Mississippi Solo

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Eleven Visions sat down to interview Eddy L. Harris, author of the critically acclaimed memoir Mississippi Solo.  The audio is approx 20 min long, and the written portion below is only slightly abbridged.  Enjoy.  

Eddy L. Harris, Author of Mississippi Solo
Eddy L. Harris, Author of Mississippi Solo

“Dreams are delicate and made of gossamer.  They hang lightly on breezes and suspend as if from nothing,” were probably some of the most beautiful words I’ve ever heard spoken.  “He kept goin’ on and on sayin’ ‘nigga nigga nigga,’ and I finally said, ‘Look if you don’t stop using that word I’m gonna ram this pool cue down your throat,'” were probably some of the most agressive, and they were all spoken by the same man – Eddy L. Harris, author of Misissippi Solo.  Eddy Harris paddled his canoe down the entire length of the Mississippi River in 1985.  An African American, he went from the headwaters in Minnesota (where there were few to no black people) to the Deep South (where they still didn’t like black people very much).  I called him on a hazy Sunday afternoon and asked for an interview.  His voice was strange and guttural (not at all what I was expecting).  After finishing  his book, which documented his epic journey down America’s greatest river, I had thumbed to the back page.  A photo.  His eyes were quiet, and I was expecting his voice to be as quiet; but, it was raspy and strong, the voice of someone who indeed could ram a pool cue down someone’s throat.

I tried to put him at ease before we started our conversation – a cordial tone, a joviality – I use it when I’m nervous.  Futile.  He put me at ease with his deep, melodic laughter and caring, baritone voice that moved the conversation forward easily and seamlessly.  This man, who had used his gun twice on the Mississippi River to defend himself, turned out to be a careful balance of agression, wit, and love – a writer in all aspects – and I found his answers to my questions fascinating.  

Mississippi Solo was your first book, am I right?

It was my first book published but not my first book.  I had written 6 novels before that never got published so I had already practiced for a long, long time before I wrote that book.  But this was the first piece of non-fiction that I had written,and I didn’t know what I was doing.  I didn’t know any more about non-fiction than I knew about canoeing.

Did you know that would be compelling enough for you to get your first publication?

Eddy currently lives in Paris, France.
Eddy currently lives in Paris, France.

I had no idea.

The year you went down the River, 1985, you described the world as “computerized, mechanized, itemized, formalized and, most dangerously, standardized.”  What do you think of the world now?

It’s gotten a lot more standardized, a lot smaller, and a lot more impersonal, partly because of all the computerization.  Computers are great because they help us to stay in communication with other people.  At the same time, if you go to the bank or buy an airline ticket, you pay more money if you talk to a human than if you buy over the internet.  Computers are enabling us to avoid human contact.  If you tell your friends you’re canoeing down the Mississippi River, I’ll bet one of them says somewhere along the way, “Well, you gonna take a GPS?”  The River goes north to south; you can’t get lost, but people want to know if you’re taking a GPS.  

I’m going to read one of my favorite quotes from your book.  You said, “A vacation is external.  A pilgramage is internal.  An adventure combines the two.”  Why aren’t there more people going down rivers and going on adventures?

I think people are not that adventurous.  People are scared.  People are in their own comfort zones, and part of the definition of adventure is stepping out of the comfort zone which is why, going back to the standardization question, McDonalds exists, why McDonalds works.  Even when people travel to foreign countries they are looking for McDonalds and Starbucks because they don’t want something bizarre.  When you stop off at a mom-and-pop hotel, you don’t know if you’re going to get a bed with bedbugs, a bed with a sagging mattress, or any other signs of comfort.  You don’t know, if you go to a mom-and-pop restaurant, if the food is going to be good, or if you’re going to get swine flu or poisoned, or if you’re going to come out with a marvelous meal.  So rather than risk the downside to sometimes have the far upside, people want that standardized, Starbucks lifestyle.

You talked about the sterility of the modern River.  With its locks and dams it is much more predictable but is also “lifeless” in your opinion.  Do you think you’d be singing that same tune if you had to deal with the river that Mark Twain had to deal with?

