There remains an idea that society exacts its price, and that if we could simply bring ourselves to walk away from it all—our bank accounts, our homes, our internet connections—we could, like Thoreau, return to an Edenic existence. The truth, of course, is much more complicated. In the May issue of Harper’s Magazine, Joe Kloc explores the lives of anchor-outs, a group of people who live in abandoned boats near Sausalito, California, perhaps the last place in America where such a community exists. Although many of the hundred-plus anchor-outs chose to move there, Kloc discovers grimness along with high spirits. “Life is not easy. There is always a storm on the way, one that might capsize their boats and consign their belongings to the bottom of the bay. But when the water is calm and the harbormaster is away, the anchor-outs call their world Shangri-lito.”
In this week’s episode, Kloc, an associate editor at Harper’s, speaks with web editor Violet Lucca about how he befriended some of the anchor-outs, the surprising complexity of their economy, and how this microcosm illuminates the daily, unconscious decisions we make living in America.