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7| Navy Intelligence & Blackwater Operative / Hyperlocal AgTech Expert Richard Brion

7| Navy Intelligence & Blackwater Operative / Hyperlocal AgTech Expert Richard Brion
Half the City

 
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Richard “Red” Brion is essentially an American ronin: a samurai without a master.

Red has spent years in Navy intelligence, serving in Iraq, and years with Blackwater doing some crazy shit in Japan and Afghanistan. He’s done quite a bit in Africa as well. And he’s recently made the move over the last couple of years, taking his skills and experience from masterless warrior to hyperlocal, urban agriculture.
As founder and CEO of Revolution Agriculture, Red is tackling the Global Food Security Problem through technology-enabled food production and land optimization. They have patented a system that makes it possible to grow virtually any crop, anywhere.

Show Notes

Revolution Agriculture

Follow Red on LinkedIn

Theme music by: Ruel Morales

Brian Schoenborn  0:01  

Hello, Hello, everyone. Welcome friends. Our guest today is like an American ronin, which is essentially a samurai without a master. Red here has spent a lot of time in the Navy serving in Iraq over there. He has spent years with Blackwater, doing some crazy shit in Japan and Afghanistan and stuff like that. He’s done quite a bit in Africa as well. And he’s recently made the move, over the last couple of years, he’s made the move from masterless warrior into hyperlocal, urban agriculture. Give it up for my friend, Richard Brian.

 

Brian Schoenborn  0:52  

My name is Brian Schoenborn. I am an explorer of people, places, and culture. In my travels, spanning over 20 countries across four continents, I’ve had the pleasure of engaging in authentic conversations with amazingly interesting people. These are their stories, on location and unfiltered. Presented by 8B Media, this is Half the City.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:21  

This is fucking low-fi bro. It’s just a couple of microphones in a goddamn recording studio, not even a studio. This is a makeshift this is this is a this is a private couch-filled office in a WeWork. There’s nothing more to it. microphones Adobe Audition. I’m not going to tell you any more about that. But that’s pretty much it.

 

Richard Brion  1:48  

I mean, it could be worse. We could we could be in a coffee shop trying to do this. It does happen. Yeah.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:53  

Let me get that a litte closer.

 

Richard Brion  1:54  

Oh, getting up close and personal, now are we?

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:57  

Yeah, I mean, you want to keep it about a fist. You know just just like captures, you want to fist it.

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:04  

I’m greasing the gears right now.

 

Richard Brion  2:10  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:13  

So Richard, Red. I’m going to call you Red because we know. 

 

Richard Brion  2:18  

Yeah make sense. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:19  

We know the siutation. 

 

Richard Brion  2:19  

I’m a ginger bastard anyway.

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:21  

This guy’s fucking beard matches his grape.

 

Richard Brion  2:26  

Yeah pretty much there’s, I was watching this thing the other day where…he’s a YouTube star and he was making fun of the fact that he doesn’t tan and he’s like I just go from white to red and he’s like, is tan the color after red because I never seem to get that far. Well, yeah, that’s about the size of it when it comes to my head so

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:46  

I don’t think I’ve ever seen you not red. 

 

Richard Brion  2:48  

Yeah. The name fits. What can you What can I say? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:54  

So dude, let’s let’s get into it a little bit. Um, you you were telling me the other day that you just came back from a couple of backpacking trips right?

 

Richard Brion  3:03  

Yeah, here in Washington State.

 

Brian Schoenborn  3:05  

Tell me about that. I want to hear about this. And then I want to go into that other stuff. Like, this is the most recent shit. So let’s hear about this.

 

Richard Brion  3:11  

Yeah. So it was just a, there’re backpacking trips in an area and then Alpine lakes wilderness here in Washington, you have to have a permit for, it’s a lottery permit. And you get to spend, you know, between a couple of days and up near two weeks out there just kind of packing around seeing these really awesome Alpine lakes that, you know, are pretty much untouched and fairly pristine. The mountain goats are super aggressive up there. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  3:37  

Really?

 

Richard Brion  3:37  

It’s actually kind of funny. Yeah, they, they, for whatever reason, there’s not a lot of naturally occurring salt and they’re addicted to salt. So humans urinate, goats come and try to get the salt out of it. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  3:50  

So they’re drinking pee?

 

Richard Brion  3:51  

Yeah, basically. So they asked you to like…

 

Brian Schoenborn  3:54  

They’re like fucking Bear Grylls! In animal form.

 

Richard Brion  3:58  

So basically, they they asked you to, you know, urinate on the rocks because it makes it so when the goats go after it, they don’t decimate the plant life and everything else. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  4:06  

So they encourage you to pee on the rocks?

 

Richard Brion  4:08  

Yes, so that it doesn’t. So that way the goats don’t end up tearing everything up. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  4:12  

Nice.

 

Richard Brion  4:12  

But the funny thing is, is that goats have gotten so used to it that they’re actually become a little bit aggressive about it trying to get as close to

 

Brian Schoenborn  4:17  

They’re like, “Give me your pee!”

 

Richard Brion  4:19  

Pretty much

 

Brian Schoenborn  4:21  

Like a fucking crackhead, they’re like “I will suck your dick for some pee!”

 

Richard Brion  4:25  

So basically, there was a there was a couple of there was a couple of girls in the group that kind of actually almost got like chased down for it. It was pretty funny. I in the morning, you just even trying to just go check out one of the lakes and a waterfall just to take pictures, and you look up and there’s a goat they’re like, “are you gonna pee?” Like, you’re like, “wait a minute.”

 

Brian Schoenborn  4:46  

They’re like giving you the look.

 

Richard Brion  4:48  

Yeah, and they follow you down there and they basically like oddly feels like they’ve got you pinned up against this rock face. Like, either you pee or I knock you off the cliff but I mean, outside of that it was pretty awesome. We got to see a deer right up close, it really didn’t care too much that we were around. And then on the way down from the second trip as well, there was a pretty sizable buck that basically was just standing there staring at us, like “what’s up people?” 

 

Richard Brion  5:18  

So they kind of get up there this it’s odd, they’re still pristine, they still come around, but then they’re getting used to humans enough and as we’re not being too much of a threat that they kind of just leave you alone. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  5:28  

Huh, nice.

 

Richard Brion  5:29  

And then of course, we had one of my friends that I grew up with since the time we were like 10. He came out with us, and he ended up leaving his tent open just a smidge and a little field mouse came in. And he’s not really afraid of much but he screams like a girl when a mouse gets in his tent. And that’s not to say a bad thing about screaming like a girl but it when he’s got a voice that isn’t well suited for that falsetto scream. So when I’m when I’m saying scream like a girl it’s more it’s this high pitch sound that he makes that isn’t within his normal vocal vocal range so it’s pretty interesting. 

 

Richard Brion  6:10  

Woke us up, and, you know, but the the lakes are amazing we got to see some peaks of mountains and stuff or ranges and then we got to see some crazy people actually doing some approaches and some straight up rock climbs on what’s called Prusick. So yeah, it was it was a good time lots of cool stuff to see you gotta you know kind of clear out, not have to pay attention and one thing: the water taste better. Even though you have to filter it it really tastes better. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  6:38  

I bet, man.

 

Richard Brion  6:39  

And it’s so cold which is so awesome. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  6:42  

Really. It’s that’s that fresh mountain water.

 

Richard Brion  6:44  

Yeah, it’s all most of its all glacier or snow base filled and there’s still snow up there. Oddly enough at the tail end or the middle of July in Washington state in the North Cascades. So yeah, we got to do a little snow sliding. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  6:58  

Nice. 

 

Richard Brion  6:58  

Yeah. In order to get is a little bit faster and more fun. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  7:02  

Nice. So so for people listening, we’re currently in Seattle. And in case you haven’t realized it at this point, this show is pretty fucking mobile. You know, I gotta make sure that you guys know that where we are right now. So we had so you have some reference, right? It’s maybe some imagination is to like, Look, you know, Seattle is fucking surrounded by god damn mountains

 

Richard Brion  7:25  

and water.

 

Brian Schoenborn  7:26  

And water. Exactly. And there’s so much water so much mountains the Alpines like you’re talking about the Cascades

 

Richard Brion  7:32  

and for those of you East coasters you don’t know mountains till you’ve been here. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  7:35  

Dude.

 

Richard Brion  7:36  

The Appalachians are hills. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  7:38  

I remember when I was in when I was in Boston, people were like, “Oh we’re gonna go to Killington in Vermont,” and I like check it out. It’s like fucking ice. Like they’re they’re black diamonds are like bunny hill. 

 

Richard Brion  7:49  

Yeah.

 

Brian Schoenborn  7:51  

Like Okay, alright buddy, check out why don’t why do you come by Colorado sometime or check out Seattle or Tahoe or you know, Big Bear. 

 

Richard Brion  8:00  

See some actual…see some actual mountains.

 

Brian Schoenborn  8:03  

I only went skiing once, and the one time it was at Breckenridge. And my buddy who is like his big time snowboarder, and his, his brother-in-law’s a professional snowboarder and snowboard instructor and shit, and he’s like, “Here, have some fucking skis”, and he takes me down the blues first. I don’t even know what the fuck I’m doing, dude.

 

Brian Schoenborn  8:22  

It was a…it was it was intimidating. Let’s put it that way. I mean, I did it. 

 

Richard Brion  8:27  

I don’t know about you. But that’s sort of how I learned how to swim. It was just 

 

Brian Schoenborn  8:30  

Really? They just fucking threw you in there?

 

Richard Brion  8:32  

Yeah, here’s here’s a lake just you’re getting tossed out of the boat. You’ll figure it out or you don’t I mean, sometimes especially the warm things. Sometimes it doesn’t work out so well.

 

Brian Schoenborn  8:41  

I just remember the first time I went down, like, I got off the ski lift and I didn’t know how to stand up. So like, so like, I’m like crouching with my ass is almost touching the fucking snow. And I’m still moving forward, and I’m like, “Oh shit!”

 

Richard Brion  8:54  

I’m already moving. I’m not even standing.

 

Brian Schoenborn  8:58  

I was going down the hill here. And I’m like not far from the ski live like I’m like I could see it in the distance I can see people like going up, and I fell and my both skis fell off my feet. Right? And like, I tried to stand up to go after the skis and I fucking sunk like waist deep in the god damned snow.

 

Richard Brion  9:17  

Post hold on that. That’s awesome. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  9:19  

People are looking at me. from above, they’re going, “Hey! You okay?” I’m just like, “Leave me alone in my fucking misery.”

 

Richard Brion  9:25  

I’ll just slide down. I’ll just I’ll just get on my stomach and slide down. That’s That’s hilarious. But no, yes. So the to get into this path. To get up into this part of the mountains though. It’s a step you have to earn it. It’s about six miles from the trailhead to the top but the last mile, you end up or it’s point nine of a mile you end up taking on something in the neighborhood of like 2000 feet of elevation.

 

Brian Schoenborn  9:56  

That’s pretty intense, dude.

 

Richard Brion  9:58  

Yeah, it was it. was definitely pretty interesting. It took us I there’s a few different there’s three little pockets of our group. The first guy took longer to eat lunch at the bottom than it did to get up, for him to walk up it but. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  10:13  

Really? 

 

Richard Brion  10:13  

Then again he’s a former Marine. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  10:15  

So he’s like a mountain goat basically.

 

Richard Brion  10:16  

Yeah he’s a former Marine mountain goat and spend time in Iraq, and yeah he basically did it in if not two hours, or if it took him the full two hours it was somewhere hour 45, two hours. We were a little behind him took us about two hours and 45 and then the the the stragglers in our group still did pretty good. They did it just over three hours. Just for that point nine miles and we’re talking point nine of a mile that’s not even that far. And it took you know, nearly three hours. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  10:45  

Three hours, like that’s crazy, dude. 

 

Richard Brion  10:47  

Yeah, it moves up. I forget what the pitch ends up being but you’re definitely doing for every foot forward. you’re definitely doing some feet up. So and it definitely burns out the quads. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  10:58  

Oh for sure, dude. That reminds me of…

 

Richard Brion  11:00  

…especially carrying 50 pounds.

 

Brian Schoenborn  11:02  

Right. I mean that well, that reminds me when I was in Beijing, me and three of my friends. We went camping on the Great Wall. And so so my buddy Yo, shout out to Josef. He’s in Hong Kong right now. But he’s, he’s, uh, yeah, he actually hiked the great wall like 40 something times. He recently scaled. He recently did Mount Everest base camp, and he did it without a fucking Sherpa. Like he mapped it out himself and like, he’s, this dude’s a fucking hiker, dude, let’s put it that way. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  11:34  

But he mapped out this stretch of the wall because you know, it’s technically illegal to camp on the Great Wall. So we found the stretch because, you know, it’s 3000 miles long or whatever it is. So there’s parts that are like unrestored, you know, not a lot of people go to. 

 

Richard Brion  11:48  

You get too far out and yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  11:50  

And he mapped out the stretch, which was crazy. It was like rubble, dude. So for anybody that’s if you haven’t If you don’t know much about the Great Wall if you haven’t been there, it’s 3000 miles but it’s along a mountain spine. It’s like a lot like on the ridge. Right? So like, when we get to the stretch not only was there like no parking area, you know, it was just fucking out in the boonies, right. But, you know, we stayed the night so we had our backpacks full of food and water and all that other stuff. And I swear to God, the first 45 minutes was like scrambling like hand and feet up this mountain ridge. Just to get to the wall, dude.

 

Richard Brion  12:32  

Yeah, I mean, you’d have to, based on where they are, Geographically where it is. There is a mountain range and between Mongolia and China, so. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  12:41  

I mean, that’s why they built the Wall. To keep the goddamn Mongolians out.

 

Richard Brion  12:44  

Yeah. And they worked for a long time. But they figured it out.

 

Brian Schoenborn  12:51  

They did.

 

Richard Brion  12:55  

Ask the Khans. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  12:56  

Exactly. Well, I think they built it to keep the Khans out. 

 

Richard Brion  13:00  

Yeah I’m pretty sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  13:01  

I mean, Gengis and all the you know, I think Kublai Khan might have might have figured it out but 

 

Richard Brion  13:06  

I can’t remember if it was coupla or it might have been cool i’d figured it out but

 

Brian Schoenborn  13:10  

but it was you know was an ordeal but it was you know that was kind of cool like as an aside like that was kind of cool to like, you know, be in this area like like the tourist areas of the Great Wall is like full of people.

 

Richard Brion  13:23  

Oh, yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  13:23  

Right? I mean, they were restored in the last like 30 years it’s all like new looking brick and shit like that. But just like it’s like… 

 

Richard Brion  13:29  

easy to get to take good photos. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  13:32  

So like, like in, in Chinese and Chinese slang, they ren shan ren hai, which means people mountain people sea, which is just like fucking people everywhere. Kind of like, Well, you know, when you’re when you’re at a sports game, or a concert and you’re leaving, you know, kind of like that. But like, all day, every day. 

 

Richard Brion  13:49  

Yeah. Tokyo’s pretty much that way all day every day.

 

Brian Schoenborn  13:53  

But Tokyo people have this sense of common courtesy.

 

Richard Brion  13:58  

Oh, of course. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  13:58  

So it’s a little bit different. 

 

Richard Brion  14:00  

I mean, there’s just a ton of people everywhere. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  14:02  

I love China. I love Beijing. Don’t get me wrong, but there’s, you know, there’s some they’ve got some room to grow in terms of stuff like that. 

