Joe Miller: G-L-O-R-I-A, Saying Goodbye & Sorry to KC’s First Lady

A few months after I quit my job in the Mayor’s Office, I read one of Gloria Squitiro’s “Notes from Funk’s Front Porch,” which was posted on one of the local blogs. In it, she wrote, “To borrow a phrase from Jerry Garcia, ‘It’s been a long strange trip.”

I wanted to write a comment ripping her for this.

For one, the phrase is, “What a long strange trip it’s been.” Second, it’s a Bob Weir song, not a Garcia (though he does sing harmony on the line in question). Lastly, the lyric was written by Robert Hunter.

Petty.

Sad, too.

It’s a testament of missed opportunities.

I didn’t start getting back into the Grateful Dead until after Gloria and I parted ways. We’d talked about them a few times before that, of course. I told her that I used to follow them around the West Coast during my late teens and early twenties. And she told how she dragged her husband to their concerts, and how she took off for San Francisco, the Dead’s hometown, right after she and Mark Funkhouser got married in the late 70s, leaving him to wonder if he even had a wife at all.

The Dead could’ve been something to bond over. Instead, it had become yet another opportunity to publicly insult her.

Here’s the thing: I really loved Gloria.

We hit it off right off the bat, and she didn’t hesitate to make me feel like I was part of her family. She invited me over for Christmas. For my wedding, she bought my wife and me a set of All-Clad pots and pans from Williams-Sonoma – very high quality, very expensive. She gave great hugs. And she had a wonderful sense of humor. She and I would say outrageous stuff all the time and just laugh and laugh and laugh.

I got married right before Funk got elected. Gloria loved to give me marital advice, most of which my wife told me to ignore. For instance, she told me to begin every day by giving my wife 15 reasons why I am lucky to have her. I tried it a couple of times, and we both agreed that it was nice but painfully awkward.

Most of her advice could be a simple edict: Acquiesce to your wife on everything.

When Funk wanted to fire me a few months after we took office, she forbade him to do so. He should have, and the fact that he caved to her on this point is yet another piece of evidence suggesting that her influence kept him from succeeding as mayor.

For a long time I wished that he actually had canned me. I would’ve started grad school earlier, and I might have sold the book I was working on back then. But now I’m grateful. My experience in the Mayor’s Office definitely helped me land the professor gig that I’ll be starting this summer.

So did the story I wrote for Salon about my political adventure with the Funks.

It’s an impressive clip, if I do say so myself. But it’s only part of the story. If I were to really do it justice I’d have to own up to the fact that I can’t look Mark or Gloria in the eye.

Every time I go into Brookside, I worry that I’ll run into them. I once saw them going into the same store I wanted to go into, and I turned around and drove to a different store across town. Another time I was meeting with somebody at the library and I noticed some members of the mayor’s staff arriving for their weekly meeting, which they were holding there while Gloria was still banned from City Hall. I asked the people I was meeting with if we could move, so I wouldn’t have to see the mayor and his wife.

The reasons for this are obvious. I quit during a trying time. I was overly cooperative with "the enemy" during my deposition for the famed Mammygate case and I spilled all kinds of newsworthy secrets. And, unsatisfied with that, I went on something of a media tour on which I spoke very candidly about everything I knew about the mayor and his wife.

I could rationalize it all, telling myself that I was just being honest, that the unflattering information was accompanied by more positive stories that weren’t being told in the media. But still. It was a public betrayal of monumental proportions launched in no small part because I liked the attention.

The only way I could explain it was that it was a dysfunctional relationship with a nasty break up. It just so happened that it was all very public.

After months of ripping Gloria and Funk online and on the occasions when I would wind up on the news, I realized how ridiculous the whole thing was, and I pulled back.

This was about the time of the “long strange trip” post, so I didn’t rip her for erring with Grateful Dead lore. Instead, I posted the lyrics to another Dead song, “Ship of Fools,” which is a better mirror to the whole Mayor’s Office ordeal than “Truckin,’ ” in my opinion. It’s also written by Hunter, Garcia’s longtime lyricist, and it came out during a time when the band and their entourage were preoccupied with politics – 1974, when Nixon was going down and the Dead were on the brink of breaking up because their touring life was wearing them down and turning everyone against one another.

