Thursday, July 18, 2019

Grand Lodge of California Announces Rebranding Initiative; Drops Square & Compasses Entirely (Repost)

(Note: The Past Bastard writers have been on a microbrew tour around the US. We are republishing some of their favorite articles until they get back. -- the unpaid interns.)

San Francisco, CA -- Following the announcement that the UGLE had a  “re-branding” of the fraternity, along with a modernized S&C logo, the GL of CA announced their own rebranding initiative. 

“Let’s face it, Freemasonry has an old fashioned image that we will never shake, unless we do something drastic. The UGLE had some good ideas, but they didn’t go far enough. Our initiative is looking forward to 2117, not just 2017,” said Grand Lodge spokesperson Nelson Riptorn. 

Always on the avant garde edge, The California Freemason reported that a team of social theorists, organizational behaviorists, cultural anthropologists, and graphic designers worked together to create a more forward-looking logo, designed to pair with their initiative to attract and retain a younger membership. Realizing that the new UGLE logo still retained trace elements of the out-dated Square & Compasses, the California initiative strove to come up with a design that balanced the stability of the past with the need for appealing to future generations of Freemasons. 
“By eliminating the old fashioned Square and Compasses altogether,” Riptorn explained, “we can finally shake off one of the aspects that’s been holding us back. In a few months, our new logo will be available on pins, bumper stickers, decals, and car emblems. By this time next year, we expect to have replaced those old lodge signs, too, after the Grand Master’s edict. We expect that it will be a short time before the rest of the Grand Lodges around the US will follow suit.”

“We’ve had three hundred years of looking to the past,” said Riptorn. “Let’s turn that around and start looking toward the future.”

-- Conte Calvino Gliostro

Thursday, May 23, 2019

UGLE and GOdF confirm rumors of recognition

Milton Keynes, UK - Some of our readers that are active on social media have undoubtedly run across the barely disguised rumors of recognition between the United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE) and the Grand Orient of France (GOdF). This week, The Past Bastard overcame the eight hour time difference, and tracked down the Very Worshipful Nigel Thornbury, Assistant to the Provincial Undersecretary in charge of recognition and amity. VW Thornbury confirmed that, while there is some discussion, at this point the two different orders of Freemasons are still  working out the details.

"I say, it's pretty exciting that we're working on this in my lifetime," said Thornbury. "The UGLE dropped their recognition of the Grand Orient before my grandfather was born, back in Edward's time, if I recall correctly. They've had their differences, but I'm glad that the two oldest and most recognized orders of Freemasons are at least coming to some terms of understanding, if you take my meaning."

The Past Bastard asked Very Worshipful Thornbury for a little background.

"Well, as with a lot of Masonic history, the details are a bit sketchy, but from what I gather, the Grand Orient did something that the Grand Lodge considered to be not cricket, if you take my meaning. That began a series of claims and counterclaims of legitimacy, until the Grand Lodge decided that the Grand Orient was personna non grata, or I guess, loge grande non grata. Nobody ever thought to reconcile because, quite frankly, the lodge cultures are too different."

The Past Bastard asked Very Worshipful Thornbury if he could give us any details of the recognition.

"Well, this is all preliminary stuff, and may, of course, be subject to change, but here's what we've worked out so far. First of all, obviously this is just recognition talk, and there's not even a hint at a merger or anything like that. We're simply too different, and the Grand Orient now has a long history behind it that they won't want to give up. And naturally, there's to be no dual or plural membership. You join one body only. Everybody has agreed on that part."

Thornbury continued. "Second, there's to be no visitation between the lodges. As in, none at all. The only communication would be at the grand level, by email or messenger. None of the lodge members are allowed to talk to each other."

"In reference to the talking part," Thornbury continued, "no only are they not allowed to talk to each other, but they aren't even allowed to acknowledge each other. In fact, someone has asked for a caveat that if a Grand Lodge member is walking down the pavement, and spies a Grand Orient member, that he should cross the street so as not to chance any communication."

"Obviously, such arrangements preclude joint affairs, such as dinners, charities, beanos, and anything like that," he explained.

The Past Bastard observed that, except for a written agreement, it sounds like there wouldn't be any change at all in the status, and any recognition would be essentially invisible for ordinary Masons.

"Oh, quite right," said Thornbury. "Admittedly, it did seem a bit odd at first, but baby steps, and all that, you know. However, the Yanks that came up here from a couple of your southern states to help us draw up the details said that this is how it's frequently done across the pond, so I'm sure that they all know what they're doing."

