Monday, January 16, 2017

Bob, Church of the SubGenius - The Weird


When confronted by the eratz-50’s, conservative, smiling face of Bob, the Christ/figurehead/leader/symbol/prophet of the Church of the SubGenius, complete with Reagan-youth hair and a pipe dangling from his mouth with all the casual jauntiness of a hip swinger, it’s hard not to laugh the whole religion off as a practical joke. Surely, this cannot be serious.

The Reverend Ivan Stang, Co-Founder of
The Church of the SubGenius

But that’s just it. With the Church of the SubGenius, the joke is very serious.

What religion doesn’t have iconography? Christians have the crucifix and the Jesus fish. Catholics have the bleeding, tortured form of Christ on the Cross and Scientologists have their own gold crucifix with a star at its center.


The Church of the SubGenius hits you with iconography like the impact of  a thrown cream pie to the face. Flying saucers discharging disintegration beams into burning hordes of retreating humans, the grinning mug of Bob, a cross with a pipe dangling from its side, smiling, black-eyed demonic figures looming in like a nightmare, even the symbol of JHVH-1, with beetling, menacing eyebrows, a winged one-eyed pyramid hovering out of his forehead, and a large clawed hand tearing the roof off a house.


So the real question is asked: Where does the joke end and the religion begin?

The Church of the SubGenius is very quick to get your money as fast as possible. The only sin in the Church of the SubGenius is to not send them $30 to become a member for life, thus guaranteeing personal salvation. In fact, the religion claims, if you die and end up in some boring hell, Bob Himself will appear before you and give you a check for $90 and a booklet entitled, “How to Enjoy Hell for Five Cents a Day.”


This business of making money is not disguised in the least. You can get their bible, “The Church of the SubGenius,” several other books including “Revelation X, The Bob Apocryphon,” monthly publications, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and bumper stickers.


But the core of the religion is the idea that every religion is a potential rip-off, and that the goal of any human get-together is to laugh it up. Even the origin of their religion is nothing more than a mutant hybrid of every other belief system you might come across.


J.R. “Bob” Dobbs was a drilling bit salesman until one day he saw a vision of God, or “JHVH-1” on his television, and proceeded to spread the word about slack. Slack is the ultimate goal of the Church, to realize that day-to-day existence is a waste of time and the pursuit of serious fun is the only worthwhile, attainable goal.

Bob realized that amongst normal humanity (referred to as “Pinks”) are descendents of the Yeti, a super-race created by aliens called “X-ists,” and anyone joining the Church of the SubGenius is a Yeti, and therefore superior to the unwashed masses. Bob eventually died in a conspiracy reminiscent of the assassination of J.F.K., only to be resurrected over and over again.


This parody is a constant, enabled by a bewildering cast of characters and events due to the open-source nature of the glossary of terms the Church of the SubGenius espouses. Jesus is there. So is Satan. Godzilla makes an appearance as the deity “Fastitocalosaurus.” There are also “Green Energy Demons” (which are strange creatures that appear when you stare into a light bulb too long and look away) and “The Bleeding Head of Arnold Palmer,” a plaster golf-trophy head of the famous world-cup champion golfer, Arnold Palmer, smeared with red paint, which is the oldest and most powerful object in the universe.


But what religion is complete without its Armageddon? The SubGenius have “X-Day”, when “Xists,” servants of JHVH-1, will travel to Earth in flying saucers to save the SubGeniuses from death when the planet is blown up. Aboard these saucers are “Sex Goddesses” that will reward the true believers. D-Day was supposed to happen on July 5th, 1998. Some claim it did, but JHVH-1 rebooted Earth to give everyone a second chance. Others believe that the original prophecy was read upside-down, and the real D-Day will be in the year 8661.


If the Church of the SubGenius has a holy day, July 5th is it, and on this day believers congregate at “Devivals” to celebrate with punk music, commercialism, stand-up comedy, religious satire and self-parody. There are even baptisms, where people can have their sins washed away…and receive new ones in return.


