Unintentional Hipster

I just like wearing women's jeans, not eating animal products and writing shit nobody cares about. It was an accident, I swear

Archive for the tag “Toby”

A Defense of Pop Music-Rhythm

I’m going to warn you all well in advance, this series of blogs is going to be nothing other than purely musical wank. I’m basically going to demonstrate that discrimination against pop music as a result of its (usually) inherent simplicity as a generalisation simply isn’t justified. I’ll be doing a separate blog series on electronic music, but that’s a whole other kettle of hipsters which I’m learning about.

This blog isn’t an attack against those who aren’t well-versed in musical theory and conventions. It’s more of an attempt to educate people against hating on a style of music for what’s going on in it when quite simply don’t know what’s going on. Like I said, it’s gonna be a big blog’o’wank! It’s also gonna be quite a good deal of music theory, but I’ll ‘splain all of it!

First topic: Rhythm! Pop music is often criticized for being too rhythmically simple and as straight-ahead rhythmically to play as punk music. We’re not touching on stuff like Will.i.am. and Rihanna in this section, because they live that stereotype quite comfortably. Instead, we’ll look at John Mayer and Justin Timberlake in this blog. 

A quick side-note for everybody: I am not defending Pop music as a whole. Some pop music is just BAD! Some simply lacks originality, quality production or imagination. It over uses auto-tune to a point where you can no longer tell the difference between one singer or another. I will be seeking to demonstrate that there is pop music that falls outside of these stereotypes and that hating on pop music as a whole isn’t appropriate. Hate the gold-diggers in the industry if you want, but some people out there are making pop music that is wonderfully musical, original and innovative. 

This blog is written for those who aren’t educated in any music theory, so there will be explanations of what concepts I’m talking about throughout the blog. Important words will be written in bold.

First track we’ll check out: Waiting on the World to Change-John Mayer.

When you have three dudes like John Mayer, Steve Jordan and Pino Palladino playing together, you can expect nothing but some pretty intense stuff to be going on. Grab some good quality headphones or plug into some good speakers and really have a good listen to what’s on in this track. 

I’m going to talk about these three as musicians another time but for now-what’s going on that makes this track rhythmically cool?

The most obvious thing is that there is a late backbeat in every second bar. In traditional rock’n’roll/pop music, the backbeat sits solidly on beats 2&4 (usually marked by a snare hit). Although this is not in itself an example of musical wizardry, I can’t think of another modern pop tune that has a displaced backbeat in the same way, let alone one that has achieved such success. A downbeat is usually the strong beat and is traditionally marked by a bass-drum/bass guitar hit in rock/pop music. These generally occur around the 1&3 beat of each bar.

The next thing is the groove and the way that the subdivisions are broken up. A subdivision is that a bar is broken up rhythmically. For example, if you tap your foot along to a piece in 4/4 on the beat, each tap is called a quarter note (or a crotchet). This is because there are four notes subdivided into the bar. Half of that is an eight (or a quaver) and half that again is a sixteenth (semi-quaver). The two most simple approaches to subdivisions in terms of constructing a groove are called straight or swung 8ths. Straight 8ths are completely even, they are exactly half a beat, whereas if it’s swung, the beat is split into three equal(ish) parts and only the first and third note are played, giving a shuffle feel. Here’s a shuffle played by the glorious Steve Gadd:
As you can hear, it’s got a triplet feel, you can hear it’s not evenly placed into two exact subdivisions. You’ll hear this stuff going on all the time in Jazz and Blues, but more modernly, it’s very prominent in the Dubstep scene.
And why am I talking about this?

If you listen close to the 16ths (remember a quarter note is a beat, so a fourth of a beat) being played, they’re leaning more towards being swung, although not that heavily-they’re kind of in the middle (although leaning more towards being swung).

Again, even though this isn’t that musically wild and wonderful if you’re familiar with jazz, it is something that a computer will never really be able to simulate. It’s also a very small subdivision to time perfectly, especially when it’s not precise. If there were a numerical value given to what these subdivisions are, they would be called 24th notes. At 60 beats per minute, that would be six notes per second. 100bpm, closer to where this song sits, is ten notes per second. So you would be subdividing each second to one decimal place; and this piece isn’t computer-precise swung. 

The point? When cats like John Mayer are writing and performing Pop music, it isn’t overly-simple anymore. They may not be immediately noticed but every little bit counts in the difference between a song that will be listened to in twenty years time and one that won’t be heard again after it leaves the charts.

The piece feels organic and instrument driven because it is. It’s subject to certain human imperfections. It’s not something a 13 year old could put together on their computer, that’s for sure.

Next piece: Suit & Tie-Justin Timberlake
I really wanted to go through some of his older stuff but I wanted to use something more modern than the last track as an example.

