This column gives background on the special prize for today's Saturday Fun Activity, posted below. It also, if I recall, inspired a men's store to send Kruesi some decent ties that a man would not be embarrassed to wear. A good government sort, when he wasn't egging unbalanced mayors to midnight illegality, he sent me $100 to cover their expense. Only the men's store refused to take the money, which put me in a delicate situation which, if memory serves, I managed to resolve to everyone's satisfaction.
The Chicago Transit Authority crisis builds to a crescendo, with millions to be slashed out of the budget, service to be strangled, routes to be canceled, riders and politicians up in arms.
And what am I thinking about? Frank Kruesi's necktie. Kruesi is the president of the CTA, and every time I see him he's wearing the exact same tie, one showing a CTA route map, the same kind of thin, jokey tie that sometimes have fish or whatever on them.
I hate those ties. Weisenheimers wear them because they make the wearer seem like a goof. Which I suppose is the point, to say hey, aren't I wild and crazy and unconventional? But what they really say is that you are a goof in a bad, why-do-we-have-to-deal-with-this-goof-send-in-the-adults kind of way.
Which isn't so bad if the buses run. If you're stopping by for a routine checkup, you might not mind if the doctor has on a tie with Marilyn Monroe's face silkscreened on it. Funny tie, Dr. Katz.
But when he's delivering the bad news -- they'll have to operate and soon -- suddenly the tie isn't so funny. Suddenly you don't want to glance at his chest and worry your life is in the hands of Chuckles the Clown.
Maybe if Kruesi wasn't wearing that tie, the Legislature in Springfield would take the problem seriously and give the CTA the money it needs. Or when Kruesi goes before the cameras to announce that the system is bankrupt and buses are being replaced by ox carts, at least he should wear a serious necktie. Something in a somber black.
—Originally published in the Sun-Times, April 15, 2005