OASIS OF SLACK
Pre-Show Announcement by Rev. Crawford Smith
Pre-Show Announcement by Rev. Crawford Smith
Greetings Brothers and Sisters!
Well, there's but two days until the Oasis of Slack devival here in
Toostoned, and I figured I'd take this one last opportunity to pester
you weenies about it. The Hierarchites will be arriving this evening,
and already the armored limosines are lining up outside the Tucson "International"
Airport to meet the arriving dignitaries (except
Fri. 2/9, 1 p.m. - Faberge egg-tasting party at the Tucson Gem & Mineral Show, Tucson Convention Center (admission is $5.50)
Fri. 2/9, 3 p.m. - Sex Education with Dr. Onan, "Curves Cabaret," 2130 N. Oracle (admission is free, but bring plenny o' cash)
Fri. 2/9, 9 p.m. - Birthday Party for Rev. Nickie, "The Meet Rack," 210 W. Drachman (help Nickie celebrate in the notorious "duty hut")
Sat. 2/10, 11 a.m. - 8 p.m. - Pre-Show Party w/ Nu Monet, "Guido's Bar & Grill," 410 N. 4th Ave (be as obnoxious as possible)
Sat. 2/10, approx 6:13 p.m. - Public Freakout by Rev. Crawford, somewhere on 4th Ave (see me succumb to the stresses of trying to manage one of these damn devivals singlehanded)
Sat. 2/10, 8 P.M. - THE OASIS OF SLACK, "The Hut," 305 N. 4th Ave, (doors open at 7 p.m., see www.box2321.com/oasisof slack for full details)
Sun. 2/11, 2 a.m. - After-show Party - "The Old, Abandoned Streetcar Shed," behind O'Malley's (vomit with your favorite SubGenius doktors in a big shed full of rusting junk).
It will be a LARGE time. Be there or.
TUCSON OASIS OF SLACK -- RAIN IN THE DESERT!! by Rev. Ivan Stang
Rev. Crawford Smith proved himself once again a CREDIT TO THE RACES, both of SubGenius and Smith, with another TRULY HISTORIC devival -- a lucrative spectacle of sloppy Slack ranking right up there with the original Lemurian devivals that he "HWANGED" together before moving to Tucson.
Tucson happens to be the home town of Dr. Howll and is still the ranting grounds of his brother Dr. Ygrundas Quimby, Jr.. Finally getting to see this legendary duo in action, together, in person, live, right in front of me, was one of many high points of the whole weekend for me. I don't mean on stage -- their lecture on stage was somewhat marred by too-loud background "music" -- but just having a conversation with those two in a Mexican restaurant is an experience that no old time SubGenius could soon forget!
Crawford, Onan, Sarge and myself were treated to a tour of the Martian National Monument desert (not far outside the city) narrated by Dr. Howll himself, LIVE!! AND I was allowed to view the most stupendous imaginable DINOSAUR MURAL, painted by Hal on the wall of a Tucson friend's house. (Crude photos to follow on a.b.s.)
Tucson in general seemed to my eyes like a gleaming, prosperous, all-new Utopia, a veritable "Emerald City" in the flowering desert. But then, I've been living in Cleveland for the last couple of years.
I was ready to move to the desert, so Slackful do things LOOK there, until I heard Rev. Crawford's powerful opening rant about the Conspiracy side of Tucson.
Another moment that will always fester in my memory: as the devival was ABOUT to start up, and I was just donning my Preaching Jacket prior to leaving the Swag Table, what should greet my eyes but THE GIGANTIC 3D 12 FOOT TALL DOBBSHEAD ORACLE from San Francisco, being literally CRAMMED through the doors of The Hut by a small army of SubGenii, led by none other than Chicken John and the Head's builder, Mongoloid! Like a procession of the damned, carrying the giant stone head of Dobbs Pharoah into the 5th Circle of Hell, the Alcoholics' Circle.
I got to PICK ITS NOSE!!
It was great meeting Crawford's pals The Sarge, God, and the other atmospheric folks at the atmospheric Meet Rack biker-style bar, where -- well, pictures would do it justice -- 1,000 pictures. There happen to be at least a thousand pictures of wild happeningings in the bar WALLPAPERING the bar. The Meet Rack also features a secret WILD SEX IMPLEMENT "MUSEUM" of which God gives a fantastic guided tour.
