It’s Probably a Parable

Matt Regan stared at his TV in dismay as FOX News announced Johnny Chan’s victory. It’d be praised as a victory for civil rights. It’d be hailed as the change we all need. The left would stomp through DC with fanfare and confetti because not only did a Chinese man win the presidency, but a gall-dern gay Chinese man won the presidency. Matt didn’t need any more of that BS rhetoric from the lame-stream media; he knew what this meant. God, the lord all-mighty, would be striking down with wrath and brimstone any minute now. But Matt didn’t care because he was king of the preppers. It was time to bug out.

Matt ran to his computer, knocking over piles of ammo and canned beans, and logged on to his bank account to cancel all of his automatic payments. There’d be no use for currency in the coming months thanks to Armageddon, but it felt good every time he clicked “cancel”. Those frickin yuppies over at the bank were part of the problem anyway with their fancy suits and their liberal degrees from leftist colleges. Matt looked up at his framed GED stamped with Arkansas’s official seal. That was all the learnin’ a man needed.

Matt ran to the kitchen and gorged on anything he could grab. Pie and ice cream, cold bacon and leftover meatloaf; these things would be a luxury soon, but he’d still be living better than all the hippies stranded above ground cheek to cheek with god’s vengeance. He ran to his garage and coaxed his Bronco to life which was already loaded with food for the road and a hidden revolver in case any of the city folk got smart. He took one last look out at his neighborhood to bolster his courage. One in every four houses was for sale and their realty signs swayed in a warm breeze like the grim reaper’s cloak. Those damn Democrats had done it. Matt didn’t know how, but that lovely blonde on Fox News said it was true, and her sweet voice was like gospel.

The drive to Matt’s subterranean paradise, festering deep within the Arkansas wood, took four hours, and to Matt’s surprise, he missed all the carnage that was sure to come. He parked his Bronco so it blocked the secluded drive, popped the hood and disconnected the battery, and then buried his car in pre-cut brush so the looters would pass it by during their greed fueled free-for-all. Matt ran to the hidden trap door down into his bomb shelter with a revolver in one hand and a Twinkie in the other. His shaking hands protested as he dialed in the combo to his pad-lock and threw the door open. He hopped down into the confines like a french-fry into oil and let the door slam behind him. It wasn’t much really, Matt’s bomb shelter, but he had enough freeze dried food and MRE’s to last ten years and enough ammo to kill any number of hippies that came knocking.

And that’s how Matt stayed for close to four years. He slept with a gun and fantasized of wayward blondes that might need rescuing from the hell that was surely raining down from the skies. He ate fatty foods and pastries with infinite shelf lives. He brooded in how simply right he was, how divine his foresight had been. His only comfort was a composting toilet and a Coleman lantern; fear was his only companion. The days passed unnoticed in a sunless black with sweat and stench. He felt smugly sorry for the poor folk rotting above ground. Matt’s uncomfortable existence trumped their torture any day.

But then the pains came. Creeping little twitches crawled through his extremities. Feeling fled from his fingers and toes like woodland creatures from smoke. Surely it wasn’t something that couldn’t be fixed by a trip to the first aid cabinet. The stockpiled antibiotics and the pain pills from Mexico didn’t do a damn thing though. Matt turned to his medical books and thumbed through the pages with fingers thick as kielbasa looking for something that matched his symptoms. There it was. Shit. Fucking Diabetes. Matt’s Coleman lantern cast dark shadows on his greasy frown.

Fuck it. Matt needed insulin and the post apocalyptic landscape that he’d find above ground was the only place he could get it. Sure, he could try to extract it from a pig, at least that’s how he thought it was done, but they never covered that in any of his GED courses. Matt armed himself from head to toe with a panoply of semi-legal firearms and made his way to the trap door. He unbolted fifteen locks or so and took his first tentative look. It must’ve been around noon. Weird; it felt much later. The sky was robin’s egg blue instead of flaming red which came as a surprise but it boded well for Matt. He threw the trap door wide and ran to his buried Bronco. Matt was breathing harder than he could ever remember breathing by the time he made the twenty yard dash, and removing the now brown and wilted brush was nearly impossible in his trans-fat addled state. He reconnected the battery and fired up the old Bronco. Well hell yes it worked on the first try; this was some American made shit. He topped off the tank from a drum hidden near the bomb shelter and made his way back to town.

