What fools these mortals be
When the Mean Girls' time on the Portlandia comedic stage ended, many of us feared that there would be less to laugh about. Were we ever wrong. The Paulson stadiums deal has turned into a farce of Shakespearean proportions. Even at remote wi-fi hot spots hours away from the Rose City, we watched the past week's gyrations with robust amusement. Apologies herewith to those other patrons of the coffee shops, bars, and libraries in which we sat with our trusty laptop -- our snorts and chuckles were probably distracting.
When we left town at the start of the week, things were proceeding according to a fairly set plan -- pretty close to the original plan with which the play opened, although there had been many detours, twists, and turns in prior acts. There would be a new minor league baseball stadium built on half of Lents Park, and PGE Park would be remodeled once again, but this time for soccer only -- or for soccer and football, but with absolutely no room for baseball. The whole thing would cost the taxpayers north of $70 million. Saltzman, the dusky Duke of Burlingame, had issued a list of demands that would have to be met before he would go along with the plan, but it looked to the audience as though the fix was in.
One of the Duke's conditions was approval by a "citizen advisory" committee out in Lents, which was scheduled to vote up or down on the Lents part of the plan on Thursday night. But that group announced at the 11th hour that it wouldn't take a vote at the appointed time, in part because the members wanted to consider alternatives to the plan that was being pushed by Little Lord Paulson and his troubled friend, Randlet. One thing the neighbors didn't like was that the stadium would suck up all the tens of millions of pounds of gold that are supposedly sitting around waiting to revitalize their neighborhood and give poor people somewhere to live. Word had it that the committee was planning to vote that some, but not all, of that money should be taken for the baseball stadium.
When news of this mutiny reached City Hall, Randlet and King Creepy spun out a new line -- that regardless of whether the Lents stadium scam went through, the PGE Park remodel scam would go on. If the people in Lents didn't play along, so to speak, then minor league baseball would have to leave town.
This was supposed to get the Lentsians brooding about being made a scapegoat for moving baseball to the 'burbs, but the city's ploy was too late. A few of the neighbors thought about it, but most of them never considered it before they got up and spoke at the meeting. A goodly number turned out, and apparently they let Little Lord Paulson have a royal earful. "Unruly" is how some observers put the crowd. By the next morning, LLP had announced to the world that he wouldn't be moving baseball to Lents.
Now, up to that point, the action on stage was pretty amusing, but on Friday afternoon, the plot went over the top, as Randlet suddenly demanded that Lord Paulson change his mind yet again, and force the baseball stadium down Lents's throat. "And if you don't, blackguard, we won't give you the money for the soccer stadium. I said we were going to screw those neighbors over, and you can't not screw unless I give you permission to not screw."
Randlet has had the audience howling many times before. But this time he's showing the depths of his madness. It was not too long ago that he declared in a soliloquy, "How now, I am staking my political reputation on bringing baseball to Lents." In light of the events of the last two days, it appears that his ambitions have been dashed. But no -- Randlet's going to show us his toughness by "standing up to" his lord and master. "Emerge from thy sauna, m'lord, and come out to fight the peasants who dare to bite thy hand rather than kiss thy ring. In good conscience, you must. We'll have more meetings -- yea, meetings every week until the entire mob has gone on holiday to the Beach of the Cannons, there to sup on the dry oyster crackers of Dooger -- and verily we shall overcome."
We're in another little intermission here, but the play is about to resume momentarily. If the cast is going to top what's happened so far, hold onto your seat. People are still chortling about "green brick parking" and MacDon of Mazziotti with his familiar speech "Trust Me." Before long, we're expecting a town crier to show up, stage left, with a message from Sir John Krogwell about the fate of King Creepy. If His Delinquency is to be beheaded, let's hope they drag him offstage for it. But not before a side-splitting speech by another of Lord Paulson's minions, Queen Mother Vera.