 

Richard Brion  14:11  

Yeah, but there’s not a culture on the planet that doesn’t. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  14:13  

Of course. Um, but so the point being was that that long winded thing, like the point being is that we found the stretch where we didn’t see a single other person for a day and a half, dude. On the Great Wall. Right, like, that’s crazy. So yeah, so I can relate, in a sense, and I know, like being in the middle of nowhere, and

 

Richard Brion  14:35  

Actually, it’s quite nice. It really is. I was talking to another person about it a couple weeks ago that it can be one of those temporary transformative things where the world is getting to you you’re looking for a reset on everything. Some people think that you need a near death experience to really kind of set your course or to end up really influencing your life now, something like that. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  14:58  

Sometimes you just need to be like out in the middle of nowhere, like Like, for example, I like I really enjoy stand up paddleboarding. And I like it, you know, for the workout, of course, but like what I really like about it is I can be 100 yards out from the beach, but I’m miles away from anybody. 

 

Richard Brion  15:15  

Yeah,

 

Brian Schoenborn  15:16  

You know? 

 

Richard Brion  15:17  

It can be that simple. But yeah, so you don’t have to you don’t have to go so crazy and do you know, 30 miles and four days in order to really kind of get it, but it can be anything for some people. I mean, I’ve got a friend that does it in music. He goes out to his garage, and it basically changes his life for a while. Yeah. Until the people creep back. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  15:38  

Yeah, exactly. That sounds really cool. That’s so So tell me a little bit about like, let’s go back. I want to go back back back back back. Like, you know, talk about your Navy stuff. Talk about your Blackwater shit, because, you know, even with those backpacking stuff, like there’s, there’s stuff that’s like, I’m sure there’s stuff that you took from there that’s still relevant to this sort of thing, right.

 

Richard Brion  15:57  

Yeah. I mean, moreso the Blackwater days in the post military contractor days, did a lot more trampling around in the mountains, places like Afghanistan, which oddly enough: Afghanistan and New Mexico sorry New Mexico but I mean, you’re just the Afghanistan in the United States. Geographically, it’s pretty much the same the way the structure…

 

Brian Schoenborn  16:21  

Shout out to New Mexico. 

 

Richard Brion  16:22  

Yeah, the way the the structure of the cities are set up. It’s actually oddly similar. You’ve got the Albuquerque to Santa Fe, which is pretty much your Kabul to Bagram kind of thing. And then you go up into the Taos mountains in New Mexico and that’s like heading up towards the Salong Pass of Afghanistan. Looks pretty much the same. Probably a good reason that Jarhead the movie was filmed actually in Albuquerque. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  16:44  

Was it? 

 

Richard Brion  16:44  

Yeah, so there, there’s a whole lot to it and I guess I shouldn’t shout so badly in this microphone before I start creating some feedback.

 

Brian Schoenborn  16:51  

Oh, you can shout all you want, dude. It’s all good.

 

Richard Brion  16:52  

It sounded like I was getting a little bit of reverb. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  16:55  

If you see it turning red. That’s when you know that you’re saying too much.

 

Richard Brion  16:58  

That I’m saying too much? Or too loud?

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:03  

Pack it up.

 

Richard Brion  17:06  

It’s the Supreme, the Supreme Court light. You’re green, you’re good yellow starts to run out of time you hit red. Nope. Stop talking. Oh, yeah. So I mean, Afghanistan, I learned quite a bit about being able to carry weight through mountainous terrain and whatnot. And one of the things you learn that’s interesting is when you’re going downhill, is foot placement can be incredibly important in terms of how you do it and the heel stomp activity that most people don’t do…only when they’re in snow, it actually helps out quite a bit.

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:38  

What is this heel stomp activity?

 

Richard Brion  17:38  

So we have a tendency to walk heel, toe, heel toe, or when we’re going downhill or runners do they go more to a mid strike toward their foot is. But if you actually kind of lean back, stand straight up when you got weight and you kind of straighten your leg and then drop your heel first, solidly into the loose terrain. Whether that’s sand or snow and then you kind of cant, you kind of cant your feet outward almost like you’re doing a kind of like a military salute stance. You get that 45 degree angle. You just set your feet…

 

Brian Schoenborn  17:50  

Yeah, heels together. Feet slightly apart, toes slightly apart.

 

Richard Brion  18:17  

Yeah. And then just kind of step each one at a time that way and it makes for good solid footing when you’re not and you can move pretty quick downhill that way. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  18:26  

That’s interesting, like 

 

Richard Brion  18:27  

I learned it from…oddly enough, I learned it from the Afghans. I grew up around mountains, and it’s not something I’ve ever done. And I see them run down these steep sandy faces and I’m like, “Wait a minute, how did you do that?” They’re like, “Oh, you know, we know how to do it.”

 

Brian Schoenborn  18:43  

So that reminds me of this. This time I did. I did a three day, two night homestay in northern Vietnam, like Sapa Valley, the foothills of the Himalayas, right? 

 

Richard Brion  18:55  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  18:55  

Um, I was in good cycling shape at that point. So like my legs were strong or whatever. But like, I my guide was this lady she was like, I don’t know, probably 30 something, 30 ish. But like, fucking four feet tall. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  19:09  

She’s tiny you know, minority minority village person, that sort of thing. And she wore these like, these sandals these cheap ass plastic sandals with just that wide band that goes across. It’s not a thong, it’s anything like that. And holy shit dude, she just boo boo boo boo boo boo boo boo up and down up and down, like no no beaten path, right like we’re going up and down these Himalayan the foothills, right? 

 

Richard Brion  19:37  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  19:37  

Just going up and down and stuff like mud path and you know and she’s just flying dude. And like so I took it upon myself like, “I gotta keep up at her.” Point of pride.

 

Richard Brion  19:47  

Spoken like a true marine. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  19:49  

Exactly.

 

Richard Brion  19:53  

That reminds me I one time in Thailand, you know they they’ve got the little Muay Thai boxers. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  20:00  

Oh sure. Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  20:01  

They always have to tell the Marines when you come into port don’t get in. Don’t Don’t do it. Don’t do it. Sure enough, there’s always a marine. It’s like, I can try this. And this dude, you know, the funniest ones are when they’re like, 14, 15 year old kids and they think that it’s they think that Oh, I’m a big bad marine that the Marine Corps trained me and then… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  20:19  

This guy looks scrawny. 

 

Richard Brion  20:20  

Yeah, within seconds they get their ass whooped by this little, four foot tall 85 pound Thai kid that yeah, he’s just tough as nails, but spoken like a true marine I got taken upon myself to keep up with him.

 

Richard Brion  20:35  

The few, the proud All right. Well, unfortunately isn’t it isn’t an old biblical proverb that says pride cometh before the fall?

 

Brian Schoenborn  20:35  

Right? It’s a point of pride man. That’s how we roll. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  20:48  

There it is. Spoken like a true squid.

 

Richard Brion  20:57  

We, yeah, we some of us, we try to we try to finesse it a little bit rather than just brute force everything. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  21:03  

Grace, fall gracefully.

 

Richard Brion  21:04  

Yes. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  21:05  

Tell me a little bit more about this Afghanistan stuff. So this was in your in this wasn’t we were working with Blackwater or was this the Navy?

 

Richard Brion  21:10  

So I was doing I was

 

Brian Schoenborn  21:13  

like, what timeframe was this?

 

Richard Brion  21:14  

So this is like, when was that? It was like 2004 or five ish. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  21:21  

Okay, so that’s likely the heat of Afghanistan. 

 

Richard Brion  21:25  

I was at Well, it was in a weird it was in a weird transition like right at the beginning. It was on that transitioning period from still being really hot in everywhere to where then Kabul and some of the other places, Bagram and whatnot. Even parts of Nangahar and whatnot. It kind of settled down to kind of an equilibrium for quite some time. We were able to go… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  21:48  

Was this before or after they put Karzai in power? 

 

Richard Brion  21:52  

This was during Karzai. Karzai been in for a couple of years by this point, I think or at least or at least a year. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:00  

I’m just trying to refresh memory cuz, you know, like I was active during 911. Right? I didn’t serve obviously. But I mean, I didn’t go over there for reasons out of my control. But, you know, my unit was a first to go Iraq, right? 

 

Richard Brion  22:07  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:11  

But it was Afghanistan first so it was 911, Afghanistan, and then for whatever reason, they said, Hey, we gotta go to Iraq too, which was bullshit. But that’s a whole nother thing.

 

Richard Brion  22:23  

Were you first Marines?

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:24  

My my unit was 3/1.

 

Richard Brion  22:26  

3/1? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:27  

Third Battalion, First Marines. We were I MEF. We fought in Fallujah.

 

Richard Brion  22:31  

Yeah. My uh… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:32  

We were the first battle in Fallujah. 

 

Richard Brion  22:33  

My buddy that’s a border patrol. He was in Afghanistan at the time, before I met him. He was active duty Marine for 3/1. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:42  

No shit? 

 

Richard Brion  22:43  

Yeah, he was a …

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:44  

Do you know what company he was in? 

 

Richard Brion  22:46  

311. I want to say.

 

Brian Schoenborn  22:48  

Well, no, it’s no No, no, no, no, no, it’s three one and then the. So I was weapons company. Yeah, but it was like Lima, India and Kilo. 

 

Richard Brion  22:57  

I would have done what I would have to ask him. But

 

Brian Schoenborn  23:00  

Lima, India, Kilo and Weapons Company. I was in Weapons Company. Was he rifle man or was he a weapons guy?

 

Richard Brion  23:02  

He was. He was infantry straight up grant. He was. He was the 

 

Brian Schoenborn  23:06  

0311?

 

Richard Brion  23:07  

Yeah, he was 0311. He was he was the sergeant for his platoon. The actual, the Soldier of Fortune magazine actually, at one point there was a photo taken. So he was the Marine Sergeant that was actually tasked with doing the Marcus Luttrell recovery after, and the interesting story was we were in the same place basically at the same time didn’t know each other yet. So it was with Blackwater. We were in Kabul.

 

Brian Schoenborn  23:34  

We might have even been in boot camp together. That’s weird. That’s fucking me up.

 

Richard Brion  23:38  

He’s younger Yeah, I think he’s younger but um, so he he’s closer. But yeah, so anyway, so

 

Brian Schoenborn  23:46  

So 3/1 didn’t, we were not in Afghanistan. The unit that went to Afghanistan before like the first ones in was 1/5.

 

Richard Brion  23:54  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  23:54  

First Battalion, fifth Marines. 

 

Richard Brion  23:55  

I had them backwards. They were also saying it was 1/5 was Iraq and 3/1 was Afghanistan.

 

Brian Schoenborn  24:00  

They were also based in Camp Pendleton. They were near us. So I was in Camp Horno, which is kind of the it’s like the coastal kind of North ish area. One five was right at the border of the base. I hope I’m not giving away government secrets, sorry, government. But ish ish, you know, but kind of kind of kind of at the, you know, kind of near the border between, you know, between San Diego and Orange County.

 

Richard Brion  24:26  

Yeah. And, but to funny, the interesting thing was is so during the whole Lone Survivor incident, I was in Kabul with Blackwater and a bunch of the Blackwater team were were former SEALs that were actually good friends with a lot of those guys. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  24:44  

Oh shit, man. 

 

Richard Brion  24:45  

So when it went down twice, we actually were planning, sending taking a helicopter down and Nangahar and getting out towards that area and jumping into the recovery mission until there was a… at first it we were having the green line and somebody decided was probably not the right idea to have private contractors handling that kind of thing. 

 

Richard Brion  25:05  

So, so my buddy, because helicopters and air support was off limits because of the two helicopters getting shot down. So he was the sergeant that led the platoon on foot to go in, and they got ambushed. And then during the ambush, I don’t know, I still don’t know. And I’m not sure even he knows how the photograph was taken. But it ended up becoming one of the Marine Corps coins as well. There’s a picture of Marines squatting down behind a rock: one with a with a rifle aimed, the other one making a phone call. And that photo made Soldier of Fortune and it was also made a Marine Corps coin and my buddy’s that sergeant, is one of those two guys that are memorialized in that coin. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  25:45  

That’s crazy, dude. 

 

Richard Brion  25:46  

Then he ended up becoming a contractor, working with me in Blackwater in Japan, then we went to Iraq together with another contracting company and…

 

Brian Schoenborn  25:52  

So so for late for so the listeners out there, let me let me let me explain what a private contractor for Blackwater is in terms of you can understand. He’s a fucking mercenary. Right? I mean paid, you know you’re for-hire security services in some of the most dangerous parts of the world. Does that sound…is that fair? Is that accurate?

 

Richard Brion  26:15  

Yeah, pretty much.

 

Brian Schoenborn  26:16  

He’s just like, “Yeah whatever, you know, it’s all in a day’s work.”

 

Richard Brion  26:20  

Well, I mean it. So it’s a perspective thing.

 

Brian Schoenborn  26:23  

Yeah, for sure. Of course. 

 

Richard Brion  26:24  

So I sit down and I watched the show the Deadliest Catch from time to time you know, like, crazy assed crab fisherman and I think that is the craziest… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  26:31  

That’s a crazy fucking job but that also pays well,

 

Richard Brion  26:33  

Well, of course it does. and…

 

Brian Schoenborn  26:35  

it was like six months and they make like six figures in six like,

 

Richard Brion  26:38  

Yeah, of course. But to me, I think that it’s crazy. It’s a crazy ass job. Now, a good chunk of those guys would think that what I was doing back in the day, as a contractor with Blackwater and all this stuff was crazy stupid. And I mean, when you think about it, there’s some there’s some dumb things and we called it delayed death a little bit as you’re dead being there. It’s just a matter of if your card got called what while you’re actually in country or not, but It’s perspective. 

 

Richard Brion  27:01  

You know, for me, those those Deadliest Catch people were way crazier than I was doing. But then again, it’s because I was doing a job that I was well trained to do and well equipped for. 

 

Richard Brion  27:11  

And I knew my equipment no different than an electrician knows his pliers and his wire strippers and everything else no different than a crab fisherman knows his nets in gear. For me, I always thought the distinction was is that humans are a lot more predictable than nature. So So when you’re out there, even when you’re even when you’re surprised in an ambush, there’s still things that humans do that are predictable on some level. So you can still make plans on some degree and you can still rely on them with some level of reliability, but nature just does whatever the hell it wants. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  27:11  

Sure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  27:45  

There’s no stopping nature, dude.

 

Richard Brion  27:45  

I mean, even when they’re even when there’s weather predictions and weather forecasts. I mean,

 

Brian Schoenborn  27:50  

Weathermen are never right, man.

 

Richard Brion  27:51  

Yeah, especially in these places, right. So, I mean, you were in in China too. The South China Sea? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  27:58  

Oh, dude, they have typhoons all the time, man.

 

Richard Brion  28:00  

I know and it’s so unpredictable. So you’re going out into this thing with against effectively an opponent or a foe that you can’t predict anything. You’re just flying by the seat of your pants all of the time hoping for the best. So, I mean, that’s, I guess that’s what perspective is. So yeah, it was some crazy environments. You know, Afghanistan Kabul, you know, Nangahar, Salong. Up there in Iraq. I was mostly I was in Baghdad proper, but then we were in Diwaniya, which if you want to go look that up that was that was a fun show. It’s on.

 

Brian Schoenborn  28:33  

Let’s look it up right now. I wanna see what you’re talking about.

 

Richard Brion  28:36  

So yeah, so it was a camp, or that Camp Echo? In Diwania. So this camp, when we first when Yeah, there it is, right there. Diwania, Iraq. So it’s a couple hours south. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  28:57  

I’ll post information on this. What do we do when we post The show but yeah…

 

Richard Brion  29:01  

Oh l ook at that Polish troops in Iraq, Camp Echo. So so basically it was this little postage stamp of a forward operating base in central Iraq near near the Nijef province. But this thing was so small. I mean, it was literally probably the size of a small school compound. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  29:21  

The camp or the town? 

