Archive for the ‘NeverScience’ Category

Jim Tusk is a hard man. His stoic features joylessly flaunt a scowl earned from a life of hardship and digestive discomfort. During his youth, Jim could have settled down in his North Florida hometown and been put to stud for his family pedigree and prize-winning wrestling acumen, but Jim had more grandiose visions for the future. He would leave his home at the river town’s end and move to the closest bit of “civilization” to be found: Orlando. Today, Jim manufactures television antennas for Algeria.

“Where I grew up, there was the urban legend of ‘The Bardon Booger’. It was a Bigfoot creature. You’d hear your garbage cans crash in the middle of the night and run outside with a baseball bat thinking you’d find r’coons or feral kids, but you’d just see the hairy back of this beast running down the dirt road. For a while, we thought it was Old Man Grayson… the dude had a hairy back, y’know. Of course, Palatka Joe had this ghost story about hanging around the pioneer cemetery at 3 am when the Bardon Booger would appear and grant you three wishes, but it ended up being some crack dealer from Crescent Beach and the wishes granted were never what you bargained for. I never personally saw the Bardon Booger, but I heard stories. The smell is the common denominator. There would be high school parties in the woods interrupted by the stench and pine cones; a stench like someone set their septic tank afire and then tried to put it out with potpourri aerosol instead of a fire extinguisher… and pine cones tossed through the air at keg party partiers as if they were flung by Brett Favre. There were homecoming stories about football stands emptying because the Bardon Booger could be smelled from under the bleachers where he was belching up girl’s skirts. There was even a rumor my cousin —- is the bastardized off-spring of the Booger. I mean, my Aunt —- is known to get a little nuts, especially when you let her close to the Wild Turkey, but that she would lay with the Booger in the river scrub, that she could give birth to a half-Booger spawn? I mean, don’t get me wrong, Cousin —- was born 18 lbs and has won prizes for his beard. Still, I cannot… I just think the father must be one of those crusty hippie white Rastafari guys from Gainesville easily confused with an ape. It was the ‘70s, after all.” Jim rationalized. “The Bardon Booger, though… that sum-bitch is real.”

In Late 2014, Jim’s brother John-Boy took a picture of what may be the Bardon Booger.

Skunk Apes over Palatka

“It ain’t exactly the Myakka Skunk Ape, but there is something there up in the trees, amongst the Spanish moss. Hey, do you know what the Spanish call ‘Spanish moss’? ‘English moss’. Weird, right?”

Right, weird.

Layla Santana Crow grew up in South Florida with a bit of Miccosukee blood in her veins, giving her an authenticity most of us born in America lack. Layla Santana Crow currently resides in Nashville where she hounds Russian spies who have infiltrated the Country Music scene, but her background includes up-close-and-personal research of Costa Rican new-world monkeys. She has also collaborated with me in the past with the writing of Cyrus Lee Hancock’s Complete Authority on Hurricane Sur-Thrival, driving the subject matter of the ‘what happens when zoo animals escape’ and ‘upholding fashion standards when there is no running water’ chapters.

Infamous picture of the Myakka Skunk-Ape which terrorized Sarasota County

Infamous picture of the Myakka Skunk-Ape which terrorized Sarasota County

“As far as primates in Florida,” Layla responded to my questions through intricately texted emoji. “You have your zoo escapees after hurricanes, runaway exotic pets and then the left behind silver screen legacy animals. In the 1930s, they were shooting ‘Son of Tarzan’ in Silver Springs, Florida. The primates they brought in still have legacy throughout Florida. For example, the Skunk-Ape of Myakka, which terrorized the Sarasota suburbs a few years ago, is likely the great-great-grandson of a Silver Springs television chimpanzee. Not the Abominable Snowman on spring-break.”

But wouldn’t we have more evidence of these chimp generations roaming Florida; evidence by way of Interstate roadkill or poor golf course sand trap etiquette or strip-mall mauling?

“Would we have more evidence of chimp dynasties and escaped gorillas?” Layla Santana Crow considered. “If you’d prefer to believe Skunk-Ape is a mystical cousin of Big Foot roaming Florida, wouldn’t there be more evidence of him? But there isn’t; all we have is second-hand gossip and blurred pictures.”

Touché, monkey lady.

While Layla Santana Crow had her suspicions, Jim Tusk was determined to know the truth. He and I have wandered the Florida pine scrub and rivers in search of the elusive Skunk-Ape for the better part of two decades. While I came close on a few occasions deep in the Florida wilderness when the stench of something ungodly abhorrent crossed my olfactory, seizing me from the spleen and shredding through my well-being as a hot comb moves through buttered grits, I never actually saw my antagonist. I would sit, undeterred, unmoved, waiting in the forest, assuming every plume of palmetto sparrow put to sky was a sign of primate presence; I would sit, watching as the mosquitos feasted on me and were similarly devoured by prehistoric dragon flies through the day & acrobatic bats by dusk; I would sit and emerge with nothing but four months of chigger tenants living up the low-income housing of my thighs.

Vic Neverman on the hunt with Jim Tusk in the Florida backwaters...

Vic Neverman on the hunt for Skunk-Ape with Jim Tusk in the Florida backwaters…

Stitch is a theologian in Oregon. Years ago in Portland, I was initiated into a secret society of brothers where I met and quickly became the pupil of the well-versed hierophant, Stitch. While his hermetic studies are largely theological, ontological, teleological, cosmological, soteriological, eschatological, ecclesiological, and on rainy days epistemological, somewhere within or along the peripheral fringe exists Stitch’s passion project: Big Foot.

“The Old Man of the Forest is a finicky dick.” I once read on a bathroom stall door of an old poet’s tavern in Portland, Oregon. It was a reference to Big Foot and his enigmatic nature. Stitch would elaborate, “What we have is two indistinct possibilities. One: you have a cryptid beast whose existence has been uncharted by recognized science. In this scenario, you have an incredibly coy primate – we assume, but without taxonomy efforts can only assume it is a primate – who has managed to evade modern science for centuries. In fact, the only evidence exists in strictly anecdotal folklore, which brings me to the second possibility. Two: there exists something in the human psyche, something archetypal and shared amongst different peoples, which begs for the existence of a primitive cousin, perhaps even a primitive elder, especially under the threat of ecological decay. What is even more intriguing is if you search the world for such folklore, you have the Sasquatch phenomena of North America and the Yeti of Central Asia. What is the commonality? The indigenous peoples of America are the descendants of Asians who crossed the Bering Straits land bridge long before the ‘discovery’ of the Americas by Vikings and Irish monks.”

So either Sasquatch is an unknown species of ape hiding very well or Sasquatch is an archetypal delusion necessary for our psyche inherited from the first peoples of America. But what about the third option Stitch discredits?

“Oh sure, there are those who believe Big Foot is an entity that can crawl through dimensions, arriving just in time to steal the marshmallows you were saving for s’mores only to fade back into a vortex before you finish squirting enough lighter fluid onto your barbeque pit to light a log pyramid. And those same people are likely to also believe Big Foot is piloting Unidentified Flying Objects, or at least being picked up by flying saucers as if UFOs were some intergalactic Uber-driver service. Yes, those beliefs, those believers, do exist.”

Rufus Holdsworth claims to have trained NASA astronauts on how to practice procreation at zero gravity, “Hint: a lot of Velcro.” I caught Rufus at a bad time as he was scratching Florida lotto tickets like a mangy mongrel with creditors and collection agents at his back instead of fleas. “Dude…” Rufus took a break from desperation to sip on the cracked can o’ beer I presented to him. “First one today, I promise. So if Big Foot exists simply as undiscovered primates, I am sure the fucking rednecks would have cannibalized them all by now. You have to think bigger. Sasquatch could be interdimensional beings who can slip-in quick enough to mutilate cattle and slip back out before the black helicopters show up. Or maybe they just shape-shift into ordinary ornery humans and blend in with Wal-Mart camouflage.”

Connecting the Regional Mythologies

On the Hunt: to discourage panthers, Jim leaves his mark on a tree to claim this territory.

On the Hunt: to discourage panthers, Jim leaves his mark on a tree to claim this territory.

In Oregon, I came across the ‘finicky dick’ comment regarding the Sasquatch/Big Foot legends of the Pacific Northwest, yet the same could be applied to the Skunk-Ape tradition of the American South. Beyond ‘the Bardon Booger’, there are accounts of cryptids known as ‘the Sandman’ in Georgia, ‘the Honey Island Swamp Monster’ outside New Orleans, ‘the Fouke Monster’ aka ‘the Jonesville Monster’ of the Boggy Creek region of Arkansas, ‘MoMo’ the Missouri Monster, ‘the Green Chimp’ which is likely an escaped chimpanzee overcome with moss and algae, ‘the Holopaw Gorilla’, ‘the Abominable Swamp Slob’ and ‘the Everglades Ape’. Specific to Central Florida are stories of ‘the Deland Dune-Man’, ‘the Bithlo Bogger’, ‘the Pine Hills Perp’, ‘the Lakeland It’, ‘the Oviedo Green Orang’, ‘the Sanlando Devil’, ‘the Apopka Poon-Hound’ (note to self: fact-check that one), ‘the Winter Park Wookie’ and ‘the New Smyrna Dream-Snatcher’. Given the commonality of these strange beasties: all mostly three-toed (unlike common apes), possessing a revolting stank and a nocturnal presence, we can assume Stich was right – either there is a separate species of primate or these legends are a common figment of the human imagination projected upon the darkness of night as transference of our anxieties.