The River of the 1880s is a river that had life to it.  We’ve modified the River so much to the point where we think it has no life, but in fact it does.  Hurricanes come and rip up the Gulf of Mexico and send water upstream.  Big storms hit the river; floods happen.  We think we can control it but we can’t.  It’s like having a 2-year-old child.  He throws a  tantrum, and you’re in a grocery store and you know you’re not the one in control.  So I think, yeah, I’d be waxing philosophic and romantic about the River a hundred years ago. 

Did you feel, by the end of the River, you had experienced so much of it that it lost its mystery for you?

Well I wanted to stop before long.  It was a hell of a long way, and I wanted to stop and get gout.  I would never (laughs) say that the River lost its mystery or became mundane.  However tiring it was, I never got used to the River.  There was always something new and fresh – a new danger, a new piece of beauty, a new marvel, a new something to discover.  At the same time now I know that the River has changed.  I’ve changed.  The River is a living thing.  You may have a friend you’ve had since grade school and you think you know this guy completely, totally.  And yet he comes home and says, “Gee, honey, I’m in love with another man.”  There’s always going to be some aspect of another person, another living thing, that you just don’t know.  The mystery never goes away especially if you’re open to it.  

Eddy, Riverman.
Eddy, Riverman.

Do you believe the River has a soul?

This river certainly does.  I got to know it pretty well, like an old friend.  And I would say, yeah, it does have a soul.  You feel the different moods of the River.  Whether you call it a soul or an animus, or give it some other anthropomorphic, human trait… when you feel the River intimately, it feels like it has got some human characteristics. 

The people you met on the River were complete strangers, yet you often formed real bonds with them.  Why is it that, when somebody is traveling, relationships that normally take weeks or months or years to develop can happen in the space of an hour?

I think when you’re traveling, you are touching the desires of other people, and they see in you what they would like to do, and they open themselves up to you.  Another part of it seems to be that everybody has a story, and it’s easier in many ways to open up to a stranger than to somebody you know.  Partly because the stranger is going to take your story and he’s going to disappear.  He’s not going to come back, he’s not going to rat you out.  What happens in Las Vegas stays in Las Vegas.  What happens between me and this stranger will stay with us because he’s going to disappear.  And part of it on my side is my openness.  I’m a traveler, I like traveling; the reason I travel is to meet new people, and I’m open to their stories and I’m open to that kind of exchange.  

In one part of Mississippi Solo, you feel a real sense of lonliness and express a desire for children.  Did you ever act on that desire?  Do you have kids now?

No, it was more a moment, probably, recognizing that this in fact was the life I had chosen.  Not just canoeing down the river but this solitary, solitudinous life with no real attachments.  I’ve got friends and family, but really my life is lived Solo.  Whether on the Mississippi… Solo, ha ha, or in general.  In recognizing that, and reflecting on the life my friends had chosen with their physical successes, I recoginzed [those successes] as good and knew I would never have [them].  

Why would you say people are addicted to travel?

I don’t think people in general are addicted to travel.  I don’t think most people travel, certainly not most Americans.  But I think it’s a way to vacate, a way to empty yourself from the normal – see something new, do something new, be somebody new! – which is why when people go to Tijuana, an extreme example, they let their hair down and go crazy because they can be somebody else when they’re not at home.  

Would you say you did that on the Mississippi?  I got the impression you were pretty much being yourself.eddyfirstpart

I was, but that’s me.  I am myself when I travel.  One of the reasons I travel is to discover myself.  The Eddy Harris before that trip was not an outdoorsperson – I’m a city boy.  I discovered this new element of my personality.  I could leave city boy Eddy Harris someplace and be a different Eddy Harris.  And in the same way when people go off to Tijuana, they’re letting their hair down in order to become who they really are as opposed to the facade they put up for normal life.  

I have not seen, heard of, or read about another African American who has traveled the River.  Would you say it’s a cultural thing, an economic thing or both?

