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Rallying Round Al

Houston pitches in to help an ailing Austinite; also: Dennis Kucinich hits the hip-hop hustings

When asked why they had decided to host a benefit on a lucrative Saturday night, the Continental's Trey Armstrong said, "Hey, man. It's Al. You know the drill."

Dennis da Menace

K-Rino's in da house! Unhh. Unhh. DJ Chill's in da house! Unhh. Killa Kyleon in da house! Unhh. Dennis Kucinich is in da house! South Park Coalition's in da…wait a minute. Rewind that shit back. Dennis Kucinich!?

Yep, it really happened. In a campaign stop that seemed more like watching C-SPAN on three hits of acid than anything approaching objective reality, the diminutive and scrappy Ohio congressman was spotted pressing the flesh -- or more accurately, soul-shaking the flesh -- at KPFT studios in the wee hours of December 4.

Kucinich was there at the behest of Matt Sonzala, the host of KPFT's underground hip-hop show Damage Control and another Press contributor. (We really should consider paying these guys cash instead of offering them free publicity. We're just kidding, of course.) And between beats provided by DJ Chill, Kucinich shared his views on the issues -- he's in favor of universal health care, a 15 percent reduction in defense spending, the decriminalization of marijuana, the abolition of the death penalty, much stricter gun control, free tuition for whoever wants to go to college, and so on. You know, all the feel-good mumbo-jumbo that makes run-of-the-mill Anglo Texans start thinking Lenin has risen from his tomb. (Willie Nelson has endorsed Kucinich, but a fat lot of good that's going to do him on Election Day.)

But Damage Controlisn't for the Hank Hills of the world, and Kucinich believes that the urban hip-hop community is fertile ground for his message, so much so that he made this appearance at the end of a 20-hour day and five hours before his plane left at 5 a.m. He seems to be positioning himself to pick up the black vote that will likely be shopping for a new candidate once the Reverend Al Sharpton drops out of the race.

The quixotic candidate looked very small amid the many tall and/or beefy rappers, but he knew variations of the soul shake that would befuddle John Shaft -- his online bio says he grew up in neighborhoods in Cleveland where his was often the only white family. And he's likely the first candidate with an unofficial hip-hop outreach director -- the Reverend Osagyefo Uhuru Sekou, a Pentecostal preacher and author whose official title is National Director of Community Outreach and New Voter Development.

Sekou called in, as did Bun B of the Underground Kings, who was then hanging out in Miami with Scarface. Bun B should have a talk show -- his questions were that on point. He brought up the recent police-related homicide of Nathaniel Jones -- what would Kucinich do to curtail racial strife in a place like riot- and police shooting-plagued Cincinnati? Or police shooting-plagued Houston, for that matter. Kucinich said he would have his newly initiated Department of Peace open a dialogue about it. (When did people stop "talking" and start "opening dialogues"?)

KPFT's Kevin White, who is also a caterer, then sidled up to Racket. "I cooked for Kucinich last time he was in town," he said. "Did you know he was a vegan?" White said that he served Kucinich a mess of couscous and tomatoes. "You know, stuff me and you wouldn't touch."

Just as most Americans won't touch Kucinich's candidacy. But you better believe that future candidates will be stumping at hip-hop events much more often in the years to come.

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