 

Richard Brion  29:22  

The entire camp. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  29:24  

Wow, that’s tiny. 

 

Richard Brion  29:24  

In the in this town yeah and so they had this tire factory in town and whatnot and so it was first… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  29:30  

It’s the last place you would expect a military encampment to be. That’s good shit. 

 

Richard Brion  29:36  

But it was kind of a key point for the Nijef province for the US Army Corps of Engineers but this so initially post the invasion and us trying to figure out what to do you know, we brought in the coalition. The Spanish took it, and no offense to those Spaniards out there but you kind of you lost it. You got overrun. And it’s because the city, I mean, and to be fair, it’s not It’s not as it wasn’t a super large base, the area would go through ebbs and flows where the insurgency would build up and it would dissipate, but eventually they got overrun. 

 

Richard Brion  30:11  

So then the Polish took over. And they were the ones running the camp when we were there with a small contingent of US Army, Military Police. And so and and basically the it was this kind of school kids playing with each other, where the Polish would completely be out in town, in full force, and then they would slowly start drawing back towards the base. The insurgency would get more and more emboldened by it. And then at some point, we ended up having to drop a MOAB, which is a “mother of all bombs” into the middle of the city, kind of kind of reset the situation. 

 

Richard Brion  30:55  

The Polish went back out, they kind of held it and then they got drawn back to the base. So Diwaniya was probably the dodgiest place I was it was we were getting rocketed pretty much every night. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  31:07  

Those are RPGs, right?

 

Richard Brion  31:09  

155 Katooshes. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  31:12  

I’m not familiar with that.

 

Richard Brion  31:14  

So usually you know one five fives are your largest you can over the one of the some of the largest there are a lot louder, bigger than standard mortar there, you know. 155 millimeter.

 

Brian Schoenborn  31:25  

Mortars are no joke. I know some I remember, I had some mortar men in my CAAT platoon. Yeah, I mean, those guys are pretty hardcore.

 

Richard Brion  31:32  

I mean rules of engagement. This was starting to change as well. So we weren’t allowed to specifically do straight up counter battery. Which for those that don’t know counter battery just means we use sound to triangulate a rough position of where they might have been coming from. And then you just rocket everything back. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  31:49  

Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  31:49  

Which is effective in certain circumstances, but at the same time, 

 

Brian Schoenborn  31:54  

It’s also essentially spray and pray. 

 

Richard Brion  31:55  

Yeah, there’s there can be significant collateral damage, and so we were, we were drawing back on that and the problem was they were putting their their rockets and stuff into mounts in the back of pickup trucks. So basically even by the time you were able to get a 3 pings triangulation for a counter battery, the truck had already moved. So even, you know, and then you’re firing even within 30 seconds to a minute, if it took that if it was that fast, truck could still fire and move. So, the likelihood of you actually hitting the target that was rocketing you was small, so then, you know we get rocketed every day and of course, we were contractors. We had Polish. We had a Polish dude that was French, former French Foreign Legion, some British special boat guys, special air guys on the team. Couple of Army Greenie Beanies. l

 

Brian Schoenborn  32:48  

When you say special boat and special air, you’re talking like Special Forces. 

 

Richard Brion  32:51  

Yes. So the so the British they have their SS in there. SBS, so their Special Air Service and their special boats, which is kind of basically the SAS would be sort of like our it’s a cross somewhere between our Army Special Forces and our US Air Force paratroopers in terms of responsibility. And then special boats are basically like their version of a Navy seal. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  32:51  

So basically, you’re a Motley Crue badass motherfuckers basically.

 

Richard Brion  32:51  

Yeah.

 

Brian Schoenborn  33:17  

Okay, got it. 

 

Richard Brion  33:18  

And then we had some, also some Royal Marine commandos, so kind of like our recon Marines and whatnot. So we had a hodgepodge of British, American, and European guys that were on this team all well-trained, but also a little bit mad in the head, as they would say.

 

Brian Schoenborn  33:36  

You kind of have to be off to go to do some of that stuff.

 

Richard Brion  33:40  

A little bit. Yeah. And then it got even more strange. So we lived kind of nearest to where the marine or not where the Marine Corps, where the army military police unit was. So every every evening the rocket…

 

Brian Schoenborn  33:51  

I bet they had their hands full. 

 

Richard Brion  33:52  

Oh, they definitely did. But every every evening, the rockets always came in right around the same time. Everybody else has all hunkered down in places. And where we go, we get our chow, we come back, then we all sit around the proverbial campfire just bullshitting with our, with our gear, our guns, our body armor…

 

Brian Schoenborn  34:11  

As these bombs are going off. 

 

Richard Brion  34:12  

And basically we’re having what we called our mortar tea parties. We were drinking tea and biscuits, you know cookies and tea, waiting for the mortars to start and then the gear was all preset because then we’d have to repel borders, which again, for those that don’t know what that means. That means that they would use the rockets in order to distract us because we’re all hiding, hopefully then they could storm the walls. So basically, it was this kind of tit for tat thing, they’d rocket us then they would try to mount an offensive to come over the wall. So you have to have your gear with you in the mortar shelters to be ready for it. So we just kind of sat around every day just having a chat kind of like we’re having right now. Just bullshiting, laughing and just waiting for them. And some of those those army military police guys thought we were batshit crazy. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  34:59  

Of course! They have every right to think that.

 

Richard Brion  35:03  

AAnd maybe we were, but like I said that the those guys that go pick up crab fishing jobs in Alaska, they’re crazier than me as far as I’m concerned.

 

Brian Schoenborn  35:10  

That’s the thing that I’m talking about, right? Like like in the Marines, like my Marine Corps training, even as short as it was, like one of those things you realize it like you can be ,you can experience, you can be in the middle of experiencing fucking hell, dude. But what you realize that if you’re with there was somebody, if you’re there with somebody else and you can sit there and bullshit about stuff while while this is all happening? It’s a completely different thing, dude. It makes it manageable.

 

Richard Brion  35:38  

Well, yeah it does. And I mean, Afghanistan was the same way so that circa 2004, 2005 and got to the point where we were allowed to go on town, there were Lebanese restaurants, French restaurants… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  35:55  

You’re allowed to go off base and like, check out the town?

 

Richard Brion  35:57  

Yeah. So as Blackwater we lived in our own compound anyway. We also we were running, we were help training counternarcotics police for the government in Afghanistan. We were doing those kinds of things. So we were we weren’t doing a lot of things directly with US military. They had, we were getting support from them. So we could access military installations. We got Intel from them, of course, was since we were working in the same sphere, we also had to have crypto to be able to talk back and forth, so that we could deconflict so that in the event that we were out on our own thing, and in the middle of a fight and US military or ISAF forces were in the middle of a fight. We could make sure that we weren’t shooting at each other kind of kind of important, you know, blue on blue.

 

Brian Schoenborn  36:43  

Crypto meaning encrypted messaging?

 

Richard Brion  36:46  

Yeah, encrypted radio, you know, the big old fat, you see them on movies.

 

Brian Schoenborn  36:49  

So you’re free to talk, but nobody can intercept it.

 

Richard Brion  36:52  

Yeah, exactly. So basically, you see them on any of those military movies. You know, the guy standing back there with the little what looks like antique headset phone…

 

Brian Schoenborn  37:02  

One of my buddies was a comm guy, man. You look at before you stick it, when you put that little… 

 

Richard Brion  37:07  

Yeah.

 

Brian Schoenborn  37:07  

When you put the antenna on you got to like.

 

Richard Brion  37:09  

yeah they the old mark one seven you know the different radios and whatnot and and then they came up with some slightly better ones but the range was different so I mean yeah we were we were out there doing, but yeah we could go on the internet they have an Intercontinental Hotel in Kabul, no joke, from the Intercontinental Hotel Group it’s still there. As of 2018 when I was there last in Kabul, it’s a little bit harder to get to in from these days, but back then there was a you could go get a proper massage at the hotel. You could go for lunch or whatever and they had a swimming pool you could take in there. They even had a lake resort in just outside Kabul that had a golf course that we could go on.

 

Brian Schoenborn  37:51  

Oh, it’s crazy. So, I mean, so it sounds like you were pretty like ingrained into Kabul and the, you know, the local culture a little bit like did you I mean, did you stand out like a sore thumb or like what you know

 

Richard Brion  38:08  

For the most part…

 

Brian Schoenborn  38:08  

Like your interactions with the Afghans with the Afghans and stuff like that?

 

Richard Brion  38:11  

Yeah, I mean for the most part of course we stood out like sore thumbs but then again there was enough Western and I sat forces that there was no real distinguishment between who was who and you know, who was white, I mean, contractors we kind of dress like each other but then again, contractor dress looks like British Special Air Service dress. So you know, and then of course, you have your other governmental groups and they all dress kind of however, and so it was almost impossible to distinguish one set from another. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  38:40  

Sure.

 

Richard Brion  38:40  

You could be at a restaurant having you know, having a meal with these people and they could have been FBI, they could have been, you know, any other lettered soup or they could have been a contractor or they could have been active duty Special Forces. There was really no way to tell unless you got into the weeds with it. Everybody wore beards, but as far as me? Oddly enough, you, you put the right kind of Afghan clothes on and I had my beard grown out and with the blue eyes and I could look like I’m an Afghan from the Panjshir Valley because Russian influence to the Panjshir area. Yeah.

 

Brian Schoenborn  38:57  

So did you? I mean, did you interact with, like the Afghan people? Or was it mostly with the other military units?

 

Richard Brion  39:19  

Oh, no, we were moreso Afghans and then I my job was intelligence. So I was a lot more interacting with them. But there’s a famous street in Kabul. It’s called Chicken Street. Basically, it’s, every city pretty much has one. That’s kind of where you go to get a lot of your tangible goods. So we could go down and get trinkets and rugs and everything else and we used to go down to Chicken Street and you could get a suit fitted. I have I still have them actually in my closet a few of the suits that an Afghan Taylor put together for me. 

 

Richard Brion  39:54  

There was a barber that I would go in that would use all the old school hand tools, no power, to do trims and stuff and we used to, we used to get kids to come with us, because the Afghans themselves have this “kids are off-limits” in terms of this thing. So, Pakistanis and the Iraqis, unfortunately, don’t quite have that same threshold when it comes to kids, but the Afghans do. So you get the kids that are out trying to make a buck or whatever else, and you give them some money and some food and then they would go recruit their friends. And then when you wanted to go into a place, they would then crowd the door, so that it would keep people that could be or are thinking about taking advantage of the situation from doing so because kids were off-limits. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  40:39  

Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  40:40  

And so and then some of the elders in the village in the city and stuff that were around didn’t mind it either, because we were giving the kids some sort of value and job, you know, we were giving them food and they were helping us out. And there was a similar thing in Djibouti one at one point and I can’t get into the why I was there and with whom…

 

Brian Schoenborn  41:00  

Dammit.

 

Richard Brion  41:00  

But you pay,

 

Brian Schoenborn  41:03  

I wanna hear that styory. I always want to hear the ones that you can’t talk about.

 

Richard Brion  41:06  

Yeah, I know, right? But the funny part about the story was is, there was there was a kid and you paid 20 bucks he would come he actually had this he had the racket down. He would come and he had this big stick and you’d be like, “I be your bodyguard” all in English. Couple couple of few bucks in English he would tell you he would be the bodyguard. And then he would have liked two of his little friends and they were doing, and I did protection details for years. So I had all these this training on doing the box and the, you know, contact rules, but

 

Brian Schoenborn  41:33  

What is it what is the box?

 

Richard Brion  41:35  

So the box we did, so depending on there’s triangles, there’s boxes. It’s how you set your people up to do protection. So we always ran a five man box. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  41:46  

Okay, so basically you had four corners and then one in the middle?

 

Richard Brion  41:49  

You have four corners, and then one in the middle standing next to the client that was basically the client director and then so depending on how contact goes you can close the box and basically create a wall. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  41:58  

Got it.

 

Richard Brion  41:58  

But these these three little kids, they had their own little version of a protective detail triangle down with sticks. And then if people got too close, they would kind of, and sometimes even with some of the adults in the area, they even had a little, like playful ruse for the adults would kind of give them a little, a little reason to practice. So, you know, and then the little kid that was in charge was like, you know, “don’t worry right now”, and then the adults would kind of come up and play and then they would like beat him back with the sticks and stuff like kind of keep practice. It was kind of interesting, but

 

Brian Schoenborn  42:31  

Enterprising entrepreneurial little kids over there.

 

Richard Brion  42:33  

Exactly. very entrepreneurial on how they were doing it. And in Kabul, it was that way too. There were stores that you want to go in and the kids would go in first and kind of rush all the other people out. And again, that sounds very privileged of us. We were able to have little kids kind of push the rest of the adults out but at the same time, like I said, it was that weird in between phase of the community where the the adults didn’t mind so much because we were spending money in local shops and we were having some, we’re having interactions with the kids. So in their own way it allowed it created a sense of security for us and a peace of mind for us that we knew there wasn’t someone in the store waiting, gave the kids something to do then we were spending money on the local economy. So we felt that we were giving back a little bit a little bit.

 

Brian Schoenborn  43:17  

And you were giving the kids food and other stuff too. 

 

Richard Brion  43:19  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  43:19  

So they were so they’re, they’re getting benefits for their services too, right?

 

Richard Brion  43:22  

Yeah. And I mean, we’ve had a lot of the guys thought I was crazy, but we had a little…but, I mean, so I there was a lot that I had to do that was by myself. So I was driving around a lot by myself places and there was a, there was this little rig on a rickety cart that was an engine with a set of wheels and basically you turn it on and you would feed what looked like a sugar cane through it. And then it would come out as a juice or something.

 

Brian Schoenborn  43:53  

Oh yeah! Sugarcane juice. Yeah. That’s all over the place. Like I’ve had that in India.

 

Richard Brion  43:58  

Yeah, that’s what I didn’t realize that sugar cane. Something that was really available.

 

Brian Schoenborn  44:01  

It’s literally just pressed cane liquid right? 

 

Richard Brion  44:03  

Yeah, and it, but at the time I wasn’t completely sure that was sugar cane because I still to this day not hundred percent certainly sugar cane grows naturally in Afghanistan, but in either case it was just it was kind of dirty looking cart but I would pull over for $1 whatever it was at the time I would get one and you know it’s not like the United States or you pop in and they give you a bottle you take with you or whatever, it’s just a glass. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  44:29  

It’s not the processed stuff.

 

Richard Brion  44:31  

Well, yeah, and it’s just a glass that you drink it there.

 

Brian Schoenborn  44:33  

You drink it on the spot, right? 

 

Richard Brion  44:34  

They take the glass right? Yep, they take the glass back and they wash it so you know a lot of guys are like, “hey man, you’re kinda it’s kind of dirty kind of don’t know.” I didn’t care. I liked it, and the other thing that I really liked to this day is Afghan naan you know? You can get naan everywhere else but the Afghan naan to me is some of the best I’ve ever had. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  44:53  

So, like, how is it different from like Indian naan? So naaa, like n-a-a-n, like a flatbread? 

 

Richard Brion  44:59  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  44:59  

Like Indian food that you would like take and like scoop with the curries and stuff. 

 

Richard Brion  45:03  

Yeah and so you get Stone Fire here in the US makes it, is a brand that will make it. But it’s it’s a little bit more I would almost say even though it’s unleavened, it’s almost a little more leavened than Afghan, it’s a little bit a little bit softer, which most people are like bread, you know, soft bread, but for some reason, the way that whatever it is in the recipe, and it’s slightly more crispness to it.

 

Brian Schoenborn  45:29  

So it’s crisp? It’s not like a thick chew?

