Urban Scout Vs. Hippie Scout
(The Complete Edition, with commentary by Urban Scout)
For those who don’t know, I was involved in a publicized feud for several weeks in the late summer of 2006. The feud began with the Portland Mercury article about my summer camp for post-apocalyptic survival. The Portland Mercury is known as the pretentious, sarcastic and cynical paper of this town. Luckily, I myself am a pretentious, sarcastic cynic. Towards the end of my interview the reporter, Marjorie Skinner, asked me if people often thought of me as a hippie. The following was my printed response:
Apocalypse Soon – Portland Mercury 8/17/06
Just don’t try calling them hippies.
“Ha, ha. Fuck you,” replied Scout when I broached the topic. “I fucking hate hippies. Hippies are pot smoking, peace- and love- and sustainability-begging pacifists with no understanding of the power structure of civilization, or even a shred of understanding of the laws that govern the natural world. Hippies claim to love the earth, but most I’ve spoken with do not even know five native plants to their own bioregion. Preemptive Post-Apocalypticism is not about peace™, and love™, and sustainability™. It’s about survival. It’s about adaptation. It’s about deep knowledge of place.”
In retrospect I regretted sending this e-mail response to her question. I’m much more of an asshole through e-mail than in person. However, I knew this would grab the Mercury’s attention, since they love to publish anything that makes fun of hippies. It was meant to sound more tongue and cheek, but in print it comes across a super-agro.
The following week I was surprised, and delighted to find someone had responded to my comment. Not only had they responded, but they had challenged me to a duel. How fun:
TO THE EDITOR: If “Urban Scout” spent more time in the woods honing his skills and less time drinking at the Aalto and pandering to the greenhorn chumps at the Mercury, he may have the skills to survive the fallout awaiting our “civilization.” [“Apocalypse Soon,” Aug 17, in which “Urban Scout” teaches people to live in a post-apocalyptic environment. Plus, he hates hippies. Hence this letter.] But he’s too busy kowtowing to the local “alternative” media and engaging in societal masturbation to have done more than play act at being a hero. I hereby challenge him to a “Live Off” (after Burning Man and his little camp have passed). We shall see who can live in the woods longer, with just a knife. Do you accept or are you too busy kissing the man’s ass?
CONGRATULATIONS to Hippie Scout for winning the Mercury Letter of the Week! While we object to being called “the man,” the Mercury LOVES a playground-style challenge! Stay tuned to see if Urban Scout picks up the gauntlet. In the meantime, Hippie Scout wins two tickets to the Laurelhurst Theater and $30 to No Fish! Go Fish!”, the best place in town to get a meal… pre-apocalypse!
At first glance I didn’t think it was anyone I knew. Most people still think it was a publicity stunt orchestrated by me. I immediately wrote a response and sent it off to the Mercury. Upon several readings I realized there were clues left, most surely by accident, that allowed me to narrow down the possible suspects. I called in my tracking team; Willem and Lisa. We sat down and began a very scrutinizing examination of “Hippies Scout’s” letter.
Clue #1 “The Aalto”
The Aalto Lounge is a hipster bar not to far from where I used to live. For the last several years it has been one of my haunts. This indicates that the person knows who I am.
Clue #2 “Less time drinking”
Once established by the first clue that the person knows me, we can assume that since it had been 6 months since my last drop of alcohol at the time of this letter, he has not spoken to me or is not one of my closer friends.
Clue #3 Clues 1 and 2
If he doesn’t see me frequently or does not know me that well, but knows the location of one of my haunts, perhaps we saw each other there. Unfortunately I was very drunk most of the time and have vague memories of many faces.
Clue #4 “Burning Man”
Willem, Lisa, nor I had any concept of when Burning Man was taking place. In fact, I called several people and asked several strangers at our detective headquarters (the coffee shop) if they knew when Burning Man was taking place. None of them did. This implies that the person either is truly going to Burning Man, or is acquainted with those who are.
Clue #5 “with just a knife”
It could be said that anyone has thought of this term before, but it is a term expressed mostly among survival skills folk. Specifically a school in New Jersey, the same one I attended, which claims that by the end of the week of their lectures, “you’ll be able to go out into the woods with just a knife… and survive.” While this kind of language could be used by anyone, we have already established this person knows who I am and therefore may speak the same “language.”
