Spirituality & Enlightenment

Spirituality & Enlightenment


Tony Ballz

Last month, Pope Francis shocked the world of Christianity by stating the concept of hell was merely a metaphor for being separated from God’s love and was not an actual place where sinners burned in eternal damnation, hosted by the little red guy with the horns and the pitchfork. Yesterday, the Pope had this to say:

“Gosh, we’re real real REAL sorry. We figured you morons would catch on a few centuries ago, what with the Age Of Enlightenment and all that, but it just kept going and no one wanted to let the cat out of the bag. Looks like I’m the bad guy now. Whaddya gonna do?

“So yeah, sorry about the fear and blind obedience and brainwashing we installed in everyone who actually believed this malarkey. Sorry about the skidillions of dollars we bilked out of all those ignorant trolls. Hey, a church has to make a living too, you know?”

From his home in Beverly Hills, Slayer bassist/vocalist Tom Araya stated:

“No hell? Really, he said there was no hell? Well that’s great, just great. That pretty much pulls the rug out from under our thing, doesn’t it? How are we supposed to make a living without a hell to scare the crap out of our fans? What the fuck are we going to sing about, jock itch and canker sores? Ingrown toenails?

“I mean, we even titled one of our albums Hell Awaits, who’s going to buy that shit now? No one. God damn it, I have alimony and child support payments and a mortgage. Dude should stop and think before he starts flapping his gums. I gotta call Danzig, he will be PISSED OFF.”

A representative from the Hell’s Angels had no comment.

Pope Francis has remained silent so far on the existence of heck, Sam Hill, 7734, or H-E-Double Hockey Sticks.

New DSM-V Adds Religion As a Funde-Mental Disorder

Alex Bone

Collapsing Shack, AZ—The authors of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic Statistical Manuel for psychiatry, which provides summaries and outlines for all mental illnesses, added religion to its Axis-II category. This area was originally dedicated exclusively to sociopaths like Hannibal Lechter, or histrionic-types like CNN’s Nancy Grace.

Doctor Sterling Hogbein, of the Hogbein Institute and Lube, said, “Many people already suffer from Axis-II disorders like Borderline Personality Disorder, Anti-Social Personality Disorder, and Discord Staffers’ We’re Out Of F-ing Coffee Again Syndrome. But now, thanks to some new disorders, there’s even more shit hitting the psychiatrist’s couch. Now I can make money off the faithful! Ten Our Fathers, five Hail Marys and what is your primary insurance carrier, sir?”

The DSM-V has also added several fundamental sub-diagnoses. These new Mental Illnesses include but are not limited to:

Pentacaustic Personality Disorder (PPD), Rational Denial Syndrome (RDS), Obsessive-confessional Character Pathology (OCCP), Repetitive Flagellation Psychosis (OUCH), Crucifixion Dependence, Borderline Evolutionary Functioning (CDBEF), Reality Deficit Hyper-rigidity Disorder (RDHD), primary Biblical subtype vs. primary Koranic subtype or the yet to be discovered combined variant), Post-Catechistic Catatonia (PCC), Archangel-typal Personality Disorder,  Paranormal Parable Personality Disorder (also known colloquially as Burning Bush Batshit Syndrome), Major Repressive Disorder (MRD),  Genuflexia Nervosa (GN), Orthodoxicosis-permanentalis (this last one is only in the ICD-10 as it was snubbed by the DSM folks. Thankfully it will be covered by your medical providers under the Affordable Care Act).

And, finally, Sunday Morning Hyposomnia (SMH). This condition is easily treatable by skipping church, sleeping in, and then watching cartoons.

“Some of the hard data on these diagnoses are pretty suspect (just a few nuns and a homeless person) but that shouldn’t stop the progress of labeling people for the ease of billing Insurances!”

—Dr. Sterling Hogbein

The religious right adamantly protested this obvious attempt to marginalize the angry and the wrong.

Pastor Prime of the First Church of Galactica said, “This will not stand! We have nothing in common with inflexible individuals that simply repeat formulas. Most data contradicts a belief system we have fostered endlessly through repeating bullshit. Most data contradicts a belief system we have fostered endlessly through repeating bullshit. Most data—” (cut)

As a result of all these new juicy billable disorders, behavioral health providers are expecting a huge influx of new consumers. So the state governments from those square states have immediately responded to the increased need for services by cutting mental health provider’s budgets in half. On the upside, if your in-laws get too uppity at our next holiday meal, you can probably have them committed.

