Welcome one and all to the downtown business district,
Where Brian and his cronies own the stores.
Not ones to be content with the profits and the rents,
Still they crave for one thing more.
What they do not want to see is the traffic flowing free
Out of sight and far away from their doors.
So with Brian as the mayor, the City Council as the players,
And assorted business partners as the whores,
They contrive to have the traffic diverted,
And they plan to use their clout to make it so;
And though the political process gets perverted,
We the grateful public watch the downtown thrive and grow.
Oftentimes thatís just the way things go.
In the Emerald City, thatís just the way things go.

Adding two lanes each along two congested streets
Would keep alive the city plannersí dreams.
And if fewer cars should stall, weíll have cleaner air for all!
What a perfect way to advertise the scheme.
Ah, but some things stand as a glitch in Brianís plans:
Two dozen trees a half a century old.
So the voters must be sold on the party line thatís told
Before the trees can fall for the sake of the plunderersí gold.
So a member of the City Council chairs a new committee
To bring the nature lovers to their knees;
And two other ones give their leftover campaign funds
Or corporate donations for the killing of the trees.
And with contributions fair from the attorney of the mayor
And from three businessmen with land along the road,
Six thousand bucks in cash and in checks is neatly stashed
Before the unsuspecting public ever comes to know.
Oftentimes thatís just the way things go.
In the Emerald City, thatís just the way things go.

The decision made in private is then ratified in public
And referred to the voters at the polls.
Some inspired by call of duty, some beguiled by lust for booty,
The promoters shift to very public roles.
Another couple of grand from those who own the land
Along the right-of-way is placed into the kitty,
With four times as much donated by people motivated
By the hope of doing business with the city.
Thereís money from the lumbermen,
From sand, concrete, and gravel men,
From underground utilities and welders,
From architects and landscapers,
Television, newspapers,
Dealers of new cars and Caterpillars.
Thirteen hundred bucks for signs on buses
Is funneled to a firm that Brian owns,
And twenty-eight hundred to his radio station
To beam a pretty picture of his scheme into our homes.
Oftentimes thatís just the way things go.
In the Emerald City, thatís just the way things go.

If the soft sell job should fail, and you should pick up on the trail
Of corruption, there are ways to throw you off it:
For if the trail should lead to the Register of Deeds
Or to the County Tax Assessorís office,
The index is computerized, the keypunching is systemized,
And names may be misspelled or fictitious.
You may search both far and wide across this nationís countryside
And never find a system this pernicious.
If you are skilled or but a hack, the system you must crack
All alone, without direction, unassisted.
The numbers may not correspond, index pages may be gone,
And dealersí names may simply not be listed.
Do not dare to call them liars, itís the seller, not the buyer
Of the land who signs his name for public show.
Exactly whoís in line to gain from the newly widened lanes
May  be something the compliant public never comes to know.
Oftentimes thatís just the way things go.
In the Emerald City, thatís just the way things go.

So wonít you honk if you love Brian while your car is stalled in line
On the new improved and widened yellow brick road?
If at the east end you are stuck, maybe you should spend a buck
At the Fifth Street Public Market Brian owns.
Perhaps a sofa or recliner from the Jacobs or the Rubensteins.
Try a little scampi at Giustinaís.
At Grayís pick up some seeds and some poison for your weeds.
Donít forget to stop at Andersonís dry cleaners.
At the west end youíll be bottlenecked,
And maybe you should go inspect
The Zip-O lumberyards and the Farwest trucks.
Donít you think itís funny, all these businessmen gave money?
Do you think perhaps they stand to make a buck?
Ah, but Brian holds the power, and the public servants cower,
Tremble, shake and quaver in his shadow.
They may not deny the facts, but they resign themselves to Brianís act
And give us urgent warning not to step on Brianís toes.
How long must this be the way things go?
In the Emerald City, must this be the way things go?

Eugene, Oregon, 1985

(research assistance by Rick Gold)

See Table of Contents See Previous Go to next page