When we were first invited to have a look at our local campaign headquarters, it was a little less than inspiring. The property had been occupied by a fly-by-night church that apparently worshiped Harley Davidson Collectibles Jesus, and accepted donations of trailer park lawn refuse. They were rich in these earthly goods.

When the Dem party chair showed us around and asked “What do you think?” I had to answer “If I drank hard enough or huffed the solvents that would bring me to a place like this for spiritual succour, I’d be too goddamn close to stealing a pistol from a pawn shop and putting it in my mouth for it to even register”.

And, as luck would have it, this place is close to a pawnshop. Right next door, in fact.

The homeless resident who broke in the tiny bathroom window, squeezed in and let the river Jordan roll onto the concrete floor was no help either. The carpets and rugs bore the scent of a heady downward spiral punctuated by scores of bottles of hepatic and urinary tract scouring fluids: I’m betting a mixture of fortified wines and Scope mouthwash. The non-liquid portions of his diet could have been sparrows and rodents in an advanced state of decomposition. He probably wasn’t at all ready to do himself in by conventional means, being within walking distance of an amply supplied Shell station/drank mart and a Revco.

I had my doubts about the viability of this place, even though the prevailing aesthetic might lend itself perfectly to phone banking, but that was before the cleanup crews strapped on their breathing apparatus and scraped and squeegeed the various bodily fluids from the floors and walls. Someone carted the toys and inflatable giant Christmas ornaments off to be recycled into bioweapons, and a couple of strong women struck out the “Altamont Crucifix” with a coat or two of leftover house paint.

The results are heartening.