So this piece starts out EXTREMELY slow. When it switches from the intro to the verse (and when it again repeats this at the B section where Jay-Z tears it up) it’s not a tempo change (tempo being the speed of the music)-the tempo never changes. Instead, it’s use of something called half-time. Remember how earlier I was talking about the backbeat being on two and four? In half-time, the backbeat appears on the three instead. Half-time’s meaning is very literal, each subdivision’s (i.e. 8ths) value is treated as half, so the backbeat will appear on the 3, instead of the 2.

This piece switches between half-time and regular time three times (intro-verse, chorus2-rap, chorus-outro), most pop songs will not switch between the two even once! This is an incredibly difficult thing to do in a piece and actually make it work. Although it does stand out very strongly in this piece, the shift between a brisk lounge-jazz feel to a drop-build that never ends (electronic music) is so powerful and leaves the second half of the piece begging to rhythmically resolve (or “drop” if you prefer). It constantly teases at this idea frequently when the drums drop out, leaving an ambiguous feel(i.e. 2:00 not so much, but prevalently at 3:53, where it could comfortably transition back into regular time). Again, this is HARD to do and much harder to do well. The piece is not lacking in rhythmic complexities. 

It is also possible that the B section/intro are actually in quarter-time and the A section is instead a quick half-time, although I doubt that was the intention so I assume it isn’t.

So there you go! Two hugely popular pieces of Pop music-one seven years old and the other not even seven months old-breaking traditional “conventions” (I use that word VERY lightly with Pop) of overly simplistic use of rhythm.

Next blog, I’ll talk about orchestration/instrumentation, that being what the instruments are doing. I’ll be using The Script, Maroon 5 and Daft Punk.

Peace and love, and good happenings and stuff!

❤ Fredkin


A Thought On International Women’s Day

Considering how pro equal rights I am, I get very, very upset when I see people in articles, books and social media referring to men, not only in a sense of a collective but in often very hateful ways. I’m not sure what the word for it is-I know it can’t just be extreme feminism but I just don’t know the word for it. And it hurts.

But then a few days ago I had a terribly sad realisation. Now, I’m not particularly into following the news because, more often than not, it makes me terribly sad. Maybe I’m ignorant, maybe I’m overly sensitive, it doesn’t really matter. But over the last week I’ve been trying to keep slightly more up to date on events (for uni) and the last week has been a very bad week for the sexual abuse of women in Sydney. A VERY bad week.

And after reading these articles, I’ve sat down and thought about it. And I’m ashamed. I find it hard to not feel disgust and anger at what is far too huge a proportion of my gender, even despite how well I try to live my life by equal treatment of all different sorts of people. I feel somehow responsible and I cannot for the life of me explain why. I’ve never hit a girl (or even really a boy for that matter) and I understand that no means no. But I can’t explain it, I feel like I haven’t done enough.

And even more so than anything else, I feel like men haven’t done enough.

And I know I’m very far away from being the only person who thinks this.

But I just don’t hear enough men speaking up about it. And I’m guilty of this too (In fairness, for the most part this is due to an astounding lack of education on the issue, which I’m trying to alleviate [any recommendations on things to read would be appreciated!]).

So, on this day we have set aside to celebrate the wonderful achievements of women and mourn the atrocities that are still happening all over the world, even in our first-world Western society, I’m going to try and change. I don’t want to be one of those men that stands on the side and says, “oh, that’s awful. I’m so lucky not to be a woman”. No! It shouldn’t be like that!

I feel like a good Catholic father who loves his wife, kids and gay neighbour every time a priest gets pulled out for child abuse.

I don’t wanna feel like that. This has to be as much of a men’s issue as it is a women’s issue. Fellow men, speak up for equality! Especially amongst just mates at the pub with all the wrong kinds of disrespect. There is always a point before somebody commits abuse-maybe through disapproval of bad habits we can prevent a potential abuser from being created. I don’t know.

I know I know very little on the matter, but I was really shocked at the lack of these feminist articles being written by men and every article calls for men to do something. So…here I am. Trying, maybe poorly, to help make a lil’ bit of difference!

Peace and love everyone, hope your weekends are smashing!


How To Talk To Hot People

So I’ve decided, in the spirit of happy blogging, to not only share my unenlightened and probably terrible advice on talking to hot people (as opposed to just women, I want this blog to be accessible to people trying to pick up whichsoever gender!) but also to try out the weekly writing challenge. So, using images from mine and my friends’ lives, here are my top five tips on how to talk to hot people!

1: Dis ass, not dat ass!


I am one SEXY bird!

Any player worth his salt and a vast majority of women will tell you that confidence is key to a successful interaction with women. This is a true story of almost everything in life, let alone talking to hot people. Confidence is sexy. We all know this. However, if you were like a sixteen year-old me, one doesn’t simply become confident. Sometimes, we do that little thing where we believe, “nah, they’re way too hot for me!” No! Bad! This is mistake number one.

