Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Doomsday Preppers: Grace McLeod

The episode (and the mini-season??) concludes with Grace McLeod, of North Carolina.
© NatGeo/Sharp Entertainment
She and her husband Craig claim to be preparing for an “economic collapse, resulting in food shortages and unwelcome visitors.”
Grace is a former police who left Florida for NC, which—let’s face it—is really a no-brainer.
However, it seems that Grace is so special that she has a one-on-one direct line to ‘The Lord’, who apparently directs her every move and decision. Yeesh.  Of course, that kind of talk is pretty much required when you run your own ‘ministry’.

Anyway, it’s revealed that she and her husband have a unique, custon-designed survival fortress. While our narrator informs us that they “didn’t choose a typical retreat”, its location (on top of a 3,000-foot mountain, miles away from the nearest road) sure sounds like an ideal prepper hillfort to me.
The house is 3,500 square feet, and while the parts we see look like concrete, it’s not entirely unattractive—clearly it was designed and built all together, not piecemeal over a long period. Additionally, it includes a one-ton welded steel raise-able staircase (‘drawbridge’), and second-floor-only windows, meaning it could potentially function a lot like an actual castle—are you taking notes, Brent Doomsday ‘Castle’ Senior?

For additional storage, the couple have two shipping containers buried in a nearby hillside. Unfortunately, they haven’t exactly been camouflaged yet, so they’re pretty obvious.
To help them with their defensive measures, Grace invites some PMC ‘security consultant’ guys to take a look around and give some tips. They suggest using trail cameras for the outer perimeter, adding additional locks to interior doors, and a neat trick to buy more time should the house be breached: In the room most likely to be an intruder’s route into the house, they rig up a big-ass spotlight with a motion sensor directly opposite the door; when the door is opened, the intruder gets hit with about a million candlepower beam, which is quite enough to blind you for a good while, especially if it’s in a dark room. Nice to see practical applications like that.

The experts give Grace 69 points, for a year’s initial survival time. Now they just need to start up a raised-bed garden, and not rely on a shipping container’s worth of hoarded foodbuckets.

Honestly, aside from Grace’s annoying habit of chalking everything up to The Lord (where’s your sense of personal agency, woman?!) and lack of gardening, I’d say they have a pretty good setup.

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Doomsday Preppers: Cheree

The episode concludes with a literally ten-minute look at Cheree of California’s Sierra mountains.
Since they live in Cali, it’s only understandable that their preparations focus on a ‘mega earthquake’.
With such a ridiculously short segment, there’s really not much material here to discuss. But don’t worry, I’ll find something!

With her parents, Cheree runs some kind of religiously-minded camp. While they seem pretty strongly ‘Christian’, I also caught the slightest hint of a New Age-y vibe off their descriptions.
In the event of the Big Quake (or, conceivably any other disaster), Chree’s main objective will be “to follow Christ.” Ohboy.

I generally try to stay away from conspicuously ragging on hot-button issues; they say you’re not supposed to bring up religion or politics, but without those, everything else is superficial small-talk (and I don’t mess around with that stuff)!

Okay, I can understand how the historical figure Jesus of Nazareth could be a good person to seek to emulate in your relations to others: stand up for the meek, champion gender equality, fight the powers that be, all that (Jesus was a lot like the John Lennon of Imperial Roman times).
So, why do I cringe when I hear that someone’s chief post-disaster strategy is to “follow Christ”? For starters, Christianity is—like the Judaism it grew out of—fundamentally a Younger Culture religion of civilization: at its core is the message that Humanity is flawed and unable to be fixed. The founders of these religions believed this because they looked around and saw only cities and miserable people living in them; having abandoned (or destroyed) their tribal histories, leaving their earliest records to date from post-city-dwelling times, they incorrectly assumed that humanity was born to build and reside (and be miserable) in cities, and if that was the case, and humanity had never been any other way, then human nature is simply to be depressed, violent, selfish, abusive, ignorant, and generally wicked.
Of course, anthropology has proved all that to be completely wrong, and so we should, for the good of Everyone, abandon such fallacious thinking as soon as possible.
Secondly, Christianity’s focus on post-death reunion with their creator in ‘heaven’ has been simply disastrous for the planet (and the rest of we heathens who have to share it with them). Y’see, when Being With God In Heaven is your life’s main goal, you tend to not put much priority on the actual being-alive-here-on-Earth part of life. As a result, you’re not going to care about keeping the place nice for the rest of us, because you’re ‘just passing through’ (those ‘be fruitful and multiply’ and ‘have dominion over the earth’ clauses didn’t help matters either), so you’d best ‘get what you can while the gettin’s good’.
In conclusion, anytime I meet an otherwise rational and intelligent person who self-identifies as a follower of one of the Humanity-is-Flawed religions (Christianity especially), I have to ask myself if they don’t have a loose wire somewhere upstairs.
Really, just be a decent person and leave the labels out of it.

