One year anniversary

It’s been a year since I left the Balkan Boyz tour of the Americas. Everything I wrote about the trip still feels true. Since the guys’ returned home from their extended trip through Central America, life has changed for them, as well. It certainly was not the tour any of us expected, but it was the tour each of us needed. The travel bug has surely been tamed for the time being, which was perhaps the unspoken goal of all of this in the first place. We’re all firmly into new and different chapters of life.

I’ve found that I remember it all more fondly now. Certainly more so than when I first got home. I’d always wanted to do a big North American road trip, and I’m glad I did it with best friends, and at that time. We all hoped the Balkan Boyz wouldn’t be a one-tour-wonder and I think we’re proving that won’t be the case. In honour of the latest voyage, I’ve made up another poster. I hope that by the time we’re all old men, we can each have a wall full of them.

Thanks for the great ride, Boyz!

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Trump

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There’s plenty of blame to go around for the election of Donald Trump to the office of the President of the United States of America. A lot of it rests with Hillary Clinton and the Democratic party. Even more with the growing urban/rural divide and globalist ideology that’s crushing small communities’ sense of identity. Some is just boring demographics. As much as the US is changing, a lot of that change hasn’t come fast enough to make a difference right now. It’s painfully clear that white baby boomers, with their 1950s nostalgia worldview, are not going to give up control of society until it’s pried from their cold, dead hands. Florida proved that…again. Younger people, most of whom lean left and vote Democrat, seem unwilling to put in even the bare minimum of effort to have their voices heard. That is, actually voting on election day. All of the ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ in the world don’t mean as much as a single vote in the booth. There’s no guarantee that the idealistism of youth will stick around, either. Don’t go betting on future decades of nothing but Democrat victories.

Fuck Everything And Blame Everyone

With this election, the writing was on the wall through the primaries. Democrats chose the insider candidate over the one that generated more buzz and who people actually seemed to like. Republicans begrudgingly did the opposite. Clinton has too much baggage, and is not relatable or likeable. I honestly believe that if she were a Man, she wouldn’t have won the nomination. But the party elite believed in her manifest destiny to become the first Woman to hold the office, and after 8 years of the first black President, ‘progress’ seemed an unstoppable trend. What could possibly go wrong?

After the scandal broke that the Democratic party had been fixing the primaries to favour Clinton, she was shockingly tone deaf on the issue. Disgraced DNC chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz, a long time Clinton friend, was given a position in Hillary’s campaign. Already swimming in muddy accusations surrounding her private email server, that action confirmed people’s worst fears about her casual, above the law elitism. A vast majority of Americans consider Washington to be broken. Clinton is a 30 year veteran of that system, and she put it on full display.

Donald Trump is moving to the White House, and liberals put him there

Whether it’s an American Presidential election, or a British referendum on EU membership, liberals everywhere will always struggle appealing to rural, working people. Humans instinctually tribalize themselves, and most liberals spend almost all of their time in cities amongst people with university degrees and cosmopolitan attitudes. They are a culture that believes education is equal to intelligence, and only the intelligent should qualify as leaders. They have no relatable experience with millions of their fellow citizens who grow the food and build the infrastructure that keeps a society running. The vast hinterland of ‘stupid, ignorant, racist bigots’ who live beyond city walls. We’ve all seen the memes and Saturday Night Live skits. Well, farmers have television and the internet, too.

Rural Democrats were not willing to double down on at least four more years of the same. What’s a little racism or sexism compared to a vote against the corrupt, corporate, global elite who’ve been ruining rural economies for decades? It got Hitler elected. It got Chavez elected. It got Trump elected. Democrats had a populist candidate, and they rigged the game against him. Ignore the grassroots at your peril.

Unless and until liberals can cure themselves of that thinking, this will continue to happen. Liberals will continue to be viewed as out of touch ivory tower residents by a rural population only too happy to tear the whole thing down. Learn from this, and don’t let it happen again four years from now.

‘Beyond’ terrible

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Wow. I’m not even sure where to begin. ‘Star Trek Beyond’ is a terrible film. That this is what’s produced to celebrate the franchise’s 50th anniversary surely means that there is no genuine love for Star Trek anywhere inside Paramount. It’s simply a brand to be exploited. What’s more shocking to me is that the film is still sitting at over 80% on Rotten Tomatoes. The creative team might take some solace in that figure, but I’m sure the bean counters are less impressed with the number that counts.

If ‘Star Trek: Discovery’ isn’t a home run, it’ll probably be time for me to give up on Trek all together. The direction the franchise has been taken feels so wrong and so far from the old shows I still love. There’s no thoughtfulness, no subtlety, no intellectualism. Everything that was interesting has been stripped away in favour of explosions, fight scenes, stunts, and guns. ‘Beyond’ doesn’t pretend to be about anything or deliver any kind of message. The villain has no motivation other than ‘being evil’, and his ancient super weapon may as well be a magic jewel. The Enterprise still looks awful, the Yorktown Starbase seems to be designed solely around Director Justin Lin’s wacky camera moves, and even Spock’s hair looks bad. The cast seems completely uninterested and already looks old and tired.

