“It’s like a Fellini movie!” said a delighted caller yesterday evening.
I knew what he was talking about - like me, he was taking a break from the Olympics to watch our intrepid city council members, as they wrestled feebly with issues so bizarre, so unseemly and so surreal that they seemed not just Fellini-esque, but otherworldly.
The once-stately, now tastelessly renovated council chambers, where generations of elected officials have done their best to solve the mundane problems of a small city in the West, are now no more than a stage set, where players in our own theater of the absurd strut their stuff.
SNL and Second City never had such a cast! Samuel Beckett never imagined goings-on so strange!
“… Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
The always good-humored Daniel Chacon from the Gazette was there, doomed to cover the meeting from start to finish.
I wondered what the sainted Mayor Bob Isaac would have made of such goings on. Marijuana dispensaries? Vast tent cities of the homeless? Douglas Bruce ranting incoherently for 50 minutes? Councilmembers hurling insults at each other? Sean Paige and Larry Small squaring off, ready to settle things outside (or so it seemed)?
Maybe it’s just as well that Mayor Bob didn’t live to see this doleful day. He would have been justifiably appalled.
Here are few suggestions for Council:
1. Limit speeches from the public to three minutes. Limit your own remarks from the podium to two minutes.
2. End meetings after four hours, and continue them the next day if necessary. These marathon sessions are not the pure expression of the democratic ideal, but perverse and eccentric, serving only a few bloviators on and off the podium.
3. Stop conducting, enabling and participating in such travesties. Don’t pretend that you’re innocent bystanders – your own learned helplessness has enabled the process.
4. Sean, don’t mess with Larry. He was a Golden Gloves boxer – he could probably still do some serious damage, if he got overly peeved.
If you were a band, you’d be booed off the stage. Take a hint from your crosstown rivals - let’s call ‘em Denny & the Commissioners. They quietly dealt with the whole marijuana question in three days, without drama, without public fights between commissioners, without dragging John Suthers into the process, and without fanning public hysteria.
Yup, it’s a pretty tight group, even if, like Fleetwood Mac, there may be tensions between band members. Denny H. on drums, Wayne W. on bass, Jimmy B. on lead guitar, Sallie the lead vocalist, and Amy content (for now!) to sing backup vocals. They do a nice clean gig, and they know what audiences want … and that’s all you need from a local garage band.
And you guys? They made a movie about you – it’s called “This is Spinal Tap.” Check it out – aging, irrelevant, delusional metalheads who still think the world is waiting for them to lay down power chords. I can hardly wait for your upcoming world tour.
I’d be there, of course – but I got kicked out of the band years ago.