Saturday, May 07, 2005

The Moon, Six Pence and Five...Count Them...Five Letters to the Editor

Perhaps my favorite writer of all time is W. Somerset Maugham. Anyone who wants to put this to the test, need only to ask me to show them the few e-books currently on my Palm Treo 650.

I'm reading "Funnymen," the second novel by Catch-22 author, Joseph Heller's son Ted. His first novel, "Slabrat" is a hillarious look into the dark and seemy world of the publishing industry. His critique travels well into virtually any industry where there are young, ambitious and creative people who are thrown into the competitive world of the American corporation.

I also have a copy of the King James version of the Bible in electronic form. I've already noticed that several of the older women in my Bible study class looking at me with veiled disdain for being more interested in my PDA than in the scriptures the class is studying.

Another electronic book I'm carrying is "The Moon and Six Pence," which is a novel loosely based on the life of Paul Gaugin. An angry man who's creative compulsions led him to leave a successful career and loving family to run off into a world of decadance and semi-naked Tahitian maidens.

All of this is a contorted way to get to a quote that stuck me when I checke the online version of the Tulsa Sunday World this evening, only to find that the letters to the editor contain five...count them...five letters calling for my resignation from the City Council due to my failure to turn in a half completed research paper 13 years ago.

I've already begun delving into who some of the authors are, with some interesting results (God bless the Internet), but felt the spirit move me to share with you this quote by W. Somerset Maugham, who is the author of "The Moon and Six Pence."

"Excess on occasion is exhilarating. It prevents moderation from acquiring the deadening effect of habit."
Seeking to end the "tyranny of the rule of the Gang of Five," the Tulsa World forwent "the deadening effect of habit," and printed and "excessive" five letters slamming me. Is it cynical to note that this "exhilarating" lack of "moderation" occurs in the paper a mere two days before the District 5 special election that will determine (at least for two months) which philosophical leaning will control the City Council?

A single letter would've left me mildly chastised. Two letters would've had me contrite. Three letters might have had me apoplectic. Four letters would've left me shaking my head and asking, "Is it just me, or...?" But FIVE letters has me saying, "Hey you think we're that stupid?"

Oh...but there is SOOO much more!

Not satisfied enough to merely include the angry rantings of a 72 year old man who has been sued more times than Bill Christiansen, the Tulsa World really crossed over into a surreal world that Salvador Dali could never have imagined, by including these words by the Joe Westervelt:

"These three councilors have soiled the institution of the City Council, broken the laws of the city, violated the City Charter, shirked their responsibilities to attend council meetings and now have publicly vilified a competent city employee. This is not dissimilar to their arrogant and confrontational disrespect shown citizen appointees to various boards and authorities. It appears that the recall is almost too civilized a removal process for elected officials who are so lacking in character and integrity."

Joe Westervelt, Tulsa Joe Westervelt is former chairman of Tulsa Metropolitan Area Planning Commission.
Arrogant and confrontational Mr. Westervelt? You're the King of Mean! I watched you summarily dismiss almost 50 citizens who had taken the afternoon off to come downtown to witness a TMAPC meeting in which the 71st & Harvard question would be discussed. You and your ilk, pulled the agenda item, told (not asked) the assembled to clear the room and then turned your back on them so that you didn't have to waste your time watching them leave disappointed. [Click here to see why Mr. Westervelt isn't fond of me. I encourage you to read the whole story.]

Well...they didn't leave disappointed, Jo Jo. They left angry! In fact, they marched to the Mayor's offic and made the evening news!

I am relatively confident that I'll survive this recall question (although I recognize that today's letters to the editor are one of the first indications of the opinion gauntlet I'll have to run), but I can say this with total sincerity:

"I was still standing when you were sent packing, Mr. Westervelt."

God's speed in your private life, because your public life has been put to an end by the people to whom, for year upon year, you have shown an "arrogant and confrontational disrespect."

Thus proving there is still justice in the world.

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