I’m Not a Pothead or Hippie – I’m an Intelligent Capitalist Anatomy of a Snowflake

I’ve been dating around and exploring Tucson a lot over the past year. I always loved meeting new people, and living in a van really made that situation easier. Driving around the country gives you a read on other people’s perspectives. As we get older, it’s natural to fall into routines, but I thrive on the unexpected when everyone else is disorientated.

Several women I met along my journey called me a hippie, a term I most likely grew to loathe because of my Vietnam Vet dad. Growing up on military bases in the 1980s, the term “hippie” was synonymous with “lazy,”  which I certainly was and still am.

But laziness doesn’t mean I don’t have motivation. I’ve been working happily since I was a young child with a paper route. I’m a capitalist with a lot more conservative values than people around me give me credit for.

The term “hippie” is also associated with the counterculture. People who don’t do what they’re told aren’t very popular on military bases. Well – not with the higher-ups in charge anyway. It’s ironic because it’s derived from the term “hipster,” which we still use today.

Both come from African American street slang – “hep” or “hip” cats during the jazz era of the 30s and 40s had their culture appropriated. People who kept up with trends were called hipsters, and later hippies, who clashed with the yuppie yes men of Corporate America, with their suits and ties.

I grew up a full-on yuppie. I still have a duffel bag full of ties, and I once had every shade of blue shirt imaginable. I joined the military, worked at the banks, and foreclosed on people’s homes.

Although I always had an interest in the counterculture, I also love popular culture. I do my best to keep up with the mainstream, and I’ve listened to Justins from Timberlake to Beiber. I get it – they’re alright.

Of course, if you know me, you know I also prefer Lil Wayne over Eminem, Smokey Robinson over Elvis, and wordsmiths like 2Pac, Tech N9ne, and Kendrick Lamar, who sonically stretch the art of music to its boundaries.

Nobody will ever accuse me of being an enemy of drugs. As a medical marijuana cardholder, I’ve worked in cannabis harvests, wrote a cover story in High Times, and am deeply rooted in vaping and cryptocurrencies.

I’m a fan of cyber culture, from cryptopirates to hackers, trolls, and everything in between. Technology and culture are becoming one in the same. No matter what you believe, there’s something for you on the Internet.

I hope the younger generation rejects the excesses of digital for an analog lifestyle. We’re already seeing it with EDM starting to give way to bluegrass and folk. Young people don’t want to leave the digital trail older generations do. We were born (and therefore protest) the ideals of different eras.

Aging is weird…

Yet, despite working in activism firsthand as a whistleblower, I frequently disassociate myself with the term “activist.” Activism was an important part of the 1960s hippie movement, and we saw it materialize in Occupy, Black Lives Matter, #MeToo, and so many other important social movements.

I have no issues with these activist leaders – I just support them through a safe distance. I don’t get involved anymore because I saw too much corruption while working with these movements.

Instead, I focus on building the web business I started building at the same time I left Bank of America. I work on building something positive that can sustain my lifestyle for the rest of my days. When I reach old age, I know that I’ll be just as alone as I’ve been the past decade.

I’m building a business because I’m an entrepreneur and an independent contractor. I’m not trying to take down the system – I use the system to my advantage, contributing what I can to pull out what I need.

Anarchy has never been my goal – I want a life of peace.

That’s something we all want, and I hope the younger generation achieves this. living in a post-Trump era isn’t any different than the post-Reagan years. I’ll see a lot more change in my lifetime.

I hope I never live to see a major war ravage the land I live on, but if it does happen, I’m prepared with the supplies needed to buy my way to safety and survive. My bonds run deeper than national borders, so even if I left my homeland, I know I’d be ok.

Currencies and items of value have been a major theme of my life’s work. I’ve studied them, and watching Tucson’s world-famous gem show materialize around me for the third straight year, I can’t help but reflect on the impact money has had in my life.

I don’t worship money by any means, but we all have a dependency on it. You can’t exist anywhere without paying someone for the privilege. That’s our universal way of showing contribution.

Career skills, education, experience, and participation in the world are all important to me. I may have a few hippie values and leanings, but I can assure you I’m no hippie nor hipster.

My lifestyle isn’t like yours – I work from home for myself and have freedoms many people don’t, aside from sex workers. I gave up everything in my life to fight the system with only a backpack and a van.

I’ve lived stories most only dream, and I’ve seen both sides of the fence. I see myself as a lone wolf and outsider. But I also love and am dependent on society.

I’m not a hippie, but I’ll always be kind to those who are, so long as they have love in their hearts.

But there are too many “hippies,” both modern and classic, who don’t adhere to the lifestyle they proclaim. And when they do, they lack money, which leaves them dependent on the system.

Instead of hating the system, work with it. Build the life of your dreams, and use your resources to help others.

I’m not a hippie – I’m a capitalist to my core.


Brian Penny is a former Business Analyst and Operations Manager at Bank of America turned whistleblower, troll, and freelance writer.

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