Chain of fools
After a suitably stiff recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance and a brief prayer, the meeting was called to order.
A man wearing a frayed straw hat rose in the audience and asked if he could speak.
“Why don’t we sing the national anthem before each council meeting?” he said. “I think that would put us all in a better mood.”
One of the councilors answered his question sternly.
“Because most of us don’t know the words,” she said. “And such a thing wouldn’t serve the people of Madison . . . and we’re all about serving the people of Madison.”
“Well, how about ‘Your Cheatin’ Heart,’ then,” he said.
All five council members leaned back in their seats which signaled a group of police officers to remove the man.
An attorney dressed in a threadbare scarlet suit rose and bowed to the council.
“If I may,” he said, “I would like to discuss the recent ban on garbage cans in the historic district.”
A council member wearing a beanie with a propellor on it, leaned over his microphone and barked at the man.
“That matter has been settled,” he said. “No garbage cans are allowed in Madison’s historic district. Garbage cans look trashy.”
“But what are we to do with our trash,” the attorney said.
“If you are producing so much trash that you don’t know what to do with it, your shouldn’t live in our historic district,” he said. “Try to recycle more.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the attorney said. “You can’t recycle Pampers!”
“Are you saying that you have children under the age of 10?” he said.
“I have four children under the age of 10,” he said. “That’s why I’m wearing this suit I bought at the Goodwill store.”
The councilor waved a bony finger at the attorney and leaned forward.
“We all know you,” he said. “You’re the man who lives in that shoe. We know you have so many children you don’t know what to do. I would suggest you give them some broth and give them some bread and then put them up for adoption. Besides, children under the age of 10 aren’t allowed in the historic district,” the council member said. Turning to the mayor and the city manager, he continued. “See that his man is fined and turn off his water.”
“When was this decided?” the attorney said. “That children under 10 aren’t allowed in the historic district?” he roared.
“In 1957,” the councilman said.
At which point all five members of council leaned back which signaled a group of police officers to remove the attorney.
But the mayor waved them off.
“You’ve got to be kidding,” the attorney continued. “How was anyone supposed to know about that?”
“It’s in the ordinance,” the council member announced, gesturing toward the city planner who nodded. “It was originally written that children could be seen but not heard in the historic district, but finally it was decided that since they can’t appreciate history anyway they had no place in such a place.” Another attorney wearing a beret rose to his colleague’s defense — as it turns out everyone at the council meeting was an attorney except for the guy in the straw hat who was a superior court judge. The attorney pointed his finger at mayor and council and bellowed: “There are two sex criminals and six crackheads living in the historic district,” he said, “but children under 10 are not allowed?”
“They may be crackheads and sex criminals, but they keep their grass cut and they have really nice cars,” a tall councilman with a New York accent crooned.
At that moment a female attorney wearing jodhpurs and a tank top who identified as an Asian sewing machine repairman walked into chambers.
“What about PRDs in the historic district?” said t he attorney wearing jodhpurs and a tank top. “Isn’t it time to beat that dead horse some more.”
All five council members stood at once, pointed at her and barked, “Discussions of PRDs are not allowed in council chambers.”
The police officers dragged her out of the room and took her to Greene County where she was immediately named interim sheriff and school superintendent.
The mayor pounded his gavel on the table a few times and began to hum “Chain, chain, chain,” by Aretha Franklin.
Then a man dressed like Colonel Sanders wandered into the room with an arm full of books and a briefcase bulging with paper.
“Ladies and gentleman, I think we would be remiss if we didn’t consider the history of the historic district before any historic decisions are made here,” he said.
All five council members sighed heavily and leaned back in there chairs.
But the city attorney couldn’t keep silent.
“If there is one thing I will not tolerate, it is discussions of history when it comes to the historic district,” he said. “History has no place there.”
Colonel Sanders looked bewildered, and the Mayor leapt to his feet.
“Chain, chain, chain . . .” he sang, “chain of fools.” The city attorney, a big fan of the Queen of Soul, joined in.
The city clerk ran to her car to grab her Strat and her Fender amp.
Nothing much happened after that, but one city councilman made a motion that all council members should learn at least three chords before the next meeting.
The motion passed unanimously.
Thank the Lord all this nonsense happened in Wisconsin.