 

Richard Brion  45:31  

Not not quite like a thick chew, but it just something about it. You know, I could probably deal less with the fact that the way it was delivered is just a dude on a motorbike, sticks it under his arm after all day. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  45:44  

That’s what I’m talking about, dude. That’s the real shit. You know, what I love about traveling, just diving deep and like, you know, there’s millions of people that like eat that, you know, eat stuff like that or live a certain way like you don’t, you can’t really understand or appreciate another culture unless you really dive into it. You know?

 

Richard Brion  45:58  

Well yeah, and so this is a good story. Right, so I can I can say the guy’s name now because it doesn’t matter, but his name was General Aasif. He was the he was the general from the Afghan government. I don’t know if he was specifically Afghan National Police or if he was Afghan National Army, but he had a general title general uniform. And he was in charge of the Narcotics Interdiction Unit, which is what we call the, basically, the Afghan version of the DEA. And he’s no longer involves anybody that might be listening that thinks that they’re getting any intel, he is not. But he used to think that I was so skinny. And so every time I come to his office, I mean, 

 

Brian Schoenborn  46:40  

You’re a slim dude, you’re lengthy. 

 

Richard Brion  46:41  

But I’m heavier than people would think. Right? And so especially then I was working out a couple times a day I was eating quite a bit. You know, when there’s nothing else to do. You take your legal supplements and your protein shakes and your nitrus oxide and lift at the gym. You know, do all the bro things, right? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  47:01  

No, of course. You got nothing else to do, you know, in an area like that. 

 

Richard Brion  47:04  

And I mean, we had a lot to do, but there’s still times when there’s downtime, right? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  47:08  

Sure. 

 

Richard Brion  47:08  

Between stuff scene workout and you make sure that you’re fit to do. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  47:12  

Yeah, right. I mean, that’s what I mean. 

 

Richard Brion  47:13  

Yeah, it is part of your job. So you’re fit to your job, but he would always want to give me food. So it was meatballs and naan and chai and… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  47:22  

General Aasif always wanted to give you food. 

 

Richard Brion  47:23  

Yeah. And so it was goat meatballs and lamb meatballs. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  47:27  

Oh, dude, that sounds so good.

 

Richard Brion  47:28  

And I mean, at first I was in, you know, because I was still young, they’re still fairly. I mean, I’ve been to a few places by this point, but I was still a little bit of an isolationist when it came to the local cultures at this point, because this, this happened from the moment I walked into Afghanistan, right into General Aasif’s office there is just trying, and so he’s feeding me food that I know came off the off of the local economy that wasn’t specifically off of the military base that had, you know, all of the, what do they call it the HACCP or whatever.

 

Brian Schoenborn  48:03  

The HAACP? 

 

Richard Brion  48:04  

Yes, sir. Yeah health standard yeah the health standards and servsafe. And, you know, they, they definitely didn’t have their authorized food handler’s permit. So I was a little bit apprehensive but truthfully I got in I didn’t, didn’t get sick. The only place that the only time I got food poisoning in Afghanistan was when I went to a Lebanese restaurant, that’s an actual restaurant, but owned my Lebanese people, and to this day, I have a hard time with hummus. Because the only thing I ate that night was hummus because it was just there for a quick meeting. And it made me so sick they had a banana bag me for like three or four days. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  48:42  

I have no idea what that means but it doesn’t sound good. 

 

Richard Brion  48:44  

So banana bags are. There are basically an IV fluid bag and it’s very bright yellow, banana in color almost. That’s why we call them banana but it’s basically hydration bag. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  48:55  

Oh got ya. 

 

Richard Brion  48:56  

You know the team medics and stuff, you get way too drunk you know from whatever and they would banana bag you and it’s good way to, but I needed a banana back for like 3 or 4 days.

 

Brian Schoenborn  49:06  

Good way to get your head right. 

 

Richard Brion  49:07  

Yeah and it was pretty It was pretty gnarly.

 

Brian Schoenborn  49:09  

You know it’s funny that you talk about the food poisoning thing, right? Like like, I was in Asia for almost four years. 

 

Richard Brion  49:14  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  49:15  

Right? I traveled through Southeast Asia. Fucking Beijing all over China, South Korea all over the place. Indonesia, Australia. Everywhere dude, and I dive dive super deep. I get local street food, all that shit. I got food poisoning once in my four time in my four years there. 

 

Richard Brion  49:34  

American restaurant? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  49:35  

American barbecue restaurant.

 

Richard Brion  49:37  

Doesn’t surprise me.

 

Brian Schoenborn  49:38  

The pulled pork sandwich dude.

 

Richard Brion  49:39  

Yeah.

 

Brian Schoenborn  49:40  

Fucked me up. I was fucking like, it was literally like hours after I had this dude. I was just like, I could not puke enough.

 

Richard Brion  49:48  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  49:49  

Just all night long. Just dry heaving. It was fucking awful, dude. 

 

Richard Brion  49:55  

Well, no, and I’m like you I got and after that point, I dove in. Iraq. You know, local food everywhere. In Japan I ate on the local economy a lot of the other guys that were there that came later you know, they were like oh there’s McDonald’s there let’s get the McDonald’s on the way to work. And me there I was with the… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  50:12  

Fuck that.

 

Richard Brion  50:13  

with that sticky rice it’s like a mayo finish like a mayo filling in it or whatever. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  50:18  

Yeah, that’s what I’m talking about.

 

Richard Brion  50:19  

And then you know, I’ve got the rice dishes and I I like to go to the yakiniku places which is you know, you cook your own little barbecue, meats… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  50:28  

Yeah, they do that in China too. They call it chuar. Yeah, it’s a Beijing dialect. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  50:34  

Were they giggling too?

 

Richard Brion  50:34  

I’m pretty sure it’s yakiniku is what it is, I’m I might be slightly incorrect there. It’s been a while but so for those who speak Japanese, you know, you know, I’m sorry for this but but it was it was really I loved it the sushi I mean, it got so local that there was a local family that was involved in running one of the little drinky bars we go to, they invited me and a couple of guys back on to this barbecue out on the coast. And we drove out to the coast. I still remember one of the pictures, actually my buddy that was a marine, he was one of those guys with us. And we took a picture of the cloud that just looked like a phallic symbol one day. One of the Japanese girls pointed it out. So the van had a sunroof…

 

Richard Brion  50:59  

And they’re looking at the cloud. So what, they had a sunroof in the van we’re all riding in so I stood up through the sunroof, because of course I’m the tallest dude in the van. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  51:26  

And they point at it like, “Penisuh!”

 

Richard Brion  51:27  

So well I’m and I took a picture of it. So I still have the picture somewhere. But we get to the coast and we’re having barbecued eel and everything, and then also uni, which for those that don’t know the Japanese word, it’s sea urchin.

 

Brian Schoenborn  51:40  

Sea urchin. One of my favorite foods. 

 

Richard Brion  51:41  

Yeah. And so you can you can get it at your sushi restaurants but the best I ever had was the little kids were going down into the water sticking their hand right in the water grabbing it right out and then we were just popping in straight outta right on this remote beach and way north Honshu, Japan, the Honshu island of Japan. It was awesome. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  52:01  

So, I mean, so where were you in Japan? I mean, you were there for a while, right?

 

Richard Brion  52:05  

Yeah, I was there for just shy of a year. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  52:07  

Okay. 

 

Richard Brion  52:07  

So we were we were on the far north end of Honshu. So um, 

 

Brian Schoenborn  52:13  

And Honshu is what?

 

Richard Brion  52:14  

Honshu’s the main island in Japan.

 

Brian Schoenborn  52:16  

Like Tokyo and stuff?

 

Richard Brion  52:17  

Yes, so Tokyo is on the southern.

 

Brian Schoenborn  52:19  

Japan like, yeah, primarily that island, right? Yes. Osaka of course.

 

Richard Brion  52:25  

Hokkaido in the north, right. Yes. So on to the main about Okinawa, which is right there. So Honshu was the main way up there. Yeah. So Tokyo is way south, almost on the complete opposite end of the contract

 

Brian Schoenborn  52:36  

Roughly how long of a train ride would that be or something?

 

Richard Brion  52:39  

So bullet train, it was like two hours and 45 minutes by car…

 

Richard Brion  52:42  

By car, it’s like a 12-hour drive. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  52:42  

Bullet train’s going, like 200 miles a hour.

 

Brian Schoenborn  52:47  

Yeah. Okay. 

 

Richard Brion  52:47  

And that’s down the toll road. So that’s pretty much nothing else but toll road and freeway and it’s 12 hours. So basically, if you were to look on a map and you see where miss our airbase is, and then take a ruler and draw straight line To the other side of the island from them on that same skinny part. Yeah, that’s where we were, was called the Aomori prefect or Aomoir prefect would be more more precise. And we were in a little town called Goshuguara. And we had to stay in a Japanese hotel and let me tell you, I mean, this one had a…

 

Brian Schoenborn  53:16  

What kind of Japanese hotel was this? I’ve heard a few. I’ve heard about a few different types of Japanese hotels.

 

Richard Brion  53:21  

It wasn’t any of those. But it was….

 

Brian Schoenborn  53:23  

Not a love hotel?

 

Richard Brion  53:24  

Well no, it was not a love hotel. And it was done…and it was also not one of the not one of the space pod ones are all bed slides out and stuff.

 

Brian Schoenborn  53:31  

I slept in one of those. In Bangkok I think. Or Saigon, one of them.

 

Richard Brion  53:35  

Yeah. And so it was still, I mean, it still was a room a desk. It was a queen size mattress, but there wasn’t really room for much other. I mean, literally, I had to take the chair out for the desk so that the bed was my chair because that there I mean, there was no point. You couldn’t pull the desk out.

 

Brian Schoenborn  53:37  

Dude, I slept in a pod that like, literally, like there’s a hallway and on the left and on the right It looks like these bunk beds, but they’re walled off and it’s literally just this like, elongated hole. 

 

Richard Brion  54:05  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  54:06  

…that you slide into. It’s just a bed. And there’s a there’s a TV at the foot of it. So if you want to watch TV you can there’s nothing fucking on there anyway that you could understand. Literally slide in and then you drop down. It’s like a curtain almost you just drop it down. There you go. That’s my pod. Kinda like on a navy ship. It’s a lot like that, you know?

 

Richard Brion  54:25  

You know, um, there’s a there’s a Netflix original that will had

 

Brian Schoenborn  54:31  

Shout out to Netflix.

 

Richard Brion  54:32  

Yeah, shout out to Netflix. Right? But it had Emma Stone and, wow, Jonah Hill. And it was called… it was about that was the… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  54:42  

…they were they had a mental problems. 

 

Richard Brion  54:43  

Yeah. And they were gone through a drug study there was it was set in like the 70s. But the doctors in this show, they had basically a drawer that was automated that slid out. They laid in it and it slid back in. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  54:56  

Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  54:57  

Tokyo actually has some legit hotels that are sort of like that. But now this was but it was still tiny. I probably, it was probably was probably less than 100 square feet for a hotel room. Bathroom. Shower. You know whole nine yards like…

 

Brian Schoenborn  55:12  

…just the essentials. Yeah, just just enough space for the essentials. 

 

Richard Brion  55:16  

Yeah, so that’s where that we lived in that out of that hotel for like six and a half seven months. But yeah, went in the local economy,

 

Brian Schoenborn  55:24  

I’d get tired of that. Little cabin fever or something?

 

Richard Brion  55:27  

Yeah, but I mean, it could be worse. I could be in a hooch in Iraq where exactly it’s basically just a shipping, a small shipping container turned into a bedroom and then I had to walk to a shower block and then concrete t-walls everywhere. Could be worse. At least, at least the people in Japan were nice. they had an American Harley bar in Goshuguara of all places.

 

Brian Schoenborn  55:43  

Really? 

 

Richard Brion  55:49  

Yeah, they hadn’t really seen white people that frequently or foreigners of any kind for that matter up in that area for a long time, really. So they still had an American Harley bar. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:00  

That’s weird.

 

Richard Brion  56:00  

With all these like American Harley bar fans in this, 

 

Richard Brion  56:04  

In like a remote area of Japan, I mean, it’s still city, still urban. But, I mean, it’s more like the difference between being in New York City and then being in like Charlotte…

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:04  

that’s weird dude.

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:15  

Schenectady?

 

Richard Brion  56:16  

Charlotte, North Carolina, you know, still urban enough, but nothing like the urban density that you get out of like New York City or whatever. So…

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:25  

It’s like a third or fourth tier city or something like that.

 

Richard Brion  56:27  

Yeah, I mean, it. It’s, it was probably I think, almora prefect Aomori is the city’s the largest. Goshuguara might have been the second largest in that prefect. Maybe, but I mean, still all in all a good time. I miss the food. The authentic food from Japan, for sure. Don’t get me wrong. I love lots of Asian food, lunch

 

Brian Schoenborn  56:49  

My Japan time ruined sushi for me anywhere else.

 

Richard Brion  56:52  

Yeah, there’s a couple places in Seattle and of course, Seattle’s awesome because we got the ports here in the city.

 

Brian Schoenborn  57:00  

There’s also a big Japanese culture here. A lot of Japanese have moved to Seattle.

 

Richard Brion  57:04  

And so the city of Tacoma, they have a sister city that’s out of Japan. And though for those that don’t know, Tacoma is 30 miles south of Seattle, so they’ve got a sister city. There’s even a Japanese garden along the waterfront down in Tacoma that has an actual pagoda that’s down there and that you can rent out for events and stuff. So I mean, it’s, it’s, it’s pretty cool. You walk down there, and they tell you about the sister cities, but so the food was amazing. The people are really nice. And it’s something that a lot of people don’t understand. Is they’re even very, and I know this is gonna cause some controversy, but what the hell let’s weigh into it. Proper Japanese culture is some of the most politely racist people on the planet.

 

Brian Schoenborn  57:11  

Oh, for sure. I mean, they put manners above everything, right?

 

Richard Brion  57:55  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  57:55  

When they’re learning in school and stuff. It’s man. 

 

Richard Brion  57:58  

It’s that racist thing that I’m worried the people are going to be so, like how can you be politely racist? And I’ll put it to you this way so the Japanese word for foreigner is gaijin, and they have a sign on establishments that if you can read, which always cracked me up if you can read Japanese it says, “no foreigners”, no gaijin on the sticker. But it doesn’t say it in any other language. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  58:23  

Right. 

 

Richard Brion  58:24  

So you you will learn by accident.

 

Brian Schoenborn  58:27  

Yeah, exactly.

 

Richard Brion  58:28  

Now if they put it in a couple of languages, you know, maybe English, Spanish and you know, pick another very fairly common European language that’s highly spoken or something and and then maybe they would have less of it, but it’s this yellow sticker. Looks like a police man. He’s got his hand up in a red circle with a hand to it…basically no foreigners allowed. But of course when you can’t read Japanese you don’t know what the sticker means. It’s like, okay, I don’t know, maybe it means no bad behavior because it a police man. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  58:57  

It kinda defeats the purpose.

 

Richard Brion  58:59  

Yeah, just a little bit, right? So, don’t really know and you walk into a place but then I went into a grocery store of all places, wasn’t like a bar wasn’t this it was a grocery store. And a very polite Japanese man walked over in a suit and bowed. And then in very crisp English, “I’m sorry, sir, this establishment is for Japanese only. Might I suggest this other grocery store?” 

 

Brian Schoenborn  59:23  

Wow.

 

Richard Brion  59:23  

So because I was foreign…

 

Brian Schoenborn  59:25  

Very respectful.

 

Richard Brion  59:26  

Yes. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  59:27  

Excellent matters. 

 

Richard Brion  59:28  

Yes

 

Brian Schoenborn  59:28  

…but get the fuck out. Fucking bizarre.

