Now there has been quite a bit of conversation around town regarding Hail Hamilton's speech last Tuesday evening. Even normally less than squeamish individuals like Bill Coburn made like they were offended by it. Which is saying a lot considering his decidedly one-sided umbrage during our recent election. But there is a question that must now be asked. Was this speech really all that much out of character for this noted emissary of the New Civility? Or, for that matter, the paper that publishes his column?
For those who have not had a chance to see it yet, here is a link to the video. The folks at Neuroblast Films have kindly saved it for both posterity and the pleasure of those folks who enjoy slowing down to check out particularly gnarly car wrecks. And if you haven't seen it yet, we offer a word of caution. Think back to the first time you saw the movie The Exorcist. Except this time Linda Blair was never cured.
Now before we go on with this lurid exposition into the eeriest corners of Sierra Madre, we would like to note that in his column this week Hail actually offers what he probably would like people to believe was an apology.
On Tuesday April 27, I spoke at the Sierra Madre City Council meeting. Perhaps calling retiring Mayor MaryAnn MacGillivray a "wicked witch" was a poor choice of words. I apologize to my readers and others in the community. I apologize to MaryAnn. I spoke out in anger in response to an earlier speaker's statements about Joe Mosca. It was a post-traumatic stress symptom to what I consider one of the dirtiest council campaigns in recent memory.
An apology is when you confess that your actions were the fault of your esteemed self, and take the blame. But when you instead claim that it was others that caused you to act like a fool, then you are a 7 year old still trying to get the chocolate chip cookie despite your poor behavior. And I'm sure that Hail knows all about the "dirtiest council campaign in recent memory" since his weekly braying from the Op-Ed pages of the Mountain Views News was a part and parcel to it. Something his strange speech more than confirmed.
Then Hail, just to make sure that nobody from his planet thinks he's gone soft on them with this apology stuff (after all, he does have a history of going flipper on folks), went on to say this:
MaryAnn you have done enough damage for a lifetime. You have stirred up a hornet's nest of animosity and divisiveness among our community, not to mention the cesspool of acrimony you and your mud-slinging mob of rabble-rousers has made of local politics.
There are two things you need to do here, gentle reader. First is to rewatch Hail's little video clip again. And then, after you've once again witnessed three minutes of just about the most irrational and rawest nastiness you will ever see anywhere, replace the name MaryAnn with Hail Hamilton in the quote above. Because obviously it must have been a typo. When it comes to "cesspools of acrimony" and "mud-slinging," few have mastered the art form like the angry little dude we're discussing here.
But is this really out of character for the paper that affords his vanity column its nearly weekly perch at the bottom of so many birdcages? I'm not quite so sure that it is. Because we have seen this kind of thing before in the Mountain Views News. And it wasn't just in articles written by some of the local eccentrics the paper's publisher seems to attract. No, much of it has come from Susan Henderson herself.
Here are a couple of interesting passages that Ms. Henderson wrote and published in her own paper. That is, even after she had some time to think things through and calm down a little. See of you don't notice a style of writing, a certain way of expressing oneself, that seems almost endemic to the place.
From an editorial called 91024, Susan discussed people who disagreed with her on the choice for Mayor a year or so back:
The other face, the face that a few hate mongering, angry people put forth, has brought this town nothing but shame and ridicule. They would have the world believe that Sierra Madre is a city that doesn't understand the electoral process of civility. Their behavior would lead you to believe that Sierra Madre is intolerant and has absolutely no respect for another persons' opinions or rights. That is not Sierra Madre, that is the pitiful world that these angry individuals live in. They don't represent Sierra Madre, they represent their personal agendas of fear and intimidation.
From an editorial on the topic of birthdays, Susan made an unfortunate reference to an elderly woman's religious heritage:
A year or two ago, an elderly woman (85+) with whom I became acquainted, as editor of this newspaper, angrily confronted me in the most violent and hateful manner, yelling and screaming at the top of her lungs because she did not agree with something I wrote or said. The energy she expended trying to intimidate me was frightening. It was frightening to hear this woman, of Jewish descent I must add ...
And this from a column Ms. Henderson penned that was published at the end of March:
Look no further back and read the pages of hysteria, half truths, fabrications, outright lies and unsubstantiated summations made by him. Look at the cesspool of hate that he has created while hiding his identity ...
Put into this light I'd say that Hail's "All Hailzapoppin'" speech is probably just they way they talk around the water cooler at the Mountain Views News. While in most offices the employees like to chat about the Lakers, or movies, at the MVN apparently the top topics are "cesspools of hate" and the unspeakable terrors unleashed by fearsome 85 year old ladies.
It certainly doesn't sound like a very convivial work place environment to me.
Bonus Coverage: Measure CC going down to defeat.