Canoeing the River doesn’t cost any money, so you can’t say it’s an economic thing.  I don’t think it’s in the sphere of possibility for a lot of Black Americans.  They never think about it – canoeing down the river – or many other activities of that nature.  It doesn’t cross their minds, and if it does, not just black people but who can take 2 months out of their life to canoe down the Mississippi River?  There’s also another element which comes from the early experience of black people in the Deep South where being in the woods was a scary thing.  Evelyn White of the San Francisco Examiner wrote an article that pointed out that the woods are a scary place for black people.  For a black person to say, “I’m going out to the mountains or to hillbilly country in Missouri,” is a scary thought because rednecks often to bad things to black people… in the past and maybe still.  A few years back there was some black guy walking down the street in Texas who got nabbed by a couple of good-ol-boys, was tied to the back of a pick-up truck and dragged to death.  So nature, the outdoors, is not the welcoming place of white pioneers.  It is a place where, if you were black walking down a Southern road, somebody could nab you and take you for a runaway slave and sell you to somebody else, or lynch you or who knows what.  It’s this place of fear that comes from being alone in the woods.  

How much insulation [from racism] did you have because of your personal attitude?  Ninety-nine percent of the time people were very open to you.  Would you say that was because of the way you came across – you didn’t allow them to view you in a way you didn’t view yourself? 

I’m having this same discussion in France.  I live in France now and just finished a book about the difference between being Black American and being Black African or black in France.  When I have an encounter in France or on the River or anyplace else where I am traveling or in my life, good things tend to happen to me.  I attract good things.  The evidence seems to point to the fact that these things happen to me because it’s me.  It’s got nothing to do with black or white or anything else.  The sum total of the experience of my life has brought me to a comfortable place within myself.  I think that shows itself on the outside.  

I did want to talk about France.  I lived in Lyon, France and have quite a few French friends.  One in particular, Dimitri, is black with parents from Martinique.  When Barack Obama became the first black president of the United States, Dimitri emailed me and said, “You know, that’s really great because in France that would never happen.”  I told him I thought France was much more tolerant than the U.S., and he said, “That may be true, but I’m telling you if Obama had run in France, he wouldn’t have won.”  What do you think about that?

I agree completely with it.  There are two sides to this coin:  [France] is a much more tolerant society.  You could even say it’s a much less racist society, and at the same time,  Black Americans are well recieved because they are American, not just because they’re black.  If you look at the French Parliment, it has not got very many black people in it.    The Parliament is pretty monochromatic.  When you turn on the television set, [black] news presenters [are] a rarity.  There’s not a black presence in the mainstream culture the way there is in America.  Because of segregation black people in America had an economic base, but they also had a visibility that black people in France don’t have.  And once you have [those things], Proctor and Gamble has to pitch its products to you; and so, on a simplistic level, [they] have got to have black people in their commercials to appeal to black people.  If [they] don’t, then General Mills will.  [France] does not have that collective, segregated economy that built on itself to the point where [companies] couldn’t ignore it anymore.  [America had] a seperate society where [there was an] entire power structure [that] was black, so when the time came for integration (or what looked like integration), black people were already in positions of power; they just had to shift from here to there.  France has no way to rectify a situation that was never there; segregation didn’t exist in France; there was nothing for black people to rebel against.  And so for now black people are seen as not quite French enough to attain those positions of power.  I think Dimitri is right.  France [may be] ready for a black president once the guy gets elected, but how do you get him there?  There are no high-powered positions in French political structure [for black people].

Eddy Today.  Musical Laugh.
Eddy Today. Musical Laugh.

Are you saying that if there was a charismatic black candidate who was very popular, some of the white population in France might not feel good about voting for him?

I think that’s the way it looks.  Racism in France is different from racism in America.  Because we’ve had to fight actively against it, we aren’t afraid of it.  It’s there, it’s in our discourse.  In France, because that system of opression didn’t exist, French people can pat themselves on the back and say, “We’re not racist at all.”  And yet once this charismatic black person is in a position to be voted for, then the true nature of French racism might show up.  At the same time, Obama’s election here has caused a self-reflection on the part of the French.  They’re looking at us and asking, “Can this happen here?” and, “Why can’t this happen here?”  I think that will lead to an evolution quicker than we might expect.  

You said that being black was a characteristic that you “just had.”  Did you grow up in such a way [that] being black wasn’t something your family or neighborhood cared about, or is that totally you?

