Pope Phil Monty woke us at 9 am to say goodbye.
We left Pope Black's at 1 pm with our massive bags of swag, took the train to Hammersmith, met Nobby outside; he drove us to his house to get the rest of the swag that we'd left there before heading for Hamburg.
Drove to Brighton - nice English countryside all the way. Like the backdrop of a horror movie.
We knew we were nearing Brighton when Wei saw a halftone Pipe sticker on an otherwise normal street sign.
Arrived at fabled Upfront Inc. Screen Printing, 50 Providence Place, entered, met owner Jim Waring, and SHAT PROFUSELY.
We had heard a lot about the Brighton SubGenius scene over the last ten years - the Dobbs Free Party, the huge raves with vast Dobbshead banners -- but none of it prepared us for THIS.
BUILDING MADE OF DOBBSHEADS: SEE PHOTOS
THE STORY OF THE BRIGHTON CLENCH: see upcoming book
I cannot describe this building in words; you HAVE to
see it. There are so many Dobbsheads, and VARIATIONS
on Dobbsheads, covering every surface, including chairs,
that you literally cannot sit down in this place without
having a Dobbshead kiss your ass.
At one point, in the '90s, the Brighton Clench had a
whole "Bob" storefront... they almost won
a local election with "Bob" - Rev. Jim in
a Giant-Dobbshead mask -- running under the Dobbs Free
Party banner; PISS, an air guitar band with Kiss-style
Dobbsheaded members, had an actual recording contract,
not that the band ever did anything with it... and,
since they're silkscreen printers by trade, there are
huge vinyl Dobbsheads on cars, buildings, signs all
Brighton is the "San Francisco" of England.
Before the ostensible "devival," which actually
ended up being just a huge party with no preaching,
there was a birthday party for Jim's wife - and for
the KIDS. The Brighton clench folks are mostly of child-rearing
age, so until about 10 pm the place was like an insane
Captain Kangaroo set, only with Dobbsheads and campy
disco music. (And a great light show!) Such a sight
was simultaneously horrifying and touching, to me.
The drinking Subs were out drinking during this, leaving
the Fropping Subs to play with the kids - which was
really fun and one of the high points of the tour for
The adult form of the party had a theme. Everyone was to dress as "Chapsters," or "Chavsters" -- we're not sure about the pronunciation -- or British Suburban Rednecks, which look exactly like American Middle Class Pinks! Princess Wei had to EXPLAIN to me what they were making fun of. They looked to me like Normals at any Cleveland Sears store, yet they were meaning to masquerade as BRITISH DUMBASSES. I was very confused, as I couldn't tell what was put-on and what wasn't. I have been avoiding Normals for a long time, and these were British Weirdos PRETENDING to be British Normals.
But I was saved from that confusion and brought NEW confusion when IMBJR arrived! THE IMBJR! THE GREATEST AND MOST PROLIFIC LIVING UNAMERICAN SUBGENIUS GRAPHIC ARTEEST! And his name is pronounced "IMM-beh-jer", not "Eye Em Bee Jay Arr." It felt... MOMENTOUS to be in his august presence.
Rev. Circlemaker arrived! OUR WELSH SON! He'd been out of touch for some months, and everyone was afraid he had been imprisoned for his crop circle art or something even better. But he and his grand friend Grant made it, though just barely; Circlemaker's car had been motor-bedevilled, as we later learned at first hand.
As the night wore on, more and more uninvited strangers arrived, many of them REAL English rednecks, and things got a lot weirder. Hundreds and hundreds of people weirder. One local SubGenius was trying to remove an improper "boot" from his car, using a laser-driven power saw, when he was caught and set upon by security company thugs, who BEAT him -- which drew the police.
Soon, however, ours minds were de-bummed by meeting
a large brood of Brighton Connieites, including the
majorly feisty individual calling herself "Spanner"
(?). Things were so feisty in general that we had to
move our swag table from the main ballroom to the entryway,
which was just as well, because that was the only place
where one could hear speech above the music. It was
also the main Fropping Chamber. Everyone had to come
and go through this chamber. Espira's Rubber Tits were
brought out and made many new friends.
Many Brighton people were amazed and impressed with
the swag table. To many of them, the Dobbshead had
always signified only a great party at Jim's. They'd
no idea that there were also dozens of books, CDs and
films, assembled by hundreds of Subgenii from every
other place in the world BESIDES Brighton. It was an
almost Galapagos-like evolutionary situation, whereby
a whole species had been cut off from its fellows and
had advanced along completely different evolutionary
The party, however, was becoming so intense that it
became obvious to us that preaching of any kind would
be pointless. We talked and danced and fropped and
talked and danced and fropped. I politely pretended
for HOURS to understand English.
