Its been kinda grim lately on the political-world scene, so I was looking forward to seeing Stephanie Miller, the frenetic, scatological and scathingly funny progressive radio personality, carried locally on 92.1, the Mic.
I had to wait a long time, it turned out. This was made more challenging since I brought my twelve year old son along with his twelve year old friend, both savvy enough to appreciate political and of course, scatological humor. (Hmmm, is this good parenting?)
The evening began with the program director of 92.1 reading the following week's programming schedule in its entirety (or so it seemed). Then we were shown a film by local film maker Luciano about the "resurrection" of The Mic from the evildoers at Clear Channel radio. It was a good film, albeit a bit lengthy. The boys and I generally enjoyed it. It got people fired up with its inspirational story line of grass roots activism.
Then, I naively thought, out would come Stephanie, the energy would continue to rise, we'd have some laughs and go home.
This, alas, was not to be the case. Instead, we were "treated" to a panel discussion. The panel included Matt Rothschild of the Progressive Magazine, John Nichols of the Nation, the station manager of Clear Channel in Madison, and Tom Kelly who I wasn't familiar with. The discussion was moderated by Stuart Levitan. So.......five WHITE MALES discussing and discussing and discussing. The 12 year olds were becoming restless. (uh oh) Most of the discussion was by Mr Levitan who evidently thought he was the star attraction, and not Ms Miller. The WOMAN who organized the massive petition drive to get The Mic back on the air was not on the panel. The WOMAN owner of the Dardanelle's, a major player in this "resurrection" was not on the panel. Of the panelists, only Mr Nichols drew attention to the fact that it was a group of all WHITE MALES on the panel. The 12 year olds were becoming more restless. In the words of my son "this sucks".
Mercifully, Mr Levitan brought things to an end. It took him five minutes to give his "concluding" remarks, but finally, finally we got to the main event. I was tired by then. It was 9pm. I noticed a lot of people looking at their watches during the panel. About a third of the packed house had escaped to the lobbyduring the panel. In the time-honored traditon of the Left in Madison, they get an excited, high energy crowd and drain the energy right out of them. When will this lesson be learned? If you're going to have a revival meeting, you don't stop for a Tupperware party in the middle.
FINALLY, Stephanie came out and did not disappoint the mulitudes of fans. She was very funny at times. Lots of stream of consciousness speaking. Reminding people that she came from a Republican family (her father was Barry Goldwater's running mate in '64) she told how when she criticizes Bush, her mom alway replies "he's doing the best he can". She quipped that if W was having sex with a sheep on the White House lawn, then set it on fire, her mom would say: "Well, honey, the sheep was cold. And lonely. And he's doing the best he can". Thunderous laughter. The twelve year olds were definitely getting into it. I guess this was a good thing. She had lots of commentary on Bush and got lots of laughs about all those right wing pundits. Her vivid, frightening, revolting description of what it might be like to be in bed with Rush Limbaugh nearly brought the house down. By now, the 12 year olds were paying even closer attention. Then, she took questions from the audience which was sometimes funny, sometimes pathetic. After an hour or so, she had the good sense to wrap things up and left the stage to thunderous applause.
Mr Levitan, apparently eager to soak up some of that applause, rushed out on stage and started speaking AGAIN. This time, though, people just bolted for the exits. He may still be talking. I don't know.