Joe Marty’s (Version 4.0)

signAlong with Selland’s Market-Cafe, Sampino’s Kitchen at Joe Marty’s is an excellent new addition to the Greater Broadway District in Sacramento. This bar & grill is not new. It’s a storied place working under different names. 

It was originally opened by its namesake, who played for the Chicago Cubs and later the Pacific Coast League club, Sacramento Solons. It started as a bar on J Street. In the 1950s Marty moved the bar to its current location at 1500 Broadway in partnership with El Chico Pizza. In the 1980s, when I worked at the Tower Theatre (which shares the same building), I remember thinking the name “Joe Marty’s El Chico” was kind of funny. Did the slugger name the place after his Latino child? Little did I know the place would have a different–equally long-winded–name thirty-seven years later.

When I worked at the Tower, I would often take my breaks at Joe Marty’s El Chico. I don’t ever remember the word pizza being in the name nor do I recall ever ordering pizza there, which is strange–me being a pizza hound back then. I would order broasted chicken and/or broasted potatoes. I vaguely remember liking the items, but the place was more of a bar for old salts back then.

I only remember eating at Joe Marty’s El Chico one time after I left Tower Theatre’s employment. I went there with my wife and one of her old high school buddies (Whose name happens to be–no, not Chico–Marty!). I recall he kept repeating, “This is a really nice place.” In my forties at the time, I looked around and thought, yeah, it is kind of a nice corner bar & grill. I don’t remember being bowled over by the food, and I still hadn’t picked up drinking, but I thought I would come back someday–it had a nice vibe to it, now that I was older. But, shortly after that visit, in 2005, a kitchen fire destroyed much of the interior, and the building sat fallow for years.

My wife and I would occasionally read in the newspaper or hear that someone or some people were going to fix it up, but nothing ever came of these stories. Over 10 years after the fire someone finally opened it up keeping the name (and thankfully dropping the odd El Chico). I was so excited it was re-opening. For someone who never truly appreciated it when it was open, I now was all dewy-eyed that it was back. Unfortunately, the food was mediocre. My wife and I visited once and decided it was nice it was back open, but we didn’t need to return.

Sometime early this year Michael Sampino took over the lease. More big TVs were installed and other items that appear to be new. Some of the best of the old Joe Marty historical wall hangings survived the fire: the giant aerial print of Edmonds Field–home of the Solons–where a Target now stands is the most prominent artifact from the old bar. Mike Sampino has also hung a couple of Sampino prints from the F Street restaurant/deli. Most importantly, the menu changed, and the food quality improved immensely. The place that I took for granted for so many years is now back and under the management of one of the best in the city. I couldn’t wait to check it out.

marty burger
The Marty Burger comes with a green salad and Italian dressing. I ordered a side of fries.

The first time I checked out this, the fourth iteration of the landmark, I bellied up to the bar so I could get a better look at the TV showing a game with my Oakland A’s. That initial visit Mike Sampino himself served me my Marty Burger. When I was leaving the joint, thoroughly stuffed and satisfied, I saw the owner outside talking to someone about a baseball jersey he just acquired. He stepped in front of me and asked what I thought of the burger. I told him it was great (overstating my opinion only a little). He smiled, shook my hand, and introduced himself to me. I was impressed by his warm smile and friendly tone. I liked his restaurant/deli on F Street, and now he has resurrected a Sacramento landmark from mediocrity. 

I would return another time, trying his Sampanini, a panini with various salamis and cheeses. It doesn’t contend with the best sandwiches at Roxie Deli, but it is an impressive sandwich in its own right. One thing about the second visit was how slow the service was acknowledging me. I remember standing there a few minutes until a waitress saw me from clear across the room at the far end of the bar and lead me to a table. 

When I visited this time, I noticed the owners had added partition separating the bar from the restaurant areas. Now the only staff member who could see me was the cook through the service window. After a few long minutes, the cook and I made eye contact, and he said something to someone hid by the partition and out popped a waitress who seated me.

I ordered the Marty Burger which is a half-pound beef patty, cheddar cheese, with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, pickles, with garlic aioli on a brioche bun. I added bacon–of course! I ordered it medium-well, which is something I have been doing in recent years. Friends and family have finally convinced me that there is nothing wrong with seeing pink in a burger if it is ordered at restaurants with cloth napkins. (That is, a place where you feel confident the beef is of a higher caliber.)

