Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Fucked Up Genius of Andrew Boyd

The last time I saw Andrew Boyd was maybe five years ago. He was in town promoting his deeply existentialist Book of Daily Afflictions. This was a strange little book that combined genuine philosophical insights, shallow self-help rhetoric, and a keen sense of self-parody to create Brother Void.

When we greeted each other at his Hugo House reading — he looking rather hot in his black cassock and I feeling rather dull in comparison — Andrew looked deeply into my eyes as he placed his hand over my heart. It was on odd gesture that made me wonder, "Is this Andrew, or is this Brother Void?"

I'd worked with him a bit more than a decade before in January of 1991. The Gulf War, after months of saber-rattling, was to begin the next day. A huge march around the Boston Common was scheduled. I worked with Andrew and two other organizers out of the Jobs with Peace office to recruit and train people from the march for civil disobedience. We wanted to be sure that the next day's response was maximally disruptive.

The work paid off fabulously. While teams of people did choreographed CD at the Federal Building the next morning, there was also a running guerrilla skirmish in the streets, where knots of people would block traffic and tunnels and retreat as police moved in for arrests. Later that day, the huge main march would be led right onto Storrow Drive, accomplishing the Boston equivalent of blocking Seattle's Highway 99 at rush hour.

It didn't change much, but it sure felt good.

Andrew became a culture-jamming activist writer. Nice work if you can get it. He 's particularly good at creating reproducible guerrilla theater. Billionaires for Bush was his idea. Andrew here became Phil T. Rich.

His latest incarnation is as an agent of the Oil Enforcement Agency, a shadowy government agency charged with putting some muscle behind President Bush's new-found concern with "breaking our addiction" to oil. The OEA is recruiting. The video is awesome.

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