Years ago, Jeff Berwick rocked up at the Free State Project’s Porcupine Freedom Festival, aka PorcFest, now in its 17th year with featured speakers Tom Woods and Jack Spirko, and comedians Dave Smith and Lou Perez of We the Internet, taking place June 22-29, 2020 in the White Mountains of New Hampshire [now June 21-27, 2021]. (Buy your $30 Early Porcupine PorcFest XVIII tix today.)
Back then, Jeff and I sat huddled at a picnic table under the 2AM night sky and recorded one of the first Anarchast podcasts ever (which has never released because: A. technical difficulties; B. we were super wasted; or C. why not both?). We discussed various freedom-related topics, as well as the ins-and-outs of running an event like PorcFest.
I don’t know for sure if this is where Anarchapulco was born, but, as I recall, I was encouraging because I’m a firm believer in more is more, especially as our movement grows and we need to enlighten more and more people in the ways of voluntarism and peaceful evolution. There’s no zero sum “anarchy pie” (not even in a late night sky!).
After fits and starts, the stars finally aligned for my husband Louis Calitz and I to attend Anarchapulco 2020. Winter in New Hampshire is a reality (but remember, it’s still warmer than Mars!) and a beach holiday in February sounded mighty nice. Even if the beach is in the “most dangerous city” in Mexico.
Let’s address this upfront. As an intrepid world traveler, my appetite for risk is pretty high–I have been held hostage in Vietnam, my husband’s passport was stolen India and I got it back without paying the extortion fee (and I made the blackmailer cry), I’ve been punched in the face in a strip club in Thailand–but, based on reports, I was expecting to spend my time in Acapulco in a hyper-vigilant, “don’t-fuck-with-me-or-I-will-shank-you-with-my-TSA-approved-nail-file” state.
Nothing could be farther from my experience. The Princess Mundo Hotel is a classy, old-school resort, perhaps a little long in the tooth, but she is well-staffed, well-lighted, and I felt 100% safe. The beach is clean. I took sunrise and sunset strolls, and swam in the ocean. The water is warm. The waves are just right. The hawkers are not overly pushy. I received a decent 25-minute beach massage–on a table, under an umbrella–for $10. The whole area feels tightly controlled, like it is being managed by some “invisible [cartel?] hand,” but, be that as it may, if you are concerned about your safety within the confines of the conference, don’t be.
Even leaving the resort didn’t feel “dangerous,” at least not from outside forces (but beware of skinny dudes in cream suits with man buns). Taxi fees are fixed. Shuttles and busses were provided for official off-site events, like the Night At The Disco (where Berwick and Man Bun Clown got into a ridiculous fist fight–HEY GUYS, THAT’S NOT HOW NON-VIOLENT COMMUNICATION WORKS!). Louis and I took taxis to restaurants and stores. No big. So, if rumors of “it’s sooooo dangerous” are stopping you from attending, don’t let it. (Also, from a survivalist perspective, if you’re scared of Mexico, you are going to get your ass handed to you when the Zombie Apocalypse comes.)
The consciousness-raising opening and closing ceremonies led by Christof Melchizedek and his crew were… spectacular, and for me, moving. Louis, like a good tech-nerd, just rolled his eyes, stating it was too “whoo-whoo” for him, but that’s exactly what I liked, being transported and uplifted–I mean, who doesn’t love a fifty-foot rainbow-colored phoenix rising?!? (Besides Louis.) When Christof spoke of the balancing nature of feminine energy, I was reminded of how my mother gifted me with unconditional love, that we all have the ability to apply this to our lives, that we all have the ability to heal our wounds and worlds, one person at a time, by living intentionally and by being kind to ourselves and others.
A few of the advertised speakers failed to materialize, but I did catch talks by Doug Casey and Larken Rose, got to meet Freeway Rick Ross (“If you shoot for the stars, you may hit the moon. I’m shooting!”), Ron Paul [insert obligatory “RON PAUL!!!” here] walked right past me after his great speech but I neglected to snag him for an updated photo (boo!), and John McAfee did his “tequila-and-lines” thang on the big screen from an undisclosed location. I learned a lot about alternative health options, and am intrigued by the stem cell therapies offered (I might return for this alone).
