Posts Tagged ‘Apocalypse’

The Art of Brainwashing

With the fall of civilization and the rewilding of society, strategic alliances with other apocalypse survivors will be paramount to long-term security. But who to trust with such alliances? Those friendlies whose loyalty may have remained unchallenged since pre-EOTWAWKI (end of the world as we know it) may not possess the gumption to realign their moral compass with the magnetic savagery of the new normal. As for strangers, who could you possibly trust?

These were the concerns voiced to me by Cyrus Lee Hancock as he sipped cognac from where he lounged dangerously close to the bonfire planted somewhere in the vast territory of what was his backyard. It was the summer of 2012 and I was on the payroll as a propagandist for Cyrus Lee’s homebred militia, OASIS (Oviedo Army of Security, Intelligence and Survival). With the building hysteria of the Maya Apocalypse (which was all the rage in 2012), the OASIS coffers had swelled with membership dues paid by doomsday-preparers RSVP’ing their place on the Hancock Survivalist Compound. I didn’t know it at the time, but Cyrus Lee Hancock’s ‘Armageddon Insurance Package’ was overbooked. If the END had come, two-thirds of those who prepaid to enter the Compound would have to be turned away. By the time the Maya Apocalypse had come & gone (without so much as a whimper), the IRS came snooping to find the OASIS vault empty and its proprietor on the other side of the world.  But there I go, getting ahead of the story again… Back to the summer of 2012, Cyrus Lee Hancock commissioned me to find a way to ‘vet’ the friendlies and the strangers of the Post-Apocalypse to ensure they were worthy of inclusion in his survival club.

Cat & Mouse - attempting to leave the Hancock Estate unscathed

Cat & Mouse – attempting to leave the Hancock Estate unscathed

How to know who to trust within or without the community?

The solution, ultimately, was not to test the mettle and loyalty of the survivors, but to rebuild them in our image. For those willing to be a part of OASIS, there would be an orientation. For those unwilling to join but coveted by OASIS for their skills or aesthetic (for repopulating the Earth, etc.), there would be a persuasive orientation. The orientation would focus on re-programming the initiate’s mindset, or what is commonly referred to as “brainwashing”.

The following is an excerpt from Chapter 33 of Cyrus Lee Hancock’s Absolute Authority of a Hurricane Survival Guide written by yours truly, Victor Ulysses Neverman:

How to Brainwash People into joining your Post-Apocalyptic Cult

Daryl Dixon was just a douchebag redneck before the apocalypse

Daryl Dixon was just a douchebag redneck before the apocalypse

In the Post-Apocalypse, there will be four types of survivors to plan your defensive strategy around: the dogs, the sheep, the goats and the wolves. The first category is the dogs. These are your loyal hounds willing and able to further the cause of your community in its goal of long-term survival. Of course, every dog has a little wolf in it, so there is a chance of betrayal. Never doubt this. The second category is the sheep. These are those already willing to be a part of your community, but who are unable to be effective because of poor education and/or breeding. Third, we have the goats, these are rogue outsiders who do not wish to be a part of your community but who, ultimately, you need (goats can be milked, after all). Fourth are the wolves. These fuckers can never be trusted, but they often parade around in sheep or goat skins in order to infiltrate your ranks. Wolves are agents of chaos and best shot on sight. The problem is these ravenous bastards are hard to spot.

DISCLOSURE: Brainwashing is subject best left to those with questionable morals. Do not induce brainwashing techniques if you are prone to fits of conscience. To brainwash is to alter another’s thinking. More than the subliminal messages hidden in fast food commercials, brainwashing requires a subject be entirely destroyed prior to being rebuilt. Remember: the Ends Justify the Means, but it is your Ends we are talking about and some fairly diabolical Means.

It is the sheep and the goats who must be brainwashed. A sheep with its docile mindset is a liability. A sheep requires brainwashing or outright abandonment. Goats are needed within the community, yet are unwilling to participate. In order to encourage participation, goats need persuasion. Engage brainwashing…

Stage 1: Isolation

For the sheep, it is like a coming of age ritual. Release the juvenile into the wild. For the goat, it is imprisonment. Freemasons were tossed into a well. Patty Hearst was locked into a trunk.

In Stage 1, the Subject is to be isolated from their family and friends. The environment should either be an entire lack of stimuli or stimulus overload. Even better: both. The time spent in isolation varies on the circumstance. 45 minutes buried alive could be more effective than two weeks marooned on an island.

