He's a writer, musician and artist, so naturally, Denver's Gregory Hill is plagued by Life's Big Questions. Questions like: What would happen if the leader of the free world parachuted onto a desert island populated only by ravenous prehistoric beasts? In the comic "Dinosaurs Versus the President," Hill attempts to provide the answer.
"I was going to do a song called 'If I Had a Conscience, I'd Kill the President,'" explains Hill, who also performs music as left-of-center roots rocker Soapy Argyle. "But my friends told me it was stupid, that people would get indignant and angry and start freaking out with their passion. So I thought, 'Let's just make it goofy.'"
The result was "Dinosaurs," the latest installment in the Starving Magpie series that Hill created with illustrator Lucas Richards. In this silly bit of Xerox-machine allegory, after landing on Skull Island, George W. Bush challenges a group of curious stegosauruses (left) and T. rexes to a fistfight before hightailing it back to Air Force One. The twelve-page comic comes with a "handy metaphoric guide" ("Air Force One equals Penis") and alludes to everything from nuclear proliferation to cultural imperialism.
The reader is, of course, meant to root for the dinosaurs.
"I wanted to use dinosaurs because they're scary and they're big, but they're real," says Hill. "There's so much about them that we don't know, we could possibly reinvent them to fit our personal demons in modern times."
A new edition of Starving Magpie comes out whenever Hill and Lucas feel like putting it out; "Dinosaurs" is the twelfth issue in five years. The comic is part of a larger creative nest called Sparky the Dog (www.sparkythedog.com), a loose publishing and recording collective that "celebrates the music, art and words of neglected, weird and brilliant creators of anything that seems in the least bit clever." Past Sparky projects include a ten-part, full-color action comic called Captain Mistletoe and the serial Toots and Chubby, which chronicles a friendship between a squirrel and a bird.
But while that animal tale has its own civic undercurrents -- "It's about the relationship between animal species, so I think it's intensely political," Hill deadpans -- "Dinosaurs Versus the President" is the duo's first piece of bona fide propaganda. Still, the two don't expect to be counted among the great artistic election stumpers of 2004.
"We're not going to change any votes, any ideas, period," Hill says. "We're not running around with our banners at the peace rally. We're not giving money to the DNC. This is our exclamation of upsetness."
Do they feel better for having made that exclamation?
"No," Hill replies. "Because you can say bullshit, but that doesn't make the bullshit disappear."
El presidente: A familiar name is turning up on write-in ballots from the Mexican border to the Canadian line, as a Colorado congressman continues his controversial crusade against the elephant in America's living room -- el elefante - tha few other politicians will touch.
Tom Tancredo for president?
The District 6 incumbent is known as an outspoken critic of illegal immigrants and border policies that allow undocumented workers to stay in this country. That's the reason Bonnie Eggle of Cadillac, Michigan, is going for Tancredo. "He's not out searching for votes; he's getting votes from people who believe in him," says Eggle, whose only son, Kris, was murdered on the Mexican border in August 2002.
Kris Eggle, a park ranger assigned to Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument in southern Arizona, was killed while assisting U.S. Border Patrol agents in apprehending Mexican drug smugglers. Today Bonnie Eggle runs a website, named for her fallen son, that focuses on border issues -- and she feels Tancredo is the only politico paying adequate attention.
Does Tom Tancredo want to be president? Quizzed about a potential candidacy, the Littleton Republican says that every senator and representative secretly dreams of the Oval Office when they look in the mirror in the morning. And if there's still no progress on immigration policies by the next campaign, Tancredo admits he might consider "putting a toe in the water" -- but only if it would advance the debate.
In the meantime, he's received calls from election boards in California, Georgia and Colorado asking whether Tancredo-for-president votes can be counted. Although he's declined so far, "it's nonetheless quite flattering," he says.
Tancredo, the grandson of Italian immigrants, is chairman of the Immigration Reform Caucus. For him, reform would consist of militarizing the border by doubling the Border Patrol's force on the line or actually bringing in the military, as well as an intense crackdown on employers of illegal workers to remove the incentive for people who sneak across the border.