It’s a little of both.  I was 10 years old in an all-black neighborhood, and then we moved to the suburbs in a mixed neighborhood, and then I went off to this fancy dancy school.  There are 3 Eddy Harrises – the Eddy Harris from the black neighborhood who never thought about it, [the one] from the mixed neighborhood… where you heard certain comments every once in a while so it [became] a remarkable thing, and [the one] from this fancy dancy hoity toity school where I was one of the only black kids, and [there] the differences seemed to vanish.  I was accepted as one of the boys.   So those 3 elements weaved together to form this person that recognizes that, yes, I am black and yet I feel all these other elements that detract from my being black that I can just be Eddy Harris in most situations.  It’s also a lot of self-reflection in how I want and choose to present myself to the world.  Yes, I’m tall and black and balding and I’ve got a beard, but so what?  It doesn’t matter to me, and I force it not to matter to other people.

You say you force it not to matter to other people?

Yes, I try to impose Eddy Harris on people, not Eddy Harris who’s black and tall or one thing or another.  

Did you attempt that with the two guys who came up to you with the guns [in Mississippi Solo]?

Nope, nope, I tried no reasoning whatsoever because it just seemed like a very menacing situation.  I was in Alaska some years after, and I think you said in your email, “I know you don’t see yourself as a badass…” (laughing from both).  Well sometimes I do see myself as a badass, and I was in Alaska and shooting pool, and some guy just kept saying, “Nigga, nigga, nigga.”  I tried to point out to him that it was an insensitive way to express himself, and he had all sorts of excuses.  He kept doing it and wouldn’t stop, so at some point I said, “Look.  Either you stop using that word or I’m going to ram this cue stick down your throat. ”  So of course he stopped.  There are times when reasoning just doesn’t work, and when a couple of guys come out of the woods with guns and you feel threatened… I don’t know how reasonable it was to do what I did (Editor’s Note:  Read the book to find out what he did.)51w02sdys2l_sl160_pisitb-sticker-arrow-bigtopright35-73_ou01_, but I wanted to extracate myself from what I felt was a dangerous situation.  

What’s next for Eddy Harris?

Well I’m looking at post-Obama America.  You can’t elect a black president on the first go-around uless you’ve already gotten to a point where you have evolved.  The evolution of America has already taken place.  So I’m going to travel around the U.S. and maybe the world too because I think the Obama story is a very important one for us to see who we are as a nation, and I think America has come to the point where partly we are recognized as fully American.  That’s the next big traveling adventure.  

This is a social commentary but it’s also still got that travel aspect.  Is that in all of your books?

They all have an element of place.  The Paris book, for example, I didn’t go any place.  It’s just Paris, but Paris as a place becomes really significant.  It is a character in the story.  When I traveled in Africa for [another] book, Africa was a character.  The South was a character; the Mississippi River is a character.  I don’t know if I can escape that pattern; I haven’t yet anyway.  

How does somebody who wants to become a travel writer become more successful?

Write well.

How does one write well?

That’s the mystery portion of the program – I don’t know.  First, have something to say.  An interesting place is good.  An interesting angle is good.  And then tell the story the way somebody wants to read it.  Mark Twain, in fact, said, “Writing is easy.  Just leave out the parts that nobody wants to read.”

You can find out more about Eddy Harris and his books at eddyharris.com.





Chinese Fire Sale!

To prepare for their upcoming Mississippi Float Trip, Phillip and Ryan are fengshui-ing their house, i.e. throwing out all the shit they don’t need.  I think that’s the direct Chinese translation.  

Yin Yang, the Tao, and the five elements of Feng Shui.
Yin Yang, the Tao, and the five elements of Feng Shui.

We are moving crap out of Phillip’s house at the moment (selling it, giving it and begging it away) so when he’s got his crap together… interesting, getting rid of crap and getting crap together, one crap – good, other crap – bad… there will be no attachments.

