"I’ve been keeping a straight face for thirty-five years."
November 21, 2017 1:21 PM   Subscribe

 
Finally! The "Bob"umentary that we have been promised!
posted by the return of the thin white sock at 1:25 PM on November 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


Does... does this mean I won't get eternal salvation or triple my money back?
posted by asperity at 1:26 PM on November 21, 2017 [12 favorites]


The original 1998 X-Day target date turned out to have been read upside down, so the guarantee comes due in the year 8661 instead.
posted by delfin at 1:34 PM on November 21, 2017 [17 favorites]


I have a copy of The Book of Subgenius somewhere. It occupies a space somewhere between hilarious and unreadable. Just like all the other holy books.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:41 PM on November 21, 2017 [14 favorites]


I discovered The Book of the SubGenius when I was in high school, and I can truly say my life has never been exactly the same since.
posted by Faint of Butt at 1:46 PM on November 21, 2017 [16 favorites]


I still have my ticket for the UFO somewhere.

Slack on, Bob.
posted by lumpenprole at 1:48 PM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


asperity: Only one way to find out.

---

I'm actually a paid-up member of the Church of the SubGenius, but kinda fell out of involvement in the community after a while. I got into it through my interest in the music of Devo, and because I find religion amusing and fascinating at the same time.

The joke... kinda got tired once I was part of it. But it was still fun, and I still like the idea of the joke. (I mean, hey, I dropped a SubGenius reference in an earlier thread today!) It's important, I think, to let the mask slip a bit, in particular these days where too many people take "jokes" far too seriously... such as on 4chan.
posted by SansPoint at 1:50 PM on November 21, 2017 [11 favorites]


I once asked twitter what the difference between the Discordians and SubGenius was and Bob answered me directly. Always nice when a prophet turns up in person.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 1:52 PM on November 21, 2017 [24 favorites]


If you like The Church of The SubGenius, you might also like The Holy Order of The Sasquatch.

I used to wear my "Bob" pin on my denim jacket, back in the denim jacket days.
posted by Fuzzy Monster at 1:58 PM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


Someone stole a crate of books from me freshman year of college. It contained my high school yearbook and my Subgenius books.

I was angry, but...it also felt cosmically correct.
posted by cobaltnine at 2:01 PM on November 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


16 tons of flax.

What?
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:07 PM on November 21, 2017 [16 favorites]


Hail Eris. But don't hail her too much, I made that mistake in 2016.
posted by Made of Star Stuff at 2:12 PM on November 21, 2017 [34 favorites]


Sandy and her husband invited me to and let me sleep at their home in Austin for SXSW. On one late night after I got home I got a chance to hang out with her and Ivan. I had no clue what the Subgenius is or who Ivan is. =[
posted by mit5urugi at 2:15 PM on November 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Can you even see the fnords, Pink ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 2:19 PM on November 21, 2017 [7 favorites]


Somewhere around here I have my membership credentials but, in true slackful fashion, I have no idea just exactly where. Nor do I care...
posted by jim in austin at 2:23 PM on November 21, 2017


Can you even see the, Pink ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 5:19 PM on November 21


Quick, fix that typo before the edit window closes!
posted by Ragged Richard at 2:23 PM on November 21, 2017 [17 favorites]


I once asked twitter what the difference between the Discordians and SubGenius was and Bob answered me directly. Always nice when a prophet turns up in person.

So what was the answer?
posted by vibratory manner of working at 2:24 PM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


I still regularly listen to The Hour of Slack.
posted by Jessica Savitch's Coke Spoon at 2:28 PM on November 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


The answer is it was all just a cabal of Discordianism all along (or maybe a schism).
posted by kersplunk at 2:32 PM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


There was a great devival here in town a couple years back, some of the most fun I've had on a "night out!"
posted by Matt Oneiros at 2:36 PM on November 21, 2017


Can you even see the fnords, Pink ?

On a clear day I can see them.
posted by ZenMasterThis at 2:37 PM on November 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


I saw their Kickstarter the day it launched, and backed it. I can't wait to see the end result.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 2:41 PM on November 21, 2017


I'm the #1 hit for "I understand what I'm saying" on Google. I don't know what to do with this power (other than break it by mentioning it here, so I guess from now on I'll be Google's #2). I found this out when my nephew, who just discovered SubGenius, looked the phrase up and found meeeee.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:46 PM on November 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


My older brother used to tape The Hour of Slack off the local DFW public radio station and he would occasionally play some of the highlights for me. I was a bit too young to fully appreciate the nuances of the show, but I do remember one bit that struck me as hilarious even back then:

The premise was that Ivan Stang had brought his two young, highly-indoctrinated children (played, I believe, by his actual kids) into work that evening and put them on mic to expound upon the wonders of Slack and its prophet, Bob Dobbs. But at some point he stepped out of the room, whereupon the kids started shouting "Slack is a scam! Bob Dobbs is a fake! Don't believe any of it!" after which Stang started screaming from off-mic "Somebody shut those kids up! They're going to ruin everything! Get them out of here!"

