Monday, October 5, 2009

A DAY IN THE LIFE (of Chicago): Who knew hotels would give you a celebrity-adjacent room just for the asking?

Call it one of the quirks of being the transportation hub of the United States. It makes it possible for just about any incident to have a Chicago connection.

In the case of the insurance salesman whom federal prosecutors say was behind the attempt to shoot nude video of bosomy ESPN broadcaster Erin Andrews undressing, he literally got busted at what could be considered the nation’s “Ground Zero” – O’Hare International Airport.

THIS INSURANCE SALESMAN travels a lot, and was returning from a trip to Buffalo when he was picked up by federal agents. After a court hearing on Saturday, he got to spend a weekend in the South Loop.

Admittedly, it was at the Metropolitan Correctional Center, not one of the luxury hotels like the Palmer House that would have made a downtown Chicago weekend enjoyable.

Michael David Barrett will soon leave our fair city. It could very well happen this week. He is scheduled to appear in court on Monday for a hearing that will determine just how quickly he is extradicted to California – which is where the federal prosecutors who are handling the actual illegal activity against Andrews are located.

It turns out that Barrett lives in a gated community in the upper-crust suburbs of DuPage County, which means he put on the trappings of being a part of proper society.

AND THE FACT that his job required him to travel so often made his neighbors think he was just a hard working person. At least that’s what they told all the reporter-types who swarmed into their neighborhood the past couple of days – to justify the fact that they knew nothing about him.

It was also that travel that enabled Barrett to indulge what federal officials say was his obsession with Andrews – who has a cult of fans who enjoy the thought of a blonde standing on the sidelines during games and asking vapid questions of athletes to supplement the vapid commentary offered by the actual game announcers.

If it seems like I don’t think much of this story, I’ll confess I don’t. When Andrews’ situation became public fodder earlier this year, I had little interest. In fact, the only part of this whole situation that intrigues me is the word that Barrett was able to get at least one hotel to give him a room adjacent to Andrews. If I had known that, I’d have asked for a room next door to Penelope Cruz a long time ago.

What else was notable during the weekend that the Chicago Bears tried to take our minds off of a pair of dismal baseball seasons coming to a close?

WE DESPERATELY NEED A BOOT IN THE BOOTY: Let’s be honest. Chicago is like that intelligent-but-lazy high school kid who needs the fire of a hard-and-fast deadline lit under his tush in order to inspire him to do anything.

One of the reasons I was supportive of bringing the summer Olympiad to Chicago in the year 2016 is that I figured it would serve as that deadline, since getting the city ready to stage such a massive event would take the full seven years. Work would literally have to start now to make the needed infrastructure improvements.

So when I now read commentaries and hear statements from people saying they hope the city maintains its desire to make the improvements even without the eventual treat of an Olympics, all I can honestly think to myself is that the pressure is off city officials, so maybe they’ll get to it sometime during my lifetime. Or maybe they won’t.

People have been saying for decades that Chicago’s air traffic needs (and that of the nation whose airlines pass through Chicago on many of their routes) require another airport. Officials have made plans for years. Yet I don’t see that we’re any closer now to hiring contractors or turning over spades of dirt than we were in, say, 1991.

A SCAPEGOAT ON BOTH SIDES OF TOWN: I remember as a kid thinking of Von Joshua as a light-hitting outfielder for the San Francisco Giants (although he also played a bit for the Los Angeles Dodgers).

But now, the Chicagoan in me is going to think of the baseball lifer as the guy who got blamed irrationally for bad baseball being played on both sides of the city. Joshua spent part of this season as the hitting coach for the Chicago Cubs, the identical post he held back at the beginning of the decade with the Chicago White Sox.

He got fired by the White Sox as part of an attempt to jolt the ball club into playing better – in short, because it was easier to replace one coach than several athletes who weren’t worth squat.

Now, he suffered the same fate with the Cubs – being let go right after the Sunday loss to the Arizona Diamondbacks that brought baseball in 2009 in Chicago to a close.


1 comment:

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