“Da Mare”

The Honorable Richard M. Daley is in the final days of being Mayor of the City of Chicago. Soon Rahm Emanuel will inherit the throne, albeit banged up and tarnished. Good luck, Rahm. Mayor is the top job in the 3rd biggest city in the United States of America. And the Daley’s positively owned it. Between his old man (Richard J.) and himself, a Daley has held that job for my entire life. Let’s face it Harold Washington and especially Jane Byrne were merely temps.

In the midst of his “farewell tour” Daley has been hitting a lot of schools, visiting with the children, taking questions, etc. Claiming “education” as the defining issue of our time (and a key to his legacy), the Mayor is taking full advantage of these no-brainer photo-ops. We see him hugging children, posing with teachers… Given our public schools are a mess, I’m not sure it’s appropriate but what the hell, he’s “Da Mare” and he can say and do whatever he wants!

He always has. One thing you’ve got to admire (and even like) about Daley is that, unlike most politicians, he’s completely genuine. He actually likes hugging kids. Daley also likes trees ergo our city is filled with them. Daley believes in reading books, and so we have One Book, One Chicago. These are good things.

Not so good would be the Mayor’s tyrannical destruction of Chicago’s Meigs Field, the inner city airport located a 5-dollar cab ride from downtown. Daley made it a park –one that I hear is lovely. I’ve never been and neither has anyone else. Here the Mayor went too far, ordering the runways destroyed in the middle of the night.


Meigs Field, ruined runway courtesy of Mayor Daley.

It wasn’t the first time he took matters into his own hands and it wouldn’t be the last. In the end, like his father, Richard M. Daley was a dictator, but a damn popular one. No other Mayor defined his city like ours did. Even though sometimes infuriating, the Daley “Machine” was an awesome spectacle.

Last week Mayor Daley visited my children’s school, Chicago City Day. A private institution, the media coverage was understandably minimal. But he came and the kids were thrilled. Mine even dressed up. I asked my girls what questions were asked of him. My favorite: a first-grader wondered if there were log cabins in Chicago when he was a kid. The Mayor laughed his ass off. So did everyone. And that’s what we love about His Honor. He could be a dick but he had a sense of humor. And a big heart, almost always worn on his sleeve. That’s his and my Chicago: a machine with a heart.


Just do it!

Last year, I took a fall from my bike riding into work. There was a gash in the sidewalk and then a gash in my knee! Given I hit the pavement full on, it could have been a lot worse. I waited out the momentary shock –you perspire, you shake- and got back on my horse.

A copywriter by trade, you’d think I could come up with a better opening to a story about biking to work, especially given this is bike-to-work week in Chicago. But I won’t lie to you. Safeness is not a bicycle’s preeminent calling card, and if one elects to take surface streets in lieu of bike paths, it can get even harrier. Don’t forget to wear a helmet.

Still, riding’s pluses are manifest. Especially in Chicago. Our lakefront path is among the country’s longest and finest urban bike routes, with a Great Lake on one side and a world-class skyline on the other, spanning the leafy suburb of Evanston in the north to I’m not even sure how far south. One rides through Lincoln Park, Grant Park, and various museum campuses. The path even skirts Chicago’s newest jewel, Millennium Park.

Say what you will about Mayor Daley but he loves his parks and recreation. And it shows. Da Mayor is also a huge promoter of urban biking, and our city gets more bike-friendly every day.

Yet scenery is only one of the pluses that come with riding a bicycle and by no means the most desirable one. Public transportation costs two bucks or more one way. You go two ways. Parking downtown can cost over 20 dollars a day. And let’s not even get into the cost of petroleum. Biking is free. No parking. No gas. Even the bike itself is a bargain. After all, the most expensive bicycle in the world costs less than the cheapest car.

Next to running and swimming biking is the best form of aerobic exercise, and it won’t damage your legs –unless, of course, you fall. I’m told Alex Bogusky moved his agency to Boulder Colorado primarily because of the awesome biking opportunities. Perhaps riding to work has something to do with his agency’s prodigious creative output. Physical exercise stimulates the brain. After my morning ride, I know I hit the keyboard with gusto.

Biking is quintessentially green. The Toyota Prius is a gas hog by comparison. By definition riders aren’t driving. Duh. Imagine one thousand less cars on the road, then one hundred thousand. Let’s hope the number only increases as fear of global warming escalates. It has to. The ongoing BP crisis speaks for itself.

But one doesn’t need a heightened social conscience to get on a bike. There are plenty of selfish reasons: your body, your health, your pocket book, and your creativity. And then there’s the best reason of all: it’s fun. Some mornings I feel like a boy again, hauling ass, the wind at my back…

You get the picture. Get yourself a bicycle and ride it to work this week. It will change your life. As for the excuse about showering, there are usually some in every office. We have ‘em. Ask. Besides, most agency guys look like they just rolled about of bed. Axe up. No one will know the difference.

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From grimy to shiny!

In exchange for advertising and naming rights, The City of Chicago has agreed to let Apple renovate a dilapidated train station at North and Clybourn. The rehab will cost Apple approximately $4 million, according to Thomas Corfman of AdAge.com, who broke the story. The plan coincides with Apple’s new store slated to open in the area.

Folks, I love this idea. Unlike selling out a beloved institution like Soldier Field, Wrigley Field and the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower), the financially strapped city of Chicago can save or make money via its numerous, often decrepit train stations.

As I understand it, the station stays essentially the same, only now it will be cleaned and fixed as well as tricked out by some of the coolest ads on the planet.

Like a lot of cities and towns, Chicago is in financial trouble. Mayor Daley has announced he will be dipping into our cash reserves to mitigate the huge and growing deficit. We already pay higher state taxes than almost anyone else in the country. Under these trying circumstances, I say, go for it! Sell all the stations you can.