Anyway, in order to practice living through a disaster, Cheree gets together a few like-minded folks to do a weekend full-immersion scenario. Kudos to them for that! They turn off the Juice and spend a few days living without all the modern conveniences we’ve become reliant upon and/or take for granted. Some of the guys install a few 250-watt pv-solar panels on the roof, while others build and install a DIY PVC hand pump for drawing water. And I think I saw someone do a tiny bit of gardening??
However, that’s about all the good stuff, because the remaining five minutes are concerned with a contentious debate among the group over whether or not to allow a member, Garry, to remain in the group, since he advocates armed self-defense. After some waste-of-time scenes, they agree to remain unarmed and excommunicate him from their little network. I guess when a disaster goes down, they’ll defend against hungry marauders with harsh language, man!

Experts give them 58 points for 8 months. They tell them to learn food-canning; Cheree admits that she has already has all the stuff to do it, she just hasn’t gotten around to it yet. She concludes by reiterating her strategy for surviving—to maintain her mantra that “God is on our side!” Okay, kid, keep telling yourself that.

And just for fun:

Harhar.

The Suburbs: ‘Speaking in Tongues’

One of two tracks added to the deluxe edition of The Suburbs, Speaking in Tongues may have even less analyzable material than the mostly-empty Empty Room.



Hypocrite reader, my double, my brother
Your daddy really took it outta you
Until you’re speaking in tongues

That first line isn’t just something that sounds cool to sing, it’s also just about the only link this song makes to the larger vision of The Suburbs. Because, you see, Butler has lifted this originally-French lyric (“You! hypocrite lecteur! – mon semblable, – mon frere!”) from Mr. T.S. Eliot’s masterwork The Waste Land (line 76).
It’s for that reason that I place this track here after Wasted Hours, with its apt description of “endless suburbs stretched out thin and dead”—which sure sounds like a wasteland to me. Sadly, that’s about all there is to say about this song. With the title phrase’s religious connotations, I would almost think this song to be a better fit on Neon Bible, but sadly there’s still not enough material to link it to that album either.

Sneaking out the windows now
You got the spirit now!

If I had to make a stretch, I could equate sneaking out the window in this song with the oppressed youth of Half Light I, torn from their safe beds by the call of the Wild Night (“We are not asleep, we are on the streets”).

Hypocrite reader my double, my brother
Where did we lose our way?
It’s like we’re speaking in tongues

Hypocrite reader, my double, my brother
Now I can’t understand the words
Now you’re speaking in tongues

Come out of your head and into my world now

Speaking in tongues…

In the song’s last section, we hear from everybody’s favorite floorlamp-dancer, David Byrne:

On the tracklist, this song is “Speaking in Tongues (featuring David Byrne)”, but Featuring is a rather strong word, as he seems to contribute little more than a few “ahh-hhaa’s”. I think his appearance here functions mostly as some serious meta-referencing (Speaking in Tongues being Byrne’s band Talking Heads’ breakthrough 1983 album). Generally speaking in the last thirty years or so, the term ‘Art Rock’ has been synonymous in most people’s minds with Talking Heads.  With his involvement in this song, however, I think Byrne has passed the mantle of Preeminent Art Rock Group to worthy recipients Arcade Fire.

