RL128 - Arcadum

This week, Merlin and John talk about:

  • John wearing a Lady Bucket Hat in the autumn (Style)
  • Merlin feeling like he is getting a cold, but hoping it is just allergies (Merlin Mann)
  • How Western Cities become more and more like Blade Runner (Humanities)
  • The way to Supertrain
  • John’s vision of Arcadia, Sin City, Pioneer Town, New Frontier where the alcoholics can live without being bothered (Dreams and Fantasies)

The Problem: What happens on the hockey stick?, referring to the progress of Supertrain that is like a hockey stick: First you don’t notice anything is happening at all and all of a sudden there is a train coming through.

The show title refers to the name of the towns in John’s vision that every state should have where all the alcoholics and people who don’t expect anything from life can live without being bothered.

The audio starts with Brenda Vaccaro in an old commercial, saying: ”I think it's important to know the facts about tampons, to use them intelligently, and to know what you're doing!”

Merlin sounds scratchy, but John likes it because it is really Susan Sarandony. Merlin thinks of Brenda Vaccaro in those ads in the 1970s for lady products and she had an improbably gravely voice. Is she okay? Did she just swallow a camel?

Raw notes
The segments below are raw notes that have not been edited for language, structure, references, or readability. Please do not quote these texts directly without applying your own editing first! These notes were not planned to be released in this form, but time constraints have caused a shift in priorities and have delayed editing draft-quality versions to a later point.

John wearing a Lady Bucket Hat in the autumn (RL128)

The seasons have just changed in Seattle, and when the seasons change is when John starts wearing lady hats. There was a time when Kangols were all the rage, when LL Cool J loved his radio, he couldn't live without it, and he had a Kangol. During that era in the early 1990s John had a powder blue Kangol pith helmet that was made out of Terry cloth that he just loved, it was really fly. Particularly since in every other respect he was wearing forest-colored wool, basically wool pants and logging boots, the fact that he was wearing a powder-blue Kangol was the little cherry on the top.

John still has a lot of affection for that style of hat, and the only way you can find them is in lady hats, the 1970s style of bucket hat meant for ladies made of wool or Terry, and every year John says: ”I don't care! These hats are gender neutral. This is the year that I am going to wear lady hats all fall!” They are not as good in the winter, that is when you switch to your Cowichan hat, which is a good winter hat, but fall is a nice time for a bucket hat, and John is wearing his Lady Bucket Hat today, which sounds like the name of a fresh new rapper.

The cafe that John usually goes to on the way to his office is in the industrial neighborhood where everybody is in Carhartts and they all have welding scars and he walked in in his lady hat, and it was like the jukebox stopped and everybody turned. He was supremely confident, like: ”No, fuck you guys! This is the way of the future!” and everybody immediately turns back to their welding magazines, but it reminded John of that 1970s Bea Arthur scratchy voice woman in charge of her own destiny, wearing a felty buckety hat. Merlin suggests Adrienne Barbeau who is an Escape from New York character.

Both Merlin and John are very fair skinned. For being as hearty and as hale and as hatted as John is, people who meet him might be surprised to know that he is very fair skinned, it is in the pink category like peaches and cream complexion, but there are no olive components. Merlin’s wife is much more on that end of the spectrum. She goes out into the sun for three minutes and she gets a tan. Merlin goes out in the sun for three minutes and he has to be hospitalized and got bubbly blisters. Luckily his daughter is more in her direction so she doesn't burn as easily.

Not to make this about race, but they got people from Asia in Washington and definitely Chinese ladies, also Japanese ladies, they are almost always wearing a hat everywhere and the bucket hat is the classic local hat. There is a thing that started out as what looks like a tennis visor with except the visor is made out of sunglasses, a polarized translucent plastic thing, and over time those were getting bigger and bigger, and some Chinese ladies are wearing what looks like a welding mask now, which is kind of hot. Imagine a 65 year old woman wearing what looks like a big piece of sunglasses that covers her entire face, which must provide a surpassing level of sun protection.

