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Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Assignment : Jump into Puget Sound, Stop Global Warming

posted by on December 11 at 10:00 AM


Kristin Wheeler, a community organizer for Greenpeace, contacted me because she wanted me to jump, in my underwear, into Puget Sound with a polar bear as part of a global-warming awareness campaign called “Keep Winter Cold.”

I drove to Alki Beach on Saturday and looked for Kristin and her activist friends who would be jumping into Puget Sound with me. I found them across the street from Tully’s, near the statue of liberty, huddled in groups and shivering. The icy cold wind was blowing hard, whipping people’s hoods into their faces, causing tears to stream down their cheeks, and snot to pour out of their noses.

Kristin stood on a picnic table and announced to the crowd, “I’m so glad you all are here! Welcome to the polar bear run!” There was silence except for the low howl of the wind. “Again, Greenpeace is not responsible…” Kristin stammered a bit, apparently forgetting the next line, “…if you have a heart condition or other medical conditions, please jump into the water at your own risk,” she finished.

What was most notable about Kristin’s speech was what she didn’t tell us: the reason why jumping into a body of water in December would advance the case for stricter laws against polluters, better gas mileage for cars, and less reliance on foreign oil. A polar bear falling through melted ice would make for a more coherent visual, I thought to myself.

“Where’s the bear?” I asked Kristin. “He couldn’t come today,” she said to me, rushing to grab a Greenpeace banner. She didn’t recognize me.

“Are you from Cornish?” a young woman with braided hair asked me. “You look familiar. Were you at the Gilead bomb drop?”

Gilead who-see, what-so? I was flattered this woman thought me an activist. Was it my expensive jacket and cashmere scarf that gave it away? I told her no, I had no idea what she was talking about, and I asked her why she was jumping into Puget Sound in the middle of the winter. “I don’t know, because it’ll be fun.” Fun? Staging a public musical against global warming would be fun. Dying of hypothermia, less so. I asked her if she was concerned about her immune system. No no, of course not. “This is our Everest,” her friend said.

People started taking their clothes off. It was really a sight to see, all of them undressing. The crowd all had onesies, Speedos, and swimming trunks underneath their clothes. I was wearing teal American Apparel briefs I’d bought with my friends on a dare. I undid my jeans a bit as the wind forced tears down my cheek. I was crying and undressing at the same time, which was fitting because I really didn’t want anyone to see me in my inappropriately sexy underwear.

I went back to the picnic table with my undone jeans and looked for someone as terrified of pneumonia as I was. I instantly bonded with the Greenpeace intern. She didn’t want to jump into the water either but felt pressure to do it from her boss. She looked miserable and cold. I asked her to join me in my new plan: sabotaging the assignment, pissing off Kristin, and watching from the sidelines. The young woman laughed uncomfortably and looked at me with awe and just a bit of jealousy. I felt like a real rebel.

Before I knew it, some men started yelling “aAHHAhh!” and everyone ran down the stairs, onto the beach, and into Puget Sound. I watched from the picnic table as they screamed and held on to each other in the water, shivering in rapid spasms. I felt a bit left out, and wondered if I had missed an opportunity to make new (weird) friends. Mostly, though, I felt relieved no one could see my body hair.

Afterward, I pushed my way into a picture with a particularly attractive activist. “Wow, we did it!” I said to him. “Yeah man,” he responded, apparently failing to see all the clothes I was wearing.


This was when Kristin finally recognized me, just as I was unfairly sharing the limelight with a real activist. “Steven! You didn’t jump in!” she yelled. “I know,” I said to her, “I thought everyone would be wearing underwear… and…” I really had no excuse.

“This is what you get,” Kristin said to me in a mock-angry tone and hugged me with her wet swimsuit. I was surprised she was not more upset; I had completely ignored the assignment and I hadn’t helped her at all. Actually, I had been working against her, preying on weak activists and instilling them with self-doubt .


But Kristin was too busy to really care. She left me to look at all the pictures her friend had taken, and I stood alone for a moment, lightly coated in her sweaty fishy water, and looked out at the beautiful Olympic Mountains and the blue waters of Puget Sound. And that’s when I realized something: it was really fucking cold and I wanted to go home.

Steven Blum
Public Intern

Got an assignment for the public intern?

RSS icon Comments


Puget Sound isn't warm enough to jump into, in AUGUST let alone December...What a clever young cookie, the Public Intern is...AND, to jump into a photo op with the hunkiest idiot, er, do-gooder.

Posted by michael strangeways | December 11, 2007 10:12 AM

I see some serious Dan-bait in that photo.

Posted by Providence | December 11, 2007 10:13 AM

I know those people. They like to jack canvass locations from WashPIRG.

Posted by jerks! | December 11, 2007 10:15 AM

When I was younger, I used to think that Greenpeace was cool, and was fighting for stuff that mattered. Then I grew up and stopped being so fucking stupid.

