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Mayor Burr Discusses the Peace Fountain







After Jackie O'Shaughnessy MacSon, Mayor Burr was our favorite character. Windsor's Mayor Burr was this rotund 5' 4" pipsqueak of a man. He was about as wide as he was tall. Mayor Burr was an NDP politician in a union town, elected to office on a solid labor mandate. His policies (or lack thereof) were untouchable so the Windsor press tended to fixate a lot on his weight, his tryst with his secretary, and his chain smoking. Burr never seemed to do a lot other than draw attention to the minor perks of high civic office. Buffets, travel junkets, and dinner talks at the Knights of Columbus were Burr's forte. He left economic development to elected officials who had acumen for that sort of thing. Since Windsoradians never elected anyone with a reputation besmirched by a track record of success in the (non-unionized) business sector this meant no one in Windsor ever gave much thought to economic development beyond giving local unions more leverage to maintain and expand high-paying factory jobs.


What made Burr best for radio was he had this gravelly pip squeaky kind of voice, a voice Terry absolutely and eerily pinned down. Unfortunately, our first year in radio was Burr's last year in office. He was too good a character to let go. We picked up on stories running around Windsor media about "what will Mayor Burr do after he leaves office?" Was he destined for some patronage position with the Ontario government? Maybe a UN appointment? Our show posited Mayor Burr, after a stint with The Who and the stand-up circuit, settled down to writing pulp novels.


This skit seems to have aired shortly before Burr left public office and shortly after he helped push through a controversial spending proposal to fix a water-front fountain, the Charlie Brooks Memorial Peace Fountain. Windsor is not replete with tourist attractions, save for a beautiful, nearly unbroken stretch of river-front park land. Nestled in a small park-side bay was this UFO-shaped floating fountain. At night, the fountain put on this marvelous colored water and light show. This was no gimmicky Letterman-style Prancing Liquids fountain. Windsoradians were told time and time again that the Peace Fountain (people tended to drop the "Charlie Brooks" part of the name as no one in Windsor ever had a firm grasp of who the hell Charlie Brooks1 was in the first place) was the largest, most complex floating fountain in the world. That no one could actually name another floating fountain in existence anywhere in the world did not keep Windsoradians manifesting a suitable level of civic pride. The downside of the fountain was it required constant, expensive repairs. Its initial price tag was soon eclipsed by the fountain's annual maintenance budget.


Since I was still young and did not have to pay Windsor property taxes, I was something of a fan of the Peace Fountain. On a warm and romantic summer night I found it a wonderful place to take whatever young lovely I was dating at the time. We'd sit there, watch the water and light show, and snuggle.


Terry, however, was opposed to both the fountain and my dating habits. Terry tried to posit why the city would actually spend huge amounts of money every year to maintain the fountain. He reasoned that the fountain's fate was inexorably and metaphysically linked with the traveling Conklin Carnival which visited Windsor's water-front Freedom Festival (and lesser mall parking lots) every year.


This skit, then, laid out Terry's broader theory.


* * *


KARL: Speaking about jokes, I think I see the Mayor's head bobbing up and down in the window.


TERRY: I'll get him.


(Sound of door opening)


KARL: I'm glad you left that milk carton out side of the door. He can stand on it and look in. Let us know he is there.


(Door closes)


TERRY: Come on in, Mayor.


KARL: Hello, Mr. Mayor. How is it going?


MAYOR: I'm doing just fine. (sound of taking a drag on a cigarette… notices Alanis in the studio) Hello little girl, who are you? I've never seen you before. You're not like that little red headed girl2 who sneers a lot at me. Why don't you go to the store and get me a pack of cigarettes. I'm just about out. Okay here. You're off. Right. Umm. Hello. Hello. (Sound of taking a drag on a cigarette)


KARL: Hello, Mayor.


MAYOR: What's your name again? Chuck? Hi, Chuck. I never forget a face.


KARL: Anyway, you're here for a couple reasons.


MAYOR: I am?


KARL: Yes. One, you want to tell everybody not to book you in any more comedy clubs.


MAYOR: You don't mind if I smoke in here do you?


KARL: It's okay.


MAYOR: You don't got an ashtray in here. Lean your forehead this way.


(Indeterminate sound effect)


KARL: Yeah, that sounded real.


MAYOR: Who you talking to, kid?


KARL: As I was saying, you're here for two reasons. A sort of two pronged attack on our listeners.


MAYOR: I would say that, wouldn't I?


KARL: Why don't you tell club owners not to try and book you for any more stand up comedy appearances because you've sort of given that up. And the second reason you're here, you want to appeal to listeners to make a donation to the fountain.


MAYOR: Right. That's the reason I'm here.


KARL: What happened with the stand up thing? I remember you tried to do the music tour. You wanted to do the whole Elvis thing.


MAYOR: Yeah.


KARL: But the Detroit casino proposal doesn't look good.


MAYOR: Now that got the JOA -- the Joint Operating Agreement -- it looks like the casinos will be shut down. I don't know why. Doesn't make any sense to me.


KARL: You've been getting some good critiques from John Laycock at your open mike night at the Windsor Press Club.


MAYOR: Oh, that guy. Bleh!


KARL: Or was it Marty Gervais?


MAYOR: I think it was the religion page editor that gave me a good review.


KARL: I saw he mentioned something about Satan is alive and well.


MAYOR: I dunno. I didn't read it. You know me. I read right to left. It's not a big deal. I never cast a vote in city counsel unless it's a tie. I'm politically safe.


KARL: So the whole stand up thing is dead then?


MAYOR: Yeah.


KARL: You've completely given up?


MAYOR: I uhhh. It didn't cut well with me. I couldn't get a record deal.


KARL: You're no longer Windsor's funny man mayor then?