The Suburbs: ‘City With No Children’

Thankfully, Empty Room fades out into hand-claps and an ever-so-catchy guitar riff that heralds the opening of the rollicking City With No Children.

The summer that I broke my arm I waited for your letter
I have no feeling for you now, now that I know you better

While I can’t say for sure that it’s an intentional connection, Butler only refers to Summer twice on this album, each in a context of passing time. Together, he paints a complete vignette of a young man who breaks his arm, and spends the season staring out the window, waiting for snail-mail correspondence.

I wish that I could have loved you then, before our age was through
And before a world war does with us whatever it will do

This verse seems to refer back to the Neon Bible closing track My Body is a Cage, in which our singer bemoans that he is “…living in an age whose name I don’t know”. Well, in this song, that age has ostensibly ended; in interviews Butler has referred to “the current information age”, but is that what he’s referencing here? Given the band’s apparent socio-political slant, if we’re talking about an age whose name no one seems to be able to agree on, I’d like to submit the Holocene or Anthropocene for consideration, although Derrick Jensen’s Age of the Sociopath is more accurate.
And once again, there’s mention of a world war looming on the horizon (compare to Neon Bible’s Windowsill: “World War Three, when are you coming for me?”).

Dreamed I drove home to Houston on a highway that was underground
There was no light that we could see as we listened to the sound of the engine failing

Aside from references to one’s home, and driving—possibly as a result of being called back West by one’s parents (Half Light II)—I’m not sure if this vignette is meant to mesh into the larger mosaic of this album, or if it’s just a testament to Butler’s great skill at composing tight verses. If you really want to get analytic and force a match with the album’s themes, that second line could be interpreted as “we had no hope while we watched the machinery that drives our system begin to break down and collapse”.

I feel like I’ve been living in a city with no children in it
A garden left for ruin by a billionaire inside of a private prison

Butler has explained how he was inspired to write this song when he received a picture “of an old school friend… standing with his daughter sitting on his shoulders “at the mall around the corner from where we lived”. He adds: “The combination of seeing this familiar place and seeing my friend with his child brought back a lot of feeling from that time. I found myself trying to remember the town that we grew up in and trying to retrace as much as I could remember.”
This also reminds us of the request for a child heard in The Suburbs; one can almost hear the singer’s biological clock ticking against a countdown to destruction. (As a cross-media connection, the only child-free city I can think of is London, circa 2027).

You never trust a millionaire quoting the sermon on the mount
I used to think I was not like them but I’m beginning to have my doubts about it

A Neon Bible-esque religious reference paired with a veiled fear of becoming a ‘sellout’; perhaps Win seems to be afraid that as he and the band become more well-known, the messages they spread in their songs might sound hollow and hypocritical. However, the very-down-to-earth Butler brothers have reassuringly tackled this topic in interviews:

Will: Maybe at some point we’ll get to the level where we have to really deal with the devil or decide to stay small, but so far we’ve been pretty much able to do what we want to do.
Win: I think you also have to want to be really famous. It’s a lot easier to sabotage your career than to have a career to sabotage [laughs].

When you’re hiding underground, the rain can’t get you wet
But do you think your righteousness could pay
The interest on your debt? I have my doubts about it

I’m really not sure what this verse refers to, but this isn’t the first time the band has sung about debt, although the last two occurrences (“I know no matter what you say/There are some debts you’ll never pay (Intervention); I don’t want to live with my father’s debt/You can’t forgive what you can’t forget” (Windowsill)) came from Neon Bible.

‘The Suburbs’: Context & Composition

The Suburbs is (the) Arcade Fire’s third full-length album, and it continues to build on the themes of their EP and previous albums, especially 2007’s Neon Bible—so much so that it really seems a bit like a sequel or side-quel to that record.
In fact, the idea of successive sidequels continuing to explore deeper facets of an original’s theme reminds me of the life’s work of another Houstonite, Daniel Quinn, whose writings could (from a certain point of view) be interpreted to deal with the same issues as Arcade Fire (such as calls for change in how we relate to our communities; escape from the world in its present form; and imminent environmental destruction). I wonder if the Brothers Butler have read any Quinn?

