People who tell you they’re from the ‘beer community’ mostly suck.
I’m not sure why this is the post that brings me back to blogging, but good gravy, it’s been bugging me like CRAZY.
Here’s the deal. I love beer. Not that crappy Bud/Miller/Coors mostly rice adjunct stuff that 90% of the country thinks of when they hear the word beer, but BEER. I mean real beer. My first beer was a Sam Adams Boston Lager (I was 21, at an airport, and they were giving away free pint glasses if you bought the beer). I won’t turn down a free beer, even if it is from one of the B/M/C companies, but I also won’t seek out one that I don’t enjoy. I love experimenting with new beer. I love sharing what I know, but also realizing there are much smarter beer loves out there who are willing to share and learning more from them. If I’m at a good bar or restaurant that has a fun beer selection, I like trying new ones. I like mixing up my thoughts on good pairings and trying new ones (like the mango IPA on cask with a mixture of sharp cheeses I had last week? UN-FREAKING-BELIEVABLE). I like beer festivals. I try to seek out fun new releases.
All in all, I like beer.
The majority of the people I know who are in similar situations are awesome. The brewers, brewery employees, bartenders, beer purchasers, and almost everyone else in the trade that I’ve met have been awesome. People who just love to enjoy beer for what it is – a beverage that has tons of room to experiment and and enjoy – have been mostly awesome.
But there’s a portion of the population that literally makes me want to never associate myself with ‘craft brew drinkers’ ever again.
Want to know what I mean? Go to beeradvocate.com and look on the message board. It’s a bunch of guys fighting about which beers should be considered “session beers” based on their alcohol content. And they’re serious. Pages after pages after pages of idiots engaging in mental masturbation about BEER.
Here’s the deal. If you like it, you like it. If you want to drink it, you drink it. And you drink as much as you want (as long as you don’t drive, obviously).
If, instead of drinking, you get yourself all worked up because some chucko on the internet disagrees about what percentage can be declared a ‘session beer,’ you need to get a life. Honestly.
If you spend your time writing formulaic reviews of beer for sites like beeradvocate.com instead of enjoying the beer you are drinking, you make me scratch my head.
I remember a few years ago, I showed up at Dark Lord Day at Three Floyd’s Brewery in Indiana with just a few friends and an openness to what might happen. We had tons of great beer. We met lots of amazing beer lovers. We bought some Dark Lord. It was amazing. There was a line, sure, but we hung out with the people around us. We shared our favorite beers and learned life stories. Pretty much the ideal Saturday. We hit it up again the following year and the crowd had started to shift. Still, the majority that we met were pretty great. A few were there to buy the beer at $15 a bottle, then sell it for $50 or more, but they were few and far between.
Then, this year, we returned. Instead of finding people who just loved beer, we found these people who are apparently called “tickers.” Tickers, I found out, basically dedicate their online lives to ticking the specific beers they’ve had. The more beers they try, the more beers they can tick, the more impressive their beer list becomes (apparently?).
These are the guys who walk around asking you for a sample of the rare beer you’ve brought to share, then turn around and write a 500 word review on beeradvocate.com about how the sample smelled like sweat and whatever beer was in their glass just a few minutes prior. The sample you shared was a bright, orangish glow and laced their glass with a temporary, tanish foam.
Or, it was beer.
I tried not to care about these folks. I tried to ignore them. But. But now, I can’t buy the seasonal or unique beers my favorite breweries are putting out there in the market. I can’t go to beer festivals because they’re buying all the tickets so they can buy the beer and sell it on Craigslist or Ebay. A bottle of beer that should be $10 at most is now being sold for $30 because a bunch of chuckos want to write a review online in hopes that they will somehow be revered for their amazing insight about the lacing that it leaves in their special glass they bought on Ebay for $40.
Meanwhile, I’m happy to enjoy my homebrew that tastes like a bunch of rancid crap compared to the amazing beer being put out by people who know what they are doing.
That’s another thing – a lot of these chuckos are somehow getting capital to open their own breweries. Somehow many of them are using community sourced funds like Kickstarter to get their crappy homebrew into the public sphere. If we truly operated within a free market world, these beers would never sell (because they suck) and the companies would die off.
