Directly above is a new User Update from kitten, and to the left, the latest from Redguard. Give them a look and comment in the Suppository if you feel so moved.|
New to the site: go to the Java Chat page ... there's a link at the bottom to a contribution submitted by AlcoholSoopaFiend (yes, that's fiend to the chat-only folks). We figured he had nothing better to do when he was BANNED FROM CHAT, so we asked for some help with this.
Please check the email account you've registered under here, and keep it up to date. We've sent out a few User Update invites that have surprised us thus far by not responding.
Finally, there will be server maintenance tonight at 2 a.m. CST ... expect some slow downs.
I lie on the floor with my legs stretched out behind me, propped up on my elbows with pen in hand. Not a word written on the page before me, not even a single letter. The notebook is filled with thoughts & dreams formed into stories, yet none of them seem quite good enough to share. I stare past the blank page into the fire. I watch as the flames dance throughout the enormous stone fireplace.|
As I lie there I daydream. Trying to spark a source of inspiration, for I can't write something I don't feel. I look up at the pictures placed on the mantel. Those of my family and friends. Losing myself in the past. Replaying wonderful memories in my mind. So close I swear I can smell the scent of the chlorine that lingered on our swimsuits after hours spent at my Aunt's pool in the summertime.
I roll onto my back and close my eyes. I think of my younger sister, Colleen. How I remember when she was a baby. All of the nights I spent in the Children's hospital with my mother as she paced the long white corridors. I remember the mobile my Dad would wind every night before he left, how it played a sweet lullaby. I remember how he would pretend he was coughing to cover the sounds of his cries when it was time for him to go.
I think of how lucky I have been throughout my life. Lucky enough to be surrounded by wonderful friends and a loving family, including little Colleen who is now a smart-ass 19 yr old. How close we came to losing her. I can't imagine my life without her in it.
Standing up, I stretch before walking into the living room and over to the phone. I dial that familiar number, listening to it ring until I hear the voice I was searching for.
Colleen answers, obviously having checked the Caller ID, remarks "We don't want any."
I laugh as the tears begin to stream down my cheeks. "I just wanted to call and say that I love you."
This past Friday found me sitting in the office, looking through the window at the world going by outside. Nothing unusual. Just me sitting there wondering why I was wasting my precious time in that same old hole. |
Ah, it was a fine day. The wind was up and had blown away the cloud cover leaving only the endless cerulean sky behind it. I could have gazed out into that nothing for the rest of my life. There is so much beauty in everything that we have learned to ignore. A man could devote his entire life to venerating such things and never be the poorer for it. But.
As I was looking out into that glorious expanse of nothingness, motion caught my eye. Not it the sky, no. Lower, on the periphery of my vision, I noticed something that set my mind to motion.
It was a little girl. She was no older than ten. It was not the girl's beauty that gave me pause, although she seemed of graceful visage. What stunned me was her burden. She was all bent forward, like Quasimodo, under the tremendous weight of her book bag.
So, I looked on and I thought of her as she lurched her way up the street, oblivious to all things beneath that ponderous sack. I began to wonder.
At what point does formal education become enough? At what point can we say, "You have learned all that you can from these books. Go out now, unto the world, and educate your soul."
Is there such a thing as enough? Do you even deem it a relevant question? I think that it is very relevant. The cultivation of the human spirit is every bit as important as being comfortable with calculus. I say that it is more so, even.
All these dull-eyed, slack-jawed children who can crunch equations and compile code; what is the point? Prop them up in front of the television and fill their heads with advertisements. Teach them what they'll want to buy when the all grow up and become successful, productive members of a chronically ill society. Productive. Like beasts of burden or slaves, they are taught to venerate that word. Strive, achieve, outperform, and excel in all things academic. Academic, pedantic. At what point do the lines begin to blur?
When do these children live? When do they go out and dare the world? They don't. They are becoming tired, boxed little minds that live in two-dimensional, gray worlds. Atrophied, as surely as if they were bed-bound, except this isn't only a physical decay. It's an emotional atrophy; a spiritual atrophy, and it will follow them for the rest of their lives. They need to learn the value of love. They need to find their courage, without this they can never truly know the former. You may have forgotten this in your world of skyscrapers, steel-gray seas, and ocher skies. You may not have time for it anymore, but it's no less precious for your inattention. Something is being lost here; something unaccountably precious.
As I sat and watched that little girl amble up the street beneath that vexatious bag, I began to wonder at the last time I heard a child laugh. When had I last heard the beautiful, magical sound of an unburdened spirit reveling in the innocent beauty of happiness? Such laughter should be the privilege of childhood. It should fill the parks and streets and echo out into the limitless forever, a gift beyond price or purchase.
