At the Mission’s Lone Palm last Wednesday, I attended Hiya Swanhuyser and Jonathan Hunt’s “Attack of the Typewriters” (formerly the Left Wing Letter Bee) to do my due for democracy.
There, seated in the company of my band mate Orion Letizi and band attorney Rosaclaire Baissinger, I drank pints and typed screeds to our nation’s leaders on one of several vintage typewriters deposited throughout the bar. Quaint, you say, then ask “Why didn’t you just hatch open your laptop and fling missives over the wifi, Mr. Democracy?” Well, as Swanhuyser counseled us, it turns out “hand-generated” letters are the buoys of civic correspondence in an ocean otherwise roiling with spam. Consequently, they bubble to the top and are more likely to be read, tabulated and perhaps even acted upon. That said, only the stray Luddite knows how to use a manual typewriter these days, so the typo-laden results of our hunting and pecking recalled the jagged type of, as Swanhuyser pointed out, “the Unabomber.” This was the point she explained – not to begrudge the Techno-Beast – but to prove that someone actually took the time to personally type the damn thing. And type I did. With all the drunken drivel I hacked out (“Dear Gov. Schwarzenegger, please do Terminator 4, Best wishes, Daedalus ‘Tookie’ Howell”) it’s a wonder I haven’t been fingered as an enemy combatant and hauled off to Guantanamo Bay (or to Abu Grab where enemy combatants are simply fingered).
I did, however, manage a pithy little epistle to the President that went something like this:
President George W. Bush
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave.
Washington, DC 20510
Dear President Bush:
As a reporter on assignment for the Sonoma Index Tribune, I recently penned a story about a local art exhibit dubbed “Never to Forget: Faces of the Fallen” in which portraits of all the American soldiers who have died in the conflict in Iraq were painted by art students and showcased in a traveling exhibit. Over 2,000 such portraits have been painted thus far, which has led to a peculiar crisis: galleries hosting the exhibit are running out of wall space. As you surely have been advised, real estate comes at a premium these days and many of these galleries are non-profits that are unable to afford additional walls upon which to hang the visages of the war dead. For the sake of these galleries, the artists and those soldiers who are fortunate enough not to have been painted yet, I implore you to end the war in Iraq. That is not red paint on your hands, Mr. President.