Unfortunately, the maker of a crappy beer can have enough influence to get their beer on the shelves. I have no idea how it happens. For example, here in Chicago, we have some GREAT breweries. Half Acre, Revolution, Metropolitan, etc. In the past year, at least 3 breweries have decided to start up and ask for people to commit funds to get them started. Finch’s, a new brewery getting a few taps at some places I frequent, produces some of the most lackluster beer I’ve ever had.
But they stay on tap. They get picked up by bars who just want to say that they carry Chicago beer. Mediocrity is rewarded while truly great beers are left off.
I think I’m getting a bit whiny, so I’ll just wrap up by saying this – if you spend your time talking about how your list of the top five double IPAs of all time is way better than the other guy’s list, you’ve missed the point. Beer is at a point where we can enjoy it. We can celebrate the creativity of a brewer. We can recognize the huge differences in the beer world, and also recognize that a beer you like may not be the greatest beer in the world. You can be open to trying new beers without being belittled for not knowing the exact balance of malts to hops your brewer uses. I promise – it’s ok.
Now, I’m off to drink.
The product of a four month blogging break.
Wednesday February 10th 2010, 11:20 pm
Filed under: Growing Up
I think recently joining Twitter has stirred my need to apparently put my thoughts on the internet.
Shortly after my last post, my grandpa fell ill. My dad called me at work and told me that the doctors weren’t giving my grandpa much time. A day, a week, they couldn’t say for sure, but it wouldn’t me long. They could have hooked him up to plenty of machines that would have prolonged his life, but he would have been on them for what was left of his life and most likely would never regain full consciousness.
I wasn’t sure what to do. Even if we would have left right away, the man lying in the hospital bed would have very little resemblance to my grandfather. He was emaciated, his dentures were removed, and he was mostly unresponsive. We decided to wait until the weekend and made the trip to Ohio. The day we arrived he passed.
It’s been forever since a person this close has died. My last close family member that passed away was my uncle, and that was several years ago. Before that, it was my grandfather on my mom’s side in 1988. There have been others, but nobody this close. I’ve been lucky enough to rarely see the inside of a funeral home.
I think that’s part of why it was difficult to even address my emotions when my grandpa passed late last year. Because of the distance, I hadn’t spent meaningful time with grandpa in 10 years. I’ saw him at Christmas and Thanksgiving, as well as random visits throughout the year, but nothing regular and often with most of the family around. I always felt like my brother had made a better effort to get close to grandpa and I was somewhat jealous that I didn’t have that relationship. Then I remember how my brother never really got to know our other grandpa and my selfishness gets put in check.
I made it through the visiting hours and spent time with my grandma. It was so bittersweet to see family I haven’t seen in years. I hadn’t seen one of my uncles in close to 20 years. We caught up and shared stories. It’s weird and sad to think that it takes funerals to bring so much family together.
The funeral came quickly. My dad and his brothers and sister handled the arrangements. The flowers came from everywhere, reminding us of the fingerprints my grandpa left on the lives of others. I took Sarah around to several of them, telling her about the family and friends that had sent the notes of sympathy. My uncle asked me to be a pallbearer, giving me a last chance to say goodbye.
It was surreal at the funeral. I had felt so disconnected throughout the entire process, caught up in the whirlwind of family and planning; it wasn’t until the funeral that I had a chance to address what it meant to say goodbye to grandpa. I thought of memories of Christmas Eves throughout the years and watching him nap in his recliner. I thought about the times he faked napping only to surprise us with a wadded up wrapping paper sneak attack. I thought about the way his selective hearing managed to improve as time went along. Practice makes perfect, I guess.
What I’m about to write though, I’ve only told Sarah. I think it’s because it freaks me out. Nothing like this has ever happened to me before, but I still recall it as real as I did that day.
