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Tuesday, May 2, 2006

Walk on the wild side

Last night was "Candidates Gone Wild" night here in Portland, and I was pleased to play a small role in this unique event. Five candidates for the City Council and two for Multnomah County chair subjected themselves to quizzing, grilling, and a review of some of their nonpolitical talents before a packed house of backers and observers at the Roseland Theater.

There were many fine moments in the two-hour program. The highlight of the evening for me was a series of videos on six of the seven candidates, produced by an outfit called Public Media Works. Each featured both a "Cribs"-style tour of the candidate's house, vehicle, or pup tent; and an interview. The interviews were conducted by a very youthful fellow by the name of Adrian Chen, billed as a former Willamette Week intern. Chen has quite a future on the comedic screen if that's what he wants to pursue. The videos, and he in particular, were hysterical.

I was on a panel of three skeptics for a live segment called "Guantanamo Grill," where we each got to lob a verbal grenade at each of the seven participants. A few of the zingers that I had written got the crowd going, but the audience saved its biggest huzzah for a bitchslapping handed to yours truly by Commissioner Erik Sten. The Big Idea Guy criticized me for sitting around complaining on a blog instead of getting out there and working to make the system better. Or something like that; I'm sure there's a tape. The audience, which was full of Stennies, ate it up. Given the bushel baskets of cr*p that I dump on their hero on a regular basis on this site, it's not as though I didn't see it coming. Heck, I deserved it.

"Candidates Gone Wild" is impressive on a couple of different levels. It's a humanizing, energizing event that I can't imagine being staged in too many other cities. Even politicians on whom I've pasted some fairly nasty labels were polite and cordial, and I tried to be the same.

Observant audience members could pick up information about some of the candidates that no amount of reading and websurfing could provide. I won't get into the details, but my opinions of several of the candidates moved upward or downward, at least somewhat, based on what I saw.

The show is organized and run almost entirely by young people -- the Oregon Bus Project, in particular, which explains the fascination with Sten. Willamette Week and the City Club also play big roles, but most of the key shots are called by the hard-working volunteers. There's a lot of pizza, which Hot Lips throws in.

More than anything, I was impressed by the power of incumbency. You think Sten, Diane Linn, and Dan Saltzman are in trouble? Perhaps, but you sure couldn't tell from the small armies they had in the stands tonight. If you want them out, you'd better tell your friends, and quick.

Comments (45)

Aww, come on, Jack. Bitchslapped? I don't think so. The bottom paragraph of your post tells the real story. I don't disagree with him that it's easy to criticize, but so what? If you weren't telling it like it is, who would? I mean, I actually used to read The O as my main source of news -- there are people who still do! Scary. This blog is a much needed service to the community.

Adrien Chen was fabulous, wasn't he? Those "interviews" were great. I hope they get posted online somewhere.

Not to be partisan or anything, but I think Amanda stole the show with her blow up Godzilla. Commissioner Saltzman showing us how to set the date on our VCRs...who's even using VCRs these days? We've moved on to DVDs, Dan!

Ginny Burdick's stand-up schtick was as anemic as her campaign. Eric's magic act? Not so magical, but I liked the wizard's outfit. Dave Lister plays a mean blues harmonica. Got the blues from voting for Bush, I guess. Ted Wheeler as mountain man? Why'd he keep saluting like John Kerry? Diane Linn, torch singer...who knew?

Very fun evening, and great to see the candidates as people, not just sound bites. And along with the fun, some tough questions from the panel, where Jack --where they all-- did a great job. And, yes, the videos were hysterical. There is hope for us.

Dave Lister won the talent contest imho and the crowd warmed to him. while I had a great time and met a friend from my book group, I do think there was a bit of "Hitler Youth" manipulation by WW toward the candidates it seemed clear to me it will endorse: Sten and Wheeler.

As for Linn, she held up well. While her gay marriage stand 2 years ago ended up backfiring, imho, all four of the women on the council showed disprespect for Lonnie Roberts and public discourse there. What she showed in that and other situations to the Arlington Club set, I think, is that she is not their puppet. And that, I like. As for "smoke meaning fire", let's assume it does. Therefore, anyone can blow smoke. I am not saying Linn hasn't made it easy, but the calendar thing would be possible for political enemies to spin into something it isn't. And still I wonder, given that I can prove at least one multimillion dollar rip-off with the Arlington Club smell they won't investigate, no one is calling for an investigation of Schrunk and Hardy Myers.

