We were home on the range. Out there in the middle of nowhere, the temperature plunging. We reached the Ad-monstrosity at two AM after parking my 55 Ford pickup. I called Trusty Truck a mile away on an icy dirt road, which we then followed to the billboard on foot. The snow was falling lightly, but was beginning to pick up intensity. Dressed warmly in our bulging parkas, each one of us, I thought, looked as though we belonged to the Michelin Tire Man’s family. Of course, I was stoned. We had plenty of pot. That would help keep us warm and on the beam. All we needed was some red wine and cheese. Already, I was getting the munchies. The wine and food would come later, at home, after we cut down Nixon and Agnew.
You don’t have to have a cause in life, but if you do, even if it’s maintaining the health and well-being of your family or loving your dogs or your cats, helping the S.P.C.A, you want to give it everything you’ve got. Otherwise, what’s the point? I remember well the song, Volunteers of America, by the Jefferson Airplane, written in 1969 and performed at Woodstock before the album came out in 1970. The drive of the music and lyrics could really get you going. It’s what I was thinking when I was walking down the dirt road carrying my chainsaw. It gave me impetus, kept me going. A song like that stuck in your head was a godsend. Volunteers of America… it still gives me shivers when I hear it today.
Hey, come on now we’re marching to the sea
Got a revolution (got to revolution)
Who will take it from you, we will and who are we?
Well, we are volunteers of America (volunteers of America)
Volunteers of America (volunteers of America)
I’ve got a revolution
Got a revolution.
Volunteerism is a staple of our society. Meals on Wheels and things like this. My mother volunteered for Meals on Wheels and I remember her putting the metal pails affixed on top of one another, four tiered towers filled with hot food in her car to take to seniors who were too sick, poor and infirm to get out to grocery shop. Now, even that’s been thrown under the bus by the granny killing party of Republicans. I volunteered to help take down the Alaskan Pipeline. Revolting against the Status Quo. Volunteering to waylay billboards so folks can have an unspoiled view of beauty. That was my dream given to me by Ed Abbey. Volunteer for the environment. Similar to volunteering to legalize pot. Doing everything you can to make it so. For free. Imagine that?
Under the right conditions, it should only take a couple of hours to get the billboard on its side. Once you do, you’ve removed a blight on the landscape so people can see the mountains clearly again. Thing of it is, you need the right conditions. There has to be some luck involved. Pink Bear and Autumn decided to accompany us, each with their own chainsaws. Autumn had borrowed hers from her father’s garage, unbeknownst to him. She was almost more rabid than me about cutting down this billboard. She had a brother in Vietnam, who had been wounded in the leg, but was now back in the fighting after a long recuperation. He was a point man. Not a good situation. Nixon, as far as she was concerned had to go and this was one way to do it. Send him flying into the ground, nose first beside his buddy Spiro. Ah, the beauty of it.
All Quiet on the Boulder Turnpike
We figured we’d be able to finish the task in a couple of hours, maybe three, then make our getaway. Plus there were no houses for miles. We started our saws and went to work. There were ten posts. Not undoable in our timeframe. The five of us should be through them in a couple of hours. The snow was swirling and all was quiet. I remember reading about the Battle of the Somme in 1916 on the Western Front. Moments before the soldiers went up over the top after weeks of heavy shelling a quiet descended and you could hear your heartbeat. The calm before the storm. I could feel something like this coming, but I didn’t know what. There wasn’t a car on the snow-covered turnpike below us. The chainsaws hunger dug deep into the wood, their screaming sucked up by the silent snow. Somehow, I could feel Nixon and Spiro glaring down at us. The thought gave me a shiver. Like they were alive on that billboard. I could feel their pain the deeper we cut. It made me feel good.
Then I heard another noise, far away, coming closer. Even over the roar of the chainsaws. It wasn’t sirens, but the sound of machines regurgitating exhaust in the night. I could smell the odor of diesel. I looked over one shoulder back up the road toward Denver. We all stopped and waited. Over a rise headlights appeared. We cut out our chainsaws and ducked down low behind the billboard. Then more headlights, the snow blunting their glare. Down over the hill a parade of trucks came toward us. I squinted through the millions of motes of headlight-lit snow. My gut curled in on itself and my breathing shallowed. No, it couldn’t be. Not again. Our luck didn’t hold. Seemed we had the Midas Touch of Shit.
An Army caravan of soldiers riding in their trucks and Jeeps, in their tankers and communication conveyances, troop trucks and other means of transport. I had no words for, all painted in dull beige and dirty dishwater green, moved toward us like a train of oxen trundling through the snow piling up on the road. They’d take forever to get past us. I vowed to wait them out. Still, the procession kept coming and coming – at a centipede creep. How long was this cavalcade, anyway? The first vehicles reached us and drove by, headed toward Boulder. We lit a joint and watched them. After about an hour I could see the end, finally. At that moment, a tanker truck spluttered and died right underneath the hill where we were hiding underneath Nixon and Agnew. It managed to pull over and come to an abrupt halt. A jeep pulled in behind it. Soldiers got out, opened the hood and inspected the engine. Our night was done. I imagined Nixon grinning up there on the billboard looking down at me with distain. We slinked back through the snow into the hills and back to Trusty Truck. Lit another joint and smoked a bowl before we took off. But then I thought, why not? I wasn’t going to let this little setback ruin our well laid plans. No, I told everyone, we’re not going home. I know it sounds crazy, but not tonight. No, not us. We decided we’d wait them out and, even if we had to wait until the first light of dawn, where all could see us, we’d somehow cut the damn thing down – even if the soldiers and the broken-down truck were still there. We’d cut it down right in front of them. I needed to bag that billboard. There was no waiting for tomorrow – we were Volunteers of America. I picked up my chainsaw and walked back to the billboard.