A Little Ray Of Sunday Sunshine

March 4, 2012

I was stateside a couple weekends ago, jumping at any and every opportunity to get away from this city even for a day here and there to live free from our 24/7 municipal political theatre. It distorts your reality, discolours your perception, upsets your equilibrium. Why, right now, Cityslikr is out cold on the office couch, laptop on his chest, left hand holding a 4/5s empty bottle of kosher wine, and has been since about 9 pm Friday night except for the occasional waking burst to read the news, fire off a tweet or two before falling back unconscious.

Who wants to live their life like that?

When I leave this place, I endeavour to leave it completely, seldom talking about the Toronto `situation’. In fact, as difficult as it may be to believe, the world consists of far more people who know little about our city and nothing about our current mayor. Far, far more people. Carl Sagan sized numbers. Billions and billions.

So I drink up their wilful ignorance and luxuriate in their insistence to care even less. It’s a big wide world out there, folks. Great swaths of the land where Mayor Rob Ford holds no sway.

And there I was in such lovely bliss when my very gracious hosts asked why I wasn’t doing that thing on that blog-y thing that I’d been doing a little while back. Did it go under or whatever you call it when stuff on the internet just ceases to exist? While I could’ve just said ‘yes’, it died and I had moved on, instead I opened up a little on the current state of the city and how, if I paid too much attention, I simply lived with too much rage, so for my own well being, I had to step back and pay less attention.

That was all I said. I did not insist on giving the gory details. Short, sharp and to the point. Let’s move on to another topic, shall we? Who was going to scoop up all those Oscars, huh? Certainly not some French silent film.

But they could feel my pain and wanted to help, I think. After ordering another bottle of red wine, they said they had two words for me.

Buddy Cianci

Buddy Cianci is the longest serving mayor of Providence, Rhode Island. (Interesting fact: Rhode Island is not an actual island). Both of Cianci’s stints as mayor (1975-84 and 1991-2002) were cut short by felony convictions. The first was an assault conviction for beating up a man using a lit cigarette, an ashtray and fireplace log. I’ll pause to let that sink in… It seems Buddy thought the guy was sleeping with his wife.

Seven years later, Buddy was re-elected mayor and presided over a very positive period of urban renewal in Providence while also heading a government neck deep in corruption. Operation Plunder Dome as it came to be known, and when all was said and done, Mayor Cianci was hit with 27 charges including racketeering, extortion, conspiracy and mail fraud. He was only convicted of the one charge, conducting a criminal enterprise but ended up serving 5 years in prison for it.

While he has contemplated a return to political office after waiting out the requisite 3 year time out for convicted felons, nothing has come of it. He remains, it seems, not an unloved public figure, appearing locally on both radio and television. A colourful politician who, when push comes to shove, will probably be judged for his positive contributions to the city he led than the seamier aspects.

“So, you see,” one of my friends said, “any city worth its salt elects itself a ‘Buddy Cianci’ somewhere along the line. You’ll survive.”

Words to live by, friends.

While it may seem impossible to comprehend at this point in time, no matter how bleak the view now, we will survive. We will pick up the pieces that will inevitably be broken, put them back together as best we can and move forward.

The city will survive.

glass half fully submitted by Urban Sophisticat


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