Happy Fucking New Year Mr. President!, Ms. Prime Minister, Queen and Country, Chieftains, and Popes alike -- Today we celebrate that we can finally take that fucking glove off, because we are all mutually assured destruction.
"Mr. President, I'm not saying we wouldn't get our hair mussed. But I do say no more than ten to twenty million killed, tops, uh, depending on the breaks." -Gen. Buck Turgidson "Dr. Strangelove"
M.A.D.ness, like our current fear-scape, Or simply M.A.D., refers to our Mutually Assured Destruction; A novel concept, in 1960 in which each side is supposed to be deterred from a nuclear war by the prospect of a universal cataclysm regardless of who "won." M.A.D.ness was brought to bear by Military strategist and former physicist Herman Kahn, in the book On Thermonuclear War (1960). This quip swam along with many contemporary concepts surrounded Cold War Doctrine -- As such we all sat at home digesting TV-Dinners and listening to the news-caster's grim account of what will assuredly happen when the first bomb drops. Growing up during Wartime, or coming up during a Cold War have many common qualities. The one maxim we all shared was this: "...As soon as that air-raid siren sounds we are all going to strip naked with the first human we see and have reckless absurd consensual free-love sex whilst the bombs fall.
Today, we all (of course) initially fear the worst, until we simply do not give a fuck any longer -- Or... We go off the deep end in a kill or be killed mental breakdown. Whatever your coping strategy is or was, the fear-scape, keeps us complacently catatonic, shoveling Snack-food and Netflix, and What-if's into our heads until we reach a boiling point. "Dr. Strangelove" poignantly subtitled "How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to love the Bomb" was an odyssey into the American Psyche chock full of "What If's" well prior to when "The Big Fuck You" was finally issued by most PTSD Americans. "THE BIG FUCK YOU", only happens once in a decade or so, after citizens snap out of living under a stuffy blanket or cowering under one's school desk, for far too long. One can no longer sustain an imagination for the One or Two possible outcomes on offer, and fear finally fades. We then build a steamy headwater, with slurred speech, statistics, unintelligible technical jargon, and "Numbers" (as in: "the numbers are up" or "the numbers are down") -- With that, we break-through in a resplendent orgy, and we get back to getting sick from good ol' venereal disease. The Big Fuck You is coming after the New Year, when some group of Epidemiologists and pundits begin to shrug off the fact that Ominous Omicron cannot be stopped, Not by Pharma, and not with Prophylaxis, not a QR Code, nor a secret handshake... You simply get that shit, and then ride it out! ...As we have done for millennia.
Oh How I miss the good old days when we all scattered like roaches under a Table, Desk, or deep below the house practicing our quiet complacency whilst the missiles fall to earth and crater the entire city in a cloud of glowing ash. Peaceful as Hindu cows we all go down to cower and hide, while "The Numbers" go up. Remember when Pink Floyd's "The Wall" showed spooky gas mask clad school teachers and children without faces falling in line like soldier zombies, as they went peacefully into the meat grinder. Yep, It's like that.
Traumatized? Yes, Have some... PPE, may be the single most traumatic takeaway so called "Normal People" see in their nightmares. Legions of people sweating, fogging, and writhing behind PPE. Is it a good Idea to use it? -- Yep Sure. Should you live in fear? Well, that depends upon what outcome you were hoping for.
A year ago a friend asked me, (how) "...the children will be changed by such a monumental shift in their social lives". My first answer was rather flippant, insensitive, even crass... "They wont be affected much", ..."they don't interact as it is..., so they will just get better at socializing online".
He said, "...but thinking about the masks, and the fear, and the distancing... I worry about how generations will change fundamentally because of COVID, what can we do to get them back to normal".
"Act Normally" I said. And it was at that moment, that I envisioned Slim Pickens as Major T. J. "King" Kong riding a Nuke down from his bomber in Soviet Airspace to MADden up the place. Mutually Assured Destruction, can only happen, if you let it... (right?)
