Monday, October 27, 2008

The end of the Clarion: some last-minute polls.

Hi everyone, Marisha here. I am back in the Heights for the next few days packing out and trying to sublease my apartment -- if you know anyone that needs a nice, clean, well-lit one bedroom in the Cassock District, email me right away. Easy access to the I-Line and Armitage Square Park.

Just a couple of polls worth looking at. The first is the Herald-Tribune's mayoral race poll. Sherman has a very slight lead, just outside of the 3% margin of error.

Mayoral Race, Mishipeshu - November 4

Sherman Larson (I) - 34%

Robert Underdahl (D) - 29%

Reeves Sinderman (R) - 27%


Aldermanic Special Race, 3rd Ward (Armitage Heights, Kendall Park, Hanley, Armitage Hill, Little Warsaw, Wihinapa) - December 2

Branch Nickelbine (R) - 52%

Blake Timlin (D) - 27%

Andrea Gilanshah (Green) - 16%

Bronwynn Hyperioum Eisenberg (Wiccan Socialist) - 2%

Dr. Thomas Jefferson Harding (Đang Cong san Viet Nam) - 2%


Looks very good for Sherman, looks very bad for the Democrats here in Armitage Heights. As I'd feared, the Greens, Democrats and Socialist Wiccans are splitting the lefty vote, while the conservatives in Armitage Hill and Wihinapa are united solidly behind Nickelbine.

I don't understand how Dr. Harding even got on the ballot again. He hasn't lived in this neighborhood for two years, he is wanted on felony public peace disruption charges, he is a member of the Viet Cong, and he is 90 years old. Marla and Barry are surely spinning over in their graves.

Friday, October 24, 2008

The end of the Armitage Heights Clarion.

Hi everyone, Marisha here. You're probably surprised by the title of this post -- so am I, trust me. Where to even begin?

This has been a crazy month here. Maybe not as crazy as the Winter Parade riots or when Sherman disappeared in Ireland, but crazy nonetheless. Like I said, I'm not sure where to even begin.

So I'll start with the show in Minneapolis that was written about Armitage Heights, sort of a dramatization of the Christmas Island trial (who were called "Moon Island" here). I actually took some vacation time last weekend to fly out to the Twin Cities myself and see what it was all about. I'd wanted Sherman to come out with me, but since he's returned from Washington at the end of Hillary Clinton's campaign, on which he was serving as senior youth advisor, he'd been lying low. So I went out by myself, planning to stay for about a week. I had some old friends from college that are in grad school at Madison that I wanted to visit while I was out that way.

The show, "Don't Crush Out Heart," was good, but confusing. It was a "radio show," apparently, though it didn't seem to be broadcast on the radio. The fellow they had playing Sherman, a very talented musical theater actor named P. Chris Bierbauer, was spectacular. The woman playing me (Jenny Adams) was excellent, though my character seemed to have been extensively altered. I was portrayed as being 23 years old, naive and kind of whiny -- not exactly the way I picture myself. The band "Moon Island" was great; frankly, the songs were quite a bit better than the real Christmas Island's ouevre, all things considered. It was a great experience.

I talked to the company afterwards, a group called Electric Arc Radio. They were some very interesting and wonderful people. In fact, I'm currently writing to you from Minneapolis. But more on that in a minute.

Anyway, while I was in Minneapolis, two very notable events occurred back in the neighborhood:

1.) 3rd Ward Seat Vacancy. The first was that Chick Cavalcanti, my boss and the 3rd Ward alderman, had a severe heart attack -- this was last Monday, October 20 -- and was hospitalized. Chick was in a coma for a few days, but when he came to, he of course announced that he had no choice but to resign as 3rd Ward alderman. Mayor Underdahl temporarily appointed -- of course -- Sherman as his replacement, and called a special election for December.
So Sherman is my boss again. It was assumed Sherman would run for his old vacant seat in the special election. Not so. This is where it gets complicated.

2.) The Mayoral Race. There is also a mayoral election in November. Underdahl, the Democrat, was thought to be a shoe-in earlier this year, but his administration has recently become the object of some serious scrutiny for ethics violations and ties to a few radical Esperanto separatist groups. He's running a tight race between a well-financed but widely-disliked Republican challenger, 8th Ward Alderman Reeves Sinderman, the smarmy Mitt Romney backer who regular readers might recall from the Dublin guest blogger fiasco of some months ago.

