The Real Suburban Scout?

If you’ve ever seen my 2004 film short, The Adventures of Urban Scout, you know that in the film I had an imaginary arch-enemy by the name “Suburban Scout.” He was trying to appear like me, Urban Scout, but only for the aesthetic and not the rewilding angle. The other day I picked up the Portland Tribune and turned to the “Sustainable Life” section (which I do from time to time for a good laugh or to get myself pissed at what they pass as sustainability) and saw a hilarious article on the front page entitled “Suburban Tepee” with the laugh-out-loud, ludicrous subtitle; “Commodities Broker Longs for Life Close to the Earth.” This guy looks like an honest to god, real life, Suburban Scout!

Of course, the article was boring and stupid and had nothing to do with sustainability what-so-ever. In fact, it had nothing to do with anything interesting, except to say that some rich douche in the upper crust suburb Lake Oswego sleeps in a tipi in his parents backyard at night, and by day works as a commodities broker at daddies company and spent his richie rich childhood traveling to exotic places (he even has a hippopotamus skin!).

“He says he’s no radical and isn’t trying to send a political message. He’s just trying to live nearer to nature.” What the fuck? They put him on the cover of the sustainability section and he has nothing to say about sustainability. Dude, what the fuck does “close to nature” even mean anyway? I can only assume it means living more sustainably, since he’s on the cover of the sustainable life section. How is sleeping in a synthetic tipi (what is that, carpet on the ground???) with chemically tanned hides of animals from a different continent getting you closer to nature or making you more sustainable? Living close to nature, living more sustainably, doesn’t mean standing or sitting or sleeping outside or close to plants or mimicing superficial indigenous customs from a completely different bioregion. Sleeping in a tipi has absolutely nothing to do with sustainability. NOTHING. Unless you’re a plains Indian living 300 years ago and even then the tipi is a bi-product of their sustainable land management practices. Hey Portland Tribune, my buddy Willem slept outside in his backyard for a year. Why isn’t he on the cover of the “sustainable” section? Fucking HOMELESS people sleep outside, in tents all year, all the time. Why aren’t THEY on the cover of the sustainable section? If sleeping in a tent is so fucking sustainable… I mean really. Oh right. They’re not rich assholes who continue the status quo of destruction.

Indigenous people live “close to nature” not because some of them sleep in tipis or wear the skins of animal or practice spiritual customs. They live sustainably because they manage the land in a sustainable way. Everything else about their culture is a bi-product of that. Want to live “close to nature?” You should read about how indigenous peoples of this region live and connect with nature in real-life ways, and then replicate their land management practices. It makes me wonder how and why this article was even in the paper? I mean… Did Paulson Commodities pay the tribune or something? Could it be that the author is a friend of the Paulsons and was bored? It has to be one of those two things… if not, just fucking shoot me. We’re fucked.

I can’t claim that I’m more pure than he is; anyone who works in the civilized economy is fucking up the planet somehow. But at least I’m saying something and challenging the status quo of destruction and exploitation. At least I’m working to dismantle civilization in the ways that I know how. And while I’m still very much dependent on the grocery store for food, at least I’m working to create a different world and making it clear that this culture is fucked up. The fact that there is abso-fucking-lutely nothing sustainable or interesting about some rich dude sleeping in a tipi, and that he’s on the cover of the sustainable section continues to blow my mind. Fuck the Portland Tribune and fuck “sustainability.” What really gets me about him is his hodgepodge, world-collection of indigenous artifacts and customs, this smorgasbord of cultural appropriation; an African animal skin, mid-western Indian shelter, and a white mans alleged version of southwestern Indian spirituality (the whole Tom Brown Jr. “Lipan Apache Shamanism” thing). Without a political message about sustainability, he is just another rich eccentric with a fetish for native peoples belongings and customs. A commodities broker who collects the commodities of broken indigenous cultures… How unique. And sustainable. Let’s put him on the cover!

12 Comments on “The Real Suburban Scout?”

  1. Peter,

    I truly enjoyed reading this, we need to hook up on collobarating on a video thing here sometime real soon.

  2. Ugh I hate cultural appropriation. One time I was going to do a sweat lodge, then I remembered, “Oh hey, I’m of white, Jewish, eastern European descent. I have no business doing this.” Build your own place-based traditions, don’t steal them from someone else.

  3. Haha, well the sweat lodge (a dark shelter where water is poured on hot rocks) is used and has been used throughout the world. So no appropriating there… unless you take a specific song in another language and use it without permission and for financial gain… then your a fucking asshole! hahaha.

  4. Taken from the Portland Tribune:

    “Like father, like son
    His parents’ home could be a wildlife museum. Zebra, elk and moose heads line the walls. A fawn guards the upstairs hallway. A boar leads the way to the lower level and the Paulsons’ office — where the stuffed geese and ferrets serve as wallpaper.”


  5. That article was quite a crock of stinking hot shit!

    “It brings us closer to how we were meant to live while still being a normal functioning person in today’s world,” he says = “I can feel like I care about the earth while still participating in its deliberate destruction”

    “It’s what happens when the primitive culture and the civilized culture collide.” = “I’m helping to make up for my racist, genocidal, psychologically fucked up society with even more self-delusional fakery”

    This guy is the epitome of “lifestyle” greenwashing.

  6. Urban Scout, I loved your response to the Portland Tribune article. I think you’ve made me consider, ONCE AGAIN, changing my major in college from Mechanical Engineering to Environmental Biology.

  7. man oh man.
    made me think of a super bizarre-o zine i read once called “yuppies with spears.” (the yuppies with spears being a bunch of rich QUOTErewildersENDQUOTE (haha) who ride around on scooters and spend lots of money of wireless equipment that works in the forest, etc, etc barf.
    if yer feeling like getting angry/extremely weirded out, strangers in a tangle wilderness have it to download for free.
    nice blog by the way, just stumbled upon it.