Mick Zano

Mick Zano

Mick Zano is the Head Comedy Writer and co-founder of The Daily Discord. He is the Captain of team Search Truth Quest and is currently part of the Witness Protection Program. He is being strongly advised to stop talking any further about this, right now, and would like to add that he is in no way affiliated with the Gambinonali crime family.

The Ghosts of Brewers Past: Philly’s General Lafayette Inn

Mick Zano

The para-abnormal research team consisted of Ranger Rick, who both led the investigation and set the pace (three pints an hour), Pierce Winslow, our tech-guru (who wrote the whole thing off as a business expense), Pokey McDooris, philosopher and sideshow attraction, Timmo O’Frynn, driver and camera man, Bob Krazmoski, treasurer and straight man, and, yours truly, Mick Zano, addiction counselor/beer enthusiast.

Our story begins in 1778 in the General Lafayette Inn when only two brews flowed in the tap room: Yankee Brewdle Dandy and Loyalist Lager (which was poisoned).  Back then the locals knew the Inn as the Three Tuns Tavern—famous for both its alliteration as well as its happy hour Jagerbombs.  During the Revolutionary War, General Lafayette, a Frenchman who fought for the Americans, found himself cornered at the Inn by British troops.  Realizing, to his horror, that jagerbomb hour had ended, Lafayette planned his escape.  He challenged the opposing generals to snooker and darts and then snuck out the backdoor while the British were ordering drinks.  This account, incidentally, is fellow Discordian Dave Atsals’ interpretation of events.  I personally believe that Lafayette stayed for the beer and then snuck out before it was his turn to buy.

After the sun goes down at the Lafayette Inn the staff has reported strange occurrences—aside from the owner’s infatuation with finger puppets.  The corridors are haunted by the ghost of an old woman, bitching about the shoddy service and the lack of clean towels. There are lots of unexplained noises (other than Krazmoski’s less than pleasant reaction to onions…and finger puppets.)

Our para-abnormal investigation started with an intense two hour vigil in the bar area, which, after some pub grub, moved into the small, and quite haunted, pool room.  It is said that ghosts of patrons past often prop up the left corner in an effort to level the damn table.  In the wee hours, the hotel staff has reported strange wraith-like specters endlessly scratching at the ball return in their futile search for quarters.

For the next six hours we thoroughly interviewed several waitresses as well as one of Ranger Rick’s ex-girlfriends who, by all accounts, had a nice set of pookageists.  We took a series of pictures (mostly of those luscious pookageists) and used state of the art recording devices for our EVPs (Electronic Voice Phenomenon) to discover if the waitresses dug us.  One waitress seemed amused by our antics, but this—as is often the case—wore thin about halfway through her shift.  (This is a metaphor for the vast majority of my relationships.)

One waitress ended her workday only to return some time later in a more social capacity.  She was shocked to find us right where she had left us—in a drunken stupor, flittering with the next shift.

By then our investigation had moved from the stout and porter to the cask-conditioned IPA, which by all accounts was hauntingly yummy. As we dug deeper into this spooky site, several mysterious happenings unfolded.  These occurrences can not easily be dismissed or explained.  Despite hours of patronage, Bob never did try the well-crafted, hand-pumped porter.  More compelling still, Timmo ordered the French fries, yet never touched them, and, perhaps most queer, Pokey…

At one point I snuck up into the banquet room, but I couldn’t find any doors leading the lodging area.  Apparently, the only lodging on the premises involved a guest house around back.  No one sleeps in the main structure anymore, with the notable exception of Timmo who passed out for a short time in the men’s room.  The staff we interviewed knew of the ghost stories, but none had any recent experiences.  At around 2AM, however, something truly blood-curdling occurred.  The bartender stopped serving us alcohol and asked us to leave.

We asked if we could hold a séance after last call, but our pleas were met with only consternation.  It wasn’t like we were asking them to serve us drinks after hours—well, we did ask that…but it’s a reasonable request, right?  After all, to be in tune with the spirits, one must imbibe them, right?  Our impromptu séance by the restrooms availed us nothing, but we did manage to wake Timmo.

In desperation, we tried convincing several waitresses that sometimes a phenomenon of this type manifests around a particular person and is not connected to the actual structure itself.  The only way to rule this out was to go home with them and conduct a thorough investigation.  But alas, we soon found ourselves in the parking lot, chickless, clueless, and ghostless.  Luckily we agreed upon a three day investigation. We decided to meet up the next day for lunch—you know, when what’s-her-name starts her shift.

Putting the Mental Back in Fundamentalism

Mick Zano

Your assessment of fundamentalism is as flawed as your pal the ghetto shaman’s Barely Legal Kundalini Cruise (never again, by the way).  You insist that there are elements of traditionalism that are fundamental to our continued evolvement as a species.  Whereas this is inherently true, few, if any of these societal guidelines needs be legislated by our marred and battered legal system. What our laws need to focus on in the twenty-first century is mutual respect and mutual respect alone…you know, Ron Paul country.  If the spirit of mutual respect can be infused through our laws and our legal system (sorry, that’s too funny) then and only then will we retain this foundation of which you speak.  By respecting each stage and each level, and by allowing each individual to remain precisely where they are in the spectrum, is all that is necessary.  All the way from our Crank Manifesto’s orange/blue rants to our Ghetto Shaman’s…ahh, you know, I can’t actually figure that guy out.  By the way, the Ghetto Shaman has moved to Florida and is sending us his ‘column’ each week on badly stained bar coasters.  

Most of the traditions you insist on schlepping along, Mr. McDooris, have little to do with enlightenment.  Didn’t the Buddha himself abandon his family to become a carnie and then randomly killed young women for fun?  OK, maybe not…  You win that round, McDooris.  As for your other rebuttal: my personal ire for the Proposition 8 vote stemmed from the fact that so many people were motivated to overturn an existing law.  This is particularly disturbing when one views this vote from a historical context. Yes dear, our retirement plan has collapsed and, oh, the American way of life seems to be crumbling all around us, unemployment is up, and our neighbors are now homeless and hungry, but let’s take this opportunity to raise money to mess with the gays.  Our Crank’s argument, let them (Christians) have it, can easily be argued the other way.  Let them (gays) have it.  If you don’t believe in gay marriage Father Flannigan, stop frequenting those websites.  The retraction of that court decision would be a slap in the face for any group.  When I mess with gays it’s at a place called Peaches and Court and usually involves a very bad karaoke rendition of Mack the Knife (as God intended).