The great unanswered question of the evening was whether Burdick knew what the PBR stands for. Good gravy what a trainwreck.

Does anyone know why they didn't do a video on Dave Lister? Did he not agree to it? Or was that a choice by the WW and the Bus Project?

They never contacted me to do a "crib". Before Emily Boyles' public financing was disputed they were going to have her and I in some sort of "American Idol" style runoff to see who ascended to the stage. When the Boyles story broke full bore and they rescinded her invitation, they put me on the regular lineup. By then I guess it was too late to do a video.

Glad you enjoyed it Jack, glad the folks were civil, if not a bit more, towards you. However, I think the entire event was summed up well when you started your second to last paragraph - "The show ..." Yes, it was and is a show, more a vehicle of entertainment than enlightenment. I don't care that Eric slammed you for complaining, if you (and I) don't complain then Eric makes even more stupid moves than he does when we do complain.

Did the "show" make them more human beings, well, I never suspected that they were anything else (except for maybe Eric - but this "show" didn't change that perception). Overall, it was a fun night, an entertaining night but didn't really reveal a whole lot about any of the faux candidates (at least nothing that I didn't already know).

Sorry I didn't bring the furious nads. Alas, I was resting my drunken head and hoarse voice from the Red Sox game.

Erik was just doing the usual - trying to administer a mega-dose of the Sten-Blackmer Virus.

You remember, this is the pathogen that is right now overwhelming Portland and for which there is no anitdote or inoculation, because critique or negativity stimulate a micro-mutation. While vertically and horizontally transmissable, only about 1 in 4 are symptomatic, the rest of us are carriers.

For self-infected Erik, going after the critics is involuntary; pure microcellular reflex. The intent is to overwhelm and silence, to conquer by impugning the motive of the opponent. The objective is to engulf the commenter like a macrophage and then self-replicate. Mission accomplished = re-election. After May 16, the epidemiologics will be revealed.

Jack, you can wear this attention like a badge of courage. We know the truth - that you are active and what you "do" compares with what Erik "does" as far more useful and benign.

We salute you and your life-breathing natural immune response, for all of us who live or spend $$ in Portland are carriers, yet few are able to muster a decent fight against such a pernicious influence as the notorious Sten-Blackmer Virus.

You did well, Jack. On my scorecard, Sten, Lister and Wheeler all did well. Burdick and Linn, not so much. I'd rate Fritz and Saltzman a draw. I'd rate references to the "Hitler Youth" as ever so slightly over the line.

over the line Lib? Whose line? The videos didn't poke fun at wheeler or Sten the way they did at the other candidates,except in a way to which youth could relate: Wheeler's discussion of mountain climbing made to appear to answer questions about sex. The tour of Wheeler's tent started outside of an apartment building when he lives in a million dollar house. Sten was Mr. Cool guy on the vintage bus.
The mainstream crowd in Nazi Germany didn't understand the subtleties of propaganda either.

Oh, I just think comparing a bunch of Portland kids and a local newspaper to murderous fascist thugs is a little...excessive.

"Oh, I just think comparing a bunch of Portland kids and a local newspaper to murderous fascist thugs is a little...excessive."

I hope you feel the same way when many of those same kids call President Bush a Nazi.

I thought the show was fun and entertaining. Hopefully, the show gets young people to get involved in politics and vote. We need those young folks to vote, they are our future.

The audience was great, and reminded me of my experiences travelling around this City we love, "Portland is the most decent city in America."

"I hope you feel the same way when many of those same kids call President Bush a Nazi."

I like what Margaret Cho had to say about this sentiment when she joked that Bush is no Hitler. He could be if he worked harder but he is an underachiever. I'm w/ Libertas though it's too harsh, and it's an overused and tired analogy that needs some updating.

I recommend Hannah Arendt's book on totalitarianism by that title. As someone who lived through Hitler's rise and fall, she points out that many or most Germans did not see what was happening. In retrospect we see the murderous fascist, but at the time he was rising to power, it seemed he was doing much for the people of Germany: 11 dollar ski vacations, the Authobahn, volkswagen, etc. The "progressives" are wrong that we should be forbidden from applying the last century's lessons about fascism. Another sign that the "left" is going blind.

