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Leuku's Discussion on Innovative Homebrew Class Design Part 2

This is a continuation of Part 1.
GM Binder link to entire article.
Google Drive Link for the same.
Giant Imgur File of the entire article, if you're into that sorta thing.

The Unexplored

The Unexplored are simply mechanics not covered by the above categories. At times it can be difficult to differentiate between an Unexplored and a particularly complex Composite. At other times you’ll discover a mechanic that is unprecedented in all of 5e. What makes an Unexplored mechanic fun is how different it makes your class seem and feel from existing options. However, it also makes balancing strenuous due to how difficult it is to make a comparison between it and existing options. Fortunately, we are not discussing balance today, so let’s get into unexplored territory!
The easiest place to find Unexplored mechanics in 5e are to look at what 5e left behind in older editions. I am most familiar with 4e, so I’ll only bring up 4e mechanics. From 4e to 5e, At-will Powers became weapon attacks and cantrips, Encounter Powers became Per Short Rest abilities, and Daily Powers became Per Long Rest abilities. We lost sliding and shifting in favor of Disengage and opportunity-attack-free movement so long as you stay within a target’s range. We exchanged Fortitude, Reflex, and Will for saving throws. We lost the Bloodied condition. Personally, I think all of these abilities either already have reincarnations in 5e, or are incompatible with 5e design philosophy, all except one: the Bloodied condition.
Bloodied Condition
You acquire the Bloodied condition when you are reduced to half your maximum hit points or less for the first time during an encounter. Not uncommonly, when you or a monster would become Bloodied, an ability would activate, often changing the nature and flow of the encounter. It was a wonderful mechanic that could really liven the pace of an encounter and I have no idea why it was left behind. I don’t think it violates any aspect of 5e design philosophy and a mechanic with a similar nature is not unprecedented in 5e. The half-orc’s racial feature Relentless Endurance grants you a benefit when you reach 0 hit points for the first time in a day. Suffice to say, I think a reincarnation of the Bloodied condition could make a comeback.
An example of a Bloodied condition homebrew mechanic is from Benjamin Huffman’s Pugilist class from DMsguild. Full disclosure: Yes, I have DMed for and played as a Pugilist, and no, I did not arrange with Benjamin Huffman to discuss this mechanic here. Inside his class is a significant Tweaked Poach of the Monk’s Martial Arts class feature, and that Tweak has Moxie points that function similarly to Ki. When a Pugilist dips below half their maximum hit points for the first time in between short or long rests (depending on the Pugilist version you’re playing), it gains Temporary Hit Points and regains Moxie points. For a class whose Narrative and Mechanics consistently reinforce a theme of “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”, this is a remarkably appropriate feature that combines an Unexplored trigger with Composite mechanics.
Hit Dice
Another area of Unexplored territory is Hit Dice. At present, the only things Hit Dice do is help determine your maximum hit points, heal you during short rests, and in a particular instance determine the amount of hit points you regain (Healer feat). As I understand it, narratively Hit Dice represent your reserve of energy or “will to go on”, and the more hit dice you have available to you, the further you can extend yourself in a day with adequate rest. If Hit Dice represent your vitality reserve, then it stands to reason that you could expend that vitality to push yourself beyond your limits, much like how an adrenaline rush can enable us to go above and beyond before subsiding and leaving us to contend with the consequences of our overexertion.
In 4e, instead of Hit Dice we had Healing Surges, and Healing Surges could be used outside of short rests with certain triggers. Abilities or attacks creatures made could allow a creature to spend a healing surge to heal themselves in combat. The 4e Paladin’s Lay on Hands spent your own healing surges to heal another creature. In similar and different ways, I believe Hit Dice can be expanded upon to heal during combat in a pinch, provide additional combat options, or enable us to jump farther and lift more than we’ve ever done before. Innovative Hit Dice mechanics are ripe for the plucking.
Unique Triggers
When thinking of Unexplored mechanics, consider unique conditions or triggers. For example, a homebrew Barbarian subclass made by user cometdance (#Caim on discord) has a mechanic that only functions when the Barbarian is at full hit points, and when raging that Barbarian can exchange resistance to damage for Temporary Hit Points. When I saw this I was blown away, because beyond the Bloodied condition never did I think to use how many Hit Points you had to determine the activation of an ability, and it blends so well with the 5e mechanic of Temporary Hit Points as well as encourage an entirely new playstyle with the Barbarian. Sometimes an Unexplored mechanic can easily emerge simply by looking at an existing mechanic at a different angle.

Known Unexplored Territory

I’ll now try to list some potential Unexplored mechanics and themes off the top of my head:
Hit Point thresholds: Mechanics that trigger when specific hit point values are reached or maintained. Hit Dice: Consuming or Expending Hit Dice for mechanics beyond short rest healing. Psionics: “Spellcasting” system that does not use spell slots. Non-magic Intelligence: Intelligence mechanics expansion that relies less or not at all on spellcasting. Magic Item/Object Creation: Crafting, more flexible and scalable conjuration. Partial Wildshaping: Non or weak spellcasting Wildshape-primary mechanic with greater modulation. Area of Effect Alteration/Extension: Changing the size/shape/length of area of effects. Non-magical Area of Effect Abilities: Options for non-magic martial “minion-killers” and terrain alteration/manipulation. Summoning: More flexible and scalable creature creation/conjuration/manipulation. Initiative order manipulation: Exert greater control over where oneself and allies appear in the initiative order. Subclass Features as Primary: Poaching and tweaking subclass features to expand their potential as primary class features. Adventuring Day Endurance Triggers: Mechanics that confer benefits the more one has rolled for initiative within a day or between rests. Communal No Rest Benefits: Benefits for oneself and allies when taking rests but choosing not to gain the normal benefits of the rest. Readied Action Expansion: Benefits or more options for taking the Readied Action. Reaction Expansion: More uses for Reactions. Martial Expansion: More options for martial-focused characters, with a focus on utility in and out of combat or improving flexibility in encounters. Social Interaction Expansion: Expand contested social interaction mechanics beyond “make a relevant skill check opposed by X” Cinematic Cooperation: Special techniques that involve two or more characters acting in unison, likely involving Readied Actions. THP Resource Consumption: Temporary Hit Points as a consumable resource for the activation or execution of abilities.

Delivering the Point

Innovation inspires more in kind. For each new mechanic, players and DMs will discover a dozen new applications. The difference between Dungeons and Dragons versus video games is that you get to design the game as you play it. If the rules give structure, then you can add, subtract, and alter rules in real time to build the dungeon or dragon of your dreams! My goal is not to make you more creative. That would be impossible. My goal is to give you the tools to help focus your creativity. To turn vague wisps of ideas into sharp, concrete building blocks. On that note, please consider this one piece of advice:

Establishing Your Subclass

Second only to your Primary Mechanics, your Introductory Subclass Features are key not only to distinguishing your class from other classes but also expanding the imagination within your class. When designing your subclasses, think long and hard about what you’re going to call your set of subclasses. Fighters and Rogues have Archetypes, Clerics have Domains, Wizards Schools, and so on. Admittedly, the concept of Archetype is much more vague than the rest, so aren’t really useful, but putting those aside we can see how the simple affiliation to these broad concepts influences homebrew subclass design and how subclasses are related to their parent class.
Up until WOTC released the Bladesinger subclass for the Wizard, the fact that Wizard subclasses were all set up as schools of X established the guiderails that any additional Wizard subclasses should mimic that inspiration. So we get homebrews like School of Geometry, Chronomancy, Hardknocks, and the Hedge Wizard which is a Wizard that never got to finish school. This isn’t supposed to be a criticism of the Wizard but rather a fuzzy illustration of how subclass Narrative and Mechanics impacts player interpretation and innovation.
What, Exactly, is a "Conclave"?
However, this is an opening for me to heavily criticize the Unearthed Arcana Revised Ranger’s subclass concept “Conclaves”. What is a conclave? A gathering, private meeting, or secret assembly. So how do Revised Rangers differentiate themselves? By sequestering themselves in a conference hall and discussing it? As a source of inspiration, the “Conclave” is donkey brains! That’s why in my own rebuilt-from-the-ground-up homebrew Feral Ranger (which I’ll be posting sometime after this article), I’ve done away with conclaves in favor of Fables! Tales told of famous hunters throughout fiction. Rangers that hunt the things that go bump in the night, rangers that hunt the hunters, and more!

Peer Perspectives

"If you are trying to design a new mechanic, I think you have to think in terms of the type of gameplay you are trying to enable, and the narrative you are trying to enable. For example, the rogue's gameplay pattern tends to fall into this risk-taking all-or-nothing pitch-hitter. They get big rewards for leveraging small advantages, since their core feature allows them to hinge their entire round's damage on a single attack. This means the player is now thinking like a rogue. The class is thematically tied to skill and exploitation of weaknesses and so on, and sneak attack makes the player think like a rogue would by actively encouraging that kind of behavior implicitly.
The thing that separates a good or okay feature from a truly great feature is that layer of cohesion between player and player character. That feeling you get when you read a strong feature but it doesn't particularly feel super exciting? Nine times out of ten for me its this layer of cohesion that's missing in my experience. When you can read a mechanic and get the flavor, that's how you know you have a good mechanic."Izzy
"People oft refer to gamefeel when it comes to homebrew. Does something play nicely with their 5e game in practice? Does the brew seem interesting? Does it speak to them? Here too, the dichotomy will emerge. Purely thematically-minded folks tend to define a good gamefeel as "immersive". It allows them to believe the fantasy, and as long as that belief is managed, so long as the mechanics don't overtly break the balance, it's fine.
However, mechanically-minded folks in the pure sense enjoy having a new niche in play. If they can do something the other races/archetypes/classes can't, they enjoy the discovery of this new playstyle enough that this generates a positive gamefeel for them, regardless of flavor.
Few people are pure forms, but the hypothetical constructs these "pure forms" represent are useful for understanding why a person might lean one way or another. A good example is Caim's Philosopher class, which explores an innovative niche in play, while functioning as a "philosopher" only if you bend your mind around the evolution of a philosophy specifically around being well-rounded and manipulating spells creatively. The gamefeel of the class is unlikely to be good to anyone who actually wants to roleplay a philosopher, but establishes itself solidly as something not seen before in 5e's milieu, while not bolting on anything too exotic to 5e."
Anthony Wu, Jojirius, "some guy named jojiro on discord"
"When designing a class, I feel that the most important thing is to cast the player in the role you're trying to create. In the Player's Handbook, the Barbarian doesn't just give you the tools to be a big, scary warrior: Reckless Attack lets you endanger yourself to be more deadly; Rage lets you survive that danger, and Brutal Critical makes you want the biggest weapon you can get your hands on. Before you know it, you're acting like a Barbarian.
The Sorcerer has you pouring your spell slots into Sorcery points, sacrificing all the magic you have for the right spell at the right moment. The Rogue has you hunting for opportunities you can exploit to make the most of each turn. The Paladin shows you a demon and a bandit, and incentivises attacking the demon first, because that's what a Paladin would do. As a creator, it's the best trick you can pull, and 5e does it a lot.
Archetypes can expand on this. The typical Rogue is sneaky, but the Swashbuckler is brash and confident, so it has you running into the fight one-on-one for your Sneak Attack. The Bard is supportive and reluctant to step into melee, so the College of Swords uses your Inspiration to make you an excellent combatant. Twisting mechanics on their head, or even changing the context, can be an excellent tool in your arsenal."
NotTheSmoooze
"There’re two simple steps to follow when starting out homebrewing. Step 1 is don’t write a class. A lot of people struggle with this one. Step 2 is to write something you love. Create a mechanic or flavour you’re passionate about and run with it, because then you’ll want to make it the best it can be. Be ready to accept criticism, and maybe even change or compromise on a few things, but if you’re loving the stuff your writing, then homebrewing is easy."
Rain-Junkie, Dragon Knight class.
"I’m not particularly proud of innovative mechanics as I am of derivative mechanics - mechanics that exist in the game already but are readily repurposed for a homebrew.
Innovation is new, and untested. This might be an unpopular opinion, but in the real world it is difficult to justify any novel board game idea without some sort of rigorous play testing. I think it’s an inherent flaw in what we do, especially when we attempt to come up with new mechanics."
metabot
"Writing homebrew is a series of noticing challenges and attempting to solve them. The greatest challenge of class design is distinguishment from established classes thematically *and mechanically. A class is much more successful when both pillars are solved.*
Thematically, a class can be re-imagined into a consistent theme strong enough for an entire class, like how the PHB classes have consistency and broad weight. You can keep tweaking the theme until it does distinguish itself well: that is, its concept can't be achieved successfully with current existing material or a smaller version of this project.
Mechanically, a class needs a few core features to build from and a solid subclass design scheme, even if that subclass scheme is lifted or inspired by other classes'. The core features need to interact, fit with the game's design principles, and exemplify the class's theme.
Classes in 5E are not what they were in 3.5E or earlier eds, classes of those sizes are subclasses in 5E. This misperception is the largest hurdle of class design I see in the community, and understanding it is necessary."
SwordMeow
"Mechanics are crutches. In a perfect world we wouldn't need them, but our imaginations are not yet bound together by wires or magic, so we are left with mechanics to be able to share our visions. We let the game designers decide how we will play their game. And by doing so, they play beside us.
The making of houserules or homebrew is how we take back this power. We carve from empty air a new agreement between players, between minds and imaginations. It is how we replace the designers haunting our kitchen tables with ourselves. Some even stop to consider if they should first.
But should you decide to take this road, I'd advise you do it right. To become the new, we must understand the old, because all good homebrew is forgery at heart. Your best friends are the patterns that the makers left us. Read what's there. Watch for wording, but more importantly, watch for what is left unsaid. Why 12 classes? Why not 3? Or 25? Who gets this feature? When? And who doesn't? What is the reason for the rule?
Once you look for patterns, you find them everywhere. Follow the patterns or subvert them, either is fine. In moderation. But seek always to understand them."
[NASA](beyondthebluesky.com), ImFromNASA
"I believe innovation is the spice that causes a person to want to play a specific homebrew. Even if you're writing something that has been written countless times, if you place your own spin on it, it could become the best of the bunch. As a critic of homebrew, the line I hate to hear the most from a homebrewer is, this is the only mechanic I could think of. If you're a brewer and you've ever said that, be overjoyed! You have a mechanic you can obviously improve. Unless you plan to sell your work, and even if you do, don't be afraid of innovation, even for innovation's sake. You can edit your work after you've written it, after all."
– Caim, Nimademe#2629 on discord
"My biggest suggestion to those new to homebrewing (as well as to those old, tired souls who have written the word "can" instead of "may" more times than they can count), is to read, read, and read. Beyond getting a sense of the system, its orthodoxies, and its writing style, you will start to see patterns. Then you can begin to question and understand the rationales behind them. Questions like "Why are bard subclasses' Bardic Inspiration features written the way they are, scale the way they do? Why do monk subclasses refrain from granting efficient ways of dealing damage?" Then, pay attention to what others have written - the themes, the mechanics, the play patterns they produce. Finally, informed and exposed to what has and hasn't been published, you can begin to (reliably) 'innovate'.
However, innovation need not be the only motivation behind brewing. Brew whatever you want, for whomever you want! Make it as wild and out there as possible, or as tame as can be. Redesign something another brewer did (though be sure to provide credit!), even if you think it only needs minor tinkering. But, if you want your homebrew to challenge the way people see and think of an aspect of 5e, you'll first need to understand that aspect of 5e to a T."
Jaek
“Innovation comes from pushing beyond the expected. What I look for isn’t always pretty, at least not at first. It may take some getting used to. It is new and different, but not different for different’s sake. Innovative design is thoughtful, appropriate and ambitious. Innovative design is risky, so not everyone can be an innovator.
I look for those who are risk takers, because we should celebrate them, learn from them, and aspire to be like them.”
– Bobby Martin, Jr., co-founder of Original Champions of Design"                                                           – Rhaenon

Summary

When thinking about your class’ Narrative, you must consider how well your class can be subdivided into distinct concepts that still centrally revolve around your class. And your Mechanics must create clearly different playstyles that still build upon a shared primary foundation. Similarly, your subclass’ Narrative must be distinguishable from the other subclasses and yet still share a thematic relationship with the parent Narrative, and likewise for your subclass’ Mechanics.
Personally, I like how most if not all Bard subclasses augment their Bardic Inspiration mechanic. I try to do something similar with all of my homebrew classes by having one of their Introductory Subclass Features augment the class’ Primary Mechanics. You don’t have to do this, as many official classes do not, but it’s a surefire way of marrying together your base class’ and subclass’ mechanics while simultaneously differentiating your subclasses from one another.