Pokey does have one very good point (besides the one at the top of his head).

You are very right about abortion. The rules surrounding abortion are too important.  Defining everything, in this particular instance, is crucial. Unfortunately, here’s the part where progressives tend to don their regressive caps.  The fact is, you can be a proponent of abortion rights and still realize that Roe vs. Wade was a ridiculous ruling.  Huh?  Yes, yes, black-and-white thinkers, I know—does not compute.  Study the decision and then get back to me.  I’m going to leave it at that.  I’m not in the mood.  Whether you are pro-choice or pro-life, it was the singularly strangest decision in American history—except maybe that time Dave Atsals was found not guilty of lewd and lascivious drunkenness.

The rest of traditionalism need not be legislated in any way.  These lifestyle choices will be decided individual by individual.  Granted, our collective trends may or may not destroy our culture, but our legal system can not, nor should not, be the champion here.  Mutual respect will allow the best chance of every person to achieve his or her best level of consciousness. Nothing else is necessary for our species to optimally embrace an integral worldview.  In other words, a hands off approach on the part of our legal system does not mean we will lose our ability to springboard your ‘project consciousness.’   In fact, it is a necessary ingredient for this consciousness soup you are brewing.  Speaking of brewing, why did that judge acquit Dave of lewd and lascivious drunkenness?  I mean, if you had been there…what else could one call that?

Help, I Accidentally Turned on Hannity’s America Last Week!

Mick Zano

I really don’t watch Hannity’s America, for obvious reasons, but what with the world ending and all, there was nothing else on…and, well, I guess I was kind of wondering if he was exhibiting anything resembling one of the three “R”s of incessantly wrongful journalism: remorse, regret, or reality. 

Admittedly, I only caught 20 minutes of the show as I had to turn on Saw II periodically to de-escalate.  But I have to say that I am truly stunned by how this guy operates.  He spent his hour-long show, or at least what I could stand of it, praising Bush. You heard right: an hour-long show, and—get this—he listed Bush’s “accomplishments.”  How many times can one say, “We haven’t been hit again since 9/11” and “Bush’s tax cuts should remain permanent”?  I suggest Mr. Hannity learn how to say them in other languages, to add both variety and a certain panache.  The most stunning thing uttered was this exchange between The Hannster and Karl Rove (paraphrased for your reading enjoyment): “Bush inherited a recession from Clinton—a recession—but where was the media outrage then?  Sure, now we’re in an economic slowdown….”

An economic slowdown?

I repeat: an economic slowdown.

W. inherited a “recession,” but this is an “economic downturn”?  Hannity can’t even say “recession” when a Republican is in office and never did mention the word to the best of my limited knowledge of him, unless of course referring to the “Great Clinton Recession of 1999,” where many a young executive consumed only 17 Mocha Deluxe Frappuccinos a day instead of 18.  Granted unemployment was up for a time, but the country stabilized relatively quickly.  This situation is a tad different.  And here is a prediction about Mr. Propaganda: He will only be able to say “depression” when he puts the word “Democratic” or “Obama” in front of it.  Trust me on this one. 

Now, I realize that Ann Coulter found a way to fill a niche.  She saw a business opportunity and plays things over the top, in the same way Howard Stern picks his questions for the barrage of naked lesbians flooding his studio.  Sean, though, is a White House spokesperson…but does he really believe the shit coming out of his own mouth?  I psychologically assess people for a living and often determine whether they need psychiatric inpatient care.  I have made my assessment.  Dr. Killpatient, have the Thorazine ready. 

Throughout the rest of the hour-long show, Sean repeatedly bludgeoned Al Gore for not practicing what he preaches and for politicizing global warming.  I actually agree that he has a point on this one—one I won’t even argue—but let’s juxtapose the articles in the paper from the same day that his show aired, shall we?  Funny thing; no Gore articles.  One news article discussed the arctic ice shelf’s precarious situation and how it is currently on the verge of collapsing outright, and the rest of the Drudge Report was filled to the brim with mind-numbingly bad news for the economy—again, all ignored.  Sean “forgot” to mention these current events during his Bush victory lap.  Oh, and let’s not forget his first riveting segment on Blagojevich and how corrupt all Illinois politicians are (hint, hint: Illinois). Who else is from Illinois?  Hmmm…? 

There should be warnings for this show, like “May induce vomiting,” or “Do not watch if taking nitrates, as this may cause an unsafe rise in blood pressure.”

Thank God for Saw II.

Hitch is Not Great: How Rationalists Are Wrong About One Thing

Mick Zano

During my recent interview with Christopher Hitchens, which occurred without his knowing, we—or more accurately, I—discussed his most recent book: God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything.  I originally titled this article “Hooray for the Hate-Monger Christopher Hitchens,” but my colleagues eventually nixed that idea.  Still squeamish about my recent Copenhagen foray into political cartooning, I heeded their advice.  I do, in all sincerity, applaud Christopher Hitchens, as both a journalist and a thinker.  I have thoroughly enjoyed the vast majority of his acerbic ruminations on any number of subjects. It is hard to argue with a rationalist, because they, by their very nature, tend to be…er, rational.  However, I cannot endorse the views he espouses in God Is Not Great, nor do I intend to stray into the dubious realms of irrationality.

From the perspective of Don Beck’s Spiral Dynamics theory—wherein various levels of human consciousness are color-coded—Hitchens is cheering the move from blue (fundamentalism) to orange (entrepreneurial/rational).  From the perspective of human development, this is a move in the right direction and—perhaps more importantly—better matches my vest.  Hitchens reports, in damning detail, the overwhelming short-sightedness of certain organized religious endeavors, namely, all of them.  He champions the exposure of that which is dogmatic and dangerous, and I agree that the world would indeed be a better place without all of today’s endless Faith Based Stupidity (FBS).

