Category: Episodes

S1E126 – Inmn on Knives

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret talks to Inmn about knives, cause Inmn makes knives. Inmn walks Margaret through some of the mysteries, myths, and practicalities of knives and knife making.

Host Info

Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Guest Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

S1E125 – Distributed Medical Device Manufacturing on Anarchist Manufacturing & 3D Printed Tourniquets

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Inmn talks to Mike and Alex from Distributed Medical Device Manufacturing about the role of anarchists in manufacturing and their work manufacturing medical devices, and specifically, about their work manufacturing tourniquets with 3D printers and industrial sewing machines.

Guest Info

Find Distributed Medical Device Manufacturing (DMDM) at DMDM.icu or support their funding campaign on Give Butter at https://givebutter.com/pqygLj

DMDM is a small non-profit based in Tucson, Arizona, USA. We formed as an offshoot of MADR in order to begin exploring how regulatory compliant aid can be manufactured outside the existing profit driven, hierarchical medical device manufacturing industry. Our mission is to make high quality, FDA compliant CAT style tourniquets based on the GLIA design to ensure our communities have access to life saving supplies in the event of trauma events and supply chain breakdowns.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

S1E124 – Emmi & Monroe on Living & Fighting

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Inmn talks to Monroe and Emmi about the anarchist publication Living & Fighting and the importance of creating our own narratives around what happens in our lives, communities, and struggles.

Guest Info

Living & Fighting can be found at https://livingandfighting.net/ and on Twitter @sw_commune or IG @Living.Fighting

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

S1E123 – Lonz on Making Soap

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, we’re gonna learn about making soap from a really incredible soap maker. Is it as easy as Fight Club makes it seem? Find out.

Guest Info

Lonz (they/them) works in harm reduction, prison abolition, and general kitchen witchery.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E122 – Carrot Quinn on “Bets” & Writing the Apocalypse

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Carrot Quinn comes on to talk to Inmn about her new book "BETS," and about how writing speculative fiction can help inform how we live through the apocalypses we’re currently facing. Carrot also reads a chapter from the book, which is out now on Kickstarter.

Guest Info

Carrot Quinn is the author of "Thru-Hiking Will Break Your Heart" and "The Sunset Route", as well as eleven thousand miles of daily hiking blogs at carrotquinn.com and a weekly newsletter at substack.com/@carrotquinn

Bets is a speculative fiction novel being self-published by Carrot Quinn. You can back it on Kickstarter at www.kickstarter.com/projects/carrotquinn/bets-a-speculative-fiction-novel-by-carrot-quinn

<h4>"The cities are dying. Bets escapes just in time to save her own life. But where will she go? She’s heard that somewhere in the desert, people have found a way to be free…"</h4>

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Carrot Quinn on “BETS” and Writing the Apocalypse

**Inmn ** 00:14
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host today, Inmn Neruin, and today we get to talk to one of my favorite authors, which is a really fun thing for me and a really fun–hopefully–a really fun thing for listeners out there. And today we’re going to be talking to Carrot Quinn about a new book, a book about the apocalypse, a book about bikes, a book about the desert. These are all of the things that I want to talk about all the time. And I think that…I think it’s going to be a great conversation. We haven’t had the conversation yet. So I’m assuming some things, but I have high hopes. But first, we are a member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts, and here’s a jingle from another show on that network. [sorta singing] Doo doo doo doo doo.

**Inmn ** 01:59
And we’re back. Thank you so much for coming on the show today, Carrot. Could you introduce yourself with your name, pronouns, and just a little bit about what you…? What do you do in the world?

**Carrot ** 02:13
Thanks for having me, Inmn. I’m really excited to be here. My name is Carrot Quinn and I use she or they pronouns and I am a writer. I live in Alaska. I used to live in Tucson. And I write books and I do outdoors stuff. I do these guided backpacking trips that are fun, and I have to chihuahua mixes.

**Inmn ** 02:41
Cool. Hell yeah. And we’ve had you on the show before to talk about things like long distance hiking, and it it, like one of your previous books, just made me want to go out and walk long distances, which I have not done yet. But hopefully might [forlornly] someday. I was wondering if we could just start off by, could you tell us a little bit about your book and about the kind of world and setting, before we, I believe, you have a chapter prepared to read for us. 

**Carrot ** 03:18
Yeah, totally. So I wrote a speculative fiction novel called "Bets" that will be out in January of 2025. And it is set in a near future, sort of post collapse western United States. And one reason, the reason I started working on this novel four years ago, I think the reason we all…. You know, everyone’s who’s writing speculative fiction right now, like what draws us to it is all of these things we see sort of coming down the pike around the world and in the US with climate with all these different things, and we’re all trying to imagine like, what’s going to happen? How’s it going to happen? How’s it going to feel when it happens? And what are we going to do? And so, starting to write this novel four years ago, which felt like a really therapeutic experience for me, because I imagined what if this young person was living in a city in the Western United States, and the city was collapsing, and she needed to flee and she needed to ride her bike across the desert to try and find people who had found a way to survive, who she could join living in the desert. Like, what would that be like? Like, who would she encounter? What would the, you know…. Who, if she met people on the road, what would they be like? What shape would the roads been? What would she eat? Where would she find water? What skills would she need? And, trying to imagine this as kind of a thought exercise was really comforting to me. It’s sort of, I feel like we…one thing that fiction does for us is we can put ourselves in these scenarios and try and imagine how we would respond emotionally and how they would feel for us, and that and that almost makes us feel prepared for things that might happen, even if they don’t ever happen. It’s like this very comforting thing. And so I created this character who’s living the city. And the rural United States, like Western rural United States, at least–I don’t even really talk about the rest of the country because I didn’t actually build that part of this world–but the western United States has been abandoned. Because, you know, the first thing, one of the first things to go, was international supply chains in the US, which basically destroyed the entire economy and the ability to access most goods. And then the rural United States, also there is like water scarcity and a lot of contamination and different things. Disease, because of the lack of access to different medical care, and so people in the rural  United States, it just emptied out, and they all went to what was left of the cities. And the cities are these precarious places in this world where, you know, it’s impossible to find housing, and most people live in these encampments. And it’s really hard to find goods. And it’s basically just like, really extremely poor people. And then a handful of like, super wealthy. And the biggest industry left in the US are the prisons, and there’s new prisons being built all the time because the prisons have slave labor. So that’s like a source of goods. So that’s like, the US economy is really reliant on this source of goods. So things are super criminalized because they want more people in the prisons to create more goods. So this young person, Bets, she’s 20, that’s the world she grew up in, in the city. She was orphaned when she was really young, cause both her parents were disappeared. She doesn’t know where her mom went, which is one of the sort of through-lines of the plot is this mystery. And in the beginning, she gets this clue. And then she’s sort of trying to like follow up on that clue on her journey. And she also has this love interest, Georgia. They have like…she has very insecure attachment with Georgia. And we don’t know much about Georgia. She’s sort of mysterious. And then later in the book, it switches to her perspective. And there’s kind of this reveal. And you learn all of these like secrets about her, and how she’s part of this plot. So Bets, in the very first chapter–I will try not to give any spoilers, but you can read the first chapter online so you’ll know exactly what happens–but something really bad hppens. And she realizes she has to flee the city or she’s gonna die. And so she steals a bike, essentially, and also ends up with this little dog. [laughing self-reflectively] And that she just, she doesn’t want to abandon. It’s not her dog, but she ends up with it. And she does want to abandoned it. So she takes this little dog with her. He rides in the pannier, and she just sets out west and she doesn’t know what she’s gonna find. She can’t find a map. The only thing she can find is this old guidebook called "An RVer’s Guide to the American West" that has like very broad overview maps. And she’s like, "Okay, what’s the first thing in here? It’s a KOA, okay, I’ll just bike towards this KOA," which is, you know, like this funny camp. It’s like Campgrounds of America. They have these like little cabins, and she’s like, "Is it going to be? Who’s going to live there? Is it going to be militia? Is it going to be abandoned? Will there be water?" And you know, like, she goes through everything that’s in her panniers and all her supplies. You kind of know what she has, and she sets out on this journey. And then I have her sort of meeting different groups of people who have, who are surviving in different ways. Like, some of them, you know, at first you think they’re really great. And then, you know, maybe turns out they’re not and other people, maybe they are great. And she has to get out of various sticky situations. Nothing bad ever happens to the dog. And then–

**Carrot ** 03:50
Thank you for that clarification. Yeah, thank you.

**Carrot ** 05:43
I didn’t want it…the dog is purely there just for joy and pleasure nothing bad ever happens to the dog. And there’s…as we, as the novel continues, there’s sort of like this unfolding of these other plotlines and these other characters who are…who have like other chapters from their perspectives, who are sort of like…all the characters are slowly converging towards the end. And then in the end, there’s this huge plot twist that changes everything you thought you knew about the whole world right from the beginning, which I didn’t know how to write plot twists. And then in the last year and a half, I’ve been reading all of these thrillers to try to learn how to write plot twists, because I really wanted to put one in there. So I finally figured it out. And I put it in there. And I’m so proud of myself, because plot twists really helped me stay engaged with the book if I’m like anticipating something. And so I wanted to put that in there because I really like that. So that’s the novel.

**Inmn ** 09:31
Cool, cool. Cool. Well, I’m…I’m very, very, very excited for it to come out and to read all of the plot twists that you have. Yeah, I like dabble in writing and like the idea of having to write a convincing plot twist sounds really hard. And I don’t know. Yeah, I…. So I feel especially excited because I have been–we know each other IRL from the desert–and I feel like I’ve been hearing you talk about this book for years. And so the fact that it’s coming out, and that people get to read it soon is very exciting. And, you know, as much as I would love to launch into a conversation about preparedness, the apocalypse, bikes, and all of these things, I’m wondering if you want to read your sample chapter first, and then we can…and then we’ll talk about that stuff? How does that sound?

**Carrot ** 10:42
Yeah, Sounds great.

**Inmn ** 10:43
Cool. This also works really perfectly with that we just did a two-part episode on riding your bike a really long distance. 

**Carrot ** 10:53
Perfect.

**Inmn ** 10:55
Everything is perfect. Everything in the world is perfect. Don’t tell me otherwise.

**Carrot ** 11:00
Yeah, yeah, plot twist, everything in the world is perfect. Turns out. So this is chapter four. And where we are is that Bets has left the city. And you can read the first chapter online on my Substack and that…you can kind of read like the kind of setup. And then she leaves the city and she’s on a bike and she has this little dog and she bikes for a little while. And then she bikes through the night and gets to…. Some different things happen that are kind of exciting. And then she bikes through the night. And she’s kind of…she’s outside of the city now. And it’s these kind of larger estates, like old farms and people’s summer homes and she pulls her bike off onto the drive towards one of them and there’s like the big house and she doesn’t go in the house. She goes, she finds a barn behind the house where it’s like still pretty nice inside. Like it’s clean smelling and, you know, there’s like it’s not…. Like houses, once they’re abandoned, you know, become kind of disgusting. But this barn is still pretty nice. So she barricades the door and puts her sleeping bag on the ground and goes to sleep with the dog. And so now she’s waking up the next afternoon and that’s where we’re gonna start. 

**Inmn ** 12:21
Cool. 

**Carrot ** 12:24
Chapter Four. When I stepped outside the barn to pee in the afternoon, there’s a deer browsing in the fallen apples of an abandoned orchard. A pang of regret. I wish I had a rifle. Although guns are popular with some of my friends, I’ve only ever chosen to arm myself with a knife. I want the freedom to move quickly and I don’t want to draw attention to myself. I want to be liquid, able to flow around obstacles as they appear. A rifle would make me clumsy. I wish I had one right now, though. "What would we even do with a whole deer?" I say to the dog as I gather bruised apples in my shirt. The dog pads around me, sniffing the fruit. The apples are crawling with wasps and I shoo them away. My legs feel rested and I’m antsy to get back on my bike. First though, I want to check out this house. The back door to the house is locked, but the window is busted out and I brush away the broken glass and pull myself through, lift the dog up after me. Inside it’s damp and smells of rotten wood. Trapezoids of sunlight gather on the dirty linoleum in the kitchen. And beyond that is a carpeted living room where the furniture hulks like dusty sleeping beasts. It’s amazing how quickly a person’s cozy home, after being abandoned, will turn into this, an eerie sickly place where you don’t want to stay for more than a few minutes. Is it the dust, the mold, or is the house itself a living being, animated from within by its inhabitants and when they leave the house becomes a corpse and begins to rot? There’s a staircase stained with water from the roof and I climb it to a landing with three closed white doors. The brass knob of the middle door is cool in my hand. The room is a bedroom, a bed, the quilt and sheets pulled back exposing the bare mattress,a bookcase cluttered with books, a closet tangled with clothes. The dust motes drift unbothered in the light from the window. There’s a small rustling. It’s the dog. He’s padded up the stairs after me. I sit on the bed and look out the window at the apple orchard and let the sadness spread out from my heart like a fog. It spills out the doorway and onto the landing. It seeps under the doors to the other rooms and then I’m there, back in the dream, the dream I have often at night that I’ve been having since I was a small child. In the dream I’m in a large house and I’m searching for something. I wander through rooms that open into other rooms. The rooms hold antiques from another time, junk ,furniture from the apartment I shared with my parents. The rooms hold people I love who’ve been disappeared. The rooms who hold people I haven’t met yet. The people welcome me or they do not know me. Sometimes I take up residence in one of these rooms, but always their true occupants appear after a while and telling me that I have to leave. In none of the rooms is that for which I am searching and so I push them on deeper and deeper into the house. I sink down in the bowels of the house or up into its castle spires. The house’s corridors are maze, and I can’t find my way out. The light is getting longer in the apple orchard. "Long light o’clock," I say to the dog, who’s curled up on the carpet at my feet. That’s what time it is. We’re making a new system of time out here beyond the city. Long light o’clock is what comes before Time to Ride My Bike. The closet is full of useful things, but I’m not sure what to take. My panniers are pretty stuffed right now. Do I need more warm layers? Clothes to trade if I meet people on my journey? What sorts of people are out here beyond the city besides the militia? I haven’t seen anyone yet. Maybe there’ll be people at the KOA, my first destination, chosen arbitrarily from the RVer’s Guide. The fabrics of the clothes in the closet feel good under my fingers, and there’s a human scent here. Someone’s lingering laundry detergent. Should I take another sweater, a canvas jacket? My fingers pause on a dress, it’s fabric smooth and light, a simple airy dress printed all over with flowers, a few buttons at the throat, and elastic waist. I pull the dress off its hanger and fold it carefully. The smell rises up again. What is it? A smell from another time, a smell that supposed to evoke a shared cultural memory of something but that something doesn’t exist anymore. The lid of a rain barrel connected to the houses gutters comes off with some effort and inside I find good clear water, yellow from the tannis of falling leaves and dancing with mosquito larvae but otherwise untainted. In the kitchen cupboards there are a few plastic bottles and I fill these as well as my own. There’s a can opener and some canned goods too, rusted and missing their labels. Likely too old to be edible, and I don’t want to risk botulism, so I leave them  but take the can opener. "Goodbye," I say to the house as I push my bike down the dirt drive back towards the road. I feel like I’m leaving a mausoleum. When next will humans walk through those halls and bedrooms? In 100 years? Longer? The air is different tonight as I cycle away from the house, the dog curled up in one of my panniers. The city is the brown smell of trash and industry. But out here there’s something else, a cold, clean smell that is somehow familiar. But from what? When have I experienced this before? Maybe it’s a memory that’s stored in my cells from previous generations, asmell from an old world that is also, for me, the smell of a new world, the world to which I’m headed? I shiver. It’s not just the air that’s different tonight. My mind feels clear to. I’m rested. This is my second day surrounded by silence with little to occupy my thoughts. I’m at the fringeedge of the suburbs, the houses far apart and on large tracts of land. The fields are overgrown with brambles and weeds. The cars that pass are fewer and farther between. I spend less time in the culvert, crouched next to my bicycle waiting for their headlights to sweep over me and away. My legs pump rhythmically My mind is an empty vessel and into this vessel comes the mirage of memory, the details so sharp I can almost smell them. Opening up an abandoned apartment building in the city with Georgia, the building is locked, plywood nailed over the windows. No Trespassing signs everywhere. We’ve got a few hours to work before the security guard on this block passes by on his shift and sees our headlamps. If we can get enough of the apartments open, we can move in folks we know from one of the encampments. We make quick work of the plywood over the first broken window and climb inside. There’s debris everywhere, busted furniture, clothing, windblown trash. The toilet in the bathroom has an ancient turd in it but no water. A sweep to make sure no one’s already living here and that it seems safe enough. No collapsing ceilings or floorboards rotted enough to fall through. And we move on to the next apartment, which is nearly identical. The window beneath the plywood on the third apartment is intact and we don’t want to break it if we don’t have to. So Georgia uses the tools in her bag to force the door. Inside our headlamps reveal something surprising. Everything in this apartment is in order, untouched. A sofa with a valour blanket tossed over the back, a low coffee table with a splay of magazines, a rag rug, a bookshelf. A small rack next to the door holds a couple of pairs of shoes. It’s as though the tenants have just stepped out and will return at any moment. At first I think someone might be living here but then I see the thick dust on the bookshelf and run my finger through it. "You’ve got to see this," says Georgia from the kitchen. An avocado green stove and refrigerator, glass fronted cabinets. Georgia is pulling canned goods and boxes out of the cabinets one by one and inspecting them. Macaroni and sardines perfectly preserved as though they’ve been in a museum. There’s a row of silver tins on the countertop lined up by size. The first contains recipes written in tidy cursive on index cards. The second holds sugar, hardened but still usable. The contents of the third makes me jump. "There’s coffee in herem," I say. "Coffee." "Fuck," says Georgia. She grabs the tin from my hands and holds it up to her face, breathes deeply. "We can sell this. Make a security fund for the new tenants. That’ll be a huge help to them." She takes a plastic bag from one of the drawers and dumps the coffee inside. The tin falls onto the ground and I pick it up, put it back in its spot with the others, brush the stray coffee grounds off the countertop with my hand. "Don’t open the fridge," says Georgia. "I know," I say. "You don’t have to keep reminding me."

**Carrot ** 20:28
In the bedroom, the circle of my headlamp illuminates a bed with a striped bedspread pulled taut. There’s a lump in the middle as though a couple of pillows are stashed under there. I step into the silence of the room. It’s a tomb. This room is a tomb, and that lump in the bed is a body. "Georgia," I whisper. I can’t seem to raise my voice. I can hear her rustling around in the kitchen. The sides of the quilt are tucked into the mattress and I tuck a corner free. Under the quilt is the body of a little old man, curled into the fetal position and perfectly still. The skin of his face and hands are shriveled like the mummified cats we sometimes find in these buildings. He’s wearing pajamas and he’s drawn up into himself. So he was cold when he died. I arranged the quilt back over him. "You’re lucky you got out when you did," I say before closing the door of the bedroom. I find Geogia sitting on the floor in front of the bookshelf in the living room, sifting through photographs and stacks of mail. They’re cut glass figurines on the bookshelf: a horse, an elephant, a bear. "I found a pistol in his dresser drawer," I say "No ammunition, though." "His dresser drawer?" says Georgia. "What if we boarded this apartment back up?" I say. "Keep it like it is. We can say that it’s too wrecked to be livable. Paint a warning on the door." Georgia shrugs, "Sure." I sit next to her on the carpet, and she puts down the mail, wraps one of my hands in her own. "Another body?" she says. "Yeah." Her light eyes are clear. The skin around them is lined from all the time she spends in the sun and the garden, digging in the dirt there. I’ve offered to try and find her a big hat but she says no. She likes the way the sun feels on her face. I told her that I’m worried about her getting skin cancer, and she says she doesn’t care and besides, she doesn’t think she’ll live that long. "It’s still possible to live a long time," I said. "But why would I want to?" she answered back. She reaches a cool hand into my hair and leans in, kissing me. Her breath smells like citrus and her lips are soft. For a moment I melt into this kiss, forgetting everything. Then I remember that Georgia will never be mine. Each time I try to know her better, she disappears, only returning when I cease looking for her. She’s like a feral cat that will only slink close and let you pet it when you’re looking the other way. Every kiss she gives me feels like a parting gift. "Let’s open up the other apartments," I say, pulling away. The wind changes and I back in my body back on the bike. The darkness is vast. My bicycle tires a ship that slices cleanly through the cruel sea of the night. I don’t know what time it is. But last night I noticed that the moon rose just before dawn. So tonight I’m waiting for that. The light of the silver half moon will signify that it’s time to find a place to hunker down and sleep. I’m beginning to enjoy being unstuck from time like this, unfettered by the tyranny of minutes. The hours are liquid. They rush by and then slow to a trickle and sometimes stop entirely, forming a deep, clear pool in which I am suspended. I should eat. My legs shake as I climb off the bike and guide it to the shoulder of the road. I don’t bother with a culvert, just uncinch the pannier and lift out the warm sleepy dog and then lay the bike down on its side. I haven’t seen a car for hours. Have I reached the edge of all human existence? Is it just me now in this wild frontier alone forever? No, that can’t be. There are other people somewhere out here and I’m going to find them. My new can opener slices easily into one of the cans of beans. Half a brick of dry ramen completes the meal. The dog disappears into the wide darkness and then returns, shakes himself and pushes his way into my arm onto my lap. He eats his ramen ration from my fingers and then circles once and curls up with a sigh. "Do you love me or just my body heat?" I say. "And my ramen." Speaking of ramen, I’m going to have to find some more food. A brick of ramen each day with some peanut butter or beans is not enough. Hunger has been following me as I pedal west like an alarm bell I can’t shut off. I’m really banking on there being people at the KOA and not just any people but good people. And not just good people but good people who have food they’re willing to share with me. That’s a whole lot of unknowns that could determine my survival. I wonder if the KOA is abandoned or occupied by militia? Another thing not to think about. There was a sign for a small town in the last of the light, and I use that to place myself on the map in the  RVer’s Guide to the American West. I started off the night about an inch and a half from the KOA and I’ve been traveling a few inches on the map each night. I’m worried that I’ll miss the exit in the dark with no headlamp, but there’s not really anything to be done except continue pedaling and trust that things will work out somehow. I can feel We’ll be aloneness lurking a stone’s throw away in the dark. Better get back on my bike before it closes in. As I pedal, the sound of my own voice floats above me. I’m singing to remind myself that I exist. The dog is curled in the pannier asleep. He dreams of past lives, his small belly full of ramen. It feels as though I’m hurtling forward now, the night soft and yielding, like I could ride a thousand miles, like I can make it all the way to Nevada in one go. Fatigue as a stranger, someone I can’t remember knowing. The surface of the road jostles violently, startling me out of my reverie and I tense on the brakes and rolled to a stop. There’s a hissing noise and I press my tires. My front tire is deflating. "Fuck." I stand straddling my bike, eyes unfocused on the road. I don’t have a patch kit or an extra tube. I wait for inspiration to strike but there’s nothing I have just a little food or water left and there hasn’t been a car all night. I have no idea where I am or how far to the next thing. Or even if there is a next thing. A pressure in my head. I’m starting to panic. I must not panic. My legs are shaking again. Presently, a little silver light crests the horizon. The halfmoon. "It’s time to camp. This busted tire will be a problem for tomorrow me." Along the roadside is a forest and I push my bike into these trees. The ground is yielding underfoot and I’ve been in ragged forests and abandoned lots in the city, full of trash and danger. But this feels different. There’s a soft welcoming feeling to this forest, a warmth. This will be a good place to rest. Relief floods my body as I unfurl my sleeping bag onto the fallen leaves. The dog drinks from his jar lid of water and then crawls inside the bag with me, his nose pressed into my armpit. "I miss you so badly, Georgia," I whisper into the forest before I fall asleep. That’s the end of the chapter. Thank goodness. [Inmn clapping]

**Inmn ** 26:56
Yay. I don’t know if the sound is translating. But I am clapping, clapping my little hands together. Thank you so much for reading that to us, Carrot.

**Carrot ** 27:10
Thanks for listening. I found it really hard to speak the whole time. But I made it through.

**Inmn ** 27:19
Yeah, it’s really…speaking is hard. And, you know, that’s why we write things, right? [a little dryly]

**Carrot ** 27:29
Yeah, totally. [both laughing]

**Inmn ** 27:39
Where do I want us to start? I think I want to, I think I want to start with, Carrot, would you identify as a prepper?

**Carrot ** 27:52
I think I’m a…. Like, I think I would like to be a prepper but I don’t…. There’s a lot of skills and things that preppers have going on. And I’m not quite there yet. But I would eventually like to be more of a prepper than I am now. Right now I’m just kind of like I like thinking about being a prepper.

**Inmn ** 28:14
Yeah. I think that makes you a prepper IMO. On the spectrum of thinking about preparedness, I think thinking about preparedness makes someone a prepper in like all of its like multifaceted ways. But I guess what I want to ask you about is, so in thinking about preparedness and thinking about the world that we currently live in and like the directions that we all imagine it going, I’m wondering what about what you’re seeing in our world, how you created this world based on our world–if it’s based on our world at all? Does that make sense?

**Carrot ** 29:14
Yeah, that’s a great question. Yeah, I do think that, first of all, you know, collapse is always happening all the time around the world. And that has been true throughout all of human history. Like, human history is just full of crazy catastrophes and collapses and, you know, it’s always going on. So I think we do…sometimes I get this idea in my head that I’m like, "oh, you know, there’s going to be collapse," but of course, collapse is always happening in different spots, and it just depends on like your positionality in spacetime whether or not collapse is happening to you at the moment where you are or to your community or to your, you know, in what ways to people around you. So, sometimes I think I can get fixated on this future thing. And it’s actually comforting to remind myself that not only is collapse just inherently a part of human civilizations, and always has been, but it’s already happening. So I do. And I do think, you know, people say that a lot of speculative fiction is just white people imagining, like, what if things that were happening in places that are, you know, predominantly people of color, what if those things also happen to white people? And I also think that’s true. Like we ar so sort of hemmed in by our own experience. And since I, like, you know, grew up in the US, and–where the US is part of so many global collapses–but living in the US we are shielded from that. So far. We have been shielded from that. So even though we are, you know, we’re directly involved in Gaza, and all these different things all over the world, and always have been, we in this country there has been an illusion of stability for some generations, for most people–although within that there have also been little collapses, you know? So I do think my own not having personally experienced collapse, influences my perspective. And I am limited in that way. So, within that, I do think a lot about, in North America, I think a lot about things like–or maybe the US in particular. US North America, that part of North America. Although I think Canada has some similar stuff going on. I think a lot about supply chains, which I think we all started thinking about during COVID. I’d never even considered supply chains before. And then in COVID, I was like, "Oh, wait, this is like a big deal? 

**Inmn ** 31:45
They’re really fragile, It turns out.

**Carrot ** 31:48
Yes! And we are–while collapse has always been a part of human civilization–we are approaching the first ever global collapse in human history. So that’s new. Like, that’s interesting. Because everywhere is so dependent on everywhere else. Like I don’t know that much about these things. But I would imagine that most countries are pretty dependent on–or would be devastated without– global supply chains. I don’t know, maybe there’s some places. But yeah, it’s like a real global environment we live in. So I think about supply chains. And I think about in…. I’ve spent a lot of time in the desert southwest, you know, in the Sonoran Desert, and some other deserts. And I think a lot about the desert of the western United States and water. I think about groundwater pollution. And I think about the Colorado River watershed and all these cities that are dependent on the Colorado River and or have poisoned groundwater, and agriculture, and how that, you know, the Colorado River, how there’s not enough water for all of it. Like it’s not…. Anyway. And then I think about heat. And I guess those are like, the biggest things I think about. And so, in my head, when I’m trying to anxiously anticipate that for myself in my life, that’s when I…that’s kind of where these different ideas came up for building this world. And I also think about housing a lot. Which has been something I thought about since I was a child. And so I wanted that to be a theme of this book too, is the future of housing. And prisons. I think about prisons and particularly that them being a source of free labor in the US.

**Inmn ** 33:45
Yeah, it’s…. I read the sample chapter for the the first chapter of the book and it’s, I think it’s…. Bets like describes paying $2,400 to live in a tent in someone’s backyard. And I was like, that’s, you know, the reality of that is not far off. And that’s horrifying to think about. Or it’s like, it’s like even equivalently here already in our world, in our time, is that it’s like…like housing insecurity is becoming a much bigger thing for more people. Like reading articles about how in certain parts of California–and I don’t know how much this is blown up or not blown up–but that there’s like parking lots full of people who like live in their vehicles because like on, what we would probably call middle class incomes, they can’t find housing. And it’s, I don’t know, yeah, it’s just becoming wilder and wilder.

