Seth Price - An Excerpt From "How to Disappear in America" - The Leopard Press <|>
As if with a twist of the kaleidoscope all would become clear, splinters join, new scapes hove into view.
I’m like a person who makes things. You do it one after another, unending. It goes on for such a long time: something new, and something else, and something something. Here come a lot of different varieties of strategies and arrangements, all interesting, all interlocking, mutatis mutandis. Such a lot of things!
After a while, there arises a question similar to this one: might it be possible that a person of, say, forty has seen just about all that has been and will be? Well, catch yourself. That would be an argument against progress. Let’s skip that argument. This is where we are! The bottom line is in fact use. You’re a person who uses things. Use demonstrates an attitude, and attitude is all. Period. ‘Nuff said.
At some point in the past, all production was for use, rather than for gain (unless use is a kind of gain). But even if we acknowledge that use was the foundation of Christian morality, justice and conventional social mores have since given rise to principles so general and agreeable as to be acceptable to everyone. In other words, whatever concepts you signal through your making of things, you end up sanctifying the current state of affairs. Anyone who gazes upon your products might well wonder: “Must I consult some picture or trinket to learn that power corrupts, desires are commodified, control is paramount, subjectivity is administered?”
Try to imagine so, for the sake of fiction. And ask yourself: for this sort of idea, would you discard all your friends, your family, your way of life? As in, put paid to some cumbersome item of crap. Some things that might have been dogging you lately. Nothing too heavy, at least not psychically. Your car, for instance. A good one to start on. Total destruction of automobiles can be accomplished easily enough, just by adding long-grain rice to the car’s radiator fluid. If you’ve been a housewife for decades, you may not know that much about cars, so here’s what you look for:
* Pop the hood of the car. There will be a lever somewhere above the feet of the driver’s side of the car or, in older models, a lever is provided under the leading edge of the hood. Some hoods will stay open on their own whereas others have a rod mounted in the engine compartment that’s used to hold the hood up. This lever may well be inscribed with words to the effect of: “Hood release.”
* Remove the radiator filler cap if the engine is cold. (Opening the cap with the engine hot can get you badly burned. The fluid can start to boil once the pressure is relieved and spray all over you. The fluid will be quite painful resulting in first and second-degree burns. It’s not likely to be disfiguring but if you accidentally burn yourself, you can very well go ahead with your plan to escape however your mind might be focused entirely upon the pain and not upon escape. With the engine cold you don’t have to worryabout getting burned.)
The cap can be found easily enough. Look for a cap with a small lever on it. Some radiator caps don’t have levers, I’ll add, but they’ll be a standard size and shape. The cap will be mounted either in the center of the radiator or, usually, to the right. There will often be a notice on it saying something like “Pressure Test to 13-18 Pounds” -- at least in the United States they do. The cap is removed by lifting up the small lever on the top of the cap and turning counterclockwise. If there’s no lever, press down and turn counterclockwise. It often only takes about a half turn before you can pull up the cap and remove it.
* Add as much long-grain rice as possible. The insides of the radiator will greatly affect the amount of rice you can add. If it looks like you must, poor in some rice and use your fingers to move the rice around inside the radiator. Then add more. Try to add as much rice as possible since what you’re aiming for is a horribly clogged radiator and badly damaged engine. As you’re adding rice, fluid will slop out. Don’t worry about all that for now.
* Replace the cap. You’ll have to lift the small lever on the cap (if there is one) then set the cap in place, turn clockwise until it stops turning, and then release the cap’s lever, pushing it down if it doesn’t automatically go down.
Close the hood.
* Depending upon the amount of rice you added and the fluid level of the radiator before you began, you may have a pool of radiator fluid on the ground which, since it’s usually a bright green, can be seen. Someone could see that pool, pop the hood, notice spilled grains of rice, and know that they’ve been “processed.” They’re not likely to run the engine with rice in the radiator -- something you want them to do so that they’ll destroy their engine by warping the head. So get a hose and wash the evidence away before any opposition can see it.
* Add dirt and sand to the engine’s crankcase. Open the hood and find the cap which covers the oil filler tube and remove the cap. (The location of the oil cap is far too different on cars to describe where to locate it.) You may find a notice which indicates the oil filler cap. Such a notice might say something like “Use only SAE 30” or “Use only SAE 10-40.” Add as much sand and gravel as possible. This will rest in the valve cover until the engine is started. As the engine is run, some parts of it will not get oil – oil which is used for both lubrication as well as cooling. Worse still: ground-down particulates will work its way around the entire engine eventually ruining it until it just stops.
* The traditional way to destroy a car quickly has become somewhat difficult now that most cars have locking gas caps. Still, if you have access to the car’s keys, get yourself a funnel and add a pound of sugar to the car’s gas tank. The sugar will disperse in solution and caramelize in the guts of the engine when it’s burned with the air/fuel mixture. That’ll kill the car for sure and will do the job quickly. Note that adding too much sugar could simply clog the fuel outlet line which, while it damages the car and requires extensive repair to clear, won’t kill the car out totally -- that’s your objective, remember, since you’re working to limit the resources of your opposition.
NOTE added July, 2005: Sugar in the gasoline tank does not work well and it’s something of an urban legend. The suggestion is covered in a number of classic books such as Edward Abbey’s “The Monkeywrench Gang” however actual experimentation proves that sugar added to a gas tank doesn’t do enough damage.
