How They Got Alan Keyes to Dive Into Their Mosh Pit
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From: Peter Langston <psl>
Date: Fri, 28 Jan 100 19:47:05 -0800
Subject: How They Got Alan Keyes to Dive Into Their Mosh Pit
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January 28, 2000
How We Got Alan Keyes to Dive Into Our Mosh Pit
(and other scenes from our first week of shooting)
Yes, that mosh pit -- the one that has thrown a big, weird monkey wrench
into the first week of the 2000 Presidential campaign -- was ours.
And the marching band outside the execution of Billy Hughes in Texas on
Monday night, complete with cheerleaders chanting, "George [Bush], George,
he's our man! If he can't kill 'em, no one can!" -- that was ours, too.
And, yes, that was us with Rage Against the Machine on Wednesday as we
forced the New York Stock Exchange to hit the panic button and slam down
the steel gates over their doors, sealing off the entire building an hour
before closing time, and resulting in my near-arrest by the men who wear
the Giuliani blue.
All this, and we are only four days into shooting our next season of "The
Awful Truth." If this is what a typical week is going to be like for us
this time around, then I guess the line item in our budget for "lawyers
and bail money" is grossly underestimated.
We usually don't like to discuss what we're up to before we air our work
on Bravo and Channel 4 U.K., but the Iowa Mosh Pit has become such a huge
item in the news that I thought you might want to know just what the heck
is going on.
It was bizarre watching the Republican Presidential debate Wednesday night,
with Bush and Bauer and Keyes all going nuts over what we did Sunday night
at the Iowa Caucuses. New York Times columnist Gail Collins called it "the
defining moment" of the campaign so far (to read her column in the Times
Jay Leno devoted a chunk of his monologue to it Thursday night. BBC Radio
woke me up this morning wanting an explanation.
Here's what happened:
As part of what will be our ongoing "coverage" of this year's Presidential
election, we decided to go to Iowa to see how far these candidates will go
to get an endorsement. We know they will take money from just about anyone
and promise favors and legislation to the highest bidders. With that as
our system of "democracy," it leaves us, the people, with few avenues to
have our voice heard.
So, we announced to all the contenders for the White House that "The Awful
Truth" will endorse any candidate who jumps into our mosh pit. Simple as
that. No large sums of dirty money, no favors or back-room deal making.
Just dive into the outstretched arms of 100 degenerate -- but registered
-- youth, and you are our candidate.
I hauled this mosh pit around Iowa in a large flatbed truck, crisscrossing
the state and inviting the Presidential candidates to join the teeming and
tattooed masses. The response from the candidates varied from a stunned
and frightened Steve Forbes (who quickly walked by the pit giving it a
nervous thumb up), to front-runner George W. Bush (who told me, "behave
yourself, Michael -- I see you're up to your old tricks -- why don't you
go get a real job?")
Gary Bauer, on the other hand, called the Des Moines police -- who sent
five cruisers and a paddy wagon to arrest the pit. The police, though,
could not contain their laughter when they arrived and saw the group of
purple-haired, pierce-lipped, 18-year olds jumping wildly in place to the
music of Rage Against the Machine.
Next, we drove over to a town hall event being staged by former Reagan
ambassador, Alan Keyes. As the mosh pit rolled into the parking lot, with
Rage music blaring ("It has to start somewhere/ It has to start sometime/
What better place than here/ What better time than now..."), Keyes staffers
came outside to see what all the noise was about. When informed that Keyes
could get the endorsement of "The Awful Truth," Keyes' national field
director dove into the pit, hoping that would suffice for our support. He
then brought out "Uncle Sam," a Keyes supporter who was dressed in full
Uncle Sam regalia. He, too, jumped in.
But we told the Keyes staff that it had to be Keyes himself. Minutes later,
Alan Keyes emerged and, against the loud protests of his Secret Service
agent, Keyes climbed to the top of the makeshift stage on the back of the
truck and dove backwards into the screaming mosh pit. He then body-surfed
the entire pit, carried like a wave on the outstretched hands of the tightly
compact crowd. He did a couple of body slams with a spiked-hair youth from
Ames High School and left the pit with the official endorsement of the
"We knew Alan Keyes was insane," I told the press who were trying to
understand the irony or the point. "We just didn't know HOW insane he was
until that moment. We now feel a responsibility to test the remaining field
On Wednesday night, the five remaining Republican candidates held their
big New Hampshire debate. And what did they spend their time fighting about?