**Carrot ** 34:59
The thing I get stuck on thinking about housing is all these cities where housing is inflated beyond all reason–like I just moved out of Anchorage and moved to Fairbanks because I couldn’t afford the housing in Anchorage anymore. But also I am really excited to have moved to the town in Alaska I just moved to. So it’s okay. But it does suck to be forced out of a place, you know? But, including Anchorage, all these cities where housing is inflated beyond all reason and or doesn’t exist, like there isn’t even anything available…. Like I have a friend who just moved to Anchorage, who was looking for a little house for her and her dog. And her budget was actually pretty high, because she makes really good money. She’s been looking for six months and just hasn’t found anything because everything’s tied up in like short term rentals or it’s weird investment properties. Like these cities where there’s no…the cities aren’t putting any thought into housing the people who live in the city. Like not just home…like not just disabled people, who should obviously be housed, who are the ones who–who traditionally end up, you know, homeless–not even those, but just middle class people. Like what that’s going to do is collapse the economies of every single one of these cities. Because if you don’t have workers, you don’t have a city. Like you just don’t. Like you don’t have grocery stores, you don’t have hospitals, you don’t have schools, you don’t have postal codes, you don’t have any of it. So it’s like such short sighted. It’s like all these real estate people trying to make money, but they don’t realize that if the whole city collapses, like they’re also going to lose money. It’s so weirdly short sighted that I’m almost…it’s almost comforting that I can just like sit back and watch in horror as like these cities just like unalive themselves, essentially.

**Inmn ** 36:42
Yeah, it is funny to think about that sometimes within Capitalism, like seeing a function or tenant of Capitalism and being like, "I feel like y’all aren’t even doing Capitalism right Because it’s an unsustainable thing for itself. Like this will collapse. This will collapse under its own weight. And maybe the sad horror is that it’s not collapsing under its own weight? And I don’t know. I don’t know. No, but also–

**Carrot ** 37:18
We’ll see.

**Inmn ** 37:19
We’ll see. The future, the future us will see. But, Margaret talked about this in a recent episode that we did, and she was just riffing on this William Gibson quote, like, "the future is here, it’s just not evenly distributed." And she said, like, "the apocalypse is here, it’s just not evenly distributed." And that has been sticking with me a lot like over the–I guess, it’s only been like, a week or so–but it’s like the…it’s like, kind of what you’re what you were talking about before, it’s like, we…like all of these things, like a lot of the things that make up the world of your book, that make up like, a lot of the things that we get anxious or afraid of about where society is moving, most of those things are already happening to to other people. And eventually, they will happen to more people. Which is kind of how I always…which, I guess is how I always see the role of speculative fiction is–I totally agree with your with your definition of it and like how that works–but also that speculative fiction historically does not imagine a future, it is actually a reflection of the present in a way that will like hopefully get people to like understand it or explore the the extremities of it.

**Carrot ** 39:05
Yeah, that’s a really good point. Yeah, you’re totally right, that specular fiction is this like…whenever it’s written, it is a creation of like the present that’s going on at that time. And that author sort of like…yeah, they’re like, speculating about the present. And one thing I tried to do with this book also is, in writing speculative fiction, you can have a lot of kind of, like, scary, horrible things happened and I have some of those in the book, but then I also kind of wanted…I wanted, I wanted to write something that was comforting, because I think speculative fiction can be comforting because we can imagine all these ways that during collapse or after collapse, the way we live can shift and change in ways that ultimately, maybe generations down the line, end up being really positive. And so even something like Bets leaving the city, she’s only ever lived in the city. And then she leaves for the first time ever. And she’s out in nature for the first time in her life. And her experience of that on this long journey is like, she’s has this like beautiful sort of transcendental experience in the desert. And I wanted to write something that could be really comforting as we like, imagine that there’s going to be unspeakable horrors, you know, for like many generations. But then after that it’s kind of fun to imagine the ways that we can reconnect with nature, live in smaller communities, tech will collapse, you know, like, the scary aspects of tech that are unsustainable. Because that’s actually another plotline in the book I forgot to bring up is there’s this sort of like, scary tech plot line that comes to a head in the end. And it was me thinking about how the scary parts of tech are inherently unsustainable because they depend on such intense resource extraction and grid power and things like that. So as grids and supply chains collapse, so will this tech, including the scarier aspects of tech. So like, that’s fun to think about. So I do…I do try to…I like the way speculative fiction can be like really comforting, too. And I tried to do some of that for sure.

**Inmn ** 41:19
Yeah, no, I remember in like the in the first chapter, it’s like, Bets is like talking about like getting some hacker to remove the tracking software in her phone, and it was a thing that…. I didn’t know, this is like one of the things I think about a lot, and is how…as more of our lives become online, it’s like we see…see people like Elon Musk and some other billionaire piece of shit that I can’t remember the name of–may all of their names eventually be forgotten–are pushing for these things that really terrify me about technology, which is like the like "One apps." Have you ever heard of these? 

**Carrot ** 42:10
No? What is it? 

**Inmn ** 42:12
A one app is like, it’s this idea that there is essentially one app that can govern most of the aspects of your life. Google is trying really hard to do this right now. It’s like why a lot of Android phones just like, they’re essentially just Google phones. They like rely on using Gmail accounts and stuff like that. And there’s definitely ways to kind of like opt out of that, to some extent, but it’s the idea that as more of our lives become online, we become more reliant on needing to use those technologies to like interact with basic services or bureaucracies. And it’s mildly terrifying to me.

**Carrot ** 43:07
Yeah, I’m like…I feel pretty horrified. Like reading about…the most horrifying thing I read about recently were the human brain organelles that can do computing. Did you…have you read about that?

**Inmn ** 43:19
Oh, yes. Yes. They’re like plugging brain cells into microprocessors or something? So fucked

**Carrot ** 43:26
They grew fetus brains with stem cells. They have little eyes. It’s just a brain with two little eyes. They’re from…they’re like basically the brains of human fetuses grown from stem cells. And they are using them to do computing.

**Inmn ** 43:40
Oh my god.

**Carrot ** 43:42
And I’m just like, I’m just like, this needs to go. Like nuclear war or meteor, I don’t care, we…it needs to stop.

**Inmn ** 43:54
Yeah, yeah. Just having some like dark remembrances of things from like Battlestar Galactica that I’m like [makes cringe noise/groan].

**Carrot ** 44:08
The one comforting thing, the thing I remind myself is, even though we have…. We’re capable of making these like horrorfyingly incredible things, like even just a smartphone. There’s still so much that we don’t know. Like, there’s so much that will always be unknowable. So try as we might, maybe it’s not possible for us to make like truly scary tech, because maybe it is beyond our capabilities? Hopefully. I don’t know. We’ll see.

**Inmn ** 44:37
Yeah. You’ve talked…. You, I feel like you’ve essentially answered this question, but I love to just ask it anyways. What is the story kind of behind the story that you’re trying to tell in Bets and what do you hope people get out of out of the book?

**Carrot ** 44:58
I really want to provide escapism for people. That’s what I hope people really get is I want it to be the kind of read where you get to leave your life, like whatever world you’re in, and get totally sucked into this really captivating world where you’re on this bike trip with Bets, kind of in her shoes, experiencing the things she experiences. And it’s kind of scary and kind of dark. But mostly, it’s just like epic and interesting and fun and compelling. Because that’s what I like, is to get really sucked into a book and not be able to put it down because it’s so nice to have, like, just a break from our world, you know? Like a brain break. So that’s what I that’s what I’m trying to do. And also give people a chance to kind of like, you know, we like to think about if these things happened to us, how would it feel? And how would we respond emotionally? And then that makes us feel like we are sort of emotionally prepared for something. And so that’s kind of what the book is trying to do too, even though none of us really know, like, what collapse will look like, at any given time in any given place.

**Inmn ** 46:05
Yeah, yeah. is, you know, I’ve only heard the sample chapter so far, but um, is it kind of set up like–or from what I’ve heard in the sample chapters–it seems like there’s these moments of it being, you know, like a very traditional fiction novel but it has these elements of being like almost travel log-ish. And I really…I really love that because like, I was thinking about this recently, I was like, why do you like punks like travel logs so much? And I was reflecting on it for myself. And it was because I like I grew up reading zines like, like, No Gods No Mattress by Enola. And like, or whatever, it was a thing when I was a teenager, but like Evasion, and it’s like…and then like reading your your other book Through-Hiking Will Break Your Heart, I’m like, travelogues. They’re just incredibly interesting. And what I’ve liked so far about this book is that it’s like, it seems there’s these elements of being travelogues that are also coupled with fantasy and preparedness and  having to think about, what do you have? What might you find? What happens if you run out of something that you need? And this isn’t really a question but [your] thoughts? Question mark. 

**Inmn ** 46:39
I love travelogues too, you know, it’s funny. Evasion formed part of my subconscious. Also, I remember there was that other, it was like the small travelogue put out by Crimethinc about these two young women who I think went to Prague or something. Do you remember that?

**Inmn ** 48:06
Yeah, Off the Map. 

**Carrot ** 48:06
Off the Map! Yes, that was another good one. You know, they say that a lot of novels follow the hero’s journey, which is like this person’s in this environment and just like going about their life, and then something big happens. And then they have to go on this epic journey where they’re, like, changed somehow. So you could say that a travelogue is like the most literal interpretation of that and you know, humans, we love the hero’s journey. Like, we love that. And so, I feel like travelogues really like scratch that itch. Also, what you’re saying about like, what might someone find? What are they going to run out of? One interesting thing I thought about a lot with this novel is if international supply chains were destroyed today, what junk would still be laying around in like 20 years? Like, what would have been destroyed? Like if you’re in the Sonoran Desert, and the stuff is outside, what would have been destroyed by the sun? Versus what…. So it was really fun having Bets go on this journey and go to these different abandoned places and being like, what condition would canned goods be in? What condition would plastic be in? What if the plastic was in the sun? What if it was out of the sun? It was like, it’s really fun like to try and imagine this kind of stuff. Because there is, you know, we can look back at the way humans lived before the Industrial Revolution, or before the different time periods, when people had to make more of their own materials. Or like different communities around the world who were still doing that, or who are still doing that, like if you make your own stuff, what is it like? And we can think about how we might live. But one thing that will be different, post this global collapse, different than hundreds of years ago, is there will be all this junk laying around. So it’s really fun to think about, if that junk is no longer in production anymore, with what’s left how long will any of it last? I thought that was kind of fun. Like there’s a scene where Bets and this young boy who she be friends, who she finds in the mountains, they build this cart out of…like part of it is like an old car hood. And so they have like this like scrap pile. Yeah. That’s a fun thought exercise. 

**Inmn ** 50:18
Hell yeah, yeah. Um, yeah. I know that stuff is so interesting. It’s this thing that comes up in my sphere when I think about–or it’s something people ask me about because I make knives–and people will ask me about like, "Oh, like in the apocalypse, do you worry about having access to materials, or it seems so helpful to be able to make knives and stuff like that?" And I don’t…I think there’s so many knives that have been created already, that it probably won’t be a problem. But is obviously still a fun thing that I think is fun to do. But like when I think about it, I think about like, "Oh, I’ll have to like do things like make my own raw materials, like harvesting ore and stuff like that. And then I’m just like, there are so…there’s so much metal that has already been created. I’m actually not worried about a lack of metal.

**Carrot ** 51:25
Yeah, like with all the knife blades in existence, like, what’s the first thing you would need to replace? The handles? And then it’s like, if the handles are plastic, how long until that? If they’re wood? You know? Yeah, yeah. But the blades would probably last a long time. I went to this…the anchorage museum a few months ago had this show that was really cool that was kind of about collapse. And one of the installations was all of these, like, I felt like they were very freaky new materials people around the world had been creating. And a lot of them are made in this…were these sort of like eco-conscious materials that were made using waste products. Like there was this one like kind of plastic thing that was made out of like sawdust and old diapers or something. It was really interesting, because I was like, wow, like post collapse there’s gonna be all the stuff laying around, plus all these natural materials. Like people are gonna be like constructing…. Like there was, there was like an insulated thing that was insulated with cat tail fluff. And I was like, "Oh, that’s really cool." Like, that’s probably something that’s been around. And then all these other like freaky hype…. A lot of things made out of mycelium that were like, looked like plastic, but it was mycelium. It was really interesting. Yeah, so it’s fun to think about that kind of thing.

**Inmn ** 52:43
Yeah. I’m, curious, I’m curious about this…the kind of like thought experiment… Or, if this sort of if this was a thought experiment for you. In, you know, in this book having travelogue elements or being about someone’s literal journey from one place to another place, in a world that is not super hospitable to traveling long distances, was it like–because you do a lot of hiking, you’ve written books about hiking–what was it like to construct the idea of someone doing a long distance trek without resupply? Because that’s…when I think about like doing the PCT or doing like any of these things, it’s like, yeah, you can do the PCT because you can get resupplied every so often. But what if that doesn’t exist? Was this a thought experiment for you?

**Carrot ** 53:48
Yeah. I mean, she’s definitely taking a lot of risks. Like I had to give her a really good reason to go on this journey, because it is kind of a stupid risk for her to go on this journey at all, because she doesn’t even know if there’s anybody out there. And she has limited food and water. So if she can’t find people, she’s going to die. So I had to have something happen where it’s like, if she doesn’t leave the city, she’ll die. Because that was kind of the only thing good enough for her to do that. And even that, like she kind of just wanted to stay and die. So she had to, like, there had to be this whole thought process she had where she’s like, "Well, this is all I ever know. I’ll just stay in the city and die." So she had to kind of come to this conclusion that it was better to leave. So I had to give her this other reason to go, but it’s like there’s two reasons. She’s like, gonna die if she stays. And then there’s this other one that you’ll find if you read the book, that she got she decides to choose the journey. But it is like very unlikely. Her survival is very unlikely. And, obviously, I keep her alive. But yeah, it was interesting to think about the risks she was taking and then how to kind of, in the nick of time, save her over and over and over. Like, put her in these scenarios where it’s like, I don’t know how she’s gonna make it. And like water becomes a really big issue. But yeah, definitely, it’s definitely…she definitely cuts it pretty close. But it was really fun. It’s fun to think about like…because I don’t…I’m sure the book has potholes but I try not to have potholes. So I really thought about, I’m like, okay, how much food would someone…what’s the bare minimum food someone would need to be able to keep biking without like, you know, keeling over. And making sure that she had that or that she happened upon it. Or that different things happened. And then kind of bringing her back from the edge over and over in these different like harrowing scenario she gets into and trying to be realistic about it, you know? which is like, yeah, a fun thought experiment, for sure. But realistically she probably would have just died or been killed or something. [laughing in a grim way]

**Inmn ** 55:55
Nooo, that’s not what I like to hear but is maybe real. 

**Carrot ** 55:57
But it’s fiction and she doesn’t. But yeah, if you were going to do this in real life, you would be dependent on finding people who would sort of take you in. And I kind of…I kind of played into that where I thought about…I thought a lot about group dynamics and how quickly group dynamics can get very like cultish, and how people stay in groups–and what I mean by that is that people often stay in groups out of fear. And so with the group she encountered, I tried to create these situations where it made sense that people stayed together. And there was always an element of fear. The biggest thing was like fear of dying, if you were alone. And as a group, you, you know, each group she encounters has these different ways they found to survive and these different strategies. And so, yeah, like, I tried to be really realistic about the dangers and then what brought people together and how they survived, and also and how, by her joining these groups at different times, she was taking on this risk of the group dynamics, which were different in every situation.

**Inmn ** 57:10
Yeah, yeah. And that’s like, you know, a big theme that we’ve tried to hammer home on this podcast is the idea of community preparedness or like that it is very difficult to, I think, in the future for whatever–whatever is coming anyone’s way, whatever is currently happening to people–it is very difficult to do those things alone. And it is also difficult to do it with people. [said seriously]

**Carrot ** 57:45
[Laughing] The story of human existence. 

**Inmn ** 57:49
The story of human existence. [Laughing] And yeah, I don’t know, I’m wondering if you have any thoughts on kind of like community…the goodness or badness of community preparedness? I guess you kind of just talked about this. It’s fear.

**Carrot ** 58:10
I think it’s…I think group dynamics in general are really fascinating. Like, I do have some theories about human group dynamics that are just theories. I don’t know if it’s true, or just things that I think about, Like, I wonder if it’s always true that groups stay together out of fear. [lauhing] Yeah, humans are really social–

**Inmn ** 58:31
I hope it’s love too.

**Carrot ** 58:33
Maybe both, but maybe it can’t just be love. Maybe it also has to be fear, you know? Like, even if it’s just fear of not having a group, you know? It’s really fascinating to me because we are social creatures, we do not survive on our own. We’ve never survived on our own. Like, we survived because of the way we’re able to organize with each other. And so it’s just so fascinating, because it’s kind of like, groups, you can’t live with them, can’t live without them. It’s like they’re so terrible. So terrible. And yet so amazing. And it’s just..it’s such a wild–I can’t–dichotomy like human social group dynamics. So wild, so wild to me. Oh, I have one other thought. I think as far as like, preparedness currently, in this year of our Lord, 2024, with groups, I think forming groups in our current environment is extra challenging, because the system we live in is the sort of horrific late-stage Capitalism that is like eating itself. And so I feel like it’s impossible to create a group that exists outside of that because that’s just what we’re immersed in. And I feel like it like taints everything. Like it’s…like I really believe that once there’s some sort of massive collapse that we will very quickly revert to this much more like place-based, healthy kind of traditional group organizing structure that will function, you know, as like–difficult as it is to be in human groups–it will be functional. Whereas right now it feels almost impossible to organize in groups because of the environment we’re in. And that…I don’t know, I just…. Yeah, that’s how it feels to me.

**Inmn ** 1:00:21
Yeah. Yeah, that makes sense. And it’s like, I feel like one of the big challenges is–which I don’t know, it’s like, I think that…I think major collapses in the worlds that we all currently live in are fairly inevitable. I feel like those will be slow or fast. And one of the things I think about a lot is like how to deal with those transitions because it’s like, I don’t know, it was…seeing seeing people like talk about this, especially in disabled communities, of how transitions, how collapses  really very disproportionately affect people who are chronically ill, people who are disabled. And the work that needs to get done now to like, support people like that during these collapses, or if they become rapid and if they continue to be slow. And this also isn’t really a question, but I’m just rambling now.

**Carrot ** 1:01:36
Yeah, this is what we’re doing. We’re doing these thought experiments to try and imagine what might happen so we can like emotionally prepare, like, "Okay, how do we?" Yeah. It’s hard to imagine how…what might happen and how to prepare.

**Inmn ** 1:01:51
Yeah, and I think like, from what I’ve seen of the book, so far, it is playing with this idea of like, there are ways in which we are intrinsically reliant on Capitalism. And that is very terrifying to me…for me to think about. And I don’t…yeah, I don’t know. And that’s like, what I hope every day for conversations of preparedness, conversations of community is how to become less reliant on these structures that we are currently relying on, even if you think we’re not. 

**Carrot ** 1:02:34
Yeah. I–maybe this is kind of nihilist–but I believe that we can’t actually build anything outside of Capitalism until the collapses, I don’t know, that’s just what feels true for me, that we are right now just kind of running in place, like spinning our wheels, and that we don’t know what’s gonna happen or how it’s gonna happen. But I do think that once it happens, we’ll suddenly know exactly what needs to be done. That’s how I feel.

**Inmn ** 1:03:12
Yeah, that’s my hope. It’s like, my hope is that…my hope is that the things that, if we can do enough kind of forethought beforehand that it’s like…that the things that we will need, that our communities will need, that we’ll be able to figure out how to do those things. That’s my hope.

**Carrot ** 1:03:34
Yeah. And oh my gosh, it’s gonna give people so much meaning, which is like…everyone is desperate for meaning right now, especially Gen Z. Gen Z is like, "What the fuck, like, everything is so fucked." And everyone will suddenly have this amazing sense of purpose. Like even if the next instant, we all get like wiped out in a nuclear war or whatever, like, our last moments of life will suddenly have this like really strong wonderful sense of purpose. And we’ll be able to like organize with our neighbors and create these like…just everything will be like how do we communicate? Where does our food come from? We’ll be worried about water and we’ll all be like sharing and working together. It’ll be so cool to have all of this purpose and meaning, even if then we get wiped out by like the wet bulb effect or something.

**Inmn ** 1:04:27
I have one last little silly question before we before we wrap up, because we are unfortunately about out of time. Um, this is a very silly question. But am I making this up? Was there an earlier draft of this book where instead of bikes it was horses?

**Carrot ** 1:04:45
So yeah, so when I very first conceived this novel, for some reason there was going to be a horse theme. I honestly don’t remember why. I first thought of this novel, I was visiting In these hot springs in Nevada where there are all these wild burros that appear and drink from the hot springs that were like introduced by miners in the 1800s and they got loose become feral and they’re doing really, really well. And they fill this like ecological niche there. And I started Googling, like, "Can you drink burrow milk? Can you eat burrow meat?" and internet was like, "Yes." And I was like, holy shit, you could live in this desert, this dry ass desert where there are these springs and you could drink burro milk. And so then I had Bets traveling there. And I mean, she still kind of is in the book. She’s going to Nevada. And there’s this…there’s a plotline about the borough’s. But for some reason, there were gonna be horse girls when she got there. And I, you know, it’s funny, like, this is my first attempt at fiction. So I hope I did a good job. I really tried. But one thing I’m learning about fiction–like nonfiction, you know, you have all the stuff that happened. And you’re just like shaping it into this compelling narrative. Nonfiction, at least for me, you write this whole idea and you’re like, "This is what the story is." And then as you rewrite, it becomes something completely different. And it turns out, like, what was the point of those first drafts? I don’t even know. So yeah, there’s no horses in it now. But originally there were going to be horses. I don’t know anything about horses. Someone should write…. Oh, my gosh, one of these groups of people, realistically, like would have horses in this world. So maybe if I knew anything about horses, I could write that but I don’t.

**Inmn ** 1:06:31
I’m glad that I’m not totally making that up. Yeah, I think in my head when you were talking about this book years ago, it was like, in my head, it was, "horse girls v. the apocalypse." And I was like, "I can’t fucking wait," which I love bikes. So like, it’s great either way.

**Carrot ** 1:06:51
Yeah, someone should write that. I mean, horses, that’s like a realistic thing. Like as–especially like, one thing I thought about with this novel is once maintenance…once road maintenance ends, how long until the roads are like undriveable? And so a return to horses, that would be a really reasonable thing to do once the roads are all fucked up and there’s no gas and stuff.

**Inmn ** 1:07:15
Horses and bikes.

**Carrot ** 1:07:16
Horses and bikes.

**Inmn ** 1:07:18
Horses and bikes. I mean, I’m into this world. We are about out of time. Do you have any, any other thoughts on your book before we get to–you know, not the most important part but certainly time sensitive wise–an important part, which is talking about your Kickstarter.

**Carrot ** 1:07:41
No, we had a great time they’re talking about this near-future collapse imagination. I feel good about it.

**Inmn ** 1:07:50
Cool, well, let’s let’s hear about your Kickstarter. As of recording, your Kickstarter launched today and it has already exceeded its goal, right?

**Carrot ** 1:08:07
Yeah, it’s…. So the Kickstarter, I’m basically selling preorders. The book’s gonna come out January of 2025. And it is June of 2024 right now. And I am selling preorders/ They’re a little bit less than what the list price will be for the Ebook and the paperback. And then I’m also offering a signed copy of the paperback. And then a third thing, which is–or a fourth thing–where you can get all three of my books signed as a bundle. So that’s what you can get and then the Kickstarter is going to pay for publishing costs.

**Inmn ** 1:08:44
Hell yeah. Is it..is it self published or you going through some a publisher or?

**Carrot ** 1:08:53
It is…it is self published. So my first book Through-Hiking Will Break Your Heart was self-published. My second book, I got a traditional publishing deal with an imprint of one of the big five publishers. And now I am back to self-publishing, which is a long story. But essentially, the publishing industry is a little bit broken and really difficult to navigate. And also generally a bad deal financially, and I do…. Independent publishing, self-publishing is great if you don’t mind wearing a lot of hats. And I don’t mind, I love researching things like…. You know, I love like finding an editor to hire and finding a cover designer and doing all that stuff. I don’t mind at all. And then you end up making better money, ultimately, than you will with traditional publishing. So that’s what I’m doing for this book. Also with traditional publishing, even if I got a book deal today, the book wouldn’t come out for like two more years because of how slowly it moves. So the cool thing about this is the book is done and so it can come out in six months, which is great.

**Inmn ** 1:10:02
Yeah, yeah. Makes a lot of sense. You know, it is funny to talk about publishing world. I don’t know what bigger, larger publishing world is, like. The only thing I know is like what we do with sSrangers, which is like, very small. And I don’t know, it’s like…. I’m very glad for you that you got to, that you’re back in self publishing for this one. And also secretly, quite sad that it was not a book that we got to put out, but I’m glad it is a book that came out. And that that’s better for you. And whatever, whatever we’re not gonna talking about publishing. Anyways. Kickstarters going still for, I think, as of when this comes out, at least a few more days or like a whole nother week. So go and check out…go and check out Kevin’s Kickstarter, and get a preordered copy, get a signed copy. It’s going to be a really cool book, and you are going to have FOMO when other people are reading it and you’re not. This is what I have to say. 

**Carrot ** 1:11:13
Thanks, Inmn. 

**Inmn ** 1:11:15
Yeah, any any final words, Carrott? Oh, where can people find you on social media or your work, or other other things you do in the world where you would like to be found?

**Carrot ** 1:11:26
I think I’m most active, currently, on my newsletter, which is on Substack. And it’s just, I think carrotquinn.substack.com. So I write a newsletter every week. So that’s like a that’s good place. And then I’m also on Instagram, but, you know, don’t post a whole lot there these days. And then I have a website carrotquinn.com where I post about the guided backpacking trips I do and stuff like that.

**Inmn ** 1:11:53
Cool. Cool. Hell yeah. When’s your next guided backpack trip coming up?

**Carrot ** 1:11:59
In July, I’m taking two groups to the Brooks Range in Alaska, which is really fun. Hopefully we have good weather. It’s always a little unpredictable.

**Inmn ** 1:12:09
Yeah, yeah. Cool. Hell yeah. Well, thanks for so much for coming on the show. And we will hopefully have you back again soon.

**Carrot ** 1:12:18
Thanks so much for having me. This has been great. 

**Inmn ** 1:12:22
Hell, yeah.

**Inmn ** 1:12:27
Thank you so much for listening. If you enjoyed this podcast, then go read Carrot’s book. You can’t read it now. But you can read…. There are three chapters that you can read. You can–or listen to. You can read the first chapter. You can re-listen to the fourth chapter. And there’s another chapter that you can listen to Margaret read on the It Could Happen Here Book Club, which is searchable on Cool Zone Media. And it’s going to be a cool book. So if you enjoy this podcast, read and write cool books about the apocalypse. And also if you like this podcast, you can talk to people about it. You can tell people about it. You can tell people about it IRL. You can tell people about it on the internet. You can shout its name into the night sky of the desert and hope that a nice burrow hears you and comes and hangs out with you. You can also do things like, if you liked this podcast, you can support our publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness and you can support us on Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness or you can go and buy other cool books from us that are not Carrot’s book but are equally as cool as Carrot’s book. And you can find those at tangledwilderness.org and you can submit cool books to us that we will hopefully publish that will definitely be good deals for everyone. I’m not saying this sarcastically. And yeah, those are my plugs. We would love to shout out these wonderful people who have given us their…some some stuff on Patreon. And you can too. If you look at our Patreon you can sign up for our acknowledgement tier. And we will think you, a cool organization, a cool project, or a cool friend, or a cool dog. Anything that you ask us to, we will think. Unless it sucks. We would like to thank Connor, Bartholomew Spawndoom. Jason, not a real name. Aiden, alium, Amber, Ephemeral, Appalachian Liberation Library, Portland Hedron Hackerspace, Boldfield, E, Patoli, Eric, the People’s University of Palestine, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, Ben Ben, anonymous, Janice and O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter S J., Paige, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Micaiah, Nicole & Tikvah the dog, and the immortal Hoss the Dog. Carrot, Do you have any people or dogs that you would like to thank?

**Carrot ** 1:15:33
Um, not off the top of my head.

**Inmn ** 1:15:36
Well, I’m gonna think your doggos.

**Carrot ** 1:15:43
Yeah, my dogs are great. All dogs. All dogs, because a friend of mine once said, "Dogs are the only animals on Earth to give a fuck about us." And I think it’s true. Like they…we don’t deserve their love. Like they love us so much. So shout out to all the dogs everywhere for the continued support of the human race.

**Inmn ** 1:16:08
Well, we hope you’re doing as well as you can with everything that’s going on and we’ll see you next time.

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E121 – Maria on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Maria comes on to talk to Inmn about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the state of aid going to Gaza, and the obstacles the powers that be have erected to prevent aid from arriving.

