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Beans, bullets, bars of gold

What’s in your bug-out bag?



Illustration by Morgan Welch

Do you have a plan if shit hits the fan and we need to evacuate the city? According to the Oklahoma Department of Transportation and the Tulsa Fire Department, our city isn’t particularly prepared—or really ideal—for GTFOing.

“Hurricane Katrina was an example—people were told to evacuate and the highway systems jammed up—but you’d probably want to go on mainways so you don’t get caught in an area you’re not familiar with,” said Kenna Mitchell, ODOT public information manager. Stan May, public information officer for the fire department, agrees: “My advice is to stick to major highways—you run into issues either way. People aren’t going to be too patient, but smaller roads aren’t going to help. Since we’re not in a coastal area, those routes aren’t laid out.”

Both experts noted that escaping north/northwest is preferable, though, if you need to find an alternative route—there’s a better chance of avoiding waterways (which require travel on major roads for crossing), whereas southern and eastern routes are obstructed by the Arkansas and  Verdigris Rivers and other bodies of water. There are some side roads and smaller roads northwest that lead to Highway 99, up into Osage County, but “there are very few roads that provide a direct shot out of town,” May said.

What we’re hearing: We’re screwed.

But, as Cormac McCarthy writes in “The Road”: “When one has nothing left, make ceremonies out of the air and breathe upon them.” 

So, whether it be for decorum, diversion, or doom, let’s pack a bug-out bag, take a diaphragmatic breath or two, and prep for what may come.


Laura Cook, comedian, host of comedy nights at The Beehive Lounge and The Starlite, and future queen of the Trumpocalypse

So, ever since Trump took office, my mom has started preparing our family for the End Times. Some of the things she's given me are actually fantastic! Solar power/hand crank radio. Even the apocalypse won't kill NPR. Life straw! This girthy thing filters water as you sip it. [Then], clothing for all weather. All black. If there is one thing I've learned from my time on this planet, it's that people respond to fear. What better way to assert your dominance than to be murdered the fuck out? Crown made of assorted bones. Ya'll need to know who your new queen is. Bundle of black pens and markers for documentation, cave drawings, eyeliner. Machete for self defense. Slashin’ my way through the wilderness. Rope for climbing stuff, lassoing stuff, apocalyptic sex stuff. Lighters. Compact shovel [for] burying the dead, digging a moat around my new palace, which will most likely be the ruins of [The] Fur Shop. Big ol’ can of wasp spray: this shit shoots far. It will melt the eyes out of any adversary from a distance. Also, maybe there are now super wasps?


Western Doughty, photographer

I’ve got a great bug-out bag. It’s literally a little bag. It’s a variety of stuff for when I go on crazy road trips, photography jaunts. Ok. The “Green Book,” amoxicillin, Zippo lighter, Provigil, cigars, pipe and tobacco, burner phone, duct tape, and $20 in $2 bills. Know why? Because when you’re in small towns and you tip with a $2 bill, it makes for a conversation starter. Works every time.


Chris Lee Becker, musician and fishmonger

I don’t plan on surviving. I don’t feel like I’m the type of guy who would make it through Doomsday. I actually jokingly gave my wife one once. I think we had beef jerky, a pint of bourbon, a pocketknife. We ate the jerky and drank the bourbon. Didn’t take it real seriously. I’d probably rather just go.


Sasha Martin, author of “Life from Scratch: A Memoir of Food, Family, and Forgiveness”

I sort of have one for tornadoes, because we don’t have a basement. We drive to underground parking lots—big strong structures, because our house feels like it’s made of paper. My daughter would be like, “I’m hungry,” so I started packing bottled water, granola, apples, a blanket, a stuffy for her. The joke is—we haven’t done it yet—a friend and I have joked about meeting with wine and cheese to make it fun. If I had to bring one book—Stephen King’s “The Stand” would be a good one, because it’s all about the end of the world, reestablishing society.


Emma Thadani, community school coordinator at Ellen Ochoa Elementary

A giant stack of books that I probably won’t read, but I have to feel prepared! Computer, phone charger if I remember it, change of clothes, workout attire—which I probably won’t use, either. Snacks. Like popcorn, dark chocolate, trail mix. A water bottle, a stack of work, and a notebook—or three!


Samson Balachander, process excellence champion at Helmerich & Payne, Inc.

It’s kind of funny, because I kind of have one packed at all times for overnight trips to Houston. I have my laptop bag with a compartment where I have a pair of boxers, pair of socks, and a toothbrush—and to me, I’ll be fine as long as I remember to wash those when I get back. I’m actually living your question right now. I didn’t spend any time packing today and I had that bag and just went for the ride.


