Doomsday Preppers: Jason Johns

The miniseason drags on…with the episode “Whatever It Takes”, which begins with Jason Johns of Alabama. Now, unlike the vast majority of folks profiled on this show, Jason has had actual real-world experience with a life-or-death survival adventure—at age 19 he got lost in the woods. They don’t really go into much detail about how he got out alive and didn’t freeze to death (exposure being THE number one killer in survival incidents), which would’ve been interesting to hear, seeing how he says he only had a knife and a lighter and it was freezing rain!
Anyway, now “almost 20 years later”, he and his eighteen-year-old son Jacob are determined to be “prepared for a solar flare and the civil unrest that follows.”
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertainmentSo, after the usual brief primer on solar flares (and that big one in the 19th century that set the telegraph wires on fire), we hear Jason recite the usual ‘for all its greatness our world is so fragile, if people didn’t have the Juice, they couldn’t get food blahblah’ mantra. And then Jason comes to the part that really freaks me out: “…after two months, people like me will be left, and that’ll be our chance where we get to rebuild society”. *eyetwitch*. And I’m sure they’ll do it the same way that got us to where we are now—by being fruitful and multiplying as soon as possible, because the Earth was made for Man to abuse as he sees fit, ecology be damned!, right?
“The worst part of it is this,” I said, “that the survivors, if there are any, will immediately set about doing it all over again, exactly the same way”, replicating (“rebuilding”) the only world they’ve ever known, not recognizing its inherent unsustainability.

So…apparently Jason has 1,000 meals stored? I dunno, looks like a whole lotta ramen to me. Seriously, the cardboard it’s packaged in has more nutritional value! Ramen can be fine survival food—it helped me survive college (rimshot!)—but you can’t rely on it solely; don’t think of it as the main course. It works best as a meal supplement, something to stretch the healthy survival rations you’ve already got: make a big pot of stew, and then throw a half-brick of ramen in everybody’s bowl. Yummm!

When the narrator tells us that Jason constantly “preaches the gospel of preparedness to his son”,  that should really read, “evangelizes the gospel of his model of preparedness to his son”.

They go on a field trip to the local junkyard for lead wheel weights—because “when the solar flare goes down, with abandoned cars these’ll be everywhere.” Yeah, except that lead wheel weights already are everywhere. Travel by foot or bike instead of car for once, and you’ll see them at intersections, in the gutter, everywhere. Do a good deed and pick them up, and maybe spread less birth defects through the water system (lead is, after all, just really depleted uranium).

But I can’t really see ol’ Jason picking up environmental contaminants off the road out of the goodness of his earth-loving heart, because after melting down the weights, we see him spoon out the ‘impurities’ (which are all naturally coated with molten lead) and just throw them out on the ground. Well, that’s just lovely—sloppy and disrespectful!
*For future reference, when melting wheel weights, drop a bit of beeswax into your crucible to attract the impurities, and then skim them off for use them in something that doesn’t require perfect lead—like a round ball for a blackpowder rifle. As for the steel clips that attached the weights to the wheel’s rim, just pick them out (the lead will come off), and take them to your local recycling center.
(And one final note—while the caption informs us that one should only melt lead in a well-ventilated area, smelting outdoors can still be dangerous. The first time I melted down a batch of wheel weights outdoors, I spent the afternoon hovering over the crucible instead of sitting back and watching from a distance. Not only did I have the smell of molten heavy metals in my nose for two days, but I wound up with a killer headache that rivaled the worst hangover ever.)

Once Jason and Jacob melt down their lead, they mold some bullets for…hot damn, a muzzleloader! And not even an inline, but a percussionlock, to boot! (While I have huge love for blackpowder guns, for future reference, in a long-term collapse scenario, reliance on fulminated mercury percussion caps isn’t a sustainable solution—a flintlock, however, could be run indefinitely on naturally-occurring ingredients—just saying).

Next, the duo decide to test out their “worst case scenario” in which “all their food is gone, so it’s time to abandon their home and live off the land.”
That sentence perfectly illustrates the truly unsurvivable nature of Doomsday Prepping, as opposed to preparedness-through-sustainable-living. In the doomsday model of preparedness, families (or perhaps more likely, individuals—because this subculture is infatuated with the idea of the ‘lone wolf’, head-for-the-hills survivorman) have their everyday pantry of food from which they eat and replenish from the grocery store, while down in the basement they have their stash of Doomsday Food, not to be touched until, you guessed it, ‘doomsday.’ (But what if the End Of The World As We Know It isn’t brought on by a single, isolated event, but instead by a prolonged, decades-long steady degradation of the systems of our civilization (which we are likely in the middle of right now)?) Once said event has gone down, only then may the family crack open their purchased foodbuckets of beans, rice, ramen noodles, and freeze-dried chili, which will be steadily depleted until they are empty, because no resupply plan has been considered. (Also loathsome to my ears is the phrase ‘live off the land’, which implies an unsustainable one-sided Taking of resources, instead of a two-way dialogue between land and individual in which the individual also gives back to the land).

Compare this to ‘lifestyle prepping’, in which most of one’s food is produced, harvested, and preserved by the individual and no differentiation is made between Food and Doomsday Food. I don’t have a separate stash of the latter, but I do have a basement larder and a couple of giant Rubbermaid boxes, full of home-canned and -dehydrated fruits and veggies respectively (a combination of homegrown and freegan foraged). When a recipe calls for something, I simply get it from a jar or I rehydrate it. And there’s never a shortage, because I have a good idea of how much I need to get through a year from one harvest to the next—it’s constantly being restocked.

