Welcome to the first installment of the Vagobond Travel Museum.
The web is full of great travel blogs, travel stories, travel photos and travel videos – the hard part is finding them amidst all the garbage. Through the week, I am curating the best travel stories I find at Vagobond Travel Media and then each Friday, I will bring you the highlights here at the Vagobond Travel Museum.
These are my Travel Museum Inductions for the first week of January 2012.
France Today always has incredible content, but this quirky piece on finding the best flea markets in Paris went beyond the usual Francophile and got into something that feels much more tactile. Want to experience France and take something home that is more than a trinket? Read this.
This picture from Timothy Allen’s ‘Pics from my travels’ was without a doubt my favorite picture of the week. Check out his other pictures here.
Sometimes, it’s easier to just buy a guidebook than to read a travel blog for ideas about where to go or what to do, but I found this piece about Hong Kong from Off The Meat Hook to be well worth reading. Great pictures, fantastic style and some very good tips.
I love it when I can find something that is short, well written, teaches me something and that is just a little bit wierd and interesting. This piece on snail farming in Italy from ItalianNotes fit the bill perfectly. Who knew?
National Geographic’s Digital Nomad paid a visit to Tsukiji Fishmarket and took some great iPhone shots. This is a place that I’ve wanted to visit for a long while and Andrew Evans photos and commentary make it clear that it’s a very interesting destination.
And here is some brilliant travel writing and sad sad reality. I was in Viang Vieng back in 2001 and it was heaven, but I could already see that things were heading in the wrong direction. This piece from Old World Wandering almost makes me want to cry…and makes me glad that I haven’t been back there.
Finally, here is the best travel video I came across this week:
And while there were plenty of other great travel stories this week – that’s it for this weeks inductions into the Vagobond Travel Museum. To let me know about any great travel pieces, contact me at Vagobond Travel Media (where you can see lots more great stories that I curated this week) or using the contact form here at Vagobond.com
Story and Photos by Katherine Rodeghier Neil Miller gave up his day job to drink beer.
A political speech writer in New Zealand’s capital city, Miller had a fondness for the suds and started moonlighting as a beer writer for a local beer magazine. Then he began blogging about beer. Then leading beer-tasting tours. Soon beer became his occupation as well as his avocation and the allure of politics fell by the wayside.
“Wellington has a reputation as the best beer city in New Zealand” Miller told me when I joined one of his Wild About Wellington walking tours. “We don’t make a lot of beer, but we drink a lot of beer.”
Young and hip, Wellington is no stodgy capital city. Nearly 60 percent of its residents are under age 50, compared to 45.1 percent in New Zealand as a whole. Last year Lonely Planet placed it at No. 4 in its list of Best in Travel cities. Compact in size, it’s a miniature Hong Kong, with hills ringing its horseshoe-shaped harbor. While Auckland is spread out, you can get almost anywhere in the Central City on foot, which is why walking tours, particularly those devoted to food and drink, are so popular.
The first stop on my walk with Miller takes me to The Malthouse at 48 Courtenay Place in the heart of Wellington’s nightlife district. On Thursday through Saturday nights this street is jammed with young revelers, some of whom have imbibed a bit too much. But as this was a weekday afternoon, I feel reasonably safe from getting vomit on my shoes, so I settle into the warm and cozy bar to hear Miller give his spiel. Kiwis consume 77 liters of beer per person per year, making New Zealand the 14th biggest beer-drinking country in the world (the Aussies out-drink them, however). Miller says Wellington may be the not-so-flashy little brother to Auckland, which produces more beer, but here it’s all about high-quality beers. We sample four: Three Boys India Pale Ale; Tuatara Pilsner; Epic Pale Ale, a very hoppy brew using hops from the U.S.; and Tuatara London Porter, an old-fashioned English-style beer that English home brewers and American microbreweries have been bringing back. Between tastings, servers bring out platters of pizza.
We barely make a dent into what The Malthouse has to offer. Rated Best Bar in New Zealand by Beer & Brewer Magazine, it serves the broadest range of beers in the country. It even has a “hopenator,” a device that looks like a fancy espresso machine that infuses flavors to beer, such as coffee bean, chocolate, even fruit. The Malthouse’s 168 beers, including 30 on tap, range in alcohol content from 3.7 percent to a whopping 18.2 percent for the $30-a-bottle Tokyo from the BrewDog Brewery in Scotland, so potent it has been denounced by Scottish Parliament.
We pass on the Tokyo because it’s time for some serious food. We stroll down to the waterfront to St. Johns Bar at 5 Cable Street. Miller describes it as having a “colonial Humphrey Bogart look, like the Raffles Bar in Singapore.” Originally an ambulance building, it still has a 1930s Art Deco style to it.
We sample three beers here, all made by brewer Monteith. Chef Kit Foe pairs each to a dish he’s created. With the Radler, a flavored lager, he serves us pork belly with honey glaze and apple and ginger chutney. The Celtic Ale accompanies venison on a mushroom tart. The earthy red ale brings out the caramelization of the meat. For dessert, the Black, a Schwarz Bier, goes with a triple cream blue cheese served with red wine poached pears and caramelized onion. Sweet.
Wellington has more restaurants, cafes and bars per capita than New York City. On Zest Tours’ Gourmet Walking Tour I find out how seriously Wellingtonians take their food. We start out walking down Cuba Street, a once debauched, now bohemian section of the city with ethnic restaurants, cutting-edge shops and cafes catering to the literati. Victoria University is just up the hill.
Our first stop is Havana Coffee at 37 Wigan St. We head to the back where master roaster Joseph Stoddart is pouring Cuban coffee beans into the roaster set at 203 degrees Centigrade. The only New Zealand coffee roaster to carry real Cuban beans, Havana Coffee is one of the three original roasters that opened in Wellington in the 1990s. Now there are more than a dozen catering to the city’s coffee craze. I look around and see burlap bags of beans piled along a wall labeled with their country of origin: Peru, Colombia, Bolivian, Zambia, Ethiopia, India, Vanuatu. I move into the café and order a flat white, the Kiwi lingo for an espresso served with two-thirds steamed milk. It comes with froth in the shape of a silver fern, the national symbol of New Zealand, and is almost too pretty to drink.
Next stop is Moore Wilson Fresh at Lorne and College streets. Why is our guide taking us to a grocery store, I wonder? But this is no ordinary market; it’s where local foodies and chefs shop. A family business specializing in gourmet fresh foods from small, local providers, it’s all word-of-mouth rather than advertising. When it opened in 1998, it drew lines zigzagging through the parking lot. I walk over to the produce bins and pick up a gold kumara, the prized New Zealand sweet potato, and peruse a refrigerator case of game meats, including bacon made from wild boar. In a tasting kitchen, our guide has arranged for us to sample single variety apple juices, aged New Zealand cheddar and a selection of Ruth Pretty jellies. I especially like the feijoa chutney—can’t get this at home.
We continue walking, stopping at 19 Allen St. and the Kura Gallery, selling in ethnic art and a range of contemporary and indigenous New Zealand gift items. But we’re not here to shop, but to taste New Zealand honey from a display set out just for us. The Kamahi has a lily-of-the-valley scent, the Rata a medium flavor from the flower that grows on New Zealand’s South Island. My favorite it the Manuka because it not only tastes wonderful, but is said to have medicinal properties. I make a note to pick some up at the airport on my way home.
The hour is getting late and I’m ready to bail on the walking tour to allow time for an afternoon nap. Then I learn we’re walking across town to Bohemein Chocolates, 109 Featherston St., and can’t pass up a chance to sample my favorite treat. Owner George Havlik, a pastry chef who chose to specialize in chocolate, is waiting for us. He uses the best Belgium chocolate and mixes it with all sorts of unexpected ingredients, which, oddly enough, work. I taste the pineapple black pepper ganache, the wasabi cream and the balsamic vinegar and honey ganache and I’m sold. There will be no waiting to buy at the airport this time. I make my selection, stuff my chocolates into my jacket pocket and head back to my hotel. No time for a nap? Who cares. Between sleep and chocolate, chocolate always wins.
Once upon a time there was a beautiful planet filled with chaotic and beautiful landscapes, flora, fauna, and amazing oceanic and geologic events. Things pretty much went the way things go on any planet with life – there were good times, there were bad times, there were mass extinctions, there were cataclysmic events that included but were not limited to meteors, tsunamis, volcanoes, earthquakes, ice ages, and much more. And so it went…
The planet produced life in abundance – and killed that life in abundance. Sometimes the planet used one form of life to kill other forms of life. Sometimes, the planet took a break and simply enjoyed a necessary state of homeostasis.
It was during one of these periods of restful equilibrium that the monkeys and apes started fucking things up. It’s a long story and it’s been told many times – I don’t want to bore you with all the details so I’m going to summarize it in as little space as possible.
Purgatoria were built to fuck. They fucked and they fucked and they fucked. As a result of always fucking and always looking for something else to fuck – these little fuckers spread throughout Eurasia and Africa and became the common ancestor for all of the family of animals known as primates. The primates all kept their ancestor’s proclivities for making new descendants and also for filling pretty much any unoccupied ecological niche they might come across. This led to the diversity of primates knows as lemurs, lorises, bush babies, tarsiers, old world monkeys, new world monkeys, and apes. While each of those branches is interesting, it’s the apes we will focus on because they also kept doing what they did best – which eventually led to many different species of ‘human’ living at the same emergent time. This was all in the blink of the planet’s eye, so she didn’t really notice.
The human species interbred, migrated, adapted, and began to fight for space. A particularly nasty branch of the humans fucked, killed, ate, and exterminated all the other branches. Bye bye Homo habilis, Homo rudolfensis, Homo erectus, Homo heidelbergensis, Homo rhodesiensis, Neanderthal, Denisovan, Homo florensis, and Homo luzonensis – and hello Homo sapiens – the one and only survivor of the great human wars. There can only be one – at least there can only be one if the winner is Homo sapiens because these things were the most illogical and selfish creatures that planet had ever spawned.
Oh, I can hear you right now…but wait, I’m one of those – you (me) you’re one of those! We’re not so bad. Think about Martin Luther King and Jesus and Helen Keller and ….
Okay, yes, I admit it. Some of us, some humans are good – but unfortunately, that is a weak aberration from the species norm, not the default setting. Those good humans – they deserve to be worshipped, revered, and treated with respect – listened to. It’s true, there are some very very very very very good humans – and they usually get killed by the others, then, when they are dead their message or their life is twisted around and used to help some other human either literally or metaphorically fuck as many other humans as possible. In truth, the only thing that kept the human species going was the fact that they loved to fuck so much – and the natural result of that was more humans and since they didn’t blink at incest for most of their existence, they didn’t blink at any atrocity that most other animals avoided – in fact – they became progressively more and more brutal, vicious, and conniving, while also becoming completely insane and – frankly – fucking evil. Humans were evil.
In the space of a few thousand years they wiped out the other human species, created huge tribal empires, dehumanized each other, normalized enslaving and committing genocide upon one another, and developed mad genius processes that included but were not limited to chemical warfare, nuclear warfare, wage slavery, corporate capitalism, and industrial production paired with military conquest. These were things that no sane animal would think of – but, as we’ve established – these were not rational animals – they were completely and totally fucking insane.
So, moving on – they poisoned rivers, lakes, oceans, the sky, the land, and each other. They literally shit where they ate over and over and then coined phrases of remarkable wisdom such as ‘Don’t shit where you eat”. They leveled mountains, flattened forests, exterminated entire species, caged everything they could, enslaved each other using chains, whips, guns, technology, and psychological techniques – and – and this is the amazing part – the whole while they were doing this they were patting themselves on the back and congratulating themselves on ‘progress’. They wrote declarations and manifestos and they declared human rights and universal brotherhood – and all the whole they came up with new ways to stick it to each other.
Jesus and Buddha and others came and said wise things that generally came down to “Don’t treat each other like shit because you don’t want to be treated like shit and neither does anyone else”. Jesus got nailed to some sticks and Buddha got fed some rancid meat. JP Morgan came along and said “Hey, these guns are really cheap and they blow up in your face if you try to shoot them, but I can buy them cheap and sell them to the people fighting against slavery (but really most of them were probably fighting for other reasons – but let’s not go there) and make a huge profit.” And he did, and the people worshipped him for it, just as they had worshipped the slave owning traitor who founded their country and all the tyrants, kings, dictators, and despots of the past.
Yes, I hear you again “Slave owning traitor? You mean the founder of the United States? General George Washington?” Yes, a man who bought and sold other humans and swore an oath more than once to support the King of England and then betrayed that oath and led an uprising so he could make more profit and buy more slaves.
In any event, I don’t mean to pick on ‘General’ Washington. He was no worse than most of the other power hungry men around him and considerably better than many – depending on how you define the term better. In any event, he started a country, defined a way of rule and made sure that the power stayed in his court – until he was pretty sure that the power he had was secure – then he nobly stepped away.
For the next two hundred and forty four years his country ran with a charade that they were the defenders of man, the beacon of liberty, and the bastion of hope and democracy. All the while, his country was enslaving, committing genocide, breaking treaties, stealing land, raping, pillaging, and figuring out new ways to do all of the above without sounding like the bad guy. If ever there was a winner of the war on hearts and minds, it was the United States of America from about 1776-2016. Even when they fought wars for made up reasons or invaded countries to take their resources – the USA always was able to justify itself as the ‘policeman of the world’ or the ‘defender of democracy’ – which is pretty funny if you think about it and ignore the millions of dead and suffering that came from it. The USA developed the atomic bomb and even though the war was more or less over – dropped a couple of them on Japan, just to make sure they knew they had lost – the 100,000 killed in the firebombing of Tokyo just wasn’t enough.
I could go on – I could justify what I am saying, I could point to sources and references – but justification is one of the things we do best and if you don’t want to agree with me, I have confidence that your ability to justify your position will be at least equal to my ability to justify mine. Humans can steal from a poor person (a person much poorer than themselves) and then find a good reason for why that was the right thing to do. It’s amazing and it’s true – so I will quit trying to justify. I don’t want to get bogged down in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan – I want to tell my story.
Technology and corporate capitalism created a perfect storm for total human control. It was easy to convince almost all of the humans that they deserved to have a better life than all of the other humans. It was easy to convince almost all of those humans that they had a chance to have a better life than all of those other humans. And with that done – it was easy to get all the humans to point their fingers at each other and blame those with less power than themselves for them not having as much power as they wanted.
Social media and data analytics made it easy to manipulate huge swaths of the population. The bizarre result was millions of poor people voting for an exploitive billionaire, millions of ‘business people’ voting for a business person who had lost far more than he had created, millions of ‘Christians’ to vote for the least Christian person ever, millions of Jewish people to vote for a guy who repeatedly made Nazi references, and millions of women to vote for a rapist.
In truth, Donald John Trump, was the pinnacle of human evolution. He was everything that humans had been heading towards since those long ago days when multiple human species were clubbed to death by Homo sapiens. If ever there was a perfect example of humanity, Trump was it. And after the election of 2016, he finally took his place as the most powerful primate in the world. One thing was certain, he was never going to let go of that power.
Chapter 1 – The Pinnacle of Human Evolution and Conceit
Donald Trump was sitting on top of the world. He was the most powerful human being in the history of planet earth. He controlled enough nuclear weapons to destroy the planet hundreds of times. He had created his own branch of the military – Space Force. He had vanquished his enemies, never apologized for his wrongs, and most importantly proved everyone who had dissed him in the early 2000s as completely and totally wrong.
There was one reason he was at the top. It was pure and simple. Just one thing and one thing only: hatred.
His father had taught him from the beginning, there was no force more powerful than hatred. You had to hate the people above you and you had to hate the people below you. You had to hate your enemies and you had to hate your friends. When you could embrace your hatred and harness it – there was no place it couldn’t take you.
He had always wanted to be at the top. The definition had changed through the years. He wanted to be the most eligible bachelor, to be the youngest casino owner, the youngest NFL team owner, the king of steaks, the greatest deal maker – he’d gone after each prize with gusto and when he was denied, he filed it away in his hate category. He hated women, he hated people of color, he hated poor people, he hated working people, he hated those wealthier than him, he hated loyalists, he hated enemies, he hated friends, he hated colleagues – there were very few people he didn’t hate – but there were a few. These treasured few he looked up to – these were the men (only men) who did whatever they wanted, however they wanted, whenever they wanted. He told himself and others that he was one of them, bragged about being able to just grab a woman and kiss her or grab her by the pussy – but he knew he was lying to himself. In actuality, he knew he was limited – but he never wanted to admit it.
Then, one night in 2011, just when he thought that he might finally be approaching that peak he had wanted – he was sitting with the global elites, he was surrounded by the press, enjoying the attention of the paparazzi, and invited to a gala by a sitting U.S. President that he had been denigrating and questioning the authority of. There he sat, in his tuxedo, already a seething mass of hatred, but admittedly one that was feeling a particular type of satisfaction at having become a celebrity, becoming famous, slept with women of all ages, been the guest and helper of kings and presidents – there he sat in all of his glory – and then it happened.
President Obama decided to take his revenge for the whole ‘birther’ movement that Trump had fanned from a ridiculous conspiracy theory to a full fledged political movement. Obama was merciless – mocking Trump’s hit television show ‘The Apprentice’ and his ability to be a leader:
“But you, Mr. Trump, recognized that the real problem was a lack of leadership. And so ultimately, you didn’t blame Lil’John or Meatloaf. You fired Gary Busey. And these are the kind of decisions that keep me up at night. Well handled sir. Well handled.”
Oh there was more, there was so much more. The laughter, the mocking, the shame in having to sit there, face turning red, and grimace his way through it. He’d thought he knew what hatred felt like, he’d thought he might be achieving a level where he could find some satisfaction, but no. Not now. Now he was on a mission. He would destroy everything that Obama had built. He would destroy the media that was laughing at him. He would destroy the country that both represented. He would destroy everything. He would wipe out the environmentalists, the casinos, the NFL, and every country that had ever offended him. He would ruin everyone and everything. There was no one better to do it. He was a unique product of total hatred. The world was going to pay for making him feel bad.
Trump’s family history publicly said that his father was born in New York City and his mother was a Scottish immigrant. It claimed that they were descendants of the German Drumpfs and had been in the USA for a long time, but it was a lie. Fred Trump and his wife were both German and they had come to the USA towards the end of World War II when it became obvious that Germany was going to lose. Charles Lindbergh and Evander Bush had helped find a look alike in New York City while Nazi loyalists had put ‘the bunker plan’ into action with two more look a-likes.
Replacing Fred and Mary Trump with the Fuhrer and his wife wasn’t difficult. The Fuhrer liked that Fred’s middle name was ‘Christ’ and he never let his children know that he was the ‘chosen one’. The children were still young and after a short while, they came to believe that the Hitlers actually were their parents – albeit more strict and with accents they didn’t remember. Donald, and Robert were the only actual biological children of the new ‘Trumps’ but Elizabeth, Maryanne and Fred, Jr. never knew that. All they knew was that they were becoming incredibly rich and their parents were more distant than they’d been before.
So there is the dirty secret. The pinnacle of hatred. The product of Nazi genetic breeding. The child of the most evil human to ever walk the earth. And a person who was indoctrinated into a way of thinking that contained none of those sparks of humanity that make it worth saving – no compassion, no humility, no understanding, no forgiveness.
Those that knew his secret history poured their resources into supporting him both behind the scenes and in front of the cameras. Those who shared his hatred joined with him and rallied behind him. Every string that could be pulled was pulled, every favor that could be called was called, every remnant of fascist power and every back handed move that could be made was made. People died, people lied, algorithms did their work, and defying all expectations and all rational explanation, Trump won.
Donald J. Trump became the 45th (and last) President of the United States of America. Even at that point, it wasn’t too late – but there was no play in the playbook, no precedent, no thought experiment that had been laid out for a situation like this – and the plan, the plan had been being prepared for more than sixty years. Every eventuality had been thought out, every detour or deviation had been thought of, every detail had been considered. Trump was almost as clueless as everyone else – but his handlers knew what they were doing and they knew how to make his actions lead to their desired outcomes.
Chapter 2 – Viral Apes on Parade
Yes, things were going very well for ‘The Donald’ and his entire cohort – those white Americans born between 1945 and 1965 – also known as ‘The Baby Boomers’. Through the years, there had been an effort to include people of color in the ‘baby boomer’ cohort – but everyone knew, at least on some level, that it was a lie. They might be ‘of’ the generation but they were no more a part of it than they had been a part of the white classrooms that were integrated during that period.
Under the Trump presidency, things went very well for the baby boomers, just as it always had. They were given more benefits, their savings grew in value, their homes (bought for a fraction of annual income) grew in value to the point where they were worth much more than the same annual income adjusted for inflation. A series of ‘tragedies’ allowed them to use their fluid wealth to hoard what should have been that of later generations and then to scoop up whatever gains those generations might have made. As the next generation ‘Gen X’ came of age, started earning, and appeared to be poised to profit greatly from the boom in technology – a series of lawsuits, anti-trust cases, and mergers ‘releveled’ the playing field and allowed the boomers to ‘reclaim’ their position on top before it was even lost. When protests and a movement for environmental and social justice in the late 1990s threatened the status quo and the power structures, the boomers began attacking the same freedoms they had been granted by their elders – the right to peacefully assemble, the right to protest, the right to demand change.
When tragedy struck on September 11th, 2001, the same boomers who claimed to have protested against the Vietnam War, piled into attacking Iraq and Afghanistan and sending two generations into a state of permanent post-traumatic-stress-disorder. They bought Krispy Kreme donut stock, rallied around war as being good for the economy, and proceeded to use easy credit to buy up everything on every block. A few years later, seeing that Gen X and minorities in their own birth cohort were also using the same easy credit, they engineered credit default swaps, ballooned the real estate market, and exploded the economy. Generally white baby boomers had enough to weather the storm and equally generally Gen X and minorities did not – their ‘assets’ i.e. homes were scooped up and turned into vacation rentals.
There was another period – from 2008 to 2011 where it looked like they might be losing their grip – the ‘sharing economy’ the ‘startup culture’ and ‘social media’ all seemed out of baby boomer grasp – but, using their superior buying power and the ‘unfortunate’ circumstances of Gen X and Millennials, they bought them – everything from the experts to the businesses themselves. In cases where money wasn’t the goal such as a bizarrely successful experiment called ‘couchsurfing’ they monetized the same concept by investing in AirBnB. It was a baby boomer owned and operated business now. At this point the boomers started buying up what had been reasonably priced rentals and turned them into illegal over-priced holiday houses It was a huge win for the boomers – not only had they ruined couch surfing but they had become the majority stakeholders in the ‘sharing (ha ha)’ economy, managed to buy most of the housing inventory, and raised rents at the same time. They were the land lording generation and just like their fearless leader – they profited the most from the Trump presidency.
As with Trump, the whole generation operated on a ‘plausible deniability’ concept that allowed them to do whatever they wanted and deny it later. There were no better deniers than the baby boomers and there were no better baby boomers than Donald J. Trump. From the time he was elected his people made moves to shore up his power and make sure that he kept it. Meanwhile he set about dismantling the Obama years, destroying the media, punishing his enemies, and engaging in what can only be called madman diplomacy as he alternated between trading insults and gifts with the world’s despots, created key imbalances in the U.S. Federal bureaucracy, and manufactured stock market booms and busts while his investment team reaped all of the rewards.
Look, I could go on, but this is all history – so you can look at it from whatever perspective you want. By the end of 2019 Trump was one of the five richest men on the planet but on paper he made sure to rank far lower. His attacks on Amazon were dual purpose – he drove prices artificially down and then bought shares before driving them to new artificial highs. He wanted to destroy and dethrone, Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest man – but at the same time, he wanted to profit from his company and harness the power it wielded. Gradually, the true oligarchs of the world realized that Trump was in charge and they stopped attacking him – there was a tacit truce that was finalized when the richest companies in the world were symbolically arranged into Trump’s campaign acronym MAGA which stood for the openly racist Make America Great Again or the trillion dollar companies he had made truce with Microsoft, Apple, Google, and Amazon.
Those who paid attention already knew that Trump wasn’t going to step aside even if he lost the election of 2020. The other side of that equation was the simple fact that Trump was not going to lose the election of 2020. All of the necessary ‘winning’ components had been put in place before the end of 2019. An artificially pumped up economy (that only benefitted the top 1%), all time low unemployment numbers (combined with all time high debt and all time low buying power when wages were adjusted for inflation), and a political machine that had control of the electronic infrastructure of America. Amazon had finally come on board with the plum of the Pentagon JEDI contract being dangled in front of it. Trump had everything to gain and nothing to lose because it was all completely rigged.
Obama had been castrated and his policies had been dismantled. State and Federal courts all over the country had been stacked with Trump loyalist judges. The foreign service and justice departments had been gutted. The military had been neutered and all the prominent voices within it had been discredited. The Democratic Party had effectively been split into two – one side far left and the other side closer to far right. The Republican Party had been purged of anyone who didn’t have complete loyalty towards The Donald. Trump had destroyed trade relationships, isolated and offended allies, walked away from treaties and agreements – and whipped his country into a frenzy of conspiracy theories, xenophobia, and (for those who truly believed in things like social or environmental justice) despair. He was pro-pollution for profit, pro environmental-degradation for profit, anti-science, anti-truth, and made himself more orange in every appearance just to fuck with people.
Nothing could stop him. He was indomitable. He was large and in charge.
There was only one problem – the planet had begun to pay attention. The apes had become a toxic infestation. She’d been working slowly, trying to change them, trying to encourage them, trying to reach them. Some of them were evolving – they were seeing themselves as part of a bigger picture, they were noticing the interconnectedness of everything, they were breaking down the walls that separated them from one another, from other living things, and from the totality of her many systems and processes. Given a thousand years, she would have been able to gently mold them into a healthy synergy – but starting in about 2016, she realized that she didn’t have a thousand years. If she wanted to save the apes (and the bears, and the elephants, and all the other mammals, marsupials, birds, fish, and reptiles..) she would have to be more drastic. She didn’t have time to mold her chosen into a new way of being – the work would continue, but in the meantime – there were two things that had to be eliminated: baby boomers and capitalism.
Chapter 3 – Sweet Sugar Magnolia
The planet’s name was Gaia.
She was a beautiful planet and considered to be among the most intelligent by all the other planets, though most of them wouldn’t admit it. While other planets had focused on creating dramatic geologic features, gaseous rings, or amazing temperature physics – she had focused on using the tiniest particles to create the most dramatic change.
She was patient. Over 4.5 billion years, she had cobbled together something called life – an insignificant recipe of basic elements and then utilized it to reshape the land, the air, the climate – everything. Gaia was a beautiful genius.
Technically, it’s not quite correct to say that she was a planet – the planet was more like an outward manifestation of who she was – much like a person can be seen by the world as being represented by their body, but actually, they are a complex series of systems that result in a particular consciousness that interacts with physical reality.
It was the same for Gaia. She was a complex series of systems that resulted in a particular consciousness. I can hear you again…I hear you becoming skeptical of my hippie talk. I understand, I hear where you are coming from – but look, before I lose you – let me give a quick explanation. Here’s why you have never met Gaia (even though you have), here’s why you never heard her speak (even though you have), and here is why this just sounds like hippie dippy bullshit – because it is hippie dippy bullshit.
Bottom line is this – Gaia is too big for you to see. Your brain cannot comprehend her. Even if you were to have a face to face conversation with her, you would not believe your senses. Let me put it another way…have you ever had a conversation with your mitochondria? Have you ever tried to explain something to your DNA? Or, on a totally bigger level – do you think it’s possible to reason with your pre-frontal cortex?
You are simply a tiny little part of Gaia. You, me, and even Donald Trump – we’re all little bits of the same mega-consciousness. That consciousness is Gaia – and unlike you and your mitochondria or you and Gaia – she actually has the capabilities to recognize us, see us, communicate with us, direct us, and even kill us. Gaia. If you haven’t been before, it might be time to start paying attention to that name.
The planet’s name was Gaia but she preferred to think of herself as Sugar Magnolia. Yes, Gaia was a Grateful Dead fan.
She’s got everything delightful, she’s got everything I need, A breeze in the pines and the sun and bright moonlight, lazing in the sunshine yes indeed.
I told you this was some hippie dippy bullshit (but it’s not) and here is the proof. In general, people were incapable of recognizing her – but there were those who did. Astronauts looking at her from outer space – they felt the connection and the loss at being disconnected. Their vision broadened and gave them the chance to see her, they learned where home really was (and what it was). It wasn’t just the astronauts though – psychonauts frequenty met her.
I mentioned early that Gaia was patient, that she worked with life, that she used her creations to shape her creation – Gaia is the true intelligent design master. I also mentioned earlier how awful the baby boomers were – an entire generation that turned to the dark side – except they didn’t ALL turn to the dark side. There were plenty of baby boomers who met Gaia and then moved forward – they tuned in, turned on, and dropped out. They ate mushrooms, consumed LSD, smoked weed, practiced free love, and reshaped their own DNA and more importantly their consciousness got bent into new forms.
Here’s something the scientists won’t tell you (because how could they) but consciousness transfer is every bit as important as genetic transfer. A parent’s consciousness is every bit as inherited as their DNA but here’s the biggest kick – consciousness transfer is a never ending process and it isn’t reliant on blood relation. Have you ever noticed that when you are with a group of people who think differently than you do, that your opinions start to change and form into a form more like theirs? That’s the consciousness pool. Your reality is shaped by the reality of those around you – that’s the reason that religious movements are born and spread (among other things). It’s the reason why good ideas happen simultaneously at distant points – the consciousness pools aren’t exactly ‘physical’ and so they are not constrained by the same physical properties.
Gaia wasn’t a tyrant. She gave her creations free will but she also shaped and encouraged them towards her overall plan and design. Mystics and hippies have been tapping into that shit for centuries. The aberrant consciousness pools were never really a problem because they were geographically limited and overall not too damaging to her end game. That started to change with the baby boomers though.
Technology allowed them to form much bigger consciousness pools, the rogue consciousness’ got bigger and bigger – this led to problems. Around the time of World War I, she saw the problem beginning – roads and efficient transport were shrinking her working consciousness pools and growing the rogues. Simple enough, she tweaked one of the smallest life forms, a virus, and killed millions while the humans killed each other.
Gaia took no pleasure in watching her creations destroyed. Once the process began however, it was difficult to stop – the rogue pools were impossible to destroy. They could go dormant but all it would take was a new charismatic human to open them up again. The World War II propaganda machines caused her to take note and then the increasing use of radio and television to create huge negative pools of greed, envy, lust, and pride. These were not helpful to her.
She had encouraged Jesus, Buddha, Mohammad, and scores of other mystics – she had talked with them, taught them, given them charismatic boosts of energy – and then watched as their movements and teachings were perverted, twisted, and used for the opposite of what she had intended them.
In the chaos following the Second World War, she brought the teachings together and encouraged the use of psychedelics, opioids, and marijuana to open humans up to her message. Many of them heard – from the commune makers to the back to the lander to the hitchhikers and the American Hindus and Buddhists – they heard. They saw. They responded. By the middle of the 1960s children were being born with drastically rewired consciousness – they were permanently connected to the Gaia pools.
The children of the elders and boomers were not the same as their parents. Many of the boomers themselves were no longer the same as the rest of their cohort. They watched in disbelief as their fellows tuned out, turned off, and climbed back in the god-awful machine of capitalism that the rogue pools had created. The children, as they grew suffered from a complete and total cognitive dissonance as their parents turned away from the values they were given and became ‘the baby boomers’.
So, it’s not really fair to call the Grateful Dead a bunch of baby boomers. It’s not fair to refer to those who are still woke (or even those recently re-awoken) as baby boomers. Just as it is not fair to refer to those younger gens absorbed into the Chaos pools as anything other than boomers. The words simply don’t exist to make sense of it – so, we must adapt the words we have.
We will simply call them what we have already been calling them – those absorbed into the Chaos pools, we will call ‘boomers’ regardless of age, race, religion or other physical data. I understand that this will be offensive to many, but I don’t really care. At this period in time, it makes sense for ‘boomer’ to be an offensive insult. So, on the one side of things you have boomers and their God-King-President Donald J. Trump.
On the other side you have those in the Gaia pools whom we shall call Gaiaists. They too were made up of people from all generations, walks of life, religions, and races (but really they were all of the same race, the human race). The Gaiaists didn’t have a leader, there was no flag to rally to, there was no military ready to kill for them – but they had Gaia on their side as well as many children and a guy named Bob – and that was really all that mattered.
