Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Book of the Bunny

It's 1994. CompuServe connects humanity, a network beholden to subscribers chattering about politics, pop culture and fetish porn. Truly the Internet's darkest days. Amid this cesspool of text and Netscape Navigator's crude pixels, CompuServe subscribers engaged in pernicious flame wars and mundane conversation in a multitude of forums.

So 24-year-old me stumbled upon the religion forum and discovered the Church of the Bunny, a cyber-religion by a group of people tired of religious fundamentalism. A nice man named Rich Coleman from Virginia assumed the mantle of Pope Rich, the church's creator. If you "joined" the Church of the Bunny, you were given a regal title and addressed as such. I started out as Father Eric, but was "promoted" to Lt. Jr. Grade Pope Eric. Not too shabby.

So what did the Church of the Bunny actually do? Pretty much anything. The whole idea was to have fun according to the Bunny, a gigantic rabbit and the church's fluffy, cuddly deity. Church members engaged in silly banter, chatted and griped about their daily lives, and generally were just awesome to each other.

In the vein of the Church of the SubGenius, I created an official Church of the Bunny logo and newsletter. I designed and printed out the newsletter on my computer, photocopied and distributed it throughout the country, to the ten or so members who requested it. I published a few issues before tackling the biggest project, the Church of the Bunny's bible. Organized religions must have their own tracts and scriptures, written teachings available to the unwashed masses. Why can't the Church of the Bunny get a taste of proselytizing bliss?

The Book of the Bunny (as this most holy hopping tome is called) began as a few CompuServe posts, organized like the bible with chapters and verses. Somewhere it morphed into a printed book complete with illustrations and a dogmatic treatise of rules and regulations. I printed out one solitary copy, stuffed it in a box and forgot about it.

Years passed. I had moved away from my childhood home, gotten married, then divorced, then rented an old apartment. All my worldly possessions jammed into one small room I called the "junk room". While rifling through these boxes, I made a miraculous discovery. Crammed at the bottom of a cardboard box, underneath a stack of old bills and weepy, angsty poetry, was the elusive Book of the Bunny and the newsletters! They hadn't been pulped to nothingness as I once thought. They survived the move! Praise the Bunny!

Perusing these writings, has left me with a few impressions:
1. Apparently I was very talented, funny and energetic.
2. I also was a decent cartoonist.
3. The people on that CompuServe forum long ago appreciated my twisted sense of humor.

Where am I going with all of this?

Time is the great equalizer. The older I get, the more nostalgic I feel. Even though CompuServe, the Church of the Bunny and the goofy kid I used to be no longer exist, having this antiquated document reminds me of that bygone age. It was the first time I conversed via Internet with people who lived across the country. We shaped and crafted this bizarre and silly thing, this funny religion based around bunnies, napping and snacking. A shot of innocence during an innocent age.

2014 makes it 20 years since the Church of the Bunny became a thing. Two decades have passed. As such, it's incumbent upon me to celebrate the Book of the Bunny's sanctified existence. I scanned the whole megillah and am offering it to the world. Read the divinely-inspired madness from the Church of the Bunny. Uncover lost wisdom of the Book of Bunesis, thrill to the Bunny reproduction manual, and sing to a selection of church hymns. The book also has an official Church of the Bunny membership card and papal indulgence for those times temptation beckons.

BE FOREWARNED! This is a HUGE file. At 93.7 MB, it takes up scads o' space, so be aware before downloading. Also, the quality of the book is pretty amateurish. Hey, I was 24, with limited resources. I proofread it the best I could, but spelling and grammatical mistakes are bound to pop up.

That's about it. I'm making this PDF available to share the book's rediscovery 20 years later. I've also included some of the original CompuServe posts to provide a glimpse of what the Church of the Bunny was like, from the rugged men and women in the trenches who lived it.

If anybody from the Church of the Bunny is reading this, thank you. All of you. Though you might not remember me, you left an indelible impact on my life, and forced me to create this wonderfully ridiculous book.

