tobias crabtree

defining lines; drawing and writing

Tag: technology

Dear Internet

Dear Internet,

I’m sorry. I want to apologize for a lot of things. I’m sorry for depending on you so much. I’m sorry for interrupting you during dinner and at all hours of the night. I’m sorry for depending on you for things that I’m too lazy to remember. I’m sorry for asking you questions that really don’t matter, like what’s the name of the movie with the guy that looks like one of the Baldwins but who isn’t one of the Baldwins who says the thing about being bananas to his dog while they’re stranded at the airport…Yes, I’m sorry for questions like that one. I’m also sorry for depending on you to help me find my way when there is a map with real printing and pages and words directly next to me. And then there’s this matter of misinformation, I know it’s not you intentionally deceiving me, you’re just the caretaker of all our opinions, beliefs, truths, lies and secrets–I’m sorry for being angry with you for the ridiculous things I found in your basement. I know you must be tired what with all of us bothering you during our dinner, while we drive, when we step outside for a smoke, when our child is driving us crazy, when we don’t want to think, when we want to be smarter than our friend/companion/tinderdate/dad/coworker/etc, when we can’t sleep, when we say we’re working but we’re actually checking Insta. I’m especially sorry for using you to express myself passive-aggressively (or sometimes just aggressively) in ways that I wouldn’t dare do in real life. Yes, I apologize for making you store my hate.You carry a heavy load, Internet, you do. Everything has come down to this and you didn’t even ask for it! Just between you and me, I’ve decided to give you some space. I know it’s not much, but I feel like I need to cut you some slack — maybe use my own brain a bit more. I think I’ll go and be in some places where the sky isn’t filtered and the contrast doesn’t need any adjustments. I’m going to do some things without letting you know that I’m doing them. I won’t share the sunrises or sunsets with you, I reckon I’ll just have to remember them, maybe re-imagine them with my mind. I’m going to have some opinions and allow them to roost lightly in my treetops, sometimes flying off and never coming back, sometimes settling in for good. But I think I’ll try and keep them to myself so that you don’t have to keep track of the ones that get away. Yeah, I mean, Sheesh! Why should you have to put up with my trickyfickleness? Anyways, I want you to have some time to yourself, Internet. I appreciate you! You’re so good at what you do! I’m the one failing to apply myself and do the work so that I become a better human, a better animal. So take a break. Maybe sit and relax, be as slow as you want. Let down your Wifi and get some dust on your buttons.

I’ll be out under the sun, forgetting and misremembering and putting the wrong actors with the wrong movies. I’ll be singing off key and working on my typewriter and calling Mom from the land line. I’ll be involved with the changing seasons by using my senses that are linked to my heart with nerves and veins and swooshing blood. I’ll be making fires and using love as my social experiment. I plan on doing some thinking and stuff. I want to write some letters with paper and pen and thoughts. I certainly hope you don’t think I’m dissing you completely, I will check in now and then and when I see you next I won’t be quite so needy. Promise.


Love,   Tobias

Actual Ass

These are my thoughts on technology, which is similar to a chimpanzee giving a dissertation about the state of the economy. But whatev’s, a chimp might do a better job than a politician.

I like the idea of using modern devices to avoid icebergs, it’s smart and prevents ships from sinking. I don’t think everyone needs to be checking their phones for icebergs. And I don’t think an iceberg is any more special when used as a backdrop for everyones’ selfie.

I like to climb. I often climb alone, I have been doing it for years. I don’t want to explain this too much (boring) but there are systems that work if you are a student of the craft. I use these systems and know them well. Today, while I was setting up a climb, I noticed several climbers had stopped to watch. I paid little attention but noticed three groups had their phones out and were filming. Some groups had more than one person filming. I finally said something to the closest person. I asked if he was getting some really good stuff. He said, “I’m waiting for the kill-shot.” I realized they all thought I was doing something foolish and dangerous (I wasn’t) and they were filming me in case I died. Um, I feel like this is a place I can interject something. –This is a modern age of know-it-alls. At every turn there is someone looking up what has just been said in order to disprove it. I’m all for asking questions, but I’m more into the thought process that goes with knowing more. Looking something up on google does not prove your knowledge base nor does it make you more thoughtful. Actually thinking makes you more thoughtful. The world is fast becoming dummies behind little screens. And so climbers that didn’t know better, instead of speaking and asking questions, stood behind their phones to film me so they might be the author of an internet sensation. Excuse me while I just say this, bullshit.

