Town Square

Wo'O to you

Original post made by Don Frances, Mountain View Voice Editor, on Oct 21, 2009

THOSE WHO SPEND any time in Mountain View have seen the "Idea Farm" truck parked around. I myself have passed it numerous times, figuring we'd write about it eventually.
It was Ric Hulett who forced my hand.
"Yesterday morning (Oct. 10)," he wrote, "the 'Idea Farm' guy was parked on Highway 237, just west of El Camino Real. Perhaps unwisely, his signs read 'F**K MVPD.' Later that morning (my wife reports), no fewer than four MVPD cars were paying him a visit. His vehicle is no longer there.
"Can you find out what happened?"
Well, why not? The owner of that truck has piqued the curiosity of just about everybody at one point or another. So we called Mountain View police, and found out that the incident was minor: He was told to move for parking illegally. As staff writer [Web Link Kelsey Mesher reported] on Oct. 16:

==I The "Idea Farm" truck — the ubiquitous vehicle parked around Mountain View featuring large spray-painted messages on billboards — apparently hit a snag last weekend after a sign maligning the Mountain View Police Department drew unwelcome attention.==
==I The sign, seen last Saturday morning, read "MVPD" with a certain four-letter word in front of it (or rather an F, two asterisks and a K). Because of the sign, authorities decided to stop by and visit the owner, said police spokesman Steve McCoy.==
==I "He had parked his vehicle on (Highway) 237 near Grant," McCoy said. When authorities saw the sign, he said, they contacted the California Highway Patrol.==
==I "They said that it was illegal for him to park there," McCoy said, adding that eventually the Idea Farm truck owner agreed to move because the authorities threatened to tow it away.==

So far so good. What I didn't expect was the interest the story would generate. As of this writing, nearly 60 people have commented on "the Idea Farm guy," as he is almost universally known (this turns out to be more accurate than you might have realized). Some said he's a traffic hazard, some a disgrace, and a few claimed to have seen racist signs on his truck. Others said they applaud his independence, eccentricity and general kookiness, and saw him as harmless local color.
No one claimed to understand his message, though nearly everyone agreed he had a right to make it.
Inspired by all the talk, I got in touch with the Idea Farm guy, asking a few questions about the man and his mission. What, for example, is his name?
"Wo Of Ideafarm is my legal name. I would prefer that my name appear as 'Wo'O Ideafarm.'"
I asked if that's what his mother calls him.
"No. My name change was traumatic for my brothers and parents, of whom my mother is still alive. She calls me by the name that she gave me at birth. Although I am supposed to be addressed as Wo'O, where you accent the O and raise the pitch, I gave up trying to get people to do this. When face to face, I introduce myself as Wo, and am known as Wo by my friends."
Wo'O is 55, has two grown daughters, and is well educated (he said he has a master's degree in economics, and an "all but dissertation," i.e. five years of study, in the Ph.D. program in economics at the University of Chicago). He said he is driven by "Events in my personal life (which) led me to commit my life to work for positive change."
"In 1992, I lost everything and everyone that I cared about," he said, "and I became furious and determined to fix the problem. Today, my fury burns just as strongly. The only difference is that now I have a plan."
That plan can be hard to pin down, despite the many summarizations he gives in person and on his Web site, [Web Link]. His most frequently stated mission is to "connect people wholesomely," though as some have pointed out, that idea seems to be in conflict with his message to Mountain View police.
In general, however, his writings indicate an open, extroverted and well-spoken person who welcomes visitors — just call (650) 804-1311, for example, for a recorded message on where to meet him for dinner next Sunday. Or you can sign a pledge on his Web site that begins, "I pledge to be good news for all who come into contact with me ..."
In an e-mail, Wo'O told me that "My Rx for restoring prosperity in the United States is to get millions of people to (1) sign the pledge and (2) start having dinner together weekly in a nonreligious, inclusive, no-agenda, no-solicitation venue. If we do that, we will become able to discern and then execute all of the other things that we need to do, such as address global warming and health care."
And what about his message to the Mountain View Police Department?
According to his Web site, which has a [Web Link whole page dedicated to the subject], "This page is not intended to discourage or disrespect the sworn officers of the Mountain View Police Department. The MVPD is one of the most professional and competent law enforcement agencies in the Republic of California. ..."
For those wanting more Wo'O, a nearly 10-minute [Web Link interview with him] is easily found on YouTube.


