POLITICS: The Fat Lady Sings 

The completion of four runoff races brings the 2007 election to a close.

The 2007 Memphis city election is over — a fact that's music to the ears of newly elected City Council members Bill Morrison in District 1, Bill Boyd in District 2, Harold Collins in District 3, and Edmund Ford Jr., in District 6.

The latter three races were relatively close, with Boyd beating Brian Stephens by 54 percent to 46 percent; Collins defeating Ike Griffith by the same percentage, and Ford prevailing over James Catchings by 53 percent to 47 percent.

The only real blowout occurred in District 1 with the unexpectedly lopsided victory of Morrison, one of the spunkiest, sunniest, and most determined new faces of recent political history, who beat school board member Stephanie Gatewood, no slouch herself, by a margin of almost two to one.

Morrison had help from a talented and seasoned corps of Democratic activists, many of whom were also active in Stephens' District 2 candidacy. Aside from former assessor Boyd's longtime political history, what may have made the difference for him was the fact of last-minute robo-calls from former political eminences Bill Morris and Dick Hackett.

That race was a case of G.O.T.V. (Get-Out-the-Vote) at its best on the winner's side coupled with what would seem to be a less-than-called-for effort on the loser's, who could have exploited favorable demographics.

Griffith, who has neighborhood cachet in District 3, ran Collins close, but the latter's support from established political figures, including mayors Willie Herenton and A C Wharton, was enough to give Collins his first leg up as an active candidate in his own right.

Similarly, Ford's victory, entitling him to succeed his father, retiring councilman Edmund Ford Sr. in District 6, owed much to legacy considerations related to his extended family's prominence in local politics.

The well-liked Boyd, who is in his 60s, is the anomaly in the new council, which is overwhelmingly youth-oriented.

For those wanting the precinct totals for each of the four races, go to "Political Beat" at memphisflyer.com.

Norman Mailer, who I had hoped would live forever, died over the weekend at age 84.

Just a word, briefer than the great Mailer deserves. Though there were other writers (Nabokov, Hemingway, Raymond Carver, etc.) whom I would happily consider influences, Mailer was the largest literary inspiration of my youth. I can't say that I've read the canon, because he could write tomes — long ones, too — faster than I (or anyone else) could read them.

My favorites? The Executioner's Song, about the saga of killer Gary Gilmore, is as perfect a rendering as could be imagined; Advertisements for Myself, a primer of personal style, social attitude, and literary aesthetics for the latter 20th century; and many, many others.

But, though Mailer always considered himself a novelist, where he really made an impact was in the sphere of what came to be called literary journalism — political journalism, in particular. His 1960 Esquire article, "Superman Comes to the Supermarket," about the contentious 1960 Democratic convention that nominated JFK, defined that genre and established the way it still ought to be done.

I met Mailer at the 1992 Republican convention in Houston, which we were both working and where the accompanying photograph was made. The photo I really wanted to keep, though, was another, taken the next day, of the great man walking hand-in-hand with my then 3-year-old daughter Julie. "She's beautiful," he said. And she was. As was he, to say so.

But I ruined that picture, pulling the film out of the camera the next day. Nothing lasts forever. But thank God for digital!


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