 

Richard Brion  59:29  

the manners were very…, and it was it was one of those things it was like so and again, I’m I’m Caucasian, you know, as we’ve well discussed, and I’ve lived in the south for a while and but coming from Washington state, I kind of had a much different view on where I grew up on racism. People were, people were people. We grew up with kids that it didn’t matter what color we were we all hung out. And does that mean that they didn’t? That those kids didn’t run into anything? Probably not. I’m sure that they did. But In terms of the way that we all grew up together, you were just Johnny or Jill or Bob, or whatever your name happened to be.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:00:09  

More about what’s on your mind and what’s in your heart.

 

Richard Brion  1:00:11  

Yeah, we we all kind of just looked out for each other. I got to the South and I got to see it a lot differently. But in Japan, it was interesting. They the guy said it, and I walked out and it took me a full three or four minutes to like…

 

Richard Brion  1:00:25  

for us to be like, wait a minute, I just got kicked out of a place because I’m not. I’m not Japanese. It’s because I’m foreign to the Japanese culture. And then I’m like, but it was so polite. I’m like, I can’t even be mad about it. Like it was the most surreal thing in the world. And I’m not saying that that equates to anything with some of the other people have done but that’s what I mean when I say they’re the most politely racist people that will tell you that the establishment is for locals only or no foreigners allowed in these establishments, but they do it in such a way that at least for me, it took a full five minutes before I realized what exactly it happened. And I mean, I hope I harbor no ill will. And again, that might be coming from a point of privilege, but I still enjoy it. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:00:25  

…process what happend?

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:00:27  

Well, it’s an interesting anecdote, you know?

 

Richard Brion  1:00:42  

Yeah, and I still but I still enjoyed being in the culture, they were still very polite and I still enjoy the food and we did make friends and we we hung out with all kinds of them. But I mean, it was still just an odd it was it was only within 20, 30 minutes of actually being in town that this happened and then of course we we learned it but then we ended up becoming…me and two other guys we ended up finding our own little family that we became such good friends with that there were places we could go with them, because we were with them, that we were allowed.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:01:46  

But that’s the thing, dude, right? Like, and my time in China like Chinese or it’s 99.99% Han, not even like other ethnic minorities, right? There’s like 50 something other ethnic minorities in China, but they’re like, 0.001% of the entire population. 

 

Richard Brion  1:02:03  

I mean, 0.001% of the Chinese population still a lot of people.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:02:06  

Right. Right. But, I mean, 

 

Richard Brion  1:02:09  

To be fair.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:02:10  

right, but I mean, you know, like, like Chinese have their their word for foreigner is laowai, which means old outsider. 

 

Richard Brion  1:02:17  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:02:17  

Right? And, you know, it’s it’s kind of a similar thing in a sense. I mean, there’s not necessarily there’s some places that are Chinese only, kind of like the, the special KTV places. But if you but but the key like to really dive into those, those aspects of the culture to kind of understand some of this stuff is really to like, become friends with these local people. Right? So like, you know, so like, you’re saying, you know, you’re getting in good with his family. You know, that probably really opened up a lot of the Japanese culture that a lot of people might not have had the experience of, ever having the experience of getting.

 

Richard Brion  1:02:54  

Well, it definitely did. They’re, because there was initially 15 of us that landed in Japan, and we were actually, oddly enough, the first foreign armed civilians in Japan since World War Two. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:03:06  

So you guys had guns. You had weapons. 

 

Richard Brion  1:03:07  

When we were at the specific facility. We didn’t carry them around in town. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:03:11  

Yeah, not like an open carry thing. I mean, Japan’s a peaceful place. 

 

Richard Brion  1:03:14  

Yeah. But it was, you know, there was an armory, they went into the armory, you know, and, but they never saw the light of day otherwise. I mean, the reality is to even though we were under a Status of Forces Agreement internally, none of us ever wanted to fire it because we still weren’t sure that the Status of Forces Agreement would be upheld, if we ever had to, but they were there. But we, there were 15 of us initially to do kind of the forward setup for the rest of us. And then another 50 or 60 people showed up for handling all the day to day, which is about the time when I started transitioning out but even out of those first 15 there were places that me and these other two guys were able to go within that prefect that the rest of them weren’t because they were still playing a bit isolationist.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:04:01  

Sure.

 

Richard Brion  1:04:01  

And that kind of brings up the other thing that Americans we have a tendency to do is we tend to believe in universalism.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:04:08  

Right. 

 

Richard Brion  1:04:08  

Our beliefs, our structures, our moral judgments on things are universally correct.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:04:14  

But you know, that’s that’s the construct, man. Like, I can’t talk about, I can’t talk about that enough, dude, like everybody that’s there in their bubble. You know, like, there’s so few Americans that even have their passport. Right?

 

Richard Brion  1:04:25  

Well, yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:04:25  

And then and then of that small percentage is like 20, maybe 30% at this point, because of the Mexico Canada stuff. You need it. But you know, even of the people that have passport there’s a very small percentage of Americans that actually travel outside of the quote unquote, safe places. Talking Mexico, Canada, the Caribbean, Western Europe. Right. So so a lot of Americans and you know, I love America, right when we both served, right, that sort of thing. But a lot of Americans think that America is the be all end all there’s nothing else outside of it.

 

Richard Brion  1:04:58  

Well, and I mean, it happens and I’ve got…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:05:00  

Of course, and you get that in other countries too, but like yeah,

 

Richard Brion  1:05:03  

Of course, but at the same time, I mean the the French are particularly the Parisians are very interesting about this right? They talk about American universalism and American superiority and all of that, but then I spoke French most of my life. These days, it is rusty as all get out. And but the Parisians, you try most other cultures like I go to Kenya and my Swahili is also equally terrible anymore…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:05:32  

But, I mean, even mentioning that you that you have Swahili…

 

Richard Brion  1:05:36  

Yeah, I mean, and it’s got its words and you you speak with them and you use their words and stuff. And even if you butcher it a little bit, there’s this there. There’s this behavior where it’s they like it, they’re supportive, they’re supportive and they want you to help you the Parisians, when you start speaking French and if it’s too terrible for their that offends their poor ears, they basically straight up will tell you I speak English. Stop, stop watching my language which, which is an interesting dissonance in their behavior, right, accept the world for who they are. Be more, you know, don’t be American, but don’t but come to my country and don’t speak my language because you suck at it. Right?

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:06:16  

Quebec is like that, too.

 

Richard Brion  1:06:18  

Yeah, it’s very, it’s very interesting in these things. But like I said, we have a tendency As Americans, we believe in a lot of universalism, when it comes to things we are universally correct in this we are morally universally correct. And that universalism, is there a red line within the morality that we generally accept as a society that makes us a cohesive society? Sure. But at the same time, we allow that universalism to limit us in our interactions with other people. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:06:49  

Absolutely.

 

Richard Brion  1:06:49  

And when we, when we limited them, we end up missing things. Case in point was I was talking with another gentleman on one of his podcasts, shout out to Matt Ward and the Disruptors, but… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:07:01  

Shout out. 

 

Richard Brion  1:07:02  

Yeah, he, we were talking about this when it comes to Saudi Arabia and allies and moral allies versus incentive allies. And the idea is, is that yes, there are some moral grounds that Saudi Arabia and the United States fundamentally disagree with. But does that mean that acting out of universalism that we have this hard red line on that universal morality thing that if they don’t believe in, in our morality and our thing that that means that we should completely write them off as not having value as an ally at all? And I think that, that general notion, even though that’s the extreme case, and allies and wars, we go to other countries, even as tourists and that universalism ends up kind of ruling, how we go see the culture. You know, you go to Ireland, and then you see everything based on that lens of universalism of the United States, well, they don’t do this. Their hotels aren’t set up like this. I’m not enjoying myself because the food isn’t what I’m you know it…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:08:04  

Imagine going to mention go to China and being like a steak and potatoes person.

 

Richard Brion  1:08:10  

You’re gonna, if you can find it you’re gonna go broke.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:08:13  

Well not just that, their steaks are shit, dude.  They’re thin and they’re overcooked.

 

Richard Brion  1:08:17  

Well yeah, or if you can find a good one I mean they’re still they’re gonna charge you an astronomical prie for it. I mean it’s just it’s one of those things. I mean, South Africa is even the same way, right? I was in South Africa in Johannesburg in 2017 and you go to Mandela Square, which is this gorgeous mall which by the way the United States doesn’t know how to do malls right. South Africa knows how to do some malls. They’re these gorgeous, they are the places to go. Tou got your shopping, your your fine dining, your everything that you did kind of those cool things are all done in the shopping malls but… 

 

Richard Brion  1:08:53  

So we’re at Mandela Square and there’s these awesome restaurants. There’s this little Thai place that’s upstairs has a great view of the courtyard, and they serve this dish they called the angry duck. Delicious, right? But it definitely made your stomach a little angry because of how spicy it was, but phenomenal. But then right down down in there, there’s the Trump Steakhouse, not actually related to the Trump family at all. In 2017. You know, it was right during that whole thing was with Trump going on, and it just happened, but the steak, it wasn’t from what you’re used to in the United States, but that didn’t mean that it wasn’t good because you, you take it for what it is rather than that universal belief of what it should be.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:09:35  

And it’s kind of like, like, you know, speaking of food and meats, it kind of reminds me of like bacon. You know, like American bacon? Cured. It’s kind of sweet and salty. Oh my god, dude, I could have killed for American bacon when I was in Asia, dude. Because you can’t get it there. No, you can’t get it. It’s just it’s almost it’s like borderline just ham. It’s like ham strips. Like, you can’t, you can’t…

 

Richard Brion  1:10:00  

It’s not even Canadian bacon.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:10:01  

No, it’s not. You can’t get it crispy like you heat it up but it doesn’t like burn it doesn’t get crispy.

 

Richard Brion  1:10:08  

Yeah, it’s just limp.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:10:09  

Warm ham.

 

Richard Brion  1:10:10  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:10:11  

Uncured there’s no honey, no hickory smoke. None of it, dude.

 

Richard Brion  1:10:15  

Oh no. It’s not even.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:10:17  

Yo, like the first thing I did, it was like, when I got bak to the States, it was like: BACON.

 

Richard Brion  1:10:21  

Yeah you’re not you’re lucky if you get brined, if the ham is brined in Asia. And then you know, and I mean well, even the Brits they do, they do that kind of thing a little bit different. Breakfast food to the Brits. I mean, haggis?

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:10:37  

Full, a full English? 

 

Richard Brion  1:10:39  

Haggis? Dude, come on.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:10:40  

Oh, haggis legit though, dude.

 

Richard Brion  1:10:42  

Well, I mean it can be…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:10:43  

If you hear the description and you know actually what it is like some people are like they don’t have the stomach for it. But like…

 

Richard Brion  1:10:48  

Yeah, or blood sausage to most people, are like, yeah, but again, for most people, they’re like, I don’t even know how to do this and that that’s kind of…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:10:56  

They’re like, “blood? Haggis is sheep stomach, what? Like, how can I possibly eat deep fried sheep stomach?”

 

Richard Brion  1:11:04  

Yeah. And I mean that’s the thing, you miss out on so much and that’s so one of the I mean, I good another good story that you miss out if you just don’t is…in Kenya, I go to Nairobi from time to time and they have this huge swapmeet style, like I mean just acres of swapmeet style market it’s called the market at Gikomba, and I go there by myself and I stand out like a sore thumb trust me like a sore thumb. I am a six foot white dude with a bald head that’s got a ginger beard.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:11:43  

And a ginger face, let’s be honest.

 

Richard Brion  1:11:44  

And a ginger face and so yes, there are some tall Kenyan tribes but but for the most part in Nairobi, they’re not, that’s not predominantly populated by those tribes. It’s predominantly from some of the tribes that have, they’re still tall compared to some but for me, there’s still a little shorter. So I’m easily a head taller than most people. So you can see me for miles away in this market because it’s pretty much locals. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:11:45  

Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  1:11:49  

But you can go and you can find the stuff that were the Nikes that were made in China shipped to the United States didn’t sell, went to Home Goods, or the 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:12:23  

The championship shirts for the teams that lost, or stuff like that.

 

Richard Brion  1:12:27  

Yeah, or you go and they’re the Air Jordans that didn’t sell at TJ Maxx either. And then they end up making their way in the global economy of these markets in just huge bags in Nairobi. So occasionally I can find some cool stuff that, you know, my kid might like or you know, might be a good gift for someone that are inexpensive and I’m there and so I go. And even the what’s what they call in Kenya, the Kenyan Cowboys, which are the native-born Kenyans that are Caucasian. So their family migrated from Europe years and years ago during part of the colonial whether they’re British or Dutch or whatever else, and but they’re their natural born Kenyan citizens for generations at this point. But they’re, they’re getting fewer and fewer of them, but they’re called the Kenyan cowboys. And they’re like, well, even there who are local to, to Nairobi are like, what are you doing? It’s just crazy. I’m like, What do you mean? Like, you’ll get robbed or…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:13:21  

How cowboy, are they though? Are they wearing like cowboy hats and like, and like chaps and stuff like that because that’s what I’m thinking. 

 

Richard Brion  1:13:27  

No, I mean, they’re, they’re wearing safari clothes.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:13:28  

I’m thinking they’re walking around with these spurs and shit…

 

Richard Brion  1:13:29  

No. They’re wearing safari clothes, or they’re wearing you know, jeans and t-shirts just like anyone else. But I mean, they think I’m crazy for going to this market. And I’m like, Why? Well, you might get robbed. Well, two things. One, I stand out like a sore thumb. So the Mesai, which is one of the tribes in Kenya that can actually carry weapons, they carry these billy clubs and they kind of keep they kind of enforce the piece there. One, they know I’m there because it’s not like they don’t see me. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:13:58  

Right. 

 

Richard Brion  1:13:58  

It’s not like they can’t find me. And two. I mean, yeah, I might get a guy. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:14:03  

You’re a trained killer.

 

Richard Brion  1:14:04  

Well, they might try to pickpocket me. Big deal. So you know what I do, I don’t put my money where I can get pickpocketed. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:14:09  

Exactly. 

 

Richard Brion  1:14:10  

I mean, it’s that simple. And then I go talk to people, and I’m polite to the people that are there, and I interact with them, and I buy things and, you know, they creates this thing where people, you get what you give, right? And so if you go with an, and I say this to some people that to some friends who are from New Mexico, right? They when they first came up to Seattle, they’re like, I can’t believe the the attitude of the people here because there’s so much politer than what we were told by some of our friends. And again, I’m very I’m kind of disparaging on New Mexico here, but when I first moved there from here, the people that I met there had really bad attitudes about everything. They… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:14:54  

In New Mexico? 

 

Richard Brion  1:14:55  

Yeah, they cut you off. They stand in the way and talk. You say excuse me, they ignore you. They, I had, I had a guy…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:15:04  

Sounds like China.

 

Richard Brion  1:15:05  

That we were there for like four hours and we’re in a double turn lane. And as we’re turning this guy, drifts over the turn line and nearly runs into me. I tapped my horn once, nothing super aggressive, just Hey, I’m right here. He speeds up the road like 150 yards, pulls his car sideways in the middle of the road to try to block the road like he wants to pick a fight. Like, I can’t believe this.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:15:27  

Good lord. 

 

Richard Brion  1:15:28  

And so his friend, if they came to this town with that attitude, you get what you give, right? And so he came, he’s super friendly to people. He’s wearing a New England Patriots hat because he’s a New England Patriots fan. He’s finding people all over. I mean, the middle of the 12s town, you know, the 12th man in town and he’s finding people are like, Hey, man, like your hat and let’s talk Patriots. And he’s like, I didn’t expect this. I expected something different. And that’s because…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:15:56  

Well, you go to Boston with like a Yankees hat or something? They will shit on you all over the place. 

