I came up with The Peacetank in the days prior to the start of the U.S. war campaign in Afghanistan. On October 9, 2001, I wrote:
I don't know about you, but since September 11, I have felt a strong need to DO SOMETHING to reinforce the illusion that I have some control over events. So I decided to re-interpret my ConferenceBike in the form of a device that inspires international understanding. A metaphor: world leaders, traveling around the world together, putting out the fires of unrest and suffering. It was to be called Peacetank. Since I was the creator and the only American, I had to be President Bush. The other leaders were chosen somewhat on the availability of good masks.
Sunday, October 7 was a perfect fall day to surprise the people of Amsterdam. My crew of Castro, Blair, Putin, Mandela, Mao/Jiang, and Arafat suited up at my place and headed out into town. We quickly got into the spirit of seeming to be working on a great mobile treaty. None of us are actors, but behind our masks we were soon acting out the kind of photo-op overblown hugs and handshakes that we've seen world leaders exchanging so many times. Public squares were packed with tourists and Dutch people. The reactions were powerful and heartwarming: smiles, waves, laughter, comments shouted, hundreds of photos flashing.
THE PEACETANK with Barack Obama at the wheel, fall, 2008, New York City
JOURNEY FOR BERNIE
In the spring of 2016 I started to feel the Bern! Inspired by Bernie Sanders' egalitarian principles. And I thought: I can be a spectator or I can be an activist. My conscience had the answer. As I began to reassemble the PeaceTank I realized that only Putin was still on the world stage; and how few realistic masks of current world leaders were commercially available. Then it occurred to me that I should be the only masked performer, riding around as Bernie and inviting passersby on board, an even better metaphor for the inclusiveness that he represents. I ran 5 journeys for Bernie in the summer and had 100's of people jumping on and off the CoBi.