Gimme Shelter

Michael Senger isn't just another pothead survivalist. He's a pothead survivalist with an Armageddon shelter and a working knowledge of the end of the world. None of which mattered to Pinal County officials last month when they hauled Senger to the pokey for growing marijuana on his two-acre spread near Queen Valley. Senger says that his bust is merely more proof that the authorities want us all to conform -- a fact he can't get too worked up about, since the earth is about to go kablooey in a matter of weeks.

New Times: What happened to you?

Michael Senger: This is the story of a guy who wants to be left alone, and who moves to a remote area to do that. And that guy is me. And I was left alone for 12 years until one day when someone complained to the county that I was building an Armageddon shelter.

NT: Okay.

Senger: I'm kind of an amateur scientist, and I've assessed data that indicates that a large planet has entered our solar system, and it's perturbing all the other planets and causing magnetic pole shifts. Our sun has recently developed two North poles, and we're seeing solar activities we've never seen before. None of which is good news.

NT: Are you the only one who knows about this?

Senger: No, there are literally hundreds of thousands of people who know about Planet X or Nibiru, as it's actually called. It's a highly magnetic planet that comes through our solar system every 3,600 years or so and stops the rotation of the earth, causing it to be repositioned in space. When that occurs it causes mass melting, and raises the sea levels mightily.

NT: That sounds messy. So, you knew this melting planet thing was going to happen, and you were preparing for the end of the world by building an Armageddon shelter on your property.

Senger: Yes, and the county showed up and wanted to know what I was doing. I thought it was my right to do what I want on my property, but after being locked up in jail for a week, I discovered that I was wrong. My rights were violated tremendously, and when I talked to attorneys about the way I was treated by the police, they said, "Get in line!"

NT: So you were building an Armageddon shelter, and the county came on your property to do an "environmental inspection."

Senger: Environmental Control came out in February wanting to look around, and I said they couldn't, so they drove around the perimeter of my property taking pictures. I made sure I got into every photo they took, holding up my middle finger. They came back several more times, interviewing my neighbors and trying to figure out what I was doing.

NT: Then one day they came back with a warrant.

Senger: And they searched for three-and-a-half hours before they found my marijuana plants. They said they were looking for an illegal landfill, or conditions that would lead to the breeding of flies or mice.

NT: Can't one build a shelter on one's own property? Or were they worried you were running a crystal meth lab?

Senger: The environmental inspector is also the head of homeland security, and he said that he thought I might have a bomb factory out there. I maintained that I was excavating my fishpond. Even though it wasn't necessarily the truth, I didn't want the county to know that I had a shelter. There are so many reasons to prepare for the end -- Palo Verde could be attacked any day now.

NT: Did you have a permit to build a bomb shelter?

Senger: Building permits are illegally forced contracts that violate your Constitutional rights. They tell you what you can build and how, and when you're building a shelter, it's more improvised. If I'd had to get my shelter drawn up and then submitted it for approval, it would have been really expensive. They would never let me build it, anyway.

NT: So they came out to investigate your shelter and they found you were growing 80 marijuana plants.

Senger: No! I only had 20 plants! They reported I had 86 plants, but I couldn't have fit 80 plants in there. I thought since they were looking for something else when they found the pot plants, it couldn't be used against me.

NT: But growing marijuana is illegal. Isn't that reason enough to bust you?

Senger: Apparently so, because they did. My neighbor came over and said something in my defense, and they hauled him off to jail, too.

NT: And you hired an attorney.

Senger: Yes, I found him on the Internet: He specializes in marijuana cases.

NT: Do you have to pay him in cash?

Senger: No. He's a perfectly legitimate attorney, but one who specializes. He knows, like I do, that the only thing wrong with marijuana is that it's illegal. No one is dying from marijuana. But the government wants us to be sheeple, not people. They want us all to behave the same way. We're being lied to every day, so that we'll all think the same. Look, I can give you an article about how Arizona jailed an armless woman for possession of $20 worth of marijuana.

NT: That's silly. How's she going to smoke it with no arms?

Senger: Maybe she could use her foot. And here are my arrest papers. I'm charged with a Class 2 Felony, and it hardly gets any worse than that. I'm looking at about three years hard time in Florence prison.

NT: That's pretty awful. I read in the Queen Valley newspaper that you're a member of a church for which marijuana is a sacrament.

Senger: Right. That's the Ethiopian Zionistic Church, which came into the US in the late '70s, and was destroyed by the drug enforcement administration in 1980. But it's well documented how Jesus healed using cannabis. The incense used in the early Judeo-Christian traditions was cannabis; they were burning it in the churches, and Jesus made a salve out of the stuff. Cannabis was the foundation for most of our modern religions. The use of marijuana is a very spiritual thing; it's about achieving a higher consciousness.

NT: It's not about getting baked and listening to Grateful Dead records?

Senger: Not at all! Especially when you're growing it yourself, for your own use. I use it instead of a lot of the medicines used in our culture, in part because I've pretty much withdrawn from our culture. I just want to be left alone.

NT: With your marijuana. And your guns!

Senger: Yes! All my guns have been taken away since the arrest. I'm lucky not to have a bunch of firearms charges against me.

NT: Okay, so the world is going to end in the next couple weeks?

Senger: Well, there will be many survivors. The world as we know it will probably end before the end of July. It will be caused by a burned out, infrared planet with a red iron dust cloud around it, and trailing a lot of moons.

NT: And this is Planet X?

Senger: Yes. We've known about it for many years, ever since NASA found Nibiru, which is the only planet in our solar system that does the complete orbit around both our suns. We know Planet X is coming, and that it will cause the end of the world, as we know it.

NT: Now, are you talking about the whole world ending? Because I'm planning on being out of town.

Senger: This will happen every place, so you won't be safe no matter where you go. The earth's crust will actually flip over, causing massive earthquakes worldwide. We don't expect there will be any buildings left standing.

NT: I've always wanted to ask this question of someone who believes the world is about to end: What happens if the world doesn't end? What do you say to people?

Senger: Well, I guess I would say, "Life goes on." If it doesn't end, it doesn't end. It's just something you have to intuitively believe, and for me it's something I've always known would happen. It's a transformation, one that gives us a chance to start over again. Which is a good thing for me, because I'm very unhappy with the state of the world right now. We have it pretty good in the US, but most of the people in the world are in pain.

NT: Well, I hope you don't go to jail.

Senger: If the world is still here in August, I might. But we could have a solar flare tomorrow, one coronal mass injection of the appropriate size, and we're all toast. And then I won't have to worry about it.

KEEP PHOENIX NEW TIMES FREE... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Robrt L. Pela has been a weekly contributor to Phoenix New Times since 1991, primarily as a cultural critic. His radio essays air on National Public Radio affiliate KJZZ's Morning Edition.
Contact: Robrt L. Pela