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Published: Thursday, 1/27/2005

In Toledo, you better talk the talk

"You will never see me substitute frantic ravings in place of thoughtful, planned-out action."

- Jack Ford in his State of the City speech, January, 2005.

Hearing such a pledge from our mayor, a stranger in our land might say, "Well, of course not. Duh! Who in their right mind would promise otherwise?"

So then we would have to tell that stranger, "Oh, that's just Jack's way of promising never to be Carty."

When our guest continued to stare at us uncomprehendingly, we would realize just what it means to be an insular Toledoan.

You know how tight-knit families can speak in code, leaving the guest at the far end of the Thanksgiving table as the odd-man-out?

We Toledoans are members of a family that is inclined to be so collectively strange that much of what we discuss requires detailed explanation for outsiders.

It wouldn't be enough, in other words, just to know who Jack and Carty are.

No, you'd also have to be able translate.

And there are considerable distinctions between the respective styles of Jackspeak and Cartyspeak.

Always happy to be helpful, I'm offering a sneak peak at my newest publication, The Translator's Guide to Toledo.

It's a handy reference meant to help hapless bystanders figure out our current and former mayors' communication styles.

For example, when Los Mayors want something retrieved from a filing cabinet, do they say to an underling:

"Would you please get the Marina District file?"

No. No, they do not.

Jack says: "Hmmphf. How about (mumble) that (grumble) file on that project (grunt). You know, the (hmmphf) Marina District?"

Carty says: "I want that file RIGHT NOW! And DO NOT ask me WHICH is the file I'm referring to as I currently am standing here speaking to you! You KNOW which file - and if you don't, Carty Finkbeiner will dock your pay!!"

Or, to take another example, listen how our fellas would phrase this simple declarative sentence: "For lunch, I'd like a turkey sandwich on whole wheat, with lettuce and tomato."

Jack: "Gimme a fried bologna sandwich."

Carty: "Hey! Someone go get me a SANDWICH! And make it a TURKEY sandwich. And get it from the Erie Street Market, which will one day be a JEWEL OF TOLEDO!! And it BETTER BE on $%^* wheat bread! And it better have some $%^* LETTUCE and TOMATO on it, too, $%^*!!"

Here's how each man would answer the question, "Are you running for mayor?"

Jack: "We will worry about 2006 in 2006."

Carty: "Wellll, I wouldn't rule out any option that, given the proper circumstances [which would have to be optimal before being maximized by me], might be considered by me to be an appealing option, since Toledo is the $%^* JEWEL OF THE MIDWEST, or could be, anyway, $%^*, with the proper high level of leadership needed for such a level to be maximized - but I'm not speculating beyond that, or else I'll have to give up my TV gig."

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