‘Yum Yum Bedlam’- Review

The past few months have been a rollercoaster for the Juggalos—and that’s not meant to be a carnival joke. Back in October of 2020, during one of the Patreon streams they hosted to stay engaged during the pandemic, ICP announced that their next Joker’s Card, ‘Yum Yum Bedlam’, would be released on Christmas Day of that year.

There was much to be excited about. Not only is the release of a new Joker’s Card a momentous event for any Juggalo—as evident in our previous reviews, such as that for the most recent Joker’s Card, Fearless Fred Fury—this was to be the first female Joker’s Card, and wild speculations abounded.

The fifth card of the second deck, Yum Yum Bedlam (YYB) was said to be about loyalty. YYB represented temptation, and all the lurid things which drive us away from what really matters. It was a fascinating concept, fitting in well with the more individual morality-based themes of the second deck.

Loyalty has been a significant topic at Psychopathic Records as well, with the departure of several acts still looming large. Further, Violent J’s recent breakups hang over the album, promising a personal touch to the themes of betrayal, loss, and seduction.

As the first female Joker’s Card, the album also holds an important role for the Juggalette community. While ICP have been accused of misogyny over the years, their countless female fans would be quick to challenge those assumptions, rallying behind the inclusivity most often discussed in relation to the Juggalo family. With a female Joker’s Card, ICP would have a great opportunity to explore those themes and more.

Christmas came and went however, and while this writer certainly hopes that all the Juggalos and Juggalettes shared some wonderful memories and got some memorable gifts, Yum Yum was not among them.

On February 17th of 2021—colloquially known as Juggalo Day—ICP released Yum Yum’s Lure, a teaser EP for the perpetually delayed Yum Yum Bedlam.

As the year wore on, news came at the Gathering of the Juggalos that Violent J was suffering heart problems, and ICP would soon have to step back from their regular schedule. The details of that announcement are covered here.

Finally, it was announced that YYB would make its long-awaited debut on Halloween night, 2021. This time, the Clowns didn’t disappoint.

-Click Here to get your copy of ‘Yum Yum Bedlam’-

Yum Yum Bedlam arrived—almost a year late—and the Juggalo world was more than ready. As is my custom, I listened the first time in the dark, with a good pair of headphones and my expectations soaring.

The first thing that jumped out was the arrangement. YYB didn’t follow the Joker’s Card prototype of Intro song, Character song, then shit-talking song before moving into sex songs, ghost stories, and other Juggalo staples.

The Intro—a well-performed ambience and voice piece followed by eerie chanting to reinforce the character—was followed by a high-energy, classic sounding song, ‘Here Comes the Carnival’, which was deceptive in its sound. The happy vibes and bouncing rhythm did nothing to betray the dark undertones of the lyrics, which described people being maimed and killed at a violent, destructive carnival ground.

While the content itself is fairly typical fare around here, the discordance between the content and sound felt fitting given the themes of temptation, betrayal, and deception woven into the album. After a few spins of the album, this song strikes me as one of the most important on the record, which will be expanded on later.

‘Wretched’ is one of the more heinous tracks they’ve recorded in a while content-wise, while ‘Clown Drippin’ is a fun if content-light comedy song. On an album with a more traditional arrangement for the Clowns, this might have fit as a more typical third track shit-talk type song, but YYB is not a traditional sort of album.

‘Gangsta Codes’ is a classic ICP story song, with a message similar to some of their older material, such as the classic, ‘Murder Go Round’.

In ‘Queens’, ICP pull no punches in addressing directly and without the cover of heavy metaphor the thematic question many Juggalos assumed had to be addressed on this album. As the first female Joker’s Card, what did it have to say about relationships in general, especially given J’s recent struggles?

It proves to be a refreshing take, delivering on ICP’s astute moral insight and—to those less familiar—surprisingly progressive outlook. The song reminds the listener to cherish their loved ones, and those who help increase their shine, or risk the brutal pain of loss.

‘Panic Attack’ covers familiar ground for J, but does so with an energy that’s reminiscent of songs from two decades ago or more. While Shaggy arguably remains the standout on the second deck, J has shown up with a new fire. His choruses are better, his screams are louder, his lyrics are more creative and on-point. It reads like a good sign for the beleaguered Violent J, and perhaps if he doesn’t yet have his demon’s conquered, they may be well corralled.