Stage 2: Nourishment

Remember to pack enough doggie chow for the poxiclypse

Remember to pack enough doggie chow for the poxiclypse

Something keeps the Subject alive. Bread tossed down the well. Bottled water waiting every morning at the tree stump. The nourishment is courtesy of a parental figure, a provider of life yet an authority on the opposite. The Subject creates, willingly or not, a bond towards the provider, who is both guardian and captor.

In Stage 2, the isolation continues in less threatening circumstances than the claustrophobic preceding trauma such as being buried alive or trapped in a car trunk. In Stage 2, there is normality in the sustenance and the hand feeding the Subject is the same hand to scold the subject.

Stage 3: Attack

The hand that feeds begins to scold. The Subject’s entire belief system is under attack. YOU ARE WRONG, WE ARE RIGHT. The Subject is ridiculed without boundary. The Subject is made vulnerable, easily accomplished by stripping down and parading before unseen critics howling their laughter. The Subject may remain firm in their belief system, regardless of the bullying, and at this stage it is okay. Scold, reduce, repeat.

Stage 4: Bottom of the Food Chain

Freedoms are given to the Subject, but only to demonstrate the Subject’s position on the bottom of the food chain. Good behavior is rewarded with food or fresh air with time spent out of their subterranean cell. Bad behavior, even if exaggerated by the captor, is stern and overzealous

Stage 5: Threat of Death

The creepy fuck-rabbit, Charlie Manson, once said “Fear is the great teacher.” He was right. There is an archaic Masonic rite of making the initiate believe they had been poisoned and locked in a coffin. The actual threat is not as grave as the suggestion.

In Stage 5, have the Subject dig a hole 6’ deep, 6’ long and 3’ wide after using a yard stick to measure the Subject’s dimensions. Or, have the Subject climb the gallows to have a noose tightened around their neck only to stand there above the trap-door or un-sturdy chair as long as necessary to thwart their hope for continued life.

Their salvation should come at the sudden appearance and casual insistence of the authority the Subject recognizes as their protector/guardian. The parental authority who nourishes and staves off execution will become deified by the Subject, intentionally or not.

Stage 6: Submission

Samurai swords were just an ornamental luxury until APOCALYPSE

Samurai swords were just an ornamental luxury until APOCALYPSE

The Subject will begin acquiescing to the commands of the authority in order to escape further punishment and/or humiliation. This submission may be unauthentic as the Subject internally could be rigid in their sovereignty. Even so, in play-acting, three occurrences of submissive pretending are all it takes for the psyche to begin accepting theater for truth. The same exists for politicians or actors who thrice pretend to be enraged on a subject… they will eventually find themselves truly angered.

In Stage 6, the prisoner may become dutiful to appease the guard and it is in this practice of appeasement the prisoner’s nature is adjusted to be subservient. In the corporate environment, the roguish maverick may at first shun the organizational culture, yet relent when the boss is present and after so many years of feigning adherence to company standards the maverick is absolutely transformed into a “company man” to the point of defending the corporate culture. In the military environment, the cadet who despises the dictatorship of the drill sergeant will within time work to win the approval of the very authority he earlier rejected.

Pretending submission is still submission.

Stage 7: Identity and Initiation

The Subject is rewarded with a position offered within the Community. The ego of the Subject becomes satisfied with a role defined to suit their ability. A culture is revealed to the Subject which is strange and alienating. This is necessary – outsiders should quake in fear as insiders are emboldened by the peculiar nature of the Community.

It is important, then, the Community has a culture of fear and dominance characterized through symbolism. For example, in the post-apocalyptic realm of OASIS, there should be inhumane and amoral practices of initiation such as wearing the skins of animals and drinking the blood of a vanquished human enemy. These practices are revulsive and this is the point. Early initiative rites should be alienating to outsiders, which will invigorate the obedience of the initiate.

Once indoctrinated, any common assistant bank manager can become badass.

Once indoctrinated, any common assistant bank manager can become badass.

When a child is born, it identifies a maternal provider – the authoritative guardian/captor in this scenario – and then works to find its role within limited world view. Once comfortable with its environment, the child begins mimicking those around it. This is the socialization of a person, when it begins to imitate the culture, whether by playing “dress-up” in mum’s clothes or seeking to match pa’s temper. Socialization is the initial brainwashing of a person. Orientation should be considered a new birth into the Community of the post-apocalyptic damned.