There is a Zen-logic in the Church of the SubGenius that makes it too big to merely describe. Look it up yourself at www.subgenius.com, and no matter what you believe, if you send $30 you will be saved…or triple your money back.




Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Bobbie Oliver - Comedy


Bobbie Oliver knew she wanted to do stand-up comedy from a very early age. “When I was 19 years old, I used to watch The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson,” she says. “I was so in love with Gary Shandling, The Smothers Brothers and other comics, but when I saw Roseanne Barr on television I realized I could do stand-up, too.”

Success was not easy for Bobbie, but she learned that comedy was a voyage, not a destination. “My goals were immature when I was new to the art form.”

Like most comics new to Los Angeles, The Tao of Comedy author and comedian wanted to be on television, but as she performed and eventually began to teach stand-up, she realized that within the art of the joke, there were essential truths about living life waiting to be discovered. “When I started to get into Buddhism and Taoism I didn’t make the connection to how it would affect my comedy until I started teaching and people started to ask me questions and I had to come up with answers for them,” she says. “That’s when I realized that I was dealing with something that was organic, similar to the principles of Buddhism and Taoism. I had taken comedy classes, but the books I had read didn’t seem to grasp that concept.”


One concept she had learned to appreciate both onstage and in her study of the Tao was mindfulness, the idea of being in the moment, totally aware. To Bobbie, part of the Tao is that we are all unique. A stand-up comic doesn’t need to craft a character, they are their persona. “People would say, what is your persona? I started young, and I’ve been doing comedy for 27 years now. There are things I’ve learned in just the last 10 years. When you search for your persona, you are searching your one true self,” she says. ”God turns himself into myriad things to see himself from that point of view. That is our job. You are doing a disservice to your true self if you adopt a persona. That’s why so many comedians go wrong; they try to do an impression of a person instead of being themselves.”

Bobbie teaches comedy and presents shows at her own place, The Tao Comedy Studio. Part of her training is the concept that a stand-up comic shouldn’t just be a hollow joke machine, but a force of justice for the oppressed in a world of prejudice. “I teach that comics should punch up, they shouldn’t punch down. Don’t make jokes about homeless people. Make fun of the system that put them there.” In a proper joke, homeless people aren’t the target . . . they are the ones pulling the trigger. “It used to be that the audience was only straight white dudes. They would tell jokes about Asians or black people. But now a lot of marginalized audiences are starting to be heard and comedy has changed,” she says. “Mean comedy is wrong. Stand-up comics should be using their powers for good, not evil.”


Bobbie has made it easier for women by presenting an open mic show, for women only. “I wanted to give women a place to where they could just share experiences with each other and bond. Since there are like 20 spots in a lineup and just one woman, other women won’t get a chance to perform,” she says. In addition to giving women greater opportunity, the event also serves as group therapy where female comics can bond. “If you put even one man in the room, women start to get competitive. I noticed that when no men were in the audience, it was a more positive, spiritual experience.”

Although she is not a canna-comic, Bobbie believes that cannabis cures a lot of ills that pharmaceuticals can’t, and she has tried many solutions during her long, turbulent career in the entertainment industry. “If it wasn’t for pot I’d be dead or in jail. I’d be in a totally different place right now if I couldn’t smoke it,” she says.


www.bobbieoliver.net

www.TheTaoOfComedy.com

Friday, December 16, 2016

Cannabis and the Military - The Weird


After World War II many experts in the CIA and the military agreed that fighting the Cold War against communism meant understanding, and engaging in, psychological warfare operations. This included studying the effects of psychedelic pharmaceuticals, including cannabis, on the human mind for the purposes of using the plant as a weapon.

In 1950 the CIA began project BLUEBIRD. Declassified documents relative to BLUEBIRD indicate that the government wanted to explore subjects as hypnotizing a person into betraying their moral principles, inducing an unwilling person into performing tasks against their will, mind controlling people into crashing planes or wrecking other vehicles while operating them, altering the personality of captured enemy spies and creating total amnesia in operatives for enhanced operations security.

