Back to Bemidji… the Hard Way

The River winds through lakes both man-made and God-made.It’s hard, y’all.  It’s real hard.  Paddling is an endurance sport.  Many will wax philosophic about the majesty and wonder of a trip such as this, but duuuuuude, I mean… Holy Lactic Acid, Batman.  Not many get to paddle down the Mississippi River.  I am privileged, I know this… but it is WORK! my friends.  My left wrist is swollen to twice its size, Phillip’s morning greeting sounds something like this:  arghhhhhhuuuuuuhhhhhhhaarrrrrruuuuuuuuuuuu (No, he’s not doing anything nasty; he’s yawning.), my mom’s topical pain medication is being used as liberally as baseball players injecting female hormones, and my shoulders are currently threatening to pack up and relocate to Mexico if I don’t give them a day off.  That being said…  I’M LOVIN’ IT!

It really is great out there!  I mean it’s beautiful.  We will have a video for you shortly, but I can tell you for a city boy like myself it’s unbelievable:  Red-winged Blackbirds scan the area perching on cattails spying you as you safely glide past their nest, ducks with a bright red mohawk feign a broken wing as a school of ducklings hurry past the boat to momma, 2 Bald Eagles have flown overhead… majestic, wonderful.  We have power issues (which is why you may not see video as often as you would like, but we will commit to having posts consistently about our adventures), we have muscle ache issues, argument issues (limited to one a day :)), wrongly-coded-map (or are we just too dumb to read them) issues, issue issues, but we are here, on the river (or lake as the case may be).  Most don’t know this but through Minnesota, the river billows into wide wide wide lakes over and over again.  Want an example?  Check this picture out.

As I type this, I’m on Lake Bemidji beach as the sun takes its long summer drop out of the sky, and we have to make the next campsite by sundown.   No, the sherriff won’t kill us, but the bugs sure as hell will!  I think it’s a bug city ordinance.  So we are giving you the highlights of our Lake Itasca State Park Mis Adventure as plain Jane as we can.  Just one more thing before I go…

We Have Declared a Holy War on Bugs…

I’m damned-as-hell serious.  The following m-f-ing bugs are now officially on America’s Terror Watch List:

1.  Deer Flies – “My sole purpose in life is to land on your head and try to chew through your skull!”

“Uhhhhh, well, do you do anything else… any party tricks?

“Nope.  I pretty much just want to chew through your skull.  If you’d not kill me, I’d sincerely appreciate it.”

“Okay, so, could you not chew my head then.  I mean I dig your rap and everything, but I mean for real maybe you could try leaves or
something with a little more nourishment.”

“Nope.  Outside my skill set.  I pretty much chew heads.”


2.   Ticks – these Mother Grabbing Sons of Mother… Graa-bers need to die.  God needs to rethink just what the h-e-double-toothpick he was thinking when he brought these (explitive, explitive, and more explitives) into existance.

3.  Leeches – HOOOOOOOOLLEEEEEEEEEEYYYYYYYYY CRAP!  I had never had a leech on me in my life.  The closest I had to something that gross and disgusting sucking my blood was…  Okay I’ve never had anything try and suck my blood.  (When I hear Sarah Palin talk, I feel like the blood’s being sucked from my face, does that count?)  I mean you look down and there is this banana slug clamping it’s jaws on your shin.  “Yuuummmmm, blooooooooooood!” it screams.  I mean I swear to Jesus’s nephew you can hear the slurping sounds as your hemoglobin exits your shin/calf/foot/insert other apparently fang-lickin’ good body part.  I was pulling the boats over some marshy areas and when we finally got some depth back in the river to be able to paddle.  I jumped back in the boat and SCREEEEEEEAMED!  “What the, I mean, what hell!”

“What!”  Phillip asked.

“There’s a… there’s a… what the hell!”

I yanked them off but, dude, for a city-slicker like myself, leeches are enough to make me never want to look at a fresh body of water again.  Leeches, you have been fatwahed.

