Freedom of Disassembly

In the course of an otherwise interesting article on the overseas growth of American service organizations — think Rotary — Washington Monthly editor John Gravois lets slip the following:

And while the decline of these groups domestically is certainly not a good thing for America, their growth abroad is hardly unwelcome.

Certainly not. That’s a staggering presumption. A more reasonable assertion might be that service groups, like Playboy Clubs, had their day, and that day ended more than a generation ago. Times change.

Times were changing as we were growing up, forty years ago. Eugene had its share of service and fraternal clubs, but they were nothing for us or our friends to aspire to. Yes, our father was an Elk, but he was only an Elk because the Elks lodge was across the street from Autzen Stadium, and offered convenient parking for Duck football games. Our enduring image of such groups was the Loyal Order of Water Buffaloes, and we were definitely — certainly — too cool for that school. They’re so Nixon, y’know?

But while we were never a joiner, at least we were around for the end of their heyday, which meant that we knew them not for their idealized form, but for their depressing reality. “Conformist” wasn’t part of our vocabulary, but the word was still around, and it fit.

We say all this merely to set up our gut reaction upon reading that line: How old is John Gravois?

Because we suspect that only someone too young to know the reality can harbor a false nostalgia for the idea, an idea that may be traceable back to Tocqueville, but itself came of age in Coolidge’s 1920s, just in time for Mencken to skewer it, and barely lasted two generations — a moment in America, not a Grand Age.

And while we cannot be certain when John Gravois dropped into This Fallen World, it seems he graduated from Harvard in 2001 — putting him in his early thirties, with even Saint Ronnie and Bush I the distant memories of childhood, and so unknowing of the America he pines for that we’d almost mistake him for a Republican.

The Lions of Lagos, the Rotarians of Rawalpindi [Washington Monthly]

Waterbuffalos and the Stone Cutters.

An ex-friend of mine joined the Masons, mostly to improve his networking thanks to the many times he’s been fired, so we launched into singing the “Who keeps the Martians under wraps? We do!!! We doo!!!!” and endured many jabs about getting drunk, eating ribs and playing ping pong.

The big group in Northern New Mexico is the Fraternal Order of Eagles. The primary attraction of the Eagles Club is the bar. It’s primarily a blue collar Hispanic organization. I not aware of any Indian or Anglo men who were members, although coyotes (an person of mixed Hispanic – Anglo heritage) were probably welcome.

@ManchuCandidate: A family friend back home was an astrologer and former intelligence officer. Dude had an awesome collection of books of esoteric knowledge that he let me borrow. As a high school graduation present, he drew up a custom astrological chart for me and said that I would do well in college if I went to school in Arizona or New Mexico so I went to school in Colorado just to see what would happen. Didn’t like it, dropped out, got my degrees from UNM and you guys know the rest. The astrologer wanted me to go to Harvard “because that’s where the people who run the world go.” Probably Illumaniti.

My great-grandparents were Mason/Eastern Star. When I was little (9 or 10, I think), my great-grandmother took me to a meeting but they made me wait outside by myself because non-members weren’t allowed to hear all the goings-on. That kinda made me want to join just to see what all the fuss was about. Alas, my grandmother was the rebellious one in the family and her son (my father) followed the black sheep route, so there would be no Bionic Eastern Star, undermining the group from within.

I’m surprised that with all the recent blather about Our Founding Fathers no one has discussed the masonic angle. A lot of them (Jefferson, Washington – though that was mostly to meet guys – Adams – ditto) were Masons. Which was seen as a revolutionary movement in Europe and is kinda credited with being one of the main driving forces behind the Franch revolution. Hence the eventual banning by the Habsburgs. We’ve got a masonic symbol on our money, yes?

what happened to the promise keepers? did they go the way of the templars?

the main problems with these civic groups are: 1) the disgusting holiday innish food served at their get togethers. i was once forced to choose between baked industrial sized fruit cocktail topped with deli ham or frozen fish squares swimming in cheap bbq sauce. and 2) the monotonous, boring, and humorless* speakers. both make me want to commit suicide or get hit by another car on the way there rather than attend with feigned interest.

*there is nothing wrong with humorless people. most are very direct and to the point which is good for business. the problem is when humorless people try to be funny by telling lawyer jokes and such as an ice breaker before they began their presentation which immediately freezes all to artic depths of boredom.

@Benedick HRH KFC: Nick Cage covered all of that thoroughly in those National Treasure documentaries, which now will be students’ sole instruction in AmeriKKKan history thanks to the apocalyptic school budget cuts.

Yay! Lucy’s Stinque bowl just arrived! It’s beautiful!

And it’s a very limited edition. Do you think I’ll be able to retire on the proceeds from its sale in another 20 years?

If it had been available in cat size, I would have gotten one for Gracie too. For her it would be more fitting, because her food really does stinque. I thought I was going to throw up from the few seconds I had to have this morning’s offering near my nose.

@karen marie has her eyes tight shut: Do you think I’ll be able to retire on the proceeds from its sale in another 20 years? Yes.

The Shriners have used their money to build many hospitals for children. I would hate to see that go away.

That and the little cars.

@blogenfreude: Plus, they have annual circus fundraisers in my small town that are good cheap fun, plus they raise money for those hospitals.

That and the little cars.

Wait, did you shut the store down already?

Thor wants a Stinque bowl.

@Tommmcatt Be Fat, And That Be That: The Stinqueria’s gone — I got tired of the $7 monthly fee — but I think I can set up a free Stinqueria Lite for special requests. I’ll have a look this weekend.

@blogenfreude: The Shriners rock. I needed a majorly expensive and extensive surgery when I was a wee Lefty and my family was poor and underinsured or uninsured but my dad made some money so we didn’t qualify for Medicaid in Texas. The Shriners’ “Crippled Children’s Fund” paid for my operation and week’s worth of hospital care and follow up care. I never laugh at those guys in the little cars – they saved my fucking life. I empty out my wallet when I see them.

@Tommmcatt Be Fat, And That Be That: And, we’re back…

The Stinqueria has moved to the wrong side of the mall — basic storefront, no special page design, only one kind of each product available. (In other words, I can’t recreate both license-plate frames, since I’m allowed only one.)

But hey, I’m not paying seven bucks a month, either.

I’ve added everything I remember folks chattering about (the beige cap, water bottles, dog dishes), and I can add other things on request. If somebody really wants the Stinque Thongs, I’ll restore it.

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