Ted Wheeler's going to give us all $11 ski vacations? Sweet! I would salute that, either with the nervous-tic thing Ted was doing last night, or with the straight-armed progressive version you've clued us in on.

I wasn't there, so don't know if you had any opening to shoot back a snappy retort to Eric Sten. But if you did,

"I AM working to make the system better, Eric. I'm backing Dave Lister!"

would have been a good one.

I should have introduced myself to Mr. Bojack himself but I didn't. Bad call on my part -- or maybe not, since I've been a wee bit sleep deprived and anti-social what with Finals and all. But it was fun - I'm glad I did it. I missed a lot of the show because I was backstage but, hey, there's always next year!

Mr. Lister, I really dug your talent portion. I love the blues! Your harmonica almost made me forget about the whole Bush thing. Almost. ;)

Cynthia, I hear ya on Arendt. I tend to be a little sensitive to Nazi references tossed around lightly but there is certainly value in revisiting the causes. We should be wary of that dangerous combination of propaganda and complicity of the elites and masses.

The progressives should not forget that Hitler was a big proponent of the power of the State over the individual.

Totalitarianism threatens us from the Left as well as from the Right. Ask a immigrant from the former U.S.S.R. (preferably over age 70) to tell you about Joe Stalin, or what collectivism did to Soviet agricultural production. Then ask them if they are in in favor of Government ownership of power companies (think PGE Comrade Erik!) or food production.

Living in Portland, I'm much more frightened by the Lefty extremists than those on the Right.

From the sounds of things Sten had the house packed with a bunch of his buddies laying in the weeds for you Jack. It takes real big ones to bring a bunch of your cheerleading friends along when you know that you will be responding to sharp criticism at a public forum. Obviously Sten believes in the old adage that good defense is a good offense.

Jack how much does Erik get paid to reform the system and how much do you get paid?
Seems to me, based on your comments, his shoulders aren't quite big enough to accept responsibility for his lack of effort.

I thought the evening was a lot of fun. It certainly wasn't a wonkish event meant to inform voters, it was directed at making politics more accessible to those who don't usually pay attention. Of course Sten packed the crowd, so did every other candidate (and they always will).
I agree, Wheeler's tent thing was awful; he's embarrassing.

I was shocked that you, Jack, threw Dave Lister under the bus like that? You knew how the crowd would react and presumably he lost a few votes from those in the middle that will now go to Sten. What gives?

Jack was doing his job as a panelist. It's Lister's fault for not having a better excuse. At least Wheeler knows how to answer the equivalent question in a convincing way.

Oh heck, I was out to be tough on everybody. With all the Stennies in the crowd, there wasn't much in that room for Dave Lister to lose. He's a great sport, and that and his honesty might have actually picked up a couple of votes.

Wheeler did a great job with that question; I even caught myself clapping.
Why didn't Saltzman have a better answer for his contributor question?

All in all it was an entertaining evening, especially for an old Gresham guy with no dog in the hunt. It did seem VERY much an affair to prop up Sten after he was knocked on his bottom by the Oregonian. The whole event was a bit rigged in fact, but Jack knew that going in and still stood tall.

The idea of Opie bitchslapping anybody is inplausible. The sight of him trying to do it was laughable.

Did Lister have an excuse? I must have missed it, there was a lot of booing around me?

I'd just like to speak up if I may. As a member of the "Hitler Youth," we didn't intentionally play anyone up or down. It's obvious from the people around us that Sten's a big favorite but we weren't pulling any punches. Actually, the original script for Sten was a little harsher than with the others (politically), as far as the interview segment was concerned, but the problem was, it wasn't very funny. As far as I recall (and I've seen those interviews hundreds of times by now), his was the only one that at any stage of the process even referenced politics, and it wasn't positively.

As for Wheeler, I'll spill a little inside scoop for you. We asked for access to all six candidates' homes but we couldn't force our way in. Ted Wheeler, Erik Sten, and Amanda Fritz denied us access and gave us alternatives. If I had to guess I would say it was a calculated move on Ted's part not to let us into his house, though he had reasonable sounding reasons at the time. Nonetheless, we were just glad his "pup tent" idea turned out funny. The guy's a charmer. (And on the subject of not having to let us in, props to poor Diane Linn who didn't know we were coming and let us explore her unprepared, truly raw home nonetheless.)

