Hide and Seek

All round the house is the jet-black night, It stares through the window-pane, It crawls in the corners, hiding from the light,And it moves with the moving flame. -Robert Louis Stevenson

By the time this magazine hits your mailbox or favorite newsstand, I'm sure things will have cooled off around here.

At least I hope they will have.

I don't mean outside — we are now in the throes of summer in Memphis, and that makes "cool" a distant memory. No, I mean the tempers and temperatures inside darkened houses across the city after what's been dubbed Hurricane Elvis II swept across the city June 12th (A side note: Why do we name these horrible storms after one of the world's greatest entertainers? It doesn't seem right, does it? Let's name them after someone who deserves the negative connotation. Hmm. Let me think. Maybe it would start with a "W." Maybe an "H." Wait. It'll come to me.)

Believe me, I understand how hard the MLGW workers sweating it out across the city are going at the problem, restoring power to the more than 140,000 customers across the area who lost it. I am being patient, sweating it out after five days in the dark and the heat, waiting my turn to get back on the grid. Everyone can't be first.

What I'm not willing to do is overlook the fact that our fearless leader, Hizzoner Herenton, was once again nowhere in sight when the city needed a leader. A voice. Hell, at least some acknowledgement that the city and its residents are suffering, and help is on the way.

But the mayor, as he usually is in times of crisis, was quiet. Not a peep from his office, No press conference, no cameos on the news. Nada. The silence was deafening.

Maybe he was hanging out at the same undisclosed location he was when Hurricane Elvis (it's on the tip of my tongue, I am so close) hit in 2005. When some residents went nearly three weeks in blistering heat with no assurances or appearances by Hizzoner. When people in need suffered without acknowledgment from the one they put in office.

Maybe he's in the same secret place he was when tornadoes ripped through Hickory Hill last year, taking homes and businesses out and destroying an entire community.

Just what, exactly, is more important to our city's leader than, say, showing some leadership in times of trouble?

Is he busy touring MSARC? No, that can't be it. He didn't even know what the place was until recently. Is he checking out books at neighborhood libraries? Oh, wait, no, they're closed. Is he in line getting his car inspected? If so, could he tell our favorite council members we say hello?

Who knows? I don't. Heck, even Mayor Wharton can't get in touch with Hizzoner.

So yes, I'm frustrated. Not because of the ninth-circle of heat that awaits me at home, though that doesn't help one's tolerance, but because this Where's-Willie act has got to stop. We need leaders that don't hide when the going gets tough, but ones that seek to help us get our houses, as the saying goes, back in order. It's time for us to seek out new leadership.

(Hurricane Willie has a nice ring, no? Hurricane Herenton is alliterative, but Willie is more fun to say. I move we change the name of these storms starting now. Who's with me?)

Hopefully, the lights will all be on by the time you read this. But I hope we won't forget, once the comfort of our air conditioners cools us down literally and figuratively, that when we needed a leader, our leader was nowhere to be found, once again. Let's try to remember that when it's time to go to the voting machines next time (no matter what office you-know-who decides he's been tapped by God to hold).

In the meantime, come on out, Mayor Herenton. The weather's fine — for now.

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