by Steve Bogira
According to irreputable sources, the mayor informed his closest advisers of the resolution during a New Year's Eve conference call from Buenos Aires, where he was vacationing with his family. "No more cussing for me, and I am not fudging kidding," Emanuel said.
It's not clear what prompted the mayor to target his tongue in 2012, but his advisers are concerned. "His coarseness is part of his mystique," a senior aide told us. "It's gonna be like Samson losing his hair."
Emanuel has long been notorious for his profanity. "Rahm has somehow managed to remain true to his whole and florid self," New York Times columnist David Brooks observed in 2010. "He’s managed to preserve the patois of Chicago, the earthy freneticism of his Augie March upbringing."
The Chicago patois does not include "patois," Mr. Brooks should be advised. But by Augie March, he of course was referring to the protagonist in Saul Bellow's classic The Adventures of Augie March, which happened to be the city's "One Book, One Chicago" pick last fall. Augie March was a person of modest means who grew up on rough Chicago streets during the Depression. Emanuel's "Augie March upbringing" occurred on the unforgiving leafy streets of north-suburban Wilmette, where he bravely dodged Porsches on his way to ballet class, and refused to throw down with the treacherous gangs that roamed the graffiti-scarred halls of New Trier High. Somewhere along the way, his earthy freneticism bloomed into a healthy cussing habit.
And now his supporters wish he'd just leave foul enough alone. "I've been reminding him that Rahm is a four-letter word," a senior aide said. "But he tells me, 'Oh, fiddlesticks, let's give this a chance.'"
The aide said he's already detected a softening of Emanuel's trademark cockiness, a change he blames on the mayor's newly disinfected speech. "When Rahm was ticked at an alderman, he used to tell him exactly what he could do, in no uncertain terms," the aide said. "Now it's like, 'You can kiss my gosh-darn butt,' which isn't as effective."
Before the city council voted on Emanuel's budget in November, according to the aide, the mayor prepared for the meeting by standing in front of a mirror in his office and saying, "I'm fucking good enough, I'm fucking smart enough, and, goddamn it, people fear me!" The budget passed, 50-0.
"It's a different story now," the aide said. "Yesterday, he was like, 'Jeez Louise, that Eddie Burke is fulla baloney.' I told him that an activist had called him a liar about our new rules on protests, and the best he could manage was, 'Buffalo chips! There's a special place in heck for him.' Then I told him about a north-side alderman who wants to fight him on the remap, and he goes, 'Now I'm peed off—I'll show that lousy son of a biscuit eater.'
"I'm like, 'Rahm, that kind of talk ain't gonna get it done.' I said, 'Forget the resolution and go back to your old cussing self—that's the mayor Chicago elected.' But he just looked surprised and said, 'No poop? Shut the front door!' He is really starting to scare me."
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