Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Michael Madrid, R.I.P.

Last night services were held in memory of Michael Madrid, 54, at Graham Funeral Home to a packed audience. Madrid was a member of a prominent and popular local family known for it's wit, close-knit character, and accomplishment.

I was honored by the family with an invitation to say a few words about Michael's participation in a local political group known simply as the Monday Night Group, which Michael belonged to for the entire 19 years of its existence. What follows is a transcript of what I said.

As an original member of the Monday Night Group, Michael Madrid follows Sen. Frank Papen, newspaper report Joe Smith, party activist Tino Valles, and, most recently, social worker John Meyers, in death.

The Monday Night Group's godfather is Dr. Ray Sadler, who is in Santa Fe tonight lecturing to an audience about his book, The Archaeologist Was a Spy. Sadler was county chair of the Democratic party in the late 1970s, and active in party affairs when he began the Monday Night Group in May 1991, with others who were unhappy with the way affairs were managed in the Democratic Party. Somehow, we've always managed to find things wrong with it ever since. Each of us curmudgeons of one sort or another meeting each Monday night to discuss the current pitiful state of affairs in politics. Michael, of course, was no exception. The dictionary definition of curmudgeon is: "anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner." Michael was definitely a curmudgeon.

In the early years Mike was probably the most operationally active of all of us, since he had an advertising firm and helped candidates with their campaigns. He was always chasing around the state helping out his sister Patsy in her campaigns, and he was up to date with changing practices in campaigning, such as the shift to direct mail, the demographics of different radio and television stations, and so on. but he also understood that technique was nothing without good strategy, and good strategy required having a solid knowledge base. This made him a sensitive listener at our meetings, more than a talker, and especially a good asker of questions. I tell my students he true mark of an intellectual is the ability to ask good questions. Instead of posing a question to the whole group, however, he tended to ask the question specifically to someone there, almost always to the right person to ask, and we each secretly hoped he would ask us, because it implied he trusted that person's judgment over that of the rest. This also implied that we all trusted Michael's judgment about who was the best person to ask.

After he got sick he still kept coming to the group, still listened intently, still able to make an insightful contribution to the conversation. His mother worried about his coming, fearing he might say or do something offensive, but he never did. Occasionally he would say something outrageous, like he was going to go to Washington next week to ask Rahm Emmanuel for another hundred thousand dollars to help out Patsy's campaign, but knowing Mike, you didn't know but what that just might be true. And mike certainly wasn't the only one who sometimes said outrageous things in our group, believe me.

Sometimes I was the designated driver to take Mike home, since he couldn't drive. I never minded doing it because Michael always had something intelligent, or sensitive, to say on the way home. The last time i took him home, a few weeks ago, I complained to him Olivia didn't want to put up billboard signs for her election. He said he thought she would do fine anyway, with just some yard signs and a mailout. But he agreed a billboard would be better and I felt vindicated. There was a loving tenderness about him that made him one of the favorites of our group, whether he was healthy or ill, and he will be sorely missed.

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