I believe the Mississippi Trip will be much like that – no attachments.  A union with nature.  Now I don’t want to turn into a tree-hugging, fancy boy here but I do believe there is something to union with nature.  There is a certain peace that can be found by having less and less attachment to things.  Perhaps (only speculating here) my constant moving around, refusal to take pictures or carry pictures, refusal to buy anything I don’t really really need (self-help books don’t count) might be a desire to simplify, might be a desire for some sort of peace.  

That desire, however, to let go of everything might also be fear.  It might be a fear of being attached.  Much like the priest who proselytizes that he has renounced sex and money and wealth but thinks of nothing else, a real desire for unattachment has to be honest.  It can’t be a pronouncement; it must be genuine.  As much as possible, I would like this trip to be an honest exploration of peace, of union with nature, of letting go and of being.  But I don’t want it to be fake.  Faux-spiritual people make my skin crawl.  “Have you met my new guru???”  “No.  Have you gone to hell???  You should try it sometime!”

From Wayne Dyer’s essay on the Tao Te Ching:  Here’s the message behind this seemingly paradoxical verse of the Tao Te Ching: Your nature is to be good because you came from the Tao, which is goodness. But when you’re trying to be good, your essential nature becomes inoperative. In your effort to be good, moral, or obedient, you lose touch with your Tao nature.

We do not want to try to be spiritual on this trip.  We can only be honest, and if we end up being spiritual, then so be it.  If we end up being total douchebags, then so be it.  But at least we will be honest.  (Note:  You can’t try to be honest either or put honesty up on a pedestal or make it a principle to follow.  If you do, you stop being honest.  Honesty – and this is the rub – has to happen on its own; because, it never went anywhere – your true nature, as goodness, is honesty.)  Gabriel Garcia Marquez wrote probably the greatest book in existence, rivaling even Great Expectations or A Christmas Carol.   William Kennedy  called it “the first piece of literature since the Book of Genesis that should be required reading for the entire human race.”  It’s called 100 Years of Solitude, and I found much of it boring, but still when you’re reading it you know it’s genius.  When I lived in Mexico I was watching an interview with Marquez.  This was after his book won a Nobel Prize for literature and was translated into 26 languages and pretty much the entire Latin world called him the greatest genius of all time.  Worldly trappings were his oyster.  He could fart on a couple of pages and they would have been published.  He said something that I remember to this day.  He was talking about all the “success” he’d had.  He had a subdued tone.  He was almost embarrassed to be being interviewed.  (Interesting for a Nobel Prize winner.)   “After my book won the Nobel prize, I had to write an Anti-100Years of Solitude,” he said.  “People were expecting me to write a sequel, so I wrote something completely different.  I wrote the complete opposite because trying to recreate 100 Years wouldn’t have been honest.”  The Tao, Nature, our essential goodness wouldn’t let him be dishonest.  That book was already written.  It was time for another.  

When Mississippi comes it will be time for… whatever is there.  I actually do not know what kind of movie we will make.  For the moment, I do know that fengshui-ing is not all hocus pocus.  With every desk, drawer, and crappy piece of clothing (ha!  you should see Phillip’s clothes, they’re hilarious) that Phillip throws out, we’re throwing out the non-useable from our lives.  With every day spent in nature we will be communing with the Divine.  This is not airy fairy foo foo, this is real.  At least, this is my intent.  

I think everyone finds their way back to Nature, or God, or the Divine, or Energy, or Zero Point Field or Tao or Essense or whatever you want to call it, in their own way.  Our way is choosing to float down a river… THE River in America, and make a film about it.  This is our way, and interestingly enough, the Tao means “the way.”  We won’t be extreme however.  Here, this guy’s way is interesting.  Check out minute 1:03:

So we’re not that unattached.  Uhhhh, at least I hope Phillip isn’t; that’s why I’m insisting on separate tents.  But this Trip is an exploration of letting go.  Of working with the River, not against it, not conquering it.  The Tao.  The Unspoken.  Just being, letting the River float us.

51w02sdys2l_sl160_pisitb-sticker-arrow-bigtopright35-73_ou01_

In an upcoming post, we will show you an interview we conducted with critically-acclaimed writer Eddy L. Harris, author of Mississippi Solo.  Click on the link in the right margin to check it out. 