A special mention must go out to Richard Cheese for his contribution to the outro of this song. His lounge-style crooning of ‘Fuck the World’ from the original fifth Joker’s Card is a hilarious touch.

‘Fuck Regret’ turns the tone of the album towards a forward-looking perspective, while ‘Insomnia’ takes a trippy journey through the titular struggle. Part way through the song, the beat changes and the song slips into a more psychedelic beat calling back to the classic song ‘Joke Ya Mind’. This mid-song tonal shift is employed several times throughout the album, and felt like a return to the longer, more committed approach to songs of old.

While ‘Heart and Soul’ continues with the more encouraging message that permeates the album, ‘The Drunk and the Addict’ is a surprisingly personal tune, with both J and Shaggy being comedically direct about their addictions—past and present. This impressive song continues the trend of being more honest about themselves in the second deck of Joker’s Cards, which treats J and Shaggy more as real people—as Joe and Joey—then as the cartoon characters they often portrayed in the original six.

We’re around two thirds through the album now, which is an interesting time for a Joker’s Card character song to turn up, but ‘Don’t Touch that Flower’ is exactly that. With a bouncy hook and catchy refrain throughout, is does a fine job of furthering the story of the Yum Yum Flower.

It occurs to me at this point that more than any other album, this has been reminding me of ‘The Wraith: Shangri-La’. The unusual arrangements, rich and varied sounds, bombastic energy, and enduring positivity brings a similar vibe to that essential Juggalo classic.

‘The Joksta’ brings us back to more humourous, light-hearted trash-talking, with a subtle approach to examining our inner nature that brings a darker subtext to the song. That’s contrasted perfectly by ‘Bitch I’m Fine’, which hilariously describes the endless maladies the aging duo claim to have suffered, then breezily brushing it off with a playful chorus boasting the track-title.

As the album approaches it’s long close—this happens to be the longest Joker’s Card by several minutes—the song ‘Carnival of Lights’ brings us to an unexpected high-point. With an inviting description of the inclusivity inherent to the Juggalo world, the song assures the listener that they have a perfect place within the embrace of the Carnival. With it’s equally catchy music, this song forms a beautiful counterpart to the similarly titled second song, ‘Here Comes the Carnival’. Both invite the listener to a Carnival with high-energy beats and pleading voices. Both have a positive sound and an invasive beat, but what each deliver couldn’t be more different. While the earlier song grants only pain and loss, ‘Carnival of Lights’ brings us love, inclusion, and unconditional support. This stark dichotomy is reminiscent of the side-opening tracks from YYB’s sister album, ‘The Amazing Jeckel Brothers’, which were positive and negative versions of the same song, titled ‘Jake Jeckel’ and ‘Jack Jeckel’ respectively.

It’s a timely and well-appreciated reminder that love is a two-sided coin, and while there’s a lot of pain and hurt in the world if we aren’t careful, there are also brilliant joys and experiences which can make all the rest worth it if we can only achieve them.

The penultimate ‘Ain’t No Time’ gives us a deep look into some of Violent J’s inner turmoil, and delivers in spades. It’s a touching, brutal song that reminds us of the journey the album has taken us on before ushering us into the finale, ‘Something to See’.

This song explores the idea of what a person might choose as their last vision before going blind, and reminds us of the countless treasures there are in the world if we can only shake off the temptations that blind us. The chorus concludes that the Juggalos, live at a show, would be the greatest sight to choose.

It’s a love letter to the family, and a fine closing to an impressive album.

The mastering on the final song seems a bit off, but the rest of the album sounds consistently fantastic, especially the notable return to basslines that have some kick to them.

I’d be remiss to not mention the ubiquitous producer tags throughout. It seems like a modern trend that can’t be avoided, and while they didn’t ruin my experience the way some listeners say they did, it can hardly be denied that tags on every song—and sometimes two on one song—feels like overkill.

In the end, ‘Yum Yum Bedlam’ is a fantastic release. ICP have really improved their chorus game on this album once again, and whether they’ve nailed the perfect balance themselves or just knew when to bring in assistance, there isn’t a single tacky chorus on the album.

YYB may be one of the most impressive albums the Clowns have released since 2009’s ‘Bang Pow Boom’, and sets up for the next sixth Joker’s Card perfectly.