Stage 7 & ½: (Optional) Deepen Allegiance through Sexual Taboos

Whenever the Creator, (S)He of celestial origins or accidental mathes, made creatures, (S)He made sure to include a deep inherent desire to procreate. Or… if not procreate, to practice the methods of procreation. Male bonobo monkeys spend most of their day masturbating and homo erectus isn’t too far in the lag. Sexual appetite and aversion, inversely related yet eternally connected, exist somewhere in the darkest abyss of the psyche and are the easiest apple-cart of the neurosis to overturn. Sexuality is perhaps the least known quadrant of the human mind – what governs temerity & timidity? what governs heterosexuality versus homosexuality, polysexuality or asexuality? – yet sexuality is the easiest quadrant of the mind to manipulate.

Even more than religion, sexual persuasion can alienate a singular person more than any other orbiting force. Society and societal norms continually curb the tendencies individuals allow of themselves, creating closeted sexual proclivities hidden until they burst. Sexual taboo can alienate as easily as it can unite and it is this carnal arena that can be utilized to eternally trap the initiate Subject by allowing, or more often insisting, indulgence in an amoral behavior.

With the Knights Templar, those wayward Franks of the Outremer, there were plenty of blasphemies engaged through initiation and reoccurring through traditional Wednesday night potlucks in the Levant, such as sodomy, bestiality, etc., etc., et al. Charlie Manson, the great psycho-recruiter, pushed his “compulsory free love” upon his initiate murderesses. When the initiate participates in the amoral acts, they become complicit in the tradition, furthering their assimilation into the culture.

Stage 7 and a half is optional because sexual persuasion is not always a necessary component in the indoctrination of followers, such as soldiers in the military. Or is it? The celibacy of soldiers enforced within the barracks is a form of sexual oppression only to be released when the soldiers are on furlough, in which, the nearby brothels become the scene of traditional brotherhood bonding via mass erogenous engagement. Historically, the soldier’s celibacy is also released when encountering the vanquished non-combatants of the enemy.

Stage 8: Superiority Affirmed

During the early stages of captivity, the Subject is indoctrinated on why their previous worldview is invalid and how the Community’s atmosphere is superior to all else. Once the Subject emerges from captivity to have a role within the Community, the lesson of superiority should be affirmed, whether it is by parading around invalids unworthy of the cause or granting the Subject some sort of authority as a result of their personal transformation. Once the Subject participates with the punishment of sheep and goats, they have become complicit.

Stage 8 and into the indefinite future, the heat and cold of the punishment/reward dynamic should be further enacted. To govern and influence over subjects, the rewards should be often and minimal while the punishments should be less frequent and extreme. Certainly “re-orientation” should remain a constant threat for those straying from the company standard.

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EAST STUMPTOWN, Oregon

Sunrise is only revealed accidentally on the eastern banks of the Willamette* River. Dawn, if you let her, will creep quietly across the morning dew of your backyard in attempt to leave the neighborhood with you never being the wiser. Sometimes she may escape entirely, leaving you wondering where the day went. Other times Dawn slips on the rotten kale of your compost heap and, losing balance, exposes brief glimpses of the UV radiance of her nether regions she was attempting to conceal with the woolen winter coat she grabbed from off your bedpost. Eureaka! It is in that moment of accidental flash of sunburst you become aware of Dawn… as long as you know where to look. Phineas Crux, well-familiar with this dance of Dawn, knew where to look. “Daylight” Phineas announced the arrival of Sunday while scratching the coarse course of sideburn as the hairline descended from a temple to contemplate his chin before fleeing for the moral high-ground of the opposite temple to complete a circuit somewhat resembling a beard. “Daylight, Vic. Pack your gear. We shouldn’t lose the light.”

*the pronunciation of the river ‘Williamette’ remains elusive to the foreign tongue. ‘Willamette’ derives from an indigenous hipster term for ‘splishy-splashy’ and only tribal leaders know its proper use. I would suggest an enunciation attempt of ‘willahuahua¡¿’ with a heavy emphasis on the ensuing ‘river’ so your audience at least understands you are referring to something wet.

