Eschatology for Modern Living

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Space, Time

By H.J. Herrick

I. Man, Woman

We are each an ocean. Everything touches us, borders on us, rest and lives within us. We can all destroy life and give birth in the same moment, month, year, century, millennium, millennia. We are within everything. We are full of waves, each plunging headlong into the land, each a tongue caressing the lips of the Earth. We spend our long lives shaping everything around us, touching all our neighbors, mingling with them, our currents entering each other, penetrating each other. We all give birth to the borderless world. We each build the shores up and erode mountains to nothing. And really – though we all change and are changed – we are always here, in some form, some eternal idea. We can’t be killed. We can’t die. We all merely evaporate, drift and rain back into ourselves, each other.

II. The Human Race

We are a wave

slowly gathering,

bearing down on

a shore we cannot

choose. Someday we

will rise, crest, break, die

upon rocks which

will be barely changed

for it. That brief

moment will exist

alone. At last

we will finally

roll back, drawn out

to the ocean which

birthed us as we

cling desperately to

the land. Mercy

will take us outward

to that unseen

place where the ocean

kisses the sky:

where History is

blind and deaf, where

Man is an alien,

where Despair is

a myth. Where Time

ends silently. Where

Hope ceases to

torment us with its

disappointments.

Where Oblivion

caresses our face.

Where even Death’s

lungs fill with water.

III. The Universe

Sometime cosmically soon the Sun will expand and the oceans of this planet will boil off. If we are still here then, we will be immolated and the world will again be barren and void. No one will remember our names, our stories, our histories, because there will be no one. And then the universe will expand

until, asymptomatically, It reaches absolute zero and everything stops

or

until It reaches a state of maximum entropy wherein all is evenly distributed across nothing and no gradients remain possible in nature, until information itself is gone and with it all life everywhere and everywhen at once

or

until Its galaxies and eventually all physical forms – no matter how small – disintegrate into unbound radiation and elementary particles

or

until It goes on forever endlessly, mercilessly.

In any event we are a mote in a nonexistent eye. Our gods will die because we will not exist to imagine them, nor to worship our own imaginations. By then we will be stardust, frozen matter, light, radiation, nothingness.

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Sobriety Under Siege in Salem, Oregon: Venue and Entertainment Reviews

By H.J. Herrick

Salem, Oregon is an awful place. Anyone who tells you otherwise has either never lived here or has ten children they are trying to shelter from the real world. For Christ’s sake, Salem is one of two towns in the entire country which actually has a city ordinance on the books making it illegal for a theater to sell tickets to an R-rated film to someone under the age of 18. I mean it, world leaders: you should nuke this shithole.

But, for those of us who are left to rot here, we must develop our coping mechanisms. Mine is a heavy drinking problem. It’s taken some time to find adequate watering holes in which to drown my sorrows. Most bars around here have serious problems: they are either devoid of class and ambience, or they close at midnight on a Friday, or they have piss poor beer and spirits selection, or they are frequented by assholes who never escaped the orbit of their fraternity. But, there is a small handful which I have found worthy of getting me drunk.

Lately my comrade in arms Upton Charles and I have spent a good deal of time at four of them: Brown’s Towne, Venti’s, Gilgamesh, and Half-Time.

Brown’s Towne is a good place to be to begin the night. They slow down and close too early, but that’s why you start the night and don’t end it there. They have a great selection of Ninkasi brews on tap, and stock a good selection of spirits. Their burgers aren’t half bad either if you need some ballast before you start your binge. Lately they have been hosting a lot of good live entertainment Friday and Saturday nights as well. Most recently, I enjoyed a show by a band called Faerabella.

Faerabella describes themselves as a gypsy steampunk jazz band. I’m not sure what makes them steampunk, other than that their two male members (the stand-up bassist and the horn player) wear wide brimmed hats with aviator’s goggles on the side-band of the hat. Nevertheless, their music was fantastic. Their lead singer, a lovely woman with golden tones and range like a sniper rifle, knocked it out of the park. My scrotum bunched up with fear and exhilaration while she was singing a ballad about stabbing her husband to death. Dark and brutal stuff. Well worth a listen. I’m told you can find them on the iTunes Store.

