Posts Tagged ‘Donald L. Mrozek
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.
The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet — PART THREE: Can Carpet Be the Canary In A Depressed Economy’s Coal Mine?
[ Click above to embiggen: Are these stains really mold-spotted canaries in the coal mine indicating we’re in a global Depression? ]
If you’ve been following “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” you’ll know that on 2/20/2013 I arrived at the downtown Chicago offices of the law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson for a four o’clock appointment I had with Scott M. Gilbert, one of Hinshaw’s young partners, only to find the carpeting in the reception area to be the filthiest I’d ever encountered…and that’s including the gray, poorly-made carpeting I’d seen in Eastern Europe as a kid or the dirty flooring I remembered from the movie The Lost World: Jurassic Park, where very foolish people went to this island that had been years-ago abandoned by an even more foolish corporation engaged in cloning dinosaurs (but the dinosaurs got loose and, among other inconsiderate things, ruined all the carpeting in the abandoned office buildings and labs on the island). I think that movie was supposed to be set somewhere off the coast of Costa Rica, so the carpets were covered in black mold, mushrooms, and nests of all sorts of tropical-climate creepy-crawlies…but it still looked fresher and more inviting than the mystery-stained beige carpeting at Hinshaw & Culbertson in Chicago where, I presume, dinosaurs have never been set loose. I guess it says something about how terrible The Lost World was as a movie that the thing I remember most about it is its stained carpet, because that film really was a stinker. I couldn’t even begin to imagine what lasting impression is left on Hinshaw & Culberston’s actual clients by this filthy carpet.
I’ve received a lot of letters the last few days from people who wonder why I’m so fascinated by the filthy carpeting and extremely unsanitary washroom I found at the Hinshaw firm…and the immediate answer is that bizarre things like this have always fascinated me because I believe they are clues to something we’re missing in the bigger picture. I’m Catholic, and I believe the Holy Spirit nudges us all here and there, wherever we’re supposed to go…and sometimes I think that when something so absolutely bizarre as “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” is dropped in my lap I’m supposed to learn something from it or help someone who’s involved. In this case, the jarring experience of stepping into the reception area of a supposedly prestigious Chicago law firm in a high-rent skyscraper smack dab in the middle of the Loop and finding the public areas to be poorly maintained and absolutely filthy set off my natural mystery-solving radar…because it made me wonder just how bad things are in our current economy that a firm like Hinshaw would allow its waiting-area carpeting to become so filthy and would essentially let its men’s washroom degenerate into what could easily moonlight as a set for the next Saw torture-porn movie (which, for some reason, are flicks that always seem to have long stretches of plot centered in filthy bathrooms..from which guys like Cary Elwes desperately try to escape).
My mind keeps jumping around to all sorts of movies and tee-vee shows in this particular case, because I’ve just never experienced a waiting-area or washroom this filthy in real life. Many years ago, I worked in a hotel while I was in college and our corporate office would have closed the place down for immediate renovations if we allowed our lobby to become so filthy; even if we were struggling in the dead of winter with 90% of the rooms in the hotel vacant and very little money coming in, we’d still make sure the lobby carpeting was spotless. That was back in Cleveland, where we seemed to have not only more snow and slush than I’ve ever remembered in Chicago…but the wintery precipitation would always be a black, tar-like sludge thanks to the steel mills that still belched dark smoke into the air around the city and the water table that would spontaneously combust if conditions were right (such as someone dropping a match into the river or even looking at the Lake funny). Since Hinshaw & Culbertson’s lobby in a mild, dry Chicago winter was filthier than that of a heavily-trafficked hotel in downtown Cleveland (which was a favorite shortcut for homeless people to use when getting from a pandhandling free-for-all park to the Justice Center for their court appearances), I’m inclined to believe the Holy Spirit intended for me to see this filth and inspired me to contemplate what it means for our country at large.
I truly believe, as a part of my faith, that there was a reason I was meant to be sitting on that couch and left alone by Mr. Gilbert for so long with nothing else to do but stare at and photograph the filthy carpeting in that lobby.
