Cul de Sac: A Suburban War Story

Garrett Scott | 56 minutes. Subdivision Productions.

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We’ll never know exactly why U.S. Army veteran and unemployed plumber Shawn Nelson decided to drive a stolen tank through the residential streets of Clairmont, California, in 1995, tearing through parked cars as though they were paper. His grand plan to make a public statement on the steps of City Hall was derailed by an unsuccessful excursion across a freeway median (even 60- ton tanks aren’ t unstoppable, evidently) and a well-aimed policeman’s bullet.

What we do have is this incisive documentary, which portrays Nelson as the crystal meth-addicted son of a bomber manufacturer in a defense-industry town that hit hard times after the Cold War ended — and never quite bounced back. That this is a “war story,” as the provocative subtitle puts it, is made clear through the film’s brilliantly deployed footage of pilots dropping Clairmont-made bombs on Pacific targets during World War II; of Clairmont’s postwar rise as a military boomtown; and of Nelson’s half-hour rampage itself, wherein the disgruntled veteran broke into a National Guard armory to start up his own private war. Despite the central ambiguity of Nelson’s mission, Cul de Sac makes its subject’s dead end — his treacherous path from military training to the point of no return — appear disturbingly well marked.

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SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

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