EDITOR’S LETTER

C’mon get HAPPY

Hola, ¿cómo estás? Espero que estés bien. ’Tis I, your friendly neighborhood enemy of the people! Today I bring you FAKE NEWS! from deep inside the Tomato Art Fest Interstellar Headquarters for the Bringing Together Of the Fruits and the Vegetables (TAFIHBTOFV – pr. “taffybetov”), which is located in a fifth dimension of space nestled between Jon Byrd almost rocking and full-on rocking. You may have noticed that I delivered my salutation in Spanish. This was done to pay homage to the Spanish Conquistadors who discovered the tomato in Central and South America and introduced it to Europe upon their return. Keep what I’m about to tell you to yourselves, because we wouldn’t want ICE raiding your tomato gardens: The tomato is an immigrant. (For further reading on the tomato’s long, strange trip, check out Tommy Womack’s “East of Normal” column on page 120.)
     No doubt you’re asking yourself, “What is it they do at TAFIHBTOFV?” Thanks for asking! In addition to planning the annual Tomato Art Fest (TAF), they advocate for a paradigm shift in human consciousness. Due to the rise of a rogue Orange Beefsteak, however, they’ve had to shift the bulk of their resources to American consciousness, since it has begun to lag behind the rest of the planet, as well as the local universe.
     My reporting finds that a key part of their strategy is finding ways to move Americans away from a consumer mindset into a citizen mindset. This is no small task as there are great powers arrayed against this change, not the least of which is the Association of Strategic Selfishness (ASS). ASS promotes the idea that individual agency alone is responsible for one’s financial success or failure, and that happiness corresponds directly to one’s accumulated wealth. This ideology has consumed vast swaths of our collective consciousness despite ample evidence that it undermines our democracy and, ironically, makes us really, really unhappy.
     An Elder at TAFIHBTOFV told me one of their ongoing research projects is looking into ways to counter the messaging of ASS, which has successfully manipulated reptilian-brain instincts like fear and tribalism to keep the people distracted while it robs them blind. This research indicates a major dysfunction with TAFIHBTOFV’s ability to appeal to the self-interest of the population while at the same time pointing out that pure self-interest is the root of the problem. I ask if, perhaps, they might want to start with a rebrand, since TAFIHBTOFV is as difficult to remember as it is to type. “Ah, yes,” the Elder replies, smiling. “As a matter of fact, we have been looking into that. How does the ‘Holistic Association of the Perpetually Peaceful Yogis’ sound?”
     “Complicated,” was all I could come up with. “That’s what we thought,” the Elder acknowledges. “But we were working backwards into the acronym and kept running into a wall with the ‘Y’. ” Of course! HAPPY. Now I understood. These days what the acronym represents isn’t nearly as important as the acronym itself.
     TAFIHBTOFV will be rolling out its rebranding effort at this year’s TAF, and I couldn’t be happier. I think HAPPY has a real shot at countering ASS, if for no other reason than most people would rather be associated with the former. Once again, the Elders behind TAF put the tomatoes where their mouths are to promote citizenry over consumerism, self-sacrifice over self-centeredness.
     An invitation is even extended to that rogue Orange Beefsteak, but with one caveat: He has to leave his cell phone at home.