We seemed to forever be tightening budgets and cutting costs when I worked at the hotel, and that was in the late-90s before the Dot.com implosion. Things got especially tight after 9/11, because millions of people were spooked off flying and hotels lost massive amounts of bookings (mostly related to canceled conventions, but also due to people finally making the leap to working from home and video conferencing instead of flying for business all the time). I was the head of security at the hotel and I think my department’s budget was cut to the point where I had to start buying printer ink and other office supplies with my own money, since the hotel couldn’t afford any of it and was reeling from a massive cash crunch due to the sudden downturn in the industry (thanks to “the religion of peace”). And, yet, the hotel was still always spotless, the carpets were forever clean, and the men’s washroom sparkled.
I think we would have had to be on the brink of closing down the hotel for the General Manager to have ever tolerated filthy carpets or unsanitary washrooms in that building. Literally, if everyone was laid-off due to budget cuts and it was just the GM and a few other managers left on the payroll, that guy would have had his sleeves rolled up and would have brought his own bucket of suds from home to make sure the carpet was clean and presentable to our guests. There just doesn’t exist in any realm of my imagination an image of my old hotel’s carpeting ever being allowed to become as filthy as that at the Hinshaw & Culbertson national corporate headquarters.
And this scares me, because I wonder if it’s a sign that we truly are in the economic Depression that I’ve believed we’ve been in for some time. If a large and supposedly prestigious law firm like Hinshaw & Culbertson seemingly no longer has the resources to keep its lobby carpeting clean and to tidy up its washroom, then I wonder how many other businesses in Chicago could be running on fumes. If things are really this bad in our economy that a place like Hinshaw can’t seem to afford the basics (like proper housekeeping and sanitation of their offices), then how long is a firm like this going to stay in business? And what does that mean for all of the people who count on this place being there…and all of us taxpayers who’d have to shoulder the unemployment benefits or welfare if big layoffs follow the filthy carpets and neglected maintenance of these offices?
I’m scared this filthy carpet is a canary in our economic coal mine and the filth I found last week in a waiting room is an alarm that big firms and other large employers here in Chicago might be dominos teetering on oblivion…and that we could have another massive corporate die-off like we had in the Dot.com crash and the financial apocalypse of 2008 that George Soros rigged to secure Barack Obama’s election.
Don’t forget that the Obamacare penalties and stifling requirements are set to hit employers hard in January of 2014, so we have less than a year until businesses coast to coast need to start carrying the burden of covering health insurance for millions of Mexicans who broke the law and came here for handouts (at the President of Mexico’s urging, of course, because these people then became our problem…not Mexico’s). I’m really wondering if a big firm like Hinshaw & Culbertson is allowing its carpets to get filthy and its washrooms to go uncleaned because it just doesn’t have the resources available to take care of this stuff anymore…and if staffing cuts or reduction in hours directly linked to Obamacare could be a reason for this.
It’s a real shame, too, because all the workers I met at the Hinshaw firm when I was there seemed like very nice people. I especially felt bad for this one firecracker of a receptionist they had, who was an elegant older black woman in a gorgeous cream suit with a shiny, gold rhinoceros broach on her lapel. There she was, so friendly and charming she’d easily be played by Viola Davis if this was a firm in a John Grisham movie…so clearly taking great pride in her personal appearance and doing an excellent job…but the poor woman was forced to sit at a reception desk that was essentially this tiny island of tidiness in a sea of unkempt, dingy, filth. It was like going to see the best movie that’s come out in years (starring your favorite actress), but the theater you ended up watching it in was weeks away from being condemned by the health department and torn down…kind of like that old movie palace in Detroit that’s on its last legs as a ramshackle parking garage. It’s a very disconcerting and uncomfortable feeling to watch someone you instantly like have to force a smile and carry on the best she can, while being visibly embarrassed by the surroundings in which she has to work. I really felt badly for this nice lady because she reminded me of one of my friends’ moms…and I’d hate for them to have to work in a place that was so dirty.
As I waited and waited for Mr. Gilbert to figure out where we were going to have our meeting, all I kept thinking about was “Why on Earth did these people let their offices get so dirty?” and “Why can’t they clean these carpets?”; after investigating this for the last several days the terrifying conclusion I think I’m forced to reach is that it’s because they just can’t afford to keep the place clean anymore.
