Mikel Louis Weisser (born February 7, 1959) is a poet, teacher, activist/entertainer and currently candidate for U.S. Representative for Arizona's 4th congressional district. He is a member of the Democratic Party.
Early life, education, and teaching career
Originally named Michael Louis Frazier, Weisser was born in Beaumont, Texas, and raised in Raymondville, Texas, the son of Patsy Anne (née Perrodin) and Jackie Oren Frazier. After divorcing Frazier, when Mikel was an infant, Patsy supported herself as a nightclub singer until she remarried to Roger Eugene “Bud” Weisser, who adopted Michael. His step- grandparents were immigrants from Sweden and Germany and his maternal grandparents were from East Texas. His maternal grandfather was of Cajun descent. His mother was a nightclub singer. His stepfather was an electrician who moved the family to the Rio Grande Valley of Texas and ran a mechanical construction business.
A former teen runaway, Weisser attended Pan American University in Edinburg, Texas, majoring in communications and theater. Weisser was part of the 1978 PASS, Pan American Summer Stock theater company with a supporting role in the musical Boys From Syracuse. He dropped out following a house fire and briefly served in the US Navy, though he left after only four months with an honorable discharge. While in the Navy, Weisser’s first name was inadvertently misspelled as “Mikel,” a change Weisser never corrected.
Reconciling with the mother of his son, Samuel, Weisser worked various construction/manual labor jobs in South Texas and eventually earning a journeyman’s plumbing license working for his stepfather’s company, Portal Electric. After moving from South Texas to Springfield, IL in 1987, Weisser soon returned to college and earned BA in Literature in 1992 from Sangamon State University paying his way with scholarships, grants, and by working as a carnie. He graduated with High honors and a GPA of 3.91. While working as a program coordinator at a homeless shelter, he continued on to earn an MA in literary criticism in 1999 though the university changed its name to University of IL at Springfield. Weisser represented UIS at a trio of national graduate student literary conferences when four of Weisser's papers were presented on Hemingway, Shelley, John Irving and Depression Era Crime Films. His thesis was on postmodernism and literary allusion.
After spending a year working as substitute teacher and freelance journalist, Weisser moved to Bullhead City to teach social studies. Weisser earned a Master in Secondary Education from Northern Arizona University in 2005. His thesis was on using social studies to teach writing and vice versa. He has presented papers on reading enrichment. Weisser has been a member of National Middle School Association and the Arizona Education Association. He spoke to the Peace and Social Justice Caucus at the 2012 National Education Association convention in Washington DC. Currently he teaches social studies in Kingman, Arizona. Weisser lives in the hillside community of So-Hi, where he moved with his second wife Beth in 2007, following the suicide of Lisa on Dec. 3 2005.
Writing and Artistic Career
Though Weisser began writing as a teen, and he continued writing all along, his” writing career” did not begin until his 30th birthday, when Weisser self-published his first book, a collection of short fiction, Stories for the TV Generations in 1989. In 1991, Weisser edited the Sangamon State University's anthology of student writing, The Alchemist's Review. Weisser also self-published two later collections of short fiction, Gossip (1990) and Sampler Pack (1992), which included a short section of poetry. Weisser began performing poetry and self published a collection of poetry the following year, Songs of Assonance & Experymence [sic](1993). Later self-publications include A Simple Calendar (2000), Verb*I*Age (2004), and Leaving the Empire (2010). In 2006, he also edited and released his late wife’s haiku collection, Little Girl Lost.
Following the publishing Stories for the TV Generations, Weisser began writing for SSU’s college paper and Springfield underground newspapers, The Alternative (1990-1992) and The Chronicle of Unlimited Possibilities (1992-1997) where he created his ongoing political humor series “News for the TV Generations,” which would later be renamed “Current Comedy.” In addition to the political series, Weisser’s freelance journalism would appear in various Springfield publications including Illinois Times and Springfield Magazine. Though he moved to Arizona in 2000, he continued to publish in Illinois publications until his wife’s death in 2005. He resumed his political column in 2007 and created the website, Current Comedy (http://yzurblog.blogspot.com/), following his remarriage in 2007. The column has been posted on Op-Ed News, Dissident Voice, AZ Central, and Daily Kos, among other national sites, in addition to locally in the Mohave Daily News and Kingman Daily Miner. In 2012, Weisser suspended his political column to focus on his candidacy (See Below).