The Marty Burger is a big burger and comes with a steak knife that is needed. It is an awkward burger to wield–even when it is cut in half. Besides the large patty, Sampino’s Kitchen at Joe Marty’s stacks the Marty Burger with plenty of onions, tomato, and pickles. The garlic aioli along with the juices from the perfectly-prepared patty makes the burger a slippery affair. This isn’t the thing to order on a first date.

I’m nearly done with the first half, and I’m wrist deep in juices. Some serious cleanup is needed before attacking the second half. Thanks to the excellent brioche bun the bread doesn’t disintegrate like buns often do when the burger is this juicy, and the bun is of an inferior quality. 

Virtually all the dishes at Sampino’s Kitchen at Joe Marty’s comes with a green salad and Italian dressing. The Marty Burger is no exception, which seems ironic looking down at it with my fingers covered in juices.  Sampino’s Kitchen at Joe Marty’s offers battered fries for an additional price. The fries are exceptional and should not be missed. You get a side of ketchup with it, but why ruin the taste of the battered, extra crispy fries?

For over thirty-five years Joe Marty’s has been a fixture in my life in one way or another, mostly as a place I would drive/ride towards on 15th Street just before the street ends, and I turn up Broadway. And if other Sacramentians feel something similar no wonder it wasn’t exactly a hot spot to visit. Still, I know it was missed during those ten years it was boarded up, even if most of us didn’t necessarily miss the food.

Joe Marty’s was a part of the community, and the history behind it was not insignificant. Now, with good food, it is more than just a Sacramento landmark–it’s a place you might visit if you’re doing the dinner and a movie thing, or dinner and viewing whichever sporting event on the multiple screens or if you’re like me you can just stuff your face. 

The bar’s (original) namesake is known for being the first Sacramentian to hit a dinger in a world series (1938). This version of his bar isn’t a bad homage either even with another local celebrity’s name attached to it.

Sacramento Bee pic of one of the wall hangings that I remember from the 1980s
From his time in the majors. Check out the zipper!


Finding My Vespa

I recently got my scooter towed. I and three or four motorcyclists had been parking our rides in a tow away zone for a couple of days. Sure there were signs, but each day I found my Vespa in the spot where I left it–in between two signs prominently stating: NO PARKING BETWEEN 9-5 PM. The City was laying a new sewer line and where we were parked we were about four feet away from where the jackhammer was scheduled to work. No problem we all thought.

On the third day, I left my work excited to dine and see American Made with some friends of mine. When emerged from an alley ready to jaywalk to my scooter (I like to break petty laws, as you may have gathered) I could see it was gone. I panicked. Sure the City’s sandwich boards were still their warning all drivers and riders they will get towed if they dare, but, as I tried to convey above–motorcyclists and their rides are special, these rules don’t apply to us.

After I calmed down, I considered the remote possibility that the City towed my Vespa. I called a number I got from 3-1-1. It turns out my Vespa had been towed, after all. This was good news. I knew I was going to have to pay up the nose to get my scooter back, but the alternative was much worse.

It was past 5 p.m. when I nailed down exactly where my ride was but, unless I wanted to shell out more money I would have to wait until tomorrow, and even the overnight stay would cost more. Ugh. Below is a modest, poorly-shot storyboard of my adventure reclaiming my Vespa GT 200L.


The next morning after re-verifying where my scooter was, I needed a ride. Lucky for me I work next to a taxi hub.



I caught the closest cab to me and found out there is a pecking order. I was instructed to walk to the front of the line. The driver in that car drove me to the Sacramento Police Station. I have only been a paid rider in a taxi once before. I paid the driver in cash to take me to a River Cats game in town. It is nice that taxi drivers have those credit card scanners on their smartphones. It turns out the police station was the one that was walking distance from my house. It would have been far more convenient and a little cheaper if I had just walked to the station from my house. Unfortunately, last night I didn’t know that I needed a Vehicle Release form that is provided by the police at the price of a parking ticket. I had started from scratch that morning at work and spoke to a person who worked at the tow yard.



Just outside the police station. I bet this gets plenty of use!



Then again the SPD accepts all major credit cards! Otherwise, I guess I would have had to go to that ATM. The officer at the window was very nice and with a sense of humor–when I told her where my scooter was towed from she smiled and said three other motorcycles were towed from that location at that time. Sorry bros. Too bad we didn’t show up here at the same time. It would have been funny. Meh, probably not.



