Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Stranger than Fiction, Volume one

I decided early on that one thing I'd try to do every day here is promote stories that, while true, really belong in the world of fiction.

I figured I'd be pulling typically from worldwide sources. Who knew the perfect example would be on Page One of the Globe this morning. Boston City Councilor John Tobin has decided that Boston needs ... drum roll please, a poet laureate. Setting aside the fact that Matt Viser tried to be poetic in his lede - never a good idea unless you can really nail it, the story is nothing short of amazing.

Third-term councilor and anxious mayoral wannabe Tobin has, to this point, proved himself pretty adept at getting good press on common sense problems the city faces. He was on the right side of the beer/wine in convenience stores fight, has taken on out-dated city residency rules and, in a true breath of fresh air, admits to his mayoral aspirations.

But a poet laureate? First off, he's not even saying yet whether the position will be paid. In some cities, there is a stipend. Look, I've known some councilors who shouldn't be paid - but a poet on the city dime? Get real.

The idea is to have someone pen poetry in honor of the big annual Boston events, like the State of the City. Leaving our current mayor out of it, what State of the City is ever going to feel significant enough for a poetry slam?

I'm not even going to go for the simple layup of arguing that kids are dying in the street, councilor, so focus on something real (just see yesterday's well-done McGrory column for that). Let's talk about schools, trash, noise, traffic, housing, parking, snow removal, T service, potholes, sidewalks, park maintenance, and on and on and on.

A city councilor once told me the trick to success on the council is to bide your time, come up with three good ideas a year and hope the mayor, your district rep or senator leaves at the perfect time for you.

For this year, Tobin's still looking for his three ideas.

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