Thursday, October 1, 2009

Maybe Partying Will Help

Posted By on 10.01.09 at 12:05 PM

Oh, no:

"But those tip jars reflect a negativity I sense is spreading. It's an attitude virus that Chicago's Olympics promoters might have counteracted if they had listened carefully to what Chicagoans are saying about the Olympics, and if they'd made a bigger pitch for one little word: fun."

I don't think talking even further down to Chicagoans is really the right move. I think they tried that (hence the need to hold meetings in each and every ward once the mostly self-evident "fun" argument needed to be supplemented with a "we are not going to fuck you over, Scout's honor" argument) and it didn't work:

OLYMPICS PROMOTERS: This is going to be really fun!

MANY, MANY CHICAGOANS: No, it's not going to be fun. It's going to be fun for suburbanites and tourists who aren't going to be on the hook for this shit.

OP: Tons of fun!

MMC: Let's give you the benefit of the doubt on that even though lots of us live in a city because of the many opportunities for entertainment and athletic events which are permanent and ongoing. We still don't trust the city to not fuck it up. Especially after they can't get their story straight on who's paying for everything. Seriously: we do not trust the mayor right now and it's not just this, or the parking meters. We're trying to make a point here.

OP: Fun people! FUN!

MMC: Many of us live here because there are already lots of fun and interesting people. This really isn't a terribly convincing argument. If we are wondering what's in it for us besides "fun," can you blame us? Seriously? Does "ubi est mea" ring a bell? We're just trying not to be the mark here and frankly we're a bit resentful of the suggestion that the biggest problem in this whole process is that we weren't being sufficiently condescended to.

OP: FUN FUN FUN

MMC: Seriously WHAT IS YOUR DAMAGE?

[Exeunt]

What's most condescending about Schmich's argument isn't the idea that Chicagoans are too stupid to realize FUN when it's shoved down their throats for several months by the powers that be presented to them with tasteful subtlety, not to mention evaluate the offer and reject it for well-considered reasons (I know, right?), it's that she inexplicably and with absolutely no evidence whatsoever dismisses Olympics dissent as fashionably cynical (her words, not mine). For example:

"But [suggesting that the parking meter fuckup calls into question the city's ability to not fuck this up] is a false equation, and we shouldn't let our cynicism, however realistic when applied to certain aspects of city life, corrupt our view of the Olympics possibilities."

Accusing people who are applying events from very recent history to possible future events (how most people evaluate anything, from going to a restaurant to reelecting a president) of creating a "false equation" while saying that cynicism is realistic when applied to certain aspects of city life but not this very large one in particular for no discernible reason other than OLYMPICS MAGIC is where she shoots straight through condescension into... I dunno... something like trying to play a shell game while assuming the audience is so blinkered that shells aren't needed.

I wouldn't find this column so much like the sound of someone running their nails down my spleen if, instead of trying to fake-politely call Olympics skeptics a bunch of assholes who should be clapping louder, she'd just say it: fuck it, it's worth the risk.

And: fine. I don't think it is, because it seems like a lot of money and trouble for two weeks of actual stuff and a lot of ephemeral, sexy buzz, but I'm willing to acknowledge that some people want to take that risk.

Because I'm human, too. For instance, I really, really love Millennium Park, despite the fact that it's difficult or impossible to reconcile that with the cost overruns and bad management. Lynn Becker wrote a great piece discussing the park as clusterfuck vs. the park as triumph (hint: it's both). I think some of it's unsettling yet profound (the weird tree internment camp), some of it's fun yet profound (the Bean), all of it's interesting and wonderful to have downtown, and despite the process of its creation and the full knowledge that perhaps some of the waste, or, hell, the entire project, could have been directed more towards the alleviation of pain or the redress of grievances/injustice*, I enjoy it.

You don't have to believe in original sin to be the willing beneficiary of something that shouldn't have happened and screwed people over in the process; if you live in America, or more or less anywhere else as a person who can exercise free will, you are probably the beneficiary of something awful and are living in part on blood money - victims of your leisure, so to speak. (You might be the victim, too; no reason you can't be both.) Some people are impressively ascetic about that sort of thing; I'm not, but as an attempt to be some small part of Progress I like to reflect on it and at least make some improvements around the edges.

PS: John Kass claims that winning the Olympics would make Daley a king. I was thinking at this point he'd feel more like a crazy, cuckoo, super-king.

PPS: Schmich: "[T]he polls vary on how many Chicagoans want the Olympics. Barely half? Two-thirds?" As Ben Joravsky points out, the most recent poll - conducted about a month ago by Schmich's own newspaper - show barely half against the games no matter what, and 84% (barely all?) against using taxpayer money to cover shortfalls. Schmich gets her 2/3 number from a February poll that was taken before the parking meter pooch-screwing broke.

* Not saying that would have gone any better.

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