Re-Share: Muse

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

The minutes crawl, meandering mindlessly by,

as the mind mulls on myopic miseries.

Minutiae distracting—malicious in its mediocrity,

as merciless minions of misgivings muddy the waters.

But where the muse, whose music brings meaning?

When weaning from mundanity we writhe,

then written on the walls is the wonder of her witchcraft.

Who mollifies the weary and meddles with our worry.

Myriad memories are woven in her menagerie.

Where many malevolent mental blocks

are withdrawn and mended into that

magical mess of which they were wrought.

The who’s and the where’s and the why’s and the when’s,

writing we wrestle them while we still can.

It’s merely a moment, a miraculous wash

but wading unworried we’ll master the world.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: The ‘Jenga’ Analogy

The other day, I started sketching an outline for an article, but quickly realized I’d already written something terribly similar back in 2015. So in lieu of wasted effort, here is the original–I’m back to editing my book.


Earlier this week, I found myself playing a friendly game of Jenga. Well, not entirely friendly perhaps—it was naturally filled with all the taunting and tension so common to the game.

With each log I drew from the base with tremulous fingers, I breathed a sigh of relief as I watched the tower teeter and totter back and forth. But when it finally found its balance once more, the work was only halfway done.

After a brief period of respite marred only by a victorious sneer at my young opponent, it was time for me to finish my task. With the newly liberated block held delicately between my fingers, I raised it up and let it hover a moment above the top of the now lopsided and treacherous monstrosity we’d created.

Finally, I took a deep breath in and held it. The careful extraction was not my victory, for now I had to place the block on top—hoping against hope that the imbalance I had done to the tower’s base would not prove fatal.

Sadly, my hopes were dashed, and the tower came crumbling down. Wooden blocks scattered across the tabletop, and a squeal of unrestrained joy was loosed from the grandstanding lips of my tactless opponent.

‘If only I hadn’t had to put it on top’, I lamented. But that’s just the point here. It’s easy to cause imbalance. It’s far more difficult to deal with the consequences. When I’d slid the block out, I had created tension—specifically between the increasingly poor engineering of the tower, and the immutable force of gravity.

If it hadn’t been expressly forbidden by the sacrosanct rules of Jenga, I could have tossed the block lackadaisically over my shoulder and passed the buck onto the unaware child before me—forcing them to deal with the repercussions of my block choice.

“Again!” he cried, encouraged by his victory and likely reeling with a distinct sense of invulnerability.

But my mind was elsewhere, and time was not on my side. As I gathered up the blocks and began to replace them in the box, I turned to the clock on the wall to gauge my schedule. 11:00am—just enough time to get one last visit in before lunch.

Oh lunch: the vaunted reprieve from workday responsibilities. With a half-hour of stress-free liberty, my only significant choice would be where to eat. And if that’s the only conflict to resolve, things are pretty good in my books.

But as the last of the Jenga blocks was returned to its rightful place, my hunger-laden mind recalled suddenly the ongoing string of strikes and demonstrations against fast food operations around the world (Link).

Workers had taken to the streets, demanding delivery from the poverty level wages they had been faced with for far too long. The demonstrations were primarily peaceful shows of unity and hope—asking only a fair wage for a fair days work. But as is the leitmotif of any political discourse these days, the demand was mired in controversy and misgivings.

Among the myriad complaints aimed at the workers was the age-old notion of fiscal strain. The argument goes that if restaurants (and it should be noted here that the vast majority of those affected are multinational Corporations) were ‘forced’ to increase their minimum wage, the resultant loss of capital would have to come from somewhere else.

It’s a logical notion to be sure—money is finite after all, and if moved to one place, it must have come from another. The natural remedies, in the Corporate mind at least, are to lay off workers, increase prices, or decrease quality.

Of course, these options lead to long line-ups, inflated meal prices, and dangerously cheap ingredients. As images of soggy lettuce, smeared condiments, and dry, grey ‘all-beef patties’ danced before my eyes, my lunch options seemed somehow less appealing.

There is a problem with this key assumption however, and as so many problems are these days, it is tied to the fundamental structure of the Corporation. Guided by the anti-social leaning philosophies laid out in the ‘Friedman Doctrine’ (Link), a Corporation is structured with only one true responsibility—the shareholder. This means that with every decision a Corporation makes, it is obligated to ensure that the bottom line of share value is being increased.

In essence: no matter what the problem or potential solutions, the goal should be greater profit for the Corporation. Of course, this has historically led to a litany of grave injustices (Link), but just at this moment, it was my impending meal I was most concerned about.