PUZZLING EVIDENCE SUDDENLY APPEARED IN HIS BURNING MAN RANGER MOBILE
-- which was FULL OF POSEABLE PLASTIC YET REALISTIC SKELETONS! If only
I could have stayed in Tucson longer! TO THINK OF IT!! And he "shot
Nu-Monet gave us a tour of the city's hippie-punk-student area, which smells like pachoulie oil OUTDOORS, and the nearby desert, as well -- a tour as informative about Arizona as it was disinformative about Nu-Monet himself! (DAMN, I forgot to ask him about his great recent monster movie audio collages!)
CRIPES I have to go to the bank NOW and I know if I don't send this, it'll be real old news by the time I again hit the ng.
Rev. Nickie Deathchick's Connietite Rant and Blowjob Brag
Onan Eats Meat for the First Time in a Decade -- and It's Kangaroo. Also, Onan's SubGenius Magic Powers rant/audience participation thing, which he handled breathtakingly
Mister Sister's new Mexican Sombrero, and the way his new Mexican Wizard Hat would stand up straight when Nickie was onstage.
The way the fire spit from Dobbs Pipe when the giant head "talked" during Chicken's SubGenius Game Show.
The Duke of Uke's new SubGenius hymn, "Hate Pinks"
The Spazz Dancing of the Anti-Music Serum guy
That weird looking kid made up like "Bob"
Mat Bevel's Giant Inverted Pyramid Hat
The Absolute Fucking Saints' cover of the DEVO song "Mongoloid"
DJ Human Fly playing MECO "Star Wars Disco" and other oddball bulldada that I also have in my collection
Dr, Howll's Epic Poem
I'm sure there are at least two MAJOR mind blowers that I've forgotten, since they blew my mind -- oh yeah, Mat Bevel's studio!!! It's so spectacular looking that it BROKE MY CAMERA!! And... oh well. A couple of things I can't tell YET.
OKAY OKAY SLACK SLACK, must go before bank/P.O. close!!
EARTH BACK TO MARS
Semi-Official History by Rev. Crawford Smith
Following is a semi-coherent 'official' report of the Oasis of Slack devival held on February 10, 2001 at the Hut in Tucson, Arizona. The account that follows is remarkably spotty and inaccurate, owing to the fact that I spent most of the show manning the front gate or zooming around dealing with absentee soundmen and inoperable lighting systems. Consequently, I missed some of these acts entirely and am making up the description based on what I heard after the show, so corrections and embellishments are encouraged.
Naturally, the show got off to a late start, which was expected and
actually useful, as it allowed us to deal with late sound checks and
the last-minute arrival of Chicken John and 'Loid Mongoloid with the
giant Dobbshead. The show was kicked off by a quick introduction and
blessing by God, followed by Rev. Crawford's introductory rant explaining
the concepts of Slack and the Conspiracy to the newcomers in the audience.
This was bolstered by Rev. Stang's 'SubGenius 101' rant which immediately
followed. After Stang's usually impeccable delivery, the crowd dutifully
filed out into the
After this first musical interlude, it was time to bring the massive Dobbshead into play with a round of "What Would Bob Do?" a terrific audience-participation game show that brought the full beaming-eyeball, flaming-pipe, voice-of-doom capabilities of the 13-foot-high Dobbshead into use. Unfortunately, I missed most of this act, and can provide few details.
Even more unfortunate is the fact that I also missed Rev. Nickie Deathchick's striptease which immediately followed. (I promised Rev. Sarge-at-Large, Tucson's newest and scariest SubGenius minister, to spell him at the gate so he could ogle Nickie at close range.) I'm looking forward to seeing the video footage for both of these acts.
Rev. Onan Canobite followed with a dissertation on the unique magical powers possessed by each SubGenius, and went on to demonstrate his own power by slaughtering and consuming an entire kangaroo onstage. (Okay, this may not be entirely accurate, but slaughter and kangaroo meat WERE involved.) Rev. Onan was followed by another beloved Lemurian performer, the Duke of Uke, who wowed the crowd with his typically awesome set, capped by a terrific new SubGenius song that's sure to go platinum in Malaysia. The Duke was followed by astounding local artist Mat Bevel who performed an illuminating rant in one of his mind-blowing costumes, accompanied on sax by Rev. Jimmy. This short but impressive screed was followed up by another of the highlights of the show - the Robins Brothers.
Dr. Howl Robins and his brother Dr. Ygrundas Quimby, Jr., both accomplished SubGenii from back in The Day, did a wonderful dual monologue that left many of the audience members wondering which of the two was the evil twin and which was the REALLY evil twin. Unfortunately, I was looking for the sound man again, and missed most of this act as well. I also missed much of Stang^Òs second rant, which immediately followed. The night was rounded off by the performance of the Absolute Fucking Saints, another of Tucson's favorite musical acts, who performed many crowd-pleasing covers, highlighted by 'Loid joining the band for their version of the Devo blockbuster 'Mongoloid.'
