Nearby Café Home > Art & Photography > Photocritic International

Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (10)

A. D. Coleman. Photo © 2012 by Anna Lung.

What Happens to A Meme Deferred?

Does it dry up like a raison d’être in the sun? Or does it explode?

As long as I’m updating this series, let’s talk marketing, and image. Former UC Davis Police Lt. John A. Pike’s iconic presence on the internet as a visual meme has fallen off drastically, to be sure, though the story ― complete with the phrase “pepper-spray cop” and a number of the images ― got reactivated in the spin cycle this past October, as I reported in my last post.

Lt. John Pike with pepper spray - meme.

Lt. John Pike with pepper spray – meme.

So Pike could elect to sink into obscurity, hoping to become forgotten save for the periodic “Whatever Became Of . . . ?” nostalgia piece, pursuing his new career as an EMT and registered nurse ― he’s a people person, after all. But the first paragraph of his eventual obit will undoubtedly mention his role in the UC Davis brouhaha, so that aspect of his biography has legs, professionally speaking.

Which means it could be revived at any time; the phrase “pepper-spray cop” has entered the language, becoming a brand waiting for its product line, and I see no reason Pike shouldn’t exploit it ― especially now that his claim of lifetime disability has failed to persuade California’s Workers Compensation Appeals Board, so he won’t get to live off the taxpayers for the rest of his life, he’s officially bankrupt, and his notoriety makes him just about unemployable by any police or security force anywhere.

Megyn Kelly's MK-9 Pepper Spray for Kids (advertisement)

Megyn Kelly’s MK-9 Pepper Spray for Kids (advertisement)

At the very least, Pike should trademark his name, his likeness when dressed in full riot gear, and the phrase “pepper-spray cop.” Frjtz Fries of San Francisco has already used his image without authorization to promote its own “Meyer Lemon Hot Sauce,” so there’s no denying the commercial potential.

And Crowdgather launched “a unisex perfume, Erox, made of human pheromones that purport to induce sexual arousal in both men and women.” For that purpose they hired former America’s Top Model and reality TV participant Adrianne Curry to star in a series of ads, including one that has her dressed in a “sexy pepper-spray cop” outfit. Click here for the comic strip in which she demonstrates Erox to a Pike stand-in.

An array of hot spicy condiments and foods awaits, just crying out for his endorsement. For every pinko who’d boycott these goods there’s an NRA/Tea Party wingnut ready to buy them by the case. And if he doesn’t get there first, Megyn Kelly of Fox News ― she of “It’s a food product, essentially!” fame ― may beat him to it.

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

Megyn Kelly meets Lt. John A. Pike III.

Megyn Kelly meets Lt. John A. Pike III.

But why stop with entrepreneurship? To fully exploit his global name recognition and the free visual branding that he achieved with the help of hundreds of volunteer photo collagists (including yours truly), I suggest that Pike should consider a career in politics. He may be a liberal goat, but he became an overnight hero to conservatives, who leaped to his defense. The right wing loved him for unleashing their festering ’60s-vintage fury at college students in general.

According to the website The Raw Story, “Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is warning Republicans that the strategy of relying on ‘angry white guys’ is eventually going to doom his party (See David Edwards’s story, datelined August 30, 2012.) From their report: “‘The demographics race we’re losing badly [sic],’ the senior senator from South Carolina explained. ‘We’re not generating enough angry white guys to stay in business for the long term.'” Things have come to a pretty pass in this country when you can’t take an abundant supply of angry white guys for granted. Nonetheless, the Republic Party has made clear since then its intention to stay the Tea Party course.

"Pepper-Spray Cop: The Comic," by A. D. Coleman (cover)

“Pepper-Spray Cop: The Comic,” by A. D. Coleman (cover)

Here’s my contribution to across-the-aisle bipartisanship: Senator Graham, why not give “Pepper-Spray Cop” John Pike a call? He’s out of work, down on his luck, hard up for cash — and with a track record of costing his last employer roughly $4.4 million in lawsuits and related expenses for racist and homophobic slurs and abusive physical attacks on unarmed people. He’s got no future in law enforcement; hiring him would recklessly endanger anyone’s public or private police force and its civic, institutional, or corporate budget, not to mention the PR nightmare that would ensure just from the hire. The logical next step for him, therefore, would be a career in politics.

Lt. John Pike with pepper spray and Lolspeak caption.

Lt. John Pike with pepper spray and Lolspeak caption.

You can bet your sweet suthrun ass Pike’s voting Republican now, if he wasn’t before, probably the Tea Party line. He’s an ex-Marine who achieved an international profile as a no-holds-barred law-and-order frontlines cop, the college-campus Dirty Harry holding back the unwashed hordes of faux-nonviolent leftist student punks, and he’s defiantly unapologetic for his actions.

