Culture Magazine

The Great Show Trial of Two-Ought-Ought-Six

By Bbenzon @bbenzon
I'm feeling nostalgic, so I've bumped this 2011 post to the top of the queue.

The Great Show Trial of Two-Ought-Ought-Six
In honor of all interweb traditions
The interwebs are hardly old enough for there to be any old geezers reminiscing about how things were in the old days. So this post will only be but a pale imitation of the real ‘back in the day’ thing. Alas. Here we go.
It was back in two ought ought six at Bérubé’s joint on Wednesday the fourth of October. Michael decided that it was high time he and his beloved Janet prepared a living will [this post seems to have disappeared from the web, hence no link, 7.12.20]:
There were a few comic moments in the attorney’s office when it sounded as if we were ordering from a sushi menu: we’ll have the maguro in the event of severe and permanent incapacitation, please, and two ebi with extra wasabi if terminally ill. Hold the intubation, and no blood products, thanks—we’re trying to cut down.
Michael continues on a similar vein until a Great Revelation comes to him, which he then passed on to us, the readers of his humble blog:
So it occurs to me that one of the more pleasant aspects of a giant nuclear fireball that consumes all life on earth is that it would render all these difficult decisions moot. I have therefore decided to abandon my commitments to procedural liberalism and political left-progressivism, and to begin working for the We Are All Giant Nuclear Fireball Now party. What’s in it for me, you ask? Peace of mind, mainly.
Just as long as we all perish by being vaporized in the bombs’ total destruction radius, and are not left to wheel shopping carts around the ashen, blasted post-apocalyptic landscape like something out of Cormac McCarthy’s latest. Because that would suck.
Thus was the WAAGNFN Party born in the sixth year of the reign of King “Bring’Em On” Bush.


Michael Bérubé, Founder of the We Are All Now Giant Nuclear Fireball Party

That left us with a problem: Just what exactly was the WAAGNFN Party (hereafter WAAGNFNP) to do? The party’s major objective – total annihilation of the world though nuclear conflagration – while spectacular, wasn’t exactly the sort of thing that got out the voters. And, in any event, it was a bit late in the season to run candidates for office, whether dogcatcher, assembly-person or governor.
Fortunately, Michael had a jivometric mind jolt. When Friday rolled around, as it always did, he announced yet another of his Arbitrary, but Fun (ABF), contests. These contests were known far and wide throughout the interwebs for their convivial good fun and just plain silliness. Michael dug deep into his well of pop cultural gambits and gambols and came up with one of the old-time good ones: complete the sentence. Here’s how it went:
To join the We Are All Giant Nuclear Fireball Now party, and achieve the serenity and peace of mind promised by our name and elaborated in our platform (which includes a plank of yummy irradiated Copper River salmon), simply follow the lovely and talented Oaktown Girl’s suggestion in comment 48 of this thread, and finish the sentence,
One of the more pleasant aspects of a giant nuclear fireball that consumes all life on earth is…
There’s only one proviso: you must use your captcha word in the completed sentence.
And so people began merrily completing the sentence. The completions kept rolling along and went into Saturday. And then Chris Clarke, environmentalist, poet, photographer, and blogger, admitted to some obscure sin against the WAAGNFNP. Seems that he had the keys to the skunkworks and “deleted a couple troll messages from that same guy without checking with [Michael] first” (see comment 88). To make amends for this violation of as yet unformulated, and thus all the more binding, Party policy, he offered himself “for a showtrial at your convenience.” The redoubtable and resourceful Oaktown Girl, who was about to appoint herself Ministress of Truth, Justice, and the WAAGNFNP Way, accepted on behalf of the Party, noting (comment 104):
A nice long showtrial could be just what is needed to boost the profile of our fledgling WAAGNFN Party. We need to prove we are perfectly capable of:
1. Bringing a “dangerous criminal” to justice through charges based on intelligence that is faulty, non-existant, deliberately misleading and cheery-picked, or just some shit we made up,
2. having “secret” evidence (by making more shit up or pretending we have some shit we made up),
3. rendering folks. (Let’s not render him too far, and let’s also skip the torture on this one. We still may need him around for skunk removal).
Mr. Clark, your sacrifice on behalf of the WAAGNFN Party will be long remembered.
So it was said, and so it was done.
A tremendous shiver of joy cascaded through the ranks of the WAAGNFNP faithful as people went about their self-assigned tasks in preparation for the show trial. Charges were drawn up, ditties written, evidence gathered, posters and illustrations made, a band was engaged, loins were girded, depositions taken, dancers were rehearsed, venues were prepared, caterers hired, Gojira was summoned from the depths, and so forth, all the usual stuff that goes into staging a first-class Show Trial.

Black Mood

Gojira in All Her Glory

It took two months of preparation, and it was a rush job at that. This being the age of the webtubes and all, all of this work is there for your inspection at Bérubé’s joint, or what’s left of it now that it’s been boarded up and shuttered because Bérubé no longer has time for blogging. You see, he has, like, a job, and a family and a life to lead out there in the so-called Real World. In any event, you can just ramble over there to what remains of the joint and you’ll see signs of the Show Trial of the Century. Though you may have to do a bit of wacking through the webtube underbrush. Main events aside, most of the prep work is nestled in among all the other stuff that happened at Bérubé’s – the politics (both Real World and academic), literary theory, hockey, stories about Jamie (his son, who has Downs syndrome), obscure rock and pop from prior decades, hockey, cultural studies, disability studies, the Beatles, hockey, and more hockey, all kinds of hockey: real hockey, geezer hockey, and even imaginary hockey.
As for the Trial itself, it too is there. But I’m certainly not going to attempt a blow-by-blow recap. You can see it yourself. The trial proper was preceded by a warm-up event, a Steel Cage Match between Michael ‘Liberal Professor’ Bérubé and Ted “Come Out Come Out Whatever You Are” Haggard. That was on 8 December 2006, aka Beddha's Enlightenment Day. The trial started on 12 December 2008, sentencing took place on 14 December, and the confession and after-party was on 15 December. [those posts seems to have disappeared from the web, hence the links are busted, 7.12.20]
After that, well, the WAAGNGNP began deflating. Oh, a few party faithful set up a WAAGNFNP blog [you got it, no longer there, 7.12.20], and kept it going for awhile. But, alas, the great event itself, the Giant Nuclear Fireball, was not forthcoming. And so the blog closed down. The WAAGNFNP is no more, at long last consigned to the dust bin of interweb history.


Remains of the WAAGNFNP dessicating in the web tubes

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