Other commonalities among these regional Skunk-Apes could be attributed to behavior of other animals. Skunk-Apes are said to be aggressive towards dogs, much as bears are. They eat small livestock, such as goats and chickens, but this could just as easily be blamed on coyotes, feral cats, foxes or chupacabra. Skunk-Apes are said to be bi-pedal, but will on occasion run on all fours when frightened: well sure, who wouldn’t?

The tangled waterways are the only way to get into the interior of the jungle, but often it is difficult to tell up from down...

As Above, So Below. The tangled waterways are the only way to get into the interior of the jungle, but often it is difficult to tell up from down… Jim Tusk waits ahead.

The strangest commonality amongst Skunk-Apes, from the Mims Monster to the Zephyrhills Zeke, from the Bardon Booger to the Frostproof Freak, from the Inverness Sketchy-Guy to the Eustis Stink, and well beyond the Florida ape-fright, all over North America, there is an odd pattern that may be attributable to anxiety or pranks & hoaxes or just a carnal perversity: each of the traditions of Skunk-Ape mention the beast’s voyeuristic pleasure derived from watching homo sapiens fornicate within cars in remote locations. In the legends, there is little to none as far as complaints regarding sexual intercourse being interrupted by Skunk-Apes in other settings, e.g. tents in the wilderness or outdoor hot-tubs or skinny-dipping. No, this category of encounter ‘coitus interuptus’ tends to only occur when the steamy acts are held within parked automobiles. But why?

Ultimately, we return to the psychological manifestation of the elder of the forest. I, notable SCIENTIST Vic Neverman, believe Stitch is somewhat correct. There is a drive within the misfired synopses of our mind to relate to the earth through an anthropomorphic deity such as Big Foot. For example, there exists a set of psycho-analytic film critics which maintain Chewbacca only exists as an extension of Han Solo’s sub-conscious. Your garbage cans may have been kicked over by a hairy-backed neighbor, but your social disenfranchisement yearns for the wisdom of a primitive ancestor embodied by Skunk-Ape. What if your aunt wasn’t knocked-up by some counter-culture Pinko-Commie, but rather by some mystical beast-man? Anxieties are heightened within an automobile during sex because the act is both confined and broadcasted through a transparent windshield! Sexual acts engaged in nature outside of the automobile either appreciate privacy (e.g. tent, cave, log-cabin, igloo) or lack confinement (e.g. lake sex, ocean sex, beach sex, up-against-a-tree sex, on-top-of-a-mountain sex,  middle-of-desert sex), which frees anxieties otherwise capable of projecting archetypal ape-man fantasies. I mean, just a hunch…

Jim and I are never going to find the Skunk-Ape paddle-boarding into the Florida jungle. What we need are some volunteers* willing to drive into the wilderness to bait the Old Man of the Forest. Who knows who might show up – a wayward chimp, an undiscovered species of ape or an inter-dimensional spectator? I’ve got my audio video equipment; any takers?

*Volunteers can apply for a role in the experiment by contacting Vic at VicNeverman@gmail.com

February 29th, 2015… a hippocalyptic hiccup

All great endeavors start with an idea. Mediocre endeavors (those of which I am more intimately familiar with) may begin with a hangover. So began DAY ONE of OPERATION WATERHORSE, a new pet project of mine devised to fund a summer excursion somewhere south of Miami and, along the way, save the Amazonian ecosystem. And it was on this day: February 29th, 2015, my machinations were to get underway. Unfortunately, I overslept.

***Read up on the Hippocalyptical Details here***

There was no immediate travesty. My lone appointment was at a satellite campus of the Universal Church of God, Etc. where I was to meet with the Tusk family who begrudgingly promised to introduce me to a few select elders. I am sure You, dear reader, are asking what the hell a secular humanist like Me is doing going to church, on a Sunday no less, a day sacred amongst secular humanists for sleeping-in. You see, dear reader, my plan was to charm the happy-clappies and get them to invest in my mission: warding off the inevitable Hippocalypse in Colombia where Escobar’s pets were running amok. “Invasive Hippopotami are rampaging throughout Colombia, crushing children in their monstrous wake. Now these children may be Catholics (I would explain to my Protestant audience), but still believers in the Jesus. They are at risk and together we can help save them.”

Pretty convincing, right?

Hippo 3
Alas, I overslept. Not that the Tusks minded. They are normally supportive of my high-jinx, just at a distance. Mrs. Tusk, who’s been a friend for nearly half my life and a biologist almost as long, was especially skeptical of my plans to euthanize dozens of hangry hippos with the money I would take from her congregation. I promised her a cut of the donations from her church, which isn’t considered a bribe in Chicago, yet despite her Illinois roots she remained stand-offish. I thought she might be pleased when I named her husband, Jim Tusk, as my chief demolitions expert for OPERATION WATERHORSE, but even this honor was lost in her strange moralistic logic. Nevertheless, even Amy Tusk cannot stop the wheels of progress. Unless I oversleep.

Dehydration, a swollen brain squeezed within my skull and a missed appointment all paled in comparison to my primary concern upon waking on the Sunday in question: at some point in the previous night’s carousing and traipsing, I had lost the OPERATION WATERHORSE playbook. On a scale of 1 to 10, this was a 4.53 – there was nothing in my book worth selling to the Chinese (though, they’d likely buy anyway), but within my journal, amidst the drunken logic scribblings and pornographic doodles and profane rants against the duplicitous Qataris and the weakly-rhymed poetry of a lonesome dude, was the entire game-plan for OPERATION WATERHORSE.

Sunday morning had a feel to it which suggested a day in bed, but already the local mongrels were howling after a treed raccoon and the jet-ski douchery were setting the bayou afire with their latest supped-up recreational dildo-rocket. By the time I realized my journal was missing, it had become apparent I would have the leave the creature comforts of my bed and return to the world of the living.

Retracing Yesterday

How important was this missing journal? For one, it had the recorded dialogues between my uncle and me on the subject matter. While Captain Dick Neverman and I have continued our familial legacy of pizza delivery, he once was an upstart import/export trader specializing in smuggling sea shells out of Colombia to Florida (during Pablo Escobar’s reign in the 1980s, no less). Captain Dick’s knowledge of the waterways and his contacts in Bogota and his membership at the Cartagena Naval Club were priceless, which is why I had made him my first mate on this voyage. Lost within my journal, were notes on his compensation demands (for $500 a day, he was willing to do about anything) and my uncle’s unnecessary clarification about Pablo Escobar’s hippos existing on a river which flowed north into the Caribbean Sea, not south to the Amazon as I had previously claimed.

“Your hippos would have to either climb the Andes Mountains to get to the Amazon or swim east to Guyana or Brazil to infiltrate the Amazon.” Captain Dick Neverman clarified, according to my journal.

A hippo finding its way to the Amazon was still possible unless you consult my chief skeptic, Amy Tusk. “Vic, no animal weighing a ton and a half is going to climb over the Andes Mountains. And hippos do not swim; they push off the riverbed and glide through the water.” So she’s saying there’s a chance.

All of this valuable information was kept within my black book of mysteries, literally bound to secrecy by the elastic band I kept around it. But where was this journal?

At this rate, there will be 4000 hippos in Colombia in 2053, except that the ecosystem could not contain such a herd

At this rate, there will be 4000 hippos in Colombia in 2053, except that the ecosystem could not contain such a herd

My first stop brought me to Ataturk’s Discotheque & Grille somewhere along the orgy of Interstate Four hotels north of Orlando. It was here I previously met with the irascible Erasmus of Otter Dam Military Academy (a would-be upper-star general if he weren’t so damn opposed to authority, ironically) and his fiancé, the socialite Vivien Escobar (no relation to Pablo). If I were to raise $200,000 USD for my OPERATION WATERHORSE, Viv was going to have to play a key role. While ‘Neverman’ was mud around these parts, Vivien’s name was figurative champagne. Her whispered suggestions into the right ears brought Central Florida the SunRail commuter train, gave Orlando our own professional soccer team and lightened restrictions on micro-breweries. If she hosted a fundraising event for OPERATION WATERHORSE, I was guaranteed to reach my fiscal goals.

“How about we start with $15,000 and go from there.” Vivien Escobar suggested Saturday night at Ataturk’s Discotheque & Grille. I acquiesced. I needed 15k for explosives alone, yet I figured the initial amount might, in the least, finance a fact-finding mission for Captain Dick and me. Vivien expanded her demands, “If I am going to be involved, you are going to need a better organization name than VAMP (Volunteer Association of Mosquito Preservation). No one cares about mosquitos.”

“But we have history!” I insisted.

“Bad history.” Viv countered. “I read up on VAMP. Your last excursion was to Alaska in 2003 when you went bankrupt on booze and prostitutes.”

“We went bankrupt because we had an emergency shotgun wedding.” I defended the insolvency of my defunct organization. “And we certainly didn’t have any prostitutes around because we had my sister!” I further insisted, before the echo of my comments hit me. “That sounded wrong, I mean, we didn’t have prostitutes around because we wouldn’t resort to such debaucheries in the presence of a lady, that being my sister.”

“Mm-hmmmmmm.” Vivien reconsidered at length. “All the same, I suggest starting up an NPO with a name more appealing.”

“How about the Knights Hippopatamer?” Erasmus suggested as he and I swallowed anise-seedy booze (raki is the Turkish version of the Mediterranean tradition, nicknamed “lion’s milk” because you wake up the next morning feeling as though you wrestled a lioness).

