This article began as a formal statement of my intent to enter the 2021 municipal election in Minneapolis and run for City Council in Ward 12. It was a biographical sketch of the person that, almost 20 years ago, took on the role of Brixton Hughes to represent rationality and reason in the midst of the Absurd Chaos of The Temple Tapes. But we’ll tell the story of David Okar another day, because he ain’t runnin’ for office in 2021. It sounds wrong, but it’s right. This is the Okar Effect.
Brixton Hughes is a nom de guerre. He is not real. Hughes was conceived as a kind of mask. I wore him to speak truthfully in the swirling Absurdity and Nonsense of the Temple Tapes and the Cheney/Bush regime. The undying irony of Brixton Hughes is that despite his deeply fake origin, he remains one of the most truthful and accurate voices of reason and nonsense in the media universe. Remember: Brixton Hughes is Fake News. Fake it ’til you make it.
The Rifle Principle of Force Multipliers applies to imaginary and real forces, particularly in the virtual world of TV and Streaming Media Feeds. I had 3 main personas in the Temple Tapes. Stan Howitzer, Brixton Hughes, and Okarma. Logic and fact, the Bridge, Mysticism and magick. In a Slick TV Show, these would be 3 different characters played by 3 different actors. In our Unslick TV Show I played all 3, as myself playing all 3. Neil Levy did the same with Tom Rifle, Bill Carson, and a series of mysterious non physical beings (or nothing at all). It was a literary, well an Absurdist and Surreal Public Access TV, ploy to make our cast seem larger, and thereby more important.
“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.”B. Hughes, July 31, 2017
I had been thinking that my hesitation to run was because of fear. Fear that I would fail to mount a successful campaign because I do not excel at selling ideas and organizing people. Fear that without a mask I would have to take responsibility for my public actions and words. While I cannot honestly say that such fears do populate my thoughts from time to time, they are not quite loud enough to dissuade me on their own. That took my rational mind and emotional heart. I listened to Marcus when he talked about being serious. I heard Toya when she said it was because of my heart. I understood Sam when she reiterated the value of decentralized power. I listened to Danielle when she assured me that our work is not yet done. When I boiled it down, it was clear that I am seriously not an Elected Official at heart.
It is easy to forget the truth about Brixton Hughes because he is the only alter ego that survived from the Temple Tapes. When I made Crafted to Last – Minnesota Beer Blossoms, he satisfied my goal to tie all my creative work together by some thread. Brixton promoting a documentary by D. Okar was the bridge from MTN to CTL. Then when I began directing my activism to local issues and trying to influence the narratives (and the voters), particularly in the 2017 Minneapolis Elections, I was already Brixton Hughes, no sense rocking the boat. Hughes has survived more than a few purges of fake identities on social media. He has never been in FB jail, but YouTube has banned a few of our videos – mostly for video stolen from drone-makers, manufacturers of various weapon systems, and the Minneapolis Police Department (for Harteau Remix). I have been building a library of video footage over the last 6 years. A lot of protest and remembering stolen lives material, as well as city parks, landmarks, and skylines. We have very recently begun tapping into it to make muszak video shorts about the Minneapolis Uprising that present it in a more sonically and visually impactful way.
If D. Okar ran for City Council, all our video work would go toward that campaign. It would recenter my cameras on me. While that situation has a certain “closing the cycle” sense about it, that will be the case whenever I run for whatever office. Brixton is doing a pretty OK job keeping the camera focused on the people that know the critical stories of our society first hand and by lived experience. It is encouraging to see more, and more organized, independent media sources all over the Twin Cities. Move For Justice News and On Site Public Media are important and welcome sources of news and information. But SpitBall and Okar assure me that New Hughes and CDDF Productions still have work to do.
The Absurdist streak in my mind went ahead and planned out a “serious” campaign while I sat here and wrote this article about not doing it. Serious Absurdity would have been the call for this one. I am a serious advocate of Absurdity as a means to subvert the basic absurdity of authoritarian/police states and the bureaucracies that silence their guns and hold pillows to their fists. We’ll save the details for a future campaign. It’s almost as good as the Total Candidate and Shot-Gun Approach to Elections. A real knee-slapper with sharp edges, at first unnoticed. Remember the Absurdist stump speeches would have held Truth in a Lakoff Reality Sandwich and served them up fresh at every campaign event.
I realize that “serious absurdity” is not the only way for person like me to get serious about running for an office. I can cut my hair and wear a tie. I know how to clean up my act. We all know that it wouldn’t be much of a stretch for a socially-motivated middle-aged white man with a PhD, a CV, and a resume to transform into a progressive liberal candidate for MPLS Ward 12. An Electable One. Thing is, I also listen to myself. I support and appreciate each and every one of you that can take yourself over to this governmental body or that one, and move into Office. I wish you well. Some of you, I expect, are good people. Get it?
I still have faith that a city-sized governmental system is small enough that a dedicated community of human beings could decide to modify it from within, and/or remake it from without, to better serve and more directly work for the residents. I just do not believe that our current city-sized governmental system is sufficient to the task. They need help, specifically to hold the officials and the system accountable to the people and redirect city resources toward growing a safe city that nourishes and nurtures the residents in every neighborhood. Perhaps we might do better if we built a parallel system and left the politicos to their foolish ways and self-serving non-profit endeavors.
I’m gonna think about doing what needs to be done, rather than trying to win seats that we think will provide power to do what needs to be done. I will stand in solidarity with people that want to take those seats and help us realize a more perfect union; a more just, fair, and safe society. But for now, I’ll stay outside. In the streets. Alongside those that stand up and speak out; that shut down traffic and open up your eyes. Stay strong. Stay focused.