Films That Fell Through the Cracks: “Aaltra” (2004)


(Film Movement Series; Delépine et K/Vern)

Some films have the ability to leave you in awe while others are in possession of something capable of driving you mad. Delépine and Kervern’s directorial debut, the nebulously titled Aaltra, is in full possession of both.

Described as a darkly comic road movie, this French-Belgium co-production came and went from European arthouses, collecting warm if largely pedestrian praise from native critics, ultimately landing on our shores only after New York City’s Film Movement launched their e-commerce distribution model in 2003.

The relative obscurity that it has existed in is unfortunate, first and foremost because discerning audiences deserve to see it but, furthermore, because American independent filmmakers could learn a lot from its style and structure.

Aaltra‘s plot seems tailor-made for the sort of broad bromantic comedies that Tinseltown loves to turn out like a cheap escort…at least on paper. To wit: After finding out that his neighbor’s lazy farmhand Gus (the hulking, disheveled de Kervern, credited here as K/Vern) has been screwing his wife, a nerdy motorbike enthusiast and failing company man (French funnyman Benoît Delépine) speeds out into the fields and instigates a haphazard fistfight.

As the two men wrestle, their bodies land in the gaping maw of Gus’s combine harvester. The machine swallows them up, leaving each of them paralyzed below the waist. After realizing that they are both F.U.B.A.R., they begrudgingly decide to team up to take on the corporate bigwigs at Aaltra, the manufacturer of the offending combine.

Naturally, a sort of stand-offish camaraderie develops between the two, one that would be easy to picture drowning in saccharine if placed within the wrong hands. Fortunately for us, Delépine and Kervern are not the wrong hands and Aaltra is not that sort of movie.

Eschewing the buddy comedy formula in favor of something at once more realistic and more surreal than anything most of us are used to, pic presents us with the kind of story that often plays out among modern men in the real world; emotions are stifled, feelings left unexpressed and base urges rule supreme.

Instead of the faux-meditative scene that would find Delépine’s Ben confiding in Gus about the disintegration of his marriage and the laughably awkward details of his sex life, Delépine and Kervern never speak of Gus’s covetous tryst or Ben’s wife at all.

This left quite the impression on me when first I saw it since it flies in the face of our collective understanding of narrative composition. And it’s this kind of ultra-realistic detail (or lack thereof) that gives Aaltra its charm. Of course Ben and Gus never engage in some contrived heart-to-heart about marriage, infidelity or divorce.

Why bother? No use squabbling about yesterday when tomorrow is gonna be lousy enough. After all, each is now half a man in their own eyes, but together they form one mean son of a bitch.

Those seeking an escape from the hypostatized universe of Hollywood cinema would do well to seek this one out. It provides viewers with a slightly askew realism that hasn’t been seen since Jeunet and Caro’s Delicatessan or, at least, Kaurismäki’s Leningrad Cowboys Go America (fitting that Kaurismäki should cameo in Aaltra‘s denouement).

There is much of the Theater of Cruelty on display, almost all of it more comical than anything Alejandro Jodorowsky ever committed to celluloid (save, perhaps, for select bits of Fando y Lis). From the way the male nurse fucks with them once he’s confirmed that they cannot feel their legs to Ben’s surreptitious theft of a barfly’s drink when he’s not looking.

There is also something of American vintage here in the particular physical comedy that both men employ. Gus’s slow ascension while lying in an automatic hospital bed feels like it was engineered to be an homage to the age of Keaton and Chaplin. And that’s to say nothing of Ben’s Harold Lloyd-worthy pratfalls.

We know from early on that Aaltra‘s journey will have its end in Finland, so it is appropriate that our dyspeptic duo manage to illustrate that country’s aversion to arbitrary loquaciousness. When an old sod at a pub talks relentlessly at a laconic patron, going on and on about something as seemingly mundane as air conditioning in a tractor, we can feel the collective pain of the Finns.

Subtle touches of physical and visual humor soon give way to an extremity that’s every bit as amusing and confounding. The flick is especially effective at juxtaposing the average person’s veneer of samaritanism with the patina of short-tempered prejudice simmering under the surface.

This paradox is first displayed in a worker’s removal of Ben and Gus from a motocross track. “You guys can’t stay here,” he exclaims. “It kills the dream.”

