Posts Tagged ‘New Age’

Doomsday Preppers: Suzanne Strisower

This episode wraps up with a visit to the California homestead of Suzanne Strisower (on the right:).
© NatGeo/Sharp EntertaimentAccording to her blurb on NatGeo’s page, she “and her life partner Dave (on the left^) are both psychics. She was led to her hilltop home several years ago by her spirit guide.” Man, I’m infinitely thankful that they somehow managed to not touch on this angle at all in the segment—talk about dodging a bullet! (I don’t really have anything against New Age-y types, but I can only tolerate them in extremely small doses).
As it turns out, Suzanne is another one of these folks using her appearance on the show to pimp whatever she’s selling, which in her case is ‘spiritual life coaching’ with runes/crystals/energy-work/past-lives/astral projections/other such that-sort-of-thing. Honestly, if her page used Papyrus font, I would’ve had to punch something.

Anyway, Suzanne maintains a 30-acre plot near the Sierra Nevada mountains, which she is slowly turning into a complete self-sufficient homestead. As the show insists on pigeonholing her as a true prepper, she asserts that she’s getting ready for—surprise!—economic collapse.

However, as she explains, she’s definitely a ‘lifestyle prepper’ instead of a doomsday prepper—meaning that she’s ‘prepared’ only due to the simple fact that an off-grid lifestyle is naturally more self-reliant and therefore less affected by those potential shocks to the System that cause doomsday preppers to lose so much sleep.

In her obligatory declaration of evidence, she explains “The U.S. is doing things that are unsustainable for itself…”
Honey, I got news for ya—it’s not that the U.S. is doing unsustainable things: it’s that the U.S. as we know it is fundamentally unsustainable. And it’s not just us, it’s Our Culture’s entire six-thousand-year-old history of Empire which we’ve inherited and blindly continue to carry on. Read a book, wake up, recognize the bars of your cage, and do something about it.

So…as part of her continuing efforts to maintain self-sufficiency, Suzanne places a big focus on bartering. And why shouldn’t she?—her land supports fruit trees, nut trees, chickens, goats (dairy), and llamas (wool)—she’s got plenty of high-value goods.
After doing some bartering for bulk grains with a neighbor, she takes a trip to the local recycling center and does some more bartering with the gentlemen there. I was kind of surprised at how it played out—usually on the show when someone goes a-bartering, they edit it to make them look all kooky and like it’s so out-there to trade goods instead of pieces of green paper. But not this time—the guys haggle a bit and then go along with it. Suzanne winds up with a junked refrigerator, which is going to be turned into an industrial-sized food dehydrator? Awesome! As an avid dehydrator advocate, I’m really curious to see how that works. Surprisingly, they bring back the post-filming update segment (remember those??) so Suzanne can show off her repurposed-‘fridge-dehydrator. Looks like they just took the top off to let sun in, and put food on screen shelves, which seems like it would actually work pretty well. Thumbs-up.

As you’d expect from someone who wears a giant crystal-thing around her neck, Suzanne is adamantly nonviolent. And as you can imagine, that kind of puts a damper on her efforts to defend her homestead. She goes to the local surplus shop and consults with the guys there. Eventually they decide to hook her up with a paintball gun. I dunno about that. Sure, they sting and leave welts, but is that enough to dissuade hungry marauders? Wouldn’t bear mace or something be more effective?

In her ‘expert’ assessment, she’s given 49 points (four months). The experts’ breakdown—as usual—makes little sense, for example scoring her only thirteen points on water, even though she has over 9,000 gallons stored. Once again, those guys seem unable to accurately assess someone’s preparedness when that approach stems from a completely different worldview from theirs.


Doomsday Preppers: David Lakota

We go from one extreme to the other, leaving Alaska for a visit to Hawaii, and a look at David Lakota. As the show describes him, David is a ‘New Age Spiritual Prepper’. Ohboy.
david-lakotaSo, not unreasonably, David has fears for a mega-tsunami that might hit the island. Hey alright, it’s Hawaii, center of the whole Ring of Fire thing, I get it.