Peace out.

Book of the Bunny

Thursday, July 10, 2014

My Old T-Shirt Collection

Rummaging through my parent's house, I discovered a few tattered T-shirts from a bygone era (the 1990s). Yes, I like wearing comfortable cotton T-shirts. Always have. Yet with the passing years, tastes as well as styles inevitably change. What a young, lusty rake finds desirable and fashionable, the middle aged man ridicules, tosses his head heavenward and barks "What ever was I thinking?"

Such is the laughable saga of my former T-shirts, those breezy garments I donned on college campuses during my carefree halcyon days. 

Being a journalist and chronicler of mankind's folly, I pulled a few of these stinkers out, photographed and converted them into pixels for your amusement. 

Steal yourself, gentle reader, for the images contained hereafter are embarrassing and shocking, even to a jaded 21st century audience. 

Keep in mind as you peruse these pathetic photos: I wore these during a particular phase of my life - my early twenties - when my exposure to the wider world was severely limited. My weltanschauung still in its embryonic stages, a paltry adolescent instead of the fully-formed, self-acualized studmuffin I am today. 

One of the tamest shirts I owned, a simple Armenian flag with a descriptor for the uninitiated. Armenia's national colors are red, blue and orange. The red symbolizes the blood of the martyrs, the blue the sky and the orange the land of the Armenian nation. At least that's what I tell the rubes who inquired about the shirt. Moving on...

Back in the early 1990s, The Simpsons were all the rage. So anything with Bart Simpson on it became topical, a nod to contemporary pop culture and the zeitgeist of our time. There's officially licensed Simpsons products and there's this unfortunate drek. Bart Simpson is supposed to be Armenia, while that Apu-looking dude is Turkey. "Eat my vardigs, man!" is akin to Bart's oft-abused catchphrase "Eat my shorts, man!"Vardigs is Armenian for underwear. Just what I want on my clothing; references only a fraction of the population understands. I don't think I ever wore this T-shirt. I mean, who would? Armenia beating Turkey at anything is laughable and pathetic. Bart Simpson looks pissed off. He's winning the race! Even when he's winning and beating his ancestral foe, he's still flashing a hateful, glowering stare. I know the Armenian genocide happened a century ago, but ultra-nationalistic shit like this is moronic. If you wear this T-shirt, you're telling the world you like combining cartoons with Third World genocide. I don't get the point of this shirt.


Ralph Waldo Emerson. Transcendentalist philosopher, poet and intellectual heavyweight. Man of faith, words and ideas. Maybe this is why he's naked and striking a pose a la Rodin's The Thinker. Maybe he's wondering where he put his clothes. Or maybe he's embarrassed to be depicted on a T-shirt naked in the woods. Sit on a tree stump, get a splinter in your ass. Negates your "Nature" essay, doesn't it? One thing's for sure; I wasn't getting any girls with this T-shirt. Don't get me wrong: as a conversation starter, it's brilliant. As a pussy magnet, it's horrible. Women tend not to talk to you when you have naked poets on your shirt. In hindsight, this was a poor fashion choice. Moving on...

I attended Harvard University in the summer of 1993 as part of a summer studies program. Took an expository writing class. Soaked up the collegiate ivy league atmosphere almost as much as this T-shirt soaked up my armpit sweat. I wore the hell out of this shirt, even when I returned home. Studying at Harvard, even if it was one solitary class, was a rewarding and enlightening experience. I'm grateful my parents shelled out the cash for me to attend, almost as much as I'm grateful for this T-shirt.

We end not with a T-shirt, but a sweatshirt. Feeling bitterly cold in this godless, pitiful universe? Warm up with French existentialist philosopher and political activist Jean-Paul Sartre. Yes, the man who wrote "Hell is other people" will keep you toasty warm as Hell in this sweatshirt. In my early twenties, I read a lot of philosophy and fancied myself an intellectual. So naturally, I wanted my wardrobe to reflect these burgeoning heady pursuits.