In college I would have heeded his clarion call, ditched my Jesus-shaped air freshener, and sported my atheistic animosity with pride.  In my 20s, I, too, discovered the inherent illogic and endless contradictions riddling Catholicism.  I should point out that made me a late bloomer by Hitchens’ standards, as he was already pointing out Old Testament inconsistencies at age nine (the erudite little shit).  Not to be outdone, I managed to trick a DJ into playing “Hell’s Bells” at my church confirmation dance (true story).  We will let you decide, fair reader, which accomplishment is more important to humanity.

I find Hitchens’ omission of a segment on enlightenment and spirituality very telling.  On that front, he offers nothing, nada, nichts!  Not even a cursory glance at the possibility of something beyond his curmudgeonly cosmopolitanism.  “Our place in the cosmos is so unimaginably small,” Hitchens asserts, “that we cannot, with our miserly endowment of cranial matter, contemplate it for long at all.”  First off, leave my apartment and my brain capacity out of this!  Second, here is where millions may beg to differ:  What about meditation?  Or gnawing on Amazonian roots during a nude Yoga session?  Oh wait, I promised not to do this…

Let’s stick to rationality.  Hitchens profusely thanks Peter and Rosemary Grant—two Princeton-based evolutionary biologists following in Darwin’s footsteps—by saying, “We are in their debt.  Their lives were harsh, but who could wish that they had mortified themselves in a holy cave or on top of a sacred pillar instead?”  I found his rhetorical question quite interesting, considering that mankind’s first art surfaced via tripping primeval cave-dwelling shamans (TPCDS).  In fact, such troglodytes not only created the world’s first art, but arguably lifted humanity from the Neolithic realms outright.  These postulations are being embraced not only by crackpots like The Daily Discord’s Ghetto Shaman, but by mainstream archeologists, using that pesky scientific method of theirs.  Perhaps if the Grants squatted in a cave long enough, they would have gained even deeper insights into the animals they studied. The latest research in physics, consciousness studies, and emotional intelligence are compelling, but hardly reductionist.

The real heavyweight round came when Hitchens turned his grievous Gatling gun on Buddhism.  (In all fairness, he did give the Dalai Lama a ten-second head start.)  It’s actually fairly short chapter.  The first half can be summarized as “My Terrible Experience in Some Buddhist Rip-Off Retreat,” while the second half portrays the Dalai Lama rolling around in defeat, cupping his nads.  I do believe, Mr. Hitchens, that a weekend at Bangkok Bernie’s does not a religion make.  

Hitchens takes exception to the claim that the Dalai Lama is preordained to rule, and chides the exiled leader of Tibet for hanging around with the likes of Richard Gere.  I have to say, I am in complete agreement with Hitch on this one…I mean, come on, Richard Gere?  The book does shed considerable light on some of the historical problems that Buddhism had faced.  At his best, Hitchens is exposing the vast array of history’s faithular faux pas (“Faithular” is a word; I saw it on The Colbert Report).

Hitchens concludes with a scathing assessment of Nirvana-seekers (the spiritualist kind, not the band groupies), proclaiming that they “may believe that they are leaving the realm of the despised materialism, but they are in fact putting their reason to sleep and discarding their minds along with their sandals.”

He is simply wrong on this point.  The Buddhist debate is legendary and logical.  Believers following the dharma typically counted their breaths, meditated, and attained a deeper understanding of the world and the Universe (not to mention Thai hookers).  The Dalai Lama is not afraid of scientific discourse.  In fact, it is an interest of his (science, not hookers).  He welcomes Western scientific knowledge and its capacity to prove or disprove Buddhist assertions by putting them through the rigors of scientific testing.  In fact, the Dalai Lama proposes that any aspect of the dharma to be proven false should be stuffed in a small sock and mailed to the Pope.

Hitchens, like most men of Western science, has always placed the objective on a pedestal and the subjective in the shitter. But beware “rationalists,” for these turd-crusted subjective realms are no longer so easily flushable, especially in the wake of certain “enlightening” studies.  The work of Daniel Goleman follows the discourse between a group of Western scientists and Tibetan Buddhists on the subject of destructive emotions.  When you have a well-trained objective interviewer and a well-trained subject hooked up to a neuro-imaging machine, we go beyond what is commonly dismissed as “subjective.”

Hitchens, apparently oblivious to such endeavors, at one point railed against scripture for imploring its disciples to banish any impure thoughts: “If God really wanted people free of such thoughts, he should have taken more care to invent a different species.”  The latest neuro-imaging techniques on the brains of habitual meditators and Buddhist monks are finding this “new species.”  These individuals seem to possess an almost superhuman ability to avoid common negative emotional pitfalls on a neural level!  They are not faking it.

Hitchens himself admits that the human brain is a “work in progress.”  So why discount the beliefs of those whose brains seem to be more disciplined, more organized, and functioning more efficiently?  A bevy of other recent studies suggest meditation increases blood flow to the brain and even thickens the cerebral cortex itself (but in a good way)!  Meditative practices can also combat pain, reduce stress, and boost the immune system.  Introspection and subjective techniques have produced observable/objective improvements in the function of the brain.  Looks like the William James gang rides again!

“What does this have to do with religion?” I can almost hear Hitchens mutter.  Well, Mr. Mutterer, the vast majority of these new and improved sapiens tend to catch glimpses of an ordered universe in these “subjective” states.  They see further and clearer; and, although much of their visions are inherently ineffable, a vivid picture of the universe emerges—an order almost ubiquitous amongst this brand of meditators, or Meditoranians, as Dr. Sterling Hogbein calls them.

This movement is growing and not, as in the case of Islam, by sheer numbers alone.  It is perpetually improving itself by incorporating Western thought to encompass and transcend what has come before it.  A person with an enlightened perspective would agree with many of this book’s claims and conclusions, for they are historically accurate and, therefore, irrefutable.  But I might suggest approaching this issue from a more integral perspective.  In other words, I’ll bring the booze, Hitch, and you bring the Thai hookers.

Haunted Gettysburg

Mick Zano

The night was moist and clingy like a BBQ-sauce-smeared wet nap. A damp chill hung in the air like a BBQ-sauce-smeared wet nap. OK, I’m out of similes. I got nothing. As fate would have it, there were far too many eateries and drinkeries within walking distance of our hotel to do any justice to the ghosts of Gettysburg. In a spirits vs. spirits grudge-match in my world, the carboxyl group version trumps ectoplasm every time. Some people shake at the sight of spirits; I shake when I don’t get enough of the other kind.