Guest Info

Maria Elle is a wing nut anarchist Jewish dyke extremist whore anti-Zionist psycho who writes poetry, conspires against the Empire, and organizes for collective liberation. You can find her on IG @Lchiam.Intifada or @bay2gaza

Gaza Freedom Flotilla: freedomflotilla.org
International Solidarity Movement: palsolidarity.org
International Jewish Anti-Zionist Network: ijan.org

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Maria on the Gaza Freedom Flotilla

**Inmn ** 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host today Inmn Neruin. And today we’re going to be talking about a kind of different lens of preparedness than we normally talk about…or no–well, I guess we always kind of talk about it. But we’re…you know, we’re not we’re not going to be talking about a skill today as much as the importance for figuring out how to provide aid when the powers that be: governments and nations that we absolutely don’t put our trust in but…are trapped by fail to do that or purposefully obstruct it. And today we’re going to be talking about the Gaza Freedom Flotilla and organizing efforts around that and trying to bring critical aid to Gaza. But before that, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts and here’s a jingle from another show on that network. [singing] Doo doo doo doo doo.

**The Ex-Worker Podcast ** 01:24
The Border is not just a wall. It’s not just a line on a map. It’s a power structure. A system of control. The Border does not divide one world from another. There is only one world and the Border is tearing it apart. The Ex-Worker podcast presents No Wall They Can Build: A Guide to Borders and Migration Across North America, a serialized audio book in 11 chapters released every Wednesday. Tune in at crimethinc.com/podcast.

**Inmn ** 02:04
And we’re back. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. I know we had you on the Stranger’s podcast recently for your poetry collection, which everyone should pause right now and go and listen to another hour long podcast episode first and then come back and listen to this…or don’t. Or listen to it afterwards. Anyways, thank you so much for coming on the show today. Could you introduce yourself with your name, pronouns, and a little bit about yourself and your involvement with the Freedom Flotilla?

**Maria ** 02:44
Absolutely. Yes. Hi, thanks for having me. I’m Maria. She/her pronouns. I am a Jewish, anti-Zionist, anarchist, I don’t know, organizer, agitator–whatever you want to call it–from the Ohlone of xučyun (Huichin), aka Oakland, California. And I am…. I’ve been involved doing Palestine Solidarity work since I was a teenager. Originally, I came to awareness around what was happening in Palestine during the assault on Gaza in 2008 and got involved in the student movement and the student occupations that were happening back then. And then actually got kicked out of university as a result of that, which ended up being perfect because I got the opportunity to join the International Solidarity Movement doing work on the ground in Palestine, which is an amazing group that folks should look up. They were defunct for a little bit during COVID but have come back and are working again basically bringing comrades and activists from around the world to stand in solidarity with Palestinian resistance on the ground in Palestine. So I had that opportunity and then I came home and got involved in organizing back here and was not…. So the flotilla, the Gaza Freedom Flotilla has…. So, freedom flotillas have been sailing, trying to break the siege on Gaza since 2008. Basically, a flotilla–for those who don’t know–is a group of boats. So it’s a group of boats from…. Our flotillas or group of boats from all over the world. There’s over 30 countries that are involved sending comrades and activists to break the siege on Gaza. And so these boats are filled–our current boat–is filled with 5000 tons of food and medical aid that we are attempting to bring directly to Gaza in defiance of Israel’s illegal naval blockade. These…. Like I said, these missions have been happening since 2008, trying both to bring aid to Gaza and to bring awareness, international awareness, of Israel’s blockade and kind of getting a lot of international notoriety 2010 When the Mavi Marmara, a Turkicsh ship that was part of the flotilla, was attacked. And nine people were murdered in that process. And it made headlines at the time and brought a lot of awareness to the ongoing siege on Gaza. And then since then there have been many attempts to break the siege. This year, of course, is a different context. And it’s a little bit hard to know what to expect. As you know, as many of us already know, there has been a genocide happening in Palestine since 1948. But the particular intensified moment of genocide that we’re in creates a different context that we don’t totally know what to expect. But we are determined to sail. We are determined to break Israel’s illegal siege on Gaza. And especially now more than ever, while there’s been a humanitarian crisis in Gaza for a very long time, and this blockade has been happening for 18 years, the famine that is now gripping Gaza is unprecedented. And we are seeing mass death, especially in the north of Gaza, and that is spreading throughout Gaza. Now with the most recent attacks on Rafah, the situation just gets more and more dire every day. One of the goals of the Freedom Flotilla is to emphasize that this is not a natural disaster. You know, there’s…. A lot of the way that this gets covered in US media and global media is as if this was a humanitarian–people use the word, "humanitarian crisis," and they use the word "famine." And both of those things are true. And they’re also a little bit misleading because this famine is being intentionally created by Israel as a tool of genocide. Israel controls the flow of all aid moving into Gaza and is intentionally and carefully counting how many calories it is allowing into the Gaza Strip in order to intentionally keep the population on the verge of starvation in order to cripple the resistance. This needs to be highlighted. This isn’t…. It isn’t like they don’t know how to get the aid in. It is not logistical obstacles. They try to make it seem like this is, "Oh, how can we possibly get aid in?" Israel has closed every barrier. Like, the fact that we even need to go by sea is insane. They could open the land crossings, which would be the most effective way, but they absolutely refuse. And the United States, our so-called government that has the power to do that and has the power to force the–probably the only government in the world–with the power to force Israel to open the land crossings–is instead building this pier, spending millions of dollars of wasted money that could be being used on aid or, you know, on stopping Israel. And this long drawn out project that now isn’t even functioning due to like "climate" or "weather." I can’t even remember what they said. There’s some kind of structural damage. I mean, they put all this money into it and like still can’t deliver aid somehow. And we’re supposed to believe that that’s a coincidence. Meanwhile, we have a plan to,within three days, effectively deliver all of this aid to Gaza by simply having a basic little fold-out pier that we have packed on the ship that could unfold, deliver the aid, and then we can leave again. It’s actually really simple. It’s not complicated. None of this has to be complicated. It’s being intentionally made complicated as a tool of genocide and as a tool of hiding what Israel is intentionally doing. So that’s really a big part of what the Gaza Freedom Flotilla is about. I would say that it’s rooted, ultimately, in the principles of DIY and direct action, which are fundamentally anarchist principles to me, and to many of us, the basic idea that no one is going to do this but us. If we want something done, we have to do it ourselves. We cannot rely on these so-called governments who, many of whom around the world claim to support Palestine and give lots of lip service to the need for aid to get in and even for Palestinian Liberation. Other governments, such as our so-called government, have done nothing but contribute to and fund and exacerbate this genocide, still give lip service to "Oh, we need to get aid into Israel," but they’re not going to do anything. At best, they don’t care. At worst, they actively want this to happen. We cannot wait for them. We’ve been trying…. Like, you know, not that…. You know, fight by every means necessary. I really do believe in a diversity of tactics. And at the same time, we need to be honest with ourselves that there is no amount of pressure that we can really put on the Biden administration that is going to change the US’ has strategic Imperial interest in propping up Israel, you know? And there’s no amount of electoral or domestic pressure within the existing system that we can put in that will change the fact that Israel is a beacon of US imperialism in the Middle East. It is a central part of US imperialism’s operation globally. And not only our military imperialism but our economic imperialism. So as many of you may already know, and many of you may not, a big part of the impetus for this genocide has to do with global trade and global shipping. So, after the Suez Canal crisis, we saw…. It became clearer than ever to the international community, how delicate the infrastructure of global shipping is. We saw with the simple breakdown of one ship in the Suez Canal, the global economy was brought to a halt. And it is unacceptable– [Interrupted]

**Maria ** 10:18
It’s so fragile. And we saw its fragility even more with COVID and with the plague. And it has become clear to the West that having such an important chokehold located in Egypt is not strategic for them. And so Israel has a plan to build what they’re calling the Ben Gurion Canal, which is going to be directly north of Gaza, within missile range of of Gaza to be clear, that would be an alternative to the Suez Canal and that would allow for Israel’s, and therefore the United States’, control over global shipping in a way that we do not currently have. So the depth of the economic investment in committing this genocide is deeper than even natural gas off the coast of Gaza, which a lot of us have also seen headlines about. And a lot of us already know Chevron’s interest and BP’s interest in colonizing Gaza and eliminating Hamas in order to secure access to that natural gas, but even beyond that, in order to facilitate the construction of the Ben Gurion Canal. With that much at stake, with both fossil fuels and global shipping at stake, there’s a no amount of pressure that we can put up on the Biden administration to get them to like, hear truth, you know? If we want change, we have to make it ourselves. And no one is going to do this but us. And I think that the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, the amount of aid that we can actually deliver it with one flotilla is a drop in the bucket. The principle that we are trying to communicate to the world, and that we’ve seen in many places, is that we can’t wait. We have to…we have to show up. We have to be there for our Palestinian siblings. We have to be there for our siblings around the world. And we have to do it ourselves. You know, I think we saw a similar thing with the Great March of Return, and I’m extremely inspired by the Great March of Return of Palestinians coming from Lebanon and breaking through the border there. And we, you know, continue to be inspired by Palestinian resistance globally and to work in concert with that resistance in order to do whatever we can to stop this genocide, both in the immediate sense and in the ongoing sense of Israel’s colonization of Palestine from the river to the sea.

**Inmn ** 10:18
It’s so fragile.

**Inmn ** 12:35
Golly, thank you for that very–I will call it a little bit of a rant thing. That was incredible and very informative. And now I have like 100 questions.

**Inmn ** 12:47
I have 100 more things to talk about but lay it on me.

**Inmn ** 12:51
Um, I think like, or…. I don’t even know where to start. Actually, there’s this funny place that I want to start, which I’m maybe gonna feel funny about and is maybe like…. Whatever, I don’t think it’s me feeling nihilistic about it as much as like confused by imaging in….. So I, as a lot of us have been seeing a lot of news graphics, infographics. And I saw this one recently that was talking about "planned distraction." And it was like this thing that was like, "Israel’s really counting on Americans being distracted by Memorial Day weekend to intensify the assault on Rafah." And I was just like, I don’t think Israel’s thinking about what random Americans are doing. Like, as you say, I don’t think there’s any amount of pressure that we can put on institutions like the Biden administration to change those things.

**Maria ** 14:30
Yeah, it’s an interesting question. I mean, I don’t know. I mean, nobody really knows. I do think that it’s worth noting that the last major assaults on Rafah began during the Superbowl also. So I mean, it’s…who knows, maybe they are thinking about it. And Israel is very much concerned with its public image. [half interrupts self] Well, it’s complicated, right? They are very much concerned with their public image and they’re also on a genocidal, psychotic rampage, which is causing all sorts of domestic tensions. And Israeli domestic politics are a whole nother can of worms. You know, there isn’t one–like anywhere–there isn’t one unified Israeli interest. Israel, like every other country, is a contestation of political forces with central goals but also pulling at each other and pulling itself apart. And we actually are seeing Israeli domestic– [Interrupts self] I think it’s also very worth noting that last summer before the assaults on Gaza, before the most recent assault on Gaza began, we saw the first ever domestic Israeli social movement, really since the creation of the state. There was an actual–I mean, you know, fairly tame but for Israel significant–uprising of Israelis against their government. And several months later, this genocide happens, right? And this is not a coincidence. We’ve seen this kind of pattern time and time again, where a state in order to secure domestic unity will declare war or genocide on a foreign enemy. I think it’s also worth noting that the plans for this–while October 7th may have been the the spark–the plans for this were very much already in place. And it is very clear from how quickly and strategically and efficiently they have acted that they have just been waiting for this opportunity. So I think that’s worth emphasizing. I think, and then I just also want to clarify, as far as like "no amount of domestic pressure," I think that there’s…I want to be clear that, like I said, I believe deeply in a diversity of tactics. And I do think that we need to do everything. And I think that there is very–like, I’m not saying that we should all just go to Palestine. I think there’s very important roles for us to play here in the United States in organizing. But we need to be realistic about how we’re gauging our targets. So we’re never going to be able to appeal to the moral or even political interests of–as far as like electoral political interests–of these things. We…I think…I personally think that our best hope is to challenge their economic function, right, and to make this cost so much that they cannot continue. And that’s a lot. It has to cost a lot because they have a lot to gain. But you know, what? We have a lot to lose. We have everything to lose and everything to gain. And we need to make this cost more than they can imagine.

**Inmn ** 17:28
Yeah. And yeah, maybe to be clear, the infographic that I was seeing, it was like, its suggestion was like, you know, "Get on the phone and call your congress people." And I was just like, you know, yeah, "by any means necessary," and whatever people can do, but I was like, I don’t think the one thing stopping…. It framed it in this way–I am gonna get off this topic very quickly and spent too much time on this–but it framed it in this way of like, "Oh, if Americans just weren’t so distracted by barbecuing over the weekend then genocide and then Gaza would have been over," and I was just like…that. Okay, whatever. Anyway, a real question. So I think maybe something that I’ve been curious, I guess, about is some of the like geopolitical–or like, specifically like geographical–forces at work where…. Like for the…. Can you tell me about waterways, waterways in and around Israel and Gaza? Like I guess like what is the proposed route? Or like, what are some of the…. Like, how get Flotilla?

**Maria ** 18:48
How get Flotilla.

**Inmn ** 18:49
How blockaded?

**Maria ** 18:52
Through the Mediterranean. So we had originally, we had originally planned to sail from Turkey, from Istanbul, and I was actually in Istanbul with hundreds of other people. We were, our bags were packed, the boat was full, we were ready to sail, and the mission was bureaucratically sabotaged by Israel. This was several weeks ago.

**Inmn ** 19:13
Is this the flag thing?

**Maria ** 19:14
Yeah, so Israel has tried many different avenues to sabotage the Flotilla, including physical sabotage of the ship. But one–and this has happened for many years–but one tactic they have not tried before, and that we were not prepared for, was that they pressured…. So I don’t know how much people know about shipping. But every ship that leaves a port has to pass to sail under a flag, a national flag. As far as I understand, any ship that doesn’t sail under a flag is technically considered a pirate ship. [says incredulously, laughing] So if we wanted to leave and be allowed to leave by the Coast Guard, we would have to have a national flag. And usually those flags have nothing to do with the mission. You basically buy a flag to sail under. It’s interesting. It’s actually kind of like a side hustle for a lot of poorer countries, they sell their flags at a cheaper rate and with less bureaucracy. So I think most international shipping actually happens under the flag of the Philippines. But we were gonna sail under the flag of Guinea Bissau, which was a flag of convenience. And Israel put immense–Israel in the United States–put immense pressure on Guinea Bissau to withdraw the flag. And so the flag was withdrawn literally the day we were supposed to depart, like bags packed and ready to go. And, you know, we could have…like the captain could have, I suppose, made the choice to sail anyway, but then that would have forced a confrontation with the Turkish Coast Guard, rather than with the Israeli naval blockade, which people felt wasn’t…wasn’t worth it. You know, for better or worse. Whatever. The people thought it wasn’t worth it. And that it was a better plan to just try to get another flag. So the flotilla is delayed as we are searching for another flag. That process is well underway. And I am hoping…. We’ll have more information within the next week about where that is at and when and where we’re planning to sail from. It’s not sure that we’ll be sailing from Turkey anymore at this point. Turkey would have been about a three day sail to Gaza. And at this point we might have to be looking at somewhere further out. TBD.

**Inmn ** 21:27
Like somewhere further out to escape the influence of Israel putting pressure on those local areas?

**Maria ** 21:36
Yeah, so there was a lot of pressure, a lot of pressure put on the Turkish Government. And Turkey, while it gives incredible lip service to supporting a free Palestine, is actually deeply economically dependent on Israel. And the domestic politics there is a whole can of worms. Anyway, I don’t know where that’s at. That’s not part of the…that’s not the team that I’m on. You know? I’m doing a lot of more of a social media and grassroots organizing here in the US. So I’m not one of those people figuring that part out. But, I mean, we can all see, we all basically know the general geopolitics of that region and how complicated it is for any country in the world to allow us to sail because of the possibility of antagonizing Israel, and what that can mean as a nuclear power and as a proxy of the United States in the region. But we will. We’ll find a place that we will do it. Inshallah, very soon. And that is underway. I think as far as what’s happened in the past, so what’s happened in the past, most of the Flotillas have not–actually all of the Flotillas–have not actually made it to Gaza. They are pretty consistently stopped, often in international waters–which is illegal–before arriving. There are no ports in Gaza that one could land at. So like we said, we had this plan with a pier that can unfold. In the past Israel has stopped the flotilla with its naval blockade. In 2010 the ships were famously–one of the ships in particular–was famously attacked, and nine people were were murdered in that process. Since then, there have been no fatalities. No one has been matyred. But everyone pretty much has been arrested and deported.

**Maria ** 21:37
From like international waters? [Said confused like it sounds sketchy]

**Maria ** 23:40
I think they get brought into Ashdod, usually, and deported from there, like on an Israeli vessel or whatever. I don’t know. I haven’t been on any of the flotillas before. This will be my first journey. One of my aunts was really involved in them for many years, so I learned a lot about the process, and I’ve been following the process, since 2010. She’s been very involved in–or she was–very involved in it. Gail Miller, may her name be for blessing. So I’ve been following it but this is my first actual mission joining.

**Inmn ** 24:14
Cool. Um, yeah, it’s…I don’t know, it’s…. Thinking about waterways has been something that’s been really interesting with a lot of the goings on in and around the genocide in Gaza, like specifically with like…it was fun to see countries like Yemen be like, "Oh, we’re gonna blockade Israel or we’re gonna blockade shipping routes for Israel shit." And interesting to hear you talk about the connections to global shipping, because then that turned into this big global shipping catastrophe. And like the US and Israel were like "We’re protecting global shipping lanes for like the good of Capitalism…"

**Maria ** 25:14
One of the first honest things they’ve said. Yeah, absolutely. I think even with that, it’s worth remembering too, just kind of going back to what I said, that the governments of the world are not acting. It wasn’t the Yemeni government who took that action. You know, it was it was the Houthis. And overwhelmingly, we see that is not governments anywhere, but rather people working with conviction and solidarity who can actually stop the infrastructure of global trade, can actually stop…can actually have some real impact on this genocide, right? Like, that’s one of the only meaningful…you know, people know that acronym BDS, It’s boycott, divestment, and sanctions, which is…was a movement in South Africa during the anti-apartheid struggle that the Palestinian anti-apartheid struggle has adopted, and that has been a global call for some time now. And one of the only real meaningful BDS actions we’ve seen has been by the Houthis, in that way, you know, actually interfering with Israeli shipping.

**Inmn ** 26:15
Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Okay, that’s, interesting to hear. I feel like this is a topic that I’ve tried really hard to learn about on the internet and every time I do it’s deeply confusing. And I get more confused because there’s a lot of propaganda from the US and from Israel about, like, you know, who’s enacting these blockades and whatever reasons that they make up. I saw…I was reading a little bit about the 2010 flotilla where, either like before or after it, Israel was making these wild accusations that the flotilla was working with Al Qaeda or had all these connections to groups they labeled as terroristic. And then the claims were withdrawn later because everyone was like, "Literally what the fuck are you talking about?"

**Maria ** 27:15
Yeah, absolutely. And, of course, they’re always going to do that, you know, and they’re always going to try any possible means to antagonize and paint any kind of resistance is terrorism, which is also what we’re seeing in Gaza, right? They will paint five-year old children as terrorists, you know? They have no shame and and they’ve gotten so far…they’ve spiraled so deep into their own narrative that they have really lost the plot. It’s kind of wild.

**Inmn ** 27:46
Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s…it’s like this thing that’s been happening for quite some time, which seems like less obvious to people who have been paying attention, but like, I feel like a decade ago, or a decade and a half ago–wow, time happens–there, like you said, Israel has had these moments of being deeply concerned with their public image and then these moments of just the veil coming off and being like, which is happening there, it’s happening here in the United States, it’s happening everywhere, just fascistic forces becoming less concerned with what their public images are and just owning being terrible and fucked up. Being like, "Who’s gonna stop us?"

**Maria ** 28:39
Yeah, I mean, you know, it’s, like I said, Israeli domestic politics are a total mess, but there is definitely a stronger and stronger faction that feels that way. And just thinking about it also, to bring it back to sort of the actual mission of the Flotilla, which is to deliver aid, and…. Well, it’s twofold, right? It’s to deliver aid and it’s to break the siege and highlight the injustice–and not just injustice but absolute insanity–of the fox guarding the hen house here, so that all aid flowing…coming into Gaza has to be searched and is being monitored by Israel, and the sort of intentional, as I spoke to in the beginning, of the intentional famine that is being constructed there. And, you know, we saw in the news in March, that we were on the…we’re at a tipping point of mass starvation. And that tipping point has been tipped. We are seeing unprecedented famine happening in Gaza. And I wanted to bring it back to that because I also want to just think a little bit about contextualizing what famine means. You know, I mentioned before that people often treat–like the media often treats this as a natural disaster or something or tries to paint it as a natural disaster–

**Inmn ** 29:53
Yeah, it "just happened"

**Maria ** 29:54
–as an intentional act of war and genocide. And I think that we have to frame it that way and we have to both make sure that aid is getting in immediately, and to recognize that this is political, that no matter how much money we send to the Red Cross, if aid isn’t being allowed to cross isn’t helpful, which is not to say don’t donate. Donate. And donate, specifically, to Palestinian mutual aid funds, which are the most grassroots opportunities, the most direct way to get funding, and you can find that…I can direct you, at the end, towards different places to donate The Middle East Children’s Alliance has been able to get a lot of aid directly in. There’s also a lot of, there’s a group called Bay to Gaza Mutual Aid, which has collected a bunch of on the ground places to help people in Gaza. So just to be clear, I’m not saying not to donate. You definitely should. And we have to recognize that without an end to this, to the siege and to the bombardment, and the occupation, aid can only go so far. And I think it’s important to contextualize that, to remember that this isn’t…this phenomena also isn’t unique to Palestine, right, this ideathat the global media treats famine as somehow a "natural phenomenon," when in reality, it’s politically constructed. It’s not just for Palestine, It’s true all over the world. And we’re seeing that especially in….. I think you can’t actually talk about Gaza right now without also talking about Darfur and Sudan and what’s happening there. And I think even more than in Gaza, famine–the politically constructed famine–that affects Africa, and specifically, that affects Black people in Africa, is often treated as "inevitable," and "natural," when it is very much politically constructed. And what we’re seeing in Sudan, and the genocide that is taking place in Sudan right now, and the famine that is gripping Sudan right now, is every bit as politically constructed, is every bit as entwined with resource wars with the UAE and Saudis, race for controlling natural gas and resources, and for having a monopoly over those things. And this is this genocide is being directly funded by the UAE, which the United States will not challenge because of our strategic alliances there. And the people being targeted by this genocide are overwhelmingly African agriculturalists who have continued to keep that land fertile and producing food when it is more within the interest of the imperialist powers, and particularly the UAE, to have the land become arid so that it can become extraction sites for minerals and fossil fuels. So all that to say, a big part of the goal of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla is to politicize famine itself, because it is political.

**Inmn ** 32:53
Yeah. Yeah, I know, it’s hard to actually think of a famine, like a historical famine, that is actually not a political tool, or like an act of genocide. It’s like we…when we…when we think of it, even like the word that we have, it’s like when we think of famine, we think of there being a lack of something, we think of there being some kind of disaster that is just like, "Oh, the conditions just made it so that food couldn’t be produced." And it’s…it’s never that. And, at least in English, like we don’t really have a word for enacted famine that I can think of that isn’t just genocide or that isn’t just like purposeful starvation. It’s like this entire language lacks a word for this tool that is used.

**Maria ** 33:51
Caloric warfare.

**Inmn ** 33:54
Yeah, um, I guess like kind of change tack a little bit, I feel like I’m using you as my filter for trying to learn about things on the internet and like running into so many weird like blocks that I’m like, I have no idea what’s going on because the global media apparatus is horrible. But what…. I guess like what’s going on with world government efforts to like get like food and aid into Gaza? Like I know there’s been like a lot of back and forth with what like the UN is doing to get in food and it seems like that’s not happening anymore?

**Inmn ** 34:40
Where was the pier being built? And, like, what, like there weren’t other peirs?

**Maria ** 34:40
Right. I mean, one of the most bizarre things that’s been happening that has been a lot of the efforts right now is airdrops. So people are like, "There’s no way to get aid into Gaza. We have to literally drop it from the air," which is not only unhelpful, but has actually been dangerous and had has caused injury and the destruction of the aid being delivered and has been, shockingly, both ineffective and unsafe. Meanwhile, you could just cross the border, right? We shouldn’t even have to be going in through the sea. There’s not even…. Like we’re going through the flotilla because we feel like that is our best chance of getting in. But there are… like, Egypt shares a border with Gaza. The Rafah crossing a should be open, and people should be able to bring in aid by land. And there’s some aid that is crossing there. But as we’ve seen, to the extent that Israel will let anything in there, which has been very limited, there are settler…civilian–so-called civilians–although, they’re not civilian, because they’re armed to the teeth with AK–well not AK-47s but M-16s–actively blocking and looting and destroying trucks that are delivering aid to Gaza. I’m just like, can you even imagine? Like, could you imagine? It’s hard like…. Like, what goes through your mind? What lives in your heart to destroy food, going to starving children? You know, I…. Whatever. But like, that’s actively happening, you know. And so yeah, the airdrops have been a lot of like, you know, this whole US pier that I think I spoke to earlier that they’re trying to construct this peir, they constructed this peir. It was pseudo operational for a minute. Now, it’s non-operational, again, spending millions of dollars for this basically theater, when the US could, in a heartbeat stop sending aid to Israel and end this whole thing.

**Maria ** 36:45
Off the coast of Gaza. It’s a floating pier. So yeah, it’s whatever…. It’s a floating pier off the coast of Gaza. No, it’s…I mean, it’s honestly, like it’s a whole charade. To be honest. Like the United States could, tomorrow, stop this but they won’t.

**Inmn ** 37:08
Yeah. And it’s like the excuses are always these like strange logistical, bureaucratic excuses. Of like, "Oh, I don’t know, the pier, the pier didn’t work out. Or like, if only we could secure the border crossings, then aid could flow freely through." [Said sarcastically]

**Maria ** 37:29
Right, exactly. Which, you know, is a common thing that we see globally too. We see it in this country to some degree like the crisis at the US-Mexico border, which I believe you’re at right now. Like, they treat it like….. They treat so much of the humanitarian crisis that’s happening there as if it were an impossible problem to solve when it’s a very similar situation. It’s a intentionally constructed political crisis.

**Inmn ** 37:55
Yeah. And it’s like, you know, there’s a kind of, I guess, famous zine–or maybe people haven’t read that one in a while because it’s been a long time. But there’s a scene called Designed To Kill, which is exactly how the US-Mexico border works. It’s like the way that you hear government talk about it, they talk about it as if like, "Oh, we just can’t do literally a single thing about it. We have billions of dollars, but we just can’t solve this problem." And it’s like–this is gonna sound weird–but it’s like when you hear Border Patrol talk about like, like, "If only we could figure out how to stop people from coming in," which is not anything that I would ever want, but is what the government talks about. And it’s like, you’re not trying to do that. If you were trying to do that, it would be quite easy to do that. Like you have designed a system to funnel people in, to exploit them through private prisons, to psychologically terrify, and kill people.

**Maria ** 39:06
Absolutely.

**Inmn ** 39:06
It is a sick and twisted thing. It is a disaster of your own creation that you then LARP as being the humanitarian actors for, for like public image. Like Border Patrol has a…. Border Patrol has a search and rescue unit. They have like a helicopter that they tote around. [Affirmative sounds from Maria] Fucking absurd.

39:32
I know. I know. Yeah. I mean, I think that you know, I believe you were involved with No More Deaths at the US-Mexico border for a long time, and I think that there’s a very similar principle as with the Gaza Freedom Flotilla, that the people who created this crisis are not going to be the ones to stop it. And if anyone’s going to do something, it has to be us. We have to do something. Because, yeah, the colonizer isn’t going to stop colonizing unless we do something about it.

**Inmn ** 40:03
No. And it’s like we can’t count on…. It’s like, we…. Like a lot of people, I think have this, like this myth or hope or whatever that like, "Oh, well, if things ever get really weird, like the UN will step in," or something. And it’s like the UN has proceeded to literally fucking nothing. Or it’s like the…like, what is it? The I forget the acronym for that court, the UN court, the world….

**Inmn ** 40:31
Yeah. Yeah, the ICJ making rulings towards Israel about, "We want you to stop the genocide." And they’re like, "Well, we’re not going to do it." And it’s like the ICJ does literally fucking nothing.