“I was thinking something more along the lines of ‘International Brotherhood of River Purists’ or some bullshit.” Viv countered. “IBORP – it has a ring to it.”

Hippo
All of this was recorded in my mystery journal, yet when I returned to Ataturk’s on Sunday, the effeminately oversized Persian waiter quietly apologized for the notebook being absent. Foiled yet again, I ransacked my mind for clues. Where the hell did I get off to after ‘Ras and I drank all of Ataturk’s raki?

Of course – the tuxedos!

Vivien Escobar, envisioning our future #hippocalypse fundraiser, had me fitted for a tux at a local strip mall Saturday night. Sunday afternoon, I returned to the very Men’s Warehouse, finding the familiar sultriness of the Latina seamstress, Dahlia. She remembered my dimensions more than I recalled hers (surprisingly). “I recognized you right away.” Dahlia insisted when I walked into the store and out of the Sunday humidity. Tempted to ask her out for coffee, I hesitated due to intimidation as I found her eyes were already measuring my inseam like a pair of jackals tug-of-warring over haggis. She went on, “You have a perfectly-average body. You could fit into the clothes of any standard mannequin.” Mannequin-esque-ness, of course, is what I aspired to. As an agent of intrigue, I am best hidden through mediocrity, averageness and any wallpaper camouflage quality I could find. My very diet and workout regiment was designed to keep me six foot nothing, average build/weight with features easily confused as Mediterranean, Hispanic, Slavic or Arabic, depending on my tan. I was thinking of something witty and sexy to say to Dahlia to declare myself a sacrificial lamb to be lain on her alter and consumed by her ravenous appetite, but she became distracted by a customer who lacked my perfect averageness. Instead, I found a stock-boy who confirmed my black journal was not found yesterday.

within the Black Velvet Cafe, Vic becomes lost within the Labyrinth

within the Black Velvet Cafe, Vic becomes lost within the Labyrinth

After yet another setback, all would have been lost if not for the scratch marks on my chest where tufts of hair had been scraped away. Through self-hypnosis, I was able to recall Saturday night’s continuance from the tux-fitting to a foul and wicked establishment known as The Black Velvet Café.  If you can imagine an illegal gambling den in Chinatown where the stairway to the basement is verboten, The Black Velvet Café is what you would find if you tossed aside the dice and made a dash downstairs past the hanging decapitated chicken carcasses. The Black Velvet Café specializes in brewing malevolent stouts, which were callous and unguarded, seeping alcohol into your bloodstream as haphazardly as a low-rent bed-hopper distributes pubic lice unto the paying public. Returning to self-hypnosis (science not well-regarded by the academic establishment due to the selective and whimsical nature of a fool’s memory), I fantastically recalled the girl screaming over the loud thud of the house band, her spittle vehemently projected through her teeth as she inquired, “Who the fuck are you?” I was the fuck Neverman, I hazily remember telling her, somewhat angrily and somewhat turned-on by her intricately colored fingernails drawing blood from my torso’s landscape. Of course, the claw marks may have alternatively been the result of the lion’s milk.

Nevertheless, on Sunday I would return to this seventh subbasement of Hell. Fortunately, my black and bound mystery journal was present. They had found it amongst slumbering gutter-punks who had drunk all the Windex in the building, indirectly rendering the lavatory mirrors blurry with slung saliva.

Victory, however temporary, was mine.

Some Accounting, Now that we have the Books…

“Why do you need $200,000 for a fact-finding mission?” my social-engineer, Vivien Escobar, had asked at Ataturk’s Discotheque & Grille Saturday night as we devoured adana kabobs.

Allow me to itemize my expenses…

  • hippo graph 2Captain Dick Neverman would cost $500/day for his expertise in Colombian waterways and the connections he has in Bogota.
  • Erasmus of Otter Dam Military Academy is willing to put aside the writing of his autobiographical memoirs to become the chief strategist of the hippo euthanasia project for $5,000 a week.
  • I am still negotiating the release of Jim Tusk with his wife so he can assume the duties of demolition expert.
  • We might have to bribe Amy Tusk with a sizable salary (she is mutually exclusive with Jim because someone must mind their children) to be our resident biologist. We would then need another demolitions man.
  • There are a couple of gentleman adventurers who will join our ranks without the promise of compensation, but may still require extra expense:
    • Doc Kelly, a salesman and quasi-pharmacist from Winter Park, Florida. Doc is a kind soul who would gladly save the Amazon pro bono. He doesn’t have any expertise in creating a lethal injection we could use to shoot at hippos from a distance, but we have faith in his resourcefulness to create the proper killing mechanism. We may need to pay extra for a proper expert in the field of large-mammal euthanasia to assist Doc. Any pre-med dropout will do, but at what charge?
    • Cyrus Lee Hancock, an aristocrat out of Nashville, Tennessee, is ready and willing, if only because of his fear of hippopotamuses (he is a thrill-seeking hipster inspired by his phobias). His arsenal of weaponry would come in handy should the humane euthanasia tranquilizers prove ineffective. We may need to bribe his wife into letting him join our venture.
    • Phineas Crux, a rakish politician out of Salem, Oregon, could be compelled to join the team as a public relations expert. Phineas prefers to spend his summers along beaches in Southeast Asia or Latin America where he can chase the taste of the local tongue. Sending him to a rural river valley is not up his proverbial alley, but we might be able to sweeten the deal by bussing licentious trollops up from Bogota.
  • We would need to pay for travel and accommodation and food for all parties.
  • We would need to spend several thousand dollars on bribing local authorities. It is Colombia after all.

Simple—you bribe someone here, you bribe someone there, and you pay a friendly banker to help you bring the money back.

– Pablo Escobar on how the Cocaine business works.

Legacy of the Cocaine King

When the final bullet entered Pablo’s ear and exited somewhere on the other side of his head, any hope the billionaire drug king-pin may have had for returning home to his Hacienda Napoles compound was lost along with a sizeable chunk of brain matter, skull, et al. The Escobar Estate would be seized by the Colombian Government, divided-up and divvied-out. One of the more peculiar accounting matters when auditing the ranch at Hacienda Napoles was what to do with all the exotic animals the drug lord smuggled from all over the world to create his own personal wildlife park. The elephants, giraffes and other animals would be transported to zoos throughout Colombia, but the hippopotamuses (hippopotamusi?) would be left behind, abandoned to their own devices. What began as a family of four – a bull male and his harem of three females – has expanded in the last twenty years to a population of over fifty. Not only is the Antioquia region of Colombia at risk with the spread of the territorial beasts of Pablo Escobar, so too is the fragile ecological existence of South America, especially the Amazon.

Escobar's ranch Hacienda Napoles

Escobar’s ranch Hacienda Napoles

The Hippopotamus is one of the most dangerous animals in Africa. An amphibious bovine creature, its closest relatives are actually whales and porpoises, providing credence to how devious hippos can be. Hippos exist in a patriarchal society where the dominant male guards his harem, scattering young males to seek out new territory and lady hippos. The hippo population is under constant check in Africa where droughts are a regular part of the weather cycle, but here in Colombia where rain is in surplus, the Magdalena River provides a habitat superior to the hippo’s ancestral home. Colombian hippos, in this paradise of neo-Eden, are becoming fertile younger and producing off-spring with a higher frequency than their cousins back home in Africa. With their tendency for seeking vast territory, a lot of grim hypotheticals start to arise…

What will happen if the hippos ever reach the waters of the Amazon in Southern Colombia? What will then happen to the native species of the Amazon: the gray dolphin, the black caiman and the archaic pink dolphin when the red-sweating beasts arrive and claim territory?

This is likely to become an ecological apocalypse.

The villagers who have come into contact with Pablo’s hippos have embraced (literally when baby hippos are adopted as pets) the new arrival. No humans have been harmed, yet, but it is only a matter of time as the beasts become more daring and stretch their territory into the path of the villagers.

Watch National Geographic’s “soft” take on the invasive beasts…

What can be done to fight the tide?

A scene from near Escobar's former ranch where the Hippos run wild

A scene from near Escobar’s former ranch where the Hippos run wild

American and European wildlife organizations have come in to analyze the situation, finding the river lands of Colombia in dire straits. The hippos cannot be contained. They cannot be systematically deported back to Africa because they could potentially possess New World viruses that would devastate the Old World population. Castration is an option often mentioned, but really, what biologist has the balls to pull that off? And do not forget this entire population started with just one bull – all it would take is for one young bull to escape the castration program and we are all back to square one. Another option would be to farm the animals for their meat. Appetizing side-note: when biologists attempted to contain the hippos, one beast got cooked on an electric fence. The nearby villagers continued the barbeque and happily pronounced the burnt flesh tasted like pork. Eating hippopotamus meat, however, brings the risk of meningitis, so be certain to floss after supper.

The only solution, unfortunately, is euthanasia. Find every animal and exterminate them with the most humane dosage of lethal chemicals available. A grisly solution, for certain, but the passive alternative of allowing the hippo population to continue unabated could be devastating to the South American ecosystem.

The real dirty work will be disposing of the corpses so their decomposing carcasses do not create a health hazard to the villagers dependent on the river for their livelihood, sustenance and general entertainment.

What’s Next?

Colombia doesn’t have the resources to take on this project alone. They will need assistance.

Fortunately, I just so happen to be looking for a new noble cause to champion. As a scientist, I, Vic Neverman, have chased monsters through the swamps of Cuba and Australia, studied the marine life of the Amazon and immersed myself within the indigenous people. I may not know much about hunting and killing a prey the size of my car, but I’m a quick study.