I always found however, trying to take the approach, “Hey, maybe she’s so babing that she never gets hit on??” isn’t the best one. Whilst this does take the competitive pressure out of picking up, but doesn’t alleviate confidence issues. So, this is my mantra: dis ass, not dat ass. The basic principle being: I am definitely hot enough to talk to them. So turn around, grab a cheeky squiz at that wagon you’re draggin’, get fired up and get ready for STD scares!

2: Being hot is literally being uncool (The Hipster Principle)


Unfashionable? Maybe, but I got spanked that night so gneh!

This is probably the second most important thing to keep in mind in the art of talking to not just hot people but also a very valuable thing to take on board in your real life: it’s hip to be square. I know a few of you are reeling and saying, “He could not possibly have just said that,” but let me go on.

Think of the coolest people you know. Not necessarily the coolest people on the telly but the coolest people you hang around with. There’s something that all these people will share in common with each other and that is that they just don’t give a fuck what other people think, or at least enough of one to stop doing whatever it is that they’re doing that makes them so gosh darned sassy and fun to be around. This is a little bit different to saying, “Just be yourself!” because who you are and how you behave is constantly changing. This is about becoming who you want to be.

Not to get all philosophical and wanky, but there is absolutely nothing wrong with changing who you are if it will make you feel better. If you’re a smoker or heavily overweight and want to change that, isn’t that a good thing? The same way that if you can’t stop talking about Skyrim or fart on strangers to try and impress them with the depth of your humour, it’s okay to want to change. Once you decide upon what you want to be and are confident in your own skin being that, you will  become cool. That’s what a REAL hipster is- not necessarily somebody who buttons their top button, wears lensless glasses and tight jeans. BUT if that’s what you dig, what you think is fashionable and cool, do it. To hell with the haters-I wear women’s jeans, play blues and know way too much about Winnie the Pooh. Find your skin, get in it and love the hell outta it.

3: Thinking is for winners and you just told me to be a hipster!


Maybe think more than this…

Now that you think you’re sexy and you’re the coolest guy/gal in da club, it’s time for you to now approach said hot person and wow them with your sexiness and coolness! But what do you say? How do you introduce yourself?

Do you aim to be charming, make them feel like the cutest person in the world and that they want to keep your company cause you make them tingle? Do you aim for intelligence, showing off your worldliness and cultured mannerisms with the elocution of a monarch? Or do you try to be funny, connecting dots light years apart in unpredictable and hilarious ways? Want me to tell you?

IT DOES NOT MATTER IN THE SLIGHTEST. Through rigorous experimentation in various social scenarios, unless you start getting really extreme with things, the approach is in many ways, completely meaningless. There’s a youtube channel called SimplePickup-look them up and watch people who really just don’t care. I find the easiest thing is to be super blunt: “Hi, you’re really cute and I just had to say hi. I’m Toby.” Lines from all across the spectrum from devilishly charming to gag-worthingly blunt have been tried and really, the approach just doesn’t matter.

Two minutes later, all they’ll remember is that they’re now talking to one sexy bad mothah (bamf, if you prefer). My favourite pick-up line is connected to my fifth point so I’ll share it with you then 🙂

4: Talk about cats.


Meet my cat: Tepinyaki the Food Destroyer.

Did you read the last section? Good, then this one can be delightfully shorter in comparison to all the other ones.

When asking the question over how to keep a conversation going, talk about stuff that you can actually talk about. Seriously, talk about cats. So many people love cats that you can usually get away with it. Maybe they like puppies over kittens and now you can get them talking about things they like. I just really like cats is all…

5: Dis ass: part II


Me as a sexy, yellow Yoshi, pretending I have an ass.

This is what I find to be the most important part of talking to hot people: the pick-up process is just as much for you as it is for them. Remember the first and second points-dis ass is hawt! Regardless when I’m trying to pick up, I believe that they have to impress me as much as I have to impress them before either of us can get a lil sugar ;D One of my favourite pick-up lines I’ve invented exemplifies my philosophy pretty accurately really,

“Excuse me, you’re amazingly cute and I just had to come and introduce myself to you. I don’t want you to think I’m trying to pick you up yet cause I’m not sure, for all I know you could be an awful person who kills cats and likes Nickleback. I’m Toby.”

And it could turn out five minutes into talking to them that wow, there is no way I could date or sleep with this person. If you’re as much of a tramp for an intellect as I am or are possibly accustomed to getting hit on a lot, you’ll know the process is a two-way road. Don’t settle for less, you’ll just feel filthy.

So! There’s my first weekly challenge done and if you know me, you’ll understand how ironic and hilarious this blog is. Remember-this is just about how to talk to hot people. Nobody mentioned anything about success plsdon’tsueme ❤ As always, feedback is wonderfully appreciated and I’d love to hear other people’s opinions on how to do this!

Peace, love and happy travels yo!