So What If I Pissed Off Parapsychologist Dean Radin?

Mick Zano

Dean Radin is about the most prominent parapsychologist on the planet. But as the head of the Discord’s Elite Para-Abnormal Research Team (DEPART), I pack some serious blog clout myself. We had nearly a dozen page views yesterday. But I’ll let the readers decide who won this important impromptu iPhone exchange.

First off, I love Radin. I read his Conscious Universe a long time ago and I plan to get my hands on his latest book Supernormal shortly.  I am always trying to keep up with all the latest paranormal research. What? You thought I just learned this stuff from watching Ghostbusters?

Tell him about the Twinkie, Ray. It went Chapter 11.
Tell him about the Twinkie, Ray. It went Chapter 11.

In my opinion, Radin and Rupert Sheldrake are two of the greatest parapsychologists the 21st century. They are two scientists pushing the envelope in a forbidden area of research, often delegated to the factual freak show, the consciousness carnival (Bill Lie the Pseudo-Science Guy joke omitted).To the chagrin of the scientific community, they conduct scientific, peer-reviewed research that often casts into doubt the established scientific paradigm. Skeptics tend to dismiss their results, mostly because they haven’t actually read the research or they refuse to believe its implications—at least that’s what Alex Tsakiris is always going about during his popular “Skeptico” podcasts.

These guys bring great research to bear on the hot topics of psi phenomenon, alpha wave meditation, animal psi, remote viewing, and remote hot girl-on-girl psi alpha sorority viewing. Okay I made that last one up, but it sounds like I should look into that.

Here’s an overview: I believe science will eventually discover the mind is not limited to the brain. I know, I know…heady stuff (pardon the pun), but there is no—absolutely no—evidence that consciousness is housed solely the brain, so if there’s some evidence emerging to the contrary, do the math, or at least don’t be afraid of the math. That’s supposed to be the point of science.

I believe the brain is a filter which allows us to better function and understand this dimension. As I watch Alex Bone stumble over toward the bar I would like to add, some of us better than others. Anyway, I listened to the latest podcast on “Skeptico”, but I was kind of annoyed for a couple of reasons. For one, our host, Alex Tsakiris, took us on a side tangent wherein he takes the republican position that climate change isn’t happening.

Here’s the excerpt from “Skeptico”:

Dean Radin: So we are faced almost daily now with extremely unusual weather patterns and yet when we look at what’s happening in politics it’s as though this is nothing. And it actually doesn’t even matter what the cause is. What matters is it becomes a topic of discussion about what we do about it.

Alex Tsakiris:   But that’s really problematic because if we look at climate and we look at it scientifically, it’s just another rat’s nest. The biggest news scientifically in climate has to do with both the UN governing body and NASA coming out and saying that in the last 17 years there’s been no global warming.

So I sent this to Tsakiris:

Zano: I watched the latest Radin podcast: first off, I don’t know how anyone can refute climate change. Not only do 9 out of 10 climatologists think it’s happening, but—I don’t know why it’s never explained like this—but if you turn up the oven to 450 and it holds there for a time, you’re still cooking the bird. These are still the hottest years on record, pause or no, amidst the hottest century. The hike will resume at some point to 475 and at some point the bird will certainly burn.

Tsakiris:  Beuller? Beuller?

I am still awaiting his reply, but hey he friended me on Facebook, which is almost as …….jerk.

Back to parapsychology: Tskakiris is convinced the tables are finally tipping toward proof for a whole field of parapsychology currently regarded by the scientific community as “GOP House level bullshit.” But if no one “credible” is even looking, what’s the point?

I understand why there’s some hesitancy. When I once broached the subject of eastern wisdom and integralism, a professor friend of mine said, “I don’t want to believe that.” And that’s the problem.  Worse still, she also made me pay the tab.

You see, a scientist would say, eventually science will prove or disprove psi phenomenon. Umm, not really. Not if no one reads relevant studies, its results, or its implications. Here’s a relevant Sheldrake study here.  I am not particularly interested in whether or not my dog knows when I’m getting released from jail, because 1) I don’t own a dog, and 2) I was acquitted. But any pursuit of knowledge deserves a fair shake…not a roll over and play dead.