And herein lies the problem. While it’s difficult to argue that workers aren’t entitled to a living wage—particularly in a world where an ever growing number of jobs are being pushed into the minimum wage bracket by increased automation and other factors—I still want a good meal.

But these desires are incompatible in the Corporate mind. You can’t have fair pay, good food, AND reasonable prices…at least not if stock prices are to continue rising.

And so it goes: as each year passes, Corporations continue to take money away from the bottom, while ensuring it also stays at the top. Increase the wages—lay off employees. Respect environmental regulations—decrease the quality of the product. Comply with fair tax regulations—jack up the prices.

You take a block from the bottom, and you put it on top.

The easy answer of course, is that Corporations should, and must, accept that as society changes and technology grows, sometimes they may see a decrease in overall profits. But this should be felt at the top—the shareholders and the CEO’s who are in dire need of learning that just as they claim that ‘a person doing a minimum-skill job deserves only a minimum salary’, so too must the directors of a decreasingly relevant franchise ultimately see a stall in their (still exorbitant) profit margins.

Of course, this isn’t what happens. While many of these fast-food franchises likely started out as very solid businesses offering a decent meal at a competitive price, they have long since grown unwieldy. As the towers of their Corporate offices rose higher into the skyline, their bases grew increasingly unsteady. And we’ve all seen the end result many times before. Eventually, the whole operation comes crumbling down. After all, no one wants to pay $14 for a shitty burger just so the CEO can afford to take a private jet to his island resort.

And this, better than anything else, illustrates the fundamental failing which has occurred in our conception of capitalism. Namely, the transfer of implicit company responsibility away from its customers—who rely on a strong and reliable base—to its shareholders—who care only for how high it can reach before they sell their shares and watch it all crumble from the vantage point of the next opportunity they make ready to despoil.

It’s a depressing thought to say the least. And so, as I slid the Jenga box into my bag and made off to my next visit, I made a decision. Today, maybe I could pass on lunch. I was hungry no doubt, but as I thought about the implications behind which barely-edible meal I’d buy, I found that my appetite was gone.

Fuck it, I’d just go hungry. After all, if the Corporations had it their way, that would be the fate of the lot of us.

-Brad OH Inc.

The Gathering of the Juggalos 2022

Well, I’m back.

Those were the words Sam Gamgee spoke to Rosie Cotton upon finally returning from the end of his journey. Sitting in the air-conditioned silence of my office, only days after the ending of the Gathering of the Juggalos, I feel rather the same.

The real world I’ve returned to is less vibrant than the one still teasing the edges of my memory—threatening to pull me blindly back through time into a realm I would rather remain.

The Gathering of the Juggalos 2022 was dubbed the Gathering of Dreams, and in many ways, that’s certainly how it feels. Too quickly it passed, and remains now as a constant dream in the back of my mind of what was, and what will someday be again.

The visions are a seemingly chaotic collection—a kaleidoscope of carnival imagery, camaraderie, and concerts.

With the lingering taste of midway food and the smell of stale soda, faces pass through my mind. They are a shockingly varied group, united by looks of grudging exhaustion, glee, and more than anything else, a burning sense of appreciation for the moment they’re in.

I was able to reconnect with old friends, and meet new ones. At a Gathering, there’s a pervasive sense of familiarity that makes real the repeated claim that these events are not merely a music festival, but rather a family reunion for the most reviled and feared lineage in music history.

Faygo flew through the air, raining down on anyone below before crashing with a colourful splash into its target. Juggalos set up slingshots to launch Faygo or water balloons into the crowd, while others struggled to outfox security and make it up onto the dinosaur’s back.

Fireworks blasted continuously in the background, and clumped in wet heaps on the ground at many points were the burned rags of confederate flags. Passerby’s would spit on them and laugh. One danced upon it. “Be careful,” said a nearby stranger, “I did that earlier, and there was shit all over it.”

I think I’ll always remember that quote.

Juggalos are a direct sort of people, and if they are passionate about displaying their hatred for hate (ironic as that may sound) so too do they celebrate what they love with ferocious vigour.

The pits in front of the ICP concerts saw split heads and shattered teeth. Strangers crashed into each other, then hugged like old friends. Mortars shot off, smoke filled the air, and people choked and gasped together. Fresh Faygo washed away blood and sweat alike.

Even amidst this atavistic revelry, there is gentleness and respect. No one who falls stays down for long, and even as they land are greeted by a rush of hands ready to pick them up and let them try again.