But where Neon Bible seemed to focus on a cultural and environmental collapse/apocalypse brought on by the potent overlap of politics, overconsumption, religion, and television (which is to say, it’s an album about Right Now), The Suburbs dials down the doom to zoom in a bit.
While it’s entirely possible that both albums occupy the same universe, this time around, the story—while set against a backdrop of suburban war—is more intimate, focusing on a Millennial generation of nostalgic, dissatisfied Young People—alienated by technology and the sterile uniformity of their modern surroundings—yearning for a rewarding way of life outside the Sprawl.
Hopefully I haven’t scared anyone off with that serious description, but it’s just as deathly topical as its predecessor.

To provide comparisons as we start our examination of this album, I’m going to be relating examples from my previous favorite concept album (Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness), partially because they’re surprisingly similar in presentation, and partially because I’ve invested so much time studying that double-LP monster over the years it would seem like a waste if I didn’t.

So, for starters, both albums begin with an atypical-sounding first track or two. I have to wonder what the first ’Pumpkins fans to hear MCIS in 1995—expecting something similar to the swirling guitar layers of Siamese Dream—thought upon hearing the piano/synth and orchestral strings of those first two tracks (the ’Pumpkins’ signature sound would return in spades by MCIS’s third track); similarly, the splash of cymbals and the deceptively cheerful piano line that opens The Suburbs might’ve surprised Arcade Fire fans, although I suspect they’re smart enough to understand the band’s penchant for making songs in a wide variety of styles.

Since we’re talking about arrangement, I feel I should—even though I promise I’ll discuss it later as part of this series—draw attention to Scenes from The Suburbs at this point, specifically how Spike Jonze rearranges the album’s tracks to great effect to open his film.
As exciting an opening as those splashy cymbals on The Suburbs are, they sound way better when preceded by sorrowful narration and the melancholy strings of an extended version of The Suburbs Continued (the album’s coda track).
Hey kids!, just for fun, next time you listen to the album, try playing that reprise as the first track. Pretty cool, huh?
So, compositionally-speaking, this opening title track functions as an overture or prologue, containing concentrated versions of the album’s themes. The next song will open the programme proper (MCIS’s first ‘scene’, jellybelly, begins with the words, “Welcome to nowhere fast”; while after its prologue, The Suburbs launches with Ready to Start, a song that would be a perfect album-opener by nature of its musical composition, title, and lyrics).
The songs that follow will explore the themes first broached in the prologue, reaching an emotional climax about halfway through the album (Muzzle for MCIS; Suburban War for The ‘burbs), and ending the album with a Reprise of the main theme, which acts as ‘end titles’ for the listening experience.

Said title track (or in the case of MCIS, the second track, since the title track is instrumental) contains concentrated versions of most of the key themes examined in the course of the album (and in a larger sense, in all of Arcade Fire’s works). While there is some significant overlap for several of them (due to exploration of dichotomies, for instance—all coins having two sides, to be able to discuss something like the Wild without being aware at least on some level of its opposite would be an impressive feat of Orwellian thought), in their distilled forms the album’s themes may be classified thusly (in no particular order):

  • children/childhood/youth/adolescence
  • nostalgia for said carefree times ^ (the “wasted hours”)
  • Millennial Young People of today (“the Kids”)
  • music/singing/screaming
  • modernity/recent history
  • Place: Cities/Downtown/the Sprawl/Towns/the Suburbs/Home
  • one’s connection to said locales^, (especially issues that arise when said locales^ change)
  • roads and driving (inherent in our relationship to said modern locales^)
  • Destruction (either in the form of War, or another nonspecific source, and often of said locales^)
  • Technology (and its effect on the speed of life), and waiting (as metaphor for a slower-paced life)
  • alienation (often as a result of said technology)
  • authority figures with ‘power’ (emperors, kings, soldiers, police, &c.)
  • tribalism
  • insomnia/sleeping/dreaming
  • Escape
  • the “Wild” (often represented by “the Night”, used as a catch-all term for the natural/organic/uncivilized)

In fact, if someone asked me to further hyper-refine The Suburbs in 25 words, I’d say it is about ‘the dichotomy between Civilization/The Wild (and all that go along with both), explored from the vantage point of Young People in the early 21st century.’
But of course, that’s coming from someone with an anthropology/anarcho-primitivist background. Hell, as Win sings on Culture War, “You see what you want to see.”

