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Mother, Should I Run For President?

The year was 1965, and five art school pals, led by one Roger "Syd" Barrett, banded together to pursue their shared passion. They would meet after school, on weekends, even during breaks between classes to talk and practice their skills. They would trade tips, exchange stories, and before long, they had formed their own group. It was only a matter of time before they hit it big. Really big. Like, city councilman big.


For, you see, this is not our world, this is another dimension: a dimension not only of fancy lights and psychedelic sound, but of mind. You're moving through the narrow way into a land of both POW R and TOC H, of apples and oranges. You've just crossed over into the...LET THERE BE MORE TWILIGHT ZONE.

Barrett's political ideas were like nothing anyone had ever heard. He was known for taking the podium and pontificating on the state of modern life and the role of the government, sometimes for hours. "'E made it look effortless, 'e did," says early campaign volunteer Alan Stiles. "He could get up there and just go on, stream of consciousness-like, but make it all seem connected.

"Of course, it didn't hurt that most of us were foggin' stoned out of our tiny little, um... whatsits."

Fortunately for Syd, he had an excellent set of consultants from the start. Robert Close, later discovered to be infamous fugitive Bob Klose (who would have guessed?), was an early deputy, but had to exit the campaign after scandalously being caught in bed with a woman who he was not unmarried to. This moved assistant speech writer Roger Waters into the role of Syd's right-hand man, with Richard "Not Roger" Wright as director of campaign finances, and Nicholas "Also Not Roger, Unless You're Cute" Mason in charge of transportation and "crowd control" (the group's nickname for "rounding up the hot birds for afters"). Unfortunately, they lingered in obscurity for quite some time because of their inability to settle on a name for their movement.

The first name bandied about at early rallies was, simply, The Movement, though this was quickly abandoned for its scatological implications. The Movement became The Sigma Sex Party (changed because they kept attracting unsavory old men in raincoats), then The Meggadeaths Movement (changed after a lawsuit by Mr. Arthur Megga, whom had run over Syd's cat), The Pro-Massive-Quantities-of-LSD Party, The Raging Lesbians, The Alliance, The Other Alliance, The Beatles, The Party for the Abolishment of Paul McCartney's Lawyers (Who All Have Tiny Pricks), The Lavender Lloyd Assembly, Syd and Some Other Guys Who Aren't Important, The Why-Don't-You-Go-Fuck-Yourself-Syd Party, The You'll-Shut-Up-And-Like-It-So-Long-As-I-Have-Those-Negatives League, The Rampant In-Fighting Squad, The Clive Metcalf (And No One Named Syd) Party, The Tea Set, The Movement (Again), The Hey-Rick-Don't-Bogart-That-Man Party, before finally settling on The Pinko Floyd Party. Syd is generally credited with coming up with a name that stuck, though Roger later claimed that it was inspired by his concept, plus a pair of balls.

Most astonishingly, though the Pinkos were attracting as many as a thousand people to their assemblies, many of them staying for up to five minutes, they had yet to establish a platform of any sort. Most assumed that it centered on not only legalizing hallucinogens, but making them mandatory for anyone above the age of five. This was, actually, not the case. Syd had only proposed that LSD tabs be made available in grade schools to assist with finger-painting. Beyond that, he merely supported pumping it in massive quantities into the reservoir that served his house, for convenience's sake.

Typical of the age, Syd preached a system of peace, love, and gratuitous sex, mainly with him. However, in quite shocking opposition to the hippie movement, he proposed imposing shockingly stiff penalties on cross-dressers. Many biographers have theorized that this was in direct response to his mother's delicates being stolen by a young man who broke into Syd's mum's house while only Rick was in attendance. The man, claimed Rick, burst in without breaking the doors, or indeed doing any visible damage at all, ran upstairs and, before Rick could detain him, "stole all her lovely, lovely underthings." Rick claimed to have recognized the man, who he said was an old friend of his named Arnold, who was from Canada, and you wouldn't know him.