We spoke of what it meant to be an African American traveler, Barack Obama, the Mississippi River, racism, France and French elections; but, the one theme that stuck with me the most was his description of his friendship with the river.  Eddy went down the River in 1985.  A black man, he went from Minnesota (where there are few black people) to the the Deep South (where, in 1985 at least, they still didn’t like them very much).  This was, by far, the best interview I’ve ever done.  Eddy was real and funny and opened my eyes to many things.  You know you’ve had a good interview when you come away from the experience changed.  

I hope the River changes me.  I hope I let it flow through me and that it moves some of my furniture around.  I hope it throws out the shit I don’t need.  And I can’t wait to share it with you.  When the time is right, we will be on the River and we will let you know what else gets thrown out.

Ryan

Route 66 News Reviews The Hitchhiking Movie

Respect My Authori-tai!
Respect My Authori-tai!

 

Howdy y’all.  In the link below you’ll find a good review of The Hitchhiking Movie not in a sense that it’s somewhat praiseworthy of us, because it is that.  But I felt it did a great job of summarizing a typical experience one might have watching the film.  The writing is crisp and concise, and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I really enjoyed reading a movie interview.  

What the bridge looks like if you're not being detained by the police
What the bridge looks like if you're not being detained by the police

Ron Warnick is the creator of Route 66 News.  For those of your who haven’t seen the movie, there is a short but significant portion of the trip when we’re on Route 66.  My favorite part is when we’re almost arrested on The Chain of Rocks Bridge.  We will be revisiting that bridge during our Mississippi Float, and dah! dah, daaaaahhhhhhhh!  There’s rapids!  Here take a look at this video.

Lastly, before we get to the movie review, I have some better info on the windiness of the river.  This photo says it all.

Still don't think it's windy?
Still don't think it's windy?

Thanks to Dan, Stu, Dan and Steve of mississippipaddle.co.uk for the photo and video.  

And, of course, thanks to Ron for his review of our movie.  Click here:  Film review: “The Hitchhiking Movie”

The $328,835 Photo

Click for Full-size
Click for Full-size

Are you were one of the New Yorkers who had to buy new underwear after the US Department of Defense decided it was a good idea to fly a jumbo jet and two fighter planes over lower Manhatten? Well today you finally get to see what all the fuss was about! The White House finally released a photo showing their 747 flying above the statue of liberty.

Plenty of people have already commented about how it would have been easier (and $328k cheaper) to simply create the image in Photoshop. Today’s release proves them all correct. I mean this photo is seriously lame! and that’s after I spent ten minutes in Photoshop cleaning it up. Now don’t send me any letters…I like the statue of liberty and Air Force One as much as any American, but any of the guys at Worth1000 could have churned out a bad-ass photo with their right leg chopped off (edit: I meant arm).

So all this fuss about the wasted money got me to thinking… What could 11 Visions do with $328,835? (or even $328,500 for that matter)! Here is our MY list of three wacky ways 11 Visions would spend money with a DOD-sized budget:

Big Budget Boating
Big Budget Boating

We love our new Sea Eagle kayaks, but frankly there isn’t much extra room to bring hot babes along. I’m also not to keen on sitting that close to Ryan for the next 8 to 10 weeks down the Mississippi River. Now a Ferretti 68 yacht would be a complete step up to total luxury. However, we’d probably have to buy a wrecked one on a measly $328k budget as these lovely boats start in the millions.

Pros: Chick magnet, wet bar, leather interior, no paddling.
Cons: Pray that gas prices don’t go beyond $4 again.

Lucas's Wet Dream
Lucas's Wet Dream

Our last movie was shot using a Canon ZR500. If you’ve already seen the film and love the stunning picture quality, I’ll tell you how we were able to obtain such an amazing camera. Just go to B&H photo in New York City and ask for the the cheapest camera they have; something so crappy that even OJ Simpson wouldn’t steal it. Hey, it worked for us!

But if we wanted to do things right, we’d have bought the Sony HDW-F900. This is the camera that made director George Lucas declare that he would “never shoot another film on film.”

Pros: Now considered cheap at only $69,900.
Cons: Chriopractic bills after carrying it across America.