That’s still good while away though, as the liner notes of YYB confirm earlier announcements that this will be the most heavily supported album yet. In addition to the preceding ‘Yum Yum’s Lure’ EP, three more EP’s will follow. The booklet announced the dates and names of each, and is shown below.

-Click Here to get your copy of ‘Yum Yum Bedlam’-

Yum Yum Bedlam’ is still fresh, but in many ways it already feels like a classic. While years of repeat listens will be the only way to fully appreciate the depths of the album and reveal its final place in the story, its’ quality, intrigue, and plain old fun mean those listens will be an absolute treat.

Yum Yum.

-Brad OH Inc.

(Schisobe)

Guest Appearance on the BoomBastiCAST Podcast!

Guest Appearance on the BoomBastiCAST Podcast!

Just when you thought our days of casting pods were over, we’re here to prove you wrong! While the official Gentleman Juggalo podcast does remain on hiatus, I have a guest appearance this week on the ever stellar ‘BoomBastiCAST’ podcast.

BoomBastiCAST covers all things pop culture, and is hosted by my friend—and fellow Juggalo for life—Mathew Fisher. On this episode, he hosts myself and our friend Kandis to discuss the new ICP album, Yum Yum Bedlam. Click Here to listen now.

That’s not all though—check right back here in two weeks for the official Brad OH Inc. review of Yum Yum Bedlam.

Until then, stay down, much clown love!

-Brad OH Inc.

(Schisobe)

Re-Share: Bullying in the Supermarket

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampHere at Brad OH Inc., we’re still working hard putting the finishing touches on our newest novel. We’ll have more info about that in the coming weeks, but for now, we’re re-sharing one of our oldest articles.

We hope you enjoy this trip down memory lane. Let us know what you think in the comments below!

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‘If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.’ It’s an adage we’ve all heard. Whether from animated rabbits, or our own dear parents, the majority of children are taught explicitly that being unkind is not the way to act in our society.

I was at a conference a while back discussing bullying in middle school, with a particular focus on cyber-bullying. The attendees were often shocked at the examples of childhood cruelty being perpetrated by and against youth these days.

Photos—often explicit—are shared around, and entire websites are dedicated to insulting one another, spreading rumours, and generally making life miserable. There’s no doubt about it, it’s a hard world for a child to grow up in.

This is especially true when we are constantly telling them that the expectations of life are otherwise—that adult society functions on the basis of good social graces, of respecting your fellow man and avoiding hurtful language. If this is how people are expected to act, it comes as a special shock to find that your peers are so steadfastly determined to undermine such ideals.

It was these thoughts which weighed on my mind as I stood in line at the supermarket after the conference ended. How can children be so cruel, and how can we teach them to act better?

The question didn’t linger very long. It was rather rudely chased from my tired brain by the glossy magazine covers flanking me on both sides as I worked my way slowly toward the register.

‘Guess whose cellulite this is’, a headline would read, and a zoomed in box drawn from a woman on the beach would reveal the unsightly lumps on her bikini-clad ass. Some celebrity had the audacity to appear in public, without the assistance of airbrushes and digital photo editing to help her. The nerve!

A man was accused of cheating. A context free photo of him hand in hand with a woman rested above a headline bemoaning his lack of values, and lamenting the inevitable ruin of his marriage.

The headlines were legion, each one attacking some vice or speculating on some perceived flaw. Entire front page spreads were dedicated to the attempted outing of supposedly gay singers, surgeries gone awry, and teens who could not afford to have yet another child.

It’s no wonder, I thought, placing my items on the scarred rubber conveyor belt. How can we tell children to be nice to each other when the clear and undeniable truth is that we cannot manage it ourselves?

It’s a savage hypocrisy. A society so feral and filled with hatred that even political debates eschew all relevant discourse in favor of painting one another as sexual deviants and money-grubbing lechers.

So what are we left to glean from the broad disconnect between expectations and practice? Do we assume that our children are stupid? That they will somehow fail to notice the overt double standard? Will they just ignore that swindling and deceit are the clear pathways to success in the job market, and that even our leaders have no qualms about saying mean things if their PR managers tell them it will get their ratings up?

Perhaps it’s not the kids who are to blame. In a society that worships the rich, adores the callous, fetishizes fallen idols and encourages its people to hack their way through friends and neighbours to climb a rung higher on the ladder, maybe such horrid indecency in children isn’t the aberration we treat it as. If these are the values we truly hold, perhaps such kids are just prototypes of the new age.

