Alan Greenblatt is a GOVERNING correspondent.E-mail: email@example.com
A couple of years ago, I wrote a short article about the mayoral race in Rabbit Hash, a small town along the Ohio River in Kentucky. It's such a small town that the locals can afford to hold joke elections, in which the winning mayor usually turns out to be a dog. "Every day, we had to keep the toilet flushed, so he could have fresh water," says the owner of the town's first mayor, Goofy.
Since it's election season, I figured now would be a good time to watch "Rabbit Hash: the Center of the Universe." It's a documentary about Goofy's electoral victory.
Although it's only an hour long, the movie drags in parts. It may be a good joke for a town to hold a political popularity contest among animals and have the winner be chosen strictly on the basis of which candidate can attract the most money. (Votes are a dollar a throw.) But it's not a joke that builds the longer you think about it.
Still, Jude Gerard Prest's film is worth watching because he captures some important aspects of small-town life.
As you would expect, given the town's name and political claim to fame, the locals seem to have a pretty good sense of humor. And they seem to enjoy each other's constant company.
The town may be tiny, but it's attracted intelligent people -- a retired doctor, a former news media executive, a designer of bank security systems -- who can now enjoy the drop-out lifestyle, living quietly in log cabins.
The doctor does some blacksmithing and recreates antique guns "in the right and proper manner." The local kids play in the mud by the river or under buildings that have been raised up to withstand floodings.
Although Rabbit Hash is close to Cincinnati, residents come across in this movie as the picture of easygoing contentment. The town motto seems to be "let's just hide and watch." That's a frame of mind that not everyone would desire, or want to sustain over the long haul.
But it makes for a pleasant visit in watching this movie, which can be rented from Netflix.
Written and compiled by staff writers and editors, GOVERNING View is an on-the-ground, and sometimes behind-the-scenes, look at the topics we're covering in print and online. From notes on what's up in statehouses, county courthouses and city halls, to encounters with people, places and things, GOVERNING View is a window into the side of state and local government you don't always see.