According to Polly Baca, executive director of the Denver-based Latin American Research and Service Agency, Tancredo's ideas have more holes than the border itself. "It's totally unrealistic, and it's a fantasy world," she says. "If Tancredo would get his wish, he'd totally destroy our economy in Colorado." This state relies on the cheap labor that Latino immigrants provide for picking crops, cooking meals and making beds for tourists, she points out.
That doesn't deter Larry Vance. The 48-year-old utility worker lives less than a mile from the Mexican border in Arizona, and while he talks over the phone about his write-in vote for Tancredo, he watches Border Patrol agents chase a group of illegal immigrants.
"It's kind of a slap in the face at Republicans for not doing something with the border," he says of his presidential choice.
Tancredo thinks Republicans won't touch the border issue because they don't want to anger big businesses that need cheap labor. And Democrats, he adds, won't touch the issue because they want the Latino vote.
Thank you, Mr. President.
What's So Funny?
By Adam Cayton-Holland
My late grandfather used to call Florida the penis of the United States. He was on to something, too. Think about it -- the way it hangs all limp and flaccid down there, vulnerable and exposed, like if you kicked it really hard the whole country might go down.
Kind of like what happened in the 2000 presidential election.
Colorado, positioned as it is some 1,500 miles away from that soulless, flavorless phallus in the South, could never be mistaken for a shlong. We're a square state, for crying out loud, smack-dab in the center of the nation -- the very heart of the U.S. of A.
But with the country steaming toward what could be the most heavily contested presidential election in history, suddenly Colorado has taken on a new role. According to a recent Yahoo News article, this state could play a key role in choosing the next president. Yahoo, people, Yahoo! Come November 3, we will no longer be thought of as that geometric bastion of raping and binge-drinking way out West, but instead as the swollen, bloated prostate that again put the wrong man in office.
In the 2002 election, to avoid Florida-like concerns about hanging chads and missing votes, Congress implemented provisional voting. All states were required to offer a backup ballot to any voter whose name did not appear on the rolls at the polling place; if that voter was later found to be eligible, his vote would be counted. Unfortunately, Congress did not specify how those votes would be counted, and states have adopted different rules for evaluating the ballots.
Here in the C to the motherfucking O, Secretary of State Donetta Davidson has taken the torch and run with it. Dropping a the-more-the-merrier bomb on election officials last week, Davidson suggested that anyone who feels he is registered but is not on the list of registered voters come Election Day should merely tell the polling-place judge where he registered, during what drive and on what date, take an oath, and then cast his vote. Hooray for democracy! We here at What's So Funny are encouraging our entire staff to un-register to vote, then stroll merrily from poll to poll, making 219 provisionary ballot write-in votes for Boner Stabone in a single day, all the while flossing different IDs and merrily reciting this oath:
"I pledge allegiance to King George and the United States of America. And to the Napoleonic dictatorship for which it stands, one nation, some would say under God but if you don't want to, that's cool, too, incredibly divisible with hypocrisy and health care for some."
Couple the oath brain-fart with a wealth of other voting hiccups ranging from the weight of the ballot to whether paroled criminals can vote, not to mention the crack election team of bug-eyed geriatrics who make sure every vote for Taft is counted, and we could have a real disaster on our hands. A few potential problems at the polls:
Pink-outfit-clad Marilyn Musgrave showing up and stealing ballots off soldiers trying to vote.
Voters' confusion when Pete Coors announces he doesn't want to be a senator anymore, now he wants to be an astronaut.
Senile election officials, frustrated by hard-to-grasp new rules, begin filling out extra ballots by the thousands -- Matlock wins in landslide.
Last-minute GOP amendment discounts votes by people with last names Hernandez, Martinez.
Stunning post-election revelation that, because of Bush finagling, popular "A Vote for Nader Is a Vote for Bush" slogan is actually true.
Bill Owens-led "Voting Is for Fags" march cuts voter turnout in half.
Citing necessity of proactive action to prevent voter intimidation, Ken Salazar declares self victorious on November 1, inexplicably sucker-punches Dave Thomas to celebrate.
Vote early and vote often, people; let's not make Colorado the nation's new dick.
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