I am pleased to introduce you to Brian Moote. He is a stand up comedian and, not to mention, a stand up guy. We grew up together, a South Whidbey Island native like me. In fact, I would like to take this opportunity to thank Brian for driving our crew around in his mom's minivan. Brian was always very patient as the twelve people crammed in his car would loudly decide what sounded more fun: tee-peeing the new freshman's house or burning a couch at the abandoned airstrip.
Brian is returning to his island roots, via WICA, on October 10th. There won't be any tee-peeing or couch burning, but there will be two show times; 7pm and 9pm. Tickets are 10$ for adults and 5$ for students. Email Brian firstname.lastname@example.org or check him out at www.myspace.com/mootecomedy for more information.
Enjoy his blog, and try not to judge him for the bootlegging.
Booze-running into Jesus-apalooza
Written by Brian Moote, Guest Blogger
(Names and details have been changed to protect sinners and saints alike.)
Gunstock, New Hampshire – known for many things: great hiking, amazing skiing and hunting various endangered species. And then there are the summer festivals at the mountain resort, including “Rock ‘n’ Rib Fest” (revolves around ponytails, faded tattoos from the 70’s and grilling meat) and Godfest (revolves around the same things; just add a heaping serving of Jesus). Godfest is a 4-day Jesus Woodstock. 15,000 Christians camp out at the base of the Gunstock resort and take in Christian rock while immersing themselves in Jesus merchandise. Oh, they pray here and there too. Sounds like heaven right? Jean jacket bedazzled in the name of the Lord? We got plenty.
I have never heard of this thing, nor would I ever normally make a 2-hour pilgrimage to the “holy” resort from Boston. My little brother, Kilian, was presenting for his non-profit in a fundraising attempt to get a following from the God followers. His organization is not religiously affiliated, but their cause is one that Christians can get on board with, and since Christians, who can take a 4-day sabbatical in NH, are notorious for having a little money to burn, why not let them do it for a good cause (I’m keeping his organization’s name out of this story…Christians, according to the bible at least, have a knack for revenge)? As for my family, we grew up Catholic. This essentially means that we roam somewhere between atheist and drunk, depending on the holiday. But, I’ll save my Cath-bashing for my live show.
Back to the story. Kilian called me a said, “This Godfest thing is nuts, you have to come up. Lots of material for you.” Never one to shy away from getting religious material, I was immediately onboard. He ended the conversation by saying “Bring a bottle of Jameson.” I didn’t really plan on bringing the Jameson until I got an email from him with the address of the festivities, “No entry unless you have a bottle of Jameson... Seriously.” I started to pick up on the fact that this was indeed a serious situation. As usual, I did not google map my destination until I was in the car. This is when I found out it was nowhere near Manchester, NH (45 min from Boston)… as I had assumed for some reason. It was in fact an hour north of there… on back roads. Realizing my stairway to heaven has just doubled, I took a minute to silence whatever rage it is that comes before the road rage, loaded up my moonshine and embarked on the holy road to Godfest (I-93 North).
When I left Boston, there was not a cloud in the sky and I thought to myself, “What a nice day… to smuggle booze into a Christian event.” The difference between Christian Fest and Catholic Fest, is that at Catholic Fest, smuggling booze would be like bringing sand to the… you get the joke: we drink a lot. As I ventured North, the weather turned horrible, as only a New England summer can do. I couldn’t help but wonder if my devious intentions and the dark black cloud following me up the interstate were connected somehow. It wouldn’t be out of character for God to punish all New Englanders simply for the mistake of one person right? I think back to my past remembering this fact from Sunday school: Jesus died for my right to bring Jameson into a “dry event” and then say sorry afterwards right? Yeah, I think I have that interpretation correct.
