Eric S. Piotrowski: The FAQ

Updated August 2003

Who is this person?

Eric S. Piotrowski is an English teacher, writer, electronic (and occasionally hip-hop) musician, sometime cartoonist, political agitator, and HTML architect. He hates the idea of just stating one's paid job in response to the question "Who are you?" He currently lives in Madison, Wisconsin USA.

Give me his life story in 100 words or less.

Ep (as he is sometimes called) was born in Gainesville, Florida in 1976. He went to New College and got his bachelor's degree in literature, then wasted two more years at The University of Florida to get his master's of education. After teaching for a year at Kanapaha Middle School in Gainesville, he moved north to Madison, where most of his friends were. There he fell in love with Diane, his kickass lady friend. In January 2003 he began teaching at Sun Prairie High School. His brother, mother, and step-family live in Gainesville.

How does he describe his political ideology?

Mr. Piotrowski is a registered Democrat, but he believes the Democratic party has more or less sold out its supposed constituency. He rejects orthodoxy and all forms of mental rigidity -- if pressed, he will quote Martin Luther King, Jr. and Howard Zinn about whether or not he's a Communist or Capitalist (short answer = no).

Since his earliest days of political awareness (around age 18), he has recognized the importance of action. A vegetarian since age 15, he began working with The East Timor Action Network to help stop that nation's horrific US-funded genocide. Inspired by the heroic struggle of the East Timorese people, he went to work on all kinds of activism, from race relations to corporate globalization to education to domestic violence to homelessness to local elections.

In 1995, Ep started an activist coalition on the New College campus called WORD (Working On Real Designs) to gather political potential and help connect individuals to worthwhile projects. The coalition continued for one year after his departure, after which it evaporated like nearly every other NC institution.

In 1999, he served as Assistant US Coordinator for the Inernational Federation for East Timor's Observer Project, which sent over 100 people from around the world to East Timor, where they reported on the human rights situation there and pleaded for the US government to put pressure on the Indonesian military to make the vote fair and peaceful -- in general they ignored us (with hideous consequences), but we did what we could. Of course, the East Timorese could not be stopped in their pursuit of freedom, and they triumphed over the US-sponsored bloodbath; today they are an independent nation.

Today he continues to work with and for the people of East Timor, particularly with the Madison East Timor solidarity community and as a member of the ETAN executive board. He also writes a lot about globalization and education.

Of course, his most intensive and passionate political activism happens in the classroom -- but that's another website altogether.

Why is this FAQ written in the third person?

Because first-person websites always seem a little weak. If he writes in the third person, maybe people will think Mr. P is important enough to have someone else waste their time on a FAQ about him.

Why is his dog's name "Eileen"?

Because she's missing a leg (Ep had nothing to do with this miserable joke -- she was named Eileen when he adopted her). He never got the full story; apparently she was hurt somehow and the family was negligent in seeking care for her. By the time she got veterinary attention, they had to amputate. But as every dimtwit we meet on their walks feels compelled to point out: "She gets around just fine, doesn't she!?"

Where can I read Ep's cartoons?

Unfortunately, the only truly worthwhile collection of 'toons from Mr. P -- a This Modern World knockoff called 11:59 -- have never made it online. Doing so would require many hours of scanning and whatnot. Instead, he plans to get a Wacom tablet at some point and make some digital-format stuff. Until then, you can only see the 11:59 people in his cartoon introduction to Go. D'oh!

If he's such a great writer and musician and everything, why hasn't he been published by a big corporation (or even a small one)? Why hasn't his music ever been picked up by a major (or minor) label?

Let's talk about music first. Mr. Piotrowski used to send his music to different labels, trying to get signed. But a combination of weak music (at that time he didn't have very good production values and it was all done on an old Mac using crappy sound bites) and glutted markets yielded almost no results. Since he can't perform live, he has trouble making a name for himself, and frankly he's just sick of begging people to listen to his stuff. These days he just makes the music and distributes it around for free.

As for writing -- Ep has written a trilogy of fantasy novels called The Spheriad, but he started the first one when he was in seventh grade, so it's a steaming heap of rat piss (ie, badly in need of a total rewrite). At some point he may go back and try to re-work the first book in an attempt to make it suitable for submission to publishers, but so far it's not a top priority (again, he hates pleading with people to read his work).

Right now he's working on a new SF/realist novel called Transmutation, which he will try to get published in some form (self-publication is one option he's considering). He plans to cross that bridge when he comes to it. First he has to finish the book, then edit it.

At this point, the world entertainment and information carnivals are so swamped with individuals that anyone who has anything worth saying has to spend a great deal of time on self-promotion, whether or not they have the support of some huge multinational corporation. Right now, Mr. P just doesn't want to spend the time courting executives who may or may not care what he has to say. Instead, he just produces the stuff himself and spreads it around as much as he can.

Obviously, he would like to have the support and endorsement of some independent production facility, but right now it's just not worth his time. He'd like for his students to stop asking about it.

Why isn't he working on his novel, instead of making more websites about himself?

Because Eric P is Leonardo da Vinci.