4.  Flies of all kinds

5.  And Mr. Granddaddy of them all:  Muskeetoes!!!  (That’s how Henry Schoolcraft, the man who discovered Lake Itasca, spelled it.)
Okay, these little buggers (tee hee) are officially fatwahed.  I mean I give all Americans and citizens of Planet Earth and Mars full authorization to waterboard, fireboard, earthboard, marsboard, behead, electroshock, bamboo shoots under their mosquito fingernails, and anything your dirty little Dick-Cheney-lovin’ ass can think of to make these sons of the whoriest mosquito pirate hooker you can imagine… D I EEEEEEEEEE.  I mean if you really want to torture someone, lets put the detainees in Supermax and keep Guantanamo open for these bloodsucking flyboys.

So let it be known:  These groups of Animal Kingdom Terrorists are on our official watch list.

Thank You
Thank you to all the newcomers to the site.  We’ve met tons of people who have validated the beautiful and inspirational quality of this trip.  Everyone we meet utters some version of, “Thats… so cool.”  So thank you.

It is on to GRAND RAPIDS, MINNESOTA.  Look at it on the map.  We will be puttin up a “Follow Us” map and a “Twitter Update” on the page just as soon as we get closer to the next batch of civilization.

Finally, if you want to send me a text on the road, er, river, my number is (512) 828 – 2471.  The very first online publication of my phone number… scary.

Love you guys,


Oh Baby! In Minnesota!!

Howdy y’all!  (That’s what they say up here.)  We are in the Land of 10 Billion Lakes.  Something like that; there’s a scheisseload of lakes.  Aaaaaaaaaaaaand we’re going to be on the river in 2 days!  Today is the first day of summer, June 21, 2009 and it’s awesome.  The weather is cool, it’s a new beginning, and we’re ready to begin anew.

2552 miles south; here we come.

I want to thank everyone who has decided to come along with us on this journey.  Tell your friends.  We want to make this an adventure for everybody, so if you have decided to come along…

Grab a damn paddle!  What, do you think I’m going to do all the work?????

Hardy har har.  Ok, no, you won’t be paddling, but I do say in all sincerity that knowing that you guys are following us and encouraging us makes this journey all the more sweeter.  We promise to send you the most ineresting and entertaining content we can.  See?  In a way, you’ve got the better end of the deal:  you get to see all the exciting parts!!

That’s part of the fun of travel writing and travel watching; the writer is the one who can pick and choose what is worth telling.  So rest assured you won’t get anything like, “Duuuuuuuuuuuuuuuhhhh, paddling some moooorrreeee, duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.”  And if you do, shoot us in the head through the computer screen.

No, I promise, to the best of my ability, to share with you only that which

inspires you

livens you

makes you sing

makes you feel the sting of adventure

and makes you want to come along with us!

Thanks again.

We’re driving to Lake Itasca AS WE SPEAK!


11 Visions is an innovative film company that goes on wild and crazy adventures for your entertainment.  To find out more about the Mississippi River Adventure, visit Photo of River Falls, MN courtesy of

11 Visions Meets Virgin Mobile’s Standards

In preparation for our upcoming Mississippi Float Trip, 11 Visions is exploring options of the technological persuasion.  That is, how the hell do you upload videos and posts from a river?  Virgin Mobile seemed to have some options, but not everyone is happy with Virgin’s new data plans.

This is hilarious.  Read part of Gizmodo’s review of Virgin Mobile’s new data plan (

Really though, how many people with contract-precluding credit ratings have any interest in mobile broadband? I’d say this one’s only going to be appealing for travelers, recent arrivals with no credit history, or people without a clear idea of where they’re going to be living in the next few months.

Ha ha ha ha, isn’t that hillarious?  OK, let’s look at 11 Visions’ demographics:

  • travlers?     check.
  • recent arrivals?     aren’t all travelers recent arrivals?
  • people with no clear idea where they’re going to be living in the next few months?     does “i know i’ll be living somewhere along the bank of the mississippi river” count?

Suffice it to say that 11 Visions fits right onto Richard Branson’s preferred customer list – people who have no idea where the hell they’re going to be or when.


Sasquatch Dance Video is a Metaphor for Nature

Stop laughing and hear me out.

At first the guy is dancing saying, “C’mon.  C’mon!” and you can feel the people going, “Dork.  Look at this guy.”  But then he just keeps at it, and then the green guy comes in, then the fat dude, then three more people, three more, and the breaking point hits.  Suddenly it becomes okay to dance (as if it wasn’t okay if someone just danced alone).  It becomes exponential at that point; more and more and more people keep piling in until finally… you’ve got a dance party!

