Hocoa 1

It’s easy to imagine the screaming, naked Weasel of Truth bounding across our associated territories, but in this day and age — when so many of us are employed as computer-wipes, or bebop theorists, with commensurate never-ending hours — you just don’t get the opportunity to traverse our lands and observe the circumstances and conditions in which their inhabitants labor. Not like you used to, certainly; for, as recently as 1997, it was common enough to unhitch the family therapede and escape north, east, west, south, or occasionally up. One misses the open road, and the Canadian Provincial dream it represents and allows. And such is my goal in writing this travelogue; it is a journey across the domain we are all too preoccupied to see, observing local sights, phenomena, notable hobos, areas rife with meat-packing detritus, and a new element I call tribarithene, which so-called “experts” have yet to acknowledge.
We begin our journey in Speebo, Domain of North Carolinus. This sleepy little down-home ‘burg hovers twenty-three meters above the ruins of Old Speebo, just north of the Noble Hatchapoopla river. In the early 1980s Old Speebo, called Speebo at the time, was a thriving North Carolinus slave port, legally sheltered from the 13th Amendment of the then-USA’s Constitution by a little-known “Eyyyyyyy” allowance in the North Carolinus regional home owner’s association by-laws.

Slavery in pre-Harperian Old Speebo was a confusing and demoralizing affair; slaves were often underprivileged individuals captured in extracontinental war zones and transported against their will to Speebo in giant styrofoam coolers. Upon arriving in Speebo, these new slaves would be freed, becoming the new ruling class, and everyone else in Speebo would willingly — if grudgingly — become their slaves. The life of Speebo’s ruling class was thus chiefly occupied with preventing any new slaves from being transported to Speebo.

Typically, this proved futile, as the millions upon millions of slave-packed giant styrofoam coolers washing up upon Speebo’s shore were too much for the under-funded, slave-staffed Coast Guard, who didn’t really care if any new slaves showed up.Life in Old Speebo was thus messy, brutal, but — thanks to advances in medicine and agriculture — very long, with the average resident living to the age of 166.

As the population of Speebo neared one billion, with more slave-coolers showing up every day, the society struggled to support itself. Food, water, and land were of little concern, but Speebin society craved Reeboks, imported from outside the city walls. Reeboks were a required and ubiquitous part of Speebin life, essential to finding a good job, a mate of the desired gender, and TV of suitable girth. But the Reebok factories in far-flung China were drastically underprepared for the Speebin demand, as larges swathes of their workforce tended to get floated to Speebo as slaves. Within the walls of Speebo, rage and dissent built as supplies of the treasured Reeboks were exhausted — there was no end to the shortage, as Reeboks were used, burnt, buried, traded, stolen, or eaten. Speebin society neared a crisis-point.

As tensions broiled, a man named Martin “What In The Hell” van Jeerkson won the Speebo Gouveurneurship, and became infamous for an ill-considered plan to shift Speebo’s currency away from the Reebok Standard. Faced with the loss of their investment, wealthy foreigners gathered up their hoarded Reeboks and fled Speebo. Van Jeerkson panicked, launching a hasty initiative to get Speebins to accept Filas instead, but the damage was done, and Old Speebo collapsed, nearly overnight, as millions died alone in their huge mansions, without Reeboks. The few left alive fled back across the seas, in hopes that the meager scraps of Reebok they still possessed would curry favor with the local warlords of their homelands. Van Jeerkson, muttering the famous words that became his nick-name, moved to Belgium, where he became a famous Tipso Suarez impersonator.

Left unattended, Speebo’s fusion reactor — “Old Wheezy” — sustained the hulk of the city for several months, but eventually surged and erupted, bathing Speebo in the plasmic fury of a thousand suns. The explosion of Old Wheezy could be seen on the other side of the planet. The city was ruined.

All was not lost, though. The wealthy Reebokholders that had fled Old Speebo in anticipation of “What In The Hell” van Jeerkson’s currency reform found themselves left with the idealism that had led them to Old Speebo in the first place, as well as many millions of Reeboks. They wondered on the creation of a new society, one that still had at its core the grace and power of the Reebok, but without the crushing influx of new slaves that Old Speebo had suffered under. They decided to create a New Speebo, hovering above the blasted ruins of the old, with all the old values but none of the old problems. Construction on the initial platform, all two thousand square miles of it, was completed twelve years later by SuperKrupp & Uncles Ironmashers, and it was towed into place. New Speebo was born, and that is the happy city we now visit.

Getting to New Speebo (typically referred to as Speebo) is uncomplicated, as the floating city is served by a very precarious train, a business-as-usual airline, and a deeply confusing subway. The first things one notices about Speebo are typically the giant propellers underneath the city, each blade ninety feet long. “They don’t actually hold it up,” said Samterfuge Jones, Speebo’s chief engineer, “but they look pretty cool.” The city, in fact, is held up by a combination of lighter-than-air gas, pumped into the hull of the platform at the time of construction, and the propulsion provided by its residents. “We face up when we breathe in, and we face down when we breathe out,” said one citizen. “Honestly, you stop thinking about it after a week.” At first I presumed this unlikely, since Speebins are well-known for their small respiratory tidal capacity, but indeed it seems true, as gasp-worthy public announcements are typically accompanied by the city settling a few meters closer to the ruins of Old Speebo, and then rising up again when citizens resume breathing-as-usual. This unlikely system has worked well for the past hundred years, and citizens are proud to note that it may work well for another few months, at the very least.

If there is a national sentiment in Speebo, it is “What?” and “Stop talking to me.” The city itself is a clean, pine-scented wonder of a place, not unlike Singapore or Halifax, and now that the citizenry are secure in their Reebokholding, strife is typically absent from daily life. At restaurants like O’Shaunigan’s Authentic Chinese Hambutts, Speebins from all walks of life gather to compare Reeboks, sing annoying national tunes, and peer-review each other’s outfits. Thanks to effective manipulation of international carbon credit-trading schemes, Speebo’s GDP is largely composed of fictitious exports for overseas manufacturers. As a result, only ten percent of Speebins are employed, typically in education, retail, and warp field plumbing. The rest while away their time on various Reebok-related tasks, or brush up on their outsider art.

Personally, I like Speebo, although I found there to be little to do if one is not interested in Reeboks or local Reebok-related habits. But the inhabitants are happy, and according to Generalissimo T-Bone “Parsnip” McGee, Speebo’s tourism chief, not one among them wishes for a return to the heady days of Old Speebo. “We don’t even look down that much, really,” said McGee. The Speebins have their Reeboks, and they are satisfied.