That’s sort of what the Gathering is about. We take care of our own. Whether it’s helping a wounded comrade out of the pit, putting together entire campsites to take care of people lacking supplies, or finding random and wonderful ways to entertain one another, Juggalos never cease to amaze with their ingenuity and unique charm.

I remember on the final night as ICP held everyone in thrall, I caught a funny sight out of the corner of my eye. It was like a white blob moving through the sky. I stole a look over, and saw that it was a Hatchetman. Someone off to the side was creating them out of foam and sending them up to dance over the crowd.

No matter where you go at the Gathering, you’ll see something memorable. I appreciate that about Juggalos.

Of course, there are scheduled events too, and some of these were chief in my priorities. Among the top of that list was the Morton’s List Revealed Seminar—at which the creators of the beloved game would reveal all the secrets of its past, and discuss the game’s future.

Despite the excellent turnout, this felt like a surprisingly intimate affair. The three creators of the game—Jumpsteady, ‘Ninja’ Nate Andren, and ‘Tall’ Jess Deneaux—shared stories of their childhoods, the creation of the game, and the magical experiences which culminated in this epic release. A photo was shared of the original inspiration for the name of the Morton Boulder, and thus the game itself.

The game’s creators had tracked down their old friend, the eponymous Morton recently, only to find that he was deceased long past. Their mission ended with celebrating the life of their friend—reckoning themselves with the clutches of mortality even as they reminisced on the days of youth, life, and blind ambition.

Morton’s List brings us full circle like that sometimes, it’s part of the game’s chaotic magic, and provided for a touching seminar.

I was able to connect with my friend and one third of the creative force behind Morton’s List—Ninja Nate—out on the grounds. He was driving the golf-cart around for those who needed transport, but spared me the time to chat. Then, he gave me a lanyard with a card for his new game, Stranger Tales, explaining that he passed one to each person he encountered, and that the symbol on the back was the harbinger to some magical connection. It was up to me to discover the meaning of that for myself.

My card showed a series of exploding fireworks. I didn’t know what it meant then, but I nevertheless wore it with the youthful enthusiasm so necessary to a festival like this.

At 15 years old, I could hardly have dreamed of an experience like this.

Of course, dreams blend and shift as we look back on them. They merge and intersect, building on one another as they exist at once in the past and the future. Every minute since I’ve been back, different memories have bounced and played before my tried eyes. Friends and strangers, concerts and events. I saw amazing performances from Sir Mixalot, Onyx, The Hatchetman Project, Esham, KRS-One, Slick Rick, and the legendary Mike E. Clark among others. The latter of these even DJ’d live for ICP, and is featured heavily on their new EP, Pug Ugly.

I watched a live Palcast Hotdog eating contest, and witnessed Babytron live up to his name as he fled the stage early for this year’s Bubba Sparxxx award (IFKYK).

As is tradition, ICP were late for their yearly seminar, and the Trash War which ensued in the meantime was one for the books. Faygo, garbage, fireworks, smoke bombs, and even an octopus took to the skies, most often connecting with some unsuspecting sucker who’d gotten himself in too deep.

Sometime around 2011, venues stopped providing chairs for this event, and opted instead for bails of hay. The rationale was that the bales would be less easy to throw at one another than the chairs, but this assumption was sorely tested. I not only saw hay bales thrown at Juggalos, I saw Juggalos themselves hurled through the air as improvised projectiles.

It was fantastic.

An improvised Zen of Love Show took the place of the traditional seminar. It was fun, but many regretted the lack of significant news or updates in the Juggalo world.

Of course, at any Gathering of the Juggalos, the ICP concerts are an undeniable highlight. This year, we had two on offer, with the first of them being a Night 2 performance focussing on rarely or never-before-played songs. This ‘Juggalo Jukebox Show’ was a legendary performance, and will likely be held in the upper echelon of ICP’s storied concert history. It opened with ‘Here Comes the Carnival’ from the recent LP ‘Yum Yum Bedlam’—the live debut of a song likely to be a live classic. As fate would have it, this writer was able to get right up to the front of the pit.

It was about then that I realized it had been ten years since I’d been in a Gathering pit, and I was not the young man I used to be. It was a battle to be sure. Faygos launched like missiles before and behind me. Crowd-surfers—many with steel-toed boots—crashed towards my head from the smoky stretches of humanity pressed behind me, as the sweating masses clawed for my position.

It’s not a scene for the faint of heart, but even in the mud and mire of this battleground there is beauty and friendship. Juggalos scream the words into each other’s faces, and support one another when they fall. In rare moments of reprieve, they share stories of past battles, exchange notes on the setlist, and speculate on what will come next. Namelessly, bonds are formed, only to be torn asunder by the raging movement of the crowd as the set resumes.