Station domination by Apple (or anyone) won’t end Chicago’s financial crisis but it’s that rare solution without a conspicuous downside –or one that I can see, anyway. And, as I stated earlier, commercializing an “L” stop won’t offend the romantic sensibilities of our citizenry. On the contrary, it might make visiting these places less gruesome and maybe even fun.

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urban biking: wear a helmet!

I took a fall on my bike riding into work this morning, which might be the one and only bad thing I can say about biking to work. There was a goddam gash in the sidewalk and now there’s a goddam gash in my knee! Oh well, given I hit the pavement, it could have been a lot worse.

Still, riding’s pluses are manifest. Especially in Chicago. Our lakefront path is among the country’s longest and finest urban bike routes, spanning from the leafy suburb of Evanston in the north to I’m not even sure how far south. With a great lake on one side and the world-class skyline of Chicago on the other, one rides through Lincoln Park, Grant Park, various museum campuses; the path even skirts Chicago’s newest jewel, Millennium Park.

Say what you will about Mayor Daley but he loves his parks and recreation and it shows. There is no better way to take advantage of them than on a bicycle. Da Mayor is also a huge promoter of urban biking, and our city gets more bike friendly every day.

Yet scenery is only one of the many bonuses that come with riding to work and by no means the most desirable.

Public transportation is a couple bucks a trip. Parking downtown can cost over 20 dollars a day. And let’s not even get into the cost of petroleum. Biking is free. Even the bike itself is a bargain. After all, the most expensive bicycle in the world costs far less than the cheapest car.

Next to running and swimming biking is one of the best forms of aerobic exercise and it won’t damage your legs -unless you fall like I did! I’m told Alex moved hot shop Crispin Porter & Bogusky to Boulder Colorado precisely because of its awesome biking opportunities. Riding in to work likely has something to do with all the big ideas coming out of Crispin. Physical exercise in the morning sets you up for optimal creative thinking. I know I hit the keyboard with gusto after my ride.

Biking is quintessentially green. When I ride I don’t drive. Multiply that by 1,000 drivers…or 100,000. Compared to the lowly Schwinn, the Toyota Prius is a gas-guzzler. I predict the numbers of bikers will continue to increase as fears of global warming escalate.

But one doesn’t need fear or a good conscience to get on a bike; there are plenty of selfish reasons: your body, your health, your pocket book, your creativity. And then there’s the best reason of all: it’s fun.

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Sex! Politics! Religion! Celebrities! Time for my sleaziest post ever. I couldn’t help myself. It’s like frosting. I put some bits in about advertising but mostly the following is just cool and creamy frosting. Dig in, folks. Use your fingers. It’s sweeeet.

We start by pushing back the ivy at Northwestern University. Located in the leafy suburb of Evanston, it’s by far the swankest member of the Big 10. Privileged to the extreme, the graduating class are bummed out that Chicago’s Mayor Daley was chosen as their commencement speaker. Certain students felt “Da Mayah” was too provincial, as well as an unfair beneficiary of his father’s legacy. Like nobody at Northwestern ever asked daddy for help. And, given the academics at NWU, it’s a surprisingly ignorant criticism as well. Like him or not, Mayor Daley is probably the most effective mayor in the United States and the most well known mayor in the world. I echo the University’s reply to these outspoken and disappointed grads: “Grow up.”

Next up: Dunkin Donuts, for giving the bear claw to its celebrity chef endorser Rachel Ray just because she wore neck attire deemed reminiscent of terrorists. Where does one begin? First, Why is Ray taking the fall for a wardrobe decision made by client and agency? Second, Does Dunkin Donuts really feel their fan base is so damn red it would stop eating long johns because of some on-line ad? Funny, it took a silly scarf to do something the agency and client should have done a long time ago! Everyone involved in this debacle is a Dunkin’ Munchkin.

Moving on, it seems another minister is making a fool of Barack Obama. First Reverend Wright and now Michael Pfleger. How many wacky priests are in this guy’s life? One is too many. Yet, it’s also too easy to throw this in Obama’s face. Fiery rhetoric about race and entitlement always makes good cannon fodder. But why does anyone care? Whatever happened to the separation of church and state? As for Obama, I wish he’d stop apologizing for these nut jobs. It just makes him look like a tool.  Maybe the candidate should stop going to church altogether. Would that please the court of public opinion?

If someone really wants to slime the Democratic candidate why not just expose the lipstick on his collar? I have it from a reliable source that at a recent Democratic fundraiser in Beverly Hills the feisty Barack retreated with a comely supporter to one of the mansion’s many back rooms for a bit of the in and out. The man telling the tale was there, is a big fan, and continues to give the candidate money. Strange the right wing hasn’t glommed on to the “playah” side of Obama. Of course this election is far from over…

Speaking of sex in the city what up with all the hoopla over this picture? I know I’m a guy and, therefore, wired not to give a shit about movies like this but I must protest the inordinate fuss being given to this romantic comedy. I mean pages and pages of editorial content, in EVERY magazine on earth about a silly trifle. Are four MILFs overspending and bitching that entertaining? Hollywood and Madison Avenue think so. Combined, the publicity given Iron Man and Indiana Jones pale by comparison. Even if the movie turns out to be pretty good –say, along the lines of Bridget Jones Diary- do we really need our newspapers cluttered with columns debating the merit of Carrie’s $400 shoe habit?

Uh-Oh…I’ve dished dirt in a blog. I have become what I despise. A critic. A tabloid. A cog in the pop culture plow. Do you forgive me, gentle reader? Do you give two shits? Do you want some more? Wait until the nonsense starts piling up from Cannes…

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