Check it out, bitches, I’m a Junior Officer!



After getting the form and paying the bill I walked over to Jack in the Box for a breakfast sandwich, hash browns, some truly horrid coffee and something else just as horrid.



I did something I swore I would never do: I downloaded and used a ride-sharing app/service. I hate Uber. I hate the name Uber. (The Nazis loved that word. Remember the Nazis?) I like the idea I picked up somewhere to use word Uber as a euphemism for “shit,” “goddamnit,” or some other expletive I would use when I stub my toe or have my scooter towed. The screenshot above is not the Uber app. I was going to use Uber, but the first thing to come up on my phone’s browser was Lyft. So that’s what I setup while I had my artery-clogging breakfast. Notice all the hyperlinked Ubers? No, they don’t link to the shitty company’s corporate site, nor do any of them send you to a download page. They all go to different news, opinion, and even humorous videos that explain what a neo-liberal, ecology-busting, and utterly destructive company Uber is. You think Uber (as well as Lyft and all the other ride-sharing companies) is nifty, convenient, post-modern hip, not to mention money-saving? Think again.


lyft driver

My hatred of Uber–the WalMart on Wheels–gave me an idea of comparing the taxi service with a ride-share service. My ride came quick, quicker than a taxi, I am sure, but that’s not necessarily a good thing for reasons Richard Wolff, the Chicago Tribune, Naomi Klein, Amy Goodman, The Nation Magazine, Bernie Sanders, Noam Chomsky, In These Times, Chris Hedges, DSA, Kshama Sawant, PSL, both of my sons, and other sources (some linked above) can explain far better than I can.



My driver was nice. Maybe nicer than the taxi driver, but who gives a shit–the taxi didn’t get lost. I’m not kidding. The Lyft driver with his smartphone navigation app running couldn’t figure out how to get to the tow yard.


Lyft lost

Finally, he asked if he could use my phone. I already had the app up with the sound down so it wouldn’t confuse him. Too late. He was confused from the start. The sad thing was I–the customer–knew we were going the wrong direction before I asked Siri for directions. It was simple math–the avenue numbers were going up when we needed to go down, towards Downtown. Ultimately, he asked to use my phone. I turned up the volume and gave it to him and we were finally going in the correct direction.



At the yard, I paid for the tow and the one-night layover. But first I paid the Lyft driver via the app/PayPal. He looked over my should and asked that I give him the highest rating–Five Stars. He also wanted me to click on all four areas of satisfaction–one of them being navigation. I did as he asked so I could get rid of him.



When I saw my ride I checked to see if my jacket was under the saddle. Yep. Then I examined the contents of the top case: helmet, balaclava, gloves, glove liners, Arsenal FC scarf, sunglasses, and–as you can plainly see–toothpaste. You’re damn right I ride prepared!



I checked my tires, breaks, and controls and I was off…



for a cappuccino and a pastry. Then, finally, time to go back to work.



As I pulled into the alley–the same alley where I emerged from to find my scooter gone twenty hours previous–I saw the construction workers tearing up my parking spot.



When I got to my cube, I had the morbid curiosity to know how much money this whole ordeal set me back. It turns out it was over $400. Funny, the thing that got me the most was the $10 parking charge in my office’s covered parking. I used to pay $5, which was all I had in my pocket at the time since I sprang for pizza last night. It didn’t matter though since the attendant told me they only take plastic now. Looking back on it five bucks to me seemed okay considering my scooter doesn’t take a parking spot and there are free motorcycle parking slots all over Downtown (I was just too tired to ride to one). Now it costs a Hamilton. Greedy bastards.

Speaking of greedy bastards. You may wonder how a ride-share service matched up to a taxi. I mean, Lyft was half the price of the taxi. Remember my Lyft driver did not instill confidence and if you don’t know by now exactly why you pay so little for ride-sharing you are not paying attention.

I guess aside from my politics, the moral of this story is “Don’t Park in a Tow-Away Zone.” That’s tough when all my bros on bikes won’t comply. How about “Always Carry Plastic.” I can swing that!

The Triple – Redux

third base

It’s the Post Season, and while my A’s aren’t in it, I am still excited. Excited in hoping the Cubs or the Nats do well. Excited in hoping the Yankees go down in flames. Excited in hoping the Astros do well. Excited in hoping the Indians go all the way, I guess. I live with a Cubs fan, so if it comes down to Chicago vs. Cleveland I’ll have to cheer for them both.