Merlin feeling like he is getting a cold, but hoping it is just allergies (RL128)

The way he feels right now, for the last 40 years Merlin would have said he is getting a cold, except now he is pretty sure it could be allergies because he gets a lot of the same symptoms as a cold when he has allergies. He is having a super slow motion getting-a-cold-feeling that hopefully is just allergies because that just goes away on its own.

John woke up in the middle of the night last night and had a 7-minute long sneezing fit. He did you record it, although they did record it out at Mount St. Helens on their seismographs. He was trying to picture the little plants all releasing their spores according to some atmospheric queue, like: ”It is October! Go!” and all of a sudden the air is full of some new pollen and you don’t understand what happened because you were fine yesterday.

Merlin thinks their house is a little sick. It is really old and nobody has ever really cleaned out the ducts and stuff. There are lots of toys in there and he assumes there is dust and stuff, too. John wonders how many half-empty cans of flat soda water there are in the rafters and the unfinished basement? Merlin doesn’t know, but he is trying to be better about that and he is trying to implement some workflows. Ever since he got off the soda stream for no particular reason he is on the cans and he is going through about a 12-pack of cans a day and those really pile up, especially if you don't finish everyone to the last drop. It might be all that keeps Merlin alive. He drinks a lot of water and he doesn’t even want to think about what happens when he finds out that it is not doing what he thought it was doing.

Merlin was going to talk about lady product ads from the 1970s and how much they freaked him out when he didn't really understand them.

Merlin does sound dusky, but John likes it because it humanizes him a little bit and takes him out of the realm of the God sphere in Valhalla. He definitely belongs in a certain pantheon, but it is nice to see him taking down a peg sometimes. He puts his utility- kilt on one opening at a time.

How Western Cities become more and more like Blade Runner (RL128)

It is part of the overall Blade Runnerification of West Coast cities. There is some thing that is being communicated on a global scale where people are saying: ”I am going to do my part to make this urban dystopia extra trippy! Let it begin with me!” No one person can make any Downtown area super-trippy on their own, they just make it a little weird and awkward. If you are standing in an intersection throwing rice at birds and you are the only one doing that, that is not going to have an effect on actually creating a Dystopia because you are obviously just a loon, but if somebody is throwing rice at birds and a big guy in a wool jacket walks by in a lady hat, and across the street is a Chinese Lady with a welding mask on, pretty soon you are creating a Blade Runner tableau that no one person could have done.

The thing about Blade Runner and about any future vision is: People who saw it at the time it came out saw it as being about space, spaceships and flying cars. So you say: ”How you make this more Blade Runner?” - ”Maybe flying cars or maybe the Voight Kampff Test!” Carrying around umbrellas, wearing hats, clear plastic clothing, street food, origami or making things out of matchsticks, street vendor carts that are actually practicing medicine, riding bicycles in the dark, there is a lot of zooming in on photos, in any crowded street scene there are punk rockers, drinking out of a square glass with giant ice cubes like you get at an artisanal bar in Portland. Everybody has something to contribute to this. Just because you don't have a rocket car does not mean that you're not welcome. Just because your skin may not be the smoothest does not mean we don't have a role for you as a police henchman. There are plenty of things, there is dust all over the place, and everybody is bringing a little bit to the Blade Runner party today.

John doesn’t think anybody could have predicted that he is sitting here doing some kind of radio show, but the key elements are that his desk is covered with guitar picks that have Jonathan Colton's face on them and he has an orange bell from a 1970s dice rolling game (they couldn’t remember the name, but it is called Pit) It is the accumulation of small worn detritus that makes any future-scape look real, and every day John tries to have at least one element on his person where if it is a panning shot of a street scene and he is just walking from one place to another, the fact that he has a leather bag with a visible octopus sticking out of it is the element that is going to stick in some future kid’s mind where he is: ”I saw that panning shot and did you see the guy in the suit with the octopus in his bag?”

The first time John went to Morocco he was walking through the Medina in Fez and a guy walks by him in a three piece suit, carrying two live chickens by their feet. Before that, when it was a bunch of guys in jalapas, pulling donkeys with sticks tied to the backs of them, sure, of course, he was in a foreign country, but then the guy in the three piece suit with two live chickens by their feet, he was like: ”Okay!” It was a business guy, coming home from work and his wife asked him to pick up some live chickens. He is just going about his day.

