He is known on campus as “hammock dude” or “slack line dude.” That’s because it’s pretty hard to miss the guy sleeping in a hammock in front of the math building or a small crowd of people gathered around to watch or try their own foot at his slack line stretched between two trees. But although he is known for his physical presence, there is actually a dark-humored, pensive and artistic mind that is “slack line dude.”
22-year-old Ronnie Truong hasn’t always enjoyed getting a lot of attention. Growing up, he never thought of himself as outgoing. But he found himself increasingly captivated and changed by the satirical and black humor of comedians such as George Carlin and Louis C.K. He credits his outlook on life to these comedians and their philosophical social commentary. Now he feels comfortable enough to leave a joke for each of his teachers at the end of the tests he takes.
“I just realized there are eight billion people on Earth –– ten of them don’t like you. Who cares about that ratio? Why would you put your happiness in someone else’s hands?”
In his spare time, Truong writes in a journal that consists of his own personalized sections such as “advice and tips,” “jokes,” “story time,” “superb humans” and “phrases (vocabulary) & quotes.”
He is not one to forget a line in a TV show or stand-up routine that he feels resonated with him. Instead of loving it in the moment and potentially forgetting, he writes it down in order to remember and reflect on it. He said he also wants to pass it on to his kids and that everyone should write their thoughts down more often.
“I know ten years from now, hell, probably just in one year, I’ll read this again. If your life is worth anything, create. Tattoos, or writing, in ten years you’ll look back and think I’m so glad I did that. Your brain is art. But I can’t help but think that too many people just sit and do nothing.”
Truong considers himself to be an artist. He made the hammock and slack line you see on campus. To be technical, you actually see the eighth hammock he has ever made.
“People at my old school loved it and so I left the hammock up for them to enjoy. But it got cut down, so I put up another one. Then that one got cut down and I put up another one. I was about to put up a permanent one with chains but it was too expensive and too much effort.”
He utilizes any materials he can in order to make his visions come to life, “My first hammock was just pure shoe strings, crosshatched. The first thing when I buy shoes is take out the shoestrings and replace them with zip ties. Can you tie your shoestrings in a second? I’m efficiently lazy. For example, how would you close the door when you’re lying in bed? I tied a shoestring from my bedpost to my door so I can pull it and not get up.”
He also creates and sells small items such as jewelry, hacky sacks and transmission shift knobs but has not had any luck with them on the market. He understands that it is hard to make a living selling his own art, “I continue making my art but I just don’t have an outlet to people. People think my stuff is really cool and then say no to buying it. I don’t mind, I’ll still make stuff.”
The closest solution he could think of was to become a welder. He has a full schedule of welding classes at Los Medanos and feels that it is a profession that allows him to make money and stay in touch with his drive to create.
And if that doesn’t earn him enough, he also is working to achieve a real estate license. Ultimately he said, “My goal is to make enough money to spoil my parents. I want more pieces of paper on my bedroom wall. Without pieces of paper, you can’t get a job, you can’t go out and socialize, can’t have fun. It’s sad that you need a piece of paper to live, unless you want to go out and live in the wild,” Truong said adding, “I want to be the definition of independent; I want to know how to take care of myself. Turn nothing into something. I had the idea that, maybe if I got a really long clothe and rope and made a hammock? And it worked. Welding is the next step.”
He even had a keychain hanging off of his backpack that he sauntered himself. It was a metal heart with a dollar sign within it. “My motto is ‘love and funds.’ I mean, you can’t do anything in life that you love without the funds. I have a lot of projects I want to start on but don’t have the money,” Truong said.
If you wonder what he does on his hammock for hours between classes, he is most likely thinking. Troung has many thoughts to share with others about how he perceives the world and those who are in it with him, ““All anyone does anymore is smoke pot and play video games. I was hanging out with friends by the marina and I put a bunch of toys in the back of my truck, fencing swords, boxing gloves, a boomerang, a unicycle; some people saw us and said ‘man, you guys got everything in that truck! But I’ll out-smoke you though!’ I hate when people act like it’s a skill. Breathing is not a skill. Put down the blunt and pick up a book. Learn a skill. I have fun, but I’m productive, I try.”
Truong may have a lot of strong opinions and take great pride in his art and work, but he keeps up a fun-loving attitude throughout it all.
“Comedy will keep you young. It makes you think and laugh like a child. My favorite quote: be a child, fight endlessly for things you care about, and be happy for no reason. Because when you’re happy for a reason, that’s when you’re in trouble because that reason can be taken away from you.”