I Fought the Law

by Bruce Craven

I didn’t strike the law, didn’t brawl, but fall, 1980, I did rebel: “No Nukes!” The right kind of coup d’état!
Summer ‘81, I’d break rocks in the hot sun, dig ditches; choose pay-days as my right kind of coup d’état.

After that freshman year, my political rage would fade. I played Ultimate, smoked weed, eyed love,
but at Lawrence-Livermore Labs in 1980, I grabbed at a chance to fight in the right kind of coup d’état.

Reagan was President! I worked at the Resource Center for Non-Violence & studied Peace. Our Leader:
No non-violence training, no arrest allowed!” No chance to fight today in this right kind of coup d’état?

“What, I need a class to get arrested?!” Hearts & minds locked, we stood. Cops batons hit twined hands.
The certified, relaxed to the cement, trained to give peace to authority: MLK’s right kind of coup d’état.

No stroke of the state, no violent regime change, just voices & the snap of batons to sever the blockade.
At the science/weapons lab, neither side hurled invectives; process ruled this right kind of coup d’état.

The promise of a peaceful resistance held, but my Mahatma Gandhi moment passed. The putsch
was theater with rules. I understood, wasn’t certified to go limp that day for a right kind of coup d’état.

“But I can do it!” I’ve gone to jail; not robbing with a six-gun, but caught with hash in a VW Rabbit,
Aerosmith too loud for a suburban, summer night: felony. Oh, give me this right kind of coup d’état!

Give me the chance to get arrested for a good, not a stupid reason. “Take the formal training.”
Our leader wanted discipline. “Non-violence is not a game. Do it right for this right kind of coup d’état.”

The Clash belted out: “Guess my race is run…she’s the best girl that I ever had!” on vinyl, cheap speakers
in my dorm that day. I bailed on peace, chose freedom, punk & poetry for my right kind of coup d’état.

I had to lose the skin I was imprisoned in. So, I hosed vomit off Boardwalk coaster rides, dishwashed,
worked Schezwan, drove liquor to house-bound geriatrics. My white riot, my right kind of coup d’état,

meant stay free, ignore their clampdown – read, study, party. Craven cranked The Clash’s Sandinista!
Jump-cut: 1-31-20. Bruce, 59, glares at his screen: POTUS, grins, celebrates his right kind of coup d’état.

Bruce Craven is a member of the Columbia Business School Executive Education faculty in New York City. In addition to directing and teaching in a variety of executive programs, he teaches graduate business students his popular elective Leadership Through Fiction.  His book Win or Die: Leadership Secrets from Game of Thrones, was published in March 2019 by St. Martin’s Press of Macmillan Publishing.  The book is currently being translated into Russian, Serbian, and Turkish. He wrote the novel Fast Sofa (1993) which was published in Japanese and German. He also co-wrote the script for the film adaptation, starring Jennifer Tilly, Jake Busey, and Crispin Glover. His collection of poetry, Buena Suerte in Red Glitter, was published in 2019 by Red Dirt Press in Oklahoma. He lives with his wife and two sons in Desert Hot Springs, California.

Related Posts: “Hand-Made” and “Paul English – Leadership Lesson #1” by Bruce Craven