August 9-16, 2006

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Nūz: Santa Cruz County News Briefs

Tough Gov

Just when Nüz was beginning to fear four more years of Arnold Schwarzenegger, along comes Elisha Shapiro to save the day. Appearing at the Attic this coming Sunday, the Nihilist Party candidate for governor is pushing for nothing less than California's secession from the United States.

True, it's an idea that didn't sit particularly well when the South tried it, but California today is much more despised by mainstream America than slavery ever was. Plus, if he's successful, Shapiro says California taxpayers will save $50 billion a year that Washington currently diverts to other states.

But wait, just like those Ronco infomercials, that's not all: Shapiro also promises to appoint Jon Stewart and Santa Cruz's own Angela Davis to the California Supreme Court, to return California Guard soldiers from Iraq and to legalize gay marriage, Cuban cigars and Venezuelan oil.

An L.A.-based conceptual artist and media prankster, Shapiro talked to Nüz last week in anticipation of his visit.

NUZ: Nihilists generally don't view any one course of action as preferable to another. Is it difficult to motivate such a group to get out and vote?

SHAPIRO: It's not like Nazis, where they fall right in line. [Laughs.] Nihilists are not what you'd call a highly organized group.

NUZ: How did you get onto your whole nihilism thing?

SHAPIRO: Let's see. The first big event I did was the Nihilist Olympics in 1980. We had 10 different Olympic events that we staged around town. The most popular one was the U-Turn Competition. We had five intersections listed in the LA Weekly, and there were judges posted on the corner, each for an hour, and they'd hold up signs and score them. The guy who won was driving a panel truck, and he did like a 480-degree turn. I don't know if you know Melrose, but it's not a big street. It was pretty scary. He insisted on winning. He was not going to take second place.

NUZ: As an artist, how do you manage to survive: Trust fund or S.S.I.?

SHAPIRO: Actually, I'm an English teacher at Santa Monica College, so it's like a combination of both.

NUZ: And if you were to become governor, how would that affect your position? Do they have tenure at junior colleges?

SHAPIRO: Well, they do, but I'm not quite tenured yet. I'd have to do both jobs at the same time.

NUZ: Which would not be a big problem?

SHAPIRO: [Laughing] I can work it out, I think. I'm not sweating it too much.

NUZ: So beyond laying groundwork for a standup comic career, is there a serious underpinning to all this? What message are you trying to get out?

SHAPIRO: That's a good question. This really was inspired by the last two elections, and how the country seems to be getting so conservative while California is still California. The Bush Supreme Court is trying to push this fundamentalist crap on us, and it just pisses me off, because Schwarzenegger is like a Bush puppet and Democrats just aren't standing up for themselves. I thought this would be a good opportunity to put the fear of God into those people. Even if just a few thousand people voted for secession, I think that would get their attention.

NUZ: Would you invite the Pacific Northwest to come along?

SHAPIRO: Everyone wants to jump on the bandwagon, I tell ya. Those pot-smoking hippies up there. One thing I am thinking of is to immediately annex Nevada. Take over Nevada so that we would have a buffer zone, with gambling, hookers and nuclear waste, to slow down the U.S. Army.

Nihilist Party gubernatorial candidate Elisha Shapiro makes a campaign stop this Sunday, Aug. 13, at 3pm at the Attic, 931 Pacific Ave., Santa Cruz. For more information, visit

Nūz just loves juicy tips about Santa Cruz County politics.

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