Ben Hall is running for mayor and he's running early and with videos that are that always-difficult-to-land blend of performance art, pure campaign video and something Ingmar Bergman might have put together in his spare time.
The first video ran last Wednesday, and in a move that reminded us at Hair Balls of those old Masterpiece Theatre specials, we first see Hall casually polishing his glasses.
"I'm Ben Hall, a poor country boy who is surprised and fascinated by the gifts God has given him, because I clearly don't deserve them," Hall says, with a nudge-and-a-wink look at the camera that seems to tell you he knows he earned every one of his gifts.
Most campaign TV advertisements don't start running until after Labor Day, but Hall got a jump on things by starting last week, according to KTRK. No word as to when Mayor Annise Parker's camp will start running her videos for her run at a third and final term, though her campaign did take the time to send out an e-mail asking for donations since Hall has already started the sound and pictures part of the battle for the mayoral seat. (Campaign videos always have at least a hint of the ridiculous around the edges, so we can't wait to check out hers, too.)
The Hall video, which comes in at just over a minute, gives the former city attorney's brief résumé, complete with where he went to college (Duke and Harvard Law) and his college debt (more than $100,000) before talking vaguely about the problems Houston faces without ever saying exactly what those problems are.
Hall closes the first commercial by stating that Houston faces "challenges." (Hair Balls feels like he then gave those glasses another good polish before delivering this last line, but a careful re-watching told us otherwise, more's the pity.) He veers from a video resume to those problems or challenges or whatever it is that Houston is facing and how the problems, of an economic variety, need to be dealt with.
"We can't get there by hiding the truth, Mayor Parker" Hall says, easing back in what looks like a very comfy chair. "We'll talk soon."
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There are two more videos posted on the campaign Web site where Hall recounts how his mother ended up giving birth to him outside the hospital because they wouldn't let her use the front door of the hospital (because lordamercy people are bastards sometimes).
Hall also takes us through the importance of making sure you aren't the last one in line for a bath when you're sharing the water with your siblings, because it's the difference between bathing in water and bathing in something that's more akin to soupy mud.
The whole production is very glossy and sleek, but it's got a weird feel to it, like the pure political advertising had some anti-anxiety meds thrown in, leading to slight, delicate pauses between sentences, and odd moments of dead air between each sort-of-point point. (There is a point to everything he's saying. We're sure of it. Certain. We're just not exactly sure what it is.)