Category Archives: 11 Visions

Posts about our purpose, vision and direction for this community.

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 (http://gizmodo.com/5285862/virgin-mobile-pay+as+you+go-mobile-broadband-is-predictably-expensive):

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.

🙂

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.

Ryan

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.  😉

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.





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!

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

11 Visions Gets Cursed Out, In a Good Way

I will not say f...
I will not say F...

Phillip and I have been receiving hundreds, well, tens of letters from our fans congratulating us on the release of The Hitchhiking Movie.  We thank you for your words and your dollars.  We will continue to make this the best adventure blog there is.  Some letters have been polite, some have been enthusiastic and some have have had (MY FAVORITE!) FOUL LANGUAGE!

As some of you know, I, Ryan Jeanes, love foul language.  I lather myself up with it, I take it to bed with me at night and hug it till I fall asleep, I make foul-language jellies and jams out of it, preserving it in mason jars for the summer months.

Let us tell a tale:  a tale of three emails from our fans.  They will illustrate perfectly why foul language, properly placed, can be the most sincere form of communication.

Email 1

Brent Weaver to me
show details 12:44 PM (13 hours ago) Reply

Hey Ryan,

I just wanted to send you an email congratulating you on the release of your movie. I’m sure that must have taken a lot of work and it is good to see it released. When I get a chance in the next week or so I will watch it online and let you know what I think.

I hope all has been well, take care.

Warmest Regards,

Brent Weaver
website –
http://www.hotpressweb.com

Email 2

Amanda Eaton to me
show details Apr 16 (2 days ago) Reply

Hey you crazy mo fo! The trailer looks cool, will definitely check it out! I was wondering if you lived in Chicago anymore, I haven’t seen you forever, I guess you are just busy swimming to prisons and jumping out planes.
Great work my friend,
keep it up!
Amanda 🙂

Email 3

Matt Griffo
5:48 PM (8 hours ago)

That’s SO FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!

Matt Griffo
585.520.2514
www.mattgriffo.com

Okay, let’s break it down.  The first email is extremely nice.  I wasn’t expecting it to be so nice.  It is articulate and well-formed, and it turns out that my little brother’s best friend from high school is not so little anymore.  Bravo, Brent.  If you ever need a website redesigned, Brent Weaver is your man.

The second email is brimming with enthusiasm.  It is also nice.  Mo fo is a foray into Bad Language Land but no coarseness orcs are slain.  I love Amanda and  think she’s great.  If you ever need a dramatic actress in the Chicago area, Amanda Eaton is your woman.

The third email made me laugh out loud.  I was touched.  I laughed again.  I’m reading it now and laughing.  I think it’s sincere.  It has a boy-like quality.  It is endearing… and absolutely foul-mouthed.  I love it.

It’s a one-liner.  He doesn’t say “see you soon” or “blah blah blah, tell me more, we’ll keep in touch;” he sincerely expresses himelf the only way any self-respecting curse-oholic would:  That… is so fucking awesome.  LOL.  Oh wait, don’t forget the !!!!!!!!!!, and he actually hit Cntrl + I to make it italicized.  Oh, and he capitalized the last 3 words, not the first.  It’s almost like there’s a build up:  That’s (wait, 2, 3, 4) so fucking awesome!

Matt Griffo is a commedian and an improvizational actor.  You can reach him here if you ever need a crowd entertained.

Which email is better?

None one of them.  Each form of communication has its place, and each is sincere.  Insincere communications get thrown by the wayside.  Which is why I’ve pledged to express myself as sincerely as possible on this blog even if I have to throw a Fuck-bomb.  Uhhhhh, waitaminute.  Are you supposed to say F-bomb so you don’t say fuck?  Shit, okay, ummmm, I love Fu… F-bombs.  They pierce through the social cheesecloth.  Cursing, used genuinely, can slice right to the meat of how you really feel.  “Ryan, I am so proud of you” or “Ryan, this movie is fucking awesome!”  Sincerity, enthusiasm, and disregard for social norms (also known as sincerity) all wrapped up into a nice F-burrito.  Munch, munch. Mmmmmm, F-burritos.