I am not, as yet convinced about psi research, but I have found the skeptics in this area are biased and somewhat douchey. I take exception to the fact that science refuses to even glance over and say who’s a good boy? Who’s a good boy? They have dismissed the whole matter without actually investigating it. Hell, that’s my job.

Oh, so then I went on to fill Tsakiris in on my exchange with Radin. What’s interesting about this is, not only did I get a response from Radin (which is exceedingly rare), but he iPhoned me back in less than five minutes…at about 11PM Pacific Time (obviously annoyed).

Zano: I just heard your recent “Skeptico” bit and I have enjoyed your work, but I was stunned no one mentioned Ken Wilber. A lot of the themes you discussed were mentioned in his Marriage of Sense & Soul. He would climb into your lab and has done similar things with controlling brainwaves, even halting them, while hooked up to an EEG. He wants to bring the scientific mind to the yogic and meditative traditions and would endorse anything that would get people more involved with meditation and integral thought.

Dean Radin: Yes, (through gritted teeth) I know Wilber’s work. I could have mentioned him along with many others (you insolent, punk). My new book is intended more for those who are practicing yoga and meditation but have never heard about the siddhis or Wilber, and may not be aware that science has been studying these ideas for over a century (are you aware it’s 11 PM Pacific Time and my iPhone makes this noise, you see. Bastard!).

Italic are implied.

Sent from my iPhone (which makes this annoying noise, you see)

So, essentially, I pointed out how I kind of already heard most of Mr. Radin’s themes from his recent podcast in a book I read more than 15 years ago.

See? That’s how you get a response, kids. Strike a chord (a discord?). Piss them off; it’s the only way to fly.

A pioneer in this area is also Daniel Goleman who covered the results of putting accomplished Buddhist monks into MRI machines. During his next study he plans to let them out. Oh, and Radin ignored my next comment about this because I was far too placating and conciliatory in my follow up email to his iPhone (which makes this annoying noise, you see)…and I probably should have never mentioned midget porn—an oversight.

The rest of the “Skeptico” podcast in question is essentially about Radin’s latest book, Supernormal, where he tries to use scientific technology to explore the states associated with mediation gurus and yogic masters. I have always believed this is important stuff. For those who don’t agree, science cannot explain how anyone can stay healthy squatting in the snow for a week or two, devoid of food and water, while streaming nearly endless midget porn. Okay, I made that last part up, but let’s see you try that Richard Dawkins. Are you up for the challenge? If so I can recommend some websites.

These monks can increase blood flow to little understood parts of the brain and even control their brainwaves. Integralist, Ken Wilber, has been encouraging folks to bring the scientific method and technology to bear when studying these ancient and powerful altered states of consciousness. Actually, so has the Dalia Lama, who can’t seem to get enough midget porn these days. Kidding, I’m sure he limits himself.

Wilber believes these siddhis, or altered states of consciousness, can be studied but they can only be validated by those fellow meditators. He believes only then can the scientific method be applied.

“The people who raise this objection are almost always people who don’t want to look through the instrument of meditation, just as Churchman refused to look through Galileo’s telescope and thus acknowledge the moons of Jupiter. Let them live with their refusal. But let us – to the best of our ability, and hopefully driven by the best of charity of compassion – try to convince them to look, just once, and see for themselves.”

Ken Wilber

If Wilber is right then quite a reversal has occurred. Organized religion has squelched science for a long, long time but now, at least in one area of human knowledge, science is trying to return the favor. They are ready to dismiss any and all evidence.  They are, as Wilber asserts, “throwing out the (spiritual) baby with the bathwater.”

You may be wondering what spirituality has to do with meditation…well, that’s the kicker. People highly skilled at meditating start to share a similar world view similar to pantheism, as covered in my perennial philosophy feature here.

I have always marveled how we can so easily dismiss ages of human insight. Not everything subjective is bullshit; admittedly most of it is, but not everything. Let’s keep in mind, a highly skilled meditator’s mind is more efficient and is, by all accounts, working more optimally—even according to science. So why dismiss all of its introspective insights?

I am not at war with science. I’ll take a scientist over a republican any day of the week, but—and there’s a Kardashian style butt—if you truly let the science lead you where it will, you’re going to start feeling uncomfortable in the years ahead. Are you up for the journey?

