There’s a kind of amusing story about how I came to take this plunge I’ve taken.
An old friend of mine, one I’d met through a writers’ email group about ten years ago and who got me into train hopping for a spell, sent me an email out-of-the-blue asking me to help him on a project of his.
We hadn’t been in contact for a few years, so this was kind of a surprise. It turned out that he thought I was still living in San Luis Obispo and he wanted me to masquerade for the news media as a SLO representative of a group he’d formed — Progressive Junta.
I told him I didn’t live in SLO anymore, but he didn’t think that’d be much of a problem. He knows that I’ve got a penchant for trolling reporters and don’t mind using the news media as a canvas for performance art.
So I said “sure” and asked what he was after. He wanted me to talk about how Progressive Junta was planning actions in the SLO area and then just ad-lib from there. I guess the papers down there were willing to run with his idea but just needed some sort of local angle.
So I did. I called up the reporter and talked about how Progressive Junta were printing up five thousand cards modeled after the ones that coalition forces were dropping over Iraq — only our cards were going to urge the folks at Vandenberg Air Force Base to disobey any orders to use weapons of mass destruction or commit other war crimes. We planned to go on a nighttime raid of neighborhoods around Vandenberg, leaving these cards on windshields and in mailboxes and so forth. I thought that was sufficiently dramatic and controversial that it’d give the reporter something to work with.
But then I started to ad-lib and went off on this whole spiel about how it really all boils down to personal responsibility and how we’re going to try to do outreach to people who feel like they’re opposed to the war but whose actions support it, and to analyze our own actions to see how we might be contributing to the very wrongs we’re fighting against.
And when I hung up the phone I realized that I’d been plagiarizing my rant from a little voice inside my head that had been trying for weeks or months to interrupt me with an urgent message from my conscience.
When I said it out loud, and then hung up the phone, I thought to myself: “Wait a minute, I actually believe that!” And that’s when I realized that it was time to start this experiment.