Chapter 4 – A Sack of Potatoes
Bob was shaped like a sack of flour, had skin that was about the same color as the flour bag, and had hair that went from long on his ears and body to missing on top of his head. Bob didn’t like having ‘jobs’ and was generally considered to be a pretty good guy by those who knew him. He wasn’t handsome, ugly, or remarkable in any particular way. Bob was neither alpha nor beta. Like his name, he just sort of was. Maybe if he had been Robert or Bobby, there might have ended up being something interesting about him, but no, he was just Bob.
Perhaps it’s not fair to say there was nothing interesting about Bob. Bob had lots of ideas. Bob generally saw connections between things that a sane person would never connect. Bob was also very good at figuring out how to get through life without having to do much that he didn’t want to do. On the one hand, Bob was like the most privileged royalty to have ever walked the planet in that he didn’t have to scrabble for his sustenance, bow to anyone (nor kiss the boot), nor spend his life doing things he didn’t want to do only to die having done nothing that he wanted to do. On the other hand, Bob was a nobody – which was part of his secret of success. No one really noticed Bob. No one offered him promotions or opportunities, he wasn’t pursued by beautiful women, and he only rarely was fucked with by anyone – because he wasn’t the type of person people fucked with, he was the kind of person people walked by without ever having noticed they walked by.
On the rare occasion that anyone did fuck with Bob, it generally ended bad for them. Even though he drove a shitty car, didn’t have any real money to speak of, was completely devoid of any sort of functional power in the world, and for all intents and purposes was just one of many on the bottom tiers of society – he walked the earth as if he owned it. Maybe it was because he was ignored most of the time and allowed to do whatever he might want or maybe, as he had thought a time or two, he was the reincarnation of Caesar, Napoleon, or Genghis Khan. Reincarnation was a tricky subject though – because he also felt like he might be the reincarnation of a slave, an abused woman, or a hanged criminal.
All of that reincarnation stuff aside (because Bob wasn’t even sure if he believed in such a thing, he was pretty sure he didn’t in fact, but not so sure as to be sure it wasn’t a thing after all – so maybe he sort of believed in it – sometimes) – but, yes, all of that aside – it didn’t go well for anyone to fuck with Bob. Imagine what happened when you fucked with Genghis Khan….you’d get your head lopped off or be drawn and quartered, but since Bob wasn’t Genghis Khan and didn’t have horses, an army, or minions – he just had to figure out how to ruin people.
Now I want to be clear here, Bob wasn’t a bad guy – in fact, he was a good guy. Bob helped people, took care of people, tried as hard as anyone to avoid any kind of conflict whatsoever. Bob was more likely to be correct in a disagreement over something but defer that he was incorrect just to avoid a conflict, because conflict never led to anything good. So, if you wanted to tell Bob that Ben Franklin was a homosexual and Bob knew for a fact that Franklin was actually a straight or bisexual person – Bob would probably gently correct you. If you were the kind of person who then let it go then that was that. If you were the kind of person that continued to argue -the kind who had to be right – well, then Bob would let you be right and you would be able to walk off and feel superior for being correct even if you were wrong. However, if you were the kind of person who would then mock Bob or lord over him that you were right and he was wrong or push things even further – well, then, that meant you probably would get what you deserved – and in a situation like that – Bob was the arbiter of both judgment and punishment.
What would that punishment be? It really depended. He wasn’t above leaving hard core pornography with some asshat’s name on it in a place where their wife or business associates might find it. He had been known to use profiles linking to his perps in forums where that was sure to lead to their identity being stolen. He’d once met a racist asshole who insisted on spouting his views publicly even when asked politely to stop – it was no fault of Bob’s (but really it was) that the racist was later reported to the Department of Homeland Security as being a member of an Islamic terrorist organization. And once in a while, if the circumstances were right and the punishment were called for, Bob would go ahead and up and kill a motherfucker.
So that was Bob.
Oh…one more thing that I really should mention – Bob had met Gaia. In fact, it was Bob who first called her Sugar Magnolia.
Bob was an old time dead head. He’d been born just a bit to late to enjoy the heyday of the hippies but the good part about that was that he missed all the freaky Charles Manson bullshit. So, he wasn’t a hippie but he grew up listening to the Grateful Dead, caught shows when he could, cooked grilled tomato and cheese sandwiches in concert parking lots once in a while – and generally did a lot of drugs – at least until he didn’t.
Bob took shitloads of LSD, ate crates full of magic mushrooms, and smoked at least as much weed as Snoop Doggy Dogg – okay, that might be a bit of an exaggeration – he smoked a lot of weed, but no one has smoked that much. Anyway, he was so tuned in, turned on, and dropped out that there was nowhere else for him to drop out of. In fact, he’d tuned in and turned on so much that it was starting to get boring. Bob could dose LSD through a convention and eat shrooms like they were corn chips. It was starting to get boring and he was wondering when he was going to die so he could find out if the reincarnations shit was real or just a myth.
That was when he met Doctor. Doctor doesn’t really play much of a role in this story, at least not yet and he didn’t play much of a role in Bob’s overall story either. Bob was sitting on a bench, tripping out, listening to the birds in the park. He noticed a guy in a funny hat was suddenly sitting next to him.
“LSD is done” the man said.
“Excuse me?” Bob was pretty certain he had misheard and maybe let his trip rearrange the words.
“I said LSD is done. That shit is over. It’s boring. It doesn’t do any more than what it’s done.”
“Who are you?” Bob asked. He wasn’t really one to mince words and he was tripping balls.
“I’m Doctor.” the man said. His hat had a propeller on it. Bob was sure he wasn’t tripping that.
“Doctor who? or maybe Doctor of what?” Bob asked.
“No, Doctor Who is a TV show and I’m not a Doctor of What. I’m a Doctor of Which.”
“A Witch Doctor?” Bob hazarded. The propeller didn’t seem to be connected to the hat after all, it just sort of hovered over him.
“No. Which way. Never mind. It doesn’t matter. LSD is done. You need to move on.”
“Where?” Bob looked around, seeing the trail and wondering where this strange apparition was sending him.
“No, which. Which drug. Which drug? Salvia divinorum. Go smoke the shit out of that. LSD is done. Go smoke the shit out of some salvia.”
Bob had heard of Salvia divinorum, but he didn’t know where to get any. He wasn’t really sure what it did or where he could get it.
“Where?” Bob wasn’t really monosyllabic, but he was tripping balls, remember? He wasn’t even sure that Doctor was real. “Where get?” He managed to get the second syllable out.
“Here.” Doctor reached up into the propeller, which Bob was happy to see, didn’t slice off his hand and spray blood everywhere – though as he thought about that it might have been interesting to see the droplets glistening in the sun. Doctor pulled his hand down and now it had a bag filled with dried green herbs. Doctor handed it to him.
“Smoke the shit out of that. She want’s to meet you.” Doctor got up and Bob looked down into his hand to see if the herbs were still there – they were. He looked up to protest or say thanks but Doctor was gone. He looked down the trail in either direction – and he saw no one. He checked to see if the herbs were still in his hand – they were.
Given the circumstances and everything that had happened, Bob didn’t feel like he could do anything except wait for the LSD to wear off and then go home and smoke the shit out of the Salvia divinorum that Doctor had given him.
Chapter 5 – Mystic Dimensional Smoking
Bob didn’t know Gaia, he couldn’t give two shits about Donald Trump – or any other politician or celebrity – and he didn’t really care about anything at all. None of that meant he was a bad guy or wasn’t a decent human being – he would help old ladies carry their groceries to their cars (and refuse any tip that might be offered) and do other nice things – he genuinely liked helping people. He simply didn’t really care about anything that was outside of his immediate personal experience. Sure, he thought it was terrible that people should suffer for any reason but in general they were outside of any sort of range he might be able to make a difference in – or that was what he thought. All of that was about to change.
Bob went home to his little sub-basement studio apartment, sat down on his old shitty brown cloth sofa and pulled out the bag of herbs. They had a vague licorice smell and he wasn’t entirely sure that what he was about to do was a good idea – he got out his old pipe, filled up the bowl with salvia, and sat there with it in his hands – wondering if what he was about to do was the stupidest thing he had ever done. That would be a hard truth to find, Bob had done lots of stupid shit in his life.
He looked around his crappy little apartment. Not filthy, he kept it clean, just old and crappy. It had seen better days. He pulled out his phone and looked up ‘Salvia’.
He found that it was a member of the mint family and was said to cause intense hallucinations. there had never been any reported deaths or overdoses from it. That was all he really needed to know. He held the pipe up to his mouth, lit the lighter, and then decided he would go somewhere else.
Bob liked being outside and in relative solitude when he tripped – so he hiked up the hill through his suburban neighborhood until he reached the dirt road that wandered off through the valleys – it had been an old logging road but the suburbs kept pushing back on it. A half mile outside of the suburbs, he got past the ‘beauty strip’ the trees that had been left standing so citizens wouldn’t get upset about the clear cutting. Once past the beauty strip, he walked through the clear cut which was about two miles wide and twenty years old – small growth was coming back. He found a huge old stump and sat on it.
He was looking down on the entire clearcut valley, miles and miles of earth that had been stripped of trees. Limbs and stumps thrust upwards like bones of long dead warriors who had fought and died on this battlefield. Once again, Bob pulled out the pipe.
He looked down the valley, made sure there was no one else within his field of vision. He listened to the birds calling. He lit the lighter, brought it to the pipe, and took a huge fucking hit. It was strong, acrid, and bitter. He held it in his lungs for about forty seconds before exhaling it into the gentle breeze that was blowing from behind him and into the valley below. The smoke wafted upwards on the breeze and began to dissipate and then…
Bob felt a melting-whooshing-blending-motion sort of feeling, he heard a sound that could only be described as shwoenge – that was sort of what it sounded like but it actually encompassed all sounds and suddenly there he was at the bottom of the valley looking up at himself nearly a half mile away. He was on a different stump, this one with lots of small trees growing out of it and an old coke can smashed into what had been the bark. Bob looked at the can, looked at his hands, looked up at himself a half mile away, and stood up on the stump.
“What the fuck man?” He reached down and pulled the coke can out from between the bark and the stump – he was looking at it intently and then shwoenge – he was back up at the top of the valley looking down at where he had just been. Bob had been a tripper for a long time, but he had never had a trip like that…he looked at his hands – still holding the pipe. They began to shake…
And then they stopped…it was roughly five minutes after he had taken the hit and he was now feeling no effects from it whatsoever.
He stuck the pipe into his pocket and began the long walk through the clearcut down to the stump that he had hallucinated he was standing on. It took nearly forty minutes to get there, he had to navigate around brush and detritus. He didn’t expect to find anything there, but he had to see. He had never hiked down this valley before.
When he got there, he was surprised to see the stump just as he had imagined it. He began to wonder if maybe Salvia didn’t vastly improve vision and then induce hallucination that way. Closer to the stump he stopped. The flattened old coke can was there – and it was clear that it had been removed from between the bark and the stump. Heightened vision didn’t explain this. Bob didn’t know what explained this. Bob was now tripping the fuck out with no drugs involved.
Bob went back to his apartment and did just what a normal person would not have done – he loaded his vaporizing bong full of salvia and began to smoke the shit out of it.
The first hit was a triple and he felt himself fall into the brown and tan fabric of his couch. The pattern began swirling around him and he felt like he was in a vortex – again, a normal person would have reacted one way, but Bob went the other. Where a normal person would have freaked out, grasped for control and tried to climb out of the couch vortex, Bob didn’t do that – he calmly reached to where he knew the vaporizer was, picked it up and had another triple hit. The party bowl on it would be good for at least ten hits.
The vortex became faster and he walked out onto a grassy field where a black haired woman in a simple white dress was standing, looking off into the distance – he felt himself being sucked out of the vortex and forced himself to hit the vaporizer again. He walked to her. She turned and gave him the most beautiful smile he had ever seen. He could smell every bit of her – her smell was the best thing he had ever experienced – it was like waking from a bad dream and realizing you were at home in your bed but a thousand times better.
“Hi Bob, I’m Gaia,” her voice was the same sensory overload as her smell and the sight of her, it was as if she were the first real thing he had ever seen. He remembered the vaporizer and reached to hit it. Her voice stopped him “You don’t need to do that now, I’ve got you.”
“Sweet Sugar Magnolia,” Bob said. It was more of an exclamation of delight and surprise than anything else.
“You can call me that if you like,” she said and looking thoughtful, “In fact, yes, call me that, I really like it. Call me Sweet Sugar Magnolia.”
Bob felt an intense sense of clarity – so much so that he didn’t feel any need to ask who she was or what he was doing there. He did, however, need to know one thing. “Is this hallucination?” he asked her. “Is this the salvia?”
She laughed – it was the sound of a silver bell symphony. “No. I’m real. You know who I am. The salvia was just a way for you to get here – most never manage, but you pulled it off very quickly. I knew you would.”
“What does the salvia do?” He asked her. That was something which he was not clear on at all.
“It’s full name is salvia Divinorum,” she told him. “It is the divine sage. I made it purely and simply as a way to communicate with you … and other creatures. Salvia erases the artificial barriers between dimensions. There is only one dimension, of course, but to give your world the experience of causality, we have split the dimensions and when you do that, the barriers are a natural by product.”
“I don’t understand.” Bob never had a problem admitting he didn’t know something. He didn’t know almost everything. He could never figure out why anyone would pretend otherwise.
“In the clearcut…” she began.
“You were there?”
She smiled warmly. “Of course I was there, salvia was there and besides, there really aren’t any places that I’m not – at least on this world. So, in the clearcut, you managed to erase the second dimension – you were suddenly able to be at many points at the same time – just as an electron.”
“But wait, I wasn’t at many points at the same time, I was in one place and then another…”
Gaia looked at him “Yes, of course, I forgot – your kind are trapped with the 4th dimension…there is no escaping it. However, trust me Bob, you were in many places at the same time but because of your own brain structure and the observation principle – you can only rationalize that you were in one place, then another, then back again. You were Schroedinger’s Ape.”
“Why am I here?” He didn’t know if he was asking a positional statement or a deeply philosophical statement because he was asking both at the same time.
“I made you,” she told him. “I made your world. I created and then created the impetus for life to create itself – and I set life free. This has been a wonderful process – but unfortunately, I made a couple of mistakes…and now they are either going to get taken care of or they are going to destroy everything we’ve created.”
“We’ve created?” Bob was confused, she had just said that she created everything.
“Of course. I created and then I set my creations to create in the impetus of what I had created and what resulted from it. I didn’t create bird nests…birds created those.”
“So what’s the problem?” he asked her – for some very strange reason, he felt confident that he understood what she had just explained. Bob never felt like that – he nearly always had questions on questions on questions.
“The problem is that I created a backup system to save all the work that gets done and somehow that backup system got cloned, corrupted, and is now saving data in a way that goes against all of the original principles of my design.”
“This is all a computer program?” Bob was starting to have questions again..
“No, I’m just trying to give you a metaphor you can understand. Imagine that Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak create a perfect Apple computer. They share it with the world. Slowly the board of Apple is infiltrated by people who want to exploit user data, brainwash users, and turn them into Windows users. Finally, they fire Jobs and Woz and hire Bill Gates to run Apple. At that point, if you buy an Apple are you buying an Mac or buying a PC?”
Bob made the ‘mind-blown’ gesture with his cupped fingers pushing outwards from his head.
Gaia went on “So, here I am with my creation – let’s just call it an apple. Everything was going along just fine and then I began paying attention and it seems that some ass-hat is trying to turn my Macintosh into a fucking PC!” The intensity of her anger as she explained this could only be felt as flames erupting from her eyes, ears, mouth, nose, fingers, toes, and head. “I need you to stop him before he turns Apple into Microsoft!”
“You want me to kill Bill Gates?” Bob wasn’t offering – he was baffled and feeling the power of listening to an all knowing, all seeing, all there is being as she tried to explain a complex universal situation to an acid dropping, sub-genius, fire-making ape.
The flames disappeared and she was laughing. “No, no, no. Not at all. Bill Gates is one of the good guys – I mean, not always but he’s coming around and really making the change. No, Bill Gates isn’t the ass-hat. It’s not him. And besides, I don’t want you to kill anyone -”
Bob felt an intense sense of relief. He didn’t want to kill anyone.
She continued “…No, I need you to build the army of light, lead them to the battle where they will struggle with the army of darkness, and then…after your army has defeated the dark – then I want you to obliterate Donald Trump’s soul, but killing him won’t be a good enough solution.”
There was a beautiful silver tone, deep and resonant. Bob felt everything shake. Sweet Sugar Magnolia/Gaia looked at him with love and said “I can’t keep you hear any longer – don’t worry, you’ll figure out what to do. If you get confused or tripped up – remember that moving towards your opponent is often the best defense.”
Bob was on his couch holding the vaporizer – it was still smoking. He looked at the clock on his stove and realized he had been gone for three minutes. He had never felt more rested or alive in his life.
Chapter 6 –The Dread Postman Roberts
The postman was the messenger of anxiety and fear. Generally, Bob wasn’t a nervous sort of person, but when he saw the postman getting out of his mail truck and walking up the porch steps to put mail in the post box, it never felt good. All of his deepest hidden turmoil would rise to the surface and roil his consciousness in an avalanche of loose stone and broken vicissitude. Bob had never trusted the post office.
The United States Postal Service was more than just a government division that delivers letters from one place to another. The USPS by itself stood as one of the top one hundred economies in the world and generated more income than all but the largest companies the world had ever borne witness to. The USPS maintains a fleet of a quarter million vehicles, an army of more than a million employees and retirees, as well as airplanes, big rigs, base-yards, and a network of more than 31,000 post offices and 10,000 private contractor mail shops. Mail is a big business and big business means big money. When there is big money, one should know that exploitation, greed, graft, and violence will follow. In a business pulling and pushing mountains of cash, there was sure to be both corruption and bosses.
The Postal Employees Union was one of the most ruthless mafia syndicates on the planet and the postal inspection corps were their gestapo. It was no easy thing to prevent postal workers from blowing each other away in one of the highest stress business environments the world had ever seen – and sometimes, they had to take side-jobs in order to make sure that everyone kept getting paid and the illusion of domesticity prevailed in the “free” world. Only the Federal Government and Walmart employed more American civilians than the USPS…think about that for a moment.
Bob had spent far longer than a moment thinking of it. The result was a deep seated dread for both the post office and mail carriers. Nothing is so dangerous as the truth and it meant that he was never able to enjoy banal flavored thinking such as considering an everyday postman as some friendly and harmless bozo in short pants and a doorless truck.
The post-office was the the victim of government mandated shake downs for more than a century, all while being forced to fund its own operations and pre-fund retirement and healthcare for an army of workers. This required more than just good business sense and fiduciary responsibility – it required ruthlessness and the ability to diversify and hide in plain sight while being regarded as harmless. Far from being harmless, the USPS holds more true power than any U.S. government agency in that it is ruled by a ten-member board who appoint a Postmaster General and make decisions with sovereign immunity, eminent domain powers, the ability to negotiate postal treaties with foreign nations, and an exclusive right to deliver 1st and 3rd Class mail. It is also in a unique partnership with all branches of the U.S. Military and jointly operates both the Army Postal and the Fleet Postal Offices – giving it immense power to influence military decisions and leadership. The US Post Office is not subject to antitrust laws and operates independently of the U.S. Government.
The U.S. Post Office is a deadly serious business – and Bob knew it. This is why the methodical approach of postman Zeta Roberts as he climbed the steps to reach Bob’s porch and slid several letters through the slot in the door drove Bob to do something he didn’t know he was capable of in the face of such a horror inspiring moment. Usually, Bob would pull the blinds, shut out the lights, and listen for the steps to fade as the postman went away – but not today. Today was different. Bob was different.
He opened the door.
Zeta Roberts, the postman, looked at Bob in surprise. This had never happened before. Bob had always pulled the blinds and pretended not to be home. Zeta was a non-threatening African American man in postman shorts and white trainers. He was clean shaven, his uniform was neatly pressed and cleaned, and he was quick with a smile. The power of the uniform was that white people generally didn’t notice Zeta when he was wearing it – or if they did notice him, they didn’t notice him as a man or more specifically as a black man or even more specifically for most white people – as a threat to their property, women, or safety.
Zeta knew for a fact that it was the uniform because on his days off, he was treated completely differently – in many cases by the same people! Zeta had frequent interactions with the people on his route while he was in uniform – always friendly, always good natured. He had walked the same route on his days off and the experience was totally different. Several times people had called the police on him – saying there was a suspicious person prowling around. More than once, dogs had ‘accidentally’ been released from the yard. Worst of all were the looks of suspicion and violence he received from guys working in their yards, looking out their windows, or walking with their wives. No friendly waves or banter from them. Out of the uniform, none of them recognized him. Well, that wasn’t exactly true – Bob was the one person who had recognized him and suspiciously asked “Have they got you doing undercover work?”
Zeta felt a connection to Bob because most of the letters that came to him were addressed to ‘Robert’. They shared that name. Zeta didn’t think Bob had ever noticed the color of his skin. Bob simply saw the uniform and Zeta’s impression was that he didn’t like it. So, when Bob opened the door, it was a surprise.
Zeta smelled marijuana smoke wafting out. He looked at Bob.
Bob considered what to say, but since he was a little bit stoned, he considered it longer than was comfortable.
Zeta held the three pieces of mail out to Bob. Bob took them, looked at them and then looked back up at Zeta. Both men’s eyes widened at what neither of them knew was about to happen. Eyes do that sometimes, reflect the future before the future is the present.
“I’m terrified of your organization,” Bob said. “I understand the scope of what you people do.”
There was a specific response that postal workers were taught for dealing with this type of question.
“No need to fear, Sir. We deliver the mail. That’s all.”
“Bullshit, I know they tell you to day that,” Bob responded. “The USPS is an army and I need your help. Donald Trump has to be stopped.”
Zeta was used to hearing some bullshit from the people on his route, but this was truth. “Yeah, Preach.”
He waited to hear more from Bob, but Bob didn’t seem to have words ready to speak, and that was okay. Zeta had been waiting for this moment since Trump got elected in 2016. Not one person on his route had ever asked what he thought about Trump or given him the ability to speak the words that came out of his mouth next.
“He’s going to kill us all if we don’t stop him. That motherfucker is pure evil.” That was that, simple words between a postman and a stoner on the porch of a not so great house. In that moment, more than a friendship was born – the tides of history shifted. No longer was it a one sided war being played out for an audience unaware they were a part of the performance. Things were happening on all sides now – heading towards an inevitable confrontation that would determine the fate of all mankind.
Chapter 7 – A Very Good Novel Coronavirus
We all know what happened in 2020. A coronavirus emerged and became a pandemic changing the world forever. We know what happened but we have not been told the details. Allow me now to enlighten you on the complete and total history of the coronavirus known as COVID-19.
Russia had been developing a deadly coronavirus that would uniquely target American weaknesses such as obesity, high blood pressure, and heart conditions. China had been working with several strains of coronavirus in an effort to create targeted viral attacks – something that would hit Tibetans or Taiwanese without damaging Han Chinese. The United States of America was also working on several virus strains that had the potential to tilt a global conflict in whatever direction they wanted – without the media circus of another never ending war..
Meanwhile, the flu virus and several wild coronavirus strains were doing their own thing in nature. Mutating, spreading, developing, changing, and killing. I’m not going to give you a textbook course here – viruses are not exactly alive…they lack cell structure among other things, but like living creatures, they carry genetic material, reproduce, and evolve. Viruses are better described as a different kind of living thing – one that is both helpful and deadly to the living. Viruses are fascinating because they are so close to being living things – but just don’t quite fit. Essentially, a virus is a parasite to living things because it requires living things to live (or whatever it is that a virus does).
Not all viruses are deadly though – some of them are neutral and others actually are beneficial. There are trillions of viruses in every human body (yes trillions with a ‘T’). Viruses are a driver of evolution and they sometimes even protect a host. A quick word on hosts, no virus can survive without a host – the virus needs an actual living thing to reproduce itself – that thing is the host. Some viruses protect the host such as phages which are viruses that kill harmful bacteria. There are many, many viruses and not all of them are bad. Some viruses are good.
Essentially, this is the story of a very good coronavirus.
Late in 2019, Gaia realized that genocide was coming. It might come from the Chinese, it might come from the Russians, it might come from ISIS or it might come from the USA, but the bottom line was – it was coming. Gaia didn’t want to see any of her creations destroyed, not even the apes – and especially not in hatred. She knew the power of hatred and how it could quickly grow and spiral out of control while killing everything in the path it took. Hatred was a kind of virus as well, it needed a host and was generally toxic to all who encountered it.
Gaia saw the hatred – it was like a very funny broadway play that everyone liked and then the theater caught on fire and everyone died. Except it wasn’t funny. It was leading to dramatic climate change, mass extinction events, and a destruction of her work. Someone was going to release a virus and it was going to be awful – imagine something that would let every person that got it spread it to three more – and then would kill 60% of those who got it. A disease that would kill 2/3 of the human population in a matter of weeks. That was what the US Government was working on.
Trump and his cronies had created a virus which they would release in the Middle East, Africa, Latin America, and Asia – then they would bring it home and release it in areas where voters weren’t ‘loyal’ to Trump. I’ve mentioned previously that Trump wore orange makeup just to annoy his detractors – but at the root of that was something else – he was pumped so full of experimental vaccines that his cellular structure had actually changed. A part of his orangeness was just him – he was an orange man. An evil orange man. An evil orange motherfucker of a man.
Trumps initial plan was to release it just prior to the 2020 election and then in the midst of an emergency global pandemic – to call off the elections. It was an awful plan if you were human, it was a wonderful plan if you were orange and named Donald Trump.
Gaia decided to do something – the best thing to do would be to beat him to the punch. Trump’s virus was a coronavirus with elements of Ebola that was air spread and used rats as a vector. It was terrible – she couldn’t let it do what it was designed for. Meanwhile, the Russian’s were continuing to sew the threads of American destruction. They planned to introduce their own coronavirus in New York City.
She worked her magic. A coronavirus in Asian fruit bats had been getting ready to jump species so she brought the bats into contact with a pangolin. The pangolin is a cute little armadillo type of animal that many Chinese people believe has magical properties that make its body parts into medicine – it is also believed by some Chinese men to be a dick enlarger. As a result, the pangolin is one of the most heavily trafficked animals in Asia.
Now, here are some fun facts – pangolins and armadillos are two of the only animals in the world that can cross infect viruses to humans. Here’s another fun fact, animal parts don’t make your dick larger. If you have a small dick, you are stuck with it. Armadillos can contract and spread leprosy. Pangolins can carry coronavirus. The bat coronavirus was harmless to the pangolins and it spread through the population quickly. Before long, a number of infected pangolins were captured by humans to sell to guys who were ashamed of their genitals. They were taken to Wuhan where they were sold in one of the ‘wet markets’ and subsequently infected the rest of the pangolin in that area. This was all according to Gaia’s plan because Wuhan was where the Chinese were developing their viral weapons. It was the type of misdirection which gods and conscious planets typically engage in.
It’s easy for a virus to jump from Pangolin to human but it would have been harder for it to jump from bat to human – that was why she used the pangolin. At the same time as this was happening, the Russian virus was being released in Southern Europe and New York. The U.S. was releasing a time limited version of their virus in Iran and Wuhan before unleashing it on Iraq, Syria, and the Middle East.
By design, Gaia’s virus was far faster to spread. You might be thinking “What the fuck? How is that a good coronavirus or a very good coronavirus?” Here’s the answer. Gaia’s virus conferred immunity to the Russian, Chinese, and the US viruses – which were far deadlier than hers. You were there, you know how it played out – the Wuhan virus came on quick, it looked like a nightmare for China – then, from out of nowhere – suddenly Italy, then Iran, Spain, France and New York City blossomed into deadly hot spots with much higher mortality. It was the Russian and American virus doing most of the killing.
Gaia’s virus flew from China to the world. It spread quickly and invisibly from September to February. It went from Wuhan to all of Asia, then to Hawaii, California, British Columbia, Washington State, and Australia. The infection rate was insanely high – the symptoms for most people consisted of the worst case of influenza they had ever experienced – and then they were okay. Meanwhile, the Russian and US viruses (which I’ll just call viRus) moved slowly west into Europe and the Middle of the USA – where the viRUS met Gaia’s coronavirus (we’ll call it Gairus) – there were far fewer infections and deaths than where the viRus spread alone. It was a lifesaving virus – and yes – the worst flu of your life sometimes kills you – but if you survived it – you were immune to the viRus. If you caught the Gairus, you were immune to other coronavirus strains if you survived, but if you caught the viRus you could still catch the Gairus but if you caught the Gairus first, then you were good to go.
That’s the story you haven’t been told before – COVID-19 is not a single coronavirus – the pandemic was actually three pandemics happening at the same time – one started by Russia, one started by the USA, and the third started by Gaia. Since all the major players felt they had something to hide – none of them shared information effectively and as a result, none of them figured out what was going on. They all simply had to react. They had to act surprised, they had to downplay, they had to hide their own culpability (because the Chinese thought the Gairus had escaped from their lab, the US thought it was the virus they had released in Iran, and the Russians thought it was their New York virus unleashed.)
Some seemingly crazy decision-making starts to make a lot more sense when you recognize what really happened. The U.S. virus was supposed to be a quick hitter and then mutate to a form that would not survive – which is why the Trump administration continually downplayed the virus until the numbers were such that they could not ignore them any longer. The Russian virus wasn’t supposed to affect people of Slavic descent which explains why Vladimir Putin acted with such disregard for the virus reaching Russia. The Chinese virus (never actually released) had not been a planned event. So all three major powers had more than a little to hide – or at least thought they did. Each thought they were responsible for the pandemic, each scrambled to keep the rest of the world from discovering the part they either played or thought they played.
Without the Gairus – the death toll would have been in the tens of millions in a very short time. As it was, the Gairus did what it was supposed to do. First, it gave immunity to all coronavirus’ to those who survived it, second it shut down the world’s industrial civilization – everything from commuting to industrial farming to air travel – shut down completely or dramatically. The air cleared, the animals had a holiday, the environment made massive reversals against a century of hardcore damage from industrial civilization. Finally, Gaia usually stayed out of ape politics – but because of the rise of Donald Trump and chaos pool ideologies – the entire balance of her planet had been destroyed. As we know, this was one of a few times she decided to step in and put her weight on one side. The coronavirus shutdown was meant to show the apes (humans) that they had been lied to. This was an opportunity for all of them to stop, observe, learn, and discover the truth. They had been lied to about the benefits of their ‘civilization’, the limits of what could be done to make life better, the ability of ‘business’ to stop making bad decisions and start making planet positive ones, and most importantly that their leaders were corrupt, ignorant, and filled with hatred for their own kind (and all other kinds).
COVID-19 was a tragic event that killed far too many good people. The viRus’ unleashed by the US and Russia were responsible for the majority of those deaths. The Gairus, on the other hand, also killed far too many in China, the West Coast of the USA, Japan, and other Asian countries – but the lives it saved from the viRus were in the billions. This is why we refer to it as ‘a very good novel coronavirus’.
Chapter 8 – The World According to Trump
The coronavirus pandemic was as welcome to Donald Trump as the proverbial turd in the punchbowl. If you aren’t familiar with that particular metaphor, it should be easy to put together. In any event, 2020 started with Trump feeling amazingly triumphant – and at first he thought COVID-19 was going to add to that.
To understand that, you need to understand exactly how Donald John Trump viewed the world. It wasn’t a complex worldview but unless you understand it, you can never understand the motivations that drove Trump to the seemingly insane decisions he frequently made.
Trump was the original ‘Daddy’s Boy’. Some people say that isn’t a thing, but in Trump’s case, it actually was. Donald John Trump was created in a laboratory. His mother’s egg was removed from her body, the nucleus of it was removed, and that nucleus was replaced with a strand of his father’s DNA. ‘Fred Trump’ and his son Donald shared almost identical DNA. As a result of this, ‘Fred’ (I’ll stop using ironic quotes since we all know who Fred really was) put a huge amount of pressure on little Donny.
From the beginning, Donald Trump was told that he was the best and if he didn’t live up to that it was because he wasn’t trying hard enough. There was one person in the world who needed to be pleased with him above all others, his father. Young Donald Trump was encouraged to walk all over his siblings to earn his father’s love, he was praised only when he did something that made his father proud. In general, this meant earning power, prestige, and at the same time – taking power and prestige from those less deserving of it – i.e. everyone except Fred Trump -especially those who were not of the same Germanic heritage.
