Yeah, it’s been a long stretch of nothing but work for me trying to get this project “Raw Travel” off the ground. I can’t fully explain how much work this is in today’s consolidated media environment in the U.S of A. I mean, at times, it feels virtually impossible to make a living as an independent producer in TV. NOTHING should be this hard, but it is, and many people endure much more just to survive, so I won’t whine. I’ve been blessed by people who believe in what we’re doing and it’s getting done (50+ cities and counting in the U.S. and internationally this fall) with support from people at those very same consolidated media companies.
Corporations are made up of people, remember. And people, unlike corporations, are good, bad and in between because you see, they are people not a faceless entity like a corporation. Get it? Now don’t get me wrong, there have been a few incompetents and disrespectful folks along the way, some grossly so. But for the most part, people have been fair, good and professional. I am thankful for that.
Now the real work begins. Producing a show that was worth all this madness. I mean, we still don’t have a sponsor so we’re independently financing this and that means pressure, strain, sleepless nights, etc.
But I don’t care because I know, feel, that there is something there. We need to show that without actually learning about other cultures, other people’s struggles, that we’ll never, ever, ever be the society that I think we all strive to be. Never.
The U.S. and other “developed” countries can not be walled off like some wealthy enclave while the rest of the world suffers. We can’t be financially tied together (and we all are whether we like it or not.. thanks Wall Street greed and unrestrained capitalism) and not be spiritually tied together too. When a factory collapses in Indonesia, we all suffer. After all, they were making our cheap $7 t-shirts, excuse me, this just in $3 t-shirts.
Back in the day, I mean like 300 years ago, not that far back when you think about the grand scheme of the planet, people could be left alone in their part of the world and live like “heathens” or civilized man, or whatever their particular society desired.
Today, not so much. The U.S. can’t long term continue to be a bastion of ignorant mass consumption, it’s citizens seeking one fleeting pleasure after another to make up for the void in our lives at having been on a hamster wheel for so long just to survive with all the things we’re daily told we need, while other countries “make us stuff”.
There are so many angry, unhappy people in the U.S. That is the first observation I made when I returned here late in 2011, after JUST 10 months or so living abroad. The culture shock is insane for such a short amount of time but I had it. After living abroad for JUST 10 MONTHS I felt everything about me changed. The ground had literally shifted beneath my feet.
I discovered that comfort does not equate happiness. And while it’s hard to be happy, if you are soaking wet, homeless and hungry… it’s also hard to find happiness when you THINK you have everything you should want yet you still crave more.
What’s the answer? I don’t know. I’m pretty F’d myself. But now I know it. Where as before I thought I was pretty damned evolved. I’m not cool, I’m not evolved, I’m not intelligent or strong or wise. I’m struggling.The more I travel the more I know how much I don’t know. I’m both gaining more knowledge and learning how much knowledge I don’t have at the same time. How ironic?
I want to do the right thing, but can’t quite fulfill what I think is my potential….I’m that guy who could, almost did but might not do it and that scares the shit out of me.
But here is another thing travel does. It takes the focus off of me for a while and it puts it on someone else and their situation. I see many people, less comfortable than I, and they are, quite often… for the most part, generally happy despite working 14-16 hour days at grueling task for little money.
I myself, when I travel, am less comfortable than I care for.. but you know what? I too am happier. Lack of privacy, proper sleep or riding along in an uncomfortable chicken bus for 8 hours straight bouncing along rough roads, hugging cliffs, literally taking risk with one’s own life, simply by taking a bus?! It sucks but strangely, it also makes me feel more alive… and happier.
I’m forever changed by travel and the reality is, I’ve done nothing compared to most hard core travelers or what I hope to do in the next 10-20 years. I haven’t been to the nether reaches of Africa or Asia (yet). I’ve done precious little actual volunteering and am frustrated at the lack of clarity and potential to actually DO something worthwhile to help. Helping should be so easy right? So many people need so much.
It’s not. Helping is hard. But I’m committed to finding a way to doing it and not only doing it but yelling about it while I do it. Not to brag. I’m thankfully (one of the only good things about getting older I guess), well over that. I don’t need recognition anymore. In fact, I prefer not to have it. Really, truly do not. I’m not just saying it. What a great, freeing feeling that is.
