By Michael Goldstein
By Dennis Romero
By Sarah Fenske
By Matthew Mullins
By Patrick Range McDonald
By LA Weekly
By Dennis Romero
By Simone Wilson
I’m tempted to be cynical, but I can’t sustain it. In places like the Infinite Oasis Village, Sanctuary Village and Luminaria camp, professional psychologists gathered for the simple privilege of teaching strangers to feel better about themselves. For free. (No one gives out a business card after a class.) The people of Snuggletown couldn’t build a dome big enough to accommodate all the men who want to learn the mechanics of the female orgasm from a black-haired woman in blue-bangs with a charming resemblance to Lisa Simpson. In the Alternative Energy Zone, where I’ve happily camped for the last two years, a small camp of men used a laser pointer, a 4-foot-high LED timer and a Game Boy to track the iridium flares of satellites crossing into the sunlight. When I stayed up until 4:30 a.m. on a Saturday morning (sober, even) to celebrate a spot-on prediction — a huge ball of fire expanding for a few seconds in the northern sky — they seemed grateful for my enthusiasm. Another man from San Francisco built a 20-foot-high, three-seat Ferris wheel that rolled across the playa as its riders pedaled from their seats. When I asked why he did it as I climbed off its struts, he had only a few words. “Because,” he said, “I thought people would really like it.”
My Day With Dick
We’re on a mission. My friend Jeffrey Vallance bought an old Montana license plate and noticed that the southwest corner of the state of Montana, as rendered on the plate, is shaped like Nixon’s profile. So now we have to take it all the way to Nixon’s grave, in Yorba Linda, to get it blessed.
Jeffrey knows about these things. He’s the curator of the Traveling Nixon Museum, which has been touring the world since 1991, and author of dozens of Nixon articles and two Nixon books: the soon-to-be-published My Life With Dick and the never-to-be-published (but, curiously, still pre-orderable on Amazon.com) Jeffrey Vallance Presents the Richard Nixon Museum. The Nixon Library Web site lists the unpublished title on its bibliography page, as a source of Nixon info. “They liked it,” says Jeffrey, “because it sounded like it was gonna be really good.” Jeffrey was also the first person to observe, not long after Nixon died in 1994, the greenish mist of Nixon’s ghost hovering above his grave; according to psychic medium Dorothy Maksym, who channeled President Nixon for Martin & Birnes’ The Haunting of the Presidents: A Paranormal History of the U.S. Presidency, Jeffrey is possessed by the spirit of Nixon, and dead Nixon expresses himself through Jeffrey and Jeffrey only.
Good people, Jeffrey is.
If you’re old enough, you may remember a time before the Republican Party held Stalinist gatherings to worship their presidential candidate as the Chosen Representative of the One True Lord and worship their own party as being the One True America, such that anyone who thinks Bush is, for example, Satan’s own miserable little cunt must feel the same way about the United States of America itself. Remember? Probably not. But there really was a time when instead of not standing Bush, most people couldn’t stand Nixon. Oh, every now and again you’d run into a Nixon freak — some dimwitted cash hound, praying for a world where the rich and white walk tall and long so that the ever-huddling masses might still die young in poverty — you’d run into one of these, and you’d say, “Hmm.” You’d wonder what caused the disease that rendered its victims so uncaring for their earthly roommates, and if there was any treatment.
“It was fun to hate Nixon,” Jeffrey says in the car. “It’s not fun to hate Bush.”
As scheming as Nixon was in his day, his schemes weren’t shit compared to those of the current Mofo-in-Chief’s puppet masters. As Jeffrey points out, if Nixon were president today, there wouldn’t be any Watergate scandal, because with the Patriot Act in place, it would all be legal. Nixon would simply contact Agent Smith, identify Ellsberg as “suspicious” and authorize the seizure of his psychiatric records. Agent Smith would arrive at Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office and present him with the certified request. If Dr. Fielding did not comply, he would face indefensible jail time of a cruel and unusual length, and Agent Smith would still get what he came for. And One True America would live happily ever after.
We make a left into the Nixon Library & Birthplace parking lot, find a shady spot and head inside. It’s opening day of the White House Replica Exhibition. What a sight: Almost 20 honky people stand indifferently in the air-conditioned gallery, wandering around the centerpiece. Measuring 60 by 20 feet, the highly detailed, one-twelfth-scale model, created by John and Jan Zweifel of the Great State of Florida, has taken over 43 years to build, and has been touring all 50 states since 1975. It’s constructed from the same materials and paint as the original, and contains miniatures of all the paintings, furniture, area rugs, fireplaces and wastebaskets. All the lamps and light fixtures work, and there’s even a bit of real plumbing — the fountain in Jackie Kennedy’s garden kind of dribbles. Muscular anthems of artificial triumph and majesty flow through the PA as we bend over the velvet ropes, trying to watch television. (In some rooms, functioning 2-inch television sets play local broadcast signals.)
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