You would think that the death of Fred Trump would have taken a lot of pressure off of Donald, but it wasn’t the case. Instead he felt like his father was now aware of his past transgressions and there was nothing he could do to hide himself from the ever-judging eye of his deceased dad. Many were and are the evening when Donald John Trump stares into the mirror, looking for the image of his father, hoping that he can finally get a proud word of praise. Trump would sometimes try to speak in his father’s voice and heap compliments on himself – but this always failed and ended with him berating himself for his many failures and finally weeping into the mirror “I’m sorry Papa, please forgive me. I’m sorry I’m such a piece of shit, Papa. Please Papa, please – just kill me, I don’t deserve your love, I only deserve to suffer for being such a dumpkoff of a Trumpkoff.”
When there is only one person (a dead person, no less) who matters to you – that pretty much opens the door to doing whatever you want to the rest of the people in the world. In his world, Trump stood at the pinnacle of a bunch of sub-humans and his dead father stood above him as a sort of unappeasable sun-god that demanded more and more sacrifice. Trump was eager to sacrifice all of those below him – not only was it easier than sacrificing himself, it was fun.
The Russians had video tape of him sodomizing and urinating on prostitutes ranging in age from twelve to sixty – but they would never use it. Trump had tapes of his own and the one thing the Russians would never forgive was learning that their leader was a homosexual. It had taken him time to acquire it, but the U.S. Presidency allows you more power than any other position on the planet. Once he had it, he ‘reset’ the relationship with Russia very quickly. It had freed him from being Putin’s puppet.
It was that action and the helter-skelter series of bizarre diplomatic decisions that followed which led the Russian president to decide on ‘Operation New York’. Trump in the meantime had acquired a weaponized coronavirus from his friend Kim Jong Un with the intent to release it in Iran. His ridiculously still-principled generals, however refused to deploy the virus without a safeguard – this was why the half-life of the virus had been chemically shortened in the American version. His plan was that later in the year, they would release the virus in the USA and throw the elections into turmoil.
Trump’s plan was simple – his operatives would release the virus in Iran and in Wuhan. Trump and his people knew about the weapons virus lab in Wuhan and by releasing the virus there simultaneously with the release in Iran, they were able to create a situation where the virus could be painted as a ‘Chinese virus’. All eyes would turn to China. With that, the ‘Chinese Virus’ would be on the loose and no one would look twice when he released it in blue states.
Trump hated China more than anywhere (except Hawaii, he hated Hawaii more). He hated himself for desperately desiring the approval of Chinese President Xi Jinping – and he resented the hell out of it. The Chinese had risen out of nowhere from a backwater country full of what he considered worthless peasants to become a challenge to his world dominatory plans. He’d already been sticking it to China with his trade war, the currency war was on the way, and now he was going to halt their economy.
So, as we’ve seen – the Gaia virus was already circulating in Asia and the Western U.S. – which people thought was a particularly bad flue season. The Chinese had already figured out that it was something more and it was around this very moment that both Trump and Putin independently decided to strike. Trump’s virus was staged in Wuhan first and then after a week, agents released it into the cafes of Tehran. Seeing that a virus was loose inspired Putin to pull the trigger because he could easily blame it on the Chinese. His virus was planted in New York, Milan, Paris, and Barcelona several weeks after the Chinese noticed the U.S. virus- and the casualties began piling up immediately.
Trump and his people had expected that their virus would kill millions in China. He absolutely loved the moment when he was able to kick them in the teeth by shutting down air travel from China and other Asian countries. He expected a virus that would last a couple of weeks at which point he would get to offer Xi Jinping a welcome hand from the USA.
The U.S. stock markets were on fire as Trump had his federal reserve pump billions into them. He had effectively manuevered the Democratic Party into nominating Joe Biden as their candidate – a demented old man who only had to speak to discredit himself. Much like Trump himself but without the power of Trump’s hatred to propel himself forward nor the power of the presidency to cheat and win. Trump was on top of the world.
But at that point, Gaia’s virus started fucking things up. Instead of millions dying, the Chinese seemed to be getting the virus under control. The immunity wasn’t complete – but 4,500 deaths were just a tiny number compared to the millions that were expected. The Iran virus met with less resistance but Gaia’s work had spread there as well – economic, political, and familial relationships between the two countries have been friendly for generations – and as a result, a limited amount of immunity was there from Gaia’s work. 5,700 Iranians died – but the cost would have been millions if Trump’s plan had succeeded.
Putin’s plan, on the other hand – was working far better. The Russian virus had very little competition in New York and Southern Europe – since it was tailor made for fat, diabetic Americans – it worked well on fat, diabetic Europeans as well. Trump had no idea what was happening.
First, the virus he had sent to China and Iran didn’t do the job it was sent to do – and then it started killing people where he hadn’t sent it. Trump resisted calls to close borders, shut down airlines from Europe, or take any other precaution – he was sure this was his virus and it would die out in a few weeks. But then, it didn’t. He was losing political capital faster than he could keep it. He was also losing money that he had fought hard to cheat from the American people – the stock markets were crashing – that was ultimately what led him to act.
Trump ordered his evil Vizier, Secretary of the Treasury Steven Mnuchin to start printing money and spending it in the stock markets as fast as possible. He was damned if he would let his ill gotten gains fall into the hands of some other villain. He shut down flights from Europe, ordered governors to shut down their states, and began looking at ways he could use this crisis to shore up his power.
The triple virus whammy had way more staying power than he had expected and powerful blue state governors were using the absence of Trump to speak to ever larger audiences. Trump had to get in front of this – so he gathered up the smart people he hadn’t yet fired or discredited and forced them all to stand on the stage with him and look like hypocrites as they made recommendations that none of them followed.
The American people were glad to see their leader standing in front of them, but quickly realized they were watching a madman as he praised a meme of himself playing the fiddle while the country burned, made impossible proclamations like “We will be open by Easter” or “The power of the President is absolute power” or “Isn’t there some way we can spray sunshine or disinfectant on the victims?” It only got worse from there. His orange face (made orange by experimental vaccines and makeup) got oranger and oranger and the American people became more and more aware of just how insane he actually was. Even his diehard supporters, the ones who had cheered when he said he could go out in the street and shoot a stranger and they would still follow him, began to have doubts.
Still, they took his lead and started gathering in churches, having protests, and refusing to wear protective gear. No one could accuse them of being smart, but they were loyal to their racist ideologies, that was for certain.
Trump’s Russian handler (and wife), Melania told Putin that Trump had totally gone over the rails and there was no more handling him. He was a madman on the loose and no one was in charge of him any longer. She tried to weather the storm and protect their son Baron (who also carried some Stalin DNA, by the way) – the heir apparent of the entire Trump empire. Ivanka knew this – which was why she had worked so hard to build her own brands and marry into another fortune. Don Jr. and Eric had no clue – they thought they were going to be in the will but they were essentially in the same boat as Fred, Jr. and Robert had been in the earlier generation. Tiffany, like Trump’s sisters – had seen the writing on the wall early and did her best to make a life on her own.
The coronavirus was fucking up his plans – he was losing money, he was losing respect, and his enemies Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, and Elon Musk were all getting richer while he lost money – showing once again that they were better than he was. Trump once again started attacking Amazon – this time through the post office. He would destroy the post office if it meant he could knock Amazon and Bezos down a few notches.
The world according to Donald J. Trump was that he was the chosen one and the whole world was out to get him. He wasn’t chosen to save anyone or protect anything – he was chosen to be the best – that was it and if it cost everyone else so that he was alone, just one big orange man that was incapable of zipping his own pants – that was fine. He was going to win.
There were just a couple of problems – he’d pissed off the planet, she’d recruited Bob, and Trump made a terrible miscalculation late in April that changed the odds considerably – he decided to start fucking with the post office. Nobody fucks with the post office.
Chapter 9 – Don’t Mess with the Post Office
On April 24th, Donald Trump said “The Post Office is a joke.” It wasn’t the first time he had said such things but this time, he had gone too far. In his quest to one-up Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon and The Washington Post (a paper that was notoriously critical of him), Trump was going after the U.S. Post Office. “Every time they deliver a package for Amazon, they lose money.” Again, it wasn’t the first time he had said such things – but it was the context.
The United States was in a self-induced financial crisis over shutting down the entire country in an panicked effort to control the spread of Covid-19. Bailout money was being handed out on an unprecedented scale. Trump was not against bailing out companies that he or his family had invested in – but when it came to bailing out the post office, he refused. Bailing out the post office was the same thing as handing Jeff Bezos a big fat check. A check that would make him that much more successful and wealthy than Trump. Unthinkable.
Technically, his advisors had told him to leave Bezos and Amazon alone. Hanging the U.S. Pentagon’s JEDI contract over in front of Amazon had finally gotten them to sign off on the MAGA pact – but things were still tenuous. Technically, the JEDI contract had already gone to Microsoft’s Azure cloud division – but there were deals in the works to strip a large portion of that away from them and hand it to Amazon. Trump hated the whole thing. He was trying to find a way he could attack Amazon and then any he had done so.
He’d attacked Amazon with some success in 2018 which had gradually eroded away. He’d forced ‘his generals’ in the Pentagon to give the JEDI contract to Microsoft instead of Amazon and he never missed an opportunity to take a swipe at The Washington Post. None of it had impacted Bezo’s portion as the richest (and most successful) man in the world which Trump took as a direct insult.
So, when the post office approached the treasury and requested financial assistance to continue paying pensions, delivering the mail, and doing everything else the post office did – Trump didn’t see a foundational institution of U.S. history – instead he saw a chance to stick it to that fucking Bezos.
He had a secondary reason, that actually might have been more compelling than the primary but which carried less emotional ammunition – the Democrats were increasingly clamoring for a mail in vote in the 2020 election – something that would hurt all the ‘traditional’ election rigging that all of his cronies were engaged in.
The USPS Postal Union almost immediately began a counter campaign “US Mail Not For Sale.” Postal workers across the nation began mobilizing and organizing on a scale not seen before. The Postmaster General (incidentally, the second highest paid Federal employee – second only to the President himself) unsealed the plan which had been prepared for a moment such as this. The plan had been started by Ben Franklin himself and further developed by every Postmaster General since – it was simply called ‘Re-Orientation Plan 1-75″ or ROP-1-75 the 75 stood for each term of a Postmaster General. Megan J. Brennan was the first female Postmaster General, but it was the 75th term of the office. Ben Franklin had been first.
Within 24 hours, the post office was on the largest hiring spree in the history of the USA. The majority of new hires were military veterans with combat experience. The justification for this hiring spree was to deal with increased home delivery as a result of stay at home orders and people using services such as Amazon, Ebay, etc.
The Union presented a petition to congress which demanded “urgent and ongoing financial support from the federal government during this public health and economic crisis.” In the petition, they documented the extremely high number of veterans who relied on the post office to take care of their families. It was a threat, but congress (and no one else) actually saw it as such.
Trump was holding a $10 million dollar loan over the post office while he tried to get them to hurt his rivals. The Postal Service was having none of it. Postal training took on some new and unique characteristics. It was customary to train new postal workers in how to deal with an active shooter, dogs, or other dangerous situations – but with the new situation on the ground – a whole new threat level was included under the justification that stay at home orders were making people a little stir-crazy.
Tax day had been pushed back from April 14th to July 14th. While a large number of Americans filed electronically – there were still a majority who used the post office to send in their taxes. This little fact might have been an important one for Trump to remember when he began to attack the post office – that and the fact that all of the campaign materials he was using the pandemic as an excuse to send out to voters on the government’s dime – they were all supposed to be delivered by the post office as well. He would have been surprised to find that most of the cards with his name and picture on them were still sitting in bags marked ‘delivery delayed due to COVID-19’.
After that first encounter on Bob’s porch, Bob and Zeta became good friends. In the early days of the pandemic, before social distancing came into play, Zeta would come over on his off days and the two would smoke weed and talk about the state of the world. Zeta had been a psychonaut before starting to work at the post office and much to Bob’s surprise – he knew quite a bit about salvia.
“She’s pretty well documented, man.” Zeta said to Bob after hearing about his salvia experience with Gaia. “She appears to people either dressed in white or green. Some people think she is the Virgin Mary while others claim she is a Mazatec goddess. I thought I saw her once, but every time I’ve smoked salvia – I’ve felt her there. Tell me more.”
Bob told Zeta everything. When he finished, he waited to hear his new friend express either concern or a desire to no longer be friends. Instead, Zeta was all in.
“Yes. I knew it. I knew that motherfucker was the antichrist. I could feel it in my bones. To be honest, all black people, we all know it. Maybe all brown people – or all people. The people that choose to follow him – they aren’t just delusional man, they’re fucking evil. It’s like they aren’t even real people anymore – it’s like they’ve given him their souls and now they can only do what he tells them to do.”
Bob wasn’t surprised to hear this, but what came next was a shocker.
“She gave you a mission man. You have to take it. We have to do this. We need to clean you up and get you presentable, man – because no one is going to follow the lead or take orders from some dirty hippie,” Zeta looked at Bob with something like shock at his own words. “Sorry, I mean, you do kind of fit the bill for the dirty hippie thing.”
Bob had never influenced anyone else to do anything in his life. He had a shocked look on his face which Zeta had misinterpreted – he wasn’t shocked at being called a dirty hippie- that was how he self-identified. He was shocked at the realization that he was no longer a lone unit in the world. Zeta had joined him, he was part of a team – and not only that – Zeta had acknowledged him as the leader of the team – and seemed to think he had it in him to lead more people. This was shocking!
Bob didn’t know, but he had been changed in many ways by his encounter with Gaia. She had dosed him with a huge level of charisma and an infectious ability to influence other people. If Bob had come out of the trip and engaged in becoming the best vacuum or used car salesman in the world, he would have succeeded. If he would have entered politics or religion – his success would have been astounding. Bob was a slacker though – and that was part of the reason she had chosen him. Most leaders lead by shaping the views of their followers but Bob would lead by letting his followers shape the views of their movement. He was charisma without an agenda – something that is so rare in the world that it doesn’t even have a name. There were leaders who had tapped into it before – but none of them had the same historical circumstances, nor true urgency that existed in the world Bob was in.
“Cleaned up?” Bob asked. “What sort of look should I go for?”
“Let’s workshop this,” Zeta said. “I’d like you to meet some friends of mine.”
When Gaia set Bob loose in the world, it was a dangerous gamble. She knew that he was a ticking time bomb and if he had been recruited by racists, religionists, or any other group with a negative political agenda – he would have become a powerful force for evil. Gaia, however, knew a thing or two about balance – the world was far too heavily weighted towards the negative at the time she met Bob. The universe always sought balance and a sense of equilibrium. Gaia had high confidence that Bob would end up being a heavy hitter on the side of the light. The world would bring Bob to where he needed to be and he would act as a weight on the side of goodness. She knew this was the outcome, but at the same time – even when you are a conscious planet – it is impossible to know the future. Playing dice with the universe is always a gamble because there are no known outcomes – only probabilities.
Chapter 10: Our Dear Leader
Zeta’s friends were mostly postal workers. They instantly clicked with Bob – as just about anyone would do now that he was a charismatic magnet. In the early days of the pandemic, they met in cafes and restaurants. One of them suggested they should start taking walks together, an idea which Bob liked. Once Bob liked it, they all liked it. You might think that a postman wouldn’t want to do more walking when his route was done, but the truth was, most mail deliverers loved the long walks that the post office afforded them and they were ready for more. Bob met dozens of new friends who introduced him to dozens more. The daily walks became more like group outings.
Bob’s makeover wasn’t extreme. His hair and beard were trimmed to an ‘older hipster’ style. As for his clothing style- which had tended to be shorts, jeans, or tie-dye t-shirts – that had to go away – but it didn’t change into Brooks Brother’s suits. Bob now wore chinos and black t-shirts and if it was too cold for a t-shirt, he would throw on a stripped down Eisenhower-style postal jacket that lacked all the mail man insignia. It was a vaguely military look that hinged on a Northwest back to the earth theme. His Birkenstocks had been replaced with a pair of black sneakers.The daily walks started shaping his body into something that looked less like a sack of potatoes and more like a middle-aged man.
Just weeks into his friendship with Zeta, Bob realized that he didn’t want to smoke weed any longer – he preferred to have his mood and thoughts sitting in a more transparent part of his brain – he didn’t feel the need to cloud his thoughts and his daily spikes of inspiration were far more powerful now than the surges of color that used to pass for thinking.
In the weeks before stay at home orders were put into place, Zeta suggested that they set up a Discord server where Bob could meet and interact with more friends and friends of friends who were being brought into his orbit of influence. Zeta called it ‘PostBox’. Bob was having fun meeting people, sharing ideas, and most importantly – having ideas shared with him. The best part about it was that ideas would come to him and then in his mind they would be blended together into a sort of cosmic idea smoothie which he would then share with others and then the process would begin again. It was non-stop but here was one example of how it went.
“What if we all just stopped paying taxes?” someone asked in the Discord group.
Bob liked the idea “I’ve never paid taxes,” he told the group. ” Still, it’s always bothered me that all that money that other people are paying would go towards institutions, and people that are enslaving us.”
“Yeah, it would be great if we could send the money from taxes to where we wanted to send it.” This came from a woman named Dee who was a postal worker in Denver – about a thousand miles away from where Bob and Zeta were in Sacramento. The Discord group had grown to about 1200 members and each of them kept inviting more. Bob would login to group voice chat each night and look at the numbers as they got bigger.
“Well, you do work for the post office,” Bob joked. “Can’t you send it wherever you want?”
Everyone laughed but it inspired a comment from Reggie, a postal clerk in the Greater Boston Area. “You know, we had a clerk who accidentally mis-spelled the street on a change of address form – for three months we were printing out and sticking labels that said Peach Street instead of Peace Street. I’m pretty sure those kind of mistakes happen all the time.”
“That’s hilarious,” Bob laughed. “Too bad we’re not hackers – we could hack into the servers and really cause some chaos.”
To be clear, at this time – no one was plotting revolution. They were just a big group of people who all really liked Bob and enjoyed spending time together – with him. It wasn’t like Bob had told everyone about Gaia and Salvia and his mission to destroy Donald Trump – he’d told Zeta and a couple of other ‘woke’ new friends – but mostly no one knew why this had become their new favorite time of the day, it just had.
A guy who hadn’t said anything before suddenly jumped in on the text boards. “Hey guys,” screen name postalnerd typed “That’s not funny – it’s hard enough for those of us in the USPS technology division to make things work the way they are supposed to. We don’t need you hacking into our systems. If you did that, we might have to restart the COBOL mainframe – lol \_O_/”
“Hey postalnerd, there are actually people in the Postal IT division? I thought it was all run by robots. Lol. ” Dee asked. “My nephew is the tech lead at a startup here in Denver – can you get him a job in your division when his startup fails?”
“Sounds good to me,” postalnerd wrote “Geeks need to take care of each other. You should invite him to the boards here. As a matter of fact, maybe we should start a special IT section.”
“Oh, I’d invite him but he doesn’t work for the post office (yet)” Dee responded.
“You don’t have to work for the USPS to be here, do you?” Bob was genuine in asking – genuinely naive because they were all there because of him. He was concerned he was going to get kicked out though “I mean, I don’t work for the post office.”
This inspired a lot of LOLs on the boards and then a fairly serious debate about whether there should be any sort of restrictions on who could join. Ultimately, it was decided that the boards should be open to anyone that was invited by a member of the boards. postalnerd set up an IT section which he/she called ‘GeekBox’. Dee’s nephew and quite a few more tech minded folks were invited to it. Generally, postalnerd ran GeekBox and took it upon him/herself to come and update the regular group (and Bob) in the PostBox. The success of GeekBox inspired the creation of a dozen other ‘divisions’ under PostBox.
PostBox now had GeekBox, MoneyBox for finance professionals, VetBox for those who had served or were serving in the military, MedBox for those who wanted to discuss healthcare or medical issues, LunchBox for the foodies, and even SchoolBox for people to talk about kids, schools, college, and education. There were many more boxes and each of them formed independently and for some reason – probably because it was what postalnerd had done – they all came and reported what they were doing, news, events, ideas etc to Bob. Bob never asked them to – it just happened, organically.
Since there was a lot of ‘noise’ in the main group as thousands began to join every day, postalnerd set up a private server called ‘BoxTops’ where box leaders would present any developments – to Bob who was invited to the server as ‘owner’.
When the stay at home orders began to be issued – Bob had around twenty new friends in his Sacramento neighborhood of Arden Arcade. Somehow, they had overcome his fear and distrust of the USPS and made him a brother-in-arms. When every other person in the country was told to stay home, the postal workers were still going out, door to door, delivering mail and gathering news. It wasn’t always Zeta who came to Bob’s porch, sometimes it was Phil, other days it was Mae – but they were all friends now. Behind their masks, they smiled when Bob came out to greet them. They stood on the stoop and updated him about local politics and developments in the lockdown orders. He heard firsthand about Governor Gavin Newsom’s plans for the State of California. Bob didn’t realize it, but he was one of the best informed people in the world in regards to new developments in the pandemic, politics, and power. People don’t think about it, but the post office is everywhere.
With the advent of the stay at home orders, the Discord Server exploded. Bob found it harder and harder to interact with everyone who sent him messages – but he tried to respond to as many as he had time for. Some of these were friendly hellos, more and more started to feel like fan-letters, and a few of them crossed the lines to become either terrifying or inspiring. On the general PostBox board – users gave a name to when Bob would respond to a new user’s comment – they called it a ‘BobFlash’ and it was a sort of badge of honor as in:
Congratulations PenguinGirl, you’ve been BobFlashed!
Bob thought the whole thing was silly, but it made him more considerate and careful in his replies and responses. Gradually, his time on the Discord came to be spent more on the BoxTops section and less on the general board – but he always tried to spend at least twenty minutes to an hour on the general boards, responding to newbies, talking with online friends who hadn’t migrated to the Box Departments. The growth of PostBox was astounding, but more astounding was the organic way that it came to be organized. The BoxTops assigned users to scour the general boards for new recruits, each BoxTop head found themselves in the position of managing hundreds or thousands of users – and as such they had to appoint captains, lieutenants, and sergeants-major. – this rank structure came from VetBox.
The head of Vetbox was a Seattle postman who called himself ColonelPotter on the boards. He shared his organizational structure on the BoxTops board.
“Since I’m the Colonel, my second in command will be a Lieutenant Colonel. Captains will be in charge of specific sections and lieutenants will act as their secretary and assistant. Sergeants-Major are in charge of moderation and ‘boots on the ground’ operations. I know that this might be difficult for those who served in different branches to get used to – but you’re going to have to.”
A surprising number of the BoxTops had been U.S. Marines and found this system to be comfortable. Those who didn’t have a military background – learned it. Those who didn’t like it – quickly changed their mind when Bob said “That’s so cool. I’m a general conscientious objector to war – but this seems like a good way to organize.” His comment inspired a lot of laughter and the BoxTops all agreed that from that point forward Bob would carry the honorary rank of CO General which was short for conscientious objector general and was shortened further to the honorific Cogen.
In a little less than five months, Bob had gone from a tripped out hippie to the leader of an Army – but he had no idea. Bob was enjoying what was happening, he knew that it felt good and he had never felt so happy, but if you had told him he was the leader of a movement, the commanding general of an army, the father of a revolution – he would have laughed merrily and told you that you were crazy.
There were wheels in motion and events were moving faster and faster. It was at this point, on April 24th, that Donald Trump insulted the post office and pushed the process into high gear. Bob’s work was already moving forward (mostly without him noticing) but when Postmaster General Megan J. Brennan instigated ROP-1-75 – things moved into high gear.
Chapter 11 – The Power of Human Contortion
The first months of the pandemic were a surreal journey for everyone who survived them. By May, there were over three million cases in the world and nearly a quarter million of those who had caught it were dead. The entire world went on lockdown (except for Sweden where people responsibly did that which they needed to do despite the lack of a Big Brother telling issuing and enforcing orders). Schools were closed, billions of jobs were lost, martial law was enacted in many countries – and not surprisingly, those countries that were heading towards totalitarianism – accelerated their fascist march.
There were many tragic and beautiful moments. An Italian city on lockdown coming together and singing from their windows, healthcare workers without adequate protective gear flying to distant regions to risk their lives saving strangers, and the U.S. Navy Captain of an aircraft carrier who sacrificed his career so that his men wouldn’t be abandoned as the virus ravaged them in the confined quarters of the ship. There was the public tragedy of the dying and dead – especially in places like the Lombardy region of Italy and New York City, where mass graves were dug in parks and loved ones corpses were stored in refrigerator trucks when graveyards, crematoriums, and morgues exceeded their capacity. There was also the semi-private tragedy as students were suddenly denied classrooms and parents were fired, laid off, furloughed, or just ‘let go’. And there was the private tragedy as families decided which bills to pay or not pay, who would venture out to buy food, and in many cases who would eat and who would go hungry.
In places like India and the Philippines, a lockdown order essentially meant a starvation order. In the United States – people complained far louder and for less reason – generally. The U.S. and Australia had food and supply shortages in the early days – things like protective masks, hand sanitizer, and toilet paper flew off shelves and were hoarded by the scared and the greedy. Profiteers marked prices up as high as they could and sold their goods on Amazon, Ebay, and Facebook. As the dying continued and grew in scope, governments made a show of cracking down – but really the only cracking down that initially needed to be done was amongst the most desperate – those who needed food or medicine.
Trump had initially called for the American virus to be a genocidal killer but heroes in the lab, just a few of those many who silently resisted his evil and perhaps saved us all, engineered the virus to affect only those who had reached adulthood. The American virus was designed to spare children – despite Trump’s wishes. The Russian virus also functioned that way – not by design but because it was built to attack the obese and infirm, which generally meant it bypassed children. Gaia’s coronavirus infected all who came in contact with it, but the mortality rate was low because a healthy immune system generally survived the harsh viral attacks.
Months into the pandemic – some of the benefits became clear. People noticed deer and foxes walking through their neighborhoods, polluted air cleared up in cities where commuters usually drove gas guzzling cars to stressed out work places, the oceans and lakes turned clear. Wildlife was thriving. Bees which had been on the verge of extinction reproduced in fantastic numbers. Manatees, dolphins, and whales again felt free to explore areas that had been death traps before. A couple months of reduced human excess was all that it took for the planet to begin recovery. The humans too felt something shift. Parents who had only seen their children between work and school suddenly were faced with the people they were responsible for. Parents had to become teachers. People had to stay at home, they had to look at themselves and each other.
Sociologists said that a record number of divorces, domestic abuse, and other family atrocities would result from people being on lockdown – and to some extent, these predictions proved true but not to the levels that the scientists had expected. In fact, most relationships improved. A big part of this was because capitalism itself had been shut down. Humans, who are, after all, just brilliant apes – had months to rediscover that. Just as the dolphins were rediscovering inlets, bays, rivers, and coves – the humans were rediscovering their own nature which had been twisted and bent into a perverse eat-work-sleep-die form. Mothers and fathers rediscovered their children, children discovered their parents (often for the first time) as they embraced art, music, creativity, and finding ways to enjoy their time together instead of simply marking calendars and looking at clocks.
There was astounding unemployment. Trump, of course, used the pandemic as an opportunity to promote himself. He made sure that his name was on the relief checks sent out to help people while also making sure that the checks were the minimum amount possible – the big bucks went to bailing out his companies and the companies of his donors and supporters. Not content to have his name only on the checks, he also had the treasury modify form letters that made it appear as if he had personally sent the money to taxpayers. That was how he felt about it, so he might as well make it reality. The letter was a formality that had to be sent in order to detail the payments and where they came from.Trump saw an opportunity to ingratiate himself to the voters and over the objections of his lawyers inserted several phrases containing the word “I” which very much made it seem as if he were sending money from his own accounts. Something, by the way, which he would never do. He would rather watch people die.
Those ‘stimulus’ checks were a lifeline for many families. Rent still had to be paid and groceries still had to be bought. It wasn’t enough for more than a month or two at most though. State unemployment systems floundered and failed. Many of them were still running on software from the 1980s and the influx of millions of claims were impossible to process.
Financial concerns were undermining the joy of being human that many people were rediscovering or as was often the case – discovering for the first time. Capitalism had always been a tricky master. On the one hand, it raised the ‘standard of living’ for broad swaths of the population but on the other it took away broader liberties and freedoms. “Have a car,” the banker said “Enjoy, we’ll help you finance it.” And with a single step – the worker was locked into the system. The capitalization of medicine created a similar trap. “Have a baby,” the doctor would say. “Buy a house,” said the realtor. Family, home, and career had all become ways to keep workers in the system, too busy to complain, and too sedated with gadgets and stress to mount a viable resistance.
Apes weren’t made to operate on a system of non-stop productivity. During those first three months of the pandemic, people learned that without overtly knowing what they were learning. They found the time to play, learn, sit, contemplate, exercise (without the frenetic anxiety of a gym), and love one another. It was a horrible time but for many, it was the best of times. There was an internal confliction they could not understand. They were happy at a time that they shouldn’t have been and they couldn’t admit it.
And of course – it couldn’t continue. Capitalism thrives on busy-ness and business requires devotion and attention. The economy had to move back into action or it might never recover. Everyone knew that and everyone said it, but no one thought to ask “Why should it? What happens if it doesn’t?” That was unthinkable in a society built on greed and profit. Behind the scenes forces went into play – not just to restart the economy, but also to restart the Russian virus.
Putin hadn’t expected his country to be hit by coronavirus and when it did, his first reaction was panic. Gradually, as the Gaia virus spread, he realized that it wasn’t going to be another Russia or New York situation in Moscow or St. Petersburg. Looking at the situation in the USA, his scientists explained that the lockdown procedures were working. Americans were flattening the curve by staying home, limiting exposure, and taking precautionary measures. It had to stop.
“What can we do?” he asked the head of his foreign intelligence.
“Let’s use the Trump voters,” was the unanimous suggestion. If Donald Trump had still been his puppet, Putin would have objected. Using Trump voters was a dangerous tactic that would almost certainly result in Trump losing the popular vote (again) when the elections of 2020 happened. However, since Trump had gone rogue, was no longer in control of the Kremlin, and his election wouldn’t necessarily benefit Putin or his oligarchs any further – it seemed like an easy fix. At heart, Putin was a communist (though one corrupted by power and wealth) so the idea of killing a huge number of pro-capitalist buffoons was appealing on more than one level.
They dubbed it “Operatsiya Amerikanskaya Svoboda” or, in English “Operation American Freedom.” It was exceedingly easy to put into place. Using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram – Russian cyber trolls created and promoted conspiracy theories about how the lockdowns in American cities were violations of constitutional rights and the erosion of American freedoms. They created fake movements and protests where people demanded the right to return to work and the right to return to how the world had been. It was MAGA all over again – sometimes using the same slogans and operatives. They promoted racism against Asians, Latinos, and Blacks by spreading stories about how the Chinese had started the virus, illegal immigrants were bringing the virus across borders, and African-Americans were more likely to spread the virus. They handed off protests to actual local organizers who were more than eager to call the lockdowns a conspiracy. They called it Q, 5G, and Article 21 – among other things. Since the campaign was rushed – they utilized old tired slogans, in some cases recycling leftist slogans into right wing slogans such as “My body, my choice” which had been a left wing feminist rally cry and now was coopted into a right wing rally cry.
The Russian campaign exceeded expectations with tens of thousands of ‘lockdown protestors’ crowding into spaces without social distancing. While they didn’t have enough active agents to introduce the Russian virus into every crowd, they were able to get it into many. Fat American MAGA patriots crowded around state capitols all over the country while Putin and his advisors laughed and ate candy corn (Russians love candy corn, a fact that no one can explain).
The best part was that Trump and Republican lawmakers, always ready to pander to their base, picked up the rally cries and amplified them. As a final insult that almost caused him to choke on his candy corn, Putin suggested that they set the largest rallies for May 1st. May 1st, commonly called May Day around the world is International Workers Day, the most important holiday in Communism and Socialism. The United States had banned the holiday and created a watered down ‘Labor Day’ in September because of riots and deaths associated with it during the early 1900s. Putin was bringing it back with a little help from social media and a bunch of stupid fat capitalist dogs.