They are also great sports. The entire time I was there, our mutual friend Geoffrey Queen – the man who invited me to the show, in fact – was screaming at the top of his lungs, “I slept with everyone in the band, and they all have huge dicks!” Yes, Geoffrey Queen (pronounced “joff-rey”) is in fact a queen. And proud to flaunt it, bless the man. A heavy drinker after my own heart and a true friend. I had recently started dating his good friend Bev and was a bit enamored with her, which brought him no end of delight. This was a feeling he expressed repeatedly while I was there that night, as he couldn’t remember anything that happened more than five minutes previous at any point. Five times, he touched my nipple and said, “Seriously, I just love you. But don’t worry; I’m not trying to fuck you.”

Eventually he passed out at the table and a huge bull dyke in his circle of friends had to drive him home. I was left waiting at a table where I knew nobody drinking Ninkasi IPA for an hour waiting for Bev to return from an evening in Portland. Eventually a strange person with massive mutton chops and a Windsor cap engaged me in conversation. He was wearing a vest and dress shirt – really going for the anachronistic British look. Right down to his teeth, which seemed to be rotting out of his skull. Nevertheless, he was perfectly pleasant. He related to me how he worked for a private custodial and maintenance firm here in town which now does all the work on state buildings which the state will no longer pay its own workers to do. He went on to tell me how most state buildings in Salem are in horrible repair and on the verge of collapse. One, he said, had so many cracks in its foundation that it looked like cobwebs.

Just when I was started to get bored of the man, my lady friend showed up and rescued me. It was ten o’clock. Time to move onto Venti’s, the traditional second stop of the night…

Venti’s downtown location is delightful. Upstairs is a café which by day serves the most delicious food around. I heartily recommend their chicken teriyaki with vegetables and noodles. Downstairs is where the real party is at though, in their dimly lit basement bar. The space is small and always packed every Friday and Saturday night, but the atmosphere and music selection leaves nothing else to be desired. They have a list of taps offering microbrews from all over the Northwest and beyond, and – to my great delight – they refuse to serve any domestic beers. The selection is superb, and their spirits top notch. They even offer some of those that are harder to find at other bars, like those from the Rogue Distillery in Newport, Oregon. Try their Spruce Gin or you, dear Constant Reader, are patently un-American.

An alternate second or third stop of the night in Salem’s downtown district is Gilgamesh. This tap house offers a beautiful selection of beers and wine, and hosts live performances on a regular basis. I was there one evening recently with Upton Charles, Bev, Geoffrey Queen and some mutual friends. I was minding my own business and enjoying a Hopscotch, which is so fucking delicious it makes me proud to be part Scottish. Geoffrey was busy showing his driver’s license to another group of strange twenty-something women (no doubt trying to recruit more “bitches” or “wives” to his ever-growing harem), attempting to convince them that his last name really was Queen. Upton was getting solidly drunk off of his sixth Vader, which is a rich dark beer with an espresso flavor – I also heartily recommend this one.

While we were patronizing Gilgamesh that night, there was a one-man show going on: described as a ukulele thrash performance. I meant to pay more attention to the man as he head banged and violently strummed his little instrument on stage, as I had been planning to write it up as part of this series of venue and entertainment reviews. But by the time he was getting warmed up I was already drunk. I don’t even remember his name. It all just descended into background noise, harmlessly ricocheting off of my eardrums. But I’m sure it was quite good. Anyone who tries to reinvent the sound of an instrument like the ukulele in shocking ways is okay in my book, damn it.

A short time after Geoffrey returned from his escapades at the other table and informed me I was to be one of his wives as well, one of Upton’s friends showed up from out of town, trying to catch up with his old pal. This poor unsuspecting straight-laced bastard is named Kurt. He’s always been awkward but eager to impress: a man with simple tastes and interests, always trying to show greater depth than he may actually possess, bless his little heart. Although, he’s a perfectly kind and agreeable person to be around. Trying once again to entertain us, he started falsely flirting with Geoffrey, who he’d never met before. Everyone was laughing, and then suddenly he was unzipping his pants as if to taunt Geoffrey. Before I could warn him to be careful what he was doing, Geoffrey’s hand was down Kurt’s pants and grabbing his bare cock. Kurt leapt to his feet, his face red as a spanked ass-cheek, and fled the area wailing in horror. The whole scene suddenly became very ugly or hilarious, depending on how drunk or uptight you were. Geoffrey and Bev and Upton and I enjoyed a good guffaw, but some other members of the party made excuses and departed not long after. Kurt may never recover from having another man’s hand on his business.

