Hit Back: Chart Your Own Course but Don’t Give Up on Your Heroes

By Adam Gnade


I’ve been thinking a lot about where you go when you need to move beyond your heroes. At a certain point (whether you’re ready or not) you want to stand up and do something original but what does that mean, how do you start? I want to write something big, something that will “last” but I feel like I’m fifteen years old half the time, struggling to get a C-minus in Freshman English while losing my shit over all the great heat that came before.

I want to be Tolstoy and I want to be Garcia Marquez (and Faulkner, Willa Cather, Hemingway, Didion, John Dos Passos) but I’m nowhere near the doorstep; I can’t even see the HOUSE–as much as I see the light from it (and the light is what keeps us moving).

Without getting into particulars, my life is pretty hard and raw and rough right now but I’m writing a lot; more than I ever have. The manuscript for the new book is three inches thick. The last book, Caveworld, ended up at nearly 400 pages upon publication but this one will (at least) double it. Not sure how many pages three inches of hand-written paper is but it’s a lot, a brick, and at the end of the day I’m okay with that. Will the book be good? I don’t know. I feel like it will but for now I’m not too concerned with the outcome. At this point, struggling with it is good enough for me.

When I’m not working I feel like a magnet that can’t pull metal to itself. I listen to the same song over and over again (Galaxie 500 doing Joy Division’s “Ceremony” or “Summer of Hate” by Crocadiles) and I do a lot of busy work in the farmhouse and I wash dishes for hours and never make a dent in the pile. I’m a zombie when I’m not working but when I’m working all the bullshittyness of life goes away and I don’t think about predatory lawsuits and (lack of) money and time running out and big changes ahead. I’m in my place and I know I’m in my place and that’s a good thing to know.

Still, I feel lost out here. Life right now is fleeting, racing to its end. The weeks march past, spring becomes summer, farm chores in the morning, farm chores at dusk, the sun arcing across the sky sunrise to sunset, the moon just as fast, and the calendar pages tear away in the breeze and fly out the window like in a bad movie. I want guidance but I want to do my own thing and the combination of that is like moving away from home for the first time but not calling your parents for advice because you’re “a man now.” Your heart is in the right place but is it self-defeating? What’s the measure of someone without the guts to ask for help? I’d like to play it cool and be like, “No heroes for me. I don’t need ‘em” but if I were to be perfectly honest I’m horribly naive and a romantic and a late-bloomer and people like me need heroes like we need light and air and water.

I’d like to play it cool and be like, “No heroes for me. I don’t need ‘em” but if I were to be perfectly honest I’m horribly naive and a romantic and a late-bloomer and people like me need heroes like we need light and air and water.


Bart Schaneman wrote this thing about heroes a couple weeks ago and it made a lot of sense to me.

“The problem with abandoning your heroes is that you turn your back on what got you into this to begin with. The world doesn’t need one more imitation Raymond Carver or Denis Johnson. But that shouldn’t stop anyone from drawing inspiration from stories like ‘Work’ or ‘So Much Water So Close to Home.’”

And the heart of it … this is what really gets me:

“So I guess what I’m saying is: Don’t give up your heroes. Add to them. Move beyond them. But don’t forsake them. You might need to come back to them to remember who you were when you got started down this difficult path.”

Bart’s someone I trust and believe in and he’s right on the money here. Coming back to your heroes and checking in is important. You don’t have to rip them off and you don’t have to live in their shadow but it’s good to know that they’re there, to be reminded why you stuck with them in the first place. Because at some point in your distant (or not so) past, your heroes lit a fire in you and if that fire is still burning you owe them something. Whether your hero is Will Potter or Will Oldham or Will Shakespeare, you’ve been moved by them and because of that you owe them a debt of sorts.

Whether your hero is Will Potter or Will Oldham or Will Shakespeare, you’ve been moved by them and because of that you owe them a debt of sorts.

Beyond that, you work. You work until your eyes ache and until you want to quit and then you work harder. I’m still figuring this out for myself but here’s what I believe: You take what you’ve been given and the influences you were brought up with (and whatever inspiration comes from it) and you work. You work and you stay honest and you try your best to be your own person and if you do that you’ll get somewhere. It might not be where you imagined you’d be but it’ll be somewhere and that’s a triumph in itself.