Just when you might begin to feel pity for them, pic reminds us how wrong that sentiment would be. As it turns out, these two scabrous individuals work well together, effortlessly pulling grift after grift on the proud fools in their path. These are guys who think nothing of stealing popcorn from a little boy and threatening to slit his throat if he snitches.

Their primary victims: Every bourgeois idiot who dares to count themselves as well-meaning do-gooders when, in reality, they treat the handicapped as anything but equal. Their encounter with a British motocross star and grade A wank (Jason Flemyng) is almost as riotous as the psychological havoc they wreak on an uptight German couple (Brrring! Brrring!).

It’s the wealthy and entitled Brit who gets one of the flick’s most quotable lines: “It’s people like you that give fucking people in wheelchairs a bad fucking name!” This emerges as one of the only lines worth mentioning in a film whose economy with the verbal gives every line weight.

Like all of the best comedies, Aaltra is also a tragedy, one that opts to impress its poignancy through stark and random images and penetrating silences instead of overwrought pathos.

The beach sequence, featured prominently in the DVD release’s artwork, leaves an indelible impression not only for its blackly comic tableau but, also, the austere beauty of the same. No other director has ever made such effective use of the Lord’s prayer, certainly not in such a perfectly literate fashion.

One of the funniest scenes in the entire picture is also one of its most tense. A stocky Finn with a greasy pompadour sings a flamboyant rendition of Bobby Hebb’s R & B classic “Sunny” while our cripples sit back eating sausage and a room full of mean-looking skinheads seethe.

It’s in moments like this that Delépine and Kervern’s message comes through loud and clear: You need not fear for the well-being of these antagonistic protagonists, but you should worry about everyone else around them.

According to IMDB, Aaltra’s worldwide box office amounted to little more than $6,000 in sales. This may be discouraging if film fans equate financial success with artistic success. Personally, I choose not to.

Part of me believes that true art has no monetary value, only a kind of spiritual one. But as a gambling man, my money’s on this one finding the audience it deserves on streaming platforms.

As for its directors, they have gone on to make a number of unique projects including their Aaltra follow-up Avida. It’s my intention to check that one out sooner than later. I have it on good authority that it made at least seven gs.—Bob Freville

Reading in the Age of Facebook, Analytic Philosophy and Political Insurgency

by Phoenix

It is my goal to engage with literature, philosophy, science, books. I would argue that reading is always important, because it gives us a range of ideas to work with and apply to real life. It is a space to think about things. I feel a lot of the great philosophers and writers were able to help their readers achieve this. This includes the importance of contemporary literature and research. There is so much to learn.

But in the age of Facebook, sometimes it seems as though ideas, and the importance of good ideas, has been emphasized less and less. Many people have left and are leaving Facebook, and I think that it’s partly because of a deep dissatisfaction, the failing of social media to enrich our lives. I hope that those people that leave are certainly staying off the grid, and reading good books.

We know that there have been political implications to Facebook. We know that Facebook is a political tool, just as any, and it would seem to me, that Facebook has changed the way that we disseminate ideas. Especially with the fake news phenomena and clickbait, it is easy to believe things that aren’t true, because they are so readily available. You could say this about the Internet in general, but I think with the rise of social media, this issue has increased in severity.

I would argue that Facebook can still be useful, of course. I would describe it as useful for writers, expressing their ideas in a specific medium. This is what I have learned, and it is why I use Facebook still, though I use it for different reasons, than people that just want to post memes and fake political news.

So the irony for me, is that I think Facebook is useful for conveying ideas. We may not always know how those ideas are disseminated and spread, because of the very specific algorithms that Facebook uses, but there is a potential to discuss important ideas on Facebook, in the most concise way possible, via creative writing.

But of course, I would have to argue, that Facebook is not an alternative to reading. We still need to read good books, whether classics or contemporary literature. We need to be able to engage with the great texts of civilization writ large, including the East and other provinces, and we need to know what is going on in the world of publishing today.

Another subject that might seem unrelated but is not, due to its impact on culture, is the strange elitism of analytic philosophy, and that paradigm. Analytic philosophy, as I understand it, is the dominant mode of discourse in philosophy academies.