As I was sitting there, listening to my grandma’s voice carry over everyone else while we sang an old hymn, I was face to face with the finality of it all; I started to cry. I don’t know how or why, but the very room and funeral home started to drift away. I was suddenly in my grandparents’ house, standing in their living room with no one else around. It was a beautiful day and sun was pouring through the windows. It was quiet, and their house was never quiet. I remember picturing myself there, not entirely sure why, but feeling like I wasn’t alone. I looked down the long hallway from their living room to the door. It was wide open and an unnaturally bright light was pouring around a tall, slender figure. I knew it was grandpa. He stood their in one of his best flannel shirts with the suspenders my brother always snapped. He had the hat on that he always wore when he went out. I remember knowing exactly where he was in the crowd by that hat. And he had his smile; a smile I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was huge; part mischief, part pure joy. It was grandpa’s smile. It felt like as soon as I knew it was him, his smile got bigger and tears welled up in his eyes. He waved as he turned, and closed the door behind him and walked out.
I’m not sure why I’m typing this out; some people might read this and think I’ve been drinking too much. I’ve never had anything like this happen, and I’m not sure it will ever happen again. There, while in my seat at the funeral home, I was able to say goodbye to my grandpa in his own house in a way that I’ll never forget.
Bringing the 2016 Olympics to Chicago
EDIT: Obviously this was written prior to the first-round elimination of Chicago.
Maybe I’m a bad Chicagoan (as in someone that actually lives within the boundaries of the city of Chicago and has been living here for going on five years), but I’m really not that excited about the city possibly hosting the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The announcement is supposed to come later today and it’s pretty telling that everyone being interviewed at the rally today hails from suburbs and other places outside of the city. I have to think that anyone that actually pays attention to the massive waste and unconscionable tax rates in this city would balk at the idea of hosting a multi-billion dollar event, but it seems I am mistaken.
Don’t get me wrong – I really enjoy the Olympics and the idea that the games would be in my own city is pretty exciting, but I can’t help but question the true motivation of the committee members and the biggest financial backers of the bid. After telling us multiple times that we, as taxpayers, wouldn’t be responsible for financially hosting the games, it quickly became apparent that we were lied to as Mayor Daley agreed to put the city on the hook for the games. Meanwhile, the biggest financial backers of the games are getting caught in their dreams of destroying impoverished neighborhoods to make way for multi-million dollar stadiums.
But I can picture the games – a little less than seven years from now – hundreds of thousands of spectators heading to Chicago to watch the games. They’ll take the expressways past the outer neighborhoods, which have been ignored for going on two years by the privatized streets and sanitation corporation (my guess is that Daley will back alley a deal to sell our streets and sanitation work to a private company for a couple hundred bucks and a some shiny beads). The neighborhood streets will be crumbling, and trash will be overflowing, but the city has asked the private company to focus on sites near the games.
Thousands will be depending on the CTA trains to ferry them to and from the games, but the bloated CTA will be overrun as the spectators grow outraged at the 8.00 fare and the rickety transit system that hasn’t seen the needed safety updates that engineers have been insisting on for years.
After the continued lack of a new contract for the Chicago Police Department, Daley again sneaks in a hundred year contract that brings in a privatized police force to handle the masses (the contract will be awarded in exchange for a 20 pack of Bic pens and $50 in lottery tickets). Alternative media outlets will run videos of games protesters getting beaten and shoved into unmarked vans. Local and national mainstream media will avoid these stories, choosing instead to focus on the games.
The privatized fire departments and emergency medical services will be directed to focus all of their efforts on the games, leaving the poorest neighborhoods to handle their fires and emergencies on their own. Again, the mainstream media ignores the plight of the voiceless residents on the far south and west sides of the city.
Months later, as the multi-million dollar stadiums (that sit on ground that once provided housing for thousands of now displaced residents) sit empty, a few editorials will pop up pointing out the enforced sacrifice of the poorest city residents. The biggest backers of the Olympics will have made their money off of their investments in real estate and will have moved on. The completely privatized city services will be investigated and a special prosecutor will release findings of rampant abuse, but nobody will really care and story won’t gain traction. Daley will happily ignore his city’s citizens (as he has done successfully for going on 30 years), knowing that his reputation was solidified with a successful Olympic games. The billion-dollar debt will be looming over city residents, as many lack the resources needed to move out of the city and out from under the 30% sales tax and inflated home values.
