July 19th, 2010

RED DEFCON 5 ALERT: We’ve Put Together One of the Biggest And Most Amazing Political Benefits Of All Time, This Thursday Night At 7 pm, But Now We Need Your Help Putting Actual Human Butts In Actual Seats

by Philip Baruth

The logic ran like this: 1) Campaigns run on money; 2) I hate asking people for money; so 3) why not try to do a different sort of fundraiser altogether? Why not, you know, put on a show? Like Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, but with politics? It started out as a fairly modest idea, call a few talented friends, people committed to the campaign, and see if they’d be willing to perform. What we didn’t expect was that those talented friends would call other talented performers, and pretty soon we’d have a major showcase on our hands. But that’s what we’ve got, no question about it.

The central promise we’ve made this cycle is that this campaign, whatever else it may be or not be, will never be boring. Never once. So the show is called Philapalooza (yes, Philapalooza), and it’s designed to be non-stop entertainment.

No boring speeches. No downer discussions of budget deficits and oil spills. This show is meant to celebrate the Vermont arts community, and their support of our campaign.

It’s meant to be fun, in other words.

The key details: this Thursday night, the 22nd, 7 pm, at the Main Street Landing Black Box Theater down on Burlington’s waterfront. (Very generously sponsored by Main Street Landing and Melinda Moulton.)

Headlining for us is one of my favorite performers of all time, legendary Vermont folksinger Patti Casey (above). Not only has Patti agreed to open and close the show, she’s promised to play my favorite song, “Old Man,” a heartrending ballad about a very old dog. It’s a song that takes you right into a life and a relationship, a relationship that’s coming to an end all too soon.

Vermont’s best known and hardest working filmmaker, Jay Craven, will be performing as well. Having taught both Stranger in the Kingdom and Where the Rivers Flow North many times, I’m honored and excited to have Jay on stage. (Let me just add that Tantoo Cardinal completely deserved the Oscar for Rivers, and the fact that she didn’t get it in the end says all you need to know about Hollywood.)

If you’ve never seen Woody Keppel do his thing, prepare to be amazed. Woody, shown here with the late great Anna Nicole Smith, is the consummate postmodern vaudevillian: part juggler, part comic, part master of illusion, and one final part heartbreaker, because his comic characters always have a certain pathos that makes you pull for them.

Now maybe other campaigns could get one or the other half of the performing couple that is Kathy Blume and Mark Nash, the duo that has long been the mainstay of Vermont Stage Company. But only this campaign can bring you both.

Kathy has made an international name for herself as a crusader in both the anti-War and anti-global warming movements. She organized the global Lysistrata Project, back in the day, when we were all determined to annoy George Bush and oust Donald Rumsfeld. And Mark, in addition to running Vermont Stage and bringing an astounding series of dramatic characters to life himself, has done me the favor of reading my contributions to their Winter Tales show for the last several years.

And for Master of Ceremonies we realized that we needed something utterly impossible: a very poised yet very funny performer, preferably someone with an intimate knowledge of Vermont politics.

Which doesn’t exist, of course.

Then we remembered stand-up comic and Burlington House Rep. Jason Lorber, who is at once the state’s go-to guy on the hardcore issues and statistics related to the correctional system, and the guy who stages “Moo Jew Comedy” every year on Christmas in a Chinese Restaurant.

And if that’s not enough, just this past week we had the League of Drag Queen Voters sign on for a special appearance too. Which in and of itself should help us keep the not boring promise.

In short, this event will be amazing, but only if you come to see it, and bring friends. If you plan to help out the campaign at some point, but have been waiting for the right opportunity, this is it. We need you now, but not to go door to door, not to stuff envelopes.

We need you to come and relax, and enjoy yourself. Supporting your politics doesn’t get any sweeter than that. Click here for the link to Flynn Tix again.

And God love you if you can make it.