Leukudnd.com

If you want to see my new work a few days before they're posted here, then go to my new website.
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(Spoilers Extended) Lannister+Clegane, a codependent abusive love story

Theory: Cersei and Sandor Clegane used to fuck.
What is the evidence for this?
None! But deduction leads us there just the same.
This all speaks to the Hound being an invisible but extremely central member of the Lannister household for decades. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the Hound is basically the Lannister family dog. His faithfulness is unquestioned and he is as familiar as the furniture.
Now, over the course of the five books, George also casts an ever-widening light on Cersei’s infidelity. First we were (gasp!) introduced to the notion that she was cuckolding her husband (the king) with her twin brother and that this has been the case since the earliest days of their marriage, to the point that her children are all Jaime’s. Then we learned that she’s not picky about her incest; when Jaime went off to war and was captured she quickly seduced Lancel so that she could take command of another family member who was useful to her. When Lancel was used up, she casually started sexing up multiple Kettlebacks (naive country muscle) to do more of her dirty work. When she needs help from Taena Merrywether, that immediately becomes a sexual relationship as well. It’s like a reflex for Cersei, she doesn’t even have to think about it, it’s just the unquestioned obvious move. She’s not picky.
We also learn that she’s knowledgeable about medieval birth control; she gives Bobby hand jobs rather than let him get in her and she says quite firmly to one of her minions that she knows what moon tea is for. Meanwhile we learn that Pycelle was basically Tywin’s drug dealer and that he was providing moon tea for Jeyne Westerling and he surely was offering abortions and birth control to Cersei as well. This was all treason of the highest order (that’s why Cersei’s so excited to be able to pin it on Marge) but Cersei’s obviously accomplished at having promiscuous sex and choosing when and with whom to reproduce. All of her accusations are confessions.
But the unifying factor in all of these “relationships” is that these people were (a) useful to Cersei and (b) did not question her commands due to age, rank, wealth and the risks inherent in “adulterous treason punishable by death.”
There’s no doubt in my mind that the Cleganes were the test run for the Kettlebacks. Upjumping the Hound from “personal bodyguard” to Kingsguard was a test run for upjumping the Kettlebacks—these aren’t people who have come up the traditional path to the KG, they’re loyalists to the regime.
But why would Cersei do one or both of the Cleganes? And why would one or both Cleganes do her? Well, simple proximity, for one thing, but also because household knights, bodyguards, governesses, tutors and the like are notorious in history for falling in love with highborns and visa versa with whom they cannot possibly be paired because it’s impolitic. Aemon the Dragonknight and Queen Nerys, a variation of this, is the romantic legend in Westeros. She was unavailable and queenly, he was her humble servant, their love was impossible and illegal and yet epic. (See also our own Arthurian legend.) Kids in Westeros are weaned on this mythology.
And while I’m sure Sandor was loyal to Tywin above all, which teenagetwentysomething wouldn’t have wanted to play dirty games with the most beautiful princess in the Westerlands, nay, the Seven Kingdoms?
Based on what we know about teenage Cersei, she would have been entirely capable of targeting teenage Sandor Clegane to be her special murder pet. She would have easily seduced him and then had him under her thumb for various Cersei projects including killing her enemies and terrorizing smallfolk etc. I’m sure the Hound was much easier to control that the Mountain.
And this socially isolated, emotionally crippled, physically abused, traumatized country boy with no resources or connections of his own is the Hound we meet in AGOT who kills Mycah quickly and unquestioningly. It’s not a big deal, it’s a habit, it’s the same thing he’s been doing for Cersei for years: kill her enemies to please her, whomever and wherever they may be.
In the opening of AGOT, Bran walked in on Jaime and Cersei fucking, but I believe it’s possible that if he’d walked in a different door he might have found Cersei and the Hound fucking. Jaime later brags that he’s fucked Cersei next to the drunk king’s unconscious body, and Jaime thinks he’s controlling the risk-taking behavior here but it was Cersei who most enjoyed humiliating Robert and undermining Tywin—she needed it, maintain her fragile sense of autonomy and control. Jaime was just one of many tools she used to regain her narcissistic equilibrium. If he was gone (for example during the window between when he was recruited to the KG by Aerys and when Cersei came to the capital to marry Robert), she would have happily taken the next readily available victim.
During the course of the first two books this relationship deteriorates off-stage along with the Hound’s sobriety and/or sanity, until during Blackwater he goes from riding on horseback onto the decks of Stannis’ ships to vanishing without a trace (which forthrightly startles and discomfits everyone affiliated with House Lannister’s defenses, given that they’ve taken him for granted as a crucial part of their arsenal for so long).
The Hound had means, motive and opportunity to fuck Cersei. Cersei had means, motive and opportunity to fuck the Hound. George has a beauty and the beast kink—why do we assume it’s restricted to Jaime/Brienne, or SandoSansa, or hell, Dany/Drogon? There are multiple beasts in House Clegane, and Cersei is physically beautiful although of course she’s a true monster on the inside.
I personally suspect the sexual relationship had largely faded away by the time the story begins (Varys tells Tyrion that the Hound visits local brothels and wine sinks when off-duty), but there’s no doubt in my mind that while Cersei was cucking Bobby with Jaime, she was also cucking Jaime with the Hound (et al).
Cersei was obviously never emotionally or sexually faithful to Jaime on top of never being faithful to her husband Robert Baratheon. She’s just too selfish and vain and needy. She lives for adoration and control, and her addiction to abusing people is incurable. The Hound was someone she could trust not to betray her, someone who had no personal ambition at court, someone who would serve her unquestioningly and eternally—or so she believed.
tl;dr — Cersei must commit adultery for fun and profit, and the Hound was one of the consistently readily available sources of sex and violence in her life
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Timeline of Government Secret Projects PART 4

I had to break it down to 4 parts because the article is longer than 40,000 words