Honestly, this is a worst-case scenario, but for a city that continues to put its residents on the hook for ridiculously corrupt business deals, I don’t think it’s that far fetched. I guess we’ll find out though.
Softball and race collide
I’ve been playing rec league softball in the city for a while. I’ve met amazing people throughout the spring, summer, and fall seasons over the past four years, including my wife. I’ve played all over the north side of Chicago with great people from all kinds of backgrounds. The leagues, though, are mostly white and mostly in ‘safer’ neighborhoods. Our teams have been sponsored by bars (yes mom, bars… saloons… taverns) each season and again, the patronage at all of the bars could be described as mostly white.
This summer has been a bit different. For the first time, the best option we could find was a league in my neighborhood – a neighborhood that has a decent mix of ethnicities and a rough reputation for violence. There is some truth to the violent crime numbers in my neighborhood, for sure, but as with most things, perception is far from reality. Overwhelmingly, violent crime in my neighborhood are gang v. gang. If you aren’t looking for trouble, you probably won’t find it. Regardless, the perception by most fellow Chicagoans that I know is that my neighborhood is violent (not counting my fellow northwest folks).
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a bit of trepidation heading into the season. Most of my teammates are not from my neighborhood, and it felt as if I was opening up a piece of myself to them. I can defend my neighborhood against the negative characterizations most of them know, but now I actually had to show them there was truth behind my words. I started playing nightmare scenarios in my head – a teammate getting robbed, harassing onlookers, anything that would reinforce the stereotypes that my teammates may have.
Much to my relief, we were almost all the way through the season and it was going really well. We won most of our games and, as far as I could tell, it felt just like any other league we’ve played. From where we played we could see a basketball court with mostly young black men playing organized basketball, a mixed group of younger kids preparing for the upcoming football season, and lots of families of all ethnicities enjoying summer evenings in the park. We’d get the occasional passerby to stop and watch us play, but I can guarantee our skill level was nowhere near the groups playing on the fields just north of us. The teams playing just north of us were much more organized, much more competitive, and mostly Hispanic. They were playing underhand 12″ inch softball just like us, but it was fastpitch, they had full uniforms, and were built like real athletes. I mean these guys were really fun to watch, which was pretty obvious based on the number of people that turned out to watch their games.
Back on our field though, the crowd was usually non-existent. Any cheering came from one of the two teams playing (or both). The main exception came last Wednesday night – the final night of our league. We had an early game that, if we won, would lead to a second game: the championship. During our first game, a couple of Hispanic teenagers passing by decided to sit in the mostly-empty bleachers and watch for a while. They instantly took to our team, cheering for our good plays and giving us nicknames of real ball players. We had a good time joking around with them and ended up winning the first game pretty easily.
Now, to set the stage, I have to give a little background. We were really excited to be in the championship game, but it did mean playing a team we had lost to twice in the regular season. In a league with mostly fun, positive teams, we were going up against everything I hate about rec league softball. They were ultra-competitive and loved to talk smack. It was easy for them – they won every game by a large margin and I think they had fun trying to get a rise out of us. They made the girls on their team tryout and were often drunk by the end of their games. All in all, they were just not fun to play.
Fast forward to last Wednesday, the championship game, when we somehow score eight runs in our first at-bat. Scoring eight runs in the game against this team would have been amazing, but just in the first inning – that was unbelievable. I figured we’re going to head out on defense and give up just as many, if not more, but I was wrong. After a few innings of play, we were dominating this undefeated team, and their frustration was building. The kids I mentioned earlier were still yelling and cheering, and it was obvious this was getting under our opponents’ skin.
It started with friendly banter, but words and tempers escalated quickly between the two teenagers and the team we were somehow beating. The straw came from their catcher – a woman behind the plate that no doubt had heard everything the two kids were saying. She turned to one of the kids and basically said, “put on a shirt you fat wetback.”
