Rev. Ivan Stang
Dec. 4 2004
I still have jet lag. It's 7 p.m., and I had a normal night's sleep last night, yet I still feel like it's 3 a.m. and I've been awake for days.
We followed Pope Black, and didn't get killed. We got robbed, delayed, plunged into anxiety for hours, but never once killed. That is the titular beautiful holiday miracle.
Sometimes, instead of following Pope Black, we led him, and that is probably the one reason we are still alive today.
Incidentally, during the course of this tour, Pope Black was demoted to Altar Boy (almost to Castrati) and a small Spanish dog living in Germany, Perro, became the new SubGenius Pope of All Europe. ALL HAIL POPE PERRO, and his man, St. Kay Wittke.
To hear my West Coast friends talk, everyone in Europe hates everyone in America with a deadly passion, because of the war. But to us, it appeared quite the opposite. Everywhere we went in Europe, we were greeted with friendship, drugs, beers, books, Cds and URLs. And we were met with COMPASSION. Imagine how we felt when compassionate young GERMANS said to us, "Ve Chermans are fferry vorried aboudt der fascism in America!"
And the Europeans gave us PITY -- pity for our Once-Almighty Dollar, which has now become valueless, a joke, like Bolivian pesos.
We saw Harvey Pekar in the Post Office the day before we left. We've never met him, and we didn't say anything to him. We just saw him on his way out, as we were going in. I don't know if that means anything... EXCEPT FOR THE FACT THAT WE AGAIN SAW "HARVEY PEKAR," OR ANOTHER SAD-SACKISH FELLOW WHO LOOKS JUST EXACTLY LIKE HIM, TWO DAYS LATER ON A LONDON SUBWAY TRAIN.
Friday, Nov. 12 -- English Veteran's Day - LEG ONE
Woke at 3 am in Cleveland to catch the 6 am flight... cab came for us and the three huge suitcases and our four sizeable carry-ons.
On the plane, I watched "The Manchurian Candidate," and read all of Iain M. Banks' sf novel "Excession." I would recommend Banks to hard sf readers who also like Douglas Adams' whimsical Hitchhikers' Guide material. Princess Wei started reading "The Hobbit" and found a very real Head Launching reference early in the book.
Fireworks greeted our arrival at London's Heathrow Airport. Visible from the plane as we landed around midnight, impressive fireworks displays were blossomming all across the city. I felt most honored. Surprisingly, no one greeted us upon our emergence from customs, until finally Pope Black, Pope Mickey Finn and Rev. Nobby found us and delivered us in Nobby's car - the only car owned by any SubGenius in London - to his flat in the upscale suburb of Chiswick.
Saturday, Nov. 13
Nobby showed us how to take the bus to Chiswick High Street from his place on Fuckenberg road, and we had a truly English breakfast at a restaurant, featuring their superior bacon and their inferior sausage.
We noted that beautiful people, with perfect skin, inhabit Chiswick, as opposed to the Tube People, with bad skin, who seem to be everywhere else in London. Real estate prices in Chiswick are akin to those in San Francisco - quite completely insane. Chiswick, by the way, is pronounced "Chizzick," and the local Subs made fun of me for saying "CHIZ-WICK," until I informed them that the REALLY cool folks say "CHI'ICK."
We ran up against the strangeness of the hardware of other lands - Nobby's impossible TV, bizarre ducting, clothes-washing machines in the kitchens, crazy brickwork, trick appliances, inexplicable structures, peculiar local mascot cartoon characters, quaint masonry, unknown species, baroque and antique spellings, and HIGH VOLTAGE. Nobby found us an all-planet, all-purpose electrical outlet socket adaptor for camera-charging... clever little device that reconfigures itself like a Transformers toy depending on which outlandish plug and voltage you're dealing with - and it handles ALL known power outlet standards.
America remains the world's leader in softness of toilet paper, however.
In England, you can SMOKE or DRINK ON THE BUS, or on the SUBWAY and TRAINS -- yet the bars close at 11!
England is soon to ban smoking in all public places, and so is Holland. Cigarettes are already $10 a pack, and feature various blunt "CIGS KILL!" warnings which occupy half of each pack's label space. Everyone rolls their own, that being so much cheaper, so a party looks like a room full of people smoking joints. Which helps cover those who are smoking REAL joints.
Instead of 7-11s, they have Budgens and Tesco. These convenience stores feature chocolate candy that is vastly superior to Hershey's and the like. They also feature hard liquor, and MEAT-FLAVORED CHIPS. Chicken with Thyme. Roast Ham. Sausage with Sage. Lamb with Mint. Poppadum Bites. Chinese Spare Rib with 5 Spices. These are POTATO CHIP FLAVORS in the U.K.
On a walk by the Thames, Wei and I found, on the sidewalk, a school photo of a teenaged boy. We could tell by the look on the boy's face in the photo that this was SOMEHOW IMPORTANT, and that we were MEANT to find it. We called it "HIM." Anyone with information about "HIM," please share.