The Past Bastard will continue to update this story as details become more available.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Freemasons open forgotten time capsule

Dateline: Philadelphia, PA. Year: 2206 - Work crews repairing earthquake damage on the Old Pennsylvania Grand Lodge building uncovered a metal box, which they turned over the the Grand Lodge. The East Pennsylvania Grand Lodge Historian realized that they were looking at a time capsule that had been buried in 2005, and presumed lost.

Officers held a semi-public ceremony to open the box and display the contents, which presented an interesting view on the daily lives of early 21st century Freemasons.

"I have to admit, there are quite a few items here that we aren't quite sure what they were used for," said Roberto Crabs, Very Worshipful Grand Historian for the Grand Lodge of East Pennsylvania. "For example, many of these items appear to be some kind of device that we assume would help them with their ritual. We found several things called 'Palm Pilots,' which look to be a primitive ebook reader used for storing ritual. Sadly, none of them are working - they appear to run on some kind of electrical storage cell."

VW Crabs pulled out another item. "Here's another thing that Freemasons must have used a lot of. We figure it had something to do with the Stewards and food preparation because they had the name 'Blackberry' on top. Possibly devices for letting the Stewards know when the dinner was ready."

Digging through the various pins, medals, and aprons, VW Crabs told us that the pins were fairly similar to those of modern times, with the exception that they were rather static. "These old lapel pins didn't change color, play music, or do anything," he told us. "They just kind of sat on your clothes."

He showed us a thin, flat box with the words "Dell Inspiron" on the top. It opened along one hinge and had a number of alphabetical keys that reminded us of those antique cell phones in the movies. "We think that the Secretaries read the minutes from these devices," Crabs told us. "Minutes back in those days were very lengthy, so they probably needed such large and heavy storage devices for them." Then he chuckled. "Apparently not much has changed in the last few centuries."

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Department of Fraternal Societies releases new study

Springfield, IL -- The Federal Department of Fraternal Societies recently released a report that, in accordance with most government funded studies, will surprise nobody. The Past Bastard obtained a copy of the research, and contacted head researcher, RWB Mike Pole.

"The essentials of the study are this: Masons in the craft for about five years spend most of their time complaining about other Masons, usually those in their own lodge. However, that seems to switch, so that by the time they hit the ten year mark, those Masons now complain most frequently about their Grand Lodge."

The Past Bastard questioned Bro. Pole on this.

"We think it's because when Masons are new to the craft, they aren't exposed enough to the quirks and contradictions of their Grand Lodge, nor do they have much exposure to how they may compare to the Grand Lodges in other states; they spend most of their time complaining about things nearest to them. However, by the time they have been in the Craft for a bit, perhaps even served in a few chairs, they've learned that issues with brothers are just minor annoyances, and that the real problem with getting anything done lies on the weird, nonsensical, and seemingly arbitrary rules that their Grand Lodge makes up, often just as politics or ego building."

Federal Department of Fraternal Societies Building
Bro. Pole then went on to point out other parts of the research.

"The trends, however, seem to flip for those Masons who, themselves, become Grand Lodge officers. New Grand Lodge officers will sometimes themselves complain about the seemingly arbitrary rules of their own Grand Lodge. However, after serving for several years, usually in more advanced capacities, those Grand Lodge officers tend to shift to complaining about other Masons -- usually about how those Masons at the blue lodge level just aren't doing the things that they should be, which screw up their vision for what Freemasonry should be."

The Past Bastard asked Bro. Pole if there were any way to get the groups to see eye to eye.

"Sadly, it doesn't look like there's any way for them to meet on any kind of level ground," he told us. "For our next phase in the research, we're planning to have some focus groups, team building, and some meet-and-greet events. We'll let you know how we make out."

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Young Mason collects pictures of Square & Compasses, instead of lapel pins

Barlow, KY --Some Masons collect bumper stickers, car decals, lapel pins, or other such paraphernalia. However, one Mason in this small Kentucky town is collecting something else.

"Oh, I'd say that I should hit the ten thousand mark pretty soon," said Mark Masters, of Paducah-Kroger Lodge. "I've got an online photo album where I've got them cataloged by area, type, and a few other factors."

Brother Mark collects pictures; more specifically, pictures of Masonic emblems that he has run across in his travels as a delivery driver.

"They're all labeled and numbered so I don't accidentally list the same one twice.," he told us. "That happened a few times when I first started this, and it made me so mad."

