New Novel: ‘Meaning Less’

Today, I’m thrilled to announce that my most recent novel, ‘Meaning Less’, is complete and with my publisher for review.

This can be a lengthy process, but I’ll keep you updated as things progress, and hopefully will have more news soon.

For now, I’m happy to share a brief synopsis/ teaser. I hope you enjoy it!

Languishing in a dystopian corporate hell-scape, Jeffrey Boggs struggles to find meaning in a world that’s left him behind. His apartment is empty, his future is grim, and each day working in the terrible black tower of SALIGIA Inc. plays out like an ill-humoured assault on what scarce dignity remains to him.  

As the brief summer begins to fade into a bitter Edmonton winter, Jeff is haunted by memories of better times long behind him. Desperate to find a purpose in life, he turns to his new co-worker, Janice, hoping to use what he’s taken years to learn to help her cope with the degrading daily grind at SALIGIA.

Time and again however, Jeff fails to find what he needs. His colleagues compete for favor, his supervisors conspire to get him fired, and Jeff plots to find a way out on his own terms.

When a gathering snow storm promises to end the brief reprieve of summer, Jeff makes a final play for control in his life. But there’s no secret meaning to life beyond living with meaning, and as he chases it in all the wrong places, each day begins to mean a little less…

Your Friends,

-Brad OH Inc.

Merry Christmas, ya Filthy Animals

If anyone is reading this today, just what the hell are you doing? It’s Christmas, for heaven’s sake. Go drink some eggnog, or hug a loved one. Maybe open a present, or suck a candycane, or something.

If those alternatives don’t suffice though, we’re happy to have you, as always.

I want to wish a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the readers of this blog.

Keep your eyes peeled, cause we here at Brad OH Inc. are hoping to have some great surprises for you early in the New Year.

Until then,

-Brad OH Inc.

‘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: 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.

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.

Re-Share: Bourbons by the Fire

Under the Green Desk Lamp…

Today, I’m re-sharing the first in a series of articles I’ve created here at Brad OH Inc. This article, called ‘Bourbons by the Fire’, was first released in 2014, and was largely written–I believe–in a small bar in Vancouver, shortly after a Bruce Springsteen concert.

The article became a favourite of mine, and in 2016, I released a follow-up, called ‘Beers by the Bonfire’. That one 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–the first today, and the second shortly thereafter.

The new article–title to come–will follow once those have been re-shared. Stay tuned!

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There’s a bottle of bourbon in arm’s reach of my chair, and through the window in front of me I can see the last vestiges of the day’s light hanging on the horizon. It illuminates the glass like hot iron. It seems the sunsets last longer these days. Or it could perhaps be that, with each one that passes, that singular moment when the last ray of sun clings to the western sky lingers longer in the mind, with its promise that light will come again.

On nights like this, the dangers of thought far outweigh those of the bottle, and the intoxicating effect of knowledge brings a sickness far worse than any hangover imaginable. And so I have a drink.

It’s a strange time, a time when any decent person with an eye for details might come to suspect they are one of the few remaining sane souls left in a terribly dystopian world—the sort of world where little girls grow up dreaming of being heiresses.

These days, the heedless ambition of the powerful is to society as is cancer to the individual. It first gnaws at the extraneous, chipping away the small pleasures and devouring the variety of life, making all things secondary to its demands.

But like cancer it grows unchecked, consuming everything allowed to it until all that remains are memories of times that were better, when hope for a brighter future still blossomed in the hearts of those now disenfranchised by the voracious appetites of its expansion.

It’s a desperate time—the kind of time when great ideas tend to come along… or else when people will cling to the best idea they come across.

I take another drink, a long one. It’s warm going down my throat, and fire in the stomach—a slow, soothing sort of burn.

The sun is growing dimmer, and light and dark weigh heavy in my thoughts. They’re timeless concepts—forged into the spirit of our society by countless books, songs and films. For me it was Tolkien, but the sources are innumerable.

