BOSTON ELECTION FINAL : SOME THOUGHTS ABOUT THE OFFICE OF BOSTON MAYOR

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^ to the office of Mayor : which one ? and Why ?

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Ten days ago I wrote that Marty Walsh had to change the conversation big-time or he risked being beaten by a lot. A few days later I wrote of the contradictions and conundrums in his campaign. He has now responded. He has changed the conversation AND resolved the contradictions. He is now the Candidate of The Labor Left

It is likely not a winning hand. It is certainly not a hand for a Boston in which union households in toto amount to about 14 % of the total vote. But it is a better hand than the fuzzy and disorganized hand that he had been playing. And because it is a better hand, it merits a better answer; and that it is getting, from the much more broadly based, more contemporary, more freewheeling campaign of John Connolly.

Here and Sphere, for which I write, has already endorsed John Connolly. My intention now is not to repeat that endorsement. It speaks for itself. My topic today is to examine the office of Boston Mayor itself : what do we expect our Mayor to be ? And not to be ? And why ?

Under the current City charter, the Mayor is all powerful. He (and it will be a he) appoints all administrative heads, oversees all departments, has enormous appointive power all the way down the organizational chart, and thus controls the City budget even though the Charter gives the City Council the final vote — though the Mayor can veto it.

Given the vast powers that a Boston Mayor has, it is small wonder that every interest group in the city wants him on its side. in such situation, there are only two arrangement options ;

1.The mayor can be an honerst broker amongst these interest groups, independent of any of them, or perhaps loosely aligned, from time to time, with one or more.

2.The Mayor can be the captive of one or more interest groups, elected so completely by them that he has no independence, or very little, but is, rather, that interest groups’ instrument.

It doesn’t take very much imagination to see which version of Mayor is portended by which of the two campaigns now hotting up. Personally, I prefer the first version, and I suspect that so do most Boston voters. It is not fun when an office as dominant as Boston mayor is the policy instrument of one interest group — unions especially, given that unions’ sole interest is to increase wages. (Increasing wages is a very worthy goal. But it is the epitome of narrow; a Mayor’s policy goals should be wide.) a major reason why I — most voters — prefer the independent-Mayor version is that interest groups develop an internal momentum of their own leading to either increasing radicalization or to factionalism. Radicalization alienates more and more voters from government (and should). Factionalism makes government a beehive of back-stabbing, a boiler room of inefficiency and contradiction. No one with any sense of civic governance should want a Mayor bullied by radicals or burlesqued by faction.

A City with a powerful-mayor charter can survive these political ills. Most people simply get on with their lives. The City may annoy them, or impede, but because most people live in the private sector and make most of thir life decisions on their own all day long, a mis-mayored city can hardly break them. But wouldn’t it be so much better to have a Mayor who enables rather than impedes ? Gives some aid to every interest group but all aid to none ?

John W Sears

^ John W. Sears, 1967 : “I play center field.” It’s still the model for what a Mayor of Boston should be.

Because so much effort, and so many people, are needed by a Boston Mayor candidate in order to win election to the office, a surge by interested people cannot be avoided. Indeed, the involvement of interested people is a good thing. But all surges risk going too far. it’s up to the candidate to stop that. It is political malpractice to aid and abet it.

—- Michael Freedberg / Here and Sphere

HOUSE AS BASIC AS CHICAGO BLUES : PROK & FITCH @ 360 PROVIDENCE 10.11.13

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There are some DJs and mix duos who trick up their house music as gussied as a drag queen. Others bend the genre out of shape, or clink it to other genres, or paint it with melody, all in search of a signature sound that, far too often, sounds more simpering than signifying. Then there are the DJs who strip house music down to its basics, simplify it, clip it to one tone, one stride, one vision in search of a connection instinctive as a nerve ending. Prok & Fitch proved at 360 in Providence to be of the latter sort and masterfully so. They didn’t beat around the bush, wander off, get all persnickety. From the beginning of their set at about 12:15 A.M. until well on toward 2:00 AM, they dropped a stride and strut, a push and push, a scoop and stomp : all of them low and grumbly and of a texture thick enough — without feeling like a cake mix.

360, by the way, is a new dance-music arena and a good one. Dark and spacious with a DJ booth as open to the fans as a handshake and a hug. It’s no frills, just the space and some lighting — an ideal match for the basic blues sound that was dropped upon it at this performance.

The two DJs began with a chant of “you don’t stop, no you don’t stop” — from their “After the World” track — and so it went for the many — but not quite enough — fans who danced into second wind and beyond. Using four CD players and mixing in teamwork — few solos by either man — the Londoners blended and cut, clippd the reperat bitton, squeezed the tone knob, and quick-cut the beat parade. Occasionally they flubbed a mix (I noticed one quite sloppy segue at 1:15 A.M.); but they made good the mistake so quickly that few minded. That’s one of the advantages of playing house music in basic mode: the mix flaws heal rapidly. It was that way with 1950s Chicago blues. In that most dependable of rigidly restricted, scream and ramble-effect genres, you knew what was coming, and when, and almost how’; and if a bass line went south, the guitar was there to kick it north again, and you liked the effect; it lent salt to the music ‘s pepper, spit to its shine.

Prok & Fitch have made so many tracks so similar — yet so grabbing — that they were able to salt their own pepper almost the entire night. One heard, I think, segments of their two Todd terry remixes (“Can You feel It’ and “Something Going On”), their collaboration with Roger Sanchez (“Take You There”), two collaborations with the UK’s Filthy Rich (“Time To Jam” and “Justified”), and many others of their prolific oeuvre. It was a spirit-chaser night of — so to speak — stride strut, leg lug, hip flip and brain sprain, without digression. Pause breaks were few; streakies, none. They poked the mix board all set long, but only to guide the music, not bust it open. As basic as a Bo Diddley jam, as sure as a Littler Walter, as double-played as a Howlin’ Wolf, they played house music pure and sure, and found within the genre itself all the drive and soul that lies within it, ready to pounce. Laying down the law of house. It was a set not to be missed.

Local DJ Marcus Christian, whom i had never heard play at length, opened with a set as basic and bluesy as Prok & Fitch’s. He perhaps mixed his sound with a bit more bending than they did; but the textures thus toyed with at low frequency led direcyly gto the bass and blaster work of the main men. Very well done.

—- Deedee Freedberg / Here and Sphere

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