Tend your gardens.
Crike! Two days I've had this letter in my box informing me of your desire to drink of the cup of fame and I haven't known! There has got to be a better way of informing people on the Internet than email. Something that will grab someones attention like.... email-BOMBS!|
Computer: You’ve got mail...*KA-BLAM!!!!*
Thimble: Right. Just perfect. Step number 1. Get new computer. Step number 2. Block the emails marked Asylum.
And all this talk would be speculation if it had not been for Microsoft Oulook. Thank you microl0pht.
I'm sorry, I have to interrupt myself here… I just got through typing 3/4 of this update when Netscape crashed.
1> Netscape you suck. I wish you were a person so I could shoot you. Software has made computers become our task masters with no face to smash. I'm wondering if there is some kind of developer voodoo doll I can get to inflict pain on my software.
2> Users of FrontPage I hate. FrontPage is evil. Get a real html editor like Notepad. FrontPage breaks Netscape's ability to browse, which would be all right, if the html was right. ARGH!
Sooooo anyways, I am T-W-O-O, which is an acronym and not the sound of a fresh lugey, and I was trying to think what would be a good use of this tool I have bestowed upon me. How could I add to the community. What does my target audience lack that I could bring them…
Then I realized I was thinking like a marketer and that my limbs were turning gelatinous and slimy and my mouth was becoming a sucker like in nature. I changed my mind before someone put me to a medicinal purpose .
Then I thought I'd do a rant against capitalism in general and how nothing we experience these days comes without a price tag or an advertisement and how freaking gerbil like I'm being made to feel by all the pop up advertising and browser opening and "refresh-tag-so-you-can't-use-your-back-button-cause-I'm-an-ass-face"ing I've been seeing on the web (poetic name that) lately. I should not have to FEAR clicking on a link because of the possible entangling experience that may stick me in. First pop up on the asylum I see will be the day Dingle will have to triple my medication. Example of gerbilitis? This site. remember when it had freaking HAMSTERS?!?!? (Though I'm sure all you linux aficionados will like this. Oh shoot. There go my limbs again.)
So then I thought we could have a relationship column. That hasn't been done before! (Well here at least... Umm. To my knowledge... Which is limited... By the medication…)
And I think I could be the one to do it!
1. I'm focused! (Unlike those American would-be presidents who will determine the results of this election just in time for the next one... Can you believe those guys??)
2. I'm sensitive. Just the other day I was helping these poor souls with their relationships.
Everything goes contrary with me. I'm looking fer a man but can find nairy a one. Can you help me?
Signed Lone lorn creetur.
Dear Lone Lorn creetur,
I don't know. Did someone dump a bag of ugly on your face?
Signed Thimbles worth of opinion
My husband doesn't pay much attention to me. I don't know what to do.
I'm sorry. Did you have a question?
Signed Thimbles worth of opinion.
My husband doesn't pay much attention to me. I don't know what to do. Could you please help me?
I don't know. Did someone dump a bag of ugly on your face?
Signed Thimbles worth of opinion
Is your husband a homo?
Signed Thimbles worth of opinion
Do you look like a pretty man?
Signed Thimbles worth of opinion
No. Not at all.
You up for an affair?
Signed Thimbles worth of opinion
No. Can you help me?
Signed Thimbles worth of opinion
3. I have been given this thing for 30 (count em) 30 days!!! You have not! I am elite! You are dogs! I am the master and the ruler of the world!! You are my slap toys! And I want to make you happy... Who better to dispense advice then GOD?! Well, I'm his temp!
Ah well. Life's a gamble, ideas are but seeds borne by the wind. Who ever thought Tack would have been the spore that begot this online fungus which is spreading through the internet?
That's what I want my column to be.
I never really understood the value of personality. |
The idea that something that has absolutely no real worth outside of character was never one that came easy for me.
Until I got that car.
Now, my twin brother and myself got a car on our 16th birthday. It was a really nice car, too. Can't remember the make and model, but it had all the works, though it was kinda old. Tape player, cruise control, all that. It was a fairly big car, but not a boat, and looked really nice in any case.
We had that car for about 8 months, constantly battling over who would take it when and whatnot.
In any case, after about 8 months, my brother wrecked that car. It wasn't his fault (he, to this day, drives like an 80-year-old woman), but in any case, we needed a replacement, so we could get to school and whatever.
