New Jack’s City
He may not be the Mayor we want, but he’s probably the one we deserve…
Three months into my latest rental and the junk drawer of rubber bands, dead batteries, and loose screws has found official assignment. The hermit crab has found its latest discarded baby doll’s head; home sweet home. Mind you, taking the pet lizard and milk crate furniture from Lakewood to West Cleveland wasn’t much of a pilgrimage. I paid more in insurance than in miles when I handed the keys back for the U-Haul.
The salary of a freelance writer, coupled with the bedrock stability newspaper reporters enjoy meant I didn’t balk at the affordable 3rd story loft when I found it. Sure, the old lady on the first floor that pets invisible cats is probably a ghost, and yes, my dryer exhaust inexplicably exits out of my oven fans and shoots lint and hair all over my stovetop, but I have my own parking spot so who are we really kidding?
Youth in Euclid gave me a soundtrack of trains and lake tide. I had thought the former was old hat. Then I moved here and I’m reenacting the dinner scene from Se7en three times a day, catching paintings falling off the walls as the Erie-Lackawanna uses my backyard to hotshot black market alpacas and tanks along the Atlantic coast.
That’s not to sell short the road work, shoreway traffic, front lawn bus stop, guy who blasts Eagles on that not-at-all over compensative teal motorcycle blasting through my front windows either. Don’t think I haven’t seen the effort you’ve been putting in, Clifton Boulevard. You’ve really stepped up your game at that crucial 5am ‘guy crashes into that god damn yield sign again, try to sleep through this, I dare you’ period; I’m proud of you. But like I said, parking space.
A few new rumbly tough-boys threw their noise into the mix recently. The sharp, nasal whine of several dozen four-wheelers came tearing up the boulevard. Think of it like a Dothraki horde cresting the hillside and barelling into an unsuspecting village, if that horde rode bright green and yellow Big Wheels, sounded like a bunch of pissy mosquitoes, and looked like they were just fast at being lost.
When Hunter Thompson’s face was taking shoe sizes after keeping it 100 with the Hell’s Angels he wrote how they rode into town as a force of nature. They disrupted societal norms and left the Establishment in doubt of a once self-assumed sovereignty, now left to the whims of some warm Black Labels and cheap biker crank.
Fast forward to modern day Cuyahoga and we got stuck with extras from a DMX video that sound like my dryer buzzer’s gone tilt. What a ripoff.
It’s not without its own subtle narrative flair. Cleveland’s favorite son and the Mayor’s own grandson, Frank Q. Jackson serves as the de facto dollar-bin Brando of this Wild Bunch. It was in 2016 he made headlines for a 4-wheeler arrest where “Jackson wrapped both arms around the officer and they both fell to the ground,” according to a news report.
Smoother still was a 2015 incident where Q crashed his bike into an actual motor vehicle and broke his collarbone. When asked about it, the Mayor offered up his usual syrupy baritone of bullshit saying to none other than perennial wet blanket Carl Monday, “He has a fascination and a love of dirt bikes. He and some of his friends ride dirt bikes even though they are not supposed to ride them on the street. I think he is addicted, to tell you the truth.”
And what better way to treat an addiction than by putting the rest of the public at risk through complete capitulation, excuses, and a complete abscess of leadership?
That’s to say nothing of the Mayor’s nephew Nicholas Martin who made 2008 headlines for a crack cocaine arrest and filled in the subsequent decade before a 2017 felony weapon possession with a litany of arrests related to drugs and violence. He was sentenced to eight years in February of 2018.
For all the collectors out there looking for the full set, don’t forget the Mayor’s great grandson who was arrested in 2017 on burglary and gun possession charges and then again in 2019 for suspicion of firing a gun at police officers, according to court records. At this point, an aside.
But I suppose that’s a bit of a tangent and Frank Q’s only getting started. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to carrying a concealed weapon and improper handling of a firearm inside a motor vehicle to avoid a felony gun charge that would have seen probable incarceration. Then there was that West Side homicide earlier this year that Q orbited around without actual touchdown when a car allegedly used in the shooting was towed from his home. This prompted his attorney to hold an unsolicited press conference declaring that Frank Q had nothing to do with the homicide; always a good look.
Then, most recently Franklin Q has been stepped up his game, climbing from city prosecution to county. They grow up so fast. This, only after the Cleveland D.A. office decided not seek prosecution after Q was allegedly caught dead to rights using a trailer hitch to administer an unrepentant beating to a female victim on East 40th and Quincy Avenue by eye witnesses and additional CMHA police reports.