Brother Mark got the idea when he noticed how may times he would drive by a car with a square & compasses decal, or a similar design on a building, or on a statue.
It's easy to spot Masonic decals like this on
the backs of many cars.

"I started to just take pictures of them, you know? Like, I'd be driving down the street, and I'd spot a square & compass design on a building, so I'd pull over and take a picture. Or I'd be sitting at a light, and see a car with a "To be one ask one" bumper sticker, so I'd take a picture. One time I was at a funeral, and I saw a while bunch of gravestones with them. I got a lot that day," he told us.

So, why does he take pictures instead of buying a lapel pin?

"Oh, it's way cooler to see these things out in the wild," he told us. "Like, it's the surprise factor or something. You're driving along, just listening to some tunes, and out of the corner of your eye you spot one. It's like bird watching or something, only better."

"But I have to admit, though, that it does get more difficult to find new ones. It's like I'm exhausting the supply, or something. I'm hoping that I don't have to move to another part of the state," he said.

Monday, April 1, 2019

Flip This Temple: Chris Hodapp to host new show on A&E

Fudge Ripple, IN - - Chris Hodapp, the ninth most popular Masonic author, known primarily for his fifteen year old book "Freemasons for Dummies," is also one of the most prolific Masonic bloggers still active. Brother Hodapp's books, blog articles, and speaking engagements have reached dozens of Freemasons around the globe. 

As fellow Masons, we are happy for Brother Hodapp's continued success, which is why we reached out to him when we heard about his latest endeavor: Flip This Temple - A television series in which he will feature various lodge buildings around the US, as the lodge members decide to renovate the old buildings, and either keep them or sell them off.

TPB: Chris, first we want to thank you for all the work that you do as the unofficial Masonic News Network. We understand that "Flip This Temple" grew out of some of your reporting.

Chris: Yes, I believe that you mentioned that every other blog article seemed to be about some great, historic lodge building that was either being sold off, or was in a terrible state of disrepair. I got the idea while watching TV one night with my wife, and saw that those old "Flip This House" shows have morphed into things like "Flip This Condo", or Trailer or RV, or other things. I made a joke about how it would be nice if we could see such energy with some of the Masons I know remodeling their own lodges. From there, it just sort of... took off.

TPB: House flipping shows are really popular for couples to watch, because it gives them ideas for things to do in their own houses. What's the audience draw for remodeling a Masonic lodge?

Chris: We think that it's going to appeal to the younger Masons, the 30 to 50 year old crowd who are tired of the old, fake walnut 1970s paneling and the linoleum tiled floors, but who get a lot of pushback from the older past masters who can't imagine spending forty or fifty bucks on some new paint.

 TPB: So, we understand that the first show will be an old lodge building in Rhode Island or someplace in New England? 

Chris: That's right. I can't give you any more details, but it's an old building with parts dating back to the late 1700s, that was donated to the lodge in the mid 1800s, and probably hasn't been changed since, except maybe to add electricity and indoor plumbing. 

TPB: You could be describing half the lodges in New England, right there. 

Chris: True enough. Anyway, the producers managed to get some free supplies from various advertisers, and the younger lodge members had a couple of months to work on it. Walls were painted, windows were replaced, old carpeting torn out, and fake masonite paneling was burned. After it was finished, the guys then had to decide if the building was still worth keeping, or if they should sell it, take the money, and rent from a lodge with more modern facilities on the other side of town. 

TPB: Well, so what did they do?

Chris: Sorry, can't tell you that. You'll have to wait until it hits the cable channels next season. 

TPB: Fair enough. Can you tell us about any other upcoming shows?

Chris: For the first season, we're just hitting a few smaller lodge buildings in the northeast US, a couple in the mid-west, and we'll end up the season with something out in the northwest US. 

TPB: Any of those big, multi-lodge buildings in the cities?

Chris: While I'd love to tackle some of those old, art deco buildings that take up half a block, the producers have decided to wait a season or two to gauge the interest. Part of it, too, is getting more advertisers and sponsors behind it. Freemasons, as you know, are not noted for spending money on their buildings. Or much else, except their personal jewelry, I might add. 

TPB: Well, it certainly sounds like a hit, and we wish you the best of luck. 

Chris: Thanks, guys, I really appreciate that. 

"Flip This Temple" is in post-production, and we expect to see it on A&E in the next season. 


Thursday, March 28, 2019

Massachusetts to get hundreds of new members in one shot. Unfortunately, none of them will pay dues.