Chapter 12 – An Army Assembled
At this point in our story, there is a lot going on. The entire world is under lockdown, three strains of coronavirus are attacking the human population. The Russians are trying to destroy America. Donald Trump is trying to pull himself further up while using the combined wealth and magnitude of the United States of America, the MAGA companies, and his own ruthless organization – while trying at the same time to destroy the heads of the MAGA companies, the poor people, people of color, non-Christians, and many more with their own power. Bob was stumbling his way into becoming a revolutionary leader, the U.S. Post Office was covertly assembling the largest guerrilla army ever conceived – and the planet’s consciousness was trying to prevent a climate change/mass extinction by becoming involved in a fight against fascism, corporate capitalism, and negative consciousness pools that were turning humans from a pretty terrible species to an even worse one. Yes, there’s a lot going on…
But wait, there’s more…
The first months of the pandemic made it impossible for any of the politicians and power figures in the United States to ignore a truth that had been staring them in the face for almost four years – Donald Trump wasn’t going anywhere. It didn’t matter if he lost the electoral college, the popular vote, or both – he was not going to step aside. While Democrats had impeached him, he had shored up his defenses in the Republican Party, the courts, and the departments of Justice, Interior, Commerce, Transportation, Treasury, Energy, Agriculture, and Homeland Security. He had gutted the leadership in the Departments of Defense, the State Department, and Labor. The Department of Education and the Department of Housing and Urban Development were all but meaningless at this point as his appointees destroyed them without his even having to suggest anything. He had unconfirmed appointees running most things and when they displeased him, he could fire them without notice and put another loyalist in their place. The Post Office was outside of his control – as it had been taken down from the cabinet level in 1971 by President Richard Nixon who had been afraid the Postmaster General was spying on him.
Within the Armed Forces of the United States, there was a growing discontent among the non-white troops as they recognized that their communities were being discriminated against. Promotions had turned subtly racist after the first year of Trump’s presidency with white soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines being raised up with more and more frequency. This, led to an interesting situation as more and more troops of color were subtly encouraged to leave the service. Without ‘hot’ wars going, the mostly white upper leadership had little use for cannon fodder. None of this was said overtly, of course, but the troops knew what was going on.
For those who were dedicated ‘lifers’ working towards a retirement at 20 years or later – this was problematic. Many of them were offered early retirement while others were encouraged to leave the active duty military and become part of their state’s National Guard. Even after the deployments of the past 30 years where reservists had been activated for longer and longer periods – there was still a feeling amongst active duty service members that the ‘weekend warriors’ were an inferior part of the armed forces. So, when guys who had served 18 years or more were ‘encouraged’ to finish up their terms of service in the guard – it built a shitload of resentment. A lot of them left the armed forces all together and served the last couple of years in federal civilian jobs – like the post office, the FAA, or working in the prison system as correctional officers.
An interesting division of power lies between the states and the federal government in the USA. Governors have a huge amount of executive authority within their states and while federal law is the ‘law of the land’, states are not under obligation to comply with anything that isn’t written into the constitution of the United States. A leftover from the American Revolutionary and Civil Wars was a deep distrust of federal power and thus – each state was actually an autonomous entity within a confederation of states who agreed upon a shared set of rules.
The President of the United States is the Commander in Chief of the U.S. armed forces. Each Governor is the Commander in Chief of their states National Guard. This strange state of affairs came about in 1878 after governors of the former Confederate States of America used their political clout to have the 7th Cavalry (and all other federal troops) disempowered to enforce the constitution within the confines of the United States of America. Essentially, the 7th Cavalry had been created to make sure that African Americans in the former confederacy were not being treated like 2nd class citizens. The law that ended it was called the Posse Comitatus Act.
It was the later ‘Dick Act’ (I”m not joking) that allowed Governors to use state militias, now called National Guard within their own states. An agreement between the states and the federal government allows the U.S. government to ‘federalize’ National Guard troops in return for paying for the training and equipment of those troops – an expense which used to fall on the states. This is the reason that state troops ‘reservists’ go through the same training as federal troops ‘active duty’.
Every day, Donald Trump demonstrated just what kind of human being he was, just how much responsibility he felt towards states that weren’t ‘loyal’ to him, and where his loyalties really lay. No surprise that during this chaos there were those who were looking at what it would mean to secede from his country. If Donald Trump was going to continue to rule, there were more than a few governors who began looking at alternatives to remaining a part of the United States.
One of those governors was Gavin Newsom of California. Newsom was part of a political dynasty which some called a political mafia. Four San Francisco families have controlled California, the world’s 5th largest economy, for most of the past fifty years. Newsom was the former Mayor of San Francisco and inherited the governorship from his father’s good friend Jerry Brown, who had taken it from Ronald Reagan back in the 1970s after his father Pat Brown was displaced by Reagan. Newsom’s aunt, Nancy Pelosi was the powerful Speaker of the House – third in line for the Presidency in the event that something should happen to Donald Trump and his Vice President Mike Pence. The three families were also deeply entwined with Senator Diane Feinstein – heiress of another family that had gotten wealthy from their political connections. It was the Newsom, Brown, Pelosi, and Feinstein families who had controlled California for decades. They were not about to let some third rate carnival barker like Trump take any part of their sovereignty. Newsom was making plans.
California has always maintained armed checkpoints between neighbor states. These are called ‘Agricultural Inspection Points’ but in truth they are militarized borders. As Pelosi and Trump came into more and more conflict in Washington, D.C., Pelosi had briefed her nephew and the other families about the danger that Trump posed. Trump had never managed to get a foothold in California – but he wanted one. Every time he came to the state, embarrassing situations. Trump had managed to buy 30% of the Bank of America Center in San Francisco (his share valued at almost 1/2 a billion dollars) but he still wasn’t welcome in the city and despite owning a mansion in Beverly Hills and the Trump National Golf Club in Los Angeles – he was still greeted with jeers and boos when he set foot in the city. Donald Trump hated California and he wanted to bring it to it’s knees – the problem was, California as a state was more powerful than he was – even as the President of the United States.
When Trump began to go full dictator, Newsom’s California was going to be ready. In addition, his administration had been engaging in good old fashioned state craft by developing agreements, treaties, and working relationships with the governors of Washington, Oregon, New York, and Nevada. He’d also managed to make inroads with Alaska’s Republican Governor as Trump began to trample on state rights during the pandemic.
Newsom had three planned prongs of attack. First, the tech gatekeepers in Silicon Valley were Californians first and Americans second (with the exception of Larry Ellison and many of the venture capitalist firms). Second, Newsom cultivated powerful relationships with the leadership of the California National Guard. Finally, California had independent trade and immigration agreements with Mexico, Canada, Japan, and China – and these opened the door to other agreements.
When Gavin Newsom activated the California National Guard, he had no intention of ever deactivating them – in fact, he planned on expanding them.
Chapter 13 – The Invisible Fleet
There’s not much that is more invisible than a postman. Like other delivery drivers, taxi drivers, and utility workers, they can go anywhere and do anything. No one really pays attention to the invisible fleet as it moves around the country at will and does the essential work that keeps things going. During the pandemic there was a lot of talk about ‘essential workers’ and it was no surprise to the USPS that people usually mentioned store clerks, healthcare workers, plumbers, cops, and firemen – and completely forgot about the postal service.
Megan Brennan, the USPS Postmaster General didn’t mind – in fact, she liked it. She was a tough as nails woman who had put in her licks over 33 years prior to moving into the executive leadership of the world’s largest private logistics organization. The Post Office had been shadow banking for years and during that time had made some rather peculiar investments from the sidelines. The Postal Union was one of the largest private investors in Academi, formerly known as Blackwater – a mercenary for hire security contractor. This gave Brennan unique access to a level of intelligence that was usually reserved for heads of state. The USPS was also a major investor in other security contractors such as Triple Canopy, Aegis Defense Services, Defion International, Andrews International, International Intelligence LTD, as well as Pinkerton, Brinks, ADT, Securitas, and Booz Allen Hamilton. All of these companies provided paid on demand services to the private sector that were equal to or better than those provided by their government counterparts.
The USPS pension fund is gargantuan – especially since a 2006 law had required that it be funded 75 years in advance. Since that time, Brennan had been building a shadow fund that was heavily invested in private sector security contractors while building a public fund that was more traditional. While the traditional pension fund did what it was supposed to, the shadow fund bought influence, information, and favors.
The USPS postal fleet of delivery vehicles consisted of mostly Grumman LLV (long life vehicle) that people usually associate with the post office. Like mail carriers – people tended not to notice the LLVs and when they did they thought of them as odd, funny, and quirky – but in truth, these were serious heavy duty vehicles and Brennan had spent years working with engineers to develop a plan to turn them into military grade vehicles. If there was an apocalyptic event, the postal service was prepared. Changing a mild mannered LLV into a Mad Max vehicle wasn’t the stretch you might think. The LLV was built on a Chevy S-10 Blazer Chasis and had a workhorse GM Iron Duke engine, an exceptionally tight turn radius, and low gearing that was made to haul cargos up to 1000 pounds in any conditions and any grade. If one were to add light armor, gun ports, and tire shields – they would be more efficient in a gorilla war than the average hummer. Of course, it wasn’t an everything type of vehicle so in 2015 Brennan had put out an RFP for new designs and then selected a number of private engineering firms to build the new fleet. By the time COVID-19 entered the picture she had selected two amphibious units, three motorcycle units, an autonomous big rig, and Tesla’s Cybertruck which was slightly modified for postal use.
The USPS didn’t have a navy or an Air Force, but when it came to an army – the ranks of the post office were filled with veterans who had done it all. And besides, what was the point of creating a private Air Force when you could just buy into one? Actually, Brennan and the USPS had bought into two of them. Air USA, owned by Megan’s friend Don Kirlin had the largest private fleet of fighter aircraft in the world. With everything from Russian Mig aircraft to a fleet of state of the technological art FA-4 Hornets that were acquired in early 2020 from the Australian RAF which was upgrading it’s entire Air Force. Her brother-in-law, Joe Ford was the Chief Executive of another private Air Force, Draken International out of Lakeland, Florida with over 70 tactical military aircraft. Both Draken and Air USA were more than 40% owned by the shadow USPS pension fund which meant that Megan was the majority voice on both.
The reason both companies existed was to engage with Airborne Adversary Support for the US armed forces – they played the bad guys in training exercises. It was called Joint Terminal Attack Controller training known as JTAC for short.
The USPS had always preferred to contract out to other companies with airplanes and had routinely been using passenger airlines to transport mail for decades. In fact, far from competing with UPS/Fedex – the USPS was actually their largest customer and the shadow pension fund was a huge investor.
One problem with the shadow fund was that the money had to be accounted for – which was the reason that the post office looked like such a huge bleeder when the books were examined.
So, as you can see, the USPS had an army and an Air Force – but as for a Navy, Brennan’s father had been a Navy Commander and one thing he had always told her was that the Navy was a leftover from an earlier age. In the event of a real conflict, logistics would need to be done by air and ships would be sitting ducks to any enemy with advanced enough missile or air capability. She wasn’t worried about having a navy.
Why was she doing it? Why was she building this invisible army and shadow military complex? The answer was simple. Brennan was a patriot. She’d always believed that the only thing that would save the United States from eventual tyranny was a well armed militia. She wasn’t some 2nd Amendment gun nut – though she did have a huge collection of firearms. No, government forces would always be able to outgun even the most heavily armed militia because private citizens or groups who armed themselves to the level required for self defense, would immediately be identified as a threat and eliminated. It happened in Waco, Ruby Ridge, and Antelope, Oregon when the Rajneeshis began arming themselves. It happened in hundreds of other little enclaves that you never heard about as well.
No, the 2nd Amendment wouldn’t save America, but the USPS might. Megan Brennan would be ready if her country needed her. Even more impressive than the armed postal service was the Postal Intelligence Service. Think about it – the Post Office, knew EVERYTHING. Mail carriers go everywhere and everyone gets mail. The USPS had a larger fingerprint database than the FBI – in fact, they had the fingerprints of just about everyone in the FBI – because everyone uses the post office and no one thinks about leaving their fingerprints on a piece of mail. The intelligence section routinely read the mail of the most important people in the world – they didn’t have to do any cloak and dagger routine to get it because it was freely given to them!
During a cash crunch in the 1980’s the Post Office had developed very lucrative contracts with the drug cartels. Yes, sending drugs through the mail is illegal and if the postal inspector finds you, heavy fines and jail time will result – but the postal inspector works for the post office. There were countless ways that the USPS was able to generate money for ‘side-projects’.
Hopefully, by this time, I’ve made my point – the United States Postal Service is a dangerous organization and in the wrong hands – it could easily topple governments. Bob’s paranoia of the post office hadn’t been misplaced – in fact, he was one of the few seeing the forest for the trees. By May Day, however, Bob was a fan – he had been warmly embraced and welcomed by legions of postal workers. So many, in fact, that he had repeatedly popped up on the radar of the Postal Intelligence Service.
Megan had been advised that there was some strange activity happening online centered around a relatively unknown figure in California. Relatively unknown because Bob had stopped using his last name in 1980 when Ronald Reagan was elected. He didn’t pay taxes, he paid his rent in cash to the woman who lived in the other half of the duplex he occupied, and since he was paranoid about the post office for decades – he had routinely worn gloves when he did anything having to do with the mail going out.
You can imagine Megan’s reaction when she was told that an unknown person was building an online army composed mostly of USPS employees.
She picked up her phone and buzzed her secretary.
“Richard, book me a flight to San Francisco and a meeting with Governor Newsom in Sacramento,” she told him. Then to herself “Let’s see what’s going on with the Bob character…maybe we can use this.”
Chapter 14 – The Greatest Salesman the World Has Known
Bob was having the time of his life. For years, he had convinced himself that he was an introvert, but now, with a lockdown going on amidst a full scale pandemic – he was making more friends than he had ever thought possible – in the real world. Of course, almost all of his new friendships were online but such was the power of the internet that he was face to face with them, had long conversations with them, and even stepped away to do some actual work once in a while. That and he was quite happy now when the mail carriers showed up.
One issue was that there were a lot of questions that kept coming up about Bob’s past. People wanted to know about this person they felt compelled to follow. Using his newfound charisma, Bob usually deflected the requests with “That’s not important right now, we need to focus on …” whatever the next thing or the task at hand was.
What’s your last name, Bob?
Where did you grow up, Bob?
What kind of work did you do, Bob?
The questions kept coming and he knew that at some point he was going to have to give answers, but the truth was, he was pretty happy not thinking about those things – he had built a life around not thinking of those things. Those things were too painful to think about. He knew, however, that he was going to have to come to terms with them. He was going to have to start talking about them and that meant that he needed to think about them.
Bob grew up on the South Side of Chicago. There was nothing ordinary about his childhood although at first glance it may sound typical. Growing up he was surrounded by family – lots and lots of family. His father had a soft spot for Bob and wanted to bring him into the family business so Bob spent a lot of time going on runs with his dad, helping with the garage, and when he entered his teens – assisting his dad with odd jobs – and eventually earning enough trust that he was sent out on his own. That was when things blew up – literally.
Bob’s dad was William E. Dauber, called Billy by most of his friends and family. Billy was one of the most notorious Chicago mobsters of the post World War II era. Billy was known and respected far and wide for two things – running one of the most profitable chop-shop rings in the history of organized crime and also being one of the most prolific hitmen to ever pick up a gun.
Bob stole cars starting at age eleven. When he turned 14, his father took him along on a hit. It was Bob who pulled the trigger that day. Over the next three years, Bob lost count of the number of people he killed. He never liked it, but he wanted to please his father and like any teenager who looked up to his dad – he would do anything for his father’s approval.
It was September of 1986 when everything went wrong. Bob had become friends with a low level hitman and loan collector named John Ficarotta. Ficarotta was a known union leader but he had to earn his stripes. As such, Bob and he were often sent together to take care of problems with bookies, gamblers, pimps or upstart underbosses. Their job was easy, collect the money or kill the target and get rid of the bodies. The problem was that a couple of Ficarotta’s past jobs had been found buried in shallow cornfield graves. The evidence found with them raised a whole series of issues that threatened wide swathes of the Chicago family.
Bob and Ficarotta were assigned a routine juice squeeze from a small time bookie. Moments before this particular trip, Bob’s father pulled him aside and dropped this bombshell “Ficarotta is the target, don’t mess this up Bobby.” It was the only time Bob had ever been called anything but Bob – it felt like a rite of passage, it was his moment, his coming of age. As they pulled up to the bookie’s shop – Bob pulled out his .38 and put a shot into Ficarotta’s head. Ficarotta was driving and his window was down which should have made this an easy no mess hit. Bob would dump the body on the street and the bookie would get the blame.
But something went wrong. Ficarotta didn’t die, he didn’t even go unconscious. The bullet had somehow gone straight through his head without doing life ending damage. Realizing now that he was the hit, Ficarotta got out of the car and began to run. Bob chased after him getting off two more shots. Even back then, Bob wasn’t known for his svelte body or athletic abilities – Ficarotta easily outran him despite having one bullet in the head and two in the body. Somehow, he managed to lose Bob and in the meantime, Bob had been seen in broad daylight chasing and shooting a known union under-boss. Ficorotta might die of his wounds, but Bob was a dead man. A series of car bombs in the following weeks were the heralds of a full gang war. One that he had started.
Bob had been running from that day for 33 years. As soon as he realized that Ficorotta had gotten away from him, Bob ditched his gun and caught a taxi to Union Station. There was no going back. Bob knew that nothing could save him from death after screwing up this job. Nothing but disappearing.
He bought a train ticket to Denver and never looked back. In Denver he changed everything about himself – he grew out his beard, got rid of his tailored clothes and started dressing in youth casual street clothes. Looking around Denver, he decided that there were two directions he could go – he could adopt the gutter-punk street style or he could fall in with the neo-hippie deadheads he saw walking their dogs, hanging out in cafes, and sleeping in overcrowded flop houses. The hippie ethos fit more with his sloppy manner (which had largely been held in check by his upbringing). And that’s when he became the Bob we know.
Surrounding himself with hippies, he was almost immediately drawn into their consciousness pool and truly became a different person than who he had been while surrounded by mobsters. The over-riding rules he kept were not using his last name, not filling out paperwork, and staying away from any kind of union – including the postal union. Bob began to go to local shows, started smoking dope, and developed a variety of small time methods for generating enough money to live on. New ‘Deadhead’ friends encouraged him to join them on a pilgrimage to Oakland, California to see a series of live Dead shows in December of 1986.
Once there, he was hooked. Living amongst the Dead was the perfect way to disappear since there was almost no overlap between Deadheads and the Chicago Mob. Bob peddled LSD and magic mushrooms, sold weed, made grilled cheese sandwiches, and scalped tickets to earn. He was smart enough to realize he could arbitrage multiple items between cities and make more than enough to live on. He didn’t have a bank account, a telephone, a mailing address, or a driver’s license.
As the years passed, he followed the dead nearly everywhere they went – but not to Chicago, never to Chicago. That was the reason he missed their last two shows. Frontman Jerry Garcia died after performing at Chicago’s Soldier Field in July of 1995. Bob had spent nearly a decade of his life being a deadhead and with the death of Jerry, he was at a loss as to what to do with his life. There were new bands and new groupies but he was getting too old for the life he was living. He had a box filled with money – enough to retire on if he did it right – so that was what he decided to do.
He’d enjoyed California far more than anywhere else so he decided to hang his hat there and hoped that nine years was enough that the heat from Chicago would have died down. During all of his time away, Bob had followed as the Chicago outfit was tried, sentenced, and murdered. Much of the subsequent violence was a result of his fuck up with Ficorotta – but he never saw mention of his name or family in any of the stories.
Settling in San Francisco would have eaten through his box of cash in a couple of years, so instead he went inland to Sacramento. He liked the heat of the summer and the cold of the winter – it was like Chicago but without the humidity. He found a widow willing to rent to him for cash and moved into the apartment where he lived at the beginning of this tale.
After 33 years of hiding, Bob was out in plain site – but he hadn’t given up all of his secrets yet. He agonized over whether to use his own name – it was something he desperately wanted to do, but it was too dangerous. People had already asked if he came from Chicago because of his accent – he’d tried desperately to get rid of it over the years – but when you’re from the south side of Chicago, you can’t ever really get rid of your accent – it will come through.
During the 1990s, he’d been introduced to the Church of the Sub Genius by some Deadhead acquaintances. It was a spoof religion founded by ‘the greatest salesman the world had ever seen who has cheated death several times’. All of the church’s tenets were pushing the limits of silliness – but there was some deep truth in it that Bob had liked. He had also been amused by the name of the fictional founder because it was so close to his own. He was Bob Dauber and the founder of the Church of the Subgenius was J.R. “Bob” Dobbs.
It was with amusement that he decided to adopt the name as his own. If people wanted to know who he was, what he had done, and where he was from he would be pleased to tell them that he was Bob Dobbs, the greatest salesman the world had ever known, and he came from Peoria, Illinois. There were plenty of people who would get the joke, but the majority of the world would miss it – and he was going to play it straight.
Chapter 15 – The Three Rs
The May Day protests were a huge flop despite the valiant efforts of republicans, racists, and Russians. All three groups had tried to bring crowds out – but for different reasons.
The Russians wanted the chance to spread fear, doubt, and more cases of their COVID-19 virus. Using their huge troll farms in Siberia – they built huge social media groups, sponsored movements from thin air, and did their best to make the posts go viral. Unfortunately, the big social media companies were under intense pressure to identify and weed out Russian bots and propaganda – their algorithms largely did a great job of censoring the Russian operation – along with also censoring a huge number of actual people who were trying to share valuable information about government abuses of power during the lockdown.
Republicans were taking the lead of their mighty orange leader ( the Orange-u-tan?) and pushing hard for cities, states, and counties to reopen right away. Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Maryland, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, West Virginia, and Wyoming all decided to open their states back up on or around May Day (some of them pushed for the Monday following on May 4th). It was no coincidence that all of these (except Montana) were states with Republican governors. Montana is the outlier but their governor, Steve Bullock is largely a Republican in Democrat clothing. The order had gone out from Donald Trump, the federal government was not going to renew the stay at home orders in May and any Republicans who did not follow his lead, would have their loyalty questioned. A number of Republican governors in the Northeast chose to keep their states on lockdown because the virus was raging in them. Trump vowed to have his revenge on them for not ending their lockdowns.
The governor of Vermont extended his stay-at-home order but ‘vowed’ to get many people back to work on May 4th – he was trying to dodge a bullet, but Trump would never forgive him. He knew that he would have a Trump backed challenger in the next election – as would all the governors who hadn’t complied with orders.
The racists were the third R in the protests. Early on the racists and neo-nazis had been trying to use the virus as a weapon against communities of color. So called Nazi ‘martyrs’ had voluntarily contracted the disease and then traveled to black, Latino, and Asian owned businesses is cities, towns and neighborhoods that were largely non-white. Now they were trying to militarize protests. They showed up with guns, MAGA gear, and the hope that they could pick a fight with anyone. They engaged in what can only be called ‘virus macho’ by refusing to wear masks, insisting on shaking hands and hugging, and defying stay-at-home orders. Their macho can only be described as foolish because the virus didn’t notice their bravado and if it had wouldn’t have cared. Later, they were to die in large numbers – not only because of the Russian virus but also because of measles. A large number of those who showed up to the May Day protests were anti-vaxxers who carried the measles virus – something which a lot of the younger racists had never been vaccinated for because there were conspiracy theories which claimed that it had been developed from a young African man who had contracted the disease and survived. No self-respecting hate-mongering racist is going to voluntarily have African DNA injected into them (which, by the way, is not how vaccines work or how the MMR vaccine was developed.)
The protests were largely a dud because people were rightly frightened to assemble in large numbers. Only the thickest of people left their homes and gathered around state capitols. In Hawaii, several hundred white people gathered with signs demanding their freedom and liberty – which was amusing to the Native Hawaiians who had had their freedom and liberty stripped and overthrown by America a century before. In Michigan, militiamen showed up with guns and made great photo ops for the news services who were desperate to find new stories to keep people doom-scrolling on their electronic devices. In California, white people from the interior of the state gathered in beach towns and defied the beach closures while coast residents watched them get sunburned and dehydrated. None of the protests did anything that encouraged anyone that wasn’t already out protesting.
The funniest part was that they were gathering on a day that celebrated the rights of workers and they were demanding to be exploited during a pandemic and sent back to work. The protestors showed up with swastikas, confederate flags, MAGA hats, Trump flags, and assault weapons. Trump quickly tweeted that they were ‘very good people’.
Of course there were plenty of Christians sporting signs that said things like “Jesus is my vaccine” and “Only Christ Can Save You from COVID-19” or even “COVID-19 is the Antichrist and the Vaccine is 666”. Of course, there were some less than clever gymnastics such as “Cleared of Virus I.D. = COVID – universals government tracking.”
The protests in Sacramento were among the strangest because they were largely organized and dominated by anti-vaccination organizations. It was a bizarre mixture of tea party activists, old hippies, and gun rights groups – not typically three groups you would see together. Somehow, chanting along with the NRA and Tea-Party activists – there were a large number of PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals) who were there protesting the animals that would be used to test any potential vaccine. COVID-19 was building an absolutely bizarre assemblage of bed-fellows.
All in all – it was a massive experiment in human sacrifice – and it was about to get even more bizarre.
Chapter 16 – Idle Hands are the Devil’s Work
From the beginning, people thought that the Pandemic was going to be the worst thing to happen in 2020. They were wrong. There were going to be far worse things. After the first few weeks of the emergency, those in charge started to realize that there was a cascading effect that was impossible to stop – they had to engage in serious ‘perception management’ to keep the world from exploding.
First of all, as every child of a religious grandmother knows ‘Idle hands are the devil’s work’ and what that phrase means is that if you don’t keep apes busy – they turn their attention to causing mischief, problems, and in many cases creating problems. With more than 60 million unemployed in the USA and another 50 million now ‘under-employed’ there were a lot of idle apes looking for something to do. The first weeks it was fairly easy to keep them occupied with Tiger King, a scandalous big cat documentary on Netflix. That was good for the first couple of weeks. Binge watching other shows and movies kept many occupied.
The lockdown meant that all the things that government/industry had used as control systems to keep the apes busy were no longer available – gyms were closed, malls were closed, beauty salons and spas were closed, parks were closed. Most importantly – work was shut down. With work shut down it was impossible to keep humans busy and when humans weren’t kept busy – they usually started planning how to take what wasn’t theirs (but should have been) or destroy what kept them busy in the first place. No one had ever bothered to see what humans would do if they managed to get free of the control systems – because that would have meant destroying the control systems and destroying the control systems would have ended the control of the vast majority by the powerful few – something that had been a danger in the past, but had never actually come to pass.
The American Revolution had never been about ending control systems – it was about replacing the controllers with new controllers. The French Revolution was a nearly successful destruction of control systems – but they were quickly restored. The labor movement, Marxism, and actual true socialism were huge threats to the control systems at various points in history – but they were absorbed and co-opted by those who controlled the control systems. The rise of cultural revolutionary movements in the 1960s, 1990s, and after the financial crisis of 2008 were all dangers to the control systems – that had been dealt with by the same methods – infiltration, subversion, subjugation, absorption, and cooption.
The best control system of all was a classic. “Look at all the bright shiny things you can have – and all you have to do is work and be a good citizen.” COVID-19 stripped that away as people suddenly realized – ‘Hey, wait a minute – they can just spend three trillion dollars and send everyone in America a couple of grand at the drop of a hat?” and “Why are they willing to keep me from becoming homeless now, when before it was impossible?” and “We can offer free healthcare to everyone, but we just don’t?”
A great many apes were at home and deciding “If the landlord wants me to move and I can’t pay the rent, I’m just not going to move.” This quickly led to “I’m not going to pay the rent and I’m not going to move.” And finally “This is my house and I’m not leaving it unless they kill me.”
Other apes were realizing “Why am I going to work every day for minimum wage? Unemployment pays more and there is plenty of food being handed out.” Still others were enjoying their time away from work and realizing just how much they had been promised by the control systems through the years and just how little had been delivered.
The idle hands were feeling the pull of the devil’s work – or more aptly – the exploited hands were discovering what liberty might look like.
Even worse, the biggest control system of them all had been completely shut down and there was no indicator that they would be opening soon. Schools and universities were shuttered and students were at home, being given time to share ideas and worldview on the internet without teacher supervision or the heavily utilized ‘peer shame’ that schools had developed to discourage critical thinking and independent thought. Depending on how long society remained lockered, the damage to conformity and normalization could be immense.
The global economy was the most imminent of the real problems. With the economy crashing and governments either showing their hand by the fact that they could give their populations better lives, or showing their hand by their inability to protect or give better lives – either way, the power of governments to sway the masses was being diminished.
Unemployment numbers went ever skyward and mutual aid societies formed in towns, neighborhoods, and apartment blocks. As the threat of dying from the coronavirus went down (never mind that the threat of catching it had gone up) people began to gently defy stay at home orders. They talked with neighbors, met with friends, and began to re-socialize in a totally different way than before.
These weren’t the lockdown protestors waving their flags and carrying their guns – these were just people visiting with parents, friends, and neighbors. These weren’t huge gatherings of strangers, these were known people who had been in known lockdowns. There were some cases of community spread – but mostly just of the Gaia virus.
Landlords went bankrupt, homeowners went underwater, and banks waited impatiently for the all clear to send out foreclosure and eviction notices. Little did they know that they would be met with a stark refusal to vacate properties. Mega-corporate businesses waited to re-open the economy so they could restart tourism, start collecting credit payments again, and start the consumer low self esteem binge buying again – but that would never happen.
People had realized that they didn’t have to pay their credit cards off, that they could bake their own bread, and that buying things just filled their house with useless crap they wouldn’t need if the end of the world should actually come around.
The control systems were becoming obsolete. It was a terrifying reality for the power masters. They went into overdrive to create political controversy, to factionalize people, and to drive people into opposing camps again – but one thing that the prospect of the coronavirus killing everyone had done – was to make I much harder to tribalize the poor against the middle class because suddenly they realized just how far down the totem pole they all were. They were all fucked together and they could all look upward from any point on the planet and see all of those who were not fucked with them.
Chapter 17 – The General Rides Alone
Megan Brennan was the only person on her Delta flight. She flew first class, but she had never enjoyed a flight like this before. The crew celebrated having a passenger – it turned out that many flights had been making trips sans passengers but with more cargo than usual. The mail, after all, had to be delivered – as did meat, fish, milk, eggs, and other perishables. Prior to speaking with the crew, she hadn’t known exactly how much commercial airlines relied on cargo to make their daily revenue – of course, none of them were making money at this point.
Landing in San Francisco, she was cognizant of how massive SFO really was. Without the people – it was huge. She was met at the gate by a delegation of Bay Area postmasters. They loaded her in a waiting golf cart and ferried her to a waiting Lincoln Towncar. She didn’t have to ask about her bags, she knew they would be gathered up and brought to her hotel.
The postmasters were clamoring for meetings. She was in California for two major things – first to meet with Governor Newsom and formulate plans to deal with the Trump situation and second to find out about the mysterious Bob situation and deal with that. However, the Postmaster General couldn’t come to California and not have meetings in San Francisco. There were major policy decisions that had to be made in terms of masks, social distancing, handling the mail, and handling retirements and playing politics with union leaders and career postal workers.
She would be in San Francisco for the first day, head to Sacramento for two days, and then return to San Francisco for two more days before flying back to the East Coast. She was confident that she would be able to take care of everything in the time she had allotted. Megan was always confident.
The first day’s meetings were routine. The next day her Lincoln transported her to Sacramento. The drive from San Francisco to Sacramento always amazed her. It was easy to think of California as nothing but a bunch of cities -San Diego, Los Angeles, Hollywood, San Francisco, Oakland – but when one actually got in a car and began to travel between them – the vastness and diversity of the state became apparent. The relatively short two hour drive from the Bay Area to Sacramento was filled with farmland, rivers, foothills, and lakes. California was a vast state – larger than most countries in the world. Built on fortunes made of gold, oil, and dreams – there was no place like it.
As her car came into Sacramento, the feeling of awe was replaced by one of confusion. Given all that California was – Sacramento, the capital, should have been a combination of New York City and Washington DC – but it wasn’t. This feeling always came to her because Sacramento was more like a small midwest city. Yes, once one went into the capital district it became more impressive – but she had always felt like the buildings should be taller and the crowds should be larger – and more fashionable. Of course, Sacramento was a compromise – it was the seat of political power between the economic interests of agriculture, resource extraction, film, tech, and transport. Also, Sacramento had to toe a fine line between showing power and not offending the federal government with such a display. She understood it, but it still left her with a feeling of confusion.
The meeting with Governor Newsom went about as she had expected. He didn’t lay all of his cards out on the table, but it was clear he was preparing for big moves. Everyone knew that he planned on throwing his hat in the ring for President of the USA in 2024, but that was a long way off and with Trump and Coronavirus creating chaos at scales the country had never seen, there was no guarantee that there would even be a United States in 2024. Newsom was building alliances and making alternate plans, just in case. There was no better ally to have than the United States Post Office – though, the same could also be said of the State of California.
“I recently heard that the Postmaster General used to be a cabinet level position, ” Newsom said after the pleasantries had been exchanged. “Why did that end?”