Honestly, I don’t know what something like this means for our country (and businesses that YOU might work for), but I hope you’ll give me your input in comments below. A few days ago I actually reached out to Ann B. Davis, the actress who played “Alice Nelson” on The Brady Bunch because I wondered if she could give us any cleaning advice that I could then pass on to Donald L. Mrosek, J. William Rogers, and Mr. Gilbert at the Hinshaw firm — but I have not heard back from Ms. Davis yet. At 80-something, I don’t know how often she writes back to strangers asking for cleaning tips (or how much she really learned while playing “Alice”) so I thought about anyone else I might possibly know who has ever dealt with stains as pronounced and prodigious as those I found in the waiting area of Hinshaw & Culbertson.
And then I realized that many years ago I had a chance encounter with a true cleaning expert while working another job I once had in Cleveland….and so I decided to write to her for help today as well.
VIA US MAIL — 2/23/2013
Ms. Ponce Kiah Marchelle Cruse Evans
aka “Heloise”, The Conqueror of Stinks and Stains
San Antonio, Texas
I’m sure you don’t remember this, but I met you many years ago while working at the Brentano’s bookstore in downtown Cleveland’s “Galleria” mall, back when there was still a bookstore in there and the building was itself still used as a mall (for the last few years, it’s been a largely-abandoned “urban farm” with hydroponic tomatoes haphazardly soaking in buckets and little bugs correspondingly flying around…but the latest cockamamie scheme is to turn it into a giant YMCA gym and flood the whole lower level for a swimming pool…which is sort of the screwball type of pipe-dream solution to a longstanding problem that makes Cleveland forever next in line to invest in monorails at some point; honestly, all that’s missing in my former hometown is a Krusty Burger and a dance number inspired by “The Music Man”).
I remember all of our home improvement and gardening books being in the rear of the store, back in those days when people still went to bookstores and “Amazon” was most recognizable as a river in South America that few in Ohio had the slightest inclination to ever visit in person (“Why do we have to get on a plane and then deal with Spanish-speaking people when we have a perfectly good river right here in Cleveland…and ours can catch FIRE! Bet that Amazingzon can’t do that and so it isn’t all amazing after all” would have been essentially the attitude you’d find in Parma, especially). “Dot Com”, back then, was also more likely to be associated with the perky wife of a shop teacher or plumber, whose buddies no doubt ribbed him mercilessly for a last name that lent itself to riffs on “Commie” (or even more vulgar jabs, if locker room barbs switched a vowel in the “Com” and took us into PG-13 territory). In Cleveland, this sort of banter amongst straight male friends is called “funnin”, with the “g” missing like that (because it’s a Cleveland thing). I don’t get it, and I never did, which is largely why I’m gay and live in Chicago now.
Around 1994 or so, you were in Cleveland for something (maybe you came to see the house from A Christmas Story, because the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame was not open yet and those are often the only two reasons people willingly come to Cleveland) and somehow found your way to my Brentano’s…where a customer excitedly raced to the register to tell me that “Some woman with white hair is writing in all of your books!”. I think I was mad at my manager Laurie for making me work that day when I was supposed to be off, so I took my time investigating…but, sure enough, there you were sitting on the floor with a Sharpie and a smile, beaming “I’m Heloise!” as I approached. “I’m Kevin,” I told you, and then asked if you were okay or if I needed to call someone to help
restrain you. That was a nicer way of my asking if you had escaped from someplace, since you were too nicely dressed and friendly to be a vagrant…and your penmanship was just lovely. “I’m Heloise!”, you repeated…which made me wonder if that was, in fact, the only thing you could say.
But then you flipped a book over and held your photo up to your own head and I realized you were just being incredibly nice and autographing the copies of your books we had on our shelves (instead of simply being a very pretty white-haired lady with a Texas twang who vandalizes in the home and garden section of upscale bookstores that no longer exist). We didn’t have much interaction after that, since I had work to do up front and you were busy writing your name a bunch of times with a marker on the floor, even though no one asked you to do that.
I believe one of those books was called “Heloise Conquers Stinks and Stains”, or something like that. Looking over my own resume and list of life achievements, I’m jealous of your conquering of both stinks and stains, whereas I’ve thus far only managed to mildly irritate a few people here and there and publicly shame those with filthy carpets.