A little background. Yes, I have a twin brother. A fraternal twin, meaning, essentially, not identical. He is, and always has been, my polar opposite. He is my Evil Twin, and I am his. He is responsible, hard working, incredibly anal retentive, and not particularly socially adept. Hence, he is the one who succeeds.
I, on the other hand, am irresponsible, lazy, an utter slob, and quite personable. Hence, I am here.
In any case, this was all taken into account when my mother purchased the replacement. Or rather, replacementS. Plural.
My brother at the time had a job. I did not. My mother bought for him an older model Ford Taurus, a quite nice car. He was to pay her monthly for it, as he had the means and wherewithal to do so, and my mother fully expected him to be good for it, which, of course, he was.
I, on the other hand, am and always have been an unrequited fuck-up.
So she bought me the cheapest car she could find.
A 1988 Grand Marquis. No frills. Manuel windows, manual locks, no cruise control, no tape player, nothing. She fully expected me to trash it within a month.
I am not a car guy. I can drive, I can pump gas, I can check the oil, and I can sometimes change a tire, and thus ends the list of my motor vehicle knowledge/skills. But let me tell you a little about this vehicle.
For one, as I said, it had no frills. Secondly, however, this car was a fucking giant. 20 feet long, from bumper to bumper. Rear wheel drive with a 5-ton engine in the front, a good 15 feet away. Hence, driving during the winter led to a great many adventures and disasters (after the first winter, I began putting bags of concrete in the trunk to weigh the car down accurately. Worked wonders).
My mother's theory on this was that, as I am so irresponsible and a fuck-up in general, that I would likely get into more than a few accidents, and thus, the bigger the car the better. She described this car as "a tank", which indeed it was. I could get into a head on collision with a VW Bug in this car, and the Bug would simply get lodged in the hood (which was 6 feet long at least) and I could continue driving, yelling requests at the driver of the Bug to look out his rear window and let me know what the status was regarding oncoming traffic.
"Hey man! Any traffic in the other lane?"
"Uhhhhh, no. Can you pull ov…."
"Sweet! Let me pass this truck then, we'll get to a rest stop sooner or later!"
Now, many of my friends were upper middle class, so my car was not what one would call a "status symbol" for me. At first, it was received with more than a few "Holy shit, that piece of shit is HUGE!" comments.
In any case, I never let this bother me. When you are 16 and get a car to yourself, you are FREE. And to tell you the truth, I kinda liked this car. Hell, I fucking loved it.
In any case, the car itself was a horrible shade of color. Somewhere between cream and brownish cream. The same color as the folders you can get en masse at Office Depot.
Thus, one day, I decided to name it.
The Manilla Gorilla.
You see, I have discovered that naming things really lends it a new dimension. I name everything I own, ESPECIALLY cars. I have no idea what that says about my personality, you tell me, but I do know that it really adds personality to otherwise impersonal objects.
I started referring to it around my friends by that name. Then, the more people would laugh at it, the more defensive I would get.
"What do you mean it's a boat? This, my friend, is the motherfuckin' Manilla Gorilla. Chicks DIG this car, man! 20 feet of pure animal magnetism! It only has one gear…sexual drive! This car has CHARACTER, man. Fuck your little Hyundai. My car could eat yours ALIVE!!! I could get a fucking Caligula style orgy in the back seat, that's how big it is. Shit, I have a spare car in the trunk. I'm thinking of putting in a pool." Et cetera et cetera et cetera.
And so I started playing off my car as the Pimpmobile I knew it could be.
What surprised me was that the more I talked it up, the more that people started taking to it. They all drove Escorts and Miatas and other such communist vehicles, I had the biggest fucking gas guzzling travesty of efficiency man had ever created. 3 miles to the gallon. Could turn on a 10 foot diameter dime. Could go from 0 to 60 in about 5 minutes or so (though for some reason could go from 60 to 100 in seconds). Could go over speed bumps while doing 60 and you wouldn't even FEEL it. Could parallel park only by shoving the other cars out of the way. It ran all right, and nothing was visibly really wrong with it (when I got it at least, but I'm getting to that.), though it was not, as you would say, an economy car, nor was it a luxury vehicle by any stretch of the imagination.
This was a few years before the SUV craze, mind you. My car was generally the largest thing on the road.
And it ALWAYS got the right of way.
"Silly Toyota! Do you see how BIG my car is! Get the fuck out of my way, can't you see how LARGE this car is!?! You want a taste of me, bitch?! No, didn't think so. Well fucking get the hell out of my way."