I don’t think that there is anything wrong with analytic philosophy in a broad sense. I think analytic philosophy is important for providing a different perspective. But often, analytic philosophy is technical and specific and exclusive, and while you get this in Continental philosophy as well, it seems more pronounced in the analytic tradition, because they aren’t generally focusing on the immediate questions of humanity.

Maybe this is my bias, but I would argue that if you want to be a philosopher, you have to read all texts in philosophy, the way that many podcasts that focus on philosophy have been able to do. This includes reading texts on pragmatism, structuralism, semiotics, phenomenology, existentialism, and many other texts and movements.

In the age of analytic philosophy, it’s easy to provide too much attention to what could potentially be seen as smaller problems due to their technical nature, because they do not deal with the immediacy of human life and the human condition. Even Derrida, with all the frustrating jargon that he uses, is still writing about language, and how language affects us. I think this is important, even if we are not always aware of it. And being aware of this is political.

I learned from Bret Weinstein that the political landscape today is complicated, due to our evolutionary background, but also due to what could be called, political insurgencies. The way that I understand it, people in 2016 did not vote for the candidate that best represented their values, but rather, a candidate that would help the voters confront the political system. This was a gamble, and we have certainly seen the consequences.

I wanted to be concise and call my article, Reading in the Age of Donald Trump. I wanted to call it this, so it could help me focus on my many grievances of our current system of government. I am always hesitant to talk about politics, because it’s so emotionally charged and there is so much at stake, and though I think it’s important to speak out, I also want to be reasonable in the things that I say. But what we saw with Donald Trump was very problematic, especially when we think about how the whole movement was predicated on anti-intellectualism and promoting falsehoods.

I would say that it is very important to read in a political climate that is so very chaotic, that doesn’t make sense, and that skews our understanding of human nature and human society. I think any book that you read would be infinitely better than watching Fox News. It’s obvious that, like Facebook and other platforms, people were only talking about things that would reinforce their biases.

While I would say that biases are not always bad, I would have to say that they can still be misleading. I don’t think that it’s bad to dislike or even hate our president, but I do think that it is problematic to predicate your entire worldview on what one system of government does. This is because my general thesis about reality is that it’s open ended, that we are creative, and that we can endlessly problem solve if we are willing to.

All that said, I do think that reading is an alternative to being inundated by the callousness and cruelty of our current president. But the irony is that what you find out while reading, whether learning about Chris Hedges, or reading a history of political philosophy compiled by Leo Strauss, or reading Howard Zinn, is that the world is indeed a very complicated place, and there have always been nearly insurmountable problems.

When I think of Howard Zinn, for instance, I think of what he described as the bipartisan consensus, which is basically the consolidation of power in government. What this means for me and for my understanding, is that it really doesn’t matter who is president, whether a Democrat or a Republican, because the voters are still out of touch with being able to affect change, because of the separation between members of society and the government officials. He describes how Jimmy Carter, a progressive, was not any more conservative in his policies than somebody like Ronald Reagan or George Bush. I think this is an important point not when thinking about somebody like Donald Trump, but when thinking about how politics often works.

I have been drenched in political theory, and I have learned a lot because of it. I have learned that establishing government is very complicated, because it changes so much, and there are so many differing views of important aspects of life such as human nature. Our view of human nature definitely affects the type of people we vote for.

Now with all of this said, I do think our political insurgency here in America, has highlighted some of the cruel practices that America has always had, from the very beginning. For instance, Obama, one of the most beloved Presidents of our time, repealed Habeas Corpus, and was violent with drones.

Donald Trump has been criticized as being a president that only cares about the rich and making the rich richer, and while this is very cruel and seemingly true, there is a sense in which when you are reading somebody like Howard Zinn, you realize that it’s much more complicated, because tax cuts, for instance, have always been given out to the rich, but not the poor. Howard Zinn describes how veterans who had shrapnel in their legs or were injured in the call of duty, were basically told by the government that they could go back to work and live without social security, not taking into account their service or their injuries and pain because of service.

I think at this point, you can see the importance of reading, and having a philosophical and literary basis for viewing the world. For me, the goal has always been to see more clearly. I think it’s important to have an opinion and a perspective, even if it is a strong one. But what you don’t want to do is let your perspective eat itself up and eat its own tail, because if that is what your perspective does, you cannot really affect change.

