American Dream Book Tour
And Protest Across America
By Mike Palecek
03 April, 2007
OMAHA – It's incredible the number of times I
have to pull over to pee. Hello from the road, The American Dream Book
Tour & Protest Across the USA has arrived in Omaha.
This past week I left my
home in Sheldon, Iowa and traveled south to Kansas City, then Newton,
Kansas, Lawrence, then back to Kansas City, and now Omaha.
I am so lucky to have this
chance to see all this, to meet these people, to try to fight the murderous
Bush government, the killer of Paul Wellstone, the perpetrator of 9-11,
torturers, thieves, killers of young people, men, women, babies.
All thanks to Ruth for her
support and letting me have this unbelievable opportunity.
I'm staying this week with
Kevin and Laura McGuire. Ruth and I lived with the McGuires, and others
during the 1980s in a resistance community in Omaha called Greenfields,
which Kevin named after an anti-war song, The Greenfields of France.
Wednesday night I met with
the Kansas City Drinking Liberally group in downtown K.C. at Harlings
bar, and stayed with someone who writes greeting cards for Hallmark.
Then Thursday, it was on to the Mennonite community of Newton, where
I stayed with Don and Eleanor Kaufman. Don is from Ruth's hometown of
Freeman, South Dakota. Eleanor is on the board of A Thousand Villages
and Don is a tireless, lifelong peacemaker and war tax resister.
I spoke to a group of six
at Peace Connections on Main Street in Newton, then down the street
to Faith & Life bookstore where I sat through my first-ever book
signing, just me and the table. I did manage to sell one book.
In Lawrence I spoke at the
public library on Friday evening, then Saturday joined the weekly anti-war
vigil at the courthouse then across the street to the Solidarity bookstore
to introduce myself. Met some great people, notably Marvin, who has
just gone through prostate cancer surgery and still makes it to the
vigils and also works at the local soup kitchen.
It was very cool to have
Greg and Michelle Albrecht in Lawrence shooting a documentary of my
book tour. They also met me in Omaha the week before to film at the
Pottawattamie County Jail, the Douglas County Jail, St. Cecilia's Cathedral
and Offutt Air Force Base.
In Lawrence I stayed with
Char and Joe Grant. Joe's biography one of the amazing American resistance
stories waiting to be told. He has tales to tell of the Cuban revolution,
Leavenworth penitentiary and independent publishing. He once had his
paper in Cedar Rapids burned down because he was doing his job too well.
Nobody burned down Dan Rather's building. There would be no need.
In Kansas City, on Saturday
night, I spoke to four people at the Crossroads Infoshop on Troost Avenue.
Before the talk I drove around the neighborhood and looked at the murals
of Martin Luther King Jr. and sat in the parking lot at McDonald's,
catching up on my writing, and wondering why the blacks live here, looking
down those streets into those neighborhood and wondering what goes on
there, what stories are there that need to be told. And why is it that
black people live in neighborhoods like this. How did that happen and
why do we tolerate it? Jason Miller, the internet journalist, and Chuck
Monson, longtime radical writer and publisher, were there to hear me,
and I appreciated very much having them.
On the way out of Kansas
City that night the highway passed the downtown area and I could see
the big building and the lights out of the corner of my eye while I
clutched the paper with Chuck's directions in both hands on the steering
wheel. I remembered coming to Kansas City once in the '80s from Omaha
on a bus, walking the streets, "becoming a homeless person on purpose."
I took the bus back to Omaha later that night. I couldn't be a homeless
person. I had a place to go to. I couldn't go where I did not belong.
So many smart people I'm
meeting. It reminds me of my first experiences as a peacenik in Saint
Paul, Washington, New York, Omaha – everyone so smart. I shouldn't
be here. I hang around anyway.
I am way outside my comfort
zone as I drive around these cities and meet and speak to these people.
It's good for me, as my comfort zone is sitting on the sofa with a yellow
and red afghan pulled over my head.
I did a phone interview on
the way to Newton with a reporter from Sioux Falls who agreed with me
that Bush and Co. did 9-11 themselves. That night I was suffering from
iPod withdrawal as somehow I lost all 259 songs. I was going down the
road without Natalie Maines, John Prine, Guy Clark, Jerry Jeff Walker,
Jackson Browne. I turned on the radio and heard the usual clutter, turned
it off and enjoyed being away from America for a while.
When I drive I gawk. I'm
always looking for Bigfoot, not in the metaphorical sense of one of
my books, but it da flesh. I think I saw one once near Spearfish, South
Dakota in the early '80s and once on a rainy night on the interstate
in southern Minnesota in the early '90s.
I also like to look at old,
lonesome dirt roads that I pass. The ones that roll, wind, are rocky
or muddy or just go on forever to nowhere to everywhere. I like to imagine
the mystery of where those roads lead and the interesting people at
I remember when Ruth and
I moved to the Sandhills of Nebraska in 1990 so that I could work as
a reporter on the Ainsworth Star-Journal. I loved the idea that there
was so much land and so few people. I had just gone crazy, insane, clinically
depressed during six months in the Council Bluffs county jail for civil
disobedience at Offutt AFB and the farther away I was from people the
better. Then the first Gulf war came and I wrote in the newspaper that
I did not support the troops. We got threats, my column was cancelled.
I quit the paper and we found our own tiny paper to run in southeast
Being in Kansas made me recall
the night I arrived at Leavenworth Penitentiary on a prison bus. It
was a dark and stormy night all right. The lighting cracked and the
front steps looked like a thousand steps straight up to hell.
Later I would walk up those
steps as a reporter to interview Leonard Peltier and the steps did not
seem so steep.
Roads, streets, steps, to
nowhere, everywhere, dead ends, new beginnings.
I recommend it.
Next stops on The American
Dream Book Tour:
Monday, April 2, A Novel
Idea Bookstore, Lincoln, Nebraska, book signing, 1 pm.
Tuesday, April 3, Soul Desires Bookstore, Omaha, 6 pm.
Wednesday, April 4, The Reading Grounds, Omaha, 7 pm.
Thursday, April 5, Wayne State, College, Wayne, Nebr., 330 pm.
Friday, April 6, Zandbroz Variety Bookstore, Sioux Falls, S.D., 7 pm.
Palecek books available at:
cwgpress.com [The American
howlingdogpress.com [Looking For Bigfoot]
badgerbooks.com [Twin/Joe Coffee's Revolution]
mainstaypress.com [Terror Nation]
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