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Posted by Paul
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 21, 2009 at 6:59 pm

"Connect people wholesomely" - as long as they don't try speaking a language other than English.

I used to think of him just as local color until he started putting up xenophobic [word removed] about "Mexican colonists" and declaring English the national language.

He's just another racist nutjob.

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Posted by Frances
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 21, 2009 at 9:02 pm

Paul, I thought his message was about granting amnesty to illegal aliens. I knew his message was confusing! LOL

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Posted by Wo'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Oct 22, 2009 at 5:04 am

This racist thing keeps coming up. Here is my position, in bullet list form, on what I call "the Mexican problem":

1. IdeaFarm (tm) Operations is working to eliminate what keeps ethnic groups separated from each other in Mountain View.

2. The main barrier is language.

3. My vision for the U.S. is cultural plurality plus a single common language.

4. I would like to broker a deal between the English speaking people in Mountain View and the Spanish speaking people: (1) The English speaking people stop thinking of Mountain View as "their city" and start receiving Mexicans as brothers. (2) The Spanish speaking people start speaking English when at work and in public places.

5. Perhaps the most controversial part of my vision is that I have used my signs to proclaim that IMMEDIATE PROBATIONARY CITIZENSHIP IS AN INALIENABLE RIGHT.

I use "The Republic of Liberty and Justice" to refer to the U.S. The distinguishing feature of our federal republic, as constituted, is that it declares that Liberty and Justice are inalienable rights. Then it constitutes a republic in which these rights are secured and preserved for posterity. To me, it logically and necessarily follows that citizenship is an inalienable right, and that we citizens are merely custodians, not owners, of this republic. Liberty and Justice, and therefore citizenship, are not ours to grant or withhold according to our pleasure or economic interest. All Mexicans who can manage to get themselves to our border checkpoints should be given a probationary citizenship card immediately and admitted into this Republic of Liberty and Justice.

The logic applies to all immigrants. I focus on Mexicans intentionally because we share a common border with Mexico consequently must grapple with a history of conflict, such as the Mexican-American War and, more recently, the violence related to the drug trade.

I am a strong supporter of multiculturalism. My German and French heritage is important to me, and I grew up hearing stories like "Hansel and Gretel". My great grandmother, when she came to the U.S., never learned English; she spoke only German until the day that she died. But her children learned, and spoke, English.

Multiculturalism can only work with a common language. Without a common language, we cannot participate together in the business of running a self governing republic. Without a common language, we don't really have a republic at all; we have warring ethnic groups jockeying for dominance, what I like to call a "cold civil war".

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Posted by Stop
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 22, 2009 at 10:26 am

I am disappointed that The Voice gave Wo O' a "voice" to rant. Hey Wo'O or whatever your real name is....please drive over the hill to Santa Cruz.

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Posted by M
a resident of Cuesta Park
on Oct 23, 2009 at 10:00 am

@Stop -- His birth name is Jon Clyde Duringer.

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Posted by To be or not to be... Wholesome
a resident of another community
on Oct 23, 2009 at 1:38 pm

It is difficult to decide on a response. Do I want to run Wo'O and his ugly vehicle of provocative messages out of town? Or can I see past the dirty clothes & tired van to find value in this unusual stranger who refuses to be ignored?

Amid life's bustle, do I support his mission of “wholesome connections” or argue against his controversial actions?

I support free speech, for moral reasons as well as legal ones. Of course, I support wholesome connections & behavior. It seems like most civilians would strive for that. As for a wholesome society, I believe we move in that direction as we try to work through prejudices, reason with queer behaviors, care for our families and help those in need who cross our path. As for what we each can do, we can start by asking ourselves before we do something – is this a wholesome action?

Per Webster's Student Dictionary, being described as wholesome means: 1. Tending to promote health. 2. Tending to promote mental or moral well-being. 3. Healthy.

Does Wo'O ask himself whether his messages are creating “wholesome” connections before he posts his signs? While free speech can have a wholesome impact, hate messages rarely do. For example, Wo'O's signs that use profanity or claim that “You are selfish” are disrespectful, unsupported accusations. How are these messages wholesome? What wholesome or healthy connections result from such communications?

