Mayor Menino Gets Hip

What’s the best way to prove that you’re hip to change? By being obstinate about your willingness to discuss new ideas about the city. Or at least that’s the mixed message Mayor Menino seems to be sending with his current brouhaha with Greg Selkoe, the Karmaloop CEO and cofounder of the Future Boston Alliance, a new non-profit group that aims to “revolutionize the city’s creative economy.” According to their stated goals, the FBA wants to expand cultural events, rethink transportation, and encourage civic engagement in the city. But they’ve been drawing much of their attention over their complaints that Boston needs to lengthen their nightclub hours and loosen their tight hold on liquor licenses. And they seem to have obviously struck a nerve downtown.

According to the Mayor’s office, FBA picked a fight last month when they launched with an introductory video that criticized Menino’s penchant for cracking down on mosh pits and lewd Nike T-shirts. Citing the group’s antagonism, Menino’s spokesperson Dot Joyce told the Globe, “We like to work with people in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation and shared concerns. Unfortunately the video that was produced did not come across in the spirit of working together.”

So now there’s a battle between Selkoe and Menino over whose vision is most forward-thinking, and the former pals — Selkoe used to work for the BRA, and Menino attended his wedding — are having a war of words. Last week, Emily Rooney told Selkoe on air that the mayor’s office told her he’d been fired from the BRA. Selkoe says he left on academic leave, with a recommendation letter from Menino, no less. Now he’s asking for an apology from Menino. The Herald, loving to stir up trouble, got the Mayor to riff on his hipness for today’s paper:

“I’m hip at working,” Menino said. “What I understand people want in this city — the young people — they want jobs.

“I just spoke to 35 young people this morning. What were they talking about the most? Not about nightlife, but, ‘How do we get a job? How do we stay in the city?’ That’s the biggest concern.”

The 69-year-old Menino’s had a tough few weeks, from flubbing some Celtics names to taking a tumble at a recent ribbon cutting ceremony. But his attempts at hipness are far more awkward. I don’t deny the fact that he’s done a lot to help the city move forward during his last five terms. But stymieing the efforts of a group of young, motivated Bostonians isn’t exactly bolstering his cool factor either. If Menino were smart, he’d put aside his differences with Selkoe and take a meeting. Last time I checked, open-mindedness was definitely considered hip.