I became a student of the Cold War and began studies in an era of Mutually Assured Destruction, (M.A.D.) and One's desire to play a proper role in this circus reinforces many life lessons which we gave a big shit about back when, but we now know to be blase', self-evident, trite. As we say, "the concept of ignorance being bliss follows, with a collective sea-change, or in the least, everyone playing along needs to happen first, ...and we will get there.
1. The other kid can't get under your skin, if you ignore them. Check!
2. Ignoring your work will only lead to more work later. Check!
3. Homework (like all rules) suck, and so if we all just ignore it, they can't fail all of us, right?
COVID, like the clever participants who manage to ride this bomb down to mutually assured destruction, soon come to discover that they could leave their basements, travel, explore, exercise, and even fuck like humans used to. Not like Porn Stars, and not like Actors on T.V., but like humans did before they shopped for face masks, rubber gloves, sanitizers, test kits, PPE, and vibrators.
Look!, you're never gonna sleep with that trainer from your Peloton Bike, so you might as well assume the siren is clanging outside and venture out to find someone outside to do.
It turns out that when I truly consider the concept of COVID19, I keep returning to the "19" Thing -- (NINETEEN) Bloody Hell! 2019 was a fucking lifetime ago. As we peek out from under the covers of 2022, let's straighten our backs from the 2020 YOGA position called: "Cowering Under the Desk", and do some shit... Today, I realize that my life has really not changed significantly since 2019, except for all the B.S. after-burn ingested, and politics we've became accustomed to in our new Cold War / Post-911-land. Here, Secretary of Homeland Security Tom Ridge sounded the Orange Alert Sirens for another Terrorist Attack every fucking day and every fucking night for a decade -- Early in the decade we all learned to remove belts, and shoes, and laptops... and then tune this shit the fuck out. A clever Brother of mine reminded me of the genius (The) Onion Article Dated February 26th, 2003, illustrating just how important our government and media are in a time of crisis:
Orange Alert Sirens To Blow 24 Hours A Day In Major Cities
"These 130-decibel sirens, which, beginning Friday, will scream all day and night in the nation's 50 largest metro areas, will serve as a helpful reminder to citizens to stay on the lookout for suspicious activity and be ready for emergency action," Ridge said. "Please note, though, that this is merely a precautionary measure, so go about your lives as normal." "Go about your usual business," Ridge said. "Of course, while you do so, keep in mind that we are just barely this side of Red Alert, the highest level of danger possible." ( -The Onion c. 2003)
It may come as no surprise that the genius dark comedy "Dr. Strangelove" never won an Oscar, but won loads of parallel awards abroad. Shit gets lost on the lay public, because they are watching the ball drop, instead of the Hottie next to you. It's no surprise either that "Dr. Strangelove" never made it to your dumb-shit Netflix hit-list, For twenty-four tedious COVID months whilst you scarfed takeout, and scoured for more Czech Cop Procedurals, The Good Stuff eluded your occluded path toward agoraphobic redemption. Later, in awe of it's social relevance and posthumus brilliance, in 1989 "Strangelove" was selected, by the United States Library of Congress as one of the first twenty-five films for preservation in the National Film Registry for being "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant". They had to wait until the sting of hiding under our desks had worn off, I suppose.
The thing is... with the latest 2019 mechanism thingy called "Omicron" set to destroy you and everyone you know and love, wouldn't it be good to actually feel something first? I mean, right before you go on life support, what would you rather be wearing...?
Today you can roll those sleeves up, peel off the latex, and learn to love Someone, Something, or some more PPE -- But you cannot shake that creepy prophylactic feeling that you've been "playing-along" with gloves on far too long. In your second anniversary sedentary social experiment bound by latex, and isopropyl, set to the soundtrack of re-run laugh-tracks -- Your New Year's Resolution should actually be to quit your sterile rubber-glove love-dramas altogether -- Touch someone with your bare hand, grab a hug as the bombs are falling, ride that cool breeze down to earth, and learn to love the fucking bomb.