If you work hard to try to see the bigger picture and not just say the first thing that you think of, seeing clearly will allow you to establish your beliefs even stronger, because you have a specific framework from which to work from. Reading provides that basis, it allows you to work on facts and narrative, while also strengthening your opinions and perspective.

This is why reading is important to me. On a very personal and specific level, I am crushed by what I’ve seen happen politically over the past couple of years. I am heartbroken over the kids in cages, of the way that we treat immigrants in this country. Despite the fact that this is a very politically charged issue and that I am not fully educated on it, I still feel that what has happened in that specific case, is wrong and wicked.

But there is a lot that I have been unable to do or to say about it, some of which is because of our sharp left and right partisan distinctions. In politics, it’s hard to call an evil an evil, and actually be heard, because of all the noise.

That doesn’t mean that you can’t affect change through knowledge, and for me personally, I also do it through writing. Writing gives me a mechanism by which to express my ideas, and I can do that, because I read. So for instance, in the book I am writing called X, I narrate a character, a kid, who was in a kind of migrant camp. With a rich literary tradition to draw off of, I was able to write about this character, and provide nuance to what I am feeling and to what is happening politically in our landscape.

Of course, I know that choosing to be contemplative versus impulsive is very difficult. Impulsivity is not always bad. Sometimes you have to express your anger, you have to express your dissatisfaction, you have to express your hurt. I don’t want to take a moderate position politically, nor do I want to be pushed to the fringe. But I do want to express the value of reading in an age where it seems as though our opinion doesn’t matter, and that we can’t change things politically.

We know that ideas change things, and change society. While we may not be certain how ideas work, they do spread, and if we can express patience, gratitude for life, and a demonstration of knowledge, all of which comes from reading, we can help disseminate good ideas. Part of the academic life is refining your ideas, so that way they are more accurate and more humane, it has always been the importance of something like self-criticism, which reading allows.

So I would say: Facebook in and of itself may not be an evil, analytic philosophy in and of itself may not be elitist, and with our political insurgency, there may still be hope for the future. But you can come to a rich perspective, by reading books, and by thinking about these things.

It is important to read, as I see it, because it provides that nuance that I am talking about. In the world, there is a place for immediate action, but there is also a place for contemplation, and that is why, no matter how crazy the world gets or seems to us, we must continue to search for truth, and we can do that through reading good books.

Phoenix is a prolific writer, and has written over seventy books, and published more than fifteen. He actively engages with the world through his imagination, and seeks to inspire others with his writing, no matter how dark or raw it might be. He always hopes to make a connection with his readers. Also a musician, Phoenix lives in Salt Lake City, and engages with the world as fully and as passionately as he can. Find Phoenix at

Sorry ‘Bout That: Humor in the Throes of the Vietnam War

By The Reverend

When I was growing up Vietnam vets were still feeling the sting of the jungle. The government had fucked its bright-eyed boys by sending them out to die in the name of some faceless authority figure’s agenda.

To add insult to injury, they’d dumped foul chemicals on their own troops so that those who survived life in the shit came home to discover that public shunning was the least of their problems; they’d also have to cope with ashen skin, liver disorders and chloracne.

As a teenager, my mother would often joke that it was a minor miracle I didn’t come out with a conehead and webbed feet. My brothers and I would laugh, but it was a laugh with a definite edge to it. We knew Pops didn’t like to talk about ‘Nam nor did he ever volunteer any information about the rock hard lumps that would expand and contract on his calves, a deformity that could be traced back to Agent Orange.

One day when I was about 12-years old and at the peak of my morbid curiosity, I asked my father in a breathless whisper, “Did you ever shoot anybody?” His answer took the form of an affirmative grunt. He didn’t look at me or expound any further and I didn’t press the issue. It was obvious to me, even in adolescence, that war was something painful, awful and serious.

What I didn’t take into account was that veterans like my Pops didn’t like to talk about ‘Nam because they didn’t want to remember the bad stuff. As many people who have been through a traumatic experience can attest, it’s not always therapeutic to wallow in the grim details of that trauma. For some of us, it is far more cathartic to focus on the fun that was had in the margins of that misery.

