There is a revolution afoot, and I for one am super excited by all sides of the coin.
Politics aside, I am fully fascinated by how non-traditional, counterculture candidates on both ends of the spectrum are grabbing the spotlight and forwarding their rad(ical) agendas.
I mean, can you imagine a Republican presidential hopeful giving Fox News the virtual finger by refusing to appear on the Right’s de facto “news” channel?
And yet, that happened.
Or can you conceive of a world where an elderly white male is in a virtual tie with the first viable female candidate for president — and she’s the one who’s considered “the Establishment”? AND he’s a self-proclaimed socialist (well, democratic socialist) and that’s looking pretty damn viable as well?
Uh huh, that’s happening, too.
For the first time in a long time, I tuned in to watch the Iowa caucus results — and not just because the word “caucus” sounds dirty.
I am absolutely thrilled that such a large swath of this country is mad as hell and not going to take it anymore.
Rhetoric aside (because depending on your political inclinations, either side can sound batshit crazy to downright terrifying), I think it’s amazing that people are letting their individual freak-flags fly.
And I am fully digging the willingness to not only question authority, but also to drop trou and let the junk all hang out in a very public, very flagrant way.
If there were ever a time for a revolution, this is it.
Now I’m not saying you have to crank out a manifesto right now (although I did — for my bitches, of course), but I am saying you can pick at least ONE thing that you feel is unjust, and go fight the power.
I would never ask you to do something that I’m not willing to do myself, so here’s what I did:
My old pal Benjamin Franklin once said, “… in this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”
And although none of us can actually outsmart or outrun the Grim Reaper, there is actually something we can do about some taxes.
A couple of years ago when I was bitching to my BBF about how the Assessor’s office was trying to crank up my property taxes by a few grand a year when NOTHING had changed except the McMansion count in my ‘hood, she told me that I could protest the assessment.
This had never occurred to me — after all, I’d bought that line about death and taxes all these years. But sure enough, there was a form online that took about 15 minutes to fill out, and so it was a no-brainer.
Much to my astonishment and joy, it worked! I got an automatic, albeit temporary, reduction that meant my taxes stayed pretty much the same.
Cut to Year 2, the 2015 tax year, and the Assessor was back to re-jacking the assessed value of my home. Once again I quietly submitted my protest, and eagerly awaited my downward adjustment.
Instead I received a big, phat packet with a hearing date and a lot of convoluted instructions about what that meant.
At first I did what all novice revolutionaries do: I yelled, screamed, cried (just a little bit) and in general pitched a fit. This wasn’t supposed to take work; it was supposed to be easy!
About a month later, I decided that the only option I had would be to get organized and make my case. All it took was doing some research into comps, riding around to take a few pictures of like domiciles in my area, and make the decision to not be intimidated. (In other words, I stuck “lower my damn taxes” on my fuckit list.)
Still, steeling my nerve wasn’t as simple as I’d hoped, as the anecdotal stories of the men and women who had gone before me to try to protest their property taxes started to pile up, and none of the outcomes were good.
Then I read the fine print in the mound of paperwork and found something that said that at the hearing the Man (or Woman, as it were) could decide to actually raise my taxes instead of lower them should they feel my home deserves a higher valuation.
Scare tactics? Perhaps. But by the night before the hearing, all I could say was color me petrified. I ALMOST backed out, but then I realized that I had started this mini-revolution, and I was compelled to finish it, damnit!
That I chose to wear navy blue slacks, a white shirt, and a red jacket to the hearing was intentional, to project a certain all-American image. Little did anyone know that underneath that get-up I was sporting a pair of black skull and crossbones socks and Wonder Woman underpants.
The well-dressed revolutionary knows how to make a subversive statement is all I’m saying.
And while I pictured making my case in a nefarious, cold, uncaring institutional structure like something out of Pink Floyd’s The Wall, the truth was that the hearing was held in a multi-purpose room in the middle of a park, next to a petting zoo.
Still, there was a pair of noisy, angry geese whose taunts seared through my body as I stood in line, making me feel as if this was a last ditch attempt by the other side to unnerve me and make me turn back.
But hell no, I wouldn’t go!
The hearing itself took about five minutes after swearing in. The Man — a cute 20-something guy representing the Assessor’s office — first showed the overblown comps he was basing the assessment on to a neutral third party dude (whom I shall refer to as The Man, Part Deux), and then I presented my low-end comps with a lot of internal fist pumping and breast beating. (Outwardly, of course, I smiled and nodded a lot because in the end, I’m not a real estate assessor — I just play one on TV. BUT I also know that people like to go to where the love is, so I projected that out as well.)
In the end, The Man Part Deux split the difference and pulled the assessment down by exactly half.
This I counted as a win — one small step forward brought about by sheer will and a firm belief that authority must be questioned at all costs.
So if you hear me humming the Beatles and running victory laps around a petting zoo, just know that it might look and sound crazy on the outside, but in the end, all important changes start first from within.
¡Viva la Revolution!
Photo: Arkadiusz Sikorski