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Getting (or Not Getting) The Hang of It

Every election, the SANTA CRUZ PROGRESSIVE COALITION puts out an election eve door hanger listing its picks for local races and measures. Getting on this list is considered crucial if you want to win the local progressive vote, which is huge.

All of which explains why political fireworks were going off after the SCPC gave its City Council thumbs-up to TONY MADRIGAL and not Mayor SCOTT KENNEDY, though both men received an equal number of endorsements from SCPC member groups..

BILL MALONE of the PEOPLE'S DEMOCRATIC CLUB explained the candidate selection process thusly: "We wanted to put out a door hanger and we wanted to pick four City Council candidates, which created some difficulty. Something had to give."

Not to be outdone by this last-minute giveaway of its candidate, the Kennedy campaign put out another door hanger that not only included Kennedy but also MARK PRIMACK, who, to say the least, does not often feel the love from the progressive community.

But what really got some progressives' goat was that the Kennedy hanger carried a stamp saying it was paid for and authorized by FRIENDS OF FARR--a stamp that the SCPC hanger also carries, thus giving both hangers the air of Democratic authenticity.

Caught in the middle of a political storm just waiting to brew, Congressmember SAM FARR clarified that he made no endorsements in the Santa Cruz City Council race, but had contributed to two local, grassroots-organized door hanger efforts.

"My contributions to these efforts were solely for having my name listed on the door hanger, after being endorsed by the sponsoring parties under their regular endorsement processes. If the wording as to who funded the door hangers is unclear, it is because by law my campaign is required to use the words 'Paid for and authorized by Friends of Farr' with my FEC number, a statement that must appear outlined in its own box on a hanger, while other contributors are not bound by the same legal disclosures," explained Farr extremely carefully.

As for the dueling hangers, the four candidates listed on the SCPC slate got elected, while Kennedy and Primack both lost their seat--which suggests that a lot really does hang on which door hanger you're on.

Just Bias

Nüz doesn't care who you are, when you see DICK 'THE VICE" CHENEY in a leopard bodysuit slamming challenger JOHN EDWARDS while lip-synching to the actual audio from the veep debates you too will become a fan of the locally produced TV satire Fair & Balanced.

Following the showing of F&B's 17th episode, a raging party ensued, meaning Nüz had to interview F&B's creators JOE PETERSEN and CHARLENE QUARESMA outside and in between smoke breaks. Why the party? The show is forging into vast new territory beyond Santa Cruz's infamous political bubble.

"We sent Free Speech TV an audition tape. They liked it. As of episode 17, we've gone national," explains Petersen, a twentysomething actor and UCSC theater arts graduate, who together with Quaresma forms F&B's anchor team, and who punctuates his statements with tugs on his cigarette.

"The perception that we've been preaching to the choir has been a problem," adds Peterson of the show, which looks and feels like the nightly news and has a symbiotic relationship with mainstream media, its material being largely determined by ever present gross sensationalism on any 24-hour news networks.

While the show raises chuckles across the political spectrum--thanks to segments like Iraqis Gone Wild (a mock video of the Iraqi/US. conflict as if it were footage of out-of-control spring breakers) and debate coverage that uses computer graphics to put the heads of presidential candidates on the bodies of WWF wrestlers locked in a no-holds-barred, flesh-pounding, smack-down--the question remains: Isn't F&B's take just another form of media exploitation?

Not if you're smart enough to have some perspective, says Quaresma, whose day job at Pacific Avenue's CAMOUFLAGE is betrayed when she joins the interview in giant, furry, jet-black, cave-girl boots.

"The news is already doing what we're doing. There's no sensitivity or attention to the feelings of the real lives they affect," she says, speaking with an intensity that makes everyone within earshot turn and listen. "If they can make a dollar off something, they will. People support war because they get to see the bombs drop. It's this adrenaline rush. Why watch some shoot 'em up docudrama when you can watch the news and salivate at every single detail? To me that's just disgusting, and the only way to call them on it is to come out and say what they're implying."

Adds Peterson, "The greatest trick the corporate interests ever pulled was convincing people of the existence of the 'liberal media.' There wouldn't be a problem if people claimed their bias, but they don't, so we have come to see their bias as our reality. That's why we end every show with the tag line. "We're not lying, we're just biased."

F&B airs Wednesdays and Sundays at 8pm on public access TV (Channel 27 locally). See www.freespeech.org for details.

Small Biz Fair

Every year since 1999, local Internet service provider CRUZIO has coordinated the SMALL BUSINESS FAIR. With art and technology as its theme, the fair (Nov. 10 and 17, from 4:30pm to 8pm, at 903 Pacific Ave., Suite 101, Santa Cruz) targets artists and people hoping to start and expand small businesses. Admission for each evening is $35 and includes a light dinner, two panel presentations and networking with other artists and small business people. Registration information is available at www.smallbusinessfair.com.

The Last Optimist On Earth

OK, so the last week has been hecka painful week if you're not a BUSH supporter. For those of you fantasizing about the GREAT WHITE NORTH, remember that Canadian geese typically head south at this time of year, so April might be a better time to launch your exodus to Vancouver. And by then you'll have had a chance to decide if it's perhaps better to stay and battle the gathering threat of religious fanaticism. KARL ROVE can do all the crowing he wants, but nurturing gay bashers and sexual puritans is not something to be proud of--something worth remembering as people start trying to blame GAVIN NEWSOM and JANET JACKSON'S NIPPLE for Bush's win.

P.S. Keep your eyes on the story that the Florida election was hacked.

Nüz just loves juicy tips: Drop a line to 115 Cooper St, Santa Cruz, 95060, email us at , or call our hotline at 457.9000, ext 214.

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From the November 10-17, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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