All the dirt, news, culture and commentary for Oklahoma's second century.

Last Train to Clucksville

Liz Burleson / Red Dirt Report
Inquiring minds want to know ...
Fertile Ground Compost Service
Help support Red Dirt Report

OKLAHOMA CITY – And while Oklahoma City’s wealthy, connected class gossiped and gobbled free cupcakes at Wednesday’s Santa Fe Train Depot “open house” event, in anticipation of the coming $28 million “Intermodal Transit Hub,” Red Dirt Report hung back and took in the overall “tone” and “mood” in the room. Our conclusion was that the mood and tone was decidedly mixed.

Mixed in that the several hundred people – from Mayor Mick Cornett on down – did not seem quite as excited about this development as you might expect.

Curious, eh?

Perhaps we misread the mood. That's happened before, no doubt. 

So, Red Dirt Report made a great effort in engaging attendees, asking them questions and wondering aloud not only about the future transit hub (street car to Bricktown, anyone?), but about the elephant – or should I say chicken – in the room.

Chicken you say? You don’t mean Mick Cornett’s yellow-feathered doppelganger? Not his comical, ever-quizzical shadow, do you?

Without a doubt, the appearance of Cornett’s fine, feathered friend, “Mick Chickens,” livened things up a bit, particularly as Cornett’s “go-team” and neo-fascist “muscle” went on high alert.

Running around the crowded depot lobby like chickens with their heads cut off, the frantic faces of OKC’s bourgeois elite sought to block the chicken and the probing sign it held.

The chicken - whose mere presence highlighted and ridiculed the cowardly mayor and his anti-democratic behavior - simply hung out and clucked. Many people chuckled uncomfortably. Some took pictures. Most in the room simply wanted Mick Chickens to go away.

One of them was a roving reporter for The Fat City Times. Upon arrival, the reporter muttered “classless” upon seeing Mick Chickens and his sign. Red Dirt Report asked the reporter to elaborate on his statement. Classless? Why is the presence of Mick Chickens classless, we wondered?

This journalist, who is unfortunately kept on a pretty short leash by his Machiavellian masters in the depths of the Dark Tower, then angrily confronted moi.

Why? Because our presence reminds this reporter that the truly independent press in this town will seek the truth, wherever we find it. And yes, we know the kind of pressure this particular reporter is under. We know that this reporter simply wants to do his job and not be caught up in the stinky political drama that continues to unfold in this windswept city on the prairie.

Later, we saw this agitated reporter talking to the chicken in far softer and apologetic tones. A handshake was exchanged. It would seem that all was right between man and chicken.

Meanwhile, on the far side of the depot lobby, Mayor Cornett himself was making a sideways glance at his mirror image. “That damn chicken!” he must have thought, a rising, seething rage growing behind his toothpaste-commercial smile.

Not sure what to do, Team Mick murmured and looked scared and confused as Mick Chickens did its thing. An open microphone could be seen. Would this be Mick Chickens’ “Al Haig moment”?

As it turned out, Mick Chickens merely held the sign – asking a question that well-over 70 percent of Red Dirt Report readers want to know – “Why won’t Mick debate?”

We actually asked a couple of attendees what they thought about the mayor of Oklahoma City refusing to engage in a debate with Dr. Ed Shadid in a democratic forum. After all, we are not the only media outlet wanting a debate.

Patrick McGuigan, a stand-up guy at The City Sentinel, wrote a piece this week saying that “The mayor should engage his leading challenger at last once within the next few days, before the primary.” McGuigan concluded: “Instead of leaving policy debates to surrogates, the city would be best served with a face-to-face exchange between these men.”

We agree. The people agree. Social media wonks agree. Some in the bourgeois media agree. Most in the depot on Wednesday, however, did not agree. Just one look at the contorted face of one city official, as Mick Chickens made the rounds, drove that point home. 

So, as Mick Chickens did its thing, Red Dirt Report did their thing. 

For instance, we saw local figure Jon Mooneyham walking by wearing a button pushing for MAPS 3 projects. We thought he would want to engage in a thoughtful exchange of ideas.

When asked, Mooneyham said he does not want Cornett to debate. Why should he, he asked?

A stunning admission, in our opinion.

 When we asked Mooneyham if he supports the oligarchical elites making all the decisions in this town, he bent down and yelled into my recorder and said something not appropriate for a family newspaper.

Others we talked to simply would not answer my questions. One guy, a city employee, said he was on the clock and couldn’t share his honest opinion.

And here we were in the historic Santa Fe Train Depot. The fear amongst the people in the room was reminiscent of stories you hear coming out of North Korea or Burma or Zimbabwe. Oklahoma City has its strongman. And that strongman (and those above him, believe it or not) has an ironclad grip on his obsequious media and his city employees and his hipster-doofus “progressives” running around wearing MAPS 3 buttons with zombie-like expressions on their faces. If this were Stalinist Russia, these guys would be cheering on the construction of the Salekhard-Igarka Railway leading to the gulags of Siberia.

With trains and stations and coffee-flavored heartbreak in mind, as The Monkees sang all those years ago: “Take the last train to Clarksville / I’ll be waiting at the station / We’ll have time for coffee-flavored kisses / And a bit of conversation / Oh no, no, no! Oh no, no, no! And I don’t know if I’m ever coming home …”

Conversation? Check! Coffee-flavored kisses? Check (thanks, Coffee Slingers!) Waiting around the station? Check! That was left to Mick Chickens and the sign that asks that political question most of us want an answer to. 

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About the Author

Andrew W. Griffin

Editor & Owner.

Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

read more

Enjoy this? Please share it!

About Red Dirt Report

Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

Member of the Oklahoma Press Association
Member of Investigative Reporters & Editors
Member of Diversity Business Association
Member of Uptown 23rd
Rotary Club of Bricktown OKC
Keep it Local OK