Saturday was my big day, with two talks, and a request to run the evening’s entertainment at the Gala Dinner, a special “Rant-Off” based on my signature event, Soapbox Idol, which will celebrate its 10th year at PorcFest this year. On the AnarchAwaken Stage in the morning, I spoke about how the “REVOLution Starts Within” (how you can try to “fake it till you make it,” but you can’t fake health and you can’t fake skills) and on the Main Stage in the afternoon, I spoke about my own radical transformation in a talk titled How to Change the Color of Your Aura (that had nothing to do with auras).
That evening, with me playing Vanna White, and live music provided by Naomi Brockwell and Amanda Rose, we kicked off Queen Quill’s First Annual Anarchapulco Rant-Off, where Jeff Berwick, Catherine Bleish, and Benny Wills judged six contestants on their passionate 3-minute rants. With the audience’s indulgence, I slipped in my own “rant,” explaining how, when I testify on bills at the New Hampshire state house, I often ask legislators who they root for when they watch sci-fi movies like The Hunger Games or The Matrix. I asked, why it is that in The Matrix, we all root for Neo, but now, here, in the real world, in the present, the reality is that everyone is rooting for Agent Smith?
The theme of this year’s Anarchapulco was “EVOLVE,” which, considering my own evolution over the past couple of years, suited me fine. For years, I have struggled with prioritizing myself, failing to take care of my health, and partying too hard. In the past, I would neglect to plan for my public appearances because I was taking care of everyone and everything else first (and usually had waaaaay too much on my plate because I didn’t know how to say, “No”). I would tell myself, while my puke-inducing anxiety rose higher and higher, that I could just “wing it, and it’ll be fine(ish)!” Sometimes, it was; oftentimes, it wasn’t. [I’m looking at YOU, Jeff-“I-like-to-get-hit-in-the-face-for-therapeutic-reasons”-Berwick during your “Amy Winehouse Towards the End” opening remarks…]
Which brings me to this: Several speakers mentioned in passing during their speeches something that boils down to, “I don’t know how I’m going to top this [INSERT CRAZY ANTIC] next time.”
This got me thinking… Expecting the people we admire to constantly “one up” some previous crazy behavior in order to keep our attention… is… a crazy way to expect them to live, and is a cruel thing to ask of the people we purport to admire and support. Expecting our heroes to constantly “re-up” to keep our attention is a terrible approach for the long term sustainability of our movement. Sure, I love me a good trainBerwreck, but if we care about people as individuals (and we do), we need to encourage each other to live more balanced lives so that we can stick around for the long-haul.
On this trip, I stuck to my routine of eating low-carb (AND AS MANY AVOS AS I COULD STUFF IN MY PALE FACE), sleeping 7+ hours, and getting at least an hour of exercise daily. I even prepared–GASP!–for my talks, visualizing different outcomes, like my slides not working right, which did end up happening on the main stage (and I didn’t puke! Progress!). While prepping, I learned the area where the stage’s countdown clock is, is called a “confidence corner,” and the event producer called me a “consummate professional.” CONSUMMATE, GUYS!!!
I wanted to show myself I could still do the speakers’ circuit and not totally annihilate my hard-earned “Better Me” routines. I wanted to show myself I could still roll with a party crew and not give in to any unchosen vices. I’ll admit, for a hot second, I considered indulging but then acknowledged to myself that while the first “whatever” would probably be fun, I just, simply put, didn’t want to derail my progress. I didn’t want to awaken the sleeping Brain Monster who always wants MOAR! I’ve had enough of those “gimme-moar, gimme-moar, just-one-moar” thoughts rattling around in my noggin’ battling against my better nature.
Over the past two years, by journaling and meditating and fasting, I’ve taught myself to identify and ignore those unhealthy ruminating brain-grooves, and I’m grateful to be free of that now. I now choose what I spend my time thinking about. I now choose what I put in my body. I now choose this life. As I said at the end of my talk: YOU are the Keeper and Giver of your time, which is your life… choose to spend it wisely![h/t to Alex Vidal for the title of this post. Go show the Freenauts page some lurv.]