When I was 17 and got arrested protesting Gulf War the First—on acid—I was carrying a sign that read "Make Love Not War." The dumb, kindly heat got quite a little snicker out of that back in the room where they did their paperwork, and where I sat on the floor for several hours—on acid—because they couldn't put little underage me in a cell. But who got the last laugh, coppers? That's right! I did! The second my dad came to pick me up and we'd undarkened the jailhouse door, he asked me how I was. "I'm okay," I told him. "But Dad, I'm on acid! And it was really hard not to look at my hands! Because otherwise the cops would have known! That I was on acid! But they were stupid! And they didn't."
My dad took that very much in stride. Then I informed him I would be smoking in the house, because I was on acid and I wasn't going to bed any time soon. He was okay with that too.
I kind of really love my parents.
I never thought I'd look back on the first Gulf War as the model of legality and international cooperation. The ground war started 15 years ago this very week—on my 18th birthday, in fact, and I made quite a pretty speech—but I can still cite you chapter and verse on what U.S. Ambassador to Iraq April Gillespie told Saddam when she specifically informed him we had no problem with his invasion of Kuwait, and I can still ring you up one side and down the other about the business we did with Saddam years after he "gassed his own people," as the president's so fond of pointing out. That business we did with him was sealed with handshakes from none other than Donald Rumsfeld; he's our secretary of defense, for those of you who just read this paper for the saucy sex ads. Also? He's Satan, in that silver-fox, bad-boy, face-of-Republican-evil way I like so much. Also too, I like his non sequiturs. I'm a big fan of crazy.
So this Monday, I spent Presidents' Day the way I like it the best: I spent my day waving at strangers. But even better than just waving at strangers—as I've been known to do for days and weeks at a time on this nation's glorious highways and byways, until I'm pretty sure the truckers were radioing ahead to each other since they'd honk before we'd even pulled by 'em, because if anyone can be famous rolling down the 40, damn it, it's I—even better than that, I say, is waving at strangers while holding a sign demanding the president's impeachment outside the Nixon Library & Birthplace.
And the very nice ladies made pie.
* * *
Now, back in my protesting heyday, with the arrests and the acid and so forth, we had ourselves a raucous old time. And we did this time as well, if by "raucous" you mean silent and still. Maybe it's different when there's just one old fat man counterprotesting, and not the gangs of high school jocks who used to gather catercornered and then troop across the street every time the light changed to break our signs and shove my mom, and who would whip around the corner with monster trucks flying the Confederate flag. Also, all those years ago, a man drove his car up onto our sidewalk and paralyzed a girl. He told the police he was afraid for his life. Or that his brakes just weren't working. Or both. So this wasn't that, by any means. It was just a cross section of folks—some old dudes in tie-dye, a young hippie with bongos and lots of PTA-type moms—holding loverly signs reading "Make Levees Not War" and calling for the impeachment of the worst president ever, and standing as it were before the Nixon Library, and that's saying quite a lot.
Two women did go stand with the old, lone, sad counterprotester, to embarrass him or drown him out, but we—okay, I—sent an emissary to suggest we let him have his corner in peace. Liberals are so like that, with their tolerance for opposing viewpoints and fair-minded insistence that everyone be heard. Unless you're in San Francisco, of course. Those people are totally Mind Police.
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After a couple of hours with my quiet liberal brethren—I at least got them to start waving at strangers, so's to make passersby feel drawn in and interactive instead of as if they were looking at a Pageant of the Masterspicture, and it completely and totally works—I decided to head on into the Nixon. I had already browbeaten local organizer and Cal State prof Jarrett Lovell into giving me a speaking slot at some big anti-war shindiggity at Hart Park in Orange on March 18, so my work there—and my browbeating—was done. (Liberal men are easily manipulated if you call them "sexist," so come on out and see me and a bunch of men and—as I pointed out pointedly to the shamefaced Lovell—the only other woman speaker, Miss Mamie Van Doren, get our freaks on about the president.)
So! The Nixon! I knew the library was having free cherry pie and singing tots in spangles, and I hadn't been in for some years, not since last decade, when I'd done my Christmas shopping there for Commie Mom, who didn't find her Nixon memorabilia nearly as amusing as I'd thought she would (the Christmas shopping trips to Tijuana and a Stanton pawn shop were far more successful). So I wanted to give it a look-see. It was sort of delightful—like I said, I do love the crazy—and brimming with folks. The rotating exhibit was "How American! A Nation's Farewell to Pat and Richard Nixon," a ghoulish remembrance of the anniversaries of the Nixons' passings, tarted up with get-well-soon wishes from RonaldReagan and Oliver North,along with a cross section of the tacky memorialana people had left out on the street, and it looked it. My favorite was a stuffed raccoon in a Pepto-pink visor, holding a Kit-Kat bar and tucked into a yellow plastic baby carrier with "Viva Nixon" scrawled in black marker on everything—baby carrier, raccoon's belly, Pepto-pink visor, which also had the word "Deb." Deb was crazy beyond my wildest dreams. What have you done for me lately?
Perhaps unwittingly, the library does a great job of showing how far to the right America has gone. Nixon, his library and birthplace curators suggest, was a virtual New Deal guy, a socialist maybe—was for full employment, enacted wage and price controls, promoted energy conservation, and signed the legislation creating the Environmental Protection Agency. That Dick couldn't get into this Bush's Republican Party.
Birthday flowers and bribes of all kinds may be sent care of OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. CommieGirlCollective.com.