A white woman with a Wicker Park bar sponsor had just called a Hispanic kid a wetback in Humboldt Park. The teenager was livid (rightfully so). He unleashed a barrage of insults on the player and didn’t let up. Some were funny, but most continued to escalate the situation. When the rest of their team found out about this, a few of the more vocal players decided to hurl back their own insults – mostly referring to the teenager’s chubby physique and, sadly, his ethnicity. I think you have to know Humboldt Park and the history behind the somewhat forced westward migration of Hispanics in this city to understand the tension in the air. A team of white softball players hurling racial insults against a Hispanic teenager in Humboldt Park.
The situation finally died down enough that we could get back to the game and try to ignore what happened, but it didn’t go away completely. After several of us talked to the teenager, he agreed to brush it off and keep his cheering to more supportive tones, but I’m frustrated we had to do that in the first place. Part of me wants to go back in time and completely stop the game – to go sit in the stands with the teenager and share in his righteous anger rather than ask him to brush it off. I wonder how many times he has been told to brush off similar situations – to stay quiet when his gut reaction is to unleash his anger at the harsh words pointed in his direction in our ‘post-racial’ Chicago.
I wonder what happens to that righteous anger and frustration after it has been kept down time and time again.
Lessons Learned from Dark Lord Day 2009
So, this past weekend, my friend Jud and I packed up our tents, fishing poles, and wives and decided to make our virgin trip to the annual beer release day know as Dark Lord Day, and followed it up with a quick overnight camp. I had been reading about DLD 2008 and the crazy lines and disappointed attendees that left empty-handed, but Jud and I managed to secure the ‘golden tickets’ that would ensure a successful trip. At one point when we were standing in line and soaking up the intermittent sunshine, we began naming off the preparedness of the more seasoned folks around us. My wife, who constantly reminds me of her amazingness, brought the conversation to a pause, saying, “well, I guess these are things we will need to keep in mind when we come back next year.” (more…)
The War Against Christian……. (America)
Imagine my surprise this week when I finally realized that the war has started. I come back from a weekend of celebration and worship to find that there is a war raging and the target is Christianity.
fox news shows the truth
Wait… that’s Christian America. The war is against Christian America.
Nevermind. I’ve just been reminded by fox news that there is no difference between the two.
My favorite example so far was the ‘hit piece’ above that recently ripped apart the University of Maryland’s student senate for voting to take a Judeo-Christian prayer out of the graduation ceremony. Imagine that – a public university made up of students representing multiple religions removing a part of a ceremony that only represents the beliefs of a portion.
Oh, thank goodness fox news is there for me. This senate is made up of “liberal professors and activist students.” Those dang profs and crazy students in Maryland… why must you hate Christians?
These are the same students who are showing porn at a closed event. Oh the whore horror (ha!).
Do you want to know what the real war on Christianity is? It’s agents like fox news and the heritage foundation and their goons who think that Christian college students can’t make their own decisions to avoid porn being shown on campus. That is a war on Christianity. It’s these ridiculous ‘news’ stories that continue to weaken American Christianity and drive it to the fringe. And good riddens. The sooner we can cast this fake, watered down version of Christianity into a fiery lake of sulfur where it belongs, the better.
Christians at the University of Maryland don’t need a student senate telling them there will be a theatrical prayer to open up the graduation ceremony. Christians at the University of Maryland, and apparently fox news and the heritage foundation, need to realize that every single person at the graduation ceremony can pray as much as they want whenever they want. They can pray as they line up to head to the ceremony. They can pray as they pull on their cap for the first time. They can pray as their name is called. They can pray as they walk across the stage and shake a trustee’s hand. They can pray as the ceremony comes to a close. Is some fake corporate prayer that was written weeks prior and vetted by a team of administrators somehow more powerful than individual Christians offering up words of thanks and worship?
Apparently so, according to fox news and the heritage foundation. Hope they enjoy their superficial white suburban Jesus religion.
An Appreciation of Beer: Two Hearted Ale
I didn’t have an alcoholic drink until I was 21. It’s the kind of thing that makes conversations all awkward when I mention it out loud – especially when I’m with my church friends. I know some people find it hard to believe I would abstain until the government told me I was old enough, but it’s true.
