Octogenarian Claire Simpson is perhaps best known first for being a dog park regular with her matching full-sized and miniature greyhounds. Secondly, sheâ€™s the mind behind the Defoliate the Bushes bumper sticker. With her new online store, Mischief Unlimited (mischiefunlimited.com), Simpson has expanded her catalog with T-shirts, mugs and other novelties.
DM: Iâ€™ve heard the commercials on Air America, â€˜From the people who brought you Defoliate the Bushes.â€™ How did you come up with that?***image1***
Well, I have a very active, whimsical, playful, nasty brain and every now and then, it sends me a message. One of the messages was â€˜Defoliate the Bushes.â€™
How long ago was this?
How long ago? Iâ€™m terrible with time. I think it was, maybe, three years ago. I had a stroke in November and my memory, which was always lousy, has grown lousier.
I guess itâ€™s a fairly broad question to ask what your life was like, butâ€¦
I think I was a rebel from the delivery room. I guess I always knew I was smart and never gave much of a damn of what others thought. And thereâ€™s a very sad downside to that but, you know, you take the whole thing.
What is the sad downside?
Alienating people. I mean, I donâ€™t know what Iâ€™m going to say until I hear it. Iâ€™ve said some nasty things, some of which Iâ€™m not in the least sorry about, but some of which I wish I hadnâ€™t said.
Were you politically active throughout your life?
I had no interest in politics until Watergate. When Watergate happened, I had nose marks on the TV screen. I was glued. Then I sort of lost interest. I hated old whatâ€™s-his-nameâ€¦Reagan. He always looked to me like heâ€™d had a stroke which showedâ€"mine doesnâ€™t show. His wife was a mannequin. I loved Carter, who was much too much of a gentleman to be a president. Youâ€™ve got to be something of a bastard to be the head of anything successful, unfortunately.
What do you think of the candidates now? Are they all bastards?
â€˜McCainâ€™s insane, the countryâ€™s in tatters/Obama or Clinton, do you think that it matters?â€™ Thatâ€™s one of my poems.
You write poetry as well?
Political poems, yes.
What emotion is involved when you come up with these things?
Delight. Iâ€™m really delighted with my brain. I really am. It brings me the kind of thing Iâ€™m sharing with you.
Will the company just continue doing bumper stickers or grow into something else?
Oh no. I had an idea for â€˜Underwear from the Underworld.â€™
What does that mean?
Jockey shorts. The fly would say, â€˜Cheney the Prickâ€™ and the rear would say, â€˜Bush the Asshole.â€™ And under the waistband, it would say, â€˜Clean only with laundered money.â€™
Thatâ€™s pretty good.
Theyâ€™re damn good! You know theyâ€™re better than pretty good.
Do you find that there are a lot of people in Santa Fe who think like you do?
I think there are very few people who think like I do.
Do you think itâ€™s easier to express yourself now than in the â€™60s?
Oh, hell no! Now itâ€™s potentially dangerous. The president can declare anyone he wants an enemy of the state, or whatever the hell it is, and imprison them.
Is there anything Iâ€™ve glossed over?
What about aging?
Well if anyone asked about, you know, â€˜How do you live to be this old?â€™ my response is, â€˜Just keep breathing. Say and do what you damn please, but be ready to take the consequences.â€™ Thatâ€™s the part nobody wants to do.
But youâ€™re prepared to take the consequences?
I have taken the consequences. I live alone, I have, I consider, relatively few friends. But I have integrity. I mean if Iâ€™d pass a mirror, I donâ€™t have to duck; I have to duck because of the wrinkles, but I donâ€™t have to duck because I canâ€™t look myself in the eye.
Itâ€™s important not to compromise.