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About The daily Nebraskan. ([Lincoln, Neb.) 1901-current | View Entire Issue (Nov. 1, 1999)
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Eavesdroppi >cal bar scene doesn’t uncover much
It was with a great sense of hesitan
cy that I took die assignment As I ^
recall, tire conversation transpired
something like this:
“Good God, man, what do you
mean infiltrate die bar scene? It’s just
not my bag. Surely, you must be jok
“Well,” the voice on the other end
of the phone said, “this week it is your
bag, you’re my bagman, got it? And
“Yeah, yeah, don’t call you Shirley,
“Lode,” the voice continued, get
ting as frustrated with me as a zebra
with bad contrast, “it should be simple
for a guerrilla of your caliber.”
“Oh, ha ha. Just do it. Besides,
maybe you’ll find some achiqgjy beau-,
hful sorority girl who’s too drunk to
realize that you’re you.”
“Great, that’s a comforting
thought,” I said as I slammed down the
This wasn’t the kind of job I pre
ferred to do, but I didn’t seem to have
much of a choice.
Never, however, go on such a dead
ly assignment like this without backup.
A phone call later, my erstwhile assis
tant, whom I shall refer to as The Forte,
was suiting up to guard my back. I
don’t really need a bodyguard as peo
ple rarely attack my body, but there are
a lotta back-stabbers after me. , n
Qur journey began early on a
Thpredayinight,as-we venturediifttov r
lands best left unnamed.
I’d tell you which place we went
into, friend, but you wouldn’t believe
me and I don’t want them after me
(again), so suffice to say it was on “The
Now, The Fork told me that “The
Strip” was nicknamed such for its, well;
stripness. Most of the bars in down
town Lincoln are located along O
Street in a line. Strip was not a verb,
although it would hav£ made a better
evening if it had been.
The Fork and I found ourselves a
pair of stools, a pair of glasses with lots
of ice and a spot where we could be
flies on the wall for a night
The first fringe drinker of die
: evening walked into die bar at about
5:30 p.m. “Woo-hoo!” he hollered,
“Let die weekend begin!”
“Doesn’t he know the weekend
hasn’t started yet?” I asked the bar
“Buddy,” the bartender told me as
he began to pour the man a drink, “the
weekend doesn’t start and end for these
folks - it’s just one continuous flow.
They drink to forget that they’re drink
ing to forget something.”
I glanced over at The Fork. “I think
I’ve finally figured this thing out”
“Whazzat?” he shoots back.
“People say your college years are
the best years of your life... because
no one really remembers them.”
“Could be, could be.”
At 8:30 p.m., things have begun to
pick up. The bar is, for the most part,
- full, The Fork and I have gone through
rivers of water, and the whole place has
begun to get a little disturbing.
« The stool next to me had been
claimed by a woman dressed in her
I fmd it odd that people who plan to
get drunk enough to lose control are
dressed in their best clothes.
Apparently this is some part of the sys
tem I don’t yet understand.
Anyway, she spent two hours
telling me all about her ex-boyfriend
(whom she continuously referred to as
John “the Asshole” - like John the
Baptist) and the problems they had.
Normally, I fry to be sympathetic.
But I ask a few things in return. The
y first ik that yofo speak some serriblarice
of English. After nine Coronas, I’m not
sure this girl could even spell English.
The other is that you talk to my
face, not to the reflection of my face in
the bartop in front of you.
Eventually, she left and wandered
over to another table, begging the
Asshole to take her home, which he did.
I must confess, as bad as my situa
tion was, I felt a little sorry for The
Next to him sat Martha. Martha
had just been released from prison and
on one set of knyckles she had the word
“PAIN” tattooed and on the other set
she had “FEAR.”
Did I neglect to mention that
Martha was 6-foot-7,285 pounds? And
she was all over The Fork like ugly on
an ape. Extend the man a hand, ladies
and gents, I couldn’t have lived through
At just about midnight, things had
descended from amusing into total
Someone had smuggled a horse
into the men’s bathroom, and several
guys were attempting to elect it to a
A gaggle of girls were attempting
the “step-step-step-kick” Rockettes
maneuver, but it was coming across
more like “stagger
I find it odd that people who plan to get
drunk enough to lose control are dressed in
their best clothes.
crack-break.” I think it was more enter
taining that way.
The worst part, however, was the
drunken chorus doing “Louie, Louie.”
You could understand them, that’s how
drunk they were.
Every wild night comes to an end
eventually, and this one was no differ
ent. The Folk and I, neither of us hav
ing touched a drop all night, wandered
out in the street to see the conclusion of
One man had collapsed into the
bushes, and three of his friends were
working at pulling him up.
A woman had removed most of her
clothing and was trying to squeeze into
the sunroof of a slowly accelerating car.
The horse, having lost in its bid for
the Senate to a Republican rat, was try
ing to flag down a taxi.