This notion first occurred to me when I saw Stanley Kubrick’s landmark war comedy Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. The film was based on a very dramatic work of war-based literature (Red Alert by Peter George) and the adaptation was initially intended to be an epic drama that would be at least somewhat faithful to its source material.

However, as pre-production played out, Kubrick alighted on a simple fact which would change the narrative trajectory of the story and yield one of the finest Hollywood satires of all time. What Kubrick realized was just how absurd war really is. Lo, the manic dark humor of Kubrick’s cinematic send-up of nuclear holocaust was born.

The film resulted in Peter Sellers’ very best comedic characters, Group Captain Mandrake, President Merkin Muffley and Dr. Strangelove, respectively. While marveling at the risque allusions to Nazi salutes and pubic hair, I suddenly understood the value in making light of devastation.

Later in life, after my father had moved to the wilderness and retired from his job, I went through the large oak desk that he’d kept in his home office throughout my childhood. I remembered it as a bit of a command post for Pops, a place where he could go to fill out his daily invoices, balance his checkbook and relax with a good novel.

Above the desk was a large glass cabinet which housed a king’s ransom of mass market paperbacks, virtually all of them concerning different aspects of the military experience. Whether it was a guide to wartime aviation, a ground armament assembly manual or simply a cheap work of fiction about P.O.W.s, it was all neatly organized as if it were one historical library.

Obviously, the old man hadn’t forgotten about ‘Nam nor did it seem like he really wanted to. But on that night in his new Upstate cabin, as we emptied out the desk and prepared to weed out old or unwanted items, I came across an envelope full of photographs. They represented the only actual record of my father’s time in the service aside from his official government documentation and medals.

When my father saw me holding the photos, I thought he’d snatch them out of my hands and return them to the drawer. Instead, a smile cut across his face and his eyes brightened. Inside the envelope I didn’t find any pictures of mushroom clouds or mangled bodies. I didn’t find any grim keepsakes whatsoever.

Instead, the photos I leafed through were photos of young men in uniform goofing off. With warm beers in hand, these squinty-eyed baby soldiers, not one of them more than 19-years old, hammed it up for the camera, throwing one another in headlocks, pouring their drinks on each other’s heads and flexing like beach-bound fools for the ladies who might have been seeing these photos back home.

One picture in particular caught my eye—Pops as a scrawny 17-year old kid with a Beatles haircut…except it was hard to make out his black bob beneath the brassiere he was wearing on his head. In the next photo, the boys were Conga dancing and Pops was wearing the bra on his emaciated chest.

After looking at these pics, I was at a loss for words. Fortunately, my father seized the opportunity and quickly interjected, “You want something I bought when I was there?”

I nodded.

He reached into the cabinet that housed his personal historical library of Vietnam and fished out a small paperback book. The book was Sorry ‘Bout That.

The book’s by-line is credited to Ken Melvin, some sort of pseudonym that represents the several servicemen who collaborated on this collection of cartoons, limericks and other GI-related “diversions.”

As the introduction states, “This book is no War and Peace. You might call it a piece of war—its lighter side. It isn’t meant to motivate, to win minds, cause defections, or sell a way of life—but it does point to that part of the American way of life which enables us to search in the darkness and come up with the light that is laughter.”

Sorry ‘Bout That breezily explores the bars, boondocks, cyclo girls and “dinky dau” of ‘Nam in a bite sized spread of easily digestible and often gut-busting vignettes. The “Numbah ones” are lampooned just as brutally as “Cheap Charlie.”

In much the same way that ‘Dr. Strangelove’ was able to find a sharp gallows humor in nuclear holocaust, Sorry ‘Bout That finds levity in rations, jitters, landmines and lousy juke joint grifters. It’s a fun read for vets and civilians alike, one that reminds us that the funny bone is the hardest one to lose in battle and, indeed, the most important bone in the human body.

Included in the book is a one-act play about a lonely soldier’s encounter with a woman of the night, one whose message is evident straight away. As mascot Asia Bird puts it, “It’s not the Saigon Tea you have to worry about. It’s the Saigon Tease.”

My copy came with a 1000000 Hell Bank note in it because Pops was always the frugal type. That cyclo girl would have to fleece another john because daddy was heading home with something in his wallet.

