Well, I've got a little story to tell about that smell. You see, me and my friends made it. Yep. Got together and conjured up a little smell called ... the cool smell of change comin' through.
Let there be no doubt about it: a small citizen's action cadre of local unemployables that is truly COMMITTED to sending a BOLD MESSAGE can really make changes in their lives. So in 1987 we formed ACT-UP as a Citizen's Action group interested in awakening the consumer classes from their torpid death-spiral using witty, eye-catching crimes; organizing outings, etc. And because a bold message is part of it, in 1994 we began helping youngsters overcome their insecurities about unsafe sex by providing them with free sexual devices, erotic booklets, and life-saving condoms. These are high-quality, flexible Army-surplus condoms. Many saw action during Desert Storm. Although they are not effective against anthrax or sarin-style nerve agents, condoms can reduce by up to 75% the risks associated with transmitting hantovirus, meningococcal bacillus, all the usual. Message sent, man.
We are in the life-saving business. And we cannot save people's lives if they are constantly being distracted by nonsensical public art.
Straddling the entrance to the Seattle Art Museum, 10 blocks south of Sit and Spin and hard by Lusty Lady, Hammering Man -- seen and enjoyed by thousands of commuters, shoppers and tourists every day -- is perfectly situated for political defacement. The 50-foot pig-iron colossus was originally commissioned in 1986 in order to gently draw the jaundiced urban eye toward the inconspicuous Art Museum and its large, eclectic collection of Hammering Man gifts and collectibles. And Hammering Man attracts attention to himself with typical Seattle verve: in his right hand he brandishes a manly, disembodied penis; in his left hand, a gigantic battery-operated hammer as if from the forges of Hades with which to tirelessly bash that penis.
This had always been something we'd found quite amusing. But that would no longer suffice. You can hardly hold a protest just because you are "amused" by something. There would be morale problems. We had a lengthy sit-down with our legal team, and they recommended that we just go ahead and protest Hammering Man for the same reason we protest everything else: to educate the masses about the world of unsafe sex.
Made sense. We are, after all, Seattle's preeminent unsafe sex experts. And think about it. Sure, we all have gender issues. But hammering on a penis? That's about as unsafe as sex can get. It sends the wrong message.
Naturally we would be needing to sheathe the beleaguered member in a protective condom. A radical act of civil disobedience that would also reflect our mature, responsible side: something for everyone. We commissioned a vast latex condom from Cascade Gasket and Rubber Mill. We chose latex because it both filters out impurities and also breathes, for comfort. Cascade has been fabricating construction-grade prophylactics for industrial and scientific applications since 1941. We've worked with them for years and we trust them.
When it arrived, we just looked at each other and nodded, as if to say: enough planning. Now is the time to boldly act. And what a wild adventure it turned out to be!
Midnight, and we converged at the foot of the titan. Under cover of darkness, the squad hung out, slept or wandered off until day-break ... at which time we boldly acted. While the rest of us picketed him with placards, protestations and dance, Smegman and Mookus quickly established a ladder against Hammering Man and initiated the application of the tremendous prophylactic. The phallus in question looms some forty feet above the pavement; our ladder reached a mere ten. So Grumey mounted the ladder from above, and Shemp stood on his shoulders. Hmm. Still about 20 feet short. What if Shemp held the ladder above his head? That would add ten feet right there. The remainder we could worry about later. Then everything collapsed, and they fell into the great reservoir tip of the condom and were asphyxiated. "What the heck ...?!?"
Hate-crime! Hate-crime! We prepared a list of demands and angrily dialed up City Hall. "Information, please!" we demanded. They put us on hold. And we observed that if they were Republicans then they were TYPICAL fucking control-freak Republicans!! Finally the information bitch came on, and we demanded that they send someone official down -- not some flunky -- to arrest us. We pointed out that there were a couple of corpses on the parking strip polluting precious topsoil. There was some resistance, but finally reason prevailed and she caved like a pig, providing us with the name and address of the current mayor of Seattle ("Norman Rice. The Space Needle.") and, newly emboldened, we had had a full day so we went home and crashed.
We set up a scaffolding which somewhat collapsed. Bosco and Stiffy hung upside down for a time and the blood rushed to their heads, which burst.
There's never a cop around when you need one, right? Wrong! Two cops stood there watching the whole thing without assisting us. Fascists! When will they leave us alone?