Eventually the military began investigating ways of using cannabis to nullify an enemy without firing a shot. One scientist, Dr. Edward Domino, used a cannabis concentrate called “Red Oil,” which he developed by using it to get monkeys and dogs so stoned they couldn’t move. Since paralyzed solders can’t pull triggers, the military knew they were onto something, and BLUEBIRD evolved into project MKULTRA.


The CIA divided MKULTRA into three portions. One group studied ESP. Another studied how to control the mind of a person remotely. The final group studied hypnosis for the purposes of brainwashing subjects. They used a cornucopia of chemical concoctions to further this aim, including heroin, morphine, mescaline, magic mushrooms, alcohol, sodium pentothal and even cannabis. Interesting as it is, we’ll never know exactly what the CIA discovered since all documents pertaining to MKULTRA were annihilated by the director of the agency at the time, Richard Helm.

Meanwhile, Dr. James Ketchum, a scientist stationed at center for the U.S. Army Chemical Corps in Maryland, began experiments on soldiers in the 60’s that expanded upon large portions of Dr. Domino’s previous research. Soldiers were given massive doses of cannabis extracts and studied closely. Experiments revealed that when under the influence soldiers became confused, apathetic and eventually completely immobilized. Some had conversations with invisible entities lasting for days.

Dr. Ketchum eventually created a compound that could be sprayed upon enemy combatants to render them invalid. “Paradoxical as it may seem,” he said, “one can use chemical warfare to spare lives, rather than extinguish them.” By 1975 officials claim that both the CIA and the military had abandoned studying cannabis because it wasn’t predictable and powerful enough to suit their purposes, so they focused on LSD.


Post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) afflicts many military veterans of armed conflicts, resulting in many negative debilitating psychological effects including insomnia, rage disorder, anxiety, avoidance, etc. One group, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies, studies PTSD and possible treatments for it, including using cannabinoids, an active compound in cannabis.

According to one report written by Lee,  “Researchers found that people with PTSD had lower levels of anandamide, an endogenous cannabinoid compound, compared to those who did not show signs of PTSD…innate to all mammals, anandamide triggers the same receptors that are activated by THC and other components of the marijuana plant.”

In other words, veterans with PTSD are missing a compound that cannabis replenishes. Without this compound, mental issues result. If the body can’t produce it, thanks to PTSD, cannabis can help. This is great news for all military, especially since new legislation allows military veterans to use cannabis without risking their benefits. What began as a weapon is now a medicine, and the many medical cannabis patients who have been healed by the plant probably aren’t surprised.


REFERENCES

Weinburger, Sharon. “Army’s Hallucinogenic Weapons Unveiled.” Wired, www.wired.com/2007/04/the_secrets_of_/

Rahn, Bailey. “Cannabis and Post-Traumatic Stess Disorder (PTSD).” Leafly, www. leafly.com/news/health/cannabis-and-post-traumatic-stress-disorder-ptsd/

Marks, John. The Search for the Manchurian Candidate: The CIA and Mind Control, Times Books, 1979.

Hidell, Tom A. “CIA’s Greatest Hits: Project MK-ULTRA.” Illuminatirex, CIA's Greatest Hits Project MK-ULTRA Illuminati Rex.html

"Edgewood Arsenal Chemical Agent Exposure Studies 1955–1975". United States Department of Defense, Force Health Protection & Readiness, Medical Countermeasures website. Retrieved 2013-06-19.

 Researchers tested pot, LSD on Army volunteers Richard Willing, USA TODAY, 4/6/2007

Lee, Martin A. “Synthetic Pot as a Military Weapon? Meet the Man Who Ran the Secret Program”. Alternet, Synthetic Pot as a Military Weapon_ Meet the Man Who Ran the Secret Program _ Alternet.html