His little backwoods town was flourishing. Children walked the streets instead of zombies. Cars passed Matt on the road instead of UN tanks. What the hell? Had god forgiven these United States for electing a queer Chinese Democrat? No way in tarnation. He had probably been struck down by lightning or contracted small pox or some such. I guess that’s what Matt got for not turning on his emergency radio for fear that it’d give away his location to any communists listening in. Well it wouldn’t hurt to swing by the old homestead for a quick shower before stopping by the doctor’s. That’s probably all he needed anyway.

Matt turned east and drove into his old neighborhood. There was only one “for sale” sign. That clenched it. Johnny god-damn Chan must’ve got recalled or killed so a good old boy from the golden days could take the reins and steer this country back to where it belonged. Matt pulled into his driveway with a smile on his slack face and tried his key in the door. It didn’t work. What the shit? He heard voices from inside… Right; the automatic mortgage payments had been terminated. Matt rang the doorbell over and over again until an old Asian man opened it. His shirt clearly said “FOUR MORE YEARS FOR JOHNNY CHAN”.

Rage exploded inside Matt’s head, or at least that’s what he thought it was. His vision blurred and the cool grass of someone else’s yard cradled him as he fell. The sounds from his peaceful neighborhood seemed too distant to be real. Reality seemed too distant to be true. Death swept over Matt Regan like a solid truth.

***

Anyway, the guy that did the artwork for my first novel has finally started selling his stuff here: http://www.etsy.com/shop/JCunningman His work is frickin’ epic; take a look and buy something.

Cunningham Art

Canadian Pogo Dancers

I’ve never understood how it is that men without hats can dress real neat from their hats to their feet. I’ve never understood anything about that song, nor have I ever been the type to delve into the meaning behind poetry or really trendy writing or 80’s new age Canadian rock. Actually, I doubt many people claim to be guilty of the latter. I won’t ask if you’ve heard it because I know you have, but do you like “Safety Dance” by men without hats? Um, I do. A bunch. If hell was an ever descending elevator playing one song over and over in some sort of tortuous loop, I’d ask for it to be “Safety Dance”. It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, especially here, but whatever; I can blog if I want to.

 

A huge wave of boredom swept me under and I recorded Bio-Dome on my DVR. I knew it starred Pauly Shore, but did you know that other guy was a Baldwin? Blew my mind. Anyway, there’s a scene in the movie when the riot police are trying to smoke Pauly Shore out of the Bio-Dome by repetitively playing “Safety Dance” over and over on a comically large PA system. Of course it doesn’t work; Shore’s music tastes are impeccable and he dances through the Bio-Dome like some sort of wood nymph on an ecstasy overdose. That movie got me thinking (I’m totally aware of the fact that I’m the first person in history to say that).

 

What’s that song about? Is it about safe sex? I guess it’d make sense if you massage the metaphor enough and that’s what I’ve thought for the past few years. I Googled it though, and I was wrong. I guess the lead singer was pogo dancing in some Canadian club right around the time that Disco was suffering through its death throes. New age rock was elbowing its way to the top of the charts and from what Wikipedia tells me, all the cool kids were starting to “pogo dance”. I’ve never done it, but I suppose it involves a bunch of jumping up and down sans an actual pogo stick. Anyway, the lead singer got kicked out of the club for jumping up and down when he should’ve been doing the electric shuffle of something and as he was standing outside that Canadian and presumably snow-dusted club, he said “we can dance if we want to”. Boom. I’d like to think that a big hair and spandex spangled explosion occurred in his mind. The song came out a few months later and took over the 80’s. As a side note, I sometimes wonder what new age Canadian clubs were like in the 80’s; I’d like to think that there was at least one neon maple leaf in each one.