It was a pretty high concept bit for my brain to process, but I thought it was so damn funny that I've never forgotten it.

Praise Bob!
posted by Atom Eyes at 2:53 PM on November 21, 2017 [25 favorites]


I thought SubGenius was pretty cool until the Church got all Cease and Desist and lawsuity with First Comics and The Badger. That was very not Slack. I wonder if that's in the documentary.
posted by CCBC at 3:20 PM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


Love the Church of the SubGenius. It would be wrong to say it hasn't aged well, but I suspect that millennials don't really have any idea what this is. A very Generation X-specific thing. There was a video the Church put out in the late 90s that was quite well done, though I can't recall the title of it. It was basically an hour-long adaptation of the books, and very very funny.

The best praise for the Church is some blurb on the back of the book that says something like "...has the uncanny knack of imparting genuine wisdom under the guise of total bullshit."
posted by zardoz at 3:38 PM on November 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


I was raised very fundamentalist in a southern town. The Church of the Subgenius helped immensely with my deprogramming as a teen, and coming to grips with all the bullshit. Will always feel gratitude towards Bob and his magnificent pipe for that.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 3:50 PM on November 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


The video was called ARISE!, and is on YouTube.
posted by delfin at 3:59 PM on November 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


My sixth AskMe question was about the Wings of Slack. planetkyoto helpfully cut me some slack. I once made a wall of Dobbsheads appear, one by one, at the end of the hallway in my suite one night, thus confounding my rather Pink suitemate. I kept them up until we moved out. And I just spent some of my hard-earned grown-up cash on an ordination and some other nonsense. I spent hours going through the art mines back in the day as well, which I'm sure only encouraged the growth of the already warped bits of my brain. I always appreciated the artistry (and even the con-artistry) of it, though some of that stuff was just as bad as anything you'd find on 4chan (not sure I'm gonna get that squid woman I just saw out of my brain). I grew up reading conspiracy books like Big Secrets and Bigger Secrets, plus a lot of spooky mystery tales about stuff like Roanoke Colony, live frogs discovered entombed in rocks, the Bermuda Triangle, the Jersey Devil, etc. So breathless pamphleteering and credulousness are kinda my jam.
posted by limeonaire at 4:13 PM on November 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Thanks for the memories. A good friend of mine (well, I think he's still a friend anyway) helped with putting up that first website mentioned in the article. I remember feeling so cool for a minute there in the 90s because I knew somebody even that close to the masterminds behind the church. At some point the joke stopped being funny to me personally, but I'll probably always have a fond spot in my heart for these shenanigans. I worry it might be too dangerous now though. People are confused enough about what's real and what isn't as it is these days, I suspect.
posted by saulgoodman at 4:16 PM on November 21, 2017


Remember when conspiracy theories were harmless and kinda funny?
posted by panama joe at 4:33 PM on November 21, 2017 [20 favorites]


but I suspect that millennials don't really have any idea what this is. A very Generation X-specific thing

Perhaps, but a vast majority of the Erisians I've met have been millennials, so perhaps the spirit of the faith continues even if the Church of the Subgenius has given way to Discordianism.

And I am happy to hail Eris just as enthusiastically as I praised Bob.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:50 PM on November 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


That's an interesting observation; in the 90s, it did look as if Discordianism was giving way to the CotSG; one could possibly frame it as its gentle hippie whimsy being no match for the sharper, harder-edged irony of “Bob” or something. Perhaps the shift back is due to GenX slacker irony giving way to millennial sincerity (“feels”), and the CotSG's Reagan/MTV-era edginess feeling somewhat dated?
posted by acb at 5:15 PM on November 21, 2017 [8 favorites]


I'm an old millennial and I will fully admit that I read this whole article thinking it was about Discordians. Sorry!
posted by muddgirl at 5:18 PM on November 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


or kill me
posted by erniepan at 5:40 PM on November 21, 2017 [1 favorite]


it's simple enough - look around you

where's the slack?

where's the discord?

eris for the win
posted by pyramid termite at 6:11 PM on November 21, 2017 [11 favorites]


I still have my CotSG card backing my claim to be "Arch-Deacon of Ramsey County" from back in high school.

