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All I Ever Had

  • Author(s): Perez, Shawnacy M
  • Advisor(s): Goldberg, Tod
  • Winer, Andrew
  • et al.
Abstract

All I Ever Had follows the story of political radicals, Bernice “Bunny” Miller and Salvador “Sal” Ortuno. As leaders in the 1970’s anarchist biker collective the Freedom River Underground, the couple, along with friends and fellow revolutionaries Harvey, Kettle, Darnell, Mugger, Felix and Kane, are determined to re-shape the world. After sparking political riots at a local university, the group decides to blow up the capitol building in Austin, Texas. Calling it an alarm clock endeavor, their intentions are to wake the world up, to bring down the establishment and create something new, real, and meaningful from amid the rubble, proving that truth is indeed violent.

The group struggles internally with issues of violence and nonviolence, while navigating the underworld of radicalists, non-conformists and divergent thinkers. A hairless conspiracy librarian with ties to weapons dealers, a paranoid blacklisted screenwriter, and a powerful Sonoran curandera all cross paths with the group as Bunny faces a pregnancy, and together they highway the fringes and borderlands, ultimately coming to understand the cost of American social dissidence.

The story is told by Betts, Sal and Bunny’s would-be niece who finds herself struggling for a foothold in a world where so much is so overwhelmingly wrong. An activist herself, Betts is no stranger to tear gas and holding cells, but has become as disappointed with the efficacy of modern activism as it has become with her. Seeking a meaningful way to live, she has dropped out of college, left the apartment she shared with other movement members, and quit on her best friend and long-time boyfriend Milo, a tattoo artist and political philosopher. Mining her aunt and uncle for their story in the hopes of finding some kind of answer to her own dilemma, Betts finds the issue is further complicated as Bunny, older now, faces a bleak battle with cancer.

Calling out issues of class, race, sexism, authority and militarism, war, the economy, the environment, activism, morality, and the battle between the personal and the political, All I Ever Had confronts the questions, fears and despair inherent in being alive and aware in our present world.

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