Dazed with the relativity of time zones, I was slow to rise and when I rose, I did so one crooked & crackling joint at a time. I couldn’t find any gear to pack (including my elusive toothbrush – much to the chagrin of the most proximate bits of humanity), leaving me with little preparatory work beyond adjusting my britches, tying shoelaces and climbing out of the forgotten Shanghai Tunnel whence we slept & towards the trusty sedan waiting for its master’s ignition. Phineas ignited and the automobile bucked in accordance, flinging us off the curb like a steroidal lady high diver from the Republic of China and onto the mud-slicked asphalt of the previously mentioned East Stumptown. “We’re not going to some trendy-hip brunch place now, Vic.” Phineas looked over his shoulder at where I cowered in the backseat, nursing a fit of agoraphobic tremors. “We’re going to the eye of the storm.”

I didn’t half despise Phineas as he I. I mean, I had my poor opinions: Phineas Crux was a deplorable lecher, a learned scoundrel (the worst sort of scoundrel) and a man mad with ambition for subtle sabotage, such as hiding my dental floss when he knew I was plagued with some encumbrance stuck between my teeth from the latter night’s mystery feastings. His inverse distaste for all things Neverman began with his childhood distrust of aquatic mammals and was further exasperated by his envy of my ability to haphazardly whistle without any particular tune in mind. Despite, or, indeed, in spite of all our antagonistic qualities for the other, we made a pretty damn good team. For certain, one doesn’t wander the streets of Stumptown** without a reasonable guide at the elbow and Phineas Crux was my guide steering me free of elongated bouts of mayhem, for the most part. Any wrong turn on these muddy slopes could put the casual visitor into a fighting pit against enough hipsters to man a full G.I. Joe Mustache Brigade (a dicey predicament, emphasis on the dicament, a gum favored by mustatchioed hipsters, a piece of which I could’ve used at that present time).

**Stumptown often overlaps with the geographical location of Portland, Oregon, but not always as Stumptown is off-grid & shifty, at least 75 minutes late, never where you left it and frequently in the last place you would ever look for it.

G.I.Joe Ironic Mustache Hipster Brigade with their clashing camo absurd hats.

G.I.Joe Ironic Mustache Hipster Brigade with their clashing camo and absurd hats (pic is courtesy of my camera from within Billy Galaxy Toy Store, Downtown Portland)

Phineas’s “eye of the storm” was aboard a pirate-themed bar appropriately named Long John Shivers or Davy Joneses’ Mullet or The Yo Ho Whorehouse or some like-minded kitschy moniker. What daylight existed in this murky part of the world daren’t enter these nicotine-hazed quarters patronized by recovering ascetics served by the buccaneerist of broads with prison-caliber tattoos splashed about the buxomness bared by their low-neck sweaters. This wasn’t my first foray atop this barnacled barstool, nay! Indeed, in a former life, seemingly eons ago, the local cabin boys addressed me as Curly “Squiddz” Chamberpot, Sir! whilst the resident wenches called me, most affectionately, Squiddz. Nowadays, I was just another bearded bloke stumbling in off the street, so I appropriately ordered a life-affirming breakfast of Bloody Mary and chicken-fried steak.

“Is that gravy?” Phineas inquired on the contents of my plate.

“Nah, I think that’s the steak.” It was edible and the Bloody Mary celery masked my foul-breath, in theory. “I could wait out the apocalypse here.”

“What need, Vic?” Phineas asked over his land-lubbing burger. “When we already know of the ideal bunker, secured under a veil of surburbanity and stocked with plentiful rations of fermented cabbage?”

I snatched the quill from my cap and opened my journal to scratch out the Virtues of Piratical Dining: a paranoid food blog and asked Phineas to tell me more of this magnificent place. Was it near? Phineas drank a sip of his heavily-hopped elixir before guffawing and harrumphing at my ignorance, wiping the excess beer from his facial hair with my sleeve, mistaking it for a napkin. “Why Vic, it was where we were last night.”

Dear Reader, I know what you are thinking: This is the shittiest cabbage blog post of all time. I’ve barely touched upon the fair flower and you are right, which is why I am skipping past the small talk to get to…

“The heart of the matter…” Phineas began, before smirking. “Or ‘crux’, if you will, is that cabbage is a dish preferred by your torch & pitchfork peasantry and for good reason. It is a sturdy crop. It holds up to the cold. And there is the bonus benefit mentioned by Cato the Elder, some Roman from the classy days, who suggested bathing infant children in the urine of cabbage eaters.”

“Fantastic. And what was the bonus benefit of such a practice?”

