California Knows How to… Rewild?


What can I say? I love L.A. Yes, it’s a tumorous growth on the flesh of the mother. Yes, it’s a cesspool of everything I hate. Yes, “the only way to fix it is to flush it all away.” And yet… There is so much I love about Los Angeles and I’m not just talking about the champagne parties that take place in roof top hot tubs (which are fucking awesome by the way)!

I recently spent a week in L.A. mainly for an interview with Flaunt Magazine about rewilding but also to hang out and connect with old friends. While there I thought a lot about the rejection of culture and people that takes place when an individual realizes how fucked up civilization is. So often people think that culture and civilization are synonymous. In our mythology we are taught to think that civilization owns music, art, science, spirituality, fashion, language and thought. It’s natural, I suppose, to feel so much grief and so much guilt for the way we live our lives that we distance ourselves as far as possible from anything that looks like it might be a product of civilization. I know, cause I did this along with many other of my friends. I also distanced myself from my friends and family who didn’t understand, or care to understand, rewilding.

I have a lot of anti-civ friends and colleagues. But I’m pretty sure the majority of my friends these days are not anti-civilization and are not even into rewilding (although deep down I think everyone is an anti-civilizationists, it is our birthright after all to be wild and free!). I don’t ever really talk about my views with most of my friends because I don’t really care about converting any of them. I rewild with the ones who are into rewilding. I usually choose my friends not by their level of interest in rewilding, but by those who show sincere support for me and that make me laugh. If people are curious about rewilding, I will talk about it with them and invite them along when I do rewildy-type-thingys. Hell these days everyone’s into self-sufficiency anyway, so it’s not that great of a leap.

A lot of my critics (who never took the time to understand rewilding) tell me that if I hate civilization so much than why don’t I go live in the wilderness. Over and over again I have to explain that rewilding is not about living solitary in the wilderness with no culture. It’s about artistically restoring family and connecting family to land using indigenous land management practices; it’s about creating more life. That’s it. It reminds me of something Martin Prechtel once said, which was something like “It’s not about stopping the rate of destruction, it’s about speeding the rate of creation.” You can create more life anywhere really. While living in the wilderness would feel great in a lot of ways, it often also feels alienating in a different way. This is because people leave behind people and culture when they go into the woods.  Cities, being the apex of domestication, are in dire need of rewilding, perhaps more so than wilderness (while the “wilderness” is in more need of culture).

L.A. is no exception. As a nexus of money, culture and creativity, L.A. has so much potential for creating beauty and life. It is a powerful, creative space. Er… Of course that power is fueled by industrial civilization, and most of the creative energy is used to create mythology that furhter inculcates the slaves of this death culture… but there is still room for rewilding! I swear! With the right amount of pressure, in the right place, the right rewilder could really leverage that power into something much much more beautiful and life-giving. That’s why I love L.A. It’s weakness and it’s strength are the same thing. I also recognize it is not a tool to take lightly. My old friend Chris Shaeffer once said something like, “The ‘creative’ industry is like a very powerful tool, that is covered in shit. Sure, you may work your way up to using it, but you’re going to have to get shit all over your hands in the process.” I couldn’t agree with him more, and yet I still see beauty in it. Even though my hands are covered in shit… um, anyone got some baby wipes?

So, back to my trip… Flaunt magazine interviewed me and a few friends who live there about rewilding. I didn’t quite know what to expect so I brought my friend Hannah with me so that I could escape if it got too weird. The following are the photos (mostly taken by Drury) from the weekend.

Hannah and I arrive on the scene:
Arriving on the scene

The hike in. Yes, this is in the middle of L.A. WTF? The Beautiful Topanga Canyon!

Almost immediately things took a turn for the awesome when we drank a LOT of whiskey and I turned into Bourbon Scout. T is for Topanga Canyon motha fucka!!!

The next thing I remember it was the next day and I had a terrible hang over. I guess the interview went well? Mesculin Cacti anyone? Duhhhh. Good thing my friend Bill Maxwell was there to keep things grounded.

Rob and I took Jenny and Drury (the Flaunt Peeps) out foraging in spite of the collective hangover and rob showed me lots of the wild California plants.

Meanwhile my friend Erin started work on a garden for Drury.  Days later, her dog Munka would eat my brain-tanned roadkill raccoon hat.

After a good hour or so the foraging trip fizzled out under the hot sun and the collective hang-overs so we went back to the shade and chatted more about rewilding and other crap.  RIP Raccoon hat!

The highlight of my trip was when my friend Bill Maxwell took me and Susan to a sweat lodge. It was a great lodge. I was also able to catch up with my buddy Rob and do an interview for a documentary he’s shooting about people preparing for the apocalypse. We walked through the Hollywood hills and went by Lake Hollywood which is actually a very beautiful little spot. It was really nice catching up with him. My friends Davey and Susan took me out for my birthday. After avoiding an angry crowd of hostile hipster at the Short Stop we got some awesome photobooth pics for only $2 at the Cha Cha in Silverlake.

I have to say though, I was ready to go home. Back in Molalla plants are exploding. The biodiversity and green and clean air and family put my body to rest. The dandelion flowers are popping out like mad, which means it’s dandelion wine makin’ time. Glad to be back home in the foothills of the cascades! Thanks everyone in L.A. for making me feel so welcome there, and for showing me that rewilding is not only possible, but alive and well in Los Angeles.

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4 Comments on “California Knows How to… Rewild?”

  1. mmm…I like that I don’t have to leave the city to rewild…as all my friends are here! My favorite rewilders don’t live out in the wilderness; they live in North Portland! I’m beginning to think rewilding is more of an internal adventure for the most part; claiming freedom inside myself, feeling confident enough to do what I love and enjoy, regardless of how others feel about it (and yeah, that includes tanning hides on my front porch in North Portland while yuppies walk by and complain about the smell…as though burning cedar smelled nasty!) Some of the activities I’ve included in my “rewilding curriculum” if you will are very dependent upon tools which wouldn’t be available without civilization; as ironic as that sounds, it makes sense too. Use the tools available, yes?

    Keep kickin’ it wild-style,

  2. as well as promoting creation over destruction, we have to create balance
    for instance, if we only focus on creating more humans, there will be too much of a need for resources to feed those humans…

    but then again if our focus was on creating more than we destroy maybe the world would naturally shift to creating a balance anyway.