The self-described eternal optimist [what? I didn't say anything] who believes that revolutionary politics are the best way to address a government that "needs to be completely eliminated and replaced" is sipping on a morning coffee at the Gypsy House Cafe, doing his absolute best to avoid being profiled in a newspaper he doesn't have much use for.His absolute best isn't very good, is it?
Not that Glenn Spagnuolo is being rude about it. No, his tone is downright cordial as he explains he doesn't want to be "some fluff piece." He insists that "the media tends to make leaders" and "I don't want to get caught in the cult of personality stuff" because "I'm interested in the issues being covered, not me."This demands the old blogger cliche: Oh, puhleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeese.
His aversion to fluff and personality cults aside, the fact is that Spagnuolo has become the most visible - and audible - representative of Re-create '68, a coalition of local and national groups that intends to rekindle the spirit of 1968 and inject some zest and muscle in the anti-war movement, as well as social-justice issues, through a potpourri of demonstrations and diversions such as concerts and perhaps even a "nude-in" on Colfax Avenue.Hadn't heard that one before. Real original, Glenn.
While some of its agenda seems benign enough on the surface, the fact that R68 wants to build a bridge back to the infamous and bloody 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago has chilled many in the, hmm, establishment.The establishment. That's me.
"I get nervous . . . when they're making threats against visitors to the city and say they want to disrupt the city," says Denver City Councilman Charlie Brown.Of course, the truth is the Dems will do anything to avoid a fight, and he knows it.
Brown's concern may stem from the fact that Spagnuolo's rhetoric sometimes strays into the realm of threats. Take the subject of the large protest march he says will take place Aug. 24 with or without Denver's sanction.
After his group was denied one of the permits it sought for Civic Center, Spagnuolo said into a thicket of microphones and cameras, that the city could be facing "a dangerous situation."
He followed that up with comments like, "If Denver needs to become Ground Zero in the fight to take back our rights, it will," and the possibility that things might "blow up" when the police step in.
His words, he insists are "not a threat," just an acknowledgement. The Democrats and the city are the ones "absolutely spoiling for a fight," by denying R68 its parade permit.
"We're going to try our hardest not to be violent," he says, adding, "We don't intend to provoke." But then, "I'm not naive enough to think the police won't react in a violent manner. That's how they're trained to handle conflict - through violence."
He concedes revolutionary fervor among potential foot soldiers isn't what it was 40 years ago.You can't get one out of 100 to come to your protests, Spagnoodles, and the ones that do show up are the dregs.
"The spirit is missing in society; young people are apathetic about politics," says Spagnuolo. "In 1968, three out of every four college students said they believed in revolutionary politics. Today, we can't get one out of four to come out for our protests."
Ick. But gee, that Abbie Hoffman was funny.
Voluble as he is on revolutionary politics, Spagnuolo turns sphinx-like when it comes to his personal history. He admits to being 37 and, well, not much else.
He wears a wedding band but won't say if he's married. He's from New York but refuses to say where in New York. Asked about the fact that another newspaper story said he was from the Bronx, he replies, "not everything in that story was right."
What does he do for a living?
"What I do for a living is enjoy life and have a good time. I don't get paid to organize."
What might he put down as his profession on a resume?
"Radical organizer and existential lover," he says, smiling, admitting it's an Abbie Hoffman line.
If he had more time for an interview, Spagnuolo might be wiling to talk about his protest resume. While living in Longmont, he fought against the construction of a Wal-Mart. He helped get a street named for John Chivington - the leader of the brutal Sand Creek Massacre - changed.Leave it to Glenn to call the fakest person in Colorado "real."
He's been arrested for interfering with the traditional Columbus Day Parade on the grounds that Columbus was guilty of genocide against American Indians.
He experienced other incendiary moments in the media when he supported former University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, whose comments about the victims of 9/11 - and subsequent charges of academic plagiarism - got him fired.
At an April 2005 rally, Spagnuolo told the crowd, "Don't sit back and wait for an invitation to the revolution. Riot about something real, like Ward Churchill."
At least that's how he was quoted in the Rocky Mountain News, a paper he insists is biased against him and his causes.Does that mean he denies the quote?
As far as he's concerned, when it comes to coverage about R68, "The press in general has made this about images and personalities and not the issues. It has damaged the movement. I'm not in this for myself; that's why I don't want this to be about me."
And who would he be?
"Believe it or not I've always been an eternal optimist," he says, smiling.
That might be news to some city officials who have dealt with him, officials who can't stand him, say they find him "confrontational," "adversarial" and "hypocritical," but won't go on the record.
One official who will is Brown, who has debated Spagnuolo on TV and radio about an ill-fated attempt to place restrictions on how the police could deal with protesters if things got out of hand.
"I wouldn't want to get between him and a TV camera or a microphone," Brown says. . . .