After a quick escape from the Hut, we gathered for the post-show party at the Matt Bevel Institute where we all got cataclysmically wasted and stared raptly at Mat Bevel's astounding kinetic sculptures for hours on end while huge streamers of drool distended from our chins.
Well, this is a pretty lame thumbnail sketch of how the show went, which may or may not be totally accurate. Overall, it was a great show, with about 250 people in attendance, all of whom left with their lives radically altered for the better due to their exposure to the Oasis of Slack. There are still some unresolved mop-up issues that may prove interesting - more information on that as developments warrant.
Praise Fucking "Bob" AND "Connie" by Rev. Nickie Deathchick
The main thing that I feared is that people will focus too much on the taking off the clothes part, and not at all on the "intellectual" part. I don't mind the focus on the prior, or else I obviously wouldn't be doing it. But I was happy that most of the actual comments I got had to do with BOTH. Praise fucking "Bob" AND "Connie" that this Church allows for such a coming together of opposites, making us realize that they're not opposite AT ALL.
What About Bob?
Flames burst from Bob's pipe. His glowing eyes survey the crowd, some 200 strong, mixed between SubGenius faithful and curious Normals who might never be the same after tonight. The giant head rumbles, rumbles, rumbles before the deep tone proclaims: "I am Bob -- Bob -- Bob! You have asked my wisdom -- Tinky Winky is as queer as a three-dollar bill! Don't you people in Tucson know anything? But far worse--they didn't give him any genitals! What kind of sick thing is that? Bob has spoken!"
The crowd erupts as a chorus: "Bob has spoken!"
SLACK IS THE ESSENCE OF THE Church of the SubGenius, a cult that emerged more than two decades ago. The SubGenii follow the teachings of J.R. "Bob" Dobbs, the pipe-smoking High Epopt of the church. His gospel was first revealed by the Rev. Stang, who today heads up the SubGenius Foundation, witnessing the word of Bob and hawking T-shirts, books, video tapes and bumper stickers.
Boiled down, Bob's gospel teaches that a Conspiracy of Normals is relentlessly seeking to steal our original Slack. While the holy books maintain that slack is virtually indefinable, longtime church member Dr. Rev. Hal Robins shared his thoughts on it last week.
"What is the opposite of tension?" Robins asks. "Slack. Slack is what you need, leisure, the basis of culture, the opportunity to fabricate, to create on one's own, to deal with the matters of life unmediated by unwelcome other elements and agencies."
There's more to the religion than that, of course: the secrets of the Mutant Yeti Genetic Substrain, the power to be found by Surfing the Luck Plane, the Pleasure Saucers of the Sex Goddesses. But those details are best explored by perusing the holy scriptures found in The Book of the SubGenius (1983) and Revelation X (1994), both thick volumes filled with lunatic visions and twisted illustrations that strip away the Conspiracy's illusions, revealing the ugly true face of SubGenius reality. All dogma aside, however, the church is about the pursuit of Slack--which tends to be more difficult to grasp the more it is pursued. It's a deceptively simple concept that nonetheless remains beyond the reach of the Dupes of the Conspiracy.
"It's funny," says Robins. "Either people immediately understand it or they never do."
Robins, who grew up in Tucson, now gets by as a cartoonist and performer in San Francisco. He's serving as master of ceremonies at tonight's Devival, dressed in an orange-and-white checked suit with a straw hat perched upon his head.
Robins is one of the church's earliest members. The gospel was first revealed to him in the early '80s, while he was toiling in, as he puts it, "a comic-book factory." One day a fellow cartoonist, Paul Mavrides (also known in the church as LIES) fished an odd religious pamphlet from the wastebasket, where it had been thoughtlessly tossed by the boss. In bold letters, it warned "The world ends tomorrow and you may die!"
The flier touched something inside him. Since then, he says, the work of the Conspiracy has been as plain as day. "Look around and you'll see it in operation," Robins says. "Remember, the Conspiracy wants to sell you its False Slack to replace the Original Slack you were born with."
A SUBGENIUS DEVIVAL IS BASICALLY, IN THE words of Rev. Crawford, "a variety show for the socially maladjusted." It's a chance to expose the insidious Conspiracy and its ignorant dupes for what they truly are: soul-leeching slavemasters who suck the vitality from creative effort to better commercialize it and sell it back to us as False Slack. There's a reason every community in America is finding itself wrapped tight in bland chains inside strip malls: The Conspiracy is out to turn you into a well-managed wageslave programmed to increase profit through efficiency. The nail that sticks up gets hammered.