In preparation for our Gettysburg ghost hunt, I asked my wife to pack the Ouija board. We had planned to hold a candlelight vigil—illegally at midnight—in Gettysburg battlefield (and throw in some of that chocolate body frosting for good measure, sweetie). For those appalled by the imagery, remember, this is a spooky article. If you really can’t handle it, just think of my wife.

Armed with the latest paranormal research
equipment, my wife checks out some dudes

As it turns out, we had not packed the Ouija board, but instead packed the kid’s Jumanji game (I can’t make this stuff up, people). Well, at least it wasn’t Monopoly—we own the Pokeman edition, which I am reasonably convinced would be an affront to all spirits lurking in the Gettysburg region. Jumanji is at least a scary movie, so the themed board game could potentially work to our favor. You see? Aside from my incessant negativity, I am the eternal optimist. Now, if I had only brought Pokey’s bongos.

Armed with only an umbrella, a board game, a semi-chewed wad of gum, and some small bits of string, we headed toward the Devil’s Den. Prior to the Civil War massacres, the American Indians had already deemed the place “heap spooky.” It did warm my heart to discover that the gazillion Americans, who had butchered each other there, did so to the back drop of some pretty groovy free-standing boulders. Apparently, a primeval snake, called the devil, inhabited the place while feeding on unsuspecting tourists throughout the eighties.

As we approached that dreaded domain, an exigent fear crept into our souls like an eldritch cloud of necrophagous shadows. Amidst a foul unearthly stretch of hillside, above the ghoulish din of the myriad of Gettysburg ghost tourers, we heard the whirring and flapping of huge membranous wings. A church bell tolled thrice in the distance before an Angus Young rift split the night (Sorry, Hells Bells is my ring tone).

“Ah, yeah Dave, I’m in the battlefield now—covering the story. You’re not coming? And you say ‘m’ abstains? Loser.”

As I hung-up on loser man, a smell beyond putridity escaped from the most unfathomable, ineffable depths of that ancient necropolis.

Note to self: never eat the chili dogs at Ernie’s Texas Lunch.

Just after dusk, we played Jumanji amidst the lichen-covered ruins of that dark and terrible place. The game was never finished…we lost the instructions.

Sadly, our investigation revealed very little. We never returned to Devil’s Den for our late night séance (we ran out of body frosting). Instead, we poked around a place known as the “the grove,” where the battle for East Cemetery Street once raged. Besides, it was closer to the pubs. We did get scared witless upon our return to town—the humidor had already closed and only the Lincoln Diner was still serving food. I did catch one green orb in the upper right hand corner of a picture taken in the basement of the Farnsworth Bed & Breakfast. However, our parabnormal research team is convinced the mysterious anomaly is simply the spirit of Kazoo. You know, when the Flintstones ‘jumped the shark’ by adding a Martian to their prehistoric antics.

All things considered, the most frightening place in and around Gettysburg remains Gettybrew, one of the lousiest brewpubs north or south of the Mason Dixon Line. A year earlier, myself and fellow Discordian Pokey McDooris ventured into this spooky joint and, much to our horror, we accidentally ordered two samplers of the beer (served in wine glasses—monstrous, unfinishibly-large wineglasses—for seven dollars a pop. For the love of god, Montrisoure!) Already fourteen dollars in the hole, we could not muster more than a sip from each of the foamlessly flat brews. Ultimately, negotiations from the headless brewer of creepy hollow broke down, when we less than tactfully explained, in American Indian, how the beer “sucked big wampum.”

Years later I can still taste the phantom foam, those haunted hops, and that narley barley of Getttybrew. I still recall the words of that old gypsy barmaid: “Even beer brewed well by day, can become skunked when the skunk bane grows, and the kegs are exposed to light.” Mwahahahaha.

Thus Spake Zanothustra

Mick Zano

Dear Goomis,

Dilemma?  Mwaah?  I have simply stated ad infinitum that America will not survive eight years of George W. Bush (Me, 2004).  I am not particularly happy about this development, because this is the country where I happen to get drunk a lot.  As to your point about the Bush years being over, they most certainly are not.  I’m stunned that this man is still making decisions (if you can call them that).  He just appointed a man who pissed away more money on this ‘bailout plan’ than, well…than Bush himself did in the seventies.  Let’s be clear, Barak Obama only has about a fifteen percent chance of limping this country along, but in the immortal words of Leslie Neilson, “There’s only about a ten percent chance of that.”

The best case scenario for our county is extraordinarily gloomy, Goomy, but only for those material-minded amongst us.  For the rest of us, this may be an exciting opportunity to live out all those exciting reality television shows.  Lost?  You better believe we are.  World’s dirties jobs?  It’s back to digging your own outhouse. World’s nastiest food guy?  We’re all going on the Renfield diet-plan soon enough.  Oh, and let’s see how long Survivor Man lasts in a Long Island Wal-Mart holding the last bushel of apples. I can’t wait for that one. 

Many tried to protect their assets by voting for the Republicans in 2004.  Some of us made comments to the Wayne Rogers and Ben Steins of the world at that time; I suggested that they use the money to build bunkers (Me, 2004).  Now, a few short years later, we are facing an economic collapse, two endless wars, and a constitutional crisis.   The trick is never to damage the constitution in the first place.  The trick is not to follow Russia or England’s lead into an endless imperialistic nation-building project (solo). The trick is not to squander the credibility that this country took over two-hundred years to develop.  The trick is not to tank a virtually unsinkable economy.  Make no mistake—the damage has been done. There is very little to do now, except stockpile canned goods. The “One” is done before he even gets to bat.  Hope is nice and all, but it won’t pay the bills.  Hope was in 2004.  Captain cardboard might have been able to do something back then.  The times they are a changing, and the really tough choices should have been made long ago. Thomas Friedman continues to be a real leader in this department, and I hope Obama heeds his advice. 

