In the sweltering heat of Kansas summers and the piercing prairie winds of winter, Creamer and Trower stand on the corner like gargoyles for hemp. They come equipped with a radio, bottles of frozen water, a staff with raw hemp hanging like a scalp from the pole of a warrior, and their "hemp bucks," with President Clinton's portrait on strips of faux currency marked "Legally Tender Public lssue."
Every Saturday night and Sunday afternoon they prop open their placards that read "HONK FOR HEMP" and "SAVE TREES, FREE HEMP" and go to work. "We're professionals," says Creamer, who drives the "war wagon," a Schwinn two-speed that hauls a trailer ofwelded bike parts which support their rotating three-panel box sign with wind scoops -- "HONK! HEMP! SAVE! TREES!"
"It's a futile symbolic gesture, but somebody's got to do it," says Creamer, who works as a computer-graphics instructor.
"Passers-by won't give any time," interjects Trower, a dog-food plant employee, "they won't give any money and they won't get out and vote. But they will honk."
How did they get started on this decade of spectacular futility? "It came to me that if I got publicly arrested, it would be a strong statement," says Creamer. So before President Bush's notorious 1989 War on Drugs speech, Creamer announced that he'd smoke pot in protest until he.got arrested if Bush didn't legalize marijuana.
The funny thing was, he had a hard time getting arrested. Pot-smoking wasn't regarded as terribly heinous in Lawrence, a campus town that became quite a psychedelphia in the '60s. He finally got himself properly popped by torching a joint in the police station, after calling 911.
At his trial, when Creamer raised the free speech issue, "I was told that standing on the corner is free speech, smoking marijuana is a crime. And that's where the idea to stand on the corner came from."
After a decade or so he says, "We've been told that we have institutional status now." At one point, the city fathers hauled out an ancient state ordinance that prohibits honking except in emergencies, but when Creamer and Trower seized on that to declare that the War on Drugs has created an emergency for American civil liberties, that was the last time they were hassled.
"The Chamber of Commerce hates us," Creamer declares with satisfaction. "We're like a black spot. We don't exactly have them by the balls, we're more like a bad case of jock rash."
Best Activist - Mark Creamer