. . . Now for some real spooooky shit

1 Nov

Now that all the tricks and treats and spooks and freaks of Halloween have come on gone… onto the really scary shit! Here’s a thousand words from Nick Sledge on how Mike Moen of all candidates might just have a chance in hell at winning the race for Bremerton mayor. . . it’s on the cover of our debut edition — out now around Bremer-town. . . .

The Power of the People

Photobucket

~Campaign shot | Photo: Rudis Puella~

How Mike Moen, of all candidates, could actually have a chance in hell at winning the race for Bremerton Mayor.

On multiple occasions, he says he’s been told that he’s got a “president’s smile.”

Which is funny, considering that half of his grill is either rotting away or filled in with gold and silver — the aftermath from decades of chain smoking, chased with beer and coffee.

Still, he certainly has a memorable, and defiantly authorative way about him. He walks with the same kind of swagger that some other younger politicians ­— like a JFK or Barack Obama — seem to carry.

But Mike Moen is no politician. . .

Photobucket“We… Are… Mother… Fuckin… NEU-TRAL-BOY!” Moen shouts into the mic at a dingy all ages club on Callow Avenue. The band kicks in right as he finishes the sentence, ripping into another singeing punk rock song about life at its most raw.

“Moen for Mayor!” someone shouts from the crowd.

But this is no campaign rally. You wouldn’t even know the guy with the glasses was running for mayor. The sweaty, bespectacled candidate has been on stage for a good half hour of the band’s set — with the attention of maybe 100-200 potential voters — yet he hasn’t mentioned his campaign once.

He has sung a few catchy tunes about stealing cigarettes and pocket change from some girl’s dresser and self-deprecating fornication, though. He doesn’t see the spotlight so much as an opportunity to push an agenda on anyone — it’s just what he does. He does this everywhere.

“I walk around Bremerton bumming cigarettes,” Moen says, “but Neutralboy could go play New York tomorrow as long as we could get there… And then I’d walk around there and bum cigarettes.”

The candidate has spent a good part of his lifetime traveling the country with different bands while keeping his roots in Bremerton. It all started in earnest around the late 80s/early 90s, when he roadied for the legendary Descendents/ALL. Beyond his deliberately self-defacing over-simplification, it seems Moen may have been doing more than just wandering around bumming cigarettes all these years. He almost seems like some kind of ambassador.

He is part of a small, esteemed cadre of nationally known alternative culture diplomats rooted here in Bremerton/Kitsap. Collectively, their webs span the country through various bands, artists and organizations, promoting the area by virtue of their representation, stirring up interest in Bremerton abroad. Partly from that kind of influence, over the past two years, bands from all over the country (even internationally) have visited young, upstart Bremerton venues tucked away from Seattle and Tacoma..

But what does that all have to do with Bremerton city politics?

“You’ve got to have shit going on,” Moen put it bluntly. “It’s like Seattle. Seattle had shit going on so people moved there. But you’ve gotta have actual art places, you can’t just have what’s-her-name ripping off the indian culture and a couple other old people downtown. Nobody in Bremerton’s got $4,500 to buy a brass statue.”

While hoping to grow an inviting artistic culture at it’s core, downtown Bremerton seems to have become a place where artists and independent businesses wilt away. The Harborside’s been “beautified,” but a good portion of the town’s actual artistic culture has been all but washed out of the downtown core over the past few years — Metropolis, The Wesley Art Gallery, Ploy Studios and The West Side Burrito Connection, among recent fatalities.

“You’ve got to find out why that is,” Moen asserts.  “It’s like they’ve got a strangle hold.”

The candidate says he spent his childhood riding a BMX around a different downtown Bremerton.

He remembers it — to no surprise — as a big party. Cars cruised. Streets bustled. There were businesses and restaurants and people.

Nowadays, the candidate notes, walking down Fourth Street at the right time of night can feel almost post-apocalyptic.

Somehow you can tell he’s been there before. He says he’s running this unfunded DIY campaign from those same streets… “As a person, a poor person, a real person,” his campaign website, votemoen.weebly.com reads.

Among his ‘platforms’ of alternative energy, better public transportation and a more transparent government, the candidate hasn’t asked for any donations during his campaign. Plus, if elected, he’s pledging half his mayoral salary to the Bremerton School District’s art programs.

He’s clearly not in it for the money.

Not likely in it for the fame, or for personal gain.

The question is why would this 40-year-old homeless punker be running for mayor?

“I’d be crazy not to!” he laughs, giving the enthusiastic form response.

“Alright look,” he finally gets around to something of a campaign speech, a few songs before the end of Neutralboy’s set at that club on Callow. “There were only 1,200 people who voted in the primary elections for mayor. If all you people here in Bremerton register to vote and vote for me, we can finally show these fuckers that we can actually do something big …”

He trails off, on the edge of losing momentum with the crowd.

“Vote Moen… cocksuckers,” he quips, kicking into the next song.

It’s hard to tell if the revolutionary idea has registered with the head-bobbing, hip-swiveling, thrash dancing audience. It’s hard to tell if Moen is actually serious about all of this. But the rub is, many of the cats in this very club could be registered voters and quite possibly put up a legit bid for town leadership — refusing to choose which ever candidate they like the least, excercising the power of what could be the people’s greatest asset, given they can organize: the write-in candidate.

Some call it the freak vote.

The whole situation harkens back to ‘The Battle of Aspen’ — an article Hunter S. Thompson published in Rolling Stone in 1970, detailing the 1969 Aspen, Colo. mayoral election and the candidacy of a 20-something lawyer/biker named Joe Edwards running on the Freak Power Platform. They came damn close to taking over the town. After witnessing and documenting the momentum that had gathered, Thomspon ran for sheriff on the same platform the next year.

It was all very bizarre, but somehow exciting — like the idea self-professed drunken sex fiend, career punk musician being elected mayor.

The difference here may be that “freak power” has already established itself in Bremerton. It’s on seedy streets on both the west and east sides, it’s in hearts and minds, underground networks and outdoor festivals, art galleries and coffee shops.

And it’s there at that all ages club on Callow.

Makes you wonder how many people here are actually registered to vote and who they’re voting for. But clearly someone’s interested in the alternative arts district. The Charleston Music Venue hosted a mayoral debate in advance of the primaries. The High Fidelity Lounge also hosted one in conjunction with the alt/culture blog, bremelog.com.

It’s only a matter of time before that momentum makes its way to the polls. Election day is Nov. 3.
~NICK SLEDGE~

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