Not Much Fun
Not Much Fun

My mom would have reminded me that “it’s better to give than to receive,” but that’s only because she never got a couple free Sea Eagle boats in the mail.

If 11 Visions actually had $328k to spend (we don’t), it would have certainly come in useful in the last two years. After finishing our hitchhiking trip, we’d still have enough cash left over to buy most of the foreclosed homes in Stockton, California. (Ryan, how do you feel about moving 11 Visions headquarters to SoCal?) We’ll probably have to revisit this again after the Mississippi float trip

Pros: Sunny weather, cheap homes.
Cons: Stockton, California

So what would you do with $328,835? Let us know in the comments!

You Liars Aren’t Paddling 2,500 Miles!

Phil and Ryan of 11 Visions are about to depart on their Mississippi River Adventure, but first, some comments from the peanut gallery.

OK.  Some smart guy has said that we’re not really going 2500 miles.  His line of reasoning is the following…

We have decided to crow down the Mississippi, not row.
We have decided to row down the Mississippi, not crow.

If I look at a map, it doesn’t look like 2500 miles.  And I measured it out and it’s not even close.  It’s like not even 1,500.

All true.  We are total frauds and just wanted to get your panties in a bunch so you’d think we’re cool.

As Borat would say, “NAAAAAAT!”

It is roughly 1300 miles if you are a croowwwwwwww… 

But if you are a land-based mammal, or if you just really like mammary glands, you’re not going to be able to fly over the river.  Since we have opted to float, going where the river takes us is going to be the name of the game, and (when all is said and done) we will have paddled over 2500 miles.  OK, Mr. Doubty McDoubtypants?  

There will be times on the river where we’ll be traveling due east or west.  Check out this portion just west of the Quad Cities.  

Happens out in Vegas, Happens in Moline
Happens out in Vegas, Happens in Moline

And finalment there will be times when this bad boy is going due north.  It does so at New Orleans.  I think it’d be a pretty amazing feat even if we were going “only” 1300 miles; but alas, I guess anything under 1500 miles just doesn’t impress the MTV generation.  I’m still trying to figure out if I’m in Gen X or Y.  Is there one in between?  Okay, this trip will only be impressive for the Y Griega Generation.  Fair enough?

IDue North
Due North

Crackheads Have Problems, We’ve Got Issues

We’re very close to being on the Mississippi River.   But we’ve got problems, problems, problems.

Dirty criminals run this site.
Dirty criminals run this site.

“Crackheads got problems, you guys are smoked.”   – Vince Vaughn in Mr. and Mrs. Smith

I had always interpreted Vince Vaughn’s quote wrong.  The first time I watched Mr. and Mrs. Smith, I thought what Vince Vaughn had said was, “Crackheads got problems, you guys got issues.”  Whenever a friend of mine came to me with some big problem he was having, I would repeat this phrase with a coy smile:  “Crackheads got problems, Simon, you’ve got issues.”  I thought what I was doing was putting the problem in perspective.  If a crackhead was living in a rundown apartment, possibly abandoned, on the South Side of Chicago, with a hole in the wall that lets a frigid, wintery 25 degree air in, as he whiddles down the last of his last crack rock, hands shaking, promising “I’ll change, I’ll stop, please Lord, help me to stop,” crying… pleading… while you whine to me that your girlfriend is going to Texas without you and HOW MAD YOU ARE! then, I thought, all I’d have to do was bust out this magical Vincevaughnism and you’d go, “Gee, me feel dumb.”  

Fat chance.

Rarely did it have this effect with my friends.  Most of the time it just made them justify their position even more:  “What do you mean!  You’re so insensitive!  Don’t you understand the severity of my problemmmmmmm?”

The truth is that it is not a problemmmmmmmm or even a problem.  It is an issue.  It is a situation.  It is a happening and it is an event.  Elvis Presley had problems; we’ve got issues.