Boston, MA -- Citing the opportunity to improve tourism, the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts has announced that they intend to make every man who fought in the Revolutionary War a Mason-At-Sight.

"Oh, yes, it was a very controversial decision, yes indeed," said Worshipful Brother Ronald Maroon, spokesperson for Grand Lodge Posthumous Affairs. "We argued about this at the Grand Lodge officers level for weeks and weeks. Ultimately, of course, the money won. It always does."

By "money," RW Maroon was referring to the idea that publicly identifying hundreds of early American patriots would increase public curiosity, visits, and perhaps even some new petitions.

"Oh, yes, it's pretty obvious that we Yanks love our early Patriots. We already get mobs of tourists here, especially when school lets out, who love to prowl around those old graveyards, or buy those souvenir tri-corn hats, or wave their Air-soft muskets around," he explained in an interview with The Past Bastard. "Our intention is to increase the public awareness of how closely those patriots are tied to Freemasonry."

Making someone a "Mason-At-Sight" is still a controversial practice even on living people. Several Grand Masters have made famous (dead) figures Masons-At-Sight, claiming that they probably would have become Masons had they lived long enough. But the Massachusetts decision has rocked the Masonic world.

"Simply put," RW Maroon told us, "We figured that all of the patriots fighting for freedom were on our side. Since some of them were already Freemasons, it's obvious that those men had the same ideals and principles. Yes, they died in the war, but if they hadn't, the probably would have moved back to the Bay State, started a little farm, become good citizens, and joined one of the local lodges. It's a totally reasonable assumption."

"By making a public declaration, we hope to increase the curiosity among the public, so when they visit Massachusetts, they will come to associate 'patriot' with 'Freemason.' Oh, and that they'll buy some merchandise with our branded 'Square and Compasses', of course. There's no downside!"

"Well, except," he admitted, "that none of those new members will be paying dues."

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Rhetorical Voices: Trendy or traditional foods in lodge?

The Past Bastard interviews random members from random lodges on random topics of Masonic importance.

Question: What do you think about the former Grand Master of West Virginia resigning over his mother lodge serving trendy foods instead of baked chicken and green beans?

Bob Hoskins, Treasurer, Steinbeck Lodge No. 118
"Well, personally, I'm a health nut, and I only eat paleo, so I wouldn't be eating those potatoes, donuts, noodles, pizza, or anything else that actually tastes good. And if you can't go to lodge and enjoy a dinner, then what's the point? Might as well sit at home posting memes on Facebook."


Larry Sotero, Past DDGM, Chantilly Lodge No 9

"Those damn liberals screw up everything, you know that? The poor bastard, excuse my French, just wanted to go to lodge and have a meal with his brothers, and they took away one of the few wholesome things about Freemasonry - the Festive Board - and they expected him to eat California food? It's a wonder the entire lodge hasn't lost its damn charter!"

Barnard Saundars, Junior Steward, Plank Lodge No. 312: 
"It's really too bad that the poor guy felt the need to resign because he couldn't have his fix of animal flesh. I wish I had the opportunity to have him try some good vegetarian dishes, like zucchini steaks or lima bean burgers, which are so much better not only for your person, but for the entire planet."

Friday, March 8, 2019

Masonic world rocked as former Grand Master resigns

Charleston, WV - Anonymous sources inside COGMNA (Conference of Grand Masters of North America) have leaked information to the effect that a prominent Past Grand Master has just tendered his resignation to his Grand Lodge. This is not a demit, but an actual resignation from the fraternity.

The Past Bastard has obtained a copy of the letter of resignation, which has been partially redacted. We are reprinting it here:

Know all men  by these presents that I, the undersigned [redacted], Past Grand Master, and member of good standing in [redacted] Lodge, being of sound mind and labouring under no disabilities, legal or otherwise, do hereby voluntarily declare:

WHEREAS: The dinner served to Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ at the Last Supper was baked chicken, green beans, and boiled potatoes, and

WHEREAS: All regular and well maintained Masonic Lodges should emulate the examples of the One True God, Our Lord Jesus Christ, and

WHEREAS: All regular and well maintained lodges are erected to the Glory of God, and

WHEREAS: Dinners at said well maintained and regular Masonic lodges should be served, and

WHEREAS: Said dinners should rightfully consist of backed chicken, green beans, and boiled potatoes, and

WHEREAS: My own mother lodge, [redacted] has taken to serving trendy hipster foods such as Italian pizza, Japanese bento boxes, Thai curry, Vietnamese Pho, Greek gyros, and other such foreign and blasphemous foods, and

WHEREAS: I desire to remain true to the Holy Scriptures,

NOW, THEREFORE: I resign from the Grand Lodge of West Virginia, owing no money to any brothern, nor having other obligations.

