You know I’m a fan of Mobile’s world-famous New Year’s Eve MoonPie Drop. I’ve written that before and we even put MoonPie Man Fred Richardson on the cover of this paper four years ago smiling away while chomping his favorite tasty treat in an effort to lift the MD to a place where even the ghost of Dick Clark would be envious.
But I don’t get all the acrimony and controversy that comes each year with this 12-foot, electrified MoonPie gliding gracefully down the side of the RSA-TrustMark building. Yeah, I know some people don’t want a public nickel spent on frivolous stuff like the MD, Mardi Gras or BayFest, but the majority of us don’t mind a little as long as it’s not out of control.
And it’s easy to see the pie drop has been a success. People now come downtown on New Year’s Eve to have fun, celebrate and (probably) not shoot one another for several years now. Before the MoonPie all we could do for fun on New Year’s Eve was shoot guns in the air. Now, we have a party. Besides, economic studies even declare the MD brings back many times more revenue than the city spends, which should make the fiscal hawks happy.
It’s a winner, whether you like it or not.
Because of that the most confusing thing lately is this non-existent war on the MoonPie Drop Richardson has created in his mind that has him attacking the mayor and media while tossing claims of racism around like peanut butter MoonPies on Mardi Gras day. Earth to Fred — no one is trying to kill the MoonPie Drop.
Frankly Richardson’s behavior over the past few weeks makes me think he’s jumped the shark as a city councilman. He’s like a man fighting air — throwing punch after punch that never lands.
Fred has always been “quirky,” but he appears to have moved into a realm where he’s making even less sense than he used to. Perhaps he is having a difficult time living in a Jones-less world where he and his political allies can just make things happen regardless of whether it’s done in a fiscally responsible or ethical way.
Fred has always been a fan of blaming racism for things he doesn’t like, but these days everyone and everything has a racial component in his mind. A couple of weeks ago he ran to a TV station and blasted this newspaper for being racist for daring to ask how much last year’s MD cost, along with racism in our investigation into where federal money was improperly spent by the Police Department’s Explorers program.
Recall we put Fred’s mug on the front of this paper in support of the MD. The question of what it cost last year is one we asked last year and never received an answer to. In fact, we just recently got the answer two weeks ago. We’ve asked Fred that question and even HE didn’t know what it cost. Not that it matters to him.
Richardson ranted about the mayor’s office not footing the whole bill for this year’s fireworks display, while also complaining about the whiteness of Gretchen Wilson as the evening’s entertainment, all the while trying to make the case that all of this maneuvering against the pie is happening because he’s black.
Unfortunately for Fred the vast majority of what he’s complaining about and attributing racial motives to was done under the past administration. The money for the MD was set in Mayor Jones’ budget, which Fred approved. Gretchen Wilson was contacted by the former head of Events Mobile Barbara Drummond, who is African-American and who worked for Jones.
The reality is not much was done by the past administration for this year’s pie drop and the people currently running Events Mobile had to scramble to get things on track. Gretchen Wilson might not have been their first choice, but that’s what they were stuck with. If Councilman MoonPie would have been paying any attention to his pet project he would know this.
Richardson’s relationship with the truth has become strained as he tilts at perceived naysayers like a MoonPie-scarfing Don Quixote. He’s made a habit of saying things in public then denying he said them, much like he did on Facebook the other day when he claimed he never saying anything about the performers’ skin color and blasted Local15 TV for doing a story about it. Too bad for Fred they have this thing called video that proves he indeed said it had been customary to have acts of “the black persuasion” one year and of the “white persuasion” the next.
He also attacked the money being given to the LPGA tournament by the city, claiming no one in his district wants to see lady golfers and generally deriding an event that claims roughly double the economic impact of his precious pie drop. Once again, the money set aside for the LPGA this year was part of Boss Sam’s budget — which Fred voted for. This may surprise the four-term councilman, but Stimpson won’t have a chance to propose his own budget until 2014. If Stimpson funds those darn boring lady golfers next year Fred, then you should complain.
Perhaps Facebook, as usual, offers the greatest insight into the psychology of what’s going on here. We all known Richardson is proud of the MD, as he should be, but he may be on the outskirts of a little town known as Delusion.
In a recent Facebook post he compared himself to the Wright Brothers. While I’m sure a lot went into coming up with the MoonPie Drop idea, it may not have been quite as difficult as the engineering behind powered flight. Fred pointed out that the Wright Brothers faced lots of critics but were eventually able to shut them up by flying. (In your face Earthbound losers!!!)
I’d agree Fred has bested many original critics of the MD, but he’s doing much to create new critics lately through his ridiculous behavior. One thing Fred should remember about the Wrights is they eventually crashed their plane when they pushed it too far.
Enjoy the success of the MoonPie Drop Fred, stop looking for racism around every corner and have a Happy New Year.