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I first met Jon Spayde at the Bryant Lake Bowl Cabaret maybe a year ago, on a Sunday night that is otherwise memorable only for the slush, cross walk puddles and snow that crusted Minneapolis.

 

Mr. Spayde, who I soon learned, had done turns in theater, Harvard, internet editing, The Utney Reader and counseling, has a one man cabaret show featuring more than ten characters of his own creation including a clinically depressed motivational speaker, a Catholic priest, a ladies man and a ghost from the Snoose Boulevard era when Scandies got drunk and brawled a lot outside the saloons and vaudeville halls in Cedar Riverside.

To my delight that night, Mr. Spayde was more than an impressionist – each of his lightly satirical characters was fully etched within the historic, pop culture and/or current issues contexts from which they emerge.   At Bryant Lake Bowl, Mr. Spayde invited members of the audience on stage to engage with the character of their choice in a conversation or line of questioning or even a faux psychiatric counseling session.  I chose Vic of Rhode Island.  Vic, through Jon, knew stuff about Providence, pizza and working class brio.   So do I.   He’s been there and the laughs perculated through the small theater.

 

There ain’t nothing more comfortable for me on a drudgey, wintry night, than to hang out in hardscrabble improv comedy clubs like the Huge Theater or venues like the Bryant Lake Bowl and – during the twentieth Century – Dudley Rigg’s Brave New Workshop and Barbara Contardi’s kinetic, First Amendment on Bond Street in Manhattan.

Of late, however, despite scores of improvisational riffs that spark ripples and waves of laffs and groans at Stevie Ray’s, Comedy Sportz, The Huge, and the post Dudley Brave New Workshop, and despite all of the improv groups (Hooray!!), the most consistently satisfying improv artist I’ve encountered is deceptively, low-amp Jon Spayde.

 

Why?  Well, dear possums, Spayde provides his characters with rich and informed contexts.  The man clearly reads books (and writes them), has himself been through hard times, frustrating times and great times, is good-hearted and intuitive and swims in a life stream with lots of different fish, snakes, anglers. poachers and game wardens.  Spayde, like Lorna Landvik (who also writes books and plays Bryant Lake Bowl), delivers more than a clever or risqué punch line; provides the ticket buyer with more than the shell of an archetype.  And he knows political issues and players – few other comedian performers in the local goldfish bowl of improv and cabaret comedy share his level of awareness – that makes them, at least in the political sphere, unfunny and trivial poseurs.

 

We recently produced four new segments with Jon for Democratic Visions, the cable and internet program that is handcrafted by mostly DFL volunteers in the southwest ‘burbs.  The current program also features ex-MPP blogger, vinegary scold Eric Pusey (late of Minnesota Progressive Project); a report on DFL Senate District 48’s precinct caucuses and an award-winning, short film on environmental activism.  In the first of his new segments, Jon takes on the guise of his clinically depressed motivational speaker character to advise well known Republican and Democrat candidates and power players.

 

Democratic Visions can be seen in Hopkins, Minnetonka, Edina, Richfield and Eden Prairie – Comcast Channel 15 – Sundays at 9 p.m., Mondays at 10:00 p.m. and Wednesdays at 5:30 p.m.

Bloomington – BCAT Cable Channel 16 – Tuesdays at 2:00 p.m. & 10:00 p.m.; Fridays at 9:30 p.m.; Saturdays at 7:30 a.m. & 2:30 p.m.

Minneapolis – MTN Channel 16 – Sundays at 8:30 p.m., Mondays 3:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m.

Segments and some full have hour editions of Democratic Visions can be streamed via The Democratic Visions Channel on YouTube.

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Head for your caucuses!

by JeffStrate on January 26, 2014 · 1 comment

 

Minnesota’s precinct caucuses will be held on Tuesday February 4.  I’m hoping you attend and nudge your friends to attend.  I have produced the accompanying Democratic Visions video as a kind of motivational sneak preview.

 

But I here share with you a portion of a January 18 letter-to-the-editor published in  The Journal, a New Ulm, Minnesota newspaper.

 

The letter is co-signed by the Brown County Chairs of the Republican and DFL political parties.  That would never happen in Senate District 48 (Eden Prairie/Southern Minnetonka).  The political culture here in the southwest suburbs may be trending blue, but right wing activists continue to dominate the local Republican Party and, given early PAC mail attacks on moderate, freshman, Representative Yvonne Selcer (DFL, HD 48A), political party lefties and righties aren’t likely to co-author love-notes about Minnesota’s democratic process.

 

In 2012, Senate District 48 voters provided right wing ideologue David Hann with a small, re-election victory and Senate District 49 voters (Edina, West Bloomington and pockets of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie) stunned Tea Party Republican operatives by voting in rookie DFLer, Melisa Franzen over uber right winger Keith Downey.  Downey had hoped to move from the House to the Senate.  He now famously chair’s the Republican Party of Minnesota.  Hann famously heads the Senate minority caucus.  Remember  The Peter Principle?  A member of an organization will rise or get promoted to the level of his or her incompetence.  DFLers are subject to the same dynamic.