The bonds remain.

As the final song started, I saw my moment come, and with Faygo Armageddon in full effect, I pulled myself over the rail and onto the stage.

Watching from far off, my partner shared that she saw me make it up, and knew that it was me when I turned to pull up those struggling behind me. That made me smile.

I danced in the Faygo rain for a long while—handing out 2-Litres, helping protect the security line around J, and hugging strangers with paint smeared smiles as they stood dumbstruck by the celebration of love, madness, and unity strobing around them.

After the set, I sat soaking and trembling with an energy rarely achieved in normal life. As my partner purchased herself a corndog, I sat on a rock, staring up at the starry sky. The myriad colours of the carnival lights bounced off my wet shirt, and I knew in that moment with a clarity reserved usually for youth and the insane that this was a special moment. It was one that I could hold, turn about and examine for years to come. It was the high-watermark of a week-long dream. The terrible, white face of the iceberg—visible and real—and acting as the portent of all that might bob and heave beneath the surface of immediate recall.

Then, as I sat there staring in wonder, the fireworks went off. Dozens, in all the colours of the rainbow, exploded above, sending their dying tendrils of smoke and sparks raining down over the grounds like a final baptism.

I clutched at my chest, where my Stranger Tales lanyard showed a similar row of fireworks. It couldn’t have been clearer to me just then. Of all the dreamlike, esoteric joys I’d had, and all of those yet to come, I knew that I’d found my moment. I was simply, purely happy, and that’s a thing not easily achieved these days.

It was a like dream, and it remains such.

Some dreams never end…

Now, I’m back. But I’ve said that already. The dreams of this vacation stretch behind me like a map to a place I never knew existed. Talking about it to those who have never been there feels like a futile effort. I would come across like a child trying to relay the contents of a fairy tale to some stranger with a briefcase.

These memories are not of this world. They are for somewhere better, a dream-like place that exists still in my past, and lingers upon the edges of certainty, somewhere ahead, like a castle in the fog, or a road stretching off into the clouds. It is the promise of joy, of community, of all the things so necessary to our humanity, yet all too often eschewed in the daily grind to survive, rather than to live.

To the Juggalos, that dream will never end. Someday, I hope that you can join us.

There’s always room on our wagons.

Much Clown Love,

-Brad OH Inc.

(Schisobe)

A Long Overdue Homecoming

The astute, foresighted, and the stalkers among you are likely already aware, but Brad OH Inc. will go un-updated for a little while, as Brad OH is off gallivanting again.

As I shared recently however, this excuse is better than most, as I’ll be returning after ten years to the greatest show on Earth–the Gathering of the Juggalos.

I’ll have more to share when I’m back.

Until then,

MCL,

Brad OH Inc.

(Schisobe)

Dark Carnivals, Dreams, and the Mystery of Morton

Ten years… a goddamn decade. That’s how long it’s been.

As I drove the long road home from the Gathering of the Juggalos in 2012—bumping the brand new Mighty Death Pop album—I imagined what might change in my life before I returned.

I couldn’t have guessed the extent of it then, or how long the stretch of time would be. Much has changed in my life and the world at large in the last ten years, but fortunately, at least one constant yet remains.

Each summer, thousands of Juggalos from around the world gather in one spot for the biggest independent music festival and family gathering in the world. This year, it happens at the start of August, and is hailed as ‘The Gathering of Dreams’.

The name isn’t chosen solely to celebrate my return—although the assumption is understandable—this year the acts and events were all themed around the wildest dream of the Juggalos and the organizers alike.

It’s a return, a celebration, and to steal a line from a wildly different band, a sort of homecoming. With all the uncertainty and instability in the world of late, a return to the gathering is just the ticket to create some semblance of sense again for this and many other Juggalos.

The Gathering is a time to forget about the rest of the world, and revel in the company of like-minded lunatics, where the mundanity of life and the weight of daily norms are cast to the wayside for a party involving friends, family, wild musical acts, carnival rides, and so much more.

This year, the emphasis is on the more. As one of the dreams of Psychopathic Don Jumpsteady, there will be a very special session to discuss some of the most ancient and guarded secrets of the infamous game, Morton’s List.

For those unfamiliar, Morton’s List is a Random Reality game heralded as the ‘End to Boredom’, and does much to live up to this bold claim. Tasking players with completing real-life quests limited only by their imaginations, Morton’s List is the only game ever to be banned from Gen Con, one of the largest toy and game trade shows in the United States.

