northern California culture.

Californians have a long tradition of creating new cultures. Or at least trying to. Matt Gleeson’s piece, “Hot Mountain”, tells the tale of black Beat poet, Nestor Groome, who strikes out with a group of idealists to live off the land, meditate, and love freely.

The story is a historical fiction hybrid that questions why Groome faded into obscurity though he was an essential part of the San Francisco Renaissance. It also asks why his blackness is a little known part of his documented history. The answer is an indulgent hypothetical account of rural commune life with Groome’s actual intimates, a group of exclusively white friends. Gleeson’s piece ends with a first-person narration by the ghost of Nestor Groome himself, shifting into paranormal journalistic realism.

Hot Mountain and other articles illuminate the fact that California is the furthest west a pioneering soul can go. Polar ideologies abound and perhaps make room for hybrid philosophies, new ideas and ways of living.

How does that manifest in our time? California experimentation and innovation still abound artistically and technologically, tempered by a connection to the land, local food, and art production.

California Northern shines a light on this part of the state’s past, gives comfort to those trying to understand it right now, and hints ever so slightly at what lies beyond the cultural horizon.

Comment

"Divine Feminism" - Script Excerpt

Comment

"Divine Feminism" - Script Excerpt

INT. YURT - NIGHT

Inside the yurt, a group of NUDE WOMEN sit on woven rugs and sheepskins around the light of a central fire.

They turn to Willa. Cold stares.

BLAZE, a woman with an obscenely long brown ponytail, speaks up.

BLAZE

What are you doing here? 

CHANDRA

She's with me.

BLAZE

Who invited you?

The other women laugh and turn away. They sort wild herbs, chat, and massage each other. 

Chandra walks over and WHISPERS something to Blaze. The whisper spreads.

The women turn again to Willa, dispositions changed.

Blaze carefully selects herbs from a basket and drops them into a large brass tub. She grabs a pot of scalding water from the fire and pours it in. 

Willa INHALES the intoxicating perfume rising with the steam.

HELEN and VIOLET, two girls with pale skin and platinum hair, unzip and pull Willa's wetsuit off. They giggle as the fabric SNAPS OFF of the legs. 

Willa covers herself in embarrassment.

BLAZE

(laughs)

You're more comfortable around men than women.

She ushers Willa to the bath.

WILLA

I'm a shower-person.

BLAZE

You're out of luck.

Chandra helps Willa into the bath. She slips in.

Willa's hair flows back, her head orbited by tiny floating flowers.

WILLA

This feels good.

BLAZE

You've got too much male energy.

WILLA

Another one of my diseases?

CHANDRA

A symptom.

BLAZE

There's an imbalance of female and male energy in the world. Nurturers aren't respected. Intuition isn't respected.

CHANDRA

That's why you've cultivated excess male energy.

WILLA

To get respect.

CHANDRA

As a defense.

Blaze massages Willa's scalp, running fingers through her hair.

BLAZE

You don't have to defend yourself.

CHANDRA

That's a male thing. Stemming from weakness. Because they secretly know...

BLAZE

The universe is female.

CHANDRA

All men owe their existence to a pussy. 

Excerpt From "Masters of The Fall". Enquire For Funding Opportunities.

All Rights Reserved - Middle Cloud Media

Comment

"Homecoming" - Script Excerpt

Comment

"Homecoming" - Script Excerpt

INT. HOUSE - NIGHT

WILLA sits on the edge of the couch. CHARLIE flips through channels, landing on Fox News. 

A kitchenette connects to the living room, separated by a bar. There, SHIRLEY fries up some sausages -- CIGARETTE in hand.

Shirley, 55, is a once-attractive blonde whose unhealthy habits make her look at least 10 years older.

Shirley lets the food cook, gulps her rum & coke, and takes a puff. All while reading a trashy paperback thriller, "Permanent Fix".

Willa watches, disgusted.

WILLA

I don't want any cigarette in my dinner, Stepmother.

CHARLIE

Don't mind the dangler. Shirley is a gourmet chef. Trust me.

SHIRLEY

(still reading)

The best in the West.

On the TV, flashing news coverage of the war entrances Charlie. But it makes Willa nervous.

NEWS ANCHOR

Today in Afghanistan 60 civilians were killed by US Forces when they received false intelligence from rival tribes. The government is investigating.

WILLA

That happened to us. 

CHARLIE

Well, that's war. At least they were just...

WILLA

Women and children.

CHARLIE

Well, what about my baby boys? They were there to liberate. But those camel cowboys murdered em'. 

WILLA

It's complicated. I went there to honor my brothers. And you.

CHARLIE

You're lucky you survived, young lady. They shouldn't let women on the battlefield.

Willa contains her anger. Slouches deeper onto the couch in the glow of the TV.

Charlie pays no attention. But Shirley sees Willa is in a SILENT PANIC.

SHIRLEY

You need a drink. Come here darlin'. What's your pleasure?

WILLA

You got Bourbon?

SHIRLEY

What kind of a question is that? 

Shirley puts a bottle of Bourbon and a glass on the bar. 

Willa pours herself a large glass and takes a sip. It calms her down.

WILLA

That's better. But this doesn't mean I condone your drinking, Stepmother.

Shirley laughs.

WILLA

How long have you been with daddy now?

SHIRLEY

Charlie and I just celebrated our 10 year anniversary.

WILLA

I lost track. Probably because you eloped! Would have been nice to be at the wedding.

CHARLIE

Stop picking on your mother!

WILLA

Step-mother.

SHIRLEY

Evil Stepmother.

Willa scratches Shirley's head lovingly.

WILLA

Evil Stepmotherrr.

Shirley smiles, puffs, and gets back to her book.

Excerpt From "Masters of The Fall". Enquire For Funding Opportunities.

All Rights Reserved - Middle Cloud Media, Limited

Comment

Transmission from CULTiE's Anonymous Psychic Science Board

Comment

Transmission from CULTiE's Anonymous Psychic Science Board

"Thanks to The Scandinavian Institute of Paranormal Marine Psychology for providing us with the technology to extract sound waves from the quantum fluctuations emanating from our specifically tuned crystal collection, configured for maximum high frequency resonance, while providing ample containment and harmony with low harmonics and observing scientists. " 

- Anonymous Psychic Science Board

Comment