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Join our Cla$$ified Recon Tier today ☮️✌🏻 —Jonah & Erin
Many wise people who know what the f**k is going on cite Blackbird Spyplane as a crucial force in making GORP the fashion phenomenon it’s become… Since we’re the no. 1 source for “unbeatable humility,” far be it from us to take credit, but it’s true that we’ve been highly vocal about our love of outdoor gear from day one, and real talk we’ve crushed Mach 3+ GORP FIT after Mach 3+ GORP FIT, here and on IG, achieving results too objectively beautiful not to be massively influential on the populace…
Here in summer 2021, though, readers are wondering about the lifespan of the current gorpwave, esp. as it relates to the poisonous effect of fraudulent trend-hoppers — @iasper asked, “Thoughts on ‘gorp posers?’” while @ari_ari_ari_ari_ari_ari_ari wanted to know, “What will you do when GORP as a concept is co-opted and no longer holds meaning?”
The thing about GORP is that it’s been “co-opted” — and its meaning has been wildly elastic — for decades. Young swaggy kids who rocked North Face Nuptses on NYC streets during the first ‘90s-era GORPWAVE were technically “posers” (in the sense that they weren’t swatting mosquitos and purifying creek water in the Sierra Nevada), as were gorped-out yuppies wearing Patagonia DAS parkas to go shopping in Darien, CT at the same time… Which is to say that “co-optation” can have all kinds of unpredictable effects when it comes to jawns — some wack, some fire.
Recently, I’ve been thinking about the proverbial “poser” who rocks head-to-toe Arc 3 blocks in a drizzle to grab coffee NOT as a de facto goofy to be reflexively clowned on, but RATHER as someone engaged in an act of potential GORP MICRODOSING a.k.a. “microgorping” — integrating a little hit of gorp into their gestalt, rather than blasting off outright on a heroic dose.
Now, in the case of drugs, microdosing can be deeply cursed: When the ego-sublimating promise of a proper psychedelic trip is scaled down and re-packaged as a mere “productivity hack” to promote disruptive ideation during the workday or something along those lines, that’s Death of the Counterculture s**t of the bleakest kind, and it should be regarded with extreme distaste.
BUT much the same way that lower-potency mushie doses can fall short of full-on ego death and still open up liberatory apertures for us to peer beyond the horizons of the possible (and just, u know, feel happier), SO TOO can microgorping fall short of a full wilderness odyssey while still creating blessed and mood-improving effects in us…!
Erin just came across this IG post, where homie scrutinized some beach sand (above right) at 5x magnification and discovered that the seemingly boring-a** grains actually contained a hidden galaxy of INTRICATE WONDERS (above left) — a beautiful illustration of how literally microscopic encounters with the natural world can actually open VAST UNIVERSES of discovery !!
And nothing exemplifies blessed microgorping quite like the focus of today’s newsletter: The “Public-Park Picnic-Hikes Any Time (P.P.P.H.A.T.)” Mindset.
Since we moved from NYC to Oakland, Erin and I have been stomping these Bay Area trails on the regs — and when lockdown hit last spring, we were not alone in stomping them that much more. It was wild to arrive bright ‘n’ early at a formerly sleepy trailhead and see a Coachella-parking-lot-style ARMADA of cars up and down the road…
On one hand this felt invasive and “vibe sullying,” but OTOH it gave us a glimpse of the salutary ways people might decide to fill their time in the absence of places to just go spend money on autopilot — I think one of the biggest, sneakiest letdowns of the current “post”(??)-pandemic moment is that we’ve been fantasizing for a year-plus about businesses reopening, and now that they have, somehow tapping our credit cards against Squ*re readers for goods & services hasn’t made us substantially less lonely, anxious, or pessimistic.
You know what HAS made me & Erin feel great, though? We started MICROGORPING — fitting little Public Park Picnic Hikes Any Time (P.P.P.H.A.T.) into our 2020 lockdown routine — and we’ve kept it up. For us the P.P.P.H.A.T. Mindset has manifested most happily on weekday mornings, in a CRUNCHY UNDISCLOSED location, where we either whip up some muesli and/or cop some pastries en route, then unfurl a blanket and eat a backpack breakfast in peaceful serenity, AL FRESCO / AL MICRO-GORPO.
Any day we start off in this manner is guaranteed to be a minimum of 33.3% more doper!!
“Blackbird Spyplane,” we hear you saying right now, “how can I achieve P.P.P.H.A.T. Mindset, too??”
You don’t need much! Here are the essentials:
🌱🔬 Yourself, bae and/or homies. A Solo P.P.P.H.A.T. is very cool, or you can build out a little hang with yr boo and/or bud(s) … U just want to keep the crew small because we r aiming for a Quiet Contemplation Energy here, as opposed to a “function” vibe…
🌱🔬 A little time — any time. For our money, nothing beats a breakfast hike counterprogrammed against a weekday a.m. while the world buzzes around you, whether you’ve taken off from work or are illicitly stealing back some of the surplus value your employer extracts from you, like a militant microgorp gourmand. (If you do a NOCTURNAL P.P.P.H.A.T. at like 2 a.m. let us know, I bet it will be special and ~sPoOoOky~.)
🌱🔬 A public green space. Despite its many dystopian inequalities, the Bay Area boasts an abbondanza of spectacular public parks — but wherever yr based, all you need is a patch of grass set amid some leafy trees. Ideally it’ll be a space large enough to walk a bit before you post up, but posting up is the most important part.