This year’s seminar couldn’t come with more karmic hype. Original creators Jumpsteady, Ninja Nate, and R. Jesse Deneaux will be coming together to share their memories, reveal key details about development, and answer the age-old question and potential quest—who is Morton? Juggalos have been wondering about this since the games release back at the second annual Gathering in Toledo, in 2001.

Ninja Nate explains the event: “Twenty-eight years after beginning the Morton’s List project, we three authors are coming together to not only share the long-held secret of the origins of the game’s name, but also to reveal wig flipping information we weren’t aware of until last year. Plus, more revelations of the future of reality gaming!”

Like many, it’s not only the specifics of the seminars, but the overwhelmingly positive atmosphere of the Gathering that has Nate excited: “I’m most looking forward to being in the same tent with so many Morton’s List players and supporters. The Karma and good vibes of all you creative, adventurous ninjas is gonna be thick as bricks!”

There’s no doubt about that. To learn these key secrets and discuss Morton’s List with fellow enthusiasts, be sure to be at the Morton’s List Seminar. Tickets to the Gathering are still available Here.

Also, be sure to check out other games by the creators of Morton’s List, including The Quest for Shangri-La, Stranger Tales, and Druglord.

Even beyond that event, this years Gathering will be a veritable smorgasbord of entrainment. Musical acts include Mushroomhead, KRS-One, Onyx, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Slick Rick, Steel Panther, Mike E. Clark, Esham, and countless others.

Of course, the Wicked Clowns themselves—ICP—will be playing not one, but two sets. They’ll be the headlining act on the final night, and will also perform a ‘Super Mix Juggalo Juke Box Show’ featuring rare and never-before-played-live songs. This one will doubtless be a special draw for many seasoned Juggalos.

If music isn’t your thing, there’s an endless supply of alternative activities running all throughout the day and well into the night. Haunted Houses, Carnival Rides, Sideshows, countless Juggalo vendors selling rare or customized merch, the return of Big Silva (if you know you know), a seminar with the infamous Bigfoot researcher Todd Standing, and the annual ICP Seminar—often likened to a yearly Juggalo state of the union address.

Of course, even when the events stop, the Gathering never sleeps. It’s the Juggalos themselves who are the main event, and they keep it going all night long.

It’s certain to be the event of a lifetime, and there’s not a Juggalo I’ve spoken to that isn’t counting the days.

The Gathering of Dreams runs from August 3-6, 2022. Click here to get your tickets.

I’ll be on the scene as early as possible, taking it all in, living the dream, and rejoicing amongst the Juggalo Family. Check back here afterward for a full report.

Until then, stay down with the clown.

MCL,

-Brad OH Inc.

(Schisobe)

The Curse of the Uncouth

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampAs the pandemic passes all too swiftly into memory and businesses start to run at full capacity once more, there are many long-lost amenities to appreciate with fresh eyes. Open air markets, dusty record stores, convenient shopping experiences, dine-in restaurants, and of course, the beloved local bar.

Returning to a closer approximation to normal at the local watering hole is a welcome relief to the cultured barfly—and the uncultured one to boot. In this wave of excitement however, there has long lingered an unspoken fear—perhaps the final curse of the dreaded Covid virus.

After more than two years of closed or limited bar service, this return to normal will debut not one, but almost three years worth of first timers to a busy bar scene. The Uncouth—they will have no experience to guide them, and no friends near in age to teach them. A stretch of clueless newbies from eighteen to twenty (CDN) will be plowing their way through crowded bar fronts, bumping into tray-laden servers, and forming lines where absolutely no line is needed.

Cologne-covered and cocky, they’ll stand with their backs pressing against the chair behind them, unheeding the discomfort of the sitting person who would much rather just be left alone.

Like spooked buffalo (or bison, for you locals) they’ll trample wild-eyed over the accumulated goodwill of crusty drunkards everywhere. Whining their way to the front of lines. Scrounging for cigarettes on the ground. Or worse yet, stealing quick hits from vape cartridges, leaving the discarded cigarettes to pile up on the ground unchecked. They’ll throw the whole damned eco-system off kilter!

They’ll request all the wrong songs, and dance far from the designated dance-floor. They’ll sing Top 40 lyrics in your general direction, and expect you to respond with enthusiasm!

This is the final sting, the lasting poison of a sickness which has already asked far too much.

Or maybe they’ll turn out ok.

Shit, I’m probably just getting old.

-Brad OH Inc.

