Archive for the ‘chicago’ Category

well, the honeymoon is over (wherein I strike fear into the hearts of chicago bloggers)

November 13, 2008

Awesome blossom complaints notwithstanding, my honeymoon with Obama is sort of over. I think he’s whiffing on his first big policy position, the proposed bailout for auto makers.

I own a Nissan Altima. I like it. It’s a good car.

I did not want to invest $20k of my money in a Chevy Malibu. Don’t invest $50B of our money in GM. Bankruptcy court exists for this purpose – most notably, it would give carmakers the ability to readjust their labor contracts which are some of the sweetest deals you could ever imagine (for unions anyway). Reorganize your business model in the courts and re-emerge, I don’t know, with a chance at profitability, with a chance at making competitive vehicles.

I understand that a shitton of jobs are tied to the auto industry, but a) bankruptcy court doesn’t mean liquidiation necessarily, it means reorganization and b) it’s not like demand for cars will disappear – if one automaker did liquidate, their market share would get tossed on to remaining automakers. Am I anti-union? Not really, unions are critically important to make sure workers don’t get taken advantage of. And as some union members have said to me (not auto unions) – unions deserve the best deal they can negotiate. That’s fine – as long as you stand by that when the deal you negotiated is shortsighted enough to bring your company down. (This is sort of unfair, GM and Ford have many more problems than just labor unions, but it’s a start).

Anyway. Job losses in Detroit are one thing, but job losses in Chicago are…the thing that is going to happen between now and the end of the year, and the thing that most readers of this blog are most concerned about. (see CEOs Tell Mayor Daley They Plan Huge Layoffs In November, December). If you get laid off, ask why your company isn’t important enough, or mismanaged enough, to get government help.

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the trib

November 6, 2008

Today’s newspaper can’t be found anywhere except eBay, where it is fetching sometimes $100, as though there were a shortage. There’s one born every minute – especially considering that the paper distributed this morning wasn’t the same as the one distributed last night at about midnight, which I purchased about 15 seconds after it came off the truck, and which I have not seen on ebay at all. This is the real first edition of the Chicago Tribune following Obama’s election:

dsc02574_edited-1And yes, this makes me better than you.

In other news, I have added a larger version of the picture I used to make the temp banner to the flickr feed.

more on the rally

November 5, 2008

the blog title has temporarily been changed from the situation has deteriorated. this isn’t really a political blog, and the old title (which will return) really speaks more to the personal shitshow of my life, but I thought this change was temporarily appropriate.

the rally itself was a pretty lame affair. After McCain conceded, there was another sound check announced as “FINAL SOUND TEST FOR THE NEXT PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES” except first there was a prayer read by some preacher, the pledge of allegiance led by some Marine (in case you are curious, I tripped up and said “under God,” see this post for more) and a somewhat misguided national anthem sang by some chick. (And I quote: “Whose bright stripes and bright stars, through the perilous time…”). That was the only human activity on stage before or after Obama’s speech.

That’s not to say I had a bad time. It was an incredible event, and for the size and the short notice, it was probably handled about as well as they could have done. I was home by one, but not before buying the Chicago Tribune as it came off the truck on Michigan Ave. I walked home carrying the paper in front of me the way I used to carry the bible as an altar boy.

No, not with a dick in my mouth.

Just you know. Holding it up in front of me.

I’m working on the pictures. I wish i was closer. For the time being, small versions are available on Flickr over to the right.

obama rally liveblog from grant park

November 4, 2008

12:53 – home after being on my feet for about 7 hours. honestly the rally itself was sort of underwhelming as an event but completely unforgettable as moment in history. I don’t have much to say about it right now. pictures later, the flickr upload thing was a disaster.

10:26 – mccain speaks. This mccain, minus palin, would have won. But he went another way. Mccain:”I am so grateful for sarah palin” some ham in the crowd here: “SO ARE WE!” Ok, it was me.
Warm round of appause as mccain wraps up.

10:05 – it hasn’t been in doubt for a coupe of hours but to see the words “barack obama elected president” up on the screen is still shocking. I don’t think the impact has really hit myself, this crowdn, or anyone yet, although the pace did go nuts

9:27 cnn showed hank williams jr at the mccain shindig, presumably singing “are you ready for obama?” Meanhile there is no live entertainment here and the music is pretty weak- some crapier motown and country music.