Yee-HAH!
posted by wenestvedt at 7:02 PM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


Also, I always loved that MathOwie left MetaFilter for Slack, and also slack.
posted by wenestvedt at 7:04 PM on November 21, 2017 [9 favorites]


Can you even see the fnords, Pink ?

On a clear day I can see them.
So lucky. I'm pining for them.
posted by Sparx at 7:54 PM on November 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


I’m getting to be an old dude now, and it’s always felt like one of those things you had to be there to get, and I wasn’t. Some weird pastiche of Dianetics meets charismatic fundamentalist Christianity, whose adherents took it slightly too seriously.
posted by wotsac at 8:04 PM on November 21, 2017


It's not just Gen-Xers who were big Subgenius fans. I am a Boomer who was in a quasi-Hindu cult in the 70s, was into the punk/art 80s zeitgeist, and the Church of the Subgenius was a wonderful send-up of my own life at the moment they came into being.
posted by kozad at 8:11 PM on November 21, 2017 [2 favorites]


16 tons of flax.
What?


GP: Maybe you are just crazy.
M2: Indeed! But do not reject these teaching as false because I am crazy. The reason that I am crazy is because they are true.
GP: Is Eris true?
M2: Everything is true.
GP: Even false things?
M2: Even false things are true.
GP: How can that be?
M2: I don't know man, I didn't do it.
...
GP: Is there an essential meaning behind POEE?
M2: There is a Zen Story about a student who asked a Master to explain the meaning of Buddhism. The Master's reply was "Three pounds of flax."
GP: Is that the answer to my question?
M2: No, of course not. That is just illustrative. The answer to your question is FIVE TONS OF FLAX!

http://principiadiscordia.com/book/6.php
posted by dinsdale at 8:21 PM on November 21, 2017 [5 favorites]


Alex Jones is the Anti-Bob.
posted by benzenedream at 8:27 PM on November 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


I’m kinda sad to see Stang lift the veil a bit. Part (all?) of what is/was cool about the Church of the Subgenius is how deeply committed it is/was to the weird.

I have a good friend who, from like 1990, has taken the concept of “slack” as seriously as possible and I have to say it has an appeal and logic to it. Get people to identify you as one of their tribe and then grant you special privilege because you have a commonality with them. Do the same in reverse. It’s a sly take on the Golden Rule and god damn it, it works. Unfortunately, the Church of the Subgenius seems to focus, for aesthetic reasons, on “normal” white American males. In my experience, the people for whom J. R. Bob Dobbs’ teaching resonates are generally wise ass outsiders who are relatively liberated from white privilege, but there’s something exclusive and off putting for me about the whole thing.

But in general — “lets all practice and live the message of slack” is more relevant, more spiritual, and more species-survival oriented than the message of any other religion in 2017. I would vote for any candidate for any office that identified with the Church of the Subgenius.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 10:33 PM on November 21, 2017 [6 favorites]


Alex Jones is an agent of Eris. Eris cares not for your slack. Slack is useless to her, until it isn't. Bob cares about you finding Slack, for a low, low price, just remember to send money orders so your Pink family is unable to cancel payment. Alex Jones will sell you specialized butt-wipes that cost you a rent payment, the same ones Gwyneth Paltrow sells through Goop for a similar price. Eris wants you to know that if you use something other than the special butt-wipes bad things will happen. It ain't so and she knows it but it sure does bring the strife, and her tittering laughter. Bob just wants you to know that pretty much any butt-wipe is OK. Unless it is sold by, 'them', because, 'they,' don't want you to have slack. Don't let Them take your Slack. Especially through the butt-wipes because that's just low.

------

I was introduced to the truth of Bob through my father, a Boomer who set a timer to record the show produced in the late eighties and early nineties by KHSU, Humboldt State College Radio. It aired at 2:00 or 3:00 AM as I recall. I have always wanted to get more slack but the effort never really seemed easy enough. The gentlemen involved may have had a little too much interest in the land-squid though.
posted by Ignorantsavage at 10:56 PM on November 21, 2017 [3 favorites]


Fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord excremeditated satori fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord sex fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord pinko fnord fnord fnord atomic fnord fnord fnord cowboys fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord pinko fnord fnord removal fnord fnord fnord fnord stark fnord sex pinko fnord fnord fnord fnord slack fnord fnord fist fnord fnord sex fnord pinkos slack fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord X fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord sales fnord fnord sex fnord sex I fnord pinko fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord fnord slack fnord pinko.

my fnord's autocorrect and suggestions is all fnord up now. Turns out if you fnord pinko to dictionary things get weird.
posted by loquacious at 11:34 PM on November 21, 2017 [4 favorites]


My mom found my Book Of The Subgenius when I was sixteen and made me bring it to our church's pastor to explain myself. He thought it was funny and said I should keep the book.
posted by Dokterrock at 12:11 AM on November 22, 2017 [14 favorites]


NO BOB BUT KIBO
posted by straight at 12:51 AM on November 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


panama joe: "Remember when conspiracy theories were harmless and kinda funny?"