Clue #6 “We shall see who can live in the woods longer”
Either the person is doing this as a joke, they have the skills, or they’re just someone with the balls to try it. The attitude of the letter makes me feel that it is not a joke. There is real anger in it, and my friends would not do something in that vain. It’s not a joke. So it’s either someone with balls, or someone with skills. This emphasizes Clue #5. If they have the skills, and they know the language, it narrows the scope of who this might be by a lot.
Clue #7 Who says things like “greenhorn” and “kowtowing?”
I had not heard either of the words before. Lisa is a writer and knew the words, however agreed with me that this is not the language of our generation. Willem on the other hand is 9 years our elder (30ish) and explained not only the definitions but said he uses them and has heard people use them. This is not a concrete clue, but it could be used as a back-up support as we narrow the field.
Clue #8 Man or Woman?
Man. For some reason I just don’t see a woman being as big of an asshole. It’s a very competitive tone, a very masculine one. Like clue #7, this is not concrete but is useful speculation.
Clue #9 Worthy Writing
The writing is admittedly good. Whoever wrote it must be a writer or someone who writes a lot. At the very least, not some idiot who wrote some random response saying “fuck urban scout he suxxx!”
The next process was to make a list of suspects and narrow them down based on the clues. I made sure the list was long. In the end it came down to a top three. Lisa’s funny ex-boyfriend Nathan. My funny old friend Bill. The final suspect was Dave Shapiro, the executive director of Cascadia Wild, a non-for-profit that I used to work for. All three I hadn’t seen in many months. All three were males. All three are writers and are well versed in the English language and its words, and Dave is in the age bracket we placed the writer. Bill and Nathan were crazy enough to challenge me as a fun stunt. Dave is actually skilled, mostly in plant knowledge. Both Nathan and Bill would know that I drank at the Aalto lounge, since I had drank with them there on many occasions. However I had not ever drank there with Dave. All three would know the language of “just a knife.” I could see Bill and Nathan knowing friends who were going to Burning Man. As I found out through other sources, Dave was going to Burning Man. Still, how would Dave know that I drank at the Aalto Lounge? I called Bill. He was hurt that I would think of him as a hippie, but I explained that I could see him doing it as a joke. I could tell right off the bat it wasn’t him. Lisa called and harangued Nathan over the phone. He claimed it was not him either, but that he thought about doing something of the sort. That left Dave. Unless there was someone else… Someone I had forgotten… some other clue that would solve it all…
Sometimes you have to give it a rest and let it come to you. We took a break and got some food. As we were getting back in the car it hit me like Janet Jackson’s nipple at a Super Bowl half time show. A single image shot into the dark of my imagination… This is a phenominon in tracking refered to as a “mind’s eye flash.” The image was of Dave Shapiro, sitting at the bar of the Aalto Lounge, about 6 months previous. I remembered that I bumped into him there. In fact, it was the last time I had seen him. At that point I knew in my heart that it was him.
Sometimes a tracker just knows.
Dave Shapiro. None of my good friends are good friends with Dave. He’s more of a casual business relation. I’ve known him for a long time and always thought of him as one of the tolerable hippies. Well it just so happened that Lisa had been doing a little work for Cascadia Wild and had to go to his house the next day. While there, Dave’s daughter approached Lisa with the new Portland Mercury in hand. She looked at Lisa and said, “My daddy has something in here.” Lisa simply patted the little tot on her head and said, “I know sweetie.” Dave shifted uncomfortably but said nothing.
What do you do? Say something? Why? I already sent in my letter. All that was left to do was wait.
URBAN SCOUT VS. HIPPIE SCOUT
DEAR “HIPPIE SCOUT”: [Letters, Aug 24, in which “Hippie Scout” challenges Urban Scout (who trains people how to survive the apocalypse, Feature, Aug 17) to a “live off”,surviving in the woods with just a knife.] First off, shame on you. If you gave a rat’s ass about the environment, the Earth, or future generations, you wouldn’t have wasted your time challenging someone who is actually making a difference. All you’ve done is shown that you care more about the size of your dick than the survival of the planet.