1990 (A) According to an anonymous BBC television reporter, Dr Louis West headed up the medical oversight for the Ft. Meade remote-viewing operational unit. (Constantine, Alex, "'Remote Viewing' at Stanford Research Institute or Illicit CIA Mind Control Experimentation?") West was also a "Member of the medical oversight board for Science Applications International Corp. remote-viewing research in early 1990s. (B) RF MEDIA/ 1990, CIA: Electronic, multi-directional subliminal suggestion and programming Location: Boulder, Colorado (Location of main cell telephone node, national television synchronization node) Targeting: national population of the United States Frequencies: ULF VHF HF Phase modulation Power: Gigawatts Implementation: Television and radio communications, the "videodrome" signals Purpose: Programming and triggering behavioral desire, subversion of psychic abilities of population, preparatory processing for mass electromagnetic control Pseudonym: "Buzz Saw" E.E.M.C. (C) TOWE CIA, NSA: Electronic cross country subliminal programming and suggestion Targeting: Mass population, short-range intervals, long-range cumulative Frequencies: Microwave, EHF SHF Methodology: Cellular telephone system, ELF modulation Purpose: Programming through neural resonance and encoded information Effect: Neural degeneration, DNA resonance modification, psychic suppression Pseudonym: "Wedding Bells" (D) More than 1500 6-month old Black and Hispanic babies in Los Angeles are given an "experimental" measles vaccine that had never been licensed for use in the United States. CDC later admits that parents were never informed that the vaccine being injected to their children was experimental.
1991 (A) SRI’s remote viewing project moved to SAIC (B) Desert Storm According to Defense News, April 13-19, 1992, the US deployed an electromagnetic pulse weapon (EMP) in Desert Storm, designed to mimic the flash of electricity from a nuclear bomb. The Sandia National Laboratory had built a 23,000 square meter laboratory on the Kirkland Air Force Base in 1989 to house the Hermes II electron beam generator capable of producing 20 Trillion Watt pulses lasting 20-to-25 billionths-of-a-second. This X-ray simulator is called a "Particle Beam Fusion Accelerator". A stream of electrons hitting a metal plate can produce a pulsed X-ray or gamma ray. Hermes II had produced electron beams since 1974. These devices were apparently tested during the Gulf War, although detailed information on them is sparse.
1992 (A) Eldon Byrd told me [Dick Farley] about it [lawsuit w/ Randi] over dinner at C. B. "Scott" Jones home one evening of several we spent together back in '92 and '93 there. "Byrd said that Uri Geller put up $10,000 for his legal costs. Byrd and Geller are good friends, from back in the '70s..."
"Byrd says he had been "set-up" by postal inspectors - part of some initiative to discredit him because he was too public with his personal interests in "psi," etc. He'd allegedly had some Navy security clearance issues dog him, which contributed to his early retirement as one of their senior most civilian scientists." "When he was still with the Navy, Dr. Byrd was the contract manager for some of the research Michael Persinger did on 'neuro-impacts' of various EMFs and ELFs. Something about wave-propagation and influences on submariners if somebody "beeped" them with mind-influencing EMF signals, etc. That kind of thing." (Farley, Dick, "False Memory Spindrome") (B) John Alexander. Last year, Alexander organized a national conference devoted to researching "reports of ritual abuse, Near-Death Experiences, human contacts with extraterrestrial aliens, and other so-called anomalous experiences", the Albuquerque Journal reported in March 1993. (C) December. "The U.S. Army's Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center is conducting a one-year study of Acoustic Beam Technology ... The command awarded the 1-year study to Scientific Applications and Research Associates of Huntington Beach, CA. Related research is conducted at the Moscow-based Andreev Institute." (From "U.S. Explores Russian Mind Control Technology", by Barbara Opal, Defense News, Jan 11-17, 1993. Research by Harlan Girard and others.) (D) Dan Smith [the Aviary's physicist "Chicken Little"] was for a while engaged to marry the illustrious Rosemary Ellen Guiley, who numbered Von Ward, Jones, Colin Andrews, and a host of others on her "Center for Crop Circle Studies" advisory panel back in '92-93. Rosie's moved ahead (upward?) to the angelic realms, following the market and the money.
But she does have the corner on American expertise on Wicca, and her close relationship with former (now retired) Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) "weird desk" and senior "applied anomalous" guy Dale Graff ... who was from my contacts with Scott Jones'. [Aviary's Prince Hans Adam- & Laurence Rockefeller-funded retired Naval Intel Cmdr. Cecil B. "Scott" Jones] Affiliated with Sen. Claiborne Pell, with Dale Graff being the latter's "inside man" at the DIA. The " Aquarium Conspiracy" by Dan Smith and Rosemary Ellen Guiley In the beginning, there was "eschatology" - the branch of theology dealing with the end times. Having spent many years first studying physics and then metaphysics, Dan came to the conclusion that the scientists have been looking at the World upside-down. Mind - not matter - is the foundation for all realities. Moreover, the materialist paradigm was in danger of imminent collapse, being subverted on the inside by its own contradictions and on the outside by the growing body of evidence for the paranormal. Creating and maintaining a reality is no easy game. It requires a lot of magic and a lot of conscious critters like ourselves who are pretty good at collective self-deception. Fortunately - or perhaps unfortunately - our particular reality game has about reached its natural conclusion, and we are waking up to the fact that mind and matter are not separate. We are undergoing an exciting-but-stressful revolution in our collective consciousness. This revolution - or global spiritual emergency - will bring upheavals and overloads in our global consciousness that will impact the material Earth for better-or-worse, and may quickly get out-of-control. We also will be opening up to other realities that will be impacting us as well. Our present very tidy sense of 'reality' and its boundaries is due to become much more fluid and permeable. Every spiritual tradition takes very seriously its prophesies about the End of the World. But for the first time, we are seeing these prophesies turning into believable predictions of Earth and reality changes. That is how Dan fell from physics into eschatology. [This last remark tells us that Rosemary is the one doing the writing here.] After experiencing numerous slammed doors among his former scientific colleagues, he decided that the most logical place to find fellow eschatologists would be in various intelligence agencies and among investigators of the paranormal. Dan next addressed how to communicate about the eschaton. Even a small hint that the Government is worried about the End of the World might start a chain reaction of panic, which could possibly serve as a trigger for the eschaton. On the other hand, people inside the Government might be wanting to set up a kind of civil defense network vis-a-vis the eschaton. And so they would be looking for people on the outside who could much more freely network among the general public. An important link in the communication chain is what has become known as the "Aviary". This is the final link next to the public network, and so it must be heavily disguised by its own surrealistic smoke screen. The Aviary functions best by amplifying people's own misconceptions about the paranormal. It does this by helping to overinflate individual pieces of the puzzle so that particular investigators get pushed further into their own blind alleys. People are encouraged to be so "distracted by the trees that they fail to see the forest". This cacophony by people looking for truth in all the strangest places provides an excellent cover for the deadly serious business of clearing the decks and battening down the hatches for the eschaton event. It is like a Manhattan Project going on behind the scenes of alien grays and praying mantises having sex with humans. However, this eschaton conspiracy is being orchestrated by higher powers. And we don't mean the "Committee of 300". Very few of the people even near the center of the orchestration have a clear picture of what is coming down. But they do know that something is coming, and that they will have front-row seats. [note: Interesting that Guiley compares the government actions behind the scenes to the Manhattan Project, since that resulted in the most destructive weapon known to historical man up to that time. And now, subconsciously, Ms. Guiley has revealed to us the agenda: Total destruction of the masses of humanity except for those few elite who "help the project" and "sign agreements" to keep secrets - such as herself. "When you dance with the Devil, the Devil doesn't change - the Devil changes YOU.] The "Manhattan Project" relative to the eschaton is a global civilian network of people who will serve as a lightning rod for the cosmic energies coming in during the consciousness revolution. They will be looking to channel these energies into expanded realities. Thus, they will provide a degree of protection for those people who can find their places alongside the network.
Outside of the network, there will be greater levels of trauma and confusion. The pieces of the network are already in place. The remaining task is to properly activate and link the pieces into a critical mass of awareness. This last step is now underway. This is how an 'Aviary' helps to spawn an 'Aquarium', and how 'birds' learn to swim. The Aquarium is our business, and we are working to reach people who are ready to be activated in the consciousness revolution. And here Ms. Guiley has described exactly what the Cassiopeans have described for us and have helped us to uncover - that the Negative Hierarchy has created the New Age Movement, the Human Potential Movement, the "Contactee" and Gray Abduction Phenomenon for the express purpose of locking the planet into total Control - to make it a "headquarters" for the Lords of Darkness.
And as the C's have said regarding the "Higher Powers" that Ms. Guiley reverentially refers to above: A: At those levels, there is only one "Master." Q: (L) "Those levels"? What 'levels'? A: Levels that can hand down orders to bury or suppress. ... Those who are at that level have been bought-and-paid for by both giving knowledge of upcoming cataclysmic vents, and promised survival and positions of power after. It is not difficult to realize that there is a body of such types in positions of power already. Power is not only attractive to such types, but they are also the kind most easily corrupted by it. We also notice that Ms. Guiley has compared the process to that of "birds learning to swim". In other words, she and Mr. Smith are giving their signature as part of the Scale Gang - the Reptilian Overlords, as opposed to the Avian followers of the All Giving Mother.
According to Dan Smith - who undoubtedly is privy to a wealth of accurate though not widely known UFO information - this data is being released through him due to the grave concern by high government officials about impending metaphysical catastrophe - the eschaton, or the End of the World. What we see, however, is that Dan Smith and Rosemary Ellen Guiley are being used to further the agenda of the World Controllers who do, indeed, suspect the "End of the World", but have their own plans to survive it at the expense of most of the human population.
It is this agenda that Ms. Guiley is now actively promoting in her writings and columns in Fate Magazine, which has become an organ of COINTELPRO, etc. We do notice that Ms. Guiley - like Whitley Strieber and the rest of the gang who play ball with the Matrix Controllers - have NO TROUBLE whatsoever getting "30 books published" and "hobnobbing" with the CIA.
1993 (A) John Mack: According to Dick Farley - former aide to C.B. Scott Jones - Laurance Rockefeller funneled "$194,000 to Mack's Harvard- affiliated Center for Psychology and Social Change via the Washington, D.C. chartered Human Potential Foundation, Inc. in the 1993-1994 period.
Mack's group then started "PEER" (Program for Exceptional Experience Research) and operated an "alien abductee support group" who - among other functions they served - became fodder for Dr. Mack's 1994 Abductions. According to Donna Bassett - who infiltrated Mack's abductee support group - the Center for Psychology and Social Change (co-founded by Robert Jay Lifton) receives $250,000 a year from Rockefeller. Rockefeller also gave $194,000 to PEER along with various other donations. According to Bassett, Mack claims to have received funding from an ex-CIA source. (B) Kit Green. Director of General Motor's Biomedical Research department. Attended closed meetings with Dr. Igor Smirnov under the auspices of his membership in the National Academy of Sciences panel on 21st Century Army Technologies. (Defense Electronics, 7/93. Reprinted in Flatland). Smirnov gave a series of closed meetings in Northern Virginia - starting on 3/17/93 - to the FBI, CIA, DIA, and ARPA concerning Russian developments with a device that allegedly implanted thoughts in a subject's mind. The FBI was considering using this device to implant the voice of God in David Koresh's mind, telling him to surrender. Other, non-intelligence participants included Dr. Richard Nakamura of the National Institute of Health [note: I think he may now be the director]. This technology was supposedly used by the Russians against civilians in Afghanistan and possibly on the Red Army to prepare them for battle. The American rights to this technology is owned by a Richmond, Virginia company called Psycotechnologies Corp. (Defense Electronics, 7/93. Reprinted in Flatland #11) (C) February 28, beginning of 51-day siege on the Branch Davidians at Waco Texas which ended in the death of more than 80 people. Until this incident, the electromagnetic weapons had kept a very low profile. But in the documentary video "Waco: The Big Lie Continues", footage from the British Broadcasting (BBC) shows at least 3 EM weapons used by U.S. Government agents. First, the noise generators used against the Davidians. Second, a powerful strobe light, shown during a nighttime sequence. And the third was the Russian psycho-acoustic weapon considered, but agents deny use of this weapon against the Waco people. FBI agents met with Dr. Igor Smirnov in Arlington, VA to discuss the possibility of using the weapon against the Davidians. (from "A Subliminal Dr. Strangelove", by Dorinda Elliot and John Barry, Newsweek, Aug 22, 1994). Janet Reno is also publicly connected to John Alexander (e.g., the recent "Non-Lethal Warfare" conference). See also: The Man Who Knew Too Much - What really happened at Waco? Carlos Ghigliotti thought he had the answer, and now he's dead. Was he a victim of conspiracy, or his own obsession? Ghigliotti - an expert in thermal imaging - was retained by the House Government Reform Committee last year to probe allegations that FBI agents - despite their vehement assertions to the contrary - had fired their weapons at members of the Branch Davidian sect, trapping helpless women and children inside the burning compound on April 19, 1993. Last fall, I had quoted him in The Post as saying that infrared surveillance tapes - as well as regular videos made by the Media - contained proof that the FBI fired. "The gunfire ... is there, without a doubt." In March, he was finalizing his report to Congress. He also had been advising attorneys waging a $100 million wrongful death suit against the Government on behalf of the Davidians and their heirs. "I still have a lot of shocking evidence to show you," he wrote in a March 28 letter to Michael Caddell, the lead attorney in that case. When his body was discovered, Ghigliotti's office got the scrutiny that Vince Foster's warranted after his suicide. Police sealed the premises and carted off computers and files. Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) - whose committee had retained Ghigliotti - called for "a full and thorough investigation." The Justice Department's special counsel on Waco - John C. Danforth - asked a federal court to take control of all evidence from Ghigliotti's firm. I'd spent hours in that workshop reviewing tapes on his 8-monitor JVC video console, looking for evidence of Government perfidy in grainy images, debating theories while his beloved cats - Simone and Sipowicz - lolled at our feet. Carlos could be exasperating - brusque, inflexible and short-tempered, a fireplug of a guy who carried himself like a street fighter - but he had a soft side. More than once, he admitted to breaking down in tears while examining Waco evidence. Someone had to speak for the dead, he told me that he believed with all his heart that he had finally uncovered the Truth. "I've solved the case," he announced during one of his calls in March, urging me to come once again to his lab to review videotapes. "I know exactly what happened." But I was busy on other stories and never made it back. Now there was one more mystery to unravel: Was Carlos the final victim of Waco? The Russian government is offering to share with the United States - in a bilateral Center for Psychotechnologies - the Soviet mind-control technology developed during the 1970s. The work was funded by the Department of Psycho-Correction at the Moscow Medical Academy. "Acoustic psycho-correction involves the transmission of specific commands via static or white noise bands into the human subconscious ..." The Russian experts - among them former KGB General George Kotov - present in a paper a list of software and hardware available for $80,000. (From Opal article, "U.S. Explores Russian Mind Control Technology".) (D) High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program, HAARP The HAARP Program is jointly managed by the US Air Force and the US Navy and is based in Gakona, Alaska. It is designed to "understand, simulate, and control ionospheric processes that might alter the performance of communication and surveillance systems". The HAARP system intends to beam 3.6 Gigawatts of effective radiated power of hig- frequency radio energy into the ionosphere in order to (warning: all of which follows may be disinformation): ● Generate extremely low frequency (ELF) waves for communicating with submerged submarines ● Conduct geophysical probes to identify and characterize natural ionospheric processes so that techniques can be developed to mitigate or control them ● Generate ionospheric lenses to focus large amounts of high frequency energy, thus providing a means of triggering ionospheric processes that potentially could be exploited for Department of Defense purposes ● Electron acceleration for infrared (IR) and other optical emissions which could be used to control radio wave propagation properties ● Generate geomagnetic field aligned ionization to control the reflection/scattering properties of radio waves ● Use oblique heating to produce effects on radio wave propagation, thus broadening the potential military applications of ionospheric enhancement technology (E) During 1993, John Alexander and his team were working with Dr Igor Smirnov
1994 (A) By controlling the nature of the magnetic fields and causing them to simulate brain patterns, Persinger is able to stimulate strong emotions and hallucinations including the illusion of touch and movement. (Blackmore, Susan, "Alien Abduction: The Inside Story", New Scientist, 11/19/94, pg 29-31.) Persinger is shown demonstrating this device on the British TV show Horizon entitled "Close Encounters", written-and-narrated by Susan Blackmore. For their efforts, both Persinger and Blackmore have been accused of being in the Aviary.) Persinger was on the board of advisors for the False Memory Syndrome Foundation. Also an informal advisor to SRI's remote-viewing program. (B) As of 1994, Smirnov has worked at Moscow's Institute of Psycho-Correction using subliminal technology as therapy for drug abusers and others. The Institute has been strapped for cash after the fall of the Soviet Union, but it has refused to accept business from the Russian Mafia. (Elliott, Dorinda and Barry, John, "A Subliminal Dr. Strangelove", Newsweek, 8/22/94, pg 57) However, Smirnov works with the Human Potential Foundation and John Alexander. [note: I'm not sure how Smirnov's device is supposed to work.
Later reports claim it would work using inaudible, subliminal suggestions (spliced into phone conversations in the case of David Koresh). The device is definitely supposed to make the subject "hear" voices, as the FBI wanted to use Charlton Heston as the voice of God. This is definitely a different strategy from other subliminal techniques which are designed to produce mere suggestions.] (C) With a technique called "gene tracking," Dr. Garth Nicolson at the MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX discovers that many returning Desert Storm veterans are infected with an altered strain of Mycoplasma incognitos - a microbe commonly used in the production of biological weapons. Incorporated into its molecular structure is 40 percent of the HIV protein coat, indicating that it had been man-made. (D) Senator John D. Rockefeller (D-WV) issues a report revealing that for at least 50 years, the Department of Defense has used hundreds of thousands of military personnel in human experiments and for intentional exposure to dangerous substances. Materials included mustard and nerve gas, ionizing radiation, psychochemicals, hallucinogens, and drugs used during the Gulf War.
1995 (A) James Randi: "I told an audience at the annual meeting of the American Physical Society about the hilarious claims that Eldon Byrd made in court concerning important projects he'd been working on as a parapsychologist.
One was a wristwatch that would protect the lucky wearer against the deadly effects of hairdryers and electric razors that bombard the brain with those 60-Hertz electrical waves.
The watch would sense the phase of the offending waves and generate an opposing field to protect the subject....
But by far the best laugh of the trial was generated by Byrd when he proudly announced that as a result of reading and believing the book The Secret Life of Plants, he had a project going to train seaweed so that it could warn naval divers of danger." (Randi Hotline, 3/27/95 ) (B) SAIC - military contractor, located in California. Click here for their home page. [I couldn't find anything on remote viewing.] SAIC took over the research aspect of the remote-viewing program from SRI when director Ed May and his Cognitive Sciences Laboratory moved there in 1991. "SAIC - previously indicted on 10 felony fraud counts by the Justice Department relating to its management of a Superfund toxic cleanup site - has several prominent board members. Admiral Bobby Inman, former NSA Director and Deputy Director of the CIA; Melvin Laird, Richard Nixon's Defense Secretary; and retired General Max Thurman, Commander of the Panama Invasion. Previous board members include Robert Gates, former CIA Director; William Perry, current [1995] Secretary of Defense; and John Deutch, current [1995] CIA Director." SAIC owns Network Solutions, Inc. (NSI), which in September, 1995 took over control of Internet Domain Name registration from the National Science Foundation ("Spooks Spook Net Users", Paranoia, Issue 12, pg 26). SAIC is also working with non-lethal weapons, but I haven't heard any details. (Brandt, Daniel, Mind Control and the Secret State). U.S. Government admits that it had offered Japanese war criminals and scientists - who had performed human medical experiments - salaries and immunity from prosecution in exchange for data on biological warfare research. (C) Dr. Garth Nicolson uncovers evidence that the biological agents used during the Gulf War had been manufactured in Houston, TX and Boca Raton, FL and tested on prisoners in the Texas Department of Corrections.
1996 (A) NIDS established. At one point, millionaire Robert Bigelow offered to provide funding to the tune of a million dollars for a cooperative research effort of the "Big Three" of ufology - MUFON (Mutual UFO Network), CUFOS (Center for UFO Studies), and FUFOR (Fund for UFO Research). This effort - sometimes referred to as "the Coalition" - fell apart reportedly when Bigelow tried to control the direction of the group. UFO skeptic Philip Klass reportedly accused John Alexander of causing the break-up, although Alexander denies it. Maccabee has recently worked with the National Institute for Discovery Sciences (NIDS) and probably worked with-or-near Eldon Byrd, as the two both worked at the Naval Surface Weapons Center at the same time. (B) Courtney Brown, author of Cosmic Voyage, Dutton, 1996. Brown was trained in remote-viewing by Ed Dames and took courses at the Monroe Institute. Brown's book details his psychic conversations with aliens and repeats allegations similar to those made by Dames, Ingo Swann, Joe McMoneagle, and others. Among them are: ● Martians live among us and seek our help to return home. They live in South America and under the mountain Santa Fe Baldy. ● Brown psychically contacted Jesus, Guru Dev, and Buddha. ● The idea for the "Star Trek" television series was inspired by aliens to get humanity accustomed to the idea of working with alien races in a Federation. ● Specific plot elements of the "Star Trek: Next Generation" series were suggested to someone on the show via an implanted telepathy device. Many of Dames' claims concerning the Martians are presented in Brown's book. But Brown implies that this is the first time any of this has been revealed to the remote-viewers, even though the sessions took place in 1994. Dames made similar claims as early as 1993 (see Stark, Debby, "Talking to Ed Dames", NM MUFON News, June/July 1993) Courtney Brown founded the Farsight Institute in 1995. The Institute teaches a Scientific Remote Viewing course called "Farsight Voyager" which costs around $3,000.00. Here's the Institute's home page. (C) Radin is currently working with Joe McMoneagle in a project involved with remote-viewing future technology. (Compuserve On Line Conversation w/ Joe McMoneagle, 1/4/96) (D) Edgar Mitchell briefed then CIA director George Bush on the activities and results of the Institute of Noetic Sciences (Mitchell, Edgar, The Way of the Explorer, GP Putnam's Sons, 1996, pg 91). (E) Department of Defense admits that Desert Storm soldiers were exposed to chemical agents.
1997 (A) In April, 1997, millionaire Robert Bigelow donated $3.7 million dollars to the University of Nevada to found the Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies, which allows students to take undergraduate courses dealing with parapsychology for college credit. These courses are related - though not formally linked - to Dean Radin's research at the University's Consciousness Research Laboratory which Bigelow once funded. Tart is currently teaching at the University of Las Vegas as part of Robert Bigelow's Bigelow Chair of Consciousness Studies (Patton, Natalie; "UNLV recruits authority in ESP", Las Vegas Review-Journal, 7/10/97). (B) 88 members of Congress sign a letter demanding an investigation into bioweapons use and Gulf War Syndrome.
1999 (A) Michael Persinger: "My research has not been 'funded by U.S. interests'. All of the money for our human research for the last 30 years has been from my personal income as a professor. The only funding ($10,000) we ever obtained from the U.S. was from the U.S. Navy - thanks to Eldon Byrd - to evaluate the effects of 0.5-Hz rotating magnetic fields upon the degranulation of mast cells in the rat brain. The effect was small but statistically significant." (Letter to Wes Thomas, 1/6/99) (B) 2000 Terminal experiments are being carried out on women, babies, and men of all ages.
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POLITICS, PROBLEMS, AND POWER AT THE NEW YORK STATE ATHLETIC COMMISSION: PART TWO

