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Colonel Tom Parker passed away this week, age 87. So. Elvis? If you can hear me, get ready to give up half the strings on your harp, my friend. 87. Had a good run. And eventually, we all have to leave the building, don't we? It's just, "What's out there?!" aura. I don't want to get off on a rant here, but as more and more aging Baby Boomers peer through their bifocals at the haggard Lance Hendrixian face of their own mortality, one question seems to occur with numbing frequency, where do we go after last call at Bistro Earth? As a forty-three year old man I am starting to ponder concepts like my own end game, not so much in a Dionne Warwick way, but as a means with which to acclimate myself to facing the inevitable. I know people say life begins at forty. Yeah, if you're the fucking Highlander. But, you know, the rest of us are trying to make sense out of the indecipherable babble of everyone else's best guess as to what awaits us behind door number 3 in Monty's death jar.

Do we go on a journey into something more magnificent, or do we merely get buried and remade into bridge-mix for worms? Well, you know, we just don't know, and that question often tugs on us like harder than Newt Gingrich trying to water ski. Death haunts us because the only guarantee that comes with the gift of life is that sooner or later you're gonna have to return that gift to whatever cosmic Nordstrom's we inhabit.

The afterlife is a subject that's inspired more speculation than how Melissa Ethridge's girlfriend got pregnant. You know, I would like to believe that when I get to the Pearly Gates I will be greeted by St. Peter, and he'll say that he's a big fan of the show, and I don't have to queue up with the rest of the dead losers, and then a big doorman with a headset halo and black leather wings unhitches the velvet rope and waves me in. That's what I'd like to believe, but for all I know, St. Pete is just another pissed off DMV zombie who makes you go to the end of the stooge line behind the guy who had one Tai Chi lesson and went into a biker bar to test it out. He's standing in front of you there in the crane position with a pool cue sticking out of his ass, blunt side in.

Then the next thing in the eternal life is you get to review all the moments of your life. Oh, that's great. Having to watch daily's of all the stuff you'd rather forget from your earlier days. Scenes like the time you figured out how to fuck your toy cement mixer when you were twelve. How about the time you ate a castanata size portion of buttons at a college party and thought your roommate was a giant suck locust so you ran nude through a mall with a Doors' 45 stuck on your penis to warn the villagers?

So, while we can all pretty much agree on what heaven must be like, hell, like Winston Smith's rat cage, is a subjective thing; it's what you find most loathsome and frightening in your heart of hearts and it is forever. It's sitting in the Clockwork Orange chair through an ever repeating double feature of Showgirls and Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot. It's being stuck in a never-ending traffic jam in mid-August with no air conditioning and a radio that only gets the "All Rosie Perez-All the Time" station.

Philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre once said, "Hell is other people," and he should know because he lived in France. About the only evidence we have to go on as far as the afterlife is concerned is the testimony of people who have had near-death experiences, and they all describe the same phenomenon: rushing at break-neck speed through a long dark tunnel towards a bright light at the end. Hey, you call it a "near death experience," I call it "riding on Amtrak," okay? Poe-tay-toe, pa-ta-toe, dee-rail-lo, dee-ral-low.

But, near-death isn't enough, is it? What we really need to do is to talk to somebody with a cellular on the other side whose got meta-physical roam. Now, when I was a kid we got a Ouija board and we proceeded to convince ourselves that we had discovered a direct connection to the world of the unseen. I realized that may be it wasn't that precise a device when we lost the sliding thing and replaced it with a Cool-Whip lid with a thumbtack in it. I was getting suspicious anyway when I noticed that all of the spirits we contacted misspelled the exact same words that my brother did.

Now, the later day Ouija boards are the channelers, and channelers for a hefty fee will sit you down at a table, back light a crystal, turn on some Tesh at Red Rocks bootleg tape, and then pop in and out of characters so paper-thin that they couldn't get passed the Table Read at "Renegade." And this stuff is rife in LA. I mean, I would remind you that most people in Hollywood barely have one person inside of them, let alone 200, okay? Simply put, if there were no money to be made from summoning the dead, channeling would be about as popular as Marla Maples at a benefit screening for the First Wives' Club, okay?

So, if much of man's dabblings in the afterlife distill down into nonsense, why does it hold so much fascination for us? And for the answer to that question, we must go to the afterlife's PR firm, organized religion, promising us eternal bliss and threatening us with hell and damnation are the bullwhip and the chair that keep us from trying to maul our trainer. Well, it's ironic that an argument about finality could just go on and on. But, that about sums it up.

So, let's just leave it at this: Your Big-3 brand name creeds all agreed on one thing: Sammy Hagar was a mistake. But they also believe in a judgment day, when the world comes to an end. The dead shall rise and judgment will be pronounced on the deeds of all those who inhabited the planet. And folks, even Johnny Cochran won't be able to bullshit his way out of that one.

Of course, that's just my opinion. I could be wrong.


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