Also included is the “Sorry ‘Bout That” board game which starts at Tan Sun Nhut Air Terminal and may end with a return to your country of origin…if you play your cards right. If not then the instructions are quite clear. You land on the last spot and it’s back to the terminal with you. Have two ba me mas and call me in the morning!

As for that unfortunate Agent Orange situation, “Sorry ’bout that.”

A Musical Stroke

by JL Mayne

Have you ever seen anyone who has had a severe stroke? Part of their brain starts dying. They lie there, staring at you, wondering what in the hell is going on inside of their head. Part of them tries to talk to you, but all that comes out is a jumble of words and maybe a bit of spittle. You, the outsider, don’t know what is going on either. You watch in agony as they are in agony, trying to make sense of it all.

You watch as the doctor comes into the room and tells you that this nightmare is going to require surgery, and that the surgery needed requires a specialist. You watch as the doctor walks away, and you wonder why they are walking away, you wonder why they aren’t on the phone that very instant, getting that specialist here so that everything can be ok. So that your father can be fixed, so that the miracle of science and medicine can meld into one and repair whatever it is that’s broken.

After it’s all done, after that specialist finally arrives and drills a hole into the side of their head, relieving the pressure, fixing what can be fixed. Now that eighteen hours have passed and the damage is more than it should have been, and you wonder why in the hell they weren’t there, why they couldn’t have been bothered to come sooner. After all, isn’t that their job? Their job to be there? To fix?

Now you cope.

I’ve been in a bad mood the last few days. I’ve heard that men’s hormones can cycle the same as women’s and right now I’m wondering if it’s my time of the month. I’m wondering if I’m just looking for things to be upset about because those chemicals racing in my brain don’t know how to make sense of anything at the moment.

I usually listen to an audiobook on my commute to and from work. Currently It’s book 11 of The Wheel of Time. The heroes just got done decimating a horde of monsters with fire, lightning, and one way gateways to the abyss for the monsters passing through. Perfect for my mood.

On my way home today, I didn’t feel like listening to the drone of the narrator. I blasted Infected Mushroom. A nice balance of rock and electronic with heavy bass. My subwoofer pummels the music into my body, making me feel it. I scream the lyrics, nonsensical noises forcing their way past my vocal cords for the parts I don’t know.

And I love it.

Growing up, I listened to whatever my friends were, or whatever my dad was. He lived and breathed music. It was his gateway drug. He listened to everything from Enya to Black Sabbath. For a picture once, he had the kids all scowl around a rock, crossing our arms and making the devil horns with our pinkies and index fingers like DIO.

He had a poster in his room of the DIO devil standing over a child’s bed, posing the same way we did in our picture. Tentacles slithered from under the bed and other monsters riddled the room while the child slept. My dad always said the devil in the background was actually an angel, watching over the child, making sure that she slept well. She looked a lot like my younger sister.

He used to stay up all night playing his guitar to the sultry sounds of his goth metal. Gothminister, Switchblade Symphony and others. For a time he even wrote songs. A surprise for some of us, and a release for him.

When people would ask, I would tell them I listened to all kinds of music. Then I’d remember country. I was never a big fan of country, but a few bands and songwriters were ok; Johnny Cash, but who doesn’t like him?

I mostly listened to 90’s and early 2000’s punk rock like Blink 182, Yellowcard, and any other band my friends were listening to. We’d stay up late talking about the music and burning CDs for each other of whatever new punk band we could get our hands on. My friend used to tease me about being just like the wannabe in the song Pretty Fly by the Offspring. And I loved it. And I’d listen to the bands my dad did. Rammstein, and Gary Numan. Man did Gary change over the years.

I’d listen to songs when I had a crush on a girl and just wanted to think about her. Imagining my teen self with whatever girl I decided I liked at the moment. I’d listen when my dad was a particularly exceptional douche. And then I’d fall to sleep listening to the tapes of Enya he made for me. Fall asleep the next night listening to the opposite side of the same tape, switch the tape to another Enya album he’d copied, flip it, rinse, and repeat.

I got the call after my dad was already in the hospital. I was at home with my wife, my now adult brain didn’t know what to do and went into auto pilot. I called my boss and told him I wouldn’t be in for a day or two. I drove to the hospital and found my siblings all sitting in the stiff-cushioned chairs of the waiting room. They told me what had happened, that they were all at my grandmother’s where my dad also lived. They sat on the couch waiting for him to come downstairs.