 

Of course, the pogo dance was the only way to dance when shouting “we can dance if we want to” so the move spread from floor to floor until the electric shuffle was no more. Good job nameless bouncer. The pogo dance led to the smash dance which led to the mosh pit which led to crowd surfing which led to an odd moment in my life wherein I was holding a drumstick and standing on a deserted concert stage after Jane’s Addiction ran for their safety.

 

Alaska’s music scene is a rage fueled, culture starved, pit of nonsense. Actually, everything up there is like that. The Olive Garden up there continues to post record profits because when anything from the lower forty-eight opens up, the locals flock with open wallets just for a chance to live like all those fancy southerners in the commercials. Concerts aren’t much different. When an honest to goodness act deigns to play a show in the last frontier, ticket sales skyrocket and everyone shows up with great expectations and limited sobriety (twenty hours of darkness don’t lead to wholesome things). And inevitably, one douche bag bumps into another who then bumps into two more and the mosh pit is formed. It really doesn’t matter who’s playing either; I’ve seen it happen at Pantera where it belongs and at Blues Traveler where it doesn’t. Idiocy is contagious, and its spread most efficiently through a violent shoulder bump.

 

Anyway, Jane’s Addiction played a single show sometime in my early teens and a huge group of us went knowing it’d end up as a disaster. The band played five or six subdued songs in a row when the mullet bearing subspecies prevalent at most Alaskan concerts wanted something more conducive to handing out concussions. The crowd starting booing. The lead singer, smug in his corduroy suit, said something about how Alaskans didn’t have any more culture than a Fred Meyer and then he started playing the same short and shity song over and over again. That was a ridiculously bad mistake.

 

I was surfing the crowd on my back upon an intrusive cloud of hands when the anger erupted. The mullet brethren started chanting something indistinguishable and guttural and stormed the little wall around the elevated stage. I literally rode the wave of pissed off humanity towards the stage, and when I got to the wall and the little mote of concrete protecting the band, the ocean of man beneath me tossed me over like a castaway sailor being thrown from the surf onto the sand. I didn’t weigh very much however, and the momentum carried me over the protective area and directly onto the stage. The protective wall buckled shortly thereafter and the tide of pissed off Alaskans started washing up behind me.

 

I made eye contact with the lead singer, still in his corduroy suit but no longer smug, shortly before he made it to safety behind a steel backstage door. I smiled, flipped him off, and shouted “welcome to Alaska”. His eyes got a bit wider and then the door separated us. Whatever; I was fourteen. Blah blah blah I got a souvenir drum stick that the drummer abandoned while running for his life, the stage was demolished, and the police came; none of the rest really matters. What matters here is that if it wasn’t for a rather eccentric Canadian’s choice to jump up and down, if it wasn’t for the intolerance of a Canadian bouncer who kicked him out, if it wasn’t for the resulting declaration of damn it “we can dance if we want to, but leave your friends behind, because etcetera etcetera”, I never would’ve owned a drum stick used by the drummer from Jane’s Addiction. Like I said, whatever, I was fourteen. I’ve long since lost the drum stick, but I’ve gained a mantra. I’m not going to type it, because that would be cheesy, but hopefully, it’s playing over and over in your head by now.

MWH

Telepathetic

Look, the Mayans obviously weren’t able to foresee the downfall of their own civilization, so why should we think they could predict our own demise? Actually, I’m pretty sure they didn’t even have the wheel. I simply can’t believe that a race of people that had to drag shit from point A to point B could in any way know when the world was going to blow up. What blows my mind is the fact that the Mayan calendar is in the shape of a wheel, but none of them ever said “hey, if we turn that thing on its side instead of sacrificing virgins on it, we could have an ox cart or something”.

