Good Luck Jon and Stephen! (October 30, 2010)

Stewart_Colbert

It’s a big political day today, sort of like a Super Bowl for the Washington set.

In this corner, we have President Obama, returning to my hometown of Chicago for the first rally in the Windy City since the historic evening in November of 2008 when he became America’s only President of color. My husband and I were fortunate enough to be at Grant Park that night, and no matter how the administration rates now, nothing can ever take away from the emotional significance of that evening. I am often critical of the Commander-in-Chief, but he is a gifted and moving speaker. The rally, “Moving America Forward” is part of a series being held as the President attempts to boost the flagging morale of the Left, encouraging them to get to the polls on November 2nd. “Just Say No to the GOP” and all that. The stakes are high.

If it is possible to upstage the party of a sitting President (and it apparently is), Comedy Central hosts and comedians Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert are holding their own “Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear” on the Washington Mall in the nation’s Capitol this afternoon. The event, which will begin any minute now, is a deadly serious tongue-in-cheek answer to conservative commentator Glenn Beck’s late August “Restore Honor” rally, which was attended by over 87,000. Many liberals, and quite a few centrists, objected to the timing of Beck’s call-to-arms, which also happened to be the 47th anniversary of Martin Luther King’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech.

Stewart’s soiree, per the organizational website, has but one mission: “We’re looking for the people who think shouting is annoying, counterproductive, and terrible for your throat; who feel that the loudest voices shouldn’t be the only ones that get heard.”

Further: ” Ours is a rally for the people who’ve been too busy to go to rallies, who actually have lives and families and jobs (or are looking for jobs) — not so much the Silent Majority as the Busy Majority. If we had to sum up the political view of our participants in a single sentence… we couldn’t. That’s sort of the point.”

A rally for good old fashioned, hard working, common sense. How can I not get behind that? In some ways I am sorry it takes two men who get paid to crack jokes on a cable channel to organize a visible response to the caterwauling of the extreme Right, but whatever works. Break a leg guys!

Making the Name “Stanley” Sound Cool (June 10, 2010)

stanley-cup

Though it took me, and the rest of the City, a minute or two to process what happened, it sure feels good to be a Chicagoan today. Last night, after Buffalo native and youngster Patrick Kaine slipped the puck past Flyers’ goaltender Michael Leighton, for a 4-3 overtime victory over Philadelphia, and handed the Blackhawks their first Stanley Cup championship since 1961, Windy City residents were stuck in a lengthy moment of determined disbelief.

In the first place, the final flash, the end of an eight month, bruising journey that is the NHL season, was a bit anticlimactic. I had to watch the replay several times to finally grasp that a puck had gone into the opposing net. My friend Ann said it best, likening the winning instant to “some one pulling the plug on a video game and then saying ‘oh by the way, you won.’” It was a bit disorienting. Even as I watched Kaine, possibly the only man in the free world who knew immediately that the Hawks had done it, skate down the ice in the midst of a war whoop, I was afraid to trust the emotion.

And that is because, in addition to the end of the game being somewhat unusual, Chicago denizens just aren’t used to winning that often. The last time we had a sporting victory parade was in 2005, when the Chicago White Sox won the World Series. But let’s be honest, some of us (Cub fans – 102 years and counting) felt a little left out of that soiree. Prior to this, it was the late 1990s, the end of Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls dynasty, when the City last united in drunken revelry with a side order of good natured taxi tipping.

My husband and I discussed the euphoria we experienced on election night 2008, the night Obama stood before hundreds of thousands in Grant Park to become the first African-American President-elect. I suppose many parallels could be drawn between politics and sports, but comparing a momentous moment in American history to a Stanley Cup victory seems to cheapen Obama’s accomplishment. I will never forget that unseasonably warm November evening as long as I live, but it’s still different.

Today is the rare day in this violent, corrupt and financially troubled City when we can all set our differences, factions and grudges aside and enjoy being fellow members of Blackhawks nation. For just a moment or two, the local media has turned its head away from the sideshow of the Rod Blagojevich trial to celebrate something positive and unifying. The parade that will stream down Michigan Avenue tomorrow, as our heroes hoist the Stanley Cup high for all to see, is not a protest, demonstration or some other form of social unrest. The only thing to fear Friday morning is litter, or the vomit piles of over-served revelers.

There just aren’t enough moments like this. I plan to milk it as along as I can. Blago isn’t going anywhere.

Shamrock Stomach Flu (March 20, 2010)

Sick Stomach

Long, gross story short: something happened to my stomach and I have been unleashing gastronomic pyrotechnics since about 9:00 PM Thursday night. It continued all day yesterday, though I pride myself on having been able to participate in a phone interview for a job whilst flat on my back. It certainly sucked having to cancel my Friday night social plans, but as our regular blog followers may remember, I am running the Shamrock Shuffle tomorrow morning in Grant Park. I have exactly 24 hours to get my strength back.

Given that all I managed to keep down yesterday was snack size bag of Oreo cookies (at least my upset stomach has good taste), Step 1 is going to be eating healthy, light foods. No one can run an 8k on an empty stomach. Step 2 is rehydration via water and Gatorade, with a dash of ginger tea thrown in.

The change in the weather makes things more interesting too. After a near 70 degree day yesterday, I am presently watching snowflakes fall outside my office window. No matter, I like a challenge. Bring it Mother Nature. Bring on the remnants of stomach flu. I will run and I will finish in less than 50 minutes.

Wish me luck!