Tom uses his journalistic 'skills' to 'investigate' Tucson's 'mayor'

Because the Tucson Weekly is the pre-eminent journalistic enterprise in Southern Arizona, some people expect me to do that journalism stuff, too. I've thought about trying it in the past, but I've always thought that people should play to their strengths. I mean, nobody expects Sofia Vergara to do Shakespeare, right?

Still, I owe it to the Weekly to do my very best, so I thought I'd give it a shot. I've always liked realistic investigative journalists, like the one Robert Redford played in the movies or the one portrayed by Darren McGavin on TV's Kolchak: The Night Stalker.

I decided to do some of that investigative journalism. I got a skinny little notebook and then went on the Internet. And whaddya know, I struck gold my first time out. Beginner's luck, I guess.

I found out that Tucson has a mayor. No, really! His name is Bob Walkup, and apparently, he's been the mayor of Tucson for quite some time. But pretty soon, he's not going to be mayor any more (not that anyone would notice). There's a picture on the city's website, but that can't possibly be him. I figure it's a stand-in, like the guy who pretended to be Winston Churchill in The Eagle Has Landed. The real Bob Walkup is probably like one of those Mob guys who goes to union picnics, but is careful not to be photographed.

And if he does get his picture taken, Santino Corleone swoops in, smashes the camera and throws a couple hundred bucks at the photographer.

(I think I watch too many movies.)

The dictionary defines "wraith" as "used in similes or metaphors to describe a pale, thin or insubstantial person or thing." If Walkup had a secret identity (I know, I know; one must first have an identity before he can have a secret identity), it would be Wraith Man. That's not to be confused with Herman Boone in Remember the Titans, who was called a "race man." Of course, if Remember the Titans had been filmed in Barcelona, Boone, too, would have been a "wraith man."

This guy has spent his life avoiding confrontation, living in the shadows and staying out of trouble. Is it any wonder that, before he ran for mayor, the company he worked for was Wraith-eon?

I once saw an episode of Taxi where the garage closed down temporarily, and the cabbies all had to get different jobs for a while. When they got back together, they shared stories of their experiences. Louie De Palma (Danny DeVito) was selling stocks through cold-calling, and he'd say stuff like, "OK, kid, do you know where your mommy keeps her checkbook?"

Anyway, Elaine Nardo (Marilu Henner) got a job as a personal assistant to this unassuming guy who worked for a corporation. The guy had been there for 15 years, collecting a big salary for doing nothing. People would greet him at the water cooler, but nobody knew his name nor what his job was (supposed to be). He explained to Elaine that he had never been given any responsibilities after having been hired, so he just showed up every day and flew under the radar. He'd go to meetings and say nothing, and he kept getting paid.

Elaine thought this was very sad, so she convinced the guy to speak up at the next business meeting. He was reluctant, but she won him over. At the next meeting, he spoke up and said something inane. People noticed him for the first time, and he got fired.

I'm betting that Bob Walkup saw that same episode.

(I know that last part wasn't really journalism, but the editor can fix it up. That's what they get paid for, right?)

Bob Walkup is like the antithesis of that guy in the Dos Equis commercials: He's The Least Interesting Man in the World.

Here's what my research shows:

• In American Sign Language, the sign for "Walkup" is standing still with one's hands in his pockets.

• In the 1970s, his CB "handle" was "No Buddy."

• His computer password is 0. No one has ever tried to crack it.

• When he plays paintball, he uses special pellets filled with water so as not to offend anyone. He prefers Evian.

• His definition of "extra spicy" is more mayonnaise.

• He underwent a religious conversion, but the most he could commit to was being a Jehovah's Bystander.

• When he looks in the mirror, the mirror thinks, "Do I really have to?"

• The only time he didn't get picked last in P.E. was when he got to be captain on his birthday. He picked himself third. Then, to test his leadership skills, the P.E. teacher told him he had to be in charge during the game, but he let his six "teammates" make all the big decisions.

• His favorite Beatle was Stu Sutcliffe.

• Mister Rogers once kicked his ass.

• He has so much difficulty taking sides that when somebody flips a coin, he hopes it will land on its edge.

• He once ran the light at Oracle and River roads, and the cameras refused to flash.

• When he went to Lowes, he was told: "Go Build It Yourself."

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