Pretty heavy stuff, huh?

Doomsday Preppers: Brad and Krystal

Whoo, we finally made it to ‘Gonna Be a Big Bang’, the last episode of the season! (next week’s best-of compilation doesn’t count.)Brad&Krystal-familyOur look at this Tulsa, OK family begins with a voiceover from Brad:
“I think there’s a general misconception about what’s going on in the world, and what’s going on in America: people are somewhat naïve about the dangers that we face and the tough times ahead that we have…The signs and the signals are already there.” Well, dude, you’re on the right track, but the suburbs are just about the worst place to see what’s really going on in the world, insulating and completely artificial as they are. I don’t have time or space here to write a 12,000-word screed on that subject–that’s what this series is for.
Just remember, though, that you can’t expect to change or escape (or really survive, in the long run, for that matter) if you can’t recognize the bars of your cage.

And so, just like literally one out of every two people profiled this season, Brad is preparing for what? All together now! “Economic collapse!…which will lead to Armageddon.” Wait, what? Maybe Brad’s not up on his bible-reading, but even this practicing heathen can tell you that Armageddon (a fictional cosmic battle pitting Zombie Jeebus v. Satan and the Antichrist), would fall neatly into the category of ‘supernatural event’; the collapse of one civilized human economy would not. An economic collapse might theoretically result from Armageddon, but not the other way around.

Let me say this up front: this segment is the epitome of Type IA (Rawlesian) Prepping:
Guns? Check.
House full of hoarded, never-to-be-eaten-until-doomsday canned foods? Check.
Extraneous, expensive survivalist gear (camouflage, gasmasks, body armor, &c.)? Check. (Brad probably some two-way-radios and night-vision goggles stashed in a closet somewhere)
Overbuilt, underground steel box (bunker)? Check?
Judeo-Christian Southerners? Check.
Really, all that’s missing is a sock full of pre-1965 quarters.

So, in the year or so since Brad ‘became a prepper’, he’s spent $70,000 on gear and enough canned goods to fill his house. Literally: the house is only 2,000 square feet, yet every room seems to be full of food cans stacked to the ceiling. You know what I would do if I had a house full of food? Eat it! And then I’d buy—or maybe, just maybe, grow—some more! Huh, what a novel idea!: Food is for eating!

Sidebar: After two seasons of this show, I’ve noticed that the folks who really turn me off are the ones who seem to have, at some point in the very recent past, sat down and said, “We’re going to be preppers now!”, and then spend tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars catching up with the Joneses. Because that’s how we try to solve problems in this country: by throwing money at it! The folks who I really like are the ones who have just been living their life in a way that coincidentally makes them prepared, who shrug and say, “Well, I guess that makes us preppers.”

Now, all members of Brad’s family supposedly go to the gun range every month, and we get to see the six-year-old’s first time. He seems downright excited talking about their plan for the post-collapse world: “We have to shoot bad guys with our own guns, right?” he says with a grin. At the gun range, the youngling gets some pistol training with tacticool specialist Steve Aryan. After the kid takes a shot, Steve tells him, “You’re a shooter, I can tell.” Hmm, I wonder why that is? Could it be that the kid has grown up in a terminal death-culture, exposed to more violence-for-entertainment in his six years than most people should see in their entire lives?

So, apparently, Brad spends two hours every day just inspecting his ‘preps’, and a further two to four hours daily ordering new stuff? And what kind of Stuff does he buy that he thinks will help them survive? How ‘bout a ghillie suit? Krystal puts it on while Brad tells her, “If you wanted to stay concealed, that’s what you’d wear. You’d blend in well.” Sure she’d blend in well, dude, when she’s in the jungle. Not in the ’burbs!

