Hooked On Civics

I cannot swear for certain if any of the following is true. Consider me, if you will, coreyhartan unreliable narrator of this tale. The past four days have been something of a NeoCitran-Benylin DM-Gosling’s haze, that dreaded winter cold many had suffered endlessly of having finally caught me in the season’s dying days.

Conversations of late have struck me as not quite right. Ass-grabbing. Scotch and cranberry juice with a beer chaser. Wearing sunglasses at night. Cocaine. Daniel Dale’s skinny boney butt. Sarah Thomson.


Clearly, it was the medication filter, changing meanings, changing contexts. This wasn’t really a thing, this thing I kept hearing.

More disturbingly were the visitations. Two Lynchian-like spectres seated near me as I slept-dreamt-ate Kraft Dinner. Jibbering jabbering at each other then toward me then back to each other. briankeithWords, words, words, I sometimes comprehended, many I did not.

Ahh, my old friend Urban Sophisticat. It had been a long time since we chatted. All formally business casual, looking very much the part of Brian Keith as Uncle Bill in A Family Affair. Oh, Buffy. You died far too young.

And the other, well, it reminded me of Acaphlegmic. It could only be him… he? him? Yet, his look struck me as something altogether different from what I remember him… he? him? willing to sport. Country bumpkin-barber shop quartet soprano?

“It’s a fucking goldmine in there now,” Urban Sophisticat informed me, leaning in a little too close given by contagious state. I covered my bowl of KD. I’m not sure why, exactly. “They’ve got the run of the place.”

“Texas tea,” according to Acaphlegmic, and I was immediately struck by the realization who he reminded me of. Buddy Ebsen’s Jed Clampett, dressed to the nine’s for a Sunday outing. I often wondered how his career might’ve fared differently had he held on to the role of the Tin Man in the Wizard of Oz and not been felled by allergies. jedclampettYeah, allergies. The Beverly Hillbillies? Barnaby Jones?

I often wondered too, why my more hallucinatory moments consist of 1960s TV flashbacks. It concerns me about the direction any turn for dementia might take for me further down the road. “Sam! Samantha!!”

Coming to, I become aware of the rustling of a newspaper.

“Since Mayor Rob Ford took office and declared the city ‘open for business’ lobbying activity at city hall has exploded,” Urban Sophisticat reads. “Three times more lobbyists signed up with the city in 2012 as in 2010. The number of subjects they’re pushing has doubled. Allegations of misconduct have tripled. And the daily communications logged between lobbyists and public office holders appears to be 10 times higher last year than the year before Ford took office, an analysis by the Star has shown.”

I sleep. Or maybe it’s just a blink. But when I open my eyes again both men are leaning forward, grinning like… they couldn’t be happier.

“Lobbying. That’s where it’s at,” Urban Sophisticat informs me.opportunities

“You got the brains,” Acaphlegmic adds. “We got the looks. Let’s make lots of money.”

It should hardly come as a surprise to anyone. The Ford Administration, such as it was, offered double the opportunities for the lobbying industry. One, they loved the private sector. Who better to advise and inform them of important matters of policy? Especially when doing that kind of grunt research stuff meant full time work and resources that were hard to justify in these days of stopping the gravy train.

Plus, with a severe lack of leadership at the top (again, a lot of time and resources needed to maintain even a semblance of control or interest), a directionless city council makes for a more willing audience to hear entreaties from outsiders. The mayor’s vote list replaced by a lobbyist’s wish list. At the end of the day, instructions are instructions, am I right?

“There’s far more fluidity in voting patterns,” according to Jamie Besner of the Sussex Strategy Group. “There’s no question.” It is now Acaphlegmic’s turn to read from the newspaper. “Under Mel Lastman there was a predictable vote pattern. The same thing occurred under David Miller. This council is far more unpredictable.”

“We want in on some of that action,” Urban Sophisticat tells me. songanddanceBut… but… why is he eating my Kraft Dinner?

“We’ve even got ourselves a name,” Acaphelgmic points out. “GGI.”


“Good Governance Incorporated.”

Wait. How did he know I was wondering what GGI meant? Can they read my mind now? And stop eating my lunch!

“Yeah. We’re going go done there to City Hall, and hype the shit out of good governance, yo!” (OK, so why was Urban Sophisticat talking like Jesse Pinkerman now?) “Tell each one of those 41 councillors what’s what and what’s when about solid policy initiatives, resident engagement, community programs… and whatnot.”

I point out that there’s actually 44 councillors at City Hall.

“Yeah. We’re not going to waste much time and effort on Ford, Holyday or Nunziata,” Acaphlegmic responds. “Think they might have deaf ears to the tune we’ll be singing.”

“I mean, Di Giorgio’s a stretch but, yeah. It’s all about time management and sticking to the easier gets,” Urban Sophisticat points out.showmethemoney

“Hooked On Civics!” Acaphlegmic belts out. “That’s what we’re selling.”

Now, I didn’t really want to burst anyone’s enthusiasm bubble. The boys, if that’s what they were and not just some dextromethorphan induced figment of my imagination, seemed really pumped and their hearts in the right place but… what about the money?

“Who’s going to be paying you to lobby for good governance?” I asked.

Yeah. The bubble burst. This was not something they had thought of, obviously. They stopped dead still and looked at me like I’d just spoken in tongues, which wasn’t beyond the realm of possibility. So I repeated myself just in case.

“Who’s going to pay you to lobby for good governance?”

It was the one looking like Acaphlegmic who spoke first.

“You mean… Wait… You don’t just sign up as a lobbyist, do your spiel and pick up a pay cheque?”

“Why wouldn’t someone pay you to lobby for good governance?!” crestfallenUrban Sophisticat screamed at me.

It was a good question and not one I had an answer to even when I wasn’t totally under the influence of over the counter medication. Why not, indeed. Evidently it’s easier to put a price on casinos or sidewalk lay-bys than it is good governance.


That’s good.

Hey, Acaphlegmic! Urban Sophisticat! Hey! Guys? Guys?

Gone. Perhaps never here. Good ideas are often fleeting, I thought to myself, washing down the last of my Kraft Dinner with the last of my Benylin. Nothing but the product of cold shivers and overheated minds.


fuzzily submitted by Cityslikr