Monday, September 26, 2016

New Hipster Affinity Lodge Gives Masons Vintage, Organic Experience

Seattle, WA - The Grand Lodge of Washington's newest affinity lodge has been making waves across the west coast. Vintage Lodge No. 45, which meets in a spare room above a cigarette smoke-filled coffee shop in downtown Seattle, hopes to make the Masonic experience as hipster as possible. Bro. Joe Snow, Charter Master of Vintage Lodge, explained his vision to The Past Bastard over a cup of overpriced coffee and biscotti. "I think Masonry has really gotten away from what matters," Worshipful Joe explained, "the organization shouldn't be about tuxedos, boring lectures, and spaghetti dinners. Vintage [Lodge] is here to change that."

Worshipful Joe, clad in flannel, aviators, and a man bun, smiled broadly as he explained his plans for Vintage Lodge's inaugural year in between puffs of pipe tobacco: "First and foremost, tuxedos are out. We don't care what you wear, as long as you don't come clad in Abercrombie. We're about the bro--not the brand. Jeans are just fine as long as they're skinny and accompanied by your best pair of Converse All Stars. Officers are required to wear something plaid, but the rest of their ensemble is up to them."

"Say goodbye to spaghetti dinners and canned green beans," Worshipful Joe continued, "our festive boards will be all organic all the time! Our steward, Bro. James, makes some of the best tofu I've ever eaten, and Pabst Blue Ribbon will be the drink of choice each of our meals. We're trying to work out a sponsorship with Whole Foods to cut some of the food costs, but they haven't gotten back to us yet."

When asked about how Vintage Lodge would tackle Masonic education, Worshipful Joe replied: "We're going retro, baby! Today's young Masons really respond to retro-gaming culture, so we've converted our tracing boards and artwork to fit that theme. You just can't begin to fully understand a tracing board until you see it in 8-bit."

By this point in our conversation, Worshipful Joe had pulled out a ukulele and had begun to sing along to the Radiohead song that had begun to play in the background, so I felt it best to end our interview and excuse myself. Before leaving, Worshipful Joe gave me the following parting words: "You're going to get the tab, right? I'd totally pay, but I'm saving up for the new Arctic Monkeys vinyl album so we can play it in lodge next month." In retrospect, this interview was a couple of hours and $20 that this writer of The Past Bastard won't ever get back.

- Bro. Dionysius Bacchus III
- Knight Kadeuch, Kennedy MacFaulty 69˚ of the Mediocre Elu

Monday, September 19, 2016

Co-Masons to put pancakes on the menu

Golden, CO -- The Honorable Order of American Co-Masonry is considering a move to put pancakes on the menu in an effort to curb membership attrition.

“The older gals are fine with the way things have been, of course,” said RW Carey Childs, spokesperson for the Grand Lodge of Co-Masons. “The problem is the new gals. They joined expecting the kind of Masonry that their fathers or grandfathers talked about. But after they get in, and they see the lectures, the papers and presentations, and all that educational stuff, they start asking ‘Is this all?’”

RW Childs went on to explain that in the last five or six years, their membership has grown considerably, mainly women in their twenties and thirties who were drawn to Freemasonry because their family members spoke so highly of it. Prohibited from joining the male-only mainstream lodges, these women found welcome in Co-Masonry. 

Unfortunately, what those new Millennial members also found was that it didn’t live up to the expectations that they had of Freemasonry, based on the stories they heard. Many new members have been surprised to discover that, instead of joining a social club where they can have a fun evening out, that they have joined a society that encourages personal improvement, morality, and education.

“I mean, I’d always heard about the pancake breakfasts or the fish frys at my grandfather’s lodge,” said Arwyn Flanders, a new Master Mason from the same lodge as Childs. “My grandmother used to complain about them all the time, but my grandfather loved them. He was always down there on a weekend morning, mixing up batter and chatting away with his buddies. Or those fish fry dinners every other month, where he and a bunch of the other guys would spend the whole evening eating and drinking together. It always sounded like so much fun. I don’t ever remember him saying anything about trees of life or squares of virtue or any of this other stuff we’re always hearing about in our lodge.”

She added, “I mean, sure, it’s great to listen to, and I’m sure it’s helping me to become a better person. But it’s not, you know, the real reason that I wanted to join.”