The point is, the more I talked it up, the more people began to see it as THE shit, rather than a piece of it. It went from another crappy car to a cultural icon in my community in a matter of weeks. Soon, I started getting requests from girls to take their senior pictures on the hood of my car. People I didn't know would ASK for rides in it. While the seats were not really seats, but rather, two couches (a front couch and a back couch), that back couch saw more ass than a toilet seat.
The trunk could hold 7 people. That was proven on more than one occasion. And seven LIVE people mind you. I am sure that if they were cadavers, it could have fit at least 11 (that theorem, however, has only been proven up to 3).
There is not a helluva lot to do in Topeka, Kansas when you are 16. Many a weekend, we would decide to go get lost in the Kansas countryside. And every time, my car was the one chosen to take us.
You see, I have a notoriously bad sense of direction. When I was living in Waterville, ME, population of two thousand and change, I couldn't find my way to the gas station, which is quite a feat in a town that size (of course it doesn't help that they paved whatever moose trails they found and called them "roads", but that is neither here nor there). People would give me addresses, and I would just stare at the blankly. I need precise directions or I end up in Utah. I get lost EVERYTIME I set out for anywhere. Sometimes for 5 minutes, sometimes for 5 hours (the record, BTW, was being lost for 36 hours), but it ALWAYS happens.
This, however, has never really bothered me.
The aspect of my personality that I am probably most proud of, that helps me most get through this life and this country and everything in between, is my relaxed nature. I am the quintessential "go with the flow" sort of person.
So when I get lost, I just turn up the radio, gun the accelerator, and head out for….wherever. Of course, when I had someplace to be at a certain time, this could be maddening, but generally I quite enjoyed it. Just heading out, trying to find my way to wherever it was I was going, and usually not succeeded. I have seen a lot of this countryside by doing this. It is actually quite a cathartic release. So much so, that I did it recreationally. Just pick a direction and go go go. I always seem to find my way back eventually, but the destination is never important. It's all about the riiiiiiiiiiide, man.
A lot of adventures in that car. I got it AIRBORNE on more than one occasion (which was QUITE a feat considering the size of the car). I also learned that, when you are doing 90 miles an hour on a dirt road in that car, if you opened the passenger side door (it was a 2-door car, thus the doors were about 8 feet long each), the car would turn sharply left. I even strapped a guy to the roof of it once and took a trip down a dusty and bumpy old road (the guy owed me money).
Speaking of which, another odd side effect of the car is that it was a police MAGNET. I got pulled over 16 times in one year alone, but never got a ticket. My theory on this, besides the fact that I was constantly doing illegal maneuvers, is that pigs going profiling would see the car, figure it must contain 6 or 7 black drug dealers (it just looked like it would), and then pull me over for some bullshit reason. When they would see I was just a 17-year-old white kid, they would check my license (which back then was valid) and send me on my way. Never got a ticket.
Everybody loved that car. It was notorious. It had a spot reserved at my school. Were anybody but me to park there, his or her car would almost always get fucked with (not by me). A fixture of sorts.
But as in all things it passed. My mother HATED that car after the first year, and eventually she and my brother conspired together and told me they were going to get rid of it.
My friends and I decided to plan a Viking funeral for it. I had a contest almost, "how to destroy my car before my mom can sell it to some old lady". There were some great entries. Drive it over a bridge, one guy told me. No no, blow that shit up! Drive it into a lake and see how deep you can get it, suggested my buddy's girl.
In the end, the winner was the suggestion from Carl.
"Dude," he said to me solemnly one night over a case of beer and a bag of weed, "you HAVE to enter that beast in a demolition derby."
There was one coming up, where just regular people could enter their cars and they would gather in a gigantic arena and destroy each other. It sounded marvelous.
So, I went out and got all the papers and everything for the derby, and then came to discover that registering for a demolition derby requires a TON of work. You have to take out the gas tank and do a whole bunch of other shit to ensure that your car does not blow up. Remember, I can SOMETIMES change a tire.
Effort, my friends and neighbors, is the enemy of the drug addict.
In retrospect, I really wish I had done that. It is definitely something I want to do before I die. And my car would have fucking DESTROYED all the other ones.
But alas, I chose to not put in all the work required. And so I compromised instead.
Bright and early one Thursday afternoon, I drove my car into the dead center of my high school parking lot during lunch, so it had about a 30-foot radius area to itself. I went to the trunk, got out a 50 pound sledge and a sign that read "Viking Funeral, 5 bucks a pop!" and placed them both besides my car.
At first the people returning from lunch just gave me a really strange look.
So I decided to grease the jar, so to speak.