Re-Share: A Fool Not Just in April

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green Desklamp

This may seem like it’s coming a month late, but the truth is, this was never about April Fools…


There’s a funny thing that happens right around this time of year. On the first of April each year, we observe a weird little day called ‘April Fools’’. This glorious day is a long-time favourite for pranksters and mischief-makers the world over—as jokes are played, tricks enacted, and terrible deceptions perpetrated by one friend upon another all in the righteous pursuit of naming another as a fool.

The possibilities are endless! Saran-wrap over the toilet seat? Check! Sardine Paste in the toothpaste tube? Check! Brutal lies about the health or general well-being of distant loved-ones? Yeah, even that might pass. But recently, one phenomenon has illustrated an especially troublesome habit of humanity—and shown us perhaps that the day of fools is a boon for the few wise people among us.

See, one irresistible opportunity for news pundits and bloggers alike is to post semi-believable yet entirely unreal stories for public consumption on April Fools’ Day. The writer will let the speculation and doubts run roughshod until noon, then coolly—and doubtless with an air of overplayed coyness—reveal the truth: namely, that it was all a ruse.

This all seems harmless enough. The thing is, it’s been going on for a significant enough stretch of time that anyone with half a clue and access to the internet for more than a year knows just what to expect, and rises each April 1st donning the armour of suspicion, and brandishing their sword of rational-inquiry. Each article they see is taken in with a discerning eye. Facts are weighed against probabilities, and anything doubtful is cross-referenced against other articles.

Dates are checked, names researched, local obituaries are pored over for accuracy, and for one day, all sources of information are taken in with a critical eye, hell-bent on sussing out the truth from the trash.

All things considered, it’s a pretty wonderful day!

But then something unfortunate happens. The sun rises on the second of April, the bathroom floors are disinfected, toothpaste tubes replaced, and loved ones are given a brief check-in call with a pre-arranged excuse to hang up after a few minutes small-talk. Then, everything returns to normal. People eat their breakfast, kiss their spouses and children, go to their jobs, and then sit slack-jawed and dumb-founded at the torrents of bullshit flashing across their screens in the name of ‘news’.

‘You won’t believe what…’

‘What happened next will leave you speechless…’

‘Local mom makes $900,000,000 in one hour, when you learn how you’ll…’

‘THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING!!!’

They sit with eyes glazed over as they work their fingers along their mouse, taking it all in, following the currents of their newsfeed like Job waiting on fairer winds. It’s all accepted, all welcome, and none of it is ever second-guessed.

It’s a sorry fact that when not actively warned by our calendars that the news just might not be as accurate as it’s purported to be, people forget the concept entirely. But rational thought is not a novelty to be toyed with once a year, only to be dusted off and returned in mint-condition to its little glass case marked ‘Open April 1st’. Rather, it is a tool to utilize daily, to ward off the perils of misinformation—deliberate or not—and exercise the full potential of our humanity. As rational creatures living in an often irrational world, the onus of critical consideration of news media is on us as consumers. It is a matter of education, of self-protection, and more importantly, of intellectual integrity.

So let us not forget, good people, that there may be but one day a year where we are free to name each other as fools, but that leaves 364 days each year where the names do not fly so readily, and we are left simply with an opportunity to prove the fact for ourselves.

-Brad OH Inc.

Wicked Juggalo Podtrash

As the more astute among you may have figured out, ‘The Gentleman Juggalo’s’ hiatus is seeming mighty permanent these days, but that doesn’t mean that Brad OH Inc. is out of the Podcast game completely.

Not by a longshot.

In fact, my recent appearance on the amazing ‘BoomBastiCAST’ Podcast has led to the creation of a new show with my friends Mathew and Kandis at ‘Wicked Juggalo Podtrash’. Connecting virtually, the three of us come from far away locations and different eras in ICP’s long and storied history. I think this adds a unique spectrum of voices and opinions as we discuss recent Juggalo releases, news, and whatever the fuck else happens to come up.

It’s been a blast recording it so far, and I hope that my readers, new Juggalos, and other curious parties enjoy it as much as I have.

Check us out here for all the latest Podcast drops and other news.

MCL,

-Brad OH Inc.

(Schisobe)

Lost in the Lands Between

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Green DesklampSpoiler Warning: This review is light on spoilers, but is written after 100+ hours in Elden Ring, and will contain some mild spoilers on events, locations, and/ or boss names or details.

I chose the wretch. Of course I did.  It’s been my preferred route since I started playing From Software’s ‘Souls series’ back in 2009 with the mind-blowing and spirit crushing Demon’s Souls, and one that I was even more excited to set forth on in 2022’s Elden Ring.

