Hippie Can't Speak French, Abandons Quest for Moneyless Society

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Freeloading hippie Mark Boyles, 28, decided to demonstrate his contempt for the modern world, materialism, and a bunch of other really terrific things by walking to Gandhi's birthplace in Porbander, India. Boyles is an acolyte of the "Freeconomy" movement, a method of living that, according to the group, "allows people to make the transition from a money based communityless (sic) society to more of a community based moneyless society." In other words, he's a middle class beggar. On the first day of his trip, according to this BBC report, he scored two free meals in the English town of Glastonbury. Hardly surprising; the town is, after all, listed as one of England's "hippie havens."

Boyles and two friends then managed, in a grubby version of Operation Overlord, to land in Pas-de-Calais, France, where the mission encountered into its first snag. According to the BBC, the wandering Freeconomist was quickly mistaken for an indigent "because he could not speak French [and] people thought he was free-loading or an asylum seeker." On his blog Boyles complained that "not only did no one not (sic) speak the language, [the French] had also seen us as just a bunch of freeloading backpackers, which is the complete opposite of what the pilgrimage is really about."

The group was now "out of food, hadn't slept in days and were really cold," and decided, in a grubby version of Dunkirk, to abandon the mission and head back to England. Boyles is disappointed-but not deterred. He is, the BBC reports, planning "to walk around the coast of Britain instead, learning French as he goes, so he can try again next year." At which point the cycle begins anew, when, upon reaching Baden-Baden, the poor lad will realize that he should have also studied German.

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  1. hahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha

  2. I thought the British were supposed to be eloquent speakers.

    I’m going to have to look into this whole “stereotype” thing.

  3. reiterating what mediageek said with a couple of extra “ha”s thrown in for emphasis.

  4. I would love to hang with this guy. He would be more entertaining than Milton Berle and Penn & Teller put together.

  5. A libertopian?

  6. More like liberdopeian.

  7. …in a grubby version of Operation Overland

    Don’t you mean Operation Overlord?

  8. What was Operation Overland? The link goes to Operation Overlord, so I’m guessing it’s just a typo, although I do like to imagine some whacked out Allied planner proposing that Anglo-American forces go over the frozen Bering Strait and through the USSR to attack Germany.

    Germany is not France-most Germans speak at least some English, and usually they speak it pretty well (A lot of the French speak English, too, but refuse to admit it.)

    Does this entry herald a change in Reason‘s stance on immigration? Or is the fact that he didn’t go to work in unskilled labor the reason for the sneers?

  9. planning “to walk around the coast of Britain instead, learning French as he goes, so he can try again next year.”

    Incontinent, Channel-surfing coaster. Sure sounds like a “freeloading backpacker,” Margaret.

  10. I know hippies make an easy target, but isn’t it easier to ignore them?

  11. J:”Like Kane in Kung Fu

    V: “They have a word for that Jules, it’s called a bum. You’d be a fucking bum.”

  12. had also seen us as just a bunch of freeloading backpackers, which is the complete opposite of what the pilgrimage is really about.

    I’m genuinely confused. i thought that was his point, to convince society that we should all be freeloading backpackers living off of each other’s kindness or something.

    i never understood hippies, it’s almost like they think being poor and dirty is “cool” or something as long as you are high and filled with love.

  13. Take note, i’ve been poor, dirty, high and filled with love all at the same time. it wasn’t cool.

  14. Except the dirty part, that was comfortable at least.

  15. “[the French] had also seen us as just a bunch of freeloading backpackers”

    They are who we thought they were.

  16. Somebody filled you with their love while you were high, poor, and dirty, Shane?

    I guess when you’re poor, you have to do certain things for money.

  17. Play nice.

  18. I’d rather have money and pretend I didn’t than not have money and just not have money.

  19. Carndoodie,
    yeh, bein single ain’t so bad.

  20. planning “to walk around the coast of Britain instead, learning French as he goes, so he can try again next year.”