Second, if you were trying to make me sound like a drunken hipster… well, yes, I have been known to piss on couches at parties, convince people to punch me in the head, and had my fair share of blacked-out bike rides. Who gives a shit? My highly functioning alcoholism will crush your ganja-induced apathy any day. That’s why the hippie movement never accomplished shit. They were too busy smoking the CIA’s weed.
Lastly, maybe you haven’t noticed (perhaps you’re too busy getting “dosed” at Burning Man) but the world around us is falling apart. You probably have all the time a free-lovin’-commune-livin’-trustafarian-hippie-mooch might have for silly little games, but I don’t. Every day, every second, this culture of death comes closer and closer to the crash. That’s no game. You might have time to fuck around. I’ve got a world to save here.
Er… however. I do have a sore spot for gambling. A game of chance, with high stakes, is something I just can’t resist. You’ll have to do better than merely challenge my skill level; money is of no use to me either. So what then, might you propose? Your first-born flower child? Your stash of shamanic chronic? Or abandoning your hippie religion and swearing fealty to Preemptive Postapocalypticism? Of course, in the event I lose, I will kneel before you and your fellow hippies and swear allegiance to your hippie ways… (shudder).
What say you, “Hippie Scout?”
OOOOH, LOOKS LIKE URBAN SCOUT has picked up the gauntlet! (Which also means he automatically wins the Mercury Letter of the Week, a prize package of two tickets to the Laurelhurst and a $30 dinner at No Fish! Go Fish!) Will Hippie Scout agree to Urban Scout’s challenge? Or will he forget to read this column because he’s too busy smoking the CIA’s ganja? STAY TUNED!
My response was published during the week of my camp. I decided to swing by the Mercury office and pick up my winnings. I left the camp outside, we were all fairly dirty and I was in my loincloth. I didn’t feel like bomb-barding the office. I approached the front desk. The man behind it watching my journey across the room. “I’m here for my winnings,” I said.
“Oh. Of course… Urban Scout?”
I nod. He opens a drawer and begins to thumb through a pile of envelopes. Each one is labeled “Letter of the Week” and bears a different name. I watch closely, waiting for it… and there it is; DAVE SHAPIRO. Written kind and clear on an envelope. It’s gone in an instant. But that instant was all I needed. Confirmation. Did I even really need that? My gut was enough for me. But now I had seen it with my own two eyes.
What happened next can only be described as the grace of the Gods. The gentleman finishes going through the pile. He looks a little worried. “Um. I don’t see it here.” I stare blankly at him. He stands and says, “I’ll be right back.” Down the hall and around the corner he goes leaving me there to wait while he fishes out some prizes. After a moment my gaze falls back to that drawer, still open.
I haven’t stolen anything since I was 14 years old. But at that moment a harsh, raspy, familiar voice whispered in my ear, “STEEEEAL IT.” My heart skipped a beat. I looked down the hall. He was no where to be seen.
Shit! A voice from behind me. A woman, early 30’s, carrying a stack of papers walks up to me. “You must be Urban Scout.”
“Haha. The infamous. That’s me.” She smiles and leans her body into the counter top, implying that she’s interested. I lean the other way letting her know I’m not. She’s not stupid. Back on her toes she crosses to the other side of the room and begins to use the photocopier, her back to me.
I look down the hall. Empty. Fuck it. I reach over the counter and begin to thumb through the drawer. The woman’s back is only several feet from me. I look the other way down the hall, my fingers working fast… No. No. No. Got it! I clench my hand around the envelope and pull myself back down from the counter… But where to put it? At that point my arms did the talking and without me thinking they shoved it down the front of my loincloth, the only possible hiding space I had.
Just then Mr. Secretary starts his walk back down the hall, catching the final moments of me filing up my new hiding place. I don’t look up, I play it cool and again like magic my arms begin to move, they grab a flier from the counter top and into the dark of my crotch it goes. Then another. He approaches me. I can feel my armpits getting humid. “Here you go.” He hands me my prize.
“Thanks,” I say and begin to smile, “Thanks a lot.”
