Beware the Annie Wilkes Brigade: Author Charlaine Harris Terrorized By Self-Professed “Fans” Inspired to Jihad On the Internet
Ever since True Blood premiered on HBO in 2008, I’ve enjoyed author Charlaine Harris’ “Southern Vampire Mysteries”…which I call “visiting with my pal Sookie Stackhouse” as I read the latest edition in this series each May. Before the characters migrated to TV, I was mildly aware of Ms. Harris’ series but never picked up one of the books because I thought the cartoonish cover art looked silly and the titles like Dead Until Dawn and Club Dead felt like Young Adult or possibly Romance selections…and those are parts of a bookstore in which I’ve never shopped. And, YES, I really shouldn’t have judged a book by its cover in this case, because the Southern Vampire Mysteries are great (even if I still do think the artwork is…probably not what I would have picked to market the series).
I’ve long been fascinated by the South and I realized I was gay and came out just as the Tom Cruise/Brad Pitt adaptation of Anne Rice’s Interview with A Vampire hit theaters in the mid-90s. I absolutely devoured those “Vampire Chronicles” Anne Rice books and for a brief moment in time thought Ms. Rice was the absolute greatest writer in the whole wide world (which I attribute in retrospect to just an immense transference of affection onto Rice from the raging crush I had on Brad Pitt at the time, back when he was young and dreamy and playing the titular vampire who was interviewed in her book).
Preconditioned to enjoy the vampire genre by fond memories of Interview (including a trip I took down to New Orleans in 1996 or so to attend a Halloween party in Rice’s own, creepy house…that was apparently toned DOWN in creepiness for a Halloween party, if you can believe it), I just fell head over heels for True Blood from the first episode…and it’s become my favorite summer guilty pleasure ever since. The show forced me to discover the source material and I quickly became an admirer of Ms. Harris’ (who seems a lot nicer and much more normal than Ms. Rice has ever been). It’s incredibly rare for me to read fiction, because there’s always a stack of political and policy works I need to get to and more often than not for fun I like reading natural science, travelogues, or essays with a comedic bent. But, for many years each May I’d rush to the Barnes & Noble that used to be close to me in Boystown and I’d excitedly purchase the latest “Sookie Book” that Ms. Harris gifted to her readers.
I put a strong emphasis on “gifted” because, more so than works of nonfiction or contemporaneous reporting, novels are gifts to the world by the authors who conceived them. It’s one thing to report on an event you witnessed or to write up your analysis of some political scandal…but writers of fiction conjure entire universes in their imagination and often struggle for years to bring these characters to life on the page. Writing a romantic or exciting adventure story with characters you’ve completely invented in your imagination is a marvelous and precious skill…and though these writers are sharing these tales with the world instead of keeping them private, these stories and all the fictional characters in them remain the universe (and property) of that writer. As long as that person is living, she or he should forever have ultimate say over any of the characters that she or he created. They are shared with readers, but the readers do not own these characters (or the author who created them).
I’ve always felt very lucky that Ms. Harris shared “Sookie Stackhouse” and all of her friends (and enemies) in Bon Temps, Louisiana with the rest of us. Living in Chicago, I’d get to head to the beach with the latest of Harris’ books under my arm and I’d lay out in the sun on a towel by Lake Michigan and soak in all of the colorful Southern-fried adventures that she imagined in her latest 300-some page romp. No airport or $300 plane ticket was ever needed for me to be magically transported down to Louisiana for a visit with Sookie & Company whenever I’d crack open a Charlaine Harris novel. I can’t pretend the stories aren’t silly — because they are — and that often what a lot of characters did in the yarns didn’t make all that much sense. Since the vampires in Ms. Rice’s stories also seemed like eternally-young oddballs and engaged in a lot of political and ceremonial nonsense, I continue to chalk this up to equal parts Southern eccentricity and the fact that vampires be crazy.
Justin laughs at this but my favorite parts in all of the Sookie books are when she does mundane things that often serve no larger purpose: going to the law office of someone or another because she wants to write an agreement up for a loan, buying a dress somewhere for some event she has to attend (and seemingly picking out the ugliest things imaginable, but thinking they are wonderful since as a waitress in a bar in the middle of nowhere she doesn’t know any better and doesn’t have a gay male best friend to help her), cleaning out her attic or doing gardening or drinking sweet tea while sunbathing or whatever. I think I enjoy reading about Sookie’s errands because when I don’t have anywhere I need to be and I’m not working on something this is mostly the sort of things I do here in Chicago around town. Back in 2004, when I was deciding what city I wanted to live in next it came down between Chicago and New Orleans and Chicago only won-out because I started dating a guy who lived here. So, I guess through Sookie’s trips to the gas station or to the grocery store I’ve had a little taste of what it would have been like to live in Louisiana instead of Illinois in my late-20s and into my 30s…and for that I’m grateful to Ms. Harris.
Earlier this month, Ms. Harris released the final book in her 13-volume Sookie series…and I made a big production of it here at Buzzquarters the way I used to celebrate the release of all the Harry Potter books. I enjoy dusting off my party-and-event-planning background once in a while to make themed meals for Justin and my friends. Truth be told, I think Ms. Harris’ books are just as fun as J.K. Rowling’s (though obviously geared more for adults)…and they lend themselves to all sorts of tasty recipes (that are a Southern-fried magic of their own). You wouldn’t immediately think books about blood and vampires would do that, but it’s true. I bought a small honey baked ham and cooked up a big gumbo pot of red beans and rice and made hoe cakes and peach wings to pick at all day and into the evening as I read this last Sookie book. It was just as much fun as all of the others in the series, with all the same colorful Southern touches that I love (and, of course, trips to the store and other random places that I think are amusing). I smiled so hard and so often while reading the book that my face hurt and I felt sad reaching the last chapter because I knew it was the final novel and there’s likely to be not much more Sookie after this, aside from an appearance here or there in future short stories. It’s tough when anything you love has to end…but that’s just the nature of life (for us non-vampires anyway). I just decided to celebrate the end of the series with some great food and last laughs with Sookie before Ms. Harris retired these characters…as is her right as an author to do so.
And now I’ve decided to tell you all of this because Ms. Harris is a nice and sweet Southern woman who looks like someone who could be your auntie or at the very least a cousin you are always happy to see. In interviews, she is soft-spoken and fun…and there’s just a hint of ribald wit and naughtiness behind her church lady smile. Where Anne Rice always has looked like a very strange and unbalanced person who clearly could do only one thing in life (and that’s write books about vampires and witches) Charlaine Harris could have been your fifth grade teacher.
So, it’s just impossible for me to imagine anyone on Earth hating this woman or threatening to kill her…but that’s exactly what’s been going on with a jihad of irate “super fans” who’ve vowed to personally destroy Ms. Harris because they didn’t like the ending to her Dead Ever After novel.
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Here in the year 2013, something interesting happened recently to me that I’ve now officially confirmed as a significant “thing”: I absolutely have no desire to see another movie in theaters. I’m pretty sure the last movie that I will have ever seen in theaters (barring any sort of radical, holographic, amazing new technology of the future) will be Jurassic Park: 3D (which I saw in IMAX at Navy Pier here in Chicago last month).
I sort of enjoy the oddity that the last movie I leave the house, travel somewhere, and pay to see while sitting next to strangers is a re-release of a film I saw back in the summer of 1993 when I was ALL ABOUT heading downtown in Cleveland to see movies after school or on the weekends. I do admit seeing Jurassic Park in IMAX was astounding…and that 3D dinosaurs were a lot of fun; I also liked the nostalgia factor of remembering seeing the movie originally with my Grandmother, Erma, when she was still alive and I was still in high school.
I adore absurdity and actively seek it out in the world, so the concept of The Great Gatsby in 3D with flashy dance numbers and more glitter than the Chicago pride parade would SEEM to be something I would have camped out for opening night (like I did to watch Marie Antoinette back in 2006). But, the movie’s been out for a while now and I still have no desire to head downtown, pay $15, and sit in a dark room with strangers watching anything. I feel great today; I have $15 in my pocket freely available to spend; my boyfriend Justin’s visiting his parents in Arkansas so I have free time…but I just don’t have any desire at all to see this or any movie in a theater.
I think I’m part of the cultural change away from going to the movies as a recreational activity. And I think there are a lot of variables part of this that are more complicated than “Hollywood doesn’t make anything good or original”…because a 3D, musical, riot of color and spectacle version of The Great Gatsby sure is considered both good and original in my book…and almost as awesome in concept as The Great Gatsby 8-bit video game for the old NES.
* I don’t like giving movie studios my money, though…because I feel like when I do that I help fund the people who inflict so much damage on this country by way of hammering the Left’s talking points into impressionable Americans. Let’s face it, the way that Democrats maintain power is by way of the Ministry of Truth that is our “news media”, the Ministry of Entertainment that is “Hollywood”, and the Ministry of Persuasion that’s comprised of all federal agencies such as the IRS that are controlled by Democrats and abuse their authority or otherwise persecute and intimidate Americans. I know that movie theaters actually don’t make any money off the ticket sales to first-run films…and instead depend on concession sales to stay in business; all ticket sales go to the movie distributors, so buying a movie ticket sends that cash to Hollywood and then gets redistributed back to the Democrat party and its Leftist masters. I enjoy limiting the amount of cash I contribute to that revenue stream.
* Because of Amazon Instant Video, Netflix, and Hulu I am now completely conditioned to watch half an hour of something, pause it, do other things, then return to whatever I was watching. I actually have two screens in front of me while I’m typing this, using that dual-monitor configuration that Justin set up for me; I’m typing on one side but on the other side I’m watching last night’s episode of Scandal. I enjoy having something playing just to keep me company while I work…and I just LOVE the ability to pause it and rewind to hear dialogue I missed…or to turn on closed-captioning to understand actors who mumble their lines (which amounts to much more of them than there should be). I can’t do any of this in an actual movie theater, because I do not had magical powers like this in public. And it’s difficult for me to sit still for two hours in a seat like I’m on an airplane. At home I can move around, exercise, lay down on the couch, yell at people through the windows if they are doing something bad outside, and get really comfortable while watching something on my screen in the apartment. If Justin’s watching with me, he talks through almost the entire movie like a little chatterbox…usually asking questions about what’s happening because he missed important things while he was talking. In a theater, the poor guy looks like he’s about to explode because he knows he has to be quiet…but he’s just got something important to say! (which usually is him telling me that the lady playing the District Attorney was also the mom on that show with the talking cat who was voiced by that other guy who usually plays District Attorneys in movies where it’s a male character instead…but he doesn’t remember any of these people’s names, only what they look like and talking cats they’ve worked with).
* Sitting next to strangers can be so weird, if oddballs decide to sit right next to us. Just once, for a change, I’d love to be the oddball sitting down next to someone else! This weirdness happens all the time, though I’ve never been able to explain the phenomenon. An entire theater of empty seats unfolds before them and people will generally choose to sit right next to Justin and me (they would probably sit on our laps if they could)…which I could understand if we chose to plop down in the dead center (where most people like to go). But, because I lost my glasses in 2008 and have never gotten around to replacing them (it’s on my list, I swear) I always pick a spot for us up near the front and over to the side, which theoretically should remain empty during the entire show. Maybe this is one of those things that just happens in life, like how terrible parts of a city gentrify after gays start moving in…since people for some reason want to live by gay guys, whom I think they expect to use magic to make everything gorgeous in that part of town again. So, I guess two gay guys sitting off to the side in an undesirable part of a movie theater instantly gentrifies the surrounding seats and is a siren’s call to other movie-goers. It must be great over there! That’s where the gay guys are sitting! I don’t mind sitting next to strangers on a bus or train. I have no trouble sitting next to them at the counter in a diner or bellying up beside them at a bar. But, it’s just so strange for me to sit quietly in the dark for two hours with people I don’t know in situations where the lot of us aren’t sealed inside a giant metal tube hurting through the air high above the country (like in an airplane, or a bus that’s been sucked up into a twister).
* It’s shockingly expensive for two people to go to a movie in Chicago…and heart-breaking for what it costs a family of four or more. I actually know a secret parking garage that’s free in downtown Chicago (email me if you ever need the name, because it’s like the Batcave of free parking in this town), so Justin and I don’t have to pay to park (which would be $12 if I didn’t know the secret). If the two of us took the train from Boystown down to a theater, it would be $9 roundtrip on the Red Line subway ($4.50 per guy each way). A 3D movie costs $15 in a matinee and I think $20 in the evenings, with regular 2D movies around $11 for afternoons and $13 at night. It’s always about $30 or so before the two of us walk anywhere near a concession stand…and I invariably break down and get us a large Fresca or Coke Zero to split (mainly because Justin can’t talk during a movie if he’s drinking Fresca). The nachos and pretzel bites with yellow-orange mystery chemicals (laughably referred to as “cheese dip”) call to me like peppy puppies in a pet store window, but I do manage to resist them. Still, going to the movies for Justin and me is a $40 affair. New movies that were just in the theater three months ago are $2.99 or so to rent on Amazon Instant video…which I prefer to the RedBox kiosks because I have a hard time managing to return those DVDs on time. It might technically be a dollar to rent one, but it ends up being $3 or $4 by the time I finally get the DVD back to the RedBox. With Amazon, it’s a digital rental so no late fees ever and I spare the universe the energy of aligning the stars and conspiring with Fate to make returning that DVD as difficult as possible for me on the day it is due. If it’s a movie I know I will watch more than twice in the future then I just buy it on Amazon Instant and it’s a $9.99 or so charge, which I think is a great deal. When a new movie comes out, I thus know I have a choice between dropping $40 (which is half a week’s grocery money) or waiting a little bit and spending $3 online for a rental (which is a really great deal since I’ll probably watch the movie twice in the 48-hour period that Amazon allows). Thanks to all the Hope and Change we’ve experienced in the last five years, I’ll take the $3 option more times than not. Going out to the movies has become something Justin and I only do if we are stuck downtown and have time to kill and can’t think of anything else to do for that two or three hours.
* Because we’re friends like this, I’ll also admit that since I live in Chicago and go to theaters that are pretty high profile I also do have some fear of somebody walking into a screening with a gun. The FBI’s stopped a half dozen or more Muslim plots in Chicago in just the seven or so years that I’ve lived here. All of these have thus far been grandiose schemes like blowing up the Sears Tower (back when it was still the Sears Tower and not the “What You Talkin’ Bout Willis Tower” like it is today), bombing bars in the Loop, exploding cars during rush hour on high-traffic streets, etc. But I think it’s just a matter of time before “The Religion of Peace” tries to blow people to pieces inside a movie theater, shopping mall, or at a sporting event. Going to a place with a large amount of people all focused on something distracting, where it’s dark and hard to hear anything but the sound coming from the speakers overhead, doesn’t seem like the smartest thing to do in Chicago. After Muslims attacked the Boston Marathon in service of Islam, I also lost some of the sense of security I had in Chicago…because I believed for the longest time that the most likely places Islam would strike would be New York, Los Angeles, Washington DC, or even Las Vegas…since those are cities that the backwards, medievalist, death cult of Islam has on its radar and rails against to the riffraff and ragamuffins in the Middle East (and beyond) who eat up this hate speech like hummus. I lived in Cleveland during the 9/11 attacks and afterwards I remember our idiot Mayor, Jane Campbell, insisting that “Cleveland is a major terrorist target because we have a federal payroll center here and also the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame”. I thought she was out of her mind because no one I had ever met who was Muslim had ever even heard of Cleveland…so in my opinion attacking “The Home of Rock n’Roll” would be like the United States suddenly going to war against Andorra (which is a country most people have either never heard of or misbelieve is the planet annihilated by the Death Star where cinnamon-bun hairdos were so inexplicably popular). Chicago’s a bigger, cleaner, and more important version of Cleveland…but those same Muslims I’ve known from overseas had only a vague idea of where or what Chicago is. But, if in 2013 these monsters think Boston’s an interesting enough target for an attack then I guess all bets are off in any big city. Last year, the domestic terrorists of Occupy Wall Street attempted to blow up one of the bridges in Cleveland, too…which really makes it clear that this stuff can happen anywhere, at anytime, these days. YIKES.
I don’t think any of us should allow fear to rule our lives, though. The reason my boyfriend Justin’s in Arkansas right now is because his mother CarolAnne is beside herself over the revelations that the IRS has been targeting and persecuting conservatives. Justin was needed back home to sit with her, calm her down, and reassure her that this would be exposed and sorted out. CarolAnne’s a lovely woman — and is sweet and nice and a very good mom — but she readily admits to being terrified of one thing or another most days. For years, she’s insisted that Democrats were plotting against her personally and orchestrating elaborate conspiracies against pretty much all Republican voters…and this week sure seems to have proven her at least partly right! Great Merciful Zeus, this really does feel like something out of a horror movie…where I’ve spent so much time trying to get Justin to talk his mom off her ledge by telling her there really aren’t any monsters in the closet…but then we find out that some of her fears are real (even if they aren’t exactly what she was insisting upon).
When you get to a point where fear cripples you and prevents you from living your life, then it’s time to take a few steps back and inquire of yourself whether you are truly enjoying the gift of life you were granted. This is what Justin’s helping his mom with right now. I believe we’ve got one shot to spin around on this third rock from a gleaming sun and it’s up to us as individuals to choose whether that time’s spent in laughter or tears, adventure or terror. The world is a challenging and scary place and there seems to increasingly be more things out there that seek to harm Americans who love this country and all she stands for…but I think if we allow what frightens us to overpower us and rule our lives then we disappoint the inventive and optimistic God who created us.
I don’t think I’d ever let the fear of Muslims shooting up a theater in Chicago prevent me from watching a movie I really, really wanted to see…but I think I’d be smart about choosing the theater, the time I’d watch the movie, and where I’d sit inside just to remove as many threats as possible (figuring, I think accurately, that anything bad that was going to happen would probably happen opening night in as high a profile theater as possible…so a matinee a week after the movie opened in a non-touristy part of town might be the safest route).
Circling back to what I told you earlier, though…I just don’t have any desire to see a movie in a theater and would prefer to watch it at home on the computer screen when it finally makes it to Amazon Instant or Netlfix. Last night, the new Star Trek opened up and I was tempted to go see it because I love movies with great special effects set in space (okay, since we’re friends like that, it’s really because Chris Pine is a total babe)…but I really, really don’t want to give the studio that $15 just so they can turn around and give $5 of it to Obama acolytes. I did, however, not want to wait four months to find out what happens in the movie…so I read the spoiler-filled synopsis of this flick on TheMovieSpoiler.com (which is a great money saver, incidentally, as you can find out what happens in ALL the movies out right now without ever having to see them).
Unless it’s a movie that’s released by a pro-America, conservative-supporting, studio that will not give any of its profits to any Democrat-affiliated political group I am just not interested in buying a ticket. At 36, I just think those days for me are done and I just refuse to support the Ministry of Entertainment with full-price ticket purchase when a little patience and an internet connection can get me the same movie at home for 1/5 the cost.
[ Click above to check out TheMovieSpoiler.com --- the best and easiest way to find out what happens in all the new movies without ever paying a cent to see them. These are NOT reviews, but they are extremely detailed plot descriptions of everything that happens in the movie, kind of like mini-novelizations. ]
QUESTION FOR COMMENT: Do you feel even remotely this way about going to the movies too? Or am I completely in left field on this one?
What else is on your mind today on May 18th, 2013 that you think is important enough for your friends and neighbors to know?
Is this still America?
It’s definitely not how things should be…or could be…but it is the end result of electing Democrats to national office.