MAYOR: No. Not intentionally anyway. But I do have a couple extra jokes that I did bring for your show here. Someone told me this was a humour show. I thought it was a news program. But anyway. Here's my jokes. Why do debutants hate group sex?


KARL: Why?


MAYOR: Because there are so many thank you notes to write. Get it? Thank you… they write thank you. Ah never mind. My kid told it to me. I don't know what he's talking about. He's not going to any more private schools. That's for sure. That joke bombed. Okay I've got another little thing I heard the other day. This guy dies (Sound of mayor taking a long drag on his cigarette and then coughing up a lung) This guy dies (more coughs and then to Alanis) I'm sorry little girl, that was a piece of lung. Okay this guy dies and he goes to heaven, if you believe in that sort of thing. He goes to heaven and this ummm… who is that guy who leads you around heaven? Saint…Saint… Saint Biff? Saint Paul? Oh, Saint Peter. So Saint Peter is leading him around heaven and showing him heaven's museums and heaven's parking lots. So he gets to Heaven's ice rink and all the saints are playing a game of pick up hockey. All of a sudden the ice clears and this guy comes out. He's doing all these tricks. The guy who just died says to Saint Chuck or Peter "Who is that guy?" "Oh that's just God. He thinks he's Alderman Toth." (Mayor takes a drag on his cigarette.)


KARL: Umm. I think I've heard that joke but isn't it supposed to Wayne Gretzky? Isn't he supposed to say "Oh that's just God. He thinks he's Wayne Gretzky." Because Toth isn't renowned for his hockey playing ability.


MAYOR: That's for sure.


KARL: Or even his joke telling ability.


MAYOR: Yeah. But I just thought I'd get one more shot in at him before my political career is over. Because, you know, he's going to be sitting on city counsel forever. They're going to have to move away his dead, dried carcass. People will still be voting for him.


KARL: You'd like to see that, wouldn't you?


MAYOR: Ah, I'd like to see that. Just pour some acetone on him.


KARL: So this whole Peace Fountain deal --


MAYOR: Did you notice the fountain is working now?


KARL: How much did the fountain cost originally? A couple hundred thousand?


MAYOR: Yeah, well, officially. It's cost about three mil in actual costs.


KARL: Repair costs add up.


MAYOR: And cigarettes.


KARL: You get cigarette kick backs?


MAYOR: Yeah, stuff like that. I mean how else would something like the peace fountain get through? There were extra hidden costs. (drags on cigarette). So, three mil.


KARL: Was it really worth it? Cause don't we now have to spend another five hundred thousand dollars on the fountain?


MAYOR: Sure it's worth it.


KARL: Half a million dollars though. Can't we put it to something better?


MAYOR: Clothing the poor and stuff like that?


KARL: Yeah, that kind of stuff.


MAYOR: Now you got to think of this as a growth economy. Think about it. Windsor's tourism trade hinges on whether this Peace Fountain works or not. The guys who work at the Conklin Carnival worship it as a god. And we need the Conklin Carnival every summer for the Freedom Festival. Now, last time the Conklin Carnival was here the fountain wasn't working but we got it to work shortly after so they said "Okay, we'll come back. We'll do the Hajira to Windsor to worship our god, the Charlie Brook Peace Fountain. And uhhh, actually --


(Sound of Karl laughing hysterically in the background.)


MAYOR: What are you laughing at?


KARL: Nothing. So in essence, the Conklin Carnival workers think of you as being the Defender of the Faith?


MAYOR: More or less.


KARL: So what? They see you as being a pope? A high priest?


MAYOR: I like to think of myself as a muscled avenger with a strong sword arm.


KARL: You're saying you're not vacillating on this fountain thing?




KARL: If the taxpayers nail you to a cross over this, you'll accept your divinely assigned end… your martyrdom --


MAYOR: Look, I'm a little tired of those comparisons. Those Christ comparisons. Could you please cut it out as a personal favor to me? In return I'll give you a hot piece of news for the Peace Fountain.




MAYOR: We had this fund raising drive. We needed like half a mil. The government said we'll give you a third if city council pledges a third and if the citizens give a third. We need to get 180 thousand out of our citizens.


KARL: They raised only ten thousand, didn't they?


MAYOR: Yes. But we got the government funding anyway. And this is what happened. It was really remarkable. It wasn't one of those normal cigarette and cheesecake kick back deals that usually get things done. Deals which I'm never a part of or benefit from, I remind you. So, basically, it got out on the AP wire that the Peace Fountain was a religious icon for the carnival workers. Some Christian academy of bizarre religious studies in North Carolina gave us a grant of two hundred thousand dollars to fix the peace fountain. (Takes a drag on his cigarette.) I think they gave us the cash to draw the Conklin workers into their bizarre Christian religious fold.


KARL: I hate to cut you off, Mayor, but we have to get to our Meet the Cast feature. But you're welcome to come back any time you want to talk or use us to further your political intrigue.


MAYOR: Yeah I'll show you those candid photos I have of Chuck Mady.


KARL: Come on by then. Bye bye.





1 If I recall Charlie Brooks was a Windsor union leader that was shot to death by a former co-worker. Brooks had fired him that day and he came back with a gun and shot Brooks. I'm unsure, however, why Brooks warranted a fountain in his name beyond maybe being the first union leader murdered for firing another union worker.


2 The little red headed girl is a reference to our friend Helen who occasionally came on our show and acted in skits. I believe on an earlier show Helen was in the booth while Terry was getting his groove on as the Mayor. While in character, Terry started brusquely ordering Helen around. Something like "Hello, little girl, go outside and get me some cigarettes from the machine at the end of the hall." Helen didn't quite understand Terry was being rude and bossy as part of his act. Helen spent most of the routine scowling at Terry.




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