Do you ever feel that the universe has aligned just so perfectly so that you may be blessed? Well I can’t stress how that day, that 10 second window could not have been arranged had I planed it. It simply happened. The universe opened up the drawer and gave me the opportunity. Trained with the eyes and ears of the hunter-gatherer, I saw it and I took it. I’ll never forget the feeling I had in those 10 seconds for as long as I live.
That night we took the whole camp to No Fish Go Fish with our prize certificates. My friend Tony Kimbro played the part of Hippie Scout. Since so many thought it was a hoax, the waiter didn’t blink an eye. In fact he said, “I thought so.” We even took pictures of the whole thing. Rather than tell the Mercury, or Dave what I had done we decided it would be best to wait for his response to my letter.
HIPPIE SCOUT RESPONDS! (WHAT A HIPPIE!)
URBAN SCOUT: [RE: The ongoing challenge between Hippie Scout and Urban Scout, Letters, Aug 31.] I find it interesting that you wonder about the size of my cock in the first paragraph of your response letter. All I could think of was “what an asshole.” While I was highly dosed at Burning Man, in the midst of a gathering of so many freaky people that were all so singular, yet united by the common purpose of self-expression, I paused to think of you for a moment. My first thought was that “Urban Scout” should loosen up… hang out in the desert, sport his loincloth, and maybe hunt down a few of the bunny-suit-wearing folk and have a nice meal. My second thought was one of pity. I felt sorry for you that you needed to differentiate yourself through hatred. The issue at hand is that in your moment in the spotlight your message of a natural way was lost to your hatred. Hate no one!
I was ready for this, and pounced back with the letter and photos of our attack. Unfortunately my response was never printed in the rag, perhaps because I look like a tool in the photos. But they did put it on their website.
Urban Scout Abandons Talk For Action!
Posted byat 10:27 AM
A few weeks ago I wrote an article on Urban Scout, a Preemptive Postapocalypticist (who also hates hippies). Then, as letter page readers will recall, a guy calling himself Hippie Scout wrote in to challenge Urban Scout to a “live-off” (ha!) for which letter he was awarded the Letter of the Week (we love to watch a good fight). Anyhoo, Urban Scout wrote back again with a rebuttal, then Hippie Scout wrote back and well, bottom line is it was starting to get p-r-e-t-t-y impolite. Then Urban Scout sent us this email!:
Hippie Scout: While you were at Burning Man hallucinating me eating out a furry, I used clues in your original letter to track down your real identity. With this knowledge I scouted into the office of the Mercury, stole your Letter of the Week winnings (and received my own) then took the whole Post-apocalyptic camp to No Fish Go Fish for dinner. Don’t believe me? I have photos. Your “Hate no one!” rhetoric is obviously a diversion from continuing with your challenge. In fact, your last letter had no mention of the challenge at all. I can only assume that in your moment in the spotlight, you cowardly backed down. Well I’m not backing down. Not now, not never. There’s a world out there that needs my help, and if I’ve got to shit talk hippies, pacifists, or the so-called “sustainability movement” to push the edge for the future generations, so be it! Next time you think about making empty threats, why don’t you take your “visualize world peace” bumper sticker and tape your mouth shut. Humpy, I hope you understand why I couldn’t resist stealing from the Mercury Office. Perhaps there is a feat I can perform for the Mercury staff to regain their trust? Name your price. – Urban Scout
What say you now, Hippie Scout?
Dave and I spoke on the phone once after his last letter. I thought it would be fun if we came up with a situation where we both won the contest, or had to help each other to survive. After that conversation though, I decided it was best to just let the whole thing slide. I haven’t spoken with him since, and don’t plan on doing it again. I hope wherever he is, he is doing great things.
Old labels obscure new ideas. The mainstream does not listen to hippies. So why identify as one? What does it even mean to be a hippie anymore? Environmentalists think they own sustainability. Why do you have to be a hippie if you choose to care for the earth? I could have said that to Marjorie instead of being aggressive toward hippies, but I didn’t. Like I said, I’m a pretentious, sarcastic cynic… who likes the feel of a loincloth.
Don’t fuck with Urban Scout.
As a cynic do you believe optimism has any merit in a contemporary attitude?
HA! No way! This seriously wasn’t a publicity stunt?!