**Maria ** 40:31
The ICJ

40:47
I mean, I believe that ICJ is interesting. The ICJ did issue an arrest warrant for Netanyahu, which, as far as I can tell, only means that there’s like, certain countries he maybe can’t go to or like, if he loses this war, which inshallah, he will, that there could be potentially be consequences for him. But that really, like, you know, it’s all about real politics. That really just depends on how the war itself goes, you know? Like the international arrest warrants issued in Nazi Germany only were meaningful because Germany lost the war. I just wanted to, I mentioned No More Deaths early and I realized that probably not all the listeners know what that is. So I just thought I’d say No More Deaths is mutual aid project at the US-Mexico border. Grassroots, mostly anarchist lead from what I understand, project. Once upon a time, at least.

**Inmn ** 41:45
Let’s say anarchistic.

**Maria ** 41:48
There we go, there we go. That [NMD] provides mutual aid that both has like emergency medical care and food and also like hikes the desert searching for people who are lost and helping evacuate people who are in need and giving direct aid at the Border despite the Border Patrol’s attempt to criminalize those efforts. Which I know a lot of our listeners have probably been involved in. I believe you were. I went out there for…a long time ago. I went out there to do that. But I do think that there’s powerful mutual aid projects like that happening here in Turtle Island, too. So it’s worth shouting them out.

**Inmn ** 42:29
Yeah, and it’s like there’s a lot of really interesting parallels between all of these mutual aid projects, and also the systems that create the need for them. Where, I don’t know, there’s so many Israeli defense contractors that got hired to build the virtual–like Elbit Systems got hired to build the virtual wall in the Border and it’s like, the similar systems that get used in Palestine. And there’s…. It’s freaky. There’s this, in Arizona, there’s this company trying to build like a water pipeline from the Gulf of Mexico to Scottsdale or something. And it’s the same Israeli company that builds pipelines through…or like distillation centers in Palestine.

43:28
Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, we see similar collaborations with Cop City in Atlanta. It’s all, it’s a global war machine. And we see it functioning exactly the way it’s intended to function. But you know, we also have a power to be a cog in that machine. And I am weirdly optimistic a lot. I actually have a lot of faith that we can, you know, this machine can’t operate without us, especially us here in the heart of Empire. Like this is in so many ways the veins of empire where so much of it is plotted and executed right here on Turtle Island. And we’re uniquely positioned in a lot of ways to clog those arteries. We just have to find the courage and the confidence and the organization to make it happen. And I have so much faith in our ability to do that. Yeah, before, before we run out of time–I don’t know if we’re coming up on time or not. But I wanted to just also make sure that there’s–and I mentioned this, but I just want to give it enough space that this crisis did not start in October. And it also didn’t start with the siege of Gaza 18 years ago. This has been a crisis that has been exhibiting in its current form since 1948, since the creation of the State of Israel and the Nakba, which is the genocide of the Palestinian people in order to create the State of Israel and really for longer than that, since Zionist immigration began in the 1880s. And this crisis didn’t start now and it’s not going to stop when the bombs stop falling on Gaza. This crisis will not end until the settler, ethnic national…the settler, nationalist ethno state of Israel is dismantled. And really until the whole global system of settler colonialism–and all of the national states–are dismantled. But to look specifically at Palestine, like there is no…this is not over until Zionism is over. Zionism needs to be ended, and that the settler ethno state of Israel needs to be ended. And that until all Palestinians have a right to return to their homelands, until all Palestinians have a right to move freely in their homelands, until all Palestinians have a right to autonomy and self governance within their homelands. And by self-governments, I don’t just mean to have a State, but to be able to have agency over their own lives and their own decisions. And until that, the struggle isn’t over, and it can’t be. And, you know, I think I’m actually very hopeful about this moment, I think that there is…that there is an incredible not, just an outpouring of support for the Palestinians, but incredible recognition of the state of global colonialism in the 21st century and its relationship to resource extraction and what we can do to stop it and I know that the Palestinian…. Like part of the reason that people around the world have responded to what’s happening in Palestine the way they do is because this really resonates with so many indigenous people’s struggles everywhere. Indigenous people all over the world see their struggle in the struggle with Palestinians and are rising up all over the world and it is very much a global struggle and very much that to free Palestine is in so many ways to free the world.

**Maria ** 43:28
Yeah, yeah. Um, I know that you’re…you’ve been part of some…part of this larger project…movement…coalition? I don’t know words. But are there…are there ways that people can plug into this? Like if someone’s like, "Yo, I got a boat. I want to join the flotilla." Can they do that?

47:25
I don’t know about a boat. Well, I mean, if you’ve got a big boat. These are big boats we’re talking Yeah, these are these are big boats. But um, I would say in general, yes. So the website is freedomflotilla.org. You can also find it on all the social medias, but especially you can find it on you know, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram. Also, specifically for those in the so-called San Francisco Bay area, we have our Bay to Gaza contingent that is…we are currently growing and expanding and getting ready to sail, so you can follow us on Instagram @Bay2Gaza. We’re also on TikTok and Twitter, and you can reach out to us there if you’re interested in supporting or getting involved. My Instagram is @lchaimIntifada. You can also message me there. I check that a little bit more. And, yeah, reach out. We’re definitely still recruiting. We don’t know exactly when we’re going to sail yet. But we need all types of support. And especially, you know, in a lot of ways, this is a media project. This is about shedding light on a phenomenon. So especially folks who have skills in media are very much needed right now. Both legacy media but also social media.

**Inmn ** 48:41
Yeah, yeah. Cool. Um, as we get…I guess, get to the end of time–our time, not the end of all time–are there any other things that you wanted to talk about? Any questions that I didn’t ask you that you wanted to just touch on? I feel like I had 100 more questions that I will never remember until we stop the recording. And then I’ll remember them.

49:11
Happy to keep talking after we stop the recording. But um, no. I mean, I think yeah, like I said, please, the best way to follow us is on social media. And please reach out if you are interested. And I would say other than that, taking the principle of the Flotilla, the principle that nobody is going to do this if we don’t, and that we cannot depend on governments or higher powers to make change. We have to make it ourselves, and apply that to all of your organizing. Apply that to the ways, the strategic ways that you’re thinking about challenging genocide and occupation and colonialism everywhere that you are, you know. I think that most of our organizing does need to be done at home where we live. And the message that I want people to take away, personally, from the Flotilla is that if we want change, we have to make it ourselves. And to use that framework, and I think…I think what that really is, is the framework of direct action, personally. I think that the word "direct action" has really lost its meaning. And a lot of activists spaces on Turtle Island in particular, people kind of think that direct action just means chaining yourself to something. And I am firmly of the belief that direct action means…it can mean three things. It can mean destroying something that needs to be destroyed, interfering with something that needs to be interfered with, and creating something that needs to be created. And you’re doing it directly as opposed to protest, which is when you’re asking power to do it for you. And I think there’s a role for both. I think there’s a role for protests and there’s a role for direct action. But we should know what the difference is when we’re framing our strategy, and encourage people to look to a framework of direct action and of destroying what needs to be destroyed, creating what needs to be created, and interfering with what needs to be interfered with. So I’d say that other than getting involved with the Flotilla, just holding those principles and all of our organizing,

**Inmn ** 51:05
Yeah. And, can I add a little suggestion to that?

**Maria ** 51:12
Please.

**Inmn ** 51:13
Also in the realm of when thinking about taking direct action, when thinking about protesting, like whenever, it’s like making sure that these things that we’re doing are community driven and not relying on, I don’t know, political parties, or even nonprofits to guide us through taking action. Like, the only ways that we’re going to make it through this is if we do it and can’t wait for people with more power to just hand it over.

**Maria ** 51:55
Absolutely. And I think that’s true on the micro sale scale of mutual aid, which is why we do mutual aid projects and it’s also true on the macro scale of how this world will change. And, you know, to me, that’s what anarchism is. So…

**Inmn ** 52:07
Yeah, well, thank you so much for coming on again. And yeah, listeners, if you want to hear more from Maria, then you can find her on social media or you can go and listen to the Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness podcast and you can listen to us talk–honestly, a lot…mostly more about Gaza and the fuckery that is Zionism but through poetry and Maria’s beautiful poetry collection, Escape Plan, which you can go check out on the Strangers in a Tangle Wilderness podcast.

52:47
And more about the West Bank, which I didn’t get to talk about in this interview. And I’m realizing that was something I missed. But I do talk about that in the other one.

52:53
Do you wanna talk about it now?

**Maria ** 52:54
I don’t want to add that as like a little side note, but I do just want to say that speaking of like distractions, while this genocide in Gaza has been taking place, Israel has been annexing land in the West Bank at an unprecedented rate, and that the violence, but also the land loss happening right now, is a crisis that needs to be confronted directly. I do talk about that more in the other podcast.

**Inmn ** 53:16
Yeah. Cool. Well, we’ll see you next time. And I hope that….

**Maria ** 53:26
Free Palestine!

**Inmn ** 53:27
Great. Yes. Happen. Free Palestine. I got all the words. At least 10 of them.

**Inmn ** 53:40
Thank you so much for listening to Live Like the World is Dying. If you enjoy this podcast, then go do mutual aid. Break the siege of Gaza by any means necessary. But also, if you enjoyed this podcast and you want us to continue to put it on and do other cool stuff, then you can support the podcast and the best way to support the podcast is by talking about it. Tell people about it. If the people that you want to learn more about the weird myths, political myths, constructed to keep us not doing things, then tell them about Like Like the World is Dying. You can also support the show by supporting it financially. And you can do that by supporting our publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. You can go to our website, tangledwilderness.org and find cool things like books and games and other stuff that we sell and make there. Or you can find us on Patreon and at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And yeah, you can get all sorts of fun things–we’re gonna call them fun things–through the Patreon. You can get a zine mailed to you every month, like Maria’s poetry collection–well, I guess you missed out on getting that one mailed to you, but you can get other future ones mailed to you-and also you can get us to thank or acknowledge things on your behalf. And we would like to thank these wonderful people and organizations. Thank you Reese, Jason, aiden, alium, Amber, Ephemeral, Appalachian Liberation Library, Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace, Boldfield, E, Patoli, Eric, Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, Ben Ben, anonymous, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, SJ, Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea. Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Micaiah. And a special shout out to one of our Patreon subscribers who told us that when they have more money, they’re going to get the $20 a month tier so that they can get Hoss the dog another acknowledgement, we’re just going to thank Hoss the dog like 20 times. Thank you, Hoss the dog. [Chanting] Hoss the Dog, Hoss the dog, Hoss the dog, Hoss the dog, Hoss the dog times 20. Times a million. Thanks all of y’all. Maria, is there anyone you would like to thank in particular today?

**Inmn ** 56:34
Oh, I wasn’t ready for that question. I’m sorry. That’s fine. The people of Palestine, the Palestinian resistance.

**Inmn ** 56:44
Hell yeah. Thanks for all and we’ll see you next time.

freedomflotilla.org, palsolidarity.org, and ijan.org

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E120 – This Month in the Apocalypse: May

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Margaret and Inmn talk about all the stuff that happened in the last month that was in no way concerning. From a collapsing climate to crumbling supply lines to the ongoing attacks on abortion access, the apocalypse is here, it’s just not equally distributed.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery. Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy. Brooke can be found on Twitter or Mastodon @ogemakweBrooke.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E119 – Spencer on Bike Packing Pt. II

Episode Summary
This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Spencer and Inmn continue to talk about bikes, how to go about planning a bike packing trip, and the usefulness of bikes in preparedness scenarios.

Guest Info

Spencer can be found on IG @spencerjharding or at www.spencerjharding.com

You can find cool bike resources at bikepacking.com, Gravelmap.com, Theradavist.com, RidewithGPS.com, and Bikepackingroots.com

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Spencer on Bike Packing Pt. II

**Inmn ** 00:15
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host today, Inmn Neruin, and today we’re gonna be talking more about bikes. Bikes, bikes, bikes, like it’s a…. like it’s 2005 and we’re listening to Defiance, Ohio for the first time. Bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes, bikes. [Spencer laughing in background] And it’s part two of a two part episode of about bike packing. So if you didn’t listen to part one, you might miss some things, which is mostly about some stuff about gear, some stuff about bike travel and what the scope of it is, and some other content that you may or may not have context for. But first, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Network of anarchist podcasts and here’s a jingle from another show on that network. Doo, doo, doo doo [singing a simple melody]

**Inmn ** 02:06
And we’re back. Thanks so much for coming back on the show, definitely a week later and not twenty minutes later. Could your re-introduce yourself with your name, pronouns, and just a little bit about what you do in the world?

**Spencer ** 02:26
My name is Spencer Harding. My pronouns are he/him/his. I work in various bicycle related things. My current day job is photographer writer, occasional editor at a website called theradivist.com. We do a lot of cycle related content. I have worked as a bicycle mechanic. I’ve worked as a bicycle tour guide. I have worked in bike co-ops, I’ve done a whole lot of shit bikes is the jist of all of that.

**Inmn ** 03:00
Yeah, cool. Cool. Well, we’re just gonna…we’re just gonna kind of jump right back into it from last week. So before we kind of get into the nitty gritty about how to plan a bike trip–you know, we’ve talked about gear for a little bit–let’s just Let’s start off with some good, like good feel heady stuff. Spencer, why is traveling by bike a cool idea?

**Spencer ** 03:31
A cool idea? [uestioning the question]

**Inmn ** 03:33
Or good idea. A fun idea? Is fun, or is it…Is it harrowing? Is it both?

**Spencer ** 03:40
Yes. There’s always going to be a chance for all of that to happen. The big picture reason why I like biking as a means of travel is that it strikes a really good balance between walking or hiking. And traveling by vehicle, like train or bus or plane, you miss so much because you’re really cut off from the world. And you’re usually traveling at speeds that are hard to really digest what’s around you. Whereas a bike, you’re typically somewhere between three miles an hour and like 20mph. Unless you’re real fast or going down a big old hill. So I feel that biking affords more of that connection and really seeing and absorbing your surroundings. Whereas I feel that walking is almost too in the weeds of that sometimes, and they just really want to get somewhere, in a way that cycling allows you to really, when you need to, you can really cover a great amount of distance in a effective amount of time and energy without having to resort to a motor vehicle or a large public form of transportation.

**Inmn ** 05:01
Yeah, yeah, I’ve always been really blown away by really how quickly someone can travel on a bicycle. It’s like, you know, like, when me and Marie did our bike tour across the country, it took us two months to ride from Oregon to Boston, you know. And, you know, we were hauling it, we were riding like 80 to 100 miles a day.

**Spencer ** 05:26
That’s fast!

**Inmn ** 05:28
Which is even more ridiculous because we absolutely had like 60 pounds of gear each, you know. And, but then meeting other people who were the really lightweight credit card tourer who rode from LA to Boston in 22 days or something. And I was like, "What?!" It was utterly incomprehensible.

**Spencer ** 06:00
And I’m going to tell you that I know people who have written from Banff, Canada to the Mexican border almost entirely off road in 16 days without any support, carrying all have their own gear.

**Inmn ** 06:13
Oh my God. Yeah. Okay.

**Spencer ** 06:17
So the scale of human capacity to move themselves and whatever they need by bike is incredible, whether that’s like…. that’s the upper echelons of endurance and athleticism, but in that same vein, it’s bonkers, what is truly possible. But for people like you who are maybe doing less than 100 or like 20 to 30 miles a day, like that’s super accessible for a lot of people.

**Inmn ** 06:47
Yeah, yeah. And actually, that’s kind of where I want to start today’s conversation is around like…it’s kind of about preparation, but it’s in the realm of…so, if I’m someone who doesn’t have a whole lot of experience biking and I want to go on a trip like this, like, how do I…like I want to go ride my bike around for a month, you know, whether that’s all on pavement or on gravel. How do I prepare for that? Like, if I don’t have a regular workout routine or something like that? Like, what is that going to be like for me?

**Spencer ** 07:34
So are we talking about like, fitness here, then?

**Inmn ** 07:39
Um, I think like, yeah. I’m talking about kind of like bodily preparation, where it’s like, I want to go ride my bike a long distance. I’ve never done that. What is that…what is that going to be like? And are there ways that I can kind of, I don’t know, like train, I guess prepare? Do I have to? Will my body just like, do it on the trip?

**Spencer ** 08:04
Bodies are really good at adapting to things. And I’ve always felt the first week or so of bike tour, everything’s gonna hurt a little bit. Like, obviously, there’s a lot of muscles involved. Especially in your legs and your ass and your sit bones. Your sit bones are going to be a focal point of something that’s going to be hurting and have a lot of pressure and possibly a lot of discomfort. So I think training…training is a poor word to describe what I think is necessary for bike touring. I think it’s more of a conditioning. Like if you ride your bike to work or you ride your bike to the grocery store or like just to go run errands or like once a week with your friends like that’s bike touring conditioning. It’s just how much time have you spent in the saddle? And if you spent zero time in the saddle, something’s gonna hurt. And this goes back to the first thing we talked about with gear selection was "Does your bike fit you?" Like, in a multitude of ways. And is it comfortable? And if you ride your bike a little bit, you’re probably going to know if your bikes comfortable or not. Or maybe you don’t. And sometimes you won’t feel how you body’s gonna hurt if you ride less than 40 miles. And sometimes those long days, things break down, skin gets tender, chafing happens, and that’s totally different for every single person. I know people who ride like the smallest tiniest, hardest seats, and their sit bones are great. And I’ve got wild–not wild–wide childbearing hips personally, so I need to ride very wide saddles to keep my sit bones happy. And it’s your hands, your handlebars, your grips. I was talking to someone recently and they were like, "My hands hurt when I run my bikes," and they had a bunch of old cloth tape that was reused from like four bikes ago. And I was like, "Well, you might need some actual handlebar grips. And this might help with the vibration." So I don’t want to get too in the weeds of that, but your hands are gonna hurt, your butt’s gonna hurt, your legs are going to be sore from pedaling. And that’s…these are all things that are going to happen. And as you ride and travel for multiple days, adjusting your bike, adjusting how you sit on your bike, and adjusting the times and the distances that you ride is all a part of figuring out how bike tour looks for you.

**Inmn ** 10:33
Yeah, I remember in…it was the first two weeks of bike tour, were hell. Like, everything hurt. And like, I thought my knees were gonna explode. And like, I’d never written more than 40 miles in a day. And I remember being like, "I might have to give up." And then I made just a micro adjustment in how high my seat post was, like half an inch or something, you know? And the next day my knee pain just like disappeared.

**Spencer ** 11:15
So if you’re privileged enough to have access to somewhere in your…where you live, that does bike fittings, a lot of times–we’re talking real small increments–make huge differences as far as bike fit and comfort. And I’ll be riding with a lot of my friends. And I’m not a professional bike fitter. I don’t make any claim to be, but I’ve generally been around bikes long enough that I feel like I can be like, "Hey, what if you tried this?" And like, go over and adjust their handlebars. And then like, a week later, they’re like, "Oh, yeah!" So, that’s a hard thing to figure out. I feel like 15 years into bike touring, I’m now…I just got my sit bones measured for the first time two months ago to know exactly what saddle I should be riding besides anecdotally trying a bunch of them. A lot of it is trial and error. You’re gonna have to ride your bike and see where it hurts, and then what do I do about that? And talk to your bike nerd friends or go to a bike shop that you trust and ask them what they think. They probably have some ideas. Or there’s a wealth of knowledge. The internet’s probably the worst place to go for a lot of that information.

**Inmn ** 12:21
Oh no.

**Spencer ** 12:21
I’d go to someone you actually know or someone who can see you. Because there’s always somebody with a hot take on the internet about bike stuff, especially fitting or what’s the best bike saddle or bike for dah, dah dah. And they’re probably wrong, or they don’t know your conditions. So go talk to someone you trust.

**Inmn ** 12:40
Yeah. Is it kind of…. And I feel like this is kind of something that I have seen as a trend that I see a lot on things that we talk to about people like on this show where it’s like, there’s these activities that seem really intimidating–and like maybe rightfully so–but it’s like, I don’t know…like your bike tour doesn’t have to look like other people’s bike tour. Or your setup doesn’t have to look like other people’s set up. You can adjust it for what you can and feel comfortable doing. Question mark. I’m asking a horribly leading question that I feel like I know the answer to but….

**Spencer ** 13:18
And this ties in with, "Don’t ask the internet," because you’re gonna line up with a Surly Longhaul Trucker and a bunch of gear that’s probably not right for what you actually want to do. It’s a good place to start or to maybe to ask more fine-tuned questions. What I always tell people, like if you have a bike shop in town, go to that bike shop–if you feel comfortable, and the people that you’re talking to don’t belittle you or like make you feel uncomfortable–go there and ask them a genuine question. They probably will help you in a genuine way. Or if you have a friend that’s in the bike touring, ask them what they use. Maybe you can borrow gear. Because everyone…like if you look on the internet, there’s such a plethora of sizes and different bikes and styles of bikes and styles of packing gear. It’s just…I wouldn’t even know where to start now. You know? Like, there’s a bunch of websites. So I work for The Radavist. Of course, bikepacking.com is a great resource for reviews and gear. And they have…we both do long lists of like, "Here’s a great bike for under 2k" or "All these bags" and dah, dah, dah. Bikegeardatabase.com is a great one as well. So there are a lot of things. And even Adventure Cycling does reviews as well. There’s a plethora of stuff out there, but it’s overwhelming. So you probably know a bike nerd in your life. And if you don’t, go to a bike shop and find one because they’re gonna at least pare things down, hopefully, for you to something that’s hopefully more digestible.

**Inmn ** 14:44
Yeah, yeah. And it’s funny to hear numbers like that get thrown out, which is my next question. How much does it cost to get to…like, I want to go on bike tour. I know my bike is like probably not the best condition. How much is it going to cost me to like, get on the road?

**Spencer ** 15:09
That is a very broad answer.

**Inmn ** 15:14
I’m sure. I’m sure.

**Spencer ** 15:14
So we talked about this last time a little bit as well, like, yeah, you can ride on any bike. I welded a tall bike out of a bike I pulled out of a trash pile and a bunch of conduit from Home Depot. And I strapped a bunch of shit to it. And that didn’t cost very much money, you know? You’re talking about hundreds of dollars, maybe. If you’re not familiar with the network of bike co-ops that are in a lot of cities all over the world, so bike cooperatives are run collectively–usually–they get some kind of city funding or they’re just donation based, but they’re…imagine a little bike shop, and they’re there to help you fix your bike. They usually allow you to do work trade. So if you can’t pay or afford to, you can come in. They’ll help you work on your bike, and you volunteer for a few hours and you pay off the debt. They have used parts. They have people who know what they’re talking about and can help you with those fitment questions, with a gear question like "Why does my bike not shift? Why does the saddle hurt?" And these are your very like lowest bar to entry ways that you can get access to people who know about bikes and possibly gear–or recommendations on those things–or even get a bike to start with. A lot of them will refurbished bikes or they have a build-a-bike program where you go through the whole process of, "Here’s a frame and here’s a bucket of parts. We’re going to spend two months and we’re going to build this into a working bike. And you’re going to learn how to do everything along the way." And there’s a lot of value in that. And I’m sure we’re going to talk about preparedness later, but knowing how every part of your bike fits together is kind of the baseline. So you’re probably looking–I used to always joke and I probably need to adjust this number for inflation–but "there’s no good bike under $300" was kind of the old adage. Either you get a bike for like $200 and you’re gonna spend $100 on parts. Or you get a $300 bike that’s ready to roll. Depending on what you’re looking to do, that can be very true. And if you buy a custom touring bike, you can be easily in the thousands and tens of thousands of dollars, because the bike world is absolutely bonkers at the high-end.

**Spencer ** 17:28
Does that answer that adequately?

**Inmn ** 17:31
Yes, that absolutely does.

**Spencer ** 17:33
Let’s put the bar at drag a bike out of the trash to take to the bike co-op and there’s your free bike. So let’s say $20 to $20,000 is a good range.

**Inmn ** 17:44
Cool, cool, cool. Ya, it’s helpful to have a range of, you know, like a range of prices where it’s like…. Because it’s like, when I go…when I was trying to do research about like how to…like, a bike or something to use for touring, it was like, I went on and I was like, "Do I? Wait, do I have to spend three grand to get on the road?" And I was like, "Surely no. That’s ridiculous." And like, yeah, there were things that sucked about it. But I took an old steel frame and put some mountain bike parts on it that I got at the bike co-op. And then a big thing that I did run into was wheels, where I was like, I think I need stronger wheels than I can find that the bike co-op for free. Or like for 10 bucks, you know? But buying new wheels was way unaffordable for me, for how strong they needed to be. And so I ended up building wheels. I just like built wheels from rims that I got at the bike co-op and some spokes that I bought. And it worked. [Said in a way that makes it seem like it didn’t work] My rear wheel at the end of the trip, literally, was ripping itself apart.

**Spencer ** 19:09
Yep. I’ve seen that happen. That probably didn’t have to do with your building, though. I mean, sometime you put that much weight on a rim for 3000 miles it just starts to [makes breaking sound].

**Inmn ** 19:29
Yeah, just starts to rip itself apart. Um, but yeah. Golly, wait, sorry. What was my next question? Okay, so how…. If someone wanted to plan a trip, like they’re planning their first bike tour, regardless of where that is, whether it’s on pavement or bikepacking. Like what…how…how do you start to go about planning. For people who aren’t maybe more comfortable with the idea of just hopping on their bike and seeing what happens?

**Spencer ** 20:07
Yeah. A fun story. When I did that tall bike tour, I saw a photo of Glacier National Park. And I was like, "You know what? That looks cool. I’ve never seen those mounds before. "And I literally went like Portland, Oregon to Glacier National Park and Yellowstone. Google Maps, where do I go? Which I think was a poor decision because it just took me on highways. So at a baseline, Google Maps has bike directions, and that will incorporate bicycle infrastructure depending on where you’re going. If you’re looking to do a long distance route, if you’re in the United States, Adventure Cycling Association, based in Missoula, they have a whole network. They’re all mapped out. They’ve got all kinds of resources. They’re well established routes all over the country. It’s great because people will know what you’re doing along the way. There’s usually expectations of camping. Those things are mapped out. You can have a very reasonable amount of time or like mileage per day that set out for you that’s reasonable, that will get you to resupplies. So Google Maps is your base. Adventure Cycling is a great second stop. If you’re looking to do more off road routes, bikepacking.com has a bunch of maps. They have a whole map of the entire world of established routes with route guides. Gravel Maps has a bunch of stuff. A lot of these will wind up using a program called–and a website–called Ride With GPS–which is basically a mapping software–to do day rides or long tours, there’s a ton of resources. Searching anything on Ride With GPS is an absolute nightmare. So it’s usually a place you wind up once you’ve found a route you’re interested in. The mapping works really great. And that’s a great resource. Strava has something similar. They also…Ride With GPS and Strava have heat maps. So if you’re looking in an area and you’re like, "Well, where do people ride here?" you can look at those maps and it will show you a median of all the accumulated routes that have been ridden. So you’ll see where places that are more popular for riding, and like, "Oh, I can write here because it looks like people have already ridden here." So those are good. Those are good resources. Sorry, dogs barking in the background. But yeah, there’s there’s a lot of long distance routes that have been around for 30-40 years, like the TransAm, Pacific Coast route, Tour Divide, which we talked about. So I’d be remiss if I didn’t shout out Bikepacking Routes. They’re a small nonprofit creating its own database of routes very similar to what Adventure Cycling was doing 30 years ago, but they’re focusing on single-track and off road. I’m actually lucky to be a regional steward for them–or I don’t know what the word is for it anymore. I manage route down near Tucson, Arizona for them that’s on their map. They have a bunch of routes that cross the country north to south, east to west, lots of connectors, and all that stuff. So Bikepacking Routes is also a really good resource for off-road route specifically.

**Inmn ** 23:20
Okay, cool. Cool, cool, cool. Um, this is like a funny kind of thread to move into–or no it just makes sense. So we’ve talked about how to get started, we’ve talked about kind of the vagaries of what gear you need, how to start planning a route, and now, it’s kind of a big question, I guess, but this seems perfect and wonderful but what are what are the limitations of bike travel? It seems like there aren’t any. I can ride my bike over…like across the sun with the right tires it seems like. [Both laughing]

**Spencer ** 24:03
If you buy the $3,000 bike, you can actually ride on the surface of the sun, my dude. Yeah, so whatever…whatever marketing tells you is 100% real and you can do it ever you want. [Sarcastic. Switches to earnes in the next sentence] So limitations are going to be your capability. So that might be fitness or any disabilities. I can be in your bike. And that can be in various gear choices that you make, depending on how little or much you pack, what your gear range is, what your tire size is. But those limitations are things that can be built around. I mean, inherently your body and the amount of food you can consume and the lack of sleep you can deal with will dictate how far you can ride a bike in any amount of time. And those limitations can be vastly different for everyone. But typically speaking, I feel like a normal human can ride 20 to 60 miles in a day, depending on elevation. And then on most surfaces. So like fire roads are pretty common. Paved roads are obviously incredibly common. Single-track makes things more complicated too. But those are going to be–

**Inmn ** 25:31
What is single-track?

**Spencer ** 25:33
So, think of hiking trails. So like the width of your body. Double track you’d think car tires are gonna make the road. If you’ve seen on off-road stuff, that’s what usually we call a double-track. Single-track would be a hiking trail. So just the width of your foot, kind of like your shoulder width. Pardon the jargon.