    … ain’t gonna find too many folks around the coast of Britain to learn French from, or practice on… Could learn Welsh and maybe some Gaelic.

  21. When did Reason become The Onion?

  22. At which point the cycle begins anew, when, upon reaching Baden-Baden, the poor lad will realize that he should have also studied German.

    I know this is a joke, but the Germans are far more accomodating to people that don’t speak German than the French are to people that don’t speak French. You can get by on English in Germany, most people there know it. In France, even the people that know English will be pissy that you’re not speaking French.

  23. People always think living without money would be great, til they actually have to try to do it.

  24. If they have to turn back at every successive border crossing, retrace their steps to Britain, learn a new language, and then start over again… then this could take a long, long time.

    Now, the question is – would it be easier to walk the long way round (through Russia and China) or take a direct route through more countries. I mean, Kharkov to Novysibirsk via Ekaterinaburg is a rough slog, but you’re only talking six languages in four families. The more direct southern (Balkans and Turkey) and central (Russia and central Asia) routes are linguistic death marches. The southern is especially terrifying, with Magyar, Romanian, Turkish, Farsi and Urdu in brisk succession. (Dear god, that really is terrifying.)

  25. Shane | February 29, 2008, 5:08pm | #
    had also seen us as just a bunch of freeloading backpackers, which is the complete opposite of what the pilgrimage is really about.

    I’m genuinely confused. i thought that was his point, to convince society that we should all be freeloading backpackers living off of each other’s kindness or something.

    i never understood hippies, it’s almost like they think being poor and dirty is “cool” or something as long as you are high and filled with love.

    Yes.

    It’s a form of moral narcissism. Combined with a decision to beat their rational insticts into a dark closet, barracade the door, and let it starve.

    I was trained to be a hippy. Before the implants could stick, the experiments went wronger than Quaid in Running Man, and now I am like the anti-hippy terminator. OK mixed metaphors, but who cares.

    “Economics. Its the anti-hippy.”

  26. Quade was in Total Recall.

  27. Quade was in Total Recall.

    Well he did say it was a mixed metaphor. He didn’t say how mixed.

    Aren’t people generally supposed to have had time to grow out of hippydom by age 28?

  28. Ah. right. BEN RICHARDS was the running man.

    You got the idea though.


    Benny: [shouts] Where the fuck are you?
    Douglas Quaid: [killing him with a large drill] Screw you!

  29. If his vision of a community-based, money-free society were realized, wouldn’t this type of travel become impossible? Or does he somehow expect communities which are so tightly bound as to not require money to openly accept random strangers?

  30. Yeah, those damn Frenchies. You know what they do when they come here? They speak English! So you know they know it! Imagine them having the gaul to expect Americans and Brits to attempt to return the favor while visiting a country that speaks French. Fuckers.

  31. The southern is especially terrifying, with Magyar, Romanian, Turkish, Farsi and Urdu in brisk succession. (Dear god, that really is terrifying.)

    I speak 3 of those ! No kidding.

    Guess which 3 😉

  32. I am impressed beyond measure (especially since I have a dreadful time with languages beyond English. My no-longer-secret shame, oh the woe!)

    Hmm – the odds of picking the right combination out of sixty possibilities is pretty slim, no? But if I had to guess, I’d say Turkish, Farsi and Urdu for the (very broadly) Middle Eastern trifecta.

  33. One of the things that really perturbs me is to see someone linking words to their Wikipedia entries, as is done at least twice above.

    I discuss some of the reasons why no one should do that here and here.

  34. the Germans are far more accomodating to people that don’t speak German than the French are to people that don’t speak French.

    Le voilà!

  35. According to the BBC, the wandering Freeconomist was quickly mistaken for an indigent “because he could not speak French [and] people thought he was free-loading or an asylum seeker.”

    Or, all three.

  36. I’m dreadful with languages too, I’ve lived in every country where I’ve learned a language though and really struggled with each one.

    Good try Peachy, you got 2/3. I speak Turkish, Urdu, and Hungarian from those three. I live in Hungary now.