Then there’s something where he talks about how he wants to get away and live “free of violence, pollution, hypocrisy, and the self-destructive nature of people.”
Look close, dear reader. Within that sentence hides a single word that holds the Big Lie of Our culture. Do you see it?

It’s people.

You see, David—like most of the folks in Our culture—is a victim of what has been called ‘the Great Forgetting’. The short version goes something like this: by the time aggressive agricultural (“civilized”) cultures started showing up in the ‘Fertile Crescent’ several thousand years ago, so many years had passed since the pre-agricultural times that folks forgot there ever was such a time: when they looked back on their dirty cities, miserable workers, corrupt officials, and intensifying warfare, they saw only farmers! They naturally assumed that farming and city-dwelling were the natural way for humans to live, and that humans had been born as such only a few thousand years before! They assumed that the wretched way they lived was just the way humans were meant to live, and all the bad stuff was just a result of some unsolvable flaw in ‘human nature’.
Of course, discoveries in the field of archeology have showed us that this notion is completely untrue, so the sooner Our culture can rid itself of this fallacious thinking, the better.
The truth is, not all people live a self-destructive life of violence, pollution, and hypocrisy. It’s not Humanity that needs fixing, it’s just one culture—Ours. /soapbox.

Now, should said Big Wave be forthcoming, how will David learn about it? Does he leave his NOAA weather radio switched on all the time? Does he get text-message alerts from the Pacific Seismographic Institute? Nope! He plans on predicting the wave based on his “mystical connection to the land”. Or, alternately, “in a bad dream” the night before. Ohboy.

So, if I lived near the ocean and was worried about a 300-foot-high tsunami wave, my plan might sound something like ‘live at high elevation, away from the coast’. If I heard about a tsunami warning, and happened to be near the coast, my reaction would be something like ‘grab my pack; get to the highest possible elevation by the fastest possible means’. David’s approach is quite different – because he apparently plans on outrunning the incoming wave with a fifteen-mile-long kayak trip! And with no supplies, to boot!
Now, based on what I know about how this show works, I’m pretty sure David’s profile is probably just ‘minimalist kayaking/hiking/rockclimbing canyon-adventure’, spun as a barefoot bugout…but I wish they would just come out and say so. As hippy-dippy as he seems, I have a hard time believing what we see is anyone’s disaster-escape plan.

And so, David—together with his partner Rachaelle—start their adventure with some sea kayaking, followed by some seaside stick-sparring of which we only see a few snippets. Somehow in the course of that, or landing the kayak, David cuts his foot, and their lack of first aid supplies means Natural Remedy Time! Yay! Rachaelle uses a noni plant to clean up his wound, which hopefully won’t become infected. Believe me, foot infections suck.

They continue moving—barefoot—upwards through the jungle, coming across a little waterfall. Before he whets his whistle, David explains that when doing anything—picking plants, hunting animals, drinking water, &c.—one should first ask permission of Nature, quieting one’s mind to hear the answer and such. Now, I’m totally onboard with that kind of stuff (in my interpretation, animism—because it seems that’s what we’re really talking about—is an underlying core of my Bendu-Jedi philosophy), and David is free to do so, but why does such stuff just sound phony coming from bearded white guys? I touched on this last season in my look at Ed Peden, but such stuff would sound totally authentic coming from an Amerindian, or a Pacific Islander, or pretty much any non-haole, really. Of course, there have been white cultures in history from whom this peaceful, ecocentric sort of thing would sound authentic, but unfortunately it seems they got Kurganized about six thousand years ago.

As I’ve said, they don’t have any supplies or food, so they’re probably getting pretty hungry when Rachaelle comes across some wild berries. Apparently it’s not a species that they’re familiar with, but don’t worry, because David has an incredible method for determining if they’re safe to eat. Now, he doesn’t follow the Army Universal Edibility Test, and he doesn’t carry a Petersen’s Field Guide for tropical plants. His method is as follows:
Option 1) Ask your Intuition, “Is this edible?”
Option 2) Ask Nature, “Is this edible?” Because “your body is an antenna”, or something.
Option 3) Just eat it! Because edible things taste good.


