I have trouble choosing sides.

Democrat or Republican? Liberal or Conservative? Cubs or White Sox? I know with whom I am supposed to side with based on where and how I was brought up. But that doesn’t make it any easier for me to fall in line. Frankly, it often makes it harder. I see the strength and weakness in opposing groups. I identify with both, for better and for worse.

For example: I want to help others (liberal) but I also want to help myself (conservative). I want to fight evil (conservative) but I don’t want to fight (liberal). When what is right is forced upon me it becomes wrong. When wrong is explained to me it becomes right. I veer from either political party not just cynically but because I see the virtue in both sides along with the hypocrisy. And there’s plenty to go around.

So, what’s a girl to do? On a personal level, I’d like to think I know right from wrong. But when I step outside myself and look at something from another person’s perspective I often alter my view. For better and for worse, I remain open minded.

Part of my problem –if it is a problem- is that I don’t belong to any one community, save for the human race. And even then I wonder (a joke people). My father is Jewish. My mother is Catholic. Neither practices either faith. My father was born on the south side of Chicago. Yet, we lived on the north side. And I lived with my mother, who is from Bordeaux, France. Not a lot of continuity there.

I grew up a tier or two below middle class. Now I reside a tier or two above it. I am from Chicago and I love this place. But I hate it, too. Chicago’s massive corruption and beauty are inextricably linked. This is a Democratic city and for the life of me I don’t know if that’s good or bad. Take our Mayor’s Daley. They were awesome and terrible at the same time. I would vote for them, partly knowing I shouldn’t. I feel the same way about our President.

Maybe my profession reveals answers. As a copywriter I am tasked with finding the virtue in everything: cereal, fast food, cigarettes, booze, cars, and corporations. Look at that list. Every category is controversial. But not when you’re writing copy. Spirits are authentic, smooth and mellow. Cars are sleek, fast and state-of-the-art. Corporations do so much good in the world! The company that spilled millions of tons of oil into the sea is helping millions of people get back with their lives. And so on…

The ranks of Adland may be filled with left-leaning hipsters but our creed is dogmatically right wing. Advertising flaunts capitalism. Advertising is capitalism. By definition. But then what are we who practice it? To write copy for a multi-conglomerate by day and support the Occupy movement at night (for example) is hypocritical. For me, it smacks of leading a double life. Like when Newt shrieks family values and bangs his assistant.

Choosing sides means accepting hypocrisy. I vote for Obama but I want Congress to veto his taxing and spending. I write copy for fast food but believe we are a nation that eats too much of it.

In the end, I am careful taking sides. I can only pray to do the next right thing, whether I know what that is or not.


Frick and Frack for Governor

It’s election season again in Chicago (when is it not?) and, like crocuses, candidate’s signs are popping up all over our town. Unfortunately, unlike the flowers of spring, election signs are almost always muted, dull and hopelessly alike. It doesn’t seem to matter who’s running or what party the candidate belongs to, the cardboard placards are as non-descript as…cardboard placards. For obvious reasons, the most prevalent colors are red, white and blue. Occasionally, we see green, generally denoting the candidate as Irish-American, which has gravitas in Chicago. And that’s about it.

Even President Obama’s super famous logo was red, white and blue. No doubt his campaign had some cool propaganda, especially that “Hope” poster, but when it came to the cardboard placards, they were basically like all the others.

Why are these signs so homogenous? It seems like standing out might be a good thing. Or is it? Maybe candidates are playing it safe, not to lose. Not to be a cynic, but 99% of politicians are pretty much the same (especially after they’re elected). Why should their signs be any different?

In an article by Chicago Tribune reporter, Cynthia Dizikes, she asks the sales manager for CandidateSigns.com (a leading maker of campaign signs) why certain colors are always chosen. The answers are obvious and unsatisfying. Seen together red white and blue evoke patriotism (duh!). By itself red signifies passion. Blue stability. And as stated earlier, green means Irish. Although the sign salesman volunteered that green can also indicate pro-environment, I’m guessing Pat Quinn is mostly about the shamrock.

Amidst these boring yard weeds, relatively small aberrations seem bigger than they really are. For example, Senate candidate, Cheryle Jackson uses an orange and teal color scheme, which, according to the sign salesman, means she is a WOMAN (teal) of ACTION (orange). Seems kind of tacky to me, like a bridesmaid’s dress.

The most different sign (again, relatively speaking) is Senate candidate, Jacob Meister’s. He’s encased his name in a thought bubble, implying Facebook and social media. Such a renegade!

Campaign signs aren’t really ads, are they? I liken them more to markers and (now I am being cynical), as such they work like dog piss, marking territory. Joe Blow was here and here and here. Joe Blow is the alpha candidate in this hood!

Still, wouldn’t it be refreshing, if not downright cool, to see campaign signs that actually functioned like good out-of-home advertising? You know, something with a great message attached…a badass tagline. I’d vote for that guy. But then what do I know; I inhaled.

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