Paul Constant

We're at the Bad JuJu Party, an annual happening that helps partyers fight the past year's bad karma. The entryway features a wall of Polaroids of attendees, and you're supposed to write nice things on other people's pictures in order to generate good juju for yourself. Sadly, my picture is horrifying: My lips are pursed in such a way that they resemble deformed labia. Some gracious soul buys major karma by writing "Cutie-Patootie" on my hideousness.

But the main event at the Bad JuJu Party is the simple joy of burning shit. Partyers gather around a rusty barrel in the backyard and a wizard, complete with pointy cap, thanks us for coming. He doesn't waste time talking about mumbo jumbo like "The Mountains of Mordor" or the "Eye of Agamotto"—a wizard after my own heart. "This party is all about having too much crap," he says, "and we need to get rid of the bad crap to make room for the new."

A fire is lit in the barrel, and partyers dump their bad juju—divorce settlements, term papers, photographs of foes—into the flames. The fire rages, consuming the bad vibes, and things are copasetic until someone tosses in a pair of brown polyester pants. The resulting cloud of toxic stink lingers for a solid five minutes. This isn't merely the smell of burning polyester: Something evil happened to—or in—those pants, and that evil wasn't going to burn without a fight. Finally, the offending odor blows away. Good has triumphed over evil; it's time to get wasted. recommended

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