Just over the hill from us in Oakland, CA, an intrepid band of space cats worked tirelessly to get the vote out in the recent mid-term elections.
Wearing reflective overalls and a paper mache cat heat, Lukas Smithey led the charge. He drove a bread truck that was converted into a mobile sound stage, and rolling up it doors revealed a wall of speakers queued up to blast hipster club crowds with techno and meows.
Smithey and his friends represent the Oakland Guild of Space Cat Voters, a loose-knit outfit promoting democratic participation and a progressive slate of candidates and causes on the local and state levels. They passed out glossy cardstock flyers bearing the loud graphics of a rave handbill—but, upon closer inspection, they were in fact emoji-embellished voter guides. Their favorite candidate for mayor, Cat Brooks, earned five beaming cat faces on the handbills.
The Space Cats were inspired by the irreverence of the League of Pissed Off Voters in San Francisco in 2014. The dozen or so members of the Space Cat endorsement board, who deliberate in group texts and Google docs, are largely artists and musicians. Smithey helps organize and promote underground dance parties, often featuring the sound truck, through word-of-mouth and hotlines.
On Halloween, a wobbly passerby approached the cats, shouting, “I wanna join! Do you have lasers?” Yes, Smithey said, and asked if she was registered to vote. “I love lasers,” she responded.
Brady Pisha, a Space Cat who runs his own metalworking company in Richmond, said he has quibbles with some of the recommendations on the Space Cat slate. “But it’s more important to push that voting is interesting, especially during the midterms,” he explained. “It’s not just for suited fuddy-duddies—it’s for cool cats.”