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W W W. S A N TA B A R B A R A S E N T I N E L .CO M
by Jana Mackin
A journalist and a poet, Jana has lived everywhere from New Orleans and Butte, Montana to Saudi Arabia, where she taught English to children. Her articles have appeared in numerous publications, including The Washington Post and San Francisco Examiner. She now lives in Goleta.
The Man of La Mancha Rides Again hiTekHOBO Grows Roots in the Goodland
Tom Sepa – aka hiTekHOBO, Tommy Bronx (pictured here) and Skylar Thomas – lets it rip in his Rocinante, a 1989 Ford Aerostar.
never actually thought I’d say this (and that’s really saying something), but I think I just met Don Quixote at Goleta Coffee Company. Yes, right here, amidst the Wall Streetravaged ruins of American society and the still unexplained conspiracy swirling around World Trade Center 7, a knight errant has embarked on a hero’s journey to find himself. In the process, he tilts against the blustery windmills of info-tainment and silences the bells and whistles of the idiot box. Combining the best of Miguel de Cervantes, Jack Kerouac and John Steinbeck’s road-warrior protagonists, our very own modern day Man of La Mancha has spent the last seven years on a journey as much to see America as to live an off-the-grid life; a life that by its very existence critiques the corporate oligarchy’s diversionary tactics used to control us in the twilight of individual freedoms. (Yeah, that’s right. Chew on that one for a bit.) Outside of the Coffee Company, his faithful Rocinante – a 1989 Ford Aerostar – awaits further adventure in the parking lot.
Tom Sepa Is Free Fifty-eight year old Tom Sepa is free. Truly. A rugged individualist and constitutionalist, Sepa ranks among the few truly genuine human beings I’ve ever met. Here is a man courageous enough to follow his passion and embrace the uncertainty of being uniquely individual. He searches for a spring of truth in the drought of a thirsty Democracy. In the fading light of the
American dream, he constitutes a threat to a fear-based society. Why? Because, like I said a few words ago, he is free. Truly. During the couple hours we talked, I viewed in his journey a mirror to my soul – a gypsy poet whose faint breath frosts the glass. I felt the soft pulse from the specter of my unrealized dreams. My inner voice kept harping “sold out,” given my own abandonment of my starving poet self years ago in exchange for the dark shadow of a hack. And the illuminant narrative of this modern Don Quixote wakened my sleepwalker psyche. “I’m rich,” he said. “I do what I want when I want.” It’s hard to argue with that, Tom. Hard indeed.
hiTekHOBO Gets Educated and Pays the Bills For the past seven years, Tom has made a living online as hiTekHOBO, earning around $2,000 a month with his Best Sales Lead business. He is not homeless and does not take handouts. While others fear the great outdoors, he basks in the freedom and has the place to himself. “We live in a fear-based society. It’s a guilt trip, divide and conquer,” he told me. “The term ‘homeless’ is totally denigrating to people. I want to give people hope who are down on their luck. I want to show you can make it if you have a computer, internet and wireless.” “People have helped me,” he added, “so I
want to help others.” Such Kennedy-esque ethics were born in a working-class Italian-American Bronx family. Tom’s father was an Industrial Arts teacher in Harlem for 30 years. His mother, now deceased, was a guidance counselor in the South Bronx for about the same amount of time. He has two sisters, Lisa and Maria. Tom recalls his family fondly. “Their goal was to fulfill Kennedy’s ‘New Frontier’ of a well-educated population that permits students to lift themselves from poverty through education. They believed in the New Frontier. They believed education could change people. They believed a welleducated public is the best defense against tyranny.” “They called the TV ‘the idiot box,’” Tom relayed, “always stuck with me.” “My dad said, ‘Get an education,’ but he didn’t mean a formal education. He meant learning from whatever life throws at you and using it to improve your situation.”
Tommy Bronx Saves His Own Life
Embracing uncertainty, Sepa embarked on his first road trip in the mid ‘70s. He left New York City for the Canadian Rockies, then he headed south thru Glacier National Park and Yellowstone, and ultimately west to San Francisco and the Bay Area. “Everybody should go on a road trip. It’s within the reach of everyone. No one is ever denied a ticket,” said Sepa, who has lived in Goleta in his van for the past couple months. In 1979, he was a guitarist known as Tommy Bronx in The Adaptors, a punk rock house band that opened for a lot of others at Mabuhay Gardens. A cross between DEVO and the B-52s, they released an album, Trust In Technology / In The Slot, but Sepa still needed a day job. Over several years in the Bay Area, he worked in various roles as a salesman, manager and even as the founder and chief executive of his own video production business. During that time, he married his first wife. They divorced after ten years in 1991. Later, he met his second wife, to whom he remains married. Unfortunately, Tom hasn’t seen her for a while because she had to return to South America – but “we still Skype
about every day,” Tom told me with a smile. After she left, he couldn’t afford the rent so he moved into a single resident occupancy hotel in San Francisco’s Mission District. Surrounded by the “dregs of society,” Sepa opted to begin camping and living in Golden Gate Park beginning in 2005. His perspective was simple: “It’s better to sleep under the stars than rub elbows with crack addicts and criminals.” (Also hard to argue with.) After three years and saving $10 a day while camping, he bought his van in 2008 and hit the road. He made the hero’s choice. “I had to recreate myself in order to save my life,” he said, “I had to act out an inspiring story.” So he did.
In Search of Sal Paradise Tom’s travels have included a recent crosscountry trip to visit his father in Florida, stopping by Four Corners and Durango where he rode the Durango Silverton train featured in movies like Night Passage with Jimmy Stewart. He also visited the cliff dwellings at Mesa Verde. Sepa had never seen the California Central Coast and decided to head this way. After staying for a time in San Luis Obispo, he came south to Goleta arriving around his birthday in November 2012. He’s been here ever since, and has settled into the vibes of Goleta Goodland quite nicely. In fact, he has finished about half of his 50,000-word novel entitled hiTekHOBO, in search of Sal Paradise right here. The book is based on hiTekHOBO’s experiences, and is written under the pen name of Skylar Thomas. (Sepa’s third pseudonym, if you’re keeping track.) It plays on Jack Kerouac’s character Sal Paradise in On The Road. And as Sepa writes, his quixotic quest to find himself unfolds through experiential narrative. And Goodland Goleta is playing a picaresque role. “Don Quixote never finds the imaginary enemies he’s looking for, but in the process of the hero’s search, he finds himself,” said Sepa. “It’s taken me seven years to write. And I’m not leaving here until the book is done.” Take as much time as you need, Tom, you’ve got a home in the Goodland. And I can’t wait to read the manuscript.
Goleta Girl’s Picks Barney Brantingham Whispers About Libraries
opular journalist Barney Brantingham will spill the hush hush as he speaks about his experiences with libraries, from his hometown Chicago to the Goodland’s bookshelves. Come learn the subtext of the Dewey Decimal System, the back-story of what’s inside hardbacks. The free lecture will be held on Sunday, January 27, at 2pm, at the Goleta Valley Library, 500 North Fairview Avenue.
Live Theater In the Goodland
re you ready for a Restoration period farce with a modern twist? Then a free mustsee is the Elements Theatre Collective’s presentation of Or, a play by Lizy Duffy Adams. Among various presentation sites, the play will be shown on Thursday, January 31, at 6:30pm, at Friendship Manor, 6647 El Colegio Road, Isla Vista. Check out www. elementstheatrecollective.com for more information.
Santa Barbara Film Festival 2013