One of my favorite slogans of the 1960s Yippies is, “We are not Marxists. We’re Groucho Marxists.”
Groucho Marxists used comedy and outlandishness as a political tool. They believed revolution should be a party, a circus, a festival of irony and absurdity that raised political awareness and paved the way for real change.
In 1968, long before any of the blather about a “Pigs in Lipstick,” for example, they ran a pig – Pigasus The Immortal – as a presidential candidate.
During the Vietnam War, they organized a demonstration with over 50,000 non-violent protestors who hoped to end the war by using their collective psychic powers to levitate the Pentagon and turn it orange. Cool. The media attention they gained helped to swell the ranks of the anti-war movement.
I mention this because every night I go to bed and try to use my individual psychic power to levitate the Pentagon and send it spiraling out of our galaxy. Someday it will work and you will thank me.
I mention it because I have been thinking about how the methods of enacting change have evolved, and how there are those who often, very quietly and beneath the radar, work to make things a bit better. They are perhaps not as theatrical as the Yippies, but many of them are equally as bold and dedicated. Many of them are working here in Guatemala, privately or in NGOs.
I also mention it because my brain, during this time of year, is one giant egg-nog soaked non-sequitur and I needed a tenuous hook for the next sentence, which is: I have violated a central tenet of Groucho Marxism. I Now Belong to A Club That Would Have Me For A Member.
Even worse, I did not just join a club, I (and Café No Sé) joined an association along with Mono Loco, Reilly’s, La Sala, Bistro 5, Nokiate, Fridas, Sin Ventura, La Casbah, Gaia and Café 2000.
The association, ASADE, is a collective or restaurants, bars and entertainment venues that have joined together to try and give back to the community.
To that end, ASADE recently donated Q18,000 to the NGO, Niños de Guatemala which is opening a school in Ciudad Vieja this month. That donation was generously matched by Rotary International bringing the total to Q36,000. The money, which will be used to help furnish the school, was presented in November during a tribute concert for the late Garifuna star and social activist, Andy Palacio. The Niños de Guatemala school, when it opens, will enroll 70 students, with the goal of having 200 students by the beginning of 2013.
ASADE has also begun an environmental initiative to coordinate recycling programs amongst its members.
I think Groucho, quite the radical himself, would applaud ASADE. Happy New Year, and Niños de Guatemala, felicidades!