P.S. You know Putin is going to get real Bond Villian Soon, and we'll be back in the shit-show watching the war again, so enjoy your so called freedom whilst it lasts, and I'll meet you under the desk in March.
If you are a youngster, then you wont understand this anyways..., But There is this phrase "Jump The Shark", and it refers to the extreme length one may go to remain culturally relevant, and in short summary it refers to the final claxon which clanged a death knell for the late 70's Sitcom "Happy Days". Who, lacking any social currency in a changing demographic, simply had a leather jacketed wimpy tough-guy ski-jump over a shark pool to boost viewers. The ratings were up, and then the show ended.
"Happy Days" Shot in mythical Milwaukee's beer empire, sadly only sipped malts, and chewed fries, but it remains The namesake for the Baby Boomer's misplaced generational Nostalgic dick, from whence it's rosy world was populated by White-Bread, God-Fearing, and Secret-Keeping laugh-track zombies. To understand this, Picture Ash Wednesday cultists roaming the earth wearing crochet'd ponchos, carrying Purses donning fringe, or tassels and harry armed men and women sporting ultra-large horn-rimmed Harry Caray Eyewear, with a drop-sided temple. These bearded Church-goers, became altar-boys, and Nuns, and served their higher calling, (even in public parks) Spreading their gospel whilst relishing in when: (A)Merica was homogenous, homophobic, and hyperbolic. During the "Happy Days" era, we celebrated yet again winning a war, (decades ago), whilst concealed our naughty bits: Racism, Sexism, Classism, blurring the line between puritanical and Capital "H" Hypocrite -- revised history met the sharp end of a tip-eraser. Everyone drank the Kool-Aid, (along with black coffee & pale beer) and everyone was complicit in a scheme to defraud the country of authenticity in favor of canned Soup Casserole's, TV Dinners, and Jiffy-Pop. America ripped a hole in it's last sack of "realness", and set about to white-wash it's gritty history in favor of a false narrative where strapping dudes in bomber jackets descend from the clouds like flying monkeys to appropriate the Krinkle-Kut French-Fry as a bona fide American cuisine. But we had decent Beer. Then Consolidation happened, and corporate greed appropriated every brand into the bland blondness of Anheuser Miller Coors PBR and the like. Before Micro-brewery was a term of endearment, there were not yet hip upstarts to meet the chipper-shredder of the great IN-BEV simulator. In search of something less blasé, our sordid youth was spent searching for better options, from whence brands like Becks, Brand, and Samuel Smiths had only begun to sit beside Moosehead, and Molson. And so we, the bridge-drug generation understand the odyssey to acquire taste, and perhaps gain the right to say, "I drank that before it was cool" (commercially speaking). But Blaachhh! -- I'd take a piss-warm skunky St Pauli, over the milky monster-mash we are regaling today.
Back to Basics in our 'Hoppy Days', The Milk Man, and The Butcher fucked the Maid, whilst men and women smoked and flirted at the office. (It wasn't yet termed the workplace) Pale Lagers which formerly poured from neighborhood Bars on every corner, became replaced by "Country Clubs" excluding the untouchable races, and classes. And this barely touches the salty tip of the "Happy Days" America. Here, this sacred nostalgic fairy-land is where white men from Rumsfeld to Trump want to re-deploy. Reveling in the glory-days of your imagined mis-spent youth is not only tacky but dangerous, but it begs to be unsettled, or even unseated from your throne because the world changed while you were reading Sports Illustrated on the toilet.
