By now, everyone has heard that Oakland's beloved mayor, Jerry Brown, will marry his longtime girlfriend Anne Gust on June 18. I know what you're thinking. You hear stories about how Gust will be Jerry's campaign manager when he runs for attorney general. You hear about how the wedding will take place in the Rotunda building, how Senator Dianne Feinstein will officiate the ceremony, how the national press will all be there. And you think: This is just a crass political stunt.
For shame, readers. This is all about romance, the sublime love between a candidate and his campaign manager. And that makes us go all drippy in secret places deep inside. That's why we have dedicated this special edition of City of Warts entirely to Jerry Brown's big day, and rechristened it, in honor of this beautiful event, City of Wuv.
Psst! Jerry, our invite got lost in the mail.
Cast: Jerry Brown, a mayor. Phil Tagami, a businessman. Ignacio De La Fuente, a political boss. John Foster, a billboard magnate. Lulu, a stripper. Jacques Barzaghi, a knight errant.
Scene: A private room in a North Beach restaurant. Fourteen men in disheveled suits throw back their fifth gimlets of the night and laugh as Oakland developer Tagami finishes a ribald story about Brown. The mayor sits at the far end of the table, smiling gamely.
Tagami: So I say to Jerry, "I know this great massage parlor on Piedmont Avenue." The girls there'll launch you into orbit, right? And the mayor -- that's him over there, you can't hide, buddy! -- the mayor, he says, "Swedish or shiatsu?" I say, "Oh, it's Swedish, Jerry! You can take that to the bank!" Oh man, those were good times.
Brown: I don't remember that happening ...
Foster: Hey, wait-boy! How 'bout some more drinkie-winkies? We got a man 'bout to lose his freedom over here!
De La Fuente: Hey, fuckin' great party, Jerry. You sure know how to show a cocksucker a good fuckin' time, you know what I mean?
Brown: Uh, thank you, Ignacio. Actually, it was Phil's idea ...
De La Fuente: And you been runnin' the fuckin' city like a fuckin' Swiss watch. When I take over, I'm gonna take a fuckin' page outta your book, man. We'll be a great team -- you up in Sacramento, me back here showin' the natives who's the fuckin' jefe. Hey, Tagami, bring that tittie girl in here!
Cabaret music starts, and Lulu begins to gyrate on a table, surrounded by cheering men. Brown sighs, walks to the side, and flips open his cell phone.
Brown: Hello, Jacques? Is that you? Listen, the connection's bad -- could you walk over to the portico? That's better. Oh, Jacques -- am I making a big mistake? No, Anne is great, but I miss the good times. Remember when we used to walk those precincts in New Hampshire, discussing the epiphanies of Copernican heliocentrism? Or those trips to Rome to read the Codex Vaticanus?
Tagami: Hey, Jerry, come get some of this sweet stuff!
Brown: In a minute, Phil! Jacques, we had the country in the palm of our hand. Carter was on the ropes, and Chappaquiddick was gonna bite Kennedy in the ass sooner or later. What happened? Fucking Francis Ford Coppola and his arty campaign video; that doesn't play with the rubes. Now I'm stuck here in this grimy little port city, doing a circle jerk with two-bit chamber of commerce types. But at least I had you, Jacques. We could sit in the lotus position in my warehouse loft, trading thoughts about John Dewey and the aesthetic experience. But then you had to go and play Ride the Staircase with your wife. Things will get better once I'm attorney general, but it's just not the same without you. Maybe you could change your name, get a little work done, come back as my executive assistant ... what? Oh, you gotta go. I understand. Au revoir.
Lulu the stripper saunters over and sits on Jerry's lap. Her cleavage engulfs Jerry's face like a box canyon.
Lulu: So you're the special little boy who's gonna get married! Hey, you're a cutie. It's not too late to run away with Lulu!
Brown (voice muffled): That depends. How do you feel about Baruch Spinoza?
Welcome, Big Media, to the great Jerry Brown Attorney General campaign -- er, we mean wedding extravaganza. We know that, as Important Journalists, you're too busy to do your own research. And a lot of Wild Turkey has passed under the bridge since the mayor last held statewide office. So you may need a little refresher course on all the tiresome clichés a good Jerry Brown story can't do without. That's why we have compiled this handy-dandy guide to every stale caricature you'll need to file that copy, cue the archive tape of the former governor cuddling with Linda Ronstadt, and sign off with a glib quip or two. Remember: It's not a Jerry Brown story if it isn't stupid.
Governor Moonbeam. Who can forget this time-honored nickname? Not us here in Oakland, since the national press drops it in every story they've ever done. You should, too. Work it into your lead, possibly in conjunction with a reference to Cat Stevens or nuclear power. Ask Jerry how he feels about the name; no one has ever done that before. Watch him take it in stride, and write up something about his surprising sense of humor.
Jerry the Jesuit. Hey, did you know Jerry used to study at a Jesuit seminary? Or that he studied Buddhism in Japan and cared for the sick with Mother Teresa? The man is deep that way -- he even drove himself to work while governor. Drop a few of these details, and you can't go wrong. Be respectful, but make sure your viewers know that's kinda fruity.
Liberal no more. You know what's really amazing about Jerry Brown? The way he's remade himself into a tough-as-nails big-city mayor. He's a long way from stewing lentils in the ashram, and he's working wonders in Oakland. How did this city ever get along without him? We hear he even has a zero-tolerance policy for homicide.
Jerry Brown is, like, really smart. Here's a tip for feature writers in search of that telling detail: Ask Jerry what he's reading. Don't forget to be impressed.
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