I want to end this missive with the lyrics to that song on the off chance that Gloria and Mark might read it, because I think its relevance is uncanny, and also as a way of apologizing to a couple of people I can’t bring myself to apologize to directly and make amends:

Went to see the captain
strangest I could find
Layed my proposition down
Layed it on the line;
I won’t slave for beggar’s pay
likewise gold and jewels
but I would slave to learn the way
to sink your ship of fools

Ship of fools
on a cruel sea
Ship of fools
sail away from me

It was later than I thought
when I first believed you
now I cannot share your laughter
Ship of Fools

Saw your first ship sink and drown
from rocking of the boat
and all that could not sink or swim
was just left there to float
I won’t leave you drifting down
but woah it makes me wild
with thirty years upon my head
to have you call me child

Ship of fools
on a cruel sea
Ship of fools
sail away from me

It was later than I thought
when I first believed you
now I cannot share your laughter
Ship of Fools

The bottles stand as empty
as they were filled before
Time there was and plenty
but from that cup no more
Though I could not caution all I yet may warn a few:
Don’t lend your hand to raise no flag
atop no ship of fools

Ship of fools
on a cruel sea
Ship of fools
sail away from me

It was later than I thought
when I first believed you
now I cannot share your laughter
Ship of Fools
No I cannot share your laughter
Ship of Fools

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7 Responses to Joe Miller: G-L-O-R-I-A, Saying Goodbye & Sorry to KC’s First Lady

  1. smartman says:

    Mammy Dearest
    Holy Shit you need a shrink. Cliff’s Notes. Mark and Gloria were fucked up. He was pussy whipped. She was power hungry. You were a emotionall conflicted sycophant that got a boner when you saw your name in lights.

    Steve Glorioso shits out guys like you after breakfast.

    Wax nostalgic and quote all the Dead lyrics you want. It doesn’t change the fact that Mark was a waste as Mayor.

    You really need to grow some balls. If you wronged them and are truly sorry you need to man up, go to their house and offer your apology. This pussy assed hope that they might read this and the three of you will have an existential kumbaya moment is major league bullshit.

    Don’t know what you’re going to be teaching but you are, in my opinion, not qualified to teach anything unless it’s how to be a douchebag. You’re not even qualified to be the Professor understudy in a community theatre version of
    The Professor Irwin Corey Story.

    Back in the day burned weenies like you got tossed off the grill to the dog.

    I guess that’s why they say those than can, DO. Those that can’t TEACH and those that can’t teach go into POLITICS.

    To quote Meat Loaf, “Two out of three ain’t bad.”

  2. Munch says:

    What smartman said
    Joe is even sadder than the Funks. Professorship of what, gutlessness? If you have any friends I have a question for them. Why?

  3. % says:

    Geez
    I disagree with the sentiments above. Congrats to Joe for owning up to his foibles, a characteristic missing in most people I meet and one at times missing in myself.

  4. Matt says:

    The Squids SF Deadhead Excursion provides a lot of answers..
    The Acid she did there must have never worn off and the damage was shared with everyone in KCMO!

  5. chuck says:

    Yeah, this is a pretty public apology.
    Maybe he should go speak to them personally, but, actually, its none of my business. If Joe wants catharsis and exposing his character flaws in public helps him with the “man in the mirror” shit, whatever. If I had to write an article re: Chuck’s character flaws, you’d have to put the paddles on Tolstoy and get him to condense it.

    My policy is to only feel guilt until I sober up, the cops are gone and the fires have been put out. Ya can’t let that shit weigh ya down.

    The most interesting point in the article, imo, needs elucidation.

    Joe, why did Funk want to fire you, and what led up to that decision?

  6. Paul says:

    Y-O-K-O
    What a monkey fuck Funk was to have his cunt wife ruin his time in office, aint that the way it always is…… power hungry twats.

    Why does KCMO keep doing stupid things? hiring stupid people, being a stupid city… from old black whats HER- name stealing and that crap with her sons…… to that scum who was bribed to build the dump…… to the scam at the stadiums…. what a stupid fkn city…. and if you think things are bad now wait until this Sly Scumbag adds top the BS…. he has “BRIBE ABLE CORRUPT SCUMBAG written all over his face and body….. but…what do we expect for ma city that has not done a thing correct in my liftime, from the school segragtion skyrocketing property taxes to …ah the list is endless.

    Hearne , why dont you run for public office and clean it up, of course you would have to move there, and I wouldnt advise that, so oh well……. KCMO continues to be JOCO’s armpit…. even KCKS is moving ahead of KCMO….. what a joke.

  7. Harry Balczak says:

    With Names like Funk and Sly
    Kansas City’s mayors sound like they should be starring in a 1970’s Blaxploitation flick.

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