So a week ago, Sherman announces that he is entering the mayoral race as an Independent candidate, on a fusion ticket with dotcom billionaire and zeppelin magnate Rockwell Katz for County Commissioner. Underdahl and Sinderman are both so unpopular, and Sherman has such name recognition from his various escapades as Alderman (in addition to serious funding from Katz) that he's now polling between 35% and 38% in a three-way race.

It seems entirely possible that on November 4, Sherman Larson will be mayor.

Which leaves the special election for 3rd Alderman seat up for grabs. With Sherman announcing his mayoral run as Independent, the Democrats have been left in a lurch. The best they've been able to come up with is 28-year old Blake Timlin (above left), a shy, boyish mumbler who is fresh out of an internship with the City Council Transit and Bicycle Paths Subcommittee. The Republicans are running a paleolithic local millionaire, Branch S. Nickelbine IV (above right), who was primarily known as an advisor to right-wing martyrs the Johannsen family. He's running on a reform ticket of extreme budget-cutting, and the first thing he's vowed to cut is funding for this blog, which he calls a "treasonous, ribald, elitist joke at the expense of the hard-working citizens of the real Armitage Heights." He's running ahead by fifteen points so far. I know Blake Timlin, and he's a nice guy, but there is no way I'm working for him if he wins. Which he almost certainly is not. He tried to ask me out on a date once at a Democratic Party benefit, and he spilled Cabernet on my dress, then ran into the bathroom and left me to clean it up. I think if I was working for Blake Timlin, there'd be a lot to clean up after.

So here I am in Minneapolis -- I'm gone for one week, and suddenly Chick is retired, Sherman is shoe-in for mayor, and the Republicans will hold the 3rd Ward aldermanic seat for the first time since the 1980s. Suddenly I seem to be out of a job!

Sherman has offered me a position in his administration, but I honestly don't have any interest in working in the mayor's office. Especially as an administrative assistant. I'm not even sure I want to keep working in local politics. I do hold two Bachelors degrees in Womens' Studies and Semiotics, and a Master's degree in Urban Planning and Comparative Literature, after all. Not to brag, of course. But it might be nice to consider a more challenging career path beyond the usual.

Good thing, too. Because how about this: when I was in Minneapolis, a friend in Madison I knew from the MFA program at Mishipeshu tipped me off to an opening here in town as managing editor with a small poetry journal. She went to school with their executive director, and recommended me to him. I interviewed, and they offered me the position right off. So weirdly enough, I am now writing to you not as assistant to the 3rd Ward Alderman in Armitage Heights, but managing editor of the Mill City Poetry Review in Minneapolis.

I expect when Nickelbine is elected, this blog will be shut down almost immediately and the funding diverted to abstinence-only sex education. I'll try to slip in before and post updates, if there are any; perhaps some of you would like to know what's going on with Sherman, Chick, the Kaos Krew, the right-wing twee-pop vigilantes Willy + Safire, legendary novelist Kimball F. Burin and Vietnam-based urban vigilante Dr. Thomas Jefferson Harding.

But this really looks like it -- the end of the Clarion, and the end of my time here in Armitage Heights. Just like that. Funny how life works.

Email me at marisha.e.ferguson (at) gmail dot com if you need to get a hold of me.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Someone in Minneapolis wrote a radio musical about us.

Above: Minneapolis, where actors are playing my assistant Marisha right now.

Marisha just came across some press clippings that seem to indicate that someone in Minneapolis (of all places!) has written a musical radio show about the Christmas Island case.

You can read about it here.

They've taken some real liberties, it looks like, changing Christmas Island to "Moon Island" and giving former councilman Sherman Larson a bigger part than he actually played. It looks like they changed the ending, too -- as we all know, our Christmas Island broke up before the trial ended and are presently working in and around town to pay off their legal fees. I feel bad for the kids, but so it goes. They probably won't be able to afford to fly out to Minneapolis to see the show that's about them. What a shame.

Marisha says she may fly out to see the show herself in October. We'll update you.