I just wrote a post on the Mississippi that comments on how a great and might river starts as a trickle at a little-known lake in central Minnesota.  This principle can be applied to anything:  dance parties, rivers, multi-level marketing schemes (Notice how the only people making money started at the top?), businesses of any kind, popularity of musicians and actors – they all build.  They all start as something small and grow into something large.  So, the dude who started the dance party had to have some balls, he had to take a risk.  I don’t know how long he endured out there before the green dude came in, but in this video he seems to be working a long time with nothing seemingly happening.

What balls.  I mean several in the news media have commented on the balls it took, but what about the faith and the persistence?  I think there are a few principles at work here:

1: Transformation, Growth

As we already mentioned, something large starts as something small:  A tree was an acorn, a river was a stream, an adult was a child.

2:  He Kept at It

Persistence.  Even though he had an image in his mind of a whole bunch of people following him to the promised land, they, uh, weren’t.  In fact they were just staring at him for a loooooooong time.  The dude didn’t lose…

3:  Faith

He kept at it because he had faith.  He knew that in a matter of time, people would join in, and that he’d be all over YouTube and the hero of millions……  Okay maybe not.  I think he did have faith, but it is possible that he didn’t know anyone, for that matter, would join in.  I’m sure he had no idea he’d be an internet sensation.  But he had the final thing that has to keep you warm during the cold winter of no one giving a shit about what you’re doing:  Love.

4:  Love

I think this guy was dancing for the love.  I’m sure he would have loved for a bunch of people to join in and validate what he was doing.  In one video I watched he’s inciting people to join him, but he quickly goes back to just dancing.  You’ve got to have that…

5:  Detachment

Detachment allows you to enjoy your love.  It says, “Yes I do want people to be interested in what I’m doing, but it’s okay if they don’t.  It sure would help if people were interested in my MLM business, but I just need to be persistent.  And what will get me through the dark times is my love; I’m doing this because I love it.  If, by some set of strange events, I never get one sale, I never make it to the Gulf of Mexico, I never win that dance competition, get my degree, get my Ph.D., get a perfect girlfriend, swim the English Channel, find true love, feel a direct and spiritual connection to God, then that’s okay… because I love the journey.

So while we love this journey, not just our journey down the Mississippi River, but our journey as a business, it sure is nice as more and more of you join in the dance party.

Are You Guys Ready? Cuz I Sure as Hell Am

One week y’all!  That’s it, and we’re on the river and out of this one-horse town.  Hey, at least it’s got a horse.

Here’s a question for ya:  What do you think will be our first image of the Mississippi River?  I mean, what do those first few billion water molecules actually look like?  Here’s one idea.

She's as narrow as a bible thumper's definition of day.
As narrow as a bible thumper's definition of day.

She’s narrow, ain’t she?  Yes, my friends, that is the Mississippi River.  Beautiful country!  Beautiful photo by Peter Card.

The River’s Destiny

The word for destiny and the word for destination in Spanish are the same.  Final Destiny – remember that movie?  It sounds so much cooler in Spanish:  Destino Final.  Especially when talking about where each of these people, who Death was after, were going to end up.  I don’t know if the billion or so water molecules that you see in this photo know they are going to end up like this – majestic, beautiful, massive – but they do.  Remember that old Obama speech where he was going on about, “What started as a whisper turned into a voice, and that voice turned into a shout, and that shout turned into a movement?”  Okay, you don’t, but I do because I was literally addicted to the campaign for 6 months.  Well, ain’t it interesting that that’s how life or nature turns out as well.  What starts as a trickle turns into something mighty.  Amazing, absolutely amazing.  If you’re still not getting where I’m going with this, pay special attention to minute 3:10.

Love that movie.

Our Destiny

What will we grow into?  What will this blog grow into, what our movies?  Well, as Oogway said, I don’t think it will grow into much of anything if we don’t nurture it.  Each day, each paddle stroke will be a nurturing, bringing us closer to our destino final.  Do those water molecules know they will end up in the Gulf of Mexico, and from and even crazier, more mystical perspecitve, become part of the Gulf of Mexico?  I don’t know.  I don’t think they do.  That may be one gift we humans have:  We know (well to an extent, rewatch the Kung Fu Panda video to grasp the precariousness of our so-called “control”) that we will, if we nurture each moment, end up at the Gulf of Mexico.  That is our intent.  It begins the first day of summer, June 21.  Come along with us.