I got up on the roof of the Gorilla, raised the sledge over my head, and came down with a massive bash to the windshield, which literally EXPLODED.
That's around the time the crowd started to form.
BAM!!! BAM!!! BAM!!!!
I made almost 500 bucks that day. Not to mention quite a reputation for being stark raving mad. And there was only one injury (for real, why on earth would someone take the sledge to the fucking TIRE!?! Fucking moron). I have to say it was a site to behold. Pure automotive carnage at its finest.
In the end, the Gorilla was unrecognizable and a good 90 people got their rocks off in a way that can only happen with a sledgehammer. God may have made the hammer, but the sledge, that is the work of Satan himself, and I am eternally grateful to Him for that.
There was a bit of aftermath to it that I won't go into (you mean I'm not allowed to just LEAVE my destroyed car in your parking lot? Well why the fuck not?!), not to mention I caught hell from my mother about it, and most of the money went to her (though I threw a helluva Goodbye Manilla Gorilla party that weekend with some of it), but I was going to be damned if I would let her sell the Gorilla to some fucking little old lady. The fact that she was the one who bought it in the first place was irrelevant. That car had HISTORY, man. It had STYLE. It had CHARACTER!!!! It deserved to die like a fucking man.
And that it did.
I ended up with another soulless Ford Taurus like the rest of my family.
The end of an era.
RIP Manilla gorilla.
A few years later I wound up driving Jesus Chrysler, but that is a whole 'nother story.
He was the dude about 200 years ago who forecast that rates of increases of food production could not possibly keep up with rates of population growth and thus suffering among the masses is inevitable. He said that misery and vice were unavoidable and inescapable, which seems to sum up most of our existence today. Many people also saw in his words a forecast for widespread famine and disease with the eventual collapse of society. Fortunately (?) he was wrong in certain respects and advances in science and farming relieved the pressure on available foodstuffs and society has expanded to its present state. |
Unfortunately, he was right in other respects.
The population of the earth has continued to grow in a geometric fashion over the last couple centuries and although food production has generally kept up, there are other pressing matters that should concern us all. Actually, I don’t know if they should concern you, because I don’t think there is anything we can do about it. Don’t waste your life being concerned, but I feel you ought to have an awareness of how things are going to go down in a few decades.
Here is a fact that I have only recently come to accept: We have squandered the opportunity to live sustainably on earth as a species. Let me amend that to say that the chances are not completely gone for the species as a whole, but I would hazard a guess that at least 60% or so of the people alive now are doomed to remember the end of the 20th Century as the peak of civilization. This is the only conclusion that a rational look at the state of the world can come too.
I have struggled with this issue for a long time, namely because when I looked, all I saw was how fucked up it all is but I still had this assumption that it would all work out somehow. I struggled because I could not for the life of me figure out how we were going to pull out of the tailspin we are in.
Then it dawned on me. My assumption that everything would work out was mistaken. There is no way that we can redeem the world as we know it. There are too many people, too much pollution, too much destruction without enough preservation and restoration. Its that simple.
Do you know how much land the human species physically occupies? Say we were to give each human on earth, figuring the current population at 6,000,000,000 people, give each person 4 square feet to stand in. That’s a 2 x 2 foot square box for those of you educated in the American school system, about 40 square decimeters (I had to look it up) for the metric folks. Not a lot of space by any means, but enough to stretch out a little bit.
So how much land do you think that all of us would take up if you put all 6,000,000,000 people’s 4 square feet in one spot?
A) one city block
B) an average U.S. city
C) a major U.S. city
D) an average county in a Midwestern State
E) an average New England State
F) an average MidWestern state
J) the entire U.S.
M) North America
O) All of the above
Think about it before checking out the answer. I think you will be surprised.
Answer: D) an average county in the Midwest. I did the math and you could fit all 6,000,00 people inside a square only 30 miles on a side. That’s 900 square miles, but it's only 30 miles on a side. You could drive around this square in an hour and a half, easy. I was pretty damn blown away when I first heard this. I actually didn’t believe it so I did the math, about 15 times. It’s a fact.
The point of this exercise is to help you realize that it really isn’t the population per se that is the problem, but the energy use of the population. The earth can’t support us at current usage levels. Think about this: the U.S. has about 1/25 of the world's population but uses about 1/4 of the total energy produced. Now realize that the American standard of living is seen as the goal for everyone in developing countries. When it comes to standards of living, everyone will want the highest possible. Whether it is human nature or good marketing, everyone will eventually become a consumer and just drive energy consumption up even more.