Phineas waved the thought away, “A lesson lost to history, dear boy. You’re missing the point. Allow me to recharge your memory by ordering another Bloody and take you back to last night when we entered the Pumas Homestead. You may recall through the dimness of your memory, Pumas, the Norse lad who waxed philosophically on morality. You can’t blame him, though, when he learned his existential angst from some Swiss Alpine taxidermy school or something of such ilk. You and he discussed using his pot-work to create incendiary devices for Armageddon.”

“And likely the use of scorpion bombs. Put a bunch of devilish crawlies into a ceramic pot and launch at the enemy. Please, Phineas, go on about last night…”

“There was Mrz Pumas, the pickler. She is our gastronomical mad scientist responsible for the friction your bowels are engulfed with.”

“Pickler? Friction?”

Mr & Mrz Pumas and her beloved kombucha SCOBY.

Mr & Mrz Pumas and her beloved kombucha SCOBY.

“Indeed, Vic. That isn’t the earth vibrating, my friend, it is your smallest intestine. You see, you & I, Vic, we ate quite a bit of cabbage last night and now our innards do not know what to do with the byproduct trisaccharide raffinose.” Phineas paused as I ah-ha’d. “I can tell you are impressed with my catalogious memory, Victor. You may think me just some policy wonk, grandstanding in Salem against the evils of fiscal liberalism, hoofing the pavement politicking, shaking babies and kissing hands, but I’ve a memory most elephantine. It’s like a vise. Regardless of what sort of narcotic I drank down beside you.”

“I am humbled by your superior grasp of the past. Please do go on…”

“Mrz Pumas is quite gifted at her craft. If she lowered the salt and added more red pepper, her kimchi could last us for some time.” Phineas explained. He was, of course, the foremost expert of kimchi in the greater Stumptown region after spending his youth in lower Korea corrupting the inhabitants of Seoul. “We’d probably need to raid the chicken coup when the Pumases aren’t looking, but the homestead would do well as an extended ‘End of Time’ scenario played out.”

“I beg your pardon?” Mrz Pumas raised a furrowed brow. “You know nothing of kimchi.”

“Where did you come from?” Phineas was aghast and suddenly the second foremost expert of kimchi in the greater Stumptown region.

“Vic forgot his toothbrush.” Mrz Pumas produced the apparatus, delivering my salvation. I shan’t pause long enough to seize it, though, as I had to quickly pen Mrz Pumas’s retort to Phineas’s criticism. “Don’t shame the salt! My fermented cabbage could last years in cold storage, but without the salt it would lose its crunchiness and turn to mush.”

“Years?”

“I heard one story of a family in Soviet Russia that survived a whole year on nothing but sauerkraut and potatoes.”

“Sounds dangerous. No methane explosions?”

“No mentioning of any explosions.” Mrz Pumas said. “Fermentation is the safest form of food preparation. It’s definitely the oldest. It’s virtually impossible for bad bacteria to survive in that environment. Mold can even grow on top and the food underneath is still good. You just scrap the mold and any discolored pieces off the top and enjoy your kraut.”

“Savor the thought.” Phineas said before turning to me, “You could package up some of that mold into one of Pumas’s jars to fling at the barbarian hordes.”

“No biological warfare with my cabbage.” Mrz Pumas denied the thought. “Find your own bacteria.”

Phineas wincing through his abominable abdominal pangs, opined, “Fermented cabbage stores a lot better in jars than it does in my belly.”

“Actually, fermented food leads to a healthy gut and that can lessen the effects of depression, anxiety…”

“Scurvy!” The buccaneerish barmaid hollered.

“And scurvy.” Mrz Pumas admitted.

“Actually, I think she was hollering at her fellow bar-keep.” Phineas negated. “Who’s affectionately referred to as ‘Scurvy’ as that is the one thing you won’t catch from her.”

I danced half a jig to gain Mrz Pumas’s attention so I might cut-in on the conversing, “Speaking of healthy guts, mine likes beer. When wandering the darkest corners of the globe, one beer every meal has always kept me upright. Could we make some sort of cocktail out of the fermented cabbage runoff?”

Gauging the blank expression on Mrz Pumas’s face and Phineas’s visible regurg-reflex, I came to quickly doubt the plausibility of my get-drunk quick scheme.

“Did you drink from the kimchi jar last night, Vic?” Phineas asked, scoldingly, after wiping the regurg off on my sleeve. “Is this how you woke up amnesiac?”

“Sounds familiar.”