In the spirit of great baseball teams and in great baseball players I’m reposting an old piece on just how horrible a ballplayer (and runner) I was.

score card

I didn’t remember hitting the three-bagger until Erik, an old college buddy and leader of the slow-pitch softball team the Dead Seagulls, reminded me in our first communiqué since those days. I hadn’t spoken with any of my old American River College or Sac State buddies for years, but lately, I have begun to search out old friends. For some reason, the details of that one summer I played on the Dead Seagulls have become a black hole in my mind. When Erik mentioned the triple, it was the key to many wonderful feelings, and one bad one.

The team got its name when Erik, his brother Paul, and other original members of the newly formed team found a dead seagull on the diamond when the players took the field for the first practice. Every subsequent practice, the dead bird was there, until finally it was removed. The team didn’t have a name before the seagull incidents, and on the day they registered the team, they couldn’t think of a more appropriate name. (See the image below for the only surviving team shirt in presentable condition. The design came from one of Erik’s high school friends, who drew it during a geometry class one day for $5.)

A year or two later, when I became a Dead Seagull, my father’s business sponsored the team. Usually, the sponsor’s names were on the back of the shirts, but as I recall, the shirts were already printed, and my father didn’t have a stencil. My dad didn’t care, anyway; he was just happy that his sedentary son was up moving around and, especially, playing a sport. As noted in earlier posts, I have never been good at sports, and my lack of dedication to any competitive game only made my clumsiness worse.

It seems strange that I remember so little of what was an enjoyable and virtually carefree time in my life. I was in junior college and had developed some very good friendships. Establishing and keeping good, close friends has always been hard for me. This time was also special because I was playing a “sport” for the first time since I wrapped a three iron around a tree at Ansel Hoffman Golf Course and walked off never to play the game again (unless you consider occasionally blowing off steam at the driving range a sport). I quoted the word sport about this softball league because it was more casual than most: For instance, the pitcher was an offensive position. Each batter would select his favorite delivery system, so to speak—whoever knew how to place the ball right where the batter wanted it.

When we were in the field, I was the catcher. Things hadn’t changed much since I had been in little league—what the right fielder was to little league, the catcher was to this particular brand of slow-pitch softball. I would lean against the backstop and pick up any of the balls the batter missed or preferred not to hit. Because of this, there were no strikes, no balls, no stealing bases, and no pitcher–catcher conferences on the mound. Play didn’t start until the batter hit the ball. The only times my position became important were plays at the plate, but that didn’t happen much. I only remember two times that the ball came to me faster than a croquet ball.

I once ran in front of the plate to hold the runner at third. The throw came hard, and I remember hearing Erik yelling my name—not in a “head’s up” kind of way but more like a mother yelling at her son to “get out of the way of that speeding car.” It was widely known that I was the worst player on the team and since this was not a very competitive league, my teammates would rather see me unhurt than depend on my ball handling to save a run or two. The ball came in low and fast, then took a high hop and I caught the ball right in front of my face—the mitt so close to my face that I could smell the shoe polish with which I recently broke it in. I remember Erik yelling my name through a deep breath of relief.

Then there was the time I blocked the plate—like a pro catcher would do. All I remember was concentrating on the ball coming in from the outfield and seeing through my lazy eye what looked like a horse coming toward the plate. Before the ball got to me, the entire diamond turned upside down, and I could see the backstop and the ball flying between my legs. Then I 

The last intact Dead Seagulls shirt courtesy of Erik

came down—on my back. While I was getting up, I recalled the infamous play at home plate during the 1970 All-Star Game when Pete Rose bowled over Ray Fosse, permanently injuring the catcher. I wasn’t bowled over, though; the runner slid between my legs, and as his feet pushed my feet off the ground, I kind of did a somersault and fell on my back. Both the runner I was attempting to block and the runner behind him scored. I thought it was somewhat cool, though, not like the Rose-Fosse collision, which made me hate “Charlie Hustle” years before everybody else did for his gambling. Most of my teammates acted as if I did a foolish thing; this was casual competition, nothing worth getting injured.

My bat handling was no more stellar than my ball handling. I don’t remember doing anything but grounding out, although I know I hit safely to first occasionally because I remember being embarrassed about how slowly I ran. I was then, and still am now, a plodding runner. I remember running the pads, actually listening to the footsteps of my teammate behind me getting closer. I am not sure, but I think I recall the base runner behind me yelling to “speed up.” It must have been a drag to follow me at bat. If I reached base, the next hitter would be limited to a single or double because I couldn’t run fast enough.