There is not enough energy available on earth, at least in a way that we can use it today, to support a worldwide standard of living equal to current standards in the U.S. Factor in the rising energy costs associated with computing, which are immense, and you might be able to start to see the picture.
They say that we have maybe 80 years of oil left. That means that in about 50 years things are going to get really sticky. Although up to 90% of crude oil is processed for fuel, its real value lies in lubrication. We can come up with alternative fuels and indeed are working on that even now. However, we can’t get by friction and if we run out of oil to use for lubrication, everything shuts down. No manufacturing, no turbines, no nuthin.
90% of the rainforests are gone. Destroyed. Plowed under. Never to return. If we were to stop cutting the forests immediately, in a few centuries or millennium they may grow back. If we cut them down completely, they are gone forever. Diversity aside, the value of the forests as air cleaners can not be overestimated. As we continue to pollute the air with carcinogens, health quality will drop, contributing to decreased worker productivity and increasing net energy consumption.
We are also running out of water. The water we have is being polluted or consumed at an alarming rate. More and more people are going to be drawing from smaller and smaller wells until it is all gone.
And I haven’t even touched on global warming and how it will wreak havoc on our system.
Nothing that I say here is a secret and I know you are all familiar with it. However, I think many of us have this assumption that somehow it will all work out. But things are being destroyed at such an incredible pace, a pace which is only accelerating as well, that I don’t see how we can be saved. If we were to stop current industrial practices immediately and put human and earthly health and longevity as our primary priorities, maybe, just maybe, we could avert a disaster. Financially it would be ruinous by today’s standards and for this reason this type of change will not be implemented. But we don’t have time to continue to piss in our bed, shit on our plate, and take, take, take. It doesn’t work out like that. We are living on borrowed time, people.
There will be massive drought and famine when there is no water and no arable land. The rich will procure the available resources and the people will riot. The rich will eventually run out of oil and their "well-oiled" machine will grind to a halt. Perhaps there will be enough remaining for people to begin to put it back together and rebuild in a sustainable manner.
Then again perhaps not. Either way, I think we are all going to get to see how it works. It won’t be too long now.
I’d start learning how to hunt, fish, and farm if I were you.
We are having major connection issues with the Asylum server, mainly due to an upstream router on our hosting network. Engineers will be installing new memory into this router Tuesday morning, as well as updating the OS. In the mean time, the website and forum will be intermittently unavailable.|
To partially counteract this problem, we have removed otaku from irc.MindAsylum.net and will keep it off until the hosting network stabilizes. Currently, galt and irish are directly connected to each other - see this thread for more info.
There I was, under Wonder's musty revival tent, heaped in a flimsy folding chair on the back row. To my left sat Loretta Jean, Wonder's big sister. By "big", know that it applies literally, figuratively--every conceivable way. B - I - G . . . BIG!|
Jeebus, sweet Jeebus. My head was killin' me. The swellin' from the hornet stings hadn't subsided one lick. Shit, my head looked like a beachball-sized pomegranate. My pulse felt like a mallet pounding the inside of my skull. Hell, I was so damn miserable and weak, I couldn't even muster the strength to cross my legs when I first felt the ominously nonchalant creeping of Loretta's hammy, liver-spotted hand inching across my thigh. A wave of nausea did hit me, however, triggering an uncomfortably stale, bile-enriched belch.
Not that I gave a rat's ass, but the growling of my escaping gut-vapors was drowned out by a cacophony that only stone-deaf or glibly charitable souls would label as singing. In an odd sort of way, it was reminiscent of the Fort Worth stockyards on sale day.
"Brayngin' in th' shaves, brayngin' in th' shaves . . . we shall come re-JOY-sang, brayngin' in th' shaves . . . ." On and on it went--This Little Light Of Mine; Onward Christian Soldiers!; Amazing Grace; etc.--all the classic hymns were corrupted in similar fashion. I couldn't help but notice, however, that Fred really seemed to like it. He was parked on my leg, as usual, a-howlin' and bawlin' for all he was worth.
Peace, at last! The tent grew mercifully quiet as that jackass Wonderaz arose and approached the pulpit (a 55-gallon drum covered with a surplus army blanket). Slowly stretching his hands outward, he rattled, "Brothers an' sister-zuh! Bow yore heads with me as we pray-yuh!"
"Our father, son an' holy ghost! Bless all those who gives da most! A-me-yun!"
"Amen", the crowd muttered in response.