But its damn comforting to know that local GOP and DFL officials elsewhere in Minnesota are,  in tandem, making a good case for caucus attendance. New faces can oxygenate.  Here’s what they co-signed:

 

As leaders within our political parties in Brown County, we would like to personally encourage you to attend your precinct caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 4.  The precinct caucus is a gathering of your friends, family, and neighbors to exercise your rights in the American political process. It is your first opportunity during an election year to talk about issues, learn about the candidates running for statewide and local office, make recommendations for changes in your party’s platform, and choose delegates to represent you at upcoming county conventions and beyond.  You are welcome to express your opinions on important issues, or you can come just to listen and observe. The atmosphere is similar to that of a neighborhood town hall meeting where the exchange of ideas is encouraged and all participants are treated with fairness and respect, regardless of whether you are expressing your opinion or just listening to others.  The caucus system in Minnesota is a unique system in the United States, where ordinary citizens have the opportunity to participate not only in the selection of the candidates who will represent your political party but also in defining the issues and positions under which those candidates will run in elections. It is participation citizen democracy in action.

Jim Hahn – Chair, Brown County, Republican Committee
Lori Sellner – Chair, Brown County DFL Committee

So, dear Possums, in New Ulm, where the shadow of the giant Herman the German memorial rises high above drifted village and corn stubble,  a welcome “we’re-in-this-together” advisory penned by partisans.

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Video: Precinct Caucuses On Tuesday Feb 4

by JeffStrate on January 25, 2014 · 1 comment

Here’s a video:
 

 
Minnesota’s precinct caucuses will be held on Tuesday February 4. I’m hoping you attend and nudge your friends to attend. I have produced the accompanying Democratic Visions video as a kind of motivational sneak preview.
 
But I here share with you a portion of a January 18 letter-to-the editor of The Journal, a New Ulm, Minnesota newspaper.
 
The letter is co-signed by the Brown County Chairs of the Republican and DFL political parties. That would never happen in Senate District 48 (Eden Prairie/Southern Minnetonka). The political culture here in the southwest suburbs may be trending blue, but right wing activists continue to dominate the local Republican Party and, given early PAC mail attacks on moderate, freshman, Representative Yvonne Selcer (DFL, HD 48A), political party lefties and righties aren’t likely to co-author love-notes about Minnesota’s democratic process.
 
Senate District 48 voters provided the very conservative MN Senate incumbent David Hann with only a surprisingly narrow, re-election victory and Senate District 49 voters (Edina, West Bloomington and pockets of Minnetonka and Eden Prairie) stunned Tea Party Republican operatives by voting in rookie DFLer, Melisa Franzen over uber right winger Keith Downey.  Downey had hoped to move from the House to the Senate.  He is now Chair of the Republican Party of Minnesota.  Hann heads the Senate minority caucus.
 
But its damn comforting to know that local GOP and DFL officials elsewhere in Minnesota are,  in tandem, making a good case for caucus attendance. Here’s what they co-signed:
 

As leaders within our political parties in Brown County, we would like to personally encourage you to attend your precinct caucus on Tuesday, Feb. 4.
 
The precinct caucus is a gathering of your friends, family, and neighbors to exercise your rights in the American political process. It is your first opportunity during an election year to talk about issues, learn about the candidates running for statewide and local office, make recommendations for changes in your party’s platform, and choose delegates to represent you at upcoming county conventions and beyond.
 
You are welcome to express your opinions on important issues, or you can come just to listen and observe. The atmosphere is similar to that of a neighborhood town hall meeting where the exchange of ideas is encouraged and all participants are treated with fairness and respect, regardless of whether you are expressing your opinion or just listening to others.
 
The caucus system in Minnesota is a unique system in the United States, where ordinary citizens have the opportunity to participate not only in the selection of the candidates who will represent your political party but also in defining the issues and positions under which those candidates will run in elections. It is participation citizen democracy in action.
 
Jim Hahn – Chair, Brown County, Republican Committee
Lori Sellner – Chair, Brown County, DFL Committee

 
So, dear Possums, there you have it:  In New Ulm, where the shadow of the giant Herman the German memorial rises far above snow drifts as high as an elephant’s eye, a welcome “we’re in this together” advisory penned by competitors.

 

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Feminism Without Feminism

by invenium viam on September 20, 2013 · 6 comments

I work with some folks who fall easily into the category of Obama-hating, liberal-hating, Tea Party-supporting rightwing reactionaries. You needn’t rely on my judgment: they’ll tell you the same. They consider it a badge of honor.
 
In their view, as a progressive I’m a deeply mysterious individual and not to be trusted. They don’t get me at all. Veteran/small business owner/Democrat. It doesn’t make sense. Also, beliefs they take for gospel, I often challenge as unfounded fallacies. Things they call common sense, I sometimes deconstruct to reveal a false set of assumptions. They hate me for it – not that I care.
 
One of the things they find most mysterious and confounding is my preference for women candidates for public office. This came to fore the other day when one among them asked me who I’d be supporting for president in 2016.
 