BY THOMAS HAUSER
Nitin Sethi, a neurologist whose primary practice is affiliated with one of the best research and patient care centers in the world, is chief medical officer for the New York State Athletic Commission.
Dr. Sethi (who acknowledges that “no amount of boxing is good for the brain”) devotes an enormous amount of time and energy to his part-time job with the commission. He’s at the NYSAC for all the right reasons. It’s not the money. It’s not an ego trip. Sethi cares about boxing and its practitioners. In an October 2019 article for the Journal of Combat Sports Medicine, he wrote, “While ethical issues surrounding boxing have and continue to be passionately debated, the sport is here to stay and the passion and love for the sweet science is shared by millions around the world. Hence a more realistic goal for ringside physicians should be to help make this sport as safe as possible.”
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Dr. Nitin Sethi examines Nate Diaz before stopping the UFC 244 main event.
Sethi is a valuable asset to the NYSAC. One might take issue with some of his initiatives (such as extending the one-minute rest period between rounds to allow for an extended examination of fighters by a commission doctor). But he has been steadfast in his commitment to protecting the heath and safety of fighters which, for too many in boxing, is little more than a rhetorical device.
One area where Sethi has excelled is in stopping fights when they should be stopped. A fighter’s corner and sometimes even the referee might be concerned about whether the decision to stop a fight will cost them their next big payday. The ring doctor is concerned only with protecting the health and safety of the fighter.
This concern exposed Sethi to merciless ignorant online attacks (including ethnic slurs and attempts to damage his reputation by posting fake patient reviews) following UFC 244 at Madison Square Garden when he stopped the bout between Nate Diaz and Jorge Masvidal because of a horrific cut above Diaz’s right eye. Thereafter, neither the NYSAC or the Association of Ringside Physicians supported Sethi as forcefully as they should have. But Sethi made the right call that night.
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Nate Diaz
“I just did my job and stopped the fight when I was unable to guarantee the health and safety of the combatant going forward,” he said afterward. “My assessment was objective, based entirely on the medical facts in front of me at that time and based on my overall assessment of the fighter and not just the laceration. I am glad I did what I was there for. If I had not, I would have let myself down in my own eyes and those of people whom I respect very much.”
But Sethi is limited in what he can accomplish at the NYSAC. Too often, the commission overlords play politics with medical issues.
“You’d think that, after the human tragedy of Magomed Abdusalamov and paying twenty-two million dollars to settle that case, the commission would do everything possible to clean up its act,” one member of the boxing community notes. “But that hasn’t happened.”
Nowhere is this failure more evident than in the NYSAC’s handling of issues relating to performance enhancing drugs. “We keep talking about improving our PED program,” one frustrated commission employee says. “We talk about it, but we don’t do it.”
A fighter can lose his or her life in the ring. As Tris Dixon recently wrote, “There are few worse crimes in all of sport than allowing one person a physical advantage over another when the physical stakes are so high.”
But the NYSAC’s drug-testing program is fundamentally flawed. The commission takes a pre-fight urine sample from each fighter on fight night. For championship bouts, a post-fight urine sample is also taken. In today’s world of micro-dosing, having fighters urinate into a cup on fight night does not constitute an adequate PED-testing program.
The NYSAC has an outdated prohibited drug list and refuses to incorporate the World Anti-Doping Agency’s prohibited list by reference or separately list the substances banned by WADA. Thus, as things now stand, erythropoietin (EPO), blood-doping, and meldonium – each of which is banned by every credible jurisdiction – are not banned by the NYSAC.
Neither Quest Diagnostics or Labcorp (where blood and urine samples are sent by the NYSAC) is accredited by WADA.
Last spring, the New Jersey State Athletic Control Board “busted” two MMA combatants for illegal PED use. One of the fighters talked openly with deputy attorney general Nick Lembo and told him that he’d been using the same substance for years in New York so he assumed it wouldn’t be a problem in New Jersey.
The case of Jarrell Miller is instructive with regard to the NYSAC’s attitude toward banned performance enhancing drugs.
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Joshua (left) and Miller. Photo by Mark Robinson/ Matchroom Boxing
On April 16, 2019, it was revealed that Miller (who had signed to fight Anthony Joshua at Madison Square Garden) had tested positive with the Voluntary Anti-Doping Association for the banned substance GW1516. Two days later, VADA notified the NYSAC that a blood sample taken from Miller had tested positive for human growth hormone (a substance that, as noted above, is banned by WADA but, inexplicably, not by New York). Then, on April 19, it was announced that a urine sample taken from Miller by VADA had come back positive for EPO (another performance enhancing drug that’s widely banned but not in New York). But the NYSAC refused to suspend Miller for the GW1516, claiming that it was unable to do so because he wasn’t licensed in New York.
Pat English might be the best “boxing lawyer” in the country. He has represented Main Events for decades and is well-versed in the federal and state regulations that govern the sweet science as well as the ins and outs of illegal PED use in boxing.
On April 29, 2019, English (who is on the legal committee of the Association of Boxing Commissions) sent a letter to the ABC executive board bemoaning the fact that “certain commissions are completely ignoring their responsibilities under the Professional Boxing Health and Safety Act” and “it appears as though some commissions do not understand the extent of their authority to issue suspensions.”
English’s letter went on to state, “It now appears that certain commissions are ‘passing the trash.'” It then referenced “fighters who fail drug tests but are not placed on suspension” and declared, “An egregious example of this is the recent Jarrell Miller situation.”
“Some commissions,” English wrote, “have evaded their responsibilities by claiming that the fighter in question is not licensed in their state. The Miller situation is one of many examples. He was to fight in Madison Square Garden in June. The fight had been announced and Miller, a New York resident, had put in his renewal forms for his expired license. New York denied the license but it did not suspend Miller since he was not a licensee. This is circular logic and it misses the point. The suspension of a right to box is not synonymous with licensure. This is well established in other areas of law. If an individual’s driver’s license is suspended due to a DWI conviction, the suspension does not end when his license expires. It continues during the period set forth by the court. Placing an individual on the suspension list is not limited by whether a fighter is currently licensed in a given state, and the failure to do so under appropriate circumstances is a failure to live up to a commission’s responsibilities.”
On April 30, 2019, ABC president Mike Mazzuli forwarded English’s letter to NYSAC executive director Kim Sumbler with the notation, “You may want to use this with your attorneys. I do not disagree with Pat.”
That same day, Sumbler responded to Mazzuli by email, writing, “As much as I don’t appreciate his inference that NY is ‘passing the trash,’ I don’t disagree with his argument and reasoning. I passed it up the chain for review.”
Two minutes later, Mazzuli emailed back, “It was more than just Miller’s suspension.”
Sumbler concurred with a one-word reply: “True.”
That afternoon, four of the five NYSAC commissioners convened for a pre-scheduled meeting. Commissioners James Vosswinkel, Philip Stieg, and Edwin Torres were present at the NYSAC office at 123 William Street in New York. Commissioner Donald Patterson and Kim Sumbler participated by telephone. Commissioner Ndidi Massay did not attend.
The commission voted to allow the executive director to approve the insertion of data-tracking chips made by Sportsmedia Technology Corporation in gloves during MMA contests.
Next, Sumbler read from a written statement noting that, “The commission staff has encountered scenarios where a professional boxer is wearing tassels around his or her shoe which fall off during the course of a bout and create a potential safety concern inside the ring or can distract the referee who now has to remove the fallen tassels from inside the ring.”
In light of this danger to the health, safety, and welfare of fighters, the commission then voted to approve protocols that regulate the wearing of tassels in combat sports.
There was no discussion of Jarrell Miller or performance enhancing drugs. This is the equivalent of motorists drag-racing regularly down a city street and law enforcement authorities failing to halt the races but saying that the cars involved can’t hang fuzzy dice from rear-view mirrors unless the dice are properly attached.
The entire meeting lasted less than thirty minutes.
Two days later, on May 2 in a letter to the Association of Boxing Commissions executive board, Sumbler took issue with Pat English’s April 29 letter and maintained, “The commission does not have any jurisdiction to suspend an applicant, but, rather, may only suspend an individual after he or she has received a New York State license.” In making this statement, she relied on a single court case that had been decided twelve years earlier.
That elicited a same-day response from English, who wrote to Sumbler (with a copy to the ABC board), “The case you refer to appears to have been badly litigated on the part of the State [and] involves a suspension which probably should never have been issued since at least one other state and possibly two had looked at the same MRI and issued licenses. It is an opinion issued by the lowest level Court in New York which is not binding on any other trial Court involving very different facts.”
English then added, “I see more than twenty years worth of work in the formulation of the Professional Boxing Health and Safety Act, the Muhammad Ali Act, mandatory adherence to the suspension list, and years of ABC work pushed backward by actions (or inactions) by some in situations such as the Miller situation, most often by folks who have no background whatsoever in fighter health and safety and sometimes by those with no understanding of the sport at all. That is, to me, morally repugnant. Kim, it is obvious to me that, while the letter was sent out under your name, you did not write it. It has the ring of someone trying to justify a position rather than attempting to find a solution towards a just result. Such people, to use 1960’s phraseology, are part of the problem, not part of the solution.”
On May 6, English sent another letter to Sumbler and the ABC executive board in which he pointed out, “Miller’s Federal ID is issued by New York. The ID application form reads in part: ‘Boxer agrees to abide by these terms and conditions [the Rules and Regulations of the New York State Athletic Commission] and any other rules set forth by the ABC and the Boxing Commission that issued the identification card.’ By using PED’s, Miller obviously violated rules of the New York State Athletic Commission in violation of his signed application for an ID. The application form which Miller would have signed also states: ‘Any false or misleading statements on this application may result in the Boxer being placed on the National Suspension list.‘ Frankly, if that does not give New York jurisdiction to suspend his Federal ID, I do not know what does. The language on the form signed by Miller is clear and unambiguous.”
As I’ve written before, Jarrell Miller isn’t the problem. He’s a symptom of the problem. There are many elite fighters who are equally culpable of using banned performance enhancing drugs. Miller was just less sophisticated than they are and got caught. But New York, which (unlike most states) has the resources to deal with boxing’s PED problem, has made a conscious decision to not confront the issue in a meaningful way.
Contrast New York’s handling of PED issues with the approach taken in recent years by the Nevada State Athletic Commission. In early-2018, the NSAC pulled down what was shaping up as the biggest fight of the year after Canelo Alvarez tested positive for clenbuterol. This past October, the NSAC indefinitely suspended Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. (who was not yet licensed by the state) after Chavez refused to provide VADA with a urine sample that had been requested by the Nevada commission. It’s not hard to figure out which of these two states – Nevada or New York – is making a serious effort to combat the use of banned performance enhancing drugs in boxing.
So . . . What’s really going on in New York?
One reliable source says that Kim Sumbler told him she’s “hamstrung by the people above me” on the issue of performance enhancing drugs. A second, equally reliable source says she told him that she has wanted to act more forcefully at times on the issue of performance enhancing drugs but was told she couldn’t do it. Sumbler declined to be interviewed for this article, as did James Leary and James Vosswinkel.
Who then is making PED policy at the New York State Athletic Commission? The commissioners aren’t discussing PEDs in any meaningful way. The Medical Advisory Board isn’t meeting (more on that shortly). The answer is that, right now, outside lobbyists are transmitting their wishes to the Cuomo administration which then filters them down to the NYSAC in the form of directives through the Department of State.
If Jarrell Miller had been suspended, that might have resulted in litigation. And litigation would have run the risk of opening up a Pandora’s box with regard to PEDs and the New York State Athletic Commission. Miller’s legal team might have focused on the fact that Jermall and Jermell Charlo were allowed to fight at Barclays Center after “missing” VADA tests. It might have argued that, had Miller’s sample been collected by the NYSAC and tested by Quest or LabCorp pursuant to current NYSAC protocols, the GW1516 wouldn’t have been detected. It might have drawn attention to the gaping holes in the NYSAC’s list of prohibited drugs.
The powers that be who actually control the NYSAC from above (including lobbyists) don’t want that. They’re more concerned with their own economic interests than the health and safety of fighters and the integrity of combat sports. An effective vigilant program to curtail the use of banned PEDs might drive big fights away from New York (as happened in Nevada when the December 14 fight between Danny Jacobs and Julio Cesar Chavez Jr was moved from Las Vegas to Phoenix).
The NYSAC medical staff has to take control of PED policy and do what’s right to limit the inevitable human damage that flows from illegal PED use in combat sports. The commissioners won’t do it. That was made abundantly clear at the July 24, 2019, commission meeting.
Four commissioners attended the meeting: James Vosswinkel, Edwin Torres, Donald Patterson, and (by telephone) Philip Stieg. Once again, Kim Sumbler participated via internet hook-up. Three other commission personnel (including then-counsel Theresa D’Andrea) were physically present.
One substantive matter was discussed. A urine sample taken from a journeyman heavyweight named Tyrell Wright before a losing effort at Madison Square Garden on October 27, 2018, had tested positive for Nandrolone (an easily detected banned steroid). Wright had failed to attend an administrative hearing on the matter, and the hearing examiner recommended that the commission impose a three-part penalty consisting of (1) purse forfeiture; (2) a $1,000 fine payable to the NYSAC; and (3) the revocation of Wright’s license.
Appearing at the July 24 commission meeting, Wright apologized and said that “a person I trusted” who had been with him as a physical conditioner “from day one” had given him “something I didn’t want to take.” The commissioners were unmoved and imposed the recommended penalty.
The stunning thing about the process was that no one at the meeting asked Wright for the name of the person who had given the Nandralone to him. Government entities don’t effectively combat heroin use by prosecuting addicts. They combat heroin use by prosecuting drug traffickers. Where the use of illegal performance enhancing drugs in boxing is concerned, the suppliers are more of a problem than fighters. Presumably, Wright isn’t the only fighter that this physical conditioner gave a banned substance to over the course of Wright’s seven-year ring career. But the commissioners made no effort to cut off the flow of illegal PEDs from this supplier to other fighters.
The New York State Athletic Commission has a Medical Advisory Board. The board has nine members. Five are necessary for a quorum. The most recent board meeting was held on September 25, 2019. Nitin Sethi chaired it. Four other members were present, either in person or by telephone hook-up.
Kim Sumbler began the meeting by saying that the NYSAC has excellent medical protocols. That took three minutes. The board members then went into a closed executive session to evaluate the reappointment of current ring doctors and applications for appointment by two more doctors. After the executive session ended, the renewals and new applications were approved.
Next, the board voted to recommend to the five NYSAC commissioners that the NYSAC medical manual be revised to (1) eliminate “suspicion of glaucoma” as a cause for denying a license to a fighter and require a specific finding of glaucoma; and (2) require that a certain type of platelet count for fighters be calculated once a year.
Dr. Anthony Curreri then asked a question about performance enhancing drugs which Sumbler deflected, saying that the commission was looking into the issue of banned substances. But she gave no particulars.
Exclusive of the time spent in “executive session” discussing the appointment and reappointment of ring doctors, the entire meeting lasted less than fifteen minutes.
That was the only meeting of the Medical Advisory Board in 2019. The board has met twice in the past twenty-seven months. The first of these meetings, which occurred on September 18, 2018, lasted 24 minutes.
This is not a system that does everything reasonably possible to safeguard the health and safety of fighters.
On the positive side of the ledger, James Vosswinkel has suggested that the NYSAC consider recommending or even mandating that its physicians take a course called Pre-Hospital Trauma Life Support given by the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians in cooperation with the American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma. No action has been taken by the Medical Advisory Board on this suggestion. But a dozen NYSAC physicians have taken the course and been certified.
However, there are more troubling issues on the negative side of the ledger.
Marcus McDaniel was shot three times in a 2016 drive-by shooting. Two of the bullets fractured ribs, punctured McDaniel’s lung, ripped through his collarbone, and chipped his spine. The third lodged in his head.
📷
Ali Akhmedov vs. Marcus McDaniel
On June 8, 2019, McDaniel fought Ali Akhmedov on the undercard of Gennadiy Golovkin vs. Steve Rolls at Madison Square Garden and was knocked out in the third round. McDaniel couldn’t have an MRI before the fight because it might have moved the bullet in his head, so he was given a CT-scan instead. As strange as it might sound, a bullet in the head doesn’t necessarily disqualify a fighter from being licensed. A CT-scan is considered an appropriate substitute for an MRI.
But – and this is a big “but” – when commission personnel reviewed their paperwork after the June 8 fight card, they couldn’t find a New York license for McDaniel.
Marcus McDaniel (a fighter with a bullet in his head) was allowed to fight in New York without a New York license.
The commission then called Triple-G Promotions (the lead promoter for the card) but was told that it didn’t represent McDaniel. Finally, it tracked down Les Bonano (McDaniel’s promoter).
“Bobby Benton [McDaniel’s trainer] filed all the forms with the commission,” Bonano told this writer. “And I guess they lost them because, about a week after the fight, we were told that they didn’t have a New York license on file for Marcus. So we filled out the forms again. Marcus signed them again. And we filed them again with the commission.”
This is not good. What if McDaniel had been seriously injured in the fight? Think of the tragedy and the lawsuit that would have followed.
Moreover, sloppy administrative procedures and inadequate protocols at the New York State Athletic Commission extend far beyond lapses in paperwork. By and large, the men and women who run the commission wall themselves off from the boxing community. They don’t attend press conferences. They rarely visit gyms. They stifle feedback from their own staff. There’s a fundamental disconnect between the people in charge at the NYSAC and the “real world.”
In a sport as dangerous as boxing, that’s a recipe for disaster. Let a simple example suffice.
What precisely should a commission inspector do if a fighter collapses in the dressing room after a fight?
Calling a doctor would be a good start. Okay. How should the inspector call a doctor? Does the inspector leave the fighter unattended while he (or she) runs to ringside to look for a commission doctor? That could take a long time. Does the inspector telephone 911? Probably not since, pursuant to NYSAC regulations, there should already be paramedics and an ambulance on site. Does the inspector telephone someone at a designated number?
I’ve spoken with numerous inspectors and other “back of the house” NYSAC personnel. If there’s a protocol in place, they don’t know about it.
This is Part Two of a three-part series. Part One can be found here.
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Has anyone heard of the Left/Right Game? (Part 9)