The unfolding revelations that the IRS has been vigorously used as a political weapon to intimidate and persecute Democrats’ enemies for the past four or five years is somehow unsurprising…considering the simple fact that this is exactly what the Left does when it holds any sort of power. A hallmark of Leftism is employing the Alinsky Rules for Radicals to devastating effect against all enemies…and Democrats consider anyone who opposes or even criticizes them in the slightest to be enemies who must be annihilated. Voting Democrat — ever — means you tacitly approve of this sort of behavior and on some level think it’s okay for government agencies to be used as weapons against fellow Americans.
We have a much bigger problem than just this IRS business, though. All of this is part of a larger cultural nightmare that’s the direct result of the Left taking complete control of our public school system and almost all colleges and universities. Several generations of children have been reared by the Left in those neighborhood indoctrination centers as “fellow travelers” who think weaponizing the IRS is okay…because it’s being done to conservatives…who are the “enemy”, as their teachers taught them in school since kindergarten. As long as something terrible is being done to an “enemy”, it’s perfectly fine with these people. The Ministry of Truth that is our national media reinforces this constantly.
Our culture has breached the tipping point…and we realistically can’t stop the Left’s complete takeover because this IRS business shows they have in fact won the Culture War already. We are an apartheid state, though, because the majority of Americans still believe in freedom and want this country to be the shining beacon of hope and guaranteed rights that the Founders engineered with our Constitution. The Left is an extreme minority in this country…and like all apartheid states controlled by a minority, the Left can only maintain its grip on power through draconian methods…and the weaponization of government agencies against its own citizens.
The Left spent 30 years in the wilderness concocting what’s proved to be an ingeniously effective plot to seize complete control of the country. But, the hard part for them will be keeping this control. I don’t believe that’s possible in a nation this size and with a population who isn’t as dumb as public education would seemingly make them. The Left promised a lot of these people that if only they could have control that a utopia would follow. Well, they certainly have that control. All “enemies” of the Left are being intimidated, persecuted, and systematically eliminated wherever possible. Yet…still there’s no utopia. This can only go on for so long before people start wondering if maybe, perhaps, their teachers in public school and professors in college weren’t wrong all those years and that maybe the people talking all day on MSNBC might be wrong in the brand of politics they’ve been selling.
Things are going to get much worse before they get any better. But, there is hope. The glorious thing about the Left being triumphant is that these people believe their own hype. They think they are the smartest people in any room — but, while they might indeed be cunning and clever, their fundamental worldview and economic theories are dead wrong. All those generations lost to indoctrination centers has seemingly required this moment in history where America is forced to see firsthand just how bad things can get with the Left in power…so that people can see for themselves how Leftist control over this country brings no one any good, save for the extreme elite on the Left who are enjoying what’s happening and dreaming of even more to come.
Americans are an interesting people, though, in that they will tolerate something until one day they just won’t take any more…and the proverbial sleeping giant awakens. There have been scores of companies that have found this out the hard way, when suddenly the public turned against them and a best-selling brand is deserted by customers, a chain of stores is forced to close because people avoid it like the plague, or some celebrity sees that nobody flocks to her movies any longer. Retrospect allows us to identify one particular event that set in motion the chain of events that led to the specific destruction of this or that product, company, or celebrity. It’s not always readily apparent when an event is occurring if that thing will be THE thing that brings down the house of cards.
This matter with the IRS has legs because it crosses a line for most Americans. It scares the bejeebus out of them, because the IRS is an understandable agency with direct impact on people. The IRS also has the power to have people put into jail…and almost every American knows at least one person who was subjected to an audit over the years. The thought of the IRS persecuting Americans with audits because of how they voted or what political beliefs they carry is terrifying. And when people start to make the mental leap and begin to understand that the IRS will be a key power player in the implementation of Obamacare…well, it does not take Americans long to realize that the ultimate goal of the Left is to systematically deny healthcare to people who “don’t vote correctly”.
It feels like we’re at that point in a horror movie where the mysterious villain finally reveals its master plan to the shocked audience…but Democrats truly do seem to want to use the IRS in the long term to identify conservatives not just for persecution in unwarranted tax audits…but to also ensure that Republican voters experience delays, hassles, and denial of services when Obamacare completely takes over the healthcare system. That means if there is a Democrat and a Republican both needing a heart transplant that the Democrat’s life will be saved while the Republican’s will not. That means one more Democrat voter in the long run and one fewer Republican in this world.
Scary, isn’t it? Like something from a horror movie…only it’s happening in real life here in 2013.
Spread the word…and start thinking of ways you can get this information out to people who abhor politics, who bore easily, and who pay little attention to what the government is doing to its own citizens.
[Click above to embiggen: how Rahm Emanuel became Mayor of Chicago in the first place]
Today, a friend of mine sent me this article by Rick Perlstein entitled “Rahm on the Ropes” and asked me what the feeling is here in Chicago towards Rahm Emanuel (and what that portends for his future as Mayor). Anecdotally, here a few recent things to note about the man (or lizard, in my opinion) who will be Mayor of Chicago for as long as he wants (but that’s as high as he will ever go):
* I happened to be at O’Hare Airport for something in January and needed to take the Blue Line back into the city. I was SHOCKED to learn that it now costs $5.00 to board a CTA subway train at the airports; apparently, that fee hike took effect that very week. There was actually a CTA employee stationed at the turnstiles because passengers getting on the train were confused and angry that the automatic system was deducting $5.00 from every train card instead of the normal $2.25 to ride. ”You can thank our wonderful mayor for that”, the clearly perturbed black CTA worker said, with a dramatic roll of her eyes and a knowing nod that expressed she didn’t like the fare hike any more than passengers did. The entire ride into the City was nothing but grumbles from people upset by how much it cost to ride the train. People were fuming in their seats…and frustrated there was nothing they could ever do about it, knowing that in Chicago once the price is raised on something it will never, ever come back down.
This move to double the train fare from the Airports was made because under Emanuel the City is going out of its way to soak tourists and travelers for as much as they can while they are here, figuring that people won’t stop coming to Chicago just because the train ride from the Airports costs double what the CTA charges to board at any other station…but what the City doesn’t think about is all of the black people who work at the airport and take the trains to get there. 90% of the TSA workers in Chicago are black, as are the food service, retail, and other airport employees. Since they board the trains at the Airport to ride home, Emanuel just doubled what it costs them for the return trip of their daily commute. That adds up to a lot of money per month for people working minimum wage…and I can’t imagine that’s not having unintended consequences in other aspects of life in the city, since it’s NOT just the tourists who are being gauged by this fare hike.
* Blacks are also going to be dramatically impacted by the plan to shut down the Red Line completely in May for a 5 or 6 month overhaul of the tracks on the Southside. The line’s being closed after the Roosevelt stop…and that will affect all the stops south to 95th/Dan Ryan. For those who don’t live in Chicago, these are the stops that are mostly used by black people (who will now have to struggle with shuttle buses to get to their jobs in other parts of this very segregated city). Emanuel claims that shutting down the entire line will save time and money, as opposed to only shutting it down on weekends to do track rehabilitation work. Right now, only a few people here and there talk about this disaster coming…but that’s because the trains are still running and no one is really paying attention. But, when May hits and the CTA trains stop serving the Southside…it’s going to get ugly.
* Public relations telephone polls and surveys happen all the time, with people calling every few weeks to ask opinions on Rahm Emanuel. That never happened when Mayor Daley was in office. The entire time I’ve lived in Chicago I was never polled about the Mayor until Emanuel took office…and now it seems like someone’s polling Chicagoans about a new crisis a week with him. An awful lot of money is being spent on this…and it makes you wonder why, since Democrats have a lock on the Chicago Mayor’s office (and, thus, you’d think they wouldn’t need to keep polling so much). This leads me to believe that people are grumbling so much with Emanuel as Mayor that Democrats want to keep tabs on the discord and always know just how upset people are on a rolling basis.
* There’s anger at Emanuel for his ineptitude in handling the teachers’ unions last year, but more people are upset that Chicago doesn’t have a casino. I hear that one all the time, because people say we’re losing jobs and money to Hammond, Indiana (just across the Illinois border) or to the casino that’s out in the suburbs and reachable by Metra trains. I’m from Cleveland, which fought a downtown casino for decades, and I’ve never understood the logic of allowing gambling residents to board buses to take their money to other states (or cities) to play their slots…when a city can keep that revenue (and all those jobs) in its city center. People seem to think having a casino means their town will turn into the dystopian “Biff’s” version of 1985 in Back to the Future…but does anyone really believe that having a casino in Chicago will suddenly make this city more corrupt or crime-ridden? I say at this point the city needs to do whatever it can to create jobs in Chicago and keep all the money it can…instead of letting anything leave for Hammond (which, incidentally, generates $22 million in tax revenue a month from its casino…and almost all of that is from people in Chicago who race across the border to hit the slots). Emanuel came into office promising that his bad temper and caustic way of doing things would pay dividends with stalled projects like the casino…but people have not seen that at all.
* Murders are out of control here and the street gangs do not fear the police or any kind of prosecution. It really is like the days of Al Capone again…and taking a trip to the Southside is like playing Russian roulette. Everyday life in Chicago feels less safe than when Mayor Daley was in office. I’m not sure why that is, but I think there was an emotional connection to Daley that made him feel like a no-nonsense uncle who’d crack skulls if the need arose. Daley seemed in control at all times…and that just made those of us who live here believe that he could apply the right pressure in any situation to make things happen. Emanuel has never seemed in control like that, and I think the thugs have absolutely no fear of him or any belief he can get the cops to really crack down on crime. So, essentially it’s become a free-for-all with Emanuel as Mayor.
* Cigarettes are $11 a pack now in Chicago, which is a big deal to all of the native Chicagoans. What I mean by that are the people who were born and raised here and live mostly in places like Bridgeport or off Polaski and in all the working-class neighborhoods with all the post-WWII squat brick single family homes. These are the people who obsessively play the lottery every day and who still smoke like chimneys (honestly, never, ever get behind one of these people in line at a convenience store because they take FOREVER picking out their lottery numbers and grumbling about the price of cigarettes…you will never be able to dash in and out for something quickly when they are in lottery or cigarette mode). Chicagoans are either natives or they’re young people who moved here to find jobs but leave after about seven or eight years when the weather gets to them or they realize life is probably a lot easier (and better) in other cities like Dallas or Austin. The people who were born in Chicago, have lived here their whole lives, and will no doubt die here are a different breed with vastly different concerns…and chief amongst those is the price of cigarettes. Most of these people find ways to cross the border into Indiana and buy “their smokes” at Wal-Mart over there, where a whole carton is now about the price of three or four packs in Chicago.
I need to note here how lizard-like and unappealing Rahm Emanuel is in general. He is not a nice person, and that shows. Truthfully, a nice person probably can’t really be the Mayor of Chicago but I will tell you that people loved Mayor Daley…even if they grumbled about him. Daley was charming and likable…and because he was Mayor for decades I think people just got used to him being around and accepting he was in charge. Following an affable figure like Daley with a caustic and petty man like Emanuel was a very strange decision on the part of Democrats in Illinois. I think it was really the worst move they could have made…and that a black Mayor would have been able to really crack down on the crime and bring the murder rate back into “acceptable” levels.
Conservatives never understand just how big a role race plays in Democrat politics, but in Chicago everything is about race. And to win the Mayor’s race, you have to remember that Emanuel needed the vote split 6 ways along specific racial lines…so willing clowns like Carol Mosely Braun, Patricia van Pelt Watkins, and William Dock Wells III gleefully split the black vote in the 2011 Mayor’s race…while buffoons Gery Chico and Miguel del Valle split the Hispanic vote to help Emanuel. Mosely Braun received a lot of money for her role in this and was able to wipe out a great deal of her longstanding debt by agreeing to be a stooge for Emanuel. Some of these others just liked the attention of being “a candidate for Mayor!” or enjoyed building some name recognition. It was all a big game though, because Democrats knew that having three black candidates on the ballot instead of just one meant that there was no way Chicago would have a black Mayor. Similarly, ensuring there are two Hispanics on there to split the Spanish-speaking/illegal Mexican vote means that Chicago doesn’t have a Hispanic Mayor. This is the game that Democrats play here that works so well in such a segregated city. All Emanuel needed was to be the only white person in the race and he’d win…which he did.
Republicans don’t even field a candidate for Mayor in Chicago because I think they are afraid of being punished for “interfering” with the Mayor’s race. Everything in this town is quid pro quo, so I think if Republicans don’t run anyone for Mayor then Democrats agree not to go after the seats of the token Republicans who do hold office in the Chicagoland area. And those Republicans enjoy being tokens and having their little positions, so they don’t ever want to rock the vote.
I always hope black people wise up one day and see how Democrats treat them no better than animals…because if Carol Mosely Braun and William Dock Walls III had just dropped out of the Mayor’s race in 2011, then that Patricia van Pelt Watkins could have solidified the black vote against Emanuel….while the Hispanic vote was still split between the two Spanish-speaking candidates…and I don’t know if Emanuel could have won if blacks were all focused on just one candidate.
But, getting people to see things like this is very much like herding cats. I’m really at the point of just giving up and accepting that this is how it’s always going to be in this city, where people have become so dumb that they’ll always fall into whatever trap Democrats set for them. Even though it keeps hurting them all on a personal level that they just never connect back to keeping Democrats in office.
I don’t see how Rahm Emanuel is ever ousted from the Mayor’s office because of how expertly the Left exploits race in this City…but I don’t see how this would ever translate into a presidential run for this lizard. Barack Obama owes everything to being “black”…and the last five years of American politics have been anomalous because we’ve had a black man as the head of the Democrat party. Things change immensely in 2016 when a black person most likely will not be at the top of the Democrats’ ticket…or even be in contention for the nomination. What has Rahm Emanuel ever done that would convince black people to support him with the same level of enthusiasm they’ve shown for one of their own like Obama? It’s ludicrous to think that. So, he (and any non-black Democrat) will be at an immediate disadvantage in 2016.
Next, you need to look at this man’s physical appearance and personality…and see that he is very much lizard-like. He’s also foul-tempered, bitter and angry, and prone to hurling curses and vile pejoratives at people he disagrees with. Emanuel is a very unstable person with possible bipolar disorder…and he’s infamous for sending dead fish to people in the mail or screaming at men while nude in the Congressional gang showers.
Emanuel is also gay and has staffed his Mayor’s office on the fifth floor of City Hall with as many Zac Efron-looking young male interns as he can find. Watching the Oscars, it was hilarious to see George Clooney dragging around yet another woman as his “date” or to see the other Hollywood actors who sport their own “beards”…and it’s so funny to me that a lot of straight people can’t tell that Emanuel’s gay. He’s a former ballerina who used to frequent the Man’s Country bathhouse here in Chicago before becoming a big national name…and his marriage is very much one of convenience. There are scores of young guys here in Chicago were part of a Rahm Emanuel “placement program”, where they had to be his boy toys for a while…but then were ultimately rewarded with recommendations into the top law firms, brokerage houses, or whatever after Emanuel moved onto the next hot young thing. This has been going on for years…and is the sort of thing that happens all the time in politics, particularly when it involves people who consider themselves untouchable (like Emanuel).
Could a foul-tempered, mean-spirited, and lizard-like petty tyrant become President? I don’t think so, because though Barack Obama’s personality is actually a lot like Emanuel’s (and they seem to have similar taste in boys) there was a stark difference in how the public at large reacts to these men. The majority of Americans like Obama, think he’s “cool”, and have a generally good impression of him on a personal level. They know nothing about who he really is and don’t really care, because they like supporting the “hip, black guy”…and that’s a brand that’s served him and those around him very well. Rahm Emanuel just doesn’t have that going for him….and he can’t suddenly transform himself physically into an attractive and likable person. The lizard in his DNA just can’t be transformed enough for him to run for President.
This is actually kind of like the Ministry of Truth that is our national media talking about Michael Bloomburg running for President when that just never made sense either. Bloomburg is not as lizard-like as Emanuel, but he still gives many people the creeps…and that’s a high hurdle to face before he’d even have to justify his policies and decisions in office to people. Democrats are great at hiding someone’s past or obscuring their personal beliefs and record…but even the best spinmeisters on the Left can’t take a naturally unappealing person who gives people the creeps and make that person into a credible presidential candidate. Andrew Cuomo’s going to have a big problem with this too, if he really thinks he can become a presidential candidate…and so for the good of the country I think it might be funny and interesting to see Emanuel, Bloomburg, or Cuomo mount an ill-fated presidential campaign. I just hope Republicans aren’t stupid enough to run someone even more unappealing against a guy like that.
Every day I realize I’m really nearing the end of my time in Chicago. The city is getting to me…and the fun I used to have here is just largely gone for me. There’s just too much wrong with the place since Emanuel became Mayor and things I used to be able to tolerate when Daley was in office just seem to bother me more now that Emanuel’s the public face behind these policies. The classic example I’ll leave you with is the city’s never-ending quest to snatch revenue from Chicagoans via parking tickets. There is an elaborate game that any driver in the city needs to play to avoid parking tickets…where there’s often a half a dozen signs giving conflicting instructions, with oddball requirements and warnings posted that require LSAT or SAT-level logic deductions to figure out if, yes, you can actually park in that spot today. Chicago has always been this way, but for some reason it felt like more of a game than an ordeal when Daley was Mayor.
I don’t know if that will make any sense to you, but when Mayor Daley was the public face of the City this “try not to get a parking ticket no matter how hard they try to trick you” thing felt more like an adventure…like, by parking your car you were engaging Mayor Daley in a high-stakes board game played on the streets of Chicago…and whoever knew the rules better won, but Daley wasn’t necessarily rooting against you and wouldn’t be upset with your beating him. With Emanuel, it’s just a totally different vibe now. Whenever Justin and I go anywhere and he parks the car there’s a real negative energy involved with the parking signs or dealing with the incredibly expensive parking meters. I feel a real heaviness in the air when I’m standing there in the cold with my notebook, trying to figure out if today is the third Friday of a month or a day when there’s a Sox or Cubs game or if there could be considered more than two inches of snow on the ground…or whatever other bizarre clues the signs are giving us to indicate whether or not we can park in that spot.
Since Emanuel’s been Mayor, it just feels like the game is now rigged and the deck is so stacked against everyone that I don’t wan to play anymore. I feel oppressed and overburdened by the action of the City of Chicago that it drains my energy to stand there and contemplate the parkings signage. This is not just because I’ve been living here for so long that the “adventure” of the Daley days is gone…it really is like playing Monopoly or Clue or whatever, but instead of playing it with a jovial person you like it’s now a game against a lizard-like and mean-spirited jackass. And it’s emotionally draining after a while.
I pick up on other people in Chicago feeling like this these days…and I don’t see how this man could mount a national campaign for office when this is the sort of impression he leaves on people.
The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet — PART SEVEN: Happy Ten Year Anniversary to “The Streisand Effect”!
[Click above to embiggen: The Streisand Effect at work in Chicago law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson]
Editor’s Note: This is Part Seven in our ongoing investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet”. Parts one through six of the series can be found HERE, on our Mysteries page. What started as a simple letter to the Senior Partners of a Chicago law firm informing them of the filthy and unsanitary conditions of their lobby carpeting and stinky men’s room somehow evolved into a groundbreaking theory on 21st Century economic “canaries in a coal mine” that could be predicting a massive financial collapse on our horizon (or it’s just confirming what many of us already believe: that we’re currently in an economic Depression that the Ministry of Truth that is our national media won’t acknowledge for political reasons). In epistolary fashion, we’ve been reaching out to various experts in the fields of 70s sitcoms, cleaning, legal thrillers, politics, and hospitality for their unique perspectives on the deeper meaning of the stains plaguing the carpets at the offices of Hinshaw & Culbertson.
