I am a transparent shadow. An invented digital reality. A wave of energy from where my assumed humanity interweaves the soil of this planet as I breathe upward into the sky. Brixton Hughes is an artifact. He should be under glass in a faux museum, but undead ideas never quite lie still. Brixton Hughes was born near the turn of the century behind a fake desk facing the cameras as Host of The Okar Effect (TOE). His purpose was to mock shock jocks like Bill O’Reilly and the O’Reilly Factor. I’m not a similacra of authentic Fake News from the late 1990’s, I just played one on Public Access TV.
Brixton Hughes was one of 3 characters I played, that along with 3 faces of Neil Levy, a long list of guest stars, and a core of recurring characters, were the cast for the near 10 year run of The Temple Tapes on MTN in Minneapolis. Brixton was always my favorite because his commentary during TOE were the real non-fake thread in the show. Brixton was the anchor. Hosting the most truthful segment disguised as my alter ego encapsulated the theme of The Temple Tapes. We were transparent about how we used TV Magic to manipulate time and image as we invented and distorted reality. It became our inside joke that the difference between The Temple Tapes and mainstream news was that we were honest about our deceit.
In retrospect, the sweetest absurdity may have been that we were able to glean a sort truth from all the false narratives and outright silliness of The Temple Tapes while the massive global network news reports are still trying to convince us that some dots simply cannot be connected. I am just a bit concerned that the Absurdist narrative we made up in 2001 remains as reasonable an explanation of the Trump Presidency as any spun by other news sources, real, fake or otherwise. My former self would argue that Trump is the manifestation of that Absurdist narrative in the political realm and cite video evidence in support of that position. My current self knows when I am outdone and we leave the absurdity to the Prima Donald. It is time to get real.
The latest version of Brixton Hughes – New Hughes – Old Shoes– replaces the nonsense and absurd chaos rituals of the Art Temple Mandala with serious people speaking the truth about local issues and politics. Video continues to be the foundation of our efforts. Modified Cinema Verite has become D. Okar’s signature style. The people in most of his videos speak in their own words, Editorial comments are sparse and often highlight the contradictions or cogency of what was said in the video. It is B. Hughes that puts the clips in context and connects them with a rational narrative about how we might use social and political change to promote a healthier culture. A healthy culture heals. It does not double down on suffering, hate, and anger. My goal is to manifest a more healthy culture and the 2017 Minneapolis political realm seems a good place to start building it. I think of video/cinema as catalysts because they communicate very efficiently and make it easier to change. Our hypothesis was that by catalyzing a particular subset of campaigns for Minneapolis Parks and Recreation Board as early and as clearly as possible, we could determine if our efforts had any impact. That we made and shared supportive videos for 7 of the 9 MPRB candidates that were endorsed or won the final ballot suggests that we may have done so. Either that, or we have an uncanny ability to pick winners in the DFL election process.
Given that the MPRB is ridden with controversy, rife with unrepentant racism, renown for rudeness, insistent on prosecuting dissenters, and tolerant of unabashed retribution on the part of Commissioners, it was not hard to see that it was ripe for change. As the MPRB was doing everything they could to undermine public trust in 2016, Russ Henry was introducing me to people all over town that were interested in running for District MPRB Commissioner and joining Russ in the race for 3 At Large seats. Meanwhile, I had become aware of Nekima Levy-Pounds as a powerful voice for justice in the Jamar Clark killing and the occupation of the Fourth Precinct. I quickly learned that she had also spoken before the MPRB defending those targeted by Parks administrators and Commissioners and calling out their overt and implicit racial biases. When Nekima announced her candidacy for Mayor, I was on board immediately. Primarily because of my focus on the MPRB races in 2017 and Levy-Pounds’ recent history with the MPRB that played a critical part in weakening the status quo control of the Board and giving the new progressives an opening in 2017. Take a moment to appreciate that it is possible to bring a new MPRB together with Mayor Levy-Pounds to address racial biases in the Parks with regard to employment, resource allocation, and planning in 2018.
Nothing against Ray Dehn. I think he could be an effective and progressive Mayor. I see him at a lot of the events I attend. He is always warm and open to discussion. I’m sure he would get along well with the new progressive Council members and Park Commissioners. It would be a sweep for the Berners. Just the kind of victory the progressive wing needs to set it up for 2018 in Minnesota and the nation. Not a bad back up plan, but I prefer coalition government to 1 party rule, even by the New Progressives. Nekima Levy-Pounds is the coalition candidate. She is uniquely and strongly positioned to hold the progressives on Council and the Board accountable for their campaign promises about racial justice. She brings important and historically disempowered constituencies to the Mayor’s Office that both complement and challenge the progressive agenda. I am confident that the more progressive MPRB taking shape across the city would respond positively and work with Nekima to extend our #1 Parks System to every neighborhood and every person in Minneapolis. Mayor Levy-Pounds can help them stretch the progressive movement and establish a winning record as a realigned Democratic Party takes shape in 2018. No other Mayoral candidate is likely to do any such thing, and that is why electing Nekima Levy-Pounds Mayor of Minneapolis is the most effective way the push the progressives to follow through and implement regenerative programs that grow healthy parks, feed healthy people, and manifest a healthy culture.