When something like that happens, it’s time to move onto the closer: Half-Time bar and grill on high street, at the northern edge of downtown Salem. Full disclosure: Half-Time is a dive bar. Located in what was once a Rockin’ Roger’s burger joint, it’s small, looks seedy on the outside and only a little less so on the inside. Its main redeeming value is that it’s pretty much the only bar open after 12:30 in downtown Salem, unless Brown’s Towne is unusually busy and decides to keep their doors open later. Half-Time has other great qualities though. By that time of night, since you don’t care about what you’re drinking anymore, you can take advantage of their $1.75 Pabst-in-a-can special, which is on all day and night, every day and night. You can also take advantage of their awesome bar food. I’m always amazed by their bartenders, because the cheap dullard who owns the place – and often sits around drinking by himself or inviting himself to sit with paying customers – usually only staffs one person at a time to cook and bartend simultaneously. Nevertheless, these good folks fry up some of the best damn sweet potato tots and nachos around.

When they aren’t slaving away, the bartenders are all good company as well. My favorite is Larry, who has a shaved bald head and a gnarly bushy beard. When he’s not working or drinking at Half-Time, he’s drinking somewhere else. After he’s off his shift, he’s always hanging out with the patrons well into the night, often rap-battling them inside the phone booth in the parking lot, surrounded by an awed crowd of onlookers. The staff there also has a delightful game called “Hide the Gnome” which they play amongst themselves. They attempt to hide a small ceramic gnome from the next bartender on duty at the end of their shifts. The only rule is that it must be hidden somewhere behind the bar. When things slow down, they can often be seen tossing the shelves back there, cursing the wily ceramic beast.

Well, it’s last call and I’m sitting here in the corner of the Half-Time now, putting the finishing touches on this post. Larry is closing up shop. Upton and Bev are passed out on the table next to me. Geoffrey has long since departed chasing some man meat. After I finish up these last few sentences and polish off my sixteenth drink, I’ll haul these sorry wrecks home in a taxi and stagger to bed. On the way home, I might try to drunk dial Comrade Richard “Bingo” Little and threaten him with violence if he doesn’t post an argument to Disputationes that I can refute soon. But apart from that, it’s more and more nights and weird mornings to come in this land of Salem. If you know any good nooks, corners, holes or hideaways in which to pass the time around this berg, leave a comment and share. We Salemites have to stick together; it’s us against sobriety.

The Kids Are All Bullshit: A Look At Hipsters from a Grumpy Old Man

By Upton Charles

Before I delve into this too far, let me just say that I, your author, have been deemed to be a hipster. I once sported a look referred to some as “hipster lumberjack.” I used to work in fashion. I used to live in Brooklyn. I listen to Wolf Parade.

But I bought my clothes at Goodwill because I was poor, not because I wanted to look poor. It was more by chance that my “style” was accepted. I never wore black framed glasses, though I’m pretty sure my eyesight is bad enough that I could use them. I’ve only worn make-up on Halloween and only wear a scarf when it’s really fucking cold outside.

So, having noted this, I fucking hate most hipsters. Emo kids, “scene” kids, Sublime-obsessed “hippy” kids – they’re all awful. (The Sublime kids are especially awful. I used to kind of like Sublime and they have fucking RUINED it for me.) They’re all stupid, self-serving little fuckers.

Yet I’ve begun to wonder if it’s just because they’re kids and now I’m an “adult.” Were my friends just as bad when I was younger? Is Mumford and Sons a legitimate band and I just “don’t get it”? Is “Gotye” NOT a really stupid band name?

I recently went to a concert in Portland (hipsters!) for the band Dr. Dog (beards!) and found myself hating about 90% of the crowd. But the worst offender was right in front of me: A kids about 6ft 4in and his group of friends who slammed their way in front of me (and several others) just as the show started. He proceeded to be an asshole in the following ways:

-He jumped around and flailed his arms with no regard for anyone else trying to enjoy the show.

-He was smoking weed. This didn’t bother me, but the fact that he never offered to anyone else irked me.

-He invited more of his friends up to the front because, in his words, “There’s plenty of room!” This was a lie and he knew it.

-He kept yelling for the band to play a particular song, but when they finally did play said song, he didn’t appear to recognize it.

-He and his friends were chanting, “One more song!” during the encore, which they didn’t seem to realize almost always contains 4-5 songs. (With few exceptions. If the band plays a song in an encore and the song is 10-12 minutes long, then you shouldn’t expect as many. If the first song is 2 minutes long, it goes without saying that the band will play more than that.)