Today we’re taking a look at a tangential aspect of all of this…which involves “The Streisand Effect”…and what happens when an arrogant entity attempts to censor information it finds embarrassing and its heavy-handed legal tactics end up blowing up in its face.
Oddly enough, this month just happens to be the 10th “anniversary” of “The Streisand Effect”, which is a phenomenon that’s actually taught to first year students in law school. For those unfamiliar with this Internet meme, it involves a vainglorious legal battle that Barbra Streisand waged against a photographer/environmentalist named Kenneth Adelman back in 2003.
Adelman worked on an erosion study of the California coast that involved photographing the cliffs and beaches from a helicopter and then compiling them into one continuous, miles-long panoramic image…which could be compared to later versions of the same coastline survey to visually detect the effects of erosion (in a before-and-after, lapsed time sense). This project had absolutely nothing to do with singer Barbra Streisand…until she made it all about her by suing to censor the photos included in the study that captured her Malibu oceanfront mansion on film.
I found a nice recap of Streisand’s ludicrous legal actions HERE…which notes that before Streisand sued to censor the photos, the images of her home on the California coast had been viewed just six times. After she went after Adelman in court for photographing her estate, a half million people looked at his pictures to see what all the fuss was about. By thinking she was rich and powerful enough to censor something she didn’t particularly like and possibly found embarrassing…she actually ended up creating a public relations nightmare for herself (and, honestly, turned herself into an absolute laughingstock (or, more so than usual)).
Augie Ray, a talented writer who covers brand-management and marketing trends, took the time recently to honor the “10th anniversary of The Streisand Effect” by looking at some other recent examples of various entities not learning a damn thing from what Streisand did to herself by suing that photographer. Some of the examples of recent “Streisand Effect” incidents include:
* singer Beyonce trying to sue to have photos she didn’t like taken down…only to have millions of more people see the photos because she threatened legal action against a website (and thus made the embarrassing photos fascinating to scores of people)
* NASCAR demanding video of a crash be pulled from YouTube…which just caused that clip in question to become the hottest trending YouTube video of the month when NASCAR tried to censor it
* Labatt beer suing to remove a photo of a murderer drinking a can of its product…which only incited the Internet to shame Labatt’s for its heavy-handedness (and drew much greater attention to the photo than if Labatt’s had said nothing and completely ignored it)
* McDonald’s suing a London environmentalist who distributed fliers accusing the company of polluting practices…but this ended up giving that environmentalist more publicity and exposure for the charges than he ever dreamed possible.
I bet you can find lots of examples of “The Streisand Effect” in action, too…now that you’re aware of what it is and can see that arrogant entities often end up creating massive public relations problems for themselves by allowing emotion to influence their decisions when someone in a board room starts revving everybody up to sue. I’d love to hear about your own experiences with this in comments or in a private email about it.
Funnily enough, I seem to find myself in the middle of a “Streisand Effect” situation myself at the moment…which I am documenting for brand-management historians like Augie Ray and others to use in future updates of this better-than-buttah phenomenon in action; this, of course, involves the law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson’s efforts here in Chicago to censor my investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet”…because the Senior Partners of the firm are seemingly embarrassed that I took photographs of their filthy lobby carpeting and also described the stinky conditions of their third floor men’s room. So, somebody at the firm decided to target me for reprisal and demand I be censored so that none of you reading this would be able to see the filthy carpets in the Hinshaw & Culbertson Chicago offices. You know, these:
[ Click above to embiggen: the photos I keep running every single day because big law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson went to court to stop me ]
Scott M. Gilbert, one of the young partners in the firm, appeared in open federal court last week and demanded I be censored with a court order that would prevent me from writing about the filthy carpeting and stinky men’s room I observed (and photographed, in the case of the lobby) when I came to the Hinshaw offices on 2/20/2013 to meet with Mr. Gilbert as a witness in a major discrimination case working its way to trial at the moment. Mr. Gilbert also asked that I be “strongly admonished” for writing about what I’d observed at the firm. Another lawyer who was there that day later told me I was “admonished”, so ladies and gentlemen…I am officially an admonished person (which I think might actually be homophobic since I’m gay and I know full well it would have been considered racist to “admonish” me if I was black).
Mr. Gilbert is, apparently, incredibly interested in articles I’ve written here on HillBuzz.org about a prominent gay bar in Chicago that’s been accused of persecuting its Christian employees…which is the height of hypocrisy, considering the fact that this bar’s owners routinely take to any media available calling Christians bigots and accusing religious people of persecuting and hating gays. Since I’ve been documenting the terrible things this bar often does towards Christians, women, black people, the disabled, and other minorities, Mr. Gilbert believes all of my writing on this matter will be important when this particular discrimination case goes to trial.
In my opinion, it’s going to be the Trial of the Century when it comes to Boystown…so buy stock in Orville Reddenbacher while you still can. I will no doubt take the stand as a witness and Great Merciful Zeus only knows what will happen. I’m hoping that Jake Gyllenhaal plays me in the movie, but I’ll settle for Joaquin Phoenix. That guy who played the gay brother on “Brothers and Sisters” and is in “The Americans” now is also good.
For reasons unclear, Mr. Gilbert has claimed that he and the other law school graduates at Hinshaw & Culbertson couldn’t work the search function that’s available for free here on HillBuzz.org (which you can find in the right sidebar just under the ads at the top) and were not able to use it to find the articles I’ve written about the bar that’s been charged with multiple counts of discrimination and other harassment. I think that’s just stupid, because the search box is so easy to use…but maybe I just know more about computers than Mr. Gilbert and his colleagues (who I just can’t help imagining furiously hitting TAB whenever they’re thirsty…and then sadly staring at the USB ports in the back of their laptops, wondering why the diet soda’s not squirting out).
Bizarrely, Mr. Gilbert also demanded every article I’ve ever written about Hillary Clinton…which pretty much amounts to the entire first two years or so of HillBuzz’s existence (back when the “Hill” in the site’s name was a reference to Mrs. Clinton and the site itself was written by and geared towards supporters of her 2008 presidential campaign and early days as Secretary of State). There’s probably 3,000 or so articles that would fit those parameters, with an average of around 5,000 words an article. I told Mr. Gilbert through counsel that he could use the search function to find articles on Hillary Clinton that I’d written by typing “Hillary Clinton” into the search box…but Mr. Gilbert insisted he and the other law school graduates at Hinshaw & Culbertson couldn’t figure out how the search box worked for that either. And so he demanded I print out all articles I’d written on Hillary Clinton…which would have cost me hundreds of manpower hours and something like $6,000 in printing costs (which I just don’t have available to spend on something like this when I’m just a witness in this case and not even one of the parties). Meanwhile, all of this material was available to him (and to all of you) anytime he wants it by just using that search box or the monthly archives feature that’s found on the sidebar.
That meeting with Mr. Gilbert at the Hinshaw firm on 2/20/2013 was supposed to be a chance for me to teach Mr. Gilbert and his fellow law school graduates how to type search terms into the box and then find the articles they want on the results page the search generates. In my opinion, this was like asking me to come all the way down to the Hinshaw offices to teach these people how to use the Internet in general (because it’s the year 2013 and search boxes are pretty standard-issue on websites). I’m baffled by the thought of these people being able to use LexisNexis to find cases to cite in their briefs and arguments…but the search function on a political website like ours stymies them. The nuns who taught me in Catholic school instilled a zeal to help the hapless whenever possible…so I gladly came down to the Hinshaw offices to be of service to Mr. Gilbert and his associates and teach them how to do whatever they needed to learn on the Internet. That was a pretty long trek for me, since it’s rare these days for me to ride the Red Line all the way into the Loop, but if Mr. Gilbert wanted to learn how to use the Internet better and be able to find things in search boxes then it was the Christian thing for me to meet him at his office and help him.
When I got there, it turned out the law firm was having a big party for some guy named Don Bozo…and everyone was so distracted by this that it was impossible for Mr. Gilbert to find a conference room in which we could meet. There’s something about free food, drinks, and the possibility of there even being cake that makes office workers ridiculously excited. Mr. Gilbert couldn’t take me to his own office (for some reason), but I could have shown him how to run searches for “gay bar” or “Hillary Clinton” on HillBuzz.org there. I don’t know why we couldn’t just go to his office, but I have since come to wonder if it’s because his office wasn’t any cleaner than the firm’s lobby (which was strangely the place they were having the party for Don Bozo, even though its carpets were filthy and its men’s room looked like Stephen King decorated it).
Mr. Gilbert left me alone in the lobby for a long time while he ran around trying to find a meeting room for the computer lesson I expected to give him…which left me staring at the filthy carpeting for so long I got the idea to photograph it, since I started thinking about how bizarre it was that these people would let their lobby get so dirty when their clients would have to sit there while waiting to see their attorneys. And that made me wonder if maybe the firm just couldn’t afford to keep the lobby clean anymore…and if that was true, then what did it mean for the state of our national economy (and how many other businesses were so on the ropes in the Obama Regime that they, too, had to skimp on the basics like carpet cleaning just to keep the lights on these days)?
Well, Mr. Gilbert didn’t like that I started writing about this and got very upset with me. He went before a federal judge and asked for that order to censor me, because he claimed it was “harassment” for me to write about Hinshaw & Culbertson’s filthy carpets and stinky men’s room. This is very similar to Barbra Streisand claiming it was harassment for that photographer to snap shots of her mansion along the California coastline and publish them to his website. I didn’t wake up on the morning of February 20th with any desire to write about Hinshaw & Culbertson…and I certainly had no prescience that I’d encounter filth in their offices on my visit…but I’m a journalist and essayist who finds inspiration for stories wherever I go in Chicago. If Mr. Gilbert and his superiors at Hinshaw & Culbertson don’t particularly like ‘The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpets” then maybe they should think about whether it was penny-wise-but-pound-foolish to cut back on the carpet cleaning and washroom maintenance, since I never could have written about any of this if the carpets weren’t honest-to-goodness filthy (as you can clearly see in the photos).
I don’t think that a law firm can censor embarrassing photos of its lobby (or unflattering descriptions of its men’s room) any more than Barbra Streisand could yank photos of her home that she didn’t particularly like. I know that Mr. Gilbert’s first attempt to get a court order to silence me failed…and that the judge had to instruct him that he couldn’t even ask for something like that verbally, but had to write his request to censor me up in a proper motion (which Mr. Gilbert didn’t seem to know to do); it’s a week later and I haven’t heard about any other attempt by him or the Hinshaw firm to use a federal court to come after me for talking about their filthy carpet and dirty men’s room…but I think it’s pretty endemic to supporters of Barack Obama that these people would even try.
I think Mr. Gilbert and Ms. Streisand seem to have a lot in common…in thinking that just because they don’t particularly like something that they can have it censored…just because they said so. That’s just not how America works, though, even with the Left now in full control over the country. This is all remarkably topical because today the Drudge Report has been running story after story about the Left vowing to come after Bob Woodward and silence him because they don’t like recent criticisms he’s made of Obama. I really need to write to him later tonight and let him know I’m kind of experiencing the same sort of censorship push from Hinshaw & Culbertson that he’s now getting from the Ministry of Truth that serves Obama.
This really is the Left in action…lashing out, trying to abuse power, and going for the jugular whenever anyone says anything they don’t particularly like (or that embarrasses them). Using various databases to inspect the political contributions made by members of the Hinshaw & Culbertson firm in recent years, I am not surprised to find so many maxed-out supporters of Barack Obama in its Chicago office in particular. It just seems to be in these people’s DNA to behave the way the Left always behaves when confronted by someone who speaks the truth and embarrasses them.
The funny thing is, I would have probably lost interest in the filthy carpets and stinky men’s room if Mr. Gilbert hadn’t tried to obtain that court order to censor and silence me.
By coming at me like that in open court, he made me realize that the dirty carpets in a big law firm really was a 21st Century canary in the coal mine for our economy…and that if Hinshaw & Culbertson wanted to go to such extremes to keep people from finding out it had filthy carpets in its lobby and a feculent swamp of a men’s room, then maybe there was a much bigger story here than I first realized.
Which is, of course, what happened.
Much like what Barbra Streisand herself did ten years ago that turned a little-known erosion study into a longstanding Internet meme. Just imagine what possibilities thus await “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” as this investigation continues to pick up speed.
Check back later for my letter of solidarity to Bob Woodward about all of this, as soon as I’ve finished it.
The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet — PART SIX: The Subtle Warning Signs of Impending Doom in YOUR Area
[ Click above to embiggen: Canaries in a Coal Mine, more relevant than ever today ]
NOTE to OUR READERS: This is PART SIX in a ten-part investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” and its true meaning in the bigger picture of what’s happening in our nation’s economy here in 2013. A recap of the investigation so far can be found HERE...and the complete collected Mystery is archived in our special “Mysteries” page in the HillBuzz.org archive, where mysteries such as this will continue to be solved in the spirit of our “political action, analysis, and adventure” mission around here. As always, there is an easy-to-use Search Box located just to the right in the sidebar (as well as an archive of articles by month)…should you have any desire to look up absolutely everything I’ve written on any topic in the entire existence of this site.
I need to take a moment to thank all of you out there who are assisting our mystery solving efforts either in comments or through private emails…because it’s been a lifelong goal of mine to tackle the most important issues of our time via epistolary investigations such as this…which reach out to the great experts of our age (and retired cast members of tee-vee shows I always liked) for their own input. We’re living in a time when the national media has become a true Ministry of Truth that protects all of the Left’s secrets…leaving only amateur sleuths and armchair detectives like ourselves to expose everything that the Obama Regime doesn’t want the public to know. Through prayer, hard work, and determination I believe we can get to the bottom of a great many things…one mystery and letter-to-whomever at a time.
It’s become clear that the Left has indeed won the Culture War and we’re faced with the reality that everything set in motion in the public school system and the media ranks in the 70s, 80s, and 90s has at last come to fruition in the here and now…but if you believe, as I do, that the very concept of an “America” as we know it is still important to the world, then we must endeavor to do a little bit each day to undermine the Left’s current stranglehold on power. That means tackling one mystery at a time in a thoughtful and determined way that turns a lot of the Left’s favored tactics against them.
I am proud and delighted to have your help with mystery-solving and thank you in advance for all the ideas, intel, and information you will hopefully continue to provide as this series continues as a daily feature here. Before you know it, we’ll all emerge as mystery-solvers unlike any who have ever existed in the political world…with no ready counter to our work on the Left and limitless potential for what next we can focus on.
KD for HB, Chicago — 2/27/2013
Today marks the stage in concerted mystery-solving where everything starts to really heat up and happen rapid-fire…with lots of emails, calls, and messages pouring in from all over the country offering insight into our new economic theory that “dirty carpets in a big law firm” is an idiomatic 21st Century update of the old canard “canaries in a coal mine”. Since it takes a hot, shirtless miner with an iPhone to make coal shafts or canaries relevant to a lot of people today (particularly the self-obsesssed and difficult-to-focus “Millennials”, or those who were taught in public school that “coal is evil”), I think addressing the observable warning signs of an impending economic collapse in more relatable terms is crucial to getting the word out that we’re all in much greater danger than the Ministry of Truth that is our national media would ever have us believe.
If you’ve been following our investigation, you’ll know that the germ for this new economic theory originated with my exposure to the filthy carpeting I found in the lobby of the purportedly prestigious law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson in downtown Chicago on 2/20/2013…where I additionally discovered a men’s washroom that appeared neglected and not-cleaned for some time (with standing water on the floor, severely clogged toilets, and feces bobbing in urine under flickering, creepshow lighting). The shock of walking into a shiny, steel-and-glass high rent skyscraper in the middle of the Loop and encountering filthy and unsanitary conditions more predictable in the Third World inspired me to think about the general shabbiness I’d noticed in other unexpected places in recent years. In fact, staring at that filthy carpet on the waiting room couch at the Hinshaw firm made me realize that myriad establishments I’d visited since 2008 were similarly coming apart at their seams.
It just all can’t be a big coincidence…and I know this is not just happening here in Chicago; it must be part of something bigger that the Ministry of Truth just doesn’t want us to talk about and the Obama Regime is desperate to keep hidden at all costs. Dirty carpeting in a big law firm is one piece in a bigger puzzle that, when assembled with other clues YOU are picking up where you live, completes a larger picture of just how much 2008′s “Hope and Change” became “Misery and Ruin” by 2013.
[ Click above to embiggen: the actual filthy carpets at the Hinshaw & Culbertson offices that inspired the "dirty carpets in a big law firm" idiomatic meme ]
I took a walk around my neighborhood here in Boystown today and tried to keep aware enough of my surroundings to detect any oddities similar to the filthy lobby carpeting at Hinshaw & Culbertson downtown. It’s stunning how little time or effort it took to see that our emerging economic theory is right…and that all around us there are serious indicators that the Obama Regime’s impact on our economy has caused all sorts of “stress fractures” that are visible to anyone who cares to see them. And this, I remind you, is before the full blow of Obamacare hits business in January 2014 (with massive layoffs expected across the board in all industries where some of Obama’s mandates can be avoided by drastically shrinking an employer’s payroll).
This all makes me think of a very heavy, iron weight placed haphazardly atop a block of ice or a glass container…and the heaviness of that burden has caused chips and cracks in what’s trapped beneath it; it is now obvious to observers like us that a collapse is coming (though we still don’t have enough information on the system to determine precisely when total failure will occur). I don’t know very much about managing a law firm, but I at one time was a manager in a large hotel back in Cleveland and I can assure you that if we ever allowed our carpets to look like those photographed above that it would be a matter of just a few months before the hotel would have to close its doors. That’s because the very last thing we would ever cut back on before we could no longer stay in business would be shampooing the rugs and making sure the bathrooms were spotless. If whatever financial weight was upon our business that we felt pressured to stop cleaning the carpets and to turn the men’s rooms back over to nature just to save a few shekels, then Great Merciful Zeus our days as a business would have truly been numbered.
There is just no corner of my wildest imagination where our hotel would have ever been allowed to fall into the sort of ruin I observed in the Hinshaw & Culbertson offices last week.
On my walk around Boystown this morning, I thought about this…and about any hospitality venues in the city who clearly couldn’t survive in the current Obama economy…or who were forced to drastically cutback on goods or services. A great many restaurants and other small businesses have closed around Chicago in the last three or four years (which amounts to a very rapid die-off in a city where these sorts of establishments seemed fairly stable and secure up until 2008); interestingly for our purposes, all of these places that closed appeared shabby and evidenced “stress fractures” (like filthy carpets and uncleaned men’s rooms) in the months leading up to their closings.
Just off the top of my head I can think of the “Orange” chain of breakfast-only eateries that I’ve written about before…which shrank from a four-restaurant chain in the city to just two locations in the last year or so; before Orange closed the Boystown and downtown stores, it seemed like all maintenance and upkeep stopped in those restaurants. Those now-shuttered Orange outlets just didn’t sparkle or seem as clean as they always used to be. I happen to love Orange, so it was heart-breaking to watch their standards decline so precipitously; in retrospect, I now understand that the heavy burden of our current economic woes just forced this company to skimp on essentials…until the Obama economy necessitated laying off half its staff and closing two locations.
A pattern’s emerging here, where first a place starts to look shabby…then the quality of its services drops…and finally it cuts its staff and eventually shuts its doors for good.
