A continuing tale of life in the boonies

No. 329

The glamour of anagrams

FARMINGTON -- Glamour, in modern usage, means enhanced attractiveness, but in its archaic Scottish sense, it may refer to a malevolent shape-shifter, a creepiness that the Forces of Good must rush to expose and apologize for -- but more of this anon.

Firstly, I should note that with only a few weeks before the First in the Nation presidential primary, political candidates and their media flocks are visiting every city and sizeable town in New Hampshire. All except Farmington, that is, and for this omission, I think, some of the blame will be heaped on Farmington Corner -- this because its evenhanded and insightful coverage of politicians in primaries of yore has been badly received in certain quarters.

Take when presidential hopeful Lyndon Larouche gave a talk at Farmington High School early in 1988. He was pushing for the colonization of Mars, and I reported enthusiastically on this idea, pointing out that it made a lot more sense than colonizing northern Maine, infested as it is with black flies. Not a word of thanks.

In the lead-up to the 1992 primary, I penned a Rabbie Burns-style election address, albeit it in the ancient tongue of Lallans, that covered seven or eight candidates, but, surprisingly, received only whiffs of hostility from readers and candidates. Here are a couple of verses, to remind you.

Glitzy Billy Clinton

Gabbin’ o’ his healthcare plan,

Wi’ his ane provider, speir,

Is he Prudential’s man?


Geordie Bush at Cabletron

To fool us a’ he shares

Five minutes wi’ the workers

Who toil for millionaires.

Back again to 1988, and the Farmington Corner that ensued from the visit of a presidential candidate to Dumontski’s, the lively restaurant and bar that flourished on Farmington’s Main Street in those days. I had been asked by leading Farmington Democrats to cover the event for the Rochester Courier, and was happy to do so, especially since Ronnie and Holly Dumont had purchased tablecloths for the occasion, and spelled out “Welcome to Farmington, Dick Gephardt” on their menu board.

It was those 31 plastic letters that landed me in the soup. They kept swirling around in my mind to form new phrases – perfect, although somewhat puzzling, anagrams -- and it was those that I tried to interpret for the readership, rather than write about U.S. Congressman Gephardt’s speech as I was expected to.

“Lawmen demote drag cop in tight frock,” was one such precise anagram, I recall. “PTA cited knowledge of Mr. Hart coming,” was a second, this referring to another candidate of that year, Gary Hart, whose run for office exploded spectacularly with a sex scandal.

Anyway, my column hit the front page of the weekly, local Democrats were really ticked off (at me, not Gary Hart), and I never heard a word of thanks from Gephardt. I don’t feel too bad, though, as he now consults for Wall Street’s Goldman Sachs, according to Wikipedia..

However, may I take this opportunity to express my sincere, if belated local apologies, and especially to Bill Tsiros, who was a Democrat at the time.

Now, let’s fast-forward to the 2016 primary election, and an entirely new spate of glamourous anagrams that foisted themselves onto me the other day as I was parked on Main Street near the Fire Department’s sign board.

I had just imagined the phrase “Welcome to Farmington, Donald Trump,” spelled out when there was a swirl of letters in my head that malevolently and flawlessly shape-shifted into “Want rude man competing? Fold, Mr. Loot.” Eerie anagrams, it seems, were back with a bang, but take no notice, Donald. You are welcome in Puddledock, provided you can add another nine holes to the golf course.

As I sat in my car, Trump faded and was replaced by another phrase on the sign board, “Welcome to Farmington, Jeb Bush.” This, after just a few seconds, transmogrified into a new 27-letter formation, “Two clan members – enough of it, J.B.!” Hmmm! The spirits were suggesting dad and bro were enough of the Bushes, already.

This was followed by “Welcome to Farmington, Carly Fiorina,” letters that spun into “Forget climate claim info – a non-worry.” Was that the ether being sarcastic, or was it an oracle insisting that island nations at the recent climate change conference in Paris were just a bunch of panicky whiners?

Then came “Welcome to Farmington, Hillary Clinton,” a co-architect of glitzy Bill’s secret healthcare plan of the early 1990s. What would the gods do with her? Uh-oh! “No ethical liar coming from N.Y., tell town.” An exact anagram, to be sure, but very confusing. Did it mean Hillary was an ethical liar, but was not coming to Farmington, or she was coming but was either not ethical or not a liar? While a recent Quinnipiac University poll certainly found that 61 percent of people think Hillary is neither honest nor trustworthy, she would assuredly get a warm welcome in Farmington, even if some people took what she had to say with a pinch of salt.

Now, more messages were coming thick and fast.

“Welcome to Farmington, Marco Rubio,” the board said, before reshuffling into “To Cuba: I’m reforming – calmer now, too!” Well, I suppose it’s hard to be really mad at Cuba, these days, when there’s ISIS and Obamacare and Gun Rights and all that other stuff to wind one up.

Next on the Main Street board was “Welcome to Farmington, Ted Cruz,” a candidate who had just formed a gun coalition group. His 26 letters reformed into “Gun-crazed men cite Tom Wolf rot.”  And who is Tom Wolf, you may wonder. He’s the governor of Pennsylvania, and was a   selected target of the National Rifle Association’s Political Victory Fund in 2014!

Then, after Cruz, another Democrat appeared on the signboard, in my fevered imagination. “Welcome to Farmington, Bernie Sanders,” it read and I wondered if that phrase would change too, and if so, would it be into something complimentary at last to match my car’s bumper sticker. Oh, no! “Meet renowned socialist nag, Mr. F. N. Bore,” the 32 letters produced. Possibly the malevolent shape-shifter was still mindful of Bernie’s eight-hour filibuster in 2010 against the extension of the Bush tax cuts.

My time, downtown, was running short, but I gave the FFD signboard another glance and this time saw “Welcome to Farmington, Ben Carson,” which, in a trice switched to “Besmear forgotten manic clown? No!” He’s the guy that compared screening refugees to checking for rabid dogs, which, you might think would have given him a bounce, in these strange days, yet  he’s been sinking in the polls of late, and may indeed be forgotten by this time next year.

There were probably other welcome signs and anagrams just stacking up in the ether …those for Chris Christy and Lindsay Graham, John Kasich and Rand Paul, Martin O’Malley and a host of lesser luminaries, but I had to depart.

Let’s hope, though, that at least one presidential candidate will be smart enough to come and receive a warm Farmington welcome before Feb. 9, even if a benign anagram cannot be guaranteed.


Dec. 18, 2015


P.S.   On Jan. 25, 2016 Donald Trump held a rally in Farmington High School! He did not add nine holes to the golf course.


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