I’ll bet he cleans up nicely. Then he’d make the perfect poster boy for your angry-white-guys demographic: not just middle-aged, obese, and pissed off, but demonstrably ready and willing to do something about it by taking his frustrations out on Mitt Romney’s 47 percent. Sort of a cross between Rush Limbaugh, Joe the Plumber, Charles Bronson, and Duke Nukem.

John Pike with Google logo. Anonymous collage.

John Pike with Google logo. Anonymous collage.

When they hand you lemons, make lemonade. Pike is already not just a celebrity but a meme. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, the saying goes, and one thing Pike has by the truckload is publicity. That’s all he’s come out of this with, going forward. Time for him to capitalize on it. And time for some of the moneyed people on the right, whose values he gave his all to defend, to make something good happen for this valiant warrior of theirs fallen on hard times. Turn him loose and let him galvanize your base.

Plan B: YOLO Style

Lt. John Pike in Robert Capa's "Death of a Loyalist Soldier," 1936. Anonymous collage.

Lt. John Pike in Robert Capa’s “Death of a Loyalist Soldier,” 1936. Anonymous collage.

If he opts not to go into politics, I have another career move to suggest for Pike. This came to me while watching videos of several songs he inspired: Jimmy Wong’s “Dear John (The Pepper Spray Song)” and Jonathan Mann’s “Lt. John Pike Pepper Spraying Song (1058).”

The fallback for Pike, as I see it, would be to start a career as a rapper. (Or he could do both; I don’t see these options as mutually exclusive.) Nowadays you don’t have to be handsome, slick, glam, or of the melanin persuasion to make it in hip-hop/rap — just look at Eminem, Matisyahu the Jewish Rapper, and of course South Korea’s Psy. Imagine Pike in full riot gear, brandishing his canister of military-grade MK-9 Pepper Spray, waddling around in front some foxy young women in police uniform while chanting some pungent lyrics. A Bulworth for the right, as it were.

John Pike meme, YOLOI even have a name for this new genre: YOLO style. Davis, where Pike gained his fame, is the largest city in Yolo County, located in the northern part of California. However, YOLO is also the acronym for “You Only Live Once,” popularized by Drake in his song “The Motto.” Widely used by the under-25 set, it became headline material when 21-year-old wannabe rapper Ervin McKinness “tweeted about driving drunk at 120 mph minutes before dying in a fiery one-car crash that killed the rapper and four others” on September 2, 2012. (Click here for the Huffington Post story on this incident.)

Thus it’s become shorthand for doing really dumbass, high-risk stuff. Perfect for Pike. And I have the perfect rapper name for Pike, one he earned for himself: MK-9. Here’s how his first mix might go:

Yo yo word up dis is MK-9

AKA John Pike Ima doin fine

In a smackdown wid UC Davis students

held the line gainst dat lame 47 percent


Old MK-9 held the line ― Yolo yolo yo!

Old MK-9 held the line ― Yolo yolo yo!

Wid a pepper-spray here an a pepper-spray dere

here a spray dere a spray evawhere a pepper-spray

Old MK-9 held the line ― Yolo yolo yo!

Pepper-spray cop with legos. Anonymous still life.

Pepper-spray cop with legos. Anonymous still life.

I lost my house an I lost my truck

Lost my Glock I wiz s**t outa luck

I wuz chillin old-school when dat call came down

Rounded up my posse an went to town

Wid my riot bling on better do what I say

else I bring out my spray an say “Make my day!”


Old MK-9 held the line ― Yolo yolo yo! Etc.

 UC president he be smokin blunts

my boss an her boss a coupla c**ts

somebody with b*lls just hadda take charge

now Ima outa my job but Ima livin large

Etc. You can see how this would go. Can’t you just picture him onstage at the 2014 RNC? Sensational!

My next post will update the fortunes of those below and above Pike in the UC Davis food chain, subsequent to his public meltdown.

For an index of links to all posts related to this story, click here.

This post supported by a donation from the Estate of Lyle Bongé.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

1 comment to Lt. John Pike Goes Viral (10)

  • Lance Speer


    (Disclaimer – comments are in the spirit of satire and the anti-articulate voice / nomenclature of street rap – no judgments nor aspersions implied, suggested nor promoted.)

    Yo yo. Wuz LMFAO readin’ about my man the Pikester in yo newzletter. Wuz hummin’ da Lt. Pike right wing/Tea Party/NRA/Brown Shirt skrit in my lefty/commie/pinko shower dis mornin’ (us lefties rarely shower, so that’s something in its own right). Genius, dat. RNC nominating committee gig fer sure. Palin and da Romney kidz (M-O-N-E-Y, as spelled on da Romney kidz tee-shirts on stage) as backup singers, an’ shit.

    In all seriousness, thank you for making my morning. What a hoot. That’s it for me now, as I need to go grab some breakfast. Hmmm. What sounds good. I know, Lt. Pike’s / Megyn Kelly’s secret recipe “food product.” Yum.

    Hope you’re well.


Leave a Reply to Lance Speer Cancel reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>