Escapology

What is Escapology? It’s about deftly avoiding the potential traps of modern life: debt, stress, unrewarding work, marketing, noise, corporate values, bureaucracy and over-government. It’s about embracing freedom, Anarchy and Absurdity. It’s about overcoming miserliness, passive-aggression, mauvaise fois and submission. Escapology asks you to consider the circumstances in which you would most like to live and encourages you to find a way of engineering them. (New Escapologist)

I love this definition of “escapology”! I’ll take a pass on the Anarchy, but I can live with Absurdity. And I’m not too, too clear on the “miserliness, passive-aggression”, etc. But otherwise this vision of escape apology is spot on!

And for good measure…

Escapologist Noun. (pronounced: es’cap·ol’o·gist). One who seeks to escape the imaginary manacles of modern life: work, debt, government, leisure industries, status and anxiety.Derived from the stage magic of Escapology. Used metaphorically. (Source: Urban Dictionary)

Ballroom Crosswalk on 7th Avenue in NYC

Pedestrians in a busy New York city crosswalk suddenly begin ballroom dancing… one by one as they “accidentally” bump into their partners. This project took place on the crosswalk in front of Penn Station on 7th Avenue, one of the busiest spots in the city. We staged the mission several times, with the performance repeating at each change of the light and always finishing before the “Don’t Walk” countdown clock reached zero. (Source: Improv Everywhere)

American Nomads: Documenting Restless Lives

Have ninety minutes to spare? Questioning your commitment to the Norman Rockwell ideal? Feeling the pull of the road? You just might appreciate American Nomads, a documentary about modern day vagabonds wandering the Southwest that was broadcast byBBC4 on November 16, 2011 .

Eight years in the making, American Nomads is a ninety minute documentary film written and hosted by Richard Grant, and inspired by his book American Nomads (Ghost Riders UK). The film takes the form of a 6,000 mile journey around the American Southwest in search of modern-day American nomads. Why have they chosen to live a wandering life, and what do they gain and sacrafic? Characters include rodeo cowboys, a traveling preacher, punk kids riding freight trains, a Wall Street drop-out, a wild man of the mountain backcountry, and retirees in motorhome. (www.richardgrant.us)

American Nomads: Travels with Lost Conquistadors, Mountain Men, Cowboys, Indians, Hoboes, Truckers, and Bullriders (by Richard Grant)
American Nomads: Travels with Lost Conquistadors, Mountain Men, Cowboys, Indians, Hoboes, Truckers, and Bullriders (by Richard Grant)

Richard Grant took up the wandering impulse in his 2003 Grove Press book American Nomads: Travels with Lost Conquistadors, Mountain Men, Cowboys, Indians, Hoboes, Truckers, and Bullriders (which was published in the UK by Little Brown under the name Ghost Riders: Travels with American Nomads.)

Several reviewers have referred to the book as a meditation. That’s an appropriate way to describe the documentary as well. Grant’s unabashedly working through his own wanderlust, his own struggle with settling down and living a “normal life”. The hodgepodge of wandering souls he interviews may not accurately represent the overall nomadic population in the southwestern United States, but they mirror his own curiosity and the trajectory of his film seems to chronicle his personal quest to understand what is happening in his own brain and body. In the prologue he asks questions that shape the film.

  • What drove a man to spend his life in motion?
  • Was it a natural human impulse, recognized and obeyed, or was it a disease of the soul?
  • Why was the type so prevalent in America…?

Searching for the answers leads Grant into sometimes beautiful, sometimes challenging encounters, but he never seems to flinch from the motly cast of characters. Sure some of the American Nomads he confronts are from more privileged circumstances (Exeter, Princeton, Wall Street).

Some of these nomads are true Escapologists: people who’ve abandoned affluent lives at various points and for various reasons. (New Escapologist)

Maybe this is the world that shaped Grant? Maybe. Despite the more buttoned up world he seems to represent as the narrator, he’s surprisingly comfortable and familiar. And welcome. Even when the stories and lives around him are unwelcoming, unfamiliar and completely uncomfortable.

I’ll shut my gob so that you can watch American Nomads. And when you’re done, you can scan through these insightful quips.