For me, ‘Beyond’ is right at the bottom of the Star Trek film pile with ‘Nemesis’ and ‘Final Frontier’. Though at least those movies had interesting premises. At least there were nuggets of cool ideas. ‘Beyond’ has nothing. I’m absolutely finished hearing from Trek film’s writers and directors that they ‘love Star Trek’ and ‘grew up with the show’. Either Simon Pegg and Justin Lin were lying through their teeth, or the studio deliberately removed anything that might have been novel. Either way, the result is the same. A formulaic sci-fi action movie with no surprises, no messages, and loads of cliches. This film is just…boring. Even writing this has been boring. I’m done.

Two years ago

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Thinking back on my ‘big year’ of travel feels like remembering a vivid dream. At times clear, but otherwise foggy. It can seem like it was just yesterday, or a lifetime ago. I’m often glad for the extensive photo journal I kept along the way. Without it, I would have forgotten places, names, and countless other details by now. There are cities, landscapes, trinkets, food. More importantly, interesting people and great friends. What I always notice the most, however, are the changes I see in myself. A photo of me from August of 2013 shows one person, and a shot from August of 2014 shows someone else entirely. Since being back home, I’ve wondered if a younger me would have gotten as much out of that trip as I did at thirty two. I doubt it.

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*Insert cliche about how travel changes you here*

Well, just like stereotypes, cliches exist for a reason. Though in this case, I’m not sure anyone can change unless they’re open to it in the first place. Many people are desperate for a transformational travel experience. Others stubbornly cling to their ‘home’ selves. I didn’t try for either, yet somehow accomplished both. Not that it was easy.

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I still think of that year as the best of my life so far. It was also the worst. There were amazing new friendships and romance. There was also prolonged loneliness and heartbreak. I visited incredible cities and landscapes, and was stimulated by fresh experiences and knowledge. None of that is constant. There were also entire days spent alone on trains or buses. Entire nights in airports. Times when I couldn’t escape from myself, or find a big enough distraction. Places I hated but was stuck in. Days where all I’d want was an actual friend to talk to.

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The Fall after I came home, I had an idea to create an emotional journal of my ‘big year’ using my favourite genre of dance music: Trance. I’d listened to a lot of it during my trip, and certain tracks had taken on new and powerful meanings for me. It took several months, but I was eventually able to string them together into a set. It’s still the most narrative set I’ve done, and a year and a half after recording it, I still give it a listen every once and a while. Every track, every lyric, and every mix and key change are deliberately chosen to tell the story back to myself. I’ve shared it with a few close friends, but have only decided to post it online now. If you give it a listen, I’d love to know what you think…

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Causeway – Thirty Third Orbit

Causeway

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Finally!

Trying to come up with a Trance alias for DJing has been an exercise in prolonged frustration. Alexander Hamilton has become so associated with Soundproof and Techno, that even having Trance on the Mixcloud page seems jarring and awkward. There have been a few name ideas over the last couple of years. I even went so far as to create online accounts for some of them. Ultimately, they just didn’t feel right. I mentioned the struggle to a friend recently and after listening to a couple of my Trance sets, he came up with ‘Causeway’ straight off the bat. I’m pretty happy with it, so it’s finally time to get back to posting Trance sets. For now, I’ve uploaded my existing favourites, but expect some new material soon.

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Feeling at home

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So far I’ve found only one certainty about travel. If you go looking for something, you won’t find it. When I left on what became my ‘big trip’ more than two years ago, I hoped to regain my love of home, and a passion for my career. Neither of those things happened. Instead, I was so restless and unsatisfied than I immediately began planning a second departure. This time, the goal was different: there wasn’t one. No lofty ideas. No life altering intentions. Just a chance to enjoy travelling with my friends. Another memorable tour with the ‘world famous’ Balkan Boyz.

I didn’t realize it was happening, but while I was focused for so long on leaving home, my feelings about it began to change. New people and new places mixed with the favourite bits of my old life to create a different perspective. By the time the guys arrived in Vancouver, I was faking excitement about leaving. But leave we did, on what surely was the road trip of a lifetime. From Vancouver to Halifax, through Canada and the United States. Almost three months with best friends in fantastic places.

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I should have been happier, but home was calling louder than ever before.  A great friend passed away, some others were going through tough times, and I was waiting to renew an incredible relationship. Every day away meant wanting to go back even more. It took a year, but home went from being a place I didn’t mind leaving, to one I felt compelled to stay in.

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A month after returning, it still feels right. The Balkan Boyz tour continues through Central America in all of their incredible style. I couldn’t be happier for all of us to feel that we’re doing what we want to be doing. Next week brings a return to work, and next month, a new apartment. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt excited about my future here. Unexpectedly, I got out of this trip what I wanted to get out of the big one. The walkabout is over, and it really does feel like a Happy New Year. It’s time to enjoy being home.