Friday, March 8, 2013

An I-Don't-Give-a-Rat's-Ass Epiphany, Part 3

Rats! Missed Part 1 or Part 2?

I stood in front of the dark cemetery with my skull and crossbones sign shouting, “You have a right to know what’s in your food! Vote Yes on Prop 37!” Thousands of people had come out to the legendary Hollywood Forever Cemetery that night to look at altars, listen to music, eat tamales and revel in the joie de vivre of Dia de los Muertos.

With only a week left before the election, I had been feeling desperate because Monsanto and the processed food companies had poured $45,000,000 into a smear campaign. So I poured $3 into the 99¢ Only Store and scored a Halloween Prop 37 ensemble—a pirate hat, a bloody apron and a large chair cover I turned into a sign by draping it over an old t-square.

As throngs of people waited to get inside the cemetery gates, I walked back and forth handing out flyers, and as if selling red-hots, chanted, “You have a right to know what’s in your food! Vote Yes on Prop 37!” There were a few other people who were also handing out Prop 37 literature, including a guy who had printed his own Halloween stickers. 

If you put a photo of Hitler on a sticker, chances are people will want one. For some inexplicable reason, an image on a self-adhering back really draws a crowd—and these devils were no exception. So the guy I met gave me a big box of stickers to take home, and back I went to the 99¢ Store to buy a cauldron to carry them in for my next night out. Did I feel guilty for buying cheap plastic crap from China? Yup, but hot on the heels of my cemetery visit, I quickly buried the shame.

After work on Halloween night, I headed over to the big RuPaul of parades—the West Hollywood Halloween Costume Carnaval—a mile-long stretch of Santa Monica Boulevard full of flamboyant revelers and sexually ambiguous creatures out on an all-night gender bender. If I was going to make a spectacle of myself, doing it in a carcass apron in the middle of a raunch-fest was as good a place as any. Even though I knew I’d be preaching to the Gay Men’s Choir, I figured out of the 500,000 people in attendance, there had to be a few who didn't know about Prop 37. So as I walked for miles with my sign and cauldron handing out stickers and flyers, I was just an ordinary freak in the crowd—who happened to be chanting, “You have a right to know what’s in your food! Vote Yes on Prop 37!”

Since a dark mob scene had proven the perfect milieu for a macabre messenger, Friday night I headed off for another Day of the Dead festival—this one in East LA. It was not the bastion of safety for a solo gringa after dark, but I wanted to spread the Prop 37 word to Latinos since GMO corn is the centerpiece of their diet. I had a loco motive to take the Metrolink train because I could hand out stickers and literature through the various stations I passed through along the way. As people came up to me, asking me questions about Prop 37, I was starting to feel kind of useful. Was I more than just a strong opinion and a big mouth or did I have some street cred? Either way, there I was, decked out in death garb, chatting with passersby in the station and strangers on a train. 

The Metrolink let me off right in front of the festival, and as I walked among the ginormous paper maché skeletons and festive altars, the heavenly waft of tacos, tamales, chile rellenos and churros tried to seduce me. Even with all that GMO corn, it smelled diabolically good. But then my inner skeleton said, “You are here to spread the word—not to eat la comida.” So I took the skeleton’s advice, and as I walked the grounds and worked the crowd, people enthusiastically took the stickers and engaged me in conversation. Some even made it a point to thank me for what I was doing. 

Meanwhile, back at the office, my contribution to our annual Halloween pumpkin carving contest was a Monsanto still life. I tightly wedged a watermelon inside a pumpkin and strategically placed purple cauliflower in it to look like it was growing. A dead lab rat was lying in front, accompanied by a cauldron of free stickers. A friend told me that while she was looking at the pumpkins, Danny, a guy we worked with, gazed at mine, rolled his eyes and said in a disparaging tone, “Gee, I wonder who did that one.”
“I don’t give a rat’s ass what Danny thinks!” I told her.  
I knew I had a bit of a "reputation," but now for the first time, what Danny thought of me was Danny’s problem.



As people celebrated Halloween at my farmers' market, there I stood in broad daylight with my sign, apron and cauldron, handing out stickers and flyers. This was the last time I would be fighting for this cause at the market where I had staked out my territory so many months before—where I had felt so mousy collecting signatures. This was last call before closing time, and I wanted one last round—one last shot to get the word out before the election. A woman came up to me and started talking about what this proposition meant for our food supply, and she passionately thanked me for what I was doing. Then she asked if I had a business card, and I gave her one. A few days later she sent me an email:
"Hi Adair, I met you Sunday at the farmers market in Mar Vista. First let me tell you how much I respect and appreciate people like you, people who fight for the right things, people who care. Thank you for being you."  
Wow. Someone thanking me for being me? I used to apologize for that. But boy, oh Danny boy, those days are over.



4 comments:

  1. I'm glad you're you, too. Apathy never got anything changed, that's for sure. Thanks for all you do.

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  2. Love your wit and wisdom! And thanks for all you do. Amazing to me that you had to look for someone who didn't know what Prop 37 was. Here in Georgia, I just want them pronounce G-M-O without thinking it's a new vehicle from Detroit. ONWARD!

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