Anna Cunningham, sales associate at Backwoods

Definitely a headlamp, a water filter system, freeze-dried food, a jet-boil stove. Sunscreen, because I’m a redhead. First aid. Probably a multi-purpose tool: knife, pliers, fancy stuff like that. For sleeping, a sleeping pad, tent, sleeping bag. Solar panel, a charging system for my devices, a compass—I don’t really use those, but sure.


Amy Jenkins, angel of soulful service

Is there a limit to items? Coconut oil, cannabis, chocolate, and, I don’t know … my baby? A book called “The Ethical Slut,” and maybe a Pure X album. Also Palo Santo.


Timantha Norman, director of school operations at KIPP Tulsa

I wouldn’t take a huge bag of things, and they’d probably be pretty light. Compact food, things that are non-perishable, water, personal objects like pictures of family, a book, maybe, but probably something to write on, and a few personal hygiene items.


Liz Taylor-Pounds, bartender at Amelia’s

What if you don’t believe in the apocalypse? Like in 2000, everyone thought shit was going to hit the fan. I guess I’d have my musical instruments, family heirlooms, important paperwork, a compass (I’m into directions of space—it’s spiritual), as much alcohol as I can fit in one [bag].


Dan Riffe, musician and art weirdo

If the shit seriously hits the fan “The Road”-style, a bug-out bag should probably contain a good rifle, a couple of pistols, and lots of ammo. You won't need much water or MREs, or more than a couple of changes of underwear, because if you're well-armed you can probably take what you need from the stockpilers. In an apocalyptic scenario, realpolitik trumps sentimentality. I own neither guns nor ammo so am probably screwed in an end-of-the-world situation.


Chris Foster, self-proclaimed exhibitionist

I had a bag—no shit—I was in a really volatile marriage and I had a bag I used a couple of times. Sometimes you’ve got to get the hell out and don’t have time to pack. But for [this], probably a toy piano, a book of sleep/charm spells—you know it will be hard to sleep, and I’ll want it for my potential enemies, so I can get away. Maybe a yoga mat. I have to have a Dutch oven, some string, twine, and rope. Readers and books—I’ve only got one chance here, so why don’t I bring “Breakfast of Champions.” And Dr. Seuss has a couple of pretty good ones, like “The King’s Stilts.” And then maybe “Howl.” Paperclips, a chef’s knife, flint rock for a fire, and I’ve got to have a spatula. Oh, and I’ll need a manual coffee grinder and French press. And a dozen pairs of tube socks—three stripes.


Zac King, owner of Anthroproach

After Mother Earth’s deep cancer has been eradicated, I emerge from a bunker as the last malignant cell. I must flourish again within my host, but I will need a few things from my luggage: gluten protein pellets—so I can regain my strength, the resonating chamber of a velociraptor from “Jurassic Park III”—so I can ward off great predators, a pair of flip-flops—so I can teach the next generation what not to do, and a copy of “Burn After Reading,” because you eventually grow numb to Brad Pitt dying in the middle.


Colleen Thurston, producer for “Osiyo, Voices of the Cherokee People”

I’m assuming I can’t get a Delorean and travel back in to time to stop whatever’s happening? I’m definitely bringing nuts and dark chocolate, my Leatherman, coconut oil, my DivaCup, duct tape, my coffee mug, herbal remedies, insulin for my diabetic dog—though we know that’s not ending well, eventually. And I’m bringing a copy of Daniel H. Wilson’s “How to Survive a Robot Uprising,” because we all know it’s not going to be zombies; it’s going to be Siri and Alexa.


Mike Wozniak, co-owner of Soundpony, founder of Bike Club Tulsa, and man most likely to kill John Legere in the Thunderdome

It's bikes and tubes and a Walkman and dog food. Bikes and bike parts and dog food are “Mad Max” principle. There will be no fossil fuel energy resources left for auto travel, the sun will be shrouded and the wind still; therefore I will power my transportation with humanpower. Energy will be supplied by the only remaining food sources: ALPO, Kibbles N’ Bits, Milk Bone, et al. It will also feed my dogs and wife and other family members, like my other dogs. I’ll convert the Walkman to be powered by my bike tires, no batteries. Like the old Schwinn headlights. The Walkman will play a Factory Records mixtape that my friend Bill made me in 1992, or The Contortions or Desmond Dekker, or something to keep me moving. 