Alright, I’m going to attempt to speak David’s language. Dude, I will now use my mystik Third Eye to channel the essence of the great Atlantean high priest Nur-Ab-Sal to predict that YOU WILL EAT SOMETHING TOXIC AND DIE.

Seriously. Sure, I would bet the first Homo habilis or whoever started learning plants did so through trial and error (“Hey Grog, whatcha eatin’?” “Purple berries.” <Grog dies> “Hey everybody, don’t eat these berries!”), but once they knew, the knowledge was passed on from generation to generation. Injuns and extant hunter-gatherer groups know a whole ton of edible plants, but they don’t learn which ones are safe by just pulling the answer out of the air, they learn by being taught by their elders. So until you’re a member of a functioning tribe, you’re better off with a field guide.

By this point, they’re high up the canyon and getting pretty thirsty (remember: by the time you’re noticeably thirsty, you’re already two percent dehydrated). I guess they had already drunk what little water they collected at the waterfall, because David decides the best hydration source for him is his own urine. Now, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen a prepper drink their own piss, but it is the first time they’ve drunk it straight—usually they’ll run it through a purifier or something first. But not David! He just whips it out, fills up a bottle, and takes a sip. Rachaelle says she’ll pass. At this point I have to wonder how much the producers paid him for this stunt?

Eventually, after some more hiking, scrambling, and free-climbing they reach the top of the canyon cliff. Yay, grungy hippy hug!

The experts tell David to consider storing food at his bugout location. Personally, I think for this kind of contingency it’d probably be best to keep it flexible and not have one set location to be heading for, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hike with at least some food or supplies! I’m all about minimalism and foraging as you go, but even natives would carry some parched maize or jerky or whatever:
“they brought with him in a thing like a bow case, which the principal of them had about his waist, a little of their corn pounded to powder, which put to a little water they ate.” See? Injun cornmeal fannypack. Yum!

The experts also tell David to LEARN PLANTS, and for once, I can’t agree more.

 David gives us a post-filming update, in which he announces that “even more threatening than tsunami, government shutdown, or other natural disaster, is boredom, complacency, and indifference.” And so, with some Thoreauvian quotation (“in wildness is the preservation of the world”) I guess he heads into the wild with his knife, rope, tarp, lighter, and big white dog. Whatever, dude; good luck.

Doomsday Preppers: Amanda & Scott Bobbin

The last segment of ‘Prepper’s Paradise’ looks at Amanda & Scott Bobbin, living in Waynesville, North Carolina, and I have very little to say about them.
Originally from Florida, they pulled up stakes and moved to the mountains because Greta the ghost told them to get out…because a comet is coming! That’s right, Amanda Bobbin is The SpOoOoOoky Prepper.
So, they move to NC and find a sweet deal on a house called ‘Paragon Jewel’, which I’m already suspicious about, because houses with names—especially New Age-y ones—are weird. Honestly, I get a real The Shining vibe from the whole thing, and I’m sure that’s what they were going for.paragonjewelFor what it’s worth, this Paragon Jewel is not the same as the completely-different-looking property up for auction 150 miles away in Bluefield, West Virginia. Seriously, they look nothing alike.

The house is supposedly 8,500 square feet, with 51 rooms, which is a lot for just two people. It seems Greta the Ghost also stipulated that they should extend an invitation to fellow would-be survivors, and make the house a bastion of security in the post-comet-impact world. Or something. And how do they get these messages from Greta the Ghost? Amanda ‘channels’ them. Ohboy. Did I mention that the house’s previous owner was also named Greta? Whoooooaaaaa! It turns out that she was in it for the long haul, because they keep finding survival goods stashed all over the place (they open up a shed and find what looks like several tons of grains and other foods, all sealed up in buckets).

They invite some neighbors over, who are nice enough to bring Scott the coolest housewarming gift ever—a twelve gauge pump shotgun! Apparently he’s never shot one before?, so there’s some nervous-making stuff while he’s getting familiar with the action. Like Brent’s son from a few weeks ago, if you’ve never touched a gun before (videogames don’t count), please ask someone to help you out first.

