Over The Edge

« November 2007 »

Memo to John Nephew: CONGRATULATIONS?

Tuesday was Election Day. I will admit, I didn't pay a whole lot of attention to it this year, since it was all the kind of deeply local stuff that I'm supposed to care about as a good progressive citizen but never actually do. Which is why I was actually quite shocked when it was brought to my attention that Minneapolis has a suburb full of crazy people.

And by a suburb full of crazy people, I don't mean a suburb full of stupid people. We've got plenty of those (hi, Edina!). No, I mean a suburb actually full of actual crazy people, who have taken the axiom that "all politics is local", and ran with that axiom like they were in the Jim Jones Memorial 1,000 Meter Kool-Aid Relay. I'm talking Glenn Close Fatal Attraction crazy.

The suburb is Maplewood, which in my mind is largely famous for having the Toys R Us in the Twin Cities metro that's too much fucking trouble for me to ever go to. It's the kind of suburb you don't think about unless you live there, at which point, apparently, you think about it to an unhealthy degree. Anyway, Tuesday's election would determine two seats on Maplewood's four-seat City Council, which before Tuesday had a 3-2 (including the mayor) majority*. So a lot was at stake, for a sufficiently small value of "a lot".

You want to know how crazy the race was? Here was the least crazy thing - one of the majority incumbents, Rebecca Cave, got in trouble for lawn signs that required tiny asterisked footnotes on them to be, well, you know. True. The signs said "POLICE - FIRE - ENDORSED", with footnotes explaining that it wasn't all of the police and it wasn't all of the fire department, providing the kind of nuance and clarity that voters driving past at 35 miles an hour would surely pick up on.

Challenging Cave, for all practical intents and purposes, was John Nephew. A man who, had I been paying attention, would have gotten the coveted You Are Dumb Dot Net endorsement for Maplewood City Council solely on the strength of him being the owner of Atlas Games, a very niche and nerdy pen-and-paper RPG publisher.

Which brings us nicely into the next phase of campaign crazy - mysterious mailings. Nephew, for example, was accused of marketing violent and dark games to young people, which is a somewhat misleading charge. There's no way in hell young people are actually playing Atlas RPG's. Now, there's a chance that the mailing might be referring to Lunch Money, a card game which was dark, and violent, and incidentally fairly awesome. But the only time it might have been marketed near children was when it came out. Eleven years ago. At the height of the Magic craze. And none of the subsequent societal collapse since then can be laid at Nephew's feet.

There was another mailing that tried to get supporters of Nephew and white-hat incumbent Will Rossbach to take down their lawn signs under some false but official-sounding premise. Which is not only dirty, but also continues an odd trend I've seen in local politics of drastically overestimating the value and importance of lawn signs. But that's another column.

Because we have to get to the bestest mailing of all - a psychotic postcard that showed up in at the very least Rossbach's mailbox in September. On the front, a picture of posthumous liberal boogeyman Paul Wellstone, captioned "A William Rossbach Role Model". And on the back... oh, the back.

On the back, five pictures captioned "SOME OF YOUR CLOSE FRIENDS!" I can only assume the intent was to strike fear into the hearts of Maplewood voters by linking Rossbach to scary individuals of national prominence. I have to assume that, because the Rogues Gallery assembled here is not, shall we say, that awe-inspiring.

Sure, Ted Kennedy's a given. He's the go-to guy for situations like this. Jesse Jackson's a little less topical, but there is the possibilty that, at any moment, Maplewood could become the center of a racial injustice of national prominence. But doubling up on Jesse Jackson and Louis Farrakhan? I'm sorry, but the odds of any member of the Maplewood City Council bringing in the Nation of Islam are pretty fucking slim. Still, Farrakhan is just a psychotic canape for what is to come.

Namely, Janet Reno. Janet Reno? The only way anyone could have thought of Janet Reno in the past six years was if they were watching SNL reruns or summering in their fortified Montana compound. On the other hand, Reno is still alive, unlike Bella Abzug.

Did I mention Bella Abzug was on the postcard? I didn't? Perhaps that's because I was saving it for last, because it's BELLA FUCKING ABZUG. Someone I had to look up when she was a punchline in a Bloom County strip over two decades ago. Even if the election of Nephew and Rossbach caused the dead to rise from their graves tomorrow, Bella Abzug wouldn't be a threat to anyone. It's no wonder the two of them won by a handy margin, if that's the level of their opposition. Asterisks and Bella Abzug. Fuck.

So congratulations are in order, I guess. Nephew now gets to help rule over this sorry lot of bugfuck suburbanites, with their petty squabbles, their fire department rivalries, their lawsuits, and the everpresent threat that Bella Abzombie will stop by City Hall for a chat.

*News articles about the political stuff in Maplewood studiously avoid discussing party affiliation for some reason. From various inference, I'm led to believe that it was a 3-2 Republican majority, but it could be two types of fucking Sneeches for all I know.