Beer can make the rough edges of everything a bit smoother, right? Beer blissful and simple like the lonely tortilla chip which hoists a tangy salsa into your mouth -- Is merely a vehicle for the alcohol which it delivers. Beer of any ABV can help to pass the time of your self imposed quarantine, it can make your friends seem more charming, when you do eventually mingle, and Beer can tell you a lot about a person, by the bottle they choose. But Beer does not need an equal measure of water to hops. We have the Stout Drinkers, and the Pilsner People, and we also have the indulgent Double and Triple Crowd who's ABV bring you swiftly to your knees. While I'm not a fruit beer drinker, Anything with actual fruit in it, not made by actual Monks Is not beer, but a "special hooch" akin to flavored tobacco, and vape pens. Nearly every flavored beer is a Gateway (transitional housing) coddling youngsters to a truthful beer epiphany. Where real good beer may bring someone over from the dark side -- A real beer revelation requires a transition from the Cosmopolitan, or the Coriander of the Christmas Ale, to the simple pleasure of a Kölsch. Then. there is the Lightweight Beer lifter... Someone who orders the Loaded Nachos, whilst tacitly counting the calories of their Michelob Ultra. DO NOT lend this fucker money either!
'Nothing against light beer... I have nothing against white wonder bread either, so long as I don't have to consume either. By observation and from research, one can easily find that it's not the fat that is killing America, nor is it their blatant consumerist lack of good taste -- But it is their willingness to roll over and die from diabetes, heart disease, and cancer from what we willingly choose to consume. As statistics will bear out, Light Beer won't kill you directly, Nor will that White Claw, but it will show your friends that you lack good judgement, as you polish the sixth pale malt beverage, flinging chicken wing-bones into a greasy red plastic wicker basket.
For Me a light beer is a Pilsner, and a darker beer like a Guinness Stout has less calories and less alcohol than most light beers today, or a White Claw for that matter. I also don't count calories, because there is no accounting for taste. Back in "Happy Day's Land", when America was "Great" the first time around, and there was a bar on every corner where locals drank from a single tap, brewed locally. The choice was a bit less like the toothpaste aisle, and a bit more like a desert gas pump, serving regular or unleaded. A Beer (dark or light) was something which took the edge off of the working folks, and made their soon to be future spouse look, act, and even smell better -- This worked marvelously. Hence the Baby Boom -- An explosive mixture of Strong Beer, Catholic dogma, lack of "Choice", and the hushed secret stigma of American human sexuality. Because, well... Why talk about anything anyway?, It's better to pretend that babies come from storks, which like God, dwell up in the clouds, until they surprise you with six fucking children; one after the other, until ...well, you guessed it -- Beer No longer works to take the edge off, so you move to the hard stuff, and he moves out. And so here we come full circle to the story of how America ran amok, and then ran aground.
Beer is a good metaphor for so many things because like rings on a tree, it has been keeping score for thousands of years. Atilla The Hun used to brew yak's milk into a beer of sorts which Marco Polo said tasted (as you'd imagine, "...Like a shitty Fucking IPA"), but it took the edge off.
Today, the children are running this ship full-steam directly toward the shore, and along the way they are appropriating everything from bad fifties haircuts and eyewear to far worse facial hair and dress-code. They un-ironically look like my parents did, or basically anyone from Happy Days, besides perhaps The Fonze. (The fucker who was supposed to jump the fucking shark) -- Except They/Them wit ironic throwback pleather jackets behind their facial hair, are out of shape, hypertensive, and pre-diabetic. Is it any wonder then -- That their single embellishing contribution to the new beer dialog would be to reach even further back to the Mongolian Empire, and remake fermented Yak's Milk?, AKA Hazy IPA?
Jump the Fucking Shark Already.
To fully understand what has happened you will need to understand another appropriation which seemingly has no historical analog. The Youth in my town; The same kids with the ironic police moustaches, are misappropriating the vomit inducing herbal remedy Fernet, from a Norwegian Winter warm-up shot -- simply because Jägermeister remains still too close in the rear-view to be a true Throwback. There is (apparently) a rule about borrowing from prior cultures, and although I don't understand it fully, it does state that one skip at least two generations before pulling that box out of the attic, and trying on something old (again).