It was St. Otis Campbell Celebration Day, and time for the first of the tour devivals, at The Foundry in London.
Using our magic "Day Travel Card," we traveled to the show ourselves via Tube. (Saw "Harvey Pekar" AGAIN, on the tube!) Hauling some swag gear, we had to change at Hammersmith, get ourselves to Old Street station, then "find The Foundry at Great Eastern St. corner of the roundabout." Not a bad neighborhood, surprisingly! Luckily it was easy to spot the Dobbshead from afar. Pope Black introduced us to the owner, Jonathan, who has been involved in some pretty bizarre art projects over the years - including one in which one million pounds in cash was burned in public. For ART.
British Authorized SubGenius Swag-Dealer Rev. Mark Pawson was there... see http://www.mpawson.demon.co.uk for more. He and I hadn't met in person for TWELVE YEARS. And, for the first time ever, we finally met folks we'd merely been EXPLOITING long distance for years: Revs. Espira (pronounced "Ess-SPY-ruh," not "Ess-SPEER-uh," as I had thought), the really astonishingly beautiful Asa, exotic famed performance artist Rev. Plastic Mediator, LEEEVIL (America's new fave boy-band), and Rev. ErRoR. We were to become practically dependent upon Rev. ErRoR as the tour became more and more savage and uncontrolled. In fact, he, and Espira, and all, are the kind of SubGeniuses that inexplicably make you feel like you've known them for years. And we were again graced with the personal presences of our old pals Pope Phil Monty and Penny, and Rev. Priest, and Rev. Notaw.
The Foundry was formerly a BANK. The vaults underground have been turned into art galleries. There is a gigantic metal "turntable" built into the basement floor, which drunks can, with effort, spin and even perform on, despite the impressive speed of rotation that can be reached with dutiful pushing. It's a miracle that nobody's gotten killed on this thing yet. The bathrooms and hallways are festooned with a living, crawling carpet of Dobbshead art, mostly by Espira. A paranoid homophobe almost punched me out for taking pictures down there, thinking (hopefully?) that I was a perv hoping to catch guys coming out of the "loo" half-unzipped or some such.
Rows of TV sets in the main stage area were showing the new Dobbsedeliasteses videos. This was reassuring to me. I did those videos in such a furious rush, plus another one just before leaving, that I had begun to think I'd hallucinated them.
10 minutes before we were supposed to start, we gathered and decided on the program:
Pope Black Intro
Stang "SubG 101" rant
Mickey Finn "classy" rant
LEEVIL... well, you'd have to see-hear this crowd-pleaser to get it, but basically this youthful one-man band sings and dances with such frenzied energy that by the time he drops trou and starts "SCRATCHING," using his PECKERSKIN to rotate the turntable, it almost seems NORMAL. At this particular show, in my eyes at least, LEEVIL's MUM was almost as much a part of the show as was LEEVIL himself. She was obviously a young-thinking, live-partying girl and probably young enough to be my... well... anyway, it's nice to see OBVIOUS OUTRIGHT MUTATION run in families this way.
LEEVIL paired with MAN, Inc. ... that's my new dream concert of one-man bands.
Princess Wei had found a reference to head Launching - specifically GOLFER Head Launching - in J.R. R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit," and explained that, and certain personal aspects of "Bob" and Connie's relationship, with the help of her talking robot alien "Magic 8-Ball" toy, Swanda.
The climax of these Pope Black-induced devivals usually
involves a real Head Launching, followed by a stageload
of very fucked-up looking monster women whipping the
daylights out of the bare butts of Pope Black and any
other guilty parties as they sing karaoke-style to
the disco hit, "Final Countdown." (Espira's
rubber tits may be the real stars of this routine.)
I am not sure why exactly, but this sort of thing ends
up being much more cathartically laugh-inducing than
one might expect. There is an actual religious frenzy
to it that is undeniable, and transcends the idiotic
gag aspects in a way that utterly defies logic. We
dunno why, but IT JUST WORKS.
A Head was Launch'd; the person who catches it gets 7 Years Good Sex. In this case, it was the good (?) and lucky Rev. Anna. (She must have liked what she got, because she was back at the Foundry for our second devival there, a couple of weeks later.)
Several new souls were saved, including Rev. Lord Nelson of London. We also acquired our first Nigerian member - but, as I discovered later while counting the swag, he paid his "20 pounds" in Nigerian money!
Swag sales were not good, possibly because nobody could actually REACH the swag; it somehow ended up being strewn across the top of a grand piano that one had to CLIMB to, it was so surrounded by couches and huge chairs.
Because the bars stop serving drinks at 11 pm, and the trains stop running at midnight, this was one of the shortest devivals ever, and a kind person had thrust what appeared to be Hapafropzipulops upon us, so we did not hang around afterwards, but high-tailed it back to Nobby's.
******************* TO PART TWO, "NATURAL HISTORY"