Victor Neverman: man of the people. Together we can make change.

Neverman of the people. Together we can make change.

So I am getting the band back together. I am bringing the formerly disgraced environmental activist group, V.A.M.P. (volunteer association of mosquito preservation), out of the defunct slumber of court-mandated retirement to end this ecological travesty before it begins.

Stages of my Plan

  1. Unite the team
  2. Find someone to pay for our fact-finding mission to Colombia
  3. Go fact-finding
  4. Produce an action plan to eradicate hippos in Colombia
  5. Get Colombian Government to buy-in, allowing VAMP to facilitate the business end of finding a company with the hardware to pull off such a dramatic ecological rescue (maybe we can use drones!)

The biggest trick will be #3 as VAMP previously went bankrupt a decade ago due to inordinate expenses (rum, women, gambling, bribes, gambling rum and bribing women) during similar fact-finding missions.

And so, Onward…

***Further Reading***

BBC on Pablo’s Hippos

Wikipedia page on Pablo Escobar

CNN reported today that 1 in every 4 American is afraid of Ebola. Anderson Cooper thusly led his news program with the more popular Joan Rivers malpractice story. Why? Because vocal reconstructive surgery is at the forefront of perceived threats in America. Blatherskite, all the fuck of it.

(no offense, Joan)

I am here to speak to the 75% of Americans allegedly not afraid of Ebola. It is time to pay attention. Over 4,000 cases and over 2,000 deaths in countries like Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Senegal and Sierra Leone may seem far enough away to encourage your obliviousness and this would be a mistake. Obama is sending 3,000 American troops to West Africa to contain this virus and for good reason. Even if the optimists are right and Ebola never makes its way to the United States, you – Sir, and you – Ma’am, need to wipe the chicken grease off on your shirt, slurp or snort your favorite stimulant of choice, dig your head out of the sand and take a long hard look at the ugliest, nastiest, scariest elephant in your room.

Ebola.

Looking at the mathematics in a report published by Eurosurveillance (which sounds creepily like a department of the NSA), Ebola during stretches of the outbreak created 2 new patients for every sick person who had contracted it. Ask the CDC – anything above a 1:1 ratio (called “R 1”) and you have an outbreak that could become a pandemic. Eurosurveillance suggests there could be an additional 277,124 cases by the time you ring in the New Year committing whichever social atrocities you insist upon after a tame 2014. This is bad in many ways, even if you wake up on 1/1/15 healthy and fully aware of where your pants are.

See some startling images by Peter Muller on Wired.com…

What are the worst case scenarios?

Peter Muller's photo of Red Cross burial workers

Peter Muller’s photo of Red Cross burial workers

Keeping the virus contained in villages is relatively easy, but once it goes metropolitan in the large cities of West Africa, where migrants from the country live in slums, this pandemic gets pandemickier. This virus is considered easy to contain (though the survival of the patient is questionable) because it can only be transmitted through bodily fluids… for now. The Ebola virus is evolving quickly and may very soon mutate into a sickness transmittable through the air. Such a scenario would completely destabilize the developing nations of West Africa. The United States is stepping in to take the lead in cornering this rabid possum to put it down before any more fuss is made. It is the right decision.

The Fall of Rome some 1500 years ago is commonly attributed to the marauding barbarians at the gate, but there is so much more to the decline. A tragic climate event in the 6th Century decimated the harvests around the world, forcing the migration of tribes out of the Asian Steppe and the wandering rats infested with bubonic fleas onto merchant ships. Do a little dance, turn yourself around and you have Mongols catapulting plague victims over the besieged walls of Western Civilization. It wasn’t just the poor harvest that brought the Roman/Byzantine Empire to ruin or the Mongols or the plague acting as the catalyst… it was the mass extermination of tax payers that ushered in the Dark Ages.

Climate issues, plagues and barbarians playing by their own rules… Nothing to see here, folks.

WINTER PARK, Fla

I ventured to the cobbled streets of Winter Park, an affluent area of Middle Florida, to visit with my own physician, Doc Kelly. Doc is more herbalist businessman than a medical doctor, but due to his affinity for nurses and modern medicine, he is a wealth of wisdom and experience. For this doctor’s visit, I ventured into the underground bunker built by the Brahmin’s Club out of an old bank vault. Doc Kelly and the aristocratic elite of Middle Florida furnished this bunker to keep them well-nourished in the case of various cataclysmic scenarios: race war, zombie attack, Maya Apocalypse, Obamacare and/or rise of the robots.

Doc in the Brahmin's Club Bunker under Middle Florida

Doc in the Brahmin’s Club Bunker under Middle Florida

“Chiggers again.” Doc shook his head at my pock-marked ankles. “I prescribe three fingers of gin and a twist of lime for the scurvy.” Doc Kelly fixed us a drink before relaxing in one of the Brahmin’s Club captain chairs, “In the case of an extended bunker stay down here, we would run out of food and air long before we ran out of refreshment.”

Cheers! I clink’d my glass to his. First one of the day! he admitted, rather falsely, because tradition.

Cutting to the chase, “Give it to me straight, Doc. What of Ebola? How bad is it?”

Doc scratched his dome as he gazed as the steel-reinforced ceiling of the bunker, “Let’s see…”

Doc Kelly himself tossed me a pillbox. “This will help you as much as anything if you are afraid of Ebola.” The pillbox was a clear plastic container of Tic-Tacs. “If you want extra advice: when you are in Africa, make sure you don’t get cut by anything at all and if you do get cut, amputate. Make sure you don’t rub your eyes, or cry for that matter because your tears will probably suck the bubonic dust particles from off your eyelashes. If you are going to keep your beard, do not lick your chomps. Do not pick your nose! Picking your nose is the surest way to send particles of camel feces straight to your brain. Don’t touch any water and certainly don’t drink it. Have a beer with every meal, even breakfast. If your hosts don’t have beer because of the Quran, drink a shot of Listerine for Allah’s sake.”

– Doc’s Advice for visiting Africa in May 2015’s MERS Surge blog

“It’s like this, Vic. Have you ever caught your finger in a door jam? Well, now imagine your whole body – your brain, your scrotum, your knee caps getting door-jammed. Ebola makes the Spanish Flu look like something you order off a taco truck.” The thought of tacos spurred Doc on and he started to gain momentum. “Yeah, you know the Mexican ‘Day of the Dead’, where you have skeletons wandering around, some of them people in costumes and others aren’t skeletons, you just swallowed the tequila worm and suddenly think you have x-ray vision? Ebola is like that, except you are the worm.”

America be warned…

SEAWORLD ORLANDO, Fla

“There are fifty shades of green when it comes to this Blackfish story.” Rufus Holdsworth smiled at the reporter, his face handsomely-weathered like deck furniture. “There is the green cash SeaWorld is making despite their negligence with employee safety and their indifference towards animal health. Then there are the varying degrees of green eco-activism. To start, you have your light-green activists: the friendly animal rights protestors and your tree-hugging hippie protestors. And then… then you have the likes of me.” The handsome Rufus winked at the fair representative of the fourth estate before continuing, “I’m your darkest shade of green.”

Holidayers braving temperatures in the low 80s flocked to the theme parks of Central Florida as expected this pre-Christmas weekend. Those that came to experience SeaWorld Orlando on Sunday were greeted by animal rights activists protesting the captivity and exploitation of orca whales. The protest was civil and polite as four squad cars full of Sheriff’s deputies observed the goings-on with cavalier indifference. The protest was the latest fallout from the documentary film, Blackfish, which portrayed the marine park in unsavory light with regards to its treatment of whales and its negligence in the death of a trainer in 2010.

The Protest outside of SeaWorld Orlando on 12/22/2013

The Protest outside of SeaWorld Orlando on 12/22/2013

Rufus was like Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys, just less cross-eyed

Rufus was like Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys, just less cross-eyed

Not all of SeaWorld’s antagonists were as civil as the animal rightists and tree huggers. Rufus Holdsworth, also known as “Brother Rufus” along Florida’s Space Coast where he preaches his own brand of philosophies, is the founder of Dark Green Resistance – an anarcho-primitivism activist group who would be as pleased as punch to see another Great Flood wipe out humanity and return a balance to the Earth. Think Brad Pitt in 12 Monkeys, just not as cross-eyed.

I arrived at the entrance of SeaWorld and saw Rufus a degree removed from the peaceful protestors, watching from the shade of nearby oaks like a criminal who had returned to the scene of the crime. He wasn’t there to meet women, but he didn’t exactly shy away from a pair of gothic chicks with face-piercings and PETA signs who were chatting with him as I approached. He shooed the goths away with a flick of his wrist before offering me his palm in a handshake, “Mister Neverman.”

“Rufus.” I accepted his offered hand.