Then there’s some reality-show, forced-tears drama BS where they explain how the “situation has become so dire”, they’ve “had to hold off on expanding our family.” *Sigh* I’m guessing if they had it their way, Brad and Krystal would have six or seven or eight kids, but let’s pretend for a second that our culture followed a different paradigm and didn’t teach us that the Earth was made for civilized man to multiply across and abuse as he sees fit. They already have three kids who have survived past age five, so it’s reasonable to assume they’ll live to adulthood, which means Brad and Krystal have already replaced themselves plus one. If you haven’t noticed, we probably hit the planet’s carrying capacity years ago – so every new discovery made (the New World, petro fuels, any number of vaccines) is really just an artificial extension of the population cliff our culture has created.

And while Krystal already has the waterworks running, she uses the opportunity to go on about how one of her motivations in prepping is to ensure that her daughter won’t get raped and ravaged by the hordes of rioting unprepared folks when TSHTF. Apparently she’s unaware that she lives in an institutionalized Rape Culture, and one of her children will, statistically-speaking, be sexually assaulted at some point in their life, with or without the excuse of economic collapse or other disaster, as it seems our culture has been one of Men Who Hate Women for the last 6,000 years.

Anyway, like all Type I preppers, Brad has a serious Bunker Boner, so he contracts Clyde Scott of ‘Rising S Bunkers’ to build one for him, which turns into a ten-minute detour into Texan Prepper culture. I feel it’s appropriate to point out that Clyde has eight children and builds overkill bunkers that look like trash compactors, so he’s pretty much living the Taker dream.

Our introduction to Clyde consists of him talking into the camera, I guess trying to overcome the stereotype of ‘preppers’ as 1990s-militia-survivalists: “…tell folks you’re a prepper and you get mistaken for someone with a lot of guns and ammo and weapons. Well, that’s not what we try to do.”  That’s right – they also have bunkers and bugout bags!

Apparently, Clyde’s policy is to only employ identical male self-identified preppers. Seriously: every one of his workers is a good ol’ boy with a Mossy Oak hat and a goatee. We then take a further detour when Clyde watches his son try to ride a horse. I guess even though young Jagger claims ‘rodeoing’ is a hobby, he can’t tell if a horse is good for riding or not; he gets bucked off and hurts his hand. Well, that was pointless.

Next up we get all the Rising S crew discussing their prepping philosophy. They’re convinced “something’s gonna happen that’ll be the restart button for America.” Their plan is to “go underground, be the rabbit in the hole, and eat good, because [they’re] preppers!” I dunno, I’ve talked about the inherent shortsightedness of bunker-based preparations before, and I really don’t feel like going over it again. In my opinion, bunker-dwellers are just about as bad as the head-in-the-sand optimist ‘ostriches’ who’ve been lulled to sleep by our Mother Culture and refuse to believe that anything bad could ever happen. While opposites on the spectrum, both groups essentially refuse to own up and really take responsibility for their own survival.

When the family pays a visit to Clyde’s outfit, they check out their new digs before it gets buried. Hailey, ordinary modern teenager, asks if she’ll get cell service. Funny! Then the six-year-old asks “Where’s the TV, and X-Box and stuff?” Ohboy. Parents, better start weaning them off that attention-span-destroying electronic teat before TSHTF, or you’re going to be dealing with some serious junkie-children-in-cold-turkey-withdrawal when they go underground. It also bugs me that their plan while they’re down below is just to play cards and board games. Like, do they just expect to pass the time and keep themselves entertained until they can come up for air, at which point everything will be back to normal, and they can go back to their jobs and keep going to the grocery store? Hypothetically, if I were a bunker prepper, I’d have that thing stocked with musical instruments and a big gorram library. Also, I really hope they plan on doing some decorating or something, because the plain white walls and fluorescent lights would drive me absolutely crazy in about a day.