When he finally did, he couldn’t talk. He just groaned and fell onto his face in the couch cushions, drooling and trying to make sense of it all while the ambulance sped to pick him up.

I sat with him in the hospital, lying to him and to myself that it would all be ok. That they’d fix him.

He lived. The specialist finally got there and fixed him best he could. He was paralyzed on his right side. He moved to a nursing home where he would live for the next two years.

I’d visit when I could, taking my wife and my new son. Forcing my kid to give his grandpa a hug even though my tiny monster didn’t want to, even though his grandfather was now stuck in permanent grumpy-ass mode.

After a while, after we realized that he didn’t have the will or strength to get better, we started to accept it. I tried not to. I gathered up all of his old CDs and spent hours putting them onto an MP3 player so that he could listen to them. So that he could have some semblance of normality within the white walls of his room.

I got the songs ready and took them to him, and he yelled.

All it does is piss me off! Piss me off, PISS ME OFF!”

I took the songs with me when I left.

I didn’t go back as often after that. Almost never as it wasn’t often to begin with. That was the real point I knew he’d die there. He had even given up on his music.

Two years after he entered the double doors of the home, I got a call saying he didn’t have long to live. I drove to see him.

Another death came, an unexpected one. Another close relative in that awful place. Right next door to my father.

My siblings and I stood in my father’s room. He could no longer talk. We didn’t know if he knew we were there.

My brothers and sisters, grandmother and aunt went home and I sat; sleeping and watching him, occasionally talking to him. I breathed in the stink and listened to him struggle for breath.

The nurse came in and asked if I wanted him to take some morphine. We both knew it would kill him faster, but he’d die in less pain, he’d die with that slight high the morphine drip provided.

I nodded my head and she gave it to him.

I held his sweat-drenched hand, telling him it would be ok. I watched as his breath slowed, and he finally took those last gasping breaths, whispering to him that it would all be ok.

I still listen to that music. Still reminisce the nights I’d fall asleep listening to Enya. I still have his copy of Birthday Massacre, and all of the CDs he made of his own. The songs he poured his heart and soul into. I still search for new music I can listen to, and love, and scream at the top of my lungs.

And I love it.

5 Facts That Prove We Are Living in a Dystopian Society

By Bob Freville

As fans of the dark and depraved, we’ve all devoured dystopian novels and movies with the same gusto that a coprophile affords 2 Girls, 1 Cup. But like the fated Neo of The Matrix, it’s time we drop the proverbial red pill and take the blinders off.

We are living in a dystopia.

As if the wild popularity of Logan Paul, Apple watches and Fortnite wasn’t evidence enough, a deep dive into our cultural mud puddle reveals all too many clues that the planet Earth is irreparably fucked.

In the age of government-sanctioned white nationalism, the “vaping” craze and the very acceptable practice of plugging into VR units, there’s no point in carrying on about this at length. The bad guys have already won and we are subjugated.

With that in mind, here is a succinct list of the hard proof of our societal putrefaction. Read it and weep, plebes!


1. The One Percent

If you’re a hardcore horror fan, you’ve probably seen or heard of Brian Yuzna’s Society. Arriving in 1992, this cult body horror flick may be laughably dated in terms of the fashion, hair styles and poor acting of its main cast, but the seemingly ancillary characters, namely the wealthy parents, are a perfect reflection of the so-called upper crust that dominates our world.

The protagonist’s “butthead” father is the archetypal filthy rich villain and the family’s elite circle of friends are representative of the ultra-exclusive club of greedy, murderous monsters that pull the strings behind the scenes. If ever you doubted that the powers that be do NOT have your best interests in mind, pop this one in your ole-fangled VCR and give it a spin.


Tell me you can’t picture a remake in which Mitt Romney and Donald Trump “shunt” each other.

2. Big Brother is Watching You…and You’re Watching It


While Yuzna’s Society is among the best dystopian movies, Orwell’s classic novel 1984 is, perhaps, the best example of the dystopian novel. What is truly perturbing about it is just how accurately Eric Blair nee George Orwell predicted our current state of affairs.