You want to support wholesome connections within society? Help someone. Find the good in people and be supportive, not condescending. Wo, if you have a problem with society at large, find the law or policy that causes the issue and write of that. Better yet, publicize a real solution.

Wo'O's organized dinners seem wholesome – how about making: “You're Invited!” the big message. That seems more wholesome to me. If he could actually put up wholesome messages, then he could transform himself from an unsavory nuisance/“entertaining kook” to a intellectually interesting & morality-boosting member of society.

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Posted by Wo'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Oct 23, 2009 at 3:32 pm

Thank you for the thoughtful constructive criticism. My appearance and lifestyle are part of the message. My clothing is clean, and so are my intentions. I will not apologize for the operating plan, which involves alternating hard hitting "unpleasant truths" with lighter, encouraging, conciliatory messages.

Don't focus on me. Focus on the message. Hear it. Discuss it. Then act on it, individually and as a community. One way to act is to show up at the dinners.

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Posted by mr mallard
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Oct 23, 2009 at 4:46 pm

quack qauck.

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Posted by Wo'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Oct 25, 2009 at 8:16 am

It is Sunday, one week later. I arrived at 3:30 AM to the same location on 237 at El Camino Real. Hurrying, I put "VC 22650: Thou Shalt Not Tow!" up on three signs on the Nautilus. By the time I got the signs up, several "fly bys" occured. ("Fly by" is the term that I use for a police patrol vehicle that does not stop, which would open an "incident".

Then two patrol cars were there eastbound on ECR, stopped for a red light. An officer addressed me, using his loudspeaker, "Mr. Wo'O Ideafarm, if you do not move your vehicle, we will call the CHP." I replied, "VC 22650 says thou shalt not tow." The officer responded, "It's your choice." I responded, "It's a civil rights issue.", and they drove off.

I then laid down, already exhausted by the stress of the constant confrontations and the early hour, to try to get some rest before the CHP arrived. To prepare for the tow, I locked my bicycle to the street lamp pole, along with my back pack and sleeping bag. I had gone through this several times before, but had always, barely, had enough money to get the Nautilus out of impound. Today, I knew that I didn't have any money. I also knew that I didn't have time for a new hassle; I need to focus on finding a job. But when I arose at 3 AM today, I also knew that I could not let the CHP intimidate me into abandoning civic speech at this intersection. What I am doing is lawful; the police and CHP break the law (VC 22650 and other) each time that they interfere without probable cause.

I did get some sleep, and then had the idea to post this note while I still had posession of my computer. Just as I was beginning to set up my laptop, a CHP patrol arrived. Damn! Here we go.

Unexpectedly, the visit was friendly. I had jumped into the Nautilus and locked the door, planning to resist the tow, force the officer to break into the Nautilus, and force him to arrest me. Then I would be able to demand to be taken to a magistrate immediately. The magistrate would have the power, and hopefully the will, to order the CHP to release the Nautilus from impound at no cost to me. But none of that happened; the CHP officer blessed the scene, tested me for being under the influence, and left.

You can listen to the 14 minute recording of this incident at the bottom of the "F**K MVPD" page of Web Link . I uploaded it because it will refresh you by showing you the power that we citizens have against police as long as we, and they, stay within the Peoples' Law.

It is now 8 AM. I don't know what will happen today. MVPD has flown by about 4 times while I was writing this, sitting with my laptop on the sidewalk.

I am not angry with the MVPD or with the CHP. But I am quite frustrated with you citizens of Mountain View. In my view, you seem to be clueless. You will give $10 to a bum whom you know to either be too lazy to go to Labor Ready and work or will take your $10 and buy cheap vodka. But you will not spend $8 to sign the IdeaFarm (tm) Pledge. I believe that the economic and political survival of the United States is at stake in whether I can select the right community and then get that community to rally in solidarity with my simple plan. I have chosen Mountain View. If I am right, the future of the United States is at stake here. You people of Mountain View have not yet caught on to the battle that is going on right under your nose.

While you were sleeping in, and then enjoying a relaxing Sunday morning, I have been here, preparing to meet with disaster as I assert our civil liberties against two cooperating law enforcement agencies acting as if they are above the Peoples' Law.

Why don't you sign the pledge? Why don't you accept my invitation to join me at table? We need to come together, and that is basically all that we need to do, to solve our economic and political and social problems. If we come together in the simple way that I envision, we will feel our power as citizens and become able to act decisively as a nation.