As for your comment about asking them (Al-Qaeda) why they hate us, well…I’m sure they have a host of legitimate reasons and a host of illegitimate ones—which still does not excuse one item on a terrorist organization’s agenda.  This is another example of the FOX News fallacy (FNF).  FOX paints anyone who questions our strategy as an appeaser and pools anyone who questions Bush in with the denialist squad.  Pacifistic appeasers are rampant in the US and they function predominately at a ‘green’ level of consciousness.  I have referred to these folks as the ‘Bake Al-Qaeda Brownies people.’  They are the main targets of the FOX News All-stars.  It is noble to be pacifistic but unrealistic when it comes to terrorist organizations.  These liberal pluralists are unfortunately the main justification for the right’s ongoing stupidity.  

The republican agenda has coddled these corporate criminals.  The Dems, not wanting to be outdone, have now thrown their hat into the ring and are predominately responsible for the current sub-prime mortgage crises.  Our President, always ready to up the stupidity ante, has now compounded the problem by doing something about it.  Hooray for George W. Bush, the anti-King Midas, the man who turns everything he touches into shit.

At the last Republican Convention, Duncan Hunter stated “America doesn’t apologies to anyone” (that was embarrassing).  Michael Moore described pre-war Iraq like Disneyland (that was embarrassing).  The problem with most Americans is that they only have a visceral response to one or the other, but not both statements.  That’s the polarization of America under Rove; that’s the closing of the American mind.  You yourself only here one side of the argument and at this point probably always will.  If you are happy with either party at this point, you’re sniffing glue (Me, 2006). The Democrats scare the shit out of me.  Obama’s going to spend?  What money?  Our deficit has reached a point of absurdity.  Someone said that “people choose a party out of ignorance and stay with that party out of pride.”  Never has that statement been more true than today.

I supported the war in Afghanistan, but watched stunned as our army pinned Bin Laden up in the hills of Tora Bora almost to the moment Bush systematically diverted 70 million dollars (without congressional approval) toward the invasion of Iraq (the first of many impeachable offenses).  I knew then that this was a turning point for the United States of America.  Iraq needed to be sanctioned, watched, and maybe even invaded, but not amidst the pleas for patience by inspectors like Hans Blix.   I protested ‘Shock and Awe’ day along with three other people.  We were beeped at, jeered at, and flipped-off by our hometown ‘patriots.’   I was made to feel un-American by the likes of Sean Hannity, a man who championed the long string of White House policies that have crippled our country.  Sean has essentially been wrong about everything with the sole exception that ‘there are bad people out there, who mean to harm us.’  Very astute, dip shit.  You know when I figured that out, Sean? 9-fucking-11. The difference between you and I is that I’ve figured out a lot of other things since then. 

Of course, all of the blame doesn’t go to the Bushter; this is a systemic problem, but his catastrophic leadership during a critical juncture in our country’s history has dealt a major blow to our credibility and our future.  He is the symbol of everything that is wrong with our country.  Here comes Incurious George donning his emperor’s new clothes as he water boards his way to world freedom. 

What hurt Al-Qaeda most since the onset of the ‘war on terror’ was the election of one Barak Hussein Obama.  This did not cripple the top leadership of Al-Qaeda but it will help with the soft war, and it could hinder Al-Qaeda’s ability to recruit.  In other words, they will have less people available to fly in the planes that crash into our buildings. 

FACT:  Every NIE report states Al-Qaeda is alive and well and many have reported that the organization has strengthened since 9-11.

FACT: Having two-story billboard pics of Abu Ghraib atrocities (sanctioned by the Bushies) in downtown Tehran has been a tremendous recruitment tool for those who mean us harm.

FACT: Instead of winning one war in Afghanistan, we are losing two wars.  Iraq is an endless, billion dollars a week, stalemate at best.

FACT: We are heading toward bankruptcy.  The American way of life is a  crumbling house of cards.

FACT: To gain intelligence you gain trust.  Every intelligence agency in the last two centuries knows this, so donning your ‘I’d Rather Be Wateboarding’ t-shirt only shows the world that you’re functioning at a staggeringly low level of consciousness.

Much to the chagrin of the Hannity’s of the world, stating these facts does not place me into the ‘Bake Al-Qaeda Brownies’ club. They are simply painful facts about the last eight years under our country’s gross mismanagement.

For the last decade my fellow Discordians have been discussing a series of events that, sadly, have all come to pass.  Here’s what we’re talking about now:

NEXT FACT: Capitalism became super capitalism became super (imaginary) capitalism.  

NEXT FACT: Now we are discussing the less pleasant aspects of a societal collapse…things like food and water shortages. 

NEXT FACT: We have re-watched every Road Warrior movie, without popcorn, to prepare for the inevitable.

You’re prediction, Goomis, that the economy will turn around in a few months, is a continuation of the FOX delusion.  Time to pull those plugs from your head and climb out of the tub any time, Keanu.  You stated in your rebuttal that the last time you checked this was a democracy.  Last time I checked, we had war criminals in the White House—individuals far above the rule of law.  Like it or not our government is a joke and we have slipped quietly into banana-republic-land (BRL).  You are right about one thing; it is time to look to the future…a future that will be very different than the “FOX News All Stars” are predicting.  And, yes, they will call it the Obama Depression, because they are assholes.

But I’ll tell you what, I’ll try to make this my last rant on Bush (operative word, try).  And how about I save your socialist comments for the next rebuttal?  I need to buy some more pancake mix for my latest venture, the ‘Hot Cakes for Hezbollah’ program.

Sincerely,

Mick Zano

Mawiage, Mawiage, that Dweam Within a Dweam

Mick Zano

I live in one of the three hundred cities that protested the November 15th passing of Proposition 8.  I witnessed hundreds of people spouting spiritual slogans about ‘loving others’ and caring for their ‘life partners’, awful hate-mongering ideas.  Bright rainbowy colors bounced off an army of poster board like flowery daggers of doom.  Cruising by, I felt anger well-up in the pit of my stomach for these caring thoughtful protestors.  Where were the smoke bombs, the riot gear, or the people being bodily dragged into paddywagons?  Are these people puftas or something?

The juxtaposition of world events was somehow apropos.  Bush met on this same day with world leaders to say, “Yeah, like, we suck.  I suck.  Everyone I ever appointed sucks.  Yeah…Paulson pretty much sucks too.”  Bush went on to say that the bumps you feel are car-sized asteroids smashing into the hull.  Also, we’re heading right for the sun and can’t seem to change course.”  To address the scores of world leaders shouting, “What aren’t you telling us?”  He added, “We’re almost out of coffee.”  (Don’t you miss the Zucker brothers?)