It was this mix of conservative, anti-crime positioning and popularity with the hippies that allowed Syd to win his first election, to the Edinburgh PTA, in spite of the fact that he neither had children nor lived in Edinburgh. It was here that he instituted several groundbreaking programs, including one aimed at improving nutrition in school lunches, primarily by providing apples and oranges rejected by local supermarkets as unsatisfactory. Another controversial program installed scarecrows in all classrooms for no discernible reason.

While there, Syd and his compatriots in the Pinko Party set their sights on much higher stations, namely the Edinburgh City Council, and to that end they set to work composing a master strategy that included plans for a new psychedelic planetarium, tax subsidies for Siamese cats, a controversial scheme to provide firefighters with PCP, and new legal protections for gnomes. According to pundits at the time, Syd was running on the Out of His Fucking Gourd Ticket.

They couldn't have been more right. The neverending days of studying tax codes and the nights of orgies with political groupies were taking their toll. He was starting to show up at gatherings and standing at the podium for hours at a time, saying nothing. Strangely, however, audiences failed to notice this, as it wasn't far removed from standard politician behavior. He still won the city councilor position by a landslide, which was particularly ironic given that all his opponents died tragically after exessive rains caused tons of mud to crush the hall where the candidates' debate (which Syd had skipped, citing "the clap") was being held.

Behind the scenes, it was impossible for the Pinko Floyd insiders to miss Syd's degeneration. He was beginning to propose more and more radical legislation, including eliminating all taxes, except for those on his elderly neighbor, Randall Walsh, who would be taxed at a rate of 11,028,700%. He insisted that badgers be given the right to vote, and proposed a 40-minute workweek. He fired Nick, but didn't tell him for three weeks, by which point he had rehired him again. It was getting to be too much for his fellow politicos.

The worst came on the popular governmental affairs TV show, Tops of the Pols, where Syd simply stood and stared at the host, leaving Roger Waters to leap in and talk at length about Syd's biggest referendums.

In a desperate attempt to hold the party together, they brought in wunderkind political consultant and former underwear model David Gilmour (at Rick's recommendation). Gilmour's job would be to stand behind Syd and move his mouth while miming some of Syd's most famous speeches into a microphone hidden behind his back. "This was, as you can imagine, quite difficult," Gilmour recounted later. "I mean, sometimes he would bite my fingers. Thank you very much indeed."

Clearly, something had to be done. Rick volunteered to steal all of Syd's mum's panties, but no one thought this would fix matters. Finally, Roger volunteered to take a hit out on Syd, and he elected Nick to be the triggerman. Then, said Roger, they could finger Nick, and call it all a lovers' quarrel gone horribly, horribly awry. Nick didn't care much for this idea, but he was outvoted 2-1, with Rick abstaining (insisting that the undergarments thing was the way to go).

Luckily for Syd, Nick was unable to secure a weapon of any sort, owing to a previous conviction of Being a Damned Dirty Hippie in the Queen's Presence, and Roger resigned to simply not picking Syd up for a rally, and having Dave fill-in in full view this time. When the audience failed to notice any difference, the Pinko Floyd Party moved into a new era.

Perhaps out of guilt, his former Pinko mates assisted Syd with two further solo campaigns, running on the Have You Got It Yet ticket, none of which garnered as much attention his previous attempts. The first found Syd running for County Ichthyologist, a position that, much to their chagrin, turned out was appointed, not elected. The second attempt, this time for City Pachyderm, was won easily, but proved to be merely an honorary title with no actual responsibility. One further campaign was planned for Gigolo Oversight Magistrate, but was scuttled when it was discovered that no such position had existed for more than a century.

Which was probably for the best. In his debilitated state, Syd could no longer tell the difference between a referendum and a primary. In the coming years, the Pinko Floyd Party faltered for a time following Syd's exit, endorsing (among other things) the death penalty by hatchet for poorly -rated radio show hosts and the total annihilation of the human race via rockets aimed at the sun, before achieving massive successes in the Parliament with their farming and security legislation.

Syd, for his part, moved back to Cambridge to live with his mother, and never ran for political office again... in the LET THERE BE MORE TWILIGHT ZONE. (doo dee doo doo, doo dee doo doo...)

Patrick Keller is a staff writer for Spare Bricks.