There is a new show in town. Full of smoke and mirrors, dis- appearing acts, and invisible people. It’s “The Mayor Stimpson Horse and Pony Show,” and it is now playing at the Mobile Civic Center. Spoiler alert: If you haven’t seen the show yet, stop reading now.
Mayor Stimpson’s Horse and Pony Show is a multimillion dollar production which centers on the future repurposing of the Mobile Civic Center.
This resplendent production opens with Act One. As the curtain comes up, the audience gets their first dazzling glimpse of all of the Mayor’s smoke and mirrors. Volunteers from the audience are asked to come down and sit at a roundtable to discuss their vision for the 22-acre Mobile Civic Center site before it all disappears.
The focus group determines that repurposing the Mobile Civic Center site should provide space for civic needs, entertainment, office, residential, and retail space with no interruption in use of the site by Mardi Gras associations and other users. With the goals for repurposing the Mobile Civic Center site established, the curtain closes and a shiny disco ball can be seen swirling overhead while the volunteers are escorted back to their seats by a group of clowns.
Act Two begins with the curtain rising to all of the stunning pomp and circumstance the Mayor can muster.Excitement builds as light bounces around from multiple projectors. Abracadabra, it’s the Mobile Civic Center Open House! The spell- bound audience watches intently as four imposing elephants gallantly enter the room in single file.The first elephant, Status Quo, doesn’t really do anything.The second elephant, Arts District, provides a new smaller venue to support Mobile’s arts and concert scene, as well as smaller Mardi Gras balls. The third
elephant, Multipurpose Arena, provides a new larger multipurpose venue to accommodate variable sized events including Mardi Gras, concerts, athletic events, and tournaments. The last elephant, Mixed Use Neighborhood, ignores Mardi Gras altogether and provides for residential, commercial, office, and “Lifestyle Center” space. As the goals from the focus group are displayed for a final time, the lights go out to a mysterious thud heard backstage.
A brief intermission occurs and the audience scurries off to buy drinks and snacks. So far, the show has been well received by the people of Mobile, especially the surrounding neighbor- hoods and Mardi Gras associations. As the band plays “Chain of Fools” by Aretha Franklin, the lights flash signaling the end of intermission.
Act Three begins and the curtain rises to more smoke
and mirrors revealing the largest disappearing act ever to be witnessed on the Gulf Coast. The smoke lifts to an audible gasp from the audience as they realize that “The Mayor Stimpson Horse and Pony Show” has left the building. It disappeared quietly, leaving behind only the sound of crickets. Careful ob- servers could catch a glimpse of the activity behind the scenes; Request for Qualifications, Request for Proposals, and the Mayor forming an Invisible Civic Center Committee which ar- rived unnoticed on Wonder Woman’s invisible jet. The Invisible Committee would be tasked with secretly deciding on which development proposal would be best for our city. The stage goes dark and you see that the key to any good magic show is to keep the audience guessing.
The final act of “The Mayor Stimpson Horse and Pony Show” begins where the last act left off – in total darkness. The darkness remains until the Mobile City Council turns on the lights revealing the true identities of the Mayor’s Invisible Civic Center Committee. Absent from the committee are any representatives from the surrounding neighborhood or any Mardi Gras associations.Having become confused by all of the Mayor’s smoke and mirrors, those representatives fell off the high wire to the stage below creating the mysterious thud you heard earlier.
The evening concludes with the classic Shell Game. For this one you have to keep your eye on the Mardi Gras as it moves from place to place. Where it ends, nobody knows. When the switch happens, it happens so fast that you don’t even realize that the Mardi Gras is now being held far, far away in a Brookley warehouse twenty years older than the Civic Center. The audience is left confounded, wondering just what ever happened to all of the input given from the audience at the beginning of the show.
Because the curtain closes on “The Mayor Stimpson Horse and Pony Show” doesn’t mean it’s over. It’s really just beginning. As you leave your seat, you reach down to find that your pocket has been picked and your wallet is empty. You are on the hook for “The Mayor Stimpson Horse and Pony Show” for the next fifty years or at least until the next circus rolls into town to make it all disappear. Standing there holding only a box of stale, half-eaten popcorn you recall the immortal words of Eugene F. Walter when he said, “Down in Mobile, they’re
all crazy, because the Gulf Coast is the kingdom of monkeys, the land of clowns, ghosts, and musicians, and Mobile is sweet lunacy’s county seat.” That and “The Mayor Stimpson Horse and Pony Show.”
J.A. Morrow Mobile
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