Most Memphians I've talked to over the past few days have one thing on their mind: The continuing soap opera at City Hall in the wake of Mayor Herenton's resignation/retirement/do-over/whatever. It's been a nonstop episode of "who's on first?"
A professional wrestler, Jerry Lawler, throws his leotard into the mayor's race, and in one of the more irony-challenged statements of all time, claims it's because the city "has become a laughingstock." Kenneth Whalum, a school board member and minister famous for posting the line, "Jesus Said, Bring Me That Ass", among other stupid things, on his church's marquee, believes he can bring dignity back to the office and, just incidentally, keep it in African-American hands, where he thinks it belongs. Former city councilman Edmund Ford has all but declared he plans to run, bringing his own special brand of crazy posturing to the fray. County mayor AC Wharton, the odds-on favorite, goes on Thaddeus Matthews' radio loon-party and chuckles and smiles as Tha Matt throws all manner of racist crap in his face.
Toss in some of the usual suspects — Myron Lowery, Carol Chumney, Herman Morris, Sharon Webb, Charles Carpenter and no doubt others — and it's about as scary a spectacle of a mayor's race as one could possibly imagine. Think for a moment about this entire bunch up on a "debate" stage together, moderated by, say, Otis Sanford and Joe Birch. That show could rival anything Jerry Springer could come up with. The YouTube possibilities alone are wondrous to ponder.
So yes, things are scary here in Memphis, Tennessee. The upcoming mayor's race promises to be terrifying and ridiculous. It would be funny if it weren't for the fact that a major American city is faced with the very real possibility of electing a totally unqualified or totally nuts — or both — human being as its mayor.
How could it get any worse? I don't know. But I can think of one thing to be thankful for — that it wasn't Janis Fullilove's year to be City Council chairman. Interim Mayor Janis Fullilove! How does that sound to you? Whee!