It is hard to explain the amazement that I experienced when I took the turn into Godfest and saw a sea of campers and tents stretched in front of me. Hundreds, packed into the side of the mountain and in the woods. You couldn’t look anywhere without seeing a tent. An ocean of Kelty. I parked in the remote lot, stuffing The Bottle inside a sweatshirt. I stepped out of the car and the rain started. Not drizzle, but Hollywood-style ridiculous rain. The kind that instantly drenched me. I felt like I should be standing in front of some girl’s house in a teen movie, screaming for her to forgive me as drop to my knees, pounding my fist on the grass, seeing the front door open as the credits roll. I have to admit, at this point, I had the feeling that the rain and lightning (which was not in the forecast the night before when I looked), was related to my moonshine-smuggling activities. I was a little proud of my back-alley wizardry, like I was waving the bottle in the air, summoning the lightning the way Harry Potter might.
I watched my brother deliver his second presentation/pitch of the day. He framed his cause for the Christian folk beautifully. He reminded them that people who are less fortunate than themselves and that are subject to human trafficking are “still children of God too”. I saw a few folks look a little puzzled about that. Wait, what? Poor people from other countries are children of God too? Well, they need to pray harder then, maybe have a Godfest in Rwanda or something to fix the joint up. To get the religious folks to donate, you really have to pound on their guilt. This is mainly because religion trains us to only respond to others when we feel a little guilty about not doing anything. It is also hard to get donations because there are a lot of scams out there in the name of Jesus. Those who did donate asked some respectable non-profit questions like, “How much of your budget goes to administrative costs?” This question is essentially, “We aren’t paying for you to drive a Benz right? Because we had this pastor who told us he was gonna feed the children and, instead, he just bought a Benz.” The question is fair and in fact, I was happy they asked.
The irony is that the entire Godfest event itself is somewhat of a Jesus-based scam. Sure it is fun and it allows a lot of good people to meet and talk about faith. And I am sure some good comes out of it, but it also is laden with money-making schemes. I went backstage with my brother to eat lunch and avoid the thundershowers that I had smuggled in with me and the booze. It was behind the scenes that I got to experience the Jesus energy drink made by 1 to 3 Trinity. This energy drink is, “Energy fused with the fruit of the spirit,” and “made from the roots and vines of the Holy Lands”. And added bonus? Only ten calories. This is insane. “The fruit of the spirit?” That isn’t even a real thing, let alone something you can contain in a 12 oz. can. This is a perfect example of religious marketing. Energy drinks are popular, but religious folks don’t agree with what they stand for. Red Bull is evil, so let’s make an energy drink for those more pure of heart. How do we prove that our energy drink comes from a higher power? We don’t. We just write a bunch of religious stuff all over the can that is impossible to disprove, like “Holy Lands”. Genius! Good luck arguing that ginko biloba isn’t a vine from the holy land. We never specified what the “Holy Lands” were, so how can we be wrong? Our slogan will be “innovative… unique… 1in3TrinityEnergyDrink… spread the light…” What does that mean? It means we get rich! Technically, the slogan means “greatly exaggerated… aggressive marketing… SameOldScam… capitalism is Christianity…”. But, who is really paying attention anyway? (http://www.1in3trinityenergydrink.com)
After lunch (and my energy drink) I spoke to a few of the mainstage music acts. I found out that the headliners were being paid a staggering $80,000. Let me repeat that. $80,000. To sprinkle Jesus through the music that they play? $80,000, and people were sweating $27 a month to help fight sex slavery in India. This is where myself and my religion part ways in ethical decision-making. Maybe if Kilian and I wrote a catchy song about sex slavery and Jesus then we could get up on the mainstage and really make a difference, get some hands in the air instead of clutching their wallets. The total budget for the festival’s music each night was around $400,000. That equates to a rate of $33,000 per hour. That equals more than the total yearly operating budget of the outreach and development activity of the organization Kilian works for. More importantly, for me, it also equates to roughly 17,778 fifths of Jameson. I have to admit, after doing a little math on the Soulfest budget, I felt way less bad (not even bad at all, really) about the booze-smuggling violation. Actually, I regretted that I didn’t bring them a half gallon of Jameson instead of a fifth, and maybe a little Jaeger for their difficult 4-day battle. Maybe that rain cloud wasn’t because of me after all. Sadly though, I had grown kind of fond of thinking of myself as a back-alley booze wizard.