Vic and Phineas chopstick their way through Mrz Pumas's Sauerkraut and Kimchi, respectively, or not

Vic and Phineas chopstick their way through Mrz Pumas’s Sauerkraut and Kimchi, respectively.

Mrz Pumas humored my idea, “I guess you could add some cabbage to flavor the kombucha I made. But really, you could make alcohol out of about anything else. Please, anything else. You could use maple sap, bamboo, green corn stalks, agave, really any fruit or grain. I have made mead which is doing really well. It’s quite bubbly and frothy, still pretty sweet so I am letting it ferment a little longer.”

Ahh, sweet mead and sauerkraut! No need to question where I will be spending my next cataclysm season: somewhere on the eastern banks of the Willamette River. I’d be more specific, but there are only so many chickens in the coop, if you catch my drift.

I give Pumas Homestead a 63 out of 63 Never Stars! despite my foggy memory.

“I object, the kimchi could use more red pepper!” Phineas bellowed from his barnacled barstool. “What kind of paranoid food critic are you?”

Okay, so 62 out of 63 NeverStars amendable upon application of more red pepper.

DOC PHILLIPS, Fla

This is a blog post about food.

Mexican food.

And distrust.

Misology is the distrust of reason. Misologists prefer to be guided by devices other than reason, be those devices televised talking heads, intuitive indigestion or prophetic fortune cookies. While we may not all distrust reason, every one of us people is susceptible to that reptilian irrationality at the core of our lesser evolved brain – the underlying misological urge to lick the flagpole, mail a check to Nigeria or piss on the 3rd rail. This innate yearn for mis-thunk whimsy brings our narrative to the topic of Cinco de Mayo.

Rocco's Taco Skeleton considering the many taco options....

Rocco’s Taco Skeleton considering the many taco options….

To give-in to the faux-holiday propaganda of Cinco de Mayo (or other American Drink First, Ask Questions in the Morning holidays like St Patrick’s, Columbus Day, Boxer’s Rebellion Day, Bastille Day, Valentine’s, etc., etc., et al) and prostrate oneself before the agave altar of free tequila shots!shots!shots.shots.shots.shots!shots! is certainly an act committed with absolute disregard for reason. One might say it is misologetic, even.

Yet, here I was, as I am a professional food blogger. To shun the tacopocalypse occurring in South Orlando would be to discredit every greasy quantitative bit of gastro-journo integrity I might possess. So Southward Ho! to Doctor Phillips, an affluent truck stop off of Interstate Four between and betwixt the monstrous amusement parks. Southward Ho! to here where the well-to-do purchase their organic groceries, have back hair laser-zapped and pursue whichever litigation their enlarged hearts desired. Southward Ho! to Rocco’s Tacos – an eccentric franchise specialized in glamorizing tacos, tequila and the eternal Día de Muertos.

Attending the Cinco de Mayo fiesta at Rocco’s Tacos required some derring-do. The parking lot was engineered by Germans with an appreciation for schadenfreude; the vision of available asphalt was no more yielding than a dream. Beamers and Mercedes hover’d like buzzards in attempt to obtain a vacancy that simply did not exist. Three strip-malls of bourgeois splendor north of Rocco’s Tacos, I found the last available parking spot within a drive-thru ATM. Fact: more people are attacked by bears and/or killed via pedestrian manslaughter in Central Florida every year than all of Connecticut and Rhode Island combined. Attempting to navigate the parking lots back to our destination, dodging the strip-mall luxury sedans, was more threatening than swimming across the serpent-infested sinkhole Rocco’s Tacos looks over (though no dryer in the early summer humidity).

Vic's 4th Grade Class: 1) Lily Kudzu, 2) Cuda

Vic’s 4th Grade Class: 1) Lily Kudzu, 2) Cuda

In these ventures your narrator was accompanied by Cuda: the dastardly, bastardly, feral child scoundrel raised by a pod of disestablishmentarian dolphins off of the shore of the island I grew-up on. You might recall previous Cuda tales when we fought Imperialist Russians in Galway, hid from spy blimps in Key West, swam for our lives in the Marquesas, bartered for our souls in Nassau and fought Cajun girls with lobs of cabbage in the Irish Channel of New Orleans. Yes… that Cuda.