I followed this story from the beginning. Unbelievable!
What a great ending to a great story. SCOUTED, BITCH. Hippie had it coming.
And y’know, I honestly don’t think you were THAT hard on hippies. I actually cheered when I read that paragraph.
ah ha ha ha ha! the last pic was classic.
good job you.
by the way: “Late summer of 2006”.
unless you’re from the future…
Ah, memories. What a great bit of writing, putting it all back together! GO SCOUT!
The commentary puts it all together. This is hilarious.
Urban Scout. I challenge you to a game of go. I wager 1000 grains of quartz rich unsmelted silver ore.
Long time listener, first time caller…
Awesome story! Sweet scout move snatching that envelope. I like how you used tracking and scout skills to win the confrontation.
Urban Scout, you sound like a rude asshole with a wildly
exaggerated view of your own importance (“saving the world”,
“the world out there needs my help”, etc, ad nauseum). Hippie
Scout is way cooler and more advanced than you. IMO.
Grow up and out of your narcissism.
By the way, who gives a shit about the details of your
letter-purloining escapade? Only a narcissist could have written
all that out. I’m ashamed that I kept reading through it.
Well, I don’t know about you, but I was interested. Seems like a lot of other people were too.
Why does your comment matter but his post doesn’t? Who’s the narcissist again?
Obviously you didn’t get the joke, which doesn’t make me an asshole, but shows that we find humor in different ways. But don’t worry, now I know who and where to call if I need consultation of natural supplements. I hope you don’t mind if I make a house call?
HA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! viva la resistence
that is so fucking funny!!!!!!!!
the label game is fucking tired,
give it a name-yeah just so what it was when we bury it.
i think this is becoming my favorite blog.
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Oh, come come. There are good hippies out there. Most of them are like most of the civilized: tools, and they give the rest a bad name. But I’ve met a few hippies who act from earnest, principled social values and show real intelligence, and those folks are the types to understand the value in rewilding if they were to learn about it.
The heart of hippie culture holds some real substance. The music was tight. The sexual revolution was carried by hippies. Psychedelic drugs, at that time and used in the way they were, did open many creative doors. Original hippies pioneered a culture that launched some of the very tenets we hold dear: questioning hegemony, following your passion without needing parental approval, unconventional (non-Judeo-Christian) spirituality, racial/sexual equality, self-determination, raging against the machine, willingness to consider alternatives.
Unfortunately, while these ideas sound attractive to many, few know how to live them. And hippie culture is inherently incomplete — it was monogenerational, and it couldn’t have lasted without devolving (which it did, as more and more clueless masses latched on to the hippie identity yet made fewer behavioral moves in alignment with the principles). At the present, therefore, there are behaviors pegged as “hippie” that are wildly different from its original meaning.
Hippie culture’s incompleteness lends to its passive-aggressive nature. I can imagine that the urge to “turn on, tune in, drop out” felt very similar to our urge to rewild … the hippies simply weren’t shown a clear alternative to civilized bullshit and had to resort to passivity and avoidance tactics.
It’s too bad that a good thing was ruined, obfuscated by magic crystals and empty mantras. And it’s too bad that this is the impression we’re left with regarding hippies.
I can feel the soul, the energy, and the integrity of true hippie culture when I listen to Dylan, Hendrix, and the Who on vinyl. When I see the old photos, look at the visual art, read the literature. When I walk by the rare home in Seattle whose landscaping has been unaltered since 1972.
I’m only 26 and my inner child identifies as one of those hippies. The hopelessly small town where I was born and raised offered me no good options regarding a culture to which I could belong, so I chose hippie culture. I listened to those albums, read those books, absorbed the best bits of hippie culture … readily. With no pretension or self-consciousness. 60s style rebellion, believe it or not in spite of my age, is in my heart and comprises most of my value system, despite my never having lived through that era. Yet I don’t mess around with any of the New Age cultish magic crystal bullshit or Eastern (civilized) religions, I eat plenty of meat, and I think long flowing skirts look pretty stupid.
Today I still love the original hippie scene, as much as I now also dig Baroque painting, jazz, and Russian literature. I fully believe a hippie can rewild. Hell… I’m doing it!
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