I’d like to commend David S. Bernstein for pointing out that the mayor could have many promising challengers. However, I don’t think Mayor Menino is nearly as popular or as hard to beat as he is made out to be by some in the press. As a former employee and supporter of Menino — I worked for the Boston Redevelopment Authority for five years, two of which I served on the mayor’s Housing Advisory Committee and met with him every Monday — I am ready to speak out against him for the good of Boston. He is doing an extremely poor job as a steward of the city, and his best days are behind him.
Most people view Menino as an old-style “us vs. them” pol who dishes out perks and paybacks, depending on who you are. I believe he is out of touch with the majority of Bostonians. Remember, this “popular” mayor — often called unbeatable — was re-elected by less than 24 percent of Boston’s total registered voters in 2005 (only 35 percent of the registered voters turned out). That’s hardly a groundswell of enthusiasm.
The city’s demographics have changed dramatically, with a confluence of new people moving in, increased power and participation of many different racial groups, and the aging and thinning out of traditional ethnic voting blocs. This, coupled with Menino fatigue, both on behalf of city residents and city employees, makes him extremely vulnerable. (According to the people with whom I keep in contact at City Hall, their work environment has never been worse, and any enthusiasm that once existed at City Hall is long gone.)
Mayor Menino has done many admirable things. But he is consumed by petty squabbles and grudges. There is no vision, just power wielding. Although Menino’s creation of inertia through intimidation did at one point create results in urban services, I don’t see those results now.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that Matt Taibbi’s November 30 “Sports Blotter” column “Good Show, Chaps” featured the recent England vs. Croatia Euro 2008 soccer tournament qualifying game. Upon reading it, however, I found Taibbi’s multiple mistakes and sweeping generalizations to be dismaying. To begin with, I found it disturbing that a well-traveled individual such as Taibbi is unable to tell the difference between England and Great Britain, and unable to recognize the significance of this fact in international sporting competitions.
Furthermore, Taibbi’s obviously ignorant question, “When was the last time England was relevant at all in the sporting world?” is embarrassing. Surely the English rugby union team’s World Cup win in 2003, or trip to the finals this past October, is relevant. Or how about Paula Radcliffe, who further proved her title as the greatest female distance runner ever after winning yet another marathon in New York in early November? How about up-and-coming Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton? Perhaps Taibbi feels that if Americans don’t watch a particular sport, it simply isn’t important.
Regarding “Nirvana Versus Foo Fighters,” Kurt Cobain is an institution. French psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan said that forgetting the dream is part of the dream. Cobain’s death is part of his poetic legacy. His lately published journals are underestimated, and his commentary in the new film About a Son ekes out new ways of assessing his achievement. I always saw Cobain as rock-and-roll’s kid brother. Whether it was nerve, desperation, or insanity that drove him, whoever wants to follow him will have to follow suit.