Crawford, a.k.a. Rev. Thereheis, is a local computer programmer who has been organizing the Devival over recent months. He's assembled quite a gathering of the church's high priests, including Stang, Robins, the Rev. Onan Canobite and the Rev. Nikki Deathchick, who entertains the crowd with a quasi-striptease as she spits out blowjob jokes. He's also tapped local mechanartist Mat Bevel and several musical acts, including the Duke of Uke, who has traveled from Portland to knock out tunes like "I Wanna Be Sedated" on his electric ukulele.
Now that the big night is here, Crawford is moving frantically around the Hut, dressed in a yellow suit highlighted by orange-and-black flames licking the front. The show is off to a late start and there are troubles with the lights near Stang's table of merchandise. Crawford has to crash into a pit of college-crowd Normals across the street at O'Malley's to try to find a sound guy who might understand the damned electrical system.
Still, none of it is enough to overwhelm the Word of Bob. Behind his aviator sunglasses, Crawford welcomes the crowd with the first rant of the night, railing against Arizona's voracious real-estate developers, idiot politicians, mindless shoppers at big-box stores and other Normals--or "Pinks"--who deal in False Slack.
Here in Tucson, the Conspiracy is so insidious that not one bookstore in town currently carries a copy of the SubGenius tomes. Sure, they'll order one if you ask for it--just as long as you don't mind giving them your name. And wouldn't the Conspiracy like that!
Crawford warns that the Conspiracy is stronger than ever. "What's the name of that mall down there on Broadway?" he asks. "El Con. They're completely brazen about it. That's part of the reason I wanted to have this show. I want to bring the message of Bob to Tucson."
Devivals like this erupt whenever "somebody gets off their ass and organizes one," says Crawford. In this case, he was able to rent The Hut because the owners, Brian and Scott Cummings, are sympathetic to the church. Their first bar, Bob Dobbs Bar and Grill, is named for the SubGenius icon. It was opened by an early follower of the church in the early '80s, and the brothers Cummings stuck with the name when they took over, although they tend to play down the notion that it's a temple to anything other than sports and cold beer.
Crawford has been with the Church since the early '90s, when he came across a copy of The Book of the SubGenius in the humor section of a bookstore. It was either that or a Garfield collection, and the odd religious book seemed to have more heft to it. Little did he realize at the time that he was on the verge of regaining his lost Yeti Powers of Psycho-Consciousness.
"It's a lot less demanding than most cults, as far as putting restrictions on your personal behavior and your finances," Crawford says. "Scientology and Amway are probably the biggest rivals as far as mind-control and money-grubbing cults go."
A membership in the church costs a mere $30, which includes eternal salvation or a triple-your-money-back guarantee. "If you don't make the afterlife of your choice--and I stress your choice--we will refund your money in full to the third," says the Rev. Onan Canobite. "You'll search high and low and find there are a lot of takers but not many givers."
Canobite, who has written many of the gospels involving the Pleasure Saucers of the Sex Goddesses, first learned of the church in 1982, while attending high school in Knoxville, Tenn. "I was in sociology class and my friend Debra turned around in the seat in front of me and said, 'My boyfriend wanted you to have this.' " She handed him a pamphlet with three ugly faces encouraging him to join the Church of the SubGenius for a mere dollar. (Inflation has since driven up the cost.) "I signed up and haven't looked back since," he says.
Rev. Canobite says the Conspiracy "is, in fact, as strong as ever. There's no indication the Conspiracy has lessened its war on the SubGenius nation by one iota. We resist them with all the means at our hands." Resistance is not futile, but must be done carefully, so as not to rob one of Slack. "You have to resist properly," explains Canobite. "For some people, you have to lie in bed and watch TV a lot. Others make pipe bombs, others read funny comic books. The path to Slack is the one that you have to choose for yourself."
But choosing that path may be difficult in the years ahead. "The Conspiracy has two modes of operation," Canobite says. "There's the friendly-faced conspiracy and there's the mean-faced conspiracy. And I think we're entering into a phase of the mean-faced conspiracy with the election of President W. Things will be more overtly conspiratorial. It will be the conspiracy of bullies picking on you instead of teachers picking on you."
Canobite begins his rant tonight by promising to "initiate each and every one of you in the mystery of SubGenius magic!" Along with references to dinosaurs, robots and half-astral projection, his sermon warns of an impending Armageddon and the power of the Conspiracy.