The victim signed a non-prosecution form on June 13, expressing fear throughout interviews of retaliation. The Mayor put the onus on the victim, saying that if anyone wanted anything done about it that the victim “needs to follow to process”. I’d imagine she’s well aware of “the process”, hence her reluctance to be the face of the prosecution’s case against the Mayor’s family. He added that in regards to his alleged woman-beating grandson, “how I feel is how and how I think is not a public record.”
For his part of the process, Q pleaded not guilty to four felony charges and was released after posting bail. More of that “process” victims are all too familiar with.
It’s not surprising, really. When asked about a photo taken from his own driveway that featured what CPD claimed was a suspected gang member posing with guns in waistbands and cash in hand his answer was that “What happens in my house and my yard isn’t anyone’s business.”
That’s typically true. A person’s home is their castle and a person’s thoughts are best kept to themselves, except when you’re a publicly elected official who answers to the people who inexplicably keep putting him in employ, except when you’re the absent-minded head of a enterprising criminal family if going by nothing more than the rising stack of police reports.
It’s not that there really is much to answer for, he has the right of it when he says its his business, but it should also be his business to be able to throw some chum in the water, let the local press chew on something, anything. Why let us fill in the narrative for him? His complete ambivalence toward the affair exceeds any potential existential moral quandaries. So it stayed on brand that his official response to the public outcry that resulted from the city’s refusal to seek charges on Q for the public beating was a general ‘huh’? The Mayor claimed to have no idea that the city D.A. had decided not to press charges, the same office that essentially answers to the office of the Mayor.
What are our options here? Either the Mayor is lying and used his obvious connection to continue keeping his family members from justice, or he’s too busy huffing paint thinner in the back of shop class to even be aware of his immediate family’s current judicial standing in the same city he is supposed to be running. It was at this point that county prosecutors had to step in and do what Jackson could not and brought the case against Q. You know it’s bad when Cuya-“I thought you were watching him”-hoga has to step in as the voice of professionalism.
There’s clamor among local scenes calling for resignation, volleying words like “inept” “corrupt” and “self-parody”. A well-meaning local print said that the city deserves better than the “none of your business” Mayor. Bullshit I say. He may not be the leader we want, but he is exactly the one we deserve.
In 2016 and 2018 only 68.3 and 54.52 percent of Cuyahoga’s registered voters actually did the deed, respectively. This supposed blue bastion in such a critical swing state can barely get it to half mast when the lights go out and we expect to do better than him? With these many reelection points that Jackson has racked up, Cleveland has to just admit that their friends with this glue-eater.
As George Carlin once said in regards to the voting process, “Garbage in, garbage out.”
Despite evidence to the contrary, I’m not here to call for the mayor’s gavel or pointy hat, what do mayors have, scepters? This is essentially a ‘you do you’ piece. Think of this as a pep talk, Mr. Mayor. You can only go up from here… unless. I think you really got something here, but you have to lean into it. Really embrace this befuddled crime boss shtick you’ve been cultivating by family proxy.
You’re going to have to up your game though if you want to compete with the jerseys already hanging in the rafters. Jimmy Dimora and Frank Russo are both the most recent high profile city/county faces to go down in blaze of infamy and prison time. Jim Traficant bears the torch for sheer cult of personality and bravado.
Leave the heavy stuff for the county correctional officers and the like. I think camp is really your lane. Really go full Batman villain. Start wearing a cape. I think you could really pull of a monocle, I mean that sincerely. Start shuffling an old domino or a silver dollar between your fingers during press conferences. Clear out the Rock Hall and use the glass pyramid as your new lair… I mean office. Next time someone complains about the Public Square bus stop fiasco threaten to raze the Flats into a dirt bike badlands. We literally have a casino basically with your name on it and a comically over-sized chandelier and rubber stamp at your disposal. I mean, do you even hench, bro?
Ultimately, this is a ‘you do you’ piece, and you being you means you won’t be doing anything of either moral significance or, well, just regular significance. You’re happy to just be here. Ideally, you’d wear all beige and just blend into the drapes until your 78th consecutive term is up and you finally get that free sub sandwich. From one underachiever to another, I dig it. Hell, I respect it. Really this was all just to make sure your grandson watches Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin. They really nail the whole neon day-glo motorcycle gang look if he’s looking a bit of panache to spice up the boys.
Puff the Bearded Dragon’s cage is rattling on the bookcase as the Union Pacific ferries more black market alpacas outside my kitchen window. It’s a cool night. Summer hasn’t nosedived into the empty pool of winter overnight yet. I think I’ll climb out onto to the roof and take in the show buzzing up the Shoreway.
Best seat in the house and free admission, what a city.
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Content Strategist, novelist and prolific roustabout who drinks entirely too much coffee. You can find him on Twitter @therealadamdodd