The rest of the people were there because they were setting a Moroccan scene, so we got to have a little old man with pointy shoes drawing a mule through the street, you are going to want some carpets that are hanging up, some baskets, there should be a snake probably somewhere, meat is burning on spits, but the guy with the suit and the chickens, nobody would have thought to include him. He just was himself and that was the detail that made it real. John was actually here, this was not a Truman Show situation because no-one would have put this guy there!

John puts the Voight Kampff Test to people all the time, it is an app. She was handsome in that movie! There were a lot of good looking things in that movie. Merlin is a terrible judge of character, and he can't tell when anyone is lying, including himself, and if he had to face off with Delroy Leroy, what was the guy who was staying at the hotel, the first skin job they talked to (Merlin doesn’t want to work ping pong), he is getting pretty hostile, he doesn't like the questions. The tester guy had a much bigger role originally, and a lot of his stuff got cut out. He was also maybe the original choice for the Rick Deckard part.

There is one version where you can see him in a space iron long after he gotten beaten up by Delroy Leroy. There are at least four discrete versions, there is the director's cut, the actual director's cut, the Deluxe edition director’s cut. Merlin has owned three: The original one with the voiceover that Harrison Ford really didn't want to do and it shows because voiceovers are to dramas as laugh tracks are to comedy because the material was not where it needed to be. Merlin was fine with it until he heard it without andI was like: ”Oh, it is like watching M*A*S*H without the laugh track! The show is twice as good!”

In 1999, probably the third DVD he ever bought after Rushmore and the Radiohead movie, was the director's cut of Blade Runner, which was apparently not really such a director's cut, but it was the famous one that hinted more pointedly at the ultimate vision of the maestro, they started adding Unicorn Dream and stuff like that. The one that Merlin will recommend to listeners, the one that is really good came out a couple of years ago called The Final Cut, which seems a little bit optimistic given the way that these things go, and it was also for a long time John’s favorite Pink Floyd record (it is actually the name of an album by Pink Floyd): ”And Maggie, over lunch one day, took a cruiser with all hands.” (lyrics from Get Your Filthy Hands Off My Desert by Pink Floyd)

Merlin should listen to more Pink Floyd. He knows 3.5-4 Pink Floyd records and he should hear more, he should listen to more Animals. John thinks that Pink Floyd was a very talented band, and they contributed a lot to music and to guitar playing in particular, but also they really made it safe to be super dramatic in your music and John approves of that.

Merlin has seen the documentary Jodorowsky’s Dune, which is a very important film. Alejandro Jodorowsky, who did these monkey balls films in the early 1970s, almost made Dune and he spent 2.5 years making it, and Merlin doesn’t want to spoil it. John has never seen the movie Dune, nor has he read the book Dune (he finally watches it in FFPC18). Merlin has seen the movie and it is already not a great movie, but a very interesting movie, in the words of his favorite podcast The Flophouse it is a good bad movie, it is really enjoyable, even with all of its faults. The team that he put together to make Dune became some of the most influential people in the world of Sci-Fi movies, like Dan O'Bannon or H.R. Giger. Salvador Dali was going to be the Emperor, Keith Carradine was on board for it, and Jodorowsky had his 12 year old son trained for 2.5 years in martial arts so that he could play Paul Atreides, but none of this happened. The documentary is about a guy who is incredibly passionate about changing the world but can't get his shit done, which hits a little close to home for John, but he promises to watch it.

The way to Supertrain (RL128)

John doesn’t like to break the fourth wall and he is not going to do it now.

Lately John has been thinking a lot about Supertrain. They have not fleshed out the interim processes between now and Supertrain. People are leaping to Supertrain, and you can't do that, but it is a ladder. Merlin thinks it is a hockey stick curve where there is going to be build up that you don't notice for years and by the time you are aware of what is going on there is going to be a big fucking train going by and it is too late. But what happens on the hockey stick? You start to see welding helmets as fashion accessories, lots of men in cafes are wearing Terry cloth Kangols and it is all part of a piece.