Sunday, Nov. 28
Near dawn, we asked Rev. Circlemaker for a ride to get something to eat. He had to jump-start his car, with help from the PISS lead singer, but he got us to a restaurant. But then he and his pal Grant had to drive around until we were finished, because he was afraid it might not start again. And, indeed, after our meal, and a very suspenseful wait for his return, his car DID break down on the way back, potentially stranding us in Brighton again, with NO ONE knowing where we were... but with SubGeniusly miracle Healer of Appliances powers, he rolled-started it IN REVERSE, and we were able to get back to the party just in time to see an ambulance carting away a bloody guy injured in a sudden drunken fight.
All told, Rev. Circlemaker and his friend Grant went to HEROIC MEASURES to see that we were fed.
Eventually, around 10 am, the last of the crack-heads and speedfreaks were rousted out, and clean-up began. The place looked like there had been an explosion of beer cans. Half-torn art and crushed toys were underfoot everywhere. The final miracle was that Pope Black located, UNOPENED AND UNDRUNK, a last bottle of alcohol - the very bottle of pub cider swill that he'd bought at a store much earlier, and then forgotten, bearing the label, "Old Rascal Strong Dry SCRUMPY."
JIM JOINED!! PAID HIS $30! SOUL SAVED!
We/I were getting seriously sleep-deprived, but the sleeping situation looked hopeless, as Nobby and his car were asleep elsewhere. Altar Boy Black vanished AGAIN, and would have been been demoted to Castrati Black, had he not returned soon after being called, upon Nobby's miraculous reappearance.
We had to get to Nobby's Chiswick house, and then across London to Pope Black's, in order to collect all our gear, and to make it to Gatwick airport by train the next morning.
Nobby wanted put us in a cab with our swag, rather than drive us across town to Pope Black's himself, because the Sunday crosstown London traffic was so very VERY bad. But he stuck with it anyway, and, like a SOLDIER, heroically got us to the Harringay SubHouse.
We had a great meal at one of those hundreds of all-night Turkish places, then returned to the SubHouse and gave away as much swag as possible to ContraDiccion, Nobby and ErRoR before packing and crashing. At this point we had not slept for two days.
Monday, Nov. 29 -- Left for Cleveland, but ended up in Dallas
Pope Black avoided Castrati status by getting up bright
and early with us, cooking us a fine breakfast, and
getting us and the still-considerable mass of swag
and acquisitions to the local train station, the nearby
tube station, and finally Victoria Station. From there
we got ourselves and the swag to Gatwick. Once we'd
ditched the luggage we bought more English chocolate...
changed our last 79 pounds to $123... got on the plane...
and learned that it would be landing at least an hour
So much for our connecting flight to Cleveland.
And so, we went on losing... money in the exchange, a day in Cleveland for recuperation. But we also kept finding. We are still finding.
I read a second whole Iain M. Banks SF novel, "Look to Windward." Any of his Culture books are probably much easier after you've read one to begin with. His world takes a while to sink in.
The plane from London landed in Dallas, Texas, where we went through customs. As suspected, we'd missed the last plane to Cleveland for the night. BUT, American Airlines gave us a free room at the fancy Harvey Suites near DFW Airport, where we ensconced ourselves and, with now-extreme jet-lag, phoned Sister Decadence, watched cable TV, and drank Guinness that we'd procured at a convenience store to which the hotel's Driver Man had chauffered us. We watched cable TV for hours and again thanked God that we don't subscribe to it ourselves. Either I'm aging, or TV is getting more childish, or both, but either way it's all definitely getting worse.
Tuesday, Nov. 30
Dallas to Cleveland
After a FINE free Harvey Suites breakfast, we got ourselves and our self-sized luggage to the airport via shuttle -- only to learn that on the previous night, that so-friendly American Airlines clerk had gotten us tickets home... for THE NEXT DAY, Dec. 1, not for this day, Nov. 30. So, for a fairly suspenseful minute, it looked like ANOTHER DAY IN DALLAS... ?!?!?
But they got us onto a plane for Cleveland anyway.
St. Stymie deBergerac picked us up at the Cleveland airport. After he got us home, we both drove immediately and illegally to the driver's license bureau to get our stolen drivers' licenses replaced.
Then we started cleaning up and working and paying bills and filling orders and changing passwords, and now it's Saturday night, Dec. 4, and I need to somehow get TWO Hours of Slack produced, duplicated and mailed.
But, as of Dec. 4, I HAVE filled ALL the orders that were stacked up since we left, and paid all the bills, and put it all in the mail.
And now, on Dec. 8, I have finally finished writing this up, prepping the photos, and transfering the audio. I sent out two Xmas Hour of Slack reruns.
************ To "POST UPON RETURN"