Here’s some more pictures of things we may see those first few days on the Mississippi.  Otters!

One way or the otter.
One way or the otter.

Awesome!  I can’t wait.  Do they bite?  Will they guide us to food and shelter?  Again, control.  So let us be off.  Let us grow into whatever we grow into as we go down the Mississippi.  Let us be guided and nurtured by you, your viewership, your participation, and our participation in sharing this adventure with you.  We hope you find it interesting.

Just as the Mighty Mississippi is fed, is nurtured, by thousands and thousands of tributaries we are nurtured by you, by your comments, by your reading of our posts, watching of our movies, and perusing of our photos.  We don’t know where we’ll end up.  We have an idea, but we’re glad you’re along for the ride.

People walking across the Mississippi River - many.  People paddling it - uh, maybe 10 this year.  Destiny.
People walking across the Mississippi River - many. People paddling it - uh, maybe 10 this year. Destiny.

4 out of 5 Stars! No, It’s not Star Search

What is Ed McMahon doing now anyway?  Well, here he is on Tom Green.  No!  We got 4 out of 5 stars for the latest review of The Hitchhiking Movie!  Sweet!

Click here for the review.

I’m likable apparently.  I’ll take that.  If you haven’t already, check out the Hitchhiking Movie today.  It’ll cost you 4.95 to watch it online or, if you want the DVD, 17.95.

Updates on the Mississippi Adventure coming soon!

The Only People Really Going Green Nowadays Carry AK47’s

Mountain View, AR.  Your place in the mountains. 
Mountain View, AR. Your place in the mountains.

11 Visions is in the Natural State, Arkansas, preparing for their Mississippi River Adventure, which will begin the first day of summer, June 21, 2009.

Slack-jawed yokels and gun-toting Reagan Democrats, that’s all there is in Arkansas.  So I thought.  Turns out Arkansasians are some of the Greenest of the population to start.  While latte-sipping New York liberals philosophize about “going Green” and “oh if the destructive policies of George ‘Satan’s Little Helper’ Bush hadn’t been implemented we wouldn’t be in this mess…(slurp),” the Arkansasians we’re staying with here in Mountain View, AR are growing their own gardens, using solar panels liberally, and doing their best to become fully self-sustained.  Amazing 

Now, mind you, I highly doubt they’re doing it to further the wishes of Barack Hooooo-saaaaaayyyyynnnnnnn Obama, but (just by being themselves) I’ve seen some of the most environmentally friendly living… well… ever.

Phillip and I are in Arkansas to do a few things:

  1. Phillip used to live here.  To be specific, he MOVED here from his home in upstate New York.  Why would you move to Arkansas from… anywhere?  That’s what I’ve been asking him.  But after staying here a couple of days, I have to say, I can kinnnnndaaaa see why.  So he’s come back to visit some old friends.
  2. There’s a dude here who took a rowboat of sorts down the entire Mississippi.  He’s a character, and we’ll have an interview up for you shortly.  His home is also completely energy independent – I’ll ask him if he’s an Obama supporter.
  3. We needed a place to stay, and Phil’s friend is letting us camp on his land and bathe in his creek.  It’s awesome – fish bite your ass.  
  4. We needed a big flat lake to test out different kayak configurations.  Currently the big question is whether we’ll be taking one boat or two from Lake Itasca.  I am a huuuuge fan of one boat – less paddling.  But we may need two for the supplies.  We will also be showing our 2-boat adventure down the Cumberland shortly, and this much is clear:  Two boats blow in terms of the effort it takes to tow the second.  If we can get down to one, I’ll be all smiles.  
  5. And finally we might be able to interview a guy for our work in the works tentatively titled Go to Hell.  We want to make a doc exploring the concepts of hell, why people believe in such a crazy thing, and of course make a crrraaaaaaaazeeeee funny movie in the process.

There is a careful balance in this small town between nature and technology; and, though the majority prooooobably doesn’t feel too hot on liberals, they’re ten times more Green than the most ardent Al Gore fan.   

