Unthinkable And Unconscionable

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.


  1. The Stage Company Production spares no one.  If the lines fed to politicians are done to “make them look good”,  their self-image is lower than we thought.

    It is night for everyone to poke fun at themselves and the politicians, for the most part, take it in good humor.  Sometimes the skits go over the top, last year’s pressed ham—allegedly given by one lobbyist to another pushed the envelope.  A couple of years George Carlin would have been proud of our Councilmembers as they spelled out one of his famous seven letter words (I hope the tape doesn’t find it’s way into one of their future campaigns).

    But no one could ever forget Jim Beall’s memorable performances—or former labor leader Amy Dean playing “Godmother” to potential council candidates.

    This is not your father’s grid-iron.  Jerry Strangis, who is on the board of San Jose Stage, does a great job fundraising for the event.  I’m not sure all the jokes about politicians or his clients help his business, but I could be wrong.

    Personally, I find the show to be one of the highlights of the year.  It shows politicians, lobbyists and bureaucrats can have a sense of humor. 

    Just to provide full disclosure, I have written for the show in the past (though nothing this year) and we are season ticket holders.

    But this is not a showcase to make politicians and lobbyists look good,  on the contrary—no one is spared—including ex-mayors.

  2. You must still be bitter over your loss to Zoe or could it be guilt that you never registered as a lobbyist when you fed at the trough of RDA all those years.  Or maybe you just are not man enough to say things face to face that you can blog from afar.

    McBitter you remain, a lobbyist you are, and not a very good one at that.  You should have registered when you took the 50K to lobby your chum Frank Taylor for more RDA handouts, you know what I’m talking about.  You and your comb over are getting old.  Oh ya, and your gonna get good and trashed for all to see tonight at the show—crybaby

  3. Having attended in the past, the “show” is very much like today’s SNL—a few funny moments surrounded by mostly unfunny moments.

    At least in the past we could look past the silliness going on at City Hall. Today is a different story—daily near criminal activity, government by arrogance, gifts of large amounts of public monies, a vendetta driven mayor, an incompetent city council, two sets of books kept on the new City Hall, and the list goes on. Lots of funny stuff.

    When it comes to SJ, there is no satire—the daily “show” at City Hall is about all the satire most of us can stand.

  4. For everyone who is looking for something a bit
    more entertaining (and informative): I will be
    speaking at tomorrow’s North Willow Glen
    Neighborhood Association meeting at 7:00pm.

    The issues I will be discussing at the meeting:

    * Who is SCVTARU, its history, and what we do
    * The benefits of public transit and its importance
    to Willow Glen as it densifies in housing
    * Incoming VTA General Michael Burns, his history,
    and what he means toward reform at VTA
    * The true costs and impact of the BART to San Jose
    * How citizens and groups can get their voices heard
    to the decision makers at the Valley Transportation

    DATE: Tuesday, June 28, 2005
    TIME: 7:00pm
    PLACE: Word of Faith Church, Fuller & Delmas Sts.,
    San Jose

    (one long block east of line 64 – directly south of
    the Caltrain/Amtrak/UP railroad tracks)

    This is a great gathering – especially on the first
    anniversary of the County Civil Grand Jury report
    against VTA and how it continues to (mal)function
    as the County’s transportation agency.

    I hope to see you at tomorrow’s meeting.

    Eugene Bradley
    Founder, Santa Clara VTA Riders Union
    Yahoo!/AOL IM: eegenebradley

  5. San Jose Stage Company and Jerry Strangis have done a good job of this for many years.  It is a Saturday Night Live format an is often quite funny.  Generally there are enough pro actors and a good band to keep the show moving.  The local politicians get enough of the stage to create a good laugh but not enough to slow it down.  I, too, sat on the Stage company board for several year, though my term has lapsed.  I would think this year there is plenty of fodder for the show, perhaps including this blog site.  And why shoudln’t there be?  We can’t take all this too seriously can we?

  6. If we took it too seriously, many of us would have given up and not even tried to make SJ a better place in which to live. But, it is hard to find much that is funny in city where we can’t afford to replace street lights on a regular basis or pave the streets properly (unless you are driving a race car) or want to impact city policy without having to contribute bags of money to our elected officials. Other than that, it’s pretty funny around Silly Hall.

  7. “Sometimes the skits go over the top, last year’s pressed ham—allegedly given by one lobbyist to another pushed the envelope.”

    Implying that lobbyists buy influence?  oooh that’s edgy stuff.  smile

  8. I’m sorry to see this happen.  The old one writtem by Mercury news reporters was funny and cutting.  It was very similar to Saturday Night Live and almost as funny.  It’s interesting to see that everything in the city is for sale now.  It’s a shame what has happened in San Jose.  Where are all the good people who should be screaming in disgust about what’s happened in their city.  I knew it would happen when they let a Sunnyvale politican become Mayor.  He has sold out our town.

  9. Why do we continue to put people in office over and over again.  The term limits has only moved them from one office to another.  The skits could be better if we had some new blood to work with on this event.

  10. If we had taken it too seriously, many of us would have given up and not even attempted to make SJ a better place to live. However, it is difficult to find anything that is amusing in a city where we can’t afford to replace street lights on a regular basis, pave the streets adequately (unless you drive a race vehicle), or desire to influence city policy without having to donate large sums of money to our elected officials. Aside from that, Silly Hall is pretty amusing.

  11. 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.

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