John is always trying to solve the homeless problem, he is always trying to revolutionize our mental health programs, he is trying to make the world a better place, he is trying to connect people, he is trying to help people understand the importance of living freely in a world of ideas, he is trying to make Pre-K music education more equitable from a social justice standpoint, but really he is trying to solve the homeless problem and he is trying to solve the mental health problem that is endemic in America. It is the fallout from One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest: We closed all the asylums because we didn't like Nurse Ratched, and now the streets are crawling with people who need more help than they are getting, and all we are doing is putting band-aids on it. We can't solve the problem because we have disempowered ourselves.

In San Francisco the bandaids are donated and they are low on them and there is literally poop everywhere and a man who stands in the street throwing rice at birds. If you try to put a bandaid on that guy you are going to get a face full of fucking rice and you are not going to fill out the right forms and you are going to end up being subpoenaed, not the guy throwing rice at the birds. You can't just go helping people freelance!

John’s vision of Arcadia, Sin City, Pioneer Town, New Frontier where the alcoholics can live without being bothered (RL128)

Marijuana recently being legalized in Washington

They just legalize marijuana in Seattle, and they are tottering down this road. There is a neighborhood that John drives through on the way home that had already appointed itself the medical marijuana neighborhood because they passed the medical marijuana law several years ago. For those dispensaries you had to have a card, you had to claim that you had glaucoma, and then you could go into these little dispensaries that had green crosses that looked like European pharmacies and you could get your pot in there, but it was a cross between a government office, a methadone clinic, and a dive bar where you could get your Matanuska Thunderfuck.

The law that just legalized pot in Washington had all these caveats: It couldn't be within 15 miles of a school and it couldn't be within 150 miles of a church or something like that. Somebody made a map where they drew circles around all the schools and all the places that you weren't allowed to have a pot dispensary close to and the circles all overlap, so there were only four tiny little places in the city where you could even remotely build a pot store, two of them were at the bottom of an iron smelter, and one of them was in the middle of the bay.

There are still pot dispensaries and they seem to be doing a thriving business, but now they are opening legal pot stores where just any guy can go in and get some pot. Of course, the one on Capitol Hill that just opened turns out is next door to a church with a very vocal minister who is having big demonstrations in the street: ”Why did they put the pot store next to our church?” and in his estimation it is because they are a black church and the city doesn't give a hoot. You wouldn't put this pot store next to the Episcopal Church! In that sense he is very right, they would not do that!

Sin Cities like Las Vegas no longer being really dirty

We are trying to accomplish a distribution of low level sin that would be better for everybody and more exciting, certainly, if we just concentrated it in sin cities. They used to have Las Vegas where a normal person could go, and it seemed like the rules were suspended there. You didn't have to be rich to go there, you could just be a Schmo and go to Las Vegas and it was dirty in the right ways and you could get your dirty times on. But Las Vegas realized that if they dignified themselves, then they could bring families there, so they cleaned up Las Vegas and they put a cap on how dirty they would let it be.

They have also raised the threshold of dirty, so that now vaguely dirty stuff, namely gambling and drinking and sin and whatever is considered a family activity, as long as it doesn't go all the way over into total vice. Vegas has compressed the spectrum of allowable dirty, and that is true in meat space all around America. You may not be able to go out and get a Peruvian Dwarf delivered, but you could bring your kids to a place where he plays an Elf while dad is playing the slots and mom is smoking cigarettes and drinking unlimited watered down drinks. It is not nice there, but it is not dirty enough that you (inaudible), which is depriving us.

Alcoholics who just want to drink at a place where drinking all day is considered normal

John looks across the street at his neighbors Skeeter and Vandora (Gary in his van, see Gary and Skeeter), these guys are chronic alcoholics, all they want to do is drink, and the city is full of them and our only response to people like that is either to try to get them help, which they don't want, or we wait for them to commit a crime and then we lock them up. What they really want is just to be in a place where drinking all day is considered normal. They construct a mini world for each other, they glom onto each other where it is like: ”I like to drink all day, so do you! We are not weirdos. It is not the best thing, but it is not the worst thing!”

