This Batman Life was conceived on my back porch over a cup of coffee and a healthy desire to be anywhere other than where I was. I'm a lifelong Tennesseean and at nearly thirty-one years old, I decided it was time to do something bold and exciting before I really felt like I was too old to do so. I'd always been keen on the idea of taking a road trip across the country, but I didn't want this project to be your typical road book. So I started thinking about the thing that inspires me the most, and that thing is certainly Batman. For years I've wanted to explore things like meditation, martial arts, survival training, all while getting myself healthier both mentally and physically. I figured there was no better prism through which to do it than Batman. So armed with a healthy love of all things Wayne and a Sal Paradise-sized desire to wander, I launched this project.
This Batman Life is at it's heart a blog, but I intend to make it a lot more interesting than words on a page. The site will be a truly interactive multimedia experience, with blog updates, photographs from the road and video of my various experiences. A documentary for the weblog crowd, a journey through America in the heart of the cloud.
So where will I be traveling?
Chicago for training in the ancient arts of combat and meditation.
Philadelphia for community service and advocacy.
Nashville for the down and dirty business of being a private detective.
California for training in the art of wilderness survival.
As well as detours all across the nation!
The project kicks off in Chicago, where I'll be studying the traditions of Eastern philosophy and meditation from various sources in the vibrant Asian community there. I'll also use this time to study various martial arts (as the Dark Knight is the master of them all), including Aikido (http://www.shinjinkai.org/), Wushu (http://www.chicagowushu.com/) and English Pugilism (http://chicagoboxingclub.com/). The hope is to diversify not only the skills I'm learning but also my experience among the community. Batman is nothing if not a hero of the people and this aspect of the character is integral to my project. I won't just be learning these skills from these people as another face in the crowd, but instead engaging them and learning as much as I can about what drives them to serve their community in this way. Every gym at which I train, every temple at which I learn will be thoroughly documented through photographs, video and interviews with the proprietors and the people with whom I train. A truly immersive experience not only for myself, but for the reader as well.
I mentioned above about making myself available to the community and I intend to do that. To honor Batman's desire to protect and give back to his city and to honor the philanthropy credited to his parents Thomas and Martha Wayne, I'll be engaging in many volunteer activities around the city. Not limiting myself to just volunteering for various charities, I intend to also take classes to become an accredited volunteer able to help in organizations that advocate on behalf of people who have been victims of crime (http://www.avpphila.org/). I harbor no illusions about the legality or practicality of donning a suit of light kevlar and a mask and going into the streets to fight crime. So when it comes to "fighting crime" I want to do as much as I can to support and give back to the communities in which I am staying.
Let's not discount the value of detective work to a young Bruce Wayne, either. The Batman originally began his war against crime in Detective Comics and is a character that shares as much similarity with Sherlock Holmes as The Shadow. To ignore this aspect of the character would belie a fundamental misunderstanding of the character, and therefore I intend to shadow a private detective while they work in an effort to learn the basic components to solving crime. For this portion of the project I'll return home to Tennessee, where I will ride along with a private detective on a few cases and document the experience as we go along.
The last key aspect of the Batman is his ability to survive in every environment, his ability to always be prepared regardless of the situation. To illustrate this aspect of the character I'll be learning the French martial art of Parkour, often referred to as "freestyle running," from a gym in DC (http://primal-fitness.com/) in an effort to learn to utilize and adapt to an urban environment. But Batman doesn't always stay home in Gotham, so to ensure that I'm also able to tackle any problems that might arise while in the field, I'll be doing field survival training from the most well respected survival training school in America, the Survival Training School of California. (http://www.californiasurvivaltraining.com/)
A project this long and this arduous deserves a good party, and that's exactly what I intend to give people at the end. For anyone that donates, there will be an invitation issued to a gala event to be held in my hometown of Nashville, TN, a true black tie party worthy of Bruce Wayne. And in Bruce Wayne fashion, yours truly will host the event in full tuxedo and my best smarmy smile.
These are the high points, but throughout the project I'll also be taking side trips to experience some of the simpler and more fun aspects of learning to be a superhero. These trips will include things like a zip line course in Tennessee, costuming in NYC and even volunteering at a bat sanctuary.
Clearly one cannot attempt to be Batman without financial backing. Sure, I'd love to have a billion dollars, but this is the real world so I'll settle for $5,000.00 While I should be able to hold down some part time work, the fact of the matter is this project will take up a large amount of my time. I will be able to stay for free in most of the cities I'm visiting, but all of the classes, all of the travel and all of the equipment will be up to me. I'm therefore asking for an amount I believe will help me cover the cost of travel between cities, introductory classes and any tech I might need on my journey. Hopefully I'll be able to buttress your support with the kindness of strangers on the road. I know it won't be easy, but aspiring to be more like comics' most enduring icon shouldn't be.