  37. Hmm – the odds of picking the right combination out of sixty possibilities is pretty slim, no?

    Yes, if there were 60 possibilities, but since there are actually only 10 unique combinations your odds were much better than you thought, though still not good enough, apparently. 🙂

  38. Click ‘n’ Learn | February 29, 2008, 7:30pm | #

    One of the things that really perturbs me…

    POOR BABY

    IF YOU COULD TELL US ABOUT MORE THINGS THAT PERTURB YOU, WE WILL INVEST HEAVILY IN ALL OF THEM. YOUR PAIN IS MY PLEASURE

    ARRIBA ARRIBA ARRIBA ARRIBA ARRIBA ARRIBA ARRIBA ARRIBA ARRIBA

  39. Oh, piffle – I forgot to knock out duplications. Let’s pretend I was also guessing the order in which the languages had been learned…

  40. isn’t it easier to ignore them?

    Yes, but if we did, the whole blogosphere would crumble.
    Dare we risk it?

  41. I thought libertarians were fine with people who decided to live differently without forcing others to adapt to their lifestyle. From the post here and the subsequent comments, I guess I was wrong…

  42. Oh, mother of god, not this again. We need to have a banner at the top of every thread
    – “libertarians support the right of others to live their lives as they see fit, whilst reserving the right to mock them mercilessly.”

  43. Drink………

    On his blog Boyles complained that “not only did no one not (sic) speak the language,

    This guy’s bitching about not speaking the language? I speak the language and am think WTF is he saying?

  44. And I’m also posting in fucked up English.

  45. Theoretically, such a journey could be made by working as you go; being of enough service to a given household to get a place to sleep and a meal……….but it helps to speak the language

  46. Brian, you may have noticed that no one has said that he should be jailed, fined, or otherwise prevented from being a complete moron. The opportunity to become an object of ridicule however is an added bonus and part and parcel of the freedom to do what you want.

    For example I think BASE jumping should be completely legal. I think people that do it are morons.

  47. In France, even the people that know English will be pissy that you’re not speaking French.

    Only if you go there expecting them to speak English. If you at least make the attempt to speak French, they will usually give you a break. Just not in Paris. But you’ve got to make the effort to speak their language first.

    Think of how people in this country get hacked when someone comes here and doesn’t speak English. At least with the French it’s a matter of pride and not ignorance.

  48. Aren’t people generally supposed to have had time to grow out of hippydom by age 28?

    Not if the trust fund hasn’t run out.

  49. But English is the new Lengua Franca. French is the old Lengua Franca.

  50. Romanian, Turkish, and Farsi. Because Urdu is too easy, and if you were Hungarian, you’d brag about it.

  51. Oh, I need to remember to read the WHOLE thread before I post, tsk tsk. And you DO live in Hungary, and you DID brag about it. Good man. 🙂

  52. I was told that the definition of a Hungarian is someone who enters a revolving door behind you and emerges in front of you. Is that true?

  53. Geez Speedwell,

    Romanian is much easier than Urdu – at least it is if you already know some Latin, Spanish or Italian.

  54. Theoretically, such a journey could be made by working as you go; being of enough service to a given household to get a place to sleep and a meal

    What a great idea! I think this is the key to the freeconomy movement. Let me expound on this, if I may. There will certainly be households he runs across that don’t need him to be of service at all, and others where he could be of great service. In the interest of efficiency (and avoiding cold rainy nights outdoors), it would be nice if he could even out his swings of luck. Since this is all “community based”, perhaps he could get a credit of some kind at a house where he is of greater service, to use at a house where he is of lesser service. He could save up these service credits for his long trip through Afghanistan, where there are few rain gutters for him to clean out or snow on sidewalks to shovel. If there were some form of universal credit that most people would accept, his trip would be much easier. He might even be able to exchange some of his service credits for lift into town.

    If only we can figure out a solution to this, then we can finally dump that old nasty corrupting money stuff!