Could you imagine the mayhem that would have ensued if kernels of truth actually emerged at this summit? Maybe truth isn’t always the right option.  Such a speech would dance dangerously close to something called ‘accountability,’ and we certainly can’t have any of that.  So let’s just blame Germany.  Anyway, it’s nice to know that almost to the very day that our economy collapsed around our feet, we still had the time, funds, and vitriol to fuck with some of our friends and neighbors—makes me all warm and fuzzy inside. 

Let’s look at marriage…that dweam within a dweam.  Your church can choose to recognize any union or you personally can choose to recognize any union.  As for legal issues, please leave your bias in the pews.  This is supposed to be a time of healing.  Why get out the salt and lemon juice now?  A lot of money was raised—even amidst the Wall Street woes—to take away existing rights. 

What drove people to do this?  The world of compassionate conservatism is a farce, people.  My dad said it best, “Lately Republicans only care about you if you’re unborn, frozen, or brain dead.”  Please start to rethink your views, people, because, frankly, they suck.

In 2004, shortly before the last election, I was at a party in central Pennsylvania, then my home.  Standing in someone’s kitchen around a keg (which is a law in PA by the way), the topic naturally drifted to the upcoming election.  The man leading the conversation was not going to support Senator Kerry, because of his views on gay marriage.  Knowing, even then, that four more years of this president would end our superpower status, I had to leave.  Speaking my peace while maintaining my composure seemed unlikely.  Besides, the keg had kicked.   Why does this issue resonate with people?  Why is it so important to straight people to affirm their straightness?

I am socially liberal, but fiscally conservative.  Let me explain why this somewhat unusual combo may be the needed second-tier approach to politics.  The government can’t, nor shouldn’t, fix millions of people’s laziness and/or stupidity.  Ideally, we should focus on supporting the truly needy and help the temporarily downtrodden get back on their feet.  This is the point where we should draw the line.  This approach is both worth the money and is our moral obligation as humans.  To do more, however, actually breeds a welfare state and exacerbates a host of physical and emotional problems known as Dem-entia.  Frankly, it is not realistic even under the best of circumstances to throw money around to the perpetually undeserving.  It is a trap that Obama must avoid.  People will endlessly milk the system as they slip into lower and lower levels of consciousness.  Twenty years of social service work has taught me one thing…don’t work in the field of social services. 

Furthermore, being socially liberal means everyone is entitled to their own beliefs and, in a nut shell, even if I don’t agree with you, I’m going to leave you the hell alone (particularly if it doesn’t affect me).  People are not stopping gay marriage because they think certain couples shouldn’t share the same legal rights and privileges as other straight couples; most of these people are having a visceral response.  They are acting against gayness—it’s bigotry, nothing more, nothing less.  Allowing gay marriage does not have to shatter your worldview.  It is the nice thing to do, and it is the right thing to do.  Legislating morality, if that’s what this is, is a fool’s errand, which is why so many of our less progressive pastors (LPPs) are so busy lately (well, maybe they’ll lay off the children).  

Here is my version of the political perspective score card.  There is something to be said for libertarianism.  Our ability to progress unhindered at each level and at each stage of our personal growth is a fundamental right.  AKA, piss off.  I might even vote libertarian, if I can ever stop laughing at their choice of candidate.  There is also something to be said for liberalism, namely, other people are people too.  They have a point of view that may differ from yours but that does not make them scary, nor does it necessarily make them enemies.  Old school conservatism has fiscal conservatism and small government in its corner.  For the life of me, however, I can not think of one thing social conservatism has going for it—unless you are hip on driving this country into a third-world status.  I can’t stomach even a sip from this punch.  It is supposedly based on the importance of nurturing and maintaining someone’s idea of core American values.  This argument is essentially meaningless.  What they fail to understand is that everyone shares those values—anyone who matters, anyway.  Only they are trying to silence all dissenting views and claiming a monopoly on these so called values.

Ken Wilber asserts that we must transcend and include—that progress to higher stages is hinged on incorporating and preserving that which is fundamental and true.  The definition of marriage does not necessarily fall under this jurisdiction.  This is one core truth that needs filed or flushed.  Rigidity in this matter is part of the problem, not the solution.  Some will argue that we will lose our way; that whites will be the minority; that our numbers are dwindling, and homosexuals unions will only exacerbate this while shaking the foundations of the traditional family.  Have you wandered around lately?  Any loving parents should be hired, immediately.  They are endangered, whether the child is raised by gays, straights, or wolves.

I don’t think enraging an entire faction of our society is going to win any hearts and minds, or sway anyone to your Leave it to Beaver sympathies.  It’s not going to save your version of America.  Mutual respect is what we should be embracing.  Respect is transformational—not some definition of an ‘appropriate’ union.  If we’re going to rally around something, let’s try respect for change.  Respect is the endangered species here, right Rodney?

The bottom line is this: the backlash against religion by progressives is warranted.  The dismantling of proposition 8 is further proof of a disconnect—not a return to our roots—but a gap in reasoning the size of the Grand Canyon.  I don’t see any Osmond Christmas Specials over on Walton’s Mountain in my neighborhood.  This is the wrong battle at the wrong time.  Stopping people from marrying who they want is not going to move this world any closer to your fantasy-ass Rockwell painting.  Social conservatives deserve the wrath of Maher and Hitchens.  Unless your goal is to destroy all credibility for the spiritual-minded individuals of this world, it is time to sit the hell down, put the five-spot into the basket, and pray for some common sense. 

A Brief History of Anything

Mick Zano

How do I condense forty years of life-knowledge into a single Discord column?   OK, more accurately, how do I fill the whole column?  After four decades, I find myself knowing suspiciously little—masters level little—on-line masters level little (or OLMLL to those who can still tolerate our lousy acronym jokes).  Whereas I have predicted many recent political events—or more accurately, their horrific ramifications—I hardly think it took much insight.  I’ve never felt smarter than any U.S. president, until now.  But thanks anyway, W, for playing your own small part in the boosting of my self esteem.  Granted, it’s at the cost of the American way of life, but che sara.  In fact, Che Guevara for all I care.