**Inmn ** 25:56
No worries.

**Spencer ** 26:01
So your limitations are gonna be set by the decisions you make in your route choice and your gear choice and your bike choice and then in how prepared you choose to be or what kind of fitness you need to be in for whatever you’re setting out to do.

**Inmn ** 26:24
Cool. Um, what are…what are things that can happen on any kind of trip that people should be prepared for? Like, do I have to be like a master mechanic to go on a bike tour? Like if something goes wrong with my bike like, what…what are big, common things that people should kind of be prepared for, either in route planning going wrong or your bike having bike problems, or, etc…?

**Spencer ** 26:59
So as far as route or any of these things, you always need to be flexible, I think, is the most important part. Like things are gonna go wrong. Something is going to break. You are probably going to break. And it’s going to be in how you deal with that and–not break–but you’re going to get tired or maybe you fall down and scrape yourself or cut yourself. These are all things that happen when we’re doing any activities or are the usual risks. So flexibility and being able to adjust your plans or not be rigid in those things. The cool thing about bikes that I really love is if you get one of those little multi-tools at wherever, there’s going to be an array of hex Allen’s [wrenches] from 2 millimeters to typically 8 millimeters. And those alone and maybe a Phillips screwdriver, so we’re talking a multi-tool that probably has that as well, that’s 90% of bike maintenance right there in those tools, which is pretty sweet.

**Inmn ** 28:01
Yeah, I was surprised by…. When I went on my last bike tour I got one of those bike specific multi-tools from REI or something, you know. And it was like 50 bucks or something. And it had a passable version of almost any bike tool that I’ve ever used, you know? I couldn’t like take my pedals off or do bottom bracket work, but like almost every other tool that I needed was on it.

**Spencer ** 28:39
And this is what we’re talking about with bike co-ops, if you don’t know how to fix your bike or how your bike is put together, take your whole fucking bike apart andput it back together with the multi-tool. And then you know. Or figure out what you can take off with the multi-tool and then put it all back on. And then you’re gonna know like, okay, if this breaks or this falls off, I know how to put it back on. And that’s a little bit like hyperbolic. But I think knowing that…if you take a class on basic maintenance at a bike shop or at the local bike co-op, they’re going to teach you a lot of things you can do mostly with a multi-tool on the side of the road, which is super accessible. You’re not…if you go to a bike shop, there’s like that last 5% of tools that cost like thousands of dollars and they’re in a drawer. They get used like once a month and they’re terrifying. And most bikes are never going to need to use those tools out in the wild. You know? But, never say never. So, most bike maintenance is just adjusting bolts, and there’s usually going to be one of those hex sizes that’s on a bicycle specific multi-tool. Or you just go get a set of L Allen keys at Walmart or Home Depot. Hell, Home Depot has them for free sometimes if you just, you know, walk out. But the biggest thing that’s a concern is tires and, if you’re using them, tubes.

**Spencer ** 29:12
Should you not use tubes? Convince me.

**Spencer ** 30:16
We’re going to talk about the fact that tubes don’t exist nearly as much as people think they do anymore. Yeah, it’s a crazy thing. So first of all, let’s talk about it. So you have your bike rim. So, the wheel consists of a hub, has all the spokes that hold the rim to the hub, and then on that rim, you’re gonna put a tire. And the tire usually has a tube inside of it that actually holds the air and gives you the squishy loveliness that makes riding bikes a pleasurable experience. But there’s lots of thorny things and nails and glass on roads and services that are trying to make that thing not hold air anymore. So the biggest skill I’ve known people to want to have for bike touring is being able to fix a flat tire. So that typically involves removing your tire, removing the tube, using a glue and patch that are available at any bike shop you have ever been to for like two bucks. You get like eight patches. So you can really extend the life of your tubes that way. It’s not a fun process. You have to take your, usually, like take your whole wheel off. If you use tire levers, which are its own specific tool that you definitely have in your kit in addition to that bike specific multi-tool. Sometimes you can do it with your thumbs if you’ve got like rock climber strength, but you’re probably going to scream and yell and curse at somebody trying to get a tire on or off at some point in your life. And that’s okay. We’ve all been there. So once you patch at tube, you put it back in and you pump it back up. Bike pump is going to be something you’re going to want to have. They make all of those little bike specific things in all kinds of sizes. I’ve seen people biking with like your floor pumps at home just like bungeed recklessly on the back of their bikes. They got tired of the tiny pumps they were carrying.

**Inmn ** 32:03
Wow. Relatable.

**Spencer ** 32:05
But, it’s 2024. The tubeless revolution is here. It’s been here for a long time. If you buy a new bicycle, you know, if you’re getting into a $1,000 bike. If you’re buying a lower-end bike, you might still be using tubes. Anything like more modern, getting slightly more higher-end, we’re going to be running what’s called "tubeless." So it’s kind of like a car tire. So the rims and the tires are designed differently to mesh and interact with each other the way a car tire interacts with a car rim. Just pump it up. It makes a big scary noise and it pops in and locks the beat of the tire to the rim. Cool thing about bikes that you can’t do on cars is you can fill it with a latex sealant.

**Inmn ** 32:58
The goo. Insert the good.

**Spencer ** 33:01
Yes, you inserting the goo into the tire. So with cars, rpms that care tires are at, you can’t have anything in there that’s sealed in for a long time because it affects the weight of the wheel too much, due the little revolutions in momentum. Bike wheels, for the most part, don’t move that fast where it’s noticeable. So they’ve develope latex sealant or goo, or goop. It’s kind of like slime. You can get slime at Walmart that like works for like bike tires. That stuff sucks. It works in a pinch. There’s better stuff we have nowadays, but basically what…. So the inside of your tire, it’s just air at this point. There’s no tube. You put the latex sealant in there. It stays liquid for a certain amount of time depending on climate. a,nd which brand you get. There’s all kinds of different things. But basically ammonia, latex, and some kind of like glitter or rubbery compound. So what happens is if you’ve got a flat with a bike with a tube and a tire, the nail is going to go through the tire and then it’s going to pierce the tube. The tube is going to go flat. You have to pull the whole tube out, patch the tube, put it back in. Hopefully it holds. With tubeless, depending on puncture size and a bunch of factors, nail goes in. You pull it out. You should have some liquid sealant in there. You move that puncture points to the low end so there’s like a pool of that sealant. The latex sealant when it gets supposed to air kind of goopifies. And it will typically clogg most small to medium punctures without you having to do anything.

**Inmn ** 34:48
I mean you have to pull the thing out but…

**Spencer ** 34:50
You have to pull the thing out, but if it’s in there, you can just leave it in there if it’s not hurting anything.

**Inmn ** 34:54
I see.

**Spencer ** 34:57
A bunch of plug kits you can get as well. It’s similar to like plugging a car tire. Those are like big things that look like strips of bacon that you like plunge in. And there’s a whole host of stuff for that. But basically, you get…. This could be… Okay, tire choice. So there are tires that are more durable and there are tires that are less durable. And that’s going to be how thick they are in various parts and how much sidewall protection they have. If you get a more durable tire for bike touring, it’s going to last longer, it’s going to be more puncture resistant, and it’s going to do better once it’s punctured to possibly seal that puncture. If it’s a thicker tire with that sealant. If it’s a really thin flimsy tire that’s lightweight, it’s probably going to get punctured or torn easier and it’s going to be harder to repair.

**Inmn ** 35:52
I feel like this is the area that I kind of skimped on when I was on bike tour and I’ve never regretted it more. I changed…. I changed close to like, probably 60 flats in the course of two months. And so the really annoying part that you don’t quite realize is, in a lot of cases, you have to completely unload your bike in order to fix a flat.

**Spencer ** 36:26
That’s another part too. So, think about that in your baggage concerns, if he could lift your bike or get it off the ground and…. So tubeless is awesome until it’s not.

**Spencer ** 36:37
So what goes wrong is either the hole is too big and you’re just, all of a sudden you’re riding, and you feel this faint white goo all over. It’s usually kind of a milky consistency. It’s sticky. You’re like, "Oh shit, my tires, spuing sealant. I have a hole." Hopefully it fixes. Sometimes the puncture is just too big and it’s like a tear. In that case, you can get your real crust punk skills out and you get the floss out and you can sew your tire back together so you can close that. And that does work. There’s a lot of things you can do and hopefully it seals. But when it doesn’t work or like your tire is too bad. So in order to get a tubeless tire onto a rim, like setup, you have to use an air compressor. It punches the tire on with a lot of pressure all at once. Depending on the tire-rim combo that can be very hard if not impossible to do with a small hand pump. So if you do get a flat and you ride and then that like kind of seal along the edge of the rim where the tire is seated to them breaks, that can be a really hard thing to get back if you’re in the middle of nowhere. Co2 cartridges are good for this. They can pump a lot of air in. Sometimes that works. So that can be like a big kneecap of tubeless systems, a big puncture or you lose the seal on the bead. The cool thing about it is–but it’s gross–is you can just carry a bike tube and you can then put a bike tube inside. It’ll be covered in white goop. But as a failsafe, you can almost always still use tubes. So a lot of people do still carry tubes as an emergency if they have a tubeless system. There’s also really cool new…. Oh, what are they made of? God I have one. I just gave one to my friend. They make these new tubes. They’re not butyl rubber, there’s something…some other kinds of new magical material, but they’re like a quarter the size. They’re like this big folded up. It’s awesome. Sorry you can’t see what I’m saying. They’re like a third of the size of a regular bike tubes and they supposedly last better. I’m signaling the Inmn over video chat, which none of y’all are gonna see. So there’s…that’s always your failsafe is a tube, basically, if you have tubeless. Tubless is awesome if you live anywhere sharp and spiky like the desert or you do a lot of commuting with glass and shit like that, tubeless is hands down the way to be if you can. Learn how to use it. learn how to fix it the same way you would learn how to fix a tube if you had it. Just so you know what you need. But 99% of time, it’s awesome and that 1% of time it goes terribly awry, but that’s pretty good odds.

**Inmn ** 36:37
I see.

**Inmn ** 39:33
That is that is pretty good odds. I feel like I’m really interested in this from the perspective of like convincing myself to go tubeless.

**Spencer ** 39:50
Inmn, I have a whole bike shed. Come over. We’ll get we’ll get you set up.

**Inmn ** 39:53
Okay, okay. I do hate changing tires.

**Spencer ** 39:56
You live in the desert. You should…. you deserve tubeless. You deserve to never fix a tube again after those 60 on that tour. You just don’t need to.

**Inmn ** 40:06
Never. Never again. To kind of switch gears a little bit. A pun, weirdly unintended. I’m, wondering how bikes as opposed to other forms of transportation can fit into different preparedness models for, you know, anything that we might be encountering, either a change in…a drastic change in our world like, thinking about a post-industrial world or a post-car world-and not like post-car in the Green Revolution way. I’m talking about like post-car in that like we live in a furtherly apocalyptic hell world. But also just, you know, in disasters and like needing to disappear for a few days. Like how do/do bikes fit into preparedness models?

**Spencer ** 41:11
I mean, we’re looking at a bike and we’re seeing the most sustainable, accessible means of transport…like self-propelled transportation that’s ever existed as far as I can think of. So it only requires you to be on it and pedaling it. So you need to have like water and food to propel yourself. And it can fit between…like you can ride anything from single-track to a road. So any kind of surface that it needs to be. If there’s stairs, put your bike on your shoulder, if there’s a steep hill, you can walk up it. If there’s a fence or a barricade, pick your bike up, put if on the side and hop over. You’re not encumbered by things like traffic, typically. You can get between cars, if there’s a big line of cars, if everyone’s trying to go the same direction, and there’s a traffic jam like or there’s an accident or there’s a chasm. Like, all of those things, the accessibility and the means, the way you can just get on a bike, or pick it up and move it and carry it entirely under your own power, I think is an incredible tool for preparedness. And if you understand how to then attach things that bike in a way that makes it accessible for you to carry things distances, I think that’s an incredibly useful tool to have in your back pocket. If you have some of those bags or you have those kitty litter panniers that you used 10 years ago and you have them in your closet. Like gas…. I mean we saw during COVID like gas, people got scared and they hoarded gasoline. And like all of a sudden, you can’t drive your car. But you can ride your bike.

**Inmn ** 42:52
Yeah, I feel like in a post-industrial world gas is gonna like instantly become unavailable.

**Spencer ** 43:03
Yeah, and just you see how quickly like… I mean, if we listened to like It Could Happen Here, the first season, like talking about how quickly supply chains can go awry. And especially in regards like oil and gas and things like that. Like, it doesn’t take much to disrupt those kinds of…those systems in place. And all of a sudden, there’s an incredible scarcity in just a few days. And then your mobility is pretty limited if you’ve only relied on cars or something or walking, you know? You could double, triple, quadruple the distance, you could easily walk in a day on a bicycle while expending the same, if not less, energy and moving more things with you at the same time.

**Inmn ** 43:48
Yeah, people have some pretty wild…like I’ve seen some like pretty wild bike trailer setups for things that people are somehow bringing long distance. And this is, you know, this is on pavement for the most part, but like, I don’t know, yeah, I’ve seen some wacky bike trailers.

**Spencer ** 44:05
Wacky bike trailers, like bakfiets, like front loading cargo bikes are really popular all over the place. You know, we’re catching up that here. There’s so many ways. Like I have this cool little bike that I ride every day. It’s got a tiny front wheel and then the rack is built in. I’ve got just a milk crate on it. But I can put a whole ass human on there or like 100 pounds of groceries or whatever and then still put two massive panniers in back and put a frame bag on it. I can easily probably move 200 pounds of stuff on that and that’s like an old bike I got from a bike co-op with like a $300 fork that my friends company makes and a milk crate. And the ability to move things with cargo bikes, especially designed for those loads, is truly the car replacing in many, if not all, situations.

**Inmn ** 44:57
Yeah, yeah. And it’s like, especially those cargo bikes where it’s like…. I remember…. golly, this was a long time ago. It’s like when I lived in Boston, there was some organization, their whole thing was like bringing…it was called like Bikes to Rwanda or something and it was like raising money to like build and buy cargo bikes for coffee farmers to be able to transport like hundreds of pounds of coffee across like some pretty shitty terrain in a very short time period. And I was like…it was the first time I’d ever heard of or considered that a bike like that existed, and it blew my mind.

**Spencer ** 45:44
Yeah. And there’s tons of those. And you could…you could also, we’re talking about welding a tall bike, like you could weld a cargo bike, you know, out of old trash and old bikes? I think one thing that’s interesting to talk about too, can we go solar punk? Like can we talk about electric bikes?

**Inmn ** 46:01
Yeah, let’s do it.

**Spencer ** 46:03
I mean, literally, you could get like a single 100 watt solar panel, controller, and like a battery…if you have any kind of small off the grid solar system with an inverter, you could have an ebike. And that can, in theory, like, you could power that. I’m not good on the math, but this is something I’ve wanted to do for my own personal things. Like, you can get conversion kits for bikes. You don’t have to buy a brand new ebike. You can just get the motor that bolts on your bike, and there’s a various amounts of that. But having a small solar generator or a small solar system could easily power or like charge an electric bike, and that changes your range and capacity into the hundreds of pounds or, you know, 60 to 80 miles quickly and efficiently in a way that’s renewable and rechargeable without having to be on the grid or even consider having to like….Yeah, I mean, batteries do…lithium-ion batteries do wear out, they don’t charge as much. Like, they don’t last forever. There are limitations to this. But I think that’s a pretty cool thing. We’re seeing a huge influx of technology and development in e-bikes, especially the e-cargo bikes. And thinking about like, "Oh, if I had some kind of solar or some kind of battery backup, wind, water, whatever you got, and combine that with an electric bicycle can really extend that range and that capability and speed, you know?

**Inmn ** 47:33
Is that like…is that something…. Like…could you take an ebike…. Like, we’ll I’ve never thought about this, could you take an e-bike or electric bike on a long distance bike tour with a portable solar panel? Depending on where you are?

**Spencer ** 47:55
I don’t think it would work that way. I’m talking about in a preparedness situation. I think that would depend on…. I think for the amount of stuff you would have to carry to actually do it, I don’t think you could be like riding and have enough solar panels to charge a bike while it’s ridng.

**Inmn ** 48:13
Well, not like while it’s riding but, you know, ride a day, charge a day. Like, how small is the solar setup that is doing this?

**Spencer ** 48:24
Probably not that small. If you had a trailer, I bet you could do something there. So this is…. So, for e-bikes for touring, this is where it gets hard because a lot of the battery, a lot of the power is going to be moving the battery and the motor, which are quite heavy. The more batteries you need to have a longer range, the more like motor you need to have. And then that kind of snowballs in a way that I don’t think is efficient for bicycle travel. I think I’m more thinking of like a preparedness situation where you’re settled a little bit. But if you can get between power sources or something like that, you can get 60 miles before you charge your e-bike, you can do that, and carry more weight in a more expeditious time and then charge for a few hours and keep going. We are seeing people doing e-bike touring. It’s more popular in Europe because things are a little closer together. I was thinking more of preparedness. But, yeah, touring it’s…. There’s a lot of concerns. But as far as I know, I haven’t seen anyone dragging a solar system with them to recharge their bike in any kind of timely manner. Because we’re talking, most of the batteries are pretty huge. Not impossible. But, you know, like, at what point does the solar system outweigh the the range It’s limiting you from, you know, bringing your own power factory with you?

**Inmn ** 49:53
Yeah, yeah. No, I was like having this moment where I was like, wait, is the technology like wacky enough that you could just have a portable solar panel that recharges your e-bike? And I’m like, no, no, no. Okay.

**Spencer ** 50:05
Yeah, those things barely charge an iPhone. I think we’re far away from that being a reality. But as far as preparedness, like if you were set up on some kind of a compound with at least a little bit of solar, using that as a vehicle to get around or do what you need to do or something like that, I think that’s a cool door to open. But for travel, it’s much harder.

**Inmn ** 50:31
Yeah, yeah. And I don’t know, it’s interesting how thinking about collapse then makes you think about systems and technologies that have kind of just always existed. So when I was a train punk, when I was like, you know, early 20s, or something, I had this fantasy of setting up these little way stations across the country, you know, like, essentially little DIY sheds in the woods near the hop out spot, or whatever. And you go there and there’s a little place to sleep and there’s some food and a bicycle and and just any kind of random things that you wouldn’t want to carry with you or that you might need to resupply yourself with. And I got really into the idea of developing these little way station networks, which I never did, which is maybe my biggest regret of my life. That’s not true. I wish that I had been cooler or less busy with other things. But it’s like, yeah, I don’t know. It’s like, I think about that stuff with bikes. I think about it with like…. This kind of already exists for like long distance hiking infrastructure. Like there’s essentially just way stations that exist. And it’s thinking about that stuff in collapse scenarios that relate to bicycle infrastructure, bicycle technology, is really interesting to me because it also like takes it out of the realm of being solo and on your own and like there being entire communities that can kind of spring up from like sustaining different forms of transportation. Sorry, this is a tunnel thought.

**Spencer ** 52:40
No, not at all. It’s a sweet idea. And I’m definitely there with you. And I feel they’re not solely for that, but bike co-ops exist in a lot of small places. And a lot of times they will have rentals if you can get to there. But I like the idea of like, yeah, you hop into a town and you’re stuck 10 miles out of town, you don’t want to walk it. But, there’s this little shack with some snacks and a bike to get me there, and I leave it when I go back. You have the trail angels in the hiking world, which will help people out when they’re far from resupplies or driving them town or they happen to have property next to one of the trails to help people out and stuff like that. So we’re seeing the edge of that possibility for sure,

**Inmn ** 53:26
Yeah. Kind of one of the last things that I want to ask you about–I mean, I want to talk about bikes all the time, but we are coming up on time again–is what…. So you know, obviously riding bikes is a very outdoor activity. And I’m wondering if there’s any things that you’ve seen or experienced or like heard people talking about, or just considerations for bike travel in a world with a very rapidly and drastically changing climate? Like, what things should…do people have to consider more of now? Or like what, what changes are people seeing?

**Spencer ** 54:14
Well, in regards to climate change, and we’re talking about, I think, a lot of the discourses on like reusing or recycling is kind of a sham, but like, thinking about, I think, especially in the bike world, in the bike marketing world, they will market it to you like, "Hey, get this bike, it’s the greenest thing you can do is like riding your bike." And riding a bike is a really sustainable way to transport yourself and to avoid using fossil fuels and, you know, getting down your carbon footprint or wherever the bullshit they’re calling it nowadays. Individual responsibility. But in the same way that like not buying a new car, is like not buying a new bicycle. So reusing an old bicycle that already exists and maintaining what you have, I think is a big part of it. And we’re seeing a lot of companies…there’s a lot of there’s a lot of bike companies that making stupidly proprietary things that will not have parts in like four years and there’s a lot of companies intentionally using older standards–

**Spencer ** 55:22
Fuck them.

**Spencer ** 55:23
Yeah, they’re making performance shit, it’s performance. It’s meant to last a season. It’s fine. But that’s not…it’s not the part of bikes. Like, I can go to the bike co-op in town, I can get a bike made a 1987, and there’s a bucket full of parts that are still rebuildable for that bike, and I can rebuild it and I can ride it today 40 some odd years later. So, sometimes you need to get new bike, sometimes, the bike co-op or the used market is not going to have what you need for your bicycle travel. And that’s okay. And you might need to buy a new bike. That’s great. Find a cool company you like that’s doing cool stuff, and think about all the things we’ve talked about. But if you have a bike that works, there’s so many options for retrofitting them and keeping them running. And if you…once you get a little bit deeper into bike nerd culture, you’re gonna see there’s a lot of standards that have been around for 30 plus years and various aspects of frame building and bicycle componentry. And being able to like be like, "Oh, I want a bike that has that because I already have the parts here. Or I know I get these parts really easily and cheaply to maintain the bike. So I don’t have to buy a new bike every five years when the newest, coolest thing comes out." You know. I think that’s a such an important and accessible part of bicycles. And if we’re talking about supply chains failing, like, if there’s a bunch of parts that are a similar standard, like every Walmart bike you ever had has what’s called an American bottom bracket. And man, does it suck for performance riding, but you can adjust that fucker with a crescent wrench and some ball bearings you can probably pull out of most anything that has ball bearings. And that’s super repairable and fixable without any specialized tools. Does that answer your question? Or have I gone too off the rails.

**Inmn ** 57:20
That’s like a totally different track of the question than I was asking. But I’m glad that that’s what you talked about.

**Spencer ** 57:27
Will you rephrase it because I want to…I want to make sure…I think I went off tangent. Rephrase it, if you would.

**Inmn ** 57:33
Yeah. No, I’m glad that you answered that question because I would have wanted to ask that anyways. I’m thinking more of as we see a drastically changing climate, which is like some places being just harder to be outside, how…. Like, I don’t know, I’m wondering…. It’s like, I always like to ask people in their weird little niche thing the ways that they experience climate change on a personal level or like a niche level. And like, I was talking to someone about paddling places where it’s really cold, like ice and stuff. And they were like, "Yeah, we’re seeing these changes in ice and freeze patterns." And I’m just wondering the small ways the stuff can like crop up in like places people might not expect it to.

**Spencer ** 58:30
Interesting. Okay. So I mean, obviously, a lot of places are getting hotter. And that makes it difficult to ride a bike if the sun’s more UV intense and it’s hotter for longer stretches of time or larger portions of the year. Like, if you ride your bike where it’s over 100 degrees or it’s incredibly humid. So we’re talking about wet bulb effect and those things that are concerns for more humid parts of–a large chunk of the Earth. That makes a lot of physical activity without air conditioning or something like that, can be can kind of like totally kneecap everything we’ve talked about because if your body can’t cool down while it’s exercising then that’s kind of game over, you know? You just overheat. I hadn’t considered that for humidity. I mean, in the desert it’s great. If you have access to some kind of water, like we are pretty dope swamp coolers in and of our own right. Like evaporative cooling works really well. If you’re moving and there’s any kind of breeze and you can sweat, our bodies are really efficient evaporative coolers. But as we’re looking at climate change, a lot of places are going to be hitting 100 degrees and 100% humidity with a lot of regularity, which is going to mean if you don’t have some means of cooling–not by evaporative because evaporation just stops working then–then that’s when that breaks down, and your body temperature kind of runs away and you can’t cool off. So those are definitely things to consider if you’re living in a more humid place and possibly bike travel or self-mobility, in that regard, could be hampered.

**Inmn ** 1:00:12
Yeah, yeah, it’s like we just did almost two hour long serious thing about why bikes are really cool. I’m sorry to sorry to ask at the end like, "And why we might not be able to do it?"

**Spencer ** 1:00:25
Why we might not actually be able to ride bikes? Because I hadn’t considered the wet bulb thing till now. That’s a really good question. I think it’s a good thing to finish on because that’s a limitation I hadn’t considered till literally right now. And that’s…that could be a huge limitation for hampering that.

**Inmn ** 1:00:49
But, you know, I don’t like ending on totally sour notes. So yeah, do you do you have any kind of like last advice for people who like want to get into long distance bike travel? Long distance we’re defining as anywhere….more than a place you could ride in a day. And, just any fun reflections or memories of like just really freakin cool things you can do on a bike? I don’ t know.

**Spencer ** 1:01:27
everything in my life that I hold dear, and a lot of the people I hold the most dear in my life, I can always trace back to some aspect of cycling. Like riding bikes to go meet them for the first hangout or I was at this bike shop or I went on this event ride or whatever. The bike world is big and diverse as far as like what you can hope to find in it. There’s an incredible community all over the world doing really rad stuff with bikes, whether that’s going to be organizing, whether you’re going to be doing mutual aid via bike, whether you’re going to be racing, or just going for like a weekend ride. It’s all there. And it’s all propelled by you. And there’s an incredible community. I can’t say enough about how much bikes and cycling has totally taken my bike in a different direction than I ever expected it would go and it’s the main fuel behind like everything that I do and a lot of the best things that have happened to me in my life. Bike travel has become that focus. The people I’ve met, the people that have taken care of me along the way, the lifelong friends I will have that I’ve met on bike tour or gone on bike tours with. It’s a vulnerable way to travel. And that vulnerability leads you to leaning on strangers and leaning on new people that you’ve met. And those things lead to unexpected places and unexpected people and connections that you wouldn’t have in any other way or any other situation. So take the bike you have, strap some shit to it. Go fucking ride somewhere that you’re excited about like a cool dot on the map. I don’t know. I can’t recommend it enough. Learn how to fix your bike. Learn how to use tools. Go to your local bike co-op. Volunteer. Meet the folks there. They’re probably doing really cool shit to in your same community. There’s so there’s so much good out there if you get past a lot of them marketing bullshit of going fast and racing and competing. There’s so many cool things to be experienced and to do with bikes. And you’ll just go outside every day and ride your bike and be like "Wow, this is awesome riding my bike." It feels really good. It’s like when you were a kid and you like ride your bike to your friend’s house in the summertime and go swimming and then…. Don’t give up on that childhood joy of just riding your bike and doing cool shit while you ride your bike and just get there and, I don’t know, fall in love with it in your own way. I hope.

**Inmn ** 1:04:04
Hell yeah. Hell yeah. Yeah, I had something to say and now I can’t remember it. If you had to recommend just a really great place to go ride, like a really good route that you’ve done, do you have any? dDes not have to be beginner. Could be utterly harrowing.

**Spencer ** 1:04:32
Oh, man, it’s a big question. I want to just tell people to just go ride like 30 miles from your house and find a cool spot and sleep on the ground. Don’t put a tent up. It’s not gonna rain.

**Inmn ** 1:04:48
I mean, that’s an answer.

**Spencer ** 1:04:50
That’s an answer, but I feel like…I feel like you’re asking for a place. Gosh, give me a sec here.

**Inmn ** 1:04:59
Um, I’ve always heard–while Spencer is thinking about this I’m just going to say what I’ve heard. I haven’t done this, but I’ve heard that the the Lost Coast in Oregon, Washington, or Northern California… I don’t really actually know where this is, because it’s lost. And it’s also somewhere that you could probably Google. But it’s a really incredibly, beautiful bike tour spot. It’s like short, like a few days or something. You can kind of like meter it yourself. And it’s a nice introduction to kind of like being in the woods and less on pavement because there’s no cars. It’s completely inaccessible by cars. The only way to get there is on a bike.