It’s a necessary survival strategy—a natural evolution.

But if our hope is for such cruelty to cease—for kids to go to school and enjoy the company of their peers, to feel safe and supported by those around them—we may consider starting the change with ourselves.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: A Ghost Poem

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

I’ll be away for the season of the pumpkin this year, so I will leave you with one of my favourite Halloween pieces, ‘A Ghost Poem’.

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A Ghost Poem:

I’m haunted still by visions past,

By ghostly wails and die long cast.

Porcelain smiles and ochre eyes,

Find me much to my surprise.

Sleeping, thinking, lost in mind,

I’m stalked by those I’ve left behind.

A ghostly whisper comes to me,

As I search for serenity.

There is no rest, no sure reprieve,

From the specters I believe.

A curling grin, a twisted brow,

An implacable stretch from then to now.

I toss and turn upon my bed,

These memories searing through my head.

I rise aloft and cross the floor,

A grinning vision at the door.

A flickering vestige of all I had,

To have and lose and then grow mad.

But ever smiling, turns away,

A promise that nothing untrue may stay.

Alone I stand on the edge of dream,

The perfect start to Halloween.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: Dear Jeremy

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampToday, I’m sharing an old favourite of mine, ‘Dear Jeremy’. There’s also some exciting news coming soon about everything going on behind the scenes lately, so stay tuned!

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Dear Jeremy,

You’ve most likely heard of me. I’ve certainly heard of you. Since moving to this city, your name has followed me incessantly. I may hear it multiple times per week; other times it will be years apart. But without fail, your name will return to my mind, and I’ve come to accept I may owe you some level of apology.

You see, wherever I roam in this fair town of ours, I find myself periodically greeted by strangers who assume that I am, in fact, you. It was initially the source of much confusion, but after a few such instances, I came to accept that somewhere in this city I have a doppelganger—lucky bastard.

Yes, it would seem that after a lifetime of fairy tales and fantasy novels, it turns out I actually have my very own evil twin.

Except that it’s not that. Not quite. You see Jeremy, every time someone mistakes me for you; I inevitably hear nothing but high praise and endless compliments. People are thrilled to see me—or you, more accurately. I’ve been called a saint, a great friend, and a true philanthropist, all because I apparently look like you.

Actually, I suspect it’s you that looks like me, but that’s beside the point.

For some time, I was ok with this. I always assumed that one day I’d meet this double of mine, and had no doubt it could only end in mortal combat. But then the gears started turning, particularly on the ‘Evil Twin’ notion. The implications of the observation that everyone who knows you seems to adore you and think incredibly highly of your character were admittedly bothersome.

It wasn’t a difficult conclusion to draw; perhaps you weren’t the evil twin after all. Indeed, it’s more likely that title belongs to me.

And so I began to think. While strangers approached me on the street thanking me for the time you volunteered to help them with some overwhelming project, or provided a shoulder to lean on through a trying ordeal—what were you experiencing when people inevitably mistook you for me?

Once the question was asked, it could not be unasked, and I have since been burdened with a terrible guilt over the notion that my misdeeds may have been coming back on you.

I admit I’ve been a lousy twin, and I know it’s time to apologize. It’s hard to say exactly what the apology is for, as I don’t know precisely what you’ve experienced as a result of my indiscretions.

Undoubtedly, there have been more than a few slaps. But hey—women can be like that sometimes.

Presumably at least a few people have sought revenge for some perceived slight, but there can be no question those idiots deserved whatever perceived injustice they got. Mopey pricks.

I truly am sorry about the incident with the crazy carpet, and I cannot even begin to make account of the ordeal with the police horse. If you’ve suffered as a result of either, I honestly feel mildly perturbed.

If at some point you were confronted by a Minister who was offended by some action of mine—whether justified or not—I can see how it would be an inconvenience for your perfect character, although I can’t imagine it was that bad. The guy was a knob from the start, and you should honestly be happy he didn’t try to convert you. You owe me on that one buddy.

As a matter of fact Jeremy, I think your petulant whining is a bit uncalled for. If you’ve experienced hardship as a result of me, maybe you should turn that pathetic frown upside down, and realize that I’ve only served to make your sad time in this world a little more colourful.

