Tuesday, November 5, 2013

City Council Candidate Interviews--Ward 4: Twenty Pound Carp

Photo from Natural Areas Preservation.

Gentle Readers, here is the last in our series of city council candidate interviews. Here is our interview with election 2013's most notorious candidate, Ward 4 write-in candidate, Twenty Pound Carp.

DA: Tell us a little about yourself. Who are you? Why are you running for city council?

TPC: I am a common carp with an uncommon vision.

I draw my inspiration from the obvious sources: John Adolphus Etlzer, Vice President Adlai Stevenson (the elder), Henry Clay’s American System, the Provo movement, @MayorEmanuel, Don Marquis, and the outsized papier mâché head of Mayor John Hieftje.

(Might not this last stand also as our town’s latter-day brazen head? Ought we not to pay heed to its Delphic pronouncements? “Time is, time was, time to look at stepping up our regional transit options, yo.”)

I entered the race in part because not long after I started my Twitter account, right after my relocation from West Park to the mighty Huron River to escape persecution at the hands of Control Burn Jimmy of the NAP, the annarbor.com of blessed memory ran a light-hearted feature about the Twenty Pound Carp and my appearance on social media subsequent to my relocation, ha ha. And a number of the reader comments that were leveled against this innocuous squib were absolutely enraged. People were furious that in sharing, say, my free-style jams on mute swans and park millages, I somehow by implication condoned grass carp hemorrhagic virus or the wholesale relocation of invasive species to the Huron or indeed the integrity of the social fabric. And I read those comments and I thought, Awesome.

I mean, I can sit here and type something about turtles beatboxing at Gallup park or my plans to restore Lower Town to its rightful status as the glorious sawmill-ringed omphalos of Ann Arbor that Anson Brown had intended, and because of these dashed-off little tweets I might have provided somebody a moment of welcome diversion--for what is tooth-grinding, fist-typing Internet comment rage but that loveliest of all human actions, a shout into the uncaring void to claim that you once existed?

(I’m happy to have provided that opportunity.)

But besides the larger existential reasons for entering the Ann Arbor City Council race, have you seen this city council lately? They do not exactly dare to eat a peach, dude.

DA: According to Facebook, our prime demographic is 25-34. What do you have to offer for Ann Arborites in that age range?

TPC: Prime how? Like in sheer numbers? Or like the 25-34 demographic is the ripest of demographics?

I want to remove the quotation marks from around the life of a young adult in a Midwestern college town. See for instance cardigan sweaters, mustaches, picket fences, neighborhoods.

DA: There are allegations in the media that you are in fact an Asian carp. Would you care to respond to those rumors directly?

TPC: I do not care to, but I shall.

Despite this baiting (so to speak), I remain a relatively docile common carp, a Cyprinus carpio. I was an invasive species long before the Hypophthalmichthys nobilis came upon the scene and began to caper about and intimidate boaters with its unseemly habits. I have done all I can to distance myself from the destructive tendencies of my cousin.

I do not wish to make light of the real danger of invasive species. Just look at what has happened to environmental quality since the first spread of hominids a mere 1.8 million years ago.

Instead of asking these divisive questions, I ask citizens to focus instead on my proposed policies, policies which most observers would agree remain utterly kick-ass.

DA: Would you be willing to produce a long-form birth certificate to prove that you are a common carp (Cyprinus carpio) as you claim?

TPC: I will not stoop to gratify such grandstanding. Instead I ask the voters of Ann Arbor to look me square in the eye and after having gazed upon my frank and open countenance, if they still have doubts, they should ask themselves, “Is this not the face of a real alternative for the Ann Arbor City Council?”


DA: What are your 3 biggest goals for your next term if you are elected to City Council?

TPC: 1. Armed detente between the city and a certain local university.

I propose we deploy a fleet of tactical Archimedes’ mirrors cunningly mounted to the roofs of the city’s municipal fleet of Pelican street sweepers. This will keep the university on its toes and also help address the leaf pick-up issue.

2. A return to Ann Arbor’s core competences of barge traffic, water-powered sawmills, unlicensed spirits and land speculation, with an associated revival of the Lower Town as Ann Arbor’s commercial center. The resulting synergy will facilitate bringing the Iron Horse back to its central place in Ann Arbor life.

3. We need more and better public art.

Part of this program would include the extirpation (root and branch) of the downtown “Art” bike racks and their immediate replacement with comparable racks inscribed with suitable passages from the Zhuangzi.

Indeed, as is written in the Zhuangzi, “When we toil our spirits and intelligence, obstinately determined (to establish our own view), and do not know the agreement (which underlies it and the views of others), we have what is called 'In the morning three.' What is meant by that 'In the morning three?' A keeper of monkeys, in giving them out their acorns, (once) said, 'In the morning I will give you three (measures) and in the evening four.' This made them all angry, and he said, 'Very well. In the morning I will give you four and in the evening three.' His two proposals were substantially the same, but the result of the one was to make the creatures angry, and of the other to make them pleased - an illustration of the point I am insisting on. Therefore the sagely man brings together a dispute in its affirmations and denials, and rests in the equal fashioning of Heaven.”

Dude, you have to admit that would make a kick-ass bike rack.

DA: Here’s a reader submitted question: What's something that you'd like to do that might not be super popular right away, but would be good for the long term future of Ann Arbor?

TPC: I would tell the city to stop being scared.

I would hold the city’s hand and stroke the city’s hair and coo sweet lullabies to the city as the city tucks its tattered coverlet up beneath its dimpled civic chin. And as I crooned to the city soft and low certain selected verses from Bernard Mandeville’s Fable of the Bees, I would covertly fill the city’s head with sweet dreams of an inclusive, 21st century community that encourages innovation and has decent, walkable, affordable neighborhoods for everybody. I would croon soft songs to evoke Blakean visions of students and townies joined hand in hand, of great phalanxes of bicycles, of pedestrians swarming out of their in-law apartments to stroll to their neighborhood stores. I would sing of the invisible hand of public policy and a future where leaves are composted at home and a car is useful but unnecessary.

I expect much of this vision to be howled down as an unnatural affront to all that is good and holy. But out of our private vices, I will sing, we might construct a bustling hive.

DA: What’s the best way for your constituents to engage with you? And another reader submitted question as a follow up: Do you tweet?

TPC: Do I tweet? Come on.

Dude, I love to hear from constituents. I cannot promise to answer them. But not to get too Ecclesiastes on you here--and I will not suggest that there is a quid pro quo involved for various petty legal reasons--but a few hunks of stale bread cast upon the waters out by Gallup park would go a long way toward piquing my interest in any given issue.

DA: What would you like to see in Ann Arbor in the next 5 years?

John Allen and Stevens Mason both died broke but look at the legacy they left us.

In that spirit, I want to see a town where citizens are engaged in work-- in good work and in weird work.


There you have it gentle reader, the last in our series of city council candidate interviews. Thanks to all of the candidates who took time from their busy schedules to talk to us. Also, thanks to all of you gentle readers who took time to submit questions and read these interviews.


Sabra Briere: Ward 1
Jeff Hayner: Ward 1
Kirk Westphal: Ward 2
Stephen Kunselman: Ward 3
Jack Eaton: Ward 4
Chip Smith: Ward 5