Saturday, November 03, 2007

A Slampo’s Place Exclusive Endorsement: Bill White for Mayor (’Cause He Lays off the Grass)

After a long and careful review of the candidates and the issues while waiting for a bus at the corner of Fondren and Beechnut, the editorial board has voted unanimously to again throw the full heft of Slampo’s Place behind Mayor Bill White in his bid for a third and final term.

That means, of course, the election is all but over, unless one of the other candidates---aren’t there one or two?---would like to send some cash money to us in an envelope (no return address necessary). Fifty ($50) could swing it (having spent our formative years in the "Gret Stet" to the east, we’re not only corrupt but come cheap). Contact us at the email address above, and remember when you leave a message to specify which candidate we are to endorse. Be quick about it.

We, of course, have had our differences with Whi … ah, scratch that. We accidentally hit the “insert editorial writing cliché here” button. Here’s what we meant to say: We agree with many things The Guv’nuh has done, disagree or are puzzled by others, consider his “tax cuts” a silly joke but overall think he’s been a good mayor, better than his immediate predecessor for sure (small, small praise) and probably better than his immediate three or four predecessors (at least). We don’t even hold against him---not too much, anyway---the mess made of our neighborhood for a year and a half by the public works department and the soon-to-go-bankrupt contractor the city council picked for a major water pipe replacement project (now fading fast into pained memory).

We’re occasionally tickled by our brethren and sisteren or whoever-en in the blogosphere who attribute every action or pronouncement of White’s to base political motive in advance of his putative run for governor. (We also have to laugh at the mayor’s protestations that his political future doesn’t factor into his decisions---the muddled truth most likely is somewhere in between.) If White were a calculating Clinton-esque triangulator (which he is) but nothing more, then you’d have to say he’s an inept one. Take the attempted eviction of the mentally retarded from their longtime home near River Oaks: What percentage was there for White in that maneuver? It’s not like a donation or two from a developer, if he even were to get them, is going to get him elected governor. From a political standpoint, it was dumb---which nine out of ten people on the street could have told him, if he had asked---so we can only conclude the mayor truly believed he was pursuing the fiscally responsible course, even if it was politically dumb and (if you please) morally wrong. (As age teaches, there are certain arrangements in the world that, upon close inspection, are that way for a good reason and should remain undisturbed by the improver’s hand.)

So White strikes us as a serious person, with a tendency to list toward self-righteousness and sanctimony (and how). That was brought home to us by something called Living Green that appeared inside the Oct. 25 Houston Chronicle. Living Green is the latest in an apparently endless parade of niche publications the Chronicle is trotting out. Perhaps you’ve seen them: There’s Glop, or Gloop, and Health (can Wealth by far behind, or did it come and go and we missed it?), and Sexy Boxing Latinas (“The Chronicle niche publication for dudes who like to watch hot chicks fight”) and Frenchette (“The Chronicle niche publication for Houstonians who pretend to know something about wine”) and our favorite, Sweat ("The Chronicle niche publication for Houstonians who perspire in large and unsightly amounts”). The Lil’ General (5 years=no Pulitzer=hari-kari … oh, he’s not Japanese) who rouses the troops at 801 Texas recently declared that the niche publication is one of the key fronts on which the Hearst Corp. is battling the mysterious “all comers” (some come fast ... some come real slow) in the war against falling circulation and revenue.

And what’s this got to do with Bill White? Hold on, we’re getting to that. Right now we’re building momentum, kinda like the Dead in the 8th or 9th minute of Tennessee Jed at Hofheinz back in November of ’72.

Anyway, regarding Living Green: We won’t waste much time here pointing out the irony of a newspaper whose existence depends on the clear-cutting of acres of forests and the burning of copious amounts of fossil fuels presuming to offer instruction, or even “tips,” on environmental correctness. We’ll just open up Living Green and note that the first item to offend the sensitive reader is deep reportage on the “green habits” of various celebrities such as Demi Moore and Martha Stewart, which appeared right next to a full-page Gallery Furniture ad for an expensive German mattress made only of "natural materials." (And for this, we guess, the newspaper laid off or fired veteran reporters and editors.)


Deeper into the section is a double-truck feature in which some consigned-to-hell Chronicle minion was forced to ask various local personages---a well-known restaurateur, the head of maintenance at Metro, etc.---to rate Houston’s “greenness” on a scale of 1 to 10. That wasn’t the only thing that was asked of them---apparently each of these experts was asked to be photographed holding a FUCKING PLUG OF GRASS, which you would presume is the logo or symbol or whathaveyou of Living Green. It’s unclear and unspecified whether this was a flat of common St. Augustine, as it appears, or some native grass, or perhaps a slab of wheat grass, the kind that is pressed into the juice we drink only when Councilman Peter Brown is buying shots for the house at Whole Foods. Whatever it is and whatever its visual "point," all the participants are pictured holding a FUCKING PLUG OF GRASS---the pained expression on the restaurateur’s face suggests she’s extending a paper plate of DOG POO---all, that is, except for el alcade. The mayor is pictured wearing a goofy green golf shirt, most likely left over from St. Paddy’s Day, and bizarrely gives Houston an 8 of 10 for greenness (ah, it’s a joke anyway, so why not give the city an 11?), but he IS NOT HOLDING A FUCKING PLUG OF GRASS. Maybe he thought, “I’m not participating in this stupid gimmick that somebody thinks will burnish the bottom line of the Hearst Corp., no matter how many back massages and foot rubs I’ve been given by Rick Casey and the Chronicle editorial board,” or maybe he wasn’t thinking that at all, but whatever the case the FUCKING PLUG OF GRASS ended up still in the picture but well behind the mayor on a window frame.

So, um, as far as we’re concerned he's got that going for him, and he’s deftly denied his Republican opponent in the 2010 gubernatorial race the chance to run a negative ad featuring a picture of Bill White looking like a mope with a wad of grass in hand.

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