Hyped up as the culmination of the 13-year road between Demon’s Souls and now, Elden Ring promised to take the ground-breaking and genre defining combat and level design the series was known for, and bring it into a truly open-world format.

The claim was a bold one. Changing the formula from tightly designed, primarily linear albeit Metroidvania-esque perfection of Miyazaki’s masterpieces into a sprawling open world meant risking the design aesthetic and ubiquitous attention to detail that was so important to the franchise.

As a long-time devotee of the series, I knew that it was my solemn duty to try it out, and report back to you—my dear readers—on how Elden Ring pulled off this momentous task.

I wish that duty wasn’t mine.

I wish I had no duties.

To be honest, I just wish I was playing Elden Ring.

Right now.

Always.

As my miserable, naked wretch—named Baurgon the Lost—heaved open the massive stone door to the cavern he’d bludgeoned his way through, and stepped out into the brilliant landscape of the Lands Between, I could already tell that From Software had pulled it off.

Those crazy sons of bitches. They really did it!

And how!

As the grandeur of the physical geography held me in awe, my gaze settled upon one distant object, then the next. I knew I would be to each of them soon enough. It was—ironically enough—the lands in between these mesmerizing landmarks that really sucked me in. The forests I’d need to navigate, the mountains in the way. The huge golden knight riding across the path in front of me.

I shouldn’t have challenged him so soon. Lesson learned.

Wherever I looked, there was something amazing I wanted to do. Sometimes, I’d pick some distant object and try to hurry over to see it. Inevitably, hours would pass as I followed one lead and another, constantly tempted off my path by the overwhelming richness of the environment around me.

When I’d finally got my bearings and began to gain some semblance of confidence, I found myself exploring a cave just south of my starting location. No longer naked and equipped with a club, I now had a sword, and a fine pair of boots. With my skill with the series, I was certain nothing could stop me. I carved through bandits, out-maneuvered savage dogs, and slew several hideous monsters as I fought deeper into the ruins.

Finally, I stood before the object I hadn’t even known I was seeking—a glowing treasure chest at the bottom of these ruins I’d randomly encountered and sworn to best.

I’d been playing these games for 13 years after all, and I was no rank amateur.

When, therefore, a blue-grey mist seeped out of the chest as I cracked it, quickly transporting me to what by all appearances may have actually been hell, I should not have been surprised.

I fought my way out of a crystal mine guarded by magic-wielding golems, then sped across a lake of what could only be blood as pterodactyl-dogs chased me past dilapidated castles, glowing caves, sleeping dragons, and impassable peaks.

By the time I’d made it back to the starting location, I was no longer the fresh-eyed scamp who had set out from those heavy stone gates hours before. I was weathered, beaten, and hungry.

Hungry not for any sustenance found beyond. No, my appetite could only be whet by diving deeper into the incredible world of Elden Ring.

And I have gorged.

Since those early days, I’ve traversed all the sprawling lands I’d seen that day, and trawled the depths of every great ruin and castle. Beyond them, I have found more sights unimagined and unlooked for. Some were beautiful, others shocking. All were terrifying in their own ways.

I’ve felled the Fell Omen, slew the Queen of the moon, and joined a tournament to take down the great war General Radahn, known as the Starscourge. I’ve watched allies fall as I continued on.

I met a particularly nasty mage in a tower, and spent the next several days honing my character into the blade that would be his undoing.

At this, I was successful.

I have experienced magnificent triumphs, and heart-breaking failures. I have won battles that I’ve wished I’d never started, and watched the consequences—ever subtle—play out before my weary eyes.

I don’t know how far in I am, or how much is left. It’s about how far I’ve come—and how far the gaming industry has come, at least in some areas.

Already, I have my next few builds picked out, and can hardly imagine what could pull me away from Elden Ring. It is an emphatic victory for the comparably small From Software, and a rude wakeup call to so many of the AAA Studios pushing out unfinished, uninspired crap with pay-to-win design and missing features.

It’s the same message Elden Ring sends to its players—do better, and learn from your mistakes… or get left behind.

-Brad OH Inc.

A Flag in Peril

I’m driving along an asphalt road, lousy with potholes. It doesn’t matter where I’m going. In Alberta, most destinations are similar enough. It’s not the sites on the side of the road, or the gloomy clouds ahead that get my attention—it’s the flag on the truck blowing by me.

For most of my life, the red bars and maple leaf of the Canadian flag has held a uniform meaning to most anyone likely to encounter it. It stood for pride, equality, and promise. Not the ill-defined promise of freedom so often associated with the stars and bars, but a more grounded, introspective promise that assured us we were working together, and supporting one another. Certainly, the country has never been perfect, but for a long while, it felt like we were on the same path—one helping the other down it as required.

