Remembering Tupac

  Tupac Shakur was a perfect embodiment of the American identity crisis. He had to prove he was raw and not to be messed with. He was about the “THUG LIFE” tattooed in big letters across his abdomen. Likewise, many American men feel they have to size up and be physically intimidating. Streets can be brutal, after all.
  Competing with this identity was a social revolutionary, an activist, a poet. The man that rapped about “fake ass bitches” also advised women across the nation to “keep ya head up!” He asked why “we take from our women, why we rape our women, why we hate our women,” as he called for the black community to rise up and help its females heal.
  Likewise, the climate of the United States suffers from its own internal conflicts. We are a nation that profited from slavery, even having it embedded in our own constitution under the 3/5 Clause. America simultaneously proclaimed that every human being had the God-given right to be free. U.S. citizens want to stand up against global threats, but also want to keep peace between nations. We value brotherhood, but also are often motivated by financial profit.
I believe that with time, Pac will ultimately be remembered as a lyrical advocate for social justice. This poem will be remembered as a direct reflection of his legacy:

The Rose that Grew from Concrete

by Tupac Shakur

Did you hear about the rose that grew

from a crack in the concrete?

Proving nature’s law is wrong it

learned to walk without having feet.

Funny it seems, but by keeping its dreams,

it learned to breathe fresh air.

Long live the rose that grew from concrete

when no one else ever cared.

It’s a verbal testament to optimism and strength. Real strength. Not force through AK-47’s and fellow gangstas, but strength of an undying spirit. Tupac is an asset to our culture and society. Let’s remember him for the poet he was.

 

 

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Pooch Tents

If you’re anything like me, nothing is too good for your dog. Whether it’s vacations, blankets, snacks, or toys, your dog gets spoiled rotten. With a face like this, how can you not want to give them the world?

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But let’s get to the point. Pooch tents. They are a thing, and your dog deserves one. They can be used outdoors or indoors, on the patio or on the Appalachian trail. They make your dog supercool, and you can let Rex pretend he’s Bear Grylls with a lot of extra fur.

The Tents

 

Pettom

The setup is easy and there is much ventilation in this little tent. But it is just that: little. I would get this for the dogs less than 50 lbs. For the small-to-medium pooches, it works great as both a camping accessory and just something to provide shade. Most reviewers on Amazon have relayed that their pets love it, and it’s even worked out for some cats.

For an extra inch in width and height (this does make a difference), you should opt for the Pettom Pop-Up Tent. It’s simple set-up and durability makes for a great canine shelter.

Pettom Pet Shelter
Pettom Pet Shelter

Be sure to pay attention to the color options. Usually Amazon advertises the more expensive option first. This tent qualifies for Amazon Prime, so you can save on shipping costs as well.

Push Pin Travel Maps

Dogs are perfect outdoor companions, and not just because they can drink shitty water and love the taste. They follow us wherever we go, love us whoever we are, and guide us whatever the adversity.

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Five Things to Do in Athens.

 

Five Things to Do in Athens.
  1. Visit the Acropolis.

This isn’t even a question. When in Athens, it is crucial to visit this amazing and important site. The Acropolis is the ancient citadel that contains significant landmarks including the Parthenon, Temple of Dionysus, and Erechtheion. Construction of the various temples, headed by Pericles, began in 421 B.C., making it over 2,400 years old. After your visit, you may swing by the Acropolis museum located a few blocks away. This isn’t nearly as remarkable as the site itself, but is filled with the wondrous artworks that were housed in the Parthenon and other buildings. 

2. Drink ouzo.
This liquor staple of Greece is sold in bars, gift shops, restaurants, and even in coffee shops. It is anise-flavored, making it taste like licorice. It is a very close relative of sambuca, and also reminiscent of absinthe (but much milder). It is usually enjoyed over ice, and forms a pretty cool cloud as it settles. Enjoy the drink as a bold aperitif. 
3. Eat octopus.
Grilled octopus is a Greek culinary delight. This can be found in most restaurants, and the dish may include 1-2 tentacles. It’s an extremely dense meat, but not as chewy as squid or calamari. You can compare it to a very firm scallop. If eating octopus is a little too weird for you, there is a plethora of various other Mediterranean seafood dishes and cuisine to choose from. 
4. Charter a yacht
If you have cash to blow, this is the way to go. We made this affordable by saving up in advance and having a large group to book with. Most services will require you to book for at least 12 days, but we were lucky enough to reserve a day cruise. Seeing Greece from the coast is exhilarating, and many options open up with this kind of travel. Feel like scuba diving, fishing, cliff-jumping, deep-sea swimming, or island-hopping? This is all made possible with a yacht cruise. Read more on this here.
5. Simply hang on the beach.
There are beaches everywhere in the greater Athens area. Some are secluded, some are rich with restaurants and activities. Some are reachable on foot (or a short cab ride), some are worth taking a longer ride to. One especially nice area for beaches and aquatic activities is Vari. 
Important note: many of the beaches are pretty rocky. You will find yourself walking and lying on large pebbles. Consider purchasing a pair of hiking sandals and paying a few extra euro to reserve beach chairs.
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The Beginner Backpacker’s Guide