“It was Nixon,” Megan explained. “He was terrified that the post office was going to mount a campaign against him. He didn’t want the PG to have any extra information or influence. Did you know it was Nixon that first suggested that postal workers could wear shorts? It was part of a smear campaign to delegitimize the post office, to make people take the power of the mail less seriously.”
“Were his fears legitimate?” Newsom looked searchingly in her face. “Do you think the post office could really be a threat to the most powerful person in the world?”
Megan saw it as a trick question. “Do you really think the President is the most powerful person in the world?”
“Who else would it be?” Newsom seemed interested in her answer, maybe it hadn’t of been a trick question.
She picked her words carefully. “It could be any number of people, depending on the needs and circumstances of the world,” she said. “And besides, power requires the consent and agreement -or at least fear, of those who give it. I’m not sure that the current President is nearly as powerful as he thinks he is – but his sycophants certainly don’t tell him that.”
Newsom laughed. “I guess we are narrowing down to the heart of the matter. Let me rephrase my original question – let’s see, how can I say this? Uhmmm…would the post office ever consider moving their headquarters to California?”
Megan smiled “I’m afraid the needs of the postal service require that we keep our corporate headquarters close to the halls of power, so as long as power resides in Washington D.C, we will need to keep our offices there – but we do have quite a large footprint here, Governor. In fact, some of our contingency plans involve just such a move. In the event of an East Coast invasion or if Washington DC were wiped out by a nuclear bomb – we actually have a backup HQ in San Francisco that would be ready to roll out.”
“Interesting,” Newsom looked at her nodding. “I wasn’t aware of that. God forbid that anything like that should happen though. I’m curious about the post offices relationship with the IRS…how close is that? ”
She kept herself from spitting, barely. “The treasury has been abandoning us for years. Ever since electronic payments became normalized, they’ve been waiting for the day they could tell us to go shove it. Still, that day is a long way off…roughly 30% of Americans still pay taxes by mail – although the lions share is automatically deducted from paychecks. Still – that’s tens of millions people sending checks that average to about $1200 each – so that’s a lot of money.”
“Yes, indeed. A lot of money. That’s a big responsibility. But back to my original question, do you think Nixon was right to feel threatened by the post office?”
“Absolutely,” Megan said. “Never underestimate the power of the mail.”
“I will remember that, Postmaster General,” Newsom suddenly remembered that it was she who had arranged this meeting. “I’m curious as to why you wanted to have this meeting. What can I help you with?”
For Megan Brennan, it was already clear that their interests were aligned, there was no need to continue to play coy “On behalf of the United States Post Office, I’d like to invite the State of California to secede from the United States of America. If you choose to accept this invitation, you can expect the full support of the USPS and, going back to our conversation previously – we’d be happy to move our HQ to California – as long as California were to become the seat of North American power.”
Newsom’s jaw had dropped. He was a politician and politicians never laid out their tits on the table the way that Postmaster General Brennan just had. He couldn’t even conceive of how to answer her.
Brennan stood up. “There’s no need for a response. I just wanted you to know where we stand. I have another appointment that I need to keep this afternoon. Thank you for taking the time to see me Governor. I look forward to working closely with you in the future.”
Brennan walked out of the Governor’s Mansion and got into her car. “Take me to the address in Arden Arcade,” she told the driver. “I need to meet someone there.”
Chapter 18 – Wheels Within Wheels
Bob was looking at the daily ‘Box Tops’ reports when he got a ping marked urgent from PostalNerd, the head of GeekBox.
Urgent: Just found out that the Postmaster General – Megan Brennan is on her way to see you. I have no idea what this is about, but you should be careful. She is one of the most powerful people in the country and for some reason – she is heading your way with an ETA of about eight minutes.
This message demonstrated the power of Bob’s new network. Brennan hadn’t told anyone outside of her secretary and her driver that she was heading to see Bob. Rather than the surprise visit she had expected it to be, when she arrived, Bob was waiting for her.
The black Lincoln Towncar pulled up and Bob was on the porch. He gave her a friendly wave as she stepped out. When she began walking towards the porch, he stood up, looking rather smart in his Eisenhower postal jacket (without insignia of course). He stepped off the porch and walked towards her.
“Postmaster General Brennan, I’m so glad to finally meet you. It’s a real honor to have you here at my humble abode.”
Bob was trying to be friendly and had no idea how off-putting it was to her that he had just called her out. She couldn’t figure out how he knew who she was. She still didn’t know who he was. This was not how she had pictured this meeting going. She had pictured it more along the lines of she swooped in, dominated the conversation, found out who this guy was, and knocked him out of the picture. That idea, however, was suddenly out the window. Bob put his hand over his heart and gave a small bow. She returned the gesture, which confused her as it was a new gesture to her. It was something Bob had started doing since the pandemic had started. As she did it, she realized that it made sense. It was a good thing.
“If you’d like to join me on my porch for a cup of tea, I’d love to get to know each other.”
Megan was completely thrown off. Without meaning to, Bob had completely unsettled her and taken the lead in a meeting that he was supposed to be surprised with.
“That would be nice, Mr. Uh…I’m sorry, I don’t know your last name.” Despite digging, she had been unable to come up with anything other than Bob, Robert, or Bob Current Resident. Bob had done well keeping his identity on the downlow from the Chicago Mob. Fear had been a great motivator. Since his meeting with Gaia, however, he no longer was afraid – but still, he was cautious. That was why he was sticking with a pseudonym.
“It’s Dobbs,” he told her. “Robert Dobbs. Please excuse my manners, I just feel like I already know you. You must have that effect on a lot of people”
In fact, she did not. Megan Brennan had quite the opposite effect on people. Even her family often struggled to feel connected to her – she was a stranger to the world – even those who knew her best. There was no room for vulnerability if you were going to be in charge. She was always in charge, except for now – for some reason, she had lost the initiative and she wasn’t exactly sure what to do about it.
“Mr. Dobbs,” she said, trying to reassert herself. “I’m sure you know why I’m here. I hope that we can work things out. As the head of the Postal Service, I’ve been made aware of some unsettling things and you seem to be at the center of it. I’d like to understand what is happening – because frankly, I’m not sure what your intentions are.”
Bob was leading her onto the porch. “Please, call me Bob. Do you mind if I call you Meg? I’ve always like that name. It’s strong. Did you ever read Little Women?”
She had. It had been one of her driving motivators in making sure that people knew her name was Megan. As a girl, she had been charmed by the idea of being named after Meg (she was). Meg was the prettiest, most charming, and most perfect of the ‘little women’. However, as a young woman, she realized that Meg was a symbol of the powerless domesticity of women and she vowed to never be led into the trap of becoming ‘Meg’ the domestic housewife, mother, and servant to her own role.
“I have,” she said, again trying to assert her authority in this conversation . “I prefer to be called Postmaster General.” Despite a lifetime of resisting when people tried to call her Meg, she had almost succumbed and told him he could call her Meg. She had never felt such charisma before. The closest she had gotten to it was with Bill Clinton. Clinton had a way of making everyone in a room agree with him – even if they didn’t. She didn’t feel any sort of attraction to Bob, it wasn’t that kind of thing, it was more like she wanted him to give her his approval – despite having just met him. This was a dangerous man and she needed to be on her guard.
“Oh, okay,” Bob said cheerily. “I’ll be right back, I put the kettle on when I found out you were coming.” Again, she was completely thrown off. How had he known she was coming? This was supposed to be a surprise drop-by. She sat in one of the faded wood Adirondack chairs on the porch. It was a craftsman style house probably built in the 1930s that had been split into a duplex at some point in the 1960s or 70s.
When he came back out, he had a battered teapot that gave off an aroma of Earl Grey tea – the smell of Bergamot was strong. It was her favorite tea. Bob hadn’t known this, but it just happened to be his favorite too. Megan was sure that somehow he knew. She had to get the initiative back. “We’ll have to take our masks off to drink the tea,” he said to her “But I’m not sick. Are you?”
“No,” she replied. “I think we should be okay, but let’s not share a cup, alright?” She laughed lightly and Bob gave an appreciative chuckle. Unmasked in front of one another, it was time to get down to brass tacks.
“Mr. Dobbs, What is your interest in the post office?” She was going to take control.
Bob set the tea down on the small table between them and poured it into two mismatched and chipped teacups before he sat down and answered. He looked directly at her. The blue of his eyes had the intensity of a laser but also exuded a sort of warmth that caused her to relax even though she didn’t want to.
“To be perfectly honest,” he began “I’ve been suspicious of the post office for years. I always felt like it was the basis for a huge sort of illumanatus conspiracy. It just has too much power, too many moving parts, and controls too many things that people aren’t aware of. The USPS is the perfect shadow government.” He took a sip of tea. Megan felt herself tensing up. The post office had always had it’s share of conspiracy nuts, but she needed to remind herself that this one had somehow taken control of a part of the actual machinery.
“Recently, however,” Bob continued, “I’ve had my view shifted considerably. It seems like a lot of my suspicions were true but I was missing key information that caused me to fall to the wrong conclusions.”
“I’m glad to hear that you’ve seen the error in your ways,” Megan said. It probably wasn’t the right thing to say, but she needed to keep him going – she had to understand what was motivating this man.
“You see,” Bob went on, “I always thought the post office was part of some dark conspiracy to enslave humankind, to control the levers of power, and to destroy democratic rule – but that was wrong. The truth, as it usually is, is much more complex. The post office is the ultimate safeguard. When the founding fathers set up the country, they weren’t trying to create a democracy – they were trying to shift the power from one elite class to another. Franklin, who set up the post office, he knew this – he was the first Postmaster General and he never really agreed with the slave-owning founders about how they were doing things. He built the post office to act as a counterweight and in the event of dictatorship or a fall, the post office was designed to save everything.” Bob was excited as he explained and then as he looked at her, he suddenly recollected to whom he was speaking…he began to blush…
Megan J. Brennan had not expected to be shocked on this visit. She had not expected to be surprised. She had expected to knock on the door, find out who this person was, and then put him in his place. Instead, she was sitting with a cup of tea and listening to a man that had no possible way of knowing tell her the deepest secrets of the United States Postal Service. Even when she saw him blush and realized that it was her chance to take control of the situation, she found herself unable to do so. In fact, she found herself wanting to ease his embarrassment.
“It’s okay Mr. Dobbs,” she said soothingly (which was not a tone she used very often), “Please keep going. I’m curious as to how you learned this information and what you propose to do with it.”
Bob overcame his embarrassment and looked at her. “I’m sorry. You’re the Postmaster General and I’m telling you things that you obviously already know – I’m sure you know the answer to these questions already.”
“No,” she said, uncharacteristically revealing her hand “Please keep going. I want to know more.”
“Well, I don’t want to freak you out with the details but suffice to say that in the past few months, I’ve learned just how important and powerful the post office really is. I don’t think that would particularly matter except for the fact that Donald Trump is trying to destroy it. If the USPS falls, the United States of America falls with it. If the United States falls, there is no telling what he will do with that power. You asked what I intend to do and the answer to that is truthfully ‘I don’t know’ – I just know that he has to be stopped. We’ve been working on a couple of different ideas that might have some merit…” At some point in this meeting, the new Bob had decided to trust Megan J. Brennan. The old Bob would never have revealed any of this to her. He would have seen her as a powerful piece controlled by the U.S. Government and the dark forces that hid in the shadows and made moves against all that was good. This was not the old sack of potatoes Bob, however, this was Bob Dobbs, the Conscientious Objector General.
Megan latched onto a data point “We? Who are you working with? That’s what I’m trying to understand. I don’t really understand where you fit in any of this? Who are you, Mr. Dobbs?”
Bob didn’t have any intention of deceiving her, but neither did he intend to reveal who he really was. “I’m nobody, Postmaster General and as to the ‘we’ – I’m talking about a bunch of my friends on the Discord server – in the PostBox.”
For just a moment, Megan heard the ramblings of a crazy person ‘friends on the discord server in the post box’ sounded like the ravings of a lunatic. She momentarily flash-considered that she was sitting on the porch of a madman, drinking tea, and engaging in what the post office had always condemned as conspiracy theory. She had to remind herself that somehow Bob had known she was coming and somehow he had just told her the most closely held secret of the USPS. She couldn’t afford to discount him as a nut job but neither could she afford to trust him – even though she deeply wanted to.
“The discord postbox?” she queried, not quite getting it right.
“Oh, sorry. Our message board. I can invite you if you want. I’d love to have you on it – I mean if you don’t mind being part of something that so many of your lower ranking employees take part in..I can see where that might be problematic.”
He was right, it would be problematic. Megan was no longer entirely sure what she was doing or why. “Co-workers, Bob,” she said to him, using his first name for the first time. “They’re my co-workers, not my employees. No one owns the post office. Yes, I’d love an invite. Do you mind if I use a fake name and email though? Because you’re right, it might cause some issues if people knew I were there.” Not the least of which would be with the federal government.
“Sure,” Bob told her. “Let me get a pen so I can write down your details.” Bob got up and went back inside. While he was inside, Zeta arrived with the days mail. She knew who he was because she had studied Bob’s route before coming but she didn’t introduce herself. Zeta looked at her through his mask. She had pulled her mask back up when she saw him approaching. He’d noticed the black car and driver as he walked up – the curiosity was deep, but he would wait to find out from Bob until later. He nodded in her direction. She nodded back. She looked familiar to him (as she should have since her picture hung in every post office in America) but the mask made it almost impossible for him to recognize her – that and the fact that the last thing he would expect was the Postmaster General to be drinking tea on Bob’s porch. Zeta slid the letters through the door and continued on his route.
Bob came back out, still not wearing a mask “Okay,” he said with pen and pad in hand “What’s your email?”
“It’s email@example.com she told him,” Bob didn’t even show a hint of a smile as he wrote it down.
“Like this?” he held it in front of her so she could see it.
“Perfect,” she told him “Please keep my identity between the two of us.”
“Sure,” Bob said innocently “I’ll need to let my Colonels know, but we’ll keep it on a Top Secret level – need to know only.”
Megan couldn’t show the alarm she felt when he mentioned his Colonels. Until that moment in their conversation, she had somehow convinced herself that he was just a well-meaning kook who had stumbled upon secrets he shouldn’t have known. When he mentioned Colonels and ‘need to know’ it reminded her of why she had come – this man was building an army and it was largely from within her organization.
“Can we get a selfie?” she asked him
“We’ve already broken the distancing protocols, so I don’t see why not.” She stood up, pulled her phone from her pocket and leaned in for the classic two person selfie. She would have his picture run through multiple databases before the day was done. As she looked at her phone she realized that she had received multiple text messages while her ringer/buzzer had been switched into meeting mode.
As she left, she wasn’t sure what she felt. It was a range of emotions that ran from panic to happiness – but over all of it was a feeling of dread that she was losing control of more than just the meeting she had just had.
Back in the car with meeting mode turned off, her phone began buzzing – multiple texts coming in all at once.
This was on May 6th – technically, she had offered her resignation back in October of 2019, but the Board of Governors had been unable to agree on a new Postmaster General because it was split between three Trump appointees and three Obama appointees. It was a evenly split board and the Obama appointed side refused to give the position to a Trump appointee and the Trump appointees refused to allow another liberal postmaster from a blue state.
The first of her texts came from Deputy Postmaster General Ronald Stroman – one of the other Obama Appointees
“Just found out that Postmaster Inspector David Williams has resigned…which means we are officially outnumbered on the Board of Governors.”
Williams had been the vice-president of the board. He was an important ally. He was in charge of the intelligence division. Somehow, they had gotten to him. She’d ignored her phone while she met with Bob. It wouldn’t have made any difference, this was all done because she was two thousand miles away.
“They’re calling an emergency meeting!!!” Strohman’s texts sounded like the panic he must have felt.
She was feeling the panic as she read through the texts but she wasn’t going to call anyone before she knew what was happening.
“They’ve done it,” Strohman wrote. “They’ve made Louis DeJoy the new Postmaster General. Vote was three to one with one absentee. They tried to make the position effective immediately but I brought up the protocols, Senate confirmation, transition period, etc. I’d guess we have two weeks maximum to put things in order.”
“Motherfucker,” Megan said. “Mo-ther fuck-er.” She thought she had been angry before, when she offered her resignation in October, but that was nothing compared to this. She wasn’t ready for this, but thank god she had made this trip and laid the groundwork she had. They might be able to delay things until the end of the month but in all likelihood, that son of a bitch Mitch McConnell would be pushing this thing through within days instead of weeks.
The rest of the texts were either gloating from the other board members, notes from her secretary, and other concerned parties.
The first call she made was to David Williams. He probably wouldn’t be able to tell her how they had gotten to him, but he would have taken the proper precautions. He was a careful man and they had planned for an eventuality of some kind, even if it wasn’t this.
He answered on the first ring with no greeting. “I guess you got the news…”
“Yes, I just heard. David, I’m calling because I want to make sure everything is okay. Are you alright?” This was bullshit and they both knew it. “What happened?”
“I just felt like it was time to stop beating myself against the wall. The past nineteen years have felt like twenty seven and I think I’m getting old. I just want to relax with my grandkids when Christmas comes and enjoy some eggnog.”
They both knew her job had just gotten more complex.
“Okay Megan. It was nice working with you. Maybe I’ll see you at one of the company parties.”
That was it. She had it. “Well, I just wanted to make sure you are okay. It looks like I’ll be able to enjoy myself soon too.”
They both hung up.
She wrote the password down “19eggnog27parties.”
The post office had just been fucked but it wouldn’t go down without a fight.
Chapter 19 – Coast to Coast
The pandemic restrictions were being lifted faster than the virus was contracting. Bob followed the case count and was shocked to see that not only were the number of deaths per day going up both globally and in the USA, but also that doctors were logging new symptoms. One of the most curious aspects of the new deaths was the fact that a majority of new intakes to most major hospitals seemed to be coming from sheltering in place in their homes.
At first, this data made him think that maybe lifting restrictions was a good idea, then he took a trip to the grocery store. Bob clearly saw where people were getting infected. At the store, shoppers were lined up in a winding stanchion that put them into close contact and proximity with hundreds of other shoppers for an extended period. Bob stood in the line for over an hour and counted how many of his fellow shoppers he was within a dozen feet of by the time he got to the front door – 162. Yes, the guidelines called 6′ a safe distance, but that number seemed arbitrary and when he asked the MedBox about it they said that those guidelines had been set in the 1950s and 12′ was considered a likely infection zone. Inside the store, Bob was forced to be in far closer proximity to right around fifty other shoppers just walking through the aisles. This was where people were getting sick. He was sure of it.
There was something else that was off though, the more he looked at the data, the more he was sure of it. The number of deaths in the USA stayed right around 2000 per day from the moment the President started talking about re-opening the country. It ranged from 1700 to 2100 on a non linear basis. There was monkey business going on somewhere – Bob was sure that the actual number of deaths was being mis-reported but since the data was coming from so many places – that seemed like a particularly hard conclusion to validate.
Then, someone on the Postbox mentioned that their county coroner had been sacked and replaced because he had been appointed by a previous administration. That was when it hit him – city and county coroners were political appointments. So were state medical examiners. The job of both positions is to log the deaths in their jurisdiction with the cause and if foul play was suspected – to get an inquest into the circumstances. That was it. The political appointees were doing what they were told.
It was a powerful epiphany. Bob put out a call through the message boards to find the party affiliation of the coroners and medical examiners in the largest jurisdictions across the country. Next, he and a team of data scientists who were finding themselves particularly bored with being locked down correlated the death rates in counties across the country with party affiliation of the coroners and medical examiners. The results were shocking – Republican counties and states had around the same number of deaths as their Democrat counterparts but the causes of death were highly divergent. Red states and counties had far higher cancer, ‘natural cause’, and other non-pandemic illnesses than blue states. Blue states and counties had far higher pandemic related deaths. Looking at the numbers, one could easily deduce that the pandemic was less deadly in Republican controlled areas – or that the books were being cooked. Diving deeper, they found that since the calls to ‘re-open’ had begun – the number of deaths from non-pandemic causes had been skyrocketing in red areas. The result was that daily COVID-19 deaths were staying within the range of 1700-2100 deaths per day.
It was a lie that was becoming harder for the administration to keep as the numbers continued to grow. Bob and his crew were estimating the number of deaths per day in the USA were closer to 4000 in the beginning of May. The Trump administration was also having a hard time keeping the lie and began to soften the public with gradual incremental increases mentioned in each briefing. The master of lies said “We can expect the daily death toll to rise up to 3000 deaths per day by June,” on one day and then the next “We’re looking at around 3100 cases every day after the economy opens but we think it’s worth it.” Meanwhile, he had chosen the Guns n Roses tune “Live and Let Die” as his theme song. A choice that Bob found to be more than a little disturbing, but one which the president’s fans embraced. Bob assumed that it was the rich who would live and the poor who would die. The president’s supporters must have thought it was a different split – maybe us and them.
The Russian virus was doing an amazing amount of damage and the shelter in place orders were actually restricting the spread of the Gaia virus in dense urban areas. It was a perfect storm of tragedy for those in the Northeast and probably for those in Southern cities as well – but those numbers were more difficult to suss out.
Back at home, Bob heard a knock on the door. It was Zeta.
He opened the door and Zeta came in and removed his mask.
“Aren’t you afraid you might have the virus?” Bob asked. It was the right question. People thought they were protecting themselves with masks but in fact, they were protecting others. Zeta was putting Bob at risk by taking off his mask.
“Oh man,” Zeta said, realizing his mistake and grabbing for his mask, ” Sorry Bob.” Bob reached out and stopped him before he could put the mask on.
“No problem, let’s take the chance – I need to talk to you.” Bob wasn’t worried about catching the virus. He wore a mask when he went out, but that was to protect others in case he did have it. If someone was comfortable going maskless with him in his home, he was fine with it too.
Zeta flopped onto the couch. He wasn’t in his postal uniform, so this must be a day off.
“I had a visitor yesterday,” Bob started.
Zeta couldn’t help commenting “Yes, I saw your lady friend on the porch. Are you in love buddy? You going to ask Dr. Zeta for some love advice?” They both laughed…
“No,” Bob finally said, “It’s more complicated. That was Megan Brennan, the Postmaster General of the United States of America.”
“What???” Zeta was flipping his wig now. “That lady on your porch was Megan Brennan? What the fuck was she doing here Bob?” Zeta didn’t know if this was good or bad – but it couldn’t be anything in between. “What was the US Postmaster General doing on your shitty ass porch Bob?”
“I’m not really sure, it turns out.” Bob had thought about the meeting and debated whether to invite fuzzybunny272 onto the servers. “She was concerned with my interest in the USPS and after I told her about the Discord servers, she wanted to be invited onto them. Mostly though, she seemed like she wanted to know who I am.”
“Wait, wait, wait. Let me get this straight – the USPG came to your house to introduce herself to you and get an invitation onto your message boards? Is that what I’m hearing?” Zeta didn’t know what to think of this information – she was his boss, but a boss so high up that he had never expected to see her. Or her to see him, she’d seen him delivering the mail. That was when he remembered the news he’d heard that morning at the depot.
“She got replaced yesterday,” he told Bob. “I wonder if that has any connection to her coming here. Holy shit Bob, did you get the PG fired?”
Bob didn’t think that was likely – but he was shocked to hear that she had been replaced. “She got fired?”
Zeta explained the whole situation – one thing postmen were good at was the transmission of scuttlebutt. It wasn’t just the mail that the USPS delivered. “I heard the whole thing is because Trump wants to use the USPS to fuck with Amazon and she had refused. I mean, she resigned back in October and they announced they were seeking a replacement, but it seems weird that it would happen the same day she came here.”
“So she’s gone?” Bob asked. It made him sad. He had liked her.
“No, it’s a government thing so the transition can take a while. There will be at least some period where the new boss takes over and the old boss transfers out.”
“Should I invite her to the PostBox server? What do you think Zeta? I’ve been debating this by myself for 24 hours.”
Zeta nodded enthusiastically “Yeah, you definitely should. She’s an old school hard-ass though. If she were staying in post, I would advise that you think about it but since she’s leaving and obviously the enemy of our enemy – I think she’ll bring a lot to the table. Definitely bring her in.”
“Good,” Bob said “I wanted to, but I didn’t want to jump the gun on this.” He walked over to the kitchen table and sat down in front of his laptop. Looking at the note with her email address he subvocalized his actions “Invite new member, enter email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and send invite.”
Zeta was laughing “The most hard ass woman on the planet has fuzzybunny227 as her email? That’s some funny shit.”
“You want to hear something really funny?” Bob asked. “Gaia prefers Apple to Microsoft…” Both men collapsed in laughter.
Zeta squeezed out “Of course she does but does that make Steve Jobs the snake in Eden?” They both laughed for a moment more before realizing how weirdly profound that statement was.
The PostBox community had ballooned – it now included nearly a million members. The newly hired veterans were flocking to VetBox and it had been compartmentalized into several divisions consisting of regiments which were made up of platoons. The organizational structure was proving to be a lifeline – but one big problem was that a lot of the newly hired vets were Trumpists.
With an open invitation system, they had known that this might become a problem but with the explosion in members there was also an explosion in those who supported the president. ColonelPotter, who now had the rank of Sub-General had wisely suggested that they create ‘Trump Regiments’ and other ‘pro-Trump’ sections within the major divisions. This idea allowed the Trumpists to largely self segregate and exist within their own bubbles. The Trump areas of PostBox were ecstatic at the news that Brennan was on the way out. Those sections of the server were filled with badly photoshopped porn and crude memes along with sensationalist conspiracy theories that seemed to have an unhealthy obsession with vaccine conspiracies, child molesting conspiracies, and Bill Gates.
The BoxTops were all careful about who they brought into trusted circles. There was danger of infiltration in the bottom tiers, but the top of the pyramid was a safe zone. As long as everything was filtered downward in the proper way, there was little danger from within.
FuzzyBunny272 quickly moved up the ranks. Had she been staying in her job, she would have been alarmed at the complexity and depth of the PostBox organization, but since she was leaving, she found it exhilarating. While she hadn’t identified herself, the power of her voice was quickly identified by group commanders and she was promoted to moderator, invited to the next level, promoted again, and so forth. In a relatively short period of time (5 days) she was attending meetings of the BoxTops and making suggestions. They all knew who she was and while it may have contributed a small amount to her incredibly rapid rise, mostly it was the force of her own personality that had brought her there.
“I’d be fired for telling you all about this,” she wrote “But have you ever heard of RoP-1-75 ?”
This was when they learned the truth about the post office. She was telling a handful of people that she mostly only knew by screen name about the most heavily guarded secret of the post office. At this point, there were two reasons for that. First, if she was going to use it – she only had days and she would need their help. Second, if she wasn’t – she was damned if she would let Trump and his stooge DeJoy have it. She had decided to break with tradition and not inform her successor about the protocols. He would be the postmaster, but only the postmaster who had the publicly listed duties, nothing else.
There was another reason she was spending so much time and energy on the PostBox. It was the perfect place to plan a postal strike.
Chapter 20: The Great American Re-Opening
Using a steady stream of positive spin, a confusing story of a weakened virus in the face of the death toll and virus count both rising, and the rallying cry of “Work is a right and Prisoners are not Free!” the Trump administration somehow managed to force large portions of the country to ‘re-open for business’ regardless of what the experts suggested, the governors wanted to do, or the people were in favor of. American’s felt they had no choice but to go back to work and so they filled the offices, streets, movie theaters, restaurants, and everywhere else even as their countrymen died in ever greater numbers.
Rather than focusing on the depressing news – the mainstream media began increasing coverage of the amazing stock rally as the economy responded to people going back to work. Never mind that there was a complete and total disconnect between people working and stocks rallying. The main reason that stocks were rallying was because the Federal Reserve was pumping trillions of dollars into it. The people going back to work didn’t have the extra money to pay for Uber, restaurants, or luxuries of any sort. It was a hand to mouth existence for most workers and with the added exposure to the virus – a sometimes deadly one.
By mid-June, the states stretching east from Washington, Oregon, and California all the way to New York and Pennsylvania were all open. The south was completely open. Illinois, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New England were all still in lockdown as they tried to deal with the continued body count that was piling up in trucks, parks, and walk in refrigerators.. The three west coast states plus Nevada and Hawaii were slowly easing restrictions but generally discouraging people from leaving home – it was a more cautious approach than the rest of the country was taking. Alaska was pretty well on its own and as open as it had ever been – just not to tourists. The Governor of Alaska put a moratorium on cruise ships.
The rest of the country from Arizona to Florida to Ohio, North Dakota, and Iowa – they all just threw caution to the winds and latched onto the Trump agenda and began screaming about the success of the Great American Re-Opening. During the day, people filled the beaches in the Carolinas, Florida, and Texas. Nascar was the first event to make a comeback and the crowds were thick. Bars and restaurants filled with people and the shopping malls from Memphis to Phoenix to Atlanta were all filled with happy throngs of people.
The stock market really was booming and with the lockdowns lifted, credit card companies and banks began offering increased lines of credit, special cash advances, and easier approval for rewards cards.
The rest of the world watched in shocked awe as Americans in the re-opened areas ditched social distancing, masks, and any sort of pandemic protocols.The American gamble appeared to be paying off. The first day of summer in mid-June was an ecstatic holiday. Trump’s approval rating in these areas hit the highest marks of his presidency.
Behind the scenes, the Russian and American viruses had now met and were figuring out how to interact together. It was a classic love story – where two strangers meet and soon, a baby follows. The evolved virus that came from that meeting was deadlier than ever – it used existing health conditions to infiltrate and occupy a host with an incubation time of 25 days, when it began to spread – the mortality jumped from 4% to 70%. When the virus became active 7 out of 10 who got it would be dead within 48 hours. Thankfully, it was only transmissable starting about three days before it became active in the host. Those who had already been exposed to the Gaia virus, were still immune.
The problem was, the parts of the country that were ecstatically re-opened were the exact parts of the country that hadn’t been exposed to the Gaia virus – the wide open spaces, the rural communities, the small towns where people thought they had dodged a bullet. The cities and urban areas were actually going to be alright with this second wave – but the countryside was devastated.
It started in Galveston, Texas and spread upward into the country like a reverse Mississippi River. From June 1st to June 26th – eight million people caught the new strain – by the end of June nearly five million of them were dead. The same people who had been celebrating winning their freedom back were now either being weeped over or weeping over their own dead.
Trump continued to play “Live and Let Die” and screamed blame at the Chinese, California, and Canada. “It’s the three C’s, he yelled into his podium’s microphone. They’re out to get me. They’re all out to get me. I’ve done everything, I’ve handled this perfect, but it will never be good enough for California or their friends in Canada and China.”
The entire country went back into lockdown, this time a huddled down and terrified lockdown as the new strain continued to rip its way through the mid-West and into the Rocky Mountains and the South. Trumps ‘smart doctors’ abandoned him during his daily briefings and he now had a rotating cast of white people in white coats who made pronouncements that usually included a phrase similar to ” …if we had listened to the President…”
In truth, those who had continued to ‘hunker down’, worn masks, and kept proper social distancing were largely unaffected by the new strain – so one might draw some conclusions from all that death. 7 out of 10 of those who had not taken precautions were either dead or soon would be.
Trump ignored the pain and suffering and promised that there would be an ‘amazing’ 4th of July celebration for the country. The ‘Great American Re-Opening’ turned out to be less like a celebration of a return to normal and more like ripping the scab off of life threatening arterial wounds. America was re-open…for infection and death.
Chapter 21: The Grand California Tax Scheme
Federal and state taxes had been pushed back to July 15th – it was an unprecedented move, but one that had seemed necessary at the height of the first pandemic scare. As the second wave of death screamed across the nation, politicians used their media allies to remind people that America could only keep running if everyone did their part – and a big part of that was paying taxes.
Essentially, the first relief effort of the US government had given trillions of dollars to corporations with virtually no limitations, no means testing, and no oversight – this right on the heels of $2 trillion dollars in corporate tax cuts. This huge theft was approved by the American people in return for a $1200 per adult payout which came from the taxes that the bottom half of Americans pay. The average American felt grateful for a deal that had ripped them off – and most of them never even realized they had been scammed.
In any event, the country and the states were now in the deep red and it was bad policy to stop collecting taxes – so word went out that despite the new waves of death, taxes would be collected. One big problem, however was that the IRS was as devastated by the pandemic as every other federal agency. The U.S. government had a policy of keeping those kinds of numbers a secret, but in this case, there had been far too many government accountants who lived in DC, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware – some of the hardest hit areas.
As a result, the federal government enlisted the states to assist in the processing of federal returns. The scheme was pitched as a way to increase state employment, put the country back to work, and take care of business at the same time. In fact, it wasn’t a bad idea – but it did open the door to several possibilities that the government missed.
