Scene: The Inner Sanctum at 108 East Green Street: the office of Mayor SVANTE MYRICK. It’s 9:00 AM, and His Honor is meeting with his Executive Assistant ANNIE SHERMAN to get a handle on the schedule for the coming day…
MYRICK: Annie, I need you to clear my morning. I really have to get on top of this ranking thing. Seriously. How is our city the fourth best college town in America? We’re number one in everything! It just feels like Gotcha Journalism.
SHERMAN: Why are you letting some website ranking get to you? Who takes those things seriously? Besides, number four isn’t so bad. I mean, top ten! Right?
MYRICK: Really? Really, Annie? How does this sound to you: “Svante Myrick, mayor of the fourth-ranked college town in America.” That’s a real attention-grabber. We’re talking about my personal brand here. And explain to me how we come in below Madison, Wisconsin? (opening his laptop) Those cheese-eating…
SHERMAN: (interrupting) You have to relax. We have a Zoom meeting with the Governor in 45 minutes.
MYRICK: What’s that about?
SHERMAN: He’s going to ask if he can crash on your couch for a couple weeks.
MYRICK: Reschedule. Let’s tackle this ranking thing. It says here they looked at “livability.” What the hell even is that? Is it a real word? You telling me Ann Arbor is more ‘livable’ (using air quotes) than Ithaca, New York? How many waterfalls do they have? Probably none. Oooh, look at me! I’m Ann Arbor! I’m livable!
SHERMAN: Sir, with all due respect, this is getting us nowhere. (getting up and closing the door to the office) I do have an idea, though, but it’s a little shady…
MYRICK: I’m listening.
SHERMAN: We have to approach this strategically. Like a war. Instead of making Ithaca better, what if we make them worse? What if, and this is purely hypothetical, we were quietly able to plant some stories in credible media outlets that put those other college towns in a bad light? You know, ‘TikTok Banned in Madison,’ ‘Cancel Culture Backlash in Ann Arbor,’ stuff like that.
MYRICK: I. Love. It. That’s the Sherman genius at work once again! This could work. I feel so alive! How do we do that?
SHERMAN: Your 11:00 is a follow-up interview with GQ. Maybe you work into the conversation that Boulder, Colorado, the number one college town in the country, has become a retirement destination for boomers. Let’s see how that goes over. Their livability rating would drop faster than debris from a Boeing 777’s engine.
MYRICK: Yes. Yes! Let’s make this priority one. No calls for an hour. I need to brainstorm a code name. Operation Obloquy. No, too obscure... Project Mud-Sling. Plan Pan Plant. I do like alliteration...
SHERMAN gets up to leave, and we
FADE TO BLACK