Our issues are listed below:

  1. Phillip is currently on probation.  (Ha ha, didn’t know criminals ran this site, did ya?)  His camera was stolen by a woman who emphatically denied that she did it.  The evidence was OVERWHELMINGLY for her guilt.  I mean Perry Mason could have just gone to sleep during the courtcase, set up a slide show of the evidence, and the jury would have deliberated for about all of .34 seconds and found her guilty.  If you’re curious about the story, click here.  If not, the basic gist is he went after this woman with INTERNET JUSTICE!  (Did someone just hear a whip crack?) posting her info online.  This is a no no.  Even if someone takes a crap on your lawn and you have video evidence, even if they have their Social Security card in their teeth when they do it and leave pictures of their next of kin along with copies of their dental records by the mess (I’m not posting an illustration of this.)  you can’t do it.  Phillip found out the hard way.  “What this means is that he, ideally, needs to be off probation before we go on the Mississippi trip. Siiiighhh.  “Crackheads got problems…”  Keep repeating it.  “Crackheads got problems…”
  2. Ryan is extremely depressed.  (Ha, ha, didn’t know manic-depressive criminals ran this site, did ya?)  Yeah, yeah, seeing doctors, doing the whole thing, therapies, therapies, self-help, you can save your miracle cures. I’m working on it.
  3. Ryan has major health issues.  Sigh……  “Crackheads…..”
  4. We have no money.  That’s nothing new.
  5. We are in debt.  This is new for me, not new for Phillip.

And blah, blah, blah, I’m a dirty tramp.  So we’ve got severe problems.  (Yes, we are now upgraded to problems.  You can comment below if you still consider these issues.)  Whatever the hell you call them! we’ve got stuff to sort out.  Namely…

The Solutions

So let’s focus on the solutions.

The Mississippi Trip is still on.  I see it.  It’s real.  Can you hold the vision even when your world is crumbling about you?  Well, survivors of the Holocaust did it, why can’t we?  Victor Frankl said that all of those who survived the Holocaust had a clear vision of the future.  He imagined himself giving lectures to people in a warm, wonderful place even while doctors performed experiments on him.  It will be tuff, but I think we can handle these problems.

I see us on the Mississippi River performing our normal antics, making videos, sharing them with you, and increasing our web viewership by 100 percent.  I see us doing interviews.  I see us successfully completing each day.  I see us successfully cooking and staying healthy, swimming, doing crazy stuff, meeting good, great, interesting people and making an amazing movie that people love.

Can’t get a better vision than that.

What’s Comin’ Up

What’s comin’ up is that we’re going to post a web video on our Cumberland River adventure.

Heeeerrreeee’s a map.
View Larger Map

So we’ve got that goin’ for us.  I’m not worried.  I do want this to all work out, but rain or shine, we’re going.  And rain or shine, everything will be fine.

What Can I Do?

You can send positive energy.  It worked for the Alacatraz trip.

Philosophical Conclusions

We can handle anything.  Anything can be handled.  No matter what happens with Phil’s probation, or my depression, or somone else’s -ion, everything will be fine.

Phil’s roommate (who you can watch in the Free Ride video)

was talking about what he will do if the entire financial system collapses.  “I mean, I’m goin’ to be totin’ a gun in the streets.”  Well maybe it will collapse and zombies will try to eat our brains, but I don’t see how that’s a cause for alarm.  Maybe I’m being a little too Zen here, but anything that comes up you have to handle in the moment anyway.  How is depression, probation, or the financial collapse and subsequent invasion of China (do you know how much freaking money we owe these people, it’s staggering) any different than if things are going peachy?  You still have to deal with it and you still have to…

Deal with It Now

What’s next for 11Visions’ Mississippi Adventure?  I don’t know, but I can tell you that, when it happens, it will be happening right now.

Vince Vaughn’s Mangled Quote

So I messed his quote up.  He seemed to indicate that Mr. and Mrs. Smith being hunted by their respective assassin organizations was worse than being a crackhead.  Don’t think so.  They weren’t smoked.  They just had problems.  And so do we and so does the rest of America at the moment.  Shall we say we’re smoked.  Fuck no.  We’re going to continue.  We’re going to create a positive vision of the future just like Victor Frankl would have done, and lead ourselves out of this not-even-close-to Holocaust.

We’re not in a Holocaust.  We can handle it.  And we are.

So let us… hold the vision.

Ryan