All of these memories came back when Erik reminded me about “the triple.” He used the definite article as if there were only one ever hit in the history of the game. In this league, extra-base hits were as familiar as pop-ups and ground balls in the majors. What makes this three-bagger so memorable was that I had never hit the ball so far—neither before nor after that day. When I cranked this one, all I remember was that when I made first base, I could see I should take second. When I reached second, everyone was off the bench and advancing me to third; all the while, I continued to hear screaming from the bench. When I landed safely on third base, I looked over at our bench and saw all my teammates up and madly rattling the chain link fence like crazy monkeys, yelling at me as if I had driven in the game-winner in the final game of the World Series.

It was the greatest moment in my life as far as sports go. I never felt so triumphant, never so—at the risk of sounding maudlin—appreciated. Funny how I completely forgot this moment until Erik brought it back when he mentioned it in an email. Unfortunately, I also remember, after scoring and returning to the bench, the smiles on my teammates’ faces. They looked as if they were more amused than supportive. I sat down on the bench, basking in the afterglow, and then Ethan, who joined the Dead Seagulls with me, made a comment that may have defined all the looks: “Man, you run just like Ron Cey!” The all-star third baseman was known as “The Penguin” because of how he ran. The comment crushed me and might be the reason I forgot the longest ball I ever hit. All I could think now was that all my teammates on the bench rattling the cage had been falling out laughing about how funny I had looked running with a 2×4 up my ass. I know in my heart they were excited for me—we never cheered fellow players liked they cheered me, but I couldn’t shake the embarrassment.

I never played a team sport again, unless you count being assistant manager to my kid’s tee-ball team one season back in the early 1990s. Around that same time, a friend at work invited me to join his “sloshball” team. Sloshball, as he explained it, is softball with a keg at second base. Base runners cannot advance past second until they have drunk a red plastic cup of beer. There were certain dispensations to accommodate the slow drinkers: more than one runner can be on second at one time, and they can advance together when the ball is in play and they have finished their drinks. They also can be thrown out or tagged out together, creating some spectacular double-play possibilities, assuming the fielders were sober enough to turn them. Even if you homered, the runner had to drink a mug when he rounded second base. I passed on the offer, but considering my batting history, I don’t think I would have gotten very drunk had I joined.

As for the Dead Seagulls, they live on now as a fantasy baseball league. Erik, Paul, and a couple other original players still play ball, albeit vicariously through MLB players.

These days, I don’t play any sports; I work out at a club. I use a treadmill, but I never run on it! If I were to, I could envision the scene: I would program the treadmill and turn on my iPod. As I started running, I would turn up the music. I would think I heard laughter, but figure it was probably the pounding of the treadmills directly behind me. I would keep turning up my iPod, but the sounds behind me would get louder. Finally, I would hit the off button on the treadmill, kill the iPod, and turn around only to see all of my fellow club members on the treadmills and elliptical machines smiling at me. You know, not the kind of supportive smiles like “good hit, man, good hustle,” but more crazy monkeys falling all over their elliptical machines.

The Oft-Forgotten Vietnam War Doc


This post is from one of my favorite bloggers, Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist.

With all the press (the positive reviews and also some fascinating critical views) about the Ken Burns and Lynn Novick series on Vietnam, Peter Davis’ brilliant 1974 documentary seems to have been forgotten–once again. When the 1983 PBS series Vietnam: A Television History came out, I was in college majoring in journalism. I was fascinated by the miniseries based on Stanley Karnow’s tome. My mentor, William A. Dorman, a professor of journalism at CSUS, told me to skip the book and the miniseries and watch “Hearts and Minds.”

In a fraction of running time of the 1983 PBS series, I found “Hearts and Minds” a much better presentation of the U.S. involvement in the war. It asks the hard questions. The comparison of the 1983 series with “Hearts and Minds” seems very familiar when reading the criticisms of the Burns/Novick work visa vis the 1974 Davis film. In trying to be fair and balanced the Burns/Novick series misses the mark when it comes to the U.S.’ costly Cold War doctrine and its toll on Third World countries like Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia.

Full disclosure here: I have not seen the Burns/Novick work yet. Like all TV series I view, I’ll binge watch all the episodes over a few nights some time in the future.