Merlin thinks what John is describing is a ghetto. If you get it out of town, you go out to one of those farm towns where all the kids graduated from high school and got the fuck out of there because farming had been mechanized, there were no jobs left, and they went to Hollywood to be a fucking dancer or whatever. You got these great little towns that have 50 sqmi of nothing around them, pick a place like that, and call it a free zone, a little bit of a border town.

You combine a Burning Man aspect to it, it is going to be more or less a self governing place and there is going to be a lot of economic opportunity there. Cigarettes are going to be cheap, you are going to apply a little bit of the independent nation status of Indian reservations to this place, and you are going to give a certain amount of autonomy to everything that happens within this 50 mile radius. Of course it is still going to be under federal auspices in the sense that you can't murder somebody there, but more or less, it is going to be like a spaceport border town, a deliberate Deadwood.

It is a modern society, normal rules apply in the sense that you will be able to buy and sell property, your credit card will work there, although there may have to be a certain amount of special currency, but we are so fascinated by Deadwood and Game of Thrones where we are voyeuristically watching societies with more freedom simply because there is less institutional control. We watch these TV shows and they appeal to us in part because we are romanticizing a time when shit was running in the gutters. When you are watching Game of Thrones the thing that you never realize is that those nights watch guys smell like shit. Everybody in that show would smell like shit. It is appealing because people are living by much more basic rules.

There is a lot of appeal to being just a wench, you also have no responsibilities, and that is what Skeeter and so many people in the city are looking for. They want to have no responsibilities and we are already as a society spending hundreds of millions of dollars sending out the paramedics every ten days when Skeeter thinks he is having a heart attack and we are pouring money into social services and these guys are on parole for their pot bust and they have to come in every ten days and do a urinalysis test, there is a ton of costs to society.

Turning an existing city into a SinCity

If there was a way that we could just re-envision it a little bit where we are spending these resources already and on behalf of society we are going to open a sin town in every state. We already have a state prison in every state, let’s open a state sin town where housing is subsidized for certain percentage of the people and it is just a place where you can go and stay fucked up if you want and the normal rules don't apply, the expectation, the decorum rules are different, and you just get to go be your dirty dog, you get to be a mud duck there. There will be people that go there on the weekend, but there will be people that choose to live there. It is not a situation where you are busting people there, but outside of Soap Lake in Washington there is a town where you can do whatever the fuck you want.

It combines so many elements of classic American history and society. It is a little bit like Pleasure Island from Pinocchio, it is a little bit like a jail, it is kind of like a ghetto, it is an enforced Las Vegas, it is an artificial frontier because we have run out of frontiers. They will play a lot of Donald Fagan and Steely Dan.

When John thinks about going to Burning Man, which he every year does for 1.5 minutes, but the appeal of going to Burning Man is that these are utopians and they have created a frontier-like society and it is a new frontier. ”Anything goes” with an eye to the future. The people who run Burning Man and think about Burning Man and are part of that culture are trying to imagine a way to make a Burning Man town and want it desperately! John knows for a fact they are driving through Winnemucca Nevada and thinking: ”How hard would it be if we just came into Winnemucca and just took it over? The people that are in Winnemucca right now are going to be like the lumberjacks and the autoworkers in the 1980s and the Palestinians probably: ”You can't just come in here and take our land! This is the land that our forefathers gave us!” and it will be an amazing little intractable war.

Merlin thinks that in Las Vegas you look forward to going, you get to be a certain version of yourself that you are excited about for a while and then you get to leave. Nothing makes him happier than driving to the airport in Las Vegas because for the first hour Las Vegas is the best thing he has ever done in his life, the first night there is pretty fun, but after maybe two and a half days he is really ready to leave. John can't stand Las Vegas. When he see the lights of Las Vegas looming in the distance, his heart starts to beat faster, and he is just like: ”Please, God! Let me get through this town without starting smoking again!”

