To my great embarrassment I get a message like this every once in a while:
This was a big mistake made on the second season of RLT, and ultimately my fault. I was up late writing the voiceover for our first Philippines episode, looking for a clever way to compare Manny Paquiao with other rags to riches boxers. Googling "Mexican boxers" I found a list which came from an obscure blog and I copied three of the names over. Unfortunately Roberto Duran, a famous Panamanian boxer, was on this list.
The mistake has been fixed for all deliveries of the show to new networks. But TLC and Discovery World HD, which airs the program from Mexico down to the Tierra Del Fuego, still run the old version with the error. I apologize to at least one Panamanian every month.
In the same season I made another gaff. We were filming in a mall in Jakarta without official permission. Security was tight. I spoke to camera, distracted by approaching guards, and said "... just like Karnak in Luxor, Egypt or Machu Picchu in Brazil..."
I'd spent 4 days hiking to Machu Picchu in Peru. I have a great memory from that time. A park ranger popped out of the dark as I was setting up a tent on Inti Punku. He told me it was forbidden to camp there. I tried to bribe him, but he refused. He told me to hike all the way down to the river. It was almost dark and the mosquitos were out in full force. I begged him to let me sleep closer. He generously offered the use of his guard shack while he worked. He woke me up in the morning, we had coffee together, and I was in Machu Picchu 2 hours before the tourists arrived.
Yet, when we filmed in this mall my brain misfired and spit out the word "Brazil" in place of "Peru." No one from the cameraman to the editors caught my mistake. Luckily I saw this error month later and we fixed it. I have not yet apologized to a Peruvian. Either the network is running the corrected episode or they are super chill about it.
There have been some mistakes in editing. I once introduced Tokyo's most urban neighborhood by saying, "This is Shinjuku!" in voiceover. Shinjuku is like Blade Runner. The editors put a shot of a rural village on the screen at that exact moment. Like two bamboo shacks in a field. To be fair they have never been to Japan and the video file was accidentally in the folder labeled "Shinjuku". This mistake was caught before the episode got on TV. However, if it did air, 99% of viewers would think I was an idiot. Only 1% would detect an editing error. This is why I went ballistic when I saw the mistake and wrote an email to the editors in all CAPS.
I am keenly aware that these kinds of errors can erode the audience's confidence in me as a host. No one wants to be misled. I pride myself on presenting ideas that inform, inspire, and occasionally challenge stagnant opinions. My goal is to create material which is accessible to the person who has never left their hometown, but I am always conscious that all of you know something I don't. I'm aware some of you are seasoned travelers, expats, or locals who are familiar with our locations like the back of your hand.
I strive for your respect, I appreciate your comments, and I am deeply grateful to those of you who follow my journeys. One day, if I meet Mr. Duran in Panama, Peru, or a rice paddy in Tokyo I'll hope to shake the hand of a boxing legend.
I woke up this morning to news from home I didn't expect. Transitioning from shock I began to comfort friends at home about the new Trump era we are about to enter. Clearly few of us knew how much anger was simmering under the lid of America.
The election is over so my first advice is this: Amor Fati. Embrace the stoic perspective of Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius and philosopher Seneca. We suffer trying to resist or deny the unchangeable. This is the new reality, we must operate within it. Let's begin with some empowering perspective.
1. The system was already corrupted: Last night, on the eve of the election, I watched the Netflix documentary 13. Moments before going to sleep I was enraged to tears for what our country has done to the African American population (and is now transitioning to do to immigrants). Bill Clinton, who I voted for, is as culpable as Nixon or Reagan. Corporate influence and the growing prison industrial complex have been running out of control. Neither candidate was poised to stop it.
2. Hillary would have likely continued hawkish policies overseas: According to a recent report the United States dropped 25,144 bombs on six countries last year. None of these bloody shenanigans have benefited the average American. Will Trump be less aggressive than Hillary? Putin seems to think so.
peaking of Putin, many countries surrounding Russia are chewing their nails over our next president's lack of defense support. However, there is a solid argument that NATO's encroachment of Russia has exacerbating the threat it was designed to contain. There has been escalating armament on both sides of Russia's borders recently. Hillary did not look to change this trend. Trump might. Let's see what happens.
3. Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better: After Rome fell the western world dropped into the Dark Ages. It was a time of fear, superstition, ignorance, and brutality. A huge step back for humanity. YUGE. It lasted almost 1,000 years. That's four times longer than the United States has existed. Then winter finally broke into a glorious spring known as the Renaissance. Science and innovation flourished like never before, leading to the modern age we all enjoy. Sometimes history takes a step back before taking an enormous step forward.
The next four years may see big regresses for certain issues I cherish. Rights for women, minorities, and the LGBT community could suffer. We don't know this for sure, but it seems likely. However, the bounce back might see growth that blows way past what the current political ceiling allows.