We’ll save the discussion on compulsive stockpiling of AK47’s and radical religiosity for another time.

Arkansas:  Politically, religiously and ideologically polarized.  Carbon neutral.

Slap it on a bumper sticker.


A Highly Unscientific Test (Part 1) – A Short Run down the Cumberland River

In preparation for our SOON-SOON-SOON-to-be (we’ll have an update for you shortly but we’ll be on the Mississippi in roughly two weeks!) Mississippi River Adventure, 11 Visions paddled down a good chunk of the Cumberland River in Nashville, TN.  This will be part 1 of our Mississippi River equipment tests.  We want to work out as many technical kinks as possible before we get on the Great River, aaaaaannnnnnnd, of course, have some fun as well.  Rest assured, this video’s got all the fun parts… Enjoy!

For Part 2, we’ve got even more craziness to share with you:

  1. mysteriously placed campfires
  2. extremely slooooowww paddling (we tried it with two boats this time, argh)
  3. humorous complaining (isn’t there always?)
  4. about 7 too many references to the Edmund Fitzgerald by Phillip
  5. and of course quasi-scientific arguments degenerating into meaningless bickering (I still think I’m right, Phillip)

Hasta la proxima.  😉

David Carradine is Dead Today

David Carradine, star of Kill Bill, apparently committed suicide.
David Carradine, star of Kill Bill, apparently committed suicide.


David Carradine is dead.  All reports indicate that it was a suicide.  David Carradine was star of the hit series, Kung Fu, which brought joy and a spiritual dimension to millions of people’s lives.  

He was a movie star.  I remember seeing him a movie where he was trapped in a hellish post-WWI Berlin.  I thought he was great and that he didn’t get much credit for being a good actor.  Unfortunately David self-destructed.

In the 90s, I believe, he made a successful series of VHS tapes on Tai Chi.  He seemed so spiritual and peaceful in the promos for it.  I almost bought the tapes myself.  He confessed later in an interview that he was drunk during the majority of the taping sessions.  He said that he would film and then go back to his dressing room and order a bottle of tequila and a 2 liter bottle of root beer.  I thought it was humorous at the time but I don’t think it’s humorous now.

John Belushi was revered by millions.  He was quite possibly the most beloved, funny, amazing comic actor of a generation.  He died.  OD.  Dead in a hotel room while celebrites partied in the room next door.  Immersed in the nothing, so souless, he had to use drugs to cover… what?

Chris Farely.  Have you ever seen Tommy Boy?  A masterpiece.  He died.  He OD’d.  He had ordered a prostitute in his high-rise Chicago apartment and implored her not to leave as he convulsed to his death.  When they found him, he was clutching a rosary.

Apparently there is something that fame cannot fill.  I learned this the hard way, and luckily, I’m still alive.  I was not going to share this with you, but I can relate… to David, to Chris, to John.  I have not attained near the level of fame as them but, in a way, that might be a blessing.  Because I did start down that road.  I started to get a taste of people loving and appreciating my work as an actor and couldn’t, for the life of me, figure out why all the adulation made me feel like shit.

I surmise that Chris and David and John felt something similar:  No matter how many people tell you you’re great, it doesn’t matter.  It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel that you’re great.  They had no soul, or more accurately, they lost contact with it.  And they tried to fill the void with drugs, alchohol, root beer, money, fame, girls, pussy (I was not asked to say that word either but I’m using it since every male reading this knows exactly what I’m talking about and how it makes them feel – great… at first.).  

Why?  Why did they do it?  Why does a man in good health wind up dead in a Bangkok hotel?  Why does he, after making a successful comeback with the Kill Bill movies, kill himself?  Why?  Most people who have never been depressed, who have never tried to fill the void with sex, money and new and NEW and MORE NEW! have no idea.  I talked to a girl once who was very interested in me.  She was beautiful and quirky; I loved her.  I have no idea why but I confessed to her that I was a depressive.  She understood but she didn’t.  “I’ve never felt that way,” she told me.  How can you explain color to a dog?  Until he sees it he won’t know what you’re talking about.  (I’ve heard this combination – “roorrrr, ruuuuurrrrr arrr arrr mmmmrrrarrrmmrrraaarrrrrooorrrr!” means squirrel though.  Try it and comment below. :))

Until you have felt depression, you have no idea.  Now I have to be careful here and not wear depression like a red badge of courage, but it is true.  It does suck.  And most people equate the word depressed with sad.  Not even fucking close.  Sad is actually a good feeling.  Sad is when you miss someone or long for what was or what could have been; there is a positive aspect to sadness.