Sorry I’ve not been in touch guys. It’s been a busy month. However, I’m pleased to announce that, as of yesterday night, I’ve finally touched down in Phoenix, Arizona.
I’m posting this log from my first American hotel room, which offers a gorgeous view of both the state hospital and a local prison. Auspicious times.
Drop me a line if you’re in the city or if you have any information at all.
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7
Part 8
Part 10
The Left/Right Game [DRAFT 1] 15/02/2017
As the darkness closes in, I find myself dragged deeper and deeper into the depths of my own subconscious, until I sink through the back of my mind into an indescribable place. A featureless, directionless, timeless void that exists at the weakest point of life.
I can feel myself drifting away, surrendered to an almost imperceptible tide, carried slowly but inexorably from the world.
The rest of the night unfolds in fleeting snapshots.
I briefly feel my body lift up from the ground, gravity pulling at my limbs as I’m conveyed through the forest.
An unknowable stretch of time later, I feel a distinct burning sensation to my right. In the world I currently inhabit, only an echo of the pain reaches me, but I can tell that it was once substantial. Unable to divine its purpose, I let the sensation fade away, before descending once more into the placid darkness.
When my eyes finally work themselves open, the sun is beginning to rise. Without an ounce of strength left in my body, all I can do is peer through my eyelashes, taking in the vague scene before me.
I’m in the back of the Wrangler, propped up against a soft pillar of luggage. There's somebody kneeling beside me, tugging at my right shoulder. When I try to address them, I discover that my voice has withered to a spectral whisper, so frail that it hardly exists at all.
AS: … Rob…
Hearing my voice, the figure shuffles round and kneels before me, staring into my eyes as they slowly regain their focus.
ROB: You just lay back Miss Sharma, I just finished patchin’ you up but I gotta make sure it’s good work.
AS: Wh… what happened to you?
ROB: Denise had me at gunpoint, had to act like I was all but dead. When she into the forest, I got free, took the med kit into the trees, fixed myself up a little. I was comin’ to help when I heard this awful noise. Went to check it out... that’s when I found you.
AS:... Is the engine running?
ROB: Wanted to warm up the place for you. You were in shock, and since the battery don’t run down anymore I thought-
AS: No I mean… how? The key, it got-
ROB: You think I’d risk gettin’ out this far with only one copy of my car key?
Rob seems almost insulted, and thinking back to everything I’ve learned about him over the course of this trip, I can see why he might be. Even in my weakened state I can’t help but laugh; though it admittedly comes out as stilted wheezing, diffusing quietly into the air.
AS: No that’s… that’s actually very “you”. I think Bluejay would’ve appreciated that information last night.
ROB: Yeah well, she didn’t ask.
AS: … I’m glad you made it Rob.
ROB: Glad you made it too. They build’em tough down in London.
I rest my head back against the luggage.
AS: I’m from Bristol.
ROB: Of course… yeah of course that’s… sorry…
Rob tries to recover his smile, but it slips quickly from his grasp. In its absence, his features cringe into sudden, uncontrollable sadness.
ROB: Miss Sharma I’m sorry! I’m so sorry!
Rob Guthard’s weathered face bursts into a heaving mess of tears. He repeats those two words as he lumbers towards me, throwing his arms around my waist and resting his head on my left shoulder. My hand feels like lead as I raise it up and brush it against his hair, holding him against me.
As the man continues to sob, I let my head roll slowly to the right, observing the damage to my arm. Last night, lost in the muddled throes of shock, the harm had been unquantifiable, the details drowned out by the encompassing haze of severe blood loss and a blaring, primal alarm which had forced me to move without questioning why. Now that I’m on the other side, bathed in the quiet warmth of the Wrangler, I’m able to fully assess the extent of my injury.
Everything below my right elbow is gone.
It feels almost like a dream. My upper arm is practically unblemished, save for a few dark bruises from last night’s fall, yet it descends an impossibly short distance before ending in a blunt, surreal stump. The wound itself is hidden from view, swaddled in fresh white bandages.
I can’t seem to figure out how I should feel and, consequently, I don’t seem to feel anything.
AS: It’s ok Rob. It’s ok.
ROB: I never… I never meant for any of this to-
AS: I know… I know.
Rob pulls back, his eyes still watering.
ROB: I’ll take you home, ok? I’ll find somewhere to turn around and we’ll get you home.
I can tell Rob’s offer is genuine, and to be honest I’m a little surprised. I still remember our verbal agreement, forged at the mouth of the tunnel; that he would not be turning his car around until he reached the road’s end. I never expected he’d be the one to renege on the deal.
I’m aware this could be my best chance to leave it all behind; to flee from the horrors of the road, before they take even more of me. I know the way back. I know that it leads to safety, to family, to blessed normality. However, as an insidious voice in the back of my mind quietly notes, it doesn’t lead to answers.
AS:... I’m still game if you are.
Rob sends me a heartbroken smile, which I would return if I had the strength. In that moment, a sombre understanding develops between us. An understanding that after everything we’ve seen, everything that’s happened, we’re both still choosing the secrets of the road. The decision reveals something about us, exposing a driving force behind our actions that negates our concern for survival, and overshadows the imagined protests of our loved ones.
It’s a decision only two broken people would make.
Rob spends the morning packing up the Wrangler, giving me time to rest. The fact that he’s walking around at all is remarkable, let alone conducting his usual routine at his usual pace. As I begin to feel life crawl slowly back into my veins, I wonder whether the strange force that has sustained us both, as well as the Wrangler’s fuel tank, could also have a mild restorative effect. The notion should bring me comfort; instead it makes me feel like a lobster in a tank.
A few hours later, Rob carries me out of the car, letting me rest in the doorframe. In front of me lie three mounds of dirt, raised slightly from the surrounding earth. Two are headed by crosses, formed from knotted sticks bound tightly together. The grave on the far left lies bare, bereft of any religious affiliation.
AS: Is that… Bluejay’s? Without the cross?
ROB: Didn’t think she’d want one.
AS: She wouldn’t have done that for you, you know.
ROB: Good thing I ain’t her then. I buried what I can, but that was some state she was in. Did the child kill her?
Rob goes to throw a foldable spade into the back of the car. For a brief moment, I consider letting his statement go unanswered.
AS: No, it didn’t… I did.
Rob immediately marches back round, his brow furrowed in confusion.
AS: I hid a C4 charge in my satchel. When she took the bag I… well…
I gesture to the bare grave. Rob looks as if he’s seeing me for the first time.
ROB: Where did you-
AS: From your son’s car.
I watch as my quiet assertion strikes Rob’s ears, as its meaning burrows through his consciousness, its implications contorting his features into a look of shame and damning revelation.
I can tell from his reaction that I’ve got it right.
We haven’t had a chance to speak since I learned his son’s name. That piece of information formed the crucial thread, stringing together the strange and seemingly incongruent discoveries I’d encountered on the road. Earlier in the week I may have been worried to confront him with this information, but things are different now. We’ve come too far, we’ve been through too much and, if he’s truly ferrying me somewhere with malicious intent, I’m powerless to stop him anyway.
I raise a weak hand towards him; a quiet request for assistance.
AS: I think it’s time we had a second interview.
Following a tense and guilty silence, Rob simply nods and helps me into the passenger seat.
ROB: It wasn’t military. It was commercial.
The Wrangler continues to crawl through the forest. I’ve stayed quiet for almost half an hour, letting Rob formulate a response in his own words, and in his own time.
AS: Commercial?
ROB: Yeah, explosive charges for controlled demolition. Bobby was in the business, had his own firm.
AS: You must’ve been proud.
ROB: Yeah… yeah he built that place up from nothin’. Tourin’ his office was one of the best days of my life.
AS: So… how did he end up out here?
Rob grows quiet, reluctantly accepting that he’ll have to start from the beginning.
ROB: … Bobby was a smart kid… smarter than I ever was. He coulda run the farm at 15 but, country life didn’t take. Instead he moved away to Phoenix, picked up a college degree, got himself a steady career.
AS: A steady career? That’s pretty rebellious for a Guthard.
ROB: Hah… well we were pretty different people… didn’t always get along. I was still a courier in those days, always jettin’ off somewhere new. ‘Course I went to Japan, stayed there a while. Then…
AS: Aokigahara.
ROB: That’s right. Changed everythin’. Came home after five years with a new hobby. Bobby didn’t care for the stories but... his ma had died sudden while I was away; we both wanted to start over, be in each other’s lives more so... he came with me to the Pacific North West, trackin’ down Sasquatch. Creature didn’t show, but Bobby had a good time campin’ so he kept joinin’ me. Before long he was doin’ the research himself, organisin’ trips, pickin’ up rumours of strange stuff all across the country.
AS: Sounds like a nice time for you both.
ROB: It was.
AS: So… was it Bobby who discovered the Left/Right Game?
ROB: … He called me up one day, outta the blue. This was about three years ago. Said he’d found a set of rules; said we should try out. To be honest, I thought our trippin’ days were over; I was back in Alabama and he was startin’ up a family of his own, but suddenly he’s tellin’ me to meet him in Phoenix so, of course I went along.
AS: And this time, you both realised it was real.
ROB: Bobby knew as soon as we reached the tunnel. He passed that way every day, knew it wasn’t supposed to be there but… there it was. He said that was the most amazing thing he ever saw. We charted it over the next year, whenever we could get the time together, but we moved slow, mapped the place out, turned back on the regular. It took us a while before we got the courage to stay on the road overnight, both of us were terrified the tunnel would disappear or somethin’.
I can tell Rob is replaying the events in his head. The reminiscence almost makes him smile.
ROB: Bobby’s wife was a real doll. Used to work in his office. Kindest girl I ever met, funny too. There was a decade between’em but you could tell they were good for each other. He shared everything with her, including the road. In fact, once Bobby got a little more secure with the rules, they started to map it together…explorin’ their own little world.
After a brief pause, Rob’s expression sinks slightly; the reminiscence is growing darker.
ROB: Few months go by, I’m hearin’ from Bobby a little less but, I expected that. Then one evenin’ I get a call from the hospital, tellin’ me my boy had walked into some ER in Phoenix.
AS: Was he ok?
ROB: No. He was in a bad way. Leg all busted up, delirious, askin’ for Marjorie. They found her bag in his car but... she was nowhere to be found.
AS: Bobby lost her on the road.
ROB: Yeah, that’s right.
AS: On our second night here, after we lost Ace, you told me the road had never hurt anyone before.
ROB: Well, that wasn’t a lie at least. It wasn’t the road that got’em.
AS: … What do you mean?
ROB: They made it to the forest. None of us had got that far before but… this time they pushed a little further than usual.
AS: Do you know why?
ROB: They were gonna have a kid. Marjorie was almost due… wasn’t travellin’ so well. I think they knew they wouldn’t be hittin’ the road for a while. It was like a uh… like a last hurrah I guess.
AS: But only Bobby came back?
ROB: They explored the woods till nightfall. When Bobby said they had to turn back… Marjorie didn’t want to. He never told me why, never told me what happened. By the end of that trip, Marjorie was still out there and he was in a hospital bed.
Rob takes a moment to collect himself, to put the facts in order. The trees are starting to grow thin, sunlight bursting through the widening gaps in the canopy. It looks like we’re nearing the forest’s end.
ROB: Bobby took a month or so to recover. Boy was desperate to get his wife back, and of course he’d become a suspect in her disappearance. Needless to say the first thing he did was head onto the road to find Marjorie.
AS: But he didn’t.
ROB: Nope… No he found her. Just uh… a little sooner than he thought.
I take a moment to process Rob’s implication. Suddenly I feel a stone drop in my stomach.
AS: She was on the 34th turn.
Rob nods solemnly.
ROB: Wasn’t the woman he knew of course. Stood there all day, just mumblin’ about the road. Didn’t even recognise him. I remember he called me up right after he first saw her there, his heart breakin’. He tried almost every day from then on, always stoppin’ at that turn. He’d yell, he’d plead, he’d bring pictures and gifts but… she never responded. Don’t know if it was really her but, whatever was on that corner, it belonged to the road.
ROB: Bobby lost somethin’ of himself on that corner. After a while, his fascination with the game turned sour, turned to hate. He thought the road was somethin’ evil, that it had no place linking into our world.
ROB: I was checkin’ up on him at that point, every few days or so. One weekend he said he was doin’ better, even said he’d been in to work. I thought maybe things were turnin’ round but... then he went quiet; didn’t pick up his phone for three days. I had my place in Phoenix by that point, and a spare key to his house. That’s where I found the note; tellin’ me he’d gone back through. One last bid to find his wife… and if he couldn’t bring her back well-
AS: He was going to destroy the tunnel.
ROB: Cut the road off from the world. I played the game in Phoenix, Chicago, a few different places, but that one tunnel is what links you to the road. I looked around his garage, found the box for a phone, lot of electronics all over the place… pretty clear what he’d done. So I jump in my car.
We pass out of the forest, onto a long narrow road. In the distance, I can see our route winding up a towering wall of sandstone, disappearing into a set of rolling mountains.
ROB: He passed me on his way back, just before I hit Jubilation. Thunderin’ down the road at full speed, drivin’ like crazy. That’s when I knew he hadn’t found her… that he was goin’ to take out the tunnel, end the game once and for all.
AS: But he never got that far.
ROB: I tried to talk to him. Called his cell, tried the radio frequencies, there was a number on the sim card documentation that he had, god help me I even messaged him on that one. In the end it was just me and him, racin’ back to Phoenix. He was faster than me but I was drivin’ better. After few bad corners I caught up...
AS: You ran him off the road.
Rob stares out at the faraway ridges, his hands grasping the steering wheel.
ROB: Cell service don’t work through the tunnel. He knew that. He was either goin’ to blow it up on this side… or while he was in there.
AS: So you were trying to save him or save yourself?
ROB: Neither. I was tryin’ to save the road... Say what you want about this place Miss Sharma, but it’s a doorway out of everythin’ we ever known. It’s the road out of… out of reality. It may be the most significant frontier we ever cross and that’s… part of me knew, that was too important for one man to take away.
For the second time today, Rob battles back tears, and for the second time, he fails. They roll silently down his cheek as he continues on.
ROB: He was more injured than I thought. He’d hurt himself bad before he reached me, that’s why he was headed to the tunnel so quick. He wanted to destroy it while he still could.
ROB: The road had taken almost everythin’ from him, and then I took the rest… I denied him his hope, took away his chance to leave the world on his own terms. In the end he didn’t even seem angry… he just asked after Marjorie. Asked me why she did it, why she left. I laid him to rest there, visited the place often but… I never had a good answer for him. That’s when I started preppin’ the next run.
AS: So you posted his logs online, and pretended to discover them.
ROB: Thought people would ask less questions that way.
AS: And where did we all fit in to this? Why did you bring us here with you?
ROB: I guess… I thought it was time the world knew. Didn’t want all this to end up an old man’s secret. Honest to God, if I knew the road was gonna… I swear I never woulda brought you here.
Rob’s features tighten, all his shame and guilt rising to the fore. I can’t say it isn’t deserved. Despite his intentions, despite his penitence, the man had blinded himself to clear dangers, hurt those closest to him and, on a road where secrets had killed so many, he’d kept the most significant one of all.
Well, perhaps not the most significant.
AS: You didn’t bring us here Rob.
Rob turns to me, confused.
AS: I met someone in the forest last night, a figure, just like the one you saw in Japan, “looked like static you see on a TV screen” … I think it was you Rob. I think I saw you and I think that… all those years ago…
In my current state, the mechanics of the event, and their stunning implications, lie beyond my explanatory capacity. In the end, I just raise my lost right arm, and wait for Rob to make the connection.
A moment later the car screeches to a halt.
Rob stares straight ahead, his knuckles white against the steering wheel. I’m aware that beneath his stone-set features, every square inch of grey matter is fighting to process the fresh revelation. If it’s true that, in those quiet woods, I somehow reached across the decades to a young Rob Guthard, then it changes everything. The twisting narratives that led us to this point, Rob’s burgeoning obsession, his son’s tragic fate, they all took root in that single moment. More than a decade prior to my own birth, I’d placed us on the path which would lead me to his door.
As chaotic as the road often seems, that moment in the forest hints at something deeper, something intentional.
Rob steps out of the car for a while, before wordlessly climbing back in and firing up the Wrangler. From that point on we continue as two silent passengers, lost in thought, disappearing into the sandstone mountains.
We travel across the thin mountain road for the next two hours, a wall of crooked rock hemming us in. When we pass onto the other side, and the outcrop falls away, the landscape below us has changed completely, and we’re treated to a strange and breath-taking sight.
