Sunday, January 4, 2009
Visit Pomona, where things matter
When you work 60-70 hours a week, sometimes (especially on a Saturday afternoon) you just can't stand to be in the office a moment longer -- and yet there's work to be done.
That's when I gather up a satchel of paperwork and throw myself into the Packing House wine bar, where Sal, EV, and Alberto give me a nice glass of red and murmur "Poor baby!" as I camp out at the big table with my laptop, spreadsheets, and general crrrrrap. [Sometimes I go to dba256 too, don't worry -- but they don't open till 3 or 4pm.)
That's what I was doing yesterday when a couple came in and struck up a conversation from the other end of the table. Turns out it was Ellen Taylor, the mayor of Claremont, and her husband. We chatted about various things, including whether or not diamonds are a girl's best friend (agreed: NOT), and eventually we got onto the topic of local politics.
Diamonds were not the only thing we agreed on; the Taylors were pleasant folks, easy to talk to. One point of particular agreement was that Claremont city politics is so bitter because the stakes are so small -- it's all about rearranging the deck chairs at the Ritz-Carleton. Whereas Pomona... well, as Ellen Taylor said, that matters.
She offered as evidence a tart little anecdote. She and George Hunter were discussing their respective Youth Master Plans a few months ago (before the election -- and I was gratified to hear her support GH's ill-fated candidacy), and she said, "We're just trying to keep our kids active."
His reply: "We're just trying to keep our kids alive."
One little consonant (or consonant cluster), and yet such a difference.
Yes, the frontispiece is indeed Henry Kissinger. He is supposedly the origin of the quip that academic politics is so bitter because the stakes are so small.