How Exercise Lost Me A Date

ImageI made a little decision a few days ago that I should get back into writing. The reason it’s taken me a few days to write this short little ditty and the reason I’m writing it are pretty much exactly the same…

So, for those of you who I’m not friends with and wouldn’t know, two weeks ago I broke my wrist. Now, all I was doing before I broke my wrist was skateboarding, playing guitar and working-I had almost saved up enough money to move out in time for semester at uni starting. Anywho-the wrist breaks, now I can’t longboard, play music or work-so now I can’t move out.

And everything which I had accepted as being a part of who I am that is attractive to women has suddenly disappeared. I mean, I grow an okay beard yeah, but that only seems to only work for a niche market and in France.

So, in a bid to keep busy, attempt to become funny and actually have a blog which when I tell hot first year arts students that I have a blog actually has blog posts on it. See-most men try to learn how to talk to women. Some men may culture and educate themselves in ways of the world, invest in the practice of proper etiquette and keep in immaculate physical condition, both in terms of fitness and grooming.


I haven’t shaved in other a month, a guy who plays drums on buckets for a living (the band is called Pludo, they’re great and you should all youtube them!) cut my hair, I smoke a bajillion cigarettes and believe that coming out and saying that I’m writing to try and pick up women. A pathetic ploy? Considering people still ask, “DTF bayb?” and come up with the most elaborate hoaxes to pick up, I feel this is fine. 

Sometimes, I actually wonder why I’m still single. Then I hug my cat in one arm and my teddy bear in the other and realize: I spend too much time with my cats and really need to outgrow my teddy bear. And stop talking about picking up..

Anyways, I’m going to start posting funny stories of things that would only and always happen only to me, starting with the story of the hot receptionist at Chatswood Medical Centre (a short and sweet one!)…

So, it was the end of 2012. I was making a living busking around Pitt St Mall and, due to tightness of funds and the fact that I’m way too hungry, was skateboarding everywhere to avoid catching busses. However, a Sydney summer isn’t particularly forgiving in terms of heat and humidity and I quickly developed an intense chafe rash on my “upper thighs.” (For the record, it actually was my upper thighs. There just isn’t a way to say that without it sounding like I got herpes)

The discomfort had become too much, so I decided to pop to the local free clinic to get it checked out and fixed. I was limping when I walked in and literally tripped over when I saw the receptionist.

She was lean and just gorgeous, with long black hair pulled back so as not to get in the way of these bright blue eyes which were so huge, they would make anime characters feel the need to use more make-up.

“You know, those are the most adorable headphones I’ve ever seen! So cute!”

I look down at my headphones, which literally have pink, fluffy cats printed on them, think, “To hell with it, I can’t look any sillier,” and start flirting my ass off with no shame.

But it’s going brilliantly! Apparently I’m charming and funny? Who knew. We’re having great banter whilst she takes my details. As she takes down my mobile number for contact, details, I’m thinking this would be a great time to ask for her number (SEW ORYGYNEL, RYT?!).

“So Toby, what are you being seen for today?”
“Ah. I um, I’ve got a rash.”
“Okay cool, and where is this rash located?”
“I’m sorry, say that again?”
“Where is the rash?”
“Ohh. It’s um, on my thighs.”
“My um…upper thighs..”
“Okay, take a seat Mr Fredkin, a doctor will be with you shortly.”

And that’s how exercise lost me a date.

You try and tell a hot receptionist you’re getting checked out for something literally leaning on the stands of the ballpark that is herpes and recover!

Oh well. Win some, you lose some.

This is the first time I’ve tried funny blogging, might take a little while to click into working. Nice to get back into writing and try a different style!


In other news, my shit came back from Europe finally so I can upload my photos/journal and finish off my, “What I Learned In” little series. Rocking!

Peace amigos, hope you’re all still living happy!


A Diary Entry-Lauterbrunne, Switzerland.

So it’s been a fairly long time since I’ve actually sat down and written anything on here, cause for quite a substantial period of time I simply haven’t had access to a computer where I could sit down and write stuff about stuff. I wholly intend upon finishing off all my, ‘What I learnt in…’ blogs, as I’ve been keeping a fairly detailed journal but for now it’s been a bit too hectic for such a thing.

Instead, I’m going to share one of my diary entries that I made whilst sitting on a rock over a freshwater river, in a tiny town in the Swiss Alps called Lauterbrunnen-I liked this entry and I felt that it was worth sharing this, or just that I wanted to share it (even if it wasn’t worth sharing. Unedited except for grammatical errors.

Like I said, this was initially written only for me to read. So it’s not clean and classy or whatever. But maybe you’ll enjoy a little bit of insight into my mindset 🙂

Aight: Go!


