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It never fails. Every time I doubt the Great Man’s wisdom, I get schooled. Example. Earlier this week I was up in his office, and I’d been waiting for the right moment to broach what I thought could be a sensitive topic, which had been gnawing at my mind.
This seemed like the perfect chance – he had just had one of his “moments alone,” pleasuring himself while standing at his office window admiring the construction of ARTIC, going up girder by girder. Now he was flushed and sweaty, but relaxed, and washing his hands. (The Great Man in his prudence washes his hands dozens of times a day; God forbid germs deprive Anaheim of such a visionary.)
So, seated in my humble corner chair, I cleared my throat and ventured cautiously: “Sir, there’s something that’s been bothering me.” He didn’t respond, but I could tell he heard me, as he dried his hands and shifted his eyes toward me. So I continued, “Sir, shouldn’t we be a little bit more worried about Lorri Galloway?”
“Toady,” he mumbled quietly. (“Toady” is not my real name; it is what the Great Man calls me, and I don’t mind, but nobody else can call me that. You don’t need to know my real name. Anonymity is a time-honored tradition on the blogosphere and American letters in general.) After a moment, he continued in a murmur as though to himself, “Lorri Galloway…” Then he looked over at me quizzically, “Why are you worried?”
“Well, sir… the Democrats and the Latinos are really rallying out there; don’t you think there’s a slight chance she could beat Lucille and … you-know-who … and become Anaheim’s next Mayor?”
“Hmm… Mayor Galloway…” he murmured as though still in a trance. “…. Could be.”
“And we’re not doing anything to attack her, sir. Cunningham treats her with kid gloves, almost reverently, and I know he wouldn’t wipe his nose without your say-so. What about all that oppo research – I know you don’t want to hear the name, but the oppo research Cynthia Ward did a few years ago, it’s a treasure trove. Are we just going to let Galloway waltz in?”
“Toady.” The Great Man cleared his throat and shook his head vigorously side to side for a moment to bring himself back to a state of alertness. “Tell me again, why exactly are you worried about Lorri Galloway becoming Mayor?”
“Well, sir… I don’t want to insult you by reminding you of things I’m sure you remember, but she’s opposed every one of your brilliant ideas for Anaheim. She was a NIGHTMARE over that $158 million Gardenwalk giveaway we pulled off for O’Connell. She even started a ‘Let the People Vote’ movement against it. She fought tooth and nail against your cherished Disney Streetcar. And she fought long and hard for District Elections, which is going to make it a lot harder for YOU to keep control of this town, sir, if you’ll pardon my impertinence…”
“Toady.” He sat behind his desk, clasped his hand, and grinned. “If we can’t let bygones be bygones, we don’t belong in this business.”
“Yes, sir. The business of Public-Private Partnerships.”
“Oh, say that again!” he exclaimed in sudden childlike enthusiasm.
“The business of Public-Private Partnerships.”
“NOW. Let me show you something, Toady. You say you’re worried about Lorri Galloway.” Full of energy now, he strode to a shelf and pulled out a thick binder. “You know what this is?”
“Yes, sir,” I groaned, “I put it all together for you. It’s all of the news coverage and opinion writing so far on Anaheim’s negotiations with the Angels.”
“Right. Our little deal with Arte Moreno.” He flipped theatrically through the hundreds of pages. “Do you notice anything missing here? Anything completely absent?”
It began to dawn on me. “Lorri Galloway. ANY statement against this deal, or even about it, from Galloway.”
He banged his finger against his temple. “Correct-a-mundo, Toady! Apart from one little rally ‘way back last September, Lorri has not said a WORD about this. Bupkis. Nothing to the press, nothing at City Council. Isn’t that a little strange, from someone who wants to run this city, and will be stuck with whatever we pull off this year? ONE DOLLAR A YEAR FOR SIXTY YEARS?” The Great Man laughed like an actual movie villain.
“Is … is Lorri ONE OF US now?”
On a roll, he continued, “Not only that, the Convention Center expansion. Lorri fashions herself as the great savior of the city workers, the AMEA. Those poor schmucks are gonna be shit out of luck when the balloon payments come due on this bond scam of ours – their pensions – ” [explosion gesture with hand] ” – POOF. Wouldn’t you think the great liberal lady who wants to be Mayor would have something to say about that? But what have we heard from Lorri? Radio silence. The Silence of the LoGal.” The Great Man’s laughter was beginning to get a little disturbing, even for me.
“Well, but still, she has loyalty to … I know you hate to hear his name but…”
“Go ahead, you can say it. The Usurper. TAIT. Just say Tait. She has loyalty to him you say?”
“Why yes, I – I THINK so. I mean, I know she’s running against him, but they BOTH say they’re still friends. And you know how they worked together for years on council.”
“OK, Toady, have you heard THIS yet? I’ve got Kris Murray and my other puppets out there on PUBLIC RADIO, calling Tait an unethical slob who really wants the Angels to leave Anaheim so he can somehow make a profit off it personally. And that’s nothing to the gossip they’ve been spreading about him outside of the media, and the anonymous commenters on the blogs. And does Lorri say a word in her old ‘friend’s’ defense? What do you think, Toady?”
“I’m going to go ahead and guess ‘NO.’”
“And you’d be right. What kind of friend lies back and lets her friend be trashed so that she can benefit from it? Let me put it this way, Toady.” The Great Man stopped laughing and looked me straight in the eye. “If Lorri Galloway so much as utters a peep about our little deal with Arte Moreno, a word critical of our Convention Center expansion bond, or a word in defense of Tom Tait…” he paused, grinned and winked: “then she ain’t MY LoGal.”
I tried to compute all this new information. “Does this mean Lorri is our candidate now? What about Lucille?”
“Well, Anaheim Insider, you said it yourself: Lucille is a liability!” I gulped and blushed. “That’s right. I KNEW IT WAS YOU, FREDO.”
I oscillated between shock that the Great Man had fingered me as the cheeky anonymous writer of this piece, and overwhelming pride that he had read and agreed with it. He laughed, “Relax, Toady, you were right. Lucille for Mayor will NOT work out.” He made a tippling gesture with one hand, the gesture Alec Baldwin made in Glengarry Glenn Ross.
Then the Great Man became manic and started striding across the room. “This city needs a Happy Face Mayor, that can bring the whole town together. Disney wants a Happy Face Mayor. *I* want a Happy Face Mayor. Toady, this will be brilliant. This will be historic… Think of it…”
At that moment, bizarrely, the Great Man’s eyelashes began fluttering and he commenced making ballet-like gestures with his outstretched hands, exactly as though he were channeling Lorri Galloway herself. “It will be historic, Toady – the FIRST FEMALE MAYOR of Anaheim! The FIRST HISPANIC – I mean, WOMAN OF COLOR Mayor of Anaheim! Someone who can bring people together from all walks of life – Hispanics, Arabs, whites, the rich, the poor, EVERYBODY – that is…” Here the Great Man clenched his fists in anger: “Except anybody who stands in the way of MY PLANS.”
The construction noise had grown deafening, and the building shook with the efforts of the cranes just outside. The Great Man stood there silently, trembling, eyes shut, fists clenched … and I could just barely make out his whispering, as though to calm himself: “Mayor Galloway. Mayor Galloway.”
Finally he opened his eyes, walked slowly over to the window, and said, without turning to face me, “Leave me now, Toady. I need another ‘moment alone.’” I trundled off to the office next door for a few minutes. What a man, what a pioneer, what a visionary. Anaheim will never again see his like.