Posted by Greg | December 11, 2007 10:19 AM

There should really be more pictures of stoopid hot thumbs-up guy. Tho I'm imagining there is some major ice-water shrinkage going on there....

Posted by el ganador | December 11, 2007 10:31 AM

Makes me wonder - what would happen if Dan Savage had 2 equally-qualified candidates for public intern, except one of them was fat?

Posted by Beating a Dead Horse | December 11, 2007 11:00 AM

an even more interesting scenario: what if two equally qualified gay, male interns applied and one was a very fat smoker and the other one was very hairy, including excessive facial hair?

Posted by michael strangeways | December 11, 2007 11:12 AM

@6 & 7 ... the public intern isn't even dead yet, and you want to replace him with a fat kid.

Posted by superyeadon | December 11, 2007 11:18 AM

The piece of cloth that you bought from the guy with the table on the corner, although labeled as such, does not constitute a "cashmere scarf"

Posted by no | December 11, 2007 11:28 AM

@1, 4 & 5: You know, calling young, motivated people "stupid" for caring about the environment and doing something about it is really pathetic, even for bitter ol' Slog commenters.

Posted by Justy | December 11, 2007 11:29 AM

@10: but what are they *doing*? As the intern asks, how does this help any?

Posted by A | December 11, 2007 11:38 AM

Kind of a letdown after the last Public Intern episode...

Posted by Clint | December 11, 2007 11:38 AM

for anyone who just can't get enough visuals of the event, we posted video on Saturday:

Posted by wsb | December 11, 2007 11:38 AM


Posted by Mr. Poe | December 11, 2007 11:57 AM

@11: Publicity, the linchpin of getting anything done today.

Posted by Justy | December 11, 2007 12:05 PM

Surprisingly, it's about 10 degrees warmer up in Vancouver BC in the water.

Look, you're basically jumping into the Pacific Ocean around here - that's why it's so cold.

I'm sure Cheney is proud of our Public Intern for sabotaging a Global Warming Protest event ... you'll probably get a Freedom Medal for this!

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 11, 2007 12:24 PM

Why didn't Greenpeace have the Public Intern put some steel rods in some trees?

Posted by Just Me | December 11, 2007 12:28 PM

upon watching the video, i decided to go ahead and send $100 to greenpeace. or maybe it was not so sure now. confused.

Posted by superyeadon | December 11, 2007 12:32 PM

Gilead who-see, what-so?

Hah. This was the funniest one yet. Nice work.

Posted by PdxRitchie | December 11, 2007 1:01 PM

Holy shit. I know which group of straight male activists I'm getting drunk.

Posted by Gitai | December 11, 2007 1:11 PM

Well, wait for the ones that wear the polar bear hats, they're always GGG.

Posted by Will in Seattle | December 11, 2007 1:14 PM

Well, if the ice-caps melt, we now know who to blame.

Naughty, naughty Public Intern!

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 11, 2007 1:18 PM

There should really be more pictures of stoopid hot thumbs-up guy.

The guy with the button hat and blue bandanna around his neck...

Posted by Bruce Garrett | December 11, 2007 1:21 PM

Greenpeace boys are hawt.

Posted by johnnie | December 11, 2007 2:13 PM

@15: And even if only for publicity, this was sad. Slog is the ONLY place I've heard anything about it.

Posted by Greg | December 11, 2007 2:25 PM

lameass publicity....Greenpeace has been doing this tired shit for 200 years one gives a's not noble, it's stupid.

The heart is in the right place, but the brain isn't...(and I mean Greenpeace, not these lovely, lovely men and women who bared their bodies and hearts for a silly publicity stunt that accomplished nothing but a silly posting on Slog)

Posted by michael strangeways | December 11, 2007 2:45 PM

ME: Hey, do you think activists are hot?

MY FRIEND: When their activism is effective.

"Nuff said. I think I've seen the Speedo guy on Manhunt.

Posted by Jubilation T. Cornball | December 11, 2007 2:48 PM

Public Intern is hairy?

Yet another reason to find him a paying job at the Stranger so he can keep posting.

Public Intern for Assistant Editor!

Posted by Malcolm in Sydney | December 11, 2007 3:26 PM

Hairy? That alone ensures no cheesecake photo spreads of him.

Of course, it *could* be worse--he could grow a mustache....

Posted by NapoleonXIV | December 11, 2007 3:51 PM

I have a huge crush on the public intern!

Posted by CodyBolt | December 11, 2007 6:11 PM

"I felt a bit left out, and wondered if I had missed an opportunity to make new (weird) friends."
I always laugh out loud reading The Public Intern. Dan, give him a job when he gets back!

Posted by pdxmama | December 12, 2007 5:21 AM

i wonder if public intern scored some dates or hook-ups from either of those two boys :) they're pretty cute :) i wouldn't kick any of them out of bed

btw, i see some serious shrinkage from the two of them

Posted by aprés_moi | December 12, 2007 10:15 PM

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