No Games, Yes Chicago
by Peter Zelchenko October 16, 2009

WARNING: This is a blatant, unbridled, and unapologetic puff piece on No Games Chicago and Tom Tresser. So sue me.

You should read what No Games Chicago's Tom Tresser and his friends had to go through in Copenhagen. It was like a police state. They had to work a lot harder to connect with delegates than when they were in Lausanne earlier in the year. An amazing travelogue.

And, while they were there, the local organizers had a party outside City Hall.

There was shock at the decision among the organizers. In their words, they were "relieved." Tom says that a reliable source explained that "When support [in a city] drops below 50 percent, you're cooked." You can be sure that No Games organizers, and their talented media staff, played a big part in that.

I am in absolute awe of what this team was able to accomplish. I'm proud of all of them. This is a model of diligence in activism. They took the best and brightest from all over the city, an amazingly diverse group, and did what's best for Chicago.

Some of the leaders include veteran Lawndale organizer (and my fellow Whitney Young alum) Valerie Leonard. Martin Macias Jr. of Vocalo. Rachel Goodstein, founder of Friends of Meigs Field. Rhoda Whitehorse from Protect Our Parks. Longtime North Side activist John Viramontes, Jr. U of C master's student Francesca Rodriguez. And co-founder Bob Quellos, the longtime social justice activist. Let's not forget Tom, of course, who with me and others co-founded Protect Our Parks and closed down Latin School's control over the Lincoln Park soccer field, among many other things he's done. And there were others. We really should appreciate the work they did.

And they're not stopping there. They did a poll asking "What now" for Chicago. And, following that, Tom Tresser is capitalizing on the success immediately, having made a decision to run for major county office against the typical Machine hacks who let all of this go by with a wink and a nod. I'd love to see Tom in office. He's working fast. Last night, I was privileged to observe a high-powered meeting at his house, where some of the best political minds in the city were in campaign planning discussions.

Doesn't the man sleep? I asked Tom what is motivating him to do this:

"I feel compelled to run for office because I'm tired of spending my time stopping bad projects. I want to be in a position to govern and create good projects."

That's put simply enough. No jargon. If you want to support him, send him an e-mail personally (yes, he's that accessible) and come to the organizing rally Saturday at 11 a.m. at Jak's Tap, 901 W. Jackson. Yes, it's going to be work. Boo-hoo. As Tom knows, a funny thing happens when people don't join in and help:

Nothing.

Get involved, Chicago.

~=~

[And now for something completely different...]

Let's see. Keys, phone, wallet-- hmm, only a $5 bill here. I'm going to need to add money to my CTA card. I only have a $50 over here. Let me put that in here. Good. All set! And it's out the door we go...

Hum de dum... Waiting for the bus is boring.

Hum de dum... Here I am, on the bus.

Here I am, reading on the bus. Bored -- but upbeat!

Oh, but the river is beautiful today! How is it that after thousands of crossings, somehow traversing the Michigan Avenue bridge towards downtown always brings new inspiration and hope? Du Sable had to wade across. We ride in style. What inspiration! What hope! And I'm just going to a dumb meeting.

I'm feeling pretty good about the world as I get off this bus.

Hum de dum... Waiting for the next bus.

Hey, there are three of those drummer guys with the paint buckets and sticks. It's really amazing what they do. So elemental. Garbage to the rest of us is turned into art. It's really annoying that the cops tend to give them trouble, because they're not harming anyone, and they seem like straight-up kids. Why do the cops bother them? I wonder, is it DWB? Drumming While Black?

And, what an irony: they're drumming right on the Michigan Avenue bridge. Stickittodamanneosis! (Hm, wait, that's a white people's movie.)

Boy, these drummers really are fast! Look at you, just picking up where your friend leaves off. It's cool how you spin the sticks in the air and don't miss a beat. I am impressed. There is no school where you learn this, and it's kind of a way to build your self-esteem, make a little money, even be an example to younger kids. It's what you have. You're resourceful.

It reminds me of Jesse White and his drum corps. I remember marching with them in parades now and then and getting to wear the drums sometimes. The white kid with the drums. BUM-bum, BUM-ba-bum-bum. I can even remember the rhythms we used to do. But I was never very good; I couldn't even begin to do this fast stuff that these guys are doing. And, where's Jesse now? Too busy with his clout army to really touch the people here anymore. So you kids are starting from scratch. It's okay by me if it's okay by you.

I feel good today, about the world, about myself, and about you, so I'm thinking I'll give you some money. I'm proud of you boys, staying out of trouble.

Here, boys. I'm going to drop this bill into your bucket here. Nice work. Boy, not much money in this bucket. No wonder you're so excited to see me put this $5 bill in. Wow, you are really appreciative. Thanks for the five-minute drum tribute! It's amazing that people are so stingy around here that a $5 bill will get these guys this excited. But I'm not going to let that spoil my day. And neither are you, right boys? Right. Great kids!

(Later...)

Hey, I need to charge up my CTA pass. Now, where's that $50? Why is there only a $5 bill in my wallet?!

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