Our Reverend Jackass jumped right to his so-called sermon. "Today, we will learn that giving is the key to faith-uh! The more y'all give, the stronger yore faith-uh! In fact, today y'all be provided the opportunity to have your faith tested by the deadly venemous serpent, the instrument of Satan, himself! Thus, if yore generosity is too small, yore faith may be found wanting and you'll suffer the bite o' the deadly serpent and . . . BURN IN HELL!! For it is written in the scripture that 'tis easier fer the rich ma-yun to crawl up the ass of the camel than it is to get tickets to the Super Bowl and so on-uh, sayeth the Lord-duh!"
My bowels rumbled a warning as I felt Loretta's fingers getting perilously close to my staff which, by now, more closely resembled a turtlehead desperately seeking refuge inside its shell.
Wonder picked up a wooden box, stuck his hand inside, and withdrew what appeared to be a snake about 3-feet long. "Be-hol-duh! The deadly ser-pent-uh!" Murmurs rippled through the little congregation as he tossed the creature from hand to hand and twirled it above his head. Pausing for dramatic effect, he then pressed the mouth of the snake against his neck and held it there. "See-yuh! My faith is strong and that's because I gave all my money and all my worldly possessions to th' min-i-stree-yuh!! Now! Who else amongst us is generous enough to test he-yuz faith?"
Oh, I should tell you that the "serpent" was just a damn rubber snake he picked up at Wal-Mart the day before. Anyway, Wonderaz bent over and appeared to put the serpent back into the wooden box. In actuality, he dropped it behind the box, then kicked it behind the pulpit.
As Wonder looked back up, Ruby Beeler sprang up from her chair and ran to the front, squealing, "Meee! Meee! My faith is strong, brother Wonderaz! Test meeee!"
"Yes, sister Rooo-bay-yuh!!", Wonder yelled and slobbered as he picked up the box. "And sister, how much is yore generous offerin' to-day-yuh?"
"All I got is fifty-seven cents!", Ruby replied, wringing her hands and hopping from foot to foot in anticipation.
"Just like the widder an' the alm-zuh! Bless you, sister! Now, place yore offerin' in the plate, then stand before me while I carefully hold the box steady-yuh!"
"Pay close at-ten-shun, sister Rooo-bay-yuh! In this box I hold is Say-tun-zuh deadly serpent! On my signal, you will reach yore hay-yund inside the hole in this box and seek out the ser-pent-uh! If you have faith, the Lord will guide yore hay-und and when yore hay-und finds the serpent, you must hold it until such time as the Lord gives me the sign for you to release the ser-pen-tuh! Do you un-der-sta-yund?"
"Yes! Yes! I'm ready, brother Wonder! I can already feel my faith getting stronger!"
"Okay, then! Let th' test be-gi-yun!" Thereupon, brother jackass motioned to Ruby to stick her hand in the hole. She did.
About that time, cold chills shot up and down my spine. Though my "turtlehead" had successfully retreated, my poor, defenseless cods had reached maximum shrivelage as Loretta's clammy, hammy fingers slowly enveloped my nut-sack. This was so wrong. Soooo very, very wrong.
Suddenly, Ruby broke the silence. In a husky voice, she stuttered, "I-I-I think I-I'm t-touching the s-serpent, b-b-brother W-Wonderaz! . . . Oooo!? . . . It's warm! Very warm!!"
"Well, test your faith! Squeeze that serpent, sister Rooo-bay-yuh!"
"Squeeze it?" Sister Ruby looked puzzled.
"Yeah! OH YEAH!! Keep sku-WEEEE-zin that serpent . . . just like that! Oooohhh . . . uh-uh-uh . . . G-G-GOOD GAWD A-MIGHTY!!!"
BONK!! The box dropped abruptly to the dirt as Ruby suddenly pulled her hand from the box and cried, "Oh dear! Oh dear! The serpent's spitting venom! I'm going to burn in hell!!"
The "serpent" was spittin' venom, alright, while that jackass Wonderaz swooned with his eyes rolled back in his head. Ruby momentarily studied her hand, then looked back at the purple-helmeted abomination now in plain sight for all to witness. She fainted.
Unfortunately for the Right Reverend Wonderaz, Ruby's husband, Donnie Doyle Beeler, was not a good sport about the whole thing. He took it all in for several seconds, furiously chewin' a plug o' Beechnut, with his head slightly tilted to the side. All of a sudden, he bolted from his seat and pulled a revolver from a pocket in his overalls.
"You SUMBITCH!! Yore ass is MINE!", Donnie yelled as he raised that pistol and began firing away. BAM-BAM-BAM!!!! The lead flew.