The Wrangler is traversing the cliffs above a vast, flat desert; a tundra of vibrant orange stretching as far as the eye can see. I can just make out the road, cutting a meandering path through the sand far below us. At the centre of this otherwise featureless expanse, a collection of monolithic structures, towering columns of glass and metal, rise from the ground, connected by a web of long perpendicular streets.
AS: There’s a city… there’s a city on the road.
Rob keeps his eyes forward. Despite the epic majesty of the cityscape below us. I can tell that his mind is elsewhere, that he’s still digesting the contents of our interview. In the end, I think it best to leave him alone with his thoughts.
We stay on the mountain for another twenty minutes, before finally winding down to the desert floor. The space ahead of us is two-tone; the sharp saffron of the desert and the deep blue sky, separated by a thin, even horizon. The only objects that cross this perfect boundary, are the hulking grey towers of the city, rising from the sand, and bursting through into the heavens.
We snake along the desert road, the city looming ever larger as we make our tentative approach toward the border. There’s an eerie contrast to the threshold as we cross it; the cupreous glow of the sand switches to grey, the scorching heat instantly cools, and perhaps most notably, what little sound there was is negated entirely. As we delve down an empty, perfectly maintained throughway, I realise that I can’t hear anything at all except for the Wrangler’s steady rumblings.
AS: It’s quiet.
ROB: That’s fine by me.
AS: Who do you think built this place?
ROB: I don’t know. Maybe whatever brought us here. Could be that no one built it… maybe it just is.
I wonder if he’s right. It’s hard to think such a place would exist for any practical purpose. The city looks off somehow, as if it was built from conjecture, by an architect who had only heard of cities through poorly translated rumour. All the broad features are present, skyscrapers, lampposts, window cleaning platforms, but nothing deeper. It’s an empty shell. An ornament in the middle of the desert.
As we turn down the next few roads, I stare up at the monolithic structures, each one standing at least a hundred stories tall. My eyes track back down the countless strata of dark windows, as I contemplate what it might be like to live in such a place.
When I reach the ground floor, I’m presented with my answer.
There’s a young man standing at the ground floor window, his hand resting against the glass. He’s wearing a dark grey suit, and a look of almost mesmeric shock. His mouth open, his hands shaking, his unblinking eyes staring past us as the Wrangler rolls by.
My eyes quickly track back up the skyscraper’s glass facade, scrutinising each row of windows in turn. I’d naively hoped the buildings would be empty, that this place would be nothing more than a colossal ghost town. Now that I know otherwise, each pane of glass feels like a dark pool of water; still on the surface, but with sinister potential lurking within its depths.
A few seconds later, more of them arrive. There aren’t many at first; just a few scattered figures stepping up to their windows, pressing themselves against to the glass. However, like a light sprinkling of rain that erupts into a downpour, the frequency of their arrival quickly doubles, then triples, until not a single space lies unoccupied. The Wrangler shrinks, subject to the scrutiny of countless individuals, on every floor, in every window, all of them clad in the same monochromatic formalwear and staring down at us like the emissaries of a grand tribunal. As the Wrangler passes by, they continue to stare straight ahead, though it’s clear they’re aware of our presence.
AS: Rob. Rob there’s-
ROB: I see’em.
Rob puts his foot down, shedding the weight of a thousand pairs of eyes as he leaves the building behind. As the final column of windows slips by us, I glance back, hoping to see them return to the depths of the building. Instead, in those last few moments, I witness their collective demeanour fracture into a desperate frenzy, their mouths opening in a silent scream as they slam their fists against the glass.
Turning back around, I stare into the buildings that currently flank our vehicle. The figures have already arrived at the windows, and their calm is already fading.
AS: Rob, we need to go faster.
ROB: I’m on it.
The Wrangler growls with renewed ferocity as Rob plants his foot onto the gas. We lurch towards the next corner, accelerating down the road as Rob scans for any hidden turns. I achingly shift in my seat, keeping an eye on the scene developing in our wake.
Shards of broken window begin to rain onto the asphalt. Watching the shattered pieces tumble through the air, it’s apparent that the quiet in this city isn’t simply due to a lack of activity. The torrent of splintered glass is completely silent, even as it crashes against the impervious ground.
Nothing in this city makes a noise. Nothing except us.
The thunderous engine of the Wrangler has never sounded so loud.
Looking up, I witness hundreds of hands gripping the shattered window frames, unable to turn myself away as thousands of polished black shoes step over the threshold. The figures stream out from every floor, forming an incomprehensible deluge of humanity.
The first wave strikes the ground, with more and more landing against them; a heap of tangled figures struggling to separate themselves. Much like the residents of Jubilation, and everyone else we’ve encountered on the road, they appear impervious to the fatal harm such an act should impart. Those that landed on their feet hardly even stop, turning towards us, and sprinting after the Wrangler. It doesn’t take long for the rest of the writhing mass to resolve itself, its constituent individuals joining the frantic stampede, their chaotic charge and desperate screams bereft of any perceivable sound.
Even in the midst of the frenzied pursuit, as a foreboding shower of glass falls from every building we pass, the world outside remains silent; the chaos made even more incomprehensible framed against the ungodly stillness in which it takes place.
Rob screeches around the corner, drifting onto a long and open street. The roadway ahead is flanked by skyscrapers disappearing to a narrow vanishing point. As we race down this next stretch of road towards a large intersection, the ever growing mob bursts onto the street behind us, taking the corner with supreme coordination and continuing tirelessly in our direction.
A split second later, I’m struck by an abrupt and pervasive idea. It feels unlike any thought I’ve ever had before, less of a notion, and more a prescient hybrid of intuition and de ja vu, as if the course of action we must take is obvious to me, despite my not knowing why.
I force my voice above a grating whisper.
AS: Rob. We need to drop something behind us… something loud.
ROB: What’re you thinkin’?
AS: I uh… you just have to trust me ok? We still have most of the plastic explosive could you-
ROB: Nah, if you took out the blasting cap I ain’t got time to make a new one.
Rob’s glances into the rear view, then back to the road. I can almost hear the gears turning in his head.
ROB: But that the only explosive on-board. Think you can drive?
AS: I guess we can find out.
The car thunders across the tarmac as I clumsily grasp the wheel, shifting myself over and working my foot onto the accelerator. Rob lifts himself away and climbs past me into the back of the Wrangler. In my weak state, every shuddering motion makes my bones rattle. With each subsequent gearshift, I’m forced to take my remaining hand off the wheel and reach across to the stick. The effort is precarious and awkward, my aching limbs puppeteered by will power and adrenaline, every passing second a battle to maintain control.
The windows up ahead are starting to fracture. The noise of the Wrangler is carrying, and the entire city is starting to pre-empt our arrival. Behind me, I can hear the ripping of duct tape, the tearing of fabric and the clattering of falling luggage. I’m not sure what’s taking place behind me. I just have to trust that Rob has a plan.
I hear the back door swing open just before we reach the intersection, a metallic scraping along the Wrangler’s floor, and a pained grunt from Rob as he throws something onto the road behind us.
Reaching the crossroads, I slide my hand along the wheel and twist it sharply to the right. As the car lurches round, and onto the next road, I feel my heart sink dramatically. We’ve been overtaken. The windows ahead of us are shattered, the front doors lay broken on the street, and the building’s desperate inhabitants are rushing towards us, blocking off our only means of escape.
I slam my foot onto the break, and the Wrangler shudders to a halt, the engine stalling and cutting out. The streets are now spilling over, an overwhelming swarm converging on our position from four directions. I look back to Rob, and he meets my gaze, his eyes brimming with dismayed finality.
An explosion shudders through the air behind us. I look out the back window to see a shattered jerry can, one of Rob’s now superfluous fuel reserves, its dark green shell violently compromised, its contents spilled out across the road and cast alight. Now that the engine isn’t running, the echo of the blast and roar of the primal, balletic flame fills the afternoon air.
The trajectory of the maddened crowd changes instantaneously, the silent Wrangler has fallen from their collective attention, as they refocus onto the smouldering flames. Those up ahead continue to rush past us, streaming around the Wrangler as they scramble to the spilled pool of gasoline, digging their hands into the blaze, grasping hopelessly at the fire.
Delicately, careful not to make a single shred of noise, I climb out of the driver’s seat, joining Rob in the back of the Wrangler.
He addresses me in a confused whisper.
ROB: Why don’t they care about us? What are they doing?
AS: … It’s the sound. They want it for themselves.
I don’t how I’m so sure, but I know that it’s the case. The jerry can creaks and screams as the city dwellers tear it into smaller and smaller pieces, frantically examining every jagged scrap. With each passing second, as the fire dies down, the crowd grows increasingly distressed, as if a precious commodity is slipping through their fingers.
AS: They don’t understand it. They’ll pull it apart trying to figure it out and they’ll never get any closer… and then it’ll be quiet again.
ROB: Where you gettin’ this from?
AS: I don’t know, just a uh… just a feeling.
ROB: Well... pretty sure they woulda pulled us apart too. I’d say we’re pretty lucky.
AS: Hah, yeah… pretty lucky.
As the last of the gasoline is eaten up, and the fire dies away, the city dwellers remain in the streets. Devoid of their momentary sense of purpose, their prize vanishing into the ether, the crowd’s desperation fades into a hushed despondency. I watch them as they pass by, countless faces wracked with sorrow, their aimless shuffling forming a lonesome sea, a grayscale ocean that spans the desolate city.
The Wrangler is now adrift in the centre of that ocean. It’s clear that any attempt to start the engine would bring the entire city down on us, reigniting their futile hope, causing them to tear through the car, and anything inside it.
For the foreseeable future, we’re completely stranded.
ROB: Don’t worry about it, ok?
AS: I don’t think they’re going to leave Rob.
ROB: They’ll leave.
AS: Ok… and what then? They’ll still be everywhere.
ROB: Hey, we’re a smart pair. We’ll think of somethin’.
In the eerie, pervasive calm that surrounds us, I sit myself down next to Rob and lean back against the wall, with nothing else to do but wait for our situation to change. After watching the figures outside for over an hour, the only thing that’s different is a strange needling sensation that feels like it’s emanating from now absent forearm.
AS: My uh… my arm hurts… how’s that possible-
ROB: Don’t worry that’s uh… it’s called Phantom Limb. You got some sensation right? Like you still got somethin’ there? A lotta people get that after amputations. Here…
Rob reaches into his medical kit and retracts a blue jar of tablets. Twisting off the cap, he shakes two pills free.
ROB: You’re gonna need these for the pain.
I stare at the tablets for a moment, before collecting them from his open palm. He passes me his canteen and I swallow them down in two weak gulps.
AS: You have a lot of experience with amputations?
ROB: … More than you’d think.
My brow furrows. Though I’d meant my remark as a passing jibe, Rob’s response rings with a strange sincerity. It takes me a moment to realise why that is.
AS: I forgot... you were drafted. You never talked about it.
ROB: Been thinkin’ about it a lot though. Bunch of strangers brought together under false pretences, told that we were servin’ a grand purpose by some old liar. Guess it’s interestin’ how time repeats itself. Now that I think about it, he drove a Jeep too.
AS: Rob… I told you, you didn’t bring us here-
ROB: That don’t change nuthin’. Don’t change what I did… to you, to Bobby, to any of ‘em. Maybe you were there in the forest but I was the one who started this, the one who kept askin’ what was at the end of the road.
AS: What do you think is at the end Rob?
ROB: Startin to think that ain’t for me to know. I been movin’ from place to place so long, seen everyone else settle down. Far as I can see, the end of the road is just wherever you decide to stop.
I rest my head on Rob’s shoulder. He gently places his arm around me. It isn’t long before medication starts to take effect, quietly overtaking my already weakened constitution. The pain subsides, dulled along with the rest of my senses. The sun is still streaming through the windshield as my eyes begin to drift shut.
I watch the figures pass the window, my eyelids getting weaker.
AS: I don’t want this to be the end Rob.
ROB: I know Miss Sharma, I know.
The last thing I see before I fall into a dreamless artificial sleep, is Rob Guthard’s hand reaching for the rifle.
When my eyes work themselves open, the sun is beginning to set.
I’ve been moved. As my vision adjusts, it becomes clear that I’m still in the Wrangler. My head resting against a pile of fresh clothes, a soft travel blanket laid across me.
I glance around to find that Rob’s nowhere to be seen.
Momentarily forgetting the situation outside the car, I attempt to call out for him. The syllable catches in my throat as a shambling figure passes by the window, wringing its hands in despair and casting a long shadow through the car.
With a renewed sense of caution, I slide the blanket to one side, and slowly make my way to the up front.
The cabin is similarly empty, except for a single scrap of paper, torn from my notebook. It lies on the driver’s seat, a small object hidden within the fold. When I open it, I find my headphones and five neatly written words:
“Channel One To All Cars”
My hand starts to shake as I rest the note on the dashboard, slowly climbing through and placing myself gently into the driver’s seat. My heart in my throat, I insert the headphones into the jack of the CB radio, take a single, quivering breath in, and press the first button.
AS: Rob?
ROB: I’m uh… I’m sorry Miss Sharma.
AS: Rob, where are you?
ROB: Down the road a little. Got myself to one of the rooftops. I know I always hated cities but, once you’re above it, the view’s really somethin’.
AS: Come back Rob. Come back... please.
ROB: I wish I could. I do. But we both know those things ain’t leavin. And you need the car to get where ever you gotta go so… best I can do is make some ruckus, draw’em outta your way.
I rest my head against the steering wheel, bracing myself against the weight of his words.
AS: I can’t do this without you.
ROB: I don’t think that’s true Miss Sharma. I think whatever’s on this road… it wants you to make it all the way. All I was meant to do was bring you this far. Now you don’t have to listen to it, you can turn around and head home… but either way only one of us is drivin’ outta here. So I guess the only question left is... which way d’you wanna go?
AS: Well… are you ahead of me or behind me?
ROB: I can be anywhere. It’s your choice Miss Sharma.
In the wake of Rob’s words, in the shadow of the decision, I’m cast into silence; not because the choice is hard, but because I’m ashamed that it’s so easy. It was made the moment I first stepped into the Wrangler, and renewed in every perplexing moment since. The need to know, to comprehend, to uncover the truth has been with me all my life, but I never knew its roots ran so deep, that it would endure so ardently when everything else, everyone else, had been stripped away.
I stare into the rear view mirror, seeing myself for the very first time, and I have to admit I’m scared.
AS: Stay where you are Rob.
ROB: Hah… ok Miss Sharma… you ready?
AS: … Yeah. I’m ready.
ROB: Alright then… suppose it’s about time this thing did some good.
The shot explodes through the radio, before a faint booming echo reaches me on the quiet city air.
Its effect on the city dwellers is immediate. Their collective melancholy shatters in an instant, replaced by a renewed fixation. Before I know it, the disparate crowd unites once more into a stampeding horde, rushing past the windows of the Wrangler and back down the road towards the source of the noise.
ROB: They on their way?
As the last of the city dwellers disappear behind me, I run my hand across the steering wheel, and down to the ignition.
AS: Yeah… yeah they’re on their way.
ROB: Ok then... what’re you waitin’ for?
With a fateful twist of the key, the Wrangler roars back to life. The wheels kick against the asphalt, transporting me through the streets of the city. As I barrel away from the intersection, I see a small contingent of pursuers rushing around the corner behind me.
Rob fires the rifle again, maintaining the attention of the majority. The stragglers fall away in my rear view mirror, losing ground against the Wrangler.
I take the first left, then the next possible right, then another left, a few minutes later I eventually find myself on the last stretch of road, leading me back into the vast and empty desert.
ROB: So, you gonna make it?
AS: Yeah, I’m gonna make it.
ROB: Good. That’s good. Miss Sharma, if uh… if you find Marjorie, if you get a chance to let me know… well it’s more than I deserve but-.
AS: Of course… of course I will.
ROB: I appreciate that. Ok, they’re gonna be here soon so… I’m gonna go radio silent for a while. If I call, you’ll know I made it out. If I don’t call… you just assume I made it out, ok?
AS: Please tell me you’re going to be alright, Rob.
ROB: … It’s been a real honour drivin’ with you Miss Sharma.
The sound of a final shot reverberates through the radio, its echo drowned out by the roaring engine of the Wrangler. The world shifts around me as I burst out of the city, and back onto the desert road.
The way ahead is laden with immense possibility, yet as I disappear into the vastness of the desert, I can only think of what I’ve left behind. Rob J Guthard had his flaws, marked by loss, driven by obsession, his good intentions often paving the way to tragedy and heartbreak.
As the tears begin to roll down my cheeks, I decide to remember him differently; as a valued friend, a good man and, above all else, a great story.
No matter how you tell it.
submitted by NeonTempo to nosleep [link] [comments]

