Take measuring spoons and fill them with: clear blue skies, a frosted cake shaped like Minnesota, an eager pack of jackals, one large bus and a candidate for U.S. Congress and you have a recipe that permits an office seeker to pull some earned media (unpaid face time) out of the election oven. It's even better if they can serve up morsels to a public and press unsure of their hunger for anything other than deep fried cheese curds.
I get in the queue
The Dorothy Ann Bakery in historic Woodbury was where Congresswoman Michele Bachmann began her bus tour of the 6th Congressional District. As press and supporters gathered outside to wait for the bus, inside the bakery there was a cake sculpted in the shape of the North Star state. The campaign bus route was represented as were corporations, recreation, farmers and deer hunters. Members of the press spent some time acquiring images, while not tasting the product.
The bus arrived to cheers from the crowd. The media scrambled to capture the candidate, who alighted from the vehicle wearing a Minnesota Twins jersey. Congresswoman Bachmann greeted the crowd with hugs and handshakes, entered the bakery with a train of cameras, observed the cake and then met privately with the owners. Along with baked goods, controversy began to heat up when Bachmann's staff informed members of a documentary crew working for Fox news and a CNN all platform journalist that the bus was for local press only.
You're gonna have to serve somebody
When it was time to get the show on the road to Hugo, campaign staffers exited the bakery with the cake in the shape of the bus well protected in a box They also carried several boxes of baked goods. The Congresswoman boarded the bus amid cheers of the crowd and questions from the national journalists who were denied bus access. In an unusual move, the local press was getting the chance for first rung on the coverage ladder.
As we left for the first stop, a manufacturing plant in Hugo, Michele Bachmann fielded phone calls, greeted Boomer the dog (a family pet along for a ride on this dog-days-of-summer tour) and told her staff to open the bakery boxes.
In what could be viewed as taking public service to a different level, Bachmann and her husband, Marcus (also wearing a Twins jersey), walked up the aisle of the bus and offered cookies and sweet breads to the seated members of the press. This proved to be uniquely interesting video that the Fox documentary crew, despite hanging out the windows of their van alongside the bus, was not able to capture. When the press was well fortified with sugar, bottled water and coffee (no tea or references to the Tea Party) Bachmann stood at the front of the bus and answered questions. This Hartbeat curator was on his knees in the aisle maneuvering a large cement block like device often referred to as a video camera, while my colleague, Jana Shortal, held a wireless microphone as close as she could to pick out the words of the candidate over the sound of the bus. In the media scramble my headphone cord became entangled with my longtime Capitol fellow photojournalist, Godry Leach, who is employed by WCCO TV. When the brief press avail was over (not soon enough for my knees) and I rose to my full height, Jana cautioned me that I was tangled up in WCCO's microphone cable. It was a classic Hartbeat moment to reference a Dylan song, but before I could speak the song title, Congresswoman Bachmann said, "Tangled Up In Blue." The sugar did not give me enough quick energy to speak, but Dylan did get into the mix.
While the bus was turning around in the parking lot of the spring factory in Hugo, the driver observed the irony of an air cushioned bus arriving at a spring factory. The members of the press sprung from their seats and positioned themselves outside to capture the arrival of the candidate. I climbed up on to a picnic table next to the access denied the Fox crew and recorded the crowd greeting the tour.
Jana and I spent a brief time at the factory and then left to work on our story. A whirlwind of baked goods, Bachmann serving up politics and sweets and both candidates of the 6th district race can be viewed by clicking here.
The Musical Notes
It seemed natural for the 1968 song, Magic Bus by the Who, to make a stop in this edition of Hartbeat. A live concert staple for the band, it was written by Pete Townsend in 1965 at the same time he wrote My Generation. The group did not record Magic Bus until 1968. Magic Bus reached number 26 on the American charts. The opening lyric, "Everyday I get in the queue" leads us to another British group--The Hollies. Their 1966 hit, Bus Stop, contains the line, "Thinking of a sweet romance, beginning in a queue."
The bus did spend time out on Highway 61 heading Hugo, so a references to Bob Dylan are inevitable. Gotta Serve Somebody, from the 1979 album Slow Train Coming, received the 1980 Grammy award for best rock song. The album represented Dylan as a Christian and alienated a certain portion of Dylan's fans. Slow Train Coming did well in sales reaching platinum status and a number three position on the charts.
Tangled Up in Blue does have a Minnesota connection being part of the album, Blood on the Tracks, which was first recorded in New York City and then re-recorded at the Sound 80 studio in Minneapolis. The song was written by Dylan at his Minnesota farm and details the many changes he was experiencing, including the failure of his marriage. When Dylan divorced his wife in 1977 she received half of the royalties for the songs written during their marriage, including Tangled Up in Blue.
What's Cooking on the Hartbeat Grill?
If you have the summertime blues because the season is almost over there is an opportunity to escape to the world of blues music with the DVD, Lighting in a Bottle. Director Martin Scorsese is the Executive Producer of what is part blues history lesson, part concert and a meeting of blues legends. A cast of musicians too numerous to list here takes one on a blues journey from Africa to the Mississippi Delta and on to Chicago. A highlight of Lighting in a Bottle is Buddy Guy performing an acoustic version of Muddy Water's, I Can't Be Satisfied.
My colleague on the bus, Jana Shortal, is always on a search for new music. She recently lent me, Sigh No More by Mumford and Sons. I would define them as an English group going to the roots of old time American music with a dash of alt country. Mumford and Sons web site describes their sound as a marriage of "the magic of Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young with the might of the Kings of Leon." It seems like an album that needs a few listens to hear if the lad's level of angst is high enough to produce memorable music.
The Photo Notes
The images from the political bus tour are stills from Sony DVCAM videotape frozen to single images, baked in the Avid editing oven and served up to you.
(Copyright 2010 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)