9:16 – old lady has lemon hard candy and it saves my life

9:08 – guy with friend in hyde park says obama has left his hyde park home. Still would be a while before he gets here and we hear from him but hoping that it is sooner rather than later

9:00 – nothing but cnn so far. The crowd is enormous. Woman just went past with pizzas, said it took two hours. There is basicay no way to get to the bathrooms or to get a drink (and you couldn’t bring any food or drink in) without basically giving up any chance of being remotey close to the stage. This aspect of the rally was not well planned. But morale is pretty high as everything is going as expected.

8:46 – looked like we almost had a speaker but there were audio problems. Then a guy who looked like a superfan came out and did a bunch of “test one two O-Ba-MA” which was cleary the high point of his life. NM has just been called. It is obvious obama will win, just waiting to make it official.

7:45 – pennsylvania called on cnn jumbotron, mood is very good. Peope are still streaming in. I am not super close to the stage but should be able to grab a decent shot through the sea of arms

7:16- word was that there would be “slighty upscale” pizza. It is connies and it is $40 for a medium pie.

7;11 – first obama chant as cnn checks in with us. Cnn is only channel being shown but word is spreading that abc has called pa and the mood is good

6:38 – getting through security. Foods of people, mild cheers as wolf blitzer reads off early results

ok. hopefully my blackberry will let me liveblog the rally a little from Grant Park. I am moving the flickr in the sidebar up, I will try to send some pictures from my Blackberry camera to the flickr as the night goes on, and then I’ll also have my a700 with me for the good pictures late tonight or tomorrow.

Edit: it looks like it may take a while for the pictures to get to the flickr rss feed but if you click through, they are up there (right now just one picture of satellite trucks).

ticket to history

November 3, 2008

Four years ago it was in the law library, while “studying.”

Four years before that, I didn’t even really care much, but I remember watching part of it in Willard at NU, and the only reason I would have been at Willard would be to drink.*

This year I will be watching election returns in a mildly more exciting place: with the Democratic nominee and current favorite for President-Elect, at his rally in Grant Park.


Before the rally, there’s some voting to do. I am voting for Barack Obama. Ten years ago I came to college as a conservative, raised to believe that gays were wrong, affirmative action was reverse racism, and that generally you had to look out for number one. I still look out for number one, but I also realize that I’m much better off when everybody is better off. My Republican co-workers are up in arms over the few dollars of an increased tax burden that Obama might place on their already ludicrously high salary; I am more concerned about the fact that our ludicrously high-paying jobs could be in jeopardy if the economy does not improve, and John McCain gives me no reason to trust him with economic leadership. Tax policy, in any event, takes a back seat to issues like the separation of church and state, freedom to associate, the right to privacy, and in general, not being treated like an idiot by our leaders. Is voting for Obama something of a gamble? I suppose, but I do not think it is substantially more of a gamble than any major candidate we’ve had out there in my lifetime.

Anyway. You don’t really care what I have to say about that.

update: for the record, my views on gays, race, and just about everything else my parents told me was true have changed approximately 180 degrees in the last decade and change.

*or chase girls I guess – my girlfriend-of-four-years-to-be was living in Willard at the time, but we would not get together for another week; I remember this because our anniversary was Veteran’s Day, 11-11, which is about as easy a day to remember as any.

error and water show

August 14, 2008

I took my camera to work today because I expected the Blue Angels to practice in advance of this weekend’s air and water show in Chicago. I had a better camera, quality lens, clear weather, and this was my last chance to take these pictures before my firm moves offices next year.

So of course, I somehow set my camera to take “small” pictures, thus losing a huge chunk of the detail that my equipment afforded me, and would have been better off with the stuff I had last year if it was set to “large.” It’s enough to make a grown man cry, but that’s only fun when there’s somebody around to pity me. Accordingly, I will sack it up and make the best of what I took. I may post more on flickr when I have time this weekend.

somewhere, a placenta is falling to the floor

August 5, 2008

There was kind of a storm Monday night. Even if you didn’t see it, you can’t miss the facebook messages about it. I can only imagine what twitter was like. Anyway. I actually got spooked enough to leave my office when the window started vibrating back and forth and went down to the lobby – only to find that everybody in the building had pussed out a lot earlier than I had and were already down there.

Eventually I went home and managed to grab the photo above (and 86 far less interesting ones). It was shot through my window which was covered in rain. I’ve photoshopped a lot of the spots caused by rain out, but there is a long way to go to make this look really right. When I finish it, I’ll post the refined product.

