There’s never been a moment in human history when we weren’t quite positive that not only does The Universe know what our problem is, but it wants to help. The Universe expresses itself as God, and God wants to give us advice. Now, for some reason the Universe has–with absolutely no deviation ever–only done so in code, but what do you want for nothing? Plus, most societies have always had the ongoing dilemma of what to do with the guy who lived on the outskirts of town who would disappear for a few hours and then return, stark naked and covered in blood-not-his-own, screaming “GLORAFOOBLE MAKKA MAKKA” at the virgins. You have to give that guy a job; free time is his weapon, and that job might as well be telling the future.
The Chinese threw the I Ching. (So did gullible white people, but that’s for another day.) The Yoruba of West Africa divine Heaven’s Will through a hilariously complicated system called Ifá, and you should really check it out because it’s a perfect example of what humans can accomplish when they aren’t internetting all goddam day. The Romans were obsessed with birds, which makes sense if you’ve been to Rome and seen the skies there, full of pestilent pigeons and haughty hawks: the Appian’s an alliterative aviary. They would make their auguries with a knife, and if the lucky bird’s innards didn’t give them the information they needed: well, fuck it, bring me another rooster, Gaius.
Us civilized folk (you can tell we’re civilized because of the swarms of flying death robots) scry the Word of God with our tech, just like we do everything else that used to be natural, from eating to fucking. The radio in the car or the Precious. A long pointless drive, which is one of the finest things this world we’ve built has to offer. Cruise control set 8 miles above the speed limit, religious about your blinkers–it’s best to avoid any Imperial entanglements. Cigarette wedged in the nook of the middle and ring fingers, left hand; bowl encircled in the first and thumb. Drive with your knees on the straightaways. Nothing but straightaways out there, in America.
Karma roulette. The next song has meaning. Whether it’s chosen by some opaque algorithm deep within the brains of the Precious or David Gans on the GD Station doesn’t matter: God chose it specifically for you at this moment.
My buddy Tahaney and I were going to see Beyond Blue, a band we were obsessed with that never quite made it out of The Bitter End on Bleecker Street. They broke up almost two decades ago: too soon for HD video-capable eyeglasses and recording studio apps for your Precious with more clarity and power than Electric Ladyland. Nothing lasts; everything changes.
We had our fake IDs and a few doobies packed with the neon green buds that had also accompanied us to the Stones stadium show, where we enjoyed them right next to a guy and his child. Not a toddler, but definitely not a human you felt 100% about smoking your neon green doobies next to, but y’know what? Stones concert. Fuck you, kid and dad who brought his kid to the Stones concert: we’re smoking our doobies. We did, however, refrain from offering the kid or dad any because, let’s face it, we were pretty decent kids.
Lost somewhere in Alphabet City–and this is before real estate started going for $100 a square foot and sodas were still legal–and miles away from our destination, one of us posited that if we had gotten lost while sober, then perhaps we could get unlost stoned. This seemed like a good idea, (it wasn’t), but you should be aware that Tahaney and I were, in the academic rankings of our high school, both within three places of the median. That is a true fact. So, while we weren’t smart enough to realize how dumb the idea was, we were smart enough to realize that we were too dumb to make it.
Karma Roulette, spin that dial…Shakedown Street.
We didn’t make it to the club until the end of the first set.