The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

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The Two Mayors

Today, the city of Chicago elects its mayor. In other cities, there would be a primary vote, then another at the time of the general election in November. But given the scarcity of Chicago Republicans — it’s like 25 guys, and they’re all professors in three departments at U of C — the Democratic primary would effectively determine who will be mayor of the city anyways.

So, Chicago’s mayoral race is nonpartisan. And it’s at the end of February — which in Chicago, is even more masochistic than it would be in cities with a more temperate climate.

Since Chicago’s longstanding Mayor Richard M Daley announced he would not seek re-election for another, Rahm Emanuel, former Chicago-area Congressman, Democratic Party powerhouse, and (until recently) Chief of Staff for President Obama, has sought to sew this thing up. There were some brief problems establishing his residency and right to run for office, but now it looks like he’s off to the races.

Since Emanuel announced he was running for office, he’s been joined by a delightfully funny and foul-mouthed shadow on Twitter calling himself @MayorEmanuel. Like Fake Steve Jobs before him, @MayorEmanuel combines a kind of exaggeration of the known qualities of the real Rahm Emanuel — profanity, intelligence, hyper-competitiveness — with a fully-realized, totally internal world of characters and events that has little to do with the real world and everything to do with the comic parallel universe @MayorEmanuel inhabits.

For instance, @MayorEmanuel’s “about” section on Twitter reads: “Your next motherfucking mayor. Get used to it, assholes.” The idea is that if we strip back the secrecy and public image to something so impolitic, so unlikely, we might arrive at something approximating the truth. But, despite my status as a one-time — and actually, I still hope future — Chicagoan, I haven’t been a regular reader of @MayorEmanuel. My friends retweet his funniest one-liners, and that’s good enough for me.

Yesterday, however, @MayorEmanuel outdid himself. He wrote an extended, meandering narrative of the day before the primary that took the whole parallel Rahm Emanuel thing to a different emotional, comic, cultural place entirely. It even features a great cameo by friend of the Snark Alexis Madrigal. The story is twisting, densely referential, far-ranging — and surprisingly, rather beautiful.

And so, once more using the magic of Storify, I’d like to share that story with you. I’ve added some annotations that I hope help explain what’s happening and aren’t too distracting.

In its original form, it has no title. I call it “The Two Mayors.” Read it after the jump.


This is epic.

People talk about new forms of fiction, new kinds of storytelling, made possible by stuff like Twitter, but this is seriously one of the best examples—maybe just THE best, no qualifier—I have yet seen. (And I mean both the @MayorEmanuel originals & your recapitulation/expansion here, Tim.)

In particular it’s the twist—the fact that this account’s been up and running, leading you on, for weeks and weeks… and then BAM it hits you with this. Brilliant. So much fun.

Gerard Collins says…

Historical nitpick: Charles Hayes did not succeed Harold Washington as Mayor of Chicago, he succeeded him in the U. S. House of Representatives after Washington was elected mayor. When Washington died suddenly in1987, David Orr served as interim mayor for a week before the Chicago City Council elected Eugene Sawyer to finish Washington’s term.

S/he has actually done these long-form stories before on this account though I would be loath to try to locate to those tweets now. They haven’t been as grand and sweeping as this one though. This one is truly the crowning jewel.

That was great.

Thanks for “storifying” it, too — I don’t think I would’ve seen it otherwise. I had stopped paying attention to that Twitter feed. I thought the joke had run its course. Damn, was I wrong.

I also requested an invite for Storify. It seems like a fun tool.

Saheli says…

Love it. I would not have had the patience to follow Mayor Emanuel along, this was a perfect way to get the story later.

This reminds me of the alterna-fiction I used to publish in my high school newspaper. Basically my school was too small to have any real news, so our ‘newspaper’ was half a speculative fiction ‘zine, and my friends wrote pulpy thrillers starring our teachers and even ourselves. The chemistry teacher took down a piracy ring, the dean of students had a dungeon, a history field trip turned into a battle with a raging bouillon cube. We were a tiny school where everybody knew everybody really well, and it was inside-jokes all the way down, and yet I remember my thrill at editing those stories much better than many other things I’ve either edited or written. There was a great mixture of awkwardness and glee when I finished printing them up and put them in everyone’s boxes, a great combination of eye-rolling and chuckling as the ‘stars’ saw what adventures they were now starring in.

This is sort of the same thing on a grand scale. Social networking reworks the illusion that we are a big community and know each other well, and the newly established convention of ‘@fake _____’ gives us free reign to imagine each others’ inner superhero. It’s now so easy for us to lift the lid off our collective multiverse.

Carl the Intern has to be a Phineas and Ferb reference. Yeah OK I watch the Disney Channel sometimes when my son’s at school.

The snarkmatrix awaits you

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