My Friend Flicker

Dear Readers,

Councilmember Reuben Snipper promised him not to fall out of his chair*. The former mayor Kathy Porter praised his calm professionalism. Erwin Mack, executive director of the Crossroads Development Authority, said he was glad to see him go (because he set such a good example for those to follow), Dan Robinson thanked him for keeping meetings short, to the point, and concise. His daughter came to the microphone to say “Thanks, dad!”

That’s how Takoma Park sent off former councilmember Doug Barry shortly after he stepped down from his Ward Six seat. He is moving from the city and so can no longer serve in that office.

The consensus of the speeches and comments at the June 22 recognition ceremony was that Doug Barry is a classy guy. Your Gilbert agrees, it’s a shame he left. He was well-praised for his work on various issues from the Takoma/Langely Crossroads and New Hampshire Ave. Corridor developments, housing code enforcement, tenant’s rights, and more.

Barry did not disappoint, he made a lyrical speech, apparently without notes, which Your Gilbert will quote from at length with just a few edits. His poignant thoughts are appropriate for this July 4th Holiday weekend, which in Takoma Park is a celebration of neighbors and neighborhood:

“The many thousands of times I took the subway to Takoma Park I was always happy to have arrived at Takoma Station, and I was happy because it was the place I called “home” for all of these years, and my special part of it in Ward Six . . . .
“You know there’s something very special about a neighborhood, and we were reflecting on that just the other day when we met with some of the neighbors . . . on a beautiful Sunday afternoon. . . .
“It was just the sense of comfort that one has when living in a neighborhood, surrounded by people one cares about. And it could be very subtle things, like the flicker of a television set seen through a living room window – maybe the last thing you see at night. You know someone is there, you know they’re watching their favorite television program. It’s comfortable to realize that.
“When you see the children running on the street and you see the pets: the dogs, the cats who you know by name, the friendly waves from people, the special celebrations you share on holiday times. You see the kids growing older. You see the old getting even older, and you see yourself also maturing as you live among these people.
“It’s a sense of place and its a great comfort. Once you move you realize those important things you take for granted and how really, really important they are. “

It brought many a tear to an eye, or lump to a throat in the council chamber, and probably among you Dear Readers.

The only off-key note in the proceedings was a myopic remark from Chuck Thomas, the uber-parent activist who has been howling for weeks about school boundary changes. He took the public comment opportunity during Barry’s recognition to rudely press his issue on Barry’s appointed replacement.

That appointed replacement, as brilliantly predicted by Your Gilbert, is Donna Victoria. She is to fill out the remainder of Barry’s term. The terms of the appointment are that she agrees not to run for the Ward Six seat next fall.

We wonder if Barry Lee Howard, the applicant who was not chosen, might opt to run for that seat. Though not as experienced as Ms. Victoria, he stated when interviewed by the council that her civic activism had inspired him to follow a similar path.

Happy Fourth, Dear Readers, and please remember to donate to the Takoma Park Independence Day Committee. Buy raffle tickets! The parade and fireworks are NOT paid for by the city (well, except for some grant funding here and there), it is otherwise a private, volunteer effort. So, dig deep!

– Gilbert

PS. Please note that we have increased our anti-spam settings on this blog, as we have been experiencing heavy spamming. If your comment does not go through, or take a long time to appear, that is why. If you experience problems, email us at

* As diligently reported by Your Gilbert who misses nothing, not even the fall of a councilmember, representative Barry prematurely and suddenly parted company with his council seat (perhaps a sign of what was to come) at the February 9, 2009 council meeting, sending Barry sprawling unhurt on the floor, and livening up the otherwise dry proceedings. That particular chair is for the Mayor Pro Tempore, which Barry served as since last election. Councilmember Snipper now occupies the same chair, having been appointed Mayor Pro Tempore by Mayor Bruce Williams when Barry resigned.

About the Author

Gilbert is the pseudonym of a hard-bitten, hard-drinking, long-time Takoma Park resident who maintains the granolapark blog. Gilbert and William L. Brown — Granola Park's mild-mannered chief of staff, researcher, and drink pourer — have never been seen in the same place at the same time.

1 Comment on "My Friend Flicker"

  1. So, platitudes that could be said about almost any place in the US are worth a dithyrambic exposition by Gilbert (and I hope he had enough tissues!)!
    But bring an issue of interest to your neighborhood in front of the Council and you are a kill-joy?
    Obviously, according to Gilbert, the Council sessions are not for working but for emoting! So much for City governance!

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