CPAC: Meet Occupy Bawl Street’s Grizzly Joe: ‘The world’s going to heck in a handbasket’
We’ve been fans of alicublog writer Roy Edroso for years. Is there anyone who understands the angst of conservatives better than Roy? He’s our man on the ground at CPAC — ED
Meet “Grizzly Joe,” proprietor of OccupyBawlStreet.com, a site of “News, Commentary, & Analysis.” Joe describes his site as “center-right,” which puts him among the moderates here at CPAC. He says he writes to try and make sense of a world that is going in his opinion to “heck in a handbasket.” Joe declines to supply his real name or location (other than “the Northeast”), but he sounds like Brooklyn. Anyone recognize him?
Kevin Piggott is running for Congress in the 8th district of Virginia and wants people to sign his petition. (Kevin is the one on the right; I didn’t catch the other guy’s name but I think he played Whitey on “Archie’s Place.”) As of midday Thursday Kevin hadn’t collected many signatures. I reminded him that many if not most of the CPAC attendees are not from his district. “This may have been a mistake,” Kevin admitted with becoming frankness.
Kevin is becomingly frank in other ways. When I asked him why the voters of VA8 need him to run, he said, “I’m going to have to think about that.” When he became lost in reverie I asked if he was kidding me about this election thing. “Why would I do that?” he asked blandly. “I just need a moment. I only decided to run two days ago.” OK, then why did he decide to run? “I was upset to realize how weak America has become on the international stage.” Was he referring to the Crimea? He nodded. “We just didn’t have the stature to prevent it.” How then do we retrieve our stature? “You have to realize,” said Kevin, “that the world is more dangerous than it has ever been. I grew up during the Cold War. At least then we had mutually-assumed destruction [MAD]. But now we have Iran about to have nuclear weapons, and they will move against Israel — it’s not a question of if, but when — and North Korea’s crazy…”
I asked Kevin what he did when we wasn’t running for Congress. He said he was an attorney, which I said must make running for office professionally difficult. “It’s hard,” he admitted. “Sometimes your peer group doesn’t want you to outperform them. They say, ‘Kev, don’t let your head get too big…'”
Well, I’d vote for him.
“I’m willing to walk down the stairs,” insisted this performer from NYC Stilts, meant to represent Ronald Reagan but looking more like a giant mannequin in a wig who’s been beaten up. “But I don’t want to fall — that’s not gonna be good publicity! Can somebody just hold my hand?”‘ Thus, this touching image.
The Ashbrook Center, affiliated with Ashland University in Ashland, Ohio, has 50 Core Documents of American history, from the Declaration of Independence to Reagan’s “A Time for Choosing” speech, that they would like to get into the hands of teachers and students, Ashland University students Jeff Scott and James Coyne (l. to r.) told me at CPAC. They and the Center think there should be “more emphasis on primary sources” in history education. Okay, but how do you manage that when the U.S. textbook industry has things so tightly wrapped up? “We’re students,” said Jeff. “We can’t speak on [the Center’s] behalf.” He did note that more than 300,000 graduates of Ashbrook Scholars Program — their school’s “rigorous, top-rated academic program… for students with a passion for civic leadership,” as the brochure has it — have gone on to become teachers, so maybe that’s how they manage. Jeff and James were very courteous to their elders, and let me know when I dropped and was about to leave my pen.
Elizabeth Ruiz works for the David Horowitz Freedom Center — which does public services like Discover the Networks, a sort of interactive role-play game where the user tracks the progress of the leftist takeover of American institutions, and TruthRevolt, Ben Shapiro’s current traitor-unmasking project. Elizabeth, who lives in Beverly Hills (“I like it because it’s safe”), showed us a number of Horowitz Freedom Center publications — booklets with titles like “Obama’s 1984,” “How Obama Betrayed America,” “Obama’s War on the Young,” etc. They’re sold at discount bulk rates, and I asked Elizabeth who buys them. “We get a lot of orders from private individuals,” she said. “Often they tell us what they want them for — for example, one woman told us she needed 25 books because she wanted to hand them out at a party she was going to.” Ruiz smiled sweetly. “The letters can get quite detailed.”
There are a number of conservative artists at CPAC, trying to get their colleagues who are always complaining about the liberal culture to put their money where their mouth is. This is Jack July, who’s peddling his self-published novel Amy Lynn. The name’s an alias; the novel is about one-quarter “autobiographical about my crazy Alabama family,” says July — though its heroine is a 12-year-old girl — and he doesn’t want to blow their cover.
July isn’t from a traditional literary background. He served in the Navy for five years, he told me, then in the steel mills of Gary, Indiana, and presently works on an assembly line in Spartanburg, South Carolina. “I don’t know crap about writing,” he said, though he was pleased to tell me that the Kindle version of his book got 51 reviews on Amazon and “47 of ’em were five-star reviews.”
So how’d he wind up doing Amy Lynn? “I was 45 years old and I’d run out of books to read, so I had to write one,” he said. Good answer, but I wanted more detail. So July told me about how he’d written 20 chapters of the book and was feeling stalled, so he went to pick up a bottle and the lady at the store asked what was up. He told her he was writing a book but felt like quitting; she asked him how much he’d written and he told her; bring it to me, she said. Later he came back to the store and “she poked her finger in my chest” and told him to keep going. “So my muse was the lady at the liquor store,” said July.
According to July, Amy Lynn travels over the course of nine years from rural Alabama to the Panjir Valley in Afghanistan and “gets into some heavy problems and with the love of her family and Jesus gets through it.” People tell him the book is “so gosh-darned heartfelt,” but it’s not all uplift: “I’m not real kind to the Muslims,” said July, “but I have a reason for that: My best friend was killed in Beirut in 1983.” You can read Amy Lynn‘s Amazon reviews here.