In this crazy, mixed-up world we sometimes get thrown into the strangest situations! Take the case of the young hatchet-wielding hitchhiker named “Kai,” the latest YouTube internet sensation. In a previous time we might have called Kai a “drifter” or a “hobo.” He claims to have no family, no relatives. So he rides the freight trains and hitchhikes around the country looking for places to surf and skateboard, or maybe just to chill and play the guitar and sing his songs. Oh, apparently Kai is a songwriter too.
From what we can tell, Kai had just left “Dogtown” (i.e. Venice, California). He was 220 miles north in the city of Fresno, which is quite inland and which has no surf, looking for a ride. Somehow he hooked up with a 300-pound guy. Before even getting in the car, the 300-pound guy admitted that some time previously he raped a 14 year-old in the Virgin Islands. The guy then gave Kai a big ol’ bear hug. This did not deter Kai from accepting a ride with him. Shortly after they started driving, the 300-pound former rapist started getting kind of crazy. He began ranting that he was Jesus Christ, and then rammed his car into a utility truck, pinning a black power company employee in between the bumpers.
The rapist/racist then gets out of the car and grabs ahold of and bear hugs a woman that had come over to help. The quick-thinking Kai grabs his camping hatchet and begins repeatedly hitting the big guy over the head. Oddly, this does not disable the guy, but at that point everyone kind of runs away from him. Then the cops arrive.
Well, no good or bad deed ever goes unaired anymore, and sure enough there was a reporter for the local Fox television station. Stick a camera and a microphone in someone’s face and look out! Our Kai surely rose to the occasion.
Before the reporter can even get the interview started, Kai launches into a serious speech. He stares right into the camera and says, “Before I say anything else, I want to say no matter what you’ve done you deserve respect. Even if you make mistakes you’re lovable. And it doesn’t matter your looks, skills, your age…your size, your anything…you’re worthwhile. No one can ever take that away from you.”
It’s an odd little affirmation. Immediately the viewer gets a sense of why this frizzie-haired kid is homeless and on the road. It’s not hard to figure out that he had some sort of “family issue.” They probably threw him out for being an unproductive, lazy stoner. And obviously he’s still sensitive about it. Hey, we can’t all be the CEO of GM, am I right?
Once his little, “You’re worthwhile” speech is over, then the fun starts! Kai gets into telling his story.
I must warn you. Kai’s favorite word begins with the letter “F.” He uses it liberally in its various permutations and figures of speech. Sadly, it is how “kids these days” speak. If you are easily offended by such language you might not want to watch the video of the interview. But you should watch anyway.
In the spirit of "Double Rainbow Guy,” and Antoine Dodson and Sweet Brown, the Autotune remixes of Kai’s funny little interview are already up on the YouTube. Especially that, “Smash…smash…SUH-MASH!” part.
Kai says in the video that he has no last name and that he’s from Sophia, West Virginia although he says that with a very obvious wink. His shifting accent is clearly Canadian, and other YouTube videos seem to indicate that he’s from Vancouver. In other videos we discover that his name is Caleb “Kai Lawrence” Stormberg (or perhaps Steinberg). We’ll just call him Kai because it seems to fit him.
Kai has become something of a folk hero to young boys and girls who see his counter-culture, happy-go-lucky, hippy/stoner/wandering minstrel lifestyle as something to be admired and emulated. How romantic! Girls want to bed him and marry him. Guys want to hang with him and get high. (English teachers across the country are presumably not so enamored. Daniel Webster is surely whirling in his grave.) The feedback and comments in the various YouTube videos out there have been nearly all positive. The YouTube audience seems to buy into the feel-good “Loser homeless kid saves the day!” aspect of this story. He didn’t just witness something and then comment on it; Kai actually did something! Something to be proud of – even I have to admit that.
At the end of the day, we wonder what will become of Kai? He will undoubtedly be able to enjoy some fame…for a while. Daniel Tosh (of Comedy Central's “Tosh.0”) will have a field day with him. I suspect Kai will also show up on Letterman or Leno. But you can’t always capitalize on celebrity status. The long-term “…and fortune” does not necessarily come with the short-term fame. The American public has a way of chewing up and spitting out these sort of “instant celebrities.” Eventually (and probably quickly) Kai’s notoriety will fade and some new internet sensation will take his place. I suspect that he’ll go back to bumming around the country with the occasional, “Ohhhh, you’re that YouTube hatchet hitchhiker guy!!” recognition.
Which is a shame. He seems like a genuinely good guy. Maybe he deserves a break. And maybe the universe will see that he gets one.
Edited (clean) KMPH News Story On Kai
Kai Singing His Own Song