 

Richard Brion  1:16:01  

Yeah, exactly. And so it’s you get what you give a lot of times, right? And whether it’s Kenya, Namibia, Afghanistan, you know, you, you get what you get. I still have friends from the days back in Afghanistan, ’04, ’05, a couple of them are here now. We brought them here nice, which is another atrocity in and of itself not that we brought them here, but how we treated them after we brought them here. But that’s a story for another day. But you know, I’ve got friends that in Kenya still that I keep in touch with. And one of the guys that I always employ to help me out, he’s coastal Arab, which means he’s, you know, he’s Muslim. And he and I have some differing opinions on things, but the things that you learn when you talk to people. So the coastal Arabs in Kenya are a bit more laid back. He’s married to a Yemeni girl who’s very conservative in terms of that, so she still actually wears more…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:16:55  

Like the burqa and all that?

 

Richard Brion  1:16:56  

She doesn’t go full full burqa face, you know. So not the full outfit but…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:17:02  

the hijab? 

 

Richard Brion  1:17:03  

Yeah. Hijab at least it doesn’t necessarily cover the face. Then goes all the way down to the ankles and one, one time, and I won’t get him in any trouble because I’m so I won’t mention his name, but we’re, we’re having a we’re driving and we’re chatting and we’re talking about these things. And he’s like, yeah, like, I don’t want her to wear these things. He’s like, she’s super sexy. Yeah, he’s like, she’s super sexy. I like to see her. He’s like it drives… And then of course, because I don’t get see it all the time in our ankle shows and it actually gets exciting.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:17:31  

He’s like, Girl, you got the hottest ankle. 

 

Richard Brion  1:17:34  

Yeah, he’s making these jokes and but if you believe in that universalism thing, it would be fundamentally impossible for me and this Arab Muslim kid to have these kinds of conversations because, you know, we don’t we don’t know how to do it, but that’s what I do. I get to a town and I talk to people.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:17:55  

But that’s what you gotta do, man.You know? Like, nothing’s black and white dude. You can’t just like, you can’t just say, “Oh, they’re Muslim, their terrorists” or what or, or judge them based on the clothes that they wear or whatever else. Like, you get to know these people. And they’re just as fucking funny as the next person, right?

 

Richard Brion  1:18:12  

Yeah, sure. I mean…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:18:12  

Like, they’re making these ankle jokes and like, you get to know people and level with them, you know, yeah sure you may have difference of certain opinions or beliefs or whatever else but that’s what makes stuff cool. Like that’s what makes the interesting you know, the conversations and all that shit.

 

Richard Brion  1:18:24  

But yeah, but then at the same time too, the the other side of that coin is you can’t always fault fault people for at least being a little suspicious at first. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:18:33  

Oh, sure. Of course.

 

Richard Brion  1:18:34  

You know, what we do as Americans. Again, people don’t align with us, and so we get mad at you for being suspicious. Human brains are nothing more, I mean, there’s a reason our computers work the way that they do, the way that we have file storage and the way that we correlate files to names and full and those folders and how everything comes down to certain things, because we program computers based on the way that our own brain thinks. Information is correlated at first for a reason. And then you modify that correlation as you get more data. It’s, it’s like this thing that’s going on in today’s world where we’re now going back and we’re second-guessing everything from the Peanuts cartoons to what a politician said in 1950, or…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:19:22  

And the yearbooks that go back like 30, 40 years. 

 

Richard Brion  1:19:25  

And again, yes. Are there things that people said that are, under today’s lens, bad,  or even back then, were they not treating people the way that they should have been treated? Yes. But you can’t…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:19:37  

But you also have to allow for people to learn and grow.

 

Richard Brion  1:19:39  

Exactly. Humans, humans, like computers, like machine learning, right? How do we train our machines to learn? We give them data, because that’s what that’s what humans do. We learn by data. So you may, and humans we make the best decision we can at the time we did it with the data that we had on hand. It’s no different than, you know, without it being related to politics or people, people made bad decisions in their careers, right? But they thought it was the best decision at the time with the data they had.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:20:13  

Or it was a decision. Sometimes you just say stupid shit. Like, you don’t think it’s gonna go anywhere.

 

Richard Brion  1:20:22  

Well, yeah, you say you say something. And at the time and the data, it wasn’t it didn’t see. And then in retrospect, you’re like, Okay, maybe, maybe I shouldn’t, or maybe I 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:20:31  

I mean, we have an expression for that.

 

Richard Brion  1:20:33  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:20:33  

Sticking your foot in your mouth. Right? I’ve done that more than once.

 

Richard Brion  1:20:35  

Well, yeah. Or and also, there’s also a reason that they say that hindsight is 2020. Right? You have more data at that point?

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:20:41  

Exactly.

 

Richard Brion  1:20:42  

Had I known where things would have been with this decision or this variable. I might have made a slightly different decision. But guess what, you didn’t have that variable. You are making decisions based on that. So we have to be careful that we allow ourselves the ability to learn and then we, we also allow people to learn. We don’t hold them to this expectation that from 30 years ago, you were this person, and we’re holding you to that person. Now, because that gives you no incentive to learn. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:21:13  

Right. 

 

Richard Brion  1:21:14  

And we want people to be like. I mean, I learned.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:21:17  

People are learning and growing and evolving every day, right? 

 

Richard Brion  1:21:20  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:21:20  

Every single person’s unique, we’re a collection of our own moments, our experiences and how we respond to those things, right? And every day, you’ve got a new set of those that you add to who you are. 

 

Richard Brion  1:21:33  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:21:33  

So you know, whereas you know, you may have been this person in Japan so many years ago. You know?

 

Richard Brion  1:21:39  

I was a legend in Japan. I don’t know what you’re talking about.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:21:41  

I want to hear this. But I want to hear about your legendary story, but you know, I want to hear that shit. But what I’m saying is like, that’s still a part of you. Right? 

 

Richard Brion  1:21:51  

Yeah, of course. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:21:51  

But to who you are today is you know, is it probably is shifted a little bit.

 

Richard Brion  1:21:56  

Oh, it does. And if you don’t if you don’t share If you’re the same person today that you were 30 years ago…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:22:02  

You’re not living, bro. 

 

Richard Brion  1:22:03  

Yeah, you’re missing out on so much to do with life. I mean, I’ve made I’ve been a lot of things in my day. I mean, I’m a bit of a. And again, not to be disparaging to people in my thing, so but I’m a bit of a gypsy in that I’ve done a little bit of a lot of things and I can’t I always just adapt and I change. It’s a bit of a hustle and it’s a it’s also a skill that I think that not enough people have, is we define ourselves by certain things and then we end up missing out on so many. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:22:32  

So much, man.

 

Richard Brion  1:22:33  

I mean, I never for the life of me would have expected I’d be carrying a parade float down the middle of the street and way north Japan which is how I became a legend.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:22:41  

Hold on, hold on a second. Hold on, you just fucking brushed right through that thing. I wanna hear…like, What are you talking about? Like, explain this to me.

 

Richard Brion  1:22:50  

So again, we’re in Goshuguara. And we made friends with this family, me and Caleb and David and then we went to the barbecue and all that stuff. Well, also in the bar districts in Japan at night, they’ve got juveniles, younger…I don’t know how old they are because it’s really hard to tell when Japanese when the Japanese culture is younger… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:23:17  

Asians don’t age very much. 

 

Richard Brion  1:23:18  

Yeah, it’s basically they’re 25 until they’re 85. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:23:21  

Right? Exactly. And they know it too.

 

Richard Brion  1:23:25  

Well, yeah, of course they do. And that’s again, some people might say, Oh, that’s being racist. No, that’s, that’s commenting on what actually happens and and recognizing the humor. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:23:35  

Exactly. 

 

Richard Brion  1:23:36  

I mean, there are, they do, they’re 25 until they’re 80. So this kid could have been 17, he could have been 24. I have no way of knowing but his name was Yuki. He was one of the kids that was basically paid to kind of make sure that you know that politeness and that saving face happened. You know, you don’t be overly drunk in public. You don’t get into fights in public. And so they had these kids whose job was to get you off the street. So Yuki was one of these guys. He was a he was a heavier set Japanese guy, very jovial, laughing all the time, you know, and just had it had a smile on his face all of the time and I’ve got a good picture that like memorializes that that behavior of him as a person. It was a perfect photo. So anyway we’re we get invited down to the street parade by the by the family that runs the drinking bar and we’re just sitting in our on the street just the three of us with the Japanese family…

 

Richard Brion  1:24:36  

I mean that’s how the players, there are others. Yeah, there’s others of the group that are there because not far from the hotel. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:24:36  

So three gaijin or foreigners…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:24:41  

Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  1:24:41  

But there’s three of us sitting with actually was four of us are SF medic doc was with us. And we were just sitting there all enjoying it watching them and in Japan at least way north Japan they still carry their parade floats. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:24:58  

They carry them?

 

Richard Brion  1:24:59  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:24:59  

Wait. 

 

Richard Brion  1:25:00  

They’re on la, so basically think of the old school way but

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:25:03  

So they’re not being pulled by like a truck or something. No, it’s not it’s not the balloon?

 

Richard Brion  1:25:07  

No this is like like think of it when you see if you’ve ever seen any of the old movies or whatever where the Emperor is being carried in a… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:25:22  

With like a band like stick. Like a throne with like a bamboo stick or 

 

Richard Brion  1:25:26  

Yeah, or like a really big tree log or whatever. So basically, you have these tree logs that are strung and then you have the float itself, whatever it’s designed in the dragon or whatever. This one that had these huge drums and people were banging it are set in the center and then of course depending on how heavy they are, will depend on how many of the Japanese people are actually carrying it. It can be a couple few, it can be quite a lot of them. And traditionally the people carrying are wearing a white outfit that sort of looks like a kimono. And they carry it and so anyway and then they carry it for so long and then they set it down because it gets heavy and they’ve got little…somebody’s running along with these little looks like jacks that then they set the logs on and it holds it there and then a little bit of a performance and then it’s however long and then you pick up move in it. So a parade of a few miles takes a lot longer than in the US, because we’re not just telling them behind you know, F-250 or whatever.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:26:32  

Shout out to Ford.

 

Richard Brion  1:26:32  

Yeah, shout out to Ford. Hopefully they’ll give you an endorsement. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:26:36  

Here we go. Let’s make it happen.

 

Richard Brion  1:26:39  

Of course, I used F-250 when my dad worked for General Motors. If he hears this but you know, dad, GM to I own a GM. So there we go. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:26:47  

Shout out to GM. I’m a Michigan boy. Shout out the big three. 

 

Richard Brion  1:26:50  

Yeah, so we’ll just we’ll make them all equal. So none of them can be mad or require you to pay a royalty or some stupid crap. But anyway,

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:26:58  

I’ll just bleep it out, if I have to. I don’t care. Shout out to bleep!

 

Richard Brion  1:27:01  

You’ll get a cease and desist letter: stop using our name. So anyway, so Yuki’s per…Yuki’s float comes in, of course we can see him coming for miles just because he’s got a…his personality is just enormous. And so he sees us, and then he insists that we come out there. And we’re, of course, trying to say no, no, it’s fine. But Yuki is just a so contagious that we just get up and decide to come out there and hang out with him. And before we know it, he’s convincing us to start carrying this parade float. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:27:34  

Oh, that’s great. 

 

Richard Brion  1:27:35  

And of course, it looks hilarious because it’s just at this point is me, Caleb and David. And Caleb and David are about the same height which I’m… 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:27:45  

Six foot or so? 

 

Richard Brion  1:27:45  

No, they’re not even that they’re like 5’6″, 5’7″. And so for me 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:27:50  

So you’re towering over them. 

 

Richard Brion  1:27:50  

Yes. So me, I’m towering over them and they’re closer. They’re closer to the height to the Japanese men that are carrying this parade float. So for me, they put me in the front. And it’s this ridiculous thing, because so I’m either standing fully upright. And carrying more of the weight that way, or I’m kind of squatting, holding it with my hand so that I’m not having to carry as much of the weight.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:28:12  

Yeah, so so that reminds me of like, like in boot camp in the Marines like we do these log exercises, right? 

 

Richard Brion  1:28:17  

Exactly. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:28:18  

Right? And like, you know, so it’s a freakin telephone pole. 

 

Richard Brion  1:28:22  

Exactly.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:28:22  

And literally a telephone pole and you got like a 10 or 20 guys, 

 

Richard Brion  1:28:25  

The taller guys get screwed.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:28:26  

Whoever’s the tall and gets screwed always because that, you know, because they’re either like crouching and it’s uncomfortable that way or

 

Richard Brion  1:28:33  

…they’re carrying more because they’re standing straight up.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:28:35  

Yeah, exactly.

 

Richard Brion  1:28:36  

So it’s kind of that and I’m probably exaggerating, because it just I lost track because it was mid afternoon when we started and then it got dark by the time we got to the little drop off point. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:28:46  

Right. 

 

Richard Brion  1:28:46  

But I swear must have been like three and a half, four miles and we carried this thing, stopping every so often doing the dance. But it ended up because you know, that part of Japan hadn’t seen a lot of foreigners to begin with. To then have three white dudes, pasty-assed white dudes. I mean, I’m talking pasty ass. I’m talking pasty, so pasty to the point where with you know, my team called that all the guys called me Red.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:29:11  

Red’s all, Red’s all, like he spends five minutes at the beach and he’s burnt.

 

Richard Brion  1:29:15  

Doesn’t even need to be five minutes. You know, I mean, you know, I need SPF 5000. But, but so quite different. So the reason I’m saying pasty is because my buddy Caleb, I’m already pasty enough to where they call me Red. This dude, we called him UV for ultra violet, because and how this story came was before we deployed to Japan. We’re at training in Moyock, North Carolina, which is where Blackwater headquarters were. And the weekend before we’re supposed to actually leave to Japan, we go out to the bars and stuff in Norfolk, which is the closest kind of bar town which you know, that’s a Navy town as well. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:29:55  

Is it Virginia or North Carolina?

 

Richard Brion  1:29:57  

In Virginia. It’s so technically Moyock, North Carolina is right across the border from Virginia. So Virginia Beach, Norfolk, all right there. So we go out into that area to go to the bars because that’s where all the Navy guys go. And one thing about Navy guys is we can always find the best places to find dates, food and drinks in any in any country that we’re in. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:30:20  

Those are the things… 

 

Richard Brion  1:30:20  

…whatever you’re into when it comes to those we can we somehow like have a nose for it, like a bloodhound, we can smell it out, you know? Um, so we go out and we go to this club and you know Caleb’s a shorter dude. And we can’t really see him out on the dance floor and there’s three of us and we’re all of us have a nickname by this point, but Caleb doesn’t. And all of a sudden, we’re like, there he is, and we see this dude, and I wish you could see if I had if there was a camera here, I wish you could see me reenact this because it was the funniest thing. But you see the shoulders of people kind of moving with the music, and then all of a sudden, you see this…You see these two fists like pump up in the air above the shoulders and then you see this like glowing white head from the black light pop up in through the shoulders and then disappear and he’s moving between the crowds almost almost like a bot, like a fishing bobber on a wave in a lake when you see the ripples in the lake and you can see the bobber and then a ducks down between the ripple and then it pops back up. And so he’s he’s so white and so nearly see through that he the black light makes his entire body glow.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:30:35  

That’s hilarious.

 

Richard Brion  1:31:24  

He’s probably gonna be so embarrassed.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:31:37  

Shout out to UV!

 

Richard Brion  1:31:40  

Yeah, he just moved back to Washington not that long ago, so there’s there’s a good chance he’s gonna hear this story. And his wife who probably has never really heard this story’s done justice.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:31:49  

She’s like, makes sense. 

