“It has always felt like me and my friends making things,” he says. “Play doesn’t mean it’s always fun and frivolous. You can play with the deepest ideas. Play can be melancholy and surreal and dig into deeper things, as long as you’re coming at it with a sense of exploration.”
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.
Ashrita Furman was juggling hand axes in his back yard when I arrived. The hatchets were sharp, and weighed more than two kilos each, as Guinness regulations require.
A few days after the execution date was confirmed, I received a message: Swearingen wanted me to watch him die.