What could I impart in one column? What must be included in my own very brief history of anything?  It has been said that the more we learn, the less we know, and I think I’m finally there. I know nothing.  Nothing.  Nada.  Nichts.  But, for the sake of argument, let’s review what I do know.  I know all of the Brady’s, some of the Partridges, and I can guess any Star Trek episode within the first five minutes.  OK, I used to be able to do that, but then I met girls.  They of course rejected me, so now I’ve cut that time down to thirty seconds.  As for dating, I have only one kernel of wisdom: never show them any of your Star Trek video collection! Ever! I’ve been married for ten years and those tapes are still locked in boxes marked Old Tax Returns.

On history, I have this to say. It is most certainly NOT bunk!  Not remotely bunkesque or even bunk-like for that matter.  Deem it bunk, world leaders, and you may end up in a bunker with his-and-hers cyanide capsules. As my seventh grade history teacher use to say, “Those who ignore history are destined to repeat it.”  She also warned me of this in the eighth and ninth grades respectively (I never studied).  Case in point: Che Guevara played for the Dodgers, didn’t he? Even if curious George is suddenly interested in American history—ironically the very man bringing America face-to-face with it. I also believe there may be more to myth than meets the eye. It is becoming apparent that there is meaning in myth, more meaning than a once rationalist-minded-type would dare admit.

Here are a few key points regarding the last forty-thousand years of human development:

Music: The members of the band Led Zeppelin are the archetypal rock gods, not the Stones.  So please Prince whatsas, Knight Sir. Robert and Sir Jimmy, pronto, and break out those shoes with the little bells for Sir. Mick.

Sports: I hate to quote Barry Melrose on this one, but, “Other sports are for people who can’t play hockey.”  It’s the only sport worth playing or watching. If you don’t agree, you are either way too into sports, or, more likely, you can’t play hockey.

Movies: Really suck lately.

Parenting: Sell all of your children for scientific experiments.  I’m kidding, of course.  Just sell the ones you don’t like.

Media: Has really tanked in recent years.  They should all be ashamed of themselves.  Except Giraldo.  He’s a god among men.

Politics: (see Media)

God: (see Giraldo)

Excuse me while I climb onto my soap box for a moment.  Remember Erikson’s stages of development?  Well, I don’t, but the fact remains, genuine growth is impossible for anyone who regularly watches American Idol.  Most people these days can’t seem to find anything productive to do. Some people even resort to starting pseudo-journalistic/editorial blog/websites thingies.  Fools!  Evolve or dissolve.  This is the information age, so access some.  Downloading porn doesn’t count.  And you had better get started. It takes a lot of work to discover that you don’t know anything.  Nothingness has been very rewarding for me—in its own empty, vacuous, someone-please-kill-me, kind of way.

Finally, personal growth is almost non-existent in the masses. It’s no coincidence that in the realms of awareness entire swaths of our society are loping off like heads at an Al-Qaeda press conference.  Why are we all on meds, you ask?  Might it have something to do with the air, the water, the drugs, the beer, the high fructose corn syrup, the apathy, the fear mongering, and the central point of the Universe where all of this happiness percolates known as the recliner?

Long term fulfillment is not likely to have anything to do with sex, food, drugs, or video games (the fab four in my neighborhood).  These ‘hobbies’ may serve us well into our mid-twenties, but then it it’s time to turn the page (even if it’s sticky), put down the chips (even if they’re Doritos), and join a wellness class (even if it’s Midget Reiki with our own Ghetto Shaman).

However you do it, get wellness soon. I think that’s a rap.  Don’t get me started on rap…

Spiral Dynamics and American Politics

Mick Zano

I do not write this column as a proud defeatocrat, as an anti-American conspiracy theorist, or even as a terminal glass-half-emptier…I’m just calling it as I sees’ it, folks.  The next president will have one hell of a time turning the ship around: we, as a country, have hit the iceberg and are taking on water.  America is at that point in The Poseidon Adventure at which we can follow either Red Buttons’ character to the stern of the ship or Gene Hackman’s to the bow.  You might be asking yourself, ‘Weren’t the folks who followed Gene Hackman rescued at the end?’  You’re not getting it…I’m casting America in the role of Shelley Winters.

Frankly, I’m amazed things have held together this long.  I’m stunned by how much stupidity ensued before our S.S. Economy listed to port. We should be proud of an economy like this—virtually unsinkable, it was.  So unsinkable, in fact, that it almost made it through eight years of Supremes mismanagement.   Stop! In the name of love, before you break my bank.  Not only has the sub-prime mortgage crises shaken us to our core, but our problems are magnified by those untold zillions pumped into Bush’s unnecessary debacle.  I’m talking about the Bush Library, of course.  How many translations of My Pet Goat does the world really need, anyway?  No, you can’t hurry jokes; no, you’ll just have to wait.

It’s easy to play the blame game after the fact, so let me break down current events instead.  Beck and Cowan’s Spiral Dynamic model begins with the ‘Red’ perspective: tribalism, wherein children shoot up our schools and terrorists fly planes into our buildings.  Really, what do you expect from people stuck on tribalism?  They’ve got issues.  The best way to deal with these folks is to meet them on a level playing field, then use artillery to level that playing field some more.  This is about the only credit I will (possibly ever) give the Bush administration.  Something did need to be done…just not any of the things we actually went and did.

Our government, namely the Bush Administration, functions at a predominately ‘Orange-Blue’ level, although it seems downright ‘red’ at times.  How is it possible to lose a PR war with a bunch of baby-strapping, suicide-bombing zealots, you ask?  For starters, you can’t win the war of ideas if you don’t have any of your own.  When your brain is attached to a political strategist named Karl, who wanders off halfway through your administration, well, trouble may be afoot.  

This ‘Blue’ level includes good old fashioned fundamentalism.  Fundamentalism supports important aspects of human development, but it’s also Bin laden with Laden’s and is fraught with Haggerts and Swaggerts.  This subject is covered in Dr. Sterling Hogbein’s riveting masterpiece, Falwell to Alms, which has yet to find a suitable publisher (and needs to be translated from his early crayon period).