It wasn’t really a conscious decision. I remember in high school my motivation heavily relied on the potential death that would come to me if my parents were to find out. I don’t know why my fear was so high, but it made sure that I would stay sober all through high school. (more…)
The Year That Was
It seems like most people have some type of yearly reflection around this time. People start throwing out “best of” and “worst of” lists like their opinions should have some kind of authority. Ignoring subjectivity completely, readers immediately react to these lists with enough vitriol to float a boat. My solution? Make lists that I can say that I am the authority. So, here you go.
The Worst of 2008 for Me:
10. Getting my complete lack of drumming ability exposed by Rock Band 2.
9. The extended “sick, but not really really sick” battle I waged in November. Two weeks of congestion and exhaustion was pretty much a big crapper.
8. The Great Comcast Battle of 2008
7. The extended “remodeling” of the Red Lion that kept it closed all of 2008.
6. My catalytic converter getting stolen off of my Jeep. That really sucked and continues to keep the Jeep in Sucktown.
5. The seats when we took Sarah’s parents to see Jersey Boys. A bad view, uncomfortable angle, and they ripped my pants.
4. The complete unraveling of the Cleveland Indians and Browns. Both ended up being such letdowns after 2007.
3. The incredibly long and unrelenting winter of 2008. I don’t think we saw anything over 30 degrees until May.
2. Getting a parking boot. Stupid on many levels, but man, finding my Jeep with a giant yellow parking boot after work was just about the worst feeling ever.
1. Sarah taking a softball to the knee. It made life challenging for a while and kept her on the bench for the rest of the year. Oh, and the pressing fear that she wouldn’t be able to walk normally for the rest of her life.
Honorable mention: Owing taxes, the new Indiana Jones movie, and paying $10 for lunch way too often.
And now… the Best of 2008 for Me:
10. Sarah allowing me get away with growing a beard for the last several weeks of the year. I’m guessing her acceptance will be endless. If not, Sarah making me shave my beard will be on my 2009 “worst of” list.
9. The Great Nebraska Trip of 08. This trip has redefined the awesomeness of summer.
8. The Dark Knight in IMAX. Mind = blown.
7. Getting a Costco membership. I know that sounds lame, but trust me, it is. Even so, it has turned out to be pretty dang awesome.
6. Pastor Daniel’s “sex series” and forum. It’s been quite a while since a pastor has spoken words that hit me the way his series did a couple months ago.
5. The Wii… and Rock Band 2… and WiiFit… and taking my dad down in Wii Bowling.
4. Getting engaged. From the ring to talking to Sarah’s dad to postponed proposals to finally getting the word to come out of my mouth, this was probably the most exhilarating thing I’ve ever done.
3. The Weber 22.5″ One-Touch Gold kettle grill that was provided by the guys from my “bachelor weekend.” This may continue to be on my 2009 “best of” list.
2. Brewing my first batch of beer ever with Jud. Hopefully it leads to continued brewing and eventually some stellar beer.
1. Well, it’s not that hard to guess what my number 1 might be. Obviously, it was discovering there was a Sonic in Ohio just off of I-70 near Dayton.
Honorable mention: Discovering the tv show Mad Men, Iron Man or Wall-E, Microsoft replacing my Xbox 360 quickly and for free.
Ok, for real, there were two pretty monumental occurences that will make 2008 incredibly memorable. Enough so that they deserve their own list.
So, here it is… the Greatest of the Great in 2008:
2. Hearing Wolf Blitzer say, “We are ready to declare that Barack Obama will be the next president of the United States” while standing in Grant Park with my wife and some good friends.
1. A month before election day, standing in front of a gazeebo somewhere in Michigan and wearing a nice suit, a beautiful woman for some reason agreed to spend the rest of her life with me. That was pretty swell.
So that’s it. 2008 reduced to a couple of lists. Disagree with any of it and I will have my friend Corey poke you in the eye. He’s ready to do it too.
The Coming Downfall of Mayor Richard M. Daley
When I moved to Chicago, I knew very little of the current politics that ran the city. I had heard the term alderman but had no clue that it meant “overpaid city councilperson.” I knew some of the history of Chicago politics and the name Daley was recognizable. It was the stuff that barely registers a blip outside of the city that was foreign to me.