"For me and my house, we will serve the baked chicken." Sarducci 19:79

SIGNED: [redacted]

The Past Bastard will continue to monitor the situation. 

Thursday, February 28, 2019

MasoniCare in Connecticut to offer assisted living facilities for divorced couples.

Hartford, CT -- Faced with a growing number of aging boomer members with more complex family arrangements than generations in the past, MasoniCare -- the Grand Lodge of Connecticut’s Masonic Hospital and Care Facility -- has announced that they have remodeled a large number of their assisted living apartments to accommodate elderly divorced couples. Children of these couples (Freemasons are given preference, although MasoniCare told The Past Bastard that the facilities are open to all) can arrange to have their parents housed in the same unit, but living within separate apartments in order to make it easier for them to visit and care for their aging and estranged parents.
Workers remodeling the existing assisted care apartments
to accommodate divorced and estranged parents. Many
apartments are being split into two smaller units.

“It has become increasingly difficult for people in their 40s, 50s, and 60s to care for their elderly parents,” said MasoniCare Director Jean-Luc Dicard. “Many of them are still working, and do not have time to help maintain a house in which an elderly parent is still living. When you consider how many older adults are divorced or separated, it’s a nightmare for the children to figure out how to care for not just one, but two parents.”

Director Dicard told The Past Bastard,“That is why we here at MasoniCare have come up with the idea of splitting some of our assisted living apartments into two smaller apartments, each with a bedroom, a small sitting area, a kitchen, and some very nice soundproof walls. Our clients can now put both of their parents in the same unit, and those parents won’t have to hear, see, or deal with each other.”

The Past Bastard asked about the rest of the facilities in the area.

"Oh, they are well known throughout the country," Director Dicard told us. "If the residents are feeling up to it, they can go on bus trips, play bingo, go to concerts, or go shopping in town. We even have an Eastern Star chapter if mom is interested, and of course, there's a lodge that meets in the daytime for dad. Most of the residents are quite happy here, and their children can easily see how well everyone is cared for."

“Now the children of these parents will no longer have to worry about household maintenance, since that would be included in our care facility program,” Dicard said. “And even better, they can visit both parents in one trip, should they so choose. They can have lunch dad, and then an early bird dinner with mom, and get home in time to watch their evening TV shows..”

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Lodge member admits that he gets more out of Masonic Facebook groups than going to lodge.

Klamath Falls, OR -- Brother Todd Greason, a year old Master Mason at a lodge in this small city in Oregon, is sitting on a futon at his apartment. There is a blue Chromebook on his lap, an open bottle of Skyline IPA at hand, and a Spotify playlist lightly coming through the Bluetooth speaker on the other side of the room. It’s just after eight pm on a Tuesday night.

Tuesday is Lodge night.

Like a growing number of young men who joined Freemasonry for the camaraderie of being with like minded freethinkers, Todd found a difficult time fitting in with the other men at his lodge.

“Oh, it’s definitely not an age thing,” he told The Past Bastard in a WhatsApp interview. “I’m 28, and while most of the guys are in their 50s and 60s, there’s a good number in their 30s and 40s. I game with a few of them once in a while, we’ve met for tapas at that place over near the hospital, they’re cool. No, I like the guys, it’s the lodge, itself, that I’m having a hard time with.”

Brother Todd told us that a typical meeting is still 80% talking about bills and planning the next pancake dinner, and that for the past few months, every meeting has been pretty much the same. He loves the idea of Freemasonry, though, and so instead of abandoning it, he’s looking at other alternatives.

“For the last month, I’ve stopped going to lodge meetings, and have committed to spending at least two or three nights a week in online masonic discussion on various forums on Facebook, Reddit, and a few older web boards. It’s made an amazing impact on my life,” he told us. “I mean, for the last couple of days, a bunch of us have been discussing whether atheists have the moral and ethical underpinnings to belong in a lodge. Last week there was a stupid post about a ring, which turned into a really good lesson on why English Masons tend to hide their insignia. And on Reddit, there’s a thread going on about whether or not Le Droit Humain in France has a legitimate line of… I can’t remember. Is ‘pedigree’ the right word? Whatever, but this is the kind of stuff that we never talk about in lodge.”
The former site of Klamath Lodge. 