So what has become of the toxic melding of Hipster, with the current toothpaste aisle & pop culture? It's a bit like leaded gas... It was a brilliant solution to the problem of engine Knocking lubricity, but delivered a carcinogenic death knell to humans and the planet for more than 2 generations. The same generation which inspired such awesome innovations as "Clean Coal" Happy Days, White Supremacy, Global warming, and Jell-O with tiny marshmallows could now celebrate ash fucking Wednesday every fucking Wednesday. Thank you Clean Coal!
So... Before we dig through our grandparents attics and basements to find our next throwback treasures, Let's at least have a toast to what they may have done right. Beer was Beer, Cheese came unsliced, (even unpackaged) Vegetables though rare didn't come in a large non-disposable clear Plastic dish-pan, Everyone was thin, and Nobody "Asked their doctor if (%$#!@&*) was right for them... Because There was scarcely a person on the block who needed a drug to fix their lethargy, or impotence, because Amphetamine was abundant. If your grandparents did watch a Throwback nod to "Happy Days" of yore, they did it for an hour and then got up and walked down to the local bar for the only beer on offer, with a whisky shot.
This brings me to the over-reaching misappropriation of too fucking many choices, and should any choice but MILK be completely and eternally opaque?
Today there may not be a local bar on every corner, but you will find a 10,000 calorie Starbucks drink, every 800 feet in any given town, Or perhaps a "Dunkin" serving the same whipped diabetic shock, only loosely related to the original calorie-free Black Coffee your grandparents brewed. Thank you humble Sugar Cube.
Today, you're just as likely to find a newly minted brewery without any redeeming recipes dotted between each and every Starbucks, such that the pattern picks up a plaid check as follows: Starbucks, CVS, Brew-Pub, Dunkin, Chipotle, Walgreens, Starbucks, Target, Dunkin, CVS, Brew-Pub, Walgreens, Chipotle, Starbucks. If you Love the new tapestry delivering Caffeine (which is harmless on it's own), followed by Diabetes, Heart disease, COPD, Hypertension, etc... It sure is great to know you can fill your script, at a Walgreens on the same block.
The real great news is while you wait for your prescription, you can have a pint at the local brewery, as long as you can find your COPD medication, because they are brewing that Yak Milk fermentation, Using enough Hops to preserve a youthful Cher for another century. Hoppy Days are here again.
Look!, If you are a winding down Hipster dwelling in your parent's Basement and there is nothing you can actually do well, then all is not lost. You can always get a teaching job. ...And, If you cannot teach, then you can probably teach Gym class. IF you cannot teach Gym, then perhaps you can Bake -- being a baker is cool, noble and useful, but -- Oh hell... Baking is part art form, and part science -- So you will probably fuck that up too. You may wake up on the couch one morning pissed that you have no beer money, and say, "Hey!, I'll boil some grain or Yak's Milk in a pot and make some Hooch.... yea!, Now you're talkin'.
Alas, when you can't make or bake anything good, and you've failed teaching Gym, and when dulled taste and a consistently good beer evades your social stanine -- Well, then... if this new hip school on your corner called the "Brew-pub" offers a class, and you fail at making even a piney IPA, because yours' tastes like Fermented Yak Reflux -- Well, all is not yet lost, because everyone in your age range likes your ironic cop mustache, and your white vinyl belt, and they want you to put your ironic visage on this new beer-ish invention -- This, your mélange of milky bits floating amidst a cloudy jizz-fizz of pine tar, tobacco, and acid reflux shall be called a "Hazy IPA", and it will overtake all good sensible former beer drinkers, with its soupy consistency of wheat chafe, and baby-dog drool.
At this, your matriculation from sub-par subterranean gamer to ironic brew-master, you alone will shift the conversation from a clean refreshing beer to the toothpaste aisle. This sadly begs the question: "Because One can..., Should One?, and Shall we serve both a "Shitty Shandy", AND a "Hazy IPA" this New Years, or simply crack a crappy pale lager, like your Grandparents drank?
Fear Not!, young dandy, Your Grandparents no longer pray for "Happy Days" to return, nor for you to find a job -- but now they pray for a global Hop famine.
Age and Treachery will overcome youth and skill.