Other restaurants in the neighborhood have drastically shrank their portions and have stopped doing elaborate menu changes for the seasons (since it’s much cheaper not to change gears and do creative or special things for a limited time only). Nookie’s Tree, a favorite eatery on Halsted, was seemingly unable to afford a reprinting of their menus…so they just ran-off copies of a Word document for inserts and used a black Sharpie to cross out all the things they no longer offered their customers. Based on my understanding of the hospitality industry, I saw a direct correlation between expensive ingredients and the drastic cuts to the Nookie’s menu…since everything crossed out was either too costly to continue serving or was very labor-intensive (and, thus, a drain on the bottom line if perhaps the kitchen staff was sliced in a budget cut behind-the-scenes). You might not realize just how sensitive restaurants are to changes in food costs…or how little wiggle room for error there is in budgeting a restaurant to stay in business and remain worth the time and energy of keeping the doors open.
Charlie Trotter’s, a gourmet Chicago staple for over a quarter century, shuttered late last year…under a weird cloud of obfuscation that it was because the eponymous chef “wanted to do something else with his life and maybe study philosophy”. That sounds a lot like when a politician is forced from office but cites a sudden desire “to spend more time with his family” as his primary motivation for disappearing into obscurity. At one point prior to 2008, Trotter sat atop an empire of restaurants, publications, retail, and even a tee-vee show…but one by one his restaurants in other cities closed, he stopped putting out new books, his “Trotter’s to Go” epicurean shop boarded up, and then his signature Chicago restaurant folded. I just don’t see any of this as being voluntary, because the man loved what he did and was the sort who spared absolutely no expense to bring the world’s greatest ingredients to the platings on his degustation menu.
Seeing Charlie Trotter’s close and the entire Trotter’s gourmet brand essentially vanish in the last few years was shocking…because even in the Great Depression the fine-dining and luxury brands didn’t collapse, because people who had the money to afford the 1930s equivalent of Trotter’s never lost their ability to keep drinking champagne and enjoying 12-course “tasting menus”…even while everyone else around them wondered where their next meals would be had. We are in uncharted territory where it’s not just the places like Orange or Nookie’s that are evidencing economic “stress fractures” in service and staffing cuts…but the likes of Charlie Trotter lose empires they built painstakingly by hand over 25 years (and their collapse happens in just three or four years under Barack Obama’s stewardship of our country).
Honestly and truly wrap your heads around this, but Trotter is a man who lost an empire he built and successfully ran for 25 years…but it all crumbled to pieces and was then swept away by changes made to our country by Barack Obama and the Democrats currently in power. I know you see this happening where you live, too, with people always known in your community for building something wonderful from scratch that has just not been profitable since 2008 when our entire world was changed by the Left.
The grocery stores around here seem to lack a lot of the more exotic fruits and vegetables that were always so plentiful before 2008. Pomegranates and water chestnuts are just two ingredients that I used to enjoy including in various dishes that are suddenly difficult to find, even at Whole Foods. I put pomegranate seeds in salads and also enjoy making jelly and a Persian chicken dish with them, but I have not seen the giant baskets of pomegranates in any store in Chicago in the last three years; when I first moved here, every year during pomegranate season there would be enormous displays of this fruit (but now, there’s none to be found). Similarly, the fresh water chestnuts that I like using in kung pao or orange chicken are never in the produce section any longer…and the canned versions are about a dollar more costly since Obama took power. I’ve talked often on this site about the chicken itself being around two or three dollars more per pound than it was when George W. Bush was still president…and the same is true for every other meat I buy at the store. Even the once “cheap” meats like short ribs or pork belly are ridiculously expensive all of a sudden. So much so, in fact, that sometimes going to the grocery store I feel like those old pictures I remember in textbooks of life just after WWII in Germany, where it took barrels of marks just to buy bread and milk. This is, indeed, the “Change” we were delivered by Democrats.
All of this, I believe, is attributable to the Left’s desire to hike gasoline prices as high as possible…because I think it’s the fastest way they have come up with to tank our economy completely. Grocery stores and restaurants are uniquely impacted by hikes in gasoline because everything they sell is shipped on large trucks from farms, and then shipped two or three more times on various modes of transportation until it’s received at a loading dock and prepared for customer purchase. Each step in that supply chain adds a higher fuel charge that the shipping companies are passing onto consumers…and that ultimately results in me feeling like it’s now costing barrels full of cash just to keep dinner on the table for Justin and me.
I applaud and deeply respect all of you out there who are somehow managing to do this for large families, because I have a $300/month grocery budget that I need to be more creative each month to survive on for the two of us…and I couldn’t even imagine how I’d be able to stretch even double that to feed a household with children.
I think the restaurants that have gone out of business or have dramatically shrank their operations were victims of the gasoline hikes, since their purchasing costs are much higher than a family’s would be. The grocery stores are probably decreasing the number of shipments they receive, or just forgoing certain items because they’ve become too costly to order from their purveyors…and there’s no longer a justifiable profit margin in even carrying the pomegranates, water chestnuts, or whatever any more. Why spend limited resources bringing in things that aren’t helping the bottom line in a period of history where loss-leaders and exotics just aren’t worth the effort anymore because of the gasoline prices?
I bet you can think of all sorts of things like this that you notice where you live…and I invite you to add them in comments below, because one of the worst fears of those in the Ministry of Truth is that regular people on the ground will communicate amongst one another the things that they see happening where they live…and then start piecing it together that none of this is isolated or specific to one city or town. This is not just something that’s happening in Chicago because our sales tax is high or because Illinois is so messed up. It has nothing to do with winter here or other common excuses. It’s all part of a much bigger picture that indicates that, YES, we are currently in an economic Depression (and this is precisely where the Leftists want us to be, since they see a manufactured crisis like this to be the perfect opportunity to cease complete power).
People often feel powerless in the face of a reality like this and wonder, “Well, what can I do?”…and I think the first thing to do is to start talking openly about all of it. That’s one of the things that totalitarian and repressive regimes dread the most…when ordinary people start effectively communicating with one another and everyone can see that the same terrible things that are happening in Chicago are going on in Cleveland and Pittsburgh and Los Angeles and Houston too. Democrats gain and maintain power by carving everyone up into tiny fiefdoms and increasingly more specific buckets…but if communicate with each other and talk about all the warning signs we can detect that this really is a Depression and that things are indeed going to get worse before they get any better, then the Ministry of Truth will ultimately not be able to suppress the truth any longer.
“The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpets” might not have made sense to some of you when I first launched this important investigation last week, but I truly do believe the Holy Spirit pushed me to see a deeper meaning in those dirty stains at the Hinshaw & Culbertson offices (and their pigsty of a men’s room) that relates to this sort of thing happening all over the place…in businesses that before 2008 would have never dreamed they’d allow their offices to become so filthy or their store shelves to go bare. But, here in 2013 we’re all encountering surprise filth in places we used to take for granted would be immaculately clean…and I can honestly say I never experienced anything like this before in all of my life. It really is the sort of thing I only encountered in communist countries or dreadful places like Mexico or India…and I never thought skyscrapers in Chicago would fall into this sort of similar neglect and disrepair.
Several days ago, after my investigation was launched, Scott M. Gilbert (the young partner in the Hinshaw firm whom I was supposed to meet with the day I went there) asked a judge here in Chicago for a court order to silence me…because he claimed it was “harassment” for me to tell all of you about the filthy carpeting and the dirty men’s room at Hinshaw’s corporate headquarters. I think he was mad because I let the Senior Partners know that I was there because he was supposed to have a meeting with me and maybe they were upset with him for having me come to their offices when they all knew it was so dirty up there. The judge refused to give Mr. Gilbert such a gag order and told him that if he wanted to complain about me that he’d have to write a motion and present it to her (since apparently you have to do this sort of thing in writing and Mr. Gilbert wasn’t allowed to just blurt it aloud in open court because he was so upset at that moment). I personally think this was all kind of ridiculous of Mr. Gilbert to do, because if you really are embarrassed and don’t want anyone to know about how filthy the carpets were in your offices or how stinky your men’s room was then I don’t understand the strategy behind trying to get a court order to silence the guy who is talking about it. The net effect of that is really just the “Streisand Effect” of drawing more attention and interest to the story than ever would have existed if you hadn’t tried to make it a federal issue (literally…in a federal court, before a judge who is widely believed to be on the shortlist for a future Supreme Court nomination). This is totally the sort of embarrassing thing I’d pretend wasn’t even happening, instead of making it more interesting for everyone following the ongoing investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet”.
I haven’t heard anything more about any motion since, but I don’t see how it’s possible for a big law firm like Hinshaw & Culbertson to prevent a visitor like me from telling all of you about the filthy and unsanitary conditions I found when I came to their headquarters for a meeting (especially since I took pictures as proof of how bad it was). If a company really was able to order someone’s silence, then I don’t see how YELP! would still be in existence…since frequently people write on that site about filthy conditions in restaurants, bars, hotels, doctors offices, etc. and I don’t see how law firms have any sort of special privilege afforded to them that would prevent people from describing the dirty carpets they find in such big law firms.
Hinshaw & Culbertson might not like the fact that their filthy carpet and stinky men’s room inspired not only my investigation but a new Internet meme…but considering the First Amendment I don’t think there’s a whole lot that they can do about it (besides regret not keeping the carpets cleaned and the washroom tidied to begin with).
Mr. Gilbert was very upset, however, that I told people about what I’d seen…and he also seemed clearly very embarrassed by the condition of the place when I spoke with him the day of our meeting. He sheepishly admitted that he didn’t have a conference room available, but then gingerly danced around the fact that he couldn’t have our meeting in his own office on another floor. That was so strange, and felt a little like back in the days before I met Justin and I’d be on a date with a guy and he was embarrassed to ask me back up to his place because he knew it was too dirty for company. That’s one of the most tense and heartbreaking moments in gay dating…when you’re having a nice time and are inclined to head somewhere private, but the guy just knows that he’d be mortified if you saw how dirty and messy his place was. It’s totally apocryphal that gay guys are neat and clean…when in fact we’re all just like straight guys in this regard, only we like dudes (so a lot of times apartments get even messier because gay guys figure the other guy won’t really care). I felt really bad for Mr. Gilbert in that moment, actually, because he seemed like a nice man and was very polite to me…but I believe the filth in the lobby may have been nothing compared to what the rest of the behind-the-scenes Hinshaw offices must have been like if he couldn’t just meet with me in his office or elsewhere.
I almost wanted to tell him that it would be okay and that I wouldn’t tell anyone about it being dirty in his office and that we could really have our meeting there, but I didn’t want to embarrass him any further than he already was. He never asked me not to take pictures of the filthy carpet in the lobby or to not tell anyone about that or the stinky men’s room…so I didn’t even realize it would become a federal issue for the Hinshaw & Culbertson firm that I’d write about it all. They clearly know I’m a writer and that all of my work is based on my life experiences, so I don’t really know what they expected in having me come to their offices when anyone could clearly see that the place was so rundown and shabby.
It’s scary to think about just how much trouble the entire country’s in if this is what a corporate headquarters of a big law firm is now like in “The Golden Age of Hope and Change” delivered unto us by Barack Obama. Filthy carpets, not having a presentable location to meet, disaster areas in a washroom…these are the kinds of embarrassments that people had to cope with behind the Iron Curtain in states controlled by the Soviets (and their particular brand of resource management and wealth distribution). But the Chicago corporate offices of Hinshaw & Culbertson prove this is happening HERE with Barack Obama and his motley crew of Chicagoans in the White House.
“Dirty carpets in a big law firm” really has become a fitting update of the “canaries in a coal mine” warning sign…and so it just remains to be seen how big of a disaster this alarm indicates. That’s what I’m now trying to determine, as our investigation continues and I attempt to collect everything I’m learning into one unified economic theory. Since none of this is good for the Left or the Obama Regime, I just know that nobody in the national media or academia will ever be inclined to investigate and study it. That means it’s just up to me and my friends and all of you out there reading this (which is kind of redundant, since I’ve come to regard all our regular readers as friends of the variety that “I just haven’t met yet”).
In thinking of who to reach out to next in our continuing investigation into what “dirty carpets in a big law firm” means for the country’s economic health as a whole, I remembered the story of The Peabody Hotel in Memphis, Tennessee and how it survived the Great Depression…but had to close down for a spell in the 1970s because of the urban decay and financial malaise of the Carter Administration. The Peabody is also famous for maintaining a collection of wild ducks in the hotel, and at one time housed alligators and other creatures…which no doubt all made all sorts of messes. Oprah Winfrey stayed there a few times, I think, which also couldn’t have been beneficial to the carpets.
Memphis is a city with a massive boondoggle of a public works project in its “Pyramid Arena”, that was built with plenty of taxpayer money under a grand delusion that it would save the city from ruin. Currently, the building’s scheduled for conversion into a Bass Pro Shop, but there’s a lot of squabbling between the company and the city about just how ugly it all will be. I figured writing to The Peabody might elicit some insights into any warning signs the staff could remember before the hotel shut down when Carter was president…and possibly could give us some scoop on if the staff’s seeing any augurs of another closure ahead during the Obama Regime. I have not heard back (yet) from the Senior Partners of Hinshaw & Culbertson, actress Ann B. Davis, Heloise the Household Hints lady, author John Grisham, or HRH Princess Caroline of Kennedy…but the mail here in Chicago is just dreadful and it often takes a while for things to reach people in different states (so I’m sure that’s the main reason for why I don’t have a response from any of them yet).
When letter-writing for assistance in solving important mysteries, I have found that the more people you write to then the greater chance you’ll receive a response from some of them. I also think it’s very helpful and quite nice when those of you reading this give me your take in comments or via email as well…since often hearing from you is much more enjoyable than getting a letter from a member of the “Kennedy Family” or whomever any day.
VIA US MAIL — 2/27/2013
The Peabody Hotel (Memphis)
149 Union Avenue
Memphis, Tennessee 38103
Dear Mr. Duckmaster,
As you’re aware, this week I’m hard at work putting the finishing touches on a groundbreaking new economic theory that my readers and I have been developing…which seeks to provide a warning sign for approaching economic collapse in much the same way that “canaries in coal mines” once warned miners of deadly toxic gas when they were deep in the bowels of the Earth. The inspiration for my sudden entry into the field of economics came from a foul experience I had in the law offices of Hinshaw & Culbertson here in Chicago; specifically, it was the filthy carpet in their lobby waiting area and the stinky mess that defiled their men’s washroom that made me think about places I expect to be spotlessly clean in any economy…but are noticeably disgusting here in 2013.
This leads me to believe that we’re currently in a global Depression, but the Ministry of Truth that is our national media just won’t admit it for political reasons…and that things are going to get much worse economically before they get even a little better.
I thought to seek your input into all of this because, obviously, as a “Duckmaster” you have experience with all things “fowl”…and must certainly have encountered all manner of stains and odors as a result of your unique position. I also think that from your perch at The Peabody you know a thing or two about buildings that might be closed in a bad economy, since The Peabody itself ceased operations and was boarded up for a period in the late-70s and into the early 80s (if memory serves, it seems like that overlapped quite perfectly with the Carter Administration in Washington and all the corresponding damage it caused to our country).
I originally wrote to the Senior Partners of Hinshaw & Culbertson about the neglected and shabby appearance of their offices…and told them at one point that I believed it looked like they rented their lobby out to a veterinary clinic or livestock auction house on the weekends to make extra money. I wonder if you could have a look at the photographs of their carpeting that I’ve attached and determine — once and for all — if you believe that animals of any kind were involved in making these stains. I know that might seem ridiculous to you, but I need this information for my important economic theory…because animals on the loose in a law office would skew the anecdotal and idiomatic value of my experience at the Hinshaw firm. For me to assert that “dirty carpets in a big law firm” is truly a warning sign of a major economic crash on the horizon I need to be 100% certain that the filthy carpeting in question was just the result of upkeep and maintenance failures…and not evidence of a Noah’s Ark-style parade of all God’s creatures through this lobby several times a day on (at least) the weekends.
Can you tell from photographs if the filth in the Hinshaw & Culbertson offices was caused exclusively by human foot traffic or if at least some sort of animals had to be involved? I know you’re a Duckmaster and not a zoologist, but I remember “Bones” from Star Trek always screaming about how he was a “doctor” and not a “engineer” or a “Duckmaster” and that guy always managed to come through in a pinch once he got all the drama out of his system.
I don’t know if all my readers know this, but The Peabody Hotel is famous for keeping a flock of ducks in its lobby fountain…and the hotel’s “Duckmaster” is responsible for training the ducks to be able to walk from their “Duck Palace” on the roof to an elevator and then along a red carpet to the fountain. Apparently, there’s a similar position in the current White House where someone more or less does the same thing with Michelle Obama (whom I imagine is not as easy to deal with and as fun to be around as the Peabody’s wild ducks). Glad I don’t have to worry about cleaning those carpets!
From what I can tell, the Peabody ducks are all female except for one green-headed drake…and they only live at your hotel for a few months before they are returned to a farm where children are told they “choose to head back into the wild”. I’m 36 years old and still like believing there’s a Santa Claus and that our votes actually are counted and mean something at election time, so I’ll also go along with the story that these ducks never, ever end up on anyone’s dinner plate after they’ve been entertaining the guests of The Peabody. I even want to believe there’s really a place called “Duckburg” and that the happiest and safest ducks of all live there, having endless adventures and having Duckmasters a plenty to care for their every need. Life is pretty bleak here in Chicago after what Barack Obama has done to our economy for five years now…so “Duckburg” might be a place that far too many others out there would dream of living now as well.
In many years past, the hotel apparently had alligators and other creatures in the lobby fountain…which is a fun and interesting tradition that survived even the worst economic collapses that hobbled just about everything else around the hotel at various points through the years. I’m wondering if there’s any pressure to eliminate the ducks or the “Duckmaster” position at The Peabody in these depressing economic times. Here in Chicago, it feels like every day some longstanding tradition or spark of local color’s being mothballed…because there just isn’t any money left to keep these marvelous things going in the age of Obama-induced austerity.
I know you weren’t around when The Peabody closed its doors due to the Carter-provoked economic ruin of the 70s, but I wonder if you have any historians at your hotel who have ever given you insight into what cutbacks management made to the building that in retrospect could have been seen as signs that The Peabody just couldn’t stay in business any longer. I used to work in the hotel business while I was in college and graduate school…and 9/11 occurred during the time I was head of security of a major hotel in downtown Cleveland. The penny-wise but pound-foolish General Manager we had at the time decided to scrap a lot of the maintenance and upkeep programs that he felt were “too expensive” at time when his quarterly bonus depended on slashing hotel costs. One of the stupidest things he did was to fire both the marble cleaning company and the sprinkler system inspectors…because he felt they just cost too much and that the hotel’s own housekeeping and engineering staff could just work a little harder and take care of these things.
Well, the housekeepers (who were never trained to clean marble properly) ended up damaging the very expensive flooring in parts of the lobby…because they used the wrong solutions and equipment when trying to clean that marble. Engineering just didn’t understand the sprinkler system well enough to detect any problems that the professional inspectors would have quickly found…and about five months after the General Manager fired those guys a sprinkler line burst and flooded several floors of the hotel. That ruined carpets, wall paper, bed linens, and caused us to lose those hotels to paying guests for several months while it all had to be remodeled. Not surprisingly, the General Manager soon “early retired” from the company…and now works at a small bed and breakfast somewhere in Montana that few people ever visit.
It’s been a long time since I worked in a hotel, but I wonder if your staff is under pressure to keep cutting back on cleaning and maintenance in this depressed Obama economy. I also wonder if you could show the photographs of Hinshaw & Culbertson’s filthy carpeting to the housekeepers where you work and see if they can either identify what caused all those stains or offer advice on how Hinshaw can remove them. I am very much inclined to believe that budget cuts at this big firm resulted in the carpeting becoming so filthy…in much the same way that the foolish General Manager at my old hotel believed saving a few bucks on marble cleaning and sprinkler upkeep would make him look good to the accountants (who surely stopped patting him on the back when they processed the enormous bills for marble replacement and the renovation of three entire floors that those cutbacks to maintenance ultimately caused).