Seriously Jeremy, you’re acting like a child, and I’m getting sick of it. I know you like to pluck scared kittens from trees and help old ladies across the street—but in doing so you’re fucking up the natural order of things. You’re also missing out on a lot of potential fun. So try to focus less on making me look so damn good—trust me, I’ve got it covered. Instead, why don’t you go unwind, have a bit of fun, and try to send some of that bad karma back my way? You might actually end up enjoying yourself a little, asshole.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: There Are Clowns?

The Gentleman Juggalo LogoToday, I’m re-sharing an old favourite of mine. The harmless clowns may not be showing up these days, but the dangerous ones are still out there. Can you recognize them?

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There are Clowns,

Among the trees,

In fields and bushes,

Where nobody sees. 

There are Clowns,

Out for the young,

Bent on killing their songs,

Long before they are sung.  

There are Clowns,

Outside of the school,

Their hellish grins asking,

Just who is the fool?

But there are Clowns in police cars,

And Clowns in the courts,

Clowns on the TV,

Reading news reports.

There are Clowns on the left,

And Clowns on the right,

Clowns that will lie to you,

Or tell you to fight.

 There are Clowns in the papers,

And Clowns at the prow,

Of our ship as we ponder,

Where we’re to go now.

There are Clowns who will promise,

Everything is fine,

And Clowns who will tell you,

Not to waste your time.

Clowns that will claim,

It’s all under control,

But those Clowns are demure,

When it’s time to console.

There are Clowns on the streets,

Clowns under our beds,

Clowns running our countries,

Clowns filling our heads.

Yes there are Clowns,

In all sorts of places,

But the Clowns I fear most,

Do not paint their faces.

 This poem was inspired by the recent ‘Time’ Article by Violent J, which you can read here (Link).

 -Brad OH Inc.

The Wagons Roll On

In early 2020, fear and confusion swept the globe, and everyone grasped desperately for direction as the COVID crisis spread. Large touring groups and festivals were in an especially difficult spot, forced between risking the health of crew and fans by remaining open, or sacrificing significant money by pulling the plug too early.

Many were surprised when the Insane Clown Posse were among the first voices of reason—cancelling their long-standing annual Gathering of the Juggalos pre-emptively in the interest of keeping their fans safe.

So, when ICP announced in 2021 that the Gathering would be coming back in August, the Juggalos were rightly eager to return to their favourite place, their family reunion—or as most of them would call it, home.

It was with this spirit of renewal that the 2021 Gathering of the Juggalos began, but it took little time for an unexpected change to call all of that into question. During the ICP seminar—an annual ‘State of the Family’ address made by ICP to the Juggalos in attendance—Violent J dropped a bombshell on the crowd. He’s been suffering with heart failure, and would need to step away from full-time touring in the near future.

Although the band promised a worldwide farewell tour, and to continue annual events, the Juggalos—in attendance and following around the world—were understandably devastated. While the news wasn’t all bad—it’s not a fatal condition, and can be managed—it represented to many a loss greater than regular concerts.

To anyone in attendance, and countless Juggalo the world over, the Insane Clown Posse means more than music or shows. Concerts and Gatherings aren’t just parties, they’re an opportunity to get together with like-minded people. For many, it’s a chance to feel at home that is rarely afforded elsewhere in life.

Whatever the path people take to embrace ICP and call themselves a Juggalo, what they find in the carnival grounds tends to be defined by a pervasive sense of community, understanding, love, and unconditional acceptance. The Dark Carnival is a deliverance from a world that might otherwise be cold and cruel, and a chance to speak up against the hate that pervades other communities. As such, any ICP event thusly becomes a sort of baptism by Faygo—a cleansing, rejuvenating experience.

To be sure, this world has grown beyond the wildest dreams of ICP, and the Juggalos have long been hailed as the main attraction at any ICP event. Nonetheless, at the head of this strange menagerie since the beginning have been ICP themselves—Shaggy 2 Dope and Violent J. Together, the two of them created a musical saga like no other in history, and built a refuge for weirdos, freaks, and loners in the process.

Their music has been the soundtrack to countless lives, and it is their constant hard work, planning, and creativity that have provided the backdrop of many Juggalo’s favourite memories.

To have this change is a scary thing, and worse yet is the fear over one of the beloved band members—Violent J. But while a ‘Farewell Tour’ sounds like the end, the band have promised ongoing activities, and increased musical output. Since the early 90’s, ICP have boldly claimed that, ‘the wicked clowns will never die’, and their ongoing determination to carry on the best they can and deliver for the Juggalos lends credence to that boast.

