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The ‘Rent is Too Damn High’ guy returns! And he’s running for prez! • Brooklyn Paper

The ‘Rent is Too Damn High’ guy returns! And he’s running for prez!

Former mayoral curiosity Jimmy McMillan returned to his quasi day job by playing a gig at Europa in Greenpoint on Thursday night. The singer, famous as the “Rent is Too Damn High” guy, now says he’ll run for president in 2012 — as a Republican. Tell Tchaikovsky the news.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

Some people might find a rock to crawl under after failing to get even one percent of the vote in an election — but Jimmy McMillan is not some people.

Just two months after his gubernatorial thrashing, the standardbearer of the much-cited, but largely unsupported, “Rent is Too Damn High” party, took the stage on Thursday night at Europa in Greenpoint to dabble in his other source of marginal notoriety: music.

Donning his signature facial hair, black suit and gloves, McMillan performed tracks from the hip-hop and funk-inspired home-recorded album that he released earlier this month. Naturally, he kept true to his seemingly singular focus; “The Rent is Too Damn High, Vol. 1,” features songs such as “Land Lord Listen Up,” “R.E.N.T.,” “Rent Party Christmas,” and one ballad, “My Place.”

McMillan’s play list oscillated between activist, folk-like songs and club jams with the help from a DJ and a single back-up singer and dancer, Isla Cheadle, whom McMillan recruited from YouTube after seeing a video of her dancing to his song, “Ain’t Nothing to Talk About.”

A serious performance, this was not: the 65-year-old McMillan, a self-styled martial arts expert, closed out one song with a karate kick and the comment, “I bet you thought that was a karate kick. … I had gas.”

Though music was on the bill, politics were still McMillan’s talking points. He lost to some write-in candidates for governor, but now McMillan says he’ll run for president in 2012 — as a Republican.

“Nobody can touch me.” Not even Sarah Palin? “No way. She doesn’t have what I have,” said McMillan. What does he “have”? McMillan declined to go further.

With McMillan, one is always left with a simple question: Why.

Why run as “the Rent is Too Damn High” guy when you know the news is going to come out, as it did during the gubernatorial campaign, that you don’t even pay rent yourself?

Why mention a presidential run when you’ve got nothing to talk about?

“Let’s let everybody enjoy the holidays,” said McMillan adding, “We can talk about [it] later.”

Why? Why, it’s the wrong question, friends. Jimmy McMillan isn’t a musician. He isn’t a politician. He isn’t a rent control activist. He’s just a guy who can’t help feel the love so bad that he has to just let it out.

Leaving Europa, McMillan was about to get into his “Rent is Too Damn High” poster-covered car, but he couldn’t help turning to a passerby to let one last nugget fall from his moustached lips.

“Buy your girl some nice shoes for Christmas,” he said, and slipped out into the night.

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