"The Awful Truth Mosh Pit!" The Reuters news agency called it "surreal,"
and Gary Bauer went into nutty overdrive accusing Keyes of being
"anti-family" because he was moshing to the music of "The Machine Rages
On" (!), calling the group "pro-terrorist" and saying that's what the "kids
at Columbine" listened to.
For the past three days, our phone has been ringing off the hook. Hundreds
of papers around the country have covered the story. The pundits on all
the blowhard cable shows can't shut up about it. And for some reason, for
at least the better part of one week, we have been able to get the
Republicans to stop talking about who will be best at taking away women's
rights or building more prisons and forced them to occupy their time arguing
about the moral merits of the Mosh Pit.
As we head into the weekend, we are loading up the flatbed truck and driving
off to New Hampshire with our portable mosh pit. We will personally attempt
to greet John McCain -- if he was tough enough for the Hanoi Hilton, this
will be like Motel 6; Al Gore -- the mosh pit is perhaps the only place
where being stiff is an asset; and Bill Bradley -- we are convinced this
will be his only chance to stage a comeback (plus, he's the only candidate
big enough to kick every one of these kids' butts).
Keyes had been written off in Iowa before he jumped into our pit. The day
after moshing, he scored an upset third-place finish in the double digits
among those who actually cared about caucusing (90 percent of all Iowans
knew better and chose not to vote). These other candidates would be crazy
if they DIDN'T jump into the pit!
"The Awful Truth" is willing to multiple-endorse, just like the big money
people do when they write big checks to both the Democrats and Republicans.
To be known as the only group to have endorsed Alan Keyes is something we
may just never be able to live with, and we are hoping to rectify that in
This past Monday night, we attended the execution of death row inmate,
Billy Hughes, in Huntsville, Texas. George W. Bush is now responsible for
approving and carrying out the killing of 117 people, a record. We decided
to show up and celebrate his achievement. We brought a marching band,
cheerleaders and fans to hold a tailgate party in the prison's parking lot.
How did the pro-death penalty crowd react? Well, they're threatening a
lawsuit, so we'll do our best to get it on the air in May.
A few weeks ago, I was asked by Rage Against the Machine to direct their
next music video, something I've never done. Their song is about the evils
of our economic system and the era of greed in which we live. So, like, I
had a few ideas...
On Wednesday we quickly set the band up on the steps where George Washington
was first sworn in as President, on the corner of Wall and Broad Streets
in lower Manhattan. Quite a large crowd came out of the brokerage houses
and banks where the business of America is conducted on a daily basis.
The police also came out. They ordered the makeshift concert to cease, but
before we had a chance to stop, four officers jumped me and put me in one
of those police locks like you see on that excellent and informative show,
"COPS." One tried to break my arm, the other put a choke hold on my neck.
In all my years of shooting in New York, I have never had this happen, and
all I could think of was, well, I just hope it's a new plunger.
When the band and the crowd saw this, they went nuts. Hundreds of them
jumped two police barricades and tore across the street to the front door
of the New York Stock Exchange, ground zero of American Capitalism. It
was a sight to behold. The police were so distracted with carting me away
they couldn't catch up to the band -- who, by this time, had made it inside
the first set of double doors to the Exchange.
At that moment, someone must have hit the riot button inside the Stock
Exchange because suddenly these large steel gates came crashing down in
front of the second set of double doors. Then all the gates of the Exchange
came down. Clank! Clank! Clank! For the first time anyone could recall,
the New York Stock Exchange went into lockdown -- a full hour before its
official closing time. The police left me and rushed over to break up the
madness. But the band and their fans are faster than I was and escaped the
clutches of the police.
You can catch the video on MTV in mid-February and me in court by late
Well, that's my first week back at work. If you'd like to see footage of
Alan Keyes in our mosh pit -- or me body slamming Senator Orin Hatch --
Or check out the Rage scene on Wall Street.
I'll be back reporting live and moshing from New Hampshire on "Politically
Incorrect", Tuesday night, February 1, on ABC.
© 2000 Peter Langston