So, because Clyde builds—like a good little Taker—using the only shape he knows (the box), instead of one actually suited to distributing weight (like a circle or parabola), Brad’s bunker weighs 19,000 pounds—enough to snap the industrial chain they use to lift it onto the truck, which whips back and hits Clyde and breaks his arm. He has a schedule to keep and he’s not going to let a little thing like a broken arm stop him, so they press on to Oklahoma, set up the crane, pick up the bunkerbox, put it in the backyard hole, and cover it in concrete! Is that really necessary? Is there a prepper rule somewhere that says it’s not enough to pay $70,000 for an overgrown tin can, it’s not a bunker unless it’s dipped in Portland cement?

While the nine-and-a-half-ton bunker is hanging 30 feet over their heads, Brad and Krystal suddenly notice all the people gawking at the scene as they drive past: “Pretty sure we’ll be the talk of the block for a while,” she says. Erm yeah, and you’ll become the talk of the block again real soon should disaster strike, now that all your neighbors know you have a bunker.

The experts tell them, as usual, to store water. And then, for some reason—despite these guys being the epitome of Type I prepping—only give the family 49 points, for four months’ survival! Wait, what?!? Why so low??? Could Practical Preppers finally have opened their eyes to see that the bunker model isn’t a real answer, but is at best a misguided stop-gap solution to bigger problems?

Doomsday Preppers: Lucas Camerons & Kevin O’Brien

The season continues with the episode ‘In the Hurt Locker’ (a title which actually comes from a line in the episode about having no money). We start off in the Bible Belt with a look at Lucas Cameron and his group of ‘Seven Trumpet Preppers’. As our narrator tells us, Lucas, his wife, son, and parents are all “God-Fearing Christians”.
7Trumpet PreppersA few weeks ago I was explaining Doomsday Preppers to a friend, and he asked me what kind of ‘doomsday’ the folks were prepared for.
“Oh, you know,” I said, “pretty much everyone says financial collapse, with the odd earthquake or volcano thrown in.”
“What?!” he stammered, “Those aren’t doomsdays! An asteroid is doomsday!” His point being, there’s a difference between something being the end of your world, and the End of The World.
Well, on this episode, we have the first group preparing for that latter category, stemming from their particular book of faith: Lucas and the rest of the Seven Trumpets fear a “global earthquake described in Revelation”. They somehow think this will relate to the big, bad wolf of the Eastern US, the New Madrid Seismic Zone. Which…isn’t global…but whatever. Maybe they think that’ll be the first Trumpet, and the rest will follow.

Once again, like everyone else, their real fear is that in the days after a quake, “people will turn to lawlessness”. Well, probably, but let’s first recognize that—just as there is no one right way to live—there are more ways of keeping order in a society than relying on arbitrary “Don’t do _x_!” laws decided on by elite old men, which are fully expected to be broken. Given a big enough disaster, a long enough timeline, and the absence of a dominating militarized government, it’s conceivable that we might actually see a return of an organically-evolved system of tribal law. Of course, we’re dealing with a guy who wears a miniature set of Ten Commandments (the world’s most famous set of anti-tribal laws) around his neck, so I don’t really expect them to understand.

Anyway, to deal with the likelihood of lawless, hungry folks hemorrhaging from cities, the Cameron clan has spent a comparatively-meager $50,000 fortifying their farm and home; like Tom Perez, they call their fortress home The Alamo.
And to help with the defense and upkeep of the place, Lucas has recruited prepper friends with a very telling variety of skillsets. These include a soldier/‘private military contractor’-type, a guy who works night shift security, and Lucas’s father, a lifelong farmer of row crops and beef cattle. Additionally, Lucas and his buddy Spence work together to fabricate machines including a wind turbine and another one of those ‘wood gassifiers’ things (I have yet to really understand how they work) they use to power a generator. And what is this wood-burning fuel-maker made from? An old oil drum and some jumbo ammo cans! Well, that gets a thumbs-up for DIY solutions! However, when it comes to farming, I have to raise this point: like Lucas’s pa, my dad and uncle have been growing maize, soya, and beef cattle for decades. But do I think they could do it without modern synthetic fertilizers and antibiotics and inoculants? No way! If you want to be really able to survive an uncertain future, make friends with someone who has a big, productive organic garden. Y’know, a horticulturalist, instead of a totalitarian agriculturalist.
So to recap, the way the Trumpets see it, one’s essential concerns should be defense (warfare), herding, and maintaining power. For those who say our culture has continued to evolve, let me point out that those three essentials are calling cards of the patriarchal, warlike, sky-god-worshipping Indo-Europeans who rode into history to dominate Europe about the time I’m guessing the Seven Trumpets believe the Earth was created.

