Waiting for Barbara Coe

Photo by Gustavo ArellanoScott Keltic Knott and Matt Martínez sit underneath a willow tree in Ponderosa Park. Like most of Orange County's progressive community, they received the e-mail last week that “CCIR HAVING PICNIC IN ANAHIEM. LETS GET OUT THERE. PLEASE FORWARD.”

CCIR, the California Coalition for Immigration Reform, is the group whose guiding philosophy is that illegal immigrants from Mexico will conquer California—if they haven't already—unless CCIR continues to create legislation such as Proposition 187 or ideas such as suing Mexico for $50 million for educating immigrant children. The group's website posted an open invitation to their annual barbecue and picnic at member Elaine Proko's Anaheim home next to Ponderosa Park. The cost of admission was one cold or hot side dish, and the big draw was Proko's “famous deep-fried turkey.”

Spoken-word artist Keltic Knott of Yorba Linda is here because he “wants to share lunch with fascists.” Santa Ana-based Over the Counter Intelligence bassist Martínez is here because he drove Keltic Knott.

But by the time the barbecue begins, Keltic Knott and Martínez are the only activists around. According to Keltic Knott, the anarchist Long Beach Infoshop organized the protest, but he doesn't think they'll show. Last time he spoke to them (the day before, at an anti-Bush rally), the Infoshop kids said there were more pertinent struggles on the horizon: the Infoshop needed tidying up.

“Or maybe they went up to LA to protest Bush and [Republican gubernatorial candidate Bill] Simon,” Martínez says.

Protected by the cool of a willow, the pair watch numerous cars make the right turn into Proko's cul-de-sac neighborhood. Most cars advertise some variant of a Bill Simon for Governor/American flag/God Bless America bumper-sticker philosophy and are filled with passengers. The hesitant nature of CCIR queen Barbara Coe's driving produces angry honks from a passing motorist. Coe's dirt-caked burgundy-with-wood-siding minivan sputters down the street.

To kill time, Keltic Knott and Martínez speak Engels (“You have to read his work in Spanish”), patriarchy and the direction of activism in Orange County. But the only activism today is debating whether walking into the party with the requisite potato salad—there's a Vons nearby—would dishonor the Revolution.

They decide against it. Keltic Knott is wearing a slightly faded black T-shirt proclaiming, “Our Heroes, Your Enemies” under pictures of prominent Native Americans; Martínez is Mexican. They figure they wouldn't stand a chance against the hordes of middle-aged to elderly Anglos who continue to get out of their cars, Tupperware in one hand, cigarettes dangling from the other.

But there is a glimmer of hope. An elderly progressive couple who had successfully infiltrated CCIR about a year ago are attending the picnic today and are ready to call Martínez at the optimal time for a raid. Martínez quickly searches his multipocketed shorts and then realizes he forgot his cell phone in the couple's truck.

I offer them a ride to a nearby shopping plaza so they can check in on the moles from a pay phone. After a long walk through the searing asphalt jungle, a working phone is located. The call is made. Voice mail is reached.

“I give up,” Martínez says. “I want French fries.”

Martínez enters a nearby restaurant, the afternoon of activism now replaced by mere hunger. “This is an Attention Deficit Disorder mission,” Keltic Knott observes as Martínez waits for the fries to be cooked. “People were supposed to come, then we forget the cell phone, and now we're buying French fries. We didn't do anything.”

Martínez pays no attention. He's hungry.

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