Rufus Holdsworth and I had a history. We were both members of VAMP (Volunteer Association for Mosquito Preservation) when I, as acting President, had to kick him out for his extremist antics. We were a pro-ecosystem group and he was an eco-commando that went rogue, stealing all of the baby alligators from the miniature golf courses in the area (it is a sick, sick marketing ploy many mini-put courses use to drive sales “feed live gators!”) to then release them in the pond near his Gainesville hippie commune. He was unapologetic about his criminal activity, though he later regretted releasing the former captive gators in waters so near humanity. The put-put golf gators were raised on human hand-outs and had associated the smell of humans with food. His rescue & release program resulted in a lot of missing pets and toes in the Gainesville area. “Survival of the fittest.” Rufus shrugged at the end results. “They shouldn’t be wearing flip-flops anyway when it is much faster to run in bare feet.”

a haunting photo of Tilikum and the trainer, Dawn, prior to the tragedy

a haunting photo of Tilikum and the trainer, Dawn, prior to the tragedy

Which begs the question – what, exactly, would Rufus Holdsworth attempt in order to free Tilikum, the leviathan killer whale employed at SeaWorld? Tilikum is responsible for the death of SeaWorld trainer Dawn Brancheau and possibly another trainer in Victoria, Canada (prior to being bought and shipped to SeaWorld Orlando). Despite the ill-nature of the orca, Tilikum is a fan favorite amongst the animal activists and Rufus Holdsworth, himself. Rufus, who used to live along the islands in the Puget Sound where he made a living distilling lavender-infused gin, feels a kinship for these whales. “Tilikum would have lived as a king in the wild. Instead, he was harvested as a wee lad and has lived his entire life in captivity, residing in a box of water to be milked for his semen and to play dancing-monkey for the crowd a couple times a day.

“You know as well as I do the intelligence these creatures possess.” Rufus suggested.

I did know. I have even gone as far to opine dolphins and orca have superior intelligences (at least a superior emotional IQ) and that if they had the good fortune to evolve opposable thumbs, they would be holding us captive for their dog & pony shows. Higher intelligence, however, does not necessarily lead to more “humane” activities – as any observer of human nature would attest to. I happen to have participated in scientific research of river dolphins of the Amazon and have watched a pink river dolphin take a resting bird and pull it underwater to drown it. The attacking dolphin did not then pluck the bird’s feathers to fry up some swamp chicken, no. This was not an act engaged to feed – it was killing for the sake of entertainment. The pink river dolphin possessed a much higher intelligence than the fowl creatures it was surrounded by and this higher intelligence included a psychopathic delight for killing birds. Knowing this, the graphic images of vengeful orca provided in the documentary Blackfish were not as startling to me.

Blackfish, as seen by the rest of the world, has created shock at the conditions whales and their trainers must endure. Blackfish, a documentary worthy of all its critical acclaim, did the story right and may be the paradigm shift that will impact marine parks and zoos as we know it. SeaWorld is a two-sided coin – there is the side that rescues and resuscitates injured animals and then there is the circus side driven to finance the entire operation. If the circus can no longer bring a profit via its dancing mammals, will the angel of mercy still have the funds to save marine mammals? This is the danger of all-out condemnation of SeaWorld.

Louis Gosset Jr and Dennis Quaid were in charge of SeaWorld during Jaws 3

Louis Gosset Jr and Dennis Quaid were in charge of SeaWorld during Jaws 3

“SeaWorld” I told Rufus. “Has come a long way since Jaws 3 when Dennis Quaid could not overcome the administrative faults of Louis Gosset Jr. The methods and the means have changed since the 1970s. With the events of the last few years and the popularity of Blackfish, further change will come. Things will get better.”

“In the San Juan Islands, I would kayak alongside orca.” Rufus noted, his eyes locked in a faraway stare. “That is as close as humans should get. The gods gave us opposable thumbs, as you mentioned. They did so in order for us to mine them gold. Dolphins and whales would be shit for miners. We were primates blessed with intelligence to mine for gold and we have taken this blessing as a right to enslave other species. We humans celebrate our liberty, yet we deny them to our mammalian cousins. Until zoos and marine parks do not exist, I will not rest.”

Rufus Holdsworth and his sister-wives in the San Juan Islands ("a very weird period of my life" he admits)

Rufus Holdsworth and his sister-wives in the San Juan Islands (“a very weird period of my life” he admits)

“There is no compromise?”

“There is no compromise.” Rufus repeated with a more sinister inflection of his voice.

“What is next for you and Dark Green Resistance?” I inquired.

“Why would I tell you?” Rufus Holdsworth guffawed. “You’re just another patsy of the establishment.”

“Hardly!” I cried in protest.

“All the same, you will find out when the rest of the world finds out.”

There is no missing link. The gap between ape and man was bridged by the gods.

– Brother Rufus

Brother Rufus, in a scene from his 'Hurricane Survival Inflatable Rufus Board' brochure

Brother Rufus, in a scene from his ‘Hurricane Survival Inflatable Rufus Board’ brochure

SPACECOAST, FLA

Testing, 1, 2, 3… this is Vic Neverman narrating to you, an audio-recording device I have set to record my vocalized words.

On close inspection, you wouldn’t think Brother Rufus a proponent of Intelligent Design theories. His hair is sun-bleached, the wrinkles around his eyes are a murder of crow’s feet and his chipped teeth are representative of a few too many beer caps pried-off unconventionally. I find this leathered beach-monger on the backyard patio of a suburban South Daytona (long-vacant) home, standing beside a pool filled with rainwater, palmetto leaves and brackish soot from the risen inter-coastal waters nearby. He climbs aboard an unstable raft within the pool, his white-knuckled monkey-toes clinching to the synthetic fabric beneath his soles. “This board” Brother Rufus tells a crowd that consists of: yours truly – Vic Neverman, and then beside me there is a scowling California girl in jean shorts and next to her a wayward online consumer whose instinct is to wear t-shirts a size too small so that his flabby breasts give life to the eyes of the game fish depicted in the print there. “This board is made from NASA technology and is the future of doomsday TEOTWAWKI preparation.” The wayward consumer may assume TEOTWAWKI is some Native American term for oatmeal, when in truth it is a popular apocalypto-prep acronym for the end of the world as we know it.

“I know what TEOTWAWKI is!” The wayward consumer bleats at me like a damn ninny goat, his hyper-caffeinated eye balls jiggling in perfect sync with the chins beneath his quivered lip. “Spare me the play-by-play narrative. Okay, buddy?”

The California girl is condescending in her tone as she points her thumb at me and makes note of my behavioral pattern, “He does this… speaks about people aloud as if he is writing their obituary.” Her dialogue is directed to Brother Rufus, which means there is one bloke free from her wrath of silence. Her determination to not speak to me has the strength of Legion.

Brother Rufus, from his peaceful perch aboard the inflatable raft, nods at the demonstrative wayward consumer in the shirt with the dancing fish-eyes and points at me, “Yuh, tell him I don’t have monkey toes.”

“He doesn’t have monkey toes.” Wayward consumer confirms, a bit of spittle hanging to his bottom lip. He wipes the regurgitate free with his bare forearm. “Gosh darn it!” He curses and stares at me before turning to our host. “That’s it, I am out of here. Have fun with mister stream-of-conscious.”

Brother Rufus is still standing on his paddle-board as it floats in the pool. He turns towards me as the wayward consumer leaves the patio. Rufus is a little stoned, so his words are slow, “I think that was you he was referring to you as ‘mister stream-of-conscious’. Where did I leave off?”

“TEOTWAWKI.” I hint. “But, I’ve already bought one of your doomsday boards. What we are here for is to hear about what happened with you and Volusia County School Board.” The “we” I speak of is inclusive of my guest from California: a former-sushi chef with a Portuguese temper and an Irish grudge who isn’t speaking to me for god know’s why.

“He knows why.” Desdemona Riley tells Brother Rufus, who stands aboard his stupid board in the tumultuous pool. She certainly isn’t telling anything to me. Not that I know why she isn’t speaking to me. “He does. He knows why.” she insists, when, in fact, I don’t.

“Ahh, shit.” Brother Rufus shakes his head and reaches for an aluminum can of cheap domestic swill that is sitting in his left ass pocket. He offers his board to Des Riley, “Maybe you’d like a turn.” Des, in her jean shorts and bikini top (which reveals the fox tail tattoo on the small of her back) hovers over to the pool to climb aboard the doomsday craft and, as could be expected of a dune-buggy racer, is at complete ease with imbalance.

See the paranoid profiles of both Brother Rufus and Des Riley

Genetic engineering via Angels fornicating with 'daughters of man'

Genetic engineering via Angels fornicating with ‘daughters of man’

At last, the discussion can begin. The oft barefoot monk known as Brother Rufus, who describes himself as “an aerospatial engineer”, has recently given his intelligent design argument to local schools in attempt to get his theory included within the science curriculum. He begins his presentation to me as Des Riley balances upon one of his synthetic rafts in the dark pool, “We have as much freewill as a genetically modified soybean can tell Monsanto which insecticide it prefers. The gods that made us, made us in the image of slaves. We are ape-hybrids with big egos that assume we’re built from a better cookie cutter mold. But really, if you want to read the Bible and want to talk about God’s image you have to examine the fact the original Hebrew word was ‘Elohim’ which doesn’t mean ‘God’s’ but rather ‘gods’, in that there were more than one God. Elohim is plural for ‘god’. The power-that-be was actually the powers-that-be when they made us. Man was made in the image of gods. Made to be slaves.”

“So what are we then, a science experiment?” I mumble as I watch Brother Rufus monitor the California girl’s progress on the paddle board.

“No, bro. We’re way beyond experimental phase. Have you heard of ‘Nephilim’?”

“Bad angels.” I nod. “They came down from Heaven and fell in love with our women.”

“Nephilim are not the angels.” Des Riley says as she balances on the board. She isn’t correcting me directly, but rather speaking for the sake of Brother Rufus. “Nephilim are the byproduct of angels coupling with man.”