I've heard Minneapolis is a nice place. It's about the same size, roughly, as here, so maybe the people writing it will have a sense of what it's like being here. Of course, Minneapolis doesn't have a Zeppelin District or Delawaretown, does it?

If you're visiting for the first time from Minneapolis, feel free to look at this introduction to what's been happening on this blog since 2006.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Christmas Island relocation trial: Day 3.

Well, another bombshell today. After a grueling morning of expert testimony by economists, intellectual property lawyers, real estate agents, rock critics, demographers and Dr. Richard Florida, they finally called some of the members of Christmas Island to the stand to testify. First up was the guitarist, Jessica Cormany. She brought her guitar to the stand with her.

"I'm not really a verbal person," she mumbled. "So if it pleases the court, I'd prefer to sing instead."

Judeg Ranvek allowed it. "This is a song I wrote one morning on the water taxi between Fulton Ferry Landing and Pier 11, looking out at the Brooklyn Bridge," she explained, fighting back tears. "It's the happiest I've ever been in my entire life."

Then she played the song. It was the most beautiful song I have ever heard. It was the most beautiful song anyone in the room had ever heard. The whole room was blubbering by the second verse.

Now I'm not a songwriter, but I know good work when I hear it. And gosh damn it, these kids are really good.

Our Armitage Heights lawyers looked sad and nervous. Judge Ranvek looked tearful. My assistant Marisha, sobbing softly, leaned in to tell me this: "That's not even their best song. That wasn't even on the EP. That was only available on a vinyl benefit compilation for when the Lakesider closed. They've got a million songs that good. All the new ones are about New York City."

The tide may have shifted in the kids' favor.

We'll see how day four goes.

Below is the courtroom sketch of Jessica playing her song.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Christmas Island relocation trial: Day 2.

Above: Brooklyn's Councilman Yassky.

A big bombshell in the Christmas Island trial this morning. The Armitage Heights team brought in a surprise witness, David Yassky, who represents Brooklyn's 33rd Council District on the New York City Council. The 33rd Council District is comprised of Greenpoint, Brooklyn Heights, Boerum Hill, Park Slope and Williamsburg.

"As much as I appreciate the artistry of these kids, the 33rd doesn't particularly need another musical group of this sort right now," he said in his testimony. "Our resources are strained as is, and the idea that we might be able to offer your neighborhood some unspecifed renumeration for taking in these kids is ridiculous."

There was a gasp from the courtroom. Yassky waved his hand. "They're good. I've heard that EP they put out on KRS, they absolutely remind me of Of Montreal, in a good way. But we have plenty of equally great homegrown Brooklyn acts also reminscent of Of Montreal right in our city already. One more is not, from a strictly economic or cultural perspective, at all necessary." Yassky continued: "I'd advise these kids to stay right where they are, here in your wonderful neighborhood."

The court was audibly delighted to hear Councilman Yassky note that "Armitage Heights really does remind me a lot of parts of Greenpoint."

Looks bad for the kids. Their bassist -- I'll have to get her name from Marisha -- looked to be on the verge of tears. We'll see how day 3 goes.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Christmas Island relocation trial begins today.

There's considerable activity downtown near the courthouse this afternoon, across from City Hall, where I am writing you from.

You'll recall that before Sherman left to be a part of the Clinton campaign, he initiated some (to my mind) questionable legal action against the beloved "indie-pop" music group Christmas Island to legally prevent them from relocating to Brooklyn to pursue their musical careers, arguing that they had become (to quote the brief) "an essential and indispensible part of the fabric of our city's economic and cultural well-being." Now a few months later, Case Number CV-95-297833, Armitage Heights Neighborhood Development Organization v. Christmas Island, L.L.C., et al., is finally coming up before the Pierce County Court of Common Pleas.

Christmas Island, as far as I've heard, is trying to get the City of Brooklyn and Kings County to intervene on their behalf, and in order to prevent an injunction, possibly work out a trade agreement with Armitage Heights of some kind. I'm not sure what precedent there is for this, as my law school days are well behind me. I just hope those Christmas Island kids have some friends that passed the bar after their bands broke up.

Anyway, this should be an interesting one. I'll post updates and what-not from the civil trial as they are available.

Above: Two members of Christmas Island outside the Pierce County Courthouse downtown.