That’s actually why I’m writing you today, because it’s not like we promised to stay in touch all those years ago when we met in Brentano’s. As I’m sure you’ve been following, this week I launched an investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet”…which I was drawn into on February 20th when I arrived at the law offices of Hinshaw & Culbertson in downtown Chicago and was floored by the filthy, stained carpeting in their reception area. Later, when I needed to use the men’s room, I discovered standing water on the floor, clogged toilets with feces floating in urine, smears and grime on the water-splashed mirrors, and lights flickering overhead like in a torture-porn horror movie (such as those in the film series Saw, which has about a dozen installments at this point…but has never featured a men’s room as gross as the one at Hinshaw & Culbertson). Needless to say, there were a great many stinks in that washroom…but none that you couldn’t conquer, if your books are to be believed.
Part of my investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” is figuring out why, exactly, this law firm allows its waiting area to be so filthy and why its men’s room is so unsanitary (and full of stinks!). That’s really something I doubt you’ll be able to help with…and I already have a letter in to the firm’s Senior Partners basically asking them why this is happening. Since I have yet to hear back from any of them (due, no doubt, to it being February and I bet a lot of people get divorced after Valentine’s because husbands give lousy presents most of the time and that starts fights), I’ve prayed on the matter and have decided to operate as a Good Samaritan, concerned citizen, and local busybody to see if I can find any cheap and affordable cleaning tips that could “conquer” the stains and stinks that I discovered in the offices of Hinshaw & Culbertson.
There are some very nice people working there, including a very friendly woman with a rhinoceros pin on her jacket and another nice lady with white hair like yours, only she wears it “up” more and is kind of heavy-set. That lady was sweet and when she saw me staring at the stains in the carpet and taking pictures of them with my iPhone she mouthed “It’s so embarrassing!” as she hurried through the room with a bunch of papers. I don’t really know any of the people working there besides this really nice lawyer named Scott M. Gilbert, but they all seem like good and polite people who deserve a clean office and stain-and-stink-free working conditions.
I ordered your book “Heloise Conquers Stinks and Stains” and I’m asking my readership to pick up a copy too…because I really believe in you (even though I could never remember or pronounce your real name if my life depended on it) and you’re technically the first published author I ever met, if you don’t count Patricia Highsmith, Madeline Albright, Erma Bombeck, John Grisham, or Maya Angelou (all of whom I met before you at various, separate events while in high school, but the story of meeting you on the floor in Brentano’s while you were writing in the books is much more interesting than running into Bombeck at the Phoenix airport or whatever).
Since it takes a few days for Amazon to ship a book and it will be about a full week before I’d be able to find the time to read all of it, I was wondering if you could just look at the pictures I’ve enclosed of the filthy carpet in the Hinshaw & Culbertson law offices and then give me some quick pointers on how these people can clean up their stains. I did not take pictures of the unsanitary and poorly-maintained restroom at this firm (because there was a Hispanic man in there from the Blue Plate Catering Company changing his clothes and I didn’t want to either embarrass him or make him think I was posting the photos to Grindr or Scruff or whatever without his permission); come to think of it, though, since stinks don’t really photograph even if I took pictures of the restroom it would just be shots of water on the floor and feces bobbing in urine…and there’s enough of that on the Internets if you really need to see it to be of help in this case. In a cartoon, the animators would have drawn green, wavy lines depicting the stinks in there…but I don’t know how to use photoshop and I couldn’t even begin to imagine how to do that.
I plan on passing along any advice you can give for cleaning the filthy carpets and tidying the men’s washroom to the Senior Partners at Hinshaw & Culbertson the very next time I am in their offices for a meeting with Mr. Gilbert, so I bet you’d have a week or two to get back to me before I’d have another appointment there. No doubt, they are anxiously awaiting my return so that I can help them with all their problems.
Before I close I do want to thank you in advance for your help in providing some advice to Hinshaw & Culbertson on how to clean their stains and stinks…because I suspect they might not have a lot of money to spend on things like cleaning, since they allowed the carpeting to get this bad and they leave the washroom so filthy in the first place. You are a very busy columnist, author, and Conquerer of Stinks and Stains…and your writing has brought a lot of joy and good in this world. I almost want to suggest it’s time for a sequel to your book, which could be written cover-to-cover about how to clean up the stains and stinks in a law firm such as Hinshaw & Culbertson. I don’t want to tell you how to manage your own successful brand, but I’d call it “Conquering Stains & Stinks Part Two, the Sequel, Written About the Filthy Lobby and Men’s Room at A Chicago Law Firm” if I was you. But, then again, I never was good at finding simple, rolls-off-the-tongue titles for things. You are no doubt better at that than me. But, wouldn’t it be a hoot if you’d team up with John Grisham and maybe even do a book together on all this? The next time I run into him at something I’ll try to connect the two of you (though I only saw him that once, twenty years ago, so I don’t know how long a wait this would be).
