Americans generally cut politicians some slack for overcooked feel-good rhetoric this time of year.
The president proclaims “the State of our Union is strong,” and we gamely play along. The mayor declares Tacoma is a “city on the move,” and we smile and nod while thinking: “Great, should we pack a suitcase?”
We do, however, demand accuracy in the details. Maybe we’re suckers, but we expect speeches to be grounded in truth, not what Stephen Colbert calls “truthiness.”
When Mayor Marilyn Strickland brags about Tacoma’s entreprenurial spirit and singles out an innovator who designs games for mobile devices, we figure she knows about him. When she gushes about “the company he has grown into a multimillion dollar international corporation,” we assume she checked it out.
Met him, looked at his tax records, asked to see his yacht club membership – something.
Not just read about him on a website.
The most head-scratching part? The mayor (or her people) didn’t even read the website right.
The Mystery Coconut mystery: Strickland delivered her 2013 State of the City address on Jan. 28 at the annual “Shift Happens” gala. Unfortunately for her, shift did happen.
This much she got straight: Miguel A. Friginal of Tacoma is the founder of an animated game enterprise called Mystery Coconut. He’s enjoyed creative success and sold an app to the company that owns Angry Birds.
But on his website, Friginal describes his business with tongue firmly in cheek: “Mystery Coconut is a multimillion dollar international corporation wannabe” (emphasis ours).
The site says he and his wife work out of their condo and employ three cats and family and friends who are paid only in beer. (We assume the cats get milk.)
The Nose reached Friginal by email this week. He wasn’t flattered by the mayor’s speech or the attention it’s brought.
“Describing Mystery Coconut as a multimillion operation surprised me more than anybody else, as I would have pointed out had I been consulted in advance,” he wrote.
Let this be a lesson to all you pols out there – and wannabe pols, too: Never employ Google as your speechwriter.
Some kind of wonderful: When gladhanders and backslappers gather today at the 11th Street (aka Murray Morgan) Bridge, the hootenany will include an announcement of “The 11 Wonders of Tacoma.” The bridge earned an automatic berth for its 100th birthday and grand reopening.
So how’d they settle on the other 10? The public was invited to vote online from a list of 21 landmarks handpicked by big cheeses including former Mayor Bill Baarsma and some guy named David Zeeck, who signs our paycheck.
And the winners are: 1. Point Defiance Park & Zoo; 2. Union Station; 3. Ruston Way Waterfront; 4. Tacoma Narrows Bridge; 5. Views of Mount Rainier; 6. Stadium High School; 7. Wright Park; 8. Museum of Glass; 9. Fort Nisqually; 10. Octopus under the Tacoma Narrows Bridge; 11. Murray Morgan Bridge.
So be it, the people have spoken.
But our Nose was knocked out of joint by the oversight of several blue-collar wonders, which weren’t even included as options on the survey.
What about Frisko Freeze, Old City Hall, the Winthrop Hotel, Titlow Beach, The Spar, The Swiss, Cheney Stadium, Hooters?
And wonder of wonders, they totally ignored the giant icon overlooking Exit 133 – T-Town’s citadel of prep sports playoffs and monster truck rallies. Which, by the way, also has a milestone birthday this year (30).
This is what’s called missing the Dome in front of your face.
Some kind of blunderful: Our working list of “The Blunders of Tacoma.”
Galloping Gertie, Asarco Smelter, Downtown Escalades, Broadway Plaza, Park Plaza North, Tollefson Plaza, Spirit of Washington Dinner Train, Muni Dock demolition, Luzon Building demolition, Sprague Avenue offramp-to-nowhere.
Northwest Detention Center. University Place Town Center (not in Tacoma but close enough). Most condo projects of the last five years.
The Chinese Expulsion. The Kalakala. Peanut Roca. Dale Washam.
Sorry, were we supposed to stop at 11?
Well, pinch his cheek and muss his hair!: We love pols who look barely old enough to go bar-hopping with lobbyists. (May we please see some ID, Hans Zeiger and Derek Kilmer?) So imagine our delight (and theirs) when a new cub joined the den.
State Sen. Nathan Schlicher – the 30-year-old Gig Harbor Dem, Kilmer replacement, E.R. doctor, lawyer and general wunderkind – stood on the Senate floor Monday to give his first speech.
Whereupon Lt. Gov. Brad Owen played a recording of the theme song from “Doogie Howser, M.D.”
Schlicher rose to the challenge: “I may not be old enough to remember the show, but I hear it’s got reruns. Maybe you can tell me how it was.”
Nice comeback, kid. But will you play it so cool the first time Pam Roach mistakes you for a high school page?