American Nomads Review

Ghost Riders: Travels with American Nomads (by Richard Grant)
Ghost Riders: Travels with American Nomads (by Richard Grant)

America lost its nomads in the nineteenth century, when the Plains Indians were destroyed by European diseases and condemned to reservations. But beneath the sedentary surface of the present-day US, Richard Grant has discovered a country crawling with nomads of every variety – bikers, truckers, migrant workers, hobos, the ‘Rainbow Family’ of acid casualties, cowboys, Comanches and those, like himself, who simply can’t stay still. As he admits, the proper definition of nomadism specifies only pastoral herders, but the idea of nomadism inspires a far wider spectrum of wanderers, dreamers and misanthropes. (The Guardian)

For, although modern nomads are marked by their reluctance to participate in civil society, they are, Grant maintains, living out a central tenet of the American dream, which clings far more tightly to the idea of the Road than it does to the abstract symbolism of the Statue of Liberty. (The Guardian)

Grant’s scholarship is erratic… but his talent for storytelling is unarguable… [and] he always keeps one ear open for his travelling companions’ tall tales. Grant manages to keep a straight face (albeit eyebrows raised) in the presence of incredible myths… The chief wares of the nomad are stories and Grant has a carload of these. (The Guardian)

Telemark Skiing Newbie

Kate Hourihan, Alta Ski Area
Kate Hourihan, Alta Ski Area. (Photo: Tom Bear)

I’m heading into my third telemark skiing season which means that I still a total newbie. But I can’t wait for the snow to fly!

I’ve started dry land training, exercises specific to telemark that I will share in another post soon. And I’ve been cycling since last spring when the ski season ended and I went under the knife for inguinal hernia surgery. Ouch!

I’m going to shed some ink this winter as I push my telemark skiing skills to the next level. (Or die trying…) I’d like to get pointers from readers that will help me hack the tele learning curve, so please share your wisdom.

What is Telemark Skiing?

In order to kick this series off, let’s begin at the beginning. What the heck is telemark skiing?

Though telemark skiing dates back to the 1860s, the sport saw a revival in the 1970s as alpine gear became sturdier, stronger, and heavier, which hindered skiers’ ability to tour in the backcountry.

A telemark setup, by comparison, uses a binding system that keeps the heel free and is defined by turns with a bent knee and a smooth, low lunge. This “free-heel” system remained light and comfortable, providing backcountry enthusiasts the ability to walk uphill with their skis on. (Blister Gear Review)

Telemarker
Telemark Skiing (Photo: Wikipedia)

This article (which is actually mostly focused on a detailed overview of the sort of gear you need for telemark skiing) goes on to explain that many telemark skiing enthusiasts “came to the sport because they wanted a new challenge” which is one of the biggies motivating me.

Why Did I Switch to Telemark?

I’d been an alpine skier for about 25 years, and I was ready for something new. I liked the idea of exercising, stretching, and strengthening my body while skiing instead of beating it up. As I’ve gotten older I’ve been aware that the constant compressive impact of alpine skiing isn’t necessarily the best thing for my body. Telemark skiing, though it is muscle-maxing and cardio-exhausting, makes me feel great! Sure, I’ll be [insanely] sore for the first week or so, but then my body starts to grow stronger and better acclimated to the high mountain exercise.

So for me telemark skiing offers a new challenge, a “healthier” alternative to alpine skiing, and a bit of an equalizer with my bride so that we can ski together more often. Win, win, win.

Next time I’ll pass along the telemark skiing dry land exercises I mentioned above. Until then, cheers!

We’re Moving. Remodeling? Makeover!

e-MarginaliaWelcome back! It’s been a little snoozy in e-Marginalia-land, though rest assured, we’re meandering more than ever. Beyond the margin and then some!

In fact, you can expect to see some changes around here soon. After a bit of a hiatus during the last year or two we’re planning a fresh start in 2015. A new tack, if you will. Simplified. Content-forward. Reader-centric. I hope you’ll like it!

It's time for a fresh start!

Although we’ve spent most of the last decade at www.e-marginalia.com even that may change. Nothing’s sacred! While a makeover is usually just skin deep, we’re looking deeper. More than remodeling, we’re re-envisioning what, why and how we exist. Online. Offline. Though I remain a little obsessed about the idea of meandering beyond the margin, I’m wondering if it’s time for something a little less esoteric. A little more action oriented and a little less hyphenated. More on message.

Enough gibbering on. Stay tuned for relaunch updates. And shoot me your wish list, recommendations and postcards from exotic locales!🙂