It never hurts to ask how something is done.  I owe much of my knowledge to my mentors. Men and Women who taught me my stance. Men who taught me the language of my heart. Women who taught me that strength comes from a woman and is bestowed upon men. These are values to which there is no measure, they have made me.

I love pictures. I love the pictures we can share through the various forms of internetlandia, but….but, it’s just gone too far. We are not that cool looking. These cameras/phones, and yes, I have one, are little mirrors. Every time we check our “likes” we are looking in the mirror. Remember that when you hear those little beeps calling you to see who said what about the hot little picture you took of yourself in front of the buffalo/mountain/glacier/tree/waterfall/sunset/caged lion/thunderstorm/riot, you are petting yourself. You are looking in the mirror. I’m not saying don’t check your look, I’m just saying that there’s a max and most of us are too self-absorbed.  I’m not above taking a peek in the mirror to see if maybe I don’t look quite as stupid as I feel. Remember: the world is beautiful and we are most beautiful when we are aware of being. Pictures are not proof of our existence. They are images without a soul from our past. Sometimes we need to simply be here and leave the wonder to our minds, not our picturetakers.

Communication is good. I watched some fella on the telly giving reasons why he was checking his phone during his interview. He said he was staying abreast of the events so he could give the most up-to-date information possible. I was thinking, that I just don’t care. Folks aren’t as good at conversing as they were 10 years ago. It’s true. Coffee shops are not for talking. Even drinking coffee seems like just an excuse to be plugged into the web. My nephews, children of the modern age, are often unable to chuck a football with me because they were up all night pretending to be at war on their xboxes. By the way, it ain’t healthy for your kid to practice war on some game. Just like you don’t need to practice being miserable. War exists, we don’t need to glorify it. Training for war is rough enough, playing war and talking smack and thinking your tough because you play a game is delusional. I know what I’m talking about here, some of my most trying moments came as a U.S. Recon Marine. It ain’t a game. Yeah, so, where was I? Oh yeah, communication, it’s nice to be able to talk things out. Opinions are great and don’t really need to run parallel. As a people, if we all had opinions based on solid observation of our physical world, we would be doing ok. Political stance, race, religion, sexual preference and social status aside, we all have hearts and minds, maybe we could take some time and use them.

I want to point something out. I’m not against all things technical. I love typewriters. There’s nothing negative to say about an old manual typewriter, unless I’m in your house making a racket and typing at 4 a.m. because I can’t sleep. And bicycles, the world is a better place because of bicycles. Most of what we own is disposable. Convenience is a drug. Tiny water bottles and throw-away bags are no-goes. We gotta get better than that. Cigarette butts should be stored in our house with us so we can know that we might ought’a just grow tobacco out back and smoke it from a pipe instead of giving money to the big dogs.

Humans need to tribe up. We need to be more able to live on our own and pay less into the big machine. WE should dictate through consuming less. The machine is strong and we need to take the power back by being capable, thoughtful, simple, beautiful human beings.

All said, we need to kick more actual ass…not virtual.


Jots and Snippets: A Preview to the Apocalypse

Don’t you go and worry this won’t be too scary. The end of human life has always been coming. In the beginning, whatever beginning you believe in, humankind (all those previous simians included) began the long steady march into a hand-fashioned grave. These thumbs are brilliant, and mischievous; the latter are the ones that grasp the grave-digger’s shovel so firmly. But follow that thumb back on it’s joints, up the elbows to that floating shoulder and across the graceful clavicle to the upper sternum. And then bore with me through the bone and drop into the upper guts, are you there? Can you hear the thunder? The pulsing engine of the heart? This is the seat of our existence. It is the point of origin of all our capabilities. Our tiny god of thunder. The heart. It runs on alchemy. If it stops, we are done. No more thinking, no more loving, no more cruelty; when the heart stops, we stop. It’s strange to me that the heart can even choose spiritlessness, because that is what fuels the heart. Spirit is the alchemical soup that causes us to love and fight and dance and laugh, but we can choose to abstain from the spirit. When that happens we begin to dress for the grave. Sure, we’re still here, but we are on life support.

