Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Mayor For Life

Marion Barry. He got his comeuppance in DC yesterday when the council censured him for unethical conduct, but as a DC native, I feel a bit sorry for him today. He was just doing what he has always done.

I remember in 1994, when Barry was re-elected-post that little crack smoking incident- I was depressed that people would fall for this guy, again, but then I was driving around Ward Circle when I heard Mayor Barry on the radio saying that "White Ward Three" would just have to get over it. I had to laugh.

He was right, and over the years I realized this was a smart surprising man, an Eagle Scout with a Masters in chemistry, and a big problem with substance abuse. His penchant for cronyism stretches as far back as his years of public service. Even as a child I remember my father complaining about him, but Barry himself will be the first to tell you he has done nothing wrong from "the bitch set me up" to the latest girlfriend incident which got him censured."Those are all just distractions, efforts by the government and the media to distract me, to discombobulate me and separate me from the community," he said. In 1992 his campaign slogan was " He may not be perfect, but he's perfect for DC." How perfect, how DC is that?

His biggest problem is every now and then he gets caught.

Still the bottom line is Marion Barry spent most of his life as a public servant and a Black civil rights activist. He will always be a part of our landscape- a local legend captured in wax at Madame Tussaud's beating out the likes of Oprah Winfrey and Cal Ripken Jr in a popularity contest. The summer jobs program was a brilliant idea, and one that changed many lives for the better. He's also immortalized in a song by Jake Flack which I'd like to echo here: "Say what you will about him. I'll never judge that man except when I'm back in the alley next to my double wide 2 ply can. It's easy to form an opinion from the outside looking in, but Strosnider's, Hechinger's and Peoples Drug can't hold a candle to him. Marion Barry he's the man- he brought us the Supercan....and I just want to shake his hand and say thank you."

Thank you, Mayor for Life. We love you.


  1. Our first elected mayor. When i was little I thought every mayor had the name of the city of which they are mayor, since we had Walter Washington.

    DC has such a large transient population that large numbers of residents don't know the history, don't know where The Mayor came from and what he brought to our city despite his human failings. Like local politics everywhere, it's a web of victories and contraditions.

  2. I always say that Marion Barry made DC what it is today. When he came to power in the 80s, he figured out how to attract big money real estate developers. DC went from being a one-industry town to a megalopolis. It hasn't been all good (especially the destruction of the downtown core's soul), but it has enriched the city in many ways.

  3. Give a fool enough rope and he will hang himself. ........................................

  4. It may be that your sole purpose in life is simply to serve as a warning to others.............................................