The Most Interesting Thing CJ Has Ever Written

Seriously. It reminds me, I need to check this Tino Seghal dude out. Possibly douchetacular.


My Carbon Footprint

Yes, I know this is no way to run a proper-ass blog. You’re supposed to feed your audience little bits of candied horseshit every day, shorten your paragraphs to Tidbits length and include a bunch of flikr images.

That’s not how we do it on The Hero.

We take three months off before coming down with a cold on a Saturday night and then we rush out a half-assed post about the politics of mukluks.

The thirteen loyal readers who survived my autumn dormancy know that I’m the last spoiled working class kid in America. I’m 31, but mommy and daddy still hook me up with expensive gifts every Christmas, as eager to belie the idea of the meritocracy as any parent who holds an executive job at Allina or an engineering position at 3M. So I put in my request around Thanksgiving this year, the way that I always do. I wanted a pair of Will Steger Mukluks.

For the last couple of years, I’ve been wearing Nike Dunks or Nike hi-tops. I love that Complex Magazine Kanye-look, even though I’m not organized or well paid enough to even come remotely close. But this winter, I’ve been forced to freshen my style through practicality. I went native doing that damn bicycle story for MSP this summer and now I commute to work on a brand new Bianchi. I went on my first December bike ride ever earlier this month, and although I’ve wussed out and taken the bus 50% of the time, I’ve had a blast fishtailing through the icepacked trails, even enjoyed my first winter wipe out, sailing over my handlebars into a snowbank. But my white, pink and green Nike SBs have gotten obliterated by riding in winter conditions, and every time I ride, my jeans get all wet, crusty and muddy, especially my lower legs. And my jeans get caught in my chain–I can’t do the “messenger roll-up” in 12 degree weather.

Mukluks appeared to be the answer. So I told my mom I wanted a pair of Stegers. They’re these moosehide boots; kind of macho, Native American-designed Uggs. And they have tall canvas uppers that go almost all the way to the knee, so not only would I stay dry and warm, but my ratted-out denim hemline wouldn’t get snaggled. And I would freak out everybody at the office by flipping my look, moving towards a Mad Jack the Mountainman situation. Grizzly Adams meets “Stronger”? Perfect.

But then I got a call from my mother a couple weeks before Christmas. “Stephen,” she asked, “Is there anything else other than the mukluks you would like for Christmas?”

Well, I need all sorts of practical shit like furniture and rugs but of couse my answer was, “No, why?”

“Well, your father doesn’t want to give money to Will Steger.” She sighed. “He thinks he’s a communist.”

“Let me talk to him.”

I always feel a little cultural dissonance when I talk to my dad about politics. I work at a magazine downtown that is probably pretty typically MSM–everybody is deciding between Hillary or Barack, and they’re not so much contemptuous as they are incredulous that there actually are people that listen to Fox News or Rush Limbaugh out there, somewhere. Most of my co-workers live in the city, downtown or by the lakes. (There’s probably some Republicans on the ad sales side of the building, but I hardly ever go over there–pretty strict separation between Church and State in our shop). Anyway, I’m pretty sure most of the editors I work with don’t interact with people like my father, a retired Teamster living in WBL who tunes in AM 1500 as he practices pool shots in the basement. They just don’t.

My dad was coming in hot. I think he might’ve even called Will Steger an epithet that rhymes with “rockfucker” right away. “I will not give him a penny of my money,” he said. He was bellicose. Self-assured.

The thing is, Will Steger is probably a lot like my father. Another cranky 60-something dude that spends a majority of his time figuring out how to get back to the woods. But instead of going elk hunting in Colorado every November like my dad, Will goes to the arctic circle on dogsled expeditions that 6th graders follow along on the internet every March. And Steger is an “explorer”–which means he figured out how to get North Face to pay for all his fun.

The last couple years, Steger has tied his brand into global warming activism. That might sound cynical, but the whole thing feels a little Born Again to me. On the other hand, I understand how seeing the dramatic polar ice melt up close could inspire a moment of clarity, so it makes sense why Steger has started pouring his resources into the Will Steger Foundation and Global Warming 101, a public awareness initiative. But I don’t trust this explorer-to-crusader transformation completely. I don’t trust this global warming freak out in general maybe. At the very least the proposed solutions seem kind of radical. I just watched Planet Earth, for instance, and a bunch of scientists and activists on disc 4 were basically arguing that the only way to really fix climate change is to get rid of 80% of the world’s population. They were just thinking aloud. Maybe it’s heretical, even straight up ignorant in this day and age, but I’m just not buying it yet. Solutions like that sound a little too Brave New World. And my skepticism is a probably a partial result of my father’s influence, because for him, “Global Warming” means one thing: taxes.

And I don’t want to start paying a carbon tax either, but more importantly, regardless of whether I believe Al Gore is more eco-Fascist or Nobel laureate, I needed those goddamn mukluks now. Like, way before the polar ice cap disappears, right? So I told him that I do believe global warming is really happening, but I’m not sold on this carbon dioxide crisis. Carbon dioxide isn’t toxic like mercury, right? Aren’t we breathing carbon dioxide right now? Couldn’t this warming be the result of solar fluctuation?

My enthusiastic skepticism seemed to satisfy my dad. He asked me why I wasn’t sharing this information with my “liberal buddies.” I sensed my in. I told him that Global Warming 101 is completely separate from Steger Mukluks, and that the boots are even made in Ely, so we would be balancing any trickle down by at least contributing to our economic sovereignty.

Fuck yeah I got the boots. My new carbon footprint is sick.