05/09/2012 – Lauterbrunnen

It’s so strange to be sitting somewhere, looking at something that you’ve only ever seen photographs of. It’s even stranger to try and appreciate the fact that most of thse pictures aren’t just pictures, they’re real things. Does that make sense? In my head it does…

I’m looking at these awesome, snow-capped mountains with their peaks pushing through the bottoms of the clouds with ease and trying to process that they are actually real. This is reality, not a photograph.

Toorrow, for the first time in my life, I will touch snow.

Tomorrow, for the first time in my life, I may just get to touch a cloud.
That’s like touching the sky man…or as close as I may ever come.

One can find it terribly difficult not to be wholly overcome by the sheer beauty of it all.  So why need one even bother trying?

The concept of, “I can’t do this, it’s too hard/too big of a job/too unknown,” seems to become far beyond untrue underneath the grandess of these mountains.
For some reason, I seem to have lost what little poetic touch that I have…Oh well. Man, I’m sitting on a rock, which for all intents and purposes, seems to be simply hovering over a roaring, fresh, springwater river (straight from the peak of the mountains! Should I…Should I drink it?).
In this instance, I feel like eloquence in a journal matters sweet, sweet fuck all.

I think I’m starting to get better now. Not in a just, “I’m not sad all the time anymore,” sort of way, but actually better. Better than I was before the sadness even started.

I’m still terribly confused and befuddled by so, so many things…but I feel okay.
Okay is good…right? Yeah.

It’s been, in truth, a really, really, really fucking long time since I thought so many things were possible for me.
A stable career.
A healthy lifestyle.
Best friends who you genuinely mean “BFFL!” with.
And last, but not least, a lover.

Everything most people could associate with a ‘normal’ life.
And though this mightn’t seem a big deal to most people I know, ever since I was fourteen years old, the concept of having anything that even mildly resembled a normal life seemed alien to me.

I was just too…different, I suppose.
Too everything that isn’t ‘normal.’

Sitting here, what I’ve just realized is that I’m far more different than I ever actually thought I was before.
But that’s cool, baby. I can dig it, y’know?

Cause there’s a lot to dig about being different. Why do you think the word is used to strongly around jazz and more forward-pushing styles of hip-hop and the like?

You dig it because it’s ‘fresh,’ it’s ‘cool.’ But these qualities are only ‘dug’ cause the things that make it fresh and cool reside in difference of it all. Difference is groovy, man.

I spend too much time focused on limitations and what things aren’t. Of course, an apple can’t be an orange and you’re only going to be disappointed if you expect it to be.
Do not, do not, DO NOT even get me started on the staring contests I’ve had with a block of tofu, just begging it to somehow become a sirloin…
…Where’s Dobby when you need him?

A limitation isn’t a bad thing, you know?
Especially the ones that don’t exist. Those are just perfect for what I’m talking about here.

I can only run this fast.
              Right now.
I can only write this well.
              Right now.
I can only love this much.
              Right now.

So much time…so much stuff to do.

But don’t ever forget Toby, my dear sweet boy, that scheduling a little bit of nothing can be a terribly good thing. It’s an important thing to do!

Toby Fredkin

What I Learned in Lagos: Part 1

Oh my lordy lordy lord.

Oh how I wish I could describe to you all how many different parts of my body are just aching with…let’s for the moment call it love? Not like…pretty woman love, love fo’ Lagos! Ohh it’s pretty there! Oh the girls are pretty! Oh the drinks are cheap!

Ohh my head…

I learned a lot of very, very strange things in Lagos. I call these strange because given the circumstances of where I was combined with what some distilled potatoes did to me shouldn’t really have resulted in me learning much…at all. But I’ve picked up some really valuable stuff in Lagos and I’m trying to put it into words. I’m still pretty yucky from last night, but I want to start whilst it’s fresh!

The first part of what I learned in Lagos is how crazy similar the concepts of confrontation and rejection actually are. Sometimes you are enacting stringent amounts of rejection by embracing confrontation and when you embrace confrontation, you’re rejecting something else.

Okay, I’ll rewind a little bit. I know I repeat myself a little bit but the reason that I’m travelling is to help me overcome some big and little problems, some involving questions of the self and some involving questions of others.

I spent almost my entire time in Lagos confronting one of my huge problems by adamently rejecting it (“The Octopus in the Corner”). I went out, I partied, I danced like a twit, I giggled at nothing, I slept on the beach. I did absolutely nothing and then I went out and went absolutely crazy.

I’m still not really sure if it worked or not. But it addressed a really interesting idea about the psychology or philosophy (probably neither, I just want to sound educated and stuff…) of how we behave in our lives. Everything that really reflects any major importance in our life is either a confrontation or a rejection. But in every confrontation, there is a rejection. I don’t think I’m making sense…

I thought about this because I was thinking over how I need to learn to say, “no.” I desperately need to learn it but I’m not sure that that’s going to be happening anytime soon! But I say yes to these others things to avoid having to confront the initial problem. It’s almost like procrastinating with feelings.