But if we are to end poverty, to make a difference in the world, then OTHERS have to see how it can change their lives too, so if I do something good, I will yell and challenge others to do the same. My inspiration came from a book entitled “The End of Poverty” and one of it’s messages is clear, to end poverty, we have to stop being so damned polite when we do something for others. Brag if you will, until it becomes the norm to help others and abnormal to be selfish.
I’m not Mother Teresa. At best, we’ll be able to touch on the voluntourism opportunities from other countries in Raw Travel. At best.
That is frustrating because I want to do more but to do more without the proper context or knowledge will sound preachy, shrill and silly. So the show will reflect my learning curve and maybe that is a blessing in disguise.
Often I think , maybe I’m just not meant to be a communicator… and that is why things are so hard. Maybe I’m really just not that good at what I am trying to do.
Yeah, I think about that. There is some truth there. Let’s face the facts. If I were that good, I’d be making ground breaking documentary films that make you cry and I’d be accepting awards and people would be begging me to come to their college or university or whatever to talk about my “art”.
But then I look and see what IS on TV and after I puke, I think shit man, I have to do something better than that swill. The shows are so shallow and, not surprisingly, the people who produce and greenlight them (I’ve met enough of them to judge) are in an insular world that rewards one thing and one thing only, success.
Their smarmy, dress well and largely alike and move in packs and often wear these smart, little frameless glasses of an intellectual or a librarian that is the trendy look these days. They have no clue and that is probably why they were drawn to TV as a profession in the first place. That’s OK only because I know what it’s like to have no clue, but now that I have some semblance of a clue, that just is not acceptable to me anymore. Producing TV carries a responsibility, if only to one’s self, whether it’s acknowledged or not.
I mean who wants to be on their deathbed thinking about what a great gift to mankind they made with “Keeping Up With The Kardashians” or “Here Comes Honey BooBoo” or “Alaska State Troopers” Or “Flip This Hotel” or bla, bla, bla? But they’re thinking the only other alternative is career suicide. They are wrong of course.
So, here it comes.. Raw Travel , travel show that attempts to have a conscience. We strive to be authentic (really real, not reality show real), respectful and to prick people’s curiosity and how they see the world. I know people, especially Americans, but all of us, are looking for more. I know because I believe that is where the anger, frustration and sadness is coming from. The search for more that is as old as mankind itself. Or at least when mankind didn’t have other worries like mere survival on his/her hands.
An ADORABLE, little 12 year old girl committed suicide in NYC recently. I read about it and wept. Still do when I think about it. She had been cyber-bullied and beaten up by other kids and it was posted on You Tube for the world to see. The parents of those teens must be so proud now.
Why should an adorable girl like that, or any kid for that matter at that age ever hang themselves? It happens in the Badlands at the Lakota reservation here in the U.S. all the time. Which also happens to be the most poverty stricken area in the U.S., perhaps disproving my earlier point (comfort does not equal happiness).
Does this happen all over the world? I didn’t know this little girl or her family, but I’d like to dedicate an episode of Raw Travel to her if I can. I’m sorry I never met her, especially in her time of need. One kind word, or even a smile, from even a stranger, might have changed her fate. My heart aches.
Misery.. it’s as old as the world. And hard as it seems to comprehend, the world is probably the best it’s ever been with less wars, less atrocities, less hunger than ever before in the history of mankind. But now, we know (or should) know more the misery our brothers and sisters are going through thanks to technology.. that double edged sword of good and evil (as all things are).
And until we at least try to alleviate some of the misery of our fellow man, do any of us ever have a shot of seeing fulfillment and self actualization? Depressed yet? Maybe a little Angry? Maybe a lot angry? Me too.
So what’s the point of this rambling missive? There is none. It is what it is. Except to say I’m finally digging out the old passport, putting my shit in storage (what little shit I have left) and going down to Mexico and Central America for 8 weeks to tape Raw Travel. I’ll be posting videos, write ups and pics of punk, ska, reggae, bands and the underground scene from our travels along the way.
First stop, El Chopo in Mexico City in mid June.
Now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you, maybe I can make up for it with some real, angry, punk music. As far as I’m concerned the perfect tonic for a world not GONE mad , but STILL mad…. and maybe, just maybe actually getting better. I think it really is. And travel, the healing power of travel, is one of the reasons why.
Until we can get there.. enjoy some music from El Chopo.. the punk underground hood of Mexico City. See you soon amigos.