I am sure that taking care of five ducks in a very large building must keep you endlessly busy…but I appreciate any information you can provide us in the matters of stain identification and possible removal, as well as anything you can find out about what The Peabody was like immediately before it was closed for that spell in the 70s during the worst of the Carter-induced economic malaise Americans suffered back then.
Best of luck with all of whatever it is you do in this most unique and interesting position,
As those of you who’ve been closely following the unfolding “Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” well know, a chance encounter with a dirty (and some would say downright filthy) carpet in a big law firm here in downtown Chicago has evolved in the last few days into an important economic theory I’m developing…which involves measuring and interpreting the neglect and accumulating filth in big city office buildings as a 21st Century version of the old “canaries in a coal mine” that previously warned miners of approaching disaster in other centuries; in our case, my theory is that filthy carpets and poorly-maintained washrooms in the offices of something like a major law firm in a shiny skyscraper are a clarion call that the nation’s on the verge of a major economic collapse (since firms that are doing well financially would not slash their cleaning and maintenance budgets like this, at least not in the areas of their offices that are reserved for clients, guests, and other visitors).
My main contention in all of this is that a big law firm with a prestigious address in Chicago is expected to be immaculately clean at all times, and up until just recently these places would have spent whatever it took to maintain that expected image of cleanliness…so we are in uncharted territory in this country if big law firms and other businesses that Chicago depends on to survive can no longer afford to keep up those appearances.
At first I was just startled by the filthy and unsanitary conditions of the Hinshaw & Culbertson’s Chicago offices…and as a professional courtesy I wrote to the Senior Partners of the firm to make sure they knew just how bad things had been allowed to get in their lobby and men’s room. I just thought it was the polite thing to do as a visitor, since I’d certainly want someone to tell me my carpet was unacceptably filthy or that my bathroom resembled a space that would be more commonly found in an abandoned bus station…in Mexico. One of my friends suggested that perhaps the partners of the Hinshaw firm all have some degree of autism (or even Asperger’s Syndrome) and are, thus, unaware of their surroundings to the point where they’d never realize how poor everything looked to a client or visitor. ”They could just be a bunch of eccentrics and not care,” one friend in particular advised. I’ve never met Donald L. Mrozek or J. William Rogers (the big cheeses at the firm), but I did see Mrozek walk through the lobby wearing a long black coat, a red scarf, and (I believe) a black hat while I was sitting on the couch staring at that filthy carpet (and photographing it in an obvious way). Mr. Mrozek is an older man who looked grandfatherly and is the kind of guy who would have been played by Andy Griffith in the movie that will no doubt eventually be made of all this (but since “Matlock” and “Sheriff Taylor” passed away last year, I don’t know who they’ll get for the part…Wilford Brimley, maybe?). The man in charge of the Hinshaw firm was coming back from something he had to do outside when I saw him, unless he just keeps his coat and scarf on him at all times during the day (in case there’s an emergency or something…or maybe it just costs too much to heat the parts of the offices that visitors don’t step into).
I haven’t heard back from Mr. Mrozek or anyone else at the Hinshaw firm about my letter to them, but I didn’t really ask them for any kind of response. My email just more or less informed the Senior Partners that their carpets were filthy and that their men’s washroom was the dirtiest and creepiest I had ever encountered this side of a horror movie. I honestly don’t even know what sort of response a company can give to that, besides admitting “Yah, we know” or saying “Sorry everything was so gross and dirty while you were here”. This is one situation in which Hallmark most certainly does not stock a selection of cards.
Operating in the capacity of a concerned citizen, Good Samaritan, and “local busybody”, I next asked actress Ann B. Davis (of Brady Bunch fame) if she could remember any really excellent (and inexpensive) cleaning tips that I could perhaps pass-on to the folks at Hinshaw & Culbertson the next time I am there for a meeting. I was raised in the Catholic Church and attended all the Bazaars, roast beef dinners, Christmas parties, and other things the parish organized…and I always remembered my grandmother Emma, in particular, having an eagle’s eyes when it came to spotting someone in the throng who maybe didn’t have enough money to buy a ticket for the dinner or couldn’t afford another spin on one of the carnival rides in the church parking lot (but she could tell the person really wanted to twirl around for a while). There’s just something about the filthy carpeting in this law firm and its disaster of a men’s room that has brought the “Grandma Emma” out in my DNA, and so I wanted to help them help themselves by finding household hints they could maybe use to tidy up a bit; this is just the sort of thing that Emma would have done…though she probably would have even offered to clean up their mess herself, since she was just an awesome and loving church lady like that. I am not that nice and don’t aspire to be, but I do like to help people who’ve made a complete mess of things.
Grandma Emma’s been gone for some years now, but the Holy Spirit moved me to think of her and my childhood in Cleveland and compelled me to find someone else who could help the hapless Hinshaw firm with their filthy carpet and stinky men’s room when I didn’t receive an immediate response from the woman who once played housekeeper “Alice Nelson” on an old tee-vee show I watched in reruns. So, naturally, I thought next to ask lifestyle expert “Heloise” what she would do about these carpets and the mess in the men’s room…but I am still waiting to hear back from her as well. Since I didn’t tell her this was an emergency or anything, it could be a while.
In the meantime, scores of readers here on this site offered their own handy solutions to Hinshaw & Culbertson’s cleaning woes…to the point where I think we now have all of that covered. If this firm continues to have filthy carpets and a dirty men’s room after reading all of your loving and thoughtful cleaning tips, then these people just want to be dirty and there’s nothing much we can do about that. Or — which is kind of depressing — a firm like this just can’t afford to stay clean any longer…and can’t even find room in the budget to hire someone to use common lemon juice and elbow grease to make their offices sparkle (in addition to having Stanley Steamer or someone with a Rug Doctor come in and shampoo the carpeting).
It was at this point in my letter-writing that I realized the Holy Spirit had deposited me inside those Hinshaw offices for a reason last week…and that “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” was deeper than even the most stubborn of stains in their lobby. Yesterday I wrote to author and legal expert John Grisham to see if he could give me any insight into what compels a large firm like Hinshaw & Culbertson to neglect their lobby and men’s room like this…and in writing to him I realized that I might have accidentally stumbled upon a major new economic theory where dirty carpet in a big law firm is actually an indicator of approaching economic doom for our entire country. This, to me at least, was sort of like “Doc Brown” hitting his head on his toilet and accidentally inventing the time-traveling “Flux Capacitor” in the Back to the Future movies of the 1980s. The inspiration for this new economic indicactor, thus, partially came from Grisham’s many books set in big law firms…where the firms he described were always immaculate and sparkling (with a fortune spent on upkeep and maintenance, no doubt). Since I’m a fan of his books (and have read all of them, except for the junky ones) and my expectation for a big law firm like Hinshaw & Culbertson was for it to be spotlessly clean like in those books…the fact that I arrived for an appointment with one of their partners and instead found the place filthy convinced me that something bigger than just poor office management was at play.
[ Click above to embiggen: the latest Internet meme to sweep the nation ]
Meanwhile, the Internet (as it so often does) took my “dirty carpets in a big law firm” turn of phrase and ran with it (which is something that would happen in one of the exciting John Grisham legal adventures)…and apparently it’s now been featured on UrbanDictionary as a newly-coined idiom that updates the “canaries in a coal mine” warning sign for the 21st Century. Clearly, there’s something to the fact that a big law firm just doesn’t normally allow its carpets to become so filthy (or its men’s room to resemble something even Stephen King would be scared to dream about) unless there was a serious problem behind the scenes that we just might not know about. I’m surprised by how quickly people have been making up mouse pads and tee shirts with the meme “dirty carpets in a big law firm”, but this idiom must really resonate with people who clearly feel a “heaviness” or a “malaise” hovering over our economy since 2008…despite the Ministry of Truth that is our national media’s best efforts to pretend “We’re in recovery!” or “Everything’s just fine now!”. I know that young people in their 20s and 30s are intensely fond of mouse pads and love wearing the coolest new tee shirt, so no doubt you’ll soon be seeing all of this paraphernalia wherever you live too. I’m still not entirely sure what “Tumblr” is, but I bet in the next few days there will be a “Tumblr” collection of hipsters photographing themselves wearing “dirty carpets in a big law firm” gear while doing cart wheels or shaking their butts in front of large office buildings coast to coast. It’s just how the Internet works when a new theory on economic indicators captures the public’s imagination this way.
I think this is because when people see filthy carpeting in a fancy office building while visiting a purportedly prestigious law firm, they know there’s a serious economic problem in our country right now…and,when they stumble into the men’s room at that firm and find stagnant water on the floor, clogged toilets with all manner of YUCK! floating everywhere, and the general appearance that the place hadn’t been cleaned in a great while, they become even more convinced that the Democrats’ economic policies have pushed our nation onto the precipice of absolute and catastrophic ruin. The simple truth is that if we really were “recovering” then the seams wouldn’t be so glaringly showing in offices like Hinshaw & Culbertson…which give the impression that the firm is months away from some sort of institutional collapse. I think after Barack Obama’s reelection most of us realize there is nothing that can be done any longer to prevent this ruin…but I for one cling to the prayer that after the Democrats are done inflicting all this damage that we’ll ultimately be able to rebuild (though it will be from the ground up, at essentially Square One).
I think the reason the “dirty carpets in a big law firm” meme has caught on so fast is because people can see this wherever they go, even if there isn’t a branch of Hinshaw & Culbertson in their town. Malls that were once glittering showplaces are now dingy and unkempt, with stores shuttered and quite often all the fountains long ago turned off to save money. Here in Chicago, the once bustling “vertical malls” along Michigan Avenue were all mostly long ago abandoned…with at least one of them more closely resembling a mausoleum than a shopping center on my last visit. Readers have emailed me over the last few days of my investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” to talk about restaurants, bars, grocery stores, and other places they frequent becoming noticeably dirtier the last few years…as if cleaning crews had been dismissed, or there was a general cutback in in hours for the people who once maintained these establishments as veritable showplaces. I can think of dozens of places I used to love going to that seem to be skimping on ingredients or embracing a more generic or cheaper way of doing things…all seemingly to save money. There’s a tangible sadness everywhere…and just a general sense that there’s just not enough money flowing to properly maintain anything.
Here in Boystown, I know of a bar that used to go all-out for its holiday and festival decorations…with lavish flower arrangements that could have easily time-traveled from the heady days at Versailles (or been flown in from Washington after the latest of Michelle Antoinette Obama’s extravagant soirees), but this place now seemingly has its staff amateurishly decorate for events, instead of hiring expensive professionals (AND they are having the staff dance in speedos and jocks for their parties now too, instead of bringing in some of Boystown’s professional go-go boys…which is just sad, and kind of like when a movie studio replaces the talented actress you liked in a film with a much cheaper and weirder-looking one for the less expensive TV series spinoff).
Simultaneously (and its a weird converse of all this descent into shabbiness), I’ve also noticed the guys getting increasingly hotter in menial jobs and service positions at drug stores, fast food restaurants, car washes, etc. There are a lot of buff, Abercrombie-looking guys working as receptionists wherever I go too (and that was not the case when I first moved to Chicago eight years ago, believe me…I was single then and I’d definitely have noticed and would remember). That makes me think that the job market is just so bad that people who wouldn’t have been caught dead flipping burgers (and never had to, because they were so good looking that those kind of jobs were always “beneath them”) now apply for those minimum-wage jobs because they are the only positions available. Hope! Change!
I’ve noticed the crime rate in Chicago skyrocketing since Barack Obama took office, too…which could be a result of the people who used to fill all those menial jobs (the ones now being staffed by recently-graduated-from-college hotties) being pushed out, since what manager WOULDN’T want to hire the handsome gay guy desperate for work instead of the thug with a criminal record or the Spanish-speaker who still refuses to learn English (even after living here for many years)?
A big law firm cutting back on cleaning expenses and allowing its office carpets and men’s room to become filthy and unsanitary is happening in the same economy where a bar across town is drastically chopping its flower and decorating budget…and across the street the place that used to hire buff male strippers is no longer paying those guys…and so they’re forced to take work doing things they never had to do because the easy money and glamorous gigs were always so plentiful (until 2008 or so, when the Depression started)…which makes it impossible for people on the very bottom rungs of society to get the unskilled and menial jobs they count on…pushing those guys into committing more crimes…which has its own effect on the downward spiral of our country.
It really is all interconnected and related…and so the “Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” has much more relevance to you than you might have thought when I first launched this investigation a few days ago. I’m not an economist, but I also think “dirty carpets in a big law firm” could end up being the defining indicator that we’re truly in an economic Depression right now…but the Ministry of Truth that serves as our national media refuses to admit it. I’ll be working on fleshing this out in the next few days as my investigation continues…and hope you contribute your own thoughts to this in comments below (or in private emails to me on the topic). As all of us professional mystery-solvers say, “The investigation continues!”.
While I was looking for a major economist to write to for help with my “dirty carpets in a big law firm” theory, I started thinking about the people who are really responsible for setting the stage for life as we know it to collapse with Barack Obama at the helm. One of the most glaring groups of these people are the Kennedys…and the de facto carrier of that “dynastic” torch these days is really HRH Princess Caroline of Kennedy, now that her murderer uncle Ted resides deep down below (where all the goblins go), as my Grandma Emma would have put it. You might not be aware of this (though you’re about to be), but Princess’s mother, St. Jackie of Kennedy (to the press, at least), once stood idly by and allowed relatives of hers to descend into squalor (with filthy carpets and stinky bathrooms of their own)…until she and her sister Lee Ratsiwell (sp?) were publicly shamed for what they allowed to happen at “Grey Gardens”….which had a lot more wrong with it than just stained carpets like those at Hinshaw & Culbertson.
I believe Princess Caroline deserves an earful about what I’m uncovering in “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” because all of us kind of live in Grey Gardens now, with the Kennedys being as responsible for what’s happened to our economy as Jackie was for the ruin of her aunt and cousins.
VIA US MAIL — 2/25/2013
Mrs. Caroline Kennedy
c/o Josh Isay
594 Broadway – Suite 805
New York, New York 10012
I write to you this morning despite the two of us not ever having the best working relationship (in that I find you to be our country’s continued answer to Roald Dahl’s loathsome creation “Veruca Salt”…and you by all accounts seem unaware I exist) because I hold you at least somewhat personally responsible for the prolonged economic mess our nation’s endured since you and your “Uncle Teddy” (who I remind you was a drunk serial abuser of women and also a murderer) anointed Barack Obama as “The Lightbringer” and “The One” back in the winter of 2008. And thus foisted this man and his agenda on our country.
I think your Uncle also gave Obama a dog we never see anymore…and then Obama named it after his own initials, which is only slightly less revolting than the dog being a “Portuguese water dog” formerly owned by the porcine Kennedy who had drowned a women. Honestly, your kin and the Obamas are 90% of why I can just never vote Democrat ever again…especially after appreciating what Democrats do to the country when in the White House.
While you seem to have suffered along with the rest of us these last five years, that’s largely a result of poor decisions you personally made and the inept handling of your public image by Mr. Isay and the SKD Knickerbocker firm. I do (sort of) feel obliged to thank you for making such an ass of yourself in December of 2008 when you brattily tried to grab Hillary Clinton’s soon-to-be-vacated Senate seat…because that was a hilarious spectacle to behold (and just about the only levity us Hillary 2008 supporters had after your family’s betrayal of the Clintons). Your tantrums of “I wants it, I wants it, I wants it!” remain legendary…and just about the only good times had by so many of us in that horrible, horrible year.
Then, when Obama was officially president and followed Governor David Paterson’s lead and himself humiliated you by picking other people to be his ambassadors to the Court of St. James or France…and after the Vatican specifically said it would refuse your credentials if you’d be sent over there…it really seemed like nobody at all wanted a damn thing to do with you, which is how I suspect a majority of people in this country (outside the media ranks, of course) feel about your entire “Kennedy Family”. That was funny too, so thank you for whatever you did behind the scenes to cost yourself the ambassadorships you seem to feel entitled to for helping Obama so much.
You are a woman who had (almost) everything handed to her and until 2008 was considered our “American Princess”, but you’ve really never amounted to much in this life. Every now and then you have someone gather up notecards or grocery lists your mother, Jackie Kennedy, scribbled in her later years and you repackage them as “Edited by Caroline Kennedy” and sell them at craft fairs or wherever…but these are hardly accomplishments and I suspect you know that. You’ve been so quiet the last few years I’ve vacillated between thinking you are plotting your comeback and wondering if you were just being lazy, but I don’t think the jury’s still out on that anymore.
You are lazy…and also very much like your mother in relation to her role in allowing your cousins, the Bouvier Beales, to degenerate into squalor in their home, Grey Gardens, back in the 1970s. The Ministry of Truth that is our national media has always protected and advocated for “The Kennedy Family” (in ways in which the British papers have never served the actual royals in “The House of Windsor”), so most Americans don’t even realize that your grandfather “Black Jack Bouvier” stole the rightful inheritance of your great-aunt “Big Edie” Bouvier Beale…and that your grandfather then absconded with that money for the benefit of your mother Jackie and her sister (which was your aunt Lee). The amount of money your grandfather stole from his sister and her daughter would be around $800,000 today, adjusted for inflation. That’s a fortune that would have prevented the Beales from falling into poverty and losing their home to abject squalor and ruin.
Jackie Kennedy, your mother and our former First Lady, knew full well what horrible conditions your cousin and great-aunt were living in at Grey Gardens…but she chose to do nothing about it for many years, despite no longer needing any of the fortune your grandfather had stolen for her when she was just a girl. But, after a documentary film crew discovered “Big Edie” and her daughter “Little Edie” surrounded by filth and terrorized by raccoons in the falling-down-around-them ramshackle that had become their home, your mother was publicly shamed into paying for Grey Gardens to be cleaned and “Big Edie” to have a few dented scheckles to live off-of for the last few years of her life.
Your mother is considered a saint in our national media…and I grew up in a household where she was forever revered for her “grace” and her style. She was, however, clearly not someone who did the right thing unless she was called onto the carpet with a public shaming and forced to right a wrong she was personally responsible for. I don’t know how “graceful” or “stylish” that ultimately is, but I’ve never looked at “St. Jackie” the same since I watched Grey Gardens.
I feel that you, as the caretaker of the “Kennedy legacy”, have a responsibility to all Americans in much the way your mother owed your relatives at Grey Gardens…because your selfishness, stupidity, and lack of situational awareness at a critical juncture of our nation’s history had a detrimental impact on us all.
With so much falling down around and the whole country feeling like there’s a heavy cloud over our heads, I feel like we’re all sort of living at Grey Gardens now…and that’s because of the actions of your Uncle Ted and you back in 2008 that pushed Barack Obama towards the Democrats’ nomination and into the presidency. That intervention in the process on your part prevented Hillary Clinton from becoming the 2008 nominee…and I think it altered the course of our nation’s history because I don’t believe she would have allowed everything to collapse into economic ruin around us the way that Obama has. In fact, I do believe without reservation that Obama is enjoying seeing the country degenerate into squalor…because that’s part of his “social justice” and “redistribute the wealth” outlook on life in a global sense.
As you are no doubt aware, I’m working this week on a major theory that ties observable phenomena to the real state of our economy, with things like the disrepair and abandoned maintenance of office buildings being a major indicator that we’re currently in a Depression that was caused by the actions of Barack Obama. You’ve read how I discovered this connection when I sat in the waiting area of the law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson and was shocked by how filthy they had allowed their carpeting to become and how stinky and vile they kept their men’s washroom. I believe I have seen pictures of you online standing with Robert K. Shannon, one of the partners in the Hinshaw firm, so perhaps you are personally aware of how filthy the carpeting and washrooms are in his Chicago offices. I’m not accusing you of having anything to do with their carpets becoming so filthy, but based on what I know about you from observing your behavior all these years I would not be surprised to find out you at the very least threw the toilet paper around in the restroom. It’s just something you seem like you would do, just because you could, and then you’d deny it later.