With thanks in advance for your help in this important matter regarding stains and stinks found at Hinshaw & Culbertson’s Chicago offices,
HB NOTE: “Heloise” is probably my favorite source for household hints outside of the “FlyLady” forums and eBooks and things my grandmothers or my friend Abbey taught me back in Cleveland. Amazon.com has a big selection of Heloise books, on all sorts of topics. Her tips really work, and she really was a super nice lady when I met her twenty odd years ago…so I assume she’s still just as nice today. I have no idea if she’ll write back or if she has the time to help solve “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” but stranger things have happened with my investigations for this site.
QUESTION for COMMENTS: What tricks have you used to remove filthy stains in your own carpet or conquer stinks in the washrooms of prestigious law firms you’ve visited that have neglected their cleaning duties?
What other experts should we contact for more assistance with our investigation into “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet”?
To read the rest of this “Mystery”, click HERE.
A few days ago, I stepped into the offices of Chicago law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson to appear as a witness in a major discrimination suit working its way through federal court involving a prominent Chicago gay bar that’s been accused of persecuting its Christian employees (which is the height of hypocrisy, considering that the owners of this bar vociferously accuse Christians of persecuting gays). As often happens here in Chicago, a mystery fell into my lap while I was sitting on a couch in Hinshaw’s waiting room…because there before me on the floor on either side of the large reception desk was the filthiest carpeting I’d ever seen in my 36 years on this planet. In the grand scope of all the mysteries that are out there today, “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” isn’t the grandest of them all…but I’m just personally boggled by the fact that a purportedly prestigious law firm in Chicago in a very expensive office building could have carpet this filthy in its waiting room. And not seem to care!
Yesterday, I wrote to the Senior Partners of the firm to ensure they knew about the filthy and unsanitary conditions in their offices…but I haven’t heard back from them yet. No doubt, men like Donald L. Mrozek and J. William Roberts are very busy so it might take them and the other Senior Partners a few days to address how filthy their carpet is and how unsanitary and disgusting their men’s washroom was on that same floor. They probably are a little sheepish about the whole situation, too, because I took pictures of how filthy the carpets are over there and showed them to everyone. Though, honestly, they knew I was coming to visit that day and they know I’m Editor-in-Chief of a popular website…and a reasonable person would have supposed I’d have some sort of photographic device on my person in the year 2013. So, they really should have had foresight to clean the carpets and tidy up the washroom before someone like me arrived for an appointment in the building (and was cleared through security to come up to the third floor!).
‘The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” fascinates me because it’s a real commentary on how Chicago itself operates…because it’s on one level this vast garden of shiny steel and glass spikes zooming up to the sky for as far as eyes can see, with tourists clamoring for the best view of all the architectural beauty and historic landmarks…but underneath all that beauty there’s real rot and decay in this town that the political system and media here endeavor to hide under rugs.
That’s why I find it a perfect metaphor for this city to step into a suite of offices in a very shiny and spectacular office building on LaSalle, in the middle of the Loop no less, and find the reception area of a prestigious law firm to be filthier than the one in Beetlejuice, when Geena Davis and a surprisingly attractive version of Alec Baldwin went to the ghost world for an appointment they had with Sylvia Sidney. You remember that scene: the two bewildered, recently deceased humans arrive and find themselves in a diseased room covered in creepy stains, afraid of sitting in something gross, with the whole thing being Tim Burton’s grotesque version of a waiting room in purgatory. Like this:
Only, Geena Davis and Alec Baldwin were lucky because they had each other to comfort them in all that filth…but I had to sit there in the Hinshaw & Culbertson offices and stare at all of those mysterious, moldy stains all by myself!