Deadspin Hit Piece (Text included)

Barstool Sports, a site for boys who wanna grow up to be Donald Trump Jr., is getting shit on this week. This is a justified shitting-on, because comedian Miel Bredouw called out the site for using a video that she made without giving her credit—in fact, we found they sometimes upload pilfered content via a dummy Twitter account that is not “officially” affiliated with the company and therefore keeps open a tenuous loophole of plausible deniability regarding content theft—and then marshaling their lawyers and Twitter’s eternal obliviousness to assist them in browbeating her into acquiescence.
Bredouw is hardly alone in having her material nicked from Barstool. Twitter user Dan White accused them of stealing his content and, like Bredouw, had the receipts to prove it. Red Sox stadium organist Josh Kantor accused them of lifting audio of his work without his consent, and was of course rewarded with an official Barstool schlub accusing him of just wanting attention and being the REAL asshole. In a perfect world, this kind of aggro shit would get Barstool kicked off of Twitter and would clue other media outlets in, at long last, to the fact that the company is shit and that Barstool’s content—from their sub-Tucker Max postings to their raft of podcasts that exist to supplant Beefer & The Squelch as the go-to sports talk barf-fest for meatheads all around the nation—is the chlamydia of the internet.
Outstream Video00:0000:00
But this is not a perfect world. How could it be, if fucking Barstool exists within it? No, this is a poisoned world that actively rewards some of its worst citizens, and so I fully expect the mainstream media to casually ignore these thefts, along with the fact that Barstool’s brand was built on harassing anyone who criticizes the site or just anyone who doesn’t look like fucking Dan Katz. Founder and Gavin McInnes cosplayer Dave Portnoy, who aspires to be Howard Stern but without any of the charm or talent, responded to Bredouw’s accusation first by making sure everyone at the company except for him fell on the sword
I regret our lawyer offering a 50 dollar gift card to our store not because it’s illegal in any manner but it’s just so moronic and makes us look like assholes.
… and then by using more material that wasn’t his:
He also claimed that someone submitted Bredouw’s video TO Barstool, and blamed her for not filing a complaint right away. He also made sure to note that he gets thousands of such submissions because he’s just so damn popular. So there you go. WOOOO. It took mere hours for Portnoy to go from being 0.0001% contrite to going the full Hannity and accusing all his enemies of being needy pussies who are jealous of his success.
This is Barstool. All the time. Every day of the week, the company exists to sic a mob of hateful frogs on anyone who doesn’t buy a cheap Goodell clown shirt. They’re racist as shit. Portnoy treats his own female employees like Lorenzo Lamas analyzing a model’s thigh gap using a laser pointer. He trolled Soulcycleinto temporarily having to disable their Instagram account because his then-girlfriend cheated on him with an instructor there. He ambushed an employee and filmed him showering because content. He sucks, both as an artist AND as a person.
Any time you object to this wanton assholery, you immediately get besieged by BarstoolPaddy and 5,000 other aspiring bots online, calling you ugly, urging you to commit suicide, and bitching about “virtue signaling,” a prevailing wingnut insult meant to infer that you’re either faking your virtue and should be an asshole like a real man, or that you DO have virtue and are therefore a pussy. All of Barstool’s grossness, from printing FREE KRAFT shirts after a prostitution sting to actively plagiarizing the work of others, is framed as high-larious satire that only stoolies could possibly be smart and funny enough to understand.
That lunkheaded strategy has, thus far, served them well. As you already know, there’s profit to be had these days in being an unrepentant cock. And Barstool gets away with it because the mainstream media still generally treats Barstool with kid gloves because they’re either too lazy to grasp the depths of Portnoy’s asshattery, or because they fear having a bunch of random assholes sicced onto them. When Daily Beast writer Bobby Silverman rightfully portrayed Barstool as a site that profits off of cyberbullying, he was inevitably cyberbullied at Portnoy’s behest.
Other outlets remain far too kind to that shitbag and his cronies. Our own parent company put Barstool CEO Erika Nardini on TV last year so she could do her worst Sheryl Sandberg impression and spew a bunch of technobabble lies about how Barstool supposedly empowers the people that it routinely harasses. Fast Company, being slow, named Nardini one of the most creative people of 2018, so congrats to the actual creative people she cribbed ideas from. SI’s resident NFL bootlicker Albert Breer routinely sends thirsty tweets to Portnoy, perhaps angling for a fallback job. Portnoy was invited as a VIP to the Daytona 500 drivers’ meeting (the race ended up having its lowest rating in recorded history). Boston magazine gave Portnoy a hearty profile as well, positing him as a bad boy media mogul. Like so many other joints have, that magazine paid cursory attention to the fact that Portnoy is a fucking awful person, but gleefully tempered that by describing Barstool as “one of the most popular and talked-about blogs in the country,” even though this little website—with all its precious, snowflakey virtue signaling OH NO—does far more traffic.
The reality of Barstool and its M.O. hasn’t mattered thus far. Portnoy has prattled on endlessly about his supposed popularity and how much everyone is obsessed with him. As a result, other outlets have taken him at his word and gifted his site a both-sidesy form of evaluation, the same as when they do a 10,000-word deep dive on people who voted for Trump to own the libs.
Barstool doesn’t deserve this. I am clearly biased here, since my colleagues have been publicly harassed by Portnoy: inundated with SHIT from his drooling fanbase, portrayed in racist cartoons on the website itself, and seeing their loved ones tracked down and targeted for hate mail. They’ve had to deal with this garbage because Barstool is fucking puke. You’re not the Fun Police if you identify it as such. After the company’s fallout with ESPN over the annulment of Barstool Van Talk, Portnoy proudly strained to portray the fiasco as further proof of his own renegade status, despite the fact that Barstool is owned by private equity ghoul Peter Chernin (a Hillary donor who was once President and COO of NewsCorp), and despite the fact that they are more than happy to accept all of the perks—i.e. profits—of being their own established, mainstream media concern. Point out that it’s all built on hackery, and Portnoy will just accuse you of doing the shit he already does as a matter of routine.
I look forward to Portnoy reacting to this post with his patented brand of painfully contrived brashness. He’ll clumsily fisk it like a lobotomized Mike Schur. Gonna be a blazing display of comedic originality. He might even remind me that Gawker Media went bankrupt once, which ZOMG! I had no idea! Comparing brand valuations is definitely how you determine who’s a good guy and who isn’t. He might also brag about living rent-free in Deadspin’s head, ironic coming from a guy who gets publicly triggered by every conceivable slight. Someone might even put the Jonah Hill “nah” gif in my feed. I may never recover from that.
This kind of manufactured backlash is all part of Barstool’s business plan. It IS the business plan. It’s a bunch of shitheels claiming it’s them against the world, when the world is in fact set up to aid them in their shitheelery. Believe me, I get the lure of convincing yourself you’re an outsider and your critics are all wrong. But normal people temper that urge with at least a modicum of self-awareness. Not here. Attacking people helps feed into Barstool’s never-ending and poisonous inferiority complex, and the fact that the company even hinted at possibly doing bad by Bredouw is proof that, deep down, they don’t wanna know what REAL radioactivity feels like, nor how much it costs.
They ought to. If you wanna know why such an inherently worthless enterprise is worth an estimated $100 million according to Bloomberg, it’s because everyone else is either asleep at the switch or happy to profit off a joint built on misery. That’s irresponsible horseshit, and it needs to be called out. From Breer to the Daytona 500, you deserve to be criticized if you support Barstool and/or treat them as anything other than the corporate equivalent of the MAGA hat teen. It’s an enterprise that profits off of manufacturing shitty people and exploiting the built-in fatigue most people have regarding online accusations of joke theft. If you’re kowtowing to Barstool’s smugness out of either ignorance or admiration, you deserve to be responsibly shit on for it. It’s a site for common boys and by common boys, boys who are too hostile and too fucking stupid to ever become real men.
submitted by bluemangrope to barstoolsports [link] [comments]

An Introduction to PC Music, Pop's Weirdest Collective

You’ve probably heard quite a bit about PC Music or some of its more prominent artists and collaborators. You’re probably unsure if it’s a genre, a label, or a type of computer. You’re not sure who’s in it, alongside it, inspired by it.
Don’t fret.
The history and existence of PC Music can be as confusing as the music sounds, but behind its industrial, divisive nature lies an art collective as fascinated with challenging materialism, gender norms, and corporate culture as they are with crafting genre-defying electronic tracks.
So here’s an introduction to PC Music. I will describe what PC Music embodies, lay out a general timeline of the label from inception to today, highlight important members and affiliates, discuss key tracks, and hopefully explain why the label has quickly risen to be one of pop’s most promising influences.
So, without further ado, let’s get into it.

What Is PC Music?

To talk about art, we need context. And, like any other genre of music or medium of art, one cannot understand the reasoning behind decisions and stylistic choices in a bubble. PC Music is no different. The need for a postmodern dissertation on pop culture would be filled eventually - PC Music is not the first, nor is it the last.
So to explain, let’s go back, back to 1959.
If you have zero knowledge of art history that’s okay. Here’s a run down. People made art. People got tired of those constraints and broke the rules. Then people realized breaking the rules came with its own sense of constraints and got boring. The cycle continues. Of course, that’s a horrible oversimplification, but my point stands. Art exists, and eventually people want to go against the grain. But then, that becomes traditionally uncool, and people can end up embracing qualities of art the group before them rejected. For example, Dadaists rejected traditional art after the horrors of World War I and created political, reactionary art. They didn’t make art, they made anti-art. Neo-dadaists found what abstract expressionists did around the Dada period pretty elitist, and paved the way for art movements like Pop Art.
One influential Neo-dada community of artists was called Fluxus. To keep it relatively brief, Fluxus was a group of designers, performance artists, composers, etc. who all operated independently, each with differing ideas of what the movement meant, a malleable definition that serves as the crux of what Fluxus is. Sound familiar? Fluxus artists loosely interpreted the general idea of questioning the role of art and believed that defining the movement was too elitist. They wanted to make art accessible to all and used techniques such as humor to achieve this goal. Sounds quite a bit like PC Music’s attachment to the duplicity of embracing and criticizing consumerism.
So, what is PC Music?
I don’t think that’s an easy question to answer. I think it’s best to listen for yourself and form your ideas about what the genre entails, but I’ll give a quick outline of the key points.
At face value, PC Music is glamorous, uncanny valley-esque, J-pop inspired pop music. It’s usually marked by overzealous, high-pitched (usually female) vocals. The production is very synthy, but oftentimes with a hint of something sinister up its sleeve, a slinkering dark bassline that is PC Music’s signature track. If trap is defined by its percussion and dubstep by its wubs, then PC Music is defined by the bubblegum bass. Of course, there’s a good amount of the genre that lacks this element, but it’s integral to many of the label’s most important tracks.
Thematically however, there’s a lot more in play. Like much of pop music, PC Music prominently features romance as a common subject. However, this love is contrasted with the format of delivery of most music, and the ramifications of romance and love songs as an industry. PC Music songs oftentimes have a relationship with consumerism, and it’s usually not as cut and dry as “capitalism is bad.” Take QT’s Hey QT - the video dramatizes the process of creating a product out of a popstar, going to the limits of visualizing the capitalization of QT’s emotional connection. Or SOPHIE’s L.O.V.E., which takes a nearly perpendicular approach to most PC Music, sounding as abrasive as possible, with a droning proclamation of “L O V E.” SOPHIE used to open her sets with this track, making for a painful experience for the listener in a way not dissimilar to danger music, an avant garde genre of music which involved potentially physically harming the listener with compositions such as noise music that damaged eardrums to extremes such as plowing a bulldozer through a live concert in efforts to explore the relationship between performer and audience. These are the types of themes PC Music explores beneath its saccharine, innocent exterior.
PC Music has started to become used as a general term for any type of experimental music, and as much as that personally irks me, for the sake of what PC Music embodies, I don’t think I can contest that usage of language. It wouldn’t be a negative thing if PC Music trickles its way into more watered down production. Fluxus artists claimed their goal was not only to change art, but change history, and if this is PC Music’s foray into that field, it’ll be interesting to see how that happens.

Digital Birth - A Timeline

In early 2012, A.G. Cook launched a website/pseudo-label named Gamsonite where he posted tracks from artists like GFOTY that were inspired by 90s internet culture, from low-poly Sims-like CGI to glittery, gaudy gifs. At this time, Cook was studying electronic music at Goldsmiths, a university in London that had a course he was taking at the time called Music Computing. If that sounds familiar, that’s because the course set the foundation for what Cook would describe as “computer music,” which ended up becoming the collective we know as PC Music. Working with GFOTY, Hannah Diamond, and more, he created the label PC Music in June 2013. The label found quick prominence on SoundCloud, where they amassed hundreds of thousands of plays by the end of the year. They performed at SXSW in March 2014, which marked their first performance in the US. However, their first major release for the label didn’t arrive until they released Hannah Diamond’s Every Night on November 24th, 2014.
The next big release for PC Music was dropped a year later. On March 25th, 2015, A. G. Cook and PC Music affiliate SOPHIE (who I’ll get to later, don’t worry!) released a song under the name QT called Hey QT under XL Recordings. It was the biggest release yet for the group, and with a video and aesthetic that was defined, mysterious, and just plain weird, it gained PC Music quite a bit of online exposure. They capitalized on this hype by shortly releasing their first album release, PC Music Vol. 1 on May 2nd. The compilation included tracks from A. G. Cook, GFOTY, Hannah Diamond, Danny L Harle, Lipgloss Twins, and more. However, that wasn’t the biggest of their moves in that year.
On October 21st, 2015, the label announced a partnership with Columbia Records, which allowed them the possibility of higher profile names to collaborate with. This would become true after their first release under Columbia, a Danny L Harle EP called Broken Flowers. The higher profile collabs begun to trickle in during the next year, starting with Danny’s Ashes of Love (featuring Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek) and later, Supernatural (with Carly Rae Jepsen). From there, PC Music started to make moves, releasing new Hannah Diamond singles, GFOTY records, and more collabs with outside artists. On November 18th, 2016, the label released their second compilation album, PC Music Vol. 2.
2017 saw the release of even more PC Music artists’ projects. Danny L Harle released the 1UL EP. GFOTY released a compilation album called GFOTYBUCKS. Hannah Diamond released an EP called Soon I won’t see you at all. As a collective, PC Music released their third compilation album, Month of Mayhem.
2018 may have been a slower year for PC Music, with only a few releases - a Tommy Cash song called Pussy Money Weed, a Danny L Harle and Clairo collab called Blue Angel, an easyFun track called Be Your USA, a felicita and Caroline Polachek collab called marzipan, a Hannah Diamond track called True, and the first EP by umru called Search Result. However, it was an impressive year for PC Music affiliates. SOPHIE released her debut album, OIL OF EVERY PEARL’S UN-INSIDES, to critical acclaim, even nabbing a Grammy nomination. Kero Kero Bonito released their TOTEP EP and a full album later in the year, Time ‘n’ Place. While both artists had relative internet popularity during the releases of earlier projects, both albums helped each artist grow both musically and commercially, with both ironically nabbing sets on Friday of the 2019 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival.
What does 2019 hold for PC Music? Honestly, I’m not sure. A. G. Cook and umru both gave digital performances in Minecraft’s 2019 Fire Festival (I’m not making this up) and the label just had a release party for umru’s latest EP in LA. Hannah Diamond’s debut album is reportedly coming soon, and other than that, I don’t have much more info. Hopefully, the label will announce more in the coming months in terms of releases.
However, it seems the label could potentially be on its decline. Collaborators have been distancing themselves from a PC Music moniker, GFOTY (who has been there since their inception) recently announced her departure from the label due to creative differences. I’m not saying it’s dying, but we will have to see what the future will hold for PC Music.

The Artists - Now And Then

PC Music has had a ton of artists release under the label, some which are aliases of others, some which only appear on remixes, some which only have collaborations on the label.
The list is long, so I’ll spare myself typing this out, Wikipedia has a comprehensive list of all the artists on the label or have been in the past. However, I’ll give a rundown of who’s who in terms of key players and notable affiliates.