I draw your attention to the fact that the phrase “We All Live at Grey Gardens Now” looks to resonate with so many in the days and months ahead, especially as the approaching onslaught of Obamacare regulations and burdens obliterate many small businesses and result in millions of Americans losing their jobs and falling into poverty soon. I hope the public holds you at least in part personally responsible for this…and I suspect your handlers sense this possibility, because you really have been keeping an uncharacteristically low-profile lately. Not even fresh shipments of faberge eggs to Bergdorf-Goodman’s have been able to coax you out of reclusivity.
It’s almost exactly the way your mother behaved right before the “Look at what Jackie allowed to happen at Grey Gardens!” outrage erupted in the mid-70s.
Like mother, like daughter, I suppose.
Only your mother just allowed her aunt and cousin to suffer in squalor caused by the greed of her father…while you stand in the ruins of “Camelot” and watch the entire country before you collapse into a “Grey Gardens” state of neglect, forfeited prosperity, and dirty carpets (in big law firms and everywhere else) because people in all levels of our society truly are suffering greatly in this Depression that the state media won’t acknowledge. This is, of course, all thanks to your family’s maneuverings five years ago that put us collectively on this course.
This is the part in letters like this where I would normally ask someone to do something or another to help…or to solicit their advice on where we can go from here to make things better…but, who am I kidding? You are Caroline Kennedy and are not especially of much use or worth to anyone…but even if you were at least a decent enough person as your mother and you could be publicly shamed into action under the right circumstances, the mess you helped push our country into is so much bigger than the one “St. Jackie” allowed to manifest at Grey Gardens. I guess the only thing I can ask of you is to just not do anything to make it worse and to just remain in cloistered exile the way you have been lately.
I guess you could always start shopping again…because that would help some merchants in New York, at least. So, yah, do that, Caroline. While everyone else tries to claw out of the heap you and your family pushed the country into.
QUESTION for COMMENTS: Have you seen Grey Gardens and do you also find a connection between the state of that mansion’s decay and the Kennedy Family’s responsibility for the nation’s current economic condition?
Read the rest of “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” HERE.
[ Click above to embiggen: Is this the birth of a new meme and a handy warning sign for economic doom on the horizon? ]
A few years ago, a boyfriend I had at the time named Jason took me to a popular breakfast-only restaurant here in Chicago called Orange…which was notorious for not allowing any substitutions or alterations to the menu of any kind. This is the “No soup for you!” attitude found in restaurants that can get away with it — made popular in the 90s by an episode of “Seinfeld”. At the time, Orange was one of the most popular spots to eat near Boystown and the wait for a table stretched into hours. Come to think of it, almost all the restaurants in Boystown were always busy like that (more on this later).
Jason had no trouble ordering strictly from what was listed on the menu…but then he kept sending everything back to the kitchen for either being too cold or too hot or not-what-he-ordered. That last one is something I doubt most people would fault Goldilocks for, though, because if a guy orders basil-chai-stuffed-French-toast and instead finds Fruity Pebbles babycakes in front of him, then he certainly has the right to complain and get the breakfast he asked the waitress for in the first place. And right after that, if he’s straight, he should demand to know what the waitress is implying by insisting he should have babycakes off the children’s menu instead of his desired breakfast.
Ever since that morning with Jason at Orange, I’ve wondered if sometimes the universe sends people the wrong French toast on purpose.
Jason, oddly enough, later got incredibly sick (and was a giant baby about it, since we’re dishing the T-that-stands-for-Truth here)…and I wonder if it was the chai-stuffed nonsense that did it. Maybe the universe sent him the wrong French toast to spare him from whatever the heck knocked him on his butt for a week after that breakfast at Orange. Could the babycakes have averted disaster? Perhaps the oddball things that happen to us and any randomness that’s dished up really isn’t all that random at all…and the universe (or the Holy Spirit and a higher power, if that’s your personal belief) wants us to either learn something or appreciate the oddness as forewarning of some gathering doom.
I sincerely believe “the universe brought me the wrong French toast” five days ago when I went to the Chicago offices of the big law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson and discovered their lobby carpeting to be absolutely filthy…with their men’s washroom in even worse shape (stagnant water on the floor…feces bobbing in clogged toilets yellow with urine..mirrors streaked with grime…etc.). This experience launched my ongoing investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” that you are reading now.
I was asked to come to Hinshaw’s offices at 222 N. LaSalle in the Loop by Scott M. Gilbert, who is the attorney representing the largest and most prominent gay bar in Chicago in a discrimination suit filed against this defendant in federal court. The judge presiding over the case is widely considered by many in Chicago to be a future Supreme Court nominee…and I find myself to be one of the witnesses in the case who saw firsthand how the employees and owners of this gay bar consistently bully, harass, and persecute Christians (while in often the same breath hypocritically claiming that Christians are an “enemy of the gay community” who bully, harass, and persecute gays). Because of all this, the case is destined to hit the front pages in the months ahead, as it works its way to trial…since the stakes are so very high, with the Left’s ability to use gays as a weapon against Christians in jeopardy now that a Christian has taken a gay bar to court and called out its hypocrisy on the record.
Just imagine the ramifications of all this in the relentless war the Ministry of Truth that is our national media wages against all followers of Christ…because if Christians can stand up to gay bullies in the heart of Boystown, then perhaps Christian groups coast to coast will be emboldened to similarly stand up to bullying in the larger Culture War. I’m sure you’ve noticed that gays are terrified of saying anything ill towards Muslims, for instance; it’s reasonably to believe that’s because gays know that Muslims will push back against any perceived slights (and then some). Just imagine how different the world would be if Christians banded together and said in a very loud voice that “NO” it is just not acceptable for the “gay community” to continue using believers in Christ as a nonstop punching bag.
Considering this — and the fact that Mr. Gilbert knows I am a writer who incorporates experiences from his daily life into his essays and nonfiction book projects — it’s beyond shocking to me that Hinshaw & Culbertson would invite me to their offices and clear me through security when they’ve allowed their lobby and men’s room to become so filthy (as you can see in photos I snapped on my visit). I can’t imagine this was something intentional, and the staff I encountered were clearly embarrassed by the filthy carpeting in the waiting area…so I can only conclude the firm just doesn’t have the financial resources to keep the carpets clean and the washroom spotless (the way I’d expect in such a big law firm). This really is the best impression they seem able to make to visitors…and that’s horrifying for the state of our current Obama economy.
No reasonable person would ever believe that I wouldn’t write and tell people about the filthy lobby and men’s room I saw if I was asked to visit a business, whether it’s a restaurant, a hotel, a doctor’s office, or a law firm. If you know who I am and you’ve invited me over — and your carpet is still filthy and your washroom is still a disaster area — then I can only assume you just don’t clean these places (or if you did, then this was the very best you could ever do).
Contemplating this from a “wrong French toast” perspective and praying on it, I’ve concluded that Hinshaw & Culbertson’s filthy carpets and stinky men’s room was a collective message from the universe (by way of the Holy Spirit), meant as a warning sign that we’re close to the precipice of massive financial ruin in this country. It reminds me of restaurants I used to love that were almost impossible to score a table in…but are now either closed or have been relatively empty since 2008 or so. I also think about the places like Orange that are still in business, but now skimp on either service or the quality of ingredients…so everything has a dingy, downgraded feel where once I’d be absolutely blown away by polish and professionalism. I see this same phenomenon happening in stores along Michigan Avenue that are either shuttered or no longer spend any money on elaborate window displays; or it’s like condo towers that used to have doormen and spotless lobbies of their own, but now have automated entry systems and filthy vestibules. Some bars have downgraded from fancy snack mixes to stale peanuts or no bar snacks at all…and even the City of Chicago has doubled the cost of a train ride from the airport into the heart of the city (while simultaneously keeping its trains filthier and nastier than ever). It really feels like the world as we know it is falling apart because there’s just no longer any money left to keep everything working like it should.
That afternoon I spent a few days ago sitting on a couch waiting for Mr. Gilbert and staring at the filthiest carpet I’d ever seen in my adult life was a huge shock to my system…and, I think, a message from the universe that filthy carpet in a big law firm really is the 21st Century equivalent of canaries in a 19th Century coal mine.
Think about it…because I bet you’ll see it for yourself now that it’s been pointed out. And it’s one of those things that once you see, you can never un-see.
Those little birds in their cages were the early warning signs for miners that toxic gas was slowly filling up a tunnel…so when the canary dropped to the bottom of a cage the miners would race to the surface (or perish in the bowels of the Earth). Office workers today don’t have canaries sitting on their desks…but the health of their employers’ firms could realistically be measured by the upkeep, cleaning, and maintenance of the company’s public areas. Hotels and restaurants notoriously keep their “backstage” areas unfinished, with bare dry wall and scuffed floors because guests and clients never set foot back there. I have never worked in a law firm, but I have noticed on my visits to different ones that the work spaces of the attorneys are never as glamorous as the lobby and client waiting area. The only places most companies spend big money aesthetically are those that have a “pay off” on that investment…and that’s all geared towards giving visitors a strong and confident impression of the firm’s competence and financial viability.
It’s been my experience that the very last thing a company will cut before it starts a downward spiral into oblivion is the upkeep and maintenance of public areas reserved for clients, guests, and visitors. I’ve seen quite a few hotels, bars, movie theaters, stores, and restaurants go out of business…and invariably all of them became dirty and messy not long before they closed down for good. In retrospect, it was a canary-in-the-coal-mine type of warning that these businesses stopped spending money on cleaning and maintenance…since they just didn’t have the financial resources to keep their establishments looking good any longer.
I have no way of knowing what sort of predicament the big law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson is in right now in this Obama economy…but I just can’t imagine a big firm like this willingly allowing its lobby carpeting to become so filthy or for its men’s washroom to be such a mess unless the Senior Partners just can’t afford to keep their offices presentable any longer. And since they employ so many people, it’s scary to think of what will be cut next…if even a rented Rug Doctor carpet cleaner has become too big a luxury in a tightened budget.
I’d really like to hear from those of you out there who’ve noticed big firms like Hinshaw & Culbertson allowing their offices to become dirty and messy…and if you, like me, see this as a warning sign that the economy is in much greater jeopardy than our nonstop-propaganda “Ministry of Truth” national media leads us to believe. I think we are in uncharted territory here, folks…because even in recessions of the past I don’t remember a firm as big as Hinshaw & Culbertson ever allowing the offices of their corporate headquarters to become so filthy. If it’s already so bad that THIS is happening…then, Great Merciful Zeus, what’s next?
I don’t know a whole lot of lawyers but I’ve reached out to those in my life and have asked them what it would mean at their own firms if suddenly the place looked as terrible as Hinshaw’s Chicago offices. Over the last few days, I’ve written to cleaning experts Ann B. Davis and lifestyle expert “Heloise”, inquiring if they could possibly think of any tips for how a struggling business could find easier or more inexpensive ways to keep its office carpets and washrooms clean…but today I wanted to focus on asking an expert on law firms if he could see a “canaries in a coal mine” aspect to all of this the way I do. As noted, I don’t know a lot about how law firms work or the culture the Senior Partners set there, so I need some knowledgeable input in that regard. Yesterday’s letter to Heloise reminded me that John Grisham was once a guest of the hotel I worked at in Cleveland and that he seemed like a very nice and friendly man when I met him; so I decided to ask his opinion on all of this and see if ever he’d encountered anything like “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” while researching his own books (which are excellent, by the way, and are always exciting mysteries set in the legal world that often feature big firms like Hinshaw & Culbertson in some way).
VIA US MAIL — 2/24/2013
Mr. John Grisham
c/o Doubleday Speakers’ Bureau
New York, New York 10019
Dear Mr. Grisham,
Recently, I had the pleasure of reading your latest excellent book The Litigators…which was technically not your latest book, because you wrote one after this one that I didn’t much like and only got about 50 pages into. The Litigators was great fun, though, and I’ve actually read it twice because it’s set in Chicago and is about a guy who leaves a big law firm and goes to work alongside a pair of crackpots with a loudmouth receptionist from the Southside and some kind of dog. The big firm goes up against this ragtag bunch and that proves to be a spectacular miscalculation because, well, you wrote the book so you probably remember what happens.
I’m writing to you because I suddenly find myself in the bizarre situation of feeling like the protagonist in one of your books…where I arrived at the law firm of Hinshaw & Culbertson here in Chicago for an appointment with one of their partners last week and I happened to experience an epiphany about the current state of our dreadful national economy while staring at the filthy carpet in their waiting area (and then later enduring the conditions of their third floor men’s room, which could only be accurately described by someone such as Stephen King, whose imagination in the horror realm would no doubt do Hinshaw’s men’s room accurate justice). As I’m sure you and everyone at Doubleday are well-aware, I’ve been chronicling my development of the “filthy carpet in a big law firm” theory as a 21st Century version of “canaries in a coal mine”…and have kept track of my investigation in “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” (which I realize could easily become, at the very least, an eBook). I believe in times as perilous and strange as these that ordinary citizens should spend a little time working to solve various mysteries they encounter…and that none of us should ever be afraid of investigating something we find odd or scary in the course of our daily activities.
I’m really fortunate to have thousands of readers coast to coast here on HillBuzz.org who share my zeal for mystery-solving…but the one thing I really don’t have is any understanding of how a big law firm like Hinshaw & Culbertson operates or who makes the decision on something like allowing the lobby carpets to become filthy. I’m currently operating under the assumption that the only way a big law firm’s waiting area and men’s room could ever be allowed to degenerate into such filth is if the firm is struggling financially to the extent that they finally had to cut the cleaning and maintenance budgets down to next-to-nothing. Not being a lawyer or a paralegal or even a guy who has a lot of lawyer friends, I only have my experiences in hospitality and consulting firms to inform me in this matter. As I’ve written about in “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” so far, it’s just unimaginable for me to ever think of a business that would allow its public and guest/visitor areas to fall into such disrepair…unless the business is in some sort of downward spiral.
What I’ve always loved about your books is how you relate the goings-on and internal politics of large law firms to novices and “civilians” like me who have no experience with these places apart from reading your books. You have always made me feel like I was inside one of your excellent stories…and that’s never been more true than at this moment, when I feel like I’ve become a character from a “John Grisham novel” in real life. The only difference is that usually most of the lawyers in your books are Southern and I think everyone at Hinshaw & Culbertson is from around the Illinois-Indiana-Iowa tri-state area. The people in your books tend to have funny and colorful names, as well, while people at Hinshaw are called “Scott M. Gilbert” or “Donald L. Mrozek” or “J. William Rogers”, with only that last one being a good “John Grisham” sort of name (and if that was the case the “J” would stand for “Jupiter” or “Jaspar” or something sassy like that, only he’d go by the initial in his professional career so as to reserve the sassiness for his private endeavors).
My boyfriend’s mother CarolAnne, who thinks the government and other shadowy entities are forever plotting against her, has told me that she thinks I need to abandon “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” because she fears that Hinshaw is going to “send goons after (me)”; whenever she gets into something like this, I imagine there being a “Goon Store” adjacent to the neighborhood Petsmart where people can purchase (or possibly rent for the day) “goons” to use against their presumed victims. I told CarolAnne that the Hinshaw firm can’t even clean the carpets in their lobby or keep their men’s room tidy…so I highly doubt they have the budget to hire or purchase “goons”. All this sort of gives me an image of that Donald L. Mrozek guy standing in front of an open window in downtown Chicago encouraging underlings to “Fly, fly, fly my pretties!”…before a handful of interns and paralegals in ill-fitting monkey costumes with homemade, tinfoil wings take splat-destined leaps out into the brisk, winter air.
I do wonder, however, how one of the big law firms in your books like The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Associate, or The Rainmaker would address the fact that an essayist and political writer such as myself happened to observe (and photograph) filthy and unsanitary conditions in that firm’s national corporate headquarters. I know it’s pretty hard to scream “defamation!” against a journalist who has photographic proof of the story he’s covering, considering that every word in his report is 100% true. I’m also aware of “The Streisand Effect”, where arrogant people erroneously believe they have the power or resources to shutdown a story…but ultimately discover that in attempting to do so they only blasted the information they’re trying to hide to a much wider (and even global) audience. I’m not aware of any power that any authority has in the United States to prevent a journalist from speaking openly about things he observed with his own eyes and ears (and nose, in my case, because the washroom was really stinky)…not to mention photographed accurately.
I’ve heard that in Thailand the government there can come after anyone who is accused of insulting the King…and that, for instance, a journalist reporting on the filthy carpeting and stinky men’s room in King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s Grand Palace on the Chao Phraya River (thank you, Wikipedia!) really has something to worry about. You’d know better than I, but I just don’t think Donald L. Mrozek in the Hinshaw & Culbertson offices near the Chicago River has a similar ability to prevent someone like me from expressing his First Amendment right to write and talk about the filthy carpeting and stinky washroom at his firm as much as he (or, rather, I) wants.
I know I will never have the chance to get to it, so if you ever feel inclined to add The Filthy Carpet to your row of titles alongside The Client, The Partner, The Runaway Jury and others – in the way of a heart-pounding, nonstop adrenaline account of a big law firm in Chicago that channels CarolAnne’s nightmares and sends “goons” out to harm or eliminate a journalist who exposed filthy and unsanitary conditions in their corporate headquarters — then I invite you to incorporate my experiences with Hinshaw & Culbertson into your next bestseller. I only ask that you send Misters Gilbert, Mrozek, and Rogers autographed copies because they don’t even have magazines for people to read in their lobby (so maybe people could read your books instead, which would distract them from the filthy carpeting).
I really think I’m on to something with my theory that “filthy carpets in a big law firm” is a real indicator of serious doom approaching in our economy…so I hope you will follow my work as I expound on this theory in the coming days. I plan on contacting leading experts in economics and politics — in addition to retired actresses from tee-vee shows I’ve always liked — to establish the meme that neglect and poor maintenance of office buildings in the year 2013 is a serious alarm we should treat in our country like an expired canary on the bottom of a miner’s gilded cage in a previous age.
Thanks so much for your very entertaining writing and for making almost all of your books excellent and engrossing reads…and for getting back to me soon with any insights you might have into why a big law firm like Hinshaw & Culbertson would purposefully allow their lobby and men’s room to be so filthy (when they knew full well they had visitors coming). I need your help in determining if anything other than a financial crunch and cutbacks in staffing or cleaning services is responsible for this…because my entire “filthy carpets in a big law firm” economic theory is based on the presumption that the only time a big law firm would become this dirty is if the firm was on the ropes and just couldn’t afford professional cleaning any longer. If that’s the case, then I think my theory will hold up when I put it before the experts in the days ahead (or, potentially, ask Marla Gibbs of The Jeffersons fame her opinion on the matter).
If you or anyone else at Doubleday know of any other reason at all that Hinshaw & Culbertson’s lobby carpet was so filthy and its washroom was such a stinky mess then I need to know that too. Whatever information you give me I will add to my investigation into ‘The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet’ and will share with my readership (who are all following this case closely).