Anyway, where were we? Food? Speaking of food, about the only time we see the ladies is when they’re showing off a bit of their massive food stockpile, including a lot of rice in two-liter soda bottles. For dry goods, I think those are hard to beat: bugs can’t get in (I guess mice might be able to chew through), they don’t shatter when dropped, and they stack up pretty neat; win-win-win. Apparently, they also have multiple food caches spread around the farm, which is always a good idea—Nature doesn’t put all her eggs in one basket, and we shouldn’t either.
We also hear that the family has a fair amount of food on-the-hoof: five goats, a score of chickens, and two-score cattle. That’s not bad, but again, can they keep them fed through a winter without relying on maize? And furthermore, would they really want to?—remember that ruminants like cattle evolved as grazers, not grain-eaters; grass-fed beef is way better.

Like most long-term thinking folks, the Seven Trumpets plan on reloading a lot of ammo when things head south. We get to see grandpa (who owns a firearms business) and Lucas teach his son how to reload shotshells, which they use as an opportunity to quiz him on his gun-ethics.
“What are guns for?” “Killing people trying to kill you.”
“That’s right,” says grandpa. “Guns are just weapons, like a carpenter’s saw.” Wait, what?

Always interested in swelling the ranks of the ’Trumpets, Lucas has been in contact with a new arrival to the area, who just happens to be a familiar face from season one…Kevin O’Brien! This means we get to see an update on his ultimate prepper homestead, right? Unfortunately, no. While the O’Briens bought 130 acres of lovely countryside, they still have no home, so they rent a house nearby and take frequent camping trips to get familiarized with the land. There’s a bit where the kids make it abundantly clear they have no intention of ever living without indoor plumbing, haha.
So, to try out for the ’Trumpets, the O’Briens head over to the Cameron compound and do some target shooting with that crew. They seem pretty pleased with his performance, but have a more rigorous test in mind for him, one for which they’ve called in the big guns, literally. Because who shows up next but the ‘experts’ themselves, Practical Preppers! Hot damn, this is turning out to be an all-star episode!
Kobler and Hunt roll up with black guns, night-vision, and more tactical crap than I’ve ever seen before, to play to role of ‘raiders’ that O’Brien and the Seven Trumpets will hopefully detect and defend against. Which begs the question—exactly what kind of raiders do these guys expect to deal with? Are they planning on facing hungry hordes of unprepared city-folk, or the local band of Navy SEALs?  Seriously; boys and their toys, *eyeroll*.

Luckily (unlike some of the other invasion drills we’ve seen), at least these guys’ guns are loaded with blanks (Kevin is armed with a spotlight in hopes of blinding the night-vision). Anyway, the experts manage to sneak up right under the others’ noses, and during the shooting, Lucas’s AR jams! Haha! I think I’ll stick with my EastBloc dunk-‘em-in-mud rifles, thank you very much. Despite all this, I guess everybody considers it a successful learning experience, and Lucas offers to bring Kevin into his group.

In the experts’ assessment,
O’Brien gets 62 points—keeping chickens (his daughter names her chick Nugget. Right-on, that’s the way to do it!) gets him extra kudos for food resupply—for 9 months’ survival.
Lucas—who the experts say needs to buy some two-way radios—gets 74 points for 14 months.

In their update, the O’Briens have moved to a new location with a stocked fish pond, wood-burning stove, a bigger chicken coop, and lots of stonework, which looks really good in the woods. Thumbs-up for architectural camouflage. Meanwhile, Lucas reports that they’ve taken the experts advice and bought walkie-talkies, as well as installed a hand pump for their well. Yay for the best kind of sustainable energy, people power!