Still, many wait anxiously to see what the future holds. Change is never an easy prospect, and loss is far worse.

So, uncertainty prevails for now, and we all hold our breath and hope for the best. Until then, this Juggalo remains eternally thankful for the journey so far, and eager for the rest as the wagons roll on, wherever they may go.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: It is Good

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampIt is good to think of ourselves as guests in this world. For that is surely what we are. We come, and we go. What we leave behind is for the next guests to live with…for a while.

I write a lot about fundamental virtues, and the dignity which is shared by all people and all creeds. For those few who would actively deny that basic human decency, this article is not for you.

To skirt all tangential esoteric questioning, we are here for a while, and then we die. The world goes on.

The situation we are born into is a geographic lottery, and we spend our short time dealing with the choices of thousands of generations of guests before us.

Our actions will affect all those to come.

As such, the assumptions we make and the expectations we hold should hardly be different from our attitude towards being a guest in the house of a friend or colleague.

A guest should not take more than they need, and never without asking. A guest should help out in any way they can. A guest should not cause any undo harm or damage, and a guest should leave things exactly as they find them.

It’s all just good sense, social intelligence, and common respect in the small-scale scenario of visiting the home of a friend or colleague, and the grander stage of global interdependency should not obscure this view.

Just as we would not pillage the pantries of our hosts and leave them in want, neither can we allow our society to deny the potential of our skills and resources to nations or people with less. Likewise, just as it would be obscene to deface or destroy a home we are welcomed into, so too is it beneath us to take any action that might ruin this planet we enjoy so briefly, leaving it barren for the generations to come.

To do either would be violence most bestial, with or without gunfire.

It is an easy enough philosophy to nod your head to, but we must now explore the implications. To take no more than what we need, and leave things as they are, many would find themselves no longer the fortunate inheritors of land, wealth, and privilege which the circumstances of their birth have so far afforded. All would need an equal share—and none could be so bold as to demand more. Food, shelter, healthcare, and freedom would be the inherent birthright of all humanity, and the bettering of this shared condition—and its sustainability for future generations—would be the ambition and passion of all.

It’s good to show respect for our host. Our time, our place, and our ability to contribute are irreplaceable commodities which we cannot afford to squander on vanity and entitlement. For a thankless guest soon finds herself with nowhere else to go.

It is good to know these things.

-Brad OH Inc.

Brandy by a 40W Bulb

Under the Green Desklamp…

Green DesklampNote: This is the third article in a series. For the first, click here, and for the second, click here.

I thought about going with ‘by Candlelight’, but that would be a lie. It’s far too much effort at a time like this, especially for such a trite gesture. The standard 40W Bulb above me will do just fine for now. The illumination isn’t the point. That was the old goal—those ambitions are beyond us.

Brandy—that’s where the real hopes lie. The table has already been set, and the time for debating the menu is long past. This is about mood, and in that regard Brandy does far more than a candle, no matter how many Dickens novels you’ve read.

Ideas are cheap these days, and often more trouble than they’re worth. The best of them sell at a dime a piece, and are discarded just as cheaply. Some things, after all, truly are as simple as they seem.

In a world of ever-growing gradients, we should not lose sight of the poles. That’s what really moves people these days—the extremes. The most popular ideas are always the ones that cause a double-take and violent eye-roll from the general masses. The more far out they are, the more attractive to the fringe idiots looking for meaning in the void.

Meaning—there’s another dangerous idea.

So far, the Brandy is doing a pitiful job of improving the mood, but it’s not entirely to blame. Besides, Brandy is bountiful. Give her time.

Against such inky dark, even the brightest candle may struggle. My old bulb blinks and buzzes above me like a fly. It works fine in a pinch, but there’s no telling when it will flicker out for good, leaving me to face the lonely night.

There’s a terrible weight to understanding that lies and lunacy sell. There are niche groups that will cling to anything, but have few sources for their madness. By appealing to them, a person is guaranteed an instant and significant audience. Any asshole willing to scream obscenities and hate will find an audience somewhere. There is no shortage of desperate, sad bastards sitting in dark rooms, waiting for a lightning rod to justify their whispered insecurities with bullhorn vitriol.