I’m not bitter, not really. I mean, I have my moments, but I’m too in love with creeks and music and my Mom and my lover to be bitter all the time. Bitter is pinched, like a butthole. Walking around with a butthole mouth is ugly, not that buttholes aren’t necessary, they are! I actually love mine, but it would be ugly on my face. I’ll try not to lose you here, so I’ll leave the crass chatter behind me. (There’s still a joke there, but I won’t do it…nope, I won’t.) I can tell who is bitter. The ones who are angry with life are bitter. They don’t even know that they’re angry with themselves. Here’s one for ya. How ’bout this fella two days ago, in a beautiful giant F-350. He was in front of me at a light and he was glaring rearward through his giant mirrors. He had a big Trump sticker on his bumper, which told me that he was certainly an American. Only Americans would love Trump. On his back window, centered with painstaking accuracy was another sticker of Calvin (he of Calvin & Hobbs) taking a piss on the word environmentalist. 

 And I gotta take a minute to talk about these stickers who are using Calvin for things like pissing on other things. Perhaps I’m shouting into a vacuum here, but Calvin was just a little boy with an amazing imagination. He was in his own world that didn’t include Chevys or Fords. His world was by the creek in the gully where the seasons were contemplated in a transcendental kind of process. Hobbs was present to provide some grounding so that Calvin didn’t just wander away forever. Hobbs was Calvin’s anchor. Calvin was the inventor, the creator, the wild animal, the dreamer. He wasn’t a tree hugger, but he was almost a tree. His thoughts and actions could only be seen in comic book form, because they wouldn’t have been believed otherwise. Trump wouldn’t have been a blip on his radar, just as I am not a blip on Trump’s radar. Calvin saw the universe in a turning leaf. So let’s get something straight, when Calvin took a piss, it was because he had to go. And it was on a fern or off a bridge or in the highest arc possible to show off in front of Hobbs, not on a word or a brand. If you wanna talk about how dedicated you are to a brand or a party, make a stupid little image of yourself claiming how right you are while you point your little penis at the things you hate. (obviously i’m talking to men here, women are more sensible and don’t seem to take much part in pissing contests) But hey, leave Calvin out of it. He’s what I wish we were. Oh that we had a little more Calvin & Hobbs. There’d be more smiles, more laughing and more wild wagon rides down the steep hills toward the creek.      

Now, I’m not sure what the definition of environmentalist is, but I know what the dude in the big truck was getting at. As he turned the corner, he continued to stare rearward with his mouth pinched in the shape of a…like a kind of a, well, like a wrinkled, pitted prune. (Ha! You thought I was gonna go back to butthole, but I didn’t!) I could see his face, most of it, behind the aviator glasses and I’d put him in his late 60’s. The side of his upper lip lifted a little and he flicked his cigarette butt into the air and onto the dry grass of the median. Somewhere along the way I had to turn, I was going to swim in the river. My guess is that he probably wasn’t going to do the same thing. I wonder about that ol’ feller’s ticker. I wonder about his guts and his dreams when he sleeps. Does he sleep soundly? Or do his lips twitch and jerk at the taste of bile and the smell of hate. I wonder.

I looked up the definition of environmentalist. It’s what you’d think. I have a feeling that it denotes more than just a person who cares about the environment. I’m sure a rancher might have a more colorful definition for that word. And I’m not ripping on people who ranch. Or farm. I love a good many folks who do both. I just don’t understand what the difference is between wanting to raise animals on good land and wanting the best for the environment. Seems like it can easily be both. I’m beginning to think the only “perfect world” is the one without humans in it. But I don’t like that. I don’t like the thought of not being here. After all, I’m convinced that our greatest attribute is that we can love. It’s not that hard to do. Like, I can even love things I’ve never seen. I can love a child I’ve never met who lives in Burma, where I’ve never been. I can love a star on the farthest edge of our universe. It might sound soft, but it ain’t. I loved every fella in my Recon team in the Marine Corps. No one will ever fight harder than for the ones they love. So, us humans, if we love, belong. If we don’t, we don’t.

