For a country defined by freedom of speech, America can be alarmingly intolerant when people express themselves. Amiri Baraka knows this firsthand. Over half a century, the award-winning poet, playwright, music critic, political activist and Black Arts Movement founder has stirred controversy and incited criticism for his work. In 2002, for instance, Baraka was named poet laureate of New Jersey and published the poem "Somebody Blew Up America." The poem deals with 9/11, racism and classism. The first stanza, with preface, reads:
Gus Pedrotty—Gus, as he likes to be known—stopped by Alibi Headquarters to discuss a bid for mayor that began as idealistic—and some would say unlikely—but has since been transformed into one of the more vital and remarkable candidacies that have passed through this high desert city in ages.