Anna Bennett, digital editor at TulsaPeople

Probably my decorative gas mask, just for fun. Probably not my non-working parachute—don’t want to weigh myself down. But I would take my flint fire starter, my favorite lipstick, an extra phone battery, practical shoes, my Euro stash, my trench coat—nice and scary for the End Times. European digestive biscuits, sunblock, deodorant, my selfie light ring—which can clip onto clothing and serve as a work light—extra underwear, postage stamps and writing materials, my posable Spock doll for good luck, Mod Podge, and make-up remover—to remove make-up and blood.


Krystle Morris, ambassador of Flirt World

That depends on how I want to play this. Probably a tactical maxi dress, which I know doesn’t exist. And then pizza Lunchables and tampons. I feel like that’s all of the essentials.


Jake Miller, brewmaster at Heirloom Rustic Ales, poet, and general adventurer

A VHS copy of “The Goofy Movie”—it’s probably the best film sitting at 53 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Whatever the opposite is of “Atlas Shrugged.” Ayn Rand is the worst; I’m looking for the best. Umbro shorts (3” inseam). I want to catch every apocalyptic breeze. SodaStream and a bag of limes. Every person out there will have a water filter, but the water will still be uncarbonated, aka undrinkable.


John Waldron, high school social studies teacher, Okla. House District 77 candidate

A box of Mallomars, the world’s best cookie. A copy of “Lord of the Rings,” my Swiss Army knife, and then a worst-case-scenario survival guide. Notice I only brought two books. I want to be zombie #32.


Brady Whisenhunt, TTV contributor, haiku’st, and mastermind of @spicydadrockmemes and @horsefeedmemes on Instagram

“The Cantos of Ezra Pound.” Once the hunger pangs and snakebite venom kick in, I’ll probably be hallucinating so hard this book might make sense. I look forward to that sense of smug satisfaction. Literally the “Mona Lisa.” As society begins to fragment and devolve into chaos and aggression, having this bad boy with me will be this hilarious in-joke. Like, “Hey, in the old times people used to travel just to look at this flat picture thing!” I’ll explain that to children in order to awe and impress them so that I can more easily persuade them to find me food. A super large broadsword. How often we forget the importance of a really badass-looking broadsword! Seeds for hot peppers. Entertainment will be in short supply in the post-apocalyptic future. Burning my tongue off recreationally will have to suffice. Photos of my cats, as examples of perfect forms—and to remind me about why I keep trying.


Jay Hancock, DJ Sweet Baby Jaysus, local bullshit caller, and pro wrestling enthusiast

I mean, let’s face it, when shit goes sour, I’m probably going to have a villainous turn and try to pull off some gas-hoarding, mutant-army-leading, king of the wastelands, Lord Humongous-type scenario that will probably just end up with me living in a hole with nine cats and regressing to a feral state a week later. So, I’d say I’d definitely have a machete, a luchador mask, a towel, a bag of catnip, and however many thoughts and prayers I could cram in there.


Mitch Gilliam, TTV contributor and resident tinfoiler, bartender, musician

Beans, bullets, and golden bricks: only to trade with. A lot of dum-dums are going to be doing this whole "apocalypse" thing with survival in mind. I'm just doing it for funsies. My food of choice will be whatever weed, speed, uppers, or huffers I can trade the beans for. I'll trade the bullets and gold for more drugs and any heavy metal merch that's survived the initial blast. A straight razor, a Dolly Parton wig, and an Elvira wig: not sure if we're gonna be in a hyper-masculine apocalypse or if the ladies in “Fury Road” will be in control. I'll have the razor, in case it's the former. The Dolly wig is for drag parties, and the Elvira wig is in case I become the Drag Queen overlord of the Nuketocracy. Oh, shit, I can use the razor as a weapon. A Pikachu fleshlight—definitely not for me, but I can build an army of weeb human shields by letting them fight over turns with that bad boy. A copy of “Finnegan’s Wake.” I'll never be able to finish it, so I'll stay entertained and people will think I'm a prophet or some shit for knowing it's about Adam and Eve and mushrooms, or something. A fidget spinner. A first-generation iPod loaded with The Beatles, Mercyful Fate, and Thin Lizzy. I’ll hook it up to Mike Wozniak's bicycle battery charger when I need to. And not in the bag, but I'm sure I'll find a goat. They can literally eat trash, so there's no need to worry about food; they have horns and get buck-wild and will scare off other animals and dum-dums, and I would look so fabulous in my Elvira wig with Black Phillip at my side.

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