Speaking of which, “don’t stop believing.”

Sorry. Edit that out.

Ask the Ghetto Shaman

Ask the Ghetto Shaman

Dear Ghetto Shaman,

How does one reach a deep and spiritually meaningful altered state of consciousness?

Tim the Enlightner

Dear Tim,

Try huffing paint thinner during one of the alternate universe episodes of the TV show Fringe.

The Ghetto Shaman

P.S. Or…no, that’s the only way.

The Horny Goat Weed Question

Mick Zano

Somehow it looks suspiciously droopy

What exactly is Goat Weed, let alone Horny Goat Weed?  Moving west has taught me many valuable life lessons, like the importance of staying east.  In the dank underbelly of some seedy Nevada truck stop, I found myself enthralled with a urinal condom machine (it wasn’t the first time).  On this metal cultural microcosm of western wanking were emblazoned the words “enhance your sex life with Horny Goat Weed”.  Below were the words “Proven Effective”.  Proven, not just “studies suggest”, or “emerging research indicates”, but “proven” to help me in an area that can always, always be kicked up a notch.  What the heck?  I’m not beyond enhancing my sex-life through 75 cent restroom novelty items.  Who is?  But what exactly is Horny Goat Weed?  I immediately envisioned one of those shady accident lawyers warning: “Have you or loved one ever tried to enhance your sex lives with Horny Goat Weed?  If your testicles turned several shades of red and then exploded in the aftermath, you may be eligible for a large cash reward.” 

I couldn’t handle that—I hate those commercials. 

Is Horny Goat Weed too good to be true?  Is it just a pipe dream?  (Pardon the unintentional imagery.) How does it work?  Is it flown in from the jungles of South America, or is it growing wild in my own backyard?  Is it something the Ghetto Shaman swears by? What is the side effect profile?  Is it safe to take with a bottle of Xanax and a bucket of Slurm?  Was it worth my last three quarters, or should I go with the old stand by, the ribbed French tickler?  Decisions in the back of greasy truck stops can change the course of history.  Some call this the latexfly effect.  OK, I just made that up, but now that it’s bandying about the morphic resonance, who knows?

My laptop is my trusty companion, my Samwise Tonto if you will, and the baby changing station has, no doubt, witnessed many an unsavory act, except the changing of a baby.  In fact, using this ‘station’ for its original intent would now probably constitute a phone call to Child Protective Services. In a pinch, it worked nicely as a laptop table.   The chances of getting online in the middle of the southern Nevada desert is about the same chance as some trucker saying, “Excuse me, sir, do you mind? I’m trying to change my baby.”  If, by some divine inter-net-vention, I were to get online in this stink pit, I would probably be breaking some fundamental law of the Universe by not searching porn.  Civilizations rise or fall on the decisions made in greasy truck…sorry. 

Alas, the gods mock me.  The search for more pertinent information about Horny Goat Weed would have to wait until I was comfortably situated in my hotel room.  

The next morning, to my horror, I discovered the Monte Carlo—in the heart of Las Vegas, Nevada—has only pay internet.  The nagging question about Horny Goat Weed would have to wait.  As the day wore on, the question became more of a burning sensation, a sensation that made me question the effectiveness of 75 cent French ticklers in the first place.  As it turns out, the internet is not free in any of the major hotel/casinos downtown.  When Las Vegas falls, I must remember to fiddle. 

Bald Tony arrived, but the booze and Thai hookers would have to wait; I needed answers and possibly ointments.  Failing miserably, all day, at getting anywhere with my web search, I gave Bald Tony explicit orders what to Google and to print out the results before returning to the Monte Carlo (under pain of death).  True to his word, Tony completely forgot.  So the next day, my curiosity about this strange but promising product had reached a fevered pitch, possibly C minor. 

[Scene missing for drunken Thai hooker orgy]

Sunday morning, Tony handed me three sheets of paper.  I scanned the documents with both fear and wonder.  Horny Goat Weed pertains to Chinese Herbalism (aka, ancient Chinese secret) and it goes by the name Epimedium Sagittatum, which is Latin for ‘Sir, your goat is humping my leg.’  Twelve minutes and two pages later I felt like an expert on what certainly sounded like some good clean, herb-induced boneage. But let’s get one thing straight; this is not your father’s Viagra…for one thing it’s called Horny Goat Weed and that, in and of itself, is worth risking your scrotum’s future.  And, if it ever fails, my offspring may be eligible for a large cash reward.  How could two billion China balls be wrong?  So my last three quarters may well be ‘change to believe in.’ 