Written in 1949, this landmark story focuses on a future world in which the working class are kept under constant surveillance by a totalitarian police state.

Sound familiar?

Of course it does! There are approximately 30 million surveillance cameras currently deployed in the United States alone. They’re watching you when you’re at ATM machines, in line at convenience stores, waiting for public transit or just minding your own business on a park bench.


They’re watching you!

But you don’t care because you’re too busy watching someone else. For the last 20 years, Americans have been tuning in to the appropriately-titled Big Brother on CBS. This highly-rated reality show serves as a cruel sociological study that almost rivals the Stanford Prison Experiment in terms of sheer brutality.

Big Brother centers around the constant surveillance of “willing participants” who agree to be locked in a house together and perpetually monitored as they slowly unravel like so many onions.

Viewers delight in watching these people fall apart in their confined space which is free of any external stimuli save for the rare appearance of a talking robot who makes fun of their most embarrassing idiosyncrasies.

And while you are watching them, the Fourteen Eyes are watching you. Smile for the cameras.


3. We’re a bunch of morons

Most of us labor under the delusion that we’re pretty smart, but the facts are not in our favor. If you’ve ever watched Mike Judge’s painfully hilarious Idiocracy, in which a cryogenically frozen military man wakes up in a distant future where everyone is illiterate and savage, you probably thought, “That could never happen.”

You were half right; it couldn’t happen because it already has. In the flick, the idiots of the world lounge around watching inventive shows like Ow, my Balls when they’re not eating at Buttfuckers (a play on Fudruckers) or poisoning their crops by watering them with a Gatorade-style energy drink.

Tell me that’s far off from the current climate where a sawed-off B-list comedian hosts an obstacle course designed to pummel the shit out of desperate contestants, the president talks about grabbing a lady’s pubis and middle schoolers pound Monster cans while zipping around on combustible hoverboards.


If that doesn’t illustrate our idiocy enough, consider this: The intelligence quotient is plummeting and I bet you didn’t even know that’s what IQ stood for, did ya, you stupid shit! Fresh science has proven that our reliance on technology, our lackluster school system and our shit diets have turned us into what Hunter S. Thompson used to call the “New Dumb.”

4. We’ll put anything in our mouths


The 1979 thriller Soylent Green presented a harrowing portrait of a future wherein the congested and starving underclass are forced to eat an opaque meal substitute called Soylent Green. The citizens of New York mindlessly gobble it up without a thought until Charleton Heston of all people discovers the truth and screams, “Soylent Green is people! It’s PEOPLE!!!”

If you’re thinking that this is the stuff of silly science fiction, I urge you to visit your local 7-Eleven and take a look at their coolers. There you will likely find bottles labeled Soylent; it’s a meal replacement that has been widely embraced by health-conscious individuals who drink the chalky muck to watch their weight and ensure that they get enough protein.


The (blood) simple fact that someone would eat or drink a product bearing the Soylent name proves that we are unequivocally and without redemption a species of thoughtless, mouth-breathing bipeds.

Even more appallingly, Soylent was introduced after the company behind it successfully raised $1.5 million via crowdfunding. That means you actually paid for this to be possible, you prat!


5. A Nation of Junkies

Aldous Huxley’s seminal work of speculative fiction, the ironically-titled Brave New World, foresaw a day and age in which people would be bred to live a perpetually anesthetized life as vain, drug-dependent sex slaves with a dearth of human emotion.

Think of the face-lifts of Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, then take a look at the world of modern cosmetic surgery. Is there a difference?

Vanity aside, there is no denying the statistics of drug addiction and prostitution in the U.S. We are a nation of pain patch sucking, dope shooting, pill popping, beer swilling, hamburger gobbling mutants who would rather develop scales and enable our bodies to eat themselves than pass up that next high.


The world of sex trafficking is one that’s very much fueled by our national drug abuse epidemic. Opioids have long been a primary form of “bait” for the human trafficker and more teens are swallowed up by the rapacious maw of these synthetic drugs every year.

When someone tells you that slavery ended in the 1800s, look them dead in the eye, whip out some krokodil and give them a hot shot, Jack. How else are you gonna make a dope woke? Good luck, my friends. We’re all gonna need it.

Like and share this post or we’ll steal your drugs.