Thursday, October 1, 2009

Odd, Odd Things...

I'm wearing a shirt right now (no, really! The entire population of Chicago and its environs is deliriously happy to hear that). I bought it on Sunday. There's a tag on the shirt that says, "SuperFine 80s Cotton." I wish I knew what that meant. Seems like it could unlock the mysteries of the universe. Also, tomorrow is the big IOC vote that might just send the Olympics down Chicago way. There's been a big push by anti-Olympians around these here parts to just say, "No!" Yesterday it was all over the news and getting reported like no one had noticed there were people who don't like the idea of hosting the Olympics in Chicago before the Wednesday before the vote. There was also a spate of articles about how Obama is really politically shooting himself in the foot by going personally to Copenhagen to pitch for Chicago (and did you know that Obama is a Chicago politician and Chicago is a machine town, so ohmygodObama'sjustdoingthebiddingoftheChicagomachine! Idiots. Seriously, someone needs to get the industrial strength lube and a shoehorn and pull some heads out of asses). Because, y'know, if Obama doesn't get re-elected in 2012 it won't be because he didn't live up to a single one of his campaign promises and we're still dying from lack of access to health care while our soldiers get shot up in Iraq and Afghanistan and the CIA keeps on keepin' on with the whole waterboarding thing. No, it will be because everyone is just inconsolably pissed that the Olympics went to Rio De Janeiro instead of Chicago. Then again, no one ever got anywhere by overestimating the intelligence of the average voter in America... Anyway, I'm ambivalent about the idea of a Chicago Olympics at best. I think it's expensive and will make being around Chicago a real pain in the ass for about two weeks. But, really, in the grand scheme of things two weeks isn't that big of a deal. So it's more the mind-bogglingly vast cost of such a venture that worries me. Of course the biggest problem is that chip on Chicago's shoulder. Chicago is, according to pretty much any and every definition, a world-class city. It is always mentioned alongside New York and LA as one of the top-three cities in America on pretty much any metric and whatever city comes in fourth is far enough behind that it's not a threat. That status of one of the top-three cities in America pretty much by default makes it one of the top ten or twenty cities in the world. That moment when people who have never been to Chicago first see the city rising up above everything around it is, by all accounts, astounding. Hell, there's a reason the new Batman films were filmed in Chicago. The crown jewel of the Midwest looks more like Gotham than Gotham itself. For that matter they shot outside scenes of Home Alone 2: Lost in New York in Chicago precisely because of what Chicago is: a city that looks and feels like a city should look and feel. This is the reality of Chicago. But there are plenty for whom this is not enough. It's not enough that Chicago is a world-class city with an international reach. It's not enough that Chicago has pretty much everything anyone could want (save, y'know, mountains. And winters that aren't best described as "somewhat bearable"). No, to them Chicago has to be announced as the best of everything. This was the attitude behind all the bitterness after the Petronas Towers exceeded the height of the Sears (sorry, Willis...) Tower* like once the Sears Tower was built there was never to be a taller building. Well now we have Taipei 101 and the Burg Dubai and probably a half-dozen others. It happens. The fact that someone on the other side of the world built a taller building than ours does not mean that Chicago is suddenly a fourth-rate city like Jacksonville, Florida. It simply means that the technology to build buildings has gotten more advanced in the last thirty years or so. The same thing happened when Macy's took over Marshall Field's. Yeah, it's really weird to go to the State Street store that still has all the Art Deco majesty of the old Marshall Field's and see the old Marshall Field's green replaced by Macy's red. When Macy's took over everyone said that they'd never shop at Macy's, that it was some sort of crime against humanity. They said we were losing a bit of Chicago to New York. But the fact is that there was a reason Macy's was able to take over Marshall Field's. No one was shopping there, anyway. The Chicago retail giant was failing. Kind of like Sears, for that matter. But I don't think Chicago ever loved Sears like it loved Marshall Field's. Chicago loved to point to the building in which Sears headquartered itself but Chicago loved to go to the building in which Marshall Field's did its main business. What's my point? There are many who think that Chicago needs the Olympics. They think that no one will recognize the greatness that is the city of Chicago without the Olympic games. They think that if Rio or Tokyo get the games then it is yet another kick at a Chicago that's frail and weak and can't handle the pain. They're wrong. They're like a beautiful girl who never has a date on Saturday night because she thinks no boys will ever talk to her. They're like an author whose writing sings but won't show it to anyone for fear of rejection. Chicago doesn't need the Olympics. Chicago has nothing to prove to the world. It seems that the only people Chicago has to prove itself to is Chicagoans. I'm not actively against the Olympics coming to Chicago in 2016. It might actually be fun. But by the same token I kind of hope the IOC sends it to Rio or Tokyo instead. There's more than enough to do in Chicago. There's plenty to love about Chicago. The Olympics won't change that one bit. ---------------------------------- *That's another thing. Everyone's been bitching about the fact that the Sears Tower is no longer the Sears Tower. It's now the Willis Tower because Willis Holdings or whatever got the naming rights when they leased, like, half the building. This is some scandal of epic proportions. How dare a company change the name of a building in an attempt to gain brand recognition whilst renting out space in one of the most well-known buildings in the world. I mean, everyone knows that Sears was a brave soldier who died saving an entire village of...wait, what's that? It was named for that Sears? As in, Sears, Roebuck, & Co., the failing retail conglomerate? Why, it's almost like the name of the building has always been an attempt at commercial branding. Now, I'll admit that Sears as a brand has an awful lot more to do with Chicago than Willis ever has or ever will. But we can't pretend that the building bore the name Sears completely out of altruistic goodness. The fact that it's now the Willis Tower is testament to something that even Old Man Sears himself would have appreciated: businesses rise and businesses fail. Change. It's the only constant.

1 comment:

Bla said...

Horrific!
www.youtube.com/user/whatinfo#p/a/0/SuoVW_MZ6gQ