To hold such knowledge and refuse to misuse it is the task of the decent person and the fool. The lowest common denominator is always the easiest mark, and honesty has a lot of competition. It’s an active decision we must all make—to decide to be a small voice of truth among many, rather than the most famous liar.

Everyone dreams of being heard in some way. It’s the reason for all the statues, art, graffiti, and songs that fill the spaces between the skyscrapers and the box stores. But these pleas for relevance can be easy to miss on the best of days, and that’s the problem entirely.

These days, wild change seems imminent, but its direction is impossible to know. This way, or the other… so it goes. It’s a lonely time—pensive. Tumultuous might be the word, really. Whatever you call it, one cannot deny the feeling of living in the calm before the storm.

That’s a cliché to be sure, but there are hopeless lunatics out there who would glean great meaning from a little thing like that.

And so, with whatever mask of optimism we may cobble from the refuse scattered nearby, we scream into the coming storm. We talk about what needs to change, or what needs to stop. What needs to be created, or what needs to be destroyed. We’ll debate who we should help, and who must be hindered. We’ll argue over where our priorities lie, what freedom really means, and who we are as a people.

All that is fine. But it goes off the rails somewhere around that point. We’ll start to argue about who is a person, and what that means for those who aren’t.

We’ll fight over who should have a voice, and who needs to be silenced.

We’ll forget what truth is.

Everyone holds their own individual truth these days, and that shouldn’t be such a terrible thing in and of itself. But there’s a funny thing about truth—it doesn’t do well in company. It’s the same problem religion has had throughout the ages—it’s great for the believers, but when it runs into the non-believers, it tends to have a funny reaction.

When we cling too tightly to our own truths, we run the risk of devaluing the truths of others. After all, there can only be one truth, and anyone who disagrees with you makes it slightly more likely that you’re living an illusion.

That’s no easy thing to tolerate.

One Brandy, two Brandy’s, three… Is it Brandy’s, or Brandies? She’s a cagey one, and it’s impossible to suss out her greater mysteries.

The bulb is too bright, and does nothing to ease the tension in the air. After all, upon close inspection, some things look better in the dark. Still, the mood is improving. Sometimes, we just need to sit, and drink, and think these things through. If you don’t drink, pick a vice or virtue of your own—you sorry sap.

Maybe, as always, it comes down to definitions.

Truth is one thing, and opinion is another entirely. There is far more of the latter, but it masquerades proudly as truth just so long as it can get away with it. Someone once said that opinions are like assholes, but that person was most likely an asshole themselves. Just because everyone has an opinion doesn’t make them any less valuable. The same can be said of assholes, except for the afore-mentioned one.

The thing about opinions is that they need to grow and change. They need to be challenged and examined. When they’re valuable, they need to be shared, and when they are discredited they must be abandoned.

That should be common sense, but just like common sense, it’s a terribly rare thing these days. We confuse opinions with facts, and if we find anyone else who can echo and amplify them, we’re all the more convinced. Many of us become warriors in the service of our tenuous opinions-made-sacrosanct, and with the holy armour of ignorance we go forth to purge the world of naysayers.

The cycle’s as old as humanity itself. It all begins to make sense if you repeat it enough. That probably means the Brandy has done her job. I knew she would. Old friends always come through.

It bears repeating. Opinions—regardless of who shares them or how much encouragement they are given—are not facts.

Equally important, facts are not opinion. They are not up for debate—facts are immutable.

Mind you, we seldom know the facts.

Even science—that often-misunderstood attempt to learn—seldom claims it has the facts. Science works in theories and understandings, which might be adjusted at any time if new—and especially contradictory—evidence emerges.

The pursuit of facts is an endless road. Still, it keeps its eyes on the horizon, and a trusted map as its side. It’s a long journey, and there are many sights to see along the way. There are good ideas out there—valuable ideas that would help the world immeasurably. There are also facts—simple truths that should and must not be lost among the static of discordant opinions.

The Brandy is flowing now, and my fingers are flying. The buzz and glare of the light is all just background noise to my composition. Soliloquies and symphonies. Damn… it’s been a while. But the Brandy is reaching is limits. Or perhaps I am.

At any rate, I’ve said enough.

There is no shame in temperance. A place you’ve probably never heard of once said it best: ‘Know thyself’, and ‘Nothing in Excess’.

It’s good to remember the old truths.

