Monday, October 27, 2008

The Shellback Initiation of John McCain

For unknown and unknowable reasons, the Village People neglected to mention this in their famous paean to our nation's Navy. Also ignoring the Shellback Initiation are those really cool Navy recruiting commercials that had once featured the music of Godsmack and the posters that likewise didn't show this fine, nautical tradition or the deck-mopping, barnacle-scraping, mess-cranking and other exalted functions of the niggers of the Navy.

For those of you who have never been stupid enough to join the Navy (an acronym for Never Again Volunteer Yourself), the Shellback Initiation is for sailors (or pollywogs) when they cross the equator for the first time. It is far and away the singularly most disgusting ordeal to which most humans will ever be subjected. It makes very, very little distinction between ranks. Noncoms and officers alike have it coming to them. If you're a SEAL making your way across the equatorial zone (especially if you still have sand from Coronado Island between your toes), chances are you'll get it harder since you're supposed to be a badass.

The Shellback Initiation varies from ship to ship but here's what it generally entails:

When a sailor crosses the equator for the first time, he is forced to undergo the hazing ritual. It involves crawling through a tunnel on the way to the Kingdom of Neptune. The tunnel, typically installed on the fore of the ship, will be filled with the vilest, nastiest shit on God's earth. Rotten, putrid food and drink, maybe even piss and shit, are thrown in the tunnel.

If the guys in front of you vomit on their way to the Magic Kingdom (as they inevitably will)... the more the merrier. It adds to the aromatic experience.

As you're negotiating your way through this olfactory Purgatory, you will be beaten through the canvas walls of the tunnel by socks filled with other vile shit. If, on the problematic possibility that you actually make it through without passing out, awaiting you on the other end is King Neptune and his bitch.

King Neptune tends to be the fattest, most hirsute guy on the ship (typically a chief or higher). You either have to kiss his belly until he's satisfied that you've earned your way to the Kingdom or, if your shipmates really want to put you through the ringer, they'll make it even more challenging. Some ships, like the one I was on, would insert into this fat slob's navel a maraschino cherry, olive or cocktail onion and you'd have to pick it out with your teeth.

Oh, did I mention that, in order to raise the degree of difficulty, they slather King Neptune's ample belly with axle grease, oil, mustard or whatever else they can get their grubby hands on? Yeah, there’s that, too.

At the end of this complete waste of time and taxpayer dollars, you're then given a card and you'd better keep it. It's like those tickets you get at booths on toll roads. Lose it and you pay the full price. In this case, you'll have to go through the shit (literally) all over again the next time you cross the equator.

What we're seeing during this election is the Shellback Initiation of John McCain. It all started out harmlessly enough.

First, Commodore George W. Bush (Honorable) and First Mate Richard Cheney threw in the tunnel some stale Koolaid that was first mixed during the Reagan years. And, since nothing tortures like torture itself and, after a brief maverick period in which he tried to back out, McCain then gamely proceeded through the electrodes attached to battery chargers, being snapped at by attack dogs and, for good measure, some of Kurt Weldon’s Freedom Fries from 2002.

The Christian faction of the ship of state tossed in some goodies of their own, including venom from the snakes they handle during their Hosanna sessions, holy water and fresh bile from the bile ducts of James Dobson, Rod Parsley and John Hagee.

Corporatists also anted up with petrodollars sodden with real petroleum drilled from offshore and putrid Halliburton water laden with bacteria from the Euphrates.

His own campaign provided the coup de grace by inserting near the exit of the tunnel stale semen from some mullet-headed redneck who knocked up his running mate's daughter. He has to say at least once, "I'm John McCain and I approve this unwanted pregnancy, sir!"

Then, at the end of the tunnel, awaits King Karl, the Lord of the Watery Underworld and his wife, Sarah Palin. It was long and arduous, the trip through the right wing tunnel, but tradition is tradition and McCain is now officially a political shellback. Or, he would be if King Karl the Kingmaker was satisfied with McCain picking that olive from his greased-up navel. The problem is, Queen Sarah and he make a pretty bad couple and King Karl’s never quite forgiven him.

No doubt, John McCain ought to be proud of his own political migration across the equatorial line that separates moderate Republicans and Democrats from the stupid, cruel factions that have held his own Shellback Initiation. But there are others who aren’t impressed, no matter how many times John climbs through that narrow, fetid tunnel on his belly and that coveted, ever-elusive Shellback card will never be his.


At October 28, 2008 at 12:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Okay, JP, so how long have you been back? Missed ya! Been watching Keith and Rachel (and even Tweety, who seems to have come back a step or two from the brink), just to fill the gap.

Never did much cotton to initiation rites, and I didn't participate in high school hazing when it was my turn - I thought it was cruel and stupid.

Of course, that pretty much defines the Republican Party these days.

Nice imagery - now I get to try to sleep with that crap in my brain. Where's the bleach?

Glad you're back!

Ms Wilberforce

At October 28, 2008 at 11:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi JP glad to see you back. I don't know if you watched it over the summer but on PBS they had a series titled "Carrier" about the U.S.S. Nimitz and their float. I can't even comprehend how McSame managed to stay in place as a Naval aviator considering he burned millions of dollars of aircraft before he even came close to crashing in Vietnam. I spent some time in the USMC and USNR and I know pilots are hotshots and professional thrillseekers but the pilots on the Nimitz were far more professional than McSame ever thought of being.
Yes I know his daddy and grandaddy were both admirls but still I know even then the USN had standards.

At October 28, 2008 at 4:54 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...


Where were you stationed?

I'd passed by the Nimitz when it was docked when I was stationed at the Naval Base in Norfolk, VA. They never cease to amaze me, aircraft carriers. Floating cities, largely self-sufficient for 5000 men and officers.

At October 29, 2008 at 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JP When I was in the USMC I spent most of my time in North Carolina (Camp LeJeune and other environs there) but I did spend 2 years in Japan (1 at Iwakuni and 1 on Okinawa. In the USNR I was attached to the Naval Reserve unit where I live in MO and got sent to Bahrain for Desert Storm. Actually it was pretty good duty as I was attached to a hospital unit and we had no casualties at all so we spent most of our downtime drinking.Yes we could get alcohol in Bharain as it os, or was at that time, the most westernized Arab nation in the Persian gulf.

At October 29, 2008 at 4:31 PM, Blogger jurassicpork said...


I'd love to hear from you in private emails (email me at I've always immensely enjoyed hearing from other squids or people from other services (I was also in the USAF deeper into my callow youth).

My Dad, even though he was in Communications in the USAF, used to plant land mines during his one year in Okinawa (1958). I've long wondered how many of them went off after he left.

At November 2, 2008 at 1:01 AM, Blogger nunya said...

Shellback's gotten pretty wussy since they moved women onto the ships. Still gross, but not nearly as brutal, since around 2000.

At November 2, 2008 at 4:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JP sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you. I will email you (my private email is Yes I'm a dem and a NASCAR fan an odd dichotomy I know. So look for an email from me.

At August 24, 2010 at 8:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

....the ceremony is supposed to be a secret - only known to those who have gone through it. that's what makes is special. kinda suprised you posted this....

At August 25, 2010 at 10:35 AM, Blogger jurassicpork said...

Really? Well, if it's such a secret, then why are there thousands of detailed references and descriptions of shellback initiations all over the internet?

At December 24, 2010 at 4:48 AM, Anonymous Johnny said...

How did I end up here, and why did I read this article at nearly 5 in the morning on Christmas Eve?

This is creepy and yet interesting.
Thank you sir or madam for posting this.


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