This simple and straightfoward guide looks at two elements: gear and training. This site is funded off donations and commissions, and all links are through Amazon. The aim of this article, however, is to make informed recommendations. We never try to sell stuff you don’t need. Like Fetty Wap chips.

What you do need are the essentials to human life.

H20

Staying hydrated is the most fundamental requirement for venturing out into wilderness and really anywhere outside your home. This is especially true in the arid climates of the Southwest or locales devoid of potable drinking water. You need AT LEAST 1 litre for about every 3 miles you venture, even more so in Summer seasons. Not only do you want to have water on hand for yourself, but you must have backup reserves for yourself or others in possible distress.

Hydration bladder

Camelbak 3L

Most bladders I’ve come across are pretty reliable when it comes to storing water without leaks. This particular one has been a champ for versatility and comfortable packing. It holds 3 litres, so should get you through 6-9 miles total. Most (good) backpacks have a specific insert for bladders like this one, so you don’t have to mess around with it too much and have easy access to your water supply. For longer treks, you may need to find access to water supplies, carry extra bottles, or use a life straw/purification tablets.

The backpacking world is full of arrogance.

Backpack on a budget

The backpacks themselves can get really expensive. And rightfully so. After years of experience and modifications, its nice to arrive at a custom “luxury” pack that feels like you’re carrying butter. But if you’re not looking to blow $750 for one gear item, check this out:

Jansport backpacking backpack

Jansport isn’t just for your first day of 8th grade. They actually make high quality backpacking gear that will last years (as long as you’re not reckless). “Pro” backpackers will scoff at this. I’m not afraid to say, however, that the backpacking world is full of arrogance. Stick with what you need, not what people are pushing to fill their egos/wallets. Mine has been through over 16 locations involving multiday treks, and there is not a stitch missing.

Training Techniques

Of course, the best way to train for backpacking is hiking with weight on you. But sometimes it’s not feasible to go out to remote locations every morning. Even developed hiking trails can be a pain in the ass, as local ones may be overcrowded and full of dogshit. But do go whenever you get the chance. When chance doesn’t do its job, however, here are some suggestions for training.

Quads, Quads, Quads

Focus on all the wonderful, painful, miserable workouts that make you question whether you really want to get into this shit. Follow this routine, and drink plenty of whiskey:

  • 5 sets of lunges
  • 5 sets of squats (2 plyo)
  • 3 sets on the seated leg press
  • Cycle for at least 20 minutes, level 8 or higher

Use weights up to your ability. Don’t cry, I’ve already done that for you.

Practice Posture

Not many people mention this, but practice straight-back/relaxed-shoulders whenever possible. Make it habit, as you need to be fully conscious of proprioceptive processes when making the hike. You will be glad you did. Practice posture in sitting meditation. Practice posture while driving. Practice while you slam doughnuts. Dammit, practice everywhere and anywhere.

Not only does this create good habits, it does strengthen back muscles as well.

Mentality

A lot of the game is mental. When you’re walking for miles on end, 30+ pounds hanging off your shoulders, your psychological stamina counts every bit as much as physical. There are a few things you can do to prepare:

  • Listen to Lil Xan on repeat for 3 hours straight.
  • Stare at a poster of some unidentifiable mountain until you get to the point where you’d do anything in this world to just go eat a cheeseburger instead. Then proceed to stare for another 40 minutes.
  • Put on headphones. But don’t play anything. Just listen to nothing. Forever.
  • Ask anyone you come across if they want a piggy back ride. Give them one. But don’t stop. Have them on your back until death is imminent.

Happy trails!

Madonna Stirs the Pot with ‘Dark Ballet’

What kind of music would you make after being one of the world’s biggest pop stars for 40+ years? Madonna has ventured to the highly experimental and politically charged psychoballad, “Dark Ballet.” With elements of Russian ballet, synth pop, and just plain weird crap, Madonna proves she can still be as different and eccentric as womanly possibly.

Hear more about this track, JUMEX, the unheard of BabyJake, and Silversun Pickups in this week’s episode of Southwest X Northeast.


SWxNE Episode III: The Silversun Pickups Are Back! by SouthWest X NorthEast Podcast