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John Perry Barlow

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EFF Co-founder/Former Grateful Dead Lyricist tech

In a December 3, 1994 interview with J. Kreilsberg, Barlow recounts an experience years ago with this [hitchhiker] he picked up outside Fallen, Nevada.

"Terrible place. Nothing between there and Salt Lake City except two-lane blacktop. The guy was sitting on the edge of town with a sign that said, 'Anywhere but here.' [...] I was hoping he wasn't too bad because we were going to spend most of the night together. And he got in the car and he was a wreck, but I immediately felt this incredible sense of peace and goodwill emanating from this fellow. And it turned out that among other things he was born, literally, a day after I was. And he had had a very different kind of life -- he'd gone to Vietnam and got shot up and come back kind of twisted up in the head, had been living in NY on a VA disability payment, but he also had a job, and was driving a cab and he had a musical gig and a girlfriend -- he had a life. He got into a dispute with his landlord and said he wasn't going to pay the rent until his landlord did something. Well, he didn't pay the rent and landlord locked up all his stuff and wouldn't let him into his apartment and informed the VA that he'd died. The VA believed it. This guy had no identification whatsoever and blam, he'd down beneath the cracks. Just like that. With no way to get back up. And he had a very literal kind of religious faith. At one point I said, 'I don't get it. You've got this very strong sense of faith and yet if things are set up the way you think they are then God is mistreating you. And I don't believe in God, not the way you do anyway and, I'm doing fine.' He said, 'The way I see it you are taking basket-weaving and I'm taking Astrophysics 406. And I would expect it to be easier for you.' He had this lovely way of preaching, about the most modest form of it that I've ever heard. He would write these little things about love and put them in the coin return slots in phone booths."