Merlin thinks it is the civic version of a Vagina Dentata. It is just sitting there waiting for you! Merlin was there for his daughter's first birthday and they had to go through a smoky casino to get to their room and it didn’t seem wholesome. You go to the Bellagio! It is a nice place! You got to go through the casino to get to the hotel. It is almost impossible, you can't see any signage, there are no clocks, it is very dark, everybody is wearing fucking cut-offs and drinking out of giant cups Coors Light. Merlin and John are the type of people who would go to their state Sin City, their frontier town for a weekend, and then they would go home again. Merlin would be open to go in and be some adjunct professor in Pioneer Town.

Providing a place for sex workers

Over the years John has been radicalized in terms of being an advocate for sex workers. He grew up on Capitol Hill where a lot of the people he knew and some of the people that he was in relationships with were also in the sex trades, and hearing them talk about it, it is obviously very complicated and everybody has their own path through it, but the people who want to live in Virtue City cannot even abide the idea that it is happening anywhere in the world. Sin City would not just be a place where people would go and be chronic alcoholics, it would be a place where all kinds of commerce was happening.

Seattle for years and years said that you cannot have a titty bar that also serves alcohol. If you are going to have dancers you have to drink a $20 Pepsi Cola. Coming from Alaska where alcohol and naked dancing was maybe after oil and fish the third biggest economic driver, but in Seattle this was a way to try and keep our neighborhood safe or whatever. Come on! You are nanny-stating yourself into a situation where you are just being ridiculous. Sin City, Pioneer Town, just over the mountains!

Calling it Arcadia / Arcadum

The adjunct to that is that every state should have a kind of Arcadia where, one of them would be an Arcadum, a place maybe that was a former convent or perhaps even a former mental institution that is now repurposed as a mental institution, a place with some rolling hills, a calm respite where people who are troubled can go live and be under a doctor's care, place where people who are struggling to live amongst other people can go have a break from the stresses of modern life and benefit from all the new developments that we have made in Psychopharmacology.

There are so many expectations from other people. You don't get to pick other people's expectations and that is the problem. It could be expectation town, a place where nobody expects you to do fucking anything. There is some Quaker Protestant idea that runs through America where we expect everybody to fucking do something. There are some people that we should just not expect anything of. They get to go live in Arcadium. ”Caleb, where is thy chair?” - ”I have not made a chair, Father! I am moving to Arcadem!” - ”Liza, there is a hole in the bucket!”- ”Fuck you!”

Anything that is allowed only within a radius shows ambivalence about whether it is a good idea at all

This is where super old fashioned Midwestern Merlin comes out with his straw hat and his weathered overalls with one strap hanging: He is very interested with one of these civic ideas that on the face of it 100% makes sense, but he is not sure stands to reason, which is what John is describing here. Let's call it the radius problem! For example in California you could be on the list of a registered sex offenders if you were convicted of public urination. Is George Michael on there? They probably put him on the list everywhere, just as a precaution.

You can look at a map in a neighborhood and find out with pictures and addresses where registered sex offenders live. You are not allowed to live within so many feet of a school, within so many feet of… you are going to have this phony baloney rule that pot dispensaries can't be too near a church. What about guns? Can you buy guns? You can't have guns that are too near a school, and so on and so forth. What is the problem with churches having guns nearby? If we like guns as a society, why the fuck can't we be selling them everywhere? If we like pot, why can't we sell it everywhere? It is very indicative of something that is a real on the bubble kind of issue. It is not illegal, but it is not super legal, not something you can just do everywhere.

No matter if it is titty bars or gambling or any of that stuff: How do you decide what is allowed to be near what? Maybe the church people are actually super into guns, but they don't want the pot? Maybe you could do something like carbon offset credits where you could move your thing someplace else, you could do a trade with one of the other neighborhoods. Merlin is not saying that we shouldn't do FrontierVille, but is there some stuff that almost nobody wants in their backyard? Maybe that is when your backyard really literally becomes Arcadum and we have the gun stores and the titty bars and you just go out there on a chartered bus. Anything with a radius shows ambivalence about whether it is a good idea at all.