Bald Tony, looking somewhat balder on this sunny Vegas morning, also arrived with a warning.  If you wish to verify the validity of any of this information, Tony strongly suggests implementing the safe-search feature on your web-surfing preferences when Googling the words ‘Horny Goat Weed.’  Otherwise, if you’re not careful, your eyes could melt out of your head like the end of that Raiders of the Lost Ark movie. 

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a dollar fifty worth of rest room novelty items on the line…

Onward to Vegas baby, and Vegas baby changing stations!

Ask The Ghetto Shaman

Ask The Ghetto Shaman

Dear Ghetto Shaman,

I need some help! I need to cleanse my life-funked chakras, Shaman man. Wax on, wax off.


Dear Jasmine,

I can recommend several techniques. All of my latest breakthrough procedures are covered in my latest book Misguided Meditations: The Art of Quantum Pimping.

The Ghetto Shaman

P.S. Skip Chapter 7: Drumming Circle Jerk. Seriously, this is at the request of my lawyer.

Ask The Ghetto Shaman

Ask The Ghetto Shaman

Dear Ghetto Shaman,

I don’t think skullfucking is in any way a contribution to the new age movement. What is your real claim to fame, oh inappropriate one?


Dear Walter,

I am the first medicine man to point out how peeing is the perfect time to meditate. Read my Zen and the Art of Urinating. It makes for perfect bathroom material.

The Ghetto Shaman

Space For Sale

Pierce X. Winslow

Space for Sale,

The Ghetto Shaman column is available for anyone who can send funny material to me in a timely manner. I don’t care what his excuse is this time, I don’t care if he lost his fifth grandmother, again, or his parole officer has more stipulations, or he’s on another Mad Dog vision quest. I am washing my hands of that new age miscreant!

Pierce X. Winslow

P.S. Send me the goods now, Shaman, or you’ll never work in this virtual town again!

My Life in Retail: Part One

The Crank

As I think about my life, my thoughts turn to the whole “Legacy” thing. What do I actually leave with my friends and relatives when Momzilla pulls me kicking and screaming into the next world? Will people even remember me 15 minutes after I’m gone? Probably not, with the exception of Mikko passing a rag over his forehead and saying “whew, thank Darwin that’s over.”

I hereby decide that with a lifetime in various stages of retail, I will pass along an expose’ of what living your entire life in the sale of product to others is like. Cautionary note to parents and the squeamish:

This is not pretty. You may never shop again.

It all starts in the family business. I was six when I realized my upbringing would not have anything in common with Leave it to Beaver. My parents owned a Deli on Long Island. Each birthday, my dad would take me out behind the counter and put a pepperoni on a scale high up on the top of the salad showcase. He would then ask me if I could read it. At six? No. At seven? No. I am still at this stage reduced to getting stung as I separated the unwashed soda bottles for return and refill out behind the store (being ‘green’ circa 1962) and bleaching smelly wooden things inside the fridge units.

For my eighth birthday, I took the obligatory walk out behind the counter, and Dad put the pepperoni up on the scale and says “can you read it?” My answer would prove to haunt me for the rest of my days. You see, I figured that when I could finally read it, I would get some kind of extra-special prize for that birthday. Why else would he be doing this? As I looked up at the scale, I saw that the pointer was right on the mark that read seven ounces. “Seven ounces! Seven ounces!” I screamed. I couldn’t believe it, I could finally read it. Yay!! I then asked Dad, “Well, what’s my prize?” His answer? “You get to serve the next customer” as he retreated to the kitchen.