“Oh, I’ll probably support Hillary Clinton, if she runs, which I don’t think is by any means certain.”
 
This admission was met with slack-jawed disbelief, a noticeable shrinking posture and a discernable pallor. I got the same reaction when they learned I was supporting Margaret Anderson-Kelliher for governor a few years ago.
 
…READ MORE

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Video: Republican obstructionists

by JeffStrate on October 8, 2012 · 0 comments

Long Time State Senator and Dayton advisor Ellen Anderson speaks of G.O.P. obstructionists in the Minnesota Senate.  Ms. Anderson has been campaigning for DFLers Melisa Franzen (SD 49) and Laurie McKendry (SD 48) to knock out right wingers Keith Downey and David Hann from their St. Paul temp jobs.  This Democratic Visions segment was handcrafted by volunteers through DFL Senate District 48.  

(direct link to YouTube)

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Moderate DFLer Yvonne Selcer is running a smart, full-blooded and effective campaign in her bid to recapture the Minnesota House seat now held by right wing Republican Kirk Stensrud.  That’s in my pocket of suburban paradise, northern Eden Prairie and southern Minnetonka.

Selcer, a former Hopkins School District board chair, explains the differences between herself and her opponent on Democratic Visions.  The DFL Senate District 48 cable TV series is arguably the best political issues program in Minnesota.

(direct link to YouTube)

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RT Rybak speaks at DNC

by The Big E on September 6, 2012 · 1 comment

Minneapolis Mayor RT Rybak scored himself a speaking slot at the 2012 Democratic National Convention in Charlotte, NC. He worked hard for him in ’08 and has been working hard for him this time around, too. If you were watching MSNBC or CNN, they talked over his speech. I was watching PBS and saw it all.

RT brought up the I-35W bridge collapse under Gov. Tim Pawlenty and how America’s infrastructure crumbled under the Republicans.

After describing how Obama rescued the economy while the Republicans sole goal was to stop him from accomplishing anything and blaming anything that didn’t go well on him, RT had this zinger:

Pyromaniacs shouldn’t blame the firefighter.


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Videos: Keith Ellison

by JeffStrate on July 31, 2012 · 1 comment

These Democratic Vision segments with Keith Ellison were recorded earlier this year … before Mrs. Bachmann began her paranoid speculations about the Muslim Brotherhood.  

Congressman Ellison gets a lot of airplay but here he is on the political and public issues program I get to produce through DFL Senate District 48 out of a soon to be shut down public access studio in the SW ‘burbs.  Compare to Mrs. Bachmann’s hundreds of YouTube appearances.

Keith Ellison – Muslim Congressman
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

1)  Keith Ellison, Progressive Congressional Congress
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

2) Ellison on Citizens United and Alex
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

3) Ellison Somali Money Changing Crisis
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

4)  Eden Prairie Young Democrats and Keith Ellison
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…

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Rep. Keith Ellison (DFL-MN) joined many other progressives calling for the Freedom to Marry plank be added to the national Democratic Party platform. This is important because, if adopted, it means that Minnesotans will see/hear yet one more source calling on Minnesotans to defeat the gay marriage ban constitutional amendment. And the national party will have plenty of money to spend.

From the Freedom to Marry campaign’s press release email:

Today more than half a dozen Democratic Congressional leaders signed onto Freedom to Marry’s Democrats: Say I Do campaign calling for a freedom to marry plank in the 2012 national platform of the Democratic Party.  The signers include three key contenders for the US Senate from swing states: Tammy Baldwin (D-WI); Shelly Berkley (D-NV); and Martin Heinrich (D-NM).  Additional new signers include Ranking Democrat of the House Judiciary Committee John Conyers (D-MI); Judiciary Committee member Mike Quigley (D-IL); former Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chair Chris Van Hollen (D-MD); and Representative Jared Polis (D-CO).

These latest members of Congress to call for a freedom to marry plank join House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, Obama campaign co-chairs Charles Gonzalez (D-TX) and Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), co-chairs of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and lead sponsor of the Respect for Marriage Act Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), and many others.

The proposed plank reads:

The Democratic Party supports the full inclusion of all families in the life of our nation, with equal respect, responsibility, and protection under the law, including the freedom to marry. Government has no business putting barriers in the path of people seeking to care for their family members, particularly in challenging economic times. We support the Respect for Marriage Act and the overturning of the federal so-called “Defense of Marriage Act,” and oppose discriminatory constitutional amendments and other attempts to deny the freedom to marry to loving and committed same-sex couples.


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Ellison Video: Citizens United & ALEC

by JeffStrate on February 5, 2012 · 0 comments

Congressional Caucus Co-Chair and 5th District Representative Keith Ellison explains what must be done to marginalize the bad effects of the Supreme Court’s “Citizens United” Decision and right wing legislative initiatives of ALEC,  the American Legislative Exchange Council.  The point person for the Minnesota cell of ALEC is Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer of Big Lake.

(direct link to YouTube)

This is one of 4 video segments with Congressman Ellison that form the current February edition of Democratic Visions, the public affairs monthly produced through DFL Senate District 42 (Minnetonka/Eden Prairie).

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