The scheme worked like this – electronic federal returns would be processed by the IRS. Returns that were mailed in would be diverted to state tax offices where they would be processed, logged, and electronically forwarded to the federal IRS offices. Tax payments from checks or money orders would be deposited in federal IRS accounts by state agencies.
I’m sure you can see where this is going.
Governor Newsom of California decided to make his move. The California State Tax Board opened up an account through Wells Fargo (a California bank) under the name ‘Internal Revenue Service – California’ doing business as ‘IRS-CA’ and ‘IRS’. As federal returns were filed and documented, California’s top state accountants deposited the checks and payments made out to the IRS into the new account. This was not the way the federal government had detailed the process.
Furthermore (thanks to Bob and the PostBox), huge numbers of tax returns from other states were ‘accidentally’ forwarded to the California tax division. For those working in the newly quadrulpled in size tax board, the process was relatively simple – and since these were mostly new hires from other diverse fields – there were no questions asked. Returns from all over the country were pouring into Sacramento.
Every envelope was opened. Check payments were entered in a database with social security numbers and amount of tax due, regardless of state of residence, and then the checks were turned in to supervisors who deposited them in the IRS-CA account. Returns without checks were forwarded to the federal IRS offices, and returns from other states were forwarded to ‘red state’ offices – often the wrong state. The purpose of all this forwarding and mistake making was simple – the federal IRS needed to be kept unaware of what was happening for as long as possible.
In order for the huge volume of returns to be shifted to California, the USPS needed to bring large numbers of postal fleet vehicles into California from neighboring western states. Newly purchased vehicles from the South and South-Eastern seaboard were also shipped into California to help with the mail glut. All of these arrangements had been made prior to Postmaster General DeJoy taking over and since he was largely engaged in doing the administration’s business – it all flew under his radar.
The truth was DeJoy was a good businessman but he didn’t have the knowledge necessary to be a Postmaster General and his predecessor left without giving him any of the usual guidance on what the job entailed or how to do it. Shortly after he had taken over, all of the liberal members of the Postal Board of Directors had resigned – there was a distinct lack of experience and knowledge in postal HQ – at least experience and knowledge that DeJoy or the administration could benefit from. DeJoy was kept busy by orders from the administration.
Due to the rolling death tide of the pandemic smashing its way through the South and Midwest, California took the unprecedented step of sealing her borders. Governors Inslee and Brown of Washington and Oregon quickly followed suit. Nevada began taking measures to begin the same process. The only vehicles allowed into California were postal vehicles and cargo transport. California residents living abroad or in other states were informed that if they were to return to the state they would be placed under mandatory 30 day quarantines. The state closed its borders to tourists, non-residents, and non-essential business.
California’s connections to the outside world were now either through the USPS or electronic.
Newsom activated the entire California National Guard to assist in closing borders. The California Highway Patrol, state and county sheriffs, state and local police departments, and other state agencies were activated at the highest level and hired as many as applied. Out of state prisoners were furloughed if they accepted free passage out of the state on Greyhound buses to Idaho, Arizona, or Utah. Prisoners from Oregon, Washington, California, Nevada, and Hawaii were kept as a courtesy to neighboring states.
This state of affairs began taking place in the last part of June and accelerated in the days leading up to the 4th of July. Trump’s Independence Day celebration of a re-opened America was shaping up into the worst disaster the country had ever witnessed – millions were dying and yet, the red state governors and Trump supporters continued to re-open, they continued to listen to (and believe) his lies, and when he said the deaths were a conspiracy theory put on by Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos – they began to burn effigies of the billionaires in the streets.
Through the National Guard, Newsom and his supporters were able to infiltrate the high commands of all the U.S. military bases in California. California has thirty-two U.S. military bases covering all branches of the U.S. Military. The US Air Force had Beale, Edwards, Travis, El Segundo, March, McClellan, and Vandenberg. The Army had Forts McClellan and many more. The Marines had Camp Pendleton, 29 Palms and more. The Navy and Coast Guard had installations stretching from San Diego all the way to Eureka.
The Governors of Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, and Nevada followed similar tactics. They weren’t planning insurrection – they were simply taking steps to protect their states from the ‘stable genius’ in the White House and whatever mad plans he might formulate. Far off Hawaii had the trickiest time of it – with a civilian population of just over 1.1 million and 12 bases housing up to a quarter million troops, their families, contractors, and non-uniform personnel. Despite it not being his state, this was a problem that Newsom spent a lot of time considering.
Despite the chaos outside of California’s borders, the tax returns kept flowing into the state and the tax payments kept piling up in the IRS-CA accounts. No one outside of those who had set it up seemed to notice.
On the 4th of July, President Trump finally was able to hold the huge military parade he had been clamoring for since coming to office. Tanks and missiles were paraded down the streets of Washington DC, jets spewing red, white, and blue left trails in the sky, and Trump stood on a dias at the Washington Monument standing tall, looking regal with his orange chin held high watching his military show the world its might.
His speech began well.
“My friends. My fellow Americans. We have suffered greatly. No other people have ever suffered so much and with so much bravery.”
And of course it veered into self-aggrandizement.
“No other president in the history of this country, no other leader in the history of the world has given as much or sacrificed as much as I have. The greatest economy the world has ever known, the greatest military, the world has ever seen, the most beautiful people,” he looked at his daughter Ivanka with what could only be described as lust, “the world has ever known.”
He trailed off, lost in fantasy or thought but then picked up the thread…
“We deserve better than we have been given. We deserve a better system. We deserve better leaders. We deserve better media. The media has been on a crusade to demonize me, to make me a mockery, to turn you – my people – against me. The media and the democrats in the House and Senate have made fools of the American people – they dared to impeach me in the house, they wasted billions of dollars trying to turn you against me. I am you and you are mine – we are one. The failed New York Times, the awful Amazon Washington Post, CNN, MSNBC – they have all failed you. They have given you lies when you needed hope. None of them have mentioned the plots and conspiracies of Bill Gates and Jeff Bezos to destabilize our great country.”
It was like no other 4th of July speech in the history of America.
“I won’t fail you. I will sacrifice everything for you. God Bless America. I’m going to fix all of these problems for you. I will make the stock market rise like a rocket. Our 401ks will be bigger than ever. We will defeat the Chinese and Make America Greater than Ever Before!”
No mention of the pandemic, the people who were starving, the tens of millions of unemployed, no mention of the destroyed relationships with Canada, the European Union, Australia, Asian, and African countries. Just the usual dreamy self-promotion – until it wasn’t.
“My fellow Americans,” Trump’s voice became serious. “We face unprecedented challenges. Our amazing intelligence officers in the Secret Service have uncovered a number of plots to overthrow our great country- you know about some of them. Working with ICE and Border agents, we have unearthed plots against our government and against me, your glorious leader. I don’t want you to worry, however, as we speak ICE agents are arresting both Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. We’ve discovered that they were conspiring with Mexico and China to destroy our election process with vote tampering and fraud. I don’t know if former President’s Obama and Bush were a part of this – but for their sake, I hope they were not. We are looking into things and I want you to know that we are discovering some very dangerous things about our country – believe me, we will not leave any stone unturned.”
He again began to sound casual and breezy “I want you to know that we are doing everything we can to defend our democracy and to protect our country. We will be postponing elections until 2021 while we work to find the rat’s nests of conspirators and traitors who tried to take all of this,” he motioned his hands “from me – and you.”
“We are working with the newly re-organized post office and the bureau of elections to set up national voting by mail which should be ready to implement in early 2021. The post office is declaring its own independence from Amazon today and will no longer be giving free shipping to that billionaire traitor Jeff Bezos. I’ve appointed Roger Stone, the man I recently pardoned after he was unfairly arrested and imprisoned by Democrats, to head a media inquiry board with the power to nationalize and take editorial control of subversive media organizations. Inspector Stone has recommended that we immediately nationalize and take control of the New York Times, The Washington Post, CNN, and MSNBC. Our agents have been working quietly this morning to take control of the situation.”
“I don’t want you to worry, America. We will have fair elections, an end to fake news, and a better future. Our founding fathers would be so proud of the job I’m doing here. I just wish that my own dear father could witness this moment. God Bless America and God Bless you, Americans. Happy Independence Day.”
The crowds roared as bands began to play and jets screamed overhead at altitudes that Trump had insisted on despite the safety concerns of the pilots and the FAA.
CNN, MSNBC, The Washington Post, and the New York Times all published and aired glowing reports of President Trump’s glorious speech. Taking the hint, other media outlets followed suit with only a few daring to bring up the fact that Donald Trump had just arrested his political opponents and taken control of the media.
There was panic in the military, panic in the editorial rooms of the media, panic in the post office, and panic in Mexico and China. Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates, the two richest men in the world, didn’t panic. They activated their private security forces. Former Postmaster General Megan Brennan also did not panic. She had already activated RoP-1-75 back in May, now she brought it online.
Chapter 22: The Foreclosure and Eviction Pandemic
On the 6th of July, the Trump administration passed word to state and local governments that any moratoriums on evictions or foreclosures had to be lifted. Most states had put measures into place back in April that made it illegal for landlords to evict tenants for non-payment of rent and which made it illegal for banks to foreclose for lack of mortgage payments.
The banks and landlords had been clamoring to get eviction and foreclosure authority back. Trump believed that it made sense to end all of the pandemic measures. He declared the country ‘open for business’ and demanded that California and other states re-open their borders, theme parks, and airports.
Tens of thousands of eviction notices went out across the Southeast, the South, the Midwest, and the Southwest. Foreclosure proceedings were started in numbers that hadn’t been seen since the Great Recession back in 2008 and quickly exceeded those numbers. If all of the eviction and foreclosure notices that were generated in the following two weeks had been complied with – there would have been millions of newly minted homeless across the country.
California and the block of states who stood with her, chose not to comply. Governor Newsom had been referring to California as a nation and a nation-state for quite a long time. In his daily briefing, Trump demanded that the states comply.
“Failure to comply will be seen as treason,” he declared. It was the moment Newsom had been waiting for. He called a news conference – it was ignored by the Trump controlled media but live streamed on Facebook, Twitter, CBS, and ABC. Most of the world got it.
He began by reading the the opening lines of the American Declaration of Independence –
“When in the Course of human events, it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature’s God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.”
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,–That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
With that, Newsom got to the heart of the matter.
“We in California have watched in horror while the President of the United States has imprisoned his political opponents, alienated our allies, put children in cages, enforced racist and misogynist policies and destroyed the very heart of the United States of America. We, and our allies, in Washington, Oregon, Nevada, and Hawaii among other states have borne witness to the tragedy and sadness as our nation has been ripped apart by the pandemic, extreme wealth disparity, racism, and hatred for our fellow human beings. We can watch and hope for this horror to abate no longer.”
“From this moment, California is declaring her secession from the United States of America. We are breaking from the union. The California National Guard has secured all military bases and equipment within our borders. All United States federal employees, troops, and equipment have been conscripted into the nation of California’s service. We call on all states who share our cause, to join us in a new confederal union. For those who choose not to be citizens of California, we offer free passage to you from our country. We do not seek war and we hope that our differences with the United States can be resolved peacefully and with diplomacy, but we can no longer trust that the intentions of the United States government represent the best interests of our people.”
“The California treasury has decided that it is no longer appropriate nor safe to use American currency and we have converted all of our dollar holdings to Bitcoin because we have evaluated it and consider it safer than any other monetary unit. Over the next 30-days, Californians are encouraged to exchange their U.S. dollar holdings for Bitcoin through the treasury, Coinbase, or other California controlled exchanges.”
“For those Americans outside of California who have family serving in the U.S. Armed Forces, we do not want you to worry. We are giving service members the choice of continuing to serve in return for citizenship in the Nation of California or safe passage with their civilian belongings to our borders.”
Through a series of secret negotiations with high ranking U.S. military officials not friendly to the Trump regime, Newsom had come to this arrangement. Those officers and high ranking enlisted who were unwilling or known to be Trump supporters, had been rounded up and incarcerated in the hours before Newsom’s announcement. There were surprisingly few of the educated officer elites who were not alarmed by Trump’s actions on the 4th of July – and for most of them, California offered a lifeline that far exceeded the risks of continuing to serve a deranged and power mad President Trump.
Newsom motioned to the sidelines, off camera. A number of Generals and Admirals joined him on the stage. “I’d like to introduce our California Joint Chiefs of Staff – who are currently in control of every military installation in the State of California. This, by the way, was a bloodless transfer of power.” One of the Admirals stepped forward and whispered in Newsom’s ear. Newsom smiled.
“I have good news,” he said. “Our allies in the Kingdom of Hawaii and the newly formed country of Cascadia – which was formerly the states of Washington and Oregon – they have joined our cause. Admiral Yoast tells me that all military installations in Hawaii and Cascadia have also undergone a peaceful change of power.”
Newsom became serious “These are unprecedented times. The President of the United States has called us traitors and rebels, but nothing could be further from the truth. Our loyalty has never been stronger but it is not to the bankers, the corporate elites, or the blood sucking leaches who have sent people to their deaths for the cause of profits. Our loyalty is to our people. The Trump decrees which would have turned tens of millions of Californians, Hawaiians, and Cascadians out into the streets, and which would have made our citizens homeless and put them in unfathomable danger – these were unconstitutional and unjust. It is our hope, that someday, the great nation which was the USA can be re-united and leave behind the legacies of slavery, racism, genocide, greed, theft, and economic injustice behind. Perhaps it is no coincidence, that the states that fought for slavery now stand with Trump and his cronies. Perhaps it is no coincidence that the plains states where government genocide was used as policy against Native Americans stand with Trump. Perhaps it is no coincidence that Nazis and racists flock to his banner.”
“This is a sad day for America,” Newsom said “The Experiment has failed. However, take hope in the fact that California, Cascadia, and Hawaii stand ready to right the wrongs of the past. As we look to the poor, the exploited, the tired, and the hungry who are being exploited and used – we Californians will continue working to defeat the pandemic, to defeat racism, and to defeat poverty, hatred, injustice. It is with great hope that we look to the future when we can once again open our borders and declare to the world “Give us your poor, your tired, your hungry.”
Newsom ended the conference with the former heads of California’s FBI, CIA, NSA, and other intelligence agencies bringing him documents, shaking his hand, and chatting with him. All of this was planned theater meant to show the Trump regime that it no longer had any sort of legitimate power in California. As the country where Hollywood lives, California, there were no shortages of talented propagandists – and Newsom was quick to put them all to work.
With almost no exceptions, the leadership and Trump supporting rank and file of ICE, the Border Patrol, and the other armed services were taken into custody and housed with other high ranking Trump loyalists at the former Tule Lake Isolation Center, Alcatraz, and ICE immigrant detention centers throughout the state. The immigrants being held in detention centers were immediately released regardless of nationality.
Trump’s reaction was, of course, outrage. He demanded that nuclear missiles be prepared – only to be reminded that California, Cascadia, and Hawaii were also in control of nukes. Trump raged for days about how this had been allowed to happen. He vowed that it would not continue and began purges within the military within days.
There were a mass of defections of high ranking officers and enlisted within the first week of California’s independence, not from California, but to it. Troops who were originally from California deserted almost immediately and set off to their home state using military equipment and transport. Newsom had debated calling California troops back or getting word through the troops before declaring independence but the risk of word being leaked was too high.
California troops concentrated on the desert counties in Southern California first, rounding up known Trump supporters and those with white-nationalist or militia sympathies. Newsom knew that the more sparsely populated counties in the far north of California would be a future mess that would have to be cleaned up. Within days, the ‘State of Jefferson’ spanning the border between Oregon and California had declared Independence from California and sworn loyalty to the United States. Newsom didn’t want a shooting war and coordinated with Oregon to set up a blockade around ‘Jefferson’. In Oregon and Washington the Governors faced similar issues east of the Cascade Mountains. There were some skirmishes, but for the most part, Newsom and the other governors had done a good job of taking care of outliers before they knew what was happening.
Nevada requested annexation to the Nation of California. California troops moved in and fortified the new Eastern border pushing into Arizona as far as Mesquite, Kingman, and Yuma. This fulfilled a couple of security features including bringing the Marine base in Yuma into California’s borders. There was no resistance from the troops stationed there. It also put Lake Havasu under California control and created a border composed mostly of Native American Reservation lands.
The countries of France, Germany, Italy, China, Canada, Mexico, and smaller countries from Latin America, Africa, and Asia quickly offered recognition and began negotiating for trade and diplomatic relations. Russia, the United Kingdom, Turkey, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Brazil, India, Afghanistan, and Pakistan all condemned the secessions and refused to have any dealings with the new nations. It didn’t really matter – the world was mostly shut down.
Meanwhile, in what was left of the United States, evictions and foreclosures were moving forward on a mass scale while the revived pandemic spread like fire in a newspaper factory. Trump raged behind closed doors, powerless to take revenge. His fast reaction with the purges, however, had saved him from similar uprisings in the Northeast, Michigan, and Illinois. There were still 45 states in the USA, but just barely.
Chapter 23: Walk, Don’t Run!
Things were happening faster than anyone could have predicted, but if the pandemic taught us anything, it was that people were capable of adapting to any situation much faster than they thought they could.
On the heels of the California secession, the USPS declared a general strike and walk out. On the surface this was a demand for higher pay and more PPE (personal protective equipment) to be issued. Beneath the surface, it was RoP-1-75 being put into play.
RoP-1-75 had several purposes and layers. The most important was the re-headquartering of the USPS. This had been put into play after the threat of Washington DC or other major cities being destroyed by a nuclear weapon materialized. The entire command and control structure of the USPS could be easily replicated in multiple cities. There was an entire secondary and tertiary command structure set up. The new Postmaster General had no idea that any of this existed since Megan Brennan had not updated him. Using the password she had gotten from former Chief Postal Inspector David Williams, Brennan activated the emergency system.
She logged into the RoP-1-75 emergency command center. Her credentials were still good and no new super-user had been created since she had decided to stop the chain of custody. The entire emergency command center was something else DeJoy was unaware of. She ticked the box labeled ‘REHQ’ and entered the password “19eggnog27parties.”
She was asked multiple times if she was sure, which she was and finally the screen gave her a choice of where she wanted to move command and control of the USPS. The options were New York City, Denver, Austin, Chicago, and San Francisco. There were also options to ‘split’ and ‘disperse’ command and control. Each city had a command team that had been put in place and approved by herself and David Williams at the beginning of her tenure as Postmaster General. DeJoy had not been in his new office long enough to start changing up the regional branch leadership teams, although he had fired nearly all of Brennan’s team in the DC HQ. She selected ‘disperse’. Effectively, the USPS had just been carved into five fully functional organizations. Since she had already accepted the role of Postmaster General in Newsom’s California – she still held authority.
Despite the revolt, the USPS had kept operating in both the United States and the breakaway countries. Trump, Dejoy, and the rest of the Trumpist organization still hadn’t realized the threat that the postal service represented. They were about to learn.
Next she selected ‘walk out’ from the drop down menu. Under cause she wrote ‘Better wages and more PPE issued’. The pandemic was still raging – so it made sense. As an afterthought she wrote ‘Solidarity with Evicted Residents’. She ticked one more box before logging out ‘Arm’. This action was perhaps the most significant – under the cover of a walkout, postal vehicles would be upgraded to military standards, sidearms and weapons would be issued from postal armories, and all postal workers were authorized to carry weapons and use deadly force. Standing contracts with the mercenary armies were activated. The main purpose of this was to protect postal interests, but essentially, it gave each regional Postmaster General a standing army. In effect, she had just created five armies. The DC HeadQuarters was left out of all of these decisions since the disperse order was supposed to only be initiated if DC was destroyed. This was fine, because it was now filled with DeJoy’s cronies and they would not have complied anyway.
When she had learned that she had been displaced in the USPS, Brennan had decided to stay in California. It was a good decision, her San Francisco office was an upgrade from the dump she had worked from in DC and the upgrade in technology she got by coming to Silicon Valley was like living in a new century.
Things happen fast in Silicon Valley. Within days of Independence, a San Francisco Stock Exchange was up and running. The entire systems was run on the ‘0x’ blockchain. California based companies (and those that wanted to continue doing business in California) were required to convert shares to the ‘0x’ platform. These shares were issued into blockchain wallets of customers or if the customers didn’t have wallets, were held in trust on the public blockchain.
The US dollar to Bitcoin conversion had issued crypto wallets to every registered California citizen using the social security number to create public keys. By the end of July, Wells Fargo had brought their crypto division online and all California funds and California accounts had been converted to Bitcoin which were held in conservancy by a joint venture of Wells Fargo and Coinbase with the Nation of California.
The opening of the San Francisco Stock Exchange (SFSE) and the conversion to ‘0x’ shares caused panic in the equities markets on the East Coast. There was a rush on cryptocurrency companies and California based corporate valuations went through the roof. Amazon shares had plummeted on the news that the USPS would no longer be subsidizing shipping but the SFSE gave a boost to Amazon and other Cascadian companies as well – among them Microsoft, Starbucks, Costco, Nike, Boeing, and T-Mobile. Shares were still trading on the NYSE – but power was shifting to the west.
Trump’s attempts to have ‘rebel’ held companies blacklisted failed as no one wanted to give up their shares of Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft or the hundreds of other tech and logistics companies that were headquartered in California, Cascadia, or Hawaii.
To put things in perspective, it makes sense to throw some numbers at you. The United States is the world’s largest economy – this didn’t change when the five states left. Prior to the split, the USA represented about 24% of the world’s gross domestic product (GDP). China, the number two economy represented about 15% of the world’s GDP. California, Cascadia, and Hawaii represented about 20% of the U.S. gross domestic product – so, when you factor those numbers out of the U.S. GDP, you are left with the U.S.A still being the world’s largest economy – but instead of leading by 9%, the USA now was within spitting distance of China – Here were how the new world order stacked up.
#1 – USA generating 19% of the world’s economy
#2 – China generating 16% of the world’s economy
#3 – Japan generating 6% of the world’s economy
#4 – California, Cascadia, & Hawaii (CC&H) generating 5% of the world’s economy
#5 – Germany generating atom 4.5% of the world’s economy
Followed by India, the UK, France, Brazil, and Italy.
CC&H was now the 4th largest economy in the world and in terms of military powers it ranked right around the same area because of the navy it had commandeered in San Diego and Hawaii and the nuclear arsenal and Air Force it now controlled in California, Hawaii, and Washington. The entire balance of world power had just shifted. Russia had been knocked out of the top 10 economies. Putin was pissed but as the coronavirus ravaged Russia, there was nothing he could do but watch from afar.
One of the first things Newsom had done upon taking power was shutting down the Russian spy operation. Russian owned and influenced conservative networks were nationalized, Russian troll farms were shut down on the social networks with rapid executive legislation, and known Russian operatives were rounded up and interred with the Trumpists or released into Arizona or Utah.
By the end of July, the Post Office had been divided and the USA central command of it had been neutered thanks to the disperse order. Since the walkout had been ordered, Dejoy and Washington DC were still oblivious to the fact that they were no longer in control. CC&H had signed non-aggression treaties with Japan, China, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand, and most of the European nations. The IRS was scrambling to make sense of the confusion that had come from delaying tax payments, the revolt of CC&H, and the chaos of COVID-19. Eviction and foreclosure notices were flying out of courts and sheriff’s offices across the remaining 45 states. Mostly they were being ignored, but the number of homeless in places where they were being enforced doubled, tripled, and quadrupled rapidly.
The number of unemployed and homeless was impossible to count due to everything that was happening but the last numbers in the old United States (representing June) were released and showed that unemployment had reached right around 40% of eligible workers and nearly 50% when including those who stopped looking for work.
Military fortifications had been quickly constructed along the borders of Idaho, Utah, and Arizona. Arizona had lost some territory to California before anyone had really understood what was going on. Tribal zones in Arizona and former Nevada became quasi neutral zones where citizen exchanges took place as CC&H citizens made their way home and non-CC&H citizens headed back into the USA. Tribal organizations were enjoying an economic boom and because of the pandemic were exercising more autonomy than at any time in the history of the USA.
While many expected that the citizen exchanges would cause yet another wave of the deadly pandemic that had swept through the heartland of the USA, it never happened. Instead, Gaia’s virus spread faster than ever to the areas where it had not yet been exposed. As August began, the deadly pandemic started by Russia and Trumpists had largely been neutralized – but the changes it had caused would never go away.
Bob watched everything that was happening with a sense of powerlessness. He was a bigger part of everything than he knew – the Postbox and the organization he had spawned had made it possible for the Post Office and Newsom to do much more than even they understood. It wasn’t over for Bob though. He still had a role to play.
As he watched news footage of people being evicted from their homes and postal workers marching in strike lines, he had the most important idea of his life. Thankfully, he immediately posted it onto the PostBox server.
“What if we used postal picket lines to keep people from being evicted? What if we harnessed the awesome logistics power of the post office to deliver food, medical supplies, and end hunger? What if we turned the postal service into an army for the betterment of humanity? ”
In truth, every postal worker is a hero. It was no surprise that his ideas exploded on the PostBox and spread like wildfire through the striking postal workers. Everyone from leadership (but not in DC) to the lowest ranks loved the idea. Their energy fed Bob’s energy. He was fired up.
“I’m going to leave California and walk across America to end poverty and homelessness,” Bob virtually screamed onto the server. Gaia’s words came back to him, ‘Sometimes the best tactic is to move towards your enemy.’
“I’m walking to Washington D.C.” Millions of his followers decided that they would take part too. It was a literal movement – of people from one place to many other places.
Chapter 24 – The Virus Defeated and Gaia’s Blessing
Bob’s journey started in mid-September. He crossed the border in Mesquite, California which had previously been Mesquite, Arizona. Arizona itself had wavered with requesting annexation as a huge number of residents had been Californians originally but had moved to Arizona to escape higher taxes and to have a lower cost of living. They were, for the most part, too old to move again or too poor. Ultimately, the conservative leaning government of Arizona had decided to remain where they were while understanding that was a precarious position between a rock and a hard place. Mesquite itself had been cut in half with a part of the town on each side of the border.
Zeta drove Bob to the border town in a postal jeep. Zeta and many others had offered to go with Bob but he had refused. He thought it was better for him to start this journey on his own. In Mesquite, the California border guards made sure that Bob understood that the borders of California were still sealed by the quarantine and if he wanted to return, he would need to quarantine for 30 days. Bob signed the agreement.
He walked into Mesquite and was met by a Postbox delegation of about a dozen people. They helped him navigate through US customs, a situation that had become tricky if you had a California driver’s license. The entire experience was a bit nerve wracking because by necessity, social distancing was difficult at borders. The group that met him offered to drive him to wherever he wanted.
“Are there any evictions due to happen today?” he asked. There were three physical evictions that were meant to take place that day. Arizona sheriff’s were assembling now to physically remove one family. The papers were going to be delivered today to a dozen others.
“Let’s go to the eviction,” Bob said “That family needs our help.”
I don’t want it to sound like Bob was alone in this. The PostBox community had become overwhelmingly enthusiastic. They had made signs and banners. They had assembled the PVC pipes, handcuffs, and ropes they would need to do an effective sit in and blockade. Also, there were armed postal workers standing by in case things became violent. The idea was to have non-violent protest but if things did turn violent to keep the upper hand and protect the protestors.
There were about thirty people assembled at the house.
Bob didn’t know it, but when he had met Gaia, she had infected him with a super-bug. The super-bug was a mutated variation of Gaia’s coronavirus that boosted immune response, created proteins that nullified the virulent nature of any coronavirus, and massively boosted the ability of the body to create Vitamin D from sunlight. Bob was, in effect, a walking vaccination. Anyone who came into contact with him, became immune from coronavirus. Bob was incredibly contagious. He was the virulent vector – but in a good way.
The striking postal workers began picketing on the sidewalk with a couple of different signs.
“Better Pay, More Protection”
“Postal Workers Love American Families”
“The Post Office Works for Families”
“No Evictions, No Foreclosures”
“USPS vs. Homelessness”
“Hell no! Not on my Route!”
That last one had been Zeta’s idea. Actually it had been his words when the evictions were announced. Bob had suggested they be used on a sign.
Within an hour there were over a hundred people gathered. The other residents of the neighborhood soon joined them. Social distancing just wasn’t going to happen, no matter how hard they tried. It went against human nature. Humans were a hugging, touching, stroking, kissing, and embracing species at heart. When humans’ actually touched one another, the violent urge left them. It was a part of why things had gone so wrong – modern human society before coronavirus was too distant, too cold, and too disconnected. People needed warmth from other people.
In this case, there were two people in the crowd who were carrying the deadly virus but didn’t know it. It jumped from them to others and from those others to others. In two weeks time, a large number of this crowd would have been dead – except Bob was there. Bob smacked people on the back, accepted a hug from the home owner, and had to shake hands multiple times with PostBox members who came to meet him. It’s easy to condemn people for not being cautious, but the truth is, social distancing goes against our every instinct.
Protests sprang up in front of the other houses due to be foreclosed or served eviction notices. The sheriffs were told that they would not be allowed to do their job. Looking at the crowd and seeing the openly armed postal workers watching from the sidelines, the sheriffs decided that discretion was the better part of valor. They didn’t want to go into that crowd of people and risk their lives. They didn’t know that Bob’s super-virus was spreading like wildfire through the crowd. It was an extremely sturdy virus and was transferred by touch, air, and possibly even by smiles.
Bob was ferried between the protests and in each place he closely interacted with everyone he came into contact with. The media came out and social media influencers shot phone footage and shared it to their networks. There was a lot of condemnation for the unsafe distancing and breaking of protocols, but such was the exuberance at the sites that those who were there decided it was worth it, whatever the cost.
The truth is that humanity had mostly reached a place where life was no longer worth living if it had to continue on the way it was. People wanted to either get their lives back or end their lives. There was also a hidden factor in that Bob’s virus had a narcotic effect on people who contracted it. They became happy and carefree in regards to life or death. Their brains were flooded with dopamine.
Over the course of the day, the protests turned into more of a street party. Those who came outside and joined caught Bob’s virus. In many cases ,they then took it to the people they cared about. Only those who were the most rigid, the most scared, and the most socially distant avoided Bob’s disease. This ultimately resulted in two scenarios – they eventually caught the deadly coronavirus and died awful deaths or they remained isolated until someone brought them Bob’s virus which created a desire to touch and be close to others – but not in a creepy way!
The movement spread quickly – as did Bob’s virus. Postal workers and neighbors across America began to blockade evictions and foreclosures. Governor’s threatened to use the National Guard but found that when they tried to activate them, they didn’t show up. Trump declared that he would be bringing U.S. troops into the situation but his commanders and officer corps accurately gauged that their troops would mutiny if forced to evict children and seniors during a pandemic.
Bob’s original plan of walking across America had to be thrown out the window – it was too big and it would take too long. Instead, he was carried like a package by the United States Post Office from city to city and town to town. From Mesquite he went to Phoenix, Tucson, Green Valley, and Prescott. Up into Salt Lake City and then to Denver,Colorado and Lincoln, Nebraska before heading directly to Chicago and then into Michigan. In Detroit and Flint, Bob was met by huge crowds. Bob’s virus exploded into African American communities and created a soaring joy that was like nothing that had been felt since the Emancipation Proclamation. It wasn’t Bob that caused this, it was the empowerment of standing together and taking control of their communities.
From Michigan he traveled to New York. New York, the original American epicenter of the virus was a shadow of itself. The streets were empty, those who ventured out wore masks and moved with a caution borne of great calamity. Bob and his entourage walked across the Manhattan Bridge. At this point, there were hundreds who had traveled with him and as they walked, people came to their windows, ventured out of their doors, and slowly and with caution joined the procession. At first they followed and kept to the edges but as they became infected by both Bob’s virus and the spirit of the moment – they fell in together.
Over the six weeks since he had begun, the signs had grown and changed. The originals were still there but now they were joined by
“People over profits”
“Not my 1%”
“My Home NOT Your Dividend”
There was a shared sense of solidarity and common purpose as they marched into Manhattan. As they came upon wall street, trucks filled with workers moved to the famous bronze bull and began to dismantle it. The windows of the New York Stock Exchange were painted over with pictures of flowers and children. The ‘Mighty Girl’ statue was joined by statues of a ‘Mighty Boy’, ‘Mighty Mother’, ‘Mighty Father’, and ‘Mighty Grandparents’. This was not a destructive riot. It was calm and deliberate work. The graffiti artists weren’t tagging gang names, they were tagging messages of empowerment.
During the course of Bob’s trip across America, he had become famous. The media interviewed him about why he was doing it, what he was trying to accomplish. In the South and many deep red states ‘Anti-Bob’ sentiment was running riot. Red state governors were threatening to arrest or kill him on the spot if he entered their states.
