Thursday, July 16, 2009

What'chu Talkin' 'Bout, Willis?

I am a Chicago gal. I lived in Chicago for half of my life, and I know two things for sure: 1) Chicago has the best friggin' hot dogs on the planet, and 2) it is the proud home of the Sears Tower, the world's (once) tallest and most majestic skyscraper.

Imagine my horror when I read the news today indicating that the Sears Tower is now the Willis Tower, named after some frou-frou insurance company based out of London. The Willis Tower? THE WILLIS TOWER? WTF????? I can't even begin to tell you how many different shades of wrong this is.

What's next, people? The Statue of Citibank? The GoDaddy Canyon? The Monsanto State Building? Come on already!!! Let's stop corporatizing these precious landmarks and maintain some semblance of history in this great land of ours. I, for one, will never take my daughter to the top of the Willis Tower. It was the Sears Tower when I grew up, and it'll be the Sears Tower until I'm pushing up daisies. I have fond memories of taking school field trips to the Sears Tower and riding that freakishly fast elevator to the sky. That big black building is a part of my childhood. As a Chicagoan, it's presence was a source of great pride for me. And now, it is the latest victim to the corporate machine of the 21st Century.

I recognize that my ravings make me sound like a crotchety old coot. Frankly, I'm OK with that. ("Why, in MY day...!") I also know the capitalists amongst us will undoubtedly rebut by saying, "But, Theresa, this is the only way that the building would be able to maintain itself. Corporate sponsorship is the wave of the future, and we need to embrace it. It's still the same building, just with a new name."

And what does this old coot think of that? She thinks it's a load of hooey.

Isn't it bad enough that we have whored out nearly all of our professional sports complexes to the Mighty Corporatocracy? It's time to draw a line in the sand somewhere. We need to remember that our country is made up of more than logos, balance sheets, and earnings per share. We are a community, a people, and a nation steeped in history. We should be proud of our landmarks and work to preserve their integrity. Let's not let a fat company check distract us from our national legacy. Let's steadfastly remain the United States of America instead of slowly turning into the United States of American Express.


PS. I read this blog to my husband after publishing it, who reminded me that the Sears Tower was, in fact, originally underwritten by a corporation: Sears. Duh. Somehow that little factoid escaped my mind when I vehemently wrote this piece! So, not only am I a crotchety old coot, but I've also become senile too. Oh well. I still stick by my story. It'll always be the Sears Tower to me.

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