One more drink then… To truth, and the hope that we may not lose our way in its pursuit.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: Beers by the Bonfire

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampToday, I’m re-sharing the second in a series of articles I’ve created here at Brad OH Inc. This article, called ‘Beers by the Bonfire’ was conceived at a friends house out in rural Alberta.

I’m currently working on the next article in the series, so in anticipation of that release, I’ll be re-sharing the originals–today marks the second of two so far, so if you missed the first, click here.

The new article–title to come–will follow soon. Stay tuned!

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Perhaps it’s not quite as classy as ‘Bourbons by the Fire‘, but no one will catch the callback anyway. Besides, this isn’t the time for pomp and flair.

For the last year I’ve been in a sort of fugue state—drifting listlessly, waiting for my sense of purpose to descend upon me from on high. It hasn’t happened yet. But here I am. I’ve awoken to find the world a bit darker. The moment for high-minded philosophies is now past us.

To a man, we seem to focus on the lies of the next—we have no time for our own misunderstandings. It’s a bitter march, but we press onward—focussed only on the failings of the other.

Our options have dwindled, our reason hangs by a thread, and the only choice we have left to us is which of two futures we want the least.

These days, we have the greatest and easiest means of communication the world has ever known. We can pass information across the globe in the blink of an eye, and connect with like-minded strangers at the click of a button. Yet we squander this—debating the inane and pressing the irrelevant. The pawns squabble amongst themselves as the King stands exposed.

Piece by piece, we give away what we should hold the tightest. We do so willingly—with the unrestrained vigour of those possessed by a sense of righteousness, yet blinded by a cloud of distrust.

The fire crackles in front of me, as it always has. We’ve been sitting around such fires since before we were us, and likely debating these same sorry shortcomings. They’ve always been with us…the doubt and fear and self-loathing that drives a society to turn in upon itself for fear of what is beyond.

The beer is still cold, but it offers little comfort.

I think about what it might take, to turn this course around—what it might look like to see the world as hopeful and promising once again. The innocence of youth is unattainable now, and knowledge is easier gained than forgotten. I settle for another swig of beer.

I keep telling myself there is plenty of room on at the fire. If not, you can always build it bigger and back the chairs up. There is always plenty of beer. But the mood grows uneasy, and we’re all suspicious of each new guest.

I’d been told that the world was rich, and could provide for all through the bounty of human cooperation. It turned out no one really believed that. Worse, perhaps they do, but simply choose something else.

Greed—it is a sorry bonfire indeed when one man claims all the beer for himself. So what does it say about a world where we hoard our own and let the extra rot—we cling miser-like to our entitled notions, then act appalled with the bitterness of the hated ‘other’.

Surely the way is clear enough, and the rest is all just fanciful distraction. The answer has always been the same—we say it in songs and debates and prayers and art, we define ourselves by our commitment to it, yet live daily as if it were but a child’s dream—silly and irreverent.

The fire is warm enough for all, yet it leaves only ashes behind. If you stare into it long enough, you can lose sight of all the rest. The darkness beyond vanishes into black, and the world is nothing if not the fire before you; your current comfort—your own personal salvation.

Damn the rest.

Fuel, fire, and beer. Security, comfort, and distraction. They’re all you need.

I take another long swallow. Then another. The beer is getting warmer, and has grown flat. Still, it does its job—soothing my nerves and steadying my shaken will.

The fire spreads slowly out around its base—cleansing the old, consuming everything in its path.

It’s a twisted scene to be sure, and it is no difficult thing to become lost in the mire and confusion as lies spill from every side. It is a hard thing to act decisively when inundated with doubt, and we all sit around this fire, blinded by its light and shackled to its fleeting warmth.

Those we look to for safety have turned on us, and those from whom we would seek direction have failed. On every side, we are constrained by justifiable fear, and this alone is often sufficient to breed the inaction necessary for such a terrible course to hold true.

My beer is running low, and the fire dwindling to embers. The cold of night encroaches upon my refuge, and I let the can fall from my hand. There is no more comfort here.

Tonight, the retreat is over. Tomorrow the fire burns anew. Will it serve only to ward off the chill of the outside world, or will it rather set ablaze all which can no longer stand? Will it burn away the fear and doubts which hold us in thrall? Will it set to light upon the tinders of decency and virtue which still smoulder in the hearts and minds of all decent people?

Tomorrow alone will tell. I will be there, beer in hand. I will be ready.

-Brad OH Inc.