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Monday, October 31, 2011

The Real Ed Lee -- A Vicious Parody -- Distributed By Leland Yee Campaign

Posted By on Mon, Oct 31, 2011 at 11:59 AM

click to enlarge Once the bizarre and inexplicable has been parodied -- then what?
  • Once the bizarre and inexplicable has been parodied -- then what?

Earlier this month, San Franciscans walking down the stairs of their homes were surprised to stumble over The Ed Lee Story, a groveling campaign bio penned in the style of a Dick-and-Jane reader as produced by the Commissariat of Enlightenment.

So, in a word, that was odd. And now we've reached an even odder place with the distribution of The Real Ed Lee: The Untold, Untold Story by Sen. Leland Yee's campaign. 

The book, a vitriolic broadside against our appointed mayor, has been painstakingly put together to resemble the original propaganda mailer to the smallest detail. The type fonts are identical. The jaunty writing style is mocked all too well. (Unlike the Ed Lee Story, however, chapter headings in the anti-Lee piece are accompanied by a rose-like emblem -- we get it, we get it.)

This book, however, doesn't aim to praise Lee, but to bury him. In place of the aw-shucks inclusion of the mayor's "No-Longer-Secret" recipe for Poongaloong, the anti-Lee satire includes "Willie & Rose's 'No Longer Secret' Make-A-Mayor Recipe."

Key ingredients include: 1 "dormant" political machine; 980 lbs. of powerbrokers (preferably a mix of former mayors, unregistered lobbyists, corporate hacks, and Chinatown mavens); and 1 Board of Supervisors President with mayoral ambitions. Those hoping to follow this recipe are urged to "Pour mixture into an empty vessel -- any loyal bureaucrat will do. He doesn't even need to be in the country."

Touché. And that's just page three.

While Lee's obsequious bio portrayed him as an implacably honest leader of men, the Yee parody is every bit as mean-spirited as its inspiration was fawning.

Lee is painted as a man who rose to prominence by repeatedly enabling and greenlighting Willie Brown's corrupt machinations and has highlighted his brief tenure in Room 200 by enriching his friends and political supporters. His ideas are pilfered from others, and he and his supporters' grasp of ethical boundaries are tenuous. All of these charges have been leveled publicly and repeatedly -- hence the 107 endnotes at the conclusion of this read.

Now, all of those charges are laid out in one place. And, unlike The Ed Lee Story, which featured transcendentally bad writing in service of a patently ludicrous endeavor -- beatifying a bureaucrat -- The Real Ed Lee is written in an engagingly nasty manner.  

It's hard to keep folks interested in the arcane matters of campaign finance law -- but it's easier when you have sentences like this: "Ed Lee's chief of staff Steve Kawa (formerly Gavin Newsom's chief of staff ... oh, and Wilie Brown's too) apparently went to the Ethics Commission's executive director, John St. Croix, with a big 'WTF.'"

The parody piece is also, mercifully, far shorter than the original, clocking in at 55 pages to The Ed Lee Story's 132. Brevity is the soul of wit, and this book will be far more effective at vilifying Lee than its puzzling inspiration has been at sanctifying him.

The big question, however, is will this literary harpoon do anything to stave off a Lee victory -- or is it, as The Real Ed Lee's anonymous author would put it, merely an "FU" in the campaign's dying days?

If you liken Ed Lee to the Moby Dick of the San Francisco mayoral race, Leland Yee (and his people) seem well equipped to play the role of Ahab. The captain wasn't able to kill the whale -- but he certainly did leave him with a defacing, painful, and annoying reminder of how he felt about him.   


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About The Author

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi

Joe Eskenazi was born in San Francisco, raised in the Bay Area, and attended U.C. Berkeley. He never left. "Your humble narrator" was a staff writer and columnist for SF Weekly from 2007 to 2015. He resides in the Excelsior with his wife, 4.3 miles from his birthplace and 5,474 from hers.


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