If you liked -- or at least couldn't stop watching -- Sen. Ted Cruz read Dr. Seuss in the U.S. Senate, have we got a video treat for you. Before he was influencing the Texas primary without even being on the ballot, he was already irritating his fellow Republicans with a fake filibuster that allowed him to talk a lot and read a classic children's book.
Last fall, Cruz decided to take a stand -- as he is often prone to doing -- and stage a non-filibuster filibuster against the Affordable Care Act. Technically, his hours of holding the Senate captive with talking did not constitute a real Capra-esque filibuster, but that all mattered a little less -- or much more, depending on your view -- when Cruz pulled out a Dr. Seuss classic and commenced to read it aloud.
What Dr. Seuss book would the freshman senator who has made himself remarkably unpopular among the elected leaders of his own party, while simultaneously making himself super popular with the Republicans who want to see the party driven further to the right choose? That classic tale of a character who does not wish to go with the flow and try something new, Green Eggs and Ham, of course.
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The video of Cruz reading the story was immensely entertaining, but a couple of Houston-based ambient musicians got together and produced a video that somehow made "Cruz Does Seuss" even better.
The musicians, Harry Leverette and Ross Irwin, took a video clip of Cruz reading the book and turned his voice into midi-data that would then "play" a piano accompaniment that goes with the arrangement. The video takes the sound of Cruz's voice and pulls, manipulates and distorts it so that it becomes music that makes us think of the works of John Cage or Jean-Claude Risset. The piano, triggered by Cruz's voices, is a moody accompaniment that makes us think of the works of Satie. The end result is a bucket full of awesome.
"We don't often work with political themes, but Sen. Cruz has compelled us to vent some spleen," Leverette said. The duo refers to its collaborations as "driving off the spleen" and don't usually tackle politics in their work, Leverette said via email. (Side note: the spleen bit is a reference to Herman Melville's Moby Dick. At the beginning of the epic tale of the great white whale, the narrator, Ishmael says going to sea on a whaling ship is his way of shaking off the blues: "It is a way I have of driving off the spleen and regulating the circulation." Further aside, people used to believe the spleen the place where all of a person's melancholy, anger and bad humors were kept, so getting rid of these feelings was venting the spleen and releasing said bad juju. End of asides.)
The end result is a work of art. It turns a strange moment in American politics -- whether you think it was a good or bad one, we can all agree it was unusual -- into an interesting piece that spans almost six minutes. Meanwhile, Cruz's face gets a psychedelic treatment that makes the whole experience as mesmerizing as watching a snake charmer and as entertaining as reading the works of Dr. Seuss. When Cruz first went Seuss-ian on the Senate floor a few months ago, it didn't seem possible that the experience could be any more entertaining. But what we have here is video proof that anything is possible.