Key Players

A. G. Cook
As I mentioned before, A. G. Cook is very much the brains behind PC Music. Not only is he the founder of PC Music, but he has lots of credits on tracks on the label, helping keep the bubblegum bass aesthetic cohesive and potent. And it should be mentioned that he’s never “signed” anyone officially, and instead artists upload songs through Soundcloud (and lately Spotify). This counter to the predisposed idea of a label supports everything PC Music stands for, and he ties together tracks with the label’s signaure adlib of sorts, a sugary proclamation of “beautiful.” This soundbite in question is from A. G. Cook’s debut single, Beautiful (which I’ll touch upon later), and serves as a thesis statement for what PC Music strives to be. A. G. Cook most recently executive produced Charli XCX’s Pop 2. He has his hands in everything on the label, being part of many of the label’s groups such as Lipgloss Twins, Dux Content, Life Sim, Thy Slaughter, and Guys Next Door.
Hannah Diamond
Another founding member, Hannah Diamond is a singer, photographer, and visual artist whose work perfectly encapsulates PC Music’s glitzy, almost too perfect sheen. She’s only released singles so far, but her current work is some of the label’s strongest, with more literal interpretations of what PC Music embodies. Her debut single, Pink And Blue, embraces the simplification of pop music relationships with a computerized instrumental and nearly robotic delivery. Her 2014 single Every Night challenges the preconceptions of physical attraction with a chorus that dances around the question of whether you like someone for who they are or for the simple fact that they like you. 2015’s Hi marks her most intriguing delivery yet, a saccharine buildup to the perplexing tension of anonymously messaging hi to someone online. With a strong visual basis for her videos and photography, it’s not surprise that Hannah is one of the label’s strongest examples of the the label’s tendency to explore more complex themes through seemingly innocuous overexposed pop songs.
GFOTY
GFOTY, or Girlfriend Of The Year, is perhaps PC Music’s most daring artist. Her music is abrasive, repetitive, and inaccessible, stripped down and almost laughably gaudy to the point of being incredibly rich for the ears, perhaps too rich. Her lyrics and delivery oftentimes reference and parody club culture in an overtly sexual way, with shockingly graphic songs like Friday Night and Tongue, which oftentimes feel overgratituous in nature. And that’s the point. Honestly, her music evokes an atmosphere that embraces the far more malicious nature of the sinister bass that PC Music tends to downplay - songs like Call Him a Doctor’s The Argument sound nothing but dizzying word vomit, and other tracks like Don’t Wanna Do It / Let’s Do It are almost horrifying in their execution. Something sounds off, like a bad trip or a situation that just doesn’t seem right. GFOTY thrives in that space, and in many ways, her music embodies the spirit of a club banger that just bangs too hard and has knocked everything out of its place.
felicita
Another really odd musician. felicita is underrated in the scheme of things, with songs that are a bit unorthodox compared to the PC Music “formula.” Ambient, brooding electronic tracks, sparse piano compositions, and violent, metallic dance tracks all come into play on felicita’s discography, and all are equally intriguing. There’s not much out there about the cryptic producer, but he has discussed inspirations from native Polish folk dance as well as Eastern Europe’s environment in general.
easyFun
Though one of the quieter artists on the label, easyFun is easily one of the more interesting. Though he’s only released a few singles and remixes, he’s responsible for some the label’s best content recently. Be Your USA was arguably the best PC release in 2018, and he’s responsible for one of PC Music’s essential tracks, the blissful Laplander. easyFun also has production credits on Pop 2’s Backseat, Femmebot, Porsche, and worked with A. G. Cook as EasyFX on Number 1 Angel’s 3 AM and Emotional. He may not have a lot out at the moment, but he seems to be one of the more promising artists from the label at the moment.
kane west
No, not the Chicago rapper. Gus Lobban is kane west, PC Music’s wildcard. With little to his name besides a mini album called Western Beats, a few loose singles, and some mixes on Soundcloud. Good Price, off of that mini album, is one of the most haphazard, spastic, and flat out hilarious songs PC Music has ever released, with included adages such as “free shipping to the world, customer recommended,” an obnoxious vocal loop that just states “shower curtain,” and production that sounds right out of a dystopian stock kit in FL Studio. It’s madness, and it’s brilliant. Oh, and the vocalist in question? None other than Sarah Bonito. In fact, Gus is part of Kero Kero Bonito, so this makes this a rare, fun KKB loosie in some ways.
Timothy Luke
Not a musician, but I added Timothy Luke in because he’s responsible for so many of PC Music’s visual design, including the label’s logo, Danny L Harle’s branding design, Charli XCX’s single and mixtape covers, and more (including the recent F1 redesign). He’s one of the most important designers in the world at the moment, and the work he has done for PC Music has been monumental for accompanying the label’s musical aesthetic. Check out his website for a portfolio of the design he has done so far.

Notable Affiliates

SOPHIE
SOPHIE has had quite the incredible 2018. However if we flashback to 2013, SOPHIE wasn’t quite as well known online. Fresh off the release of double single BIPP/ELLE, SOPHIE’s brand of off-kilter bubblegum bass started to get the attention of sites like Pitchfork, appearing on multiple year-end lists. The hype continued with 2014’s double single LEMONADE/HARD, the former of which gave SOPHIE her biggest exposure yet as a song used in a McDonalds commercial (no, I’m not making this up). Two more double singles later, she packaged these singles together in a package called PRODUCT, a riff on the idea of an album. She sold the physical album in a “skin safe, odorless, tasteless silicon product,” which is exactly what it sounds like. It’s these discussions about pop music as a sort of fetishization for consumerist culture that lays the groundwork for what SOPHIE’s music would become. There’s much more online about her work with her debut album, so I’ll let you check that out if you haven’t, but if you haven’t heard SOPHIE’s earlier work, please do.
Kero Kero Bonito
Kero Kero Bonito is a band that represents some of the more humorous, lighthearted side of the label. With tracks such as the playful Pocket Crocodile or the wholesome Trampoline, KKB released their first two albums with a focus on colorful, exuberant pop tracks that were just plain fun. However, last year, they surprised everyone when pursuing a darker direction inspired by shoegaze and Japanese horror on their shocking single Only Acting. They pursued this sound further on 2018’s TOTEP EP and follow-up album Time ‘n’ Place, which helped Kero Kero Bonito become one of PC Music’s most successful affiliate acts.
Charli XCX
If you want a brief history of Charli XCX’s experience and work with PC Music, please read through here.

The Important Tracks

This is by no means a comprehensive list of every essential PC Music song, but these are what I find to be landmark releases by the label (in order of release).

PC Music Releases

GFOTY - Bobby
Bobby is the thesis statement for GFOTY - boys suck and we all want to get fucked. Frankly, her delivery is childish and lazy, but that’s the point. If that’s not your thing, understandable, but on Bobby, it makes for an interesting self-reflection through such mundanity. It feels important and fresh. GFOTY repeats that “it doesn’t really matter” and that she’s “really over it,” but the verbose descriptions of past events tell a different story. The instrumental is a bit more easy to digest, an entrancing wave of synths and dreamy ambience.
A. G. Cook & Hannah Diamond - Keri Baby
Hannah Diamond be your best shot into getting into more daring PC Music if some of the weirder tracks intimidate you. Keri Baby is one of Hannah’s first releases, and it’s still one of her best. The production feels decidedly outrun/chillwave (hey Toro Y Moi and Neon Indian!), just more sporadic, and the it’s the perfect background for Hannah’s cut up rapid fire verses. However, the chorus is just plain alt pop, and in layman’s terms, it absolutely bops. Fortunately, there’s still plenty of edge, with a beat-skipping pre-chorus and maximalist production that A. G. handles best.
A. G. Cook - Beautiful
This isn’t what started everything, but it’s what really solidified a distinct texture for PC Music and got critics’ attention. Beautiful is a maximalist, layered masterpiece, a track that feels as visceral as it did on my first listen, from alien vocal chops to odd sound effects like coins dropping, warbling synths, and digitized snaps. Beautiful is sugary to a fault, with the only lyrics being a hypnotizing statement of “baby, when you look at me, you know i’ll be here forever,” and the sheer repetition starts to make it seem like a threat. It sets the groundwork for future PC Music releases, and it’s an incredibly infectious song to boot.
easyFun - Laplander
I briefly mentioned this earlier, and with good reason. Laplander is just pure alien bliss, a track that doesn’t bring much new to the table but refines everything in the process. It’s got a perfect balance of a club-ready chorus and industrial electronic production that operates like an millennial pink factory. There’s not much to analyze here, but this song is one of the peaks of PC Music’s discography, in my opinion, as it doesn’t stray far from the formula but soars to new heights.
Spinee - Hell Hound
PC Music’s roots lie in club music, and Spinee is one of the artists on the label to really exploit that to its best potential. A common collaborator with GFOTY, this instrumental track is as wacky as its CGI discombobulation of a video. Spinee has got a knack for brief but effective tracks and she excels best with aural attacks like Hell Hound, and by all means is it an attack, a constant buildup with no release, just more and more anxiety.
Danny L Harle & Carly Rae Jepsen - Super Natural
One of Danny L Harle’s defining traits as a musician is his music’s tendency to evoke images of nature. From In My Dreams’ reference to birds to the entire track Broken Flowers, nature seems like a common thread of influence for him. Super Natural is an interesting track as a result, with a purposeful space between the words super and natural. It’s quite obvious what the word supernatural means, but here Danny brings attention to the fact that it’s a step above nature, that this relationship is a step above what’s within the realms of possibility in nature. Oh, and Carly’s on it and it bops.
Hannah Diamond - Fade Away
This is possibly Hannah’s best song. It’s self-explanatory, a melancholy mountain of synths and processed vocals about saving a fading love. The chorus is divine, a beautiful experimentation with vocal effects that leads to something that feels ethereal, a more moving and emotional experience than most Hannah Diamond tracks.
Danny L Harle & Morrie - Me4U
With a stunning video starring Kim Chi, this Danny L Harle single off of his latest EP is just dreamy ear candy. A bit more 90s in its execution, the production is offset by the hypnotic vocals, a perfect compliment to the sugarsweet synths that otherwise permeate the track.
GFOTY - Poison/Tongue
These two GFOTY tracks are fever dreams, and combined in an equally disturbing video that mashes up the two singles, there’s a perfect actualization of the sheer punk panic that arrives once you hit play on a GFOTY song. Visual and auditory noise greet the listener, and these tracks feel more like performance pieces than listenable tracks, more fit for a postmodern art museum than YouTube (or is YouTube the real postmodern art museum?).
umru & Banoffee - heat death
umru is a promising upcomer on the label, opening for Charli XCX and proving his skill with some stellar DJ sets. His new EP, Search Result, yielded some positive response, and heat death is the highlight of the project. Banoffee delivers haunting vocals (“keep the things you cherish close”) on this straight up scary track. Vocoded cries for help lay over evil synths and there’s not much room to breathe on this frankly unnerving song.

The Affiliate Tracks

QT - Hey QT
This Soylent Green-esque video asks the viewer to wonder what’s really going on with this energy drink (that was sold at one point, mind you) and why on earth this video and feels more like an advertisement for a product than a love song. And that’s the point, as Hey QT aims to raise discourse on the relation between pop music and consumerism behind an uber-catchy and glittery pop track. You’re enjoying the music, but at what cost?
Madonna & Nicki Minaj - Bitch, I’m Madonna
This is honestly not my favorite PC Music track, but it’s an important one as it marks the largest collab PC Music has had yet, a divisive Madonna track that failed to make a mark but marked an important moment for PC Music, the foray into bigger collabs. SOPHIE handles production here and while SOPHIE isn’t technically part of the label, she is a close affiliate and this marked the introduction to this style of production for many people.
LIZ - When I Rule The World
Another SOPHIE-produced track, this LIZ single is as PC Music as it gets. LIZ brags over some recognizable synths that make for a femdom anthem that manages to be as sugary as its colorful music video.
SOPHIE - JUST LIKE WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE
There’s a lot of incredible SOPHIE singles to choose from, but the most important one is arguably JUST LIKE WE NEVER SAID GOODBYE. For starters, the song has zero percussion (outside of one slapping sound effect), which is pretty odd for a song, and especially odd for a PC Music track. Also, the song builds up to basically nothing, inching closer and closer to a triumphant release that never happens. However, it’s all of this that makes this song one of SOPHIE’s strongest - she’s known for her visceral and violent percussion, and by restraining here, it’s almost PC Music’s version of a ballad, a soft but frantic track that captures the magic of pining over someone special.
Charli XCX - Vroom Vroom
What has become a popheads meme started a wonderful relationship between singer and songwriter Charli XCX and PC Music. There’s not much I have to outline about this track besides the fact that it marked the beginning of PC Music’s mingling with the greater pop community. This track was hotly coveted to be released as an official single, and not only did it live up to the hype, it led to an EP that formed the foundation for Charli XCX’s mixtape releases.
Kero Kero Bonito - Lipslap
Kero Kero Bonito’s 2016 Bonito Generation is a stellar record, brimming with catchy, heartwarming pop tracks. However, the only instance of edge comes in the sassy Lipslap, a track where Gus flexes his production skills and Sarah hones her playful rapping, making for a track that sounds decidedly like PC Music to me.
Vince Staples, Kendrick Lamar & Kučka - Yeah Right
Yeah Right was hip hop’s biggest introduction to PC Music, with critically acclaimed rapper teaming up with one of the 2010’s biggest artists, Kendrick Lamar on a song that shares production from both SOPHIE and Flume. It’s a daring collection of artists, but it works so incredibly well, pushing and pulling the industrial production, and both rappers find comfort on these menacing beats. I’m unsure if there are more PC Music rap collabs in store (we’ve gotten a few CupcakKe ones), but if they’re as good as this, I’ll take as many as I can get.
SOPHIE - It’s Okay To Cry
There’s a ton of releases I could’ve chose from SOPHIE’s debut album - the BDSM monster of a track that is Ponyboy or the consumerist anthem Faceshopping. However, the lead single, It’s Okay To Cry is the most stark out of anything on the record. It’s SOPHIE’s most stripped down track yet, and the first track where we hear her vocals andalso learn about her coming out as transgender, as she delicately times her flashing of nipples in tune with the song’s drop. The production is minimal, but wows with digitally distorted explosions and magical piano loops. It’s a hell of a statement, but it also experiments with the definition of PC Music.
Charli XCX - Track 10
I’m basically gushing about this track at this point, but this is a fan favorite for a reason. There’s a ton to choose from Charli XCX’s two mixtapes and various singles, but the single most important track Charli has released with PC Music in terms of historical context is Track 10. Heat me out. While recording XCX3, Charli XCX had a demo for a song called Blame It On Your Love. As we all know, Charli XCX had a very unfortunate spree of leaked singles, and Blame It On Your Love was one of those songs. On her 2017 album Pop 2, this song gets the PC Music treatment, and there’s a sort of obscure contextual empowerment from this mixtape’s existence being because of all her music being leaked. The track is screwed up, messed around with, and there’s something self-referential about the fact that this song is simply named Track 10. There’s a holy atmosphere to it, an ascension that builds and builds to synth heaven, an outro that feels like a cathartic release. There’s a lot of meta-commentary within Pop 2, but Track 10 is the photo finish, one of Charli XCX’s finest tracks.
Let’s Eat Grandma - Hot Pink
Hot Pink is the SOPHIE-produced lead single to 2018’s I’m All Ears and a hard-hitting experimental electropop track about a partner who abides by aggravating rules and beliefs of gender conformity. It’s doubly effective after SOPHIE triumphantly coming out as transgender, and the simple chant of “hot pink” is an attack on these gender norms and the misguided nature of relating behavior and color to gender.
Kero Kero Bonito - Make Believe
Kero Kero Bonito’s latest record is as far as PC Music as you can get, or at least it sounds that way at face value. However, there’s still elements of their earlier sound, remnants of the sugary pop present in their newfound rock direction. Make Believe is perhaps the poppiest track on Time ‘n’ Place, a clean pop rock track that wavers between uplifting poppy synths and 2000s indie rock. While some artists are moving away from the PC Music affiliation, it’s easy to notice their continuation of these sounds on tracks seemingly devoid of the label’s influence.
So, I hope that’s a comprehensive enough introduction. PC Music has a ton of stellar music under their catalog, and while they may not take over the world, they will come damn close. It’s not for everyone but I hope that this clears up some confusion about the label and helps people listen to more of their music.
What’s your favorite PC Music track? Where do you see them going in the future? Is PC Music the future?
Sources:
Article about Neo-dada
Article about danger music
Early DIY Mag article about PC Music
Pitchfork breakdown on PC Music
The Guardian contemplates if PC Music is pop’s future
Interview with the mysterious felicita
Clickbaity Vice article with some interesting commentary
submitted by ThatParanoidPenguin to popheads [link] [comments]

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