And just ... theories.
posted by chavenet at 3:02 AM on November 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


I almost went to an X-Day gathering while I was in Grad School. It was only a few hours drive away. THe only thing that stopped me was Poe's Law, where I couldn't be certain that it was a joke or that the people were actually taking it seriously. I was 99.9% sure it was all a joke, but wouldn't have wanted to be trapped with a bunch of cultish folks if it actually wasn't.
posted by koolkat at 3:22 AM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


All I know is that if they'd ever gotten Duelin' Firemen! (previously) made, it would've changed civilization.
posted by delfin at 3:53 AM on November 22, 2017 [2 favorites]


Remember when conspiracy theories were harmless and kinda funny?

That era ended sometime between 9/11 and the not-at-all-racist anti-Obama backlash; by the latter, there was no more room for speculating on taxonomies of the aliens who live in the secret underground tunnels, or hairsplitting the differences between Deros and Reptoids; the Dumb Mean Hicks had taken over, and conspiracy theories had an awful agenda.
posted by acb at 4:40 AM on November 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


When I was 19, my last dumb act as a teenager was to get a small businessman with devil wings from the Book of the Subgenius tattooed on my back. 20-something years later, I'm the King of the Suburbs. Can't be a coincidence.

Have I achieved Slack? We'll see when the friggin' X'ists come!
posted by ph00dz at 4:42 AM on November 22, 2017 [6 favorites]


I learned a bit about Slack when I was in college... never got very far into the thing, found it amusing but unsure if I wanted to dip my toes into weirdness (I was weird enough already I guess?) but it did ensure that when I began playing with Linux, I chose Slackware.

(Ironically enough, the general gist of things at the time was that Slackware took the most work to set up. Which is why I chose it. I figured if I was learning a new OS I might as well dive in over my head from the get-go.)
posted by caution live frogs at 5:06 AM on November 22, 2017 [1 favorite]


I gave up on being an Erisian sometime in college and unfortunately embraced the way of Greyface. But I still watch from afar and enjoy these things. (Although, I suppose that is founding my own sect by way of being a Pope, so it does go with the best traditions of Discordianism.)

I'm a older millennial and never quite got the Church of the Subgenius. Discordianism always struck me as being more exoteric and open, you could put whatever spin you wanted on it, you were encouraged to found your own breakaway sects and everyone was the highest authority in it. Subgenius felt more esoteric. If I didn't buy in, didn't bother to sign up, I wasn't part of it, wouldn't be earning slack the right way and would be denied transportation when the alien overlords were called down on X-Day by JHVH-1. (I may have the theology a little mixed up, but as I said, I was always a little outside of this one.) Discordianism was open source, the Church of the Subgenius was proprietary. I guess there is a benefit to the founder of a religion completely frying his brain on LSD.

Resources on Discordianism were much easier to find and digest as a teen on an awakening internet. I think that probably was true for most millennials who went in for this sort of thing. Thus Subgenius being a gen-X thing while Discordianism reawakening with the internet, back when the internet seemed to be the ultimate place of chaos and freedom. Discordianism was geared for computers, the Church of Subgenius was not quite as focused.

I had always thought that both the Church of the Subgenius and the Discordians were Jokes disguised as Religions disguised as Jokes disguised as Religions. Or maybe the other way around. But that there was a level of uncertainty in them that really helped.

All that said, I look forward to this documentary. I didn't realize there were idiots on 4chan who were taking this shit seriously, it makes me fear that the Kekheads will try to coopt Eris (although what she'd do to them if they did would be a wonder to see). I would love to see the Church become more accessible and fringe-relevant again, but given the means of communication these days, I don't know if it will happen. We'll have to see what gen-Z decides to do with things. We need more than one joke religion out there at a time and with the demise of Creationism, Pastafarianism seems to have fallen away. And Jedi is not a joke religion, it is an imposter coming from both Greyface and NHGH and should be rejected by all faithful little deluded dupes.
posted by Hactar at 6:46 AM on November 22, 2017 [4 favorites]


That era ended sometime between 9/11 and the not-at-all-racist anti-Obama backlash; by the latter, there was no more room for speculating on taxonomies of the aliens who live in the secret underground tunnels, or hairsplitting the differences between Deros and Reptoids; the Dumb Mean Hicks had taken over, and conspiracy theories had an awful agenda.