-He got angry at me when I folded my arms to prevent him from hitting me in the face with his shoulder every time he jumped around. (He seemed to think that i was elbowing him in the back. I informed him that if he stopped slamming into me and being a general asshat that his back would be just fine.)

-He wouldn’t shut the fuck up for one fucking second.

Now, I’ve been to a lot of concerts and I know how to act. This guy (and his friends) seemed like they had never been to a concert before, nor had they managed to learn any basic social skills.

So are the kids just pieces of shit or am I just too old? Or is it some combination of both? I’m not sure, but I think that the next time I go to a concert, I’m gonna sit and drink beer with the old farts.

There’s a New Game in Town

Author’s Note: What follows is an excerpt from today’s new post to Disputationes, the debate and dialectics blog recently undertaken by Comrade Richard “Bingo” Little and myself. What you read here is the beginning of my point: that everything is doomed to oblivion. On Disputationes, you’ll find the rest of my argument as well as Comrade Bingo’s counterpoint (which I must grudgingly admit is quite astute — but still wrong, damn it!). I’m very excited to be launching this new blogging venture with my partner Comrade Bingo, and I hope you’ll follow us there as well, dear Constant Reader.

Pessimus, or Everything is Horrible

By H.J. Herrick

So I’m supposed to tell you poor fuckers why your lives are doomed to mediocrity and despair through no fault of your own. Unless you were born rich, with power and influence. And even then you may not be happy (you fucking sociopathic bastard). Well delivering shit news like this to good hardworking suckers such as yourselves is never easy, dear Constant Readers. I didn’t ask to be the Harbinger of Doom, but I did ask to know the Truth, and have spent my life trying to lift up the dark underbelly of Society to find it. Take it from me: the Truth is a grim ugly Bitch of Death, and it wants to eat your children alive.

So here is how I find myself in this position… After disappearing from public life for some months while serving a brief jail sentence for some trumped up bullshit, I emerged from solitary confinement to go on a horrific month-long ether, psychedelic mushroom and booze-fueled binge across Oregon. While drinking moonshine under a bridge somewhere (I think I was in Marion County, but I blacked out for a few days here and there, so who knows?) I came across my old colleague and friend, Comrade Richard “Bingo” Little. Always the chipper lad, Comrade Bingo had plenty of nice things to say about my needing to buck up and look on the bright side of Life. Naturally, I snorted some strong uppers and composed myself so I could argue the opposite position: that Life and the World are twin Dogs from Hell snarling and gnashing teeth, ready to rend our balls from our bodies. I argued that nothing could be done to better my situation, or the World’s. I was doomed. We were all doomed. But he persisted. Eventually we argued to an impasse, and agreed to continue the debate later in a more civilized forum. So here I am, in this new area and back at the typewriter, arguing the case on the behalf of Chaos and Misery. I’m sure he’ll tell you all about that contrary “The World is a wounded unicorn searching for a healing rainbow” bullshit later, but for now it’s time to sink your teeth into some real meaty and awful rotten stuff: Reality.

Follow the rest of the post here!

The Human Race

By H.J. Herrick

 

We are all waves

slowly gathering,

bearing down on

a shore we cannot

choose. Someday we

will rise, crest, break, die

upon rocks which

will be barely changed

for it. That brief

moment will exist

alone. At last

we will finally

roll back, drawn out

to the ocean which

birthed us as we

cling desperately to

the land. Mercy

will take us outward

to that unseen

place where the ocean

kisses the sky:

where History is

blind and deaf, where

Man is an alien,

where Despair is

a myth. Where Time

ends silently. Where

Hope ceases to

torment us with its

disappointments.

Where Oblivion

caresses our face.

Where even Death’s

lungs fill with water.

A New Chapter

Greetings. I am Upton, the new writer here at The New Apocalypse. I’d like to thank Mr. Herrick for his introduction in the previous post.

As was mentioned by Herrick, we met at what was, at the time, the biggest dive bar in New York City. It was also one of the few places where you could get a drink for any price close to reasonable. It was a haunt of mine mostly for the cheap drink and good people watching. The place was roughly the size of a live-in trailer and about as luxurious. The clientele generally consisted of punk rock kids and seasoned drunkards. Most of the Williamsburg hipsters stayed away from the place, though it was the bar where the Yeah Yeah Yeahs formed.