 

Richard Brion  1:31:50  

Yes. Either that or she’s gonna be like she’s heard all these stories and now she hears one from one of the other guys right? So anyway, but yeah, so that’s why I’m saying pasty so we stand out in this crowd in Japan, right? And so here we are carrying it, it becomes national news. I, we’re down in Tokyo one night, because we’re getting ready to go climb Mount Fuji, which is another amazing thing that you need to do.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:32:14  

So it’s national news, like, what because of the parade or because there are these gaijin for white, pasty white foreingers partaking?

 

Richard Brion  1:32:22  

So the parade itself probably was already, there was already news crews there. But then the story became two things, right? So at the time, and it’s well publicized now at this point, but the US government was putting a over-the-horizon radar in North Japan as part of a project with the Missile Defense Agency, and we’ve got a couple of others. And it’s called the x-band radar and the Japanese they called x-bando. Oh, and that’s because there wasn’t really a name for.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:32:49  

It’s the phonetic. 

 

Richard Brion  1:32:50  

Yeah, x-bando radar. And so the story was, and I assume because again, my Japanese is only enough to say hello, thank you, very nice things, and the way the Japanese languages as well there is a masculine version of language and there’s a feminine version.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:33:06  

There’s also there are four levels there. Depending on like formality and stuff. 

 

Richard Brion  1:33:10  

Well, there, yeah, it’s like five or six separate languages. But if you learn to speak from a woman, they can tell, a native speaker can tell. Or if you learn to speak as a man you can tell, and men culturally learn to speak from men and women from women. I learned how to speak from a girl, go figure. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:33:28  

I mean, that’s how I learned Chinese.

 

Richard Brion  1:33:29  

Yeah. So so there’s there’s word choices that I would use. But there was things that I just didn’t recognize. But then all of a sudden I’m in Tokyo. We’re hanging out with some people for dinner and getting, because we’re doing Mount Fuji the next day. And they’re all I hear is x-bando radar and gaijin. That’s the only thing that really made out and I look up and there’s a there’s a little short video clip of the three of us carrying it. And then I assume that they’re also mentioning that it’s these three gaijin foreigners that are part of the x-bando radar program. I’m assuming that’s why they were related and then showing this but in either case that’s the that’s the story about how me and two other guys became a legend in Japan way back in the day in like ’05, ’06’ but

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:34:16  

Nice covert operation, buddy. 

 

Richard Brion  1:34:17  

But yeah, well I mean it wasn’t supposed to be covert.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:34:20  

I guess so.

 

Richard Brion  1:34:21  

I mean that that specifically wasn’t supposed to be covert. I mean, all of the fine I mean there’s no way to hide hundred white dudes in Japan that are carrying guns that work for a contractor, you know. You can’t hide that.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:34:35  

That’s funny.

 

Richard Brion  1:34:36  

I mean, that’s like I mean that’s like trying to go into the middle of a you know, in the middle of a barn of hay. And you know, dried out hay, and then putting like a Coca Cola on the top of it and then not be you know, saying hey, the Coca Cola can’t find it. It’s the only thing that looks like it. it’s it’s not super hard. So yeah, I mean, but when we first got there before everyone else, we were telling people that we were baseball scouts. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:35:08  

That’s funny. 

 

Richard Brion  1:35:09  

Because at first we just didn’t want we wanted, we were told to kind of keep as low profile as possible until such a point, but I mean, they kind of knew we were coming anyway. It’s almost like the Japanese government must have told people because we’d get the questions and we’re like, x-bando radar? No, we’re baseball scouts. No idea what you’re talking about. I’m sure they knew we were lying. But they you know, they played along because they’re polite. That’s funny, but yeah, it’s uh, it was good times but that’s the that’s the story of how we were became a legend in Japan.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:35:39  

Nice, man. It’s always good to be a legend places.

 

Richard Brion  1:35:44  

It’s good to be a legend here in the United States, but I’m not important enough. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:35:46  

You’re working on it. I mean. 

 

Richard Brion  1:35:48  

Or wait is that self aggrandizement to say I’d like to be a legend in the United States? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:35:52  

Dude, everyone should aspire.

 

Richard Brion  1:35:54  

But I mean, it that allowed?

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:35:56  

It’s perfectly fine. I’m not I’m not hating.

 

Richard Brion  1:35:58  

But I mean, I want to be known for changing how our how we grow food and how our relationship with food but that’s, that’s what…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:36:06  

I want to hear a little bit about that the like, you know, I mean it sounds like based on you know based on your travels and diving deep into the food and cultures and stuff like that like you you know you probably have a pretty broad array of interest in different types of foods.

 

Richard Brion  1:36:22  

Yeah, I have become one of those spoiled people. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:36:25  

Same.

 

Richard Brion  1:36:25  

So you know the world works in an interesting place, right? So we we grew up and everything was this local to what we could get in our own resources. And we started out very nomadic and our history because we moved to where resources or then we learned how to cultivate stuff, but we were still limited on what what we had available because only certain things grew in certain places. Then the world became more open as the result of trade and all of this stuff. And we’ve become so used to that selection in our food, right? We get us asparagus out of season, we get a avocados out of season for our local environments. And because of because of my travels I’ve become so used to that. I mean, living growing up in the Seattle area, I got spoiled with seafood. So when I got to New Mexico, I basically avoided it because trust me seafood in the desert, that’s landlocked, like New Mexico. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:37:20  

Same with Vegas, dude. 

 

Richard Brion  1:37:21  

I mean, there was like one, I mean, but in Vegas the same in New Mexico, they had one or two places that paid the money to fly it in fresh.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:37:27  

And they would ship it in every day, that kind of stuff. 

 

Richard Brion  1:37:29  

Yeah. And but of course, you pay for it.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:37:30  

It’s few and far between and you got to find it and you pay for it.

 

Richard Brion  1:37:32  

You pay for it, which of course then is we’re talking about sustainability in life, right? That isn’t super environmentally friendly to spend that kind of greenhouse gases on flop, frying or frying…flying in your seafood fresh. So that becomes a conundrum, right? We’re trying to take care, be better stewards of our planets. And, you know, that’s kind of how I feel about environmentalism, is we’re stewards not masters and we’re supposed to take care of it for the next generation on some level. Does that mean that I’m perfect? Fuck no. I make bad decisions just like everybody else does. You know, some mornings I forget to bring my reusable coffee mug to the to the coffee store and you can’t really recycle it because the plastic liner, the wax liner, or whatever. But what I’m saying when it comes to this and food is I love my selection. But I also kind of want to be part of the part of the solution in terms of that. But how do we reconcile both? And that was one of the that was one of two reasons that catalyzed my shift in agriculture. And the other was chasing narcotics, and bad narcotics, counternarcotics policy in Afghanistan when I was at Blackwater. And so that kind of really started in this: how do we do two things? How do we provide a way for the Afghan farmers to make a living with something that is a economic value crop that nurses…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:38:57  

Versus what? Like opium fields?

 

Richard Brion  1:38:58  

Okay, so. Oh yeah, so let’s let’s dive down. So let’s take a little tangent here. So for those listening, remember, we’re talking about that sustainability and agriculture and that shift between two things. But then let’s dive down the tangent on one of the catalysts for this. And that was when I was in Afghanistan. So we were part of we were part of the counternarcotics mission. And there were three basic arms to counter narcotics that the US and ISAF forces were taking. There was counter poppy eradication. So that means that we were eradicating the poppy crop. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:39:00  

Opium poppy, which they use to create opium and heroin and all that stuff.

 

Richard Brion  1:39:34  

And articulate. Yeah,  and all of that, and technically, I mean, that even is where you’re, you know, that’s opium, which is an opiate, so that’s even where your hydrocodone, your oxycodone…all of it.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:39:46  

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, opioids.

 

Richard Brion  1:39:49  

Any of your opioids. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:39:50  

Those come from opium poppies. 

 

Richard Brion  1:39:52  

Yes, and but there you know, there’s a legal restrictions, so. But in Afghanistan, it’s the largest producer opium poppy in the world and for illicit purposes primarily. But the farmers there, they don’t grow it because they’re they’re wanting to be part of the illicit drug trade they’re not it’s not like the coke of drug no it’s not as manufactured not like some of the coca fields in like Colombia or whatever that are owned by the cartel, that were set up by the cartel. No, these are farmers that have this land that pretty much doesn’t grow much more that makes money. For there’s a couple of reasons that some of that is environmental. Afghanistan is a high desert just like New Mexico. So you New Mexicans know what I’m talking about. Nothing fucking grows there.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:40:39  

It’s also mountainous and rocky, right?

 

Richard Brion  1:40:41  

Very mountainous in places and rocky. And then the other thing is that traditional knowledge base because of some related to the way the Taliban kept information from them, there, you know, human defication on their crop fields and stuff, make it to where it’s not really safe for consumption. And so they, and again, to kind of bring it down to where everybody knows what we’re talking about. We’re talking about straight up shitting on the fields that you then grow your food. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:41:10  

Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  1:41:10  

That’s what I mean by human dedication, just in case. Some people confuse the word with vomit. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:41:15  

They are some shitty fields.

 

Richard Brion  1:41:15  

Yes, yeah, literally, they’re some shitty fields. And it’s just, it’s from a lack of education. It’s, it’s a good one, but it’s a lack of education, right? So they grow, what would it doesn’t matter, right? All of that doesn’t matter. Because the opium is processed with hydrochloric acid and sulfur and all these things that doesn’t matter, it kills everything. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:41:16  

Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  1:41:25  

So they grew this crop, and then they didn’t have to worry about finding a market for it, right? Because the illicit part of the value chain, so the drug dealers out of Russia or China, they would come in and bring everything else, to where these farmers just grow it, harvest it, and then they don’t have to do anything else. Somebody else comes in, they have these scientists to refine it. They have the distribution channel to take care of it. Everything they’ve got, no problem, lock stock.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:42:08  

So basically, they’re just essentially they’re just growing a crop.

 

Richard Brion  1:42:10  

Yeah, they’re just growing the crop that makes them the money. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:42:13  

Yeah. They’re just trying to survive and make a living just like anybody else. 

 

Richard Brion  1:42:16  

Exactly. There is no evil intent or anything.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:42:19  

We’re not talking about El Chapo here…

 

Richard Brion  1:42:21  

No, they’re just growing what made them money. So then the US government, we think that we need to eradicate it. So then we fly in, and we burn it to the ground. Which then of course, 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:42:30  

Fucking awesome. 

 

Richard Brion  1:42:30  

Well, yeah. And then we we figure it out later that this isn’t really good for hearts and minds or really, we’re creating two more problems rather than solve by trying to solve one problem.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:42:40  

Kind of like kind of like trying to, like if you got a leaky ship, you’re trying to like patch it with gum or some shit, but then you find two more spots.

 

Richard Brion  1:42:47  

Yeah, it’s that or, you know, it’s just it’s chasing problems. And we have a problem with as humans, sometimes to solve the problem we create bigger problems. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:42:56  

Yeah.

 

Richard Brion  1:42:57  

So then we figure we can’t do that. So we start paying them to grow grains. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:43:02  

Grow what?

 

Richard Brion  1:43:03  

Grains like rice cereal grains. Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:43:06  

I heard something different. I was like what the hell are you talking about? 

 

Richard Brion  1:43:07  

Yeah, wheats and cereal grains and stuff. But the problem is because of those farming practices, there’s no one to sell it to. So now we’re running that risk of sending them back because now they’re not okay, we were paying them a subsidy. But it wasn’t enough to really supplement all their income just to grow it. Part of their income was supposed to come from selling what was being grown. Nobody wanted to buy it. So now we get the so now what are we we’re stuck in this cycle that we created. So now we’re buying it, and then we can’t get rid of it because no one will buy it because of food safety issues. So we’re burning it again. So either way, we’re burning down crops to the tune of multi million dollars a year. And so that was kind of what got me thinking, how do we sustainably allow for people to grow things that differently and, and things that can make them money that may not be indigenous to that area, but doing in a way that’s sustainable and creates an economic viability? 

 

Richard Brion  1:43:37  

So that kind of catalyzed the idea for what I’m doing. And then also that, that my own desire when I was in New Mexico and I couldn’t get a lemon from the grocery store or that I couldn’t get…because New Mexico is more food insecure than some African countries, believe it or not, because the way the logistics system works, I want a head of lettuce and it’s pretty much bad, and or a tomato, and it’s pretty much bad. And like, I want these selections, I want these food choices, but it’s: how am I going to do this sustainably? And so that’s kind of what catalyzed even farther me finally jumping into it and with Revolution Agriculture is to really fundamentally change our relationship with agriculture from that mono-cropped, chemical agriculture, just grow tons of it and everything else will sort itself out later, strip the soil. 

 

Richard Brion  1:44:47  

And that’s kind of like what we’re doing now is chasing: how do we really grow anything anywhere, but then also do it in such a way that we’re growing as close to the consumer as possible? Our goal is to bring the production of every crop within 10 miles of where it’s being consumed. So it’s a global solution by taking a hyperlocal approach. And then these things can be used in places like Afghanistan to create economic opportunity, because now we’re growing crops that people want to buy in a system that also by its own design negates the even the ability to deficate on it and to fall back into bad practices. You can’t do it. So to be an example of falling back into bad practices, USAID found 15 farms in Afghanistan spent a million dollars apiece to completely rehabilitate, and then grow stuff and then the US embassies and military were buying the crops. But then as the situation kind of deteriorated and USAID wasn’t going out and visiting the farms as much, the old habits started getting back in.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:45:51  

Shitting in the fields. 

 

Richard Brion  1:45:53  

That and other, letting their animals that weren’t, you know, not they weren’t doing it properly. And so then food safety tests were coming in and wasn’t meeting the threshold for being able to be served to the US forces. So then we just threw $15 million down the drain to rehab these these farms. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:46:12  

Yep. 

 

Richard Brion  1:46:13  

So the design of our systems in and of itself completely negates that problem. So that’s kind of one of those two parts solutions, right? Now we can grow anything anywhere with our system. So it can be right in the middle of town or right in the middle of Kabul, Afghanistan.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:46:28  

How much space do you need? Like, you know,

 

Richard Brion  1:46:29  

so

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:46:30  

because because I know I’m thinking like, Okay, if I’m a restaurant, for example, I go through a lot of product. 

 

Richard Brion  1:46:37  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:46:38  

Right? Um, I think chipola like once upon a restaurant, for example, could go through like two, 500 pounds of chicken a week for example. 

 

Richard Brion  1:46:50  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:46:50  

You know, and so that’s and that’s just the portion of it but like, you know, the the other ingredients, you know, like the rice or whatever else, the tomatoes, jalapenos, that sort of thing. I mean, they go through a lot of stuff. So they have is like how like, how big or small are these things? And how big or small do they have to be to be effective?

 

Richard Brion  1:47:07  

At the smallest…yes, so the smallest size that we we target is 80 square feet. And 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:47:12  

So then a little bit smaller than your hotel in Japan.

 

Richard Brion  1:47:14  

Yeah, a little bit smaller, not much smaller. Um, that’s actually about the size of my room in Iraq. And then we want you know, about to 320 square feet, the our growing system could actually take over larger spaces, but it’s not needed. And the reason that that’s important is because urban environment space is a premium, becomes super expensive. But there’s a lot of space that’s only 80 square feet, 320 square feet that no one’s doing anything with. Walk down any of your urban city streets in downtown and just look at the fenced lots. They have a bunch of garbage doing nothing. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:47:48  

Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  1:47:48  

So if we can take over those spaces, there’s a lot of positive value there. We can even start reactivating areas of communities that have seen deinvestment because they don’t access to anything. Now we’re creating access to a good food source. So now we might be able to catalyze the reuse of land again and bring back investment. So we’re talking about tackling a lot of problems from a food perspective. Unfortunately some of the people that actually can invest don’t see it that way. “You’re not a high speed, low drag lettuce farm”, or “Why aren’t you a this for that kind of guy?” I just had a conversation a couple days ago about investors are going to look for the “You’re the this guy”, you know?