Please sign the pledge so that I have some money to get my battle wagon, the Nautilus, out of impound today.

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Posted by dfb
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 26, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Wo'O, I think you'll be more successful at your spreading your message if you were to integrate back into society and use your intellectual gifts directly helping people. For example, if you do have almost-a-PhD in economics from UofChicago, perhaps work as an economist dedicated to explaining economics to others and supporting your assertions with economic research. There are organizations dedicated to that sort of mission. Otherwise, you are most likely ignored, misunderstood, or written off as a loony guy who is not worth listening to.

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Posted by Yes
a resident of Sylvan Park
on Oct 28, 2009 at 7:40 am

IdeaFarm - Your 15 minutes of fame has come and gone. Please move on.

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Posted by Wo'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2009 at 11:02 am

"dfb", one of the points that i am trying to make is that homeless people and others that do not have academic credentials and/or have not been deemed real by the media have no voice, because they will be ignored.

Democracy will continue to be a sham in the U.S. as long as you citizens dismiss anyone with something to say that does not have academic credentials or has not been blessed by the thought mediators (newspaper editors, publishing houses, etc.) or does not dress in a suite and tie or is not "like you", etc. etc.

Ideas should not be filtered according to how the speaker is dressed. Every citizen must have an equal voice. Focus on the idea, not on the speaker, and you will revive our democracy.

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Posted by Reality Check.
a resident of Shoreline West
on Oct 28, 2009 at 11:32 am

To Wo'o,

Sir, I have been a witness to your antics for the greater portion of the last 5 years. I'd like to be the first to say, you're nothing more than a grade A whackjob. You claim to be so educated and accredited with all of these boisterous degrees and knowledge. I'm sure I'm not the only one who finds this to be a load of crap. Anyone with Ph.D's and degrees of higher education wouldn't be waving around signs like a deranged lunatic and developing an alter ego for a 1984 Dodge Caravan called the "Nautilus." Get real bud your act is wearing thin. Were all real sorry about the problems you've experienced in your personal life, but why don't you get a job and maybe join a bowling league and make some friends rather than relegate yourself to making up false degrees and holding up signs that make about as much sense as a screen door on a submarine? You really want to help society? Then get a job and contribute to the economy like the rest of us.

As for your argument about the homeless, sir you are homeless. You live in the back of a van. The MVPD has every right to hassle you because YOU LIVE IN A VAN! Not to mention you're a traffic hazard. I'd rather give a bum ten bucks to go buy some booze and get liquored up of Popov than I would give you ten bucks so you can go huff some more paint while you deliver your senseless banter to hard-working people like myself.

I write this because I'm tired of seeing this guy every day that I go to work, everyday I drive home from work and even on some days the guy comes into my place of business and causes a circus. Man, get a grip, you're a lunatic. If you're so disgruntled with the citizens of Mountain View take your psychotic self somewhere else, do us all a favor.

By the way, I can really see your "dedication to wholesome living" when there oil dumping out of the "Nautilus" into storm drains everyday. What a quack.

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Posted by mr mallard
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2009 at 11:35 am

did some one say qauck.

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Posted by Jeffrey Lebowski
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2009 at 12:20 pm

The bums will always lose sir!!

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Posted by wow
a resident of Castro City
on Oct 28, 2009 at 1:22 pm

What a whack. Found some of his old literature:

"1992: Successfully completed the mathematical and conceptual work needed to preserve the idea, and began to develop software to present the idea as an "electronic book". Business failure (contract software development). Bankruptcy. Arrested for spouse battery. Separated, against will, from wife and two children. Family destroyed by the intrusive power of the State of California. Enraged and frustrated by legal powerlessness as a husband and father, by the lack of cultural support for traditional gender roles within the family, and by his own defective formation as a man, became determined to "fix the problem" for his two daughters."

In other words, he beat his wife, she took off with the kids, he lost his mind. Cause/effect. The end result is a looney-toon driving all over the Peninsula including Mountain View, Menlo Park and Sunnyvale. Hey buddy, check yourself in, do yourself a favor.