If you surveyed the entire population of any size city, you would find that the number of behaviors that passed muster with every single person were incredibly small because there are going to be people in one part of town who think that disciplining your kid with a ruler is an essential part of the way that you conduct business. There are people who take their shoes off on the bus. There are people who think people who take their shoes off on the bus should be in jail. There are people that talk on the phone in restaurants. There are people who think that those people should be in jail. When you get down to the nitty gritty of what we all agree on, there is always somebody in any situation who is offended.

towns with only churches vs towns with only bars

These big picture things, like drinking, drugs, guns, sex or whatever… there are towns in Oklahoma with 600 churches, starting back in 1910 they were building churches everywhere and every denomination has 25 different venues just within the center of town. That was a very aggressive effort to build the physical plant of this place and say: This is church town and there is not going to be room for bars here! You can't drive down the street without seeing a church everywhere you look and that is going to be our method of keeping everybody on the straight and narrow.

There are other towns, the one in Iowa that Harvey Danger ended their last great tour in where it was just liquor stores and titty bars, and across the river the town was all churches. The two towns had this back and forth, churches, bars, liquor stores, and we are always playing these games with ourselves and the solution always seems to be that in Las Vegas style we use a compressor/limiter on what we think is allowed, and that is the way that we are going to find peace with each other. We are going to let everything get a little bit dirty to appease the people who want to just live how they want to live, but we are going to put a limit on how dirty they can be to appease the people who think that none of us should be able to get away with anything. It is not working! It is not actually creating a city where people feel like we have shared values!

People still wanting to live on the fringe, but not wanting to be treaded as criminals

It is almost like: ”Don't ask, don't tell!”, which to somebody seemed like a really good idea in the 1990s, but it is unsatisfying to everyone involved. In Las Vegas you can get away with some stuff, but we want to make sure nobody who doesn't want to see it sees it. There should not be obviously sex worker people walking around here, there shouldn't be people hanging out on the streets because they blew all their money on gambling. This has to look above board!

But if you go to the Concierge at the Bellagio and say: ”I am really into ladies that dress like elephants. You have got any of those in your Rolodex?” The idea that was put out there in the 1990s by the Aryan Nations, that somewhere in North Idaho they wanted to construct a white homeland. It was so disgusting to us as a culture! These guys that were up there trying to create a white homeland in North Idaho, that we really devoted a lot of resources in terms of FBI and just culturally, they took a lot of bandwidth for a couple of years, the compound people, the Branch Davidians, and the Hayden Lake white supremacist gangs. We really busted those people down and in some cases burned their compounds and killed them by the hundreds because we have these echoes of the Confederacy or whatever. You are not allowed to secede from the United States.

There is a tremendous desire for there to still be a frontier, that is really in our DNA, we want to be able to go out to the edge of town and do whatever the fuck we want. And until very recently, throughout all of human history, there was always a place for you to go where you could go to the edge of town and still be considered a citizen. You lived out by your own rules on the frontier, but when you came back to town, you weren't considered a criminal. That territory is gone now, like even in Alaska. If you went out to Siberia or you went up the Amazon or something, you could find a place where you could be your own person.

We think of people that are out on the fringe as wanting to be away from people, but in fact there is a whole component of human beings who want to both be out on the fringe, living more or less by their own rules, but not away from people. They want to come in and go to the bar, they want to be a part of a culture and the culture even, they want to play with others, but they also want to go make their own way. If you went out to Oregon, there was still somebody who knew how to play the piano in Oregon. It wasn't like you had gone and were living in a house made of bark, or even if you were, you could take your horse in and hear somebody play the piano.

New laws becoming increasingly about very detailed regulations

We have started thinking of everybody who wants to live outside as being kind of criminal and we have criminalized the desire to not live according to this minutiae law that we are all little by little acquiescing to. What we do recognize in some part of ourselves is that all the big laws are taken care of, we got the structure of the law now that, and we really don't have any gaps in what the law stipulates, except when new technology invents a new situation where we do need a new law to govern this because it didn't exist before. Law making and law enforcing is such a massive business, we are constantly making new laws, smaller and smaller laws governing smaller and smaller little pockets of behavior.