I was drinking a Corona out of a bottle (one of the two beers served there) and heard some guy in an ragged blazer ranting on about Wall Street and the collapse of the housing market (Note: This was back in late 2007). Most people were ignoring him in that way that New Yorkers do. I was a transplant in the city and could tell that he was, too. The city must have been taking a toll on him, I thought. Why else would he stumble in here?

We got to talking and drinking and found we had a lot in common. A general distaste of most things (especially in the Bush II years) bonded us. I was a nice, warming thing to meet someone like him a city that was both literally and figuratively cold.

We shared a joint outside after last call and Herrick mentioned that he was starting a blog. Good God, not another one of those, I thought. I was less warm to the idea as I was a writer for print and, like many at the time, I saw blogs as an enemy rather than a future. But I wished him the best in his efforts. I stumbled back north to the L-line, and then home. I never really expected to see Herrick again.

But here I am, broke as hell living in Oregon. It isn’t where I thought I would be, but there are worse things. Things have changed a bit: The Mars Bar closed down, we have a new (er) president, work is harder to find, the garbage island in the Pacific is bigger every day. I recently went to a dive bar off Broadway called The Half Time that boasts $1.75 tallboys of PBR. I’d found a new home.

And who was in the bar but that crazy bastard Herrick! We started talking a bit more and he told me once again about his blog. I’ve become more open to the idea, so I agreed to come on board. Why not? It’s not like I’m getting paid to do anything else…

So I’ll be joining you here for a while. It should be a blast.

The New Apocalypse: Preview of Coming Attractions

Dear Constant Readers,

It’s my pleasure to inform you that big changes are coming to The New Apocalypse. First of all, the fundamentals are bending a bit. New Apocalypse will now be a forum not only for non-fiction, opinion and guerilla journalism, but also for poetry and — perhaps even occasionally — fiction. You may have seen a prototype of this contribution if you were paying attention almost a year ago at my last posting. Lots has happened since then and the game has changed. It’s time to embrace the New Paradigm.

I am perhaps even more excited to announce that The New Apocalypse will soon be home to a new and very important contributor: Upton Charles. This man is a consummate gentleman and is given to strong drink, which means we can trust him. Never trust a man without a vice. Or ten.

I had the pleasure of meeting Upton Charles several years ago in a horrific dive bar in New York, NY. Mars Bar is it’s name and locals will be familiar with its general back-alley ambience if they have any drinking blood in them at all. I was flailing my limbs and gibbering incoherently about the End of Days with yet another half empty glass of rum and ice, tripping on bad mushrooms, when this erudite young gentleman strolled in. Obviously a regular, the bartender served him without a word and he observed my diatribe cooly for some time.

Finally, Charles interjected his own points to the debate and we found we were of like mind. Yes, he too had heard of the Pacific Plastic Soup. Yes, he too despised politics as usual (especially in the Republican Party). Yes, he too knew the pitfalls of modern technology. Yes, he too knew the dangers of Traditional Gothic Heavy Metal Doom Rock. Yes, he too hated Christmas. Upton always spoke eloquently and with nobility; others took this to mean he was a bit stuck up, a tad high strung. I know better. He’s a gentleman and a scholar. His demeanor is simply a by-product if his staggering and brutal intelligence. It’s hard to cope with that kind of Knowing. He is a paragon of honesty and introspection. He is a True Journalist of the first order.

After the conclusion of our drunken debate in that hole in New York, we took a walk in the bitter cold, smoking cigarettes and reefer. Finally we agreed that we should collaborate, and that he should join my venture on the interwebs: The New Apocalypse. Why it took so long for this to finally happen is another story. I’ll let him tell that one.

I am proud to welcome him now, these several years later, to The New Apocalypse. Look for posts from Upton Charles coming soon.

P.S. In other news, there is a pretty good chance that I will be starting a new blog in collaboration with another colleague of mine: Richard “Bingo” Little, also know as Comrade Bingo. This blog, called Disputationes, will be imbued with the Aristotelian ideal of debate and dialogue. Each post will take on a topic, and we will each argue one side of that subject, to its bitter and final conclusion. This is a bit more down the road, but look for it in the near-ish future.

Thanks. And keep up the good fight, dear Constant Reader. Don’t let them dull your mental blade. Keep thinking!

Yours, in dubious and brooding solitude,

H.J. Herrick