Desert Autonomous Zone

In 15 square miles of abandoned land, about 400 misfits-aging hippies, disillusioned veterans, teenage runaways-have built a community where no one cares if you smoke pot, fire your rifle all day, let your kids drive your car, or walk around naked in the desert heat. It’s a landscape of beat-up old trailers, shacks jerry-rigged from recycled materials, solar panels, little farms, greenhouses, and at least one tipi. “Where I live is the last remaining land of America that is left,” says Dreadie Jeff, another Mesa resident. “You can do what you fucking want there.”

The local culture defies easy stereotypes. “Going into this community with this traditional mainstream liberal ideology,” Jeremy says, “we realized all our preconceived notions were bullshit. These people were extremely into their Second Amendment rights, and they were also into marijuana legalization. They don’t fit into these molds.” There’s a touch of madness to the place as well. Mama Phyllis, a Mesa woman who used to be a psychiatric nurse (“I couldn’t do that anymore,” she says, and leaves it at that), calls it “the largest outdoor insane asylum.” The governing philosophy is a mix of anarchism, patriotism, New Age stoner wisdom, and a militia-style distrust of the state. Early in the film Dreadie Jeff, a veteran of the first Gulf War, exclaims that his military oath was not “to defend this land, it’s not to defend the people, it’s not to defend the motherfucking asshole president of the United States. My military oath goes, ‘I solemnly swear to defend the Constitution of the United States of America from all enemies, foreign and domestic.'” The Constitution’s “biggest enemy,” he adds, is “this fucking government that is in place right now.”

Full Story: Reason Magazine.

1 Comment

  1. trying to find a spot on the site to submit these kinds of things, but I guess here will do. Sorry it’s not exactly a comment on the above entry.

    A new webzine has been publishing monthly issues of my friend Mark Teppo’s hypertext serial fiction called “The Oneiromantic Mosaic of Harry Potemkin”. The basic format is that each month a new entry in the protagonist’s dream journal is published. Within each dream are images and hyperlinks to correlating story elements: snippets of conversations, emails, background info, myths and legends. Reading the story is dreamlike and non-linear in itself. I find myself pushing my browser to the limit in opening tab after tab into the dozens. I’m thinking this story is right up your alley. It’s stuffed with mythological, alchemical, and hermetic references. “The Sixth Dream” is scheduled to be published a little late this month (June 8th), but there are 12 “dreams” to be published in total. December marks the end of the series. Anyway. Here’s the link: http://www.farragoswainscot.com/2007/potemkin.html

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