We now know the majority was determined to shatter the old structure by voting for an outsider. The democratic party took a miscalculated risk by backing an establishment candidate and inhibiting their alternative choice. Both parties are now crystal clear that the game has changed. For progressives this means that in the upcoming years we'll have more candidates who better represent us.
4. Progressives needed an ice-bucket wake up moment: Who would really choose anger, fear, and isolation over love, hope, and connection? Who would rather sit alone in their living room fuming at Fox News than dancing under the stars and hugging people at festival?
Negativity and division are winning the day because many people don't feel like they are invited to the love party or they don't know how to get there. That means we need to design better maps and warmer welcomes.
A small example came to my mind this morning. PLUR centered music festivals and intentional communities like Burning Man are perhaps the most transformational places on earth right now. At Lightning in a Bottle this year I heard someone refer to these things as "the new church." A church in which no one goes to hell and we can collectively raise our consciousness and vibration.
Let's look at the marketing for these events. What do you see in their media? Youth and beauty. Fantastically attractive women dancing in bizarre and erotic outfits. Statistically most of America is overweight. They dress in t-shirts and jeans. Will they feel like they would fit in to this good time?
Let's talk about ticket prices. Most cost around 300$. Burning man is 400$, but unless you have a coordinated camp you'll pay double to a hawker. Does the average red state voter have the funds to go to to a place where they are uncertain to be welcomed?
I'm a big fan of the crazy outfits and a bon vivant appreciator of beauty, but how can we get more outsiders to "come to Jesus." I have friends who aspire to be influencers in the festival scene. This is a question which now, more than ever, needs to be considered.
5. It's a call to action for doubling down in our spheres of influence: This entire presidential campaign has bled an enormous amount of my energy out. I wasted hundreds of hours looking at news, reading articles, and worrying about things that were out of my control. Now I have an opportunity to put all that energy back into my circle of influence. Anything I can affect is in the circle. Anything I can't affect is out of the circle.
Anyone who is upset about the election could do the same. Amor Fati. Don't waste one more second bemoaning things you can't control. Put every shred of vitality into what you can. Minimize time wasters like browsing nonsense websites or binge watching Netflix.
If we are going to rebound into a new Renaissance of inclusion, compassion, and understanding we need the Lockes, Newtons, and Galileos to be ready. In the next four years how can you become a better man or woman? How can you expand your circle to have a voice that reaches farther and wider? How can we communicate to those afraid of a changing world, "Don't worry. Take my hand. You will be part of this." How can we help each other to ascend?
The Japan episodes turned 5% of my hair white. I used to “act” in Japan. Tokyo was familiar turf. But, this time things were different. We were on a time crunch to wrap up the season, the production house was experiencing sticker shock with our bills, and the collision between Japanese mentality (super formal) and Road Less Traveled style (very loose) had my teeth grinding like a wheat mill.
There were no formalities as I approached a seedy host club in Kabukicho and asked to film on the spot. I shadowed a male gigolo. His main customers: ladies from the adjacent hostess club. These women spend all night lighting cigarettes, pouring drinks, and laughing at terrible jokes; then they blow all their earnings conversing with a handsome young host who can relate. I was amazed at how fast my mentor could put his audience into a spell. I could have transformed into a werewolf and she’d have payed me no attention. Unfortunately the footage came out too dark (they wouldn’t allow lights) so we had to scrap it.
There is a lot of pressure to conform in all societies, but in Japan the level is high. This must have something to do with how peaceable the country is. One can walk across the mega-city of Tokyo in the middle of the night, or get off on any subway stop, and be fine*. But there is a dark side to this conformity. A look across the long aisle of grey suits and dour faces as "salarymen" come home on the subway will make it obvious that some of these guys could be happier in another life. In fact, an alarming number end up jumping in front of the same trains that carried them to work everyday**.
I wanted to showcase Japanese who were brave enough to changed their lives and embrace their true selves. You'll see that I found perhaps the bravest in a neighborhood that confirms the expression "your vibe attracts your tribe."
If we vibrate on an inauthentic frequency (in an effort to conform), we’ll never meet the friends and lovers who would truly understand us. There’s a palpable optimism around people who are resonating honesty because they’ve found their clan.
I'm excited to share this inside look into Tokyo with you, full of phantom samurais, extreme nerd culture, spooky robots, and compelling ideas taking power in real lives.
* Not only are you physically unthreatened, but your possessions are safe as well. I've seen plenty of Japanese set their cell phones or purses on a table to save it, and then walk around a corner to order. Japanese are known to bring cash found on the sidewalk to the police station. The one exception is the neighborhood of Roppongi where foreigners go to drink. Don't leave your purse on a table in Roppongi.
** There have been some clever measures taken to prevent people from jumping, some of which you'll see in the episode.
Watch this episode on the Travel Channel this Saturday at 9PM
I'm Jonathan Legg
The road has been my greatest teacher.. challenging stagnant beliefs, disarming prejudices, and developing understanding of others. I hope the content on this blog will bring a sliver of that juju to you.