Brother Rufus’ bleached eye-lashes flutter as he watches with admiration, “Man, yeah, she’s good. Yeah, so, no the Nephilim aren’t angels, they are the offspring from when the angels met the ape-ladies of earth. Follow? Yeah, so the Nephilim were born when the ‘sons of god’ sought ‘daughters of man’ for unlawful carnal knowledge. Y’know, ‘FUCK’. Excuse my french, miss…”

Des Riley scowls at him from atop his rig, “Fuck your french, continue.”

“Nephilim are the giants of Canaan. They are Goliath. This is all just Bible story, but what we have is celestial creatures coming down from the heavens to genetically engineer the people of earth. If they are putting Bible stories in science class, then my theory fits too.”

“Which is fine.” I shrug from the pool deck, which is hot enough to keep my soles dancing. “But why do your gods want to make ape-man hybrids? My problem with the Ancient Alien theory is that I don’t understand why they would come all this way across the universe to play god and then disappear.”

Des Riley critiques to Rufus about me, “He can fathom a higher intelligence, but cannot fathom how a higher intelligence might have different reasoning capacity than he.”

“Yeah! L-O-L, right?” Brother Rufus’ sun-burnt eyebrows dance a quick tango on his leathered forehead. “But those aliens, you know, they aren’t gone. I mean, do you know why we love money? Why we love currency? Because it has value. Why? Because it has purchasing power? Why? Because it is backed by gold. Gold. Gold, so the fuck what? So what the fuck is gold? Gold looks pretty, sure, but if I had my choice of what to adorn a beautiful naked woman with…” Brother Rufus pauses and smiles his stoned smile up at Des. “I would choose pearls.”

“Ehh.” Des shrugs, her cheeks betraying a blushing smile.

Brother Rufus continues, “Give her a few pearl necklaces bouncing around; that’s my vote. So what do I care about gold? Why do you? Tell me, Vic, what is it we want with gold? If you are a knight from the iron age, you would love to encounter a knight with a golden sword. You would cut through it like butter. So why gold? What is the true value of gold?”

Feeling I should know the answer, I give a guilty shrug.

Nephilim - the giants of yesteryear & the offspring of gods and daughters of men

Nephilim – the giants of yesteryear & the offspring of gods and daughters of men

Brother Rufus, monk of the Sacred Order of Uncanny Punters, taps his temple with a forefinger, “We love gold because we have been programmed to love gold. The engineers that came down to make man – they programmed us to lust for gold. They did this because the Elohim want us collecting gold to put in big old stockpiles that they can take from us when they visit Earth.”

“This is ridiculous. Your claim is that aliens created homo erectus (upright man) just to mine gold? Is this what you told the school board? Why would aliens come from Elohim-knows-where on the other side of the universe just to take a bunch of gold flakes home? You yourself prefer pearls, why do aliens prefer gold?”

Brother Rufus grins in his typical eat-shit grin that he grins when he knows he has just won. Check-mate. “I give you credit, bro. You ask the obvious question, so at least you are not entirely oblivious.”

Des Riley zinged, “He has that on his business card, right next to ‘conspiracy theorist’ it reads ‘not entirely oblivious’.”

“Don’t make me ask thrice.” I beg. “Why do aliens want our gold?”

“Uranium.” Brother Rufus smiled. “What’s better than lead for containing uranium for a long period of time?”

“Gold!” Des Riley smiled with the epiphany.

Gold & Pearls: secrets of the universe

Gold & Pearls: secrets of the universe

“Gold.” Brother Rufus winks at her. “Uranium is quickly contaminated if it rubs elbows with unstable elements. Gold and lead both have radioactive shielding properties, but gold is a much more stable element which makes it ideal for storing uranium 235, a rare isotope that can sustain an expanding fission chain reaction. We know this because we make nuclear bombs so that we can drop said bombs on people and make them go ‘boom’. The aliens may very well use fission to propel their craft through wormholes. Hell, they might use fission in some way to open wormholes! Combine our creators’ ability to genetically engineer apes into cognizant homo sapien with whatever heightened quantum physics they possess to manipulate Higgs-Boson dark matter –  who knows what they can do?”

“Fold space and time into an origami swan.” Des Riley suggests. “They exist beyond our sight – these engineers, yet they come and go as they please. Our ancestors had plateaued as a species until some 12,000 years ago when something set the Agricultural Revolution into motion. All of a sudden you have Nazca Lines, Giza Pyramids, fucking Tupperware. Tupper-fucking-ware! This wasn’t all by accident.”

“Exactly.” Brother Rufus nods along in admiration.

“Okay, so who are the unmoved movers? If these aliens put us into play, who created them?” I ask.

Des Riley turns towards me and made eye contact for the first time in hours, “that’s like asking the cannon ‘Who shot the Big Bang?'” Des, quickly realizing the mistake of acknowledging my existence turns away and scowls at a lizard doing his mating dance along the patio.

Brother Rufus offers his answer, “You’d have to ask them. Of course, you would be like the split-pea that asked Gregor Mendel who invented him. But it’s worth a shot!”

Truth! Truth! Truth! crieth the Lord of the Abyss of Hallucinations

– Aleister Crowley

Sunburnt freckles and wispy-flamed hair accompanied a Dutch accent as she inquired if I was on the Ayahuasca diet. Her eyes were black dilated moons and her rusty-blooded smirk was an enchanting entangled viper: lips suggestively askew, dangerous, vexing, pleadingly desirous or perhaps just evidence of foot & mouth disease or something. I mean, that shit happens. “No.” I told the waitress with a stern delivery. “No, I am not on Ayahuasca. I am a scientist. Damn it.”

But wait!, I am getting ahead of myself. I first learned of “Grandfather” and “Grandmother” from an Acupuncturist in Centralist Florida. But no, before that, yes before that I went to see an acupuncturist. She asked what ailed me. Nothing. What was I there for? For her, of course, but I couldn’t tell her that. Not yet. Her business card had been residing in some tossed aside book of mine for some time, marking that book, holding the page to a story I dared not finish, but a page I always came to to thumb that card and ponder the number held within. Anyway, I told her I was there, or I was here, for enlightenment. So she stuck a damned needle between my eyes and it gave me a headache. So fast-forward and there is this quasi-second date and my acupuncturist is drinking the tea she bought for herself (it was caffeinated) and I am drinking tea I bought for myself (not caffeinated, else I’d never sleep). In this teahouse, she explains how a Peruvian Shaman inducted her towards the “Truth” courtesy of Ayahuasca and San Pedro – also known as “Grandfather” and “Grandmother”, disrepectively (narco-adventurers and their bloody code-words, I am not sure which means which). My acupuncturist spoke to me dreamy-eyed, as if a cat’s paw had overturned a saucer of milk onto a marble floor to create the color that resided in my acupuncturist’s eyes as my acupuncturist told me the Truth she found deep in the bush of ever-centraler Florida. After an evening of purging “Grandfather” and “Grandmother” (vomit induced from the Ayahuasca and San Pedro), she woke under a ceiling of palmettos with ticks and chiggers tearing away at her flesh, but this much wasn’t a hallucination. Next time, she admitted between caffeinated-tea sips, she wouldn’t wander into the wilderness after ingesting hallucinogens without bug spray. Lesson learned, Truth obtained. She told me about her wish to visit Peru where Peruvian shamans literally grow on trees. It was uncanny. There were jugs of Ayahuasca ripe for the taking. Just sitting there, waiting to be gulped and eventually vomited back out – perchance into other jugs. Peru: Mecca of Ayahuasca purging (a t-shirt begging to be printed).

Alas, she never made it to Peru. I did.

Iquitos: gateway to los Amazonas

Iquitos: gateway to los Amazonas

Iquitos: Gateway to the Western Amazon. There is a distinct Narco-Tourism trade here, where northern hemispherians flood in by the dozens to find some Truth in the jungle. I was no different, albeit, I was a scientist for fuck’s sake, not some long-haired hippy-douche bored of the suburban basement he lived in with his parents. My furrowed brow must have demonstrated some deep-seeded philosophical disposition many recognized in the drug-adventurer as I was asked repeatedly if I was in town for the “show” and handed menus that catered to pre-ceremony dietary restrictions. A week prior to the Shamanistic ritual of Ayahausca ingestion, the initiate is not to consume fatty food, spicy food, sugars or salts. Oh yeah – and (s)he must abstain from sex. I think I’d rather be a scientist for fuck’s sake. Pun not intended, but yeah, maybe, kind of, it is.

Ayahuasca menu for initiatives pre-soul purging

Ayahuasca menu for initiatives pre-soul purging

Ayahuasca is Quecha for “vine of the soul” and is the result of shamanic efforts to cook down various plants into a foul-tasting hallucinogenic cocktail. Ayahuasca users call the elixir more medicine than drug (it is illegal in the United States because of the dimethyltryptamine (DMT) contained within, which is the hallucinogenic agent), however, historically it was only taken by the shaman in order to have visions to predict the future, etc. The rest of the village would abstain. There are those who claim Ayahuasca can cure cancer, depression, drug-addiction and a host of other ailments. Should I ever be so afflicted, perhaps I will be less cynical.

Between pisco sours, Ayahuasca-inspired art with shape-shifting python mermaids

Between pisco sours, Ayahuasca-inspired art with shape-shifting python mermaids

So who are these narco-tourists? Are they all depressed cancer patients who’ve run out of blow? After a few days in Iquitos, you can certainly identify these A-Heads from afar. Apparently, even I look the type. As I have mentioned in my guide to the jungle city: Drunken Shrunken Heads and the Mosquitoes of Iquitos, I hired a deviant of a driver. I met this driver through a drug-trade pimp named Armando. Armando is a slick-haired scoundrel preying upon the wayward lost-soul tourist. He picks his way through the disembarking passengers at the airport, sending the scientists for fuck’s sake in one direction and the narco-tourists in another. Armando wasn’t too sure of what to make of me. He and I smoked Mapacho cigars together before I convinced him I was indeed a scientist for fuck’s sake. It was Armando, however, who informed me of the healing qualities of the jungle, “If the Earth was a woman…” Armando began. “The Amazon would be her bush. It is the hottest, moistest and it holds the cure to everything.” Indeed.