If you saw our work as propaganda, you may have been looking a little too deep. Our goal was what I was under the impression the entire event was about: to show the candidates as personable people, not just faces in the newspaper. Like Jack mentioned, an astute observer can learn things from an experience like that that they wouldn't be able to from web articles and campaign messages. The videos were made to be as fun as possible. They were also made for a youthful crowd. The event is, to my understanding, about getting the youth engaged in civic issues and local elections. The videos were stylized to address this demographic. Saying we only poked fun to Wheeler or Sten "in a way to which youth can relate" seems a bit odd to me. Who exactly did we poke fun at politically?

To the best of my knowledge the scorecard goes as follows:

  • Ginny Burdick has plastic handcuffs and guns and drinks cheaps wine.
  • Ginny Burdick is old, but she can still dance... possibly because she does meth.
  • Dan Saltzman loves his dog.
  • Dan Saltzman may or may not have had a strange affair with Adrian Chen.
  • Erik Sten has a clunker van used for campaiging, and can't play basketball.
  • Erik Sten has a son with eczema and a supposed knack for bad poetry.
  • Diane Linn has a terribly messy home.
  • Diane Linn has never played strip [cards... I can't say the "P" word], nor strip candy land.
  • Amanda Fritz has a zebra suit and her husband has a zebra car.
  • Amanda Fritz knows the words to Wilson High School's theme song.
  • Ted Wheeler is a tent nut.
  • Ted Wheeler tells stories while Adrian Chen gets naked.

Who was hit with tough, politically hard-biting issues in the video segments? We left that for the WW or at least their CGW cohorts to tackle.

Personally, I thought the whole basketball bit at the end of Sten's was pretty funny and denigrating, but no more so than Amanda Fritz's zaniness, the ants in Diane Linn's kitchen, or Wheeler seeming to lick his lips when his interviewer takes his pants off.

The event itself may have been Sten-leaning. I personally felt it was (and felt uncomfortable for it), and he seemed to be the only one to walk out without a single blunder or blemish that I saw, but you can't blame the video team for that.

Lister is a kick, and I think he'll kick up some dust on the Council. Portland needs some dusting.

I'm sorry I couldn't make it, hopefully they will make the videos and stuff available on the web for everyone.

Apparently, Eric Sten is the personification of evil among the habitués of this blog. It's laughable to hear people speculate that he "packed" the event. He doesn't need to pack the event. Young people, cultural creatives, early adopters — people who read WW and know where Roseland is — are Sten's natural constituents. And they're sick of hearing him trashed for his idealism by west-side boomer good-old-boys.

they're sick of hearing him trashed for his idealism by west-side boomer good-old-boys.

How about idealistic gen-X women? Are they allowed to trash him? Or is it just a generational/gender/club prohibition?

The videos were awesome and poked fun at each candidate... Anyone who was there saw the event organizers ran a fair event that showed the human side of all the candidates. Anyone actually listening to what the panelists asked Erik Sten can hardly say he was given a free pass. If Erik answered a question with a better punch line than Ginny Burdick, that had nothing to do with favoritism and everything to do with Erik Sten's verbal sparring ability. If the crowd cheered lowder for Ted Wheeler than Diane Linn, that has nothing to do with the event organizers, and everything to do with those who showed up in the crowd! The volunteer organizers did a great job and the event was a blast! Also, great job BoJack!

After Participating in approximately 20 forum with Erik in the last couple months... Most audiences really like him a lot, he doesn’t have to bring cheerleaders, they are there.
Not to pick on you Jack, but if you where swayed at all, you may wish to get out a little more…
Erik’s little “all talk and little action makes Jack a dull boy, gives you an opportunity to be creative.”


When did you decide to support the incumbent (Erik)? It kind of undermines the whole outsider/underdog strategy, doesn't it?

BTW, I'm not a boomer good ol' boy (thought I am GUILTY of living on the west side), and I think Erik is a Socialist pie-in-the-sky dreamer.

I think the young creatives et al. might be shocked when they innocently assume our "progressive" leaders are what they pretend to be-and get an immersion course in political hardball. It has happened to many of us who were once young idealists.

Erik is ... infectious!

However, there is finally some good news for the long-suffering afflicted.