This is just a short blog, just a quick rambling of thoughts. There was a lot more stuff I learned in Lagos-I’m not sure if I’ll write it sooner rather than later but it will be out and about in the not too distant future.

Admittedly, I’ve never been to Ibiza or Prague or Tel Aviv or any other crazy party cities but when you go to Lagos, be prepared. It sneaks up on you and it does not want to let you go.

Toby Fredkin

What I learned in Albufeira

So, in case you haven’t noticed yet, I use my experiences gained travelling through specific little places through Europe as a means of growing and/or bettering myself. Then, I sit down for a little while, think about how these experiences have changed me and try to put them into words.

Just a litle precursor-I put all these things into words because it helps me to better understand it. Maybe I’m just lacking in sufficient enough memory to just think these things straight out in my head. Regardless, writing it helps me make sense of it. And I miss my friends back home so this is a more efficient way of sharing everything, since finding enough time when you’re constantly nine hours apart is very difficult.

So, Albufeira! I wish I had my computer so I could show y’all photos but unfortunately not. I’ve been here for two days and all I’ve done is walk through the most confusing series of country back roads I’ve ever seen (street signs? loljks) and walked along a few cliffs. Oh, and I found a tiny little beach that was essentially completely secluded from the world. Until a family of fifteen French people crashed my party and I left.

I haven’t been into the city (although I’ll pass through quickly on the way to Lagos-that blog is going to be messssssssed up) and only two beaches, but I’ve purposefully tried to keep off of the tourist trail here. Why? Because I don’t feel that most other people are attempting to gain the same things from their travels as I am. Not in a, ‘They’re doing the wrong thing!’ sort of way…I just kind of like being alone. I can’t understand the incessant need to gaggle that accompanies tourism, being silent whilst the waves crash in a cavern hidden between the cliffs is a wonderful thing.

And, whilst sitting on my secluded little beach, uninterrupted in the most part for three hours, I started geting my little lesson from Albufeira. And after waving goodbye to the Dutch couple with unpronouncable names, whom I’ve promised to visit in some unpronouncable Dutch city, I got it. I’m still slightly confused how to put it into words properly but I’ll try :

If you can’t fix it yourself, then find help. It’s okay to do that.

My first day I spent alone and it was a very healing and therapeutic day. I thought a lot, I did a lot of writing and got terribly scratched up trying to find hidden beauties off the beaten track. But I sort of began realizing that, whilst it is all well and good to try and find happiness in ourselves, it’s just as crucial to find happiness with others. I’m not specifically talking about love or any rubbish like that, just the happiness we find in connections with other people.

To say that I possess the capability to solely fix myself is absurd, I thought. And, however true or untrue this may be for other people, it’s the truth for me.

But, through the kindness of strangers, a long walk and a stolen orange, fresh of the tree in a back alley, I understand a bit better that maybe I’m investing too much effort into directly solving these problems alone.

So-the next four days are in Lagos. Which will be heinous. My problems-whichever part of my life or body they are attributed to (I’m talking about the heart or mind, cheeky), are for the next four days the ‘Octopus in the Corner.’

Maybe if I just don’t pay attention to it, it will go away? I’ve heard crazier.

Go to Albufeira my friends. It is just too pretty for words.

Toby Fredkin

What I learned in Faro: The Kindness of Strangers and Peace

I have never, not in my whole life of (admittedly very limited) travels been somewhere as sleepy, gentle and, most notably, peaceful as Faro in my life. Faro has been my first stop in Portugal before I trek around the coast up to Lisbon and Porto (via some shiny beaches, of course) and initially, I wasn’t too sure if I really wanted to come here.

There is next to no tourist influence on this city, even though I have still only met one person in two days who actually speaks Portugese. A few guided tour officials roaming about the place trying to sell boat tours to the beach in the vastest multitude of languages I’ve ever seen before, but that’s really it.

I chose to come and spend two days here because I really wanted to relax somewhere and get my head put on straight. The last few weeks for me have been very tumultous and confusing, a lot of things have changed in a very small period of time for me since Madrid. I guess that”s what we travel for, to help find ourselves somewhere that we are completely lost.

The first thing I learned in Faro actually began at Gatwick Airport, at 1am, trying to find the shuttle from the South terminal to the North terminal. I became wildly lost in what I can only imagine was the staff carpark, looking for this terminal. I met a French girl who was also flying out to Faro. We chatted a little bit, she was a very sweet girl. We finally found our way there in the end and we sat out the front of the airport for about four hours, just chain smoking cigaretes.

We talked about travelling to learn (she was living in London to improve her English so she could work as a stewardess), crazy and intolerant people in the world and some absolute rubbish. But if you talk with a stranger for four straight hours in the freezing cold with nothing but a few packs of cigarettes, some rubbish is bound to come up. She offered me cake and coke (the drink!) and it was nice.