Here’s a crop of the same picture:

If you’re curious, I shot in RAW, 3.2 sec, f/16, ISO 200, tripod and remote shutter release. Lens was the Sony 50mm f/1.4.

benchwarming for jesus

August 1, 2008

I don’t know if it’s because I didn’t happen to go to Sunday games, or because I generally didn’t have bleacher seats and thus wouldn’t show up early, but it took me until this year to notice that at Sunday games since 9/11, the PA guy at Wrigley will ask you to stand not only for the national anthem, but also for God Bless America.

Regular readers of my blog can probably tell how I feel about that.

For new readers, let me say that I don’t like the progression:

World where we don’t sing God Bless America

Terrorist Attack

“Please stand for God Bless America”

I don’t see how that’s a logical progession. God Bless America is not, to my knowledge, the national anthem. Please note that I am not against the playing of God Bless America in general. You are entitled to sing the song, you are entitled to hope that God does in fact bless America, you are entitled to hope that God damns America, or you can just hum along with the smug knowledge that even if God existed, he would be too busy using His powers to watch Rachel McAdams undress to bless any particular sovereign nation or autonomous territory.

Long sentence. Sorry.

So my objection is that I am asked to stand for God Bless America, which is immediately followed by the Star-Spangled Banner. So I don’t do it, although I am pretty sure I am the only person in the ballpark who doesn’t. I sit through God Bless America and I stand for the national anthem. I suppose if you are a real die-hard asshole, you can protest W, the military-industrial complex, the war in Iraq, etc., and not stand for the national anthem either. But I’m not that big an asshole, and for all its problems, I love my country and the principles it stands for, which are symbolized by the flag that the anthem celebrates, so I stand.

Those principles, by the way, include those embodied in the Constitution, which prohibits laws establishing a religion. So this Sunday, when I’m back at Wrigley, I’ll be sitting again during God Bless America, because it’s not my anthem, and to my ears is completely meaningless, and nobody can tell me to stand.

Shalom, bitches.

they are hot on my trail

July 29, 2008

I used to joke about a conspiracy against me, but it is becoming very real.

To recap:

1. My favorite weekend hungover food is Burger King. I live about 4 blocks away from the one that was on North and Wells. They closed it and now I have to drive basically to Humboldt Park for a Whopper. It is now a Fifth/Third Bank which doesn’t even make sense. I am calling you Fifteenth Bank.

2. My favorite summer hangout was literally a block away from my house. It was Cactus. They served rumrunners. They were delicious and boozy. Cactus was closed to make way for a “boutique hotel.” The only construction that has gone on so far is to rip out every vestige of Cactus and its lamer but still-better-than-nothing cousin, Melvin B’s.

3. Goose Island totally changed their menu, removing such winners as the Bison Burger. Then they announced they are closing their location nearest to me.

4. Chili’s has discontinued the Awesome Blossom, and you may know my feelings about it.

And now:

As a simple substitute, I remembered that the Bennigan’s around the corner from my work has a popcorn shrimp appetizer that they serve with fried onion straws. I figured this would be a good way to fill the Awesome Blossom void. I ordered it once last week.

In today’s Tribune:

Bennigan’s closes restaurant at 225 N. Michigan

Jay Aitch Sharkeffin to the Cee.

p.s. I promise my next post will not be about food i miss.

top 10 chicago ads

June 27, 2008

If you grew up in Chicago in the 80s and 90s and had as few friends as I did then you watched a lot of TV. Here are some of the ads you absorbed for products that you were decades away from affording.

10. Rockenbach Chevrolet
Rockenbach is the first of several car dealerships on the top 10 list, and the first of several ads that are here strictly because of their jingle. Unfortunately I can’t find a clip of the ad on the interwebs. We’ve got Chevys and Chevys and Chevys, in Grayslake, saave a lot, at Rockenbach Chevroleeeet.

9. Celozzi-Ettelson Chevrolet (and Geo!)
There’s not even a jingle here – just a classic catchphrase uttered by two would-be mob henchmen. There are many examples of these guys on the YouTubes, but I picked this one for nostalgia over Geo cars. It’s 1992 and the Metro is getting 50+ MPG? WTF, Detroit.

I would be remiss if I did not mention Celozzi and Ettelson’s Pizza Hut ad. Wait – who was that at the end?

8. Mad Max Madsen
Another car dealership, and I’ve definitely never seen a TV spot from them. The format is always the same. We start with the jingle “He’s mad, he’s bad, Max Madsen.” A phone rings and an Indian stereotype answers with “Hallo, this is de doctor? Oh hallo grand poo-bah!” This is followed by an absurd recitation of the current hot deals in feigned disbelief. The conclusion is always “oh, Max, you may be bad and you may be mad…but youu’re not craaaaazy!”

