Tuesday, March 10, 2009


(image: Mayor Richard J. Daley)

According to the OED online, "mayor" springs from the French, "mare," and used to be spelled "mair," among other ways. The governmental post seems to have been a feudal one originally, but it soon changed into the municipal-related one we think of now. Probably the most notorious mayor in my experience was Richard J. Daley of Chicago, famous for his dictatorial style, his "machine" ("vote early and often"), his bigotry, and his over-reaction to protesters at the 1968 Democratic National Convention. His son is mayor now. Probably there are many reasons for his having been elected and re-elected, but one of them must be that some people were more or less nostalgic for "the old days."

I met a woman once who had grown up in Spain when Franco was still dictator but who then moved to the U.S.--in her late teens or early 20s, I think. She recognized that Spain's government, etc., was better now than then, but she also recalled feeling "safe" in the city she lived in--because Franco ruled militaristically: no street-crime, etc. I doubt if this woman ever would have voted for Franco, assuming he'd stood for election. Nonetheless, she experienced a degree of nostalgia when thinking of her childhood when he was dictator. The current Daley is no Franco, of course, but I do wonder if some people prefer "familiar authority" sometimes.

Anyway, I've been messing around with a mayoral poem.

A Brief Message from the Mayor

I'm the Mayor of No-town,
Population: One. However,
others live here seasonally.

I like to tell people I won
the election in a run-off.
I disagree with myself,

can't decide what to do,
and change my mind a lot,
so government suffers here.

True, I don't get many
complaints. I've threatened
to resign in protest. Still,

it's a good place to live.
I might create an ad-campaign
to boost tourism--something

like "No-town: home of
the Big Yes" or "No-town . . .
for a Tiny Vacation."

This democracy of one--
I have my doubts. I think
I'll change the charter.

Copyright 2009 Hans Ostrom
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