Amazingly enough, dear reader, everything this far is not even an exaggeration. The quotes that follow, as those that came before, are as my ear heard them.

Soon after my arrival in Iquitos, I learned that the days were best spent keeping cool in the hotel pool, submerged as deep and as long as you could stand amongst the primordial dragon flies and beetles drowned alongside you. Next best bet was to put on a pair of pants and a shirt and drink beer along the Boulevard until you are tired enough to sleep. My first full evening in Iquitos, I met a pair of middle-aged Narco-Tourists, British ex-pats whose diabolical demeanor was evidence enough to explain why they left the comforts of the first world. Both had just arrived and were eagerly awaiting their first meeting with their shaman. One was pony-tailed and goateed with a glib English accent and a Thailand address. This dude’s eyes were like Lake Nicaraguan bullsharks, hungrily devouring anything in their path. Dude was seriously perverse, thus his need to relocate to Thailand. He asked if I was a fellow “searcher” in town in pursuit of “a Greater Truth”. His companion, another former prisoner of Mother England who had his head bent over the café table all evening out of exhaustion, resided in Qatar. A pervert who has to flee as far as Qatar to practice their own brand of perversion is a pervert well worth the designation. Pray ye gods his “greater truth” leads him away from whichever perversities that forced him to Qatar.

SCIENCE f.f.s.... Vic of the Vines

SCIENCE f.f.s…. Vic of the Vines

After a week of performing science for fuck’s sake in the bloody jungle, I returned to Iquitos. On one jaunt through town, I found Armando guiding the Thailand and Qatar pervs through the streets (aye, supply has met demand). I returned to the famed waterside restaurant, Dawn on the Amazon, where a local Peruana waitress saw me for the second time in as many weeks. In her cute hesitation, she asks, “You are Victor?” This charming muchacha remembered me from one visit 8 days prior. Fortunately, I jotted her name in my book at that time and had recently come across it. “Yes.” I confirmed. “I still am, Gabriella. Como estas?” Smiling & blushing from ear to ear, she found me a great table overlooking the water and conveniently located beside a beehive of Ayahuasca initiates. The following is the dialogue I overheard as I consumed: coffee, cervasa, patarascha river-fish steamed in bijao leaves with a side of heart of palm, then muy cervasa por favor y una mas y una mas y una mas cervasa por favor.

The threesome of narco-tourists looked like a traditional slacker crowd in a mall food court, taking a break from their job sign-dancing in a banana suit to advertise the new Fro-Yo joint. They were early 20s and would not strike you as people that come from money, yet to live the Narco-Tourism lifestyle that will keep them in the jungle for more than a month, money they must have.  Dude 1 mentions the “terror” of seeing “demons” as they discuss their inability to sleep over their recent ordeals – fasting, drugging, hallucinating and purging in the jungle. Dude 1 describes, “other worlds… gigantic beautiful spirits.” I decide to take out my journal and begin documenting their experiences. Dude 2 carries around his intellect in a box formerly holding raisins, “traumatizing, fucking traumatizing.”

Let the fun begin:

Dude 1 describing one of his dreams: “… there was a snake in her body and it shot up into her head, or something like that, and then she shape-shifted into an aborted fetus in a ruined womb and she was in there with stomach juices and stuff.”

Dude 2, “fucking traumatizing.” He seems certain. “It is shocking after such a hardcore intense trip that I would want to go back.”

Dude 1, “When you drink there is something that needs to come out.”

Girl 1, a strange Midwestern dame who seems lost in her summer dress and idiotic eyes, “I was vomiting for two hours and I know that wasn’t it and once I finally got it all out it was like… pure clarity.”

And here is a gem that forced me to put down my fork of river-fish and start scribbling like a maniac:

Dude 1, “… like, I puked, and I puked up a dagger, like, I had a dagger inside of me and then I puked up the dagger and I watched it come out. It was really painful and I was like, ‘whoa’, why did that happen and I looked into the bucket and there was this festering evil.”

From my understanding of the Ayahuasca, “Grandmother”, ritual, the purge is an important part of finding clarity. It is supposed to rid you of your guilt and insecurities so that you might confront the self without the burdens of such emotional loads. The purge is a necessary part of the ceremony and there is even retch bucket placed before initiates.

Dude 1 continued, “I was puking up rotten eggs, what does that symbolize?”

Girl 1, isn’t certain, though she hypothesizes, “I think there is a lot of symbolic stuff.”

Dude 2, “Straight-up messages, you know what I mean?”

It is easy to pick out other A-Holes (Ayahuasca devotees) as they are the ones in bars smoking cigarettes like an aquanaut breathes off his hose and they are drinking cokes instead of booze. Their meals arrive with slim protein and heavily unflavored rice and when your dish of river-fish that tastes and smells like the fats and acids and spices and oil and sex they cannot have, they hover with their salivating glands on overdrive because they are seeking the “Greater Truth” while you are just a scientist for fuck’s sake.

Dude 1, still eye-balling my lunch, “the Ayahuasca just old me, like, straight-up, like ‘find a new shaman’. So I decided, maybe, Oscar wasn’t supposed to be my shaman. Y’know?”

Girl 1, still looking like the wide-eyed door-knobbed wit of a twit she was three minutes prior, “You’re getting messages for a reason. Follow them.”

Follow them…

Illustration of Chullachaqui

Illustration of Chullachaqui

Ayahuasca is not a recreational drug. Even the locals stay away from it, preferring a South American variant of crack cocaine and gasoline huffing to get their fix. Still, I have to wonder if my antagonist, Chullachaquithe dark sorcerer who hexed me soon upon my arrival, corresponds with the demons with a little help of the DMT within Ayahuasca. My uncle, Captain Dick Neverman – who amassed a small fortune smuggling seashells out of Latin America, says there exists a sub-species of Homo sapiens, some lingering Cro-Magnon man in South America, and that every jungle and beach village he has been in, from Colombia to Brazil, has had its bestial madman howling at the moon. Were these social outcasts, unable to cope with frenetic pace of contemporary jungle urban centers? Or… are these the narco-tourists of yesteryear, wayward Beat poets and musicians, who took too strong a pull off of the vine of their soul and are still living out their purge? Perhaps, one day I will return to Peru to find a naked witch barking at me from the gutter and upon closer inspection I might find the idiotic eyes that once belonged to a Midwestern girl in a summer dress.

Who are you? If you took the Neverman DECODED existential personality test then you finally do know. You are welcome. If you did not appreciate learning who it is you really are, do not blame me. Blame SCIENCE.

Now you might be curious as to who are all of the goons in line beside you. Below I do you another great service in the name of SCIENCE by not only providing the answers I, Vic Neverman, gave, but also the popularity of each answer by those who took the exam. Lastly, I grade my test and the collective answers of humanity, given the answers herein.

If you did not take the Neverman DECODED existential personality test, you have my condolences on your continued existential angst.

1. What best describes the manner you eat spaghetti?
a. Fork and slurp – 67% Majority; Vic. You people are fearless.
b. Fork and knife into small portions to consume – 17% perfectionists, very orderly.
c. Fork and fat spoon as staging platform – 0%, quite the underwhelming show for tradition.
d. Don’t eat spaghetti – 16%, your loss.

2. You have washed up on a deserted island where you have all the coconut milk and hermit crab meat you need for nourishment, enough tree cover for shelter and enough Tang to prevent scurvy. Which of the below would you most want to have:
a. The complete works of Shakespeare – 17%, elitist bastards.
b. Fingernail clippers for grooming and making tooth picks out of palm fronds – 8%, hands-on and practical.
c. Locally grown hallucinogenic mushrooms that cure boredom, but cause daylong brutal hangover – 25%, not afraid to sacrifice for your happiness.
d. A lifetime supply of pencils and notebooks – 50% Majority; Vic. Artists, engineers, listomaniacs.

3. If you found yourself in a wilderness cabin with a group of friends and suddenly had the realization you were in a horror movie scenario, would you:
a. Take the SUV and drive away, leaving the lot of them to certain doom – 17%, pragmatic.
b. Give your friends bad advice, knowing there can only be one survivor – 8%, Machivellian.
c. Sacrifice yourself by drinking yourself numb and falling asleep in a hammock outside – 17%, optimistic.
d. Rally the troops with your knowledge; coaching them despite the unlikely possibility you can to defeat the villain without almost everyone having to die – 58% Majority; Vic. Naïve, but endearing.

4. If you suddenly found yourself transported in time to an era pre-20th century, which would be your greatest concern:
a. Hygiene – weekly baths at best, no soap, no floss, no bubblegum toothpaste – 50% Majority, prudent and health conscious.
b. Employment in a place in time that lacks a professional service industry beyond jesters, priests, leachers and executioners – 0%, the participants in this test are too far removed from serfdom.
c. Beverages – beer tastes like goatpiss, caffeine not to be found – 17%, how very epicuran?
d. Food – rainwater broth and stale bread as a staple, mutton for Christmas dinner – 33%, Vic. Gluttons.