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:48:29  

Well, that’s what they want. They want the easy comparative, right?

 

Richard Brion  1:48:34  

Yeah. And that’s, that’s treating 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:48:36  

That’s over simplification.

 

Richard Brion  1:48:37  

Well, and that’s treating a symptom. But that’s also how you end up spending money on these businesses that, because they are laser focused, that sounds so scalable, but that’s how you end up at IPO with an S-1 that’s got $900 million in losses on your S-1 filing for an IPO. Because you’re burning through cash more caring more about what that laser focus is than you’re actually caring about the long term viability of your solution, because you’re tackling a problem, not a symptom of a problem. And that’s so yeah, we have our laser focus, right? We’re going to start with the hyper local stuff. But for a restaurant like Chipotle…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:49:13  

Shout out to Chipotle.

 

Richard Brion  1:49:15  

Yeah, shout out to Chipotle. We might, we might end up needing to take over a larger space in order to provide enough turnover. But when we’re talking about having access to all of these small, I might not need one large space, I might just need 20 or 30 small spaces to be able to produce it.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:49:31  

I mean, I even think of like, you know, I’m from the Midwest, right? I’m from Michigan, like I think of like, how, how this could be implemented in a place like Detroit. 

 

Richard Brion  1:49:39  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:49:40  

Flint, Saginaw, you know, those cities been decimated since NAFTA happened and the big three, shout out to the big three again, but they started outsourcing the work to Mexico, right?

 

Richard Brion  1:49:51  

Well, yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:49:51  

And I mean, it’s that their economy could definitely use something like that. 

 

Richard Brion  1:49:55  

Well, yeah. And a good example, like I said, too, is it could be used in Kabul. The US military imports so much and it’s so complicated to import. So we can bring these agricultural systems to these communities. And we can also start changing how even our transportation and logistics are. In town here in Seattle, one of the things that they worry about is the first and last mile where these produce trucks are just idling for hours upon hours during the day as they just circle the city to do their deliveries, because they bring them in in one big truck. And then they because of how dense the traffic is, they do one delivery, then they have to go sit and idle in a place and then they have to circle the city to come back to another delivery because they couldn’t make that delivery at that time because it couldn’t access it. If our systems are right next to these places already, we can have people on foot or electric bicycles or regular bicycles that can do the deliveries and we’re talking about changing everything about the way that we look at food. But people are, you know, we resist these things because it sounds so crazy but that’s

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:51:03  

I just sit there and I think about like you know how many times in your travels you’ve been like all like this food there’s nothing like having this food in this place? 

 

Richard Brion  1:51:13  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:51:13  

Right? Like like like it was like I was saying earlier with the sushi thing for example right like after I went to Tokyo had sushi there and like it ruined it for me everywhere, you know? And like like I just said that I think about like…

 

Richard Brion  1:51:25  

Donor kabob’s a good example. Turkish donor kebab. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:51:27  

Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  1:51:28  

When I was in Istanbul used to get them for so cheap from a little donor kebab stand. Germany’s got a lot of them because they’ve got a large immigrant population of Turkish people and it’s become almost as German as it is originally Turkish. And I got here and I’m like, I want one so bad.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:51:47  

You can’t find it.

 

Richard Brion  1:51:48  

Well, luckily enough. There is a stand right on pike, at the end of Pike Place Market. It says Turkish Delight above it. She’s a she’s been here for years. Turkish lady, she’s even got her daughter working in there now. She doesn’t take credit cards, take cash people. But I love her it’s I finally found it but that’s the thing is you can’t always get to those places, right? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:52:12  

Right. 

 

Richard Brion  1:52:12  

And so having access to these things like a friend of mine from high school, she married a Navy guy that and then they were in Guam for a few years. There are things from Guam that she misses them it’s so difficult to get even when you go to those more China Town Asia markets that do important things but even then you run the risk of them not being any good anymore, by the time you get them. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:52:34  

You can’t get, you can’t get the stuff at the same quality or the same availability. Like outside of where it comes from. 

 

Richard Brion  1:52:43  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:52:43  

Whether whether that’s Chinese food here, whether that’s Western food and like China, for example, and I’m using that as my example but you know, like you get go to like a there’s a Mexican restaurant and bar that I used to go to and Beijing. Shout out to QMex. But uh, you know, it’s good for drinking, but like, it was probably some of the best Mexican food in Beijing, but it was shit Mexican food. Well, let’s be honest.

 

Richard Brion  1:53:09  

I mean, New Mexico is the same way. Right? So I grew up in Washington where most of the Mexican food you can find is from, like, Jalisco. And I became very partial to it. I got to New Mexico thinking that okay, I should be able to get good Mexican food. I thought it was all terrible. It was all absolutely terrible. And I’m not saying…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:53:10  

In New Mexico? 

 

Richard Brion  1:53:10  

In New Mexico. So it’s because it’s a cross between native New Mexican cuisine and more Chihuahua Mexico and I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with those cuisines in and of themselves. But when you were thinking of going for like a Jalisco, Mexico, they just don’t do it. And they just don’t do the thing for you. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:53:56  

Yeah. So I couldn’t see if it was still recording. 

 

Richard Brion  1:53:59  

Yeah. Looks like it is so yeah, no, it looks like we’re good. Yeah. But um, so yeah, it’s just one of those things I just couldn’t find it then I get I have to come back to Washington state of all places to get like, good proper, what I feel is proper Mexican food. Or when I was living after the Navy, I got out for a bit and I was living with my grandparents and in Yuma, Arizona, and we used to go across the border to Alcadonus, Mexico all the time, and getting proper street tacos from one of those, you know, those are what I missed. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:54:30  

That’s good shit, dude. Yeah, and they just didn’t have good street tacos. 

 

Richard Brion  1:54:33  

And they just didn’t have them in New Mexico. And there was all this stuff where I just didn’t understand but yeah, so that’s part of what we’re doing. You have something we bring these the ability to grow these crops closer so you get both the selection but then you can also make that sustainable choice. So we’re giving people that combination because the other problem to that we’re we’re having is…

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:54:54  

You’re also reducing the carbon footprint too, right?

 

Richard Brion  1:54:55  

Well, exactly which is important because whatever you believe politically, climate change is happening on some, some degree. You can see it in the shift in the coffee belt, we’re seeing where that coffee belt is, which is traditionally between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn on a very specific set of geographic coordinates. T hat that belt is shifting. And that means the climate is changing somehow, for some reason. So ignore the political reasons from it. It’s happening, whether it’s man made or just Yeah, the planet. Yeah, whether whether it’s cyclical planet, yeah, whether it’s man made whatever you believe you believe it and do that, but it’s happening. And so what that’s creating is we’re losing arable land each year, 29.7 million acres of arable land every single year. To put that in perspective for the people in Washington, that’s basically half the state of Washington by land size every single year. 

 

Richard Brion  1:55:47  

Per year. So that means that and then if all we’re doing is these high speed, low drag lettuce farms like all these VC investors want and there’s plenty of them out there, and truthfully, 1000 bucks and a trip down to an indoor garden shop and anybody can set up one of these high speed low drag lattice farms. They’re not that unique. No, no offense to you hydro guys that are probably getting really mad at me. But it’s not that hard to do. You know, my 16 year old kid with 500 bucks could set one up. Problem is we’re having is we’re losing arable land, and then we’re shifting to a mono crop solution from an indoor controlled environment agriculture system. We’re pretty much heading to that scene in the matrix when Neo gets woken up. And then he’s spooning that goop and, and Rabbit’s response is that it’s a synthetic amino that has all of the essential things that your body needs. We’re heading that way but with greens. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:55:47  

Per year? 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:56:41  

I hope it takes longer than my lifetime. I love food too much.

 

Richard Brion  1:56:45  

But if we do if we continue this path where we’re saying that agriculture is going to be fine, the climate is going to be fine. And we’re just going to do hydro lettuce. We’re going to be drinking green lettuce smoothies pretty soon, you know, pretty quick. And we’re trying to tackle both that we use less water in our growing system 60 to 90% less water. We’re producing more food in the same square footage. We’re producing it faster. But it’s got selection. Our first crop was our radish, was a French breakfast radish. That tasted amazing. Then we did lodgest peas and we’ve done carrots. And so we’re actually trying to provide both of those things. That’s selection and sustainability. But again, you know, it takes money and effort and all that kind of stuff. And we’re hoping that we can find the right group that says this is what we need. And that’s what we’re after. And that’s what we’re trying to build here. Our first commercial box is being built here in Washington state and, but it’s all out of our own money.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:57:44  

I got a buddy that he is, I went a high school with him. He got his PhD in agriculture. Dr. Pat. Shout out Pat. He actually works. Who was it? It was like some major some big ag company. 

 

Richard Brion  1:57:59  

Doesn’t surprise me. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:58:00  

Pioneer or something like that one of those, but he goes all over the world is like dealing with like genetics and stuff like that. I think he’s in Germany quite a bit.

 

Richard Brion  1:58:10  

Yeah, that would make sense.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:58:11  

Yeah.

 

Richard Brion  1:58:11  

Yeah, but that’s where Bear Monsanto is and. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:58:14  

Yeah, sure. So I don’t know who he works for whatever but he’s in Minnesota. But you know a company like that could be something.

 

Richard Brion  1:58:22  

Yeah. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:58:22  

Or that might happen that might that might get it it might have an interest or 

 

Richard Brion  1:58:25  

Yeah, or they’re gonna try to kill it because it, it goes after their their core market. But some people in telling us we need to crowdfund, but the problem is is I suck at social media. Don’t tell anyone. I couldn’t get a 500 people to like a post to save my life, which means I couldn’t get a viral campaign to crowdfund this for nothing. Now, you put me in a room with people and I’m great, but really hard to get 5 million people to contribute 100 bucks into a room without paying $5 million for a venue to get 5 million people so kind of ends up being self defeating at that point. But so that’s some of the struggles we have but that’s what we’re after tackle and we’ve got a cool team. My my COO, he used to run manufacturing units for like Sherwin Williams, RPM International.

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:59:13  

Cool. 

 

Richard Brion  1:59:14  

You know, so we’ve got some manufacturing background my chief development officer used to be a dude for Hyperloop TT the super fast transportation but he’s also a meta, he’s a medal winning medical cannabis grower out of California. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:59:28  

No shit? 

 

Richard Brion  1:59:28  

Yeah. So he’s, he knows his stuff when it comes to those things and, you know, then then my wife actually does all of our graphics and all of those kinds of things to make it look good, because I suck at those things. But the one thing that we kind of lack is that understanding of how to do social media so well. Anybody got any any suggestions? You know, hit me up tell me how stupid I am. You know, send me an email tell me how bad I am at this stuff. And you know?

 

Brian Schoenborn  1:59:53  

Dude, I think it’s finding the right the right person, you know, the right champion, right? You know, like, even with my stuff or whatever, like, you know, you can sit here and you can shout from the rooftops all you want, dude, but nobody’s gonna hear you until you find that right person that can help you with a certain, you know, help you fill certain holes, right? 

 

Richard Brion  2:00:13  

Yeah, I mean, we were even told how awesome our tech would be for China for a number of reasons. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:00:17  

For sure. 

 

Richard Brion  2:00:18  

But I mean that that requires money to get into that market and a champion to help us really kind of get to that market. And I mean, it’s something that we want to do because it’s not just solve agriculture for the US. We designed our systems to be able to put in put in places like remote Africa or Afghanistan that can do these things, while accounting for the fact that the labor isn’t going to be super technology advanced. That’s the other problem with a lot of these vertical indoor hydroponic companies. You almost need a stem degree to even be able to harvest lettuce from these places. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:00:49  

Yeah.

 

Richard Brion  2:00:49  

It’s the same thing that happened to a lot of mechanics, right? Once cars went from being mostly mechanical, mostly computers, a good chunk of mechanics lost their job and…

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:00:59  

And then suddenly had to have an IT degree.

 

Richard Brion  2:01:01  

Yeah, essentially to be a to work on cars. And I mean, that’s kind of what’s going on with agriculture as well as either you still do the same old thing, the same old way, which we’re losing the ability to, or you need a freakin advanced STEM degree in order to be able to work at a farm for crying out. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:01:16  

Isn’t that crazy? 

 

Richard Brion  2:01:17  

I mean, that’s insane. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:01:18  

Yeah. 

 

Richard Brion  2:01:18  

So I mean, but that’s where we’re at. That’s what we’re doing. And hopefully these kinds of things where we keep telling our cool stories, yeah. Chatting with people, and they’ll find us and enjoy. But I mean, that’s just one of the things we’re doing. The rest of it, we’re still trying to keep keep light of the situation and have a good time and meet new friends. And

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:01:37  

I gotta tell you, it’s been it’s been a hell of a time.

 

Richard Brion  2:01:40  

Yeah, we probably could keep going for like four hours.

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:01:43  

But I think pretty good point right now,

 

Richard Brion  2:01:45  

I think you and I both have other things we have to get to today.

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:01:48  

I got stuff to do. We’ve got places to be. 

 

Richard Brion  2:01:50  

I actually have an investor meeting I go talk to who’s actually the happens to be from China. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:01:55  

Oh cool. Give him a nihao for me. 

 

Richard Brion  2:01:57  

Lives in Seattle now, but

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:02:01  

Say, say wode pengyou Bancheng shuo nihao. It just says my friend Brian, well Bancheng is my Chinese name, but yeah my friend Brian says hi basically. 

 

Richard Brion  2:02:11  

Yeah.

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:02:13  

But cool man. Yeah, dude, it’s been a great time chatting again. Maybe somebody hears this, can you can you tell us a little bit? I mean, you know obviously it’s not an infomercial but can you give us a little plug? What do you you know, tell us about the name of your company? How do we get ahold of you?

 

Richard Brion  2:02:27  

Yeah, so it’s Revolution Agriculture, and it’s simply revolutionagriculture.com, and you can find our social media links from there. Some of them might find Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. But that’s how you find us. If you’re interested in being a host or a customer. There’s places to sign up as both if you want to help tell me how stupid I am at doing my job. You know, I’m always interested in hearing that feedback as well. But you know, if you can if you’re going to give criticism don’t be surprised if at first I uh, I reach back with a with a passive aggressive haughty remark. You know, that’s just how it goes you be mean you get me back but we’ll figure it out. I’m always up for suggestions and if there’s a champion in the winds out there that can help us figure it out, you know, how to get to the next step, I, we could use it we’re like I said, we’re out to really change how things go and we need all the help we can get. And I appreciate Brian having us on here to or Bancheng, you know, Half the City over here.

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:03:29  

Shout out to Half the City

 

Richard Brion  2:03:30  

And if you if you know if you know, Half the City over here and not me or Brian and not me, then reach out to Brian, he’ll put you in touch so. 

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:03:37  

Right on man. 

 

Richard Brion  2:03:38  

Appreciate it, man.

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:03:38  

Hell yeah, dude, it’s been a good time. 

 

Richard Brion  2:03:40  

You too.

 

Brian Schoenborn  2:03:40  

Give it up for Richard Brion, guys. You’ve been listening to Half the City with Brian Schoenborn presented by 8B Media. Be sure to subscribe to this podcast, share it with your friends, and leave a solid five star review to ensure these stories get spread far and wide. For more information, as well as listen to other shows, including “Relentless a Survivor’s Search for Passion, Purpose and Inner Peace” and “Beyond Relentless”, be sure to check out 8bmedia.com Thank you for listening.

 

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

 

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