Chicks on Sticks - stilted & un-jilted

Chicks on Sticks – stilted & un-jilted

Rocco’s Tacos: embrace the mystery. Cuda and I were both charmed by the brouhaha over-boiling about us. Chicks on sticks danced from above as booze industry reps pushed their brands with gratuitous helpings. A local band belted-out cover songs no one recognized. A masked wrestler danced from the roof of the building. There were no Mexican girls to be found, only pretty Puerto Ricans dressing (and dancing) the part. Cuban girls were rolling cigars along their virginal thighs as the tradition demands. Gringos – pasty, blushed with apéritif, bloated with digestif, overall outlandishly fantastic – clamored for more of the Apocalypse.

Apocalypto Mas! Si – it is fiestas like these why the Mexicans kicked the French out in the first place.

Amidst the melee emerged a surprise figure, “Hollywood” – a dude from Cuda & mine’s collective past. Gold chained along the loosened collar of his shirt, Hollywood arrived bloodshot and happy, sunburnt and weathered, a ghost from years prior erased from memory by morphine and penicillin.

“And Vic Neverman!” Hollywood clasped me on the shoulder. “Jesus, Vic Neverman! What do you do, man?”

I shrugged, “Conspiracies, conspiracy debunking, pizza delivery…”

Hollywood didn’t seem to be listening, but he handed me his business card nonetheless.

Cuda cut in on the dance to promote my literary achievements, “He’s writing a book, Apocalypse Tao: the Art of Surviving the End.”

“The end of what?” Hollywood squinted.

“The world as you know it.”

“Maya Apocalypse stuff?” Hollywood asked. “That was supposed to be 2012. But it never happened.”

I turned my head ninety degrees in either direction, “Are you certain?”

Hollywood inquired on how many offspring Cuda, then I, had sired, how many wives or ex-wives we have between us. He feigned sympathy for my “unaccomplished life” and invited Cuda and I to join him at his ranch somewhere or something. After Hollywood dispersed into the crowd, Cuda remarked how random the encounter with our old acquaintance was.

“Random?” I doubted. “Sure. If you are someone who still believes in coincidences and places their broken teeth under their pillow hoping for a quarter to appear by morning.”

“What? You think he is a spy?”

“Everything happens for a reason.” I explained. “You and Hollywood both currently reside in the same Gulf of Mexican town. If you by happenstance attend the same event here in Centralist of Florida… this isn’t random, it is causal, it is synchronicity, it is a pattern worth recognizing.”

Of course, Cuda was a spy himself… or at least an activist against Anglo Imperialism as a member of a nonviolent neo-Sinn Fein group. A descendant of men from Northern Ireland’s “Bandit Country”, Cuda is always eager to hone skill and keep abreast of tactics the enemy employs. Which is what brought Cuda here – not to Rocco’s Tacos, mind you!, but rather – to the South Orlando area for a conference. Out over there, yonder, roundabouts the theme park region resides a convention center where a Professional Intelligence Community convention was taking place simultaneous with an Athletic Director’s convention. Having been a coach for the competitive dance team at Catawampus University (“go Feralcats!”), Cuda was able to obtain an invitation to the Athletic Director conference.

“I would pretend I was lost, wandering for the men’s room.” Cuda said as the apocalypse swirled around our ankles. “And then I would shadow some goon into the Intelligence Professionals room. I sat through a strange propaganda class that lectured on recent events, like ‘Spin-Ghazi’ and ‘the Malay Bait-n-Switch’. There were a couple lectures I snuck into where I wasn’t sure if I was in the spook room or the AD room. I mean, either way, the spies and the glorified gym teachers all have buzzed haircuts, potbellies and goatees. When the subject matter is ‘crowd control’ or ‘youth activism’, you have to wait to see if they start talking about Pep Rallies or Arab Spring before you know who you’re dealing with.”

Ultimately, Cuda absorbed enough strategy during his conference sessions to overthrow a small Caribbean island nation while hosting a southeastern regional swim meet. As for the fifth of May? Once the Maya high-priestesses ushered forth with albino pythons to begin the bloodletting, we decided to call it a night. Viva Mexico! Viva Maya Apocalypse!

Alas, the review…

Cinco de Mayo (4)Rocco’s Tacos: a pleasant celebration of death ambiance with an appreciation for the skeletal system, free tequila, taco variety and beautiful Puerto Rican girls promenading as Mexicans. The beer was of an expected Latin American assortment and overpriced, unless considered in proportion to the income strata of the gringos present. The food… well, Rocco’s Tacos was too fucking busy to sit down and eat so we went next door for burritos at Tijuana Flats. 5 out of 5 NeverStars!