Sunday, March 24, 2013

The True Story of a Fake Political Campaign: Peppermint Andersen revealed! (part one)

Names are a big deal. For instance if you name your kid Penis Smith, no matter how well intended it may have been, your child is going to "stick out" in places such as school and everywhere else. My obsession with names has been going strong for at least 20 years, and probably longer. Aside from being a renowned nick namer I am also hell on wheels when it comes to creating various handles which I have been known to operate under. Lately I have been turning into Mike Jones and producing podcasts which brought my thoughts back through the dusty halls of my brain to the topic at hand. THE Peppermint Andersen.

The year was 2003 I believe. When he first appeared.

This is not how exactly how I envisioned him but damn it, I wish it was!
 When I started attending Central Warshington University (r was added for my dad) it was my full and honest intention to graduate with a degree in Tech Ed and get a job teaching high school shop class. As you may have gathered by now, this did not happen. Somewhere along the way (my second quarter) I decided to take a course in jewelry/metal smithing through the art department. The reason I took it in the first place was that the courses I was taking in tech ed were bullshit as far as actual technical training. We learned how to write lesson plans instead of actually do anything. I envisioned graduating and going to teach a class and being showed up by farm kids who had learned how to disassemble engines at age two. Another and more selfish reason is that the mark up on jewelry is incredibly high, and I figured if I were good at making it I could save a shit load of money when I did have a lady friend to gift. The sad reality is that many of the things I do such as cook, write and play music stem from the fact that I am deep down a cheap cheap bastard.

Among the things I learned during that jewelry course (other than the fact that only I and the flaming gay professor knew how Isadora Duncan died which I learned via a hilarious joke during his lesson called "how not to use a buffing wheel" at which only I laughed) was that art could be funny. It was a good lesson. A valuable one. Especially for me because when it comes to drawing and painting I am certainly no more than a medium talent. But when I start adding in words I suddenly found one of my niches (I am also apparently good at starting art movements).

The teacher of the aforementioned art/humor lesson was a Mr Chris Duren, who was as wildly talented as he was morbidly hilarious. For his final piece in class he made a thumb ring that was a hollow human penis and scrotum. It was hinged and slipped over the old opposable digit; so when you gave a "thumbs up" it would become erect! It was astounding. I had no idea that you could be an artist by simply being a craftsman and a smart ass bastard! As birds of a feather often do, we flocked together. We also worked our asses off so that on the last night before our final projects were due, we went out to the bars while the rest of the students pulled an all nighter. On the day of the final we had agreed to meet in the art building to make sure our loose ends were tied up, then go to his house and get high as balls on weed and get dressed up in some crazy outfits and go to class. Typical moves right?

In addition to the metal smithing (about 40 hours of studio work per week) my course load included a graduate level industrial design course which was near lethal, a class taught by a lunatic and an electrical course taught by a lovable drunk. Needless to say I was unaware of the activities taking place on the rest of the campus. But on this day I was done. It was my last final and I was confident I was getting an A. So I took the time to stroll down to the student union building and get a coffee prior to our meet up. Not much could have prepared me for the scene which would assail me on the way!

At this point of the journey I had no idea I was about to get yelled at by 50 people in less than two minutes time!

As we were just finishing winter quarter, the spring had arrived and I was also emerging from my self imposed cocoon of academia. As I walked blissfully through the lovely campus I heard a growing din which sounded like some kind of pep rally and/or yelling contest. As I grew closer I began processing the fact that it was sort of a combination of both that the people animals were holding.

For my my last three months of human contact had been limited to those deranged enough to enroll in the same classes, and was tempered by various stresses related to coursework and unrequited love. Free range humans were most definitely not on my radar, let alone loud, obnoxious, banner waving, bubble letter sign painting, boom box blasting, goatee wearing, bleached hair having, Bud Light Lime drinking, Central Washington University student body candidates!

Holy damn! My blissful walk through campus became a blur as at least 14 different people thrust tootsie pops and Worthers at me in hopes of influencing me to cast my vote for their own personally endorsed neophyte wanna be frat boy fuck (one reason I chose CWU was that there is no Greek system; also there were probably women candidates). The experience was jarring on a soul searing level. The best thing I can do to illustrate my feelings is to show you this clip from What About Bob? Go ahead and skip to 3 minutes in. And after you read this watch the whole movie.