We got to Faro and her parents were picking her up from the airport. I was terribly confused, I had no idea how to get to the hostel from the airport (there were no signs for buses or trains or anything else of the matter). I met her parents, they didn’t speak a word of English  but they were very sweet and bought me orange juice. Then, they drove me to my hostel.

Faith in humanity: very much restored.

Then, after a good nine hours of wandering the terribly beautiful and wonderfully boring streets of Faro, I came back to the hostel and met the owners. We went out to have a look at buying a guitar for the hostel, then for some dinner and wine. Today, they took me for sandwiches and coffee. They are a wonderfully sweet couple and outrageously hospitable. I don’t have any other word to describe how hospitable they are except outrageous, they’ve taken great care of me in the last two days, even offering to help me find gigs in Faro.

Mixed about with a few people in the hostel who have been very generous with their wine and cigarettes, I learned my first lesson of Faro: the kindness of strangers is truly limitless, as long as you show the same kindness back. Without these people I had never met before in my life, I would have had the most miserable two days here. I mean yeah-the sunshine is beautiful but it can only cure so much loneliness in a man. Never again will I take for granted how good people can be. This city has made cynicism seem like a joke.

The next thing I learned was on my very, very long walk through a very, very small town. I had nothing with me, barre a bottle of water and a packet of cigarettes. Nothing but me, a seaside landscape, the sun beating down and my thoughts. It was incredibly peaceful.

There is no way to be in this town, I feel, and to not be instilled with a great sense of peace about the world. Yeah, there’s good. Yeah, there’s bad. But here in Faro, there’s just peace everywhere.

So I soaked it in, and I began to come to peace with something. Now, these little black bubbles of spiritual disconcertion that have been hanging over me have not been come to peace with. But, I became at peace with the fact that I have to face up to them and ‘pop’ these problems. To me, I think accepting and preparing yourself to deal with your problems is as important as dealing with them in itself.

So, I have come to peace with the fact that I have to make peace. And I’m ready to do that now. What’s that, remnant teenage angst of an immature 21 year old? You wanna fight?

Bring it on bro. I’m ready for ya.

Toby Fredkin

What I Learned In Brighton


Brighton is a wonderfully beautiful little city. There’s just absolutely no way to describe how swiftly and how heavily I fell in love with this place and I really wish I’d invested some more time in being there during my stay in England. Before I planned on traveling about Europe and returning back home, I had the full intention of relocating my life from London to Brighton in search of spiritual greener pastures.

So I’ve only ever spent three days in Brighton and I’m terribly unfamiliar with not only the streets and the nightlife but wholly unfamiliar with the locals. I mean, I’ve met a decent few people from Brighton whilst I’ve been out and about but not people from Brighton in Brighton, if you know what I mean.

Whilst I was in Brighton, I sort of began to develop a sounder understanding of what it is I wanted out of life, there was an atmosphere there that I simply couldn’t put into words. In a manner of speaking, minus the fact that it still has English weather, Brighton was exactly what a city needed to be for me. No more and no less perfectly suited for me.

First of all, it was jam packed full of music, veganism and too numerous to count shops promoting ethical consumerism and manufacturing. Just to stress again, I LOVE MUSIC, ANIMALS, MOTHER EARTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS! AND BRIGHTON LOVES THEM TOO! It’s dreadfully fun to imagine being somewhere where I don’t have to preach anything to anybody who’s curious because everybody knows! As I’m fairly sure people in most every language in the world but English say: Super Cool!!!!! Me and my best friend got lost on a walk from the Pier to Race Hill (where we were staying) and it took us well over an hour to complete a half hour walk, in the most heinous rain I’ve ever been out in in my life. It was a Wednesday night and every single bar and cafe we walked past had live music pumping. Amazing!
So, the obvious little part aside, down to the little things.

The way the city is set up and decorated is beautiful. It’s nothing grand and magnanimous like London or Madrid (my only focal points) but it’s quaint and colourful. It doesn’t scream out, “Hey! Look at me, I’m gorgeous!” because it’s not that sort of place, but you walk through and just think, “Hey…Look at it, it’s gorgeous!” Yet underneath all of this understated beauty was this strange feeling all around me. And I simply couldn’t pick up where it came from…it was just…right. Kind of like when you can’t figure out the next chord in a progression you’re writing, so you just stick your fingers down in random places and push it out and get your answer.

Most of you will know I’ve been going fairly crazy in/on/about life right now and it’s been like that for a while, but every time that I sneak off to Brighton, everything’s just totally fine.

I had 99 problems. Brightoned up, got none.

What I learned in Brighton is very difficult for me to adequately put into words-it’s not like the Madrid or London or Sydney, which I’d find blogging on easier (to verbalize, not to get it right!). Most of what I learned was very internalised, it was very strongly to do with myself and not so much a grander scale of things.