  55. One of the things that really perturbs me is to see someone linking words to their Wikipedia entries, as is done at least twice above.

    Suppose you were an idiot. Suppose you were The Lone Wacko. But I repeat myself.

  56. Yeah, those damn Frenchies. You know what they do when they come here? They speak English! So you know they know it! Imagine them having the gaul to expect Americans and Brits to attempt to return the favor while visiting a country that speaks French. Fuckers.

    As a monolinguistic Ugly American who has visited many different nations (20 or so) I’ve found that if I apologize for my ignorance and order the local beer, somebody who will help you out. Often somebody who wants the practice of speaking the defacto international language, English. If you count New Caledonia, (a territory) that includes France. Look sheepish, open your wallet and order something alcoholic. I’ve never been in situations where my ignorance is sneered at.

    It helps considerably if you have currency, local or American doesn’t matter. I’d have been a hippie but for that inability to consistently ignore reality.

  57. One of the things that really perturbs me is to see someone linking words to their Wikipedia entries, as is done at least twice above. who’s a complete monomaniacial moron, who attempts to hijack threads toward his own paranoid obsession, complaining about others intertubes manners.

    Get the hint there, lonewhackoff?

  58. You kids just don’t understand because you haven’t been to College.

    😉

  59. Next time he should jut bring along the Universal Translator, i.e. money. He’ll have no trouble getting along, getting food to eat, and a place to be warm. He wouldn’t evenneed to try to learn French while begging along the coast of the UK.

  60. “You kids just don’t understand because you haven’t been to College.”

    I really had a lot of fun hanging out with hippies in college. We smoked the absolute best pot, drank the best local brews, had fun with some really cool chicks. Most were living off of their well-to-do parents generosity – I was working my way through. Of course I wasn’t going to be a douche and point out that how I was living was a bit more principled than some white kid with dreads and a nice car, apartment, whatever. Saved that for a blog 10 years later. College was fun; I miss it.

  61. “because he could not speak French people thought he was free-loading ”

    Well ya, that’s exactly what he was doing! What a douche.

  62. I have no problem with someone wanting to explore an alternative lifestyle (hey, whatever happened to celebrating ‘freewheelin’ in Reason?). And actually, I think it’s in the spirit of liberty that all sorts of freaks, geeks, goths, hipsters and hippies, should have much room to experiment in a free society. Maybe the guy is a bit silly, but maybe it’s not a bad thing to explore something different from what’s offered on mainstreet, madison avenue, or the usual rat race choices. It could be interesting trying out a kundalini/rastafarrian ashram for a year or two. Or maybe a minute or two. I only have a problem if such hipsters want to impose their choices on the rest of us.

  63. hey, whatever happened to celebrating ‘freewheelin’ in Reason?

    That guy certainly has the absolute to be a freewheelin’ freedloader, but he has no right not to be laughed at.

  64. Um, can someone explain the difference to me between being a “freetarian” or whatever they call themselves, and being a bum panhandling for baksheesh? Especially if you look (and smell) like one?

    Guess the French didn’t think there was that much difference either….

  65. Grumpy Realist: I think the difference is that freetarians offer to exchange valuable work in exchange for goods. For instance, in this case, you could give him some food, and he could take the time to explain dialectical materialism to you, and how it is only false consciousness that causes you to labor in exchange for money so that you can buy food which you can then give him so he will stop talking about dialectical materialism.

  66. Silly hippy. Only in hippy land can you learn French by walking around England.

  67. This is weird. My wife’s nephew who is 21 abandoned all his possessions a year ago to live in India and now is planning to move to England. Now he wishes he hadn’t given all the stuff away.

  68. People get annoyed that you can’t get by in France without speaking French. Has anyone ever tried to get by in the US without English ( or Spanish in some neighborhoods)? I really wish you luck. You are going to be talking to yourself.

    I can’t speak for the English, but in America, if you didn’t learn another language at home, it is very unlikely that you will learn one anywhere else.

    To me, this seems like the kettle calling to pot black.

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