The Past Bastard asked Todd if he missed the company and hanging around with his lodge brothers.

“Yeah, I sort of miss a few things about that,” he told us. “I mean, the Stewards usually had a meal going, so it was nice to walk into the building and get a taco or whatever they had on. And I did like just bee-essing with the guys for a few minutes before the meetings. And every meeting I’d think, ‘Yeah, this time it’s going to be different.’ But it always ended up being a disappointment, and I’d come home wondering what else I could have been doing for the last three hours.”

Brother Todd said that while there is a lot of noise and stupid things on those forums, he chooses not to get involved with the petty arguments, and to continue to seek out the more rational brothers, and has come to enjoy the online conversations.

“The only thing that makes me sad,” he told us, “is that the really smart and cool guys seem so few and far between, and that none of them are in my area. I’d love to meet some of them in person and have these discussions over beers and nachos, you know what I mean?”

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Rumors surface in Hollywood of new movie Freemasons will want to see

Burbank, CA -- Rumors have surfaced this week that Marvel Studios, known for their successful and popular line of superhero movies, are currently working on a new film with a superhero that will be of interest to Freemasons. The Past Bastard contacted a MCU (Marvel Comic Universe) writer, who requested anonymity.

“It’s still in the draft stages right now,” the writer told The Past Bastard, “but the basics are this guy, Hiram Masters, who, in order to save this busload of orphans that was about to go off the edge of a cliff, makes a deal with Baphomet. Baphomet, who we think will be played by someone like Mark Sheppard, grants Masters super strength, so he pulls the bus off the edge of the cliff, right? But now he owes his soul, and the only way he thinks that he’ll be able to avoid eternity in Hell is to continue helping and saving women and children. As he goes along, he picks up other guys in similar predicaments, and they eventually form their own little, you know, club or lodge, I guess you call it.”
Hiram Masters is a Freemason
who was granted superhuman powers in order to save a busload of orphans, but who now owes his soul to the demon Baphomet. 

So, why the Freemason tie-in?

“We, you know, the MCU, we try to hit different demographics, and we’ve noticed that there’s a significant share of older folks who don’t get Deadpool, or Ant Man, or some of the other niche superheros. We thought that a superhero who was a Freemason would draw in the older people, especially since it aligns with the current Freemason membership demographics. Plus, since the Masons are so secretive, it means that if the franchise takes off, we can do all sorts of backstory changes, and nobody will be able to say it’s not canon.”

The Past Bastard asked if the writer could share any more details.

“Look, it’s way too early to say for certain, but we’ve already got Will Smith reading for the part of Hiram Masters, although personally I think he’s too old. We’re hoping for a younger guy, like Chad Boseman or Nicholas Hoult, Danny Kaluuya, or someone like those guys.”

The writer told The Past Bastard that the working title right now is “Goat Rider,”  and once they get production approval, will be releasing promotional materials sometime in the fall. "It's like Ant Man. We didn't expect much from it, but it turned out that people really enjoyed it. I'm pretty sure that this will end up the same way," he said.

Thursday, February 7, 2019

California Lodge to Modernize Dues Structure

Van Nuys, CA -- Citing a need to increase both dues and membership numbers, the members of Arbonne Lodge in this Los Angeles suburb have restructured their dues, so they now have various levels of membership.

“We think that we’re just breaking ground for many other lodges,” said Tim Ericson, Treasurer of Arbonne Lodge. “It’s almost embarrassing that someone hasn’t come up with this idea already.

Beginning in 2020, Arbonne Lodge will require new members to pay an initiation fee, plus the lodge dues of $125. However, if the candidate can get five more new members to sign up, he gets 20% of the initiation fee refunded to him.

“But that’s not the best part,” said WB Ericson. “After he gets five new members behind him, he’s elevated to “Master Mason Gold” status. That will entitle him to some special privileges around the lodge, like reduced prices on meals, or being able to rent the hall for ten percent off. And if each of his five members manages to bring in five, themselves, then he qualifies for Master Mason Platinum status.”

WB Ericson told The Past Bastard that they are still working on what privileges will come with the Platinum, and also the Iridium, Emerald, and Diamond levels. “We haven’t worked out all the details of those yet, but we figure we’ve got a couple of years before we need to firm it up” he told us.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

George Washington Masonic Memorial To Add New Museum Wing

Alexandria, VA -- Officials at the George Washington Masonic Memorial have announced plans to open another wing at the museum, to feature the various collections of Masonic Square & Compasses pins that they have acquired over the last few years.