**Spencer ** 1:05:02
I’ve biked a portion of the Lost Cost that is paved. I’ve hiked the unpaved sections. Unfortunately, you can’t take bikes there because it’s wilderness. And we’ve run into this a few times now. The Redwoods in Northern California on that first bike tour when I rode through the Avenue of the Giants just stopped me in my tracks on that trip. At that point, I’ve been doing like 60 something miles a day up to 100. And I was really going for it. And I rode into the redwoods and I rode 30 miles. And I said this is the most beautiful place I’ve ever fucking seen in my entire life. Like this is where they filmed Endor and like the Ewoks , and just sat and read my book for a whole day. And I was like, I’m not going anywhere. This is the most beautiful place I’ve ever been. And I got to ride my bike there. And I didn’t really realize where I was going. I was just following some book and some route that someone had laid out forever ago and it would up being one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever been. I wound up going back there to lead tours and work later in my life and every time I ride through the redwoods it’s absolutely magical.

**Spencer ** 1:05:46
Hell yeah. Hell yeah. Well, that seems like a great place to leave it. Do you have any things that you want to shout out, projects, could be totally unrelated to bikes, or places on the internet where you can be found where you would like to be found?

**Spencer ** 1:06:31
I’m really stoked working as a communitiy steward with Bikepacking Routes. So you can find them at bikepackingroutes.com. They’re doing a lot of sweet advocacy. They’re developing a lot of routes within the community. Like routes for bikepacking. They’re doing a of cool workshops. I got to hang out with Noel recently at an event down in Mexico. She’s awesome. Kurt Refsnyder, who started that with Kate Boyle are incredible athletes and humans. They’re doing a lot of cool stuff. Tons of great resources on that website. I personally write and review for theradavist.com Type my name in there. There’s a bunch of stuff. We have an incredible crew. We talk all about bike touring, and a lot of facets of cycling if you’re looking for some resources. Super great. If you want to look me up on Instagram, it’s just Spencer J Harding. Same from my website, SpencerJharding.com. It’s a bunch of bike stuff all over that. If you have any questions about bike stuff or anything with this, I love when random people ask me questions on the internet. So this is your open invitation. Just send me a random message or email or whatever. If you have questions or you want recommendations. I have all this dumb knowledge in my head about bike shit and I love to share it with people. So if you are curious, please, please, please reach out. I won’t ghost you and I won’t be weird.

**Inmn ** 1:08:33
Hell yeah. Hell yeah. Well, thank you so much for coming on the show. And we’ll we’ll see you another time.

**Spencer ** 1:08:40
Thanks for having me.

**Inmn ** 1:08:46
If you enjoyed this podcast then pretend like it’s 2006 and you’re listening to Defiance Ohio with your friends and riding your bikes all over all over the planet. And yeah, just get out get out and ride or don’t. But also, if you enjoyed the show, then you can help support it. And one of the best ways that you can support it is to tell people about it. So, you know, plan a bike trip with your friend. Listen to this episode. Get them stoked on bikes, probably listening to Defiance, Ohio. I don’t know why I’m on this Defiance Ohio kick, but it’s just they’re synonymous with bikes to me. And, yeah, just go have a blast and see what adventures you end up on. Also, if you want to support the show, you can support our publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness who puts out this podcast as well as a bunch of other podcasts and cool books and stuff. You can you can go and buy stuff from us at tangledwilderness.org There’s also some cool free stuff on there. Like, we just released a second edition of Life Without Law, which is a really great just like primer, intro to anarchy zine. And it’s been updated to be a little bit more relevant and referential for stuff that’s happened in the past 10 years. Wow, did that zine come out 10 years ago? That’s fucking wild. And yeah, you can also find us on Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And for varying levels of donations a month, you can get some cool stuff like discounts on physical stuff we put out as well as just free digital versions of stuff we put out. You can get a cool zine mailed to you every month. And you can also get us to thank or acknowledge or shout out just rad things in the world, whether that rad thing is you or whether that rad thing is someone that you care about or whether that rad thing is a cool organization that you want to hear acknowledged on all of our podcasts. And as part of that, we would like to thank alium, Amber, Ephemoral, Appalachian Liberation Library, Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace, Boldfield, E, Patoli, Eri,c Buck Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, Ben Ben, Anonymous, Janice & O’dell, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, SJ, Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Micaiah, and the eternal Hoss the Dog. Oh, this…. Actually, we didn’t talk about this in the podcast, but I want to say it. If you have a dog and you’re like, "I don’t know if I can go on bike tour." I’ve seen so many people put their dogs in a bike trailer. You can take–I don’t know if you can take your dog–but you can take dogs bike packing.

**Spencer ** 1:11:59
100%. Put your dog in a trailer. Take them on the adventure with you. Do it.

**Inmn ** 1:12:10
We hope that you’re doing as well as you can with everything that’s going on in the world. And we’ll see you next time.

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E118 – Spencer on Bike Packing Pt. I

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Spencer and Inmn talk about bike packing and how cool bikes are. What is bike packing? Where can you ride? What do you need? Find the answers here.

Guest Info

Spencer can be found on IG @spencerjharding or at www.spencerjharding.com

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Spencer on Bike Packing Pt. I

**Inmn ** 00:15
Hello, and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m your host today Inmn Neruin, and today we’re going to be talking about something that I’ve been wanting to do an episode about for a really long time because I really love to do it. And I think what I’m going to learn in this interview is that I have been doing it really wrong. Or not wrong, but making it so much harder for myself. And it’s just going to be…it’s going to be a lot of fun. And today we’re gonna be talking about different ways that you can travel long distances, or short distances over strange terrain, on a bicycle. And we’re gonna be talking about bike packing. But before that, we are a proud member of the Channel Zero Net of anarchists podcasts. And here’s a jingle from another show on that network. Doo doo doo doo doo. [singing]

**Dissident Island Radio ** 01:27
You’re listening to Dissident Island Radio, live every first and third Friday of the month at 9pm GMT, check out www.dissidentIsland.org for downloads and more.

**Inmn ** 02:15
And we’re back. Thank you so much for coming on the show today. Could you introduce yourself with your name, pronouns, and just a little bit about what you do in the world? And what you’re here to tell us about today?

**Spencer ** 02:32
Hi, my name is Spencer Harding. My pronouns are he/him/his. I do a lot of things related to bikes and I have for the last…oh, at least 10 or so years. I’m currently a photographer, writer, and editor for a website called theradavist.com. We do all manner of cycling related articles and content reviews. I’ve worked as a bike mechanic at local community coops and full on bike shops a like, and I’ve been traveling by bike since 2009 pretty regularly. And that’s been a huge focus of my interest in bikes and kind of my forte in bikes.

**Inmn ** 03:18
Cool, cool. Um, it’s funny because I know you real life and we, you know, we like play dnd together and I actually didn’t know that’s what you for work. And I just knew you knew a lot about bikes. So cool, great.

**Spencer ** 03:40
I don’t love that I’ll know people for years and years and years and I think in a lot of the communities I’ve been in for years, no one really asks what anyone does. And it’s not really important because we’re all just doing these weird niche activities or hobbies together. And it’s kind of fun.

**Inmn ** 03:55
Yeah. I’m going to immediately go offer a little script. How did you get into bikes?

**Spencer ** 04:07
I got into bikes right on the verge of the huge fixed gear craze that happened in like the early aughts.

**Inmn ** 04:18
Oh yeah, I remember.

**Spencer ** 04:21
So I was in school at Long Beach State in Southern California. I saw some people riding around bikes. It was the begining of my second year of college. I was moving off campus and I realized that I could buy a bicycle for the same price as a parking pass. And it took me as long to ride from my apartment to my classes as it did to walk from the parking lot to my class. So I took the, what, $130 that that parking pass would have been and I bought an old Schwinn off Craigslist. And it’s been all downhill from there.

**Inmn ** 04:59
[Laughing] I’m sure it has not been all downhill, but I appreciate the pun. We’ll get into this later, but I did a big–introduction to me and biking–is that I have always just really loved bikes. Like similarly I had this thing in high school where a car became suddenly unavailable to me. And I lived in like a suburb of a suburb of a suburb. And I was like, can I take my dad’s old Schwinn that’s in the in the crawl space and ride it to the city? And the answer was, yes, I could. But like, fast forward many years to going on my first bike tour, and we like went over the continental divide and I was like, "So it’s all downhill from here, right?"

06:00
[Laughing] That’s one of the things. You never trust the elevation profile. There’s always more up somehow. You could be on top of a mountain and somehow there will be some more uphill.

**Inmn ** 06:11
Yeah. Always uphill. Always. Um, cool. Well. So yeah, let’s just kind of happen to it. Um, what is like…what are the different kinds of scopes of bike travel? I feel like there’s like a lot of words that were new to me as of a couple of years ago where I was just always "bike touring." But now there’s all these kind of other words that people use that maybe seem like little subsets of bike touring, like gravel bikes or bike packin or r maybe there’s other words that I don’t know about.

06:50
There’s so many buzzwords, and most of it is marketing, and like an ever smaller niche-ification of bikes. When we talk about bike travel, I think the word that comes to mind is bike touring, like, everything is bike touring. You’re touring on a bike, you’re riding, you’re exploring, you’re traveling by bike. The buzzword of the last decade has been "bike packing." And there’s a lot of arguments about what that means, what that constitutes, what’s bike packing, what’s not bike packing. I won’t go down a huge rabbit hole. I feel like the word bike packing ushered in a more modern sense of ways to pack a bicycle as opposed to what was classically bicycle touring. But if you’re traveling by bike and you’re strapping shit to your bike, you’re going bike touring, Call it bikepacking. Call it gravel biking. You can call it…there’s a multitude of other things like that. But when it boils down to it, it’s all bike touring in my mind.

**Inmn ** 08:09
Yeah. Okay. Um, golly, I’m going to immediately go on another tangent because I… [Spencer encourages it] It’s reminding me of like…. I suddenly found myself thinking about like, wait, I wonder if Spencer knows the history…like what the history of the development of the bicycle was? This is a question I should have sent to you yesterday. And I mean, maybe you do, maybe you don’t–

08:39
I’m not super familiar. It popped in my head like I should probably do some sort of research. I mean I know the vagaries of it. But nothing specifically. I couldn’t sit tell you names or dates or anything like that.

**Inmn ** 08:53
Totally. But it’s like, it is something that people have…like people have been riding long distances on bikes since bikes were invented, which is something that I find really interesting. Like there’s…. Which I know you could take like a rewritten fairy tale and call it like absolute historical fact, you know but have you ever had any Angela Carter books.

**Spencer ** 09:22
I haven’t.

**Inmn ** 09:24
She got famous for like rewriting the for rewriting a lot of fairy tales. And people were like, "Oh, you rewrote them with like a feminist lens." And she was like, "I absolutely didn’t. My goal was to bring out the innate horror in all of these stories, and these stories just happen to be really like femicide-idle. And so that reads is feminism because the main conflicts in them are misogyny." But there’s this story called Lady of the House of Love. About this vampiress who like lives in a collapsing, ruinous castle in Transylvania and is the offspring of like Dracula or something, who’s just like quite bored in the world at this point. And there’s this like whole diatribe in the story about this guy who she lures into the castle who has been traveling around France in Europe on a bicycle. And this is my funny tie in, and this is like in… this is like, in the early days of World War Two when this… Yeah, that’s what…. And it’s like, it’s like these little nods where I’m like, okay, it’s it’s a fictional story, but I’m like, that sounds like a real thing people did, just travel around Europe on a fucking bicycle.

**Spencer ** 10:56
I am 100% sure that there is some real world influence. Yeah, there’s all those memes, you’ll see. Like, there’s some Scandinavian guy who just lived by his bike forever and ever. And, you know, big beard and all that jazz. I can’t think of his name. But I can only imagine that there’s some truth or they met some weird guy in a cafe one day and decided to just write them into the story after that.

**Inmn ** 11:23
Yeah. Okay, wait, but back to the things. So if you had to kind of put a definition on what bike packing is, what is bike packing?

**Spencer ** 11:37
So I would even back up to just bike travel. So bike travel is riding your bike multi day–so that could include a single night–somewhere, taking whatever you need for that journey, whatever that may be. Totally self sufficient. Maybe just change the clothes and a credit card. But using your bike as a means to explore and travel to somewhere.

**Inmn ** 12:08
Cool. Cool. That sounds right. And what…. I guess maybe this…. It’s like maybe some of these specific classifications kind of seems like it maybe gets down to what kind of bike you’re riding or what kind of gear you’re using? Or like something? I don’t know.

**Spencer ** 12:35
Yeah, there’s been some discussion last few years about intent. So by touring, they’ve gone to the more recreational side of the venn diagram. So people on vacation, people going for a weekend trip, or for enjoyment. And by packing has, since it came at a time when people were packing less stuff on their bikes in new and creative ways that lent itself to more off road or very light and fast travel. So some people had defined bike packing as like a racing intent or like a competitive intent. And there are bike packing races. Someone who’s staying with me right now, Austin Trace, she’s training to ride the Arizona Trail and possibly some others. And that’s an incredibly long distance. That’s 800 miles of off road. There’s many like 3000 plus mile bike packing races that happen all over the world over. So some people say bike packing for that kind of competitive intent. Some people will say they’re going bike packing, when they’re going camping for a weekend. There isn’t really a line in the sand that I can thoroughly really draw. Bike packing is definitely like a new buzzword that’s popped up in the last few years. And it encompasses everything that bike travel or bike touring would, depending on who you talk to or how you want to delineate that.

**Spencer ** 14:07
Yes. And this is another fun thing where we have like, you know, all bikepacking Is bike touring but maybe not all bike touring is bikepacking. So all road bikes are gravel bikes, but not all gravel bikes or road bikes. If you really want to get into it–and this is even…I just wrote a review talking about how the word gravel needs to be split into two things because we’re getting a recreational version of what gravel means and a competitive version of what gravel means, and those things are very different. Roughly speaking a gravel bike is traditional-ish road bike. You know, curvy handlebars, road levers. You’re just getting bigger tires and typically a more relaxed geometry. That’s the easiest without going into a whole mess of other unnecessary details, but the just is road bikes with bigger tires optimized for riding on dirt roads, like farm roads, forest roads, things of that sort.

**Inmn ** 14:07
Yeah. Okay, that makes…that makes sense. And then there’s this other word that I’ve been hearing people use a lot lately, which is–and by lately, I mean, this is years ago and I’m just like, really behind the the ball on things–but like, gravel bikes?

**Inmn ** 15:35
Okay. Where can you ride a bike?

**Spencer ** 15:40
These days? Where are there

**Inmn ** 15:41
Or rather where are places that you can not ride your bike to?

**Spencer ** 15:46
Legally speaking or terrain-limiting speaking?

**Inmn ** 15:50
Terrain. Let’s go with terrain limiting for right now.

**Spencer ** 15:54
Okay, we don’t need to dive into like the Wilderness Act limitations on mechanized travel. There are, if you’re looking into that, there are so many crazy bicycles out there these days. There are very few places that you could not ride a bicycle. You’re looking at incredibly steep and loose terrain or very deep snow or sand. But even that…like there’s so many cool things with…like fat bikes have opened up just an incredible amount of terrain and versatility that wasn’t available even like, you know, 20 years ago to bikes. And that’s even expanding now. I’ve heard about some cool stuff I can’t talk about, but there is some cool new stuff coming down the line that I’m very excited about in the monster truck realm of bikes. So there’s…. Off road in the last few years has just totally exploded with gravel, with the accessibility of fat bikes, and like what those can…. So, fat bike, if I’m talking about, you’re talking about four to five inch tires. They’re just massive. So you run those incredibly low pressures like 10psi You’re riding on snow, you’re riding on sand, like, you know, that just opens up so many things that you can experience by bike and can travel across. And you can type in "adventure fat bike," and you’ll get some crazy shit in fucking Alaska. A bunch of my friends have done it and they’re just like…they have little boats and they’re putting a bike on boats and they’re riding down beaches and like…just places you would never would ever expect you could ride or get a bike to. And they can get a bike there and they can ride it. So there’s obviously limitations like verticality or steep terrain but as far as like surfaces, you’re…the world’s kind of your oyster these days with that. There’s so many options.

**Inmn ** 18:07
Okay. Wow. Some of those are new to me and I’m like, okay, cool. Cool. Cool.

**Spencer ** 18:14
I have a fat bike I just built it. You can come over and ride it. Play monster truck. Come over here, Inmn. I’ll show you next time you come over for dnd.

**Inmn ** 18:22
Wow. Love it. I, you know, on…. So like a background for me is my first bike tour, I didn’t know anything about bike touring. I just knew that I wanted to do it. And so me and my friend Marie, we like…I met her up in Portland and then we rode our bikes to–Portland, Oregon–and then we rode our bikes to Boston.

**Spencer ** 18:56
Oh, wow. Okay. [Laughing with incredulity] My first bike tour was taking the train to Santa Barbara with my like messenger bag and then riding back to LA as an overnight. You went full hog. Okay.

**Inmn ** 19:11
Yeah, first first time ever riding a bike more than I could ride it in a day.

**Spencer ** 19:19
Impressive

**Inmn ** 19:19
It…you know, we’re gonna go with a blend of impressive and utterly reckless.

**Spencer ** 19:30
I know and I want to talk to this in the end too. Like, you can be really reckless on a bike and if shit goes totally pear shaped just…. Yeah, and like the accessibility of things going wrong and the ability to fix those or to get out of those situations is just such a cool component of bicycle touring that you don’t get with like cars or motorcycles or, I mean, I guess hiking even less so, like there’s even less to pickup. But yeah, tell me the story. How did it all go, you know, on the way to Boston?

**Spencer ** 20:05
Oh, those are the worst.

**Inmn ** 20:05
Um, well actually, you know, we’re going to talk about that a little bit later, probably. But just, as this one funny tie in, was that in Glacier National Park, we met a…we met someone who is about to finish his bike tour. And he had been…he’d ridden the entire continental divide on a bicycle with like a little, like one of those little swivel trailers.

**Inmn ** 20:06
Or, actually I don’t know what they’re called. They’re like two wheels, in line.

**Spencer ** 20:20
Oh, the bob trailer.

**Inmn ** 20:42
Yeah, the bob trailer. Yeah, yeah. And he had crossed the Continental Divide like 30 times or something over the course of it. And it was utterly incomprehensible to me at the time. I’m like, "Are you riding on trails?" And he was like, "Sort of?"

**Spencer ** 21:03
If I may do a quick… So the Continental Divide Trail is a long distance hiking trail that is mostly not bikeable due to the Wilderness Act thing with the wilderness stuff. I think the route you’re referring to is the Tour Divide.

**Inmn ** 21:18
Yes.

**Spencer ** 21:20
Yeah. So those things kind of get interchanged, but they’re vastly different beasts. The Tour Divide is a very popular off road route that a lot of people do these days and is one of the first mapped long distance routes, and still remains one of the longer documented off road touring routes in the world, too, which is super cool.

**Inmn ** 21:42
Cool. Okay, wait, I’m trying to try to follow a little bit of a thread here. [Pauses, thinking] And maybe this is where to start. How do you…how do you start traveling long distances by bike in, you know, whatever capacity, whether you’re like, I want to ride to a neighboring city, I want to ride across the country. I want to ride into the wilderness. These are vastly different. How do you get started? How do you get started?

**Spencer ** 22:19
So my start was literally, my friend in college gave a talk, and at the time I was a backpacker. I’d done some backpacking, like three, four days. Stuff like that. And my friend gave this talk about how she went to France and took a bunch of kids bike touring and they took all the camping gear and they put it on their bikes and they just rode their bikes for like two months. And that blew my fucking mind. I was like, wait, I could put all my camping gear on my bike and go ride my bike. And this is in the very like first few years of me riding bikes. I was like, "This is the shit. I love this. Wait, I can go camping and do this?" So that was my first introduction. And I literally, New Year’s Day, 2009, I took my road bike and my like good o’le Chrome messenger bag and I zip tied my sleeping bag under my saddle rails on my road bike and I took the train to Santa Barbara and I rode from Santa Barbara down like Highway One, like out near point Magoo, and I camped for the night. And I rode back to Long Beach the next day. And that’s part of the Pacific Coast bike touring route. So it’s just another established route from Adventure Cycling, who also does the Tour Divide, which you mentioned earlier. And that was my first time properly traveling by bike, and I was like, "This is cool." And a few months later a good friend of mine, Julia, who had just ridden across the country, kind of as you did. I can’t remeber if she started in San Francisco or Portland as well. But she did that same trans-america ride. And she was like, "Hey, I just got off school. Like, I don’t want to drive back to Southern California. Do you want to just like take a bus up here, and we’re gonna bike back to LA together?" So I went back a few months later that summer and tried…like I got a different bike that had racks and all that shit and some bags. And you know, as that ball rolls, you get more bags, you get more specific stuff, you get bikes that are designed for it. And then I rode back from Santa Cruz to LA and then I was like, "This is fucking sweet." So, two months later, I flew to Seattle and rode all the way back to Santa Cruz that same summer too. So that ball kind of rolled pretty quickly for me. So, I think it’s literally taking…like at the time I had a messenger bag and a sleeping bag and a stuff sack and that was what I took and I had a little tiny pocket stove and a sleeping pad. I don’t know if I even brought a sleeping pad. I might not have. I have to look back at the photos. It might have been strapped to my handlebars or something. But it’s really what you have. If you have most any kind of like reasonably lightweight camping gear, from car camping to backpacking. Like, all of that gear translates. And if you have a bicycle, there’s–especially these days–almost…there’s so many ways that you can affix things to your bike.

**Inmn ** 25:14
And yeah, it’s kind of funny, because I feel like I’ve seen this funny arc of like "bike luggage" or something. I don’t know what to call it. [Spencer laughs] Where, like, when I was trying to get into bike touring, it’s like–I’m sure like gravel bike/bike packing/offroad stuff, I’m sure I’m sure all that stuff existed, but I was less aware of it. But in the realm of bike touring, it seemed to be all about like how to like really neatly contain a lot of stuff on a bicycle, you know? And, like, now I see people’s gravel bike or bike packing setups, and it’s literally just like shit strapped anywhere that it could be.

**Spencer ** 26:02
Yeah, so if we’re gonna get into like, if we’re gonna delineate two words, we’re gonna do bike touring on one side and we’re gonna do bike packing on the other. If we look at bike touring luggage, or traditional touring luggage, was usually two to four panniers [rhymes with "your"], Panniers [Rhymes with "yay"]. There’s a whole video you can watch about someone from Webster’s talking to my buddy Russ about how to actually pronounce that fucking word. It’s a bag strapped to a rack. You can argue about it all day long. Typically two to four panniers, maybe a little bag on your handlebars, some water bottles, that was kind of the traditional setup that’s been around since the inception of bicycles. Bike packing is when we’re moving to more off road focus. So you, obviously panniers are just little hooks on a rack and maybe a bungee. If you’ve ever written off road with those they don’t…they tend to eject. I’ve got buddies who have got busted collarbones from catching someone’s unwanted, flying paneer

**Spencer ** 27:02
Oh, no.

**Spencer ** 27:03
So in the other corner, we have more modern bike packing bags, which arose from a cottage industry of people developing bags for things that they wanted to do that didn’t exist at the time. There’s a ton of them, like Revelate Designs has been around since the beginning and were big pioneers in a lot of these venues. And typically what that looks like is you have a bag on your handlebars. It’s typically a double sided stuff sack, say 10 to 15 liters. Smaller, bigger exist. That’s rolled on there, secured with some straps. There’s harnesses and all that jazz. A big thing in bike packing that has really bled out to a lot of the other aspects of cycling, it’s really convenient, is using the main front triangle of your bike. So bags that fit the center of your bike and fill that space.

**Inmn ** 27:56
That’s like the spot kind of like underneath where you’re sitting, right? It’s like the space between the seat and the handle bars, right?

**Spencer ** 28:01
Correct. So, if you’re thinking about a bike frame, this kind of goes back to the–I wanted to actually mention this in the history too–so a double triangle, like a diamond. So you have two triangles. You have the front triangle and the rear triangle. That design has been around nearly since the inception of bikes and fundamentally hasn’t changed, which is kind of miraculous. There’s there’s always going to be some kooky weird shit that people are cooking up to make bikes better. But 99% of bikes that have ever existed have been the same design, and it’s still the best and most efficient. So, you’re filling that front triangle with gear. So it’s where you would typically have your water bottles and things like that, but being able to put four liters of water, as opposed to two bottles, and a bunch of camping gear is more efficient. So frame bag. And then there’s a bag attached to your seat post called a rocket bag or a butt bag or…[laughs] And this is where stuff gets real bondage-y. There’s like 17 straps holding those fucking things on. They sway if you don’t pack them right. And there’s a bunch of designs to make that better, and we’re getting really close to really nailing it. So you have those kind of are your three main staples for bike packing bags. There’s bags that strap your fork, there’s bags that go onto your down tube, there’s ones that attach to your stem to put snacks in. If there’s a tiny spot in your bike, there’s a bag for it, I guarantee it. And those are kind of your two corners of like bicycle luggage.

**Inmn ** 29:32
I see. I see. You know, what I…. Something I weirdly really appreciate about some of these bike packing luggage, or whatever, is when I was…when I was first hearing about some of this and I was like, oh…. Like I remember like 10 years ago when people were starting to have frame bags and stuff, and I was like "Where do you get a frame bag, like where can I go and buy this?" And the answer was, you had to just know someone who fucked around and made one and wanted to make you one. And it was like…it’s like watching an entire–like, you know, fuck an industry, but it does make it more accessible for people that there’s like more people making these things–but an entire way of making things, or a culture of making things, like erupting from like watching some people just fuck around with fabric and like cordura and vinyl and shit and just like…. Yeah, I don’t know. I feel like…yeah, it’s like watching that and watching the same thing happen with messenger bags like 15-20–I know, it’s been more–years ago. But I don’t know, it’s something I’ve weirdly always appreciated about like bikes is that there’s been a lot of innovation not on an industrial level. It’s like on the level of people just messing around with stuff in their garages and figuring out some really cool things. I don’t know, does that…does that track? Is that real? Am I under the right perception?

**Spencer ** 31:11
100% There are so many cottage bag makers and a lot of them have scaled up and some of them are still really small. And a lot of the innovation is still coming from those cottage industries. Big companies have caught up. So there are a multitude of companies offering frame bags produced overseas that you can get at REI or on Amazon. There’s a there’s a host of options. Industrial production has caught up to it. One thing that’s cool that they will never be able to do is there’s a bunch of frame bike bag sewers–builders? What’s the word? And you can send them a photo and they’ve written their various different scripts and computer programs and you send them a photo of your bike with like a ruler in it. And they will make a custom tailored bag exactly to fit your bike where you can put bolts through it, like just over the internet. And that’s somethingl…. Like I personally have one from Rogue Panda. Nick is a crazy mad scientist and incredibly innovative. Yeah, you can just send him a photo of your bike or if they have the dimensions already in their system, they just sew you an exactly perfect custom bag. So you can get a bunch of off the shelf things that will work for most bikes, but if you have a weird like I do, or many that I do, you can get a custom one, and that’s something that’s always going to be around as like a cottage level industry.

**Inmn ** 32:38
Um, okay, how…. Or…. Okay, so say…let’s say I want to…say I want I want to ride my bike from where I live to a neighboring city. It’s like…maybe it’s four days away, or something, by bike. What…or, this is a regular thing that I want to do. This is a thing that I want to kind of invest in doing. And I’m asking this from the perspective of, so like on my month long bike tour, I feel like there was a way to have a bike that I didn’t fucking hate riding. And so I’m wondering…I’m wondering kind of like what kind of bike do I need to do that? What will make my life be less terrible? I was on an old Schwinn steel frame that I put a mountain bike drive train on, essentially. And some like other mountain bike parts. I like converted it to 700s [wheel size]. I didn’t know anything about fat tires. I just had like–

**Spencer ** 34:03
It barely existed back then. So yeah.

**Inmn ** 34:05
It was like, I don’t know like one and a half inch ties. This is embarrassing to say at this point.

**Spencer ** 34:14
That’s fine. I can’t tell you the breadth of dumb ideas around bicycle.

**Inmn ** 34:22
Yeah, yeah. And it’s like my life was so bad in comparison to my road partner who was riding a Surly Long Haul. [Specialty touring bike]

**Spencer ** 34:34
Yeah. So to segue out of this, if you ask the internet, the internet’s gonna tell you the Surly Long Haul Trucker’s the best bike touring bike for blah, blah, blah, blah. I’m going to tell you right now, the Surly Long Haul Trucker rides like fucking dogshit without about 100 pounds of gear on it, and I don’t think is the right bike for almost anyone in this current day and age ofbike touring. But let’s get into your actual question. So the cool thing about touring is the bags will fit to most bikes without racks or rack mount. So if you have a bike that’s comfortable, that fits you, it’s probably…it can probably be made to be some kind of touring ready. So every bike is a bike touring bike if you have enough gumption. I’ve written tall bikes halfway across this country on multiple occasions. So I wanna say that you can always a specific bike tailored to the trip or the adventure you want to go on. But you can probably make whatever you have work. And I could recommend, if you give me more specifics, I could be like, yeah, you should get this size tire. This is a great bike for that. Like, height matters. All right, before I run away on this, let’s start at the…let’s start at the bike. So more important than any other consideration is whether you have a bike that’s comfortable for you? Does it fit you?