Sometimes when my mind wanders, it goes unbidden to dangerous places. There are times that I wonder where the decency of man has gone. We’ve all heard about it—that innate spark of light within all people, destined with only the slightest encouragement to guide us from the ever encroaching darkness.

It’s getting darker.

We are but monkeys grown beyond our means. We make up stories, and bow before them to reckon ourselves to the fact that we are raised with a terrifying capacity for evil, yet maintain a gentle compulsion for good.

It’s not an easy understanding to bear, and the more you know, the madder you go.

I can see how it happens, how you can get lost within your mind. You chase some dream, and at first it dances about the edges, enticing you to believe you might catch it and make it true. But it leads, and you chase. Like a boy following a rabbit into the forest, you pursue it until you lose the trail. Then you look around to realize you’ve lost your own as well. You are left with no clue where on earth you are… or worse still, you’re not sure you remember who you are.

A man needs to fight against it, that infernal apathy. It’ll set in and boil, and pretty soon even the most casual of social encounters will feel like ships passing in the night fog.

Again, the bourbon soothes my thoughts.

What is a man to do? That’s the question that keeps bouncing around my head as my fingers rest limply on my keyboard. People often think I’m multi-layered, but the truth is I’m just multi-talented. This is my weapon—the written word is like a Lego set for smart people, and the destructive potential it can harness is a terrible thing to behold.

People glue themselves to reality programs, fixating on fictional calamities as their government is looted by faceless Corporations and their inalienable rights are stripped away like the clothes of a drunken debutante in a dingy frat house.

This is the reality allotted to us, and it’s difficult to blame the cowards for looking away and leaving it for the next generation. It’s a defense mechanism rooted deeply in our DNA.

With a web as intricate as this, no answers are clear, and even the most optimistic zealot can find himself lost in the chaos around him. But one must not avoid doing right for fear that the devil has deceived them into doing wrong, or else surely he has.

I grit my teeth and crack my knuckles. They’re stiff, and the flesh is dry and cracked. Have I grown this old in so short a time?

Everyone else is smiling, and a cheery voice on a television to my right tells me that quick and harsh punishment will come to the foreigners who object to our imperialistic agenda.

A cheer rises up—on the television to my left, a touchdown has been scored.

Godforsaken idiots.

My mind drifts again to the tales of my youth, and the things they promised: ages of miracles, and the certain defeat of darkness. It always took until the last moment—when hope held on by the thinnest thread. That’s when delivery always came, when people woke up to their innate power to change the world, and made real the paradise they cradled secretly in their hearts.

The sun is down now, the window dull and translucent once more. Outside, neon ads flash, telling me it’s time to buy a new phone. Then everything will be ok.

Darkness has always been our nature. It doesn’t need to be forceful, for it can grow at any time, and is capable of overtaking us and condemning us to savagery whenever we let down our guard.

The light within is different. It flickers perilously, and I’ve heard it said that once it’s out, it’s out. It may dwindle, imperceptible at times, yet it’s driven ever towards great good and kindness.

Sometimes we must squint to even detect it, yet in dark times like these, it is the thing we must search for the most earnestly, and count on for deliverance.

This is an active process.

Few things truly raise my ire, but the depthless greed and thoughtless destruction wrought by the heedless empowered lights a righteous fury deep in my bones.

There’s music playing somewhere, but I can’t catch the tune. My head swims under the drink, but I’m not confused. It’s certainty that drags my mood down, and the refusal to close my eyes to that which surrounds me. An unfailing belief moves my fingers now, and their clatter upon the keys pounds out a drumbeat all my own.

It’s short and simple. Its rhythm churns like a locomotive, driving itself on by necessity. It says that we must return to decency. It proclaims that glib cynicism and ironic detachment are the tools of cowards, and that making a joke of the night is the surest way to get lost in the dark. Above all, it wails that even under the guise of freedom—callousness and selfish greed must not be the fundamental underpinnings of our society.

If you don’t hold to that, know that you have an enemy in Brad OH Inc.

I take another drink, and the comforting warmth brings a smile to my tired face.

-Brad OH Inc.