There are dangers in taking books full of beatnik ideology to heart in the year 2013. These are different times folks! As far as I’m concerned, road trips can still operate as an invaluable right-of-passage for American youth, unveiling different landscapes and cultures within your own Nation that you may never have been exposed to before or otherwise and, through experiencing all of those differences, ultimately teaching the travelers about who they truly are themselves. I was 18 in the nineties and, for me, it was all about traveling around, eating LSD, and sleeping at rest stops. Then you just wake up, start the car and roll off to your next destination in the morning. Sometimes cops would wake you up and tell you to “Amscray!,” but for the most part, no real danger. But I was young and, whether the times were actually that different, or it’s simply that I was, that whole game-plan sounds quite a bit sketchier to me now as I type this. And yeah, I was reading my share of mystical energy bullshit, but even by that point, the United States was a very different place than it had been 40 years prior. Kerouac and his Dharma Bums were riding the rails, but if you try that shit these days, you’re liable to get your jugular slit with a rusty bean can lid. On the other hand, there’ve been periods of time in history when it was a lot easier to simply off someone and keep it moving with little to no hassling from the authorities, CSI, what have you. Yeah, the world continues to evolve (or, rather, devolve, depending on your perspective) in a number of ways, but there is one concept that has always been widely accepted as a truism and it’s not something that I ever expected to change: “A hitchhiker with a bloody hatchet is not somebody that you want to have anywhere near you.“ Now, the latest impending internet meme and soon-to-be autotuned news report interviewee phenomenon is putting a new spin on that age-old stereotype of the dangerous axe-wielding transient; a spin where that figure actually becomes the hero.
I’ve picked up plenty of hitchhikers in the past and I’ve even hitchhiked myself, but while there’s always the potential of danger involved, the majority of the issues related to those activities are usually limited to simple annoyances, inconveniences, and/or sketchy vibes that don’t generally materialize into much. I hitchhiked to the Gorge Amphitheatre once and the guy who picked me up in his truck got so drunk that he lost the key to the hard top cover on the flat bed, which still had all of my shit locked in it. Being in the middle of nowhere without my camping equipment pissed me off and I tore into that drunken, goofy “what me worry?” smirking mother fucker until he paid for a lock smith to come out there to remedy the situation. Driving, we picked up some asshole at the Ashland, Oregon co-op that first tried to critique the “dangerous” route that we were taking (“you don’t have to come with us“), then unsuccessfully tried to request that I didn’t smoke in my own care during my 16 hour road trip (“seriously, you can get the fuck out“), and repeatedly farted in his sleeping in the back seat (“should we wake him us and throw his ass out?“). We eventually told him to fuck off in San Jose, as he tried to passive aggressively tag along with us to my friend’s house that we were visiting, not telling us exactly where to drop him off, while dropping hints that he didn’t actually have anywhere to go now that we’d taken him all that way. Inconveniences indeed. Annoyances indeed. Sketchy vibes indeed. But what if the delusional 6 plus foot/300 plus pound driver that picked you up takes the sketchy vibes a step further and starts committing sketchy acts? What if that crazy tweaker jibber-jabber that so many of us have been verbally assaulted with never provides a that window to slip out of the interaction, before the wingnut that is spewing that rambling garbage shifts into action mode, his crazy ethnic-cleansing reincarnated messiah trip escalating into attempted vehicular homicide? Would you warn those around you? “Hide yo kids, hide yo wife, hide yo husbands!“ You’ve got to think fast man… “ain’t nobody got time for that!“ This very same scenario faced a hitchhiking transient over the weekend and he responded accordingly, cracking that beast in his maniac dome with a fucking hatchet.
If recent history has taught us anything, it’s only a matter of time before this video is auto-tuned and people start posting decidedly unhilarious videos all over the fucking internet. We know you’re going to do it and that this is a futile request, but please don’t. If you want to get views on your Youtube channel, please do it the old fashion way, by searching out your own avenue to justifiably crack someone in the skull with a hatchet and get away with it, just like “Cobra” Kai (TM) did.
Friend and host of Austin‘s premier underground late night talk show TNM Tonight, Devon Tincknell, wondered, “Where did the hatchet come from? Was Kai carrying it because he’s down with the Psychopathic Records family?“ As someone who’s been to a couple of rainbow gatherings and more Phish shows than you can shake a rain stick at, I’d say that Kai has a hatchet with him because it serves a couple of purposes. First, take into account the fact that everything this guy owns is on his person. A hatchet can hack up some fire wood for those post-wave bonfires, but it can also work as protection for a transient that’s traveling around all by himself on the regular. Migrating around as he does, I’d wager that he’s always aware of exactly where that hatchet is, just in case he ever needs it. This time he did.
During the first major road trip that I ever took, I stopped in Fresno, California, to see the area that I used to live in until I was almost 11 years old. It was far shadier than I had remembered. That’s also where this hatchet incident went down. A lot of people are going to see the above video as it continues to spread and, as they do, their imaginations will run wild, filling in all of the gaps. You know, like yours just did when you watched it. The women that Kai helps are likely young meek things; dainty and helpless. Perhaps they have silky long hair. Maybe one of them has a Hello Kitty backpack and the other one is a ragged street tough dressed like Suzi Quatro as Leather Tuscadero. No matter what you’re wacky brain assembles for you, this whole over-the-top situation can be difficult to process in a realistic and unsensationalized manner. It’s just too fucking intense and unfamiliar in relation to the occurrences in most of our everyday lives. Fortunately, we’ve located the version of the video which originally aired on Fresno‘s KMPH-FOX local news over the weekend (posted below), which shows the women, and actually helps to ground the story a bit through their more restrained interpretations in the wake of their attempts to save the pinned man and being assaulted, before their ultimate rescue. It also provides additional information suggesting that the vehicular attack was racially motivated and claiming that the perpetrator is actually still alive. But above all else, it answers the one question that everyone is wondering: “How much of that profanity packed interview footage could they actually air on television?!”
I have a feeling that this isn’t the last that we’ll see of Kai and, if nobody cared if he was alive or dead before, plenty of them do now. This is especially true for those who might not be around themselves if it wasn’t for his quick actions. Fellow wild-haired, bandana-clad breakout news interview star, Antoine Dodson was able to drag his fame out for longer than most–he had a Halloween costume released in tribute of him, for chrissakes–but he also seemed to possess more of a desire for that widespread attention than Kai might. Will this new meme ride it out until the Halloween season? I’m sure that there will, most likely, be at least a few people dressing up as this one. Matted wig, peace sign bandana, a backpack, red shirt, bloody hatchet… easy enough. In fact, you could probably do a one-stop and get all of that shit at a Spencers. We’ll probably see a lot of those costumes come October and, while you’re likely to receive pats on the back from approving strangers all night, the real crowd is going to be surrounded around the fat guy driving the wrecked black cardboard sedan with an axe sticking out of his head.