Announcing the Trillium Project

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This year I’ve been learning the ins and outs of community owned property and I’m incredibly excited to announce my latest collaboration: behold Trillium! Together with some of the founders of the Lucidity Festival, we are bringing to life a beautiful and inspiring land project outside of Ashland in southern Oregon. Trillium spans 80 acres and includes 17 existing structures spread across a scenic valley, meadows and raw wilderness. The land is nestled up against 3000 acres of old-growth forest that already includes 30+ miles of trails that weave through the pristine land. Trillium has exclusive water rights to the creek which flows through its valley until it meets the healthy Applegate river at the base of the property.

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Murder Kittens and Tutu Crew Complete the NorCal ToughMudder

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I was leaving the North Fork farm, but not heading home to LA just yet; first, there was some serious business to attend to! Billed as “The Toughest One Day Endurance Race on the Planet!”, The NorCal ToughMudder was assembling teams from all over the world to participate in a 7-mile course at an elevation of 8000ft, with multiple fluctuations of 2000 feet. The 3000 participants, were a good mix of serious atheltes and groups of misshapen folk dressed in ridiculous costumes, but all determined to hop over, crawl under and trek through obstacles with names such as March of Death and Dragon Wheel!

Our posse was made up of 15 people, comprising of two teams, The Murder Kittens and The Tutu Crew (made of of members of The Phage). We’d decided to rent a cabin nearby and we were all gathering for dinner the night before the big race. The event was pricey at about $150 for the pleasure of being tortured, not to mention more than a little intimidating, so I had just registered as a spectator, which I had found surprisingly emasculating upon clicking the online ‘submit’ button.

The first challenge was unexpected. I had tried to take a short cut through Stanislaus National Forest and I was good and lost and had already missed dinner. My cell phone’s GPS was also completely useless in these mountains. Eventually I came upon a ranger station where I asked directions.

“Well, you’re going to have a tough time off roadin’ to Bear Valley!” The rather butch female ranger amused herself as a couple of very cute female trainees giggled behind her. “But you could either head back the way you came, or keep following this road – after a few turns, you’ll be back on track.”

I’m really not a fan of back tracking when it comes to life in general, and after I managed to get her to clarify “a few turns” I continued on, deeper into the pitch black forest with an impotent phone and some pumping, bass heavy music to add to the alien planet vibe. I finally made it to The Eldorado Ranch, where most of the team was already good and drunk, all too happy to celebrate their victory before the race even began.

Upon arrival, the weekend’s second unexpected challenge was exposed: our friend Enki, a member of the Tutu Crew, had come down with a cold and would not be able to join the team. In an effort to reclaim that ego-jabbing feeling of emasculation, I impetuously offered to take his place. Many of the team had been training for the last month whereas I had only done yoga a few times; I was more than a little apprehensive.

After winning the title of Game Room Champion by beating Tristan at foosball, pool and finally ping pong, I returned to the main house to set up my ‘bed’, which was really just a pile of blankets, in the living room under a large moose head. There was a sign next to the decapitated trophy, indicating that it was not OK to touch the moose head; obviously the landlords had had some troublesome tenants in the past, but they made their friendly intonation clear by appending each written rule (also found in the kitchen, bathroom and game room) with “Mahalo!”

The following morning we woke up early to get ready. I ate a muffin, granola and a big serving of pasta from the previous evening’s dinner and I also managed to squeeze into Enki’s camouflage Tutu, which looked sexy yet hardcore. We saddled up in a few cars and drove about 1 hour to the site of the course. Each 15 minutes, a couple of hundred people gathered at the start and after a dramatic, yet inspiring speech, a pistol was shot and we were off.

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The first obstacle was to crawl through mud under barbwire – but in fact, we had regular wire separating us from the barbs. After running a mile down some rocky terrain we assembled in a neat line as we waited for people to walk down a sharp precipice. Multiple signs warned us of the fact that we’d signed a death waiver, and to think about that before being stupid. We didn’t slip on the Ice Shelf, because it was rather warm and all the ice had melted. We found out the Dragon Wheel was really just an old cable bail. OK, I don’t want to completely belittle the effort, after all, running up and down hills at 8000ft is pretty exhausting and everyone’s lungs were burning – and of course, submerging yourself in the frigid waters of the Snow Making Pond is definitely a memorable brain shock. But if there’s no real timekeeping and pretty much 100% of those that partake pass, except the occasional clumsy or seriously unfit runner – how hardcore is it really?

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After the race, which ended by jumping through a rather low fire and drinking a watered down shot of Sriracha Hot Sauce, we had a couple of beers and headed home. The next 24 hours is a blur of endless BBQing, more than a little tequila punctuated with shifts in the LED lit hot tub, and numerous rematches in the game room that only enforced my reign (at least most of the time J To at least be a little healthy I brought out the veggies that I’d obtained from the farm cellar and did a little restorative yoga.

Before I left for Los Angeles I hunted for my lost sunglasses, which someone had put on the moose. I could imagine the scene with the landlord had I not found them:

“Those little bastards, I expressly put this sign in place to tell them not to touch my moose head… Mahalo!”


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My Birthday Gift? Escape to the Farm!

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Last year I had wanted a big birthday party. In fact, as I entered my 30th year, I decided that the appropriate thing to do was combine forces with the relentlessly altruistic Sloane Berrent, for yet another once in a lifetime tuxedo clad quest: Cause It’s My Birthday! 7 parties, 7 cities, 7 days! For charity of course! So last year I ate cake and dank champagne for a solid week while raising $20k for fighting Malaria. This year I was going to take it easy.

I decided to not tell anyone that it was my birthday and after one of the more challenging months of my life I woke up, said goodbye to my roommates and high tailed it for the farm. This was in fact the only gift I wanted. Even my family kept asking: “What do you want for your birthday?” I told them that I was opting out of the whole chronologically contrived gifting cycle. I thought it was pointless and often found the expectation stressful and unfulfilling. Furthermore, I think birthdays should perhaps be a time where instead of expecting to receive gifts for just being born, you actually show the world why you are worthy of occupying any space at all. OK, but that rant aside, I’m officially opting out of it, and that goes for Christmas too. I can’t sum up the love that I have for my family and friends on a time and price agreed upon schedule.

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As I made my way down the foggy road to my studio a gentle rain began to fall. Soon it began to pour down, accompanied by the most sever lightning that I’d ever seen. I made a fire, made some hearty soup and read some of Sam Harris’ “A Moral Landscape: How Science Can Determine Human Values”. All night long the thunder clapped and lightning strobed on the other side of the skylight. The roof leaked and even a small beetle tried to get in bed with me. At times I thought the windows were going to smash inward. Eventually I got to sleep and when I woke up, the rains had cleared and made way for a beautiful day.

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Later that day I ran into Hansel, the owner of the farm and mentioned to him how wild the storm had been.

“I’ve been up here for 30 years,” He said through his large grey beard. “and we’ve only had a couple of others like that! The storm of the decade!”

as I walked down to the little waterfall near the farm I thought about what a perfectly dramatic cleanse it had been to end my 30th year 🙂

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