“It’s amazing, but people all over the US, and other parts of the world keep sending us different pins and medals that they keep finding,” Mike Taggart, Director of Museum Collections told The Past Bastard. “Usually they tell us it was something they discovered in their grandfather’s basement, or in a box their uncle gave them, or something they found somewhere. We’ve amassed a rather large collection of these, and we decided that they needed their own display area.”
Site of the planned wing of the
George Washington Masonic Memorial
which is being built to display the vast
collection of pins the museum has amassed.

The new wing will accommodate several thousands of pins, lapel pins, and chest medals the Museum has received. Volunteers are already working on cataloging them for the display areas.

The Past Bastard asked Taggart if they thought pins warranted an entire wing.

“Oh, definitely,” he told us. “Why, we get literally hundreds of visitors a year, and almost all of them are Freemasons who are wearing lapel pins of some sort. We all know that Masons are crazy about pins, so this wing will probably double our visitor count over the next few years.”

Thursday, January 24, 2019

Federal Dept. of Fraternal Societies releases marketing data

Aurora, CO -- Officials at the Federal Department of Fraternal Societies have released new data that show the relative “masonicness” of popular items purchased by Freemasons. The information will be helpful for marketers in Masonic supply catalogs  in order to properly manage their buying and advertising resources.

“It’s hard to keep up with the trends of Freemasons, sometimes,” said Luther Pendragon, Masonic Marketing Director at Macoy Masonic Supply. “Some years they go crazy for colored lapel pins. Then those fall out of favor, and we’re stuck with a warehouse full of pins, while the guys are sporting Square and Compass belt buckles, or whatever. That’s why this government research is important to us.”

The Past Bastard checked in with several other Masonic suppliers. Larry George, Masonic Purchasing Manager at JP Luther & Co told us “Freemasons tend to be fickle or faddish, but we do see the same things that top the lists. For example, a few years ago, everybody was wearing colored, oversized lapel pins. Lapel pins are still high on the charts, but the style is now headed toward a smaller, more subdued look.”

Brian McCoy, Advertising Director at Harry Klitzner Fraternal Supply, told The Past Bastard “We found that it was a losing proposition to try to keep up with the trends. In the last ten or fifteen years, we’ve concentrated on the basics, things like money clips, tie pins, cufflinks, the old standbys.”

The Past Bastard asked if they didn’t have a problem selling items associated with older men.

“Aw, hell no,” McCoy told us. “It’s a slow, but steady income, and the profit margin is twice what they get on those trendy pins and things. Hey, one of our biggest Christmas items was a Zippo lighter with a compasses on it. People aren’t even smoking, but they want to look cool, and a plastic Bic ain’t cutting it, if you know what I mean.”

The Past Bastard has contacted the Federal Department of Fraternal Societies in order to get a copy of the data, but as of publication, has not yet received the report.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Millennial Masons Make Meetings in New Digs

Chicopee, MA - Massachusetts has always been on the forefront of Masonic innovation, so Worshipful Brother Kyle Renn was confident that his idea for a new lodge would be approved.

“A bunch of us felt uncomfortable in those lodges in the Springfield area,” Kyle told The Past Bastard. “Nothing major, but we’re all in our 20s and 30s, and we just can’t get into feeling like a part of these old, historic lodges. Well, it’s not just the lodges, it’s the older members. Nothing against the older guys, but on one hand they’re complaining about the roof leaking, or the fridge that needs to be replaced, or how they have the same thing for dinner every meeting. But on the other hand, whenever you propose moving the dues up from, say, sixty or seventy bucks a year to a couple of hundred, they whine and howl about that.”

Brother Renn met up with a number of other younger members during district meetings, and they came up with an idea.

“We decided that it was just too much work to change the culture of the older lodges, so we wanted to start our own. We don’t have much money, but we figured we could meet in some free or very inexpensive places, and not worry about having the buildings falling down around us,” he told The Past Bastard. “We found a spot, got some agreements, and contacted the Grand Lodge for permission. There was surprisingly very little pushback, and we got a working charter right away. We’ve been meeting for the last six months, and I expect that we’ll get the formal charter for McDonald Lodge at the next Grand Lodge session.”