It has been suggested that other substances added to a gas tank might cause serious damage, such as pancake syrup and other sweateners however there is no good scientific data available anywhere that I’m aware of that provides any evidence that such substances work.
In the end, perhaps the best way to destroy a vehicle that might be used to come after you is to drape a blanket over the vehicle, dump a gallon of gasoline on it, and throw on a burning object from a relatively safe distance.
Alternatively experimentation with putting clothes soaked in gasoline in a pile under vehicles and then setting the clothes on fire has met with success in the United States so that’s an option. There’s that. It exists for you.
But take care: Gasoline don’t burn; the fumes mixed with oxygen in the air is what burns. After gasoline soaked cloth is set in a location, fumes will build and if you strike a match anywhere within the volume of asperated fuel, it will go BANG! And you don’t want to be inside that volume when it ignites. Also take care: Arson should be a last resort because it’s considered to be a violent and dangerous crime. Ask yourself whether your life is in danger or whether your child’s life is in danger and whether burning the vehicle is what’s absolutely required to safeguard your life or the life of your children. If the answer is No, just don’t do it.
* Then destroy all photographs you have access to. This includes family volumes of photographs that family members have. Your family members may or may not be supportive and hand over (to the opposition) all of their photographs of you depending upon your situation. Your family could be forced to support your opposition through threat of law or through physical violence. If you destroy all photographs of you, they can’t be shown around gas stations and quick food stops.
If at all possible, your opposition should be reduced to passing out artist renditions of you. Even if you have police mug shots on file or have a drivers license photograph on file, it’s still a good idea to limit the availability of photographs. Make the opposition use old photographs rather than up-to-date photographs if you can.
Another thing:
* If you are employed, make arrangements in advance. First off, stop looking at this stuff at work. Network administrators have on going logs for where their users visit when they are supposed to be working. Go to a public library, or if you have a laptop, do it from a wifi location. Don’t do it at home, because it is information that can be used against you. Don’t do it at work. Do it from a public place.
* Begin to express your dislike for your employment, and if possible, have the quiet conversation with your boss about being a part of the next layoff. It comes with a severance check. In some cases, you can prearrange to have your 401k liquidated, giving you additional funds. If you don’t have a job to disappear from, there are fewer leads for your pursuers.
* Carry as little cash as possible, but find safe places to hide cash. Scatter it around so that in the even one cash cache cash is found, you have others.
* Change hair color and cut as soon as possible. If you are a man, grow or shave your mustache as soon as possible. Mustaches are readily spotted, but beards, not so much.
* If you are going to squat, get a Boy Scout Handbook. The information contained is invaluable, including simple first aid and how to get spotted when you need to be. Also how to build a shelter, and how to survive in the wilderness.
* If you are going to squat in the desert, the landscape is food and water. Learn what plants are edible. Realize that they will be a shock to your system and expect what is to be expected from a radical dietary shift.
* Properly skinning your poached meat will protect it from flies. Learn how to properly skin animals. Properly tanning the hide of your poach will give you clothing and additional shelter. Learn how. Properly “jerking” your poach will prevent it from spoiling giving you food sources for a long time.
* The US National Park Service has scores of backcountry hiking areas. Take your survival skills on a “test run”. When you are ready to “drop off the grid”, you will know what to expect.
* Drop your car off at a border crossing. Preferably on the other side of the border. The additional headache of working with international agencies causes your pursuers to waste additional time negotiating jurisdiction. And the Mexican side of the border is where you want your center of operations to be. Traipsying back across the border during normal “rush” is an easy way to blend.
Consider using cameras at transportation facilities to your advantage. Buy your $500 beater and park it the day before. Drive your own car to the airport, bus station, trainstation, etc. Go into restroom and change your clothes, cutting and destroying as previously mentioned.
If you can’t cut your hair, at least shave and acquire a new wig. You should have also destroyed your bag that you carried in. Go out the door and get into your beater car and drive away. Dump that car as quickly as possible and acquire a 3rd. Sell it to a car lot and it, in effect, disappears.
* Put paper napkins around any glass, can or bottle that you drink from. Open push doors with the back of your hand. Wipe the counter tops of restrooms with a clean paper towel before you walk out and toss the papertowel into another trash can. Get in these habits before you leave.
* Wear a hat... everywhere. Ha ha ha. Yes indeed. Hat’s hide the face from cameras. Most cameras are higher than your head. Spend a lot of time looking at the counter. Or your shoes.
* Find nomadic jobs. They don’t have insurance, but the people are communal and will help when they can. Rennaissance faires, traveling Carnivals, Migrant farm workers are all nomadic.
Also look for natural disasters. There is a lot of work to be done, and there is also meals and shelter. I am not saying that you should defraud the government and take relief funds, but if you were a dishonest sort, you may be able to.
* Many small towns don’t have daylabor programs, but if you are reasonably well groomed, you can get day labor by knocking on doors and asking the people of the house if they have some outside chores you can do in exchange for lunch. If they are friendly sorts, you may be able to work for them a couple of days, but don’t press your luck. If there isn’t, move on quickly.
* Like others said, shed the baggage. No one wants…