‘Orange’ level is McCain Country, the Straight Talk Depress, entrepreneurs, rationalists, and a host of postmodern yumminess, lightly dusted with coconuts.  I operated from ‘Orange’ most of my life, and it was good clean fun.

Green (liberalism) is arguably a higher perspective, but they’re not ripe yet, so I wouldn’t do anything rash like vote for one.  ‘Green’ is Al Gore country, and his brand of environmental pluralism is not without merit.  Leave ‘Green’ unchecked, however, and you get fanatical efforts to save the Paraguay Paramecium, Meat is Murder homicide squads, and Operation Bake Brownies for Al-Qaeda.  In defense of folks like Gore, it isn’t easy being ‘Green.’ Surprisingly, Kermit functions on an integral level and thinks Gore is an asshole.

No matter who wins this election, we, as a nation, will have a higher-operating captain.  It may be wishful thinking, but I’m still hoping that Barack Obama is at least a ‘Yellow’ or ‘Turquoise’ level thinker (post modernist, second-tier), possibly the best colors since Bush Senior yukked on that Japanese Prime Minister, way back yen.

Even McCain’s ‘Orange’ would have been welcome over Bush’s ‘Orange-Blue.’  Some feared this political dice roll, but I’ll take my chances with a world-centric, fiercely intelligent, post modernist every time.  Staying the course is not an option.  In fact, there was never a course to stay.  They made it up as they went along—and badly at that.  It was like watching the last season of the X-Files on DMT.  Never do that by the way.  Shrooms and Robot Chicken is the only way to go.

I do implore the American people to put a priority on fixing this country, so that, if nothing else, Lou Dobbs will shut the fuck up! But he’s right, of course: we’ve given up on educating our children; we are losing the war on drugs, as well as the war on terror, and we have less actual freedom now than a gay Taliban priestess in Damascus.  (That is not a reference to the band by the same name, by the way…I love them.) It’s like Sheryl Crow always says: “Stop calling me, you fucking sicko.”  Wait, I mean the other thing she says: “A change will do you good.”  This change may be arriving a wee bit late, however, so in the immortal words of Edward R. Olbermann, “good night, and good luck.”

Congressman Paul Broun: I Call You Out, You Civics Class Dropout Douchebag!

Mick Zano

Integral minded people do not stoop to segments entitled, ‘Worst Person in the World,’ nor do they deem others ‘Enemies of the Week,’ and they certainly do not put people ‘on notice’ for any of their political beliefs. We shouldn’t even ‘wag our finger’ at anyone unless, in doing so, it is hoped to guide them back onto the path toward enlightened self-realization.  Instead of these crass attacks upon people’s character, we are going to start our own column: ‘I’m Calling You Out, You Civics Class Dropout Douchebag!’  This week, on our first second-tier inspired mission of ‘I’m Calling You Out, You Civics Class Dropout Douchebag,’ we focus on nudging Georgia Rep. Paul Broun toward something people at the edge of the Republican cocoon are referring to as ‘reality.’  Think of it like Sarah Palin staring at those distant Russian shores through her 600 dollar Oakley sunglasses.  Vague shapes are appearing on those far away conservative beachheads all around America.  Congressman, some of your brethren are wrestling with their souls and the future of Republicanism.  You can join the pity party any time.

In a report to the Associated Press recently, Rep. Broun stated that he was worried about the Obama Administration pursuing Gestapo-like tactics to enforce a ‘radical Marxism.’  So much for an Obama honeymoon period.  The guy hasn’t even written his manifesto yet, and you’re judging him?

Let me splain.  No, that will take too long. Let me sum up.  Having Gestapo-like tactics for any cause is the problem. When you give up on the systems of checks and balances that has sustained our democracy…well, let’s backup for a moment by pulling forward.  Obama is probably not going to pursue radical Marxism, although Duck Soup was a classic in any circle.  The problem is, and has always been, your guy.  Bush dismantled two hundred years of the delicate balance of power, so now Obama has the ability to do the very things you fear.  You were not crying when one of your guys trashed the constitution, because he would only use this power to get the bad guys.But now you are beginning to see the possible ramifications of your short-sighted anti-Americanism.   Yes, dismantling the forefather’s vision of our democracy is anti-American.  If the founding fathers ever met Sean Hannity in a dark alley, a blanket party would no doubt ensue.  You can bet that they would be sticking more than a feather in his cap.

Let’s use a fictional analogy.  Remember when Frodo wielded the Ring of Power back in middle-Earth?  He started out as an innocent, but the absolute power of the ring corrupted him by the third movie. And I think Samwise Gamgee did things to him while he slept (that’s just a theory).  OK, bad example, but disturbing none the less.

You missed the main point, congressman, and not just of that tangential Tolkien analogy.  You missed this point when it was actually important.  You know, when you could have spoken out and hindered our president’s grasp toward absolute power.  Where were you when Bush released his goblins into Rohan from the spires of Isengard?  If it’s going to be socialism now, so be it.  When you find yourself in a banana republic, make with the splits.  Don’t forget, congressman, Canada has beer and hockey.   Perhaps in practice of this new distribution of power, you should donate half of your annual salary to charities.  You know, for practice.  If Obama does turn out to be a monster, remember, you created him.  You forged the ‘one ring’ in the fires of Mt. Doom (aka, Atlanta).  Republicans—those true blooded slices of ‘real’ America—are the doctor Frankensteins of our time. Whatever the future holds, the reparation check is on your hands.  Whatever ill-conceived super agenda is pushed by any and all future presidents—in any and all ideological directions—you bear some of the blame.  You get what you deserve.  Didn’t you read my article on Bush, Fascism, and the other ‘N’ Word?   The article is based on actual, real life—happening right now—fascist moments in America, which you, sir, supported.  The fear of nefarious evil ideologies that may creep up from the liberal bowels of bureaucracy really pales in comparison to what has already been done to our country.  You have fallen for what has come to be known as the pre-Poke fallacy.  For that I am calling you out to a Zell Miller style duel!  Meet me outside of Roosevelt Middle School at 3:15PM (after shop class).   I’m going to open up a jar of integral whoop-ass on your sorry civicsless brain pan, congressman.  Then we can price some condos in Alberta.