In Chicago, he had avoided doing any interviews – but it was already too late. He had been spotted and identified. People knew who he was. Bob centered conspiracy theories rose from everywhere. Who was Bob? Was he a revolutionary? Did he work for Newsom? What was his connection to the post office?
While Bob was celebrating with the people of New York City, word came from the Attorney General of the United States that an indictment and arrest warrant had been issued for Bob ‘Bobby’ Dauber, a murderous mafia boss from the south side of Chicago. The U.S. Justice Department gave a big upgrade to Bob’s mafia resume and made him sound like some kind of Al Capone. Just about everything they claimed to be truth were lies. According to the indictment, ‘Bobby Dauber’ had been the head of the Dauber crime cartel and was responsible for the gangland executions of hundreds of his family’s enemies. The only victim listed on the indictment that Bob had actually killed was John Ficarotta, but the U.S. Justice Department has never been shy about truth getting in the way of an indictment.
The Justice Department wasn’t stupid and they had noticed that something was off with the U.S. Post Office and that there was a big connection between the USPS and Bob. According to them, Bob’s gang had infiltrated the Postal Union and taken control of the nation’s mail to deliver drugs, weapons, and other contraband. Taking things even further, the indictment made connections between the ‘Dauber Family’ and such notables as Nancy Pelosi, Gavin Newsom, Bill Gates, and of course Jeff Bezos. One could see the hand of the president all over the new conspiracy theory.
First Bob had become a hero and now – he was public enemy number one.
Very little of it was true and Bob’s followers would have defended him to the death but when a troop of FBI agents walked up to Bob and informed him that he was under arrest, Bob held up his hand hand and told his followers and friends that it was okay.
He had intended to go all the way to Washington, DC, but it wasn’t going to happen now.
“This is what is meant to happen,” he said. In truth, while much of what they had accused him of were nothing but lies, it actually was a relief to be able to acknowledge who he really was, who he had been, and who he had become.
The Trump administration used Bob’s arrest as an excuse to immediately begin purging the Post Office, starting with the unfortunate Postmaster General DeJoy. Bob was transported to Ryker’s Island and placed in maximum security. In the process of being arrested and transported, he infected members of the FBI and once in the prison, he was patient zero in a prison wide outbreak – of the Bob virus.
The Trump purges were largely successful at arresting and disempowering those who actually supported Trump. As for those who were against him and/or ‘with’ Bob, they were no longer easy to find, easy to arrest, or willing to allow themselves to be taken as Bob had.
California at first unequivocally denied any association with Bob. The leadership of the Post Office (in the USA) and the Postal Union both denied having ever heard of Bob. Reports came out of Chicago that the Dauber family had never been ‘bosses’ in any sense of the word. The news had brought the movement Bob had started to a screeching halt – but then, something amazing happened.
People started to lie.
Former President Barack Obama claimed that Bob had been a key intelligence resource under his administration and had made it possible to end the mafia rule of Chicago. No one knows why he decided to do it, maybe it was just to get under Trump’s skin or maybe he just saw an opportunity to undermine the Trump regime.
In any event, New York Governor Mario Cuomo followed suit and said that Bob had been responsible for New York cleaning up gangland. At this point, it was becoming cool to support Bob. Plus, his disease was spreading like oil on water. Everywhere it went, people felt a renewed sense of hope and a sudden desire to help and interact with other people.
President Newsom was the next to join the party, releasing what he said were ‘classified’ documents that detailed how Bob had been working with the former State of California to root out white supremacists, Mexican cartels, and methamphetamine rings.
The Trump controlled media didn’t share any of this information but it rolled out to people through text messages, social networks, and underground networks. Bob’s jailers began treating him with a lot more courtesy and respect than prisoners at Ryker’s Island usually get. So much so, that it was noticed by their superiors who were monitoring the situation from Washington D.C. by video link. As Bob’s virus spread through the general population, Rykers Island became a very different place with both guards and hardened criminals helping each other whenever they could.
The cities Bob had visited were re-opening without anyone’s permission. The social distancing guidelines were being ignored. Life was returning to what it had been before and the evictions and foreclosures were either ignored or legislated out of existence. The southern states remained in lockdown, borders were tightly controlled, and the Trump purges continued in the military, the post office, universities, and police departments. Non-white neighborhoods and cities were cordoned off. As October ended there was a clear divide between the North and South United States. The South, the Midwest, and much of the Rocky Mountain States were still fiercely loyal to Trump and the god awful things he stood for.
On a dark and moonless Halloween night, a black helicopter landed on Ryker’s Island. Bob was shackled, hooded, and led out of the prison and loaded into the chopper. One would have thought he was Osama Bin Laden given the security precautions that had been taken – not just some deadhead who had been forced into a life of crime as a young man but who had escaped to eventually embrace a life of love.
I do want to be clear about something here. Bob wasn’t a hero. In fact, Bob had done some seriously awful things right up to the time he met Gaia – sure, maybe he had done them to people that deserved it, but the fact that he had done those things at all showed what kind of a human being he was. It was only when he met Gaia that Bob truly embraced a life of love. She flipped the switch in him. She taught him the universal lesson that all humans can learn, but that most never understood or bothered thinking about – it was this.
A human soul consciousness can never find satisfaction until it is working for the satisfaction of all human souls and the consciousness totality.
That was it. That was the meaning of life. It was the complete opposite of what experience in ‘the world’ taught a person to go after. Experiencing the world taught people that the only way to succeed was to look out for yourself and your own. Only if you took everything that you wanted or thought you deserved could you find true happiness and satisfaction. That was the big lie the world told everyone.
The truth was hidden but for those who found it, it became obvious. The only way to move forward was to become a part of the whole. As long as you were an isolated unit – you were trapped in an unsatisfying existence – no matter how much you took, controlled, or owned. It was why Trump, Bezos and all those other billionaires kept taking more and more – because they were still focused on themselves.
Hopefully you understand that.
The helicopter flew off into the Darkness taking Bob to his fate. He was on his way to Washington DC.
Chapter 25: A Capital No More
Bob couldn’t see it because he was in a black helicopter on a black night wearing a black hood, but Washington DC was a mess. The streets had been destroyed by Trump’s military parade and the city was in lockdown from the virus and siege mode from the evictions. The eviction notices had gone out in DC and the police and District of Columbia National Guard had gone out to enforce the evictions.
It was not a good idea. DC was the one place in the nation where the post office was not on the side of the people. Sure, there were plenty of individual postal workers who went out to picket and protest and stop the evictions, but the DC HQ was not behind them. Hell, Trump had turned the old DC post office into a hotel. As a result, those who attempted to blockade evictions were met with force and had two choices, fight or run. They chose to fight.
Fires sprang up all over the city. Snipers began firing at police and guard units. The whole city was declared under martial law. The White House was surrounded by tanks and concertina wire. Trump had already fled to Florida with his entire family. Business would be conducted from Mar a Lago, the so called ‘Winter White House’ even though it was only the first of November.
The black helicopter flew over DC and landed at Dulles and Bob was transported to a black SUV which took him to 935 Pennsylvania Avenue NW, the headquarters of the FBI. He was led inside the building, taken down an elevator, and pushed into a cell. The hood and handcuffs were finally removed. After his eyes adjusted to the dim light, Bob realized he was in a sort of dungeon.
An old man and old woman sat huddled together in the next cell with an army blanket draped over their shoulders. Bob looked to see if there were any guards but they appeared to have been abandoned and left on their own.
The old man began coughing. The old woman didn’t say a word or make a move.
“Are you alright sir?” Bob asked. “Are you okay? Should we call for help?”
At this the old woman raised her head and began to cackle. Her laugh was brittle and on the edge of a hysterical madness. “Who you gonna call? Nobody is coming to help us. What do you think this is, the Hilton?”
Bob recognized her voice. It was Hillary Clinton.
The man next to her began coughing again and then started to mutter “If you wanna be the champ, you can’t stop fighting. You have to keep going. That’s what I said to her and then she got in the car and I never saw her again. It was the saddest moment of my whole damn sad life.” His voice trailed off. He wasn’t talking to anyone, he was just talking.
“It’s okay, Joe,” Clinton said to him. “It’ll all be okay buddy. Don’t worry, Bill’s coming. He’ll come.”
Bob had been thrown in the deepest darkest hole the United States of America had along with Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden. There were other doors, other prisoners, but none of them spoke or could be seen in the dark.
Gradually, however, things began to change. The mood inside the room lightened. Bob, after all, was the vector for the Bob virus and it tended to make people see the bright side of things. Those who had been suffering from Covid-19 symptoms, began to feel better – it wasn’t an immediate process, but it was an immediate effect on the consciousness.
“Do you really think Bill is coming?” Bob asked. He had forgotten that they had no idea who he was.
“Sure, he’s coming,” Hillary told him. She stared daggers at him. She tightened her arm around Biden. “He’ll be here buddy. He’s coming.”
Bob shut up.
The sound of the elevator doors opening caused him to turn. A beautiful white light spilled into the room and a female figure marched purposefully forward. Bob couldn’t see her features because of the light behind her. As she got closer, Bob realized he knew her, he knew who this was.
She stepped up to the cell he was locked in and used a key to unlock the door.
“Come on Bob,” Megan Brennan said to him “You’re not done yet.” She turned and began to walk away.
Bob stopped her “Wait, Megan..” he motioned to where Clinton and Biden were sitting in their cell, “What about them?”
“They’re not my priority,” Brennan told him, “but here.” She handed him the ring of keys she had released him with. Bob found one stamped with the numbers on the cell door. He unlocked it.
“Come on, Bob.” Megan said to him. “We don’t have time for them. Let’s go.”
Bob waved goodbye and rushed to follow Megan J. Brennan, the Postmaster General of California, Cascadia, and Hawaii who was rescuing him from a cage in Washington, DC – for some reason.
As the elevator climbed to the ground floors, she briefed him. “Some of our people saw you get taken. I still have friends in high places in Washington DC but there was no way they were going to let anyone besides me take you out of here.” As they walked through the building, they were ignored. It was like they were invisible.
Bob waved his hand in front of his face. “They don’t see us?”
Brennan laughed. “The FBI only sees what they are supposed to see. Everyone here saw you taken into a deep dark hole – but that’s all they were ordered to see. Anything else is just extra paperwork.”
Walking out the front door, Brennan was met by a team of tactical mercenaries.
“Ma’am, we need to get you out of this city. It’s not safe and our window is closing.”
“Fine,” Brennan said. “Say goodbye Washington, DC, Bob.” They were about to load into a black SUV but Bob hesitated.
“Wait,” he said “I can’t leave. I have to stop Donald Trump.”
“Too late,” Brennan told him. “He’s already flown the coop and is running things from Florida.”
As they drove past burning cars through streets where clashes were intensifying by the minute, Bob had his first and last look at Washington, DC. Crowds were pushing closer to the White House and the sound of automatic gunfire rang out. The caravan of black vehicles sped up.
“I can help them,” Bob said.
“No,” Brennan told him. “You’re needed elsewhere. Trust me, this city will take care of itself and I feel bad for anyone who gets in the way.”
The majority of the population in Washington, DC is African American. You would never guess that if you were watching films or news though because outside of DC, the only neighborhoods that people see or hear about are the affluent neighborhoods – because of social inequality and the injustice of wealth distribution as well as the racist nature of American life in the first place. The majority of the citizens of Washington, DC were tired of being treated like second class citizens.
The White House and many of the most iconic of the monuments in Washington, DC had been built with slave labor. The citizens of DC had never forgotten it though the rest of the USA and the world seemed okay with forgetting about it. Today was the day of reckoning.
Before the night was over, Washington, DC would collapse and the White House would be on fire. It would be Hillary Clinton who struck the match. She emerged from the FBI dungeons on a mission. She was fully infected with the Bob virus and the smile never left her face. Her natural charisma was enhanced by the feelings of positivity the Bob virus created and the long crippling fears of overstepping her power or underplaying her authority were gone (the same fears, by the way, that had caused so many to view her as insincere or untrustworthy.)
When Hillary Clinton stepped out of that dungeon with poor Joe Biden and a ragtag band of Donald Trump’s political enemies trailing behind her, there was nothing anyone could do to stop her. “Let’s burn this motherfucker down!” she screamed. The city’s population quickly declared “I’m with her!”
By that point, Brennan was on her way back to CC&H and Bob was in a convoy heading to Florida. The drive would take somewhere around 16 hours with no stops and perfect conditions, but because they had to avoid certain hazards on the way, Bob would arrive on November 3rd – which would have been Election Day, if there were going to be elections.
Chapter 26: Election Day
By the time Bob reached Florida, the deadly virus had been mostly defeated in California, Cascadia, and Hawaii. The Bob virus had spread through the new nation quickly bringing hope, a renewed sense of energy, and a true desire to work together as a species to overcome the challenges that had for so long kept us apart. The pockets of resistance, like the State of Jefferson and those areas east of the Cascade Mountains had been devastated by the deadly virus and with no human connections to the Bob virus, mortality was on display as the corpses piled up. CC&H offered to send humanitarian aid, medicine, and medical equipment but those offers were refused. Groups like Doctors Without Borders tried to infiltrate and were either shot at, or in the case of one unfortunate delegation – were captured, lynched, and left hanging as a warning to others.
East of CC&H, the deadly virus did its work through Montana, the Dakotas, bloody Kansas, Ohio, and the states of the former Confederacy. The Bob virus entered pockets of the South as people from Chicago, Detroit, Flint, New York City, and DC braved the deadly virus to take care of or rescue family members in Tennessee, Virginia, Ohio, the Carolinas, Georgia, and Alabama. These were mostly African American communities and since the rise of Trumpism had coincided with a rise in racism and an isolation and new segregation of black from white – the Bob virus was generally only benefitting people of color in the red states. As for the white people – just like in the State of Jefferson – they died in droves. Their increased mortality rate only drove them to further extremes of fear, hate, and anger. They didn’t have the cure but they had enough blame to last until Judgment Day.
The Bob virus had also moved from Mesquite to Native American tribal lands and Latino communities in Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. A funny thing about Texas that many people outside of Texas don’t know – despite the deep Southern drawl, Texas tends to be one of the least racist places in the former USA. Sure, there were pockets of elite whiteism and pockets of backwoods ignorance – but for the most part, the average white Texan has too many non-white neighbors, co-workers, and family members to ignore the fact that people are just people. As a result, the Bob virus spread pretty heavily through Texas sparing much of the population.
Not so with Florida. If there was a capital of the Deep South, it was Florida and with the fall of Washington, DC and Trumps move to Mar a Lago, Florida had become the de-facto capital of the United States of America. Crossing the border from Georgia, Bob was astounded by the number of military vehicles and checkpoints they had to go through. At one point, they had to stop in St Augustin and transfer out of the black SUVs and into a green Lexus. Bob was given new identity papers that identified him as Robert Jordan of Jupiter, Florida. His escort didn’t engage in conversation with him. They didn’t answer his questions and they didn’t ask him what he wanted. They had been hired by Megan Brennan to get Bob to Mar a Lago – and that was all they were interested in doing.
“Robert Jordan was a major donor to the Trump campaign and is a longtime member of the Mar a Lago Country Club,” his handler told him. “You look enough like him that you shouldn’t have any issues unless you are introduced or run into someone who knew him and they hear your name.”
“What happened to him?” Bob asked.
“You don’t need to know that,” he was told.
Mar a Lago had military checkpoints set up. Ever since a crazed opera singer had tried to run the gates back in 2019, it was treated the same way as Camp David or other Presidential Retreats. It had not yet moved to biometric security however and since it was an active country club, members were allowed to access all but those areas now designated as ‘Presidential’. Using his membership card, Bob’s handler was able to drive Bob right in. He dropped Bob off at the clubhouse and drove away.
Bob had no idea what he was supposed to do. He had no idea what was expected of him. All he knew was that he was here and somewhere Trump was here. That just left finding him. Bob didn’t have a gun or any sort of weapon. He was wearing a pair of eyeglasses with clear lenses and ‘golf attire’. He certainly didn’t look anything like himself – but it wouldn’t be long before someone was bound to recognize him.
As I’ve mentioned, it was Election Day. November 03, 2020. President Trump was preparing to address the nation. It was on every TV in the clubhouse. Bob had no idea where Trump might actually be, but he figured he would watch the address.
As usual, Trump’s speech sounded almost normal as it began.
“My fellow Americans, great great really truly wonderful Americans…” but quickly became Trumpian. “Our nation faces unprecedented challenges and while I promise you that we will overcome these challenges because as we speak I am massing our military in Florida so that we can take back what is ours…but I won’t be giving away any military details like that idiot Obama or evil Hillary Clinton did, we won’t be discussing our war plans on television for the enemy to prepare.” It was like he had two sides of his mouth and they didn’t work together to coordinate his ideas – one gave the plans away while the other denied it. “Our beautiful white city has been destroyed by black hordes. Washington, DC is gone but let’s be honest, it was a dump anyway – not a beautiful place like this. Mar a Lago is the most beautiful place on earth and I bought it for a song, one of the most amazing deals in history, better than the purchase of Alaska or the Louisiana purchase, because have you been to Louisiana? Not nice.” As usual, Trump’s knowledge of history (or lack of it) was irrelevant – it was only what he felt or wanted to say that mattered. “So, Washington, DC is gone. We’re thinking about nuking it to just really clean it up and completely sever the connection, but some people…” he looked menacingly off camera “still think we need to wait.”
There had never been a speech like it. “Today is Election Day and I know that we have postponed our glorious election but I have a special treat for you, a real surprise that is going to blow your minds. The people are going to be so happy, so, so, happy – just the happiest people. Since the other candidates had to be arrested, we’ve disqualified them. That means, actually, that we no longer have to have an election because – get ready for it – I’ve won! You’ve elected me President again and with the largest majority of any president in history. Bigger than Washington or Lincoln and better.”
“So, it’s a day that is filled with many challenges which I can assure you we will overcome. First of all, I’d like to assure everyone that we’ve uncovered information that definitively proves that the pandemic was a liberal plot all along. There was no pandemic – this is literally just the worst flu season that we’ve ever had. I’ve had the entire Coronavirus task force arrested and they will likely be court-martialed and executed within days for enabling the breakaway states in the West to disrespect me and our country in this way.”
Even judging Trump’s speeches by his previous speeches – this one was beyond the pale.
“The good news though, is that the pandemic is over. We have the green light to completely and totally reopen our country. And the good news doesn’t stop there. Our country is still the largest and greatest country the world has ever known,” which technically, it wasn’t since a few months earlier it had been larger and greater by far, but never mind – he went on. “The USA is the greatest country in the world with the greatest leader in the world. Because you’ve given me your confidence and approval with 100% of all the votes cast going to me,” no votes had been cast, so he technically wasn’t lying – for once. “I’ve decided to take your mandate and your trust and use my executive powers to make this country even greater. First of all, I’m sorry to tell you that Vice President Mike Pence has died. He was a great man, but you don’t need to worry – I’ve appointed my son in law, Jared Kushner to replace him. Jared come on out here.” Pence had died of coronavirus a few days before. The news had been exciting for Trump because he could now make this announcement.
“As you know, Jared is the very lucky man married to my gorgeous daughter Ivanka.” He motioned for the camera to point to Ivanka. “Isn’t she gorgeous? So sexy. It’s hard to believe she’s had kids with that body.” He called the camera back to him and Kushner on the stage. “As you know, Jared created peace in the Middle East and solved the Palestinian problem. He’s the best kind of Jew and you know, the Jews are really really great. They’ve never really been the problem some people thought they were, it was just a matter of being able to make deals with them, to negotiate because let me tell you, they love money. They love money more than anyone, except maybe for me, but the Jews, they are really shrewd and great negotiators but not as good as Jared. And you know, I’ve always felt bad about Ivanka not taking Jared’s families last name – okay, not really because why would she give up such a great name but I did feel bad about Jared not being able to be a real part of my family. To me, he’s always been a Trump. So I want to use my executive powers to formally rename him right here in front of you all. Ladies and gentlemen, your new vice-president – Mr. Jared Kushner Trump.”
There were all kinds of constitutional problems going on with this circus, but Trump didn’t care. This was his moment.
He went on “Also, since DC is such a hellhole – especially now. I’ve decided to use my second executive order of this new term to name Mar a Lago as the new capitol of the United States. Trust me, it’s much much nicer than DC was. We only let the best people in this place, really and truly exclusive.” Bob looked around. There were a couple dozen old white people in the clubhouse with him. They were all dressed in golf attire, they all had cocktails in their hands despite it being 10 am. He noticed there were now Secret Service agents at the door, checking everyone who came in to make sure they had proper IDs.
Trump’s speech continued. “Also, as you know, I own this property and since it wouldn’t really make sense to have some future president live on property I own, it seems like the only reasonable way to fix that issue is to make myself President for life. The elections this year were really spectacular and had all kinds of issues with cheating and misleading the voters and we’ve come up with a way to fix that. The President for Life position solves all of these problems. No more cheating on presidential elections, no more electoral college – which wasn’t even a university but more like a community college. Instead of having these ridiculous elections, I’ll just appoint a successor to take over when I die. You won’t have to worry about voting ever again. When I die ( a long, long time from now), Jared and Ivanka will take over until Baron is old enough to be king.” Trump didn’t seem to notice his slip, or maybe he didn’t care. Eric and Don Jr. were both caught off guard by this announcement, but there was nothing they could do about it.
You might be thinking ‘the people would never stand for all of this, there would be riots in the streets’ but you have to remember that the only ones actually watching him were Trump supporters. They loved it. They ate it up. They posted to social media glowing messages like “Trump solves voter fraud” and “Finally, a capitol I’d like to visit” and even “I <heart> Prince Baron”. They were ecstatic. They cheered at all of the watch parties and spread the deadly virus to each other with high fives and hugs. Finally, America had its own aristocracy.
“So, my fellow Americans and Trump supporters, our country is greater than ever before. We’ve won. I bet you never thought you could win so much before Donald Trump came around. I once told you that we’d win so much you’d get tired of winning – but guess what – we’re just going to keep winning. God Bless America and especially God Bless me and my family.”
Trump walked offstage and the news switched over to glowing commentators on the USA owned and controlled networks who talked about the ‘masterful use of power’ and the ‘amazing new USA that was born today’.
Bob was simply confused. There was no way he would be able to get to Trump. The people around him were ecstatic – partly because of the news, but mostly because the Bob virus was spreading to them. It didn’t discriminate. Bob had probably saved them from a horrible death, but again, he didn’t know he was even carrying or spreading the virus. Even if Bob could reach Trump, he wasn’t going to kill him. That just wasn’t who he was anymore. It was pointless, there was no reason for him to be there. Bob sat nursing a drink for the next hour – not sure what to do. He was at a complete loss.
Still here he was and Gaia’s advice was all he had – move toward your enemy. Bob walked up to the secret service agent at the door. “I’d like to speak with the President. I have information about California that will help him.”
The agent looked searchingly at him for a moment and then asked with a bit of suspicion “What’s your name?”
Bob took off the clear lens glasses “Dauber. Bob Dauber.”
The agent pulled his gun “I knew you looked familiar.” Bob was handcuffed and led away. The agent he’d spoken to was on his walkie talkie reporting the situation. He listened intently into his earpiece and then stopped the agents leading Bob away.
“The boss wants to see him. Right away.”
Bob was put on the back of a golf cart and driven to Trump’s palace. He was strip searched and hosed off with bleach water before being given an orange prisoner’s jump suit and led into the Presidential Office.
Trump was there. He was more orange than he appeared on TV. The experimental vaccines he had been given were turning him more orange by the day, Bob could see where he had washed the ‘not so orange’ makeup off after his address. Even for Trump, the color had become too much. It was unreal.
Bob was shoved into a seat.
Trump turned his back to Bob and looked out the window at the rolling green hills of his golf course. Finally, he turned back to Bob.
“You must think I’m pretty stupid,” Trump said. “You’ve caused all kinds of problems for me with the eviction protests. Why in the world would I believe that you had come to help me?”
Well, that was that. Bob didn’t have an answer so he decided to just be a smart-ass. “I was really inspired by your speech. ” Never mind that he had snuck onto Mar a Lago disguised as someone else or escaped from the FBI dungeon.
To his surprise, Trump ate it up. “Yes, it was very good wasn’t it. Probably the most important moment in the history of the world. I’m not surprised it inspired you.”
Bob had no words.
“Well, out with it then. What do you know? How can you help me?”
Bob was still speechless. He didn’t have anything planned. He didn’t actually have any sort of information. He searched the furthest reaches of his mind for anything that he could say and he suddenly remembered a book he had read back in the 1980s called Ecotopia by a guy named Ernest Callenbach. In the book, the Pacific Northwest secedes and plants nukes under major US cities in order to retain their independence. It was a good book.
“California has planted suitcase nukes under all of the Trump properties in the USA,” Bob said. “As soon as you begin the invasion, they plan to blow them all up.”
“I already knew about that,” Trump lied. “We’re never going to invade we just wanted them to waste a bunch of nukes.” Bob was lying, of course – he’d just made it up. Stolen a plot line from a book. “Do you have any new information for me?”
“That was it, Sir.” Bob added the sir at the last minute. He knew that Trump would eat it up.
Trump did. He sat just a bit higher. “Thank you for trying to help.”
Trump called out to the two agents at the door “Get this man off my property. Give him $10,000 and dump him at the gate.”
“Sir, don’t you think we should question him? He may have more intel…” the agent looked at his partner dubiously.
“No, he tried to help but he doesn’t know anything else.” At this point, like all liars, Trump was more concerned about his lie being discovered than anything else. He’d told Bob he knew about the nukes and now it was only Bob and more information that could reveal that he didn’t actually know anything about the nukes. “Get him out of here and do what I’ve said.”
Everyone around Trump had learned the lesson of not doing what he said. Bob was led out of the room. As he walked out the door Trump said to him “I appreciate your gesture of trying to tell me something that you thought I didn’t know but which I totally did already know about. Now get out of my country.”
The last thing Bob heard before the door closed was Trump picking up the phone and saying “Call the Joint Chiefs of Staff immediately, get my generals in here right away.”
Bob was taken to the gates of Mar a Lago and given $10,000 US dollars. It was really weird. Since the US was now ‘completely re-opened’ he was able to buy a used car and drive back to Arizona, stopping along the way in New Orleans, Texas, and Albuquerque. Bob’s story was done, he was ready to go home, he was ready to move to the next phase of his life.
Chapter 27: Aftermath
Gaia’s revenge was slow and painful. The experimental vaccines that Trump had taken had not only protected him from the deadly virus but also caused his body to react in a particularly nasty way when it was exposed to the Bob virus. Trump’s body began to strangle itself on a cellular level. Oxygen and nutrients that would have usually fed cells were instead locked out. Trump’s body began to waste away from the inside out.
After his meeting with Bob, Trump and his military advisers had called off the planned invasion of California until such a time that they could ascertain whether or not there were actually nukes under all of the Trump properties. The joint chiefs and generals were all relieved to have an excuse as a second civil war was the last thing that anyone besides Trump wanted.
During the following weeks as Trump’s health worsened, Jared, now called Trump II by most of those around him stepped up and began to have a much more important role. The Bob virus had all but wiped out all of the coronavirus’ in the USA. As much as it could, life was returning to normal. The hardest hit areas tended to be those like the State of Jefferson where there was little contact with the outside world and people were white, racist, and not very healthy.
Throughout the former United States, millions upon millions of white baby boomers had died. All of the viruses had largely left millennials and younger generations intact. This was the great Boomer Death. Only in California, Cascadia & Hawaii were there any significant numbers of that generation left and those were – can we say – the good boomers.
The CC&H renamed itself “The Bear and Salmon Republic” when Alaska asked to join. There was nothing that the former USA could do to stop it. The Bear and Salmon Republic flag was a bear with one paw on a salmon looking up at a Big Dipper composed of seven stars on a dark blue field. The stars represented Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Washington and two additional stars representing the Native American nations within the country – the consolidated tribes of the mainland and those of Alaska. The State of Jefferson simply disappeared as if it had never existed in the first place. American Samoa, Guam, and the Solomon Islands were absorbed into the state of Hawaii.
Donald John Trump died on New Years Eve just two seconds before the dawn of 2021. He was among the most satisfied humans to have ever lived for he had achieved his dream of creating a kingdom, destroying his enemies, and being the most important person in the history of planet Earth. Even if there were holes in that story he told himself as he lay dying, he refused to see them and no one was going to correct him.
Jared Kushner Trump was sworn into power as Trump II on the 1st of January, 2021. His first official act was to rename the office of First Lady to Empress. By this act, he came to be known as Emperor Trump II, even though his official title remained ‘President’.
Within hours of his taking power, the states of New York, Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, Illinois , Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and all of New England had left the United States and declared themselves the real ‘United States of America’ with a co-Presidency of Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton and Philadelphia as the capital. Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands joined the new union as full states almost immediately. The country was immediately recognized by The Bear and Salmon Republic, Canada, Mexico, China, Europe, and the rest of the world except Russia.
Emperor Trump II (previously known as Jared) saw a great opportunity in this and before the first week of 2021 was through declared that the remaining states under his rule would now be known as Trumpland in honor of his dear, departed father-in-law. Most of the states in Trumpland were very happy with this arrangement. African-Americans in ‘Trumpland’ almost immediately began a second ‘great migration’ to the north and the west. They weren’t going to stick around and see what life in Trumpland would be like – they’d already experienced slavery, Jim Crow, and now four years of hell in Trumpland-lite (aka The USA from 2016-2020).
Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado provided one last geo-political surprise when the block formally announced a request to be annexed by Mexico. Mexico wasted no time tearing down Trump’s flimsy border wall and moving in to protect and claim her new states.
There was now a five state North America that no one had seen coming. Like the fall of the Berlin Wall, events had taken a life of their own and change had happened (as real change always does) faster than seemed possible.
As 2021 dawned North America consisted of The Bear and Salmon Republic, Canada, Mexico, The USA, and Trumpland. The balance of power had shifted in the world. China was now the dominant power on the planet followed by the Trumpland, the Bear and Salmon Republic, Mexico, and the the USA. There was no telling what the future held, but it was brighter than it had been at the dawn of 2020.
Gaia looked at the world. She had failed to destroy the chaos pools. Despite the death of Trump and the defeat of the baby boomers, she had failed to destroy capitalism as well. Still, the world was a better place. Mexico was now a world power representing Latinos within the family of nations. The power of the former USA and corporate capitalism had been broken with finance being split between New York and San Francisco. The New USA and the Bear and Salmon Republic were both much more to her liking than the old USA had been and she expected that once the recovery from 2020 began both countries would take a more measured approach with an understanding of the delicate balance the planet required to provide an ecosystem for all who lived on it.
Trumpland sat like a red blight on the continent but it was surrounded by Mexico and the Caribbean to the south, the New USA and Canada to the north, and the Bear and Salmon Republic to the west. So, it was contained – and it kept the new nations from going at each other’s throats.
Gaia was happy, despite not succeeding at all she had sought. A year of humans being sidelined by the virus had given the planet some much needed recovery time and breathing room. A year of no war, limited pollution, and limited manufacture and busy-ness was a great start. Gaia was happy. She still had work to do, but this was a great beginning.
The End of Book 1
Notes from Real Life
I’ve written this book in lockdown as the world reels from the real life coronavirus. I recognize that hundreds of thousands of people have died from this pandemic even as I write this. I don’t mean any disrespect to those who have or may die or those who have lost loved ones, friends, or colleagues during this tragedy. I realize that my book may be offensive to those who hold different political views than me. That’s the world we live in. Hopefully we will, as a people, recover from this madness and hopefully, we will learn to make better decisions about what kind of future we apes want to live in.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed my book.
Christopher Damitio 05/11/2020
Update 5/11/2020 – I’ve completed the first draft. The book stands at a little over 50,000 words and the narrative is complete. I’m sure many of you will be offended by this – my only advice is to share it with your other friends who will be offended so you can share the outrage together.
Update: 5/8/2020 – I’ve been writing this novel for just over three weeks now. It’s up to nearly 40,000 words. One of the big challenges has been fitting real world events into a narrative structure that runs on real world but with some alternate
4/16/2020 I’ve decided to write this novel – so I might as well write it in public. I’ve stuck it to the front page of Vagobond.com and we’ll see how it goes. I’ve just set it up so you can type in aVeryGoodNovel.com and it will bring you here. This is a work in progress – as I write this, it’s not even really much of an idea – just something I’ve decided to do. I don’t have any characters, situations, or anything else in mind. What you are seeing is my live draft written while sheltering in place, living in our tiny apartment with my wife and daughter, and generally just going through what everyone is going through right now.