Here is the Davis film on I believe it is also available on Amazon Prime for a few dollars.

via The best documentary on the Vietnam war — Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

Anything But Yummy

What the hell is it with the word yummy? I can’t really accurately express how much I hate this word. While researching its etymology and applications I found Ladies, This Word Needs to be Banned, an anonymous post on the women’s blog that expressed my feelings better than I ever could. I have edited for context and brevity.

“You know who uses the term yummy to describe food?  Toddlers use the word yummy.  Mothers convincing children to eat lunch use the term yummy. … Food bloggers over the age of four should NOT. … Use delicious, delectable, perfect, ambrosial, amazing, whatever tickles your tongue–they’re all better than yummy. … Yummy is for babies, ladies. Do most guys who sear a steak describe it as yummy?  Or would a four-star restaurant be using the term yummy on a menu?  Has anyone ever seen James Beard describe anything as yummy? No?  Well, that’s why.  Yummy is cute and childish, not something that can be used to describe food with integrity. Jean-Georges Vongerichten would probably never describe anything from his kitchen as yummy- even if a gun was pointed at his head.  Neither should we.”

Then there are the restaurants with the big signage I can’t seem to avoid…


Is the cafe really yummy? Christmas lights in August? Lazy bastards!



yummie choice
I’ve actually had lunch here. That’s correct, I have given money to a business that has the word “yummy” in its name. And no, there appeared to be no yummy choices available! So, “cuisine” is a stretch. Jesus, don’t they have someone on staff that can write on a sandwich board legibly?



yumyum donuts
I drive by one of these once or twice a week. I’ve never been in. Anyway, one of the best donut shops in town is much closer to where I live. So take that, offending donut shop name! Something tells me a Peanut Butter & Jelly-filled donut would not taste, well, you know.



yum yum cha cafe
Wikipedia says “Yum cha generally involves small … dishes. … People often go to yum cha in large groups for family get-togethers or celebrations.” That sounds like dim sum–which I love–by the way, especially when someone else is picking up the bill. So the root word “yum” is a Cantonese word with historical/cultural weight. I would ask my daughter-in-law about it, but she speaks Mandarin. Aside from yum’s legitimacy, did the owners think they were being cute by throwing the extra “yum” up there? They were wrong! Glad this place is way across town!


Okay, I’m done.

Interview with David Doel

David Doel at work on The Rational National

I don’t spend a lot of time on YouTube, but when I do I check out short clips from hour-long shows like Democracy Now!, Majority Report, Thom Hartmann Program, and Democracy at Work. There is one channel, however, I religiously check out every day: David Doel’s The Rational National.

The show’s subject matter is always fascinating and Doel’s insight and the even-handedness towards his subjects is refreshing in this divisive political climate. Personally, I’m a bit of a crank and would handle some of these subjects with anger or frustration. Some of my sounding boards (wife, sons, Facebook friends) would agree my passion gets the better of me and muddles my arguments at times. That’s part of the reason why I admire Doel’s fairness and criticism.

The thirty-two-year-old has been a video editor for a national broadcast news station, a freelance writer covering the video game industry, a web marketing specialist for a tech company, and a political candidate. Doel currently runs Eleven21 Productions where he has produced a number of projects including music videos and events. He focuses most of his energy these days on his YouTube channel, The Rational National.

He was gracious enough to answer some questions via email.

Burger Scoot: What inspired you to start The Rational National YouTube channel?

David Doel: Coming off a short run as a political candidate in the 2015 Canadian federal election, I wanted to continue discussing ideas I felt passionate about. So I decided to combine my interest and brief experience in politics with my work experience in video production.

You are Canadian and yet, from most of the subject matter on your channel, you are obviously very interested in US politics. Why?

I got into politics in my early to mid-20s, spurred by The Daily Show with Jon Stewart and The Colbert Report. So growing up on a diet of American politics, in some ways I felt I knew more about the American political system than that of my own country’s. On top of that, Canadian politics is less of a spectacle; most Canadians are really only familiar with their own Mayor, MP, Premier, and of course Prime Minister. Whereas being a politician in the U.S. is essentially like being a celebrity. It’s a lot more about the individual than it is about the party, and it’s discussed nationwide. So someone from Oklahoma has a better chance at knowing who Elizabeth Warren is than someone from Nova Scotia knowing who Kathleen Wynne (Ontario’s Premier) is. Because of that, the market for political discussion occurs on a much larger scale; not just in terms of population (with America having ten times more people than Canada) but also just because of the constant national political discourse occurring in America. As an outsider, I feel I have a unique perspective from a country that already experiences many of the benefits, like universal healthcare, that American will one-day have. And by offering that perspective, I hope to educate people that progressive policies are not as scary as the Republicans and many Democrats make them out to be.