When you think about all the constituencies in America who are like: ”There should be a law that prohibits people from spanking their kids! There should be a law that prohibits people from teaching astrology! There should be a law that prohibits this and that!” We are all trying to add more and more laws to what is already like a spider web of laws because it feels good to do it and we want to limit everybody else and we want to create the utopia that comports with our mind the best. We are all surrendering every day a little bit more of what is essentially adult autonomy to a convoluted set of law, every time you click except on an iTunes legal document, you don't know what you just accepted and you don't give a fuck.

The whole debate about gay marriage is adult autonomy, why are we even fighting about this? We are debating the law, we are discovering new truths in the law, and that is a constant process, that will always be how we evolve, but adding new laws is a game that we can't win. Everybody feels that there are certain laws that we are empowered to ignore in the course of a day, there are certain things where it is like: ”Yeah, okay… Four way stop… I know technically I need to come to a complete stop! I am going to roll on through here. There is nobody around!”

Supertrain coming in after the inevitable doom

The thing about Supertrain is that it is coming in the ashes of our inevitable doom, but on the way to this inevitable doom there are certain steps we need to take and a lot of shit we need to try as we are hurtling toward our destiny. The counterpoint to Sin City, to Frontier Town, is going to be Church Town somewhere. People are going to come along and say: ”Well, if in Soap Lake they are having this free for all, then over in Moses Lake we are going to make the opposite of that town!”, and this is the beginning of a fracturing of civil society that is ultimately going to herald the doom that brings Supertrain.

Do you still need sober people to run the cash register?

Merlin says that over in FrontierVille you are going to have the need for some infrastructure, you are going to need a place for the bus to stop, there is going to need to be a Sheriff, you are going to want a lot of convenience stores, and even if you overtake an existing city and piggyback on its infrastructure, there is still going to be the need for stuff to happen there, and even in this idyllic landscape in this literal utopia for people who don't really feel like doing anything, you are still going to need somebody sober to run the cash register. John knows from experience that running a cash register does not require you to be sober. He used to keep a 32 ounce soft drink cup full of wine under the counter and all day long he would just be sipping at the wine. Every once in a while somebody would be like: ”That Dr. Pepper is really red!” - ”Yeah, well, I didn't change the hose!”

Somebody is going to need to bootstrap the infrastructure for this, and Merlin doesn’t want the government involved because frankly they could mishandle it. This is finally John’s chance to be on a board. He could get some Elon Musk's and some Mark Zuckerberg's and some Jeff Bezos’ and get on the board for bootstrapping an entire franchise of these cities in interested places. Maybe there could be a ballot initiative where they say: ”Hey, bring on FrontierTown!”, but still want somebody there, a grown-up who doesn't mind being around a bunch of drunks who don't feel like doing anything. That is the whole reason we made FutureVille. Now John is really positioning himself for things to happen in the future, he is getting into the corridors of power, he is getting the right people on his side, and more importantly they are getting him on their side. When Supertrain comes along, John is going to have a Bear and BMW (?) type situation, a Crops and Brawn (?) type situation.

Coming in with a Gaia device to create Deus ex Machina Sin Town

The first product of Roderick, Zuckerberg, Bezos, and Musk will be a SinCity Gaia device. It is the Genesis bomb where they fly over the middle of a state somewhere, they drop the Sin Genesis bomb, the future seed, and it impregnates the Earth and creates like the opening sequence of Game of Thrones a Deus ex Machina Sin Town. It is built in a Mock Tudor, but it looks a little bit like Venice also with houses on top of houses. Merlin likes the idea of having some robot avatar whose name is literally Deuce X. Machina and he looks like Billy Corgan.

People are going to be flocking there! John would go there! Early days will be amazing and then it will go to shit and you make a new one. In Las Vegas the fixed cost… that place is already built. They know where to deliver the prime rib and the fountains. Sometimes you just want to pull up stakes like a fucking like a degenerate M*A*S*H unit, you want to move on to the next town. Burn it down and all the Skeeters that can't anymore just get burned with the town. They become fuel, they call them Skeeter Logs.

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