(Hey, look, it's Russel Brand in a kilt!)
We've seen people fund their adventure vacations via Kickstarter, and we've also seen artisanal Portland grifters, and this story combines the two in the most tremendously entertaining way. Basically, Russel (a Portlander, as if it weren't obvious from the photo) raised a bunch of money to undertake an "epic" adventure on his "fatbike," and then he just sort of disappeared, like a boyfriend who gradually stops returning your calls instead of having the decency to break up with you:
Due to logistical challenges, he launched his expedition many weeks after his target departure. He made it up to a small town in north central British Columbia, roughly 830 miles from Bellingham. He holed up there for at least a couple of weeks, apparently trying to arrange for food and gear deliveries, but then turned back south sometime in mid-August, it appears. I do not have exact dates or specific details of his trip because Badenoch has never provided them to me, or to his 212 Kickstarter backers.
In fact, his Kickstarter backers have not heard from him since May 3.
Even more shocking is that the writer of the "Outside" article thinks this is noteworthy. Expecting a Kickstarter campaigner to follow through is about as smart as lending a junkie your laptop--though in fairness to Mr. Brand, his expedition was fraught with problems:
According to his Twitter feed, on which he had been very active throughout the spring and summer and on which he told backers to watch for updates, he apparently hit the road in late May. The tweets that followed gave some snippets into the reality of expedition cycling: torrents of rain, stretches of hunger and fatigue, etc. But then in early June, if you go back and look, there are some real signs of stress, related not so much to the cycling but to his efforts to arrange shipments of wheat-free food, and arranging for money transfers. All along, he never gave specifics about where he was, nor did he post photos—but a few tweets linked to a mapping service that showed him to be in central B.C.
Back in the 15th century, Queen Isabella funded Christopher Columbus, whose bold expedition forever changed the course of human history. Six centuries later, idiots are funding Portlanders to ride around on bikes with giant tires and eat shit without wheat in it in the vague hope that they one day might get to watch a documentary film about it.
Indeed, Russel Brand's aversion to wheat seems to have provided him with his greatest excuse:
"Yes, I met Andrew at the Pink Mountain Motor Inn," Figureida told me. "I had biked up from Death Valley and attempted to climb McKinley and when I met him I was headed south again. He was stuck there, waiting for supplies—camera and other gear that is really expensive and he didn’t want to go further without it. He was in the café, using Wi-Fi. He was eating what he could afford, but I guess he has a really restrictive diet. At night he was sneaking into empty cabins to sleep. He had been there for one or two weeks."
Sure, maybe he had a severe wheat allergy, but both Lewis and Clark were lactose intolerant and you never heard them complaining about it.
Still, the writer remains indignant:
It’s one thing to fail to quickly respond to a reporter. It’s another that Badenoch has not communicated his status to the 212 micro-investors who ponied up a collective $10,437 to support the fossil-fuel-free expedition. Even if he is planning a do-over next spring, doesn’t he owe his backers an explanation? According to Kickstarter, 41 backers paid $50 or more, 28 paid $100 or more and six of them exceeded $250. In return they’re expecting to receive incentives ranging from a film that Badenoch said he would be shooting from the trail, to a membership in "Hyperlithic," some kind of nature-based training and wellness system, tied to Hyperlithic.com, a site that Badenoch owns but hasn’t launched.
So does Russel Brand owe his backers an explanation? No, he owes you nothing! The evangelist you donated to does not owe you a miracle. The panhandler you gave to does not owe you a postcard telling you how your $.75 got him back on his feet again and now he has a house in White Plains and a good job as a teller in a bank all thanks to you. And the Kickstarter grifter using you to fund his adventure vacation doesn't owe you the completion of his adventure vacation. "Micro-investor" here is just a euphemism for "sucker." You have, as they say on the streets, been "had."
He took them pretty good too:
Aside from Kickstarter money, Badenoch also attracted gear and food sponsorships, including Alpacka Raft, a gear shop called Nature Shop, and 9ZERO7, an Anchorage-based fatbike manufacturer that provided Badenoch with his trip steed. Badenoch tends to dutifully praise 9ZERO7 and his other sponsors on Twitter.
He even got a side gig collecting millipedes:
Badenoch was also recruited by Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation to search for diatoms and millipedes while he was on his trip, and to collect samples of them on behalf of a couple different research scientists.
Really, it's the multitasking that's the most impressive part of the scam. "Sure, I'll pick up some millipedes for you." It's like telling 50 separate high school kids you'll go buy beer and pot and fireworks and switchblades for them and just never coming back. To be honest though I kind of feel bad for the Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation people, and I can't help thinking of ta otally sincere person with a completely ironic beard demurely asking, "Uh, find any millipedes yet?"
Still, all the backers deserved what they got. I mean, who gives a guy like this ten grand?!?
Just read his "philosophy." It pretty much tells you he's going to rip you off!
Meta-Philosophy: To my mind, it is impossible to achieve maximum wellbeing within the world of alarm clocks, architecture, and subjugation to emergent institutions. I don’t think this is merely a coincidence or vague yearning, but a very real facet of human nature. This insight and inspiration is drawn from the archaeological and anthropological record of our hunter-gatherer ancestors. The life prescribed by sociocultural institutions will not provide the freedom it promises. In other other words, Go outside and play! And… maybe you should just keep doing that over and over… or even better…. just start playing and never stop.
If that doesn't scream "I'm going to take your money and fuck off" then you've never worked a day in your life.
Also, the FAQ makes it abundantly clear that he's a gigantic douche.
I reject the pervasive prodding of industrial age civilization, and its prescriptions. Homo economicus is a nefarious myth. Celebrate Homo ludens (ludens = play).
What's Latin for "douchebag?"
And now, I'm pleased to present you with a quiz. As always, study the item, think, and click on your answer. If you're right you'll swell with pride, and if you're wrong you'll see mountain biking in Ontario.
Thanks very much for reading, ride safe, and watch out for grifters.
--Wildcat Rock Machine
1) This portrait of Mario Cipollini hangs in:
--Nine bucks (including 20oz container of termite spray)
"I'm basically saying, 'You're going to spend $5,600 on a bike and potentially that frame's going to last you forever'," he said. "Or you can spend less than that on something that's going to be creaky after a while and it's going to get rundown or it's going to chip – the whole replacement mentality."--Old Man Budnitz
3) What was the most noticeable ride characteristic of The Budnitz?
--It was too awesome
--It wasn't expensive enough
--It lasted forever (potentially)
4) Triathletes use clipless pedals because they're more efficient.
5) Fill in the blank: "Smugness ________"
--Astonishing steampunk monocle
(But they do draw the line at PB&J.)
7) Judging from blog comments, Portlanders are surprisingly cool with white separatism and Holocaust denial.
***Special Safety-Themed Bonus Question***
Fill in the blank: "But at least I was wearing my _____________."
--Helment with crash sensor that's connected to my smartphone which alerts family and loved ones to my location in the event of an accident or impact, and that presumably works in conjunction with the video camera I always use while riding, because you can never be too careful.