It’ll be a huge plus if there’s some lichen and birds around to look at. Even in a bustling concrete metropolis, you can get lost wandering a miniature mysterious “forest” of lichen-covered tree bark — that’s blessed microgorping. And as we discussed when we interviewed NYC street-photography-king Daniel Arnold, there are tons of great birds chilling in The Big City: Daniel builds funky birdfeeders on his Chinatown fire escape so he & his cat can stare at feathered friends, which is blessed microgorping, too.
🌱🔬 A blanket, reusable dishes & utensils, cloth napkins, a SWAGGY vintage folding knife, and — this is non-negotiable for a breakfast hike — a thermos to pour tea or coffee into actual ceramic mugs! Why is this last part so crucial? Because yr coffee will taste better, and because the simple frisson of sitting outside on a blanket enjoying coffee not from a paper cup or travel sipper but from a cool ceramic mug fresh out the cupboard is going to delight yr brain, heightening the pleasurable al fresco juxtaposition.
-We often bring Heath Ceramics’ classic “studio mugs” with elongated handles designed by Edith Heath to accommodate cig-blasting (which we don’t do ourselves, but shouts 2 our nicotine fiends in Spy Nation) while mud-slurping… An allowable non-ceramic exception is something like the Snow Peak double-walled titanium cup I’m sipping from above, which, like similar joints from MiiR, can make you feel like you’re at a REMOTE CAMPSITE.
-The dishes can be ceramic too if U wanna deal with the weight & fragility issues therein OR we recommend reusable joints like the Xenia Taler bamboo plate pictured above left. You want to avoid throwaway paper / plastic because, as with the cloth napkins, we are trying to create a modest-yet-elevated experience here and also we wanna “leave no trace” as far as packing out & re-using what we pack in…
-Years ago my french Maman gave me & Erin 2 vintage foldable Laguiole knives (pictured above next to the egg yolk) and we bring ‘em with us every time. You can find some secondhand Laguioles here and here [BOTH SOLD], and yooo also, Prada recently put out a stainless-steel picnic utensil set (!) if U want to get on yr Mach 3+ MILANESE MICROGORP s**t — basically the same set is here in non-Prada form for way less.
-As far as a blanket, we use a soft lightweight canvas tarp I got years ago, of the kind that you can find at a hardware / paint store… if U want something slightly cushier, check out the ill multicolored quilted joints pictured above from Utility Canvas (they make napkins, too).
-As far as thermoses we have a couple Kintos, which come in good colors. Zojirushis are GOATS in this category too and U can find them at Chinatown- / Japantown-type kitchen-supply spots.
🌱🔬 A backpack/tote, binoculars, and other FIRE GORP JAWNS. I wrote about copping rare vibey binoculars here, and U might as well work some f**king sick GORP jawns into that picnic fit, because the vibey “patch of grass” you’ve commandeered has earned you the right!!
We’ve written in the sletter about how mixing in unassuming pieces like a chambray / chamois with more technical clothing will help decrease the overall risk of dorky “gorp cosplay” energy — a point we reiterate in the little GORP infographic we cheffed up for The Drunken Canal’s brand-new camping issue, which U can pick up if yr in NYC:
U can find tons more BBSP-approved GORP garments in our Gorp Awards sletter and compiled in our Master Jawn Index.
Also, we’re feeling these “wet blue” unisex Merrell Jungle Mocs with the frosty bulbous outsole that GORP-fluent SpyFriend Wes A. posted on Twitter the other day:
“Blackbird Spyplane, any recommundos for EVENING P.P.P.H.A.T. MINDSET excursions??” YES! Recently some friends visited from out of town, and we discussed bars to meet at before deciding to just chill outside and WATCH ASSORTED WATERFOWL on a blanket at Lake Merritt with pizza & natty wine in hand — some first-rate BLESSED MICROGORPING…!
We didn’t have one of these Vintage Richard Carlson wine coolers or this High Tide Cooler Bag (both pictured below) but it would have been dope if we did. (We did have a Santa Fe Stoneworks corkscrew on hand...)
And this is getting kind of involved as far as the P.P.P.H.A.T. Mindset goes, BUT we wanted to shout out this ultra-stowable grill set from Wolf & Bear, because the design & engineering are on point — and that little trough at the bottom will maybe keep the fire parks-regulation compliant??
You probably already own 99.9% of this s**t already, so get out for a laidback and restorative P.P.P.H.A.T. MICROGORP session and thank us later !! — and if U want ensure you’re adhering to BLESSED gorp principles instead of CURSED ones you can read our legendary essay about the difference ; )
💕🔬 J. & E.
Definitely been on this Zen choochoo for a hot minute. May I throw out some observations:
If you decide to engage digitally with the outdoors, I make a 60 second video I call a #zenvid of just nature being peaceful. Then I have a little museum of my nature moments I can use for minute long memories and breaks from the grind. Wherever, whenever.
If you want to hack your brain in what I call the "Hotel Simulator" you first get a couple of samples from Aesop or wherever for the bathroom. Random flavors you'd never usually be on board with. Shampoo, conditioner, lotion, etc. Then you put on fresh sheets on your bed.
THEN you go PPPHAT, come back to your pad and 🚿 and relax and it's like you're in a hotel. I don't know why, but the new soap and fresh sheets is 80% of a hotel for me. You can also then watch a 🎥 in bed or whatever you want. It's dynamite.
My mom and sister are totally on this mindset! They've been doing this in the Blue Hills of MA on the regular, with a picnic with a cut-up baguette, some cheese, apples, dark chocolate, pickles and spreads, and wine. We did the same out here in Colorado last week. Everything but the ceramic mugs. This mindset is so powerful I wish I could live in it.