Where Did Badger Go???

By Emily Smith

Badger Johnson became a Macalester legend the moment he set his bare feett on campus.

Last year, rumors circulated about a first-year who slept outside, died his face with acorns, and put peas in his chocolate milk (“bubble tea”).

By winter, sleeping outdoors was old news, and we noticed the sleeping bag he wrapped himself in to go outside. His mother sent him money for a coat, but he obstinately refused to commit the consumerist act of buying one.

Badger perfected the art of dumpster diving perhaps because he could eat absolutely anything. His fist was often full of brochures on anarchism and hunter-gathering, and he made several attempts to convert the rest of campus to polyamory. And of course, we will never forget streaking incidents or the infamous Dupre basement deer hide tanning.

Badger did not return to Macalester this year. His plans included squatting on vacant land, connecting with other anarchists, and pursuing a hunter-gatherer way of life.

Rumors circulate about Badger even in his absence. First-years are mystified by the mythical man of Mac; older students miss his antics.

Leola Johnson, professor of my Cultural Studies & the Media class, frequently references Badger in class discussions. Simply by existing, Badger complicates and solidifies our understanding of Marxist theory.

If it weren’t for the Badge, we could agree that it is impossible to escape consumerism. He couldn’t escape privilege—as his parents insisted that he spend a year at a $40,000 school—but he refused to buy a backpack while he was here and instead carried his belongings around in an old crate. He publishes a blog rich with insight regarding his philosophy, but of course he has to have a computer to do so—the very symbol of consumerism he condemns. His blog is available at www.noblesavagery.blogspot.com.

Badger’s determination to live his principles—to walk his talk—makes him the most committed anti-consumerist I know. I admire his dedication, and although I recognize the irony, I can’t help but love the “Anarchist Dropouts of Macalester” Facebook group, of which he is a member. When others criticize the hypocrisy of attending an elite school while identifying as a hunter-gatherer, I defend him for doing as much as he could to down the man.

I had reservations about writing this article—how dare I commodify He Who Attempts to Evade Commodity Culture? But ultimately, I think it’s time the rumors were cleared.

When I spoke to Badger a few days ago, he described his summer as “a long, rough trip.”
He attended a workshop on shamanism and got a ride home from a pacifist who discussed her philosophy with him. “I got bent out of shape but didn’t want to show it because she was being so nice to me,” he said.

He bottled up his anger and went running later. Distracted, he paid no attention to where he was going and broke his foot.

He had planned to do some tree sitting, but decided to remain at home in Cincinnati, OH after hurting himself. He said, “I wanted to reassure my parents even though I’m going to do some crazy stuff.”

Badger has networked with other anarchists. He and several others attempted to disrupt a Nazi march, but were unfortunately outnumbered by Rent-A-Cops.

“Can you imagine going home to your kids and saying, ‘Yeah, I took care of some skinheads’?” Badger commented about the police group in disbelief.

On a vacant lot not far from his home, Badger built a hut out of fallen trees and a tarp he found in a dumpster. He and his friends planted edible plants and found a spring on the lot from which they can drink.
He has spent the night in his hut, but spends most nights in “the cheapest apartment you can imagine” near the University of Cincinnati campus.

He works a few hours a week at a dog kennel, “picking up poop.” In addition, he picks grapes at a nearby farm.

“I’m leading a more normal life than I expected to,” he said.

But more importantly, he answered the question on all of our minds: is Badger coming back?
“I’ve got a lot of little fires going,” he said of his current projects. “I don’t think I’ll be coming back to Mac.”