In 1993 and 2000 Weisser won Springfield poetry slams before moving to Arizona in late 2000. After teaching a poetry class in 2004, he began hosting local poetry readings in Bullhead City and Kingman and joined NORAZ Poets ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NORAZ_Poets). Starting in 2009, Weisser began competing in the AZ poetry slam circuit and has performed in several prestigious locations around the country including The World Stage and Beyond Baroque in L.A., The Beat Museum in San Francisco and The Green Mill in Chicago.
Though he did not take up the guitar until in his 40s, starting in 2006 Weisser also began a sporadic musical career and released a self-published album of original music, Quarter Blues (2008) of vocals & acoustic guitar. As a visual artist, Weisser had early art shows while attending Pan American University, but did not avidly resume art until moving to Springfield. There, Weisser incorporated set design, performance poetry and theatrical monologues, found objects, and traditional art forms to create basement “theme parks” that were profiled twice by the university public access channel. Upon moving to So-Hi, Weisser began adopting the couple’s two acre property into an outdoor peacesign theme park, with hundreds of peacesigns, including some large enough to be seen via Google Earth. Weisser’s peacesign themepark has been profiled in both Kingman’s Weekly Standard and Prescott’s Daily Courier, and was the subject of a multi-media outdoor art show of painting and sculpture in Prescott’s McCormick Art District in 2009 and two short videos.
Weisser’s career as a political activist began in 1979 when local farm workers in Raymondville launched an onion strike. Weisser’s moment of conversion was caught on film and later included in Hart Perry’s 2003 documentary, Valley of Tears, on the history of the racial tensions in Raymondville. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raymondville,_Texas). After moving to Springfield, Weisser became a volunteer and later the manager of the local activist food co-op, King Harvest Food Co-op, which also became a recycling center under Weisser’s management. In addition to his ongoing recycling efforts, Weisser was also an outspoken critic on racial and military issues, organizing and participating in protests in both Illinois and Arizona. In 2007, Weisser joined a national anti-war protest in Washington DC where he began his continuing association with the international women’s peace organization, Code Pink. (He would later be the musical entertainment for AZ appearances of Code Pink leaders Cindy Sheehan and Medea Benjamin.)
In 2008, Weisser coverage of the Dennis Kucinich led House Judiciary Committee hearings on possible impeachment of George W Bush drew national attention and his articles on immigration, LGBT Rights and the Tea Party were widely reposted. In Arizona, Weisser has also been involved with anti SB-1070 protests and the LGBT movement. Though a straight male, he serves as the Mohave County Regional Adviser on LGBT issues for the state Democratic Party. In October of 2011, Weisser became the leader and “disorganizer” of the Kingman Occupy movement and was elected to represent Arizona at the 99% Delegation’s Continental Congress 2.0 held in Philadelphia on the 4th of July at Independence Hall. Weisser read part of the public proclamation and chaired the committee on Immigration. http://www.the99declaration.org/
After working to advance Democratic causes in the 2000 election, Weisser began volunteering with the Democratic Party in 2004. In 2010, he served as the field coordinator for his wife, Beth’s, campaign for state senate for AZ 3rd legislative district, running against incumbent Ron Gould. That year he also began working as an elected PC and state party delegate. Following the January 2012 announcement of new Congressional districts, Weisser launched a campaign for the newly formed 4th district when no traditional candidates emerged. Weisser’s populist grassroots campaign has not focused on raising money, but on confronting Republican leadership. His slogan, “Tell the Right They’re Wrong!”, handmade approach to campaigning, hard-edged progressive rhetoric and high energy public political appearances, which often incorporate both poetry and music, have excited supporters and infuriated his opposition around the district. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BDp1ZvXarBM
Currently Weisser is in a contested primary. His opponent is Johnnie Robinson from Florence, AZ. The primary election is Tuesday, August 28, 2012.