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Posted by Actual citizen
a resident of another community
on Oct 28, 2009 at 7:19 pm

It amazes me that you try and preach about a message that has zero direction. You have something new plastered up on that skid mark of a pile of bolts you call a car. When was the last time that was registered? or even smog tested? 1993?? come on MAN. You are leaching off society, asking for handouts and money for "tickets"...... If anyone is dumb enough to pay to hear you speak then they should be thrown in the loony bin with you. Who are you kidding here? You are living in a van because you have to, you have no other option. You are an outcast of society, you provide the society nothing.

Take a look back on your own life, what have you done that has helped to advance the society in which you live in. It's a very short answer, the answer is nothing. You are probably using free wi-fi or hacking someones wireless connections to post to this thread. Something they work hard for and PAY for. You say you are about change, and put up signs but I have seen you around for years and I have seen nothing come as a result. You are a skidmark, yes the unwanted marks on ones undergarments, to society. By putting up childish messages like f**k MVPD. Really? That is something punk kids do when they are mad at their parents or mad at a teacher. Never in my life would I have expected to see such slander and childish acts from a so called "man" who has a PHD....

And if those charges are true that were levied against you then wow..... I do not know how someone can call themselves a man, and then a "voice for change" when you have committed such heinous acts against the ones you have loved. I would imagine they are happy you changed your name so they are no longer associated with your ridiculous antics. Do us all a favor, go somewhere else far far away and leave the great state of California. Get a job sir, and maybe then you may have some help in shaping this society, because making signs and calling your car the "nautilus" is absurd, you are no captain nemo sir, far far from it.

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Posted by Wo'O Ideafarm
a resident of another community
on Oct 29, 2009 at 4:24 am

Like most of you, I work for a living, as a Kelly Services temporary worker. I was designated "Employee of the Month" for May 2009 for one of the two branches that I work out of. I have excellent interpersonal skills, partly because I really enjoy people and I am excellent at establishing rapport with strangers. I also work hard and have a perfect attendance record. I enjoy working because I really care about my employer and about their customer, and on the job I focus on the other person, knowing that "what goes around, comes around".

I do not accept donations. IdeaFarm (tm) Operations is based upon a legally binding "Constitutional Declaration" document, which prohibits me from accumulating wealth and from accepting donations of any kind.

I get up at 3 AM every day to do online tasks, compose the civic speech message for the day, and to squeeze in a bit of software craftwork on IP-DOS (tm). If I am not on assignment that day, I put in a full 9 hour day writing software in my "home office", the Nautilus. At 3 PM, I enjoy a leisurely dinner hour and then, from 4 PM - 6 PM, stand on the street holding a sign. I think of that time as my evening social time, and I enjoy making eye contact and "idea contact" with 5,000 people. Sharp at 6 PM, I (literally) make my bed, and am usually asleep by 6:30.

Do two of you really think that I am a "skidmark" on underwear? Why would you think it, and why would you say it in a public forum? It is because you are selfish and bitter. Your bitterness will ruin your health and you will probably die before your time.

I am 55 years old, but I feel better than you did when you were 30. I have loads of fun with my Nautilus, my signs, and my incredible ambition to get everyone to have dinner with each other weekly. I get out of bed each day excited and ready for action, with a sense of purpose, and with a heart filled with love for my children, for my friends, for the many people that I will interact with, and, yes, even for you.

My core message is "The root problem is that you have become a selfish people". Put in positive terms, it is "Be wholesomely connected to other people, to the Earth, and to your Higher Power." This message is identical to the core teaching of Jesus Nazareth, his Love Teaching. I just took that teaching and put it into nonreligious terms. But it is exactly the same teaching.

You reject my message for the same reason that it was rejected 2000 years ago. Just as it was then, the message is rejected by most, but not by all, who hear it (from me and from others) today.

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Posted by NW Resident
a resident of North Whisman
on Oct 29, 2009 at 10:01 am

Look at subsections of VC 22651 for reasons why the CHP would be able to justify towing "The Nautilus" from Hwy 237.

VC 22650 just says they can't tow unless it is justified by other sections of the VC.

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Posted by Don Frances
Mountain View Voice Editor
on Oct 29, 2009 at 10:32 am

Don Frances is a registered user.

This column was meant to be a description of Ideafarm, not a referendum on him nor an ongoing, bickering argument. I'm therefore giving him the last word here and closing the comment thread. If you'd like to discuss all his problems with him further, contact him directly through his Web site.