Monday, May 21, 2012

NATO summit, Chicago

For the first time in my life a world leader has apologized to me in public.  Over the years there are a lot of apologies that I wished I could have heard  from these guys, but on Sunday I finally got one.

Waiting for the Chancellor (JWB, 2012)
Unless it’s raining or there is a threat of seismic or volcanic activity I generally ride my bike down to the River Walk just below Michigan Avenue in order to give river tours for the Chicago Architecture Foundation.  I was almost down to my assigned boat two days ago when I ran up against a formidable barricade of Secret Service agents.

Dozens of us were stopped on both sides of the blockage as we waited for a delegation to board one of the First Lady boats for a river cruise.  So we stood—joggers, bikers, causal walkers, and pram-pushers.  All of us reflected in the sunglasses of the ecret Service detail.

Before too long there was movement and the delegation emerged from beneath Wacker Drive and began to board the boat.  The I-Phones came out but many users, I’m fairly confident, were not sure who it was they were snapping away at.

The dignitary turned out to be Angela Merkel, the Chancellor of Germany since 2005.  As she took her place on the top deck of the First Lady, she looked to her left and saw all of us waiting to be about our morning’s business.

Chancellor Merkel (in pink) after the
apology (JWB, 2012)
Facing us, she spread her arms out in a gesture of apology and mouthed the words, “I’m so sorry.  Thank you.”  At least that’s close to what she said.  It could easily have been, “Don’t shoot, boys.  They’re on our side.”   But her body language was that of apology, and I’m going with that.

The coolest part of the whole deal was the information that I found out 15 minutes after the boat sailed.  The narrator for Chancellor Merkel’s Architectural tour of the Chicago River?

Helmut Jahn.

Now T-H-A-T is an architectural tour.

By the way . . . the NATO summit has concluded, and Chicagoans can now go back to doing what we do best—basking in a sunny season in this city in a garden.

Now that the whole thing is over, I have just one observation.  For me, aside from the remarkable restraint that the Chicago police showed, my most pronounced impression was the difference between the protestors of the New Millennium and those nefarious nabobs of negativism of my generation.

Yahoo News Image
Back in the sixties they took to the streets, smashed windows, threw projectiles, turned over police cars and set them on fire.  The time was right for violent revolution.  Over the past several days we have really seen none of that.

I suspect that is, from the looks of the video, because all of these folks are so focused on capturing the scene on their I-Phones that there is no time for real mayhem.

Once again, a big thanks to Steve Jobs.

1 comment:

Jill said...

You have captured it perfectly!