RW Childs conceded that if the fraternity is going to continue to court the new Millennials, then some things may have to change. “The focus of our branch of Freemasonry has always been on self improvement through moral study, but it wouldn’t kill us to have a pancake breakfast once in a while, or maybe a wine tasting evening, or something social like that.” 

She added, “Yes, a few of the old timers are against it, but I’m afraid that if we don’t make some small changes to welcome the new breed of Masons, that they’ll end up leaving to join the mainstream OES chapters.”

-- Conte Calvino Gliostro

Monday, September 12, 2016

Grand Lodge of Arkansas thanked by Grand Lodges of Georgia and Tennessee

Cracked Rock, AR -- In what is becoming a new Masonic custom, the Grand Masters of Georgia and of Tennessee have sent gifts to the Grand Lodge of Arkansas in a show of appreciation for their ability to take the public eye off of the idiosyncrasies of their respective Grand Lodges.
The Past Bastard has acquired an email (apparently referencing the situation described by noted Masonic author Chris Hodor)  from the still-hacked AOL account of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas, which read, in part:
peach and JDIn light of your efforts to turn American Freemasonary from a society of philosophical and moral studies into a quasi-religious organization with a focus on adherence to arbitrary rules from the 1920s, and for your ability to deflect public scrutiny from the peccadilloes of our own, respective Grand Lodges, we would like to present the Grand Lodge of Arkansas a token of our appreciation.
A UPS driver reportedly left several packages outside of the Grand Lodge of Arkansas building because nobody was around to sign for them -- the entire Grand Line of officers having suspended themselves last week. Local sources reported to us that the packages were a case of Tennessee-distilled Jack Daniels Whiskey, and a large container of Georgia peaches.
The Past Bastard hopes that Worthy Matron Stella Campbell (who appears to be the only office staff member left to run the Grand Lodge) enjoys them in good health. 
-- Conte Calvino Gliostro

Monday, September 5, 2016

Royal Order of Jesters announces new, family-friendly mascot to rebrand image

Indianapolis, IN - The secretive Shriner sub-organization known as the Royal Order of Jesters (ROJ) has announced its intent to return to the public eye and rebrand its image as a family-friendly organization by dropping its iconic Billiken imagery and replacing it with a new, kid-friendly mascot named "Jesterbear." Noble Richard Prick, Executive Director of the Royal Order of Jesters, gave the organization's first public interview in years exclusively to the writers of The Past Bastard." We as an organization are at a crossroads," Noble Richard explained, "Our great fraternity is shrinking more and more each day, and unless we get back into the public eye, the ROJ will ultimately cease to exist. We need to remember that, as Shriners and ultimately Freemasons first, we need to be champions of good will to all we meet. We can't lurk in the shadows any longer."

When The Past Bastard asked Noble Richard why the organization decided to do a complete rebranding initiative, his answer was simple: "We've had some serious missteps in the past, and we've wronged a lot of good people. But no more. As the old practices of this organization have died, the old brand that represented those practices needs to die as well. Mirth can still be king, but we need to extend our joy and good will to our families and friends. That's why we came up with Jesterbear, the face of the new and improved Royal Order of Jesters organization!"

Jesterbear, the ROJ's new mascot
When asked "Why Jesterbear?", Noble Richard explained: "We wanted our image to be something cuddly, like a teddy bear! Admittedly, none of us here at the ROJ National Office are terribly computer literate, but we took to the "Ask Jeeves" internet search engine to search for a good cartoon bear we could model our mascot after. We found one that fit our new image perfectly, added some ROJ flair, and there you have it! We've tested the new mascot out with a couple small groups, and one thing is clear: Jesterbear is a hit with the kids!"

Noble Richard closed out our interview by discussing his organization's next steps toward inclusivity: "We want to get out side-by-side with our the rest of the Shrine clubs. You can expect to see the Jesters marching in the local Halloween parades, or working with local Shepherds Units to transport children to area Shriner's Hospitals. In fact, I'd encourage each and every Shriner out there to take the initiative to ask your local Shrine Temple Recorder how you can get involved with the ROJ!"

The first large-scale family event the ROJ will be organizing is reportedly a fishing trip off of Lake Michigan. "If that goes well," explained Noble Richard, "we'll see if we can't get a larger one organized for a more exotic destination like Brazil. I've heard the fishing there is downright spectacular. All in all, we've been extremely blessed as an organization to get a fresh start like this. The Royal Order of Jesters is here to stay, and we're lucky to have Jesterbear to lead the way!"

- Exalted Patron Dr. Dorian Dalton