WORDS AND PHOTOS: Chas Smith
Editor’s note: Chas Smith is currently writing a terrifically entertaining series for our ultra rad friends at Oyster Magazine called War Dandy. He is traveling to dangerous places regularly. He leaves his surfboards at home, but he brings every bit of Chas Smith with him. You should read it today and look up all the words and fashions you don’t understand. We always do. And below, taken from What Youth Issue 7, Chas teaches us how to prepare for this type of travel and how to do it with charisma and style. —Travis
Men have been going off to war for, like, ever. Usually they are told what to wear and how to act because they are in the military and hut hut hutting in khaki green. But, a lucky few actually choose to go off to war and they get to wear whatever they desire. They get to act however they want. They are war journalists.
Now, limitless possibility carries its own sort of curse. When allowed to choose between anything and everything, most war journalists choose poorly. They pair cargo pants with flak jackets and a ham-fisted ideology. Boring! We live in the future and it is time for the enterprising youth to go watch war differently. Here’s how.
Mindset: Be very excited. Bombs are dropping. The world is ending. It will be a thrilling ride, whichever way the tide turns. Of course, precaution must be taken but don’t let precaution drain the fun.
Playlist: For me, it is only ever pop 40. Have you heard John Mayer’s Paper Doll? So sublime! But I will also twist in some stealthy growers like Mr. Little Jeans and jj. Mood elevators. War is not the time for a Morrissey binge. It is time to feel warm and sexy or at least warm and sexy in your ears.
How to act on the plane: The flight to war is always impossibly long. Local airports are usually inaccessible/bombed/bummed. And so circuitous routes must be taken through Moscow, Mexico City, Madrid. Dress comfortably but rad. A suit is surprisingly comfortable and its many pockets prove invaluable for multiple currencies. A suit is rad if it fits. Do not ever wear a vest that has many pockets. Read fabulous war novels and get in the mood. Rudyard Kipling is fine and so is Evelyn Waugh. Both had fun in war.
How to act when you land: You will be so totally tired because you have just flown through Moscow, Mexico City and Madrid but do not let the jet lag sink in. Play through. Do you have a car waiting for you on the ground? Is the war happening near or far? Where is your hotel? Find the pieces of your puzzle and move to secure them. Don’t wait for others to do for you. Do for yourself. The hotel is so essential because if you pick the right one its bar will be scene of many late night journalisty discussions. You’ll want to be there to hear them and to drink whiskey while you are hearing them. Really, you should act excited but also nonplussed. Being over-eager is always ill-advised.
When to go big and when to go small: Covering war is as much of a game as the war itself. Putting yourself on the frontlines while Molotov cocktails are whizzing by may be adrenaline city but is it worth it? Sometimes yes. In Kiev they have bad aim and so you could stand up near the barricades and not get doused in flame. In Venezuela they have very good aim. Many Venezuelans are pitchers in American baseball. And so it is not the best use of resources. Maybe stand in the back where salsa dancers are boogieing and denouncing governmental austerity. In Cairo it is even money that either bad or good things will happen no matter where you stand so just do what feels good.
There is a time to really get the story and a time for the story to come to you. Feel the war vibes and respond appropriately.
What to do when it goes bad: Do not panic. It has gone bad. Panic will not help it get any better. Simply ride the waves and hope for the best.
What to tell your family before you leave: Tell them not to worry. Playing John Wayne tough guy in front of worried parents, siblings and lovers is just plain rude. Tell them that ain’t nothing going to happen to you, that you are not a target, that you need to get the story so the world can be appraised and things. Tell them whatever needs be told so worry vanishes.
What to tell everyone when you come home: Tell everyone that you have just been to war and that you are fabulous.