What's My Line?

Get ready for Denver's close-up.

Amazing how the truth somehow manages to emerge.

Wipe Out

Testing his metal: Chris Cooper as Dickie Pilager in 
Silver City.
Testing his metal: Chris Cooper as Dickie Pilager in Silver City.

"All good things happen through mushrooms," says Jason Salzman. "That's the theme of my life."

Of course, it's not quite that simple. Salzman is the son of Manny and Joanne Salzman, the LoDo pioneers and eternal urban activists who also founded the Telluride Mushroom Festival 25 years ago. Jerry Greenfield, of Ben & Jerry's fame, attended the festival several times -- he even made ice cream out of a certain Chinese mushroom -- and when Jason Salzman wrote his first book, Making the News: A Guide for Activists and Nonprofits, he sent a copy to Ben & Jerry's Vermont office.

And when Ben Cohen, the company co-founder who's also the president of TrueMajorityACTION.org, wanted to do something to influence this election, he contacted Salzman, who runs Cause Communications here in Denver and specializes in "the political how-to genre," he says. "That's my writing niche." The result is 50 Ways YOU Can Show George the Door in 2004, an activist's guide with suggestions "for practical, concerned, and busy people"; "for anti-Bush patriots with time to spare"; and "for the anybody-but-Bush guerrilla." Those divisions were Cohen's idea. But most of the recommended activities are pure Salzman.

Chapter 25, "DJs to re-defeat Bush," for example, outlines the politically correct songs you can request over the radio -- assuming any station in your market still accepts requests. There's Ani DiFranco's "Self-Evident," John Lennon's "Imagine," and anything by the Dixie Chicks. Or you can take it one step further and go for guerrilla karaoke, a concept that Salzman tested at Armida's, a local hot spot, armed with a draft of the book -- which includes song parodies by his wife, Anne Button, as well as some available on the web. "We went in and assessed the situation," Salzman remembers, "and decided to do a simple song. We looked through the DJ's list, and 'Light My Fire' was there. So we submitted our names -- we called ourselves the Bushwhackers -- and then they called our name."

Then they stood and sang "Liar."
You know that Bush is so untrue,
You know that he is such a liar.
Every time he says to you
Iraq is not a big quagmire.
Georgie Bush's pants on fire.
Georgie Bush's pants on fire.
They might set the world on fire.

"A couple of the tables were kind of quiet," Salzman says. "Other people were clapping, and one guy gave us a standing ovation. Then the DJ said that the bar is for drinking or having fun, not for politics, and please don't do it again."

50 Ways, which is now on sale in bookstores across the country, includes many less dramatic but no doubt equally effective ideas, including everything from Cohen's favorite chalk-stamper scheme (complete with directions on how to make the sidewalk-stenciling tool) to the standard e-mails to the editor to campaigning costumes: Dress like a bunny, and carry a sign that reads "Lettuce Vote Bush Out." And when all else fails, do what Salzman and Cohen did at the recent Book Expo in Chicago, to draw a little attention away from Bill Clinton and his big book: Put "Wipe Bush Out of Office" toilet paper in the bathrooms.

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