Here Thar Be Monsters!

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The Road To Hell


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I have always advocated the Great American Road Trip, even before I read a book called Blue Highways, by a guy with a really run name.

I have fond memories taking family vacations in the old Ford Country Squire breeder wagon with the fake wood panelling all over it.  My father was a die-hard interstate hater, declaring regularly that he could make better time on the back roads.  Of course, he was always wrong, because among other things, he was a history teacher.  That meant that we had to stop at e.v.e.r.y s.i.n.g.l.e historical marker for an extended roadside lesson in Texas history.

I could go on for hours about those trips, but we're here for a different purpose.

I've spent a significant portion of my life taking leisurely blue highway tours of the world.  While the interstates and autobahns of the world whisk you quickly from origin to destination, they do so in a completely sanitized envelope populated with rubber-stamped franchises and commercial oases, by-passing the truly unique and insightful parts of the world.

Two of my favorite journeys involve driving through Europe, purposefully avoiding big cities and multi-laned concrete arteries.  While these journeys could fill at least one book of unusual and even strange experiences, there was a theme that ran through the trips that inspired me to do a photo journal, where like my father, I stopped at every opportunity to appreciate the historical nuances that mark blue highway art.

When you drive through the back country of Europe, you quickly begin to notice a recurring phenomenon.  On the edge of nearly every village, there is a grotto with either the Virgin Mary or the Crucified Christ, and many of t hem are surrounded with fresh flowers much of the time.  Some bear inscriptions, while others require an inquiry of locals when you reach the gasthaus.

These grottos are memorials to the survivors and the victims of the Black Death.

Hundreds of centuries-old grottos pepper the entire continent and serve as ancient reminders of the terrors of the bubonic pandemic.  Not only these memorials, but a number of communities perform passion plays every decade, the most famous of which is the Passion Play at Oberammagau.  

These rituals and monuments have survived nearly 400 years to remind the future of an event so terrifying that it has left an imprint in our languages, like the English "bless you" or the German "Gott sund heit" when someone sneezes.  It's even memorialized in the children's rhyme "Ring Around the Rosie".

Imagine a natural plague so horrible that it scarred our collective memories across time and place.  Imagine the fearsome inevitability that in any family of four, odds were good that at least one of you would die a painful death.  Imagine death rates so dreadful that the only burial solution was to dig large pits and stack the corpses like cord wood in them.

Now look around at our current situation.

In the first iteration of this so-called pandemic, there were no bodies littering the streets.  The vast majority of people did not go to bed wondering who in their house would be dead by morning.  There were no enormous pits at the edge of town with gruesome piles of death.

In  the second iteration, great numbers of people have begun dying of heart attacks and strokes, wholly unrelated to a respiratory virus, but rather self-induced by avaricious mega-corporations seeking to dominate the globe and soak us of our scant and hard-fought wealth, aided and abetted by corrupt and demonic politicians seeking to elevate their status by yanking our out from under us.

If this shared experience leaves a mark on our culture - indeed if our culture survives this event - it will not be to memorialize the horrors of Nature, but of the bottomless abyss of evil into which Humanity can fall.  The grottos, children's rhymes and passion plays of the distant future will mark our generation's descent into cowardice and psychosis so profound that it nearly destroyed civilization itself.

Slowly it seems the masses are awakening, from this delusion.  It appears that folks are realizing just how clueless and self-absorbed we have all been for the last 100 years, but we have a long way to go.  

We must resolve to punish those who brought this on us, while confessing that it would not have been possible without our consent and sloth.  We must resolve to educate ourselves and take full responsibility for the quality and nature of our lives.

Finally, we must, as a species, come to realize that dogma, decrees and demands are not science.  We must castigate en masse anyone who uses the terms "settle science" or "consensus science"  Science is the systematic questioning of the status quo, not the capitulation to it.

Our birthright is the state of individual and sovereign moral agent, and our collective duty is to jealously defend that birthright, for all living souls, from any infringement by any entity.  This self-imposed crisis must be the final battle for our true and lasting freedom.

If we erect monuments to this period in history, then let them be reminders to the future that we finally ended slavery in all its evil and pernicious forms in our lifetimes.

Now is the time for heroes and legends.