I am hereby inviting the 10 Palo Alto City Council candidates to respond to a prompt: on your cell phone, sing a bar, a line or a verse from the song “When You Were Mine”.
I will post the results on my blog, “Plastic Alto”. With the help of a panel of neutral, qualifed consultants, we will grade these submissions on a 100-point scale.
I am partly responding to a column in the Los Angeles Times about Kamala Harris, a candidate for U.S. Vice President and the criticism she receives for singing, dancing to or mouthing the words to a Mary J. Blige song “Work That”, her “walk up” at rallies and events. As a concert promoter and former candidate for local office, I want a leader who can rock or dance or at least appreciate the arts. Sure, there is some decorum considerations; I’d advocate that, especially for a female candidate, you not shake your hips more than 40 degrees, or two directions — i.e. back and forth, (then stop).
Marissa Mayer shook her hips briefly in the video for Mayor Ed Lee, based on the MC Hammer song “2 Legit 2 Quit”. But enough to send the message, and her guy won.
AOC, before being a candidate for U.S. Congress, sang and danced for a promo film for her alma mater. And this drew derisive whistles from the Far Right.
In this context, the “You” of the Prince / Cyndi Lauper song could be Lady Liberty, or Democracy. I am seriously worried that depending what happens Tuesday, America’s 246-year experiment with Democracy will come to a close. I am saying this works on two levels: local and national. It’s a tool for undecided voters, but it’s also a prayer for peace.
If all you the candidate can do is memorize the words “when You were mine” and say them in order and without runningthemalltogether that’s, like, 10 points on the 100-point scale. Generally, you should be able to do better than me. But the winning piece, from someone likely to earn my vote or change my pencil ballot, should have pitch, phrasing, a sense of fun, or play or art. Bonus points for people who can add a counter melody, falsetto, melisma, or beat box interlude. Or as Robin says, show us a sense of joy. Your video should be between 10 and 60 seconds.
(This supercedes the July challenge for candidates to respond to Thelonious Monk. For the record, the partial score winners were: Rebecca Eisenberg, Tom Dubois and Ed Shikada — the latter two are not candidates but at least acknowledged the project).
Good luck. And thank you for your kinda sorta service.
Addendum, edit to add, Sunday 8 p.m., roughly 12 hours from the deadline, and I have one submission, one substitute submission, an exclusive interview on the topic of the arts, and a photo op. Another candidate convincingly said he would submit an entry.
Rebecca Eisenberg (received 6 p.m. Sunday)
Cari Templeton (says the name of the song, which is also a lyric, which is good for 10 points on the 100 point scale — by the way, I did consult with or make contact with four potential judges, i.e. entertainment professionals who can help authenticate how close the political campaign performances are to truly artistic utterances and attempts to correspond with the muse. To come…noon Sunday)
Cari Templeton 10 points of 100, incidental as part of a five minute interview on the value of arts policy in her envisioned Palo Alto City Council tenure
Steven Lee 20 points Saturday The candidate submitted two TikTok samples he made for his music that include needle drops of popular songs; in this one he leaps eight tmes, roughly with the beat (Raven Malone said that he was actually a bit off the beat, but close enough for politics; Aleta Hayes actually chimed in: Me: Do I give him partial credit? She: Absolutely, yes. This is great! LOL).
Actually my computer smartly reminded me that a year ago Steven Lee circulated this photo of him doing a charity event that includes rapelling by rope off a building, and since I have a friend named Hope Clark who is or was a Streb Dancer, I am including this for extra credit. So win or lose, Lee can respond next time with: I’m not musical, I’m not really a dancer, except in Plastic Alto. He lip synchs to Sara Bareilles “Brave” and I suggested he can garner a few more points potentially by submitting more content based on mimicking the dance moves in that video (seen by 110 million people).
Greg Tanaka -(-10 minus 10) Incumbent Greg Tanaka has not responded to the good faith offer to participate here, potentially win undecided music-loving voters but apparently has an algorithm that will interrupt my attempts to listen to Prince “When You Were Mine” by Reina Del Cid on YouTube and ask me for his vote anyways:
Check back before the polls close that is to say we have 48 more hours — I am going to push for more content, a better contest. If you are strangely here just for the music here is L. Marie Cook doing the a capella last verse, and Palo Alto’s Beaumann Edwards doing an instrumental bed of the first 2 minutes – -maybe I can get them to work together my Lions With Wings label.
In my research I found versions of this by: Prince, Prince live, Lake Street Drive, Lake Street Dive with Molly Tuttle, Har Mar Superstar, Bob Mould featuring Jon Wurster, Cyndi Lauper, Tommy Lee of Motley Crue, Tegan and Sara, Mitch Ryder, and Casiotone for The Painfully Alone.
Deadline passes, but this just in:
So I would say the results are
Stone: 80 (tie for first — pending a review by the judges)
Raven Malone: 5 (she posed for a photo, and danced a bit while I was talking to Cari, and her partner Reggie Williams — not the NFL star — knows the song but she did not.
Lauing, Burt, Varma, Kuo: 0 (Thanks for listening: NOT)
Tanaka: -(-10) minus 10 – -he pays a media company to monitor my activity and interjecgt with his bullshit propaganda.
So my ballot is likely:
a) bullet ballot Rebecca Eisenberg:
b) Eisenberg, Malone, Templeton — all female on the basis of sex; MET;
or, as is my habit:
c) Eisenberg, Malone, Templeton, coinflip between Greer Stone and Steven Lee
d) Eisenberg, Stone, Malone, Templeton [*]
Or as Jonathan Richman, my close personal friend (met him twice) says: I’m so confused. There’s something about Rebecca Eisenberg that I’ve drawn a lot from so I hope Plastic Alto readers and Earthwise fans read this far and mark me, mark her.
Here was my scratch-track to get the candidates to try this:
I do both the basic deadpan blank verse delivery and a bit more confident if not any more tuneful a capella and phrasing. I’m not the candidate. You can take more than 20 minutes but please deliver by Monday 9 a.m. I will post the results in order received. I’m hoping for judges like Aleta Hayes of Stanford Drama and Dance; Will Riggs a commissioner, but he has 3 cds out; or Janis Stevenson, who taught music at Foothill.
andand: I am on the mailing list of a really cool guy who went to grad school with my good friend and I asked him to break the tie between Rebecca and Greer here. If blogging is the opposite of poltics and you want to know about the sausage and how its made – and I am the wurst — I dance like Jon Wurster — who says he will judge this same contest in 2024 — this is the 25th version. With a federal subpoena you can read the previous 24. Also, if its true as Wired says that the Russians hacked even me — anyone who ran for public office in America – than you can see other versions of me practicing this song.