Posts Tagged ‘economic canaries in a coal mine
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.