Worshipful Brother Renn and a dozen of so other brothers from around the area hold their meetings twice a month at a McDonald’s Restaurant at a shopping plaza in Chicopee. The Past Bastard asked Worshipful Brother Renn about their decision.
McDonald Lodge (Under Dispensation) is the newest
lodge chartered by the Grand Lodge of Massachusetts.

“I know what you’re thinking, but for us, it made perfect sense.There’s a few tables in the back corner that are perfect for seating a small group. We are intentionally keeping our lodge small; there’s about ten or twelve of us, so it’s not overly crowded,” he explained. “When you consider that half the lodges in the area barely get enough members to open, we think that this is a workable number.”

“Also, at seven to eight o’clock in the evening, it’s never crowded, and since we don’t have to discuss fixing the roof, or painting the siding, or replacing the furnace, or any of those things that take up eighty percent of the time in our old lodges, we can have a meeting, then some nice discussion, and we’re done in an hour,” Worshipful Brother Renn told The Past Bastard.  “Plus, they have wifi, the coffee is decent, and we can have a festive board that won’t break our budgets.”

Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Lodge uses kids to get more adults

New Hope, TN -- Inspired by an article on Chris Hodapp's blog, the members of Mountain Fell Lodge No. 449 started looking around for projects that needed to be done. However, without ties to a boy Scout troop  or even a DeMolay Chapter, the members couldn't bring themselves to make their small chapter of Job's Daughters responsible for cleaning, painting, or shingling the roof. However, Past Senior Deacon Jonah Momoa did see one opportunity that has led to a positive impact on their lodge.

"I almost didn't even go to lodge that night," said Bro. Momoa. "My wife was sick, and she was giving me the stink-eye about going out to lodge and leaving her with three kids when she was down with the flu. So then I started thinking, it's too bad that they don't have a day care group like we do in our church, and that's when it hit me: we got a bunch of teenage girls who could be doing that. So, I went to lodge anyhow, and brought up the idea. Then Mark Jacobs talked to his wife Ruth -- Ruth runs the Jobie Bethel chapter thing, you know -- and she brought it up to the girls. By the next month, we had the Jobies running a babysitting group at the lodge."

Worshipful Brother James Isiah, Master of Mountain Fell Lodge, told The Past Bastard that he was pleased with how things were working out.

"We've had an increase in members showing up. A few of them are divorced dads who can bring the kids down, where the girls keep an eye on them. And we've had a surprisingly good response from the wives of members who use it as an opportunity to get out of the house, themselves. I think that some of them meet up at the Elks over on Maple Street, and have a few wine coolers," he said.

The Past Bastard contacted Bethel Guardian Ruth Jacobs to ask how well the babysitting idea was going.

"Oh, it's just like those guys to ask that the girls babysit, but not to offer much in the way of compensation," she told us. "They come down on a meeting night, they give the girls leftovers. They're teenage girls, they don't want to eat baked chicken and green beans, for Pete's sake! We're going to give it a few more months, and then renegotiate."

Wednesday, January 2, 2019

Grand Lodges to offer "Belly Mason Rewards Card"

Steubenville, OH - The members of the Grand Lodges of Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia, and North Carolina have started out the New Year with an announcement that the members of their respective constituent lodges will be eligible to buy into their Belly Mason Rewards Club.

"Some of us noticed how many of our guys were going to different restaurants all the time 'cause they had rewards cards; you know, like Cracker Barrel, Shoney's, Red Robin, and all those places," said VWB Wynn Dixon, the Belly Mason Coordinator for the Grand Lodge of Pennsylvania. "We thought it would be nice if we could get that kind of loyalty and consistency from our members, and a few of us thought that maybe some kind of rewards card for things like table lodges, surf & turfs, and fish fries would be something the brothern would be interested in."

Members would buy into the Belly Mason Club for $25, for which they would get an electronic swipe card for their wallet, similar to the ones used at coffee shops. Participating lodges would simply scan their cards, for which they would build up credits over the course of the year.

Before long, lodge members will be able to use their
Belly Mason Reward Card to save money on
meals at masonic lodges all over the region. 
"We figure it would take about six months of dinners to start paying off for the members," said VWB Dixon. "After that, their credits would get them things like five percent off the next dinner, or if they waited a few more months, perhaps enough credits for a free dinner. The more they go, the more they'll save."

VWB Dixon said that they're hoping that this program will expand into the neighboring states. If they can get enough support, they plan to create a phone app. "Although that's much farther down the road, since most of our guys are still using flip phones," he said.