**Inmn ** 36:07
What does that mean?

**Spencer ** 36:09
So bikes come in multiple sizes for different bodies, different heights. Like, I’m all torso. I’ve got relatively short legs for my height, but I’m like 6’1" so I ride an extra large bike. If you’re 5′ or shorter, you might write an extra small. That’s going to be…those bikes are gonna fit differently. So there’s a varying size run. So most importantly, you want a bike that fits you. And that’s going to mean different things to different people, depending on if they have any back issues or what have you. So comfort is going to be kind of paramount to start. So your four day trip, is it off road? Is it mixed between the two? Is it single-track mountain biking? You’re not going to take your Schwinn Varsity on a bunch of single track trails in Arizona, because you’re not going to have any fillings or teeth left at the end of that ride. So, once you have a bike that’s comfortable, once you have a bike that fits you, then you want to say, "Does this bike…is it adequate for the terrain?" And that’s typically going to be tire size. So tires come in a bunch of different flavors, but you’re pretty much looking at anywhere between a 26" rim, a 27.5" rim, or a 29" rim, which is also coloquially referred to as 700c. And those come in–oh my God I’m really in the rabbit hole here–so many sizes. But, so is your bike comfortable? Does your bike fit you? Do you now have the appropriate tire size for the terrain you hope to traverse? And we’re going to assume that you have all of those things. And the next consideration will probably be luggage. So how much frame bag space do you have? Can you get a frame bag for it? Do you have mounts to put a rack on the front, or even the back, of the bike? You want to make panniers to go on there? You can strap anything, like anything with the stuff sack, you can strap. I mean the quintessential like bike co-op special is the old kitty litter boxes with hardware hooks and some bungee cords. Like, do you have a cat? Do you use cat litter? And these are all things that can become bike touring luggage. It’s so up to you and how you can fit it. I’ve seen such a plethora. There’s such a rich community of people DIYing these things. And there’s ways to use like old cutting boards to make handlebar rolls to hold stuff sacks, you know? Like, I could go on and on. So the next thing you want to figure out is how are you going to pack all your shit on your bike? And okay, we’ve got that. There’s a plethora. And next thing is food and water. Is there water available? Do I need a water filter along the way? Where can I get more food, snacks, etc… along the way? How many days of food I need to pack? Those water and food options are probably going to inform how you pack or what kind of luggage you’re going to need, beecause those your essentials. Like if you want the bike to move, you have to pedal it and you have to be alive to do that. So you’re gonna need to eat and drink.

**Inmn ** 39:36
Yeah, can I have a little segue off that? It was funny on this cross-country bike tour, like our attitude about that changed throughout the trip, you know, where it was like–Marie definitely had more like bike touring experience than I did–but like when we started, we were in rural Oregon, we were in Montana, we were in all of these big western states. And we didn’t have a water filter, which is probably something we should have brought. But like, you know, we weren’t camping. We weren’t–or sorry, we were camping every night, but we weren’t trying to ride off to find nice places. We were like, whatever’s along the road, you know? And so we were like, "Okay, well, we just have to bring all of this stuff with us." Like, I think we had like two weeks’ worth of food each and three gallons of water on us at all times. And it was utterly absurd, like our bikes were so goddamn heavy. But we often went a week without going to a grocery store.

**Spencer ** 40:57
That could be the reality of your trip. And there’s some of these long distance routes, especially the off road ones…. Like road touring, if you’re on established routes, like highways or secondary highways, you’re gonna hit a gas station hopefully once a day, if not every other day. And like, you know, it’s not gonna be great food. But that’s…those are all considerations to how much you need to pack. And that’s…that’s typically the first thing I would be like where’s my reasonable resupply? Especially ifwe live down to the desert, like water is the main concern and the limiting factor for a lot of my trips. Like how much do I have to carry? Where can I get it? How can I get it?

**Inmn ** 41:39
Yeah, cuz it’s like, you’re not–unlike being in the Northwest or something, you’re not just gonna happen on a stream that you can like….

**Spencer ** 41:47
Exactly. I mean, maybe you can if you know that’s there. But that’s a big if, and I’ve planned to get water from a stream and then I got there, and the stream was dry. And I was like, "Oh, this is going to be interesting."

**Inmn ** 42:01
But yeah, sorry. You’re talking about water, food, etc… I don’t know what you were going to say next.

**Spencer ** 42:09
Yeah. So once you figured out how much water and food you need to be able to carry between places that you can get water or food, then you’re gonna go to gear. So clothing, is it going to be hot? Is it gonna be cold at night? And then you’re thinking about sleeping. So tent, sleeping pad, sleeping bag, at the bare minimum. How warm is that sleeping bag need to be? What’s the weather going to be like? Is it going to rain a lot? How nice of a tent do you need? How many people are going to fit in that tent? And once you’ve figured out those things, those are all going to inform all the decisions we made already about like luggage. Like oh, I need to make a three person tent because there’s three of us. Are we going to split it? Yada yada yada. If you’ve been camping at all, you understand that these are like kind of the basic things you want to have with you. Or maybe you’re going there’s a hotel every night and you’re like, I’m just gonna get a hotel in and take a shower, and people do that and it’s great. It’s a different way to tour.

**Inmn ** 42:10
We met someone like that who was credit-card touring, as it’s called, I think. And, you know, I have a friend who just writes crazy distances in like single times, but like meeting this person who was like…he had a very fancy performance road bike and a couple regular small water bottles and like some granola bars and in his fucking lycra pockets, or whatever, and a credit card that was it. That was every single thing this person had.

**Inmn ** 43:07
Still bike touring. My 20 year old self would be would be shaking at me saying that but still bike touring.

**Inmn ** 44:01
Yeah, I mean if you got a credit card and he just like fucking get a hotel every night.

**Spencer ** 44:08
But, you know, these are considerations with things. Like, I’ve stayed at hotels on bike tours. Like I had a real shit day got rained on for like this last trip I did in the Midwest past summer. We got stuck in like damn near a tornado. And I was putting up our tent in the downpour rain and then it was drizzling the whole next day. And I was like, fuck it. I’m getting a hotel. Going off route. I’m going to a hotel. Sleep in this hotel and shower and dry all of our shit out. And these are things you want to consider and this is all part of what goes into considering to go on a bike trip.

**Inmn ** 44:44
Yeah, um, so we’re getting close to the end of our time for today. I didn’t say this at the beginning, but this is a two part episode. And I’m wondering if we could kind of end today’s episode with, could you just tell us a story about going on a bike tour. Could have gone well, could have gone horribly. Kind of whatever. Tell us about a trip that you went on and kind of like what… Yeah. Yeah.

**Spencer ** 45:21
Alright, I’m gonna tell you about my favorite bike tour. And it will bring it back together because you met that lovely gentleman in Glacier on the Tour Divided some years ago. So my buddies Kurt and Sam–this was 2016–so fledgling days of kinda packing bags. This is when one of the bigger companies, Blackburn, was getting into making bags. They sponsored a bunch of folks to go ride big long off-road routes. My friends got this scholarship sponsorship thing. And I was like, okay, cool, like, I’m gonna go meet them. I just finished up work. I worked as a bicycle tour guide, but the van stuff, not so much the touring that we’re talking about, but going to hotels, yadda yadda yadda. And I got off work, drove out there. I took my dad’s hybrid from like 1994 and I strapped a bunch of bags to it. And we went riding down. They had like slick bikes, all the new bags. But the fun thing was they were big rock climbers at the time. So we were carrying all of our camping gear and a full 60 meter rope, a full trad rack of cams and nuts and like our climbing harnesses and shoes, and every week we were climbing at least once a week. So we’re doing trad climbing up some mountains in Montana or Wyoming or wherever the hell we want that being that week. And we packed nothing. We had…. Like none of us had real tents. We have like one spare tube between us because we just didn’t have room for anything with all the climbing gear. It was just so reckless and stupid. We hitchhiked a ton and climbed a bunch of shit that was really sketchy. And it still to this day is one of my favorite memories of traveling by bike, just getting to go climb and just riding those wide opens stretches of Montana, Wyoming, a little bit in Colorado. And it was just the dumbest fun. God I miss you, Sam and Kurt, if you’re out there listening somewhere. That was my bike penultimate trip that had been on. It just…it was silly and dumbn. There’s photos and videos of that from years ago that I can send you some links to or whatnot. But the joy I still take from those memories and that trip stick with me.

**Inmn ** 47:35
Hell yeah. That’s wonderful. Um, one of my like, weirdly favorite memories of going on bike tour was–and we’ll talk about this a little more in part two–but is preparation, how to prepare for a trip, how tolike plan an actual trip, you know. And me and Marie didn’t plan literally at all. We just hopped on our bikes and started riding. Every day we woke up and we were like, "Yeah, let’s go on that road. That makes sense. Whatever. It’ll be fine." Weirdly, we did end up on…we accidentally ended up on Adventure Cycling routes, you know? Which makes sense. They were the most logical roads to ride on. We just didn’t know. But our lack of preparation and planning was actually the most fun part of the trip.

**Spencer ** 48:39
So my buddy Kurt on that trip, and we did a bunch of subsequent trips, and I’m a big planner and Kurt hates planning. He made me fly to fucking Columbia with zero plan and like one half contact that we called when we got to Bogota and a bunch of paper maps and was like, "Nah, we’re just gonna figure it out." Speaking of accidentally winding up on ACA routes, did you the pro move where you found someone riding in the opposite direction and you asked if they were done with their maps because you were going the opposite way?

**Inmn ** 49:11
No, that would have been smart. But we didn’t… We met a couple other people on bike tour. We were incredibly surprised. We met exactly three people on bike tour on a two month long trip and I was actually surprised about it.

**Spencer ** 49:30
Wow. I wound up on that TransAm for a little bit. And I didn’t have any maps because I was being a total of shit bird and would be like, "Hey, you done with that section?" cause I didn’t want to buy maps.

**Inmn ** 49:42
Yeah, they’re expensive.

**Spencer ** 49:45
I mean, Adventure Cycling is a really lovely organization that has done a lot of good and they’re a nonprofit. Do you ever, did you guys go through Missoula and go to the headquarts?

**Inmn ** 49:55
We did. We got the free ice cream.

**Spencer ** 49:56
Popscicles and soda. Yeah. Okay, well, that’s why those maps are so expensive is they gotta give free sodas and ice cream to all the dirt bag toursists that won’t buy them.

**Inmn ** 50:07
Yeah, yeah. Cool. Well, that about does it for the time that we have today. Before we go, are there any things that you want to plug, any projects, any places that people can find you on the internet where you would like to be found? Anything like that?

**Spencer ** 50:29
Anything on social media, is just Spencer J. Harding. Like I said, I write for the theradavist.com. You can type my name in there and there’s a bunch of reviews and trip reports and stuff like that. My website is just SpencerJharding.com. There’s a bunch of photos organized there from a bunch of my bicycle travels, if you want to check that out.

**Inmn ** 50:50
Yeah. Cool. Cool. And for folks who…just to let you know what we’re gonna be talking about next time, next time being next week, we’re gonna be talking about how to actually plan a bike trip, what are things you should be prepared for kind of like on the road, why traveling by bike is just a really cool idea–if you haven’t been swayed already–what are its limitations, and how does this fit into preparedness models for any kind of collapse or disaster situation that we might be in. So tune in next time.

**Inmn ** 51:33
If you enjoyed this podcast, then go hop on a bike and ride around and see what happens. And also, if you like this podcast, you can please just tell people about it. It’s the best way that people hear about the show and one of the best ways to support us. But if you would like to support us in other, I think, sillier ways, you can support the show financially. And you can support us financially by supporting our publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. And the best way to support us is to go to tangledwilderness.org and buy some books. There’s some really cool books you can buy. You can buy a cool TTRPG that me, Margaret, Casandra, and Robin wrote called Penumbra City. You can get a lots lots of other really cool books too. And you can also support us by supporting our Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And there’s a bunch of different levels of support that you can give us, anywhere from like $5 a month, which kind of gets you a lot of cool stuff. It gets you discounts, it gets you digital versions of all of the stuff that we publish and just like lots of really cool updates. You can also get a zine mailed to you every month, that we put out as part of our monthly feature, which if you also just want to hear those, you can read them on our website or you can check out another podcast that I do called Ttrangers in a Tangled Wilderness, where we take our monthly feature and turn it into an audio zine and interview the author. And then there’s another fun part of it, which is that for $20 a month, you can get us to thank or acknowledge anything that you want us to thank to or acknowledge, whether that be you or a cool organization that you want to get shouted out, or whether it’s just someone you love and care about. Or as I’m still plugging for, a fictional or theoretical concept. So check us out on Patreon and we just want to give some special shout outs to these folks right now. Thank you alium, Amber, Ephemoral, Appalachian Liberation Library, Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace, Boldfield, E, Patoli, Eric, Buck, Julia, Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Princess Miranda, Ben Ben, anonymous, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid, theo, Hunter, SJ, Paige, Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Michaiah, and Hoss the Dog. Thank you so much for everything and we hope that you’re doing as well as you can with everything that’s going on and we’ll see you next time.

Find out more at https://live-like-the-world-is-dying.pinecast.co

S1E117 – Inmn and Margaret on “Civil War”

Episode Summary

This week on Live Like the World is Dying, Inmn and Margaret review the new film Civil War. Spoiler alert, it’s all kinda of weird.

Host Info

Inmn can be found on Instagram @shadowtail.artificery. Margaret can be found on twitter @magpiekilljoy or instagram at @margaretkilljoy.

Publisher Info

This show is published by Strangers in A Tangled Wilderness. We can be found at www.tangledwilderness.org, or on Twitter @TangledWild and Instagram @Tangled_Wilderness. You can support the show on Patreon at www.patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness.

Transcript

Live Like the World is Dying: Inmn and Margaret on Civil War

**Inmn ** 00:14
Hello and welcome to Live Like the World is Dying, your podcast for what feels like the end times. I’m one of your hosts today Inmn Neruin and with me is the always lovely. . .  [trails off inviting Margaret to speak]

**Margaret ** 00:28
Margaret. You should do the [intro] as if I’m Garth. You should be like "And with me as always is Margaret." Like…because Wayne’s World. Because I’m an elder millennial. Nevermind. Hi, I’m Margaret, I’m your other host.

**Inmn ** 00:43
And today we’re going to be talking about…we’re kinda going to be doing a movie review about– [Interrupted]

**Margaret ** 00:49
Wayne’s World. 

**Inmn ** 00:50
About Wayne’s World, the most important movie of our time.

**Margaret ** 00:53
I once…I changed my–actually I dropped out of school–but before I dropped out of school, I was gonna change my major to film because of Wayne’s World. This is a true story. 

**Inmn ** 01:03
I love that so much. [Laughing]

**Margaret ** 01:07
 It’s so well done. Woman-directed too. Anyway, what are we talking about? 

**Inmn ** 01:15
We’re talking about a much less joyful movie today. And that movie is Alex Garland’s Civil War. And the reason we’re kind of talking about this is that I think this movie feels very relevant to–or at least when I went to go see it, I thought it would be very relevant–to some themes on the podcast. And since then, I’ve been a little bit confused, but we’ll get into that later. And I am told that me and Margaret might have some differing opinions about this movie. And so y’all will get to see us argue.

**Margaret ** 01:56
Yeah, I’m going to argue in favor of Wayne’s World, and Inmn is going to argue against Civil War. 

**Inmn ** 02:01
Yes. But first off, we are proud members of the Channel Zero Network of anarchists podcasts, and here’s the jingle from another show on that network. Doo doo doo doo doo. [singing]

**The Ex-Worker Podcast ** 02:18
The Border is not just a wall. It’s not just a line on the map. It’s a power structure, a system of control. The Border does not divide one world from another. There is only one world, and the Border is tearing it apart. The Ex-worker podcast presents "No Wall They Can Build: A Guide to Borders and Migration Across North America," a serialized audio book in eleven chapters, released every Wednesday. Tune in at crimethinc.com/podcast.

**Margaret ** 02:54
[Mimicking a movie trailer voice] In a world… [stopes voice] That’s all I got.

**Inmn ** 03:01
[Inmn takes up movie trailer voice] Where a vague civil war has gripped the nation for the last 14 years, we…

**Margaret ** 03:12
About literally nothing.

**Inmn ** 03:13
[continuing] we join a group of war correspondents and photographers who…are kind of shitbags.

**Margaret ** 03:26
Don’t have any motivation besides art.

**Inmn ** 03:32
[Not movie trailer voice anymore] I don’t really have to do a "Introduce yourself" to the thing because we all know who me and Margaret are. But to kind of get right into it, we’re going to be talking about the movie Civil War today. And my hard take right now is if you haven’t seen it, do NOT subject yourself to having to go see it. But, you know, make your own opinion. I’m not going to tell you what to do. But maybe we can kind of do a brief kind of like overview of the movie and then we’ll get into what me and Margaret think–each separately think–about it. How’s that sound?

**Margaret ** 04:17
Sounds great. Am I overviewing or are you overviewing?

**Inmn ** 04:20
Um, I can do it, you can do it. I don’t care.

**Margaret ** 04:22
Are you prepared to. 

**Margaret ** 04:24
I’m not. Let’s do it. 

**Inmn ** 04:24
I’m prepared to.

**Inmn ** 04:26
I’m gonna do it. 

**Margaret ** 04:27
Go ahead. Great. Pew, pew, pew. [mimicking gunfire] I’m gonna make pew-pew-pew noises the whole time you’re talking, though, so that people get into the head of the viewer, which is that whatever’s happening there’s also a lot of gunfire in the background. 

**Inmn ** 04:39
So much gunfire. And I have something to say about that gunfire later. 

**Margaret ** 04:44
Okay. Okay. 

**Inmn ** 04:45
Yeah. Which will be very funny with the pew-pew-pews. [Margaret makes more gunfire noises] So, Civil War is a movie about a… [Margaret makes more gun and explosion noises]

**Margaret ** 04:57
Okay, I’m gonna stop now. This will get old. Go ahead. 

**Inmn ** 05:03
The setup for Civil War is it’s a movie about a Second American Civil War. And we have a few different sides in it. We have the Western Forces, which are made up of California and Texas. And they have formed a coalition of secessionist forces known as the Western Forces. And they are trying to…. All we really know is that they’re trying to kill the president. And that– 

**Margaret ** 05:39
Relatable. 

**Inmn ** 05:40
Yeah, relatable. And then we have a couple other sides that never make it into the movie. There’s…. The ones that do make it into the movie, we have Florida, who is attempting to join the Western Forces. And we have a few other players. The creator’s that movie released a map of the US set in the time of the war. There’s like the People’s Army of the Northwest, or something. It’s confusing. And when we join the narrative, it is…I think the war has been going on for about 14 or 15 years at this point. And the Western Forces are closing in on Washington DC and kind of like the East Coast. And we have a…we have a country that has been completely engulfed in in this war for, you know, over the last decade. And it follows a group of war photographers and journalists…correspondent people–I know words–who are out on a strange mission, which is to photograph and interview the president before he gets killed by the Western Forces. This is the setup for our protagonists’ journey. And we have Kirsten Dunst as this middle-aged, jaded, war photographer, who is paired up with–I don’t remember his name–

**Margaret ** 07:25
Some other guy. 

**Inmn ** 07:26
Some other guy, who’s a journalist. And as a tagalong they have this older journalist who’s trying to tag along with them. He’s like, old friend, co–

**Margaret ** 07:42
Wise, old, Black man archetype.

**Inmn ** 07:44
Wise, old, Black man archetype. And then we have a–I think she’s 23 in the movie–younger, very excited, and naive photographer who is a fan of Lee (or Kirsten Dunsts’ character), and they’re all headed to DC to try to photograph the president before he dies and they run into a lot of wacky shenanigans along the way.

**Margaret ** 08:19
It’s a road trip movie.

**Inmn ** 08:21
It is a road trip movie at its…. At its core, it is a road trip movie. Margaret, what…. I guess like…. I have quite a lot of opinions about this, but I’m the person who’s technically hosting right now. So I’m going to ask you questions. What did you think?

**Margaret ** 08:42
I think we should more duke it out a little bit. But I think we should each just give treat ourselves as having equal time on this. So I went into Civil War expecting to hate it. Most of the movie takes place in West Virginia, Western Pennsylvania, and Western Maryland. It takes place where I live. I drove to go see it in a town that is like, I think one of the towns that they filmed in and I went to the movie theater and I was like, "It’s going to be all fucking chuds. It’s all going to be these right-wing motherfuckers. Like I’m going into enemy territory," you know? I went to a Saturday matinee on the second day the movie was out. And there was like eight old couples. And then one dude who I read as gay, who was there alone like I was, and that’s who went to go see it. Some couples in their 70s and some guy who probably went and kind of similar reason I did, to be like, "What does this have to say about the people who are trying to kill me?" you know? And I enjoyed watching it. I got some popcorn. And I watched a movie that had pretty good action, lots of loud bang noises everywhere. I was like, I was glad I saw it in the theater because it was like, I thought the audio was well done. And it seemed to me…. Okay, so it’s like, if you go into it being like, this is gonna be a movie that explains where we’re at in the country, It’s not going to work, because it’s not. And it absolutely dropped the ball on that. But that was the point. Now, I don’t think that was a good point. I don’t think that they made a good decision. Like, if I had made this movie, this is not how I would have made it. I enjoyed watching the movie. I also thought it was really interesting. So I went home, and I was like, "Oh, that was a…that was less bad than I expected." And it was on my mind. You know? It made me think. Mostly it made me think, "The fuck were they thinking?" But it’s like, I was going to do war journalism when I was in high school and I was like, a photo, kid, you know? And then I went off to school for photography. And then I was like, "Fuck this, I’m going to drop out during the revolution," or whatever. And I very quickly was like, the idea of the neutral journalist is nonsense, you know? 

**Inmn ** 11:24
Fucking nonsense. 

**Margaret ** 11:26
And that is like one of the main things. This is like a statement. It’s trying to be this like grand like, "Oh, it’s so important to have this neutral position or whatever." But no one’s really neutral. And they kind of present it like people are. But I don’t think that they try all at hard. And what I realized…. Okay, my takeaway is this movie is centrist propaganda. And this movie is centrist propaganda that is specifically…it doesn’t this whole thing where all of this stuff is like, "There’s no good guys or bad guys." And they do very intentionally and kind of, honestly, interestingly, have it where you don’t know which sides are fighting at any given point. 

**Inmn ** 12:07
No clue. 

**Margaret ** 12:09
And that is that is very intentional. There’s a scene where there’s like a sniper and there’s a counter sniper. And the people are like, "Wait, which side are you on?" And he’s like, "I’m just trying to kill that guy. He’s trying to kill me." And like–

**Inmn ** 12:20
And they’re like queer-coded.

**Margaret ** 12:22
Yeah, they have pink hair or whatever.

**Inmn ** 12:25
And fingernail polish.

**Margaret ** 12:28
Oh, I didn’t catch that. Yeah, no, totally. And it it feels…. That part feels a little bit real. It’s a kind of a little bit of a like…. What’s that "Heart of Darkness" movie?

**Inmn ** 12:45
Apocalypse Now. 

**Margaret ** 12:46
Yeah, like kind of this like, "I don’t know, man. War is hell" kind of vibe, right? And like, okay, so it’s centrist propaganda because at the end of the day, despite that they make this big deal of like, "Well, we don’t know who’s the good guys and the bad guys," you do. The President is bad. The Western Forces are good. Now they’re not "good: perfect, everything’s great." But the movie opens with a person with the United States flag suicide bombing. Noone presents suicide bombing as a positive thing in Western media. The United States government is the bad guys in this movie. That caught me by surprise. I expected passively to think that the way that they would do centrist propaganda–I knew it was gonna be centrist propaganda–is that they would have Texas and California being the far-right and the far-left. And they’re the bad guys. Instead, I think they are meant to–and this is a sloppy…it’s not how it should have been done–it represents the far-right and–sorry, the center-right–and the center-left teaming up to stop a fascist. Because the President has a couple like…. Okay, so if you like read all these reviews of people talking about it, I remember I was reading these right-wingers on Reddit. Everyone was like, "Oh, it’s all neutral." And this right-winger was like, "It’s not. It is anti-Trump. It is antifascist." And he was saying.

**Inmn ** 14:17
It’s the only clear thing. That’s the only clear tie-in in the movie is that Nick Offerman is supposed to be Trump.

**Margaret ** 14:24
And so he noticed everything that I noticed and pointed it out to say "This movie is actually leftist propaganda." In that, for example, the dude’s Trump. The only actual bad person–there’s people who do war crimes in it. Like they gunned down some prisoners and stuff, and it’s a little bit of a like, "War is hell." There’s one group of actually bad people and they’re the racists.

**Inmn ** 14:58
Or…there’s a couple. I don’t know. There’s the gas station keepers who shots some looters, you know?

**Margaret ** 15:05
I think they’re negative, but they’re not…. Yeah, no, that’s true. 

**Inmn ** 15:11
Then like Jesse Plemons’ group, which are the racists– 

**Margaret ** 15:16
Okay. Yeah. 

**Inmn ** 15:17
[Continuing] –or the the anti-immigrants? And yeah, I don’t know. And they’re confusing to me because when I saw…when I was watching the movie, I was like, "Are these supposed to be the Western Forces?" because the Western Forces are talked about so mysteriously, to the point where it’s like vague in a way that is confusing and, I think, harmful.

**Margaret ** 15:38
I don’t disagree with you. 

**Inmn ** 15:41
But so it’s like, and then I was trying to tell where I was like, "Wait, do these characters have the WF on their arm?" And I couldn’t really tell. And then I think I read something later that was like they were supposed to be a militia.

**Margaret ** 15:56
Yeah, that was the impression I got. But they also have one of the military Humvees.

**Inmn ** 16:02
Yeah, so it’s confusing. 

**Margaret ** 16:04
But the Western Forces have the Black woman that kills the president. 

**Inmn ** 16:08
Yeah, yeah. Which is where it all starts to get confusing is like the… they really…. When they meet up with those other journalists who are embedded in the Western Forces, they talk about them, really…they talk about it really poorly. They’re like…because our protagonist don’t like the Western Forces. Our protagonists think the Western Forces are like, are weird. You know, they don’t like the president either. 

**Margaret ** 16:34
Do they?

**Inmn ** 16:35
Yeah, they say something like "You embedded with them? Like what the fuck?" And they’re like, "This is just what it is now."

**Inmn ** 16:42
I believe you. But I think that the Boogaloo Boys that they were embedded with Western Forces.

**Margaret ** 16:45
Like the Hawaiian shirt wearing folks?

**Margaret ** 16:45
Yeah. So that was one of the other things that was interesting because the Boogaloo Boys are on the good side in this movie.

**Inmn ** 17:04
That was really confusing to me.

**Margaret ** 17:07
Yeah. I think they’re trying to present them as like, a center-right force fighting alongside the center-left force of California to overthrow a fascist. That’s my takeaway.

**Inmn ** 17:24
Okay. Yeah. Yeah. It’s–

**Margaret ** 17:27
I don’t–go ahead.

**Inmn ** 17:30
Oh, no. Finish your thing. 

**Margaret ** 17:32
I just…I don’t think… It was sure ain’t how I would have written it. Because I don’t think it’s realistic at all. But wait, I talked to one journalist friend who also doesn’t…isn’t a fan. But they pointed out, right, Alex Garland’s like not American. He’s what, English, maybe? I don’t know.

**Inmn ** 17:52
I don’t know. He’s from London. Or, I think he’s an immigrant to London too. I don’t remember.

**Margaret ** 18:01
There’s this argument that they’re kind of doing the thing that American war movies do, where someone who’s not from your country oversimplifies and fucks up all the local politics in order to make a war movie about art.

**Inmn ** 18:15
Oh, god. Yeah. Totally. 

**Margaret ** 18:17
And that’s kind of interesting? [Said reluctntly and in question] But the person who presented that idea isn’t a fan of this movie.

**Inmn ** 18:23
Yeah. I think some of the politically confusing things to me about it were like, the Western forces are ambiguous and, for most of the movie, you’re supposed to be…the viewer is kind of supposed to be  fearful or confused about them, which makes sense, you know. It’s like our protagonists don’t really know… Our protagonists are…they’re neutral in that they’re like, "Yeah, the government sucks. And also the Western Forces probably suck too." Like, there’s all these mentions about how they’re going to like tear each other apart after they kill the president. Which feels far more realistic. 