It was as if I grew up ten years in one day. I spent the rest of my formative years getting picked up at the bus stop after school, brought to the store, and had to do homework and serve customers in the store, as I cleaned and closed up shop. By age ten I got to be ridiculously good at stripping down and cleaning/sharpening/reassembling the slicer machines. My dad would come by to pick me up at closing. By 12, I had learned that a cold beer tasted mighty good after mopping the floor. My fave? Carlsberg Elephant Malt Liquor. By 14 I was driving home. Nothing like a slightly inebriated 14-year old behind the wheel of a ‘68 Rambler wagon we called the Green Glory. This, folks, is where the whole Coke and Twinkies thing started. Fat kid alone in a store filled with food. Thanks Dad. Little did I realize at the time that I would be battling those same demons well into retirement. Speaking of which:

It’s Alive, It’s ALIVE!
It's Alive, It's ALIVE! Twinkie Resurrection 2013
Twinkie Resurrection 2013

This was the late sixties and many teenagers would come in seemingly starving around 7:00 pm during the summer. At first I was rather perplexed, after all, don’t normal people have dinner like an hour ago? I soon found out about the whole ‘munchies’ thing and decided at 13 to exploit it. Mom would cook large roast beefs and put them on the table in the back to cool. I would put them in the walk-in fridge before I closed. When the ‘heads’ would arrive, I got an idea! I moved the beefs from their previous home to a new one on top of the counter up by the front door. The aroma got them every time.

“Wow maaan, what smells so good, maaaan? Oh boy, look at the roast beef. Hey like little chubby dude, we’ll take six Roast Beef heroes (subs to you westerners).” Worked like a charm.

I leaned a lot about life during those days. These were the braless days, ’68 & ’69, lots of swinging boobs behind gauzy blouses. I learned that I liked boobs. I liked boobs a lot. I even got flashed regularly for free sandwiches. That also worked like a charm. In fact, I ended up loving working. No, my life was no TV sitcom, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Now for a little Mick Zano story. When he was but a small child, he and his mom were visiting us at the store. When it came time to leave, he was nowhere in sight. We looked high, we looked low, looked inside and outside. Total panic was setting in when we found the little bastard hiding behind a candy display, watching the whole crazy people running around screaming thing and snickering. Should have known then that he would figure out a way to get paid to watch crazy people.

This would go on till my Dad passed on. He had sold the business a year before as he was ill. We now needed the money, so I decided to forgo college (much to the chagrin of Momzilla) and get a full time job. Where? Why, in a supermarket behind the deli counter, of course. It’s what I did. No, more than that. By then, it was who I was. I needed a job, and we had a relative who was a big shot with a local supermarket chain. He got me in. It was only going to be temporary, after all. I was going back to school as soon as we got back on our feet.

For the next 27 years I worked for supermarkets on Long Island. I could, and really should, write a book on my escapades in ‘Wally-World’ as we later on called it. Every year the memories fade, so I better get started soon. The supermarket business is its own world. It has its own language, mostly obscene. It’s where I got that wonderful little part of my personality from. You know those tapes of John Gotti taken from inside his social club? It’s like that, only instead of talking about killing, they are talking about Prosciutto (pronounced pruhzshoot). Most of the people I have met in the business all felt like they wanted more out of life, but life kind of threw them a curve , and they ended up here. Credence had just come out with their song ‘Lodi’, and we quickly augmented it with the words: ‘Was about a year ago, I set out on my own. Seekin my fame and fortune, lookin for a pot’o’gold. Well things got bad, and things got woise, I guess you know the tune…….Oh Lord, stuck in supermarkets again”.

No one aspired to be a supermarket clerk. No one, that is, except me. I was in a union for 26 years. With raving unmedicated ADHD, it was the perfect job. Do it FAST and do it so it LOOKS LIKE it was done right. Don’t need to finish it, just move on. Perfect. I got so good at it I was asked to do all the new store openings and remodels. I loved that. Three or four weeks in a store to set it up, and NO fucking customers. The day of grand opening, I would come in early to set up, and stand back and watch it all get fucking destroyed by the pillaging hoard. Think Jewish Vikings.

Supermarket customers are inherently pigs. Stupid self-obsessed pigs at that. You all NEED to be there, but there is no way in hell any of you WANT to be there, and you make it known to all the personnel. You walk through the store with your lists, staring at your watches, thinking of everything else you could be doing and then take it out on your drippy little kids and the clerks. Oh, I’m sorry, do I sound bitter? Did I offend you? Tough shit. It’s true, deal with it. I watched it for 27 years. Beeoches

