Nine years ago this month, beloved LaCucaracha mayor, Ronald “Happy” Taylor, lost his life in a fierce battle with a Big Mac he purchased at the Sintown McDonald’s. Mayor Taylor, or ‘Happy’, as he was known to everyone who ever shared a word or handshake with him, was returning to LaCucaracha from a Texas Municipal League meeting held in the state’s capitol. Hungry, he stopped off at the McDonald’s drive thru for a quick bite to eat. Normally, Happy would have gone for the McNuggets value meal since he was driving, and the nuggets were easier to eat while navigating CR 102. But, since it was shy of six o’clock, he went for the Big Mac instead, and decided to wait until he got back to the courthouse before consuming the 100% all beef burger.
Happy parked at Main and Milam and began the short trek across Travis Street to return to work. Eating while he walked, Happy suddenly began choking on a section of sesame seed bun that didn’t quite go down. The trauma from the choking certainly didn’t help with the simultaneously occurring myocardial infarction. The most popular and beloved mayor in the history of LaCucaracha lost his fight with the Big Mac just past six that evening.
The spot of Happy’s death is, of course, now marked by the memorial bronze commissioned by the city council shortly after his passing. As interim mayor, Ted “Dizzy” Brandenberger, said at the statue’s dedication, “LaCucaracha will never be the same. The lives of our citizens will never be the same. But for Happy, we must persevere. We must carry on. And don’t forget to buy local.”
Now, many feel the “hallowed ground” where Happy’s memorial stands is under attack. From McDonald’s. Yes, McDonald’s is planning on opening a store a mere two blocks from where Happy choked on one of their burgers nine years ago. Many are protesting the proposed site, some on the grounds of sheer insensitivity, but others have taken a more vitriolic tone. Like Lynn Redmond.
“That burger,” said Redmond, “and the people who made it, killed Mayor Taylor. And we can’t let them build a McDonald’s right at the very spot this heinous act occurred!” I pointed out to Mr. Redmond that there were already four other fast food chain restaurants all within a four block radius of the bronze statue, but he was adamant that those burger joints were not McDonald’s. “Sure,” continued Redmond, “they serve burgers. Some of them sell burgers with triple beef and an onion ring – on the burger – but those burgers are different.”
Karla Battaglia doesn’t understand Redmond and his ilk. Stated Battaglia, “I don’t see how they can lump all burgers together because of the act of one loose cannon. One murderous burger doesn’t make them all killers. It doesn’t make any sense. Are all postal workers one bad day away from opening fire on their colleagues because one or two actually did? Are all Catholics pedophiles because a couple of priests got caught with their hands in the proverbial cookie jar? Are all Australians drunk, anti-Semites who have really damaging voice mails released to TMZ because of Mel Gibson? No. No, to all of those questions.”
Redmond was nonplused by Battaglia’s reasoning. “Look,” said Redmond while eating a “Heart Stopper” burger from Big Al’s just four blocks from the memorial, “just keep those McDonald’s boys away from the square.”
Mayor “Buddy” Meyer inadvertently got in on the controversy when he mentioned at the last planning and zoning commission meeting that there were no zoning laws prohibiting the erection of the McDonald’s at that location. Plus, said the mayor, “we live in a capitalistic, free market society and we need to adhere to that. This will create jobs and bring income to the city.”
When opponents of the McDonald’s got wind of the mayor’s support, they immediately began a smear campaign against him, going so far as to request a copy of his birth certificate to prove he was not born a McDonald or Kroc. Meyer responded with a terse statement released via the TCR: “Good, God, man. Everyone knows I’m a Meyer. I’m seventh generation LaCucarachan.”
Yesterday afternoon, I caught up with a visiting tourist reading the plaque at Happy’s statue. After filling him in on the controversy I asked his opinion. “Well,” said the bystander, “it seems to me that the only people who have a say in this are the ones in the immediate vicinity and the victim’s family. If they’re okay with it, build it and enjoy a McRib when it’s available. If they’re not in favor, then perhaps a sit down with the McDonald’s folks can resolve the issue. You know, maybe move it down a few blocks.”