Furthermore, for the end of a calendar to be correct, the beginning of a calendar must be correct. The Mayans started their calendar 5126 years ago; that’s when they knew for a fact that mankind walked out of the underworld after being created by a lizard-like deity or something. Modern archeology has proven that we were around thousands of years prior to the beginning of the Mayan calendar, ergo, if what they knew to be true about the beginning was bullshit, so too is what they “knew” about how it’d all end.

It’s a bit arrogant to think that any civilization could divine an end date by reading the stars or figuring out the lunar calendar or observing the solstices. As a side note, it really should be “solsti”; there’s no point to these grammatical rules of plurality if we aren’t going to obey them. The fact is that this stoic universe of ours just doesn’t give a damn when it comes to convenient dates or round numbers. If there really is an end coming, if Armageddon really is a possibility, we’re all going to die on some random Tuesday that nobody, Nostradamus and that retarded lobster included, saw coming. It’s as if we as a species never figured out that whole tree falling in the woods thing. It really does make a noise, and that noise is in no way dependent upon man being there to hear it in his infinite awesomeness.  Existence isn’t going to hand out some sort of prescient warning just so we can see it coming. Think about it.

I say all these things from the comfortable perch I have atop my own smugness, but maybe, just maybe, I bought a little extra ammo for my arsenal lately. I might have plans to stock up on canned food come December 20th. I might have thought about borrowing twenty dollars or so from a few friends the day before Mayan calendar ends; what could it hurt? In truth, I’m just a bit envious of all those crazy-ass “preppers” that have stockpiled huge amounts of whatever for when the shit hits the fan. Have you seen that show? All those crazies have one thing in common; morbid obesity. Sure, they have enough canned bacon to survive a nuclear winter that might never happen, but what are they going to do when that coronary comes knocking in two years max? Those five thousand rolls of toilet paper in the basement aren’t going to do a damn thing for diabetes.

We’re all flockers; there’s no use in denying it. We form little herds of cars on the freeway when there’s plenty of open road to go around. We complain about the dude riding our ass and the minivan that won’t move over when in reality, we’re just more comfortable driving in little groups. We’re genetically predisposed to suffer from mob mentality. If some stranger starts believing something and shouts about it loudly enough, every one of us will at least consider his opinion, and if there’s a neat little conspiracy theory tied into it, like a mystical race of man that mysteriously vanished long ago, shit-tons of people will invariably hop on the doomsday bandwagon. (P.S. the “doomsday bandwagon” is a short bus covered in camo paint and driven by Ted Nugent).

There’s something intoxicating, enticing even, surrounding the possibility of an end of days, right? Anarchy offers equalization of a sort to many, especially those of us suffering from mediocrity. There are plenty of gung-ho dumbasses out there that are not so secretly hoping that they Mayans were right. I’ve seen a few army surplus stores around my shitty little town that are actually having sales and advertising “12/21/12” warnings. Rednecks in camo are buying cases of ammo and MRE’s by the truck load all the while wearing that “those yuppies are gunna be sorry” expression on their faces. And for the record, camouflage pants only work in the forest; when you wear them downtown, they just highlight the fact that you’re an asshole.

Again, I talk a good game but I might be a bit of a hypocrite. I was walking through the streets of downtown Durango, Colorado recently when my family and I were assaulted by a heard of about two-thousand Christmas carolers. They were walking in the opposite direction and wearing puffy down coats and bemused smiles and twirling glow-sticks. So what did we do? Me and my family changed our direction and melted into the crowd. Boom, my flocking gene kicked in and I started singing “we wish you a merry Christmas” even though on any other day I’d scoff at the idea. I even started worrying that someone might notice that I didn’t have a glow-stick. Who knows, if those same carolers had been running in a panic towards an army surplus store to stock up on explosive camouflage toilet paper, who’s to say that I wouldn’t have ran with them?

End of Days