At the same time, the Conspiracy also opted to go 100% above-ground. Now you can turn on your TV and see representatives of the major corporate political parties basically SAYING OUT LOUD and in UNBACKWARD-MASKED SPEECH that they're going to burn down your house, devour your family, and replace you with a glassy-eyed, vat-grown duplicate, and there's nothing you can do about it. To this end, the Conspiracy also introduced their own range of ersatz conspiracy theories as a MULTI-TIERED MEDIA LIFESTYLE BRAND, targeting the tastes of the very people who would have scoffed when you mentioned the Conspiracy 20 years ago.

(On preview: It's amazing how easy it is to slip back into the SubGenius-tract cadence after not really thinking about them for 15 years or so.)
posted by Strange Interlude at 6:49 AM on November 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


So was I ahead or behind when I was quoting dates in YOLD back in high school in the 90s?
posted by wierdo at 7:28 AM on November 22, 2017


Also, I was always fascinated by chaos addresses on the Internet. Also hesiod, but never saw that one in use.
posted by wierdo at 7:33 AM on November 22, 2017


Any post about the Church of the Subgenius MUST include and acknowledge perhaps their most important and influential visual and cultural contributor, Paul Mavrides.
posted by dbiedny at 7:45 AM on November 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


«searches for, and fails to find, the Dobbshead in Unicode»
Dammit, if it was good enough for the 8 and 16-bit Atari character sets, it's good enough for Unicode!
posted by scruss at 8:00 AM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


When I did college radio back in the early/mid 90s, my first radio show was during such an undesirable timeslot that it was actually after the Hour of Slack. I still remember that feeling of being straight up weirded out at 3AM, while listening to Bob and queueing up Slayer records in a darkened studio.

Thinking about this prompted me to look up my station's current schedule, and they still play the show from 2-3AM on Saturdays.
posted by medeine at 12:55 PM on November 22, 2017 [3 favorites]


This seems like the place to repost my recipe for leftover turkey. My brother invented this around 1989:

Turkey Too Much


1. Make a turkey that's too big for your family.

2. Next day, put the shredded turkey leftovers in a frying pan with Too Much Melted Butter, and start heating it up.

3. Add Too Much Garlic (garlic powder is fine. That's what we've always used, actually), and Too Much Soy Sauce.

4. After it's cooked for a while and everything is browned up and heated through, serve it over Too Much Rice. It's actually better if you cook it Too Long, and it starts to get browny bits on the edges.

Even though this recipe is super simple, something magical happens in the pan* and it's so, so good.

*It's probably all the butter

Seriously, use more than you think you should of all the ingredients. More is more, in this recipe.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:00 PM on November 22, 2017 [9 favorites]


Ok, I totally was trying to post that in the food thread in Metatalk. Mods, feel free to delete.

And I haven't even started drinking yet. Sigh.
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:07 PM on November 22, 2017 [5 favorites]


MexicanYenta, I hope your recipe isn't deleted. Something like this, especially something that uses all the butter, is full of slack and belongs here.
posted by Teegeeack AV Club Secretary at 7:26 PM on November 22, 2017 [8 favorites]


If I didn't buy in, didn't bother to sign up, I wasn't part of it, wouldn't be earning slack the right way and would be denied transportation when the alien overlords were called down on X-Day by JHVH-1.

Well, of course. How else are you supposed to find salvation if you don't PAY FOR IT? It's right there in the manual! I mean shit, my friend, the world ends tomorrow and YOU MAY DIE.

"When two or three are gathered in my name, am I not there? Do you not feel my hands in your pockets?" - J.R. "BOB" Dobbs
posted by Dokterrock at 1:09 AM on November 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


MexicanYenta, your recipe is perfect here. For it is written in the book of Bob: "Too much is always better than not enough!"
posted by JHarris at 4:18 AM on November 23, 2017 [4 favorites]


I just asked Bob and he's totally cool with the recipe. He says he's going to try it out tomorrow if the bird isn't pinko.

By the way, did you know Bob invented stuffing? He was actually trying to invent a shoe polish.
posted by loquacious at 9:21 AM on November 23, 2017 [2 favorites]


Does... does this mean I won't get eternal salvation or triple my money back?

I remember it as " ... Eternal salvation or double your money back."

so far so good.
posted by philip-random at 5:47 PM on November 25, 2017


though the older I get, the more I wonder if the original small print actually said salivation, not salvation
posted by philip-random at 6:07 PM on November 25, 2017 [1 favorite]


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