Frustrated, we sought help from -- where else? -- The Internet. And it seemed like we looked everywhere: clubsex.com, sexwanker.com, sexmart.com, hotsexpix.org, sexhotbauds.com, essex-county/census.gov, pixelsex.com. Newly emboldened, we prepared for the task ahead.
Gnarl slips and drowns in the non-oxynol. What an irony. Granted, he died with a smile on his face.
Nothing to do now except protest the Seattle Art Museum. Pickets, chants, expressive dance. A good time was had by all. Unfortunately, they roped us off and made us part of their 60's retrospective.
Squamous backs up to get a running start on the sucker. Unfortunately midday traffic drives over him for the better part of an afternoon. We tried coning him off, but ... forget it, man. Consumers steering their metal coffins to the mall will not be deterred by fucking traffic cones, man. Then a hard rain came and washed the dude away without a trace ... and later we were reminded of how easy it is sometimes to forget what all the fuss was about.
I know what you're saying. "Hey, ACT-UP, man. You dudes are dying like pigs. If you're going to do something unsafe, isn't it wise to use a few ... precautions?"
Perhaps. One might have suggested we use, oh, a crane. Perhaps. But to that we say: life itself is risk. Life-saving is a risk. Fuck precautions.
Using an enormous dental dam we had lying around, we managed to fling a guy up astride the deadly shaft of affection. "Look out for the hammer," muttered someone, but too late. Scurfy was slowly pounded into a fine, rust-colored patina. Just another one of society's ways of hurting those it disagrees with, I guess.
We tried picketing Hammering Man again. "You're killing us! You're killing us!" But nothing. Hmmph. Always worked with the Bush Administration. And in the meantime Scurfy is just spraying around everywhere. And, to be honest, contributing quite negatively to the smell of change we were trying to generate.
Jesus F. Christ. Shoulda wrapped him in that condom. Lesson learned.
Rooter shinnies up to scrape off Scruffy, and takes the opportunity to affix the condom. He slipped accidentally and hung there for a time from the superhuman sheath. But the lube was too slippery, and he slid down it. And the ribs of the condom chafed his face right off to the point where we were unable to identify him when the coroner came.
And then the condom falls off because frankly Rooter did not have good condom skills. Duh.
It was clear we would need to recruit fresh members. We planned another life-saving condom distribution at Eckstein Middle School. Then we took the rest of the day off. Yahoo!
We spent most of the morning discussing, debating, and protesting each other about what to do next. That afternoon, during sex, one of us chirped, "Say, how 'bout a crane?" Great idea. So we called Crane Towing. Turns out they're not a crane company. Fuck! Now what? The Bob Crane Foundation wouldn't talk to us or even accept our free literature.
But then a tragedy. Droppity was scrubbing the condom, which Rooter had soiled, when he notices several small perforations in the tender membrane.
We briefly considered slapping some medicinal non-oxynol patches on the punctures and hoping no one would notice. But no: we're unsafe sex experts, man. Young people look to us to set an example. We're not stupid. Perforated condom? You don't even think about it: that's a fool's game. You throw it in the toilet and flush the toilet and continue on without it and hope for the best.
Using crampons and an ice-axe, Fleck laboriously makes his way up Hammering Man's sheer south face. No condom of course made the task easier in a way. But also more complex: not having a condom to affix made this truly uncharted territory for us. And somewhere along the way we lost track of poor Fleck ... not sure how. It's believed he likely carried on bravely for a time and eventually succumbed to the elements. Also, Rictus drowned trying to unclog the toilet. It seemed as good a time as any to declare the protest a success and move on to something else.
And that is the story of the great Condom Protest Endeavor of '96. We made some friends, and lost some. We learned some new skills, and some things we weren't good at. And after a few days even the traffic returned to normal. So, yeah, we created a lot of change.
And the cost? Scaffolding, an entire day lost surfing the 'net. And of course the condom itself. Goodbye, big fella.
Alright, pricks. I suppose some of you will right now probably be questioning our competence. That is so, so typical of you, to punish the victims. Competence, people, is only a tool devised by the patriarchy (of which, as of this June, I will no longer be a member) to use in oppressing those who ... blah blah I can't remember how it goes but you know what I'm talking about.
I looked at the tiny army of sickly, haggard, sex-positives shambling up for their daily
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