Author: Bailey Reutzel

Indiana

Indy Hostel Indianapolis, IN April 4-7, 2015 Ron, 49 In October, Ron let his lease lapse and sold most of his stuff. He got on the bike, named Surly Amy in April. On the first day he rode 60 miles, on the second 50. “And that’s when it hit me, I’m free.” He was headed to Oregon, but got sidetracked riding to family and old friends so he’s been all over Kentucky and Indiana. But he still dreams of heading West, because “these are places where it’s not safe for me to be, if I were talking.” Ron is Left Wing, leaving the racism of the area behind after bunking with an African American in the army who would kindly interrupt his yapping to explain why the way he was thinking was prejudiced. As we talk, he kicks a nickel towards several pennies on the backyard deck, where he just took down his tent. He’s tight on money. But he won’t pick up the coins. He worked construction before setting off on the bike and can find work building houses nearly anywhere. He’s self-diagnosed with severe irresponsibility complex. “People keep asking me why I want to do this. But it’s not that. I need to do this.”   Mathilda, 22 Not more than a few questions are asked about what a Nigerian is doing in Indianapolis before Mathilda says, “I wish you...

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Illinois

Bodies are strewn over the grass in Grant Park. Errant appendages fall out from under the shade as bass rumbles in the background. A blonde ragdoll is smiling at the sky while a friend on either side moves her towards the water filling station. Young men in Thompson-esque Hawaiian shirts and flat-bill hats comment on a girl’s ass cheek peeking out of high-waisted shorts. “I’d like to get to know her.” It was 1:30 in the afternoon. I came in early for my volunteer shift at Lollapalooza, a three-day music festival in the Loop, the central business district in Chicago, Illinois. Music festivals are places of worship for subcultures of the population that find solace from disappointed parents and meaningless jobs in music and drugs. But Lolla is a bit different. Because you can’t camp on the property for $30 (like a majority of music festivals) and must fork over at least $200 a night on a hotel room, Lolla has always been a festival for the more affluent. For three days the flush goers stroll through the Chicago city reality on their way to an illusion, concocted of Red Bull and MDMA. They peruse past dirty fingernails holding bent Chick-Fil-A cups with a thin layer of pennies, nickels and dimes on the bottom. And make it a point to not look the homeless in the eye. I know...

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Missouri

The sound of a Missouri household is Fox News. Since the 2008 financial crash, the conversation has focused on the inefficiency of the powerhouse that is the U.S. government. The idea of lessening the federal government’s role in the daily lives of American citizens is a narrative that can’t get enough air time. Equally as omnipotent to a Missourian, is the rise of the surveillance state. The new conservative, a pseudo-libertarian holds the overreach in contention. Anarchists and agitators now build payment systems that skirt Big Brother. And that’s been pushed forward by the release of Bitcoin, a decentralized digital currency protocol that uses distributed authentication and an expensive proof of work algorithm to keep unknown actors working towards the same goal. A political leaning cannot be gleaned from the Satoshi Nakamoto Bitcoin whitepaper, but many Bitcoin evangelists will tell you the message embedded within the first Bitcoin transaction–”The Times 03/Jan/2009 Chancellor on brink of second bailout for banks”–remarks on the incompetence of the banking system and monetary policy. But will we praise the separatist tools of these minority entrepreneurs that will save us from 1984 or will we revolt against a technology co-opted by madmen to do nothing more than harm? “Balancing privacy and transparency is the biggest puzzle of the 21st century,” said Peter Kirby, president and CEO of Factom, one of a growing number of blockchain-as-a-service...

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5 Months, 48 States

I was told again and again that I needed more focus, a narrower topic, a question to be answered in every state. That was, most mentors said, the only way to get sponsors interested in the blog. And it’s solid advice. But I’m not going to do it. Journalism is about writing the story that’s there, not concocting your own version and finding the people, places and things to fit that narrative. Most editors will tell you to write the headline first, so you know where you’re going. But I disagree. I don’t want to be part of the echo chamber. You don’t forge the story at the beginning, the story reveals itself at the end. While I’d love all of this to fit nicely together so that I may make it into a book, that’s for fate to decide. I’m traveling around the country to study the broad topic of money and value, from central bank cryptocurrency to the volunteer community that fills water bottles for drug-induced festival goers to the waste that is a coal mine still burning under a ghost town… and that hasn’t even gotten me through the first month. As I see it, these stories are part of the growing postcapitalism movement that Paul Mason so remarkably wrote about in The Guardian earlier this month. Mason takes the words right out of my mouth,...

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