Somehow I managed to get inside the building and get my coffee. I threw the first cup in my face and bought another (I presume). The wheels in my head were turning fast and I knew I needed to mock the process which allowed university students to operate in a joke "political system" in which they acted like really stupid high school students in order to garner votes for their pointless student jobs. What I needed to do was create a fake candidate and jump into the fray myself. I hurried back to the art building (sneaking out the side to avoid getting sprayed with silly string or hearing Eye of The Tiger and We Are The Champions playing simultaneously from speakers turned far past the optimum volume). By the time I reached Randall Hall, I had it. A vision had appeared fully formed.

Peppermint Andersen. Andersen with an e not an o. He was a redhead of course; and he was all about community. So much so that his radical platform included such reforms as replacing all computer labs with ice cream parlors (at this time I was such a Luddite that my email was at and turning the library into a multilevel roller skating rink with sweet ass ramps in between levels! Essentially Peppermint Andersen was full of pep and a firm believer in good wholesome family friendly fun! When I found Chris I quickly outlined his assignment: get online and whip up some bullshit fliers for our man so we could get in the ring and see if he had what it took to punch above his class!

Peppermint Andersen has awesome dreams!

In a matter of minutes Chris had created an epic flier with a couple of old time kids eating Klondike bars that read: "Vote For Peppermint Andersen!" We printed about 200 and headed back through the mayhem to get higher than a $3 kite and try and wrangle up some really terrible snacks to give out as bribes! Of course we already had our costumes picked out since we had meant to dress crazy for the final anyway. Chris was hell bent for leather to wear a gas mask he had, and I had managed to scrounge up a black Gandalf style hat and some over sized black pants I could hike up to my chest.In costume I had also switched to a lurching gait and was keeping my shoulders far back with my chest stuck out. It was truly a spectacle.


It didn't take too terribly long to smoke enough weed to feel ready for the task ahead of us. We went to the Albertsons grocery store across from his house and started strolling around looking for something terrible enough that it would mock the process while at the same time not break the bank. Also Chris had brought an ice chest that looked like a mayonnaise jar; in case you were wondering.

We wanted to add a hint of normalcy to the situation!
 Though the movies make it seem like pot  heads are super slow at making decisions, we were simply hard working students with a mission; who just happened to be blazed out of our minds. So it was not long before we settled on celery and the Albertson's brand version of Diet Sprite. Diet Duo. Warm. In the mayo cooler. With a gas mask and Gandalf hat. So costumes, snacks and fliers in tow; it was show time!

The scene of the ruckus was only a short walk away from the store, so in minutes we were right up in that!I hadn't given out three fliers before the actual candidates started to get quite upset! It might have been on account of Chris' gas mask, or my aggressive style of campaigning but we were unfazed. Like a I true soldier I continued campaigning unabated. My preferred method of piss take was by trying to give out my bribes in the worst possible way while keeping a deadly serious poker face. I hate to brag (just kidding I love it) but I think I was able to do it masterfully!

Whenever I was approached, I would tighten my grip on the bunch of celery (I had broken some of the stalks which were flapping from the main group) and thrust it white knuckled into the face area of my potential voter. People For Peppermint Andersen. Ice Cream Parlors. Roller Skates! I rattled off my talking points and ignored angry questions. Chris was standing tall, thin and gas masked attempting to hand out fliers and warm cans of one of the worst beverages ever. After a bit I grabbed some of the Diet Duo. My style of passing out drinks was unique because I would open the can; then noisily slurp at it prior shoving it in the face of my bewildered and disgusted constituent. Shockingly, the actual candidates really didn't know they were being mocked; they actually thought we were trying to steal votes. Bizarre yet true. Mercifully time came for us to leave and go to class. So Peppermint Andersen campaign number one was complete! I know he got a couple votes and made an impression. More importantly, a certain Mr Peppermint G Andersen had caught the politicking bug in a big way!

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