Oh, and while they’re filming, the couple’s two sons come over for a visit from Ireland. So yeah, if you’re into crystals and ghosts and British accents (and there’s a definite type of person who goes for those things), you’d probably really enjoy this segment.
Eventually the parents explain how they’ve ‘become preppers’, which just makes for a bunch of reality-show drama. Johnny, the younger one, seems to think preparation isn’t bad—“what if there’s a storm or something?”—while Chris wants nothing to do with it. You can explain all you want, how it’s the smart thing to do, but good luck trying to reason with a sixteen year old.

The experts tell them to get security cameras, alarms, and defensive training. They get 65 points, for ten months’ initial survival.

Doomsday Preppers: Ed Peden

The episode wraps up with a look at another converted missile bunker on the plains of Kansas. But this time, it’s quite different than Larry Hall’s massive project. Because this bunkers’ inhabitants, Ed and Dianna Peden, are certified New Age-y, guitar-strumming, granola-munching, hippy dippies.

These two bought a decommissioned Atlas (the same kind of ICBM that shot John Glenn into history in the Mercury program) launch site for ~$40,000 in the early 1980s (which seems like a really good deal). They don’t mention it in the segment, but there’s a nice metaphor in there somewhere—considering the occupants—about converting a structure built for war to a house of peace.
For what it’s worth, Ed—a beaky, bespectacled longhair guy—reminds me so much of Michael Caine’s character in Children of Men.

Their plan when disaster strikes, is to “survive and thrive” underground. Once again, I have to wonder, What about light??? Maybe you have generators or whatever, but those are going to run dry eventually. How about fiberoptics or light-tubes? Where’s your food coming from? Is this just for short-term or long-term emergencies?

However, he wisely states that “Those who can make adjustments to the changes in optimal ways will thrive…” Or, like I’ve said before: adaptability!
Dianna suggests that maybe it’s time to “reframe what we think the American dream is.” Right-on. And maybe that shouldn’t go for just America, but every other member of Our culture too, East and West. Folks need to sit down and take a good, hard look at what they’re doing, why they’re doing it, and who it’s helping or hurting.

So far, he’s the only one on this show who has brought up the inherent problem with actually being on the show; Ed’s worst case scenario—a gang of armed bikers who want in—would likely arise “because they heard we had food on TV”! However, I guess it’s worth it, because like most of the others on the show, Peden stands to profit from his appearance. In this case, he’s a broker for these missile sites.

They invite some friends over for a…bug-in jam session? Looks more like a drum circle. Which are weird. Like, I can totally get behind some Leaver tribe jamming and breakin’ it down in the jungle or at a pow-wow or whatever, but when it’s a bunch of white people, maybe trying to channel or emulate the tribal folks (even though I fully support that in theory), in execution it always comes off as phony. Someone please prove me wrong.

Anyway, according to the narrator, the ideal prepper occupations are supposed to be ER doctors (I guess to deal with all the GSWs you’ll be dealing with if you’re out to annihilate marauders), mechanics (because you can’t imagine a petrol-less lifestyle and have to maintain your engines), and professional soldiers (again, because the Taker lifestyle is at war with the world). Which are all fine if you’re a Type 1 prepper and all your food comes from hoarded buckets.
Personally, I’ve always said my big three would be farmer (organic and horticultural, of course), a doctor/healer (especially one with working knowledge of wild medicine), and probably a blacksmith (or at least someone otherwise trained in the metallurgic arts).
However, the Pedens’ team includes a ‘living foods chef’, a ‘spiritualist’, and an ‘intuitive healer’. So, a yoghurt-and-kombucha advocate, someone who’s into crystals, and someone to align their chakras? I dunno about those; I would bet and/or hope there are some gardeners and other more practical folks in the group, but the producers picked the most hippy ones to mention.

Drum circle aside, they seem like a cool group of like-minded friends. But…they’re all like, 60+ years old. Where are the swishy-skirted, dreadlocked, hula-hooping girls I always see at music festivals?

Y'know, like this?