When it comes down to it, we’ve got to define “success” outside of capitalism if we want to stay sane, and doing honest work and being okay with what you’ve done is a great place to start.

Biohackers Engineer Yeast to Produce Casein for “Real Vegan Cheese”

A team of biohackers in Oakland at the infamous Counter Culture Labs are using their science skills to make real vegan cheese. According to their Indiegogo page:

Real Vegan Cheese is a not a cheese substitute! It all begins with regular old baker’s yeast. Through synthetic biology, we engineer our yeast to become milk-protein factories, churning out real milk proteins (known as caseins). These milk proteins are then combined with water, vegan sugar and oil to make a kind of milk which is ultimately converted into Real Vegan Cheese using the age-old cheese-making process.

“Is it really vegan? Yes. Our genes are made from scratch to work in yeast, and though they are inspired by mammals, none of the genes, organisms or growth mediums we use have ever been part of an animal.”


For more info and to donate to their research, click here:


or visit their Indiegogo Page: http://igg.me/at/vegancheese/x


Champion Heavyweight Boxer Goes Vegan for Comeback


He’s got an English accent. He’s buff. And now, he’s vegan too. David Haye “The Hayemaker” recently told The Independent that he’s planning to make a big comeback after some serious injuries, an out-of-control alter-ego, and major surgery. “I’ve only got myself to blame.” He said. “To be as injury-prone as much as me isn’t bad luck. It’s the way I’ve trained in the past.”

Regarding his decision to go vegan, he said:

“I watched a TV documentary about how animals are farmed, killed and prepared for us to eat,” he explains, shaking his head. “I saw all those cows and pigs and realised I couldn’t be a part of it any more. It was horrible. I did some research to make sure I could still obtain enough protein to fight and, once satisfied that I could, I stopped. I’ll never go back.”


The Discerning Brute contributor and nutritional expert Matt Ruscigno, RD weighs in on Haye’s new regimen and its chances to rebuild a heavyweight champ:

“All plant based foods have some protein, especially beans and grains – and as long as Haye is eating enough calories to fuel his workouts, he will get more than enough protein. Plant-foods like beans are full of calories to provide all the energy he needs, as well as all the amino acids he needs to continue building muscle in order to create and maintain a heavyweight physique. The additional benefit of the antioxidants in fruits and vegetables will aid in his recoveries. Experts know from extensive research that vegetarian and vegans live longer, and many nutrition experts are exploring the idea that the same principles that make us live longer may also help someone like Haye recover more quickly from injuries.”

Vivienne Westwood “Moral Outrage” SS15

Vivienne Westwood’s SS15 show in Milan was all about being bold. Bold patterns and colors inspired by the pixelated graphics of 1970s arcade games – and a bold message: moral outrage at factory farming of animals. Partner Andreas Kronthaler says on their website, “Vivienne & I are both vegetarians but we are urging people who do eat meat to always find out where it is coming from and to avoid meat from animal factories.”


And backstage in an interview with Dazed, he also stated “It’s not just about pig farming but any animal farming. What’s going on out there is a disgrace. I’m a vegetarian and I don’t tell people not to eat meat but cutting down is not bad. One day a week makes a big difference, environmentally and even health-wise. The way we keep animals is awful,” Andreas Kronthaler said backstage. “For me as an activist, this is what an activist should look like – someone who cares about what’s going on out there.”


Peter Dinklage & Billy Bob Thorton on Being Veg

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Two Hollywood heavyweights recently spoke out about their choice to not eat animals. Peter Dinklage of Game of Thrones is featured in a new campaign for PETA. His video is below. Billy Bob Thronton was featured on Ecorazzi talking about shooting the new Fargo in Calgary. “A lot of people would say, ‘What do you do in Calgary?’” said Thornton. “But it’s a cosmopolitan city, it’s really a great town. I’m a vegan and there were health food stores everywhere – bowling alleys, pool halls, regular people. It reminds me a little of a city in Texas, just like being in Dallas or Houston.”