I learned that no matter how crazy I am, there’ll always be a place I’ll fit in, even if it’s for not all the right reasons.

I learned that happiness can be as simple as jumping on a train to the beach.

I learned that no matter how much I learn about and struggle to obtain knowledge of what’s right, and then to practice is, I’ll always be wrong…

…And I learned that being wrong is most often the right thing to do.

And finally, I learned that I’m not as stupid as I’d always thought myself to be. Which was…well, nice.

How did I learn this from three days wondering through shops and a beach? I don’t know. Nor do I particularly care, I’m just glad for the experience!

I feel much better about myself after today. Cheers Brighton, I’ll really miss you! You really do Brighton up my days!

Toby Fredkin

Veganism vs. Health vs. Travel Expenses: A Losing Battle?

So I love animals.

Through and through. If there’s one thing you know about me that isn’t I like music and I’m Jewish, I absolutely love the bleeding hell out of animals. All of them-even the gigantic spiders in my backyard that terrify me. So much so that I recently converted from being a vegetarian to a vegan. And I’m not going to lie to you, the journey hasn’t been easy on my body. Or exactly my wallet either. And now, in the coming month, as I prepare myself for a few months abroad through Europe-I have to try and decide what my priorities are.

Do my priorities lie within my life choices?
Now, I’ve had some very long discussions with a lot of people over time about what ethics one should live their life by…for the sake of me avoiding offending anybody and time we’re going to leave out religion (things that are specific to religion, not shared by religion and other) and talk about the other stuff. I’m a big fan of Mother Earth in its entirety. I’m also a big fan of animal rights and human rights, especially those of children. And maybe I’m just too accommodated to the life style but I find it completely impossible to live strictly to my love of these three parts of our world. My friend and I discussed this a while ago, there’s a little link to a blog where she talks about it here (these thoughts on ethical labor in here are pretty much exactly the same as mine so I won’t repeat them):

So let’s take me in my current situation: I’m vegan. Because my body isn’t particularly well-suited to this lifestyle, there are extra expenses associated with supplements and also, sometimes but not always, in finding an appropriately filling and healthy meal whilst out. If I was still living back in Sydney with my parents, that would be fine and dandy. I could definitely make enough money to support such a life style choice.

Do my priorities lie in my health?
If you aren’t already aware, by the by, one of the staples of most vegan diets are soy products, like tofu and soy milk. However, in high enough doses, soy can produce such a dramatic amount of estrogen that it makes men become irrationally moody, develop breasts and sometimes even become infertile. But soy isn’t the only viable substitute right?

That’s true, there are plenty of other sources of vegetable protein out there. But, again, my body is about as ectomorphic as it gets-I can put on or lose seven kilos in a week without too much difficulty-and that is in the 50-60kg weight class. So more money has to be spent to be sure I’m eating the proper foods and more than enough of them.

Or do my priorities lie in my experience?
And again, this is more than achievable in a homely setting. But here’s where the concern sinks in:
I want to spend the next three months abroad. I want to keep to a very, very strict budget in terms of my food. And I want to be as healthy as possible so as to be able to enjoy my trip as much as possible.

No matter whichever way I look at it, without turning my life into a heinously wild inconvenience in a country I don’t speak the language in, I can pick two of each of these three choices:
Low Travel Expenses.

Where do my priorities lie?
The simplest thing to do is obviously to not be vegan-this would result in optimal health and the ability to save a great deal on my food budget, since I could practically live off of tinned fish, bread and canned vegetables.

But that’s not the simplest thing. I love animals. I love them so much bro, like, you don’t even know! I could travel for a shorter period of time and eat healthy vegan styles! But then I lose out on so much experience. Not only of the food of the nations but also, I won’t be able to travel as far. I’d have to cut a few weeks out of my journey based upon budget.

And there will be very well educated vegans who will tell me that this isn’t the case. And for the majority of people-that’s true. But I’ve been to see a doctor. My body can’t support the lifestyle without having full access to a proper kitchen or finances for proper meals.

The obvious choice seems to be, “Oh, just eat less of the animal products, only eat them when you need to.” I know that I tell this to people who are trying to gradually become vegetarian or vegan all the time. And that’s wonderful that people try to do that-every little bit counts. But for me, I’d personally feel wrong half-assing it. It’s either all or nothing for me and it’s always been that way with everything I do. School, friends, love, ethics and diet-if I go for something I’m either all in or all out.

I think I have to take the logical choice…but I don’t know. Last Monday night, I sat on the steps outside my hostel, at 7am in the morning with my best friend and a pack of cigarettes after what can only be described as a very, very long night out and she held my hand while I cried over how I don’t want to stop being vegan.

First world problems huh?

To all my new followers (all what is so far today forty of you and hopefully more to come soon!), enjoy yourself! Leave as much love as you see fit! Or hate…I’d kind of rather not get the hatred but I’ll deal 🙂

Toby Fredkin

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