Depression (clinically, non coloquially speaking) has none of those things.  It is empty.  It is emptiness.  It is nothingness.  Imagine the movie Neverending Story.  Remember “The Nothing?”  It was emptiness, nothingness; now imagine that eating at your soul.  Imagine that devasating arrancar.  Sorry, Spanish has the only word that comes close to what I’m talking about.  Arrancar is to pull up by the root, to devastate, to take out, to destroy.  Imagine all that going on in your heart, in your gut, yes, in your very soul.  That’s depression.

Okay, enough talk about depression.  What does all this mean?  It means (and this is what I started to realize before I gained any sort of pararegional fame) that fame, and money and sex and drugs (though lovely in the moment) cannot fill you.  They, in fact, make you hollow and empty; or perhaps the emptiness is caused by something else.  I actually do not believe that sex, drugs and rock n’ roll cause it, but what I can say without any doubt is that they do not cure it.  I’ve tried.  

If you read David’s resume, it reads like an obsessive-compulsive’s resume.  He never, NEVER! stopped acting.  I don’t know if he used that as well to fill up his time, to fill up his heart, to numb his mind from the horror of what he must have felt inside.

But the bottom line is…

He Shouldn’t Have Died

Now I’m not going religious with this.  All of you who believe that those who commit suicide are going to hell, forgive me if this offends you, are more likely to go to hell.  Love thy neighbor as thyself.  Shouldn’t you have some compassion for a person who experienced so much pain that the only way he knew to escape was to end his life?  “Well still!” some say, “He shouldn’t have done it.  It’s cowardice.”  All I can say is, buddy, once you’ve been there, once you’ve experienced the bottom of despair, then come back to me and tell me that suicide is an impossibility for someone in that position.  Have compassion, not condemnation, my friend; because, you may very well find yourself there one day.  I certainly didn’t expect to.  

No.  The real issue is not what’s going  to happen to David’s soul now that he’s dead, or whether or not suicide is right or wrong; and, despite what I said about having compassion for those who choose to end their lives, I do not feel that suicide is the right choice.  The real issue is how does one; especially one with all the fame, fortune and money one could want; get to a point emotionally where she wants to end her life?

How does someone get into that emotional position?  I don’t know.  If I knew I wouldn’t (from time to time) be there myself. So, in actuality, the only relevant question becomes…


If You’re There, How Do You Get Out?

First of all, I know that becoming famous will not magically cure my emotional, phyisical, chemical, whatever -al problems.  I think Chris and David and friends taught us that.  I don’t think Heath Ledger committed suicide but I did read several interview of his, and despite his fame and sexual appeal, he was not very happy.  

What is, indeed, happiness?  And how does one go about getting it?  How does one get to a point where fame and fortune are nice things, but not needed, not things I use to get happiness?  

What I do know is that going after the fame is a losing proposition.  What I do know is that worldly success does not make you feel good about yourself.  It can be nice, but it does a shitty job of filling the void.  If money and fame were all it took, David would not be dead in a hotel room in Thailand.

I believe some care must be given to the heart.  I believe that what you do has nothing to do with what you feel.  I am slowly but surely learning this.  It is hard sometimes when the storm of depression overtakes me but, it’s there…  It’s quiet but it’s there.  There is a peace at the center of each and every one of us.

Read this.  Will I ever get rid of my Scottish connection?  Probably not.

Hard as it may seem, nothing you do will make you happy.  You can only be happy as you do the things you choose to do.

Going down the river this summer will not make Phil and me happy.  It may give us an opportunity to be happy, but as Abraham Lincoln said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”  We will be happy only if we choose it.  Nothing more, nothing less.  No amount of women (though they be nice, ;)), sex, money, rivers, adventures, will help.  Connect with your soul.  Connect with your spirit and move forth.  

I invite you to come with us, and I invite you to be happy.  

Rest in peace, David Carradine.  We will miss you; and wherever you are, I hope you have peace.