How does one get through 27 years of that? Humor and friendship. I met some wonderful people in my days at Wally world, some that I still communicate with. When I would end up in a store with an asshat boss, I would find a way to torture them endlessly. In a union, if you are careful and smart, you can do just that. Its endless fun, really. You should try it. That was taught to me by the best, a man named John –one of the best managers in the company in his time. He knew they didn’t want to do without him, so he took advantage of that, every day. Case in point: When the supermarkets first found out about the six foot sandwiches that delis were making, they wanted in. The V.P. came to us one day to teach us this new art. Mounds of lettuce, mounds of tomatoes, with the thinnest sliver of a layer of meat and cheese. Prof. Steven Hawkings couldn’t find the meat on this sandwich. When the VP was finished, he told John he was going to lunch, and would he please make up a sign to tell the customers about the availability of the new 6’ sandwiches. He did just that. The sign read:


The V.P. was not pleased when he came back, but all he did was ask him to remove it. I learned a lot that day. John was like a large beer-loving and funny Yoda. We had one supervisor who, when angered, would start to stutter. John would egg him on till he got a ‘but J-J-J-J-John!’ Then he would say-Gotcha! You see, back then it wasn’t as important to remain p-p-p-politically correct.

Every supermarket had one thing in common. Each one had a bar next door. We all got real familiar with the bars. The Taffrail, The Dry Dock, etc. It lead to many interesting evenings. Sometimes the guys would close the bars, sleep in the cars in the parking lot, and open the next morning like nothing happened. Others would spend the night drinking and come straight to work. Case in point: I remember once where the opening manager was real late. There were maybe 30 of us all standing around, waiting. All of a sudden, we hear a screeching, followed by a crash. We then see, on the road in front of the store, the manager crawl out of his wrecked car, limping and bleeding. He walks to the door with his keys out and opens the door. Again, like nothing happened.

Back in the day, each store would have its very own token bimbos. They were called ‘motor-room girls”. The motor room was a room at the top of the store, where all the refrigeration compressors were. It’s where you took the girls for some afternoon delight, which, back then, was a reference people understood. Each store manager had his ‘girlfriend’, usually a cashier. You would hear them tell the assistants, umm, if you need me-motor room… We saw a fight in the parking lot once where the manager put his ‘girlfriend’ in a shopping cart and sent her careening down a hill. Thankfully no one got hurt…er, until his wife found out.

One time I worked for a guy that spent the entire day in the main office. He liked the price-change girl. He was never around. One day the V.P. called and they announced for Paul to pick up the phone. Before he did, I did. “Hello, this is Paul. I am not able to come to the phone right now, please leave your name and number, and I will get back to you.” I knew that the VP would recognize my voice and, yeah, Paul wasn’t there very long. I was a bastard towards the end. Thank you, John. 

After many years of this, around the time that I got married, I met another person who I would call friend to this day. When I went to her store to make some changes, the supervisor had me doing all the deli counters in the county. But, much like reading The Discord, I was not totally prepared for what I saw. Let’s just say the Good Lord really had his shit together the day he made her. We would end up working together for some eight years, when she was the manager in the store closest to my home. I would periodically go to other stores for various reasons for short stints, only to return to what I called home base.

Karen was good at all things I wasn’t (all managerial stuff), and I was good at making things look pretty, and doing it fast. By now I was considered by most in the company to be ‘unmanageable’. Mr. Winslow believes this has continued with my career here on The Discord. I did my own thing. I marched to my own rather odd drummer. Karen was able to do the impossible. She knew how to get me to do the right thing without me actually knowing it. It was also great fun working there. Once, as we were both filling the salad showcase, it became apparent what protuberances each one of us had. As we would pull our heads out of the showcase, she was always left with salad on her boobs and me with some on my gut. We were a great team.

One day, I was told that representatives of the company owners were going around seeing if they could buy out the union contracts of any of the long-termers (i.e. me). Two ‘suits’ strolled up and told me how much they wanted to give me for going home and never coming back. It was a nice check. The Discord has not managed to meet this number yet, thus my continued submissions.

Anyway, I took the check. During my last week there happened to be a day when we were visited by the new V.P.s. They saw our deli showcase and remarked at how it was the best one they had seen. They asked who set it up and they were directed to me.

I asked them if they liked it.

They said, yes, we do.

I then told them they had better take a fuckin’ picture.

They asked why, and I told them they would never see one like this again as I had just taken the buy-out plan.

It felt great!