It is possible that a newly proposed antidote being field tested right now will be sufficiently efficacious against the Sten-Blackmer Virus to retard one-half of its self-replication until November.

Experts say it is even possible that longer-term testing may show more promising long-term results.

The proposed antidote is ... Listerine.

Come on.
Eric might be a nice guy but if he isn't an incompetent politician then there is no such thing.
Eric Sten is has proven himself to be not very perceptive, weak on ideas, misguided often,
excuse making always, perpetually pretending to make progress, irresponsible with public money
and hopelessly ill-equipped to provide any brand of genuine leadership at all.
Whatever folly hypnosis his followers are under has them so disabled they can't even imagine what
sound leadership and policy making looks like.

Ginny Burdick promises to not miss a beat, or offer any new scrutiny, when it comes to handing out PDC rubber stamps and other "City That Works
You Over" policy making.

The only way to add any degree of genuine oversight and progress is by adding someone to the Council who those currently sitting there want the least.
This is the biggest no brainer Portland has seen in some time.
Think progress, vote for Dave Lister.

Not having attended the event I cannot address the fun and games there. I have however attended many other events and have noticed the lack of participation by either Mr. Lister or Ms. Burdick in any that included the minorities of Portland. There may be a piece of campaign literature or in the one case Mr. Lister came but did truly address the concerns of the audience. Only Eric Sten could and did. While I realize once again that by posting on this blog I am in "Lister" territory and thus opening myself up to be slammed for my observations, it is very telling to me that a very important feature of the make up of Portland has been snubbed by both the Lister and Burdick campaigns. Diversity is what makes us strong and for whole segments of the community to be ignored is unforgivable. Were these candidates afraid of being asked the immigration question? Are they afraid of diversity?

excuse my haste to post... Mr. Lister did NOT truly address the concerns of the audience

While I realize once again that by posting on this blog I am in "Lister" territory and thus opening myself up to be slammed for my observations, it is very telling to me that a very important feature of the make up of Portland has been snubbed by both the Lister and Burdick campaigns.

Yet another example of how contagious and resistant the Sten-Blackmer Virus has become in the CoP as it morphs and strengthens in the face of negativity.

Let us examine more carefully how this process works. First, S-BV sets up as a well-intending, benign, even friendly, guest. Your sensory defenses relaxed, S-BV lashes out attacking the host, in an attempt at further oppression, ultimately to gain submission.

It's kind of like The Borg. Here's a diagram and explanation.

[rr + sid(v)] x [c(g) * c(ac)] --> mc*2

rr = refer to reality


sid(v) = self-identify as victim to be

amplify by the sum of

c(g) = caution of general nature

exponentially raised by

c(aca) = caution of advance counter-attack

At this threshold, a PCR-identifiable attack is provoked, in the character of the telltale

m = S-BV macrophagic constant

multiplied by

c*2 = speed of light (squared)

"Only Eric Sten could and did"

What a farce.

Talk is cheap and Eric represents everything about the same cheap talk and useless reforms that left Jefferson High School floundering for decades.
His status quo mediocrity and phony lip service should fall on deaf ears in diversity circles.

There is nothing good that comes from the wasting of countless millions in tax dollars by a guy who avoids all genuine measurement of cost and effectiveness like the plague.

His approach is entirely superficial impression without results.

Affordable housing my butt.

All Erik does is advocate the spending of enormous sums without ever calculating ultimate cost to ever know how "affordable" anything is for the tax payers.

There is no doubt those dollars Erik has pilfered away could have been used to provided far more than the concocted "affordable" housing units he takes credit for or the homelessness he touts as ending.

Any fool can spend money. The bigger the fool the bigger the reckless spending.

Exhibiting zero fiduciary responsibility to track bang for the buck, Erik needs to take a hike over to the job market and put is willie-nillie-away-millions attitude to the private sector test.

We'll see how creative he is real fast.

I would SERIOUSLY like to see Opie hold a private sector job for 5 years or so....knowing his make-up, he'd need therapy within 6 months.

One point Sten made by implication is that the road to meaningful progress (in this deceptive machine town) is pretty rocky and passage is slow. Whether Sten is on that road is another question.

But anyone out to accomplish something outside of the incrowd agenda can tell hair-raising stories about the obstacles he or she has encountered.

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