When Oscar Wilde wrote of foxhunting and called it “the pursuit of the uneatable by the unthinkable,” he might have had a glimpse into San Jose’s future. There is a showcasing of local politicians tonight called Monday Night Live and it is an interesting spectacle. It has an honorable pedigree – the local media, spearheaded by the Mercury scribes, had for years skewered and parodied politicians, aping the Washington Gridiron Dinner with a version of their own. They were brutal, cutting and, quite often, very funny. I often commented that if that was the level of their everyday writing, the Mercury would have a shelf of Pulitzers. The edict to afflict the powerful was fully met year after year.
As for tonight’s show, it is rather the celebration of the unloved by the unconscionable. It extols and “stars” the City Council, placing them in mostly favorable roles. Their lines are so much better than their normal speeches because they are written by the talented players of the San Jose Stage Company. These actors are the one bright light in an evening of labored buffoonery. Money is provided to the company for the production, and they deserve it for all they contribute to our city.
Here’s the real rub: Monday Night Live is completely funded by lobbyists and development interests; the impresario is lobbyist maven, Jerry Strangis. Strangis is very clever. As a lobbyist he even employs other lobbyists like ex-Gonzales staffer, Dustin DeRollo, and assembles hit squads of these lightly talented, highly compensated hacks for special jobs like Evergreen skulduggery.
The show is an orgy for special interest sponsors from Calpine to Coyote, Divco to DeRollo. And just like the company of rogues in Catch-22, everybody has a share.
The state of politics and art in San Jose is plainly in view through this show. See it Monday night and despair. And don’t forget, you can own a piece of it, just call Jerry.