"No matter how much the Man tries to harsh your mellow," he roars, "you can make light of the situation through levitation! You can say, Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke! "
The crowd echoes the cry: Fuck 'em if they can't take a joke!
All things considered, the Tucson Devival is going pretty well. It's certainly facing less trouble than a recent Boston Devival. As Canobite relates the tale, the SubGenius congregation ran into trouble shortly after the gun-wielding duo of Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold shot up their classmates and themselves in Columbine, Colo. It seems an unknown prankster called into the TV program Talk of the Nation and suggested that the Colorado teens were misguided youths led astray by the Internet and groups like the Church of the SubGenius. "He was spreading the word of Bob in the guise of spreading the anti-word," suspects Canobite.
But no one anticipated what happened next. A group of concerned Boston citizens contacted the club hosting the Devival. "They said that the Church was a hate group and we should not be allowed to practice our freedom of religion on stage, as we had scheduled," says Canobite, who more-or-less dismisses the accusation. "What hatred we do have is well-earned and is not based on any race, gender or age, it's based merely on being a SubGenius or not being a SubGenius. Our hatred is reserved only for the Normals--the majority of people on the planet. We don't discriminate."
In steps the American Civil Liberties Union, which helps the SubGenius congregation find an alternative location in the basement of a Baptist church. The show is ready to go on, until a local politician declares no hate group will be allowed to spread its vile words in Boston while hiding behind the ACLU.
When the SubGenii arrive at the Baptist church, they are barred from entering and find themselves surrounded by riot cops with giant spotlights. "So the Devival occurred on the front steps of that church and for lights we used the police lights," Canobite recalls. "Even the finest efforts of several Conspiracy members could not thwart us in our appointed rounds."
JULY 5, 1998, promised to be a big day for the Church of the Subgenius. As foretold in Revelation X, that was X-Day, the end-all of end-alls. The Conspiracy would stand revealed, the Pinks would fall victim to a multitude of contradictory and hideous fates, and paid-up SubGenii would be taken aboard the Pleasure Saucers of extradimensional Sex Goddesses and whisked off to the Galactic North Pole or Planet X or some such place.
In anticipation of what the faithful call the Rupture, the Subgenii gathered, as they had previous Independence Day weekends, at Brushwood, a clothing-optional pagan campground near an Amish community in upstate New York. (Crawford, who has attended several of the annual congregations, says the Amish are quite tolerant of the SubGenii, but that pagans are becoming a little skittish. "A lot of these pagans get whiny very quickly," says Crawford, his voice slipping into a mocking falsetto. "Those rockets they're shooting off are messing up our karma."
But 1998 was different. It was the prophesied X-Day, the day the pleasure saucers were due to dock. After a long night of celebrating what he believed could be his last hours on earth, Crawford remembers staggering back to his campground to break into the supply of hard liquor before the countdown began. As he looked to the sky, he saw a giant X had formed. Could it be?
Alas, no. The appointed hour, 7 a.m., came and went, and no saucers appeared. Rev. Stang announced to the let-down congregation that he may have misread the sacred text, written down by Bob on the back of an envelope. Perhaps, he conjectured, it had been upside-down, and the true X-Day was actually July 5, 8661.
The assembled SubGenii didn't buy it. "After Stang trotted out that lame lie," says Crawford, "they stripped him naked, covered him in honey and feathers, paraded him around the campground and then tossed him in a scummy, leach-filled pond. The crowd gathered at the edge of the scum pond, chanting "Triple back, triple back!"
The faithful yet believe the Rupture will one day come. "We're scratching our heads wondering but keeping the Faith In Bob, or FIB," says Canobite. "The best hope we have is to have a party every year around July 5 just in case. So the SubGenius from around the world continue to gather at Brushwood, N.Y."
"The Rupture hasn't taken place yet," Robins says. "Like many other religions, our end of the world has had to be revised for several years now."
But Robins says that's no reason to take any chances. He points to those tiny religious tracts drawn by Jack T. Chick that promise an eternity in flaming hell for those who do not accept Christ as their savior.
"As you know, those present a very grim picture that only those who perform the particular ritual will be able to avoid the flames of Christian hell," Robins says. There's no mercy, not for "even the innocent pagans and those who haven't bothered to read the Bible too closely. Well, we don't want it to be that way, but the overwhelming fact is that only those who take care to follow the SubGenius principles to their conclusion can expect to receive a seat on the Pleasure Saucers of the Sex Goddesses when they arrive."