I actually thought to write to Sylvia Sidney (who played Juno, the ghost caseworker) in Beetlejuice to ask her how Tim Burton and his design team so convincingly replicated the Hinshaw & Culbertson offices from the year 2013 in a movie they released back in 1988, but I’d (fittingly at this point) need a ouija board to reach her. Then I thought I’d ask Geena Davis what she thought of Hinshaw & Culbertson’s filthy reception area carpeting and if it reminded her of working on Beetlejuice, but while looking up her agent’s address I decided that I’d do a really good deed today and bring these filthy carpets to the attention of someone who could really help Mr. Donald Mrozek and Mr. J. William Roberts with their cleaning and sanitation problems. With a reception area this filthy, I should really enlist the heaviest hitter I could think of in ‘The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet”…Ann B. Davis, the woman who played housekeeper extraordinaire “Alice Nelson” on The Brady Bunch.
VIA US MAIL — 2/22/2013
Ms. Ann B. Davis
c/o The Artists Group
1650 Broadway — Suite 1105
New York, New York 10019
Dear Ms. Davis,
I am writing to you because many years ago you portrayed the world’s greatest housekeeper, “Alice Nelson”, on the television program The Brady Bunch. As you no doubt recall, there was absolutely no mess your character couldn’t clean up, no matter how filthy any of the (six!) Brady children were in any episode of that classic TV program. If “Greg” threw the football around and broke something, you’d pick up the pieces and restore order. If “Marcia” was sloppy and got makeup all over her vanity, you’d degrease the glass in an instant (using nothing more than vinegar, lemon juice, or magic). Whenever “Peter” spilled his drink on his textbooks like an inconsiderate and sloppy little pig, you’d dry them out and politely admonish him for being so stupid. “Jan” was just one big walking mess, but yet you always found a way to clean up after her too; FEMA can’t even do something like that today. “Bobby” and “Cindy” were pretty much just wild all the time and had that dog “Tiger” for a while that just disappeared at one point (or, more interestingly, slipped into an alternate reality where he became a tiger named “Dog”).
I can only imagine how, before he vanished and was never spoken of again, “Tiger” probably made the most messes of any member of the “Brady Family” (apart from “Cousin Oliver”, naturally)…but your character “Alice” kept the “Brady” household’s shag carpeting and other interesting 1970s decorating choices looking resplendent. I know that you were just an actress playing a role written for you by men at typewriters chain-smoking like fiends, but I’m hoping you were at least somewhat method in your craft and that while portraying “Alice” you also were imbued with some of her best spot-cleaning attributes.
I have absolutely no authorization to do this and am not affiliated with them in any way, but I would like your help in solving “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” that exists in the Chicago offices of the law firm Hinshaw & Culbertson. I believe this falls under my duties of “concerned citizen” and “local busybody” and is, of course, a manifestation of my First Amendment rights and my dedication to cleanliness in general.
Recently, I had an appointment at Hinshaw & Culbertson and was shocked by the filthy carpeting they have in their reception area. Here is a photo of exactly what I am talking about so that you can channel “Alice” and help address this with me, as concerned citizens and characters that people have strong opinions of:
I know it looks like the young man in black is part of some kind of cult and is dancing in front of a giant cupcake with a maraschino cherry on top, but he’s just a cater-waiter setting up for a cocktail party function that Hinshaw & Culbertson hosted on 2/20/2013 (as bizarre as it is that they’d host a major catered event in space that has such filthy carpeting). It also looks like there’s a disembodied head just floating right there to the immediate left of the cater-waiter, but that’s really a mustachioed man with glasses whose full body is hidden by the oversized reception desk (it kind of looks like he’s sitting in an elaborate shipping crate or animal pen, but I believe there’s an open space on one side for him to escape). Now that I look at it closely, it also appears that the cater-waiter’s arm ends at his elbow and that he’s firing some sort of blast of psychic ball-lightning at the floating head, like he’s a male version of the video game character “Samus” from the old Metroid series on the NES. But that’s probably just a trick of the light and an optical illusion. My boyfriend Justin really loves video games and he pointed this out to me, so don’t feel bad if you didn’t automatically get the reference because you are 80-something now and I’m 36 and this didn’t immediately leap out at me either.
Those filthy stains on the carpeting of Hinshaw & Culbertson’s waiting area aren’t tricks of the light, however. They sure aren’t “treats” either…but they’re scarier than anything I’ve ever seen at Halloween or in movies such as Beetlejuice (which you weren’t in, obviously, but you should have been in because you are really funny as an actress).
