Boris Yeltsin is a particular hero of Whalehead King. Boris Yeltsin is quoted as saying:
“A man must live like a great bright flame and burn as brightly as he can. In the end, he burns out. But this is better than a mean, little flame.” Whalehead King heard a recording of Mr. Yeltsin’s quote in its original Russian. Whalehead King didn’t need a translation. He knew exactly what the speaker meant. Yeltsin was a kind of Kerouac in his way, the way Whalehead King, in his dapper persona, stills experiences beat epiphanies every day.
Mr. Yeltsin moved inside the system as a subversive until he parlayed his strengths into positive power. All he ever intended was to enable people to have pride in their lives and the optimism to take a chance. He wasn’t successful in every sense, but he was dramatic and he gave whole nations, even the whole world, hope for a brief time. Some people are good at grandstanding and forging a vision into an anchor to which others can cling, waiting for rescue. Other people are good at being bean counters and administrators. To bring New London, Conn. into this obituary for a grandstander and empowered drunkard, let it be said that many citizens of New London wish for a leader of Mr. Yeltsin’s stature.
In New London, the bean counter administrator is in charge by antiquated fiat. This is a city that yearns for a leader who personifies the hopes and dreams of a community often scorned and shadily portrayed. A city so full of eloquent performers and artistes should be able to express itself. Imagination burbles all over New London. People have aspirations. They would like to live in a city in which they can take pride. City Hall is tone deaf, numb and dumb and blind. All it can do is taste is business as usual. Despite the contents of official proclamations, New London’s government relishes the taste of decay.
It is a city of conflicting visions because no one but a bureaucrat is running the show. We have an ineffective council of well-intentioned cab drivers, construction workers, school teachers, non-profit predators, and political hangers-on who need their egos stroked. We elect then every two years out of the list of like candidates of devils-we-know. You are more likely to see a New London City Councilor sitting at a picnic table at Fred’s Shanty with a mustard stain on his or her tee shirt, than standing on top of a tank. If a tank were in front of City Hall, there would be have to be a lottery to decide who would get the pleasure of pulling the trigger. You can bet your bottom dollar that most of the City Councilors would be out of town at prior commitments and the City Manager would be looking for another cushy job with a fat salary in a city with low expectations.
Godspeed to Boris Yeltsin.