**Margaret ** 19:05
Totally. 

**Inmn ** 19:06
The thing that kind of really did it for me is that it’s like whoever Jesse Plemons–red sunglass militia dude–is supposed to be aligned with, the viewer is kind of supposed to think that they’re the Western Forces. And then what really cinched it for me is the Western Forces, before they make this final strike on DC, rally in Charlottesville.

**Margaret ** 19:41
Ohhh… 

**Inmn ** 19:43
Which in a movie, which in kind of an arthouse movie, where like everything’s intentional and not intentional and everything’s a reference and not a reference, [Margaret makes affirmatiive noises] it was this thing where I was like, you’re having your politically-vague secessionist forces that we’re kind of supposed to think are maybe, you know, far-right fascists of their own color, are rallying in Charlottesville of all places.

**Margaret ** 20:11
Yeah. No, and it’s funny because we know that they worked with at least the far-right Andy Ngo, right, who’s thanked in the credits and we know that they worked with at least–I can remember the prominent TERF’s name, who’s also thanked in the credits.

**Inmn ** 20:29
Oh yeah, I don’t remember.

**Margaret ** 20:32
No, that is the like…. No, that’s good point.

**Inmn ** 20:37
Yeah, but I think what it is, the the politics that are confusing for me are that the world that we encounter in Civil War, like the world in their world that existed before the civil war, is not our world. It’s like, it is a fantasy. It is a fantasy movie, in that it is not…. It’s like, based on our world. But it’s not our world. 

**Margaret ** 21:06
Yeah, because also it takes place like 20 years from now, and nothing’s changed technologically. Iff anything, it’s regressed.

**Inmn ** 21:14
Yeah. Which kind of makes sense for a war sometimes, you know? Like wars in some ways halt.

**Margaret ** 21:22
Nah, we get a lot of new technology during wars. I mean, I guess the propagation through civil society of new technology is slowed, but like–

**Inmn ** 21:29
I think that’s more what I mean. 

**Margaret ** 21:31
Okay. 

**Inmn ** 21:32
Like civil technology.

**Margaret ** 21:36
I was left with an uncomfortable feeling about it when I was done, but I didn’t hate it as much as I expected because I think…just taken as like, I’m kind of easy to please with movies. And I’m just like, I don’t know. Pew, pew. [gun noises] Oh, that’s fun. And also, like a Black lady shot the president. That’s cool. And like, but then it’s like, it does a lot of like, "art is so neutral tropes." I kind of hate self important photographers. It’s like a thing. It’s like part of why I dropped out of school and didn’t get into photography is that photographers are so fucking self-important.

**Inmn ** 22:18
Yeah, the treatment…. Okay, I think one of the other things I had a really hard time with was its treatment of journalists in a way where I was like….  Like, the whole movie I was like, is the purpose of the movie to make journalists seem like the most like self-important douchebags on the planet? Because that’s what I’m getting right now. And I kind of dug into some of it because I knew that Garland, like chose journalists as his protagonists on purpose. And like, part of that was because he like, he sees them as heroes. He grew up with like–I think his dad was like a war correspondent or something–and he like grew up hanging out with all these like old war correspondents and like journalists and photographers. And so like, and he said it publicly that he thinks that they have interesting insight or whatever for telling the stories of this. And then he portrays them to be like, kind of dick bags and kinda just like…. They’re portraying this idea of neutrality, which I think is really embraced with Western journalism, over like, "We have to be neutral and our neutrality is important." and then it’s like all these like wild things happen. And it’s like…. Okay, it’s like…. Spoilers. Everyone, there’s spoilers.  

**Margaret ** 23:46
I think people go that already. 

**Inmn ** 23:48
You already got their spoilers. But it’s like, we open up on the scene where like Kirsten Dunst and our young protagonist–I can’t remember any of these people’s names. 

**Margaret ** 23:59
Old lady journalist and young lady journalist.

**Inmn ** 24:03
They meet at a rally. The rally gets bombed. And like literally moments later, they’re both just snapping photos of people who are dead and dying. And they are not helping anyone. They’re not…. 

**Margaret ** 24:16
Well, and that’s the point. I mean, that is the moral of it. I mean, uuuuh, it’s not well done.  Because she’s like– Sorry, I cut you off. I’m sorry.

**Inmn ** 24:24
Oh no, I think it’s like, we see this reproduced throughout the rest of the movie where it’s like, they’re…like Stanley, they’re older, Black, wise…wise Black man character gets shot saving them, saving the group from Jesse Plemons and them.  And they like…. You know, because Stanley’s like, "This is a bad idea. You’re gonna get fucking killed" and then he’s right. And then he saves them. Gets shot doing it. And I know this is how movies work or whatever but he gets shot and they do nothing. They let him bleed out in the fucking car so they can have a whimsical drive through a forest fire with like whimsical music.

**Margaret ** 25:12
Well he doesn’t tell them, but like that’s on the writer. You know? 

**Inmn ** 25:16
Well when they switch drivers, he’s bleeding. 

**Margaret ** 25:19
Oh, yeah, you’re right. Okay. Yeah.

**Inmn ** 25:21
They know that he’s been shot for hours and they do nothing.

**Margaret ** 25:25
I mean, my thought was that they were like trying to get, they were like, "Well, we better get to the place because there’s gonna be medics there," or whatever. But they don’t say that. And they also like…. No, that scene, and how they treat that character, that was when I was like, these writers are hacks and are playing into bullshit, racist tropes. Like, even that scene, that scene where…. All of the people of color die in that scene. That’s what happens in that scene. Well, I guess the journalist man is a person of color also. But like, the three…. You know, whatever, like, only white people and this one person of color survives that scene, because because of the fight with the racists. And like, that is lazy, racist writing, I think, to kill all of them off. And then also to like…. Yeah, the way they drive away with it, and they’re like, "Oh, I was saved, thank god," or whatever, and like, no one gives a shit about…. I mean, but they also tri to do the like, "No, we are fucking shell shocked." And they try to do this, like weird remove–and they all have mental breakdowns, you know? Like every one of the journalists either dies or has a mental breakdown during–at some point–during this movie. And but I also think that there’s this like…. We all know racists are bad, you know? And so it’s like a little bit of a like, "Conngratulations, the racists killed all the people of color…" like? The thing that makes me angriest is that they knew that that red sunglasses man would become a meme. That was part of their marketing. He was the most interesting character in the movie. 

**Inmn ** 27:12
Yeah, if you watch the trailer, you assume that that interaction is most of the movie.

**Margaret ** 27:18
Yeah, totally. And there’s a couple things that pissed me off about it. That’s in West Virginia. And that is the like…they don’t hillbilly code them in any other way, except for the fact that they’re white racists in West Virginia. But that is still something that is a…that is like a "Yeah, it’s West Virginia, so of course all the people…" you know, like it fucking "Deliverance’s" that shit. I’ve never seen "Deliverance," but I know it’s the fear of Appalachia thing. And, but also by knowing it’s going to be the meme, and then having him be like, really, actually a fucking monster, you have now…. All of the people who vaguely identify with him…. Like, I watched a bunch of YouTube video responses from tactical and prepper and whatever spaces, which tend center and far right, you know? And, you know, they’re all like, kind of mad that they made that red sunglasses guy such a racist, because they’re kind of like, "But he was our guy," you know? Which is, in one way, kind of accurate, right? But you also just now have all these people who are excited about this fucking racist dude. And like, he’s a meme. And I’ve seen memes that are funny and leftist that use it like, "Oh, you’re an anarchist. but what kind of anarchist are you?" or whatever. You know, but it’s about murdering…. I don’t know. It’s in bad taste. Dislike it. But, okay, wait, one more thing, sorry. The other thing….  My thoughts are not collected. The other thing that I thought a lot about is that when I watched all these response videos and all these things, the far-right and the left hate this movie, and the center likes it. And I think that’s interesting. I actually think that…. The one art thing that I think Garland might have pulled off–I overall feel very negatively about…. You know, I mean, I enjoyed the movie from a like pure popcorn point of view, right? But like, how I feel about the movies is that it leaves a bad taste in my mouth. But this thing, the fact that it pisses off the two people who are mad at it, like me and that right-wing guy on Reddit had taken literally the same notes of all of the political coding throughout. So the people who are watching this movie because they think there might be a civil war…. Like, I think there might be a civil war. I don’t want there to be. Some of the right-wing people, and probably some of the left-wing people–but I don’t think it’s as prevalent on the left–want there to be a civil war. And so all of those people, everyone who went at it being like, "Is this an oracle of our future" was like, "This movie sucks." And then everyone who was like, "This reinforced my preexisting beliefs that the extremes are bad, but the right and the left can get together to stop fascism and Trump" liked it. And it’s hard, because that’s the centrist nonsense position, but it’s also like, we got to figure out how to not have a civil war. Like, we got to figure out how to get the center-right to stop going further right. This movie isn’t gonna help do that. That’s all I got.

**Inmn ** 31:01
Yeah. Oh, no, no, thank you. That’s great. I have two more things to say about the journalist treatment. Which is like…and this ties into how the movie was shot. So Garland talks about some of the commitments to realism that he was trying to do with the movie. And specifically, part of that is how gunfire was recorded, which is that gunfire was recorded and projected in different ways than it normally is in movies. 

**Margaret ** 31:37
Oh, interesting.  

**Inmn ** 31:38
Yeah, it’s kind of like the…. I forget the words they use, but normally in movies, you have these kinds of deep, hollow sounds, and they recorded it in a way to make it sound like tinnier and like higher in register. 

**Margaret ** 31:54
Like the crack of it? 

**Inmn ** 31:56
Yeah, so you feel it in your ears and your shoulders instead of in your chest. Which is how real gunfire works. And so it’s like they had commitment to realism where they really wanted people to feel like the reality and discomfort of gunfire. And the war choreographer was this ex-Navy SEALs person. And so that they’re this commitment to like portraying combat in realistic ways. And this commitment to portraying war in realistic and horrifying ways. And, I know this is just like a thing with movies, but it’s like their commitment to realism was a commitment to realistic violence and not a commitment to what people might actually do in those situations, which is like, you know, back to Stanley. My friend gets shot, and we’re driving to a potential medical facility. Let’s show some realistic first aid. Let’s show…let’s show some Stop the Bleed. Let’s show some like…let’s show a fucking tourniquet. Let’s show holding pressure, doing literally anything.

**Margaret ** 33:14
Totally. Well, when it happens in a battle, they do that. They do a better Stop the Bleed than the average movie, where the guy gets shot, the Bugaloo Boy gets shot. Yeah, but when they’re doing plot, that’s why I’m mad about them killing that man. It was a plot death. It wasn’t a battle death. Like, I knew he was going to die before it happened. 

**Inmn ** 33:42
The second asks to tag along, we know he’s gonna die. 

**Margaret ** 33:45
Oh, yeah, totally. And then even like that scene, it’s like, he’s like, "Oh, I can’t drive anymore." And I’m like, oh, he’s dead now.  And there is no reason why, realistically, that scene, if he had made it that long, he’s suddenly gonna die. You know? Yeah, like the average you get shot once…. Well, actually the average you get shot once with a rifle, I think you do die, but it’s not a high…more than…. Whatever. They didn’t need to kill him. It was a plot death and it pisses me off as compared to some of the battle scenes. Which is funny because then when they get in DC then the battle scenes kind of like get a little like… like, here comes the helicopter really low among the buildings, and like fucking Secret Service who are just like, [pew pew] instead of like…you know? 

**Inmn ** 34:38
Well, it’s not the Secret Service because he dissolved the FBI.

**Margaret ** 34:42
Oh, is Secret Service part of the FBI? Okay. No, yeah, like I liked the gunfire thing, though. It was a tense movie. 

**Inmn ** 34:54
Yeah, the gunfire…. I mean, I hated it in the theater. I want to literally fucking die. It’s just the…it’s like people who have a commitment to…. I wish that people who had a commitment to realism would have a commitment to like showing a wider spectrum of realism in their movies. 

**Margaret ** 35:13
 No, I agree. 

**Inmn ** 35:13
I think it’s a huge failing of like, filmmakers and I think it’s a huge failing of Garland to be like, "We’re gonna commit this to like making war uncomfortable, but like, we’re not going to show realistic ways in which like…" Yeah, I don’t know.

**Margaret ** 35:28
Like, again, they did it in the battle, but not in the plot thing, is how I feel about it. 

**Inmn ** 35:34
Totally, and then it’s like our other plot death is Lee, or Kirsten Dunst, at the end of the movie, and it’s like–

**Margaret ** 35:43
Yeah, you knew she was gonna die in that scene.

**Inmn ** 35:45
Totally. And it’s like, she, you know, she saves our young protagonist from getting shot, and how does our young protagonist thank her? By photographing her death. 

**Margaret ** 35:58
But, see that, I actually liked that plot death. It was a plot death through and through, but it served a purpose, which was the completion of the like, because the girl is like, "What are you gonna do? You gonna fucking film my death?" And then the other way around happened. And I was like, that’s clever. 

**Inmn ** 36:16
I guess so. 

**Margaret ** 36:17
Because like that…. Okay, so it’s like the character arc of older lady, Kirsten Dunst, I thought that was interesting, because she’s the, "I’m so hardened. I don’t have any emotions." And then she fucking breaks. She like, shuts down during the siege of Washington in Washington, right? Like, I actually kind of liked that. It was cheesy. It was not a commitment to realism. It was a plot death through and through.

**Inmn ** 36:54
Yeah, she’s also wearing a plate carrier and gets shot center mass and just dies.

**Margaret ** 37:00
Oh, shit. I didn’t think about that. Yeah, totally. It’s like, it’s cheesy as shit, right? But like, I also thought that was like, kind of realistic in a bad way, the like, when they’re like…when the Speaker for the President–whatever, the press secretary comes out–and it’s like, "We want to negotiate," and they’re like, "No, we’re gonna shoot you." And then the President’s last words, were like, "Don’t let them kill me," and gets fucking popped. Like, I actually like…. No, you’re right. I think you’ve got it. The central tension of this movie is a commitment to realism that doesn’t go all the way through. You’re right.

**Inmn ** 37:43
Yeah, I don’t know. 

**Margaret ** 37:44
Wait, I’m supposed to disagree with you? 

**Inmn ** 37:46
Yeah, yeah. I think we didn’t disagree as much as I thought we would disagree.

**Margaret ** 37:51
Nah, not like this is the fucking…. I just like…. I like war movies. I don’t know. There’s something wrong with me.

**Inmn ** 37:56
I think I was more horrified by…. I think I was just more horrified by it than you were. But it’s like, okay, so my other thing about journalists is that I think that what I could draw from it is like, "Oh, this is like a critique of this neutrality. It’s a critique of non-interference. We’re watching these people make really weird decisions." But it wasn’t. And I don’t think Garland would….I don’t think Garland meant it that way. Garland, based on his history and based on this idea, this like Western idea of what journalism is, and based on how these characters behave, there is no critique of this behavior. They are his heroes of the movie.

**Margaret ** 38:47
What he….what I think he thinks he’s doing is pointing out how messy and complicated these righteous people are. But what’s interesting is you could say the same about the revolutionary forces, you know? Because it’s like, he brings up all the gross things that journalists do. But then kind of says it’s necessary, right? And then the same as actually happening. Like, in a weird way, there’s like this thing where it kind of, you expect it to be an anti civil war movie, like an anti-war movie or whatever. But it’s kind of not. The Western Forces in this movie righteously oust a tyrant. And by the end of the movie, you know that. And you’re meant to be rooting for them. In the same way, you’re rooting for the journalists even as they do things that are bad. They do morally unconscionable things in service of the greater good of art, or whatever fucking bullshit. The Western Forces are doing the same. I got… Yeah, and the movie feels like kind of disjointed in that like as soon as they reach the Western Forces in Charlottesville, you’re suddenly like, "Oh, I get it. These are the good guys all along, " or whatever, you know?

**Inmn ** 40:06
Yeah. And I don’t know. My other kind of big note is like, I…. It’s weird, I never thought I’d have so many opinions about like portrayals of journalism, but it’s like I think, you know, all the reasons that I’ve stated about really feeling like this treatment of journalists is like, you know, both accurate and  about, they fucking suck. Some of them suck. And then also, there’s this other context right now, that I think makes it suck even more. And that is that like, you know, this movie is coming out, and was being produced, at a time when the genocide in Gaza was happening, and currently is still happening, and this is a place where, you know, notably, journalists are getting assassinated, bombed, shot, starved. All of these things. And to have this be like the portrayal of journalists as people who like watch a bombing and then like, photograph people as they’re dying, or watch their friends get shot and just take pictures of them, and like, all of this stuff, just like, hid in this really weird way where I was like, "I don’t think this is how journalists in places where like their homes, the places they live, are reacting to this kind of stuff." And it feels really…it hits really weird, with everything going on in Gaza right now where I’m like, "I don’t think people, I don’t think like Palestinian journalists are watching their friends get blown up. And then standing by and taking pictures." I think they’re like getting down in the rubble and helping like dig people out of buildings. And I don’t know. It’s like, it’s like that aspect. It’s because the journalists won’t pick aside–I don’t want them to pick a side in Civil War–but it’s like, I don’t know. I don’t think any of us are neutral anymore.

**Margaret ** 42:18
Yeah, I think that there is the like, this film, the centrist propaganda part of it is holding on to this fictitious idea of the neutral journalist. I think that that’s a good point. That war correspondent, Jake Hanrahan, who does who did Sad Oligarch and does a bunch of other like…did a lot of like…has done a lot of really impressive war journalism, posted about it on Twitter and was just like, "If you hang out with this style of war journalist, you will die. " It’s like these are the people who will get you killed. And that like…it’s like, hearing that this guy like idolizes this fictitious war journalist is a perfect example of yeah, he’s just like, you know, this like Gonzo journalist hero or whatever who puts themselves in dumb danger. Yeah, no, I think they did a terrible job with the journalism. I think they did a terrible job of like…. Also just like, oh, it’s so quirky. You brought a 35 millimeter film camera to war….

**Inmn ** 43:35
They did…. They did the bad sci fi trope of inventing technology to have the thing that they wanted aesthetically.

**Margaret ** 43:45
You could do everything that she did. She’s developing on the fly. You could do that.

**Inmn ** 43:53
Yeah, I don’t know. I talked to some photojournalist person about it. And they were like, "This is complete. This is…. The most absurd part of this movie is that this person is shooting film during this."  They like named the film that she’s using and she’s like, "That’s hard to get now. Where the fuck is this person getting this film?" 

**Margaret ** 44:15
No, totally. It would be absolutely nonsensical to shoot film in this kind of situation where anything else is an option. No, just the way that she’s developing on the road or whatever. Like, I think you could do, because you can make your own negative. If she had a dark room mother, I’d be like, "What the fuck?" But it’s still like no, it is absolutely like, you know, "Oh, you’re a fucking weird artist," or whatever. No, and like…yeah. Yeah, bad journalism. No, literally the thing that this movie succeeds at is it goes "pew-pew" and the people were like, "Ah, fuck, I’m getting shot," and then people are like…like me in the audience, I’m like, "I’m feeling really tense right now." And I’m like, "Oh, this is a…this is like." You know, I think I watch war movies like other people watch horror movies, where it’s kind of like, oh, to get that safe version of a thing that like…. Like, I’ve never been in war, but I’ve been in some pretty tense riots and things like that where like, you know…. So getting little bit of that vibe. Yeah, that’s like, I enjoy it. I enjoy a good war movie. And, you know, they shoot the president. And, like, also, I just, I…. And there’s like, some interesting…I kind of like the scene where there’s the town that’s like, "Oh, everything’s normal." I think that’s Frostburg, Maryland. I’m not 100% certain. A lot of the towns in Western Maryland look kind of similar. But there’s a small town vibe of a central Appalachian town, you know? And then it works because there’s dudes with guns on the rooftop. I actually thought that was a kind of well done. They’re like, "Oh, we’re totally out of the war." And you’re like, "Just kidding. Our local militia shoots anyone who tries anything." And I’m like, that feels real.

**Inmn ** 46:03
Yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s true. That does feel real. Yeah, I don’t know. I don’t know. It was a weird movie. And I think maybe this other thing is, like Garland did like some interviews about it. And like, he’s purposefully vague about his politics to the point where he went off record during a interview with The Guardian to explain to the reporter what his actual politics were because he didn’t want to say them, but I don’t know, I guess was trying to convince the reporter that he wasn’t something. 

**Margaret ** 46:48
Like a Nazi or some thing? 

**Inmn ** 46:49
Like a Nazi or something.

**Margaret ** 46:53
It makes sense that like…. Okay, so I watched a bunch of review videos by random right-wing people, and I was like, "Fuck them." And you watched interviews with Garland and Aarland sucks, it seems like. So it kinda like…I think it kind of like makes sense where we kind of ended in our like…. I’m not, again, I’m not trying to sing this movies praises, you know?

**Inmn ** 47:14
Yeah. But I think there were some…. I don’t know, to bring this back to preparedness, because that’s where we’re always here to talk about. 

**Margaret ** 47:22
Okay. 

**Inmn ** 47:23
It’s like, I guess what I hope is that…what I hope that people don’t get from this movie…. Or what I hope that people get from this movie is seeing an absolutely horrifying portrayal of  journalism or people that we would kind of see in these kinds of support roles of struggle, you know, that you should spend probably less time worrying about developing film during the civil war and probably more time taking a Stop the Bleed training and developing relationships and community with the people that you’re photographing and having real connections to the things that you’re reporting on, versus going on a road trip to fuel your gore porn lust.  I don’t know, maybe throw a few more tourniquets in your bag and an IFAK and maybe drop the film/ I mean, you can bring the film, but if you have to choose between an IFAK and an on the road developer kit, choose the IFAK. 

**Margaret ** 48:42
No, totally, like, if you have your film camera too, I’m like, "Oh, quirky." If you have only your film camera, you’re a joke. Like, you are not prepared to do your job. It would be like if someone had a saber on their side instead of a fucking AR-15, you know? Like, if you bring your saber, chill you’re quirky. If you only bring your saber, you are not prepared to do your job in this war Yeah, no, from a preparedness point of view, the one thing I could say about it, it’s kind of a like It Could Happen Here, it’s just a like, "Hey everyone, we’re not magically, specially immune from being torn apart by crisis. And even some of the like… Okay, I still think it was a coward’s move for them to not really talk about any politics at any point during the movie, but they could have–

**Inmn ** 49:49
Totally.

**Margaret ** 49:51
–but they could have done the exact same weird split where Texas and California are on the same side because you could say, "Hey, war makes for weird bedfellows," because it does. The Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact where the communists are sending the Nazis guns, you know, or like….

**Inmn ** 50:14
Or the Spanish Civil War, where the anarchists were fighting on the barricades with…cops. 

**Margaret ** 50:18
Yeah, totally. Cops and anarchists stopped the coup in Barcelona. And then the anarchists joined the government, which made a lot of the anarchists mad, but I think they had bigger problems then….  Everyone’s like, "The big problem is we joined the government," but I think the big problem is that Stalin and Franco killed everyone. But whatever. No, it’s just like an interesting like…. Like, because you could be like, alright, shit could break down in ways that you don’t expect. And like, and they could have done that well and they didn’t. And then the other thing is that I hate every protesting scene I’ve ever seen in a mainstream movie. 

**Inmn ** 50:57
Yeah,  they’re always not done well. 

**Margaret ** 50:58
I’ve never seen it done well. The two ways they try and do it is they either use stock footage of riots, like they do in this one where they got it from fucking Andy Ngo, the fucking Nazi, or you have this crowd that’s not big enough and is either too angry or too passive. It’s always like 50 Cops and 50 protesters. That’s the way they always do it. And I get it. It’s really hard to get 40,000 people, you know, to be extras for your movie. But like, I don’t know. None of these motherfuckers have ever been in a fucking riot. Whatever. I didn’t like the scenes at the beginning. But honestly, the suicide bombing part, I thought was well done.

**Inmn ** 51:41
Yeah. Well, any any final thoughts on it as we near an hour of talking about this, what I will call, strange garbage.

**Margaret ** 52:05
I don’t know. Pirate it. If you enjoy it. Don’t make memes out of that guy. I’m not like mad. It’s not like problematic. I don’t give a shit on like a real level. But like, fuck that guy. I don’t know. Whatever. That’s what I got.

**Inmn ** 52:27
Cool. Yeah, mine is, I don’t know, don’t let this movie serve as your conception of journalists.

**Margaret ** 52:38
On a one to five stars, I’m giving it a three as a movie, not as a political piece. As a political piece, I give it a two.

**Inmn ** 52:52
I’m giving it like one and a half because I actually just thought it was a bad movie. On political, I’m giving it zero stars. But on a movie, I’m giving it one and a half. My plug for this movie is go see "The People’s Joker" if you can, if it is in your city. Go see that instead.

**Margaret ** 53:18
And mine is go watch "Wayne’s World." I can’t really defend it politically. I don’t know. There’s probably really fucked up things in it. Whatever I liked it. Maybe don’t go watch "Wayne’s World." I just remember really likeing that movie. I tried to do a non-sequitur here. We should end this podcast. My mouth hurts. I had oral surgery. I probably complained about that a lot.

**Inmn ** 53:46
If you enjoyed this podcast, go watch "Wayne’s World." That is our weekly…. [Both laughing]

**Margaret ** 53:54
There’s probably somehting bad I just don’t remember.

**Inmn ** 53:59
If you enjoyed this podcast, enjoy the nostalgia of, not the reality of, "Wayne’s World." 

**Inmn ** 54:06
The People’s Wayne’s World. 

**Inmn ** 54:07
The People’s Wayne’s World. Also, if you enjoyed this podcast, we would love for you to tell people about it. It’s one of the best ways to support the show. And like I don’t know, talk to your friends about it. Talk to your friends about movies. Go to go to the movies with your friends and talk about those movies. And don’t let movies define what your concept of the world is because, I don’t know, filmmakers are fucking weird sometimes, you know? But you can also support the show by supporting our publisher Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness. And you can support Strangers in a Tangled Wilderness by telling people about stuff. You can support it by buying stuff from us. We publish, we put out books, zines, we have shirts, we have cool games, and you can also support us, and the show, by signing up for Patreon at patreon.com/strangersinatangledwilderness. And there’s a bunch of different levels of stuff that you can get for supporting our Patreon, anywhere from discounts on physical things that we make, to just free versions of all of the digital stuff that we put out. And you can also get like a cool zine every month. And you can also give us $20 a month to acknowledge or thank a thing of your choice. This could be you, this could be your friend, this could be a organization that you think is cool, or it could be a fictional or theoretical concept, which no one has asked us to thank yet.

**Margaret ** 55:43
Or…. Sorry, finish your thought. I want to. before you do the list, I want to present another thing that people could do. 

**Inmn ** 55:51
Which this is my new post podcast thing, if you liked this podcast, please pay us $20 to thank a fictional concept. That is…that is my plug. 

**Margaret ** 56:04
Also, you could troll us by taking one of the names or projects that’s already on our list and adding it to our list again, so that we have to read it twice. Like Boise Mutual Aid, what if that got read out twice? Wouldn’t that be funny?

**Inmn ** 56:19
Yeah, or what if…what if we thank…we could thank Amber twice. We could think Julia twice. We could think Marm twice. And we’re going to thank all of them twice right now. Thank you alium and alium. Thank you, Amber and Amber. Thank you Ephemeral and Ephemeral. I have to transcribe this and I’m going to hate this. Yeah. Thank you Appalachian–I’m going to stop. Thank you Appalachian Liberation Library, Portland’s Hedron Hackerspace, boldfield, E, Patoli, Eric, Buck, Julia. Look we thanked you three times. Catgut, Marm, Carson, Lord Harken, Trixter, Miranda, Ben Ben, Anonymous, Janice & O’dell, Aly, paparouna, Milica, Boise Mutual Aid. Look, we’re thanking you like three times. theo, Hunter, SJ, Paige. Nicole, David, Dana, Chelsea, Staro, Jenipher, Kirk, Chris, Mic Aiah, and the immortal Hoss the Dog. Thanks for everything that you’ve done.[Margaret makes pew-pew gun noises] Pew, pew. 

**Margaret ** 57:24
That’s a call back of me interrupting you with the…. Evryone will be happy and not think I’m a jerk. Please continue. [Both laughing]

**Inmn ** 57:24
We…. Wait, wait.

**Margaret ** 57:24
I’m like high off of pain and my mouth hurts because I’ve been talking. Oh, no, was pew-pew…. We recorded two episodes in a row. Was this the one that I pew-pew’d in? This is the one I pew-pew in the middle of, right?

**Inmn ** 57:45
No, no, but just wait for the…wait for it for the visual cue, Margaret. 

**Margaret ** 57:49
Okay. 

**Inmn ** 57:51
We just hope everyone is doing as well as they can with everything that’s going on [Inmn pauses as if winking at Margaret. Margaret makes pew-pew, gun, and explosion noise] and we’ll see you next time.

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