Anyway…father and son go out in the woods where son will hopefully survive the night after learning all of dad’s survival tricks. Somewhere younglin’ makes a quip about how he has to carry all the heavy backpacks, because his dad is SO OLD. Ahh, the Deep South, where 40 is considered to be an ‘Old Man’. :-S
Jason’s big thing is a bugout bag organized around what he calls “the Ten C’s”: Cargo tape (duct tape), ‘Candle-ing device’ (headlamp), a Cutting tool (knife), Combustion device (firestarting kit), a Canvas needle, a Compass, a Cotton bandana, Covering (tarp), a Container (canteen), and Cordage—which he claims is “hard to recreate in nature”. HA! Plus a pistol (of course), but he can’t figure out how to make that start with a C.

Together, they put together a squirrel pole and a twitch-up snare, then build a lean-to (out of live trees??).
Supposedly they catch a rabbit (I’m not convinced it wasn’t provided by the producers), whose meat Jason seems to consider his first priority food—“if we didn’t catch this, we’d have to eat…plants” he says, as a look of disgust crosses his face, as if eating lower on the food-energy pyramid was his absolute last resort.
Dad shows son how to start a fire with flint and steel—which is cool and all, but unless you’re like, really hardcore into 18th century reenacting, just use some kind of ferro rod—the less demand on fine motor skills in a survival situation, the better.

In their score, the experts give them 19 points on water (even though they only have 300 gallons stored?) and a final score of 64 for 10 months. That’s apparently unacceptable for Jason, who instead of taking what he can get and saying ‘Well, there’s always room for improvement’, gets an attitude and talks shit like he has a big chip on his shoulder. Blech.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Jason on 14 June, 2014 at 20:57

    Hey Bud this is Jason and you don’t know shit. I do have a garden and I do harvest my own food and what you didn’t know is I have a well at my house and live a mile from the Tennessee river that’s why I got a 19. Did I show them all this? I did and the reason I got an attitude is because the guys doing the review were people who believe you have to have a bunker and ten thousand pounds of food to survive. See what you don’t know is I am self sustainable I been a primitive survival instructor for years until a couple years back and that’s what I practice. I can provide for me my family and yours Brother with nothing but a knife and you know why 40 is old in the south because we do back breaking work from the time we are 12 years old to help our families why you and your family are living in high cotton. You’ve never been from behind your desk and did a honest days work in your life and it will show because when the shit hits the fan my family will have to save your family just as its always been with you tree hugging granola eating idiots who think your above everyone else. So how much do you destroy working where you work and what about the company that built that computer you use and the dirty plastic plants that made that bottled water you drink or the slave labor that made those $300 pants you got and the slave labor that made those shoe’s and all the companies who tested on animals for all the face cream and hair products you use don’t dog me out because you are worse because you set up on your self righteous chair above us old country boys and talk about us like dogs when at night you lay there crying in your pillow because your dad don’t except you being gay see I know you and people like you wouldn’t last 2 seconds in the real world where you had to take care of your own and provide for yourself because when you started that bullshit about the earth somebody would just take what you and yours had and make you like it. So put that in your pipe and smoke it and when you see me out in public Mr. Mohawk you better address me as sir or I will slap the hell outta you punk. You better think twice before you dog me and my family out again or you may have to back up that pit bull mouth with that Chihuahua ass. In the south when you run that dick sucker you have to back it up so I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt that this wasn’t personal. So we will call it square but you better not disrespect me or my family again or you’ll have to deal with me when I see you out. If you want to do a real critique on me and my situation then call me and interview me don’t dog me out after watching a TV show that was edited by someone other than myself. Sorry to speak this way but you got to understand people in the south are poor and don’t got nothing but their families. God Bless You and hope to see you at a prepper or alternate energy convention or depot.

    Reply

    • Posted by Ari on 29 December, 2014 at 22:41

      How do you go from “you gay dick sucker” to “God Bless You” without taking a breath? You don’t have to keep reminding everyone that you’re southern.

      No one who posts online has the right to complain about someone else using a computer. No one who wore store-bought clothing on a reality tv show has the right to complain about someone else owning store-bought shoes. If you’ve used a store-bought bar of soap in your life, you’ve used something that was likely tested on animals. You don’t have to be a facial-cream using gay guy to be party to that. Hearing a very white southern guy talk about others “living in high cotton” and benefiting from “slave labor” is frankly hilarious. Check those southern roots you’re so proud of and see who really has a connection to cotton and slavery. That glance back will show you that southern does not equal poor and never has. It’s low educated southern that equals poor, and no one with access to the internet has an excuse for remaining uneducated. If you can type, you can read. And if you really do take care of your own, you can let your kids continue learning past the age of 12 so maybe they’ll have better jobs when they become adults. No sense bragging about and intentionally continuing the traditions that created “southern poor” while simultaneously demanding sympathy and respect for being “southern poor.”

      I’d like to comment more on the homophobia all throughout your post, but the hypocrisy bothers me more. For someone so very poor, you sure have some nice camo jackets on. My brother would love one of those, but he can’t afford a computer, let alone internet access. You have land, nice clothes, toys, and the free time to pose for a camera and rant online. You might be as self-righteous as all get out, but you’re far from poor.

      Reply

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