It ain’t hate that’ll crucify love, it’ll be indifference. It’ll be apathy that does us in. There’s a weird feeling I have when I see too many people in one place, but no one is paying attention to actual life. I can’t help but bring up technology here; it’s a sad old sack that I beat on quite often, so allow me to do so again. I have done personal experiments with my smart phone. I’ve found that the more time I spend on it, the less I care. The less I care about anything, and the more jaded I am about life. It’s depressing. In fact, it’s dreadful. If I put it down for several days, I am fiery and wild. I am full of desire and my drive to create is powerful. It makes perfect sense. Every single app is designed to make you want to stay longer, to stay connected to the screen. It begs you to stay. And with the games that interact with the world, it causes us to see the world through the device. They have become our lenses with filters to make the virtual world better than the actual world. It’s similar to needing booze in order to have a party. It’s a terrible, dangerous little path. It will not lead to feelings and words. It will not make us closer to the wild, it will make us want to visit the wild in order to record it with our devices so we can feel validated virtually without ever having interacted with our actual world. It is slow death. It’s a party and we are waiting for the guest of honor. Oblivion is at the door, don’t take your eyes off the screen, this is gonna be great!

Post Script: Please don’t think I’m excluding myself here. I too, fight the fight. Likes and loves and pokes and emojis and little yellow faces. Symbols and tweets and chirps and texts and airdrops and bluetooths and apps and double taps, googles and wikis and pokemons and streaming data. My goal is not condemnation. My dream is to be more aware as a living, breathing animal, and I’d love it if you were there too. So let’s meet, all of us. Out there under non-filter skies and listen outside of our earbugs to words that are spoken and not played and let’s discuss and disagree and flex our muscles and dance to music that is real and alive and full of feelings. This is not the end.

a nod to the end of the world

i guess i can talk about this, seems like everyone is these days. this morning i thought about the end of the world. i was eating a handful of kale and sipping coffee and then i was wondering about what “the end of the world” means. is it the end of everything, or just people (after all we are so important, right?)?

i weighed the difference between human extinction and total oblivion. things do seem to be quite a mess. we fight over who’s in charge and what government is best and who’s god is the truth.

and so i decided that i don’t care. that’s right, i don’t care…except for that girl in the health food store that talked to me about kale and smiled so much and said she loved my earrings.

i don’t care…except for my kid brother, who ain’t a kid anymore and who works 70 hours a week but will always pick me up from the airport at any hour no matter what because he’s my friend and he’s just made like that on the inside.

i don’t care…except for that elderly woman that was walking her dog through central park and saw a broken version of me on a park bench, ( me, with long shaggy hair and tattoos and a beard and a shadowy soul) yeah, and she sat next to me anyway and asked me if i would be ok and her wiener dog licked my hand and i said that i didn’t know and she said that sorrows pass no matter how big they are…all this and it was fall and sunny and cold in new york city.

i don’t care…except for little 3 year old (almost 4) ruby reed who calls herself ruby rose because that’s more glamorous and who dances with me to adele and who can eat four (maybe 5) doughnuts on a wednesday afternoon in october.

i don’t care…except for my sister who quit drinking after she crashed and crushed her body and changed her life and became amazing again.

i don’t care…except for big raw-boned Hunter Dahlberg, who looks like he eats nails and could never be hurt but has been hurt so he can know when someone (like say, me, for instance) else is hurt and so he shows his heart and his heart makes you want to heal.

and if smart phones and ipads and macbooks and email and trending and friending and skyping and wifi all go away, we still have each other. and as cynical as i get, i see my reflection in the eyes’ of my nephews. as frustrated as i get at the guy who absolutely must be in front of me before the next traffic light, i know he is human. as fearful as i am of the possibility of my own broken heart, i feel it reaching out for something missing.

so maybe i’m not ready for the end of the world. besides, oblivion seems kind of boring.