We thank all of you

11 Visions would like to thank you all for purchasing the movie and forwarding it on to your friends.  Thank you for your congratulations and we encourage you to use our comments section to say anything on your mind.  We love comments!  And as long as the words are sincere, cursing is cool with us.

Ryan Jeanes is a compulsive curser and is trying to honor his mom’s pleas to curse less.  His efforts are yielding mixed results.

The Kite and the Weight

kite_flyingImagine a flying kite tied to a weight. The weight is just heavy enough to keep the kite from flying off into oblivion, and the kite catches the wind just enough to drag the weight forward. Interesting analogy. What does it mean?

In our business, Phillip, in general, is the weight. He keeps me grounded. I am a man of high-flying ideas, and oftentimes have no idea how I’m going to make them happen in the real world. With Phil, I’m tied squarely to the ground, but not so much that we cannot be drug forward by the joy of inspiration.

The wind can easily be likened to inspiration. Break the word inspiration down: in=in and spire=breath. The wind is the breath in your sail. It’s the high-soaringness of your idea. But if you’re all kite, you’re flying up, up and away. You need to be grounded. We live in the third dimension, and hard, physical action is what makes great ideas real. But what if you’re all weight? No movement. You can take all the action you want; but, if it’s not inspired action, well, what energy is going to move that weight?

From a purely cold-science, Wall-Street-business-plan point of view, I am completely, utterly useless. I can’t make a website, I can’t edit a video (though I can tell you what I want it to look like), and I can’t rig a tractor to run. But I can come up with ideas, I have a feel for what will inspire others, I have a feel for what will be exciting and funny, and I can act, improvise and write. Hear me now: Phillip comes up with tons of ideas; however, I would say with general certainty I spend my time with my head in the clouds a lot more than he does. Without Phil, I’m off into the ether.

Phillip is a whiz on technical matters. He can throw a website up in 2 seconds (just did another one… and another). He can edit like a madman and is more wary of logistical matters than I am. I’m a burning heart ready to evaporate at a moment’s notice. I have no idea how I have not spontaneously combusted by now. “Hey Phil, we could do this and this and THIS!

“Whoa there, cowboy, hold the phone. We gotta water the horses, and connect to the operator first.”

So, you would think Phillip, being the more cerebral of the two, might poo poo my ideas, but he doesn’t! I’ve rarely heard him say it can’t be done. And if he did, he knows I’d bother the piss out of him till he said yes 😉. He says, “Lets do it,” and just reminds me of the technical implications. The weight and the kite, they are indispensable to one another.

If you are planning a great adventure, go for it! You don’t need a partner. You can play the role of both the kite and the weight, though it is more fun if there are two people who can separate into complementing roles. Phil always says yes. He’s cautious, but he says yes. And I never like to say no but gladly give in when something is definitely not a good idea or when technical obstacles are too thick to push through. Somehow, however, that kite-weight contraption is gonna move forward, that movie will move forward, that website, web video, book and article are going to move forward. The wind is always there; you just need to catch it.

Reason informs inspiration, and inspiration informs reason. They are not mutually exclusive. They are opposite ends of the propeller that drives the boat, your idea, forward. They are two sides of the same coin. A coin cannot exist without two sides, and an adventure cannot be made possible without both high-flying feeling and cold-grounded physical action. It is the energy and the stability together, the right brain and the left brain, power and groundedness, inspiration and action that make your experience possible. One without the other, and the system collapses.

An old Quaker prayer goes like this: Pray and move your feet. I believe part of our job on this planet is to bring a little bit of heaven to earth, and I believe that is achieved through following your inspiration. The earth and the heavens cannot exist without one another. One is not necessarily better or worse than the other. Neither the brains, nor the lungs nor the heart could dream of existing without working together. Bring your reason and your emotions together when planning your next great adventure. If you take a step back, you’ll see the kite and the weight are not just indispensable to one another, they’re the best of friends.