I am wondering if you ever saw stains like the ABOVE on the carpeting of the “Brady Family” house while you were part of that bunch…and not just on the set itself, but also in the backstage production areas where the Teamsters no doubt trucked around lighting, camera equipment, those fancy directors’ chairs, and all the other heavy-duty accoutrements that are needed for television production (and they probably dropped stuff and made a big mess, because they are Teamsters and that’s how they roll). I imagine the back corridors of a TV studio get pretty filthy…and I am wondering if the carpeting backstage on a 1970s sitcom production set was ever filthier than the reception area carpeting of a major law firm in Chicago in the year 2013.
How on Earth would your character “Alice” ever begin to clean filthy carpeting like this?
On the show, whenever one of those “Brady kids”, their dog “Tiger”, “Sam the Butcher”, or other characters on the show made any kind of mess “Alice” would react for the camera, make some kind of funny face, say something hilarious, and then get right to work with a bucket and some kind of scrubbing utensil. And then she’d make pork chops and apple sauce for everyone (except “Tiger”, because he’d get dog food out of a can because he was a dog).
I’ve looked through old episodes on YouTube and I have been unable to identify what sort of utensil “Alice” most usually favored for cleaning up filthy messes…or if such a utensil would be good on carpet like that found in the reception area of Hinshaw & Culbertson. I have no way of determining if this is quality carpeting or not…but I’m tempted to guess it couldn’t have been all that expensive if Hinshaw & Culbertson seemingly can’t afford to get it properly cleaned. That’s an assumption I am making based on the fact that their carpet really and truly is filthy…and I can’t imagine a firm would purposefully choose to allow carpet to get this filthy in a waiting area unless they just financially couldn’t afford to have it cleaned professionally. And that assumption leads me to believe they probably couldn’t have afforded very expensive carpeting to begin with.
But, you know the old saying of: When you assume, you make an “ass” of “you” and “Alice from the Brady Bunch”…so I should just really focus on how filthy their carpeting is right here and now and ask if you have any suggestions at all for how they could clean this up. Mind you, they have not asked for my help so this is more of a Good Samaritan effort, kind of like trying to figure out how Lindsay Lohan can get her life back on track or how Liza Minnelli can stop marrying gay guys. It’s the sort of unsolicited intervention for the hapless that all the “Bradys” should have done for “Jan”.
Since I went to their offices for a meeting but the meeting didn’t happen because the man who asked for the meeting ended up not being prepared to meet that day (I think the day got away from him and he got distracted because they were going to be having a big party that night and he might have been excited because a party was happening), I believe I will be back in their offices again soon for another meeting that will probably happen this time…and when I go I’d like to be able to share with them any advice you might have for how they can make their offices less filthy.
Hinshaw & Culbertson also has a serious problem with their men’s washroom (which you can read about here), but that’s really something that a whole lot of Clorox bleach, Windex, a mop, and some elbow grease can fix…so the real mystery is how they can clean their filthy carpets so that they look like the carpeting at every other law firm that exists here in Chicago…or any other professional business, really.
I believe your character “Alice’s” boss on The Brady Bunch was an architect and he worked from home in an office he designed himself. I also remember it always looked very professional in there, which was no doubt directly attributable to the hard work and dedicated cleaning skills of “Alice” herself. I am not sure if the producers made you stay in character and clean the whole set after filming was done for the day, but if that is remotely the case then you did a really good job with “Mike’s” office because it really does sparkle.
Perhaps working together we can impart some of “Alice’s” cleaning tips and know-how to Mr. Donald L. Mrozek and Mr. J. William Roberts of Hinshaw & Culbertson at some point so that they can clean their filthy carpet and have it look as nice as “Mr. Mike Brady’s” carpeting in his architectural office.
Thank you for your time, Ms. Davis, and for being such a valuable resource in this matter from so deep in our nation’s vast pop culture universe. You have brought me so much joy through the years while watching reruns of The Brady Bunch and I would be remiss if I didn’t take this opportunity now to express gratitude to you on behalf of my readership for your talented depiction of America’s favorite housekeeper, “Alice Nelson”.
Awaiting your much-needed counsel to solve “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet”,
Longtime Fan of Your (and “Alice’s”) Work
Read the rest of “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet” on our “Mysteries” page HERE.
QUESTION for COMMENTS: What other people, companies, or fictional entities do YOU think could help us in “The Mystery of the Filthy, Filthy Carpet”?