Saying “No más!” to MASSPIRG

15 minutes
By MIKE MILIARD  |  July 19, 2006

Oh, shit. Here they come. Chirpy and chipper, clipboards outthrust. Keep your head down, turn your iPod up.

“Excuse me, do you have a few minutes to talk about the environment?” Dammit. They got me. MASSPIRG strikes again!

Look, no one begrudges the idealistic armies of the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group their sidewalk evangelization on behalf of the environment, homelessness, and college-textbook trading. It’s just that sometimes they can be a little, uh, in your face. And there sure are a lot of them. And sometimes, it seems, they’re entirely incapable of deciphering the body language of “leave me alone.”

So Andy Lin decided to do something about it. A couple weeks ago the just-graduated Emerson creative-writing MFA designed a T-shirt featuring the MASSPIRG logo, lacerated with a red circle-slash; i do not have fifteen minutes for the environment is emblazoned underneath. He’s just getting around to selling them now, and soon, he hopes, the student activists will get the message.

“Ever since I moved here [from New York City], I just found them very aggressive,” Lin says. “And I thought, ‘Hey, it would be cool if I was able to walk by them with a shirt that just says everything I wanted them to see.’ It’s just the way they come up to you; they try to guilt you with their spiel. Because I live in Central Square, on Mass Ave, they’re there all the time. They hit you multiple times a day.” Indeed, Lin insists that it’s simply MASSPIRG’s aggressive canvassing tactics — and not the group’s politics — that have engendered his newfound activism: “I mean, I don’t have anything against the environment.”

So far, Lin has only sold about a dozen shirts (they’re $15 each at nomasspirg.com), and he thinks he knows who bought ’em. “I haven’t yet seen someone on the street I don’t know wearing one, but I’m waiting for that moment, and that’s gonna make me happy.” In the meantime, he’ll keep wearing his own. So far, the message has been received loud and clear by at least one MASSPIRG worker. “I was at a bar once, and a girl who worked there gave me a slip of paper. I thought it was her number. But it actually said, ‘Nice shirt, jerkoff. We work our asses off.’ ”

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