I'm not sure what happened after that. The gunfire apparently startled Loretta, 'cause she gripped my nuts so hard I passed out. I think she gave me a heart attack, or somethin'.
Anyway, the next thing I remembered was wakin' up in a hospital bed. The swelling in my head had gone down quite a bit, but when I reached under the sheet to scratch my balls, I damn near shit in the bed. My cod-bag was as big as a honey dew melon! Just as I was about to cry, the phone rang. I picked up the receiver, put it to my ear, and heard the all too familiar braying of the jackass--"Jeb! Jeb! Git off yore ass an' come git me! I need bail money, NOW! Jeb! . . . Jeb? . . . JEB!! . . . ."
That's all I heard because at that moment, Loretta walked into my room. One look at her and I immediately passed out, again. Thank Jeebus.
One of these days, I may remember everything of Glastonbury 1999. I hope I do. For those who don't know, Glastonbury is the music festival of the world. Going now for 25 years, and yes, inspired by Woodstock, it is the only festival of its kind in the world today. It makes Lollapalooza look insignificant, as too does it make the festivals of mainland Europe and other UK- based ones look insignificant. Until 1999, I was what is affectionally known as a Glasto Virgin. I had been to many weekend music festivals before, but had never been to the ultimate. In 1999, things were about to change.|
Unlike most festivals, Glasto is not a separate arena and campsite. It is one very large field in a clay valley of the West Country. A land with mystical legends, Arthurian links, and mud. In the previous year, 1998, the festival had become infamous for mud. On the preceding Wednesday and Thursady to that year it rained in the West Country relentlessly. By Friday the entire site, because of the clay, had become a mud bath. Knee deep in some places with sticky, hard to walk in mud (remember people: this is normally a farm). I had such big expectations for the weather in 1999 that I was sure it would hold and the weekend would be glorious.
We arrived on Wednesday (everyone goes early to get with the vibe) and the sunshine was scorching, particularly for me with my reddish hair and fair skin. Right through to Thursday the weather remained this way, and then it happened. The night before the opener the heavens opened. And when I say opened, I mean opened. Leaking tents, the works. I awoke on Friday morning to the sound of rain and ventured into the outside world. I can sense it now, the smell of dead fires, and the hum of activity in the surrounding tents and fields.
I looked down the hill to the main stage (called the Pyramid) and all I could see was the light reflecting off what looked like water. Yes the rain had come, and unlike the year before where there were two days before the start of the music for the water to subside, this time it was there. A glorious river of mud and water through the campsite. Knee-deep.
I have never, in my life experienced anything like it. For the next three days we were all walking through knee-deep water to watch bands, going to buy and thinking I need a boat. I watched Rocket From the Crypt in it. It was mental. I took a pill and went to the dance tent and raved for 12 hours straight with water and mud coming down on head and seeping into my boots. But the best was yet to come.
The dance tent, which is where I think I spent most of the weekend, was so bad after the first night that the organizer decided that the only solution was to suck the water out of it. The idea was to use the machine that sucks the shit out of the portable toilets to suck up the excess water and mud. Good in theory huh? Unfortunately when they did this it was just after a toilet run, and someone, accidently put the machine on blow! Yes that's right, about two tonne of human excrement sprayed into a tent that could hold 20,000. No more Dance tent for day two. Time for more drugs.
I don't remember much after that; the weekend became a blur. I remember seeing naked people dancing on tents, and I remember taking part in some kind of hippy type ritual around a stone circle with a bunch of drug-fuelled city brokers, but apart from that I don't know who I saw. I just remember the smell of the dance tent, the come-down after it all, and of course, the mud.
Swollen shut optical receptors dodge various heat patterns and bury potential aggressors. Outlines threaten my awareness: wax dipped wire frames strut towards my selfish potential, taunting my being with angry fists and pedantic thoughts. |
Cancerous faith. Fetid convictions. Vain compromises…
Peel away the scalp to reveal the skull, which will willingly yield to the erratic vibrations of a mechanical surgeons saw. Applied pressure compromises the structural integrity of millions of year’s worth of cortical evolution.
Despite the medieval methods you will inevitably reach the essential core self. C.G. Jung pauses, takes a long drag from his flaming sofa, and confides his mechanism in me.
Buried somewhere outside of my own reach and cognitive grasp…
A community at the epicenter of a tempestuous blue sea, a stormy gray sky, an infinite snow peaked summit, and suffering from a technological lapse…
Odysseus caught between Scylla and Charibdis.
Welcome to a place that trades devils for devils. Children for vending machines… Art for commerce…