5. Your best friend is on trial for murdering their spouse’s lover and an innocent bystander, but the prosecution lacks a murder weapon – a weapon whose whereabouts are known only to you and your best friend. What do you do?
a. Nothing and hope your friend gets away with murder – 67% Majority, loyal to a fault.
b. Call TMZ for a press conference, building up enough celebrity status for your involvement that you will get a book and potentially a movie deal – 8%, entrepreneurial
c. Send an anonymous tip into the police about where the weapon is – 25% Vic, moralist to a fault.
d. Blackmail your friend into giving you their timeshare in Key Largo – 0%, opportunity lost

6. You are absolutely certain you are being followed by at least one pursuer. Your initial suspicion of who is following and why:
a. It is a infatuated stalker and/or their private investigator – 50% Majority. Rightfully suspicious, except for the one male who answered ‘a’. I am not sure about you.
b. It is your own police state government monitoring your dissent – 33% Vic. Rightfully paranoid.
c. It is a criminal enterprise seeking to embezzle you – 8%, probably criminal yourselves.
d. Paparazzi, it was bound to happen – 8%, ambitious

7. Some unfortunate demise befalls your hypothetical Significant Other and you decide to have them cloned. In the cloning process, lightning strikes the clinic and your new significant Other is split into three separate parts: body, memory and personality. The clinic is forced to shut-down and never clone again, but they have given you some options. What would you opt for:
a. Have the familiar body of your significant Other, with either someone else’s mind or a completely blank canvas (pre-learning and personality development) – 17%, sight/familiarity is essential
b. Have the memory of your deceased Other put into the body of someone who looks and acts differently – 25%, Significance on the past
c. Have the personality of your deceased Other put into the body of someone who looks differently and will never remember your shared past – 25% Vic. Significance on the future based on past experience
d. Ask for a refund, knowing there is not another chance at cloning – 33% Majority. Perfection or bust.

8. You have the ability to create a dynamic alter ego with special skills and keep this identity secret. What sort of double-life would you prefer to live:
a. Criminal, committing whatever illegal acts your heart desires – 17%. You are materialistic.
b. Vigilante, trying to bring justice to a corrupt world – 33% Split Majority, Vic. Egotistical.
c. Casanova/Jezebelle, involving yourself in a multitude of carnal endeavors – 33% Split Majority. Sensual.
d. Animal, escaping the confines of society to run/swim naked through the wilderness – 17%. Free-spirited.

9. You have been chosen to go on a one-way trip to Mars. You will leave a legacy as a hero back on Earth as you ship off across the solar system with a lifetime supply of air, beer, freeze-dried ice cream and other delicacies. You do have limited options for companionship. Which would you choose for accompaniment along the journey?
a. A friend, significant other, or family member of your choice, but they will always resent having to go – 50% Split Majority. You are likely a woman (only one male signed off with “a”).
b. A complete stranger who is another astronaut excited about the journey, but they do not share your humor and they are not affectionate
c. A featureless robot who is programmed for discussion and custom-fitted to perform any service (comb hair, acupuncture… etc…), but it looks like a talking garbage can.
d. A near humanlike android designed to your specification and programmed with a personality algorithm that can learn, allowing it to develop free will. Don’t worry, you will have a reset button that would erase the history of its memory. – 50% Split Majority, Vic. You are likely a man (only one female signed off with “d”).

10. The free world, in your opinion, is most likely controlled by:
a. Free range economic chaos, a supply & demand of self-preservation/self-interest – 17%, intellectual.
b. Bureaucracy built by the lawyers of the Establishment to prevent any radical change – 8%, brilliant.
c. Secret societies and councils who have power over world leaders – 17 %, fantastic.
d. Secular representatives sponsored by corporatized media who pander to mob-rule – 8%, wise.
e. All of the above are tentacles of the same hydra – 50% Majority, Vic. Truly Paranoid.

Test Analysis:

Victor Ulysses Neverman of Bardoville, FL

Your temperature runs a little cooler than the average. You find patterns in numbers that are not relevant. You are likely wearing only pajama bottoms as you write this take this test. Your mother fell when she was pregnant and playing in a tennis tournament. You consider yourself more sensible than most while most consider you nonsensical. You’re very handsome.

Society at Large, based on results from this NeverVerse microcosm of Nevermanity

You sense a quickening every time you check your watch. Many of your decisions are based on self-interest. You likely commented how you thought this test would be more enjoyable. You find yourself sweatier than you were a couple months ago. You’re not hungry, but you could eat. There is a dark sail on the horizon and you anticipate a great reckoning soon.

For more analysis on individual test scores, refer back to the comments section on following site:

https://vicneverman.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/neverscience-who-you-are-decoded-find-your-meaning-of-life-here/

Finally, a great break-thru in existential studies!

Vic Neverman presents Who You Are: DECODED

Vic used SCIENCE to create his Emotional Personality Archetype Profile Analysis Questionnaire Survey (EPAPAQS). Now YOU too can be decoded!

Answer the questions by choosing the best option based on your initial reaction. Remember! There are no wrong answers, except for at least one per question.

Send your answers to vicneverman@gmail.com along with whichever name you wish to go by and where you are from (roughly). Vic will post the resulting analysis on the blog.

1. What best describes the manner you eat spaghetti?
a. Fork and slurp
b. Fork and knife into small portions to consume
c. Fork and fat spoon as staging platform
d. Don’t eat spaghetti

2. You have washed up on a deserted island where you have all the coconut milk and hermit crab meat you need for nourishment, enough tree cover for shelter and enough Tang to prevent scurvy. Which of the below would you most want to have:
a. The complete works of Shakespeare
b. Fingernail clippers for grooming and making tooth picks out of palm fronds
c. Locally grown hallucinogenic mushrooms that cure boredom, but cause daylong brutal hangover
d. A lifetime supply of pencils and notebooks

3. If you found yourself in a wilderness cabin with a group of friends and suddenly had the realization you were in a horror movie scenario, would you:
a. Take the SUV and drive away, leaving the lot of them to certain doom
b. Give your friends bad advice, knowing there can only be one survivor
c. Sacrifice yourself by drinking yourself numb and falling asleep in a hammock outside
d. Rally the troops with your knowledge, coaching them despite the unlikely possibility you can to defeat the villain without almost everyone having to die

4. If you suddenly found yourself transported in time to an era pre-20th century, which would be your greatest concern:
a. Hygiene – weekly baths at best, no soap, no floss, no bubblegum toothpaste
b. Employment in a place in time that lacks a professional service industry beyond jesters, priests, leachers and executioners
c. Beverages – beer tastes like goatpiss, caffeine not to be found
d. Food – rainwater broth and stale bread as a staple, mutton for Christmas dinner

5. Your best friend is on trial for murdering their spouse’s lover and an innocent bystander, but the prosecution lacks a murder weapon – a weapon whose whereabouts are known only to you and your best friend. What do you do?
a. Nothing and hope your friend gets away with murder
b. Call TMZ for a press conference, building up enough celebrity status for your involvement that you will get a book and potentially a movie deal
c. Send an anonymous tip into the police about where the weapon is
d. Blackmail your friend into giving you their timeshare in Key Largo

6. You are absolutely certain you are being followed by at least one pursuer. Your initial suspicion of who is following and why:
a. It is a infatuated stalker and/or their private investigator
b. It is your own police state government monitoring your dissent
c. It is a criminal enterprise seeking to embezzle you
d. Paparazzi, it was bound to happen

7. Some unfortunate demise befalls your hypothetical Significant Other and you decide to have them cloned. In the cloning process, lightening strikes the clinic and your new significant Other is split into three separate parts: body, memory and personality. The clinic is forced to shut-down and never clone again, but they have given you some options. What would you opt for:
a. Have the familiar body of your significant Other, with either someone else’s mind or a completely blank canvas (pre-learning and personality development)
b. Have the memory of your deceased Other put into the body of someone who looks and acts differently
c. Have the personality of your deceased Other put into the body of someone who looks differently and will never remember your shared past
d. Ask for a refund, knowing there is not another chance at cloning

8. You have the ability to create a dynamic alter ego with special skills and keep this identity secret. What sort of double-life would you prefer to live:
a. Criminal, committing whatever illegal acts your heart desires
b. Vigilante, trying to bring justice to a corrupt world
c. Casanova/Jezebelle, involving yourself in a multitude of carnal endeavors
d. Animal, escaping the confines of society to run/swim naked through the wilderness

9. You have been chosen to go on a one-way trip to Mars. You will leave a legacy as a hero back on Earth as you ship off across the solar system with a lifetime supply of air, beer, freeze-dried ice cream and other delicacies. You do have limited options for companionship. Which would you choose for accompaniment along the journey?
a. A friend, significant other, or family member of your choice, but they will always resent having to go
b. A complete stranger who is another astronaut excited about the journey, but they do not share your humor and they are not affectionate
c. A featureless robot who is programmed for discussion and custom-fitted to perform any service (comb hair, acupuncture… etc…), but it looks like a talking garbage can.
d. A near humanlike android designed to your specification and programmed with a personality algorithm that can learn, allowing it to develop free will. Don’t worry, you will have a reset button that would erase the history of its memory.

10. The free world, in your opinion, is most likely controlled by:
a. Free range economic chaos, a supply & demand of self-preservation/self-interest
b. Bureaucracy built by the lawyers of the Establishment to prevent any radical change
c. Secret societies and councils who have power over world leaders
d. Secular representatives sponsored by corporatized media who pander to mob-rule
e. All of the above are tentacles of the same hydra