On the way out that last day, J.F. the store manager saw me leaving, so I waved and said goodbye. As I went through the doors for the very last time in 27 years as an employee, the store manager went on the P.A and said, “Attention shoppers, Elvis has left the building!”

I spent the rest of that summer on my deck, wondering just what the fuck I was going to do now. I hope I figure that out by Part Two.

End of Part One

Hold your Crank

Alex Bone’s Get Poor Quick Scheme

Alex Bone

Flagstaff, AZ (aka, Poverty with a View)—Most people in America and the majority of the rest of the world are striving to be rich, but they’re overlooking the truly wonderful advantages of being flat broke. For instance, you will have more free time because your schedule will not be bogged down with things like trips, vacations, shopping, or eating. Things like gaining too much weight—no problem. And no one will ever asks you to borrow money! Hell, they won’t even ask you to babysit for fear you might eat their children. 

For instance, Mick Zano never said, “It’s your turn to buy a round, Bone.” It’s never happened.

But how can one become poor quickly, Mr. Bone?

Great question. It’s as if I’m actually asking the question only in italics form. Sure, anyone can become addicted to meth and have their life go down the shitter in a few weeks, but then you end up needing money to support that pesky habit, not to mention the dental work. Some people are purists and when they go broke they want to make sure they do it right. For these individuals, I have written the first in my ninety book series on how to go broke in ten easy steps—without spending a dime!

Sounds good so far, Mr. Bone! Go on.

Step one: Get into as much debt as possible for about a year or so. Hell, you might as well have one last hoorah, right?

Step Two: Stop paying your phone bill. Why bother having a phone at all? You will soon be losing all of your friends, and family anyway, and why talk to creditors? It’s not like they’re pleasant.

Step Three: Consider letting your other bills lapse as well and since you won’t have money for cable or new books to read, electricity of any kind seems superfluous.

Step Four: Remember, if you are this poor, your chances of finding a mate are pretty slim, but again, think of all the extra time and money that will save on the dating process! It’s time to find a new hobby anyway, like drinking.

Step Five: You need to be productive with all of this newfound free time. You don’t want to get drunk and just stare at a tree. Although, I do know some people who enjoy that. So why not build your own shelter?! Just because you are broke it doesn’t mean you have to be one of those losers living in a box. You are not a loser! You are just a nearly penniless, single person without friends, family, or acquaintances. Some pallet wood is a good place to start then sell the last of your possessions to buy rechargeable power tools. You can always charge them up in the library (a place where all those saps that still pay taxes frequent).

Step Six: Start stealing as much as possible. I am not talking about shoplifting as much as grabbing crap that is one degree from being thrown away. Look for things dumped in alleys and behind businesses. Or you can start a hobby, like collecting condiment packets. They also double as comfortable pillow stuffers too. Just be careful, if one breaks as it can be a bad scene. My boxmate wrongly called 911 one night, which can get expensive.

Step Seven: Now that you have a comfy little place, make sure you have a wood stove and then start burning anything you can get your hands on. Hair, magnets, family photos, murder victims. Nothing should be too good to spare from the privilege of keeping you warm at night. A simple truck tire can keep a family warm long enough for them to develop cancer.

Step Eight: Get a sidekick. It might be hard to believe after looking at yourself in the rest room mirror of the gas station, but there is always someone worse off. Just find this mega-loser and make him or her your servant. Hell, you worked hard to get where you are, no need to bother yourself with the day to day details like scraping your burning socks off the wood stove or cleaning last night’s puke off your moldy wall to wall egg cartoon carpet.

Okay, now I have a place to live and more free time than ever, so what now?

Step Nine: Great question. It’s time to start shopping for an enabler. Yep, I know it’s hard to believe, but there are plenty of codependent people out there who are so insecure with themselves that they might even be willing to date a scary creep like you. Let them pay for everything. Hell, you could even get a warm shower after a bout of sympathy sex. Warning: Breaking up with homeless people can be a great blow to their self-esteem and that’s what makes it so hilarious. 

Step Ten: Now, you are ready, finally ready, to get a job writing for The Daily Discord, because you know that is how I got my start and look where I am today! And every Christmas Mr. Winslow sends us all these pen sets that turn out to be pencils. What could be cooler than that? So I’ll see you at the stinky section of the library’s internet desks.

Now go buy my book! But not too many of you at once. I don’t want to have to buy Zano a beer.