Monday, August 7, 2023

What I can’t say anymore

     When my official Maria Pappas, Cook County treasurer 2023 wall calendar arrived last December, I immediately put it on prominent display. How could I not? Every month, Pappas models from her wardrobe of flashy fashion. The whole thing harkening back to a bygone era of outsized personalities in public office. She thoughtfully autographed it.
     Of course I thought of writing about this amusing artifact But there’s so much to unpack. It’s not just a calendar; it’s a relationship. Or was, anyway. We haven’t spoken in years.
     I became better acquainted with Pappas 23 years ago, by complete accident after walking over to the 2000 Gay Pride Parade. There she was, in a spangly top, high-stepping down the center of Broadway, twirling a baton.
     The moment’s significance is examined in my memoir, “You Were Never in Chicago:”
     “Pappas represents, to me, a glimpse of the vanished idiosyncratic glory of the city, the colorful past which always seems to be disappearing over the horizon, if not utterly lost already. The carnation-wearers, the bamboo-cane leaners, the nudge-and-winkers, the organ-grinders, the First Ward Ball revelers ...”
     After I wrote as much in the newspaper, she reached out — actually made my wife and me dinner on the roof of John Regas’s mansion on Astor Street. A relationship ensued, and she ended up hiring my brother, who became chief financial officer of her office.
     Therein lies the rub. Am I hopelessly compromised, ballyhooing her calendar because she made me dinner and hired my brother? Or score-settling, because he ended up fleeing her employment for a better gig?

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  1. Your last sentence was right on Neil. Those of us who oppose Trump and everything he stands for must be vigilant in opposing him.

    And I liked the reference, (intentional?), to Joe Schlabotnik, Charlie Browns favorite baseball player.


  2. In retrospect, it is clear Reagan was suffering from Alzheimer's in his 2nd term. Though I loathed the man for his shallow thinking and his policies, he did have competent people in place, and so the government ran reasonably well. Biden may be old but he also has competent people. ( I know personally the official in Podesta's office in charge of dispersing IRA funds, and much praise has been heaped on the quality of their work.) Trump has nothing but clowns working for him, and has not the slightest interest in all the things that make a 21st government work for its citizens. (I am also convinced he is in the middle stage of Alzheimer's, but that is a story for another day.)

    1. Let us not forget that wealthy businessmen bought Ronald Reagan a multimillion dollar retirement estate when he left office. First of the big money for Republican politicians? Maria Pappas, of course she sends out interesting calendars, Greeks are fun! Time got away from me yesterday and I didn't tell a story similar to the Atomic Twin Cities sidebar. Mac was a World War II vet I met in Florida. He was among the millions of GIs training for DDay in England. His ship was sunk by German torpedo boats while rehearsing troop landings at Slapton Sands. On June 6th he was on a different troop ship which was also sunk. Like I always say, when you think the world is picking on you, you are not alone.

  3. The horse seems to have left the barn at least 8 years ago as far as your opinion of the Biggest Loser is concerned. There are probably earlier examples, but here's 9/19/15. (Granted it was in a blog post, not the paper.) "I almost said he's dangerous. But thank God only a third of the nation are stone crazy right wing haters, and that will be our salvation."

    That was in a piece that started with "Journalism is a kabuki. I've been saying it for years." I don't suppose the present situation strictly applies as kabuki, but the Sun-Times attempting to pretend that it's now neutral on the issue of Donald Trump running for president seems like *some* kind of theater. One doesn't even need to read the editorials, the titles will suffice. 10/1/16: "Editorial: Vote for Clinton and avert a train wreck." 8/21/2020: "ENDORSEMENT: Joe Biden for president — and for one nation, indivisible"

    As for today's piece, you say: "The column originally ended with a clear and pointed call to action that I can’t even specify here," "deciding which vote supports democracy, and which might just end it" Wink, wink. Back when stuff like this actually might have mattered, you wouldn't have had a blog in which to go ahead and publish the offending sentences. But now you do. And you did. And you've railed against Don the Con both here *and* in the Sun-Times ever since he rode down the escalator.

    But you gotta do what you gotta do. I note that your inclusion of the final part about the necessity of supporting Biden, despite how old he is, on the day of the truncated column, was in a comment rather than an editor's note accompanying the actual text of the blog post. Was that on purpose, might I ask?

  4. Just curious, who is paying for Pappas's personal hagiography?
    Her or is she sticking the bill to us taxpayers?

    1. A) Her husband owns a bank; B) The Cook County Treasurer's office is like an $8 billion operation (in other words, it hardly matters).

  5. I have no opinion on Trump having Alzheimer’s, but I highly recommend “Commander In Cheat” by my favorite Sports Illustrated writer Rick Reilly. A funny study in character.

    1. Golf cheats are despicable. Some think their playing partners can't count and have no problem lying to themselves. Reilly exposes The Cowardly Liars' lack of shame, his blatant cheating in the open, even claiming to have won a tournament via a score he posted from a different course. If you can't trust a golfer with a scorecard, how can you trust him with the Nation?

  6. "...the vanished idiosyncratic glory of the city, the colorful past which always seems to be disappearing over the horizon, if not utterly lost already. The carnation-wearers, the bamboo-cane leaners, the nudge-and-winkers, the organ-grinders, the First Ward Ball revelers ...” Glory? Damn betcha! Sleaze to please...for every taste and pocketbook...that in some ways puts even New York and San Francisco to shame.

    Not only is your description a piece of wordsmithing at its finest, Mr. S, but it's also music to the ears of this native son and lifelong Chicago history junkie. Who..even as a young'un... knew the names (and the nicknames) of the grifters and the grafters at the Hall, along with heavy hitters (wink-nudge) who batted (ouch) for the Chicago Outfit. And knew them long before he knew the names on the rosters of the Cubs or the White Sox of the late Fifties. Being an avid reader of the Sun-Times and the Daily News, from the age of seven on, helped out a helluva lot.

    That's my Chicago...the corrupt and crooked Chicago of Big Al and Sam and Tony...the world-infamous town of the wink and the nod and the clout and the fix. Ashamed of it? Hey, pal, you kiddin' me?

    Thirty-one years gone, and I still let my Chicago flag fly. From my Cub vanity plates and T-shirts to the city flag on my garage. Every goddamn day.

    1. You'd probably enjoy the book then, Grizz, if you haven't read it already.

    2. T'was a Christmas present in 2014, Mr. S, from friends in Michigan. Have read it and re-read it a whole bunch of times. Chicago? You nailed it...and hit it out of the park and three houses down the block. You've lived in my hometown a full decade longer than I've been in yours.

      Didn't discover EGD, however, for another two years...on The Day After The Day After The Day of Infamy.: 11/10/16--and--"They dare return us to the old slavery."

      Not quite yet, but they've spent the last seven years trying like hell.

      Keep on keeping on, Mr. S. The fighting of the good fight is a long way from over. We've only just begun.


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