Appreciating your help with the investigation,
PS — My favorite book of yours ever was The Associate. Please have that made into a movie starring Matthew Bomer at your earliest convenience. Also, while you are taking requests, please write a legal thriller with an attractive gay male lead character (who is neither a stereotype nor a joke) who could also be played by Matt Bomer in a movie. Give the character a sassy black female friend, a Siberian husky puppy that’s just being housebroken, an alcoholic neighbor who looks like Santa and has a wife that resembles Mrs. Claus, and a UPS driver who drops by with intelligence reports about the neighborhood (and have the driver’s name be “Gus”, which is also the name of the puppy…so when people talk about “Gus” doing something they’ll always be wondering if it’s the UPS guy doing it or if it’s the dog). Sorry if this is not specific enough for you to start with.
QUESTION for COMMENTS: What insight can YOU give into anything else besides financial difficulties that could explain why a big law firm would possess filthy carpeting and stinky washrooms in its national headquarters? Where do you think “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” should proceed tomorrow in the investigation?
To read the rest of “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” click HERE.
Okay, so I didn’t intend to do this and had no plan on writing a live commentary transcript of the Oscars…but a few friends surprised me and apparently we’ve found a live stream via ABC.com and Oscar.go.com. I believe the actual show will livestream and not just this pre-show stuff.
So, since we’re going to watch it anyway I might as well comment on it.
If you want to watch too, you can click HERE for the stream
This is really shocking to me because I didn’t think that ABC and Disney were with-it enough to livestream this on computers…because I thought they were obsessed with ratings on the tee-vee Nielsen “boxes” out there. But, frankly, more and more people are moving away from having tee-vees and just livestreaming. I’ve been doing that since 2009 and will never go back.
702pm CST — Hilarious. George Clooney is there with some random woman on his arm. He always has “some girlfriend” with him who is always gorgeous and has a very tentative grasp on English, but trademarked deer-in-headlights looks. I love that straight women can’t tell he’s gay…like he’s cast some magical spell that blinds them. The same spell, incidentally, that Rock Hudson and even Liberace cast in the past.
Anne Hathaway comes off so classy and charming in interviews. She’s a lovely young lady. And then moments later that Jennifer Lawrence takes the microphone and says, “Yo, yo, yo, whaddup, yo!”. And pretends to be a street person from a ghetto”. I’m sure she’s a nice girl too…but, really? No one has taught her how to behave like a lady in public. One day, years from now, she’ll cringe at how stupid she made herself look.
The feed we’re watching is the “Backstage Pass Red Carpet” thing. There’s some young girl and a gay guy talking. Which is kind of the only people who care about this show.
I have to say something…and I almost can’t believe it because I think he’s such a jerk in real life…but Ben Affleck is looking hot these days. I love him in the beard, and the wig he’s been wearing the last year looks great on him. You can’t even tell it’s fake hair. I just wish the guy would stick to being an entertainer and would keep his political views to himself.
708pm CST — Another gay man who women think is straight…Hugh Jackman. He has both a wife and a longtime boyfriend in Australia.
Honestly, I think I am going to note every single one of these guys in this transcript as they pop up on the screen tonight. See how many you can spot yourself.
The reason I think it matters is because these guys get involved in political activism…and they have agendas that they don’t reveal to their fans. I think anyone involved in politics needs to be upfront with people, and to acknowledge all of their allegiances. Guys who are closeted in Hollywood need to toe certain lines and do things that the Gaystapo Dons force them to do. And when election season rolls around these guys head out as foot soldiers for the Left’s messaging department…which makes me believe that they need to be open about who they really are and where their loyalties rest.
Guys like Aaron Shock and Lindsay Graham and Dan Rutherford also need to come out of the closet too, because they’re actually elected officials…but actors who moonlight in the political sphere have the same responsibility to be out and open. And I don’t think we should keep their secrets.
713pm CST — It’s kind of fun to be watching this and not giving a damn who wins anything. I have no emotional vested interest in any of this.
I must note that I really like Seth MacFarlane. He’s the kind of straight guy that I have always thought was cool. He’s juvenile and crass sometimes, but he’s just so cute it’s endearing…and I love how well he enunciates and how he delivers lines. He’s a great impressionist and voice talent…and it’s amazing what he created in terms of a tee-vee and animation empire using his imagination.
If you don’t know this already, MacFarlane also almost died on 9/11. He was scheduled to fly from Boston to LA on one of the hijacked flights…but something his assistant did kept him from making the plane. And the guy really seems to always make the most of life after that near-miss.
What a nasty, rude, and snobbish woman Halle Berry appears to be. She just totally snubbed the people who wanted to interview her on the red carpet. Anne Hathaway and others were very nice, but not her.
In case you’ve never been there, the theater they host the Oscars in is right at Hollywood and Highland in Hollywood. It’s a really great complex that was built on a corner…and it’s just ingeniously designed. There’s a mall in there and a big open courtyard and it’s really stunning. The rest of the area around Hollywood is pure trash…but that Hollywood and Highland development is great.
720pm CST — they aren’t switching over to the show feed, it’s still the red carpet stuff even though everyone is inside. I’m starting to get scared they aren’t really going to show the awards, but will just keep showing people standing there outside…which is kind of funny.
It’s amazing how big Twitter has become, and I still don’t really understand it. They have this whole metrics thing happening where people are predicting the winners based on Twitter feed activity. I should really take that as the final nudge that makes me take time to really figure out how to use that and appreciate it.
It seems to be a great resource for polling and market research.
Apparently, while the show is on they’re going to have random people talking…and I think they will show the people right after they win but not the show itself.
So I might have to take back that thing I said about ABC and Disney being smart about streaming this show…since they might actually still be stuck in the past after all.
That obnoxious Sherri Shepherd from The View is going to be on. She’s the one who said once that she doesn’t know if she really believes the Earth is round because she’s never seen it from space with her own eyes.
725pm CST — Okay, on Oscar.Go.Com camera they actually let you play director and you can choose the veiws from different cameras….which is interesting. They just showed Reese Witherspoon rubbing her shoulder and complaining about her dress itching, but she didn’t know she was on camera. I kind of love when that happens.
They’re also trying to get some of these fools to use the “Thank You Cam” feature…so that they can leave the stage and then go backstage and thank all the people they want to read off a list, starting at childhood and then working their way through everyone who works at the talent agency that represents them. This is another thing that’s supposed to get these people to stop using their time on the stage to read off boring lists of names.
Honestly, if you have one chance to stand up before a billion people and say something…talk from your heart and say something about love and life and being a positive person and working hard at things that mean something to you. Don’t read a list of names. Be original and memorable, even it’s the first and last time in your life.
731pm CST — this is so surreal and random. This Backstage Pass Award Show thing is ABSURD…it’s totally not allowing us to see the actual show, but instead we get to see Sherri Shepherd and some guy talk about what they are seeing on the show. It reminds me of being in a foreign country and someone is telling you what’s being said on tee-vee there, because the people on the screen are talking in gibberish. And then I tell you what I’m hearing these people say. This is either the dumbest thing ever or it’s super-fun. I can’t decide yet.
That Sherri Shepherd has a big bop of hair on the top of her head…can’t decide if it looks like a tumor or some kind of pastry she keeps up there. They’re showing the audience reacting to Seth’s monologue. You can almost hear Seth talking, but he’s drowned out by Sherri. ”Seth’s telling a joke. They’re laughing. Nicole Kidman looks kind of amused but doesn’t get the humor. She’s Australian”. It reminds me a little of being in a movie theater in Florida where someone is saying ‘What are they talking about?’ and another older person shouts back “SHE SAID…blah blah blah”.
Sherri: ”They are listening intently. They are concentrating”.
The other man is unknown to me, so I’m just going to call him something. His name is Larry now, since he’s sitting there with Sherri.
I just realize how much Sherri looks like Star Jones before she went on that crash diet.
Sherri: The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming!
I have no idea what she’s talking about. She just said someone won “The Bathroom Award” for something. What???
739pm CST — they are talking about Best Supporting Actor.
Something that’s always bothered me about Hollywood is that they pick certain people and then fawn over them forever. Like Tom Hanks or Robert DeNiro. Sherri and Larry are fawning over DeNiro now. That means they will save fawning over Tom Hanks for later.
The thing with “movie stars” is that they really just play the same part over and over again…and usually they are just playing a version of themselves.
People are loving Seth MacFarlane as host according to Sherri and Larry. I have no idea if he’s really funny, because ABC is not streaming that. They keep saying on this Backstage Pass Show that “If you have access to a tee-vee you would know…” and the like. I think it’s kind of hilarious that in 2013 I don’t have a tee-vee and that 80% of my friends don’t either.
They now have Jess Kagle from EW.com on…who I think invented those exercises for ladies. I think almost every man who works for EW.com is complete garbage but the women who write over there are pretty funny. The guys are just tools, though, especially the gay ones.
745pm CST — Okay, this is really funny. Whenever the telecast goes to commercial, they turn out the lights in the auditorium. Then people race from their seats and go running to the bathroom. You can see all this on the “Audience Cam” on this Backstage Pass Show. When someone gets up and runs, a “seat filler” comes and takes that person’s place so there’s no bald spot in the audience.
It’s really enjoyable to watch these weirdo feeds like this. Much better than the actual show.
They are pushing some kind of Oscar APP that has all sorts of things on it…Oscars.com and download something on backstage pass. I don’t know how to do any of this stuff because Justin’s in charge of all this tech.
So they are showing a little of Seth’s opening number. He’s so cute. He reminds me of Justin, actually. Justin can sing and dance and has a beautiful voice…he’d be great on the radio, too, but he has stage fright.
749pm CST — Okay, I kind of like Sherri a little more now. She just told a story about how nobody can tell Octavia Spencer and her apart, and that in Hollywood she gets mistaken for her all the time. She said that last year a very big star came up to her and said “You are going to take this Oscar home tonight” and Sherri hugged her and was crying and saying “And when I do I am going to hold it in the air and you will know it will all be because of you”. I kind of love that. I love messing with stupid people like that.
BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR = Christophe Waltz for that Django movie.
I’m never going to see that thing. Too violent. It’s like that Inglorious Bastards movie. I just don’t want to watch blood and hear swearing and deal with any of that. If I want to experience it, I can ride the Red Line train here in Chicago.
The audience is clapping and I guess that Christophe is giving his speech. Sherri just called Samuel L. Jackson an “Uncle Tom”, but I think it’s in relation to his role in the movie and not her personal feelings of him.
That Christophe Waltz guy is talking and he stutters and stammers in real life. Not sure if he’s nervous or if he just does that. He seems so weird.
754pm CST — so, they are in a commercial break again and everyone’s sitting in the dark.
They’re showing the backstage areas that people walk through after they win…and it looks like just another hotel ballroom area/conference setup. Sometimes I don’t know how I feel about everything really being not all that special behind the scenes…because really all of this celebrity stuff is fake and everything ends up being no different than a setup at a local hotel near you. Politics is like that too. All of these elected officials are really just people, and ultimately their offices are no different from the office you work in. The same personalities exist and the dynamics are the same.
757pm CST — they are showing Helena Bonham Carter, who just dresses like a slob all the time. She’s the new Cybil Shepherd. That classless Jennifer Lawrence was just talking and laughing loudly while someone was talking on the stage. Apparently she was raised by wolves or something.
They are talking about Seth MacFarlane’s movie Ted…which is really funny. It’s course and vulgar and I never thought I’d like it…but I watched it when I was sick and it was so funny it made me feel better. And, during one part of the movie, they showed local newscasts from around the country in the 80s and they had one broadcast set in Cleveland…with a period-perfect 80s background of the skyline, which I thought was a fun shoutout.
800pm – that Christophe Waltz guy speaks little English…he’s German…and he’s being interviewed by that Jess Kagle from EW….who looks just like Christophe. So Jess made a joke about them being “bookends” and Christophe had a very harsh, Teutonic response of “Vee are not ends. I must read book to now first how am end”. Totally lost in translation.
I’ve never much liked foreign people. I find them grating. The media LOVES them because the media likes to indulge them like small children…but I don’t like all the fumbling and the accents and the nervous laughter because they don’t understand. It’s such a time waste. Learn English, and then let’s talk.
803pm CST — some cartoon people were talking about the cartoon that won, but they’re not telling me what the cartoon was. Was it Wreck it Ralph? I like that movie. Justin loved it because it was about video games.
They have George Clooney on now and he brought a flask and is drinking from it. He’s such trash. What’s hilarious to me is the guy is wearing a full gray beard tonight…and he brought another beard in as his date.
Hilarious…but Octavia Spencer actually dressed like Sherri Shepherd and vice versa tonight. They really do look like twins.
808pm CST — I actually really like watching the show via this “Backstage Pass” thing on ABC. It makes me feel like I’m in the control room working the event. I’ve never felt comfortable being in an audience…I prefer being backstage at an event, working it. So this is kind of the experience I am used to with stuff. Sitting in a seat and just watching is weird for me. It’s so much more fun to be on staff at something and to be part of putting on the event…not just being a guest sitting there.
Watching it this way also minimizes all the things that are grating about the show when you watch the actual broadcast. You’re seeing all the backstage stuff but none of the actual show.
Paul Rudd is there now…looking super hot. He’s such a nice guy.
That Melissa McCarthy is horrible though. She’s the female Chris Farley. I just can’t stand her. All she does is make gross-out jokes and use her weight as a humor crutch. Apparently, years ago she played a sweet classy character on Gilmore Girls…but now she’s reduced herself to just being the loud, pig in movies for comic relief. Like the parts that Chris Farley would be playing if he was still alive and had a sex change.
Like the Pie has won a few awards now…which was apparently about a bakery somewhere.
815pm CST — that Larry guy who is there with Sherri is annoying. He’s one of those typical “California guys” who are entertainment reporters. Such a tool.
Sherri and Larry are plugging the Samsung Galaxy tablet products now. Justin and I have a Kindle Fire that his mom gave us after she got her new one…and it is nice to read books on it. I never thought I’d like that, but it’s really fun. And when I was on bed rest I played the Angry Birds Star Wars and the Plants vs. Zombies games and enjoyed those. It’s such baby steps withe me and technology though. It’s just hard for my brain to get into this new stuff.
That Larry guy is so dumb…he just said the Oscar statues are solid gold. Dummy, they are plated. A solid gold statue that size would be a million dollars in gold.
Apparently Larry’s real name is “Cameron”, which is so fitting. But I’m going to keep calling him “Larry”.
821pm CST — they have a video playing of some guy who does the abridgement of books. John Carr, best animated short, was his name. It was so random.
They’re playing the JAWS theme to get people off the stage when they are rambling.
Nicole Kidman looks HORRIBLE. People, don’t ever get plastic surgery. You never look right afterwards.
She’s not as bad as Melanie Griffith or Meg Ryan these days, but she’s getting scary.
823pm CST — now they are doing a “Bond retrospective”.
I actually miss the Pierce Brosnan Bond movies. Those were silly and fun. I don’t like the Daniel Craig ones. They are too bleak and dull to me. It’s just like the new Batman movies that Chris Nolan made. I like the Tim Burton cartoony movies…but not too cartoony like the Joel Schumacher ones.
Paul Rudd and Melissa McCarthy are up on stage with the people who won for Brave…so I guess that Brave won the animated movie award. I don’t think I will ever watch that. Cartoons are so hard for me to sit through. The only reason we saw Wreck it Ralph was because Justin loves video games….and I remembered games from NES and the arcades when I was a little kid. The Brave animator wore a kilt and Sherri keeps asking what’s under his kilt. Honey, if you need to ask then you won’t know what to do with it.
The Avengers guys are going to come out. Chris Evans is a total babe. He has a gay brother too, who is even more handsome than him.
Man this show is funny. Sherri and Larry have no idea what’s going on and they have no real idea who is winning either. I love it.
I think someone is singing on the stage now.
“Do something crazy!’…the photographers are shouting at the people who have the statues after they win. The photographers always want people to make weird faces or kiss the awards, etc.
There’s an announcement, and then the people come out so the photographers can be prepared.
Sherri is talking about how she wants to have relations with Channing Tatum, but that Robert Downey JR. is sexier because he went to prison and prison is sexy to her. We’re learning a lot about this Octavia Spencer lookalike tonight.
Larry says he needs ice water so they have to have a break now.
830pm CST — Samuel L. Jackson wore a red velvet jacket…..and the guy who won the visual effects award is with him. That guy has freakishly long white hair like a monster. One Avenger is missing, Chris Hemsworth. Sam Jackson looks like a pimp according to Sherri.
Man, can Chris Evans wear a suit. Robert Downey Jr. is the luckiest man alive. He has had so many second chances. He’s like Hollywood’s patron saint of do-overs.
What’s really funny is that Sherri and Larry don’t have a tee-vee either…so they have no idea what’s happening in the auditorium.
They are finding out what’s happening based on Twitter. Twitter really is like the big thing now apparently.
When I say that, it sounds like I’m talking about moving pictures or areoplanes.
Samsung sponsors this live feed so every 30 minutes either Sherri or Larry says something like, “I just can’t believe how great this Samsung Galaxy is” etc.
Yawn, that Anna Karenena won the best costumes…but you just know that whatever movie has the flounciest period dresses is going to win the costume design award. I just envy people who know how to sew and make things like that. A friend of mine in LA, Leah, met me for lunch once and she stepped out in this gorgeous 1950s coat that was stunning…and she made it. It was so pretty that if you’d have wanted to buy something like this it would be $2,500 easily. But she made it. I wish I could do things like that. But, they don’t teach boys to sew in school and I never thought to learn on my own.
841pm CST — Les Miz won best makeup. That’s a movie I will never see. Too depressing. When I was in high school, Les Miz came through Cleveland and I ended up seeing it four times because different groups I was in all got tickets and I had to go. That was too many times to see that show in a week. I’ve had my fill for good on that one.
Sherri said that Jennifer Anniston is wearing a prom dress. I just keep thinking, ‘Why is Jennifer Anniston even there?’. She would make more sense being at a prom.
I’m kind of at the point with this where I just want it to be over.
Can I make it through to the Best Supporting Actress award?
Do I even care?
Honestly, I don’t. I kind of want to switch this off and put “House of Cards” on Netflix.
848pm CST — they showed this really cute featurette of the “Mominees”…the mothers of different nominees. I really love seeing the moms of these different people, and how they are so proud of the kids. So great.
Sherri was making fun of the little girl’s name from “Beasts of the Southern Wild”…Quackzhenloreece Wallis or whatever the heck that is. The girl’s mother’s name is Qualyindria. It’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard. The book Freakonomics has a whole chapter on this, and what names like this do to children…or how the names are the manifestation of the upbringing. Giving a child a name that’s hard to pronounce is just stupid…because the kid will have to forever correct people. Why do that to the kid? I’ve seen a lot of people calling the little girl “Alphabet Soup Wallis”…and who needs that?
Will Smith is actually going to put her in an all-black remake of Annie, which is a shame because there should be new things written with good black characters…not just taking an older story and making “the black version of it”. This is more of Hollywood being racist, because they don’t see black people as worthy of having their own original characters. Instead, they make “black Wizard of Oz”, “black Honeymooners”, “black Steel Magnolias”.
It’s like constantly throwing black people scraps…and the Left just loves it, thinking “that’s good enough”.
Sad, sad, sad.
900pm CST — You know, I’ve lived in Chicago for 8 years now…but I still think of time in EST and I have to remind myself that I’m “an hour behind”. This is especially funny when watching something broadcasting from LA, because they are two hours behind me and three hours behind Cleveland. I just keep trying to remember how much longer the show will go on…and I think it’s over around 11pm EST, which would be 10pm CST….so an hour left of this.
Twitter is apparently loving Seth MacFarlane…and they are happy that “Like the Pie” won awards.