I think everybody can relate to this ad. We’ve all been there. For example, when I used to work part-time at Borders I would always call my dentist and tell him about all the great deals that were available “What’s that? Steve Miller Band’s Greatest Hits for $7.99? Oh Pete, you may have gum disease, but you’re not crazy!”

7. Golf Mill Ford
Shame I couldn’t find this ad online either. This was a combo visual and jingle thing. The point of the ad was to encourage you to bring your shitheap of a used car to Golf Mill Ford for trade-in cash (this is a hot market in the Chicagoland area, as we’ll see later). The jingle was “Push it. Pull it. Tow it to Golf Mill Ford.” On screen, a massive fatass apparently named Stu would act out each command as it was spoken. At the end of the ad we were once again reminded “So do like Stu and you’ll save too. Push it. Pull it. Tow it to Golf Mill Ford.”

6. Peter Francis Geraci
I went to law school and I think I still learned more about bankruptcy law from Peter Francis Geraci commercials. The PFG is a bankruptcy attorney who apparently swallowed a bucket of Valium in 1983 and has yet to recover. He stares into the camera and mesmerizes you into calling his bankruptcy info tapes, which are always written on screen as ((INFO))((TAPES)), which either indicates that they are AUDIO TAPES or that there is some kind of SEISMIC ACTIVITY associated with the phone call. I don’t have a youtube link for this one but his ads often featured a Michael Jordan signed basketball in the background. This is not the last time that MJ basketballs will appear on this list.

5. Moo and Oink

This is not a joke. People actually buy meat from this place.


4. Aronson

Aronson was previously discussed, along with a YouTube clip, in this post. Aronson furniture is out of business, but the jingle remains in my head forever.

3. Empire Carpet
A lot of people might have put this at #1 but I think there are a couple of better entries. The Empire Guy suffers from being too earnest and likeable. We all know the jingle. I don’t even know my own land line number, but I can order carpet anytime I want. FYYVE AIGHT AIGHT, TOO THREEE HUNDURD EMPIIIIIIRE. At some point in my life they added “Today” right after the EMPIIIIIRE, like a sort of travelocity DOT COMMM.
But aside from the jingle, the ads change too often and have too high a production value to be truly kitschy and beloved by those who wear ironic t-shirts.

Also, this is an election year, so let’s use somebody’s comments from years ago against them. Keep in mind that Empire now sells window treatments and bath liners.

Pwn3d, Mr. Empire.
And, as promised, the second appearance of Michael Jordan basketballs:


2. Eagle Man

Eagle Man is probably the most bizarre entry on this list. I guess it made sense at first, you have a company named Eagle Auto Insurance, you spend five minutes thinking up a character called Eagle Man, and he brings you low auto rates. Eagle Man first appeared in an ad where he came to the aid of two chicks apparently on the way to a Winger concert. It was a pretty straight-forward ad, although all lines were delivered with the comic timing of a rotting eggplant. You can see this ad here if so inclined. Then things got weird. The next ad featured the weirdest fucking car dealership on the planet, and, against all odds, even worse comic timing. For no reason that I can discern, car insurance was sold by a mustachioed woman named “Freak” who was using oversized playing cards to torment a woman tied to a chair. Eagle Man saves the day again.

The third ad was where Eagle really jumped the shark. It was really just a retread of the first ad – accident, no insurance, whatever shall I do? But in this case the uninsured motorist was local radio celebrity Mancow Muller, and it was Eagle WOMAN who came to his rescue. In defense of this ad, this was the first one in the series featuring a chick who I would bang.


1.
Victory Auto Wreckers

In a world of change, we need something to serve as a touchstone – a memory of a bygone era. The Victory Auto Wreckers ad is constant as the northern star. Almost. As my friend Homes noted, Victory used to have seven acres of parts: starters, transmissions, batteries. Now it has ten. Also, the lawyers probably got to them – “that old car” used to be worth money. Now, it might be worth money. But everything else is exactly the same.

Here is the old version, back when Bensenville was still 312 (imagine!)

And here it is today

The car still fetches sixty bucks, the spare-parts yard is still littered with Studebakers and DeSotos, and our hero still looks like he’s bummed because he just got kicked out of Foghat.

Honorable mention goes to Al Piemonte and Bob Rohrman. Both are fixtures on the Chicago car-dealership ad scene, but I don’t think either of them are memorable enough to place in the top 10, especially amongst such stiff competition.

You may also note Menards is missing from this list. The reasoning for this omission is simple: fuck Menards.