The Passing Parade: Cheap Shots from a Drive By Mind

"...difficile est saturam non scribere. Nam quis iniquae tam patiens urbis, tam ferreus, ut teneat se..." "...it is hard not to write Satire. For who is so tolerant of the unjust City, so steeled, that he can restrain himself... Juvenal, The Satires (1.30-32) akakyakakyevich@gmail.com

Friday, June 15, 2007

BAD TIMES IN THE HALLS OF POWER: Scandal, yes, loathsome and always dreaded scandal has come to our now not so happy little burg, and I find it shocking and more than a little distasteful to have to report such reprehensible goings on to the public. But truth will out, as Thomas Edison didn’t say either before or after inventing the electric light bulb—he didn’t even say something vaguely similar to that, if you want to know the truth, although he was heard complaining about an intense case of flatulence that made his intestines sound like an amateur tuba quintet playing something by Vivaldi for the better part of a week—and if you do not hear such news from an impartial observer like myself you may hear the news from scandalmongers, gossips, and possibly even such vile creatures as life insurance salesmen, and who knows what type of spin they will put on the story in order to make it sound even worse than it is.

I will grant you, however, that it is difficult, at best, to imagine a set of circumstances in which someone could make the police arresting the mayor of our fair micropolis for assaulting a real estate developer with a fully charged fire extinguisher during a meeting of the City Council sound worse that it really was, but I am sure that someone with enough imagination could do just that if they really wanted to. And I would be remiss in my duties here if I did not point out that the mayor was provoked almost beyond the limits of human endurance, and that, frankly, both the developer and the nuns had it coming. The facts of the matter are these: last Thursday, at the semimonthly meeting of the solons who govern our fair community, the question of what to do with the nuns came up for the millionth time. The good sisters are leaving us—their order has decided to sell their convent and move them to another house further upstate—and so the question of what to do with the land the convent now stands on has turned the usual placid flow of municipal politics into a raging torrent of hatred and recrimination. One faction is for turning the whole area into a park, another wants to sell the land for development. I will not bore the reader with the ins and outs of this dispute; suffice it to say that the mayor wanted a new city park and the rest of the board wanted development and the mayor lost this argument big time, and I mean big time; he lost this vote by a wider margin than we denizens of the egregious mold pit lost the vote for a new library, and I didn’t think that was possible in any city-wide election unless the dead voted too, which they are sometimes wont to do in this neck of the woods. Our happy little burg is a very inclusive community, unwilling to damage the patriotic self-esteem of even the most deceased of our citizens, and so we are one of the few places in the United States that can boast that many of the same people who voted for John Quincy Adams also voted for George W. Bush twice; family is just that important to us here.

Defending the honor of his family was, in my opinion, the root cause of the events that marred the civil calm our citizens have grown accustomed to. At last Thursday’s meeting the developer, a thoroughly unlikable man with pretensions to obnoxiousness, if not outright swinishness, brought up the fact, as if we didn’t already know it, that he had bought the convent and wanted to start building his cookie cutter McMansions right away, and would the mayor therefore stop throwing legal obstacles in his way at every opportunity? The mayor denied right away that he was doing this, which, I must point out in a spirit of fairness, is codswallop piled on poppycock topped with balderdash. The mayor may have lost the vote over the land’s fate, but he’s been strangling the project in so much red tape ever since that everyone knows he’s just waiting for the developer to give up and move on to other projects. Most people either know or can find out for themselves that the German Army shot the last extant aurochs on this planet during the invasion of Poland in 1939, no doubt finding the beasts a welcome change from a diet of sardines and bratwurst, and as a result the developer should not have to provide an environmental impact statement detailing his project’s impact on the aurochs’ native habitat.

The developer, who along with being disagreeable in the extreme, is also a fairly excitable guy, lost his temper at this bald-faced departure from the facts as everyone knows them and began shouting at the mayor, liberally peppering his threats of legal action with a stream of invective that veered wildly from the merely libelous to the scatological, the profane, the blasphemous, and the obscene, sometimes combining all four at once. The mayor took the abuse with the stoic aplomb that more than one opponent has commented on, and then the developer brought up the mayor’s wife. Doing this is always a mistake. The mayor’s wife is a very nice woman these days and it does no one any good to bring up events from thirty years ago that really weren’t anyone’s fault; it’s not like anyone involved died as a result, except the goldfish; but the mayor is understandably touchy about the subject and those of us who live here understand his feelings and never bring the matter up amongst ourselves except when we are really bored and have nothing else to do. Having some smarmy loudmouth developer from out of town bring the subject up, and in a public forum, no less, was just too much for the mayor to bear, and he went sailing over the table and into low earth orbit to defend his wife’s honor, such as it is, in what was probably not the most graceful leap in the long annals of local politics.

Having gone up, the mayor then came down, and many witnesses told the reporters the next day that it was a good thing the mayor landed on the nuns sitting in the first row or he might have really hurt himself; the sisters are doing well, except for Sister Mary Margaret, who bore the full impact of the mayor’s nearly three hundred pound carcass landing on her lap. She is still in intensive care, but on the whole she held up much better than you would expect an eighty-five year old woman would to such an impact. The mayor pushed the developer up against the wall and then grabbed the fire extinguisher off the wall and tried to bash the real estate reprobate over the head with the thing. At this point, some members of the local gendarmerie came rushing into the City Council chamber in the not so nick of time and pulled the two men apart, arresting the mayor for assault and battery. They may have arrested the developer as well; I haven’t heard of any charges against him, though; being a first rate jerk is not yet a crime here in the Vampire State—if it were the state would as empty as Montana.

And that is all there is to the matter. I find having to recount such vile tales disagreeable in the extreme, for if those who lead us think so little of themselves and their obligations to the people who voted them into office, what hope is there for the ordinary citizen who only wants to lead a simple life free from civil strife? But in a democracy, the public must have the unvarnished truth, so that it can make wise decisions about the issues of the day and the people they send to the halls of power to represent them. If this screed helps the ongoing American experiment in democracy advance in any way, I will be satisfied. And no, I am not going to tell you about the damn goldfish.

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