Tag Archives: dfl

US Congressman Keith Ellison's Pretty Awful Giraffe

US Congressman Keith Ellison

US Congressman Keith Ellison (MN-D)

 Keith Ellison (twitter) is a U.S. congressman whose district centers on Minneapolis, MN, and happens to be the first liberal politician I have ever seen in person (way back in the 2008 summer of my youth). He is the first Muslim elected to Congress, a co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus and thus a national voice on progressive issues. I try my best to keep my politics out of this blog, but I’ll admit that he’s a personal hero of mine. (I’ll also refrain from commenting on whether or not he is a better artist than Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan).

(But let’s be serious – it’s not partisanship to say that Ellison’s giraffe is clearly better. It’s artistic elitism.)

There is not much of a story behind this piece. In February 2011 I was speaking at a University of Minnesota rally at the state capitol (at which Ellison was also making an appearance) and approached the congressman shortly after he left the stage. While everyone else was approaching him to shake his hand, take a picture, and so on, I pulled him aside behind the stage and made The Ask.

And without missing a beat, asking “why?” or offering any resistance at all, he took the notebook I put in front him and began to draw. As you can tell, this was not something he just dismissed; he took it seriously and tried to make something he could be proud of.

Well, as proud as one can really be of this.

Fmr. MYDFL chairman Arron Olson's pretty awful giraffe drawing

Fmr. MYDFL Chairman Arron Olson

Arron Olson is the former chairman of the Minnesota Young DFL, a constituency caucus within the larger Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party designed to organize around issues pertinent to young people. He also apparently believes that giraffes wear kneepads.

Fmr. MYDFL chairman Arron Olson's pretty awful giraffe drawing

(Spoiler: they don’t).

RT Rybak - 2 11

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak

R.T. Rybak is the current mayor of Minneapolis, MN, (serving since 2002) and a former writer for the Minneapolis Tribune who has also contributed to MPR. More importantly, he’s been known to crowd surf at First Avenue concerts. Yeah, that’s Minnesota for you.

So I will start by saying that I have nothing less than the utmost respect for Mayor R.T. Rybak. The guy is kind, smart, passionate and is often the best speaker in the room regardless of the venue. With that said, it is with a heavy heart that I must report the following: when I invited the mayor to participate in GDBWSNBDG at a recent local foods banquet in Montevideo, MN, the first reply I got was “What does a giraffe look like?”

Needless to say I was speechless. Though I do not know the mayor on a personal level, I have spoken to him at enough political functions to know that this question must have been in jest. Or, at the very least, a question of metaphysics.  After all, I as an armchair philosopher I can sympathize: what does anything truly look like?

At least for both his sake and mine this is the story I’m sticking to.

“Well, they have long necks,” I said.

“Right!”

He then took the notebook from my hand and began to draw, clarifying that he would need to draw a rough draft. (One could say that he was drawing a rough gir-aft, but one should probably not say that because it would make them look like an asshole).

Figure 1: Mayor Rybak’s Rough Gir-aft.

Commenting on his work (“Hm, not bad!”) he then tore the draft from the notebook. Becoming serious, he took to his art like a bird to flight …

… If said bird was filled with helium, therefore making it a fowl-ish Hindenberg.

Normally the story would end here, but the moment he finished (taking the time to “touch up” the work with neck-arms and a pigtail) he then took the sketch and ran off. Not knowing what was going on (and hoping to get my notebook back), I followed only to see that he had sought out his wife with cries of “Honey, honey, look what I drew!”

The reply? “That’s very nice, Raymond.”

Yes, very nice indeed.