And me? I bid farewell to the
Streets of Puke and Urine, got in my
car and set course for a greater magic.
I ran out of gas near Avalon.
The journalism guerrilla lacked
targets this time. Corruption hides well.
Reveal it. Any communiques for the
rebel journalist should be sent to jour
for mercy will be duly ignored.
Cliff Hicks is a senior news-editorial and English major and a Daily Nebraskan columnist.
Successes of secret societies were rooted in mystery
In 1307, when Philip the Fair
finally broke into the strongholds of
the Knights Jempiar of France, he
expected to find at least hLsrshare of ■
the vast fortune the Templars were
known to have possessed.
(Certainly Philip himself was in
deep to the Templars, owing them
mare than even the King of France
could ever repay.)
But he did not find it
So it was with a certain disgust -
and more than a touch of supersti
< tious dread - that he pursued die tor
ture and execution of so many of that
heroic, monastic order.
Where had all the money gone?
To this day, rumors and myths to
the effect that secret warnings had
alerted die Templars (who sent ships
laden with gold to some secret hid
ing place, perhaps to finance a
hideous, if long-and-drawn-out,
revenge) circulate among those who
like to believe rumors and myths.
Who were the Templars? What
1 was the secret knowledge they pos
sessed that gave them financial
power over kings and popes?
More tellingly: What was the
connection between the Templars
and that other secret society, the Free
Masons, by whose skill the great
cathedrals of Europe were construct
I have my own theory.
The Templars were founded dur
, ing the Crusades.
A monastic order, committed to
the protection of pilgrims traveling
the treacherous and thief-riddled
passage to the Holy Land, the
Templars were known and respected
among the local Muslim leaders as
devastating warriors who did not
. hesitate to die in carrying out their
Housed in the environs of the
ancient temple of Jerusalem (hence
the name), die Templars were also
thought to have had certain illicit
dealings with their Muslim neigh
bors: stay ing up late talking theolo
gy, that kind of thing.
And, it was rumored they had
discovered there, among the heathen,
a vast fortune - perhaps King
Solomon’s secret treasure, buried
beneath their modest dwellings.
Whatever the case, it was soon
possible for them to safeguard the
goods of pilgrims by means that
seemed to indicate vast reserves of
Simply put: A pilgrim who
wished, for his spiritual and perhaps
financial edification, to travel to
thosd distant lands would put on
deposit a certain sum with his local
Templars, who would write him a
voucher for the amount, collectable
in credit on his safe arrival in
In short, they had brought bank
ing to Europe.
It was a mysterious concept to
the medieval mind, the idea of paper
money, and it’s easy to see how
Philip (or anyone unfamiliar with the
complexities of compounded inter
est) could have assumed there must
be gold lying around in great heaps,
- But there was no gold. Or, rather,
the Templars had learned one of the
great secrets: Wealth can be abstract
ed from gold.
The gold was re-invested in the
European project. The wealth
remained with the Templars. And the
secret of the wealth?
For the answer, let us now turn
to the Free Masons, that mysterious
and closely guarded guild that held
the key to the keystone. Far from the
“Rotarian” social clubs of today, the
medieval Masons were genuine
craftsmen and real-life masons
(bricklayers) who knew how to
build a stone arch that wouldn’t fall
Rumored to have been founded
by surviving Templars as a lifeboat
for the order, the Free Masons com
manded huge resources for their
“secret” knowledge, indispensable in
They were also known for a near
ly heretical mysticism that remained
unfathomable to those around them.
What is the connection between
these two secret societies? How were
they able to preserve their mysteries
from all prying eyes?
And, more importantly to the
medieval mind, what was their con
nection to the mysteries and heresies
of the East?'
To put it in terms that would have
baffled their contemporaries, the
secret was nothing.
Rather, the secret was no-thing.
It was zero.
The zero of the Arabs (al-sifer in
Arabic, from which we derive our
“cipher”), which they gathered from
Vedic Mathematics, was unknown in
And because it was unknown, it
turned out, for a while, to be
Imagine an early Templar, on his
return to Rennes-le-ChateaU, trying
to tell his fellow parishioners about
the great discovery of the Arabs:
“It’s nothing! Absolutely noth
ing! Isn’t that amazing?”
Yet zero (and the decimal sys
tefn) is indispensable for carrying on
the calculations of higher mathemat
The kind of mathematics
involved in calculating interest and
engineering cathedrals, for instance.
The secret of the Templars and of
the Masons was the same. They
brought it back with them from the
Crusades. It was a secret simply
beesniae it literally could not be con
veyed to the uninitiated, to a mind
not yet conceptually ready for it.
And it was nothing.
It was a nothing that changed and
ruled the world. And in a “one-cen
tric” society like that of a feudal,
monotheistic Europe, it was a heresy
Next lime: the Secrets of the
Pyramids and the Mysteries of
Mark Baldridge is a senior English major and opinion editor for the Daily Nebraskan.
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