His hair is salt grey, his skin on the spectrum between raw steak and ripe plum. Tattoos of Japanese wraiths begin below the elbow and disappear under rolled up sleeves. In his denim shirt, jeans and battered Converse trainers, he looks like the last Ramone standing.
NASA should have sent up a poet or an artist, he reckons, to describe the view for all mankind. Because the question is always the same: “What did it feel like on the moon?” He doesn’t have an answer. “Magnificent desolation,” he called it, while he was there.
Some think the riots damaged the community. Others call it an uprising. “There’s power in non-violent protest,” said Shorty, “but you need to show that you’re capable of violence as well.”
“It is a place where you can be anything. It’s a place where you can say anything, write anything, paint anything.” But not for long.
A few days after the execution date was confirmed, I received a message: Swearingen wanted me to watch him die.
“The idea is immortal, it is without class and it doesn’t care anything about wealth,” he says. ” I could get my horn and play for you, and believe me, I would play something.”