You ran for Parliment in 2015 on Green Party of Canada ticket. What was it like to be on that side of politics?

Doel debating

Running for parliament was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done. I naturally overthink everything, so I felt completely unprepared for the experience, but in many ways, you can never really be prepared to do a completely new thing. I jumped into it because my local Conservative MP, apart from being terrible in other ways, used cannabis as a way to try and fear-monger for votes. He was spreading lies about how legalized cannabis was ‘destroying’ Colorado and other states. Those blatant lies bothered me to the point that I felt like I had to do something, and it was the final push I needed to contact the Green Party; a party that already impressed me with their progressive platform and leader Elizabeth May. What scared me though were the debates, before this, I had only had horrid memories of public speaking in elementary, high school, and college. But to my surprise I discovered how much I enjoyed speaking at the debates once they finally got going – when you’re passionate about issues and the policies you’re putting forward, the talking comes naturally. But the days and hours leading up to them is a level of anxiety I’ve rarely had to face.

Do you have any interest in running for office again?

I’ve thought about running again, but haven’t come to a conclusion either way. I think we truly underestimate how much we expect a politician to be educated on. At least that’s one of the pressures I faced and why I dreaded the debates. You’re expected to be an expert on all topics, yet realistically, it’s incredibly unlikely that you’re well-versed on everything. In some ways, I think politicians should really just be the mediators between the people and the experts on each topic. I mean, it’s kind of supposed to be that way, but it’s rarely communicated as such. 

Have you taken part in any direct action in American or Canadian politics (aside from your MP bid)? 

For me, The Rational National is my way of taking action. I try to play to my strengths, and one thing I do understand is how people think. So knowing that, I try to take a rational approach to arguments that don’t just shame the uneducated, but actually educates them in a non-confrontational way.

You are obviously a supporter of Senator Bernie Sanders. Are there other American politicians that you admire? Is there anyone you would like to see run for president in 2020?

I think sincerity and genuine care for people are tough qualities to find in a politician, and those are the ones I gravitate to. So other than Bernie, Nina Turner is a huge standout. And I’m going to make a prediction here and say that Nina will become President at some point in the future. She has a passionate way with words that can communicate with people across political spectrums. I’ve seen it in the reactions to videos I’ve done covering her. She’s the only person where Trump supporters openly admit they’d vote for her. People, on the whole, are angry at the establishment, and when they see someone that really does care about them, whether it’s Bernie or whether it’s Nina, they recognize it. And like Bernie Sanders, Nina Turner has the power to unite the country.

You have been critical of American political commentators like Joy Reid. Are there any commentators in mainstream US media that you like?

I enjoy Rachel Maddow, I just wish she covered more topics than the Trump administration. I understand why she’s focused on it and why she feels she needs to focus on it, but for my own selfish interests, I wish she went into other topics like she did before the 2016 election result. She’s incredibly talented at story-telling, which is vital to educating people on topics they may know nothing about. She’s also become a little too cozy with establishment figures over the past few years, which bothers me as well. There really is no one in mainstream media that I can name who is completely indebted to objectivity like they should be.

There has always been a struggle between progressives that try to change the Democratic Party from within and those who have abandoned the party and have either registered independent or joined third parties like the Party for Socialism & Liberation, Socialist Alternative, and the Green Party. I know that I have often been on the fence on this issue, but have now decided (for now, at least) to try to change the Democratic Party from within. Do you have an opinion on this?

I think you do everything possible on all fronts. That said, I think change from within the party has the highest chance at being successful simply because the skeleton of a nationwide party is already in place – which is the toughest part of building a third party; well that and trying to convince people to vote for a third party. Many people now are aware of how corrupt the political system is and are actively trying to change it with groups like Justice Democrats and Brand New Congress, who are aiming to vote out corporate Democrats. Bernie’s right when he says it requires a political revolution for change to occur, and I think we’re seeing the beginning stages of that revolution now. But we don’t need to make the revolution tougher than it has to be, and by primarying out corporate Democrats with progressives, it’s a quicker path to victory than starting from scratch with a new party.