With all of you going to the polls tomorrow (because you are going to the polls tomorrow right? You’re not one of those lame-ass non-voters who whine about how crappy City Hall is and then does nothing about it, are you? Because those people are THE WORST), I thought I’d chat with one of the more interesting dark horse candidates in this election. NA Poe is a marijuana activist and comedian who has decided to run for city council as a libertarian. He first gained attention when his peaceful marijuana protest at Independence Hall was met with heavy-handed resistance from federal officers. Here he talks about marijuana, holding the PPA accountable, and whether or not he’s taking this election seriously.
JGT: WHY IN THE HELL ARE YOU RUNNING FOR CITY COUNCIL?
POE: I’m running because I’m pissed off and fed up. I think everyone is. I am also running for City Council so that the people of Philadelphia have one of their own in the halls of power. I’m just a dude that has had it with the system. All the crony politics, back door dealings and self serving government. We’ve been abandoned. The schools are closing and our city government is building a fuckin ice skating rink outside City Hall. They are out of touch. It’s time for a change. I vow to represent all Philadelphians and their concerns. Also, I need a full time job and it seems like an easy gig that pays well.
JGT: YOU HAVE VOWED TO ABOLISH THE PPA. IS THAT SOMETHING THAT IS ACTUALLY POSSIBLE, OR IS THAT JUST A PIE-IN-THE-SKY CAMPAIGN PROMISE?
POE: The line “Abolish the PPA” is really for effect, in that I cannot personally vote for that as a councilman. Although it would be great, wouldn’t it? We need an income generator to fund schools. The PPA is an income generator to fund the PPA salaries and pay for vehicles, buildings, and equipment, and is then sent off to the Commonwealth for pet projects of the Governor’s friends, and trickles back to the general fund with scraps going to schools after the machine has its fill. Council just raised parking rates a dollar, yet this year they will give $ 4 million dollars less than last year to the schools. So no matter what, I will speak out, lobby, fundraise, and campaign to end the predatory relationship between Philly’s parking enforcers and Philadelphians. We definitely need the Parking Authority’s money for schools, I would also accept them immediately agreeing to provide it. In all seriousness though, fuck the PPA. They’re assholes that prey on all of us.
JGT: YOU ARE PROBABLY BEST KNOWN FOR YOUR PRO-MARIJUANA ACTIVISM. TELL US WHY YOU ARE SO PASSIONATE ABOUT THIS TOPIC.
POE: Marijuana has always helped me creatively and I’ve always seen it as a great alternative to booze. When I first smoked weed my mind and consciousness was opened up in so many ways. I never dreamed I would end of fighting for it or become some kind of d-list folk hero because of it. At Occupy Philly I met some amazing marijuana activists and started Smoke Down Prohibition which really propelled the fight to legalize in PA. Pot is a great gateway to activism. It’s fun, it’s logical and a great way to comedically approach change. I’ve also met so many folks that need weed as a medicine and was inspired to fight for them. The times are changing and people need to realize that weed can fuel an economy for chrissakes. Look at what’s happening in Colorado. I can’t smoke weed because of probation and I miss it so much. Weed has become my long lost lover . I sit alone in the dark, listening to our favorite reggae songs, waiting for her to come back to me.
JGT: HOW MUCH OF THIS CAMPAIGN IS PERFORMANCE ART, AND HOW MUCH OF THIS IS BORN OF ACTUAL CONCERN FOR THE FUTURE OF OUR CITY?
POE: I’m flattered that you would think this is performance art, because I’ve been busting my ass on this campaign, but I’m no fuckin Andy Kaufman. Am I a comedian? Yes. I’m also an accomplished activist and a concerned citizen that has been affected by the War on Drugs and the people in power. This is a natural evolution of my career and work. I’ve organized outside the system for years. This is an experiment to see if social media, video production and internet promotion can get someone elected. I’ve used none of the traditional routes as far as campaigning.
I’m very serious about this campaign. now lets see if Philadelphia is serious about change. I’ve lived here my whole life and I think its time that our generation has a voice. Am I the best person to do that? Who knows. At the very least, I’m the only guy in this election that would be a breath of fresh air.
JGT: IF ELECTED, WHAT WILL BE YOUR FIRST ACT AS COUNCILMAN?
POE: I would buy a bunch of purple suits, hire a staff composed of the best activists in Philadelphia and spend the next year and a half driving the scumbags that run this city insane. I would immediately propose a bill to make all the cops wear cameras and I would immediately focus on marijuana decriminalization. They would probably try to assassinate me within the first six months.