I think my friend Karen was the first person to shed a little light. I was in awe of the beauty of Millennium Park in downtown. The cool sculptures and the amazing location was awe inspiring. Karen, though, had a little different take on the park. It turned out, Karen mentioned, that everything about the park was a slap in the face of Chicagoans. It was a huge drain on taxpayers money sitting on stolen land taken in the middle of the night by a corrupt mayor. I didn’t really believe her, though. How could an entire city sit back and allow this to happen?
I think the past couple of years in the city have given me a better understanding as to why the city ignored the entire fiasco. You see, Mayor Daley, he keeps the city running. The parks are taken care of (for the most part) and the trains run – not on time, mind you – but they run. Enough of the city either knows works for some part of the giant city bureaucracy or knows someone that does. The garbage is picked up and every once in a while an idea bubbles to the surface that makes sense (blue recycling bags? how do these people keep their jobs?).
As one of the largest cities in the world, you have to admit that being able to balance all of the basic city services is a hard task. Now try doing that while increasing revenue from non-taxpayer sources – tourism, film permits, federal and state grant money – and you obviously have a job the requires bending the rules. So that’s what has happened in Chicago and people generally seem to be OK with it.
Somewhere beneath the big happy picture, though, the foundation is rotting. As I was standing in line at the Obama Election Party, I overheard a conversation that the person next to me was having with a Chicago police officer. The civilian was mentioning how amazing it was that the mayor could pull off an event of the size and complicated nature of the Obama party. The police officer seemed to put up with it for a few minutes before airing his disagreement. He asked the lady if she knew the last time Chicago police officers received raises. He asked if she would stay in her job if she didn’t get a raise in a three year span. The lady mumbled “probably not” and turned away.
I thought this was a somewhat isolated incident, but I have a feeling more anti-Daley feelings are going to start finding their way into the public forum. A couple of days ago, just moments after the first real snow accumulation in the city, Daley announced that the city snowplows were going to cut some residential streets from their routes. The money wasn’t there to make sure all streets were clear. So, for the taxpayers living on these streets, they could be happy knowing their tax dollars would be spent clearing off main arteries, but everyone else is out of luck.
Now, the mayor wants to privatize parking meter collections. After all, we’ve privatized CTA and that has just worked… well, it hasn’t really worked at all. Instead CTA has threatened shut downs and “doomsday” scenarios to strong-arm the state and city into fare hikes and unwarranted increases in funding.
So, anyway, back to the parking meters – the mayor wants to now privatize collections at city meters. He wants to grant a 75 year contract to a company, and all that company wants in return? How about a 400% increase in parking costs starting 1/1/09 in my neighborhood? Oh, and that’s just in 2009. The price will continue to escalate at alarming rates through 2013.
The mayor thinks it’s ok though because they promise to make all meters credit card compliant… in a couple of years or so. After all, he doesn’t want folks to have to worry about carrying around almost $7 worth of quarters to park for an hour in the Loop.
The mayor has quickly forgotten what has kept him in office by large numbers – he has kept Chicagoans happy. Unplowed streets, quarterly CTA fare hikes, a +10% sales tax, increased violent murders, disgruntled police officers, and unwarranted parking meter fare hikes are no way to keep the people happy. It may not be in the next election, but I’m guessing that if this trend continues, 2016 Olympics or not, a changing of the guard will be here sooner than we though.
An Open Letter to President-Elect Barack Obama
Dear President-Elect Obama,
First of all, SWEET PARTY in Grant Park the other night. It was amazing. I kept telling my friends – there’s no way this guy can pull off this shindig. You proved me wrong, sir. The pizza was so-so and hella expensive, but it’s cool. I was hoping for an open bar or at least a keg, but hey, you did your best. Maybe in 2012, right?
Now, the reason I’m writing. I’m pretty excited about your presidency overall, but there’s a few things I’m hoping you can address in late January/early February. I’m writing to you now because you probably need to get a head-start. I’ve always heard that money helps grease the wheels, so I’m not afraid to bring up the multiple donations I sent your way over the course of the primary and presidential races.
So, without further ado, here’s what I’m thinking should probably be addressed: (more…)