Hizzoner Forever, Tom "Mumbles" Menino, died today, age 71, and less than a year out of the mayoralty. He did not quite die in harness, but that is only because he stepped aside to ensure an orderly succession. I first came to know him when I moved into Hyde Park 13 years ago, which was his neighborhood, and when the medians began to sprout proper granite curbs and streetlights, the skeptical among us remarked that HIS neighborhood got some nice details before all others, but who cares, Dot has them too now.
He was awkward, he was goofy, he bristled visibly when he was flustered, he could not speak clearly and didn't seem particularly to care. He was big in emotion, sometimes annoyingly, but often -- especially as he got older -- endearingly. I ran into him on the street once, almost a decade ago, just on my way to work and he was walking in the opposite direction with two aides at his flanks. I waved hello, because what else do you do? And he said Hello howaya
and on we went in our opposite directions. When he became thin and frail in recent years, it was strange and foreign, as if that could never happen to a roly-poly, genial man.
Who among us will speak ill of him? (You don't succeed in Boston politics without shiving somebody
along the way.) He was friendly and unpretentious and is reputed to have met more than 50% of the city's 600,000 residents. He even had a pleasantly boring personal life, unlike Ted Kennedy whom he outlived. Television is chockablock with ordinary people -- barbers, deli owners -- surprising themselves with tears. He just seemed permanent, which was totally illogical. We could see his body fail him slowly. Some high muckety-muck priest visited him in the hospital like two days ago, after he stopped treatment for cancer. It shouldn't have been a surprise.
His funeral mass is being held on Monday in the church where my uncle, Jawj Cahtah, was massified these many years ago. I expect the motorcycle cops to stop traffic for his funeral procession (to Forest Hills Cemetary?) with similar aplomb.
In looking up the statewide ballot questions (because commercials, also my union sent a voting guide that had Opinions about Questions 1 and 3, but not 2, and since when does a union not have an opinion??), I say, in looking up the statewide ballot questions, I discovered one more time that Bill Galvin is not just a gentle telephone pole of Massachusetts responsibility and clear explanation, he is in fact a politician who has to run for office now and then.
But who would run against him, I ask you! He is one of the stalwarts of the state. I don't think he's even had a challenger in ages, because your faves could never be that unobtrusive.
, by the way, is about the $0.05 deposit on soda bottles. Which does not affect my union. you'd think they'd have something to say about Question 4, though, which is about requiring paid sick time. Everyone in my part of the union has it already, but surely it's something to agitate for beyond the membership!
(PS, vote no on Question 1 and keep the gas tax indexed. If you don't like it, go move to New Hampshire or something.)