I can just barely hear Jennifer Hudson singing from Dreamgirls. I actually really like her and a friend of mine here in Chicago knew here when she was growing up. There’s a truly awful show called Smash on NBC that’s a train wreck, but they brought Jennifer on this season and she’s so good. She’s good in everything she does and appears to remain a nice person. So, I love when she gets kudos. It makes me sad that Whitney Houston never had a big movie career and an Oscar and all that. Whitney’s voice was better than Hudson’s…and I think Whitney was a better actress…but Whitney had her demons and was brought low. So tragic. Someone is going to get an Oscar for playing her in the next few years too. Just watch.
904pm CST — they are talking about that depressing French movie Amour winning best foreign film. That’s another one I’ll never see. It’s about dying and someone wearing diapers. If ever there’s a day when I am feeling too happy and need to be depressed I’ll just drive around the southside of Chicago awhile and look at all the neglect and ruin. I just don’t like to watch depressing movies.
People are upset that they’re playing the JAWS music to shut people up who ramble in their speeches. I remember years ago they actually tried to bribe people with plasma TVs when those first came out. If you went out there and you spoke for under 30 seconds or whatever you got a plasma TV, but if you went 31 seconds or more you forfeited the TV. It didn’t work and they never tried that again. People just wanted to read those lists of names.
Personally, I think the second they name more than two names in a row they should turn off the microphone and maybe even open a trap door.
They are talking about that Silver Linings Playbook….which is one I will probably rent for like $2 on Amazon Instant.
I really, really love that streaming video. Instead of going to the movies and dropping like $25 or $30 between Justin and myself, I can watch something for $2 or $3 and can even pause and rewind when Justin talks through parts.
Mark Wahlburg and Ted the Bear are in a little clip. Ted really was funny. Shockingly vulgar, but funny.
There’s apparently all kinds of things happening on stage that Sherri and Larry know nothing about…..so it’s like watching an alternate universe broadcast of this show.
917pm CST — That Larry is so stupid. He doesn’t know the difference between sound mixing and sound editing. Mixing happens on set…but editing is done in post-production.
Halle Berry wore her spacesuit to the Oscars. She looks ridiculous.
It is really funny to hear Sherri talk about Octavia Spencer. They keep showing Octavia in the audience and Sherri narrates like she’s having an out of body experience. I love it.
There’s apparently a tie for the next Oscar. I think it’s Best Supporting Actress? Maybe?
It’s a cool story that Anne Hathaway’s mother played the role of Fantine in the first touring company of Les Miz.
Anne just won the Oscar…and it was not a tie….so I don’t know what Sherri and Larry were talking about with a tie.
I just adore her. I really do. She is a classy, sweet, young lady. And she knows how lucky she is and how charmed a life she’s leading. She is so humble and sweet.
You know what’s interesting is that many years ago when I worked at a hotel in Cleveland we’d have all sorts of celebrities come through. The ones who ALWAYS were the nicest were the ones who were either old stars who’d had long careers or people who ended up having long careers. All the ones who were snobby and demanding and nasty are nobodies right now. So, when I see Anne Hathaway I see someone who is going to have a very long career and do a lot of interesting things…and I bet she never, ever loses the sweetness.
931pm CST — They’re showing Hugh Jackson eating popcorn. It’s funny, the show is so long they have to eat in the commercial breaks to keep blood sugar up.
Sherri has succeeded in winning me over. As they were eating the popcorn, she was making munching sounds and saying “Oooh, this is some good popcorn. I gotta eat it all up! It’s so good!”. It was hilarious.
Argo won for film editing. I actually liked the movie, and not just because Affleck looked sexy all up in that. I got to meet the Empress of Iran once when she was in Chicago years ago and years before that I met an Iranian author who wrote the book Daughter of Persia. I know Argo is mostly fiction, but it was a great and fun story. It’s the kind of movie I can watch again and again.
I saw Zero Dark Thirty and thought it was nothing special. I was mainly just shocked it ended up not being an Obama propaganda film. I really thought it would be. And I didn’t like that the Jessica Chastain character was made to be like this Buffy the Vampire Slayer figure…and NOBODY wanted to catch bin Laden but her, and everyone was all “Alright, we’ll get him…but just shutup about it!”. Ridiculous. I saw the movie with a good friend in a GIANT theater though and so it was a fun and memorable movie experience…but I don’t think it’s worthy of any awards and I won’t be watching it ever again.
That Skyfall movie was forgettable too. Justin liked it. We saw that one in theaters too. He plays that Adele song over and over again. I still keep thinking Skyfall is about a satellite, but that was Die Another Day.
938pm CST — Anne Hathaway is very Audrey Hepburn tonight. But with a little more spunk.
One thing I never get is Adele. I have nothing against her, but they keep saying “Adele is amazing!”. I think she’s okay. I wonder if a lot of the media praise is because Adele is heavy-set. And so they feel a need to praise her. This is like how the media feels a need to overly praise anything a black person does…which has the net effect of really lowering the bar and cheapening the really great achievements of talented black people. Don’t call Adele amazing unless she really is…and I’ve just heard better than Adele.
Anne is having her pictures taken…and as she’s standing there she’s about to tear up…she’s so touched. It’s very sweet. Sherri is shouting at her, ‘Show us your booty girl!’. ”That’s yours momma”. ”Lookit your diamond bracelet you are a walk-in mansion”.
Oh, Sherri. You are too much. But not in a bad way.
945pm CST — So Larry just did another plug for Samsung and he said something like, “Look at all this great technology that Samsung has provided”. Sherri wasn’t feeling it but was contractually obligated to say something nice about Samsung so she was mumbling that, “Yah, they hooked us up, all up in here. They sure did. All technological and everything”.
So, they just showed Halle Berry chomping on popcorn like a goat.
And then Sherri spotted Bradly Cooper and was talking about “Do you think he is back with Zoe Zaldana”….Sherri, honey, Bradley’s gay. Another one that straight women can’t seem to spot. Bradley Cooper, Leonardo DiCaprio, George Clooney, Zac Efron, John Travolta, Tom Cruise….it’s not that hard to spot.
1000pm CST — someone just suggested I checkout Nikki Finke’s coverage of the event because she has a tee-vee and can see what’s happening (unlike me)…and I just love Nikki Finke. Her site is Deadline.com.
If you don’t know her, she’s hilarious…and Hollywood hates her, because she calls people out on being stupid all the time. She’s really careful in what she chooses to do…but when she goes after something, she can just destroy someone or something. She is a force. And I get almost all my entertainment news from her and her team. LOVE them.
I think I read on Deadline about what a nasty pig Tommy Lee Jones is. Apparently, he’s hated in Hollywood…because he is so nasty. He was Al Gore’s roommate at Harvard.
Salma Hayek is such a moron. She’s wearing a Halloween costume again. One of my favorite things that they ever did as an in-joke at the Oscars was once many years ago when they had Salma Hayek and Penelope Cruz present an award together. I think it was for something with sound. Neither of them speak English, despite both living here for many, many years. Salma and Penelope had to read off cards, and I think the cards were written in Spanish…and they had to translate in their heads. Both of them struggled with the segment, and parts of it ended up like “Me think this am good”. They sounded like cave people, and they just stared blankly ahead like morons. It was unintentionally hilarious. So much so that it just had to have been done on purpose.
10005pm CST — they’re doing the In Memorium part. Back in the 80s and 90s Sigourney Weaver used to host this part a lot. Then for a while they’d play Donna Summer’s “Con Te Partiro”, but they’d have Andrea Boccelli sing it with Charlotte Church. Andrea Boccelli’s gay too, by the way.
Sherri’s saying that after Norah Ephron died she sent her a recipe. That’s kind of creepy. I hope she meant that she left it to her in a will, not like a ghost sent it. Because would you really want to make something the ghosts told you to make? Maybe it’s poisoned because they are lonely and want you to join them.
Sherri said: Oh, that Ray Bradburry. He made some of those science fiction works.
I just checked Nikki Finke’s transcript and she says that MacFarlane is making jokes about Christians. Not cool. And I appreciate not having to listen to that.
1006pm CST — Daniel Radcliffe is on with Kristen Stewart. He’s adorable, and I think he is straight but because he is so little that’s why he’s not an aggressive guy. Plus he’s British. I saw him in Equus on Broadway and it was worth every cent. That Kristen Stewart is dreadful. She always looks like she’s in such a bad mood. She never smiles and always has dirty hair. I just don’t get her.
Apparently Barbara Streisand sang.
I never understood the appeal of that woman…but a friend told me there is some book about her early days that changed his opinion on her. I forget the name of the book, but want to read it.
I still laugh at the legal concept of “The Barbara Streisand Effect”…when Streisand tried to sue someone because she didn’t like that he was photographing the California coast, which included her Malibu home. She sued to shut that project down, but only ended up giving the project way more exposure than it would have had if she hadn’t sued to stop it. So, the moron ended up hurting herself by lashing out at the photographers. Idiot.
The funny thing is that very rich people or big companies make this same mistake all the time. They get to this place of arrogance where they think they have high paid lawyers and can do whatever they want…but they don’t understand the PR nightmare they cause themselves.
I still don’t know what “tie” they are talking about. What tie? They keep saying that someone tied for an award…but I don’t know who.
1015pm CST — Adele won for Skyfall…and then backstage was talking about how she needed to go to the toilet. She has a surprisingly low-class accent, like a dockworker on the Thames. This is also the kind of thing that are media thinks is so much fun…but I just don’t like listening to that, “Allo, Guvna, I fancy a trip to the loo” garbage. It’s really great she’s comfortable in her own skin and she doesn’t feel the need to conform in terms of appearance, but can you not talk about having to use the bathroom in front of a global audience? Do we really need to share all this?
1026pm CST — that means it’s 1126 in Cleveland. I remember as a kid when the Oscars would be on I’d be long in bed already, but in high school I’d stay up until 1130…and I’d always be asleep before Best Actor and Actress and Picture happened.
Some weird little guy won something, I think Argo…and he was SO STRANGE….they had him in the backstage Thank You Cam area and he reminded me of a serial killer.
Sherri just made a comment about “Clooney feeling his beard” right at the moment that he put his hand on his date’s leg. SO FUNNY.
Tommy Lee Jones is eating candy.
I’ve been wondering why that Kerri Washington from Scandal is there, but she was in that Django movie. I love the show Scandal, by the way. Forget the weird political stuff that Washington says whenever she can…the show is great.
Tarantino is all disheveled and looks like he’s been drinking.
I like Pulp Fiction, but I never liked anything else from him.
Sherri’s saying on Twitter that everyone loves that Tarantino was drunk. I can’t stand drunk people. They’re just exhausting and boring to me. And the worst part is that the next day they refuse to admit how bad they were the night before. I don’t believe they don’t remember their bad behavior.
Supposedly there is just 36 minutes left in the show.
Richard Gere is getting his picture taken with Adele. It’s so weird to see him looking like he’s 80 with shock white hair. Remember when he was married to Cindy Crawford? So funny. Straight women believed that one too!
Here’s something I didn’t know: the Oscars are engraved at the Governor’s Ball party after the show. The statues are blank when they are given out…and at the party the people go to an engraver’s station and get it engraved, so they don’t have to wait to take the statues home. That’s interesting.
Ange Lee won for Best Director. He should have won for Brokeback Mountain.
I never saw Like the Pie. There are a bunch of animals in it like Jungle Book. I like animals and everything but I don’t want to watch a whole movie about them. Going to the zoo once in a while is enough.
Sherri’s reading off Twitter reactions again. Do you know what historiography is? It’s the study of how history is recorded and presented…and it’s fascinating to me thinking about how Twitter and Facebook are going to affect historians in the future…because more is being documented than ever before.
Adele was holding the Oscar in front of her face and Sherri yelled at her to move it. What’s so fascinating is that Sherri and the other media people go out of their way to say how beautiful Adele looks…but it’s that thing they do where they really think she’s fat but they know they can’t say that, so they shift heavily to the other side and compliment her. They did this same thing with that Gabby Siboudebe from Precious two years ago as well. ”She’s so beautiful! We love her!”…but the tone in their voices give them away.
1042pm CST — Best Actress. They’re making fun of Quacktoeticktockshone Wallis’ name again. Her, the French old lady, Jessica Chastain, Naomi Watts, and Jennifer Lawrence are up for this.
Jennifer Lawrence won. She fell onto the ground. Not on purpose. That must be embarrassing.
Nikki Finke at Deadline is saying that Stephen Spielberg is hated in Hollywood. I’ve heard that over the years too…that he’s just an ass to deal with. He should really have like 8 Oscars by now….but people just don’t like him. The Oscars are really a popularity contest and the people who vote hold all kinds of grudges.
BEST ACTOR — Daniel Day Lewis. First Oscar win for an actor in a Speilberg movie. I never liked Daniel Day Lewis. I don’t know why, I just don’t like him. I have not seen Lincoln all the way through and doubt I ever will. I got like 20 minutes into it and didn’t like the special effects and all that vampire stuff.
Plus, Sally Field is still Nora Walker to me and her as Mary Todd is just Nora in a Halloween costume.
I really wish I remember who said they were going to do this, but years ago there was someone who said she was going to wear vampire fangs…and when she lost the award she was going to snarl at the camera…because they make the losers sit there and be polite and clap for the winners. That would have been funny.
Sherri is talking about some move called “Who’s Your Cabbie” that she made and all of three people saw.
1053pm CST — Michelle Obama is there….why?
Just think of the taxpayer money that was sunk into this appearance. Inappropriate.
And I think it’s hilarious that a lot of straight people can’t tell she’s wearing a new wig. She’s always worn a wig, but the “bangs wig” is the newest one. I actually like it on her, to be honest. She still wears the ugliest clothes I’ve ever seen…but this wig is nice on her.
Wow, Ben Affleck is hot. And that is an awesome wig on him, better than Michelle’s.
Turns out Michelle was not there…just on tape. Sherri and Larry were confused.
BEST PICTURE is coming…
I don’t remember George Clooney being in Argo. If you haven’t seen the movie, you should watch it…and let me know if you see George Clooney in it. I swear I don’t remember him in there, but I watched that when I was sick and so maybe I just wasn’t paying attention or was on too many pain meds that day.
I think it’s hilarious that everyone hates Spielberg. Apparently, they really like Affleck though…and him not getting a Director nomination was a big oversight because people thought he was a shoo-in, and so they didn’t vote for him.
That’s it for the show.
I have no idea what the real telecast was like, but the Backstage Pass Award Show was wonderful. It was a lot of fun to watch this like I was in the production booth. Such a neat experience…and in the future I really recommend you try it too. Sherri and Larry were funny…sometimes unintentionally. The last thing I heard her say before I closed the feed was that she always thought that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon were brothers, for real brothers. This woman is hilarious.
QUESTION for COMMENTS: What did you think if you watched the show?
[ NOTE: If you do want to watch the Oscars, but don't have a tee-vee...then EW.com is a good place for coverage. If you follow this link, they have a really well-put-together "dashboard" that has a live commenting feature and a little video screen that I think will show the awards ceremony. Right now they are just showing the pre-show stuff...and maybe ABC won't let them show a live feed of the telecast itself, but if they don't then EW will have a running play by play and screenshots of the event. I've never seen a "dashboard" like this before and really like what they put together. ]
So, tonight is “Oscars Night”….which is technically one of the “High Drinking Holidays” here in Boystown; these are either lesser-known or essentially gay-specific “holidays” that straight people almost entirely ignore, but gays relish as excuses to get dressed up funny and then drink like crazy. There will no doubt be buff twenty-somethings painted gold and dancing on tables in shiny Speedos…meant to represent Oscar itself. The more talented drag queens in town will channel the ghosts of the great stars of the past, so Bette Davis, Elizabeth Taylor, Gloria Swanson, and others could walk the Earth yet again tonight…albeit with an extra part or two tucked away somewhere that they never had in life. A handful of bars will show the entire four hour telecast, which is technically illegal and against ABC’s broadcasting rules…but the day the entertainment industry will ever sue a gay bar for copyright violations is probably the day after I personally win an Oscar for something myself.
I have absolutely no interest at all in watching the Academy Awards this year…just as I haven’t cared about the awards or the ceremony itself in a good number of years. That’s not how it always was for me, and in fact when I first moved to Chicago I participated in “Oscars Night’ along with a lot of other guys in Boystown. I even went to a few of the fundraising events where we had to dress up as a characters from movies…and enjoyed being Kevin Costner to my friend Althea’s Whitney Houston in our The Bodyguard tribute…or Marty McFly in the year 2015 for a Back to the Future group outing I was part of, back in 2005 or so.
I don’t think my lost interest in the Oscars is all that attributable to getting older or a “been there, done that” jade towards life…because I’m still as psyched for Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, other holidays as I am every year. It’s just that movies are no longer as big a part of my life as they used to be, and I just don’t think Hollywood itself is all that relevant to my world.
My boyfriend Justin’s down in Arkansas visiting his parents this weekend and it’s one of those blue sky days here in Chicago with the sun shining brightly, melting all the snow, so it would be nice to get out of the apartment and watch the Oscars somewhere, I suppose…but I just don’t want to sit through it and would rather spend the evening catching up on books I’ve been meaning to read and trying another attempt to perfect my recipe for kung pao chicken (so it’s actually not-too-spicy-for-Justins). Whenever Justin’s out of town I make things for myself that he either doesn’t like or that are too-spicy-for-Justins (as he calls it), and I try to tame things down so that in time they can be Justin-approved favorites.
If he was here, he’d be scoffing at the Oscars because this is a tradition that he and his mom have…where they have a pressing need to pee all over a lot of things. The two of them very much enjoy going on for hours about how much they don’t like something, but they never of course realize how much power they give these things over them…or how wallowing in negative energy is just plain bad for their souls. His mother, CarolAnne, calls here at least three times a day (morning, noon, and night!) to go on about how terrible this or that is…and so I picture the two of them huddled by a flickering tee-vee in Eureka Springs, Arkansas tonight jeering at the screen…and maybe tossing handfuls of popcorn at the set as the two of them watch all four hours of the thing they supposedly both hate.
I’ve talked about this before, but one of the things that I really find dangerous about the Internet is the way it brings out real nastiness and negativity in a lot of people…particularly those who are anonymous and hide behind screen names. If you bop around to various conservative sites today, you’ll find a lot of angry and sometimes near-apoplectic people going on about how much they hate Hollywood or how they just despise actors and actresses and the political views these people have. It’s exhausting to even read this…and so cliche, too, because it’s the same things they go on about year after year; really, it’s like picking up the phone and hearing CarolAnne on the other end and wondering what day it is because a recorded message would be less repetitious and reliable.
While I do believe the Left has won the Culture War and that conservatives are foolish not to appreciate the ongoing role that Hollywood plays in Democrats’ hold on power, I just think being hateful and nasty towards anything or anyone is just wasted energy. There are plenty of things out there that I don’t especially like…but instead of hating them I just mock them relentlessly. Ridicule, and the act of getting others to laugh at a particular entity, is a far more effective strategy than just repeating the same screed you used the last time opportunity afforded you a chance to “vent” about how terrible this or that really is.
So, the Oscars mean nothing to me anymore…but I don’t hate them…and I don’t hate the people who hand out these awards or who receive them. I just think the whole thing is ridiculous at this point and whatever magic the ceremony had for me was lost long ago. I realized this morning that I had never properly charted out the WHY of all this…or bothered to think about at what point the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences lost me as a fan and viewer. I love absurdity and enjoy terrible singing and dancing and shows that go on and on without edits or endings…so the Oscar telecast used to be right up my alley, down to the post-telecast shower I’d take before heading to bed where the bottle of shampoo would no doubt become a makeshift award while I thought for a moment or two about what I’d say to a billion people if I ever had the chance to be up on that stage.
I realize today that there are Five Reasons why the Oscars mean nothing to me anymore…and also that I’ve come to see the Oscars as one of the most virulently racist events on our national calendar.