Photo illustration by John R. Lamb
Magic Budget Fairy joins the bobbleheads.
The chickens have come home to roast. —Jane Sherwood Ace
Spin Cycle recently sought refuge from the political chicanery of our time by soaking in the regular humanity that converges daily in Balboa Park’s Plaza de Panama. (Mock the repugnant, delusional, politically regressive arc of former Mayor Groper’s rapid descent all you want, but name one accomplishment under Faulconer’s far lengthier time in office that rivals Bob Filner’s reopening of a civic touchstone.)
You never know whom you’ll bump into when wandering the plaza. On this particular day, Spin Cycle found a familiar winged creature, appearing a bit disheveled, feverishly scribbling on a notepad and just as frantically ripping out pages and crumpling them up. A pile of paper balls gathered nearby at the base of a recycling bin.
One was inscribed with: “The mayor of Happyland USA, Kevin Faulconer, is so overly confident about his re-election prospects in June that his minions have begun measuring the drapes—in Sacramento.”
Another: “Mayor Faulconer, in a recent meeting with Chargers Chairman Dean Spanos to discuss how to pay for a new stadium, suggested the NFL team consider a potentially lucrative upgrade to its logo: Replace the lightning bolt with the image of a Dodge muscle car. Cha-ching!”
“You know that’s technically littering,” Spin said from behind as he collected the wadded-up rejects.
“Oh shit, you startled the pixie dust out of me!” exclaimed the Magic Budget Fairy. “For a minute there, I thought you were the mayor coming to check on me again.”
Up close, Magic Budget Fairy appeared even more bedraggled. Blood-shot eyes blinked from a ruddy face. Once flowing hair now appeared like a nest of thistles daring a comb to approach. Ever the perceptive one, Magic noted Spin’s look of concern: “I know, I look like crap. You think this job is easy?”
Spin asked exactly what job that entailed these days, and Magic Budget Fairy slammed a fist on the abused notepad. “Jokes! Fucking jokes! I’m a joke writer. How’s that for a slide down the alimentary canal!” Fairy bellowed.
Spin sat down and tried to calm Fairy. “Humor is an important facet of human existence. You’re undoubtedly providing a service for, um, someone. You mentioned the mayor?”
“Yeah, Mayor Bobblehead’s people tracked me down—in the Bahamas!—and insisted I come back to help with this roast speech he’s giving at the Downtown San Diego Partnership installation dinner,” Fairy said, clearly irked.
“Well, a gig’s a gig,” Spin said, trying to put the best face on the moment. That’s when Magic Budget Fairy burst into a glittery gush of tears.
“I once brought joy to millions by finding money in the sofa cushions and vending machines in the halls of power!” Fairy shouted. “Little Suzie arrives at a library only to find the doors locked because of a stupid budget gap? Little Suzie now runs a cat café and fantasy sports league. I OPENED THOSE GODDAMNED DOORS!”
Spin noticed that people in the plaza were beginning to stare. “But hey, you’re writing jokes for the Republican Party’s Great White Hope, a future gubernatorial candidate, maybe a vice-presidential pick,” Spin stretched.
Fairy’s tears turned to almost maniacal laughter. “Oh Spin, you always know how to cheer me up. But I look terrible. Let me put this on to feel better.”
With that, Fairy pulled a rubber mask out of a tiny backpack and slipped it on. The face looked familiar but simultaneously vague. “I know you did some crisis management work for that Toronto mayor. Is that the head of Rob Ford?” Spin inquired.
“No no no,” Fairy laughed and reached again into the backpack. Out came a bobblehead figure of a smiling suited gentleman wearing a t-shirt emblazoned with the phrase “I [Heart] San Diego” on it. “It’s supposed to be Mayor Faulconer. Like last year, this’ll be the centerpiece at the dinner.”
“I’m sure your jokes will be the centerpiece,” Spin said diplomatically.
“But how many measuring-drapes-in-the-governor’s-mansion gags can one write?” Fairy said as the mask kept smiling. “What joke can transcend the comedy of errors that already exists between the mayor and the Chargers? Hell, Jason Roe, the mayor’s campaign guru, already stole my idea of having the mayor show up in a Raiders helmet! I can’t work under this pressure!”
Spin, an expert in deadline pressure but growing weary of the rubber mask, offered to help. “Whatcha got so far?” Spin asked.
“Well, we all know the mayor hates Cory Briggs and his complicated Citizens Initiative and is perturbed that someone like nonparty-conformist Lori Saldaña is challenging him for office,” Fairy explained, “so I’m thinking something like, ‘It doesn’t matter if an idea comes from a Republican, a Democrat or a Democrat who calls herself an independent, a good idea is a good idea—as long as it doesn’t come from Cory Briggs!”
Spin chuckled briefly. “That’s kind of true for the mayor, no?” Fairy snapped: “Who said there’s no humor in truth? OK, I’ve got others.”
Fairy then launched into a gag about how all these media outlets like The San Diego Union-Tribune and Voice of San Diego moving downtown will bode ill for City Hall insiders, who will finally be discovered and covered.
“OK, paranoid humor. Good, what else?” Spin asked. The rubber mask trembled with annoyance. “OK, how about this? The mayor says something like, ‘I was thinking about running for governor until I heard that [the Voice’s] Liam Dillon was taking a job in Sacramento. Good luck with that, Todd!”
“That’s a tad disjointed, no?” Spin replied. “Councilmember Todd Gloria basically paved Kevin’s path for re-election by opting for a run at the state level. Maybe polish that one a bit.”
At that, Fairy picked up the notepad and heaved it into a nearby fountain. “Screw this. I can do better,” Fairy muttered and reached into the backpack a final time. Out popped a bobblehead of presidential candidate Marco Rubio, coincidentally Faulconer’s pick for president.
“Now this guy is funny,” Fairy said. “Remember his Red Bull joke? ‘When I’m president, everyone will have wings, and Mexico is going to pay for them’? You’re lookin’ at the author!”