That’s all in the past now. As the flag—torn and weather worn—flutters by above a brand new, lifted pickup truck, a new set of feelings arise in my heart. Where before there may have been pride, now there is resentment, judgement, and anger.

…The flag has been co-opted, and it’s meaning is no longer consistent.

In late January, 2022, the country witnessed an unparalleled level of unrest and division. Dubbing itself the ‘Freedom Convoy’, a sizeable group of Canadians jumped into their over-sized, high-end vehicles in an effort to show the world how hard-done-by they were.

While it may be understandable for people to tire of mandates, and few could argue against the notion that civil protest is a fundamental right to any free society, the convoy quickly took a turn for the worse when it reached Ottawa, and other Canadian cities.

Fed by misinformation and fuelled by paranoia, their demands became more and more outrageous, and their behaviour followed suit. While the more reasonable members of the protest focussed on lifting mandates and returning to ‘normal’, extremist elements sought to impose their will on the country through any means necessary.

The stated intentions of the convoy ranged from an end to vaccine mandates for truckers crossing the border—a policy reflected by the country sharing said border—to an end to all mandates, to the surrender of the government and the instatement of their own appointed officials. These latter intentions were outlined in a shocking manifesto delivered—and later retracted by—convoy leaders. For more information on that, see Here, and Here.

Soon enough, it was a protest no longer. The capital city of Canada was experiencing a full-on occupation. With trucks blocking major through-ways, protesters used horns to torture the residents of Ottawa day and night, for three weeks straight. They hurled insults at anyone wearing a mask, defaced public property, and damaged businesses who didn’t immediately cave to their wildly varied demands.

While provincial police and politicians sat on their hands—likely trying to decide which response was most likely to curry them the greatest favor from voters—innocent people living in cities across Canada grew increasingly incensed at the notion that this small minority could run roughshod over the fabric of society, and seemingly get away with it.

When Prime Minister Trudeau activated emergency powers to end the occupation, the country held its collective breath. Supporters of the convoy railed against perceived tyranny, while victims of the convoy cried for delivery from the occupiers. Everyone feared the precedent set, and the potential damage to our international reputation if the powers were misused.

To the shock of very few, the occupiers caved quickly when faced with actual consequences for what may have been the first time in their lives. Despite the hysteria, the application of the emergency powers was well-restrained. It specifically targeted the funding of occupation leaders, aiming to end their supply chain. In ongoing investigations that have surprised absolutely no one, it has been revealed that the majority of this funding came from foreign sources.

Police seized vehicles only after several written warnings, and convoy leaders who refused to move on were arrested. Once the crisis was over and the people of Ottawa were again secure to live their lives, the powers were promptly rescinded. While by all accounts this use of emergency powers was limited and practical, the country remains on edge.

To some, the occupation was a legitimate expression of discontent—the culmination of frustrations with COVID-19 mandates that were shared by most everyone. To the majority however, its execution was like the colicky wailings of a dying sense of masculinity—an entitlement so deeply rooted that harassing others and forcing your minority view on a nation seemed like justice.

Now the nation watches as the Right Wing of provincial politics seeks to gut our Universal Healthcare—claiming it had failed to get the nation through the pandemic. They miss the irony of course, as they were the very ones dodging public health efforts, and under-funding it at every turn. If the passengers of the Titanic had cheered on the iceberg, haranguing that ‘at least it’s not the one sinking’, the level of cognitive-dissonance could scarcely be greater.

Things have quieted down now. At least, that’s the case if you can ignore the desperate posts of those still married to their own victim-complexes.

The streets are quiet, and traffic can move again. The COVID mandates are lifting—as they were set to all along.

In the end, this occupation’s only real impact was likely the damage it did to the comfort and contentment of many Canadians. No minds were changed, and no policies were impacted to any significant degree.

Still, as the flag trails off into the distance in my rear-view mirror, I can’t ignore the adverse feeling in my gut. It’s been degraded, and I wonder what the rest of the world sees these days when the Canadian flag waves.

There’s another flag in windows these days. The Blue and Yellow of the Ukrainian standard flies high and proud around my city—supporting those fighting against real oppression, and facing legitimate danger.

It stirs something inside of me. A memory of a time not too long ago, yet far too distant. It was a time when people remembered that a society means that we are in this together—and that only by embracing that can we ever affect lasting change.

I hope that soon, our nation can remember that, and our flag can once more fly so high.

-Brad OH Inc.