My initial thought on Tasmania and Australia since I have just a short amount of time here was to walk as much as possible and stick pretty close to where I was staying – my explorations would be as far as walking would carry me.
The only problem with that method was that Launceston isn’t that big of a place and I’d already walked the riverfront, walked the Gorge, explored the museums, gone on a brewery tour, and generally seen what I wanted to see. There were attractions I didn’t hit – like a pretty cool looking amusement park called Penny Royal which seemed like a sort of zipline pirates adventure park, there were wine tours and wine cruises on the river, there were monkeys in enclosures in the park – but none of that really hit me where I wanted. My flight didn’t leave from the Launceston airport until 8pm which meant that I had a full day of exploration and I had to arrange getting to the airport. Just about every tour/experience was in the 80-90 Aussie dollar range. It would cost me $15 to get to the airport.
I knew I should rent a car – but I’ll be honest, I was terrified of driving on the other side of the car and the other side of the road – but finally, I realized it was the most fun, coolest, most exciting, and least expensive way to spend my day. A full day car rental cost me $74, I bought lunch at a grocery store for $5, and filling up the tank at the end cost me another $30.
Getting in the car and driving was akin to the time I went skydiving or my first bungee jump – a total sense of panic. Within a minute I had made a tight right turn into the oncoming lane – which was mostly empty with a distant police car coming at me – I changed lanes and he gave me a wave. It wasn’t as hard as I had feared, but odd – the oddest part being that the turn signals were where the wipers usually are and vice versa – so every time I signaled, I turned on the wipers.
I did a lot of driving. I drove to Mole Creek and the Tasmanian devil wildlife sanctuary there – I spent another $30 AUD to meet the devils, scratch a wombat, and feed and get nuzzled by a kangaroo – they are so soft!
Next I went to a honey farm with a glass beehive where the queen died because of the climate change and fires this year. Still, the honey was amazing and the ice cream delicious. I drove the long, treacherous and windy road to Cradle Mountain – and when I got there realized I didn’t really want to go for a hike, so I drove back down. I made my way to Devonport where I sat by the beach and then drove to Beauty Point where I had a little picnic and called my family. Tazzies and Aussies know how to make bread, by the way, the rolls and loafs are crusty and perfect. I had a little cheese, a roll, some Vegemite, and ginger beer.
And that was about all the time I had – I drove back up the Esk River to Launceston and thence to Launceston Airport which has one of the more beautiful and affordable airport restaurants I’ve been in. I had a Wizard Smith’s Beer (James Boag) and a Tasmanian sampler plate with smoked salmon, blue cheese, brie, pickles, and a jelly I can’t remember…
After that I boarded the plane where I was sandwiched between a husband and wife – she likes the window and he likes the aisle – and I was between them as he helped her get Netflix on her tablet etc, but they barely talked to each other and were quite nice.
After my day of driving around, I was able to confirm my suspicion that Northern Tasmania (and possibly all of Taz) is the Australian version of Oregon. Great rivers, farms, logging, sheep, cows, farming, mining, great beer, honey, and more. I was just glad that I didn’t see any chainsaw carved statues of Donald Trump during my day.
If I were to compare Launceston to any city it would probably be either to Coos Bay. I’m guessing that Hobart would be more like Astoria or a smaller version of Portland.
Jetstar, which is the airline I’ve been using to get around Australia runs these cheap Friday Fare Frenzy sales – you have to be able to match the times they offer for, but my trip to Tasmania only cost me $39 Australian – and I had two nights in a different Pod Inn booked in the town of Launceston. My seat mate on the plane provided me with plenty of recommendations of what to see and do while I was there.
One of the key things he let me know was that everything closes at 3pm in Launceston on a Sunday. After catching a hotel shuttle from the airport, I confirmed this. It felt like a ghost town. The Pod Inn in Launceston was an upgrade from the Space Q pods in Sydney, but I think I will avoid pods in the future none the less – I’ll write about that in my ‘Aussie Pod Review’ though.
In any event, my arrival in Launceston was easy – although there was a moment of panic when just after I filled up my water bottle in the airport, the flight attendants came around weighing bags – I abandoned my water bottle for a bit and came in under the 7 kg after putting on my coat and putting everything heavy into my pockets like chargers licorice, and spare battery.
The weather was cold-ish upon arrival. My walk around the town showed me plenty of empty streets and with the weather grey, a sort of depressing but pretty town with everything closed and no one out of doors. I went back to the pod and went to bed – more than 15 miles walked and feeling a little bit tired.
The next day, I woke up to grey and a light rain – I hiked a loop up the streets and through neighborhoods and then to the beautiful Cascade Gorge where I saw my first wild wallaby and a whole bunch of pademelons – and maybe a wombat, but I’m not sure of that one. The sun came out and the day turned glorious. My hike down through the gorge was beautiful. Next a walk along the riverfront and then a trip to the Victoria Art Museum – which was free and very cool. Next a walk through town and a cheap sandwich.
Trying to figure out what to do with my day, I stopped in the tourist info spot and the very nice hostess suggested I go to the James Boag Brewery Tour. It was a good idea. The tour didn’t start until 3pm so I had some time to kill so I went to the other Queen Victoria museum where I was surprised to find a lot of dinosaur skeletons as well as one of only a few stuffed Tasmanian tigers and a very descriptive display about the loss of the Tasmanian tiger.
The brewery tour was a sort of typical such thing with mostly boomer age Aussies. We walked through the brewery and then drank a few very nice beers accompanied by some very nice Tasmanian cheeses. After this, I was hungry and not feeling cheap due to the alcohol so I decided I would take myself out for a nice seafood meal. I found a beautiful hipster restaurant called Cataract on Paterson which sounds like a medical problem in American English but in Australian means more of a cascade. I had a Waldorf salad and a whole Australian Snapper in a spicy Asian sauce – which came with another salad that I will eat for breakfast tomorrow. Delicious meal – grand total $63 AUS – which seems pretty reasonable for a nice seafood dinner with a beer (about $43 US)
I was curious about the fish and googled it and found the following – according to wikipedia, it isn’t a member of the snapper family at all. One thing for sure – this was one delicious fish!
Australasian snapper (Pagrus auratus) or silver seabream, is a species of porgie found in coastal waters of Australia.
My friend Gaye had told me there was a casino here and I was surprised to realize I didn’t have much interest. I used to love gambling – but I seem to have lost my taste for it. Just to make sure I popped into a game room and played $5 AUD until I lost it – I just really didn’t have much desire to do it. Which is pretty cool, actually – but surprising that something like that could change.
Launceston is a nice place when the sun is shining. Tazzies are a friendly people – although, perhaps like a lot of small American townspeople – they tend to be pretty chatty and seem willing to engage you in conversation until you break it off – no matter where you go – shop, restaurant, on the street, in a cafe. When I left the casino, I happened upon a group of Launceston poets doing an open mic reading. I was at the tail end of it, but it was cool – really gave me an insight into the inner nature of these folks.
The Trump Administration seems intent on making people panic and creating bad situations. In a speech an hour ago, Trump just cancelled all travel between the USA and Europe for 30 days. If things do not improve, we can probably expect that to be extended.
Americans are already stealing masks from hospitals and doctors and buying out ungodly amounts of toilet paper. Now with Baby Boomer icon Tom Hanks and his wife being diagnosed with Covid-19 in Australia – we can only expect the boomer panic to set in on a scale that would have been unimaginable a few weeks ago. The NBA cancelling the rest of basketball season is only the beginning.
If you are stranded in the USA or Europe – stand strong. Don’t freak out, talk to people, and for goodness sake, don’t get caught in the shopping madness. Remember, most people are good. Most people aren’t going to be too badly affected by the coronavirus, and if you are affected by it – please do the right thing and self-quarantine for a while and if you need medical assistance, get it. If you are okay, please leave the doctors and hospital beds for those who need them.
I’m not scared of the coronavirus – but people’s reaction to it is already terrifying – and we are just getting started. Be safe out there.
Most of the time, I don’t write about the locations I love the most. I may write about cities, islands, countries, or towns – but I rarely give away the places I plan on going to again and again. Today, I’m going to tell you about one of my favorite places though – because frankly, the word is already out and I don’t plan on going back anytime soon.
Makawao on the island of Maui in the state of Hawaii is one of those places. Everyone who goes to Maui goes to Lahaina, drives the Road to Hana, or visits the hippie town of Pa’ia – but Makawao has stayed off the beaten path. You can go to the little cafe in the morning and not have to wait in line behind a bunch of other tourists or visitors – just the locals. The general store is a great place to grab some local produce or craft beers. The tiny Mexican restaurant has amazing food and great margaritas. You’ll find mostly locals hanging out there. The little Middle Eastern food truck is spectacular.
No, I’m not giving you the names of those places. You’ll find them. Just go to Makawao. Find an AirBnB nearby. Hang out and enjoy the farmers market and the cool upcountry vibe. It’s one of those places that hasn’t been spoiled yet – but in talking with the locals – it sounds like development and more gentrification are coming – so don’t take to long to see it for what it is today.
Makawao sits on the slope of Haleakala, the 10,000 foot dormant volcano that dominates Maui’s view. It is a town known for cowboys, farmers, and a laid back vibe. If you add the elevation to the population – you’ll come close to another 10,000. There’s a big rodeo every year in Makawao and you will find some amazing little galleries tucked away there too. The Makawao Rodeo happens July 4th – 7th. That’s when the parade happens too – but anytime is a good time to be in Makawao.
Raleigh, North Carolina was the first place in my life that I ever chose to live. Everywhere before had been chosen by my parents or chosen by the Marine Corps. When I ended my active duty in 1994, I looked around the USA for where I wanted to live. It was scary. I thought about moving back to California, but frankly, my experience with Redding, Big Bear Lake, and the bases in San Diego had soured me on my home state. I look back and realize that’s a bit of a shame as 1994 was a great time be in California.
Instead, I looked to the only real city I had ever spent considerable time in. My brother and his wife had moved to Raleigh while I was still on active duty. I loved taking leave and visiting with them. At this point in my life, Raleigh seems like a small city or a big town – but at that point – it was amazing! There were bagel shops and Middle Eastern markets! There were bars and coffee shops and business districts. There were hotels that were more than two stories high and there were universities…and there were girls. Oh, goodness yes, there were so many girls. One of the worst things about being stationed in Jacksonville, North Carolina was that there were 50,000 male Marines all prowling around for the same 3,000 girls. I’m not even close to six foot but most of those guys were – and during my entire time stationed at New River Air Station, I only went on a dozen dates – and only three or four followups. So, Raleigh? It looked like heaven to me. There were educated people, entrepreneurs, a variety of religions and religious experiences – it was nothing short of awesome.
I moved in with my brother and his wife while I waited for one of my good buddies from the USMC to complete his enlistment. I got a job at the tallest hotel in Raleigh working on the top floor at the bar where all the State Senators and Representatives hung out when the legislature was in session. My brother and his wife had opened a furniture store and were renting a big Victorian house – the landlady was a real piece of work and one day when I got home from work my brother told me “Pack up, we’re moving.” We moved into the warehouse they had rented for their furniture. For the next month or so there was only a thin sheet of plywood between where I slept and the tire warehouse next door.
Finally, my buddy got out and we rented a townhouse. He got a job in the same restaurant and we lived it up! I enrolled at North Carolina State, I joined the Rugby club, bought an old motorcycle, and life was really good. My brother and his wife bought a house and my friend Mike and I went to raves, clubbed, met girl after girl after girl, worked in the ‘Top of the Tower’ and brought home good money as bartenders. It was a golden year…and then a girl came along. I met her, she sat at my bar and I fell into her eyes – she said she would wait for me to finish work and we would go out. Mike came in, he was already off work – he suggested they go somewhere else and meet me later – and that was it. They were a thing and I was resentful as hell.
When they broke up, I didn’t waste any time, I swooped in and scooped her up. She was still sleeping in the same house but in a different room and honestly, no friendship can survive that shit. Mike moved out and the whole thing became sort of ugly – she and I started planning a move to the West Coast – somewhere. We poured over maps and books and guides – we narrowed it down to three places: Boulder, Colorado or Las Cruces, New Mexico or Bellingham, Washington. I was sort of like “Fuck it, I lost my best friend but I have this awesome girl I’m in love with” except – part of the reason she wanted to move to Boulder, it turned out, was because she was involved with another guy who had moved there and as things got more complicated with us, she pined for him. Suddenly, I was completely fucking lost.
I started spending more than I was earning, maxxed out my credit cards, bought the huge 4×4 truck of my dreams, and packed everything I owned (including my dog, Scooby Doo) and moved out of my apartment, dropped out of school, sold my motorcycle and set off for Bellingham, Washington.
Raleigh, North Carolina
Raleigh is the capital of the state of North Carolina. It has about half a million people in it and is the home of North Carolina State University and the Research Triangle Park (which also includes nearby Durham and Chapel Hill – the combined area has about 2 million people). Raleigh is an amazing place. There are a lot of very smart people living there and as such there are great book stores, art galleries, shows, exhibitions, museums and other interesting things to see and do. Raleigh is a beautiful city with a rich history and a vibrant cultural heritage.
I didn’t go straight from Myrtle Creek, Oregon to Redding, California. Instead, I went back to Big Bear Lake where I lived with my father for a little less than two years – he wasn’t a suitable parent for anyone – let alone a kid who had suffered through the hell that I’d been through in Oregon – so it didn’t really work out. He was still living and loving his rock star lifestyle. He was in bands, had girlfriends, bought a boat, had a nice house on the lake, bought a corvette, disappeared for days at a time (and once came back from Vegas with a new wife – which lasted a couple of weeks). He didn’t have the attention span nor the patience to be the father I needed and as a result I was allowed to fall into company that led me astray. By the time he noticed that I was running around with criminal youth, it was too late for him to do anything about it – we fought and I ran away from home several times. I bounced around from place to place – eventually moving in with one of the girlfriends he’d dumped along the way. She was sweet and while she had her own problems, she was the first adult I’d known in years who acted like a parent.
Eventually, my mom escaped from her monstrous husband and came back to Big Bear. She quickly found a new younger husband. He was a solid and good guy who had no idea what he was getting into – but he stuck with it and somehow made it all work. My sister lived with our grandmother at this point and my brother had gone his own way. After they had been married for more than a year, I moved in with my mom and her new husband. At about this point, they decided to move to Redding, California. All the way on the other end of the state.
There are many people who love Redding. I’m not one of them. It was hot, the town was filled with tweekers, and I was an angry 16, 17, and 18 year old when I lived there. I graduated from Shasta High School and on the advice of my step-father joined the Marines and got out of Redding as quickly as I could. I’d gotten in some trouble with alcohol at the homecoming game. My overworked public defender suggested that the judge would go easier if I was enlisted in the military. I took her advice and joined the branch my step-father had been in. It was a stupid thing to do – I should have enrolled in Stanford and moved to the Bay Area – I was smart enough, but not smart enough, if you get my drift.
Looking back, a lot of my anger came from other places and the truth is – Redding was pretty good to me. I was dating cheerleaders and had some great quality friends, if anything, my issues were that I chose to spend time with other people who were serious losers – I was surrounded by drugs, guns, and violence. On weekends, we would all drive around downtown Redding to meet up, find parties, and find trouble. It was called ‘The Cruise’ and it was outlawed sometime later in the 1990s.
Redding was the first place I saw a person killed – I was at a party and a local gang called ‘The Winds’ showed up looking for a guy ( I didn’t know him – he was a drifter wandering through). They found him at the party and beat him to death with bottles (I presume he died because I can’t imagine anyone surviving that), they then put his body in a blanket and threw it in the back of a truck and drove off. I saw all of this while hiding in a slatted door closet with the girl who lived in the house. I never saw a news story about it – so maybe he didn’t die, but at the time, I was certain I had just witnessed a murder. We all had – there were at least ten people who saw it – but when the police showed up, none of us wanted to be the one to point their finger at the gang members – we’d just seen what would happen if we did.
I left Redding shortly after that and I never looked back though I have visited my mom from time to time over the past thirty years.
Redding is a city surrounded by the wonders of nature. Drive in almost any direction and you are sure to find something mind blowing. Mt. Shasta , Mt. Lassen, Shasta Lake, the Sacramento River, Whiskeytown Lake, the Trinity Alps, Burney Falls, Shasta Caverns and much more. Like many of the towns I lived in growing up, Redding sits on Interstate 5 (I-5). It has a population of about 90,000 and was originally called Poverty Flats. Redding has a rich mining and timber harvesting history and as such – fell into hard times in the 80s and 90s when those industries declined. It has never really recovered, though it has tried. There are a number of prisons that surround Redding and this contributes to the economy – also, many of the prisoners stay in the area when they are released of furloughed and sometimes their families move to Redding while they are incarcerated.
Temperatures in Redding often push the 120 degrees Fahrenheit mark and locals are smart to spend time in the Sacramento River or the area’s many lakes.
Makakilo means ‘observing eyes’ in the Hawaiian Language. This is a small community of about 15,000 people that is really a neighborhood of Kapolei. Sitting on the slopes of the hillsides moving away from the beach – there isn’t really anything to draw visitors here. Like nearly everywhere on Oahu, the really nice neighborhoods are generally military housing. To the West is the manufactured resort neighborhood of Ko Olina.
Ko Olina has a golf course, four beautiful man-made lagoons that would be private in a different state where beach access wasn’t guaranteed. There are four high end resorts on the property along with an unusually large number of wedding chapels and a sort of tourist village with shops and restaurants. The resorts include the Disney Aulani as well as the Four Seasons.
Ko Olina is largely focused on timeshares and short term condominium rentals though there are a small number of full time residents. Ko Olina is made up of about 642 acres comprised of the four resorts, the golf course, and six ‘villages’ of mostly condos. The population is listed as about 1800 people but I doubt that many of these are full time residents – though if you go to the lagoons early in the morning – there is a group of mostly white senior citizens who gather to play ukulele and sing together on some days.
As you can see from the photo below – taken from the Ko Olina information site – Ko Olina is working very hard to create a fantasy version of Hawaii – and with the Paradise Cove Luau, the Disney Aulani Resort, the four lagoons, and the creation (in progress now) of an Atlantis Hotel (the one in Dubai) – it is succeeding. If you want to see the Hawaii of your imagination and you can afford it – Ko Olina is the place to go – but make sure you close your eyes while you are driving there from the airport because all around Ko Olina you will see the real modern Hawaii complete with traffic, homelessness, people struggling to survive economically, and since Ko Olina is on the dry side of Oahu – a lot of brown…because all that water used to make Ko Olina green has to be brought there.
Visitors to Oahu tend to have heard of The North Shore, Waikiki, Honolulu and maybe Kailua – but those are just three places out of hundreds. You have to hit the road to find the most interesting places.
The North End of the Windward Side of the Island of Oahu is an interesting place! What makes it interesting? What about a bizarre collision of Mormonism, Sumo Wrestling, shrimp, and giant lizards? Interesting enough for you? Because you will find it all there.
Let’s start with the giant lizard – Hawaiian legend has it that the rocky point in Laie (Laie Point) yused to be patrolled and guarded by a giant monster lizard name Laniloa. A warrior named Kana came and killed the lizard, slicing it into five pieces – these pieces can still be seen today as the islands off the point – including the skull of Laniloa with his eye socket staring at you!
Laie is a Mormon town. The Mormons trusted a man named Walter Murray Gibson to come buy them an island homeland in Hawaii after the U.S. occupied Utah. Gibson bought the island of Lanai for them but decided to keep it for himself. He gave up Mormonism, took to drinking with King Kalakaua, and became the Hawaiian Kingdom’s Prime Minister. When the Mormon’s arrived – he refused to give them Lanai and instead the king sold them Laie where they built a temple, a university, and the Polynesian Cultural Center. You’ll also find the Hukilau Cafe, though it’s not the one from the movie 50 First Dates.
Just south of Laie is Hau’ula. There’s not much in the town, but it is well known as the home of one of Hawaii’s most famous sumo wrestling schools and many of the sumo greats trained or came from Hau’ula.
I’ve been told that Konishiki came from Hau’ula. I actually met him at the backyard sumo school there about twenty years ago. I wasn’t wrestling, just checking it out.
North of Laie you find Kuhuku with the shrimp ponds, the remains of the old sugar mill, and the many food trucks that have moved there. Locally, however, Kuhuku is most famous for the high school football team, the ‘Red Raiders’. This tiny school’s team has produced more NFL players than any school in Hawaii and has ranked second in the U.S. for most active NFL players from a single school.
I awoke this morning to be shocked at news of the death of Kim Jong Il, the illustrious leader of the hermit kingdom of North Korea. Inventor of the toaster, writer of operas and novels, film maker, the world’s best golfer (18 holes in one in 18 holes), (did I mention he invented the toaster?), and all around lovable despotic bad guy with a penchant for exotic whores and expensive liquor even as his people starved to death in the millions.
“In 1964 he graduated from the Kim Il Sung University where legend has it he wrote 1,500 books, all of which are stored in the state’s library. He also wrote 6 operas all of which are better then any in the history of music” – from his official biography
One of the triumvirate of George W. Bush’s Axis of Evil (and if my enemy’s enemy is my friend….) and anti-fashion fashionista who while not as hat-centric as Mohammar Qaddafi was certainly an icon himself in his one piece olive drab coveralls and huge black rimmed glasses. A man who showed that even the tiny, ignored, impoverished nations of the world can enrich plutonium and get the bomb and that even short, ugly guys with bad hair can father a brood of unruly children with a series of good looking actresses and singers (but maybe only if their father leaves them the wealthy and powerful leaders of communist dictatorships…but still..)
I didn’t think it possible that Kim Jong Il could actually die. For years, I’ve followed his exploits and been fascinated by his oddness. Several years ago, I was painting a lot and I did a series of paintings on coffee table tops of famous dictators and despots – Kim Jong Il was one of the first. I wasn’t the only one who was fascinated by him. Team America – need I say more?
“Ambassador Vershbow is the most bitchy and malignant ambassador in history,” – Kim Jong Il on the U.S. Ambassador to Seoul, South Korea.
The tiny kingdom and the world are left in a state of shock as Kim’s youngest son, the 22 year old whose mother is a famous dancer and that apparently went to school in Switzerland is recommended as the next leader by the North Korean state. He will be the world’s most powerful 22 year old with one of the largest standing armies in the world, a fully militarized border, and of course a bunch of nuclear weapons (well at least one, but if they have one they probably have ten). Mark Zuckerberg is apparently pretty jealous.
One thing is certain as the world suddenly reacts to this incredibly disheartening news – North Korea and the world will never be the same. Will there be sudden reforms and a thaw in relations with the world? Will there be a bloody battle of succession? Will China or the US attempt to invade or take control of the country or new dictator? Will the North Korean Army let itself be led by a 22 year old kid? It’s been a sad year for bad guys with the deaths of Osama Bin Laden, Qaddafi, and now Kim Jong Il. Have a great party in hell, Kim Jong Il, you probably have a suite reserved filled with big breasted Russian hookers, expensive booze, and your own special toaster.
“The United States was built as a result of genocide, and is the world’s biggest human rights abuser as it has profited from centuries of slavery and trafficking in flesh. And this inglorious history has hardly come to an end. Contemporary American forms of massacre and human trafficking are rife in Iraq and various other countries. Sinister plots are continuously being hatched by U.S. intelligence agencies to spirit North Korean citizens away to other countries.” – Kim Jong Il building ties of friendship with Cuba and Venezuela
Exclusive for Vagobond by Jo Self
Living in Cusco I find myself constantly reminded of what a small world it is. Sitting on a bus waiting to leave Cusco for the weekend, I was pleased to hear the conversation behind turn to CouchSurfing. Talking up the merits of the CS experience, Marco was telling the young, French traveler to his left about all the great people he’s met and how much he enjoys the experience. As an active member of CouchSurfing over the last four years, and a regular attendee to the weekly meetings here in Cusco, I was thrilled to find that the groups in Peru are thriving.
CouchSurfing, for those who are unfamiliar, is an online organization that is set up as a hospitality exchange. The network provides travelers the opportunity to act as hosts, by showing others around the city, meeting for a coffee or actually housing travelers free of charge in their home.
However, this isn’t just a free room for the night. Most members take the project quite seriously and see it as a chance for true cultural exchange.
A friend of mine in Mexico told me about the project back in 2007 and I immediately became a member. There is no cost to join, unless you feel the desire to contribute. Every member is expected to fill out their profile thoroughly and each profile is then enhanced with references from friends as well as those travelers with whom one has surfed or hosted.
Upon arrival to Lima at the end of March, my first course of action was to see if there was a local meet-up happening while I was there, and with luck, there was.
I met Morgan, a fellow ex-pat living in Lima at Café Maquina for the weekly Friday language exchange. A fairly informal gathering of locals and CouchSurfers alike mingled and chatted, sharing their languages and cultures.
Here in Cusco there are two different weekly meetings, one on Wednesdays at Indigo, which is mostly just a social gathering, and then a weekly language exchange that meets on Fridays, which was recently started and is still looking for a permanent home. In Arequipa, there are frequent get-togethers to go out dancing or to enjoy a coffee or beer together, but at the moment, no regular weekly meetings are scheduled.
In addition to the meetings, members frequently use the online group forums to find travel partners, information on local events and tips for getting around the city. I’ve met some amazing people through the service.
While still living in the US, I hosted easily 8-10 people a month in my home and while the median age of CS members is 28, I hosted folks from 17-72 and am still in contact with more than half of them. The good news is, whenever and wherever I travel, I know I have a place to stay and a friendly face to welcome me – a small world indeed.
For more information on each of the groups in Peru, just do a search under the ‘Community’ tab and explore the options. If you’re staying in hotels during your trip but are still keen to mix some cultural exchange into your Peru travel experience, either talk to your operator about cultural tours or get in touch with the local CouchSurfing group.
Exclusive for Vagobond by Amanda White in Cieneguilla, Peru
Sometimes I forget that life, that adventure, that travel is just and/or equally about the journey as it is about the destination. I know it’s a saying, and it may be cliché, but it still holds true. I’ve always been goal oriented, task efficient and sometimes have a hard time letting go of the End Result. I have to remind myself to stay in the moment. This is what I want to learn here in Peru; how to be, to exist, to live, to love, where and what and when and who I am. I take my bike–how quick I am to assume possession of what’s been loaned to me–and head towards the Cieneguilla ruins. I have a vague idea how to get there. I pedal fast, until I realize I’m not on a deadline. I’m not running a race. So I slow my mind and step off the bike (mostly because my legs are burning from doing this crazy PX90 leg work out and a long bike ride the day before). I listen to the roar of the river going on its journey beside me. Calm. Now I’m here entirely here and nowhere else. I look for the beauty in the dust of the road. I see the contrast of barrenness and fruitfulness. I give half smiles to the cars, taxis, bikes, and people I pass. I don’t want to be overly friendly, but neither do I want to be rude. Some of the cars honk at me, but this is Peru, everyone honks. One taxi passes by slowly as I cross the bridge and I lean over to ask him if I’m going the correct way to the ruins. He doesn’t lead me astray. “Go up to the end of the road and then take a left,” he tells me in Spanish. I thank him; do a quick double-step with my foot against the dirt to get going and bike on. At the fork, I go left as instructed. Trees overhang the road casting pleasant shadows. To one side of me are enclosed houses with elaborately painted walls and exotic flowers. To the opposite side are makeshift huts with piles of trash in the yards, if they can even be called yards. It’s quite a contrast; the rich inside their walls and the poor practically out in the open. Both right there together.
Before I quit my job and moved to Peru I was middle class American on the cusp of the lower class. I wasn’t rich, but I wasn’t impoverished either. I lived comfortably. Here though, the color of my skin and the color of my hair scream out wealth. This isn’t true. “I’m just like you,” I want to tell them. “I’m human just like you. Please don’t value me by how much or little money I have in my hand or in my bank account.” They see me through the filters that television has given them. “Thanks a lot, Hollywood,” I say. I make it to the ruins. Even though I’ve enjoyed the journey I still have a sense of satisfaction on arriving at my destination. It’s hard to lick old habits the first go. I leave my bike against a still standing wall and hike to the top of the hill. Who lived here? What did they do? How did they think? What did they want? Was this place their destination and had they enjoyed the journey there? What happened to them? I want to know everything.
I find a rock and sit to eat my apple and bar. Like a good boy scout (I envied my brothers getting to be scouts. I always wanted to get a Rocket Merit Badge) I pack out what I’d packed in.
When I go, I look behind one last time. These people left their mark, however ruined, behind them. What will I leave? Deep, but not unpleasant thoughts accompany me on my journey home.
Amanda White lives and blogs in Peru. You can find more of her work at My Llama and Me
As always, if you are heading to Peru and want to ask anything about it, Vagobond travel advice is free for the asking or you might find the resources in the box below to be helpful.
For those of you who have already been to every country or who are keeping lists with the intention to visit every country (this means you Chris Gullibelleu) you can add one more to the list. Early this morning, the worlds newest nation was born. South Sudan.
South Sudan Statistics:
Born: July 9, 2011
Population: 7,500,000 – 10 million
Motto: Justice, Liberty, Prosperity
Official Language: English (second language Juba Arabic)
Currency: Sudanese Pound
Already the nation is targeting tourism by creating a massive wildlife national park.
It?s home to the world’s second largest migration of animals, an epic movement of antelope through some of Africa’s most pristine wildernesses. But there is not a single tourist in the vast expanse and stunning scenery of Badingilo National Park to see it — not yet, anyway.
Women ululated and men danced as the ribbon was cut to mark the centre’s opening, set in a wooded area close to the White Nile river, some 85 kilometres (53 miles) north of the south’s capital Juba.
Badingilo is home to giant herds of antelope — including tiang, white-eared kob and reedbuck — as well as giraffe, lion, cheetah and vast bird populations.Badingilo park, vibrant green from recent rains, stretches over 10,000 square kilometres (2,470 square miles).It is within the largest widerness area of intact savannah eco-system left in east Africa — and an extension of the park by up to three times its current size has been proposed.
Nor is it the only park: South Sudan has 16 national parks or protected reserve areas, one of them alone, Southern National Park is the size of Rwanda
The ceremonies were attended by dignitaries from all over the world including the President of Sudan who was once the leader of the south.
The new nation is banking on tourism but currently some 98 percent of the Juba government’s budget comes from oil revenues, but current estimates suggest production could decline within the next two decades.
However, a holiday here will not be for the faint-hearted, light of pocket or unprepared — the two-hour drive from Juba is on a dirt track, in places lined with landmine clearance signs.
Berlin is so much more than just techno and Trabis, bratwurst and bier. Beneath the surface of stereotypes, diverse cultures make up an intoxicating element that rarely makes it into the guide books. The first Carnival of Cultures took place in 1995 and was inspired by the world famous parties in Rio and Notting Hill. Like its older cousins the event is as much a statement as a celebration, aimed at promoting cultural understanding, tolerance and respect.
Since those difficult days of political and social upheaval for Berlin’s cultural minorities, the carnival has gone from strength to strength. Last year, for the first time, more than one million people attended the party to carouse in the rich diversity and stand up for an emerging multiculturalism that has been all-too-often overlooked. The carnival takes place in four distinct but nearby locations in Western Kreuzberg. The Bazaár Berlin stage at Hallesches Tor will feature shows from, among others, Turkish, Israeli, Indian and Japanese performers traversing genres as diverse as rock, hip-hop, electro and blues. The Eurasia area is located on the corner of Zossenerstraße and Blücherstraße and, as the name might suggest, will include acts from across Europe and Asia. For a taste of the sheer variety of performances, the line up includes Transylvanian speedfolk and Balkan ska-drum’n’bass.
The Farafina section will transform the usually mundane car park on Blücherstraße into an exotic oasis of cultural and musical crossover. Organisers promise revellers a journey through Africa where Ghanaian hip-hop meets Berlin street dance and Monday is the Day of the Frontwoman. Finally, the Latinauta stage presents the most familiar carnival sounds, such as samba, rumba, conga and the like. But don’t be fooled! Expect a mishmash of genre-defying musical delights from all four corners of this eccentric and exciting festival. The most exhilarating part, though, is experiencing a city with such a troubled history march noisily and proudly into the future, where many small but vibrant communities have finally found their voice. The carnival starts at 5pm on the Friday evening until 10pm, then midday to 10pm on Saturday, Sunday and Monday. During the daytime there are family-friendly performances and plenty of space and facilities for an original day out. www.karneval-berlin.de Natalie Holmes writes for the blog at Be-My-Guest.com. If you are looking for a short stay apartment in Berlin for your trip, visit Be My Guest- Berlin Apartments