While speaking at Cal State Long Beach on Sept. 3, 2003, Arnold Schwarzenegger was hit in the left shoulder with an egg. The egg exploded on contact, oozing goo across his jacket and—from the looks of the videotape—clinging to his chin. Salmonella be damned, the gubernatorial hopeful and action-film star simply ignored the yolk, removed his jacket—in full stride—and continued, somewhat unfazed. The media—and there was an assload on hand—caught the whole thing and splashed the story all over the news for a good two days. "Arnold Egged!" screamed headlines. Stories dutifully and repeatedly reworded the same information: "Schwarzenegger . . . was hit in the shoulder with a raw egg as he shook well-wishers' hands on his way to the podium," Fox News solemnly reported, carefully inserting the word "raw" before "egg," lest you think he was hit in the shoulder with eggs Benedict.
But who threw the egg? Who was behind this dairy destruction? This breakfast bedlam? The cholesterol-laden kerfuffle? No one knows.
Except us, that is. We know.
Now that some time has passed, the culprit, a student and activist who plays guitar in local hardcore-influenced, post-punk outfit Bullet Train to Vegas, agreed to talk to us about the egg-pelting, so long as we didn't print his name. He wants to be referred to only as "the guitarist for Bullet Train to Vegas." We tried gently to explain that it wouldn't be that hard for someone armed with this information to figure out his name, but he'd hear none of it. Whose side are we on, anyway? And what does this have to do with the band?
"My political stuff isn't an extension of the band—it's my own thing—but over time, the band has become more political," he says. Bullet Train to Vegas singer Dan Sena has a long tradition of writing incisive lyrics with an acerbic, bracing edge. It makes sense that the overtly political egg-pelter, who, like Sena, came up in the hardcore scene, would find the band a comfortable fit.
There was one more request: that we mention Bullet Train to Vegas performs with Feeble Weiner, My Hotel Year, Faulter and Play Pretty for Baby at Chain Reaction, 1652 W. Lincoln Ave., Anaheim, at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday. Despite having an opener named Feeble Weiner, this is an all-ages show, and tickets are just eight bucks; call (714) 635-6067 for more info.
But back to the pelting.
The day of the Cal State Long Beach speech, there was a big debate with the major gubernatorial candidates in northern California, which Schwarzenegger famously skipped. This is what really set the egg-pelter's teeth on edge.
"I've seen eggings and people getting pied. It happens in Europe," says the pelter. "I was thinking that there would probably be a ton of cameras there, and if he got egged, it would make him look like an idiot for avoiding the debates."
Initially, it wasn't just a lone pelter—which should hearten shunned conspiracists who for months have disparaged the media for clinging to the Single Egg Theory. "The night before, some friends and I were talking about how we should egg him, but they all flaked," proffered the pelter.
The morning of the incident, the egg-tosser took an egg out of his father's refrigerator, wrapped it in tissue, and put it in a plastic bag. "I was careful with it," he says. Thinking, possibly, that a pie would be better than an egg, he also went to the store and bought a ready-made pie crust, which he filled with whipped cream. Sadly, because it was a hot day, the pie melted.
"The pie would have been better, but the egg was more discreet," he says. Some friends tried to talk the pelter out of his nefarious plans, saying he could get in "big trouble." The pelter was concerned but realized that he could make "a decision on the spot if it looks like I'm going to get caught."
After being in class for awhile, students were released to attend the rally, and the pelter discovered that 500 or 600 Young Republicans had been bussed onto the campus. This just pissed him off more.
"They weren't even from Long Beach! It made it look on camera like people loved Schwarzenegger because there were all these people cheering for him."
When the man who starred in Twins with Danny DeVito came down the makeshift pathway, the crowd went nuts. The pelter—dressed nicely "to fit in with the Young Republicans" as easily as Arthur Bremer fit in with the rednecks around George Wallace—realized "how easy it would be to throw an egg when there's hundreds of people with their hands up trying to touch the Terminator."
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The pelter, who says he has good aim, made a conscious decision not to hit Schwarzenegger in the head. After throwing the egg ("I just extended my arm and did it"), the pelter laughed and then "hauled ass" because there were some Young Republicans in the bleachers above him yelling, "Catch that kid!" The pelter got halfway around the bleachers, changed shirts so as to disguise his identity, and returned unnoticed to the scene, where he watched the rest of the speech.
In the days that followed, the pelter—who is very Caucasian—heard from friends that the Young Republicans on campus were telling people that "some Mexican kid" had thrown the egg. "There are some basic racist undertones to a lot of Republican arguments, like Proposition 187, but that was pretty blatant."
In the end, the pelter wanted "to take the media spotlight away from Schwarzenegger. To do something he couldn't control. That rally was a totally controlled environment. I felt like I was in Nazi Germany. They packed the audience with people holding their campaign signs. The news cameras went where they wanted them to go. It was such a fake democracy. Maybe egging was immature, and I don't know if I would do it again, but at that point, I was like, 'Fuck it.'"
As for what the future holds—you know, besides the band and all—"I'd like to be a professor. I'd like to teach. Or work at a museum or library," he says. "And maybe still do some egging on the side."