I’m Kinda Weird
You see, I’m a 3rd Generation Female Cubs Fan on my mother’s side. I’m from Chicagoland as was my mother and her mother before that. Somehow each of us became a diehard Cubs fan in our own ways. My grandmother listened on the radio as a parade of period broadcasters made the call including future president Ronald Reagen. My mom took up the mantle intermittently throughout the years ending her long run with a flourish of watching the ‘lovable losers’ through the games broadcast on WGN television she’d catch on her Georgia cablevision.
I started my career as a Cubs fan in the latter 1970’s heading down to sit in the bleachers with the other bums when Dave King(Kong)man was doing his thing. We’d drive down, sit through seven then finish the game on the radio driving like the reckless wind back to our jobs in the pizzeria in Highwood that allowed such idiocy all summer long. It was the best!
Throughout the years I would tune in. Sometimes for a whole season, other times as my life moved away from Chicago only if it looked like they were going to bust through the curse of the goat, the black cat and a guy named Bartman (who reached out to catch a foul ball the rightful Cub was going to field, or so they say). If it appeared they were finally going to reach and make something of themselves in the playoffs. I’d do this from places like Macomb, IL, or Miami, Wisconsin then Kentucky and finally this year from the middle of Mexico. It’s always the same. I get the rhythm of the game back within a couple of innings and have the team roster down within two games and I am right back in it. Same thing happened October 2016.
The Lovable Chokers
With decades and then a whole century between World Series appearances let alone wins, the diehard Cubs fan learns how to let hope and despair co-exist with every season. Inevitably the end will be reached through some spectacular series of what are known as ‘chokes’ and we “wait ’til next year” once again. Until this year. Until a couple of weeks ago when the Cubs finished off the regular season with more wins than anybody else, great batting, spectacular fielding and a pitching lineup so mighty oddsmakers were finally talking us up! I listened to playoff games broadcast through the MLB app down here in my casita in Mexico spellbound.
As they played (and scratched, scuffled and made miraculous plays) their way through the playoffs with the Giants and earned a Pennant playoff berth against the Dodgers the zing was back in full force and I was all in once again.
As they kept not losing I put this out there on my Facebook wall: “I’ll paint a mural for airfare up to Chicago!” I wanted to be in the city of my youth if my team made it into the World Series. The last time that had happened was when my grandmother was a little girl, an almost incomprehensible 108 years before in 1908.
Magic in the Fall Air
There started to be magic in the air. And then — they did t! They won the Eastern Division pennant! They did it in almost typical Cubs fashion with some mighty swings, some first class pitching and some choke moments that could have turned the roller coaster upside down without any oomph to finish. But that’s not what happened. They WON and were IN the 2016 World Series. Just then a friend with close ties to one of the hippest landscaping companies in all of Chicago, Christy Webber Landscapes, told me Christy was interested in my offer! I met Christy back when she lived in Wicker Park (still does) and I lived in Bucktown. Back when it was just her and a little red truck. Boy has that changed!
So I did something I have never done, I bought a last minute ticket to Chicago and hopped a plane to bask in the joy this baseball team had brought to my old home town. And then something even more unexpected happened!
Christy has done some business favors for the Ricketts, the family that currently owns the Cubs and as a thank you they gave her some tickets to a couple of the home playoff games including the miraculous World Series. Seats right past the third baseline in the first tier. Tickets that were going for king’s ransoms with scalpers and resellers. In fact the best seats I ever had at a Cubs game!
But Christy had a trip planned to the Grand Canyon already (Cubs fans were pretty used to there being no late fall baseball) and couldn’t use the tickets for Game 3. So with her giant generosity and maybe too as a means to avoid alienating those of her friends and associates who would also have loved to get those seats she let them go to the mural lady (that would be me) and her CFO’s wife, my Chicago bestie, Marina Post, another artist. As outliers, it might not be liked but it could be understood how we came by these seats and none of the dozens of other worthy CWL staff could feel personally slighted. (NOTE: I will forever be in debt to the generosity of Marina’s husband, Roger, because though no one ever mentioned this to me, I know my ticket was really HIS ticket.)
Here’s How it went:
The Stars Aligned
The weather cooperated the entire week these events unfolded. The sun shone and the temperatures hopped into the upper 60’s and even the lower 70’s – unheard of climactic largesse for late fall Chicago! Amazing times for this artist and Cubs fan. It all felt like every day was infused with magic and delight.
As I splashed paint from donkey to dogger, worm to chicken, scrambling up and down the scaffolding like a busy artsy monkey, many of the CWL workers stopped off to tell me how much they liked the mural as it was revealed over the days. I think they appreciated what this splash-of-home image adds to the day’s routine. For one thing the figures are kind of familiar and for another it’s nice when your employer gets an important part of your cultural soul. About 80% of the five hundred employees of Christy Webber Landscapes are from Mexico, and many of those from the or near the state I now live in, Guanajuato.
Thanks to Marina and Roger Post for their amazing generosity. Thanks to Christy Webber for her allowing this to happen for me and for all those Mexican employees. And thanks to the dear friends who took time to come and say hi as I painted merrily away. Janet Sullivan, Mark Toncray, Dan Crowley, Hope Weiss, Amy Sheffield (great Cubs name) and Ann Quinn.
The Amazing Outcome
The Cubs young, fired up and unburdened with the superstitions of fans and players before them went out and did what they do, they played baseball and used their skills to create one of the singlenest Game Sevens in baseball history and in so doing won this year’s World Series. Fans everywhere marveled, rejoiced and otherwise made their peace with doubt once and for all. Did Hell freeze over? I can’t say but I’m pretty sure Heaven was alight with joy as Cubs fans long gone paused to rejoice along with the rest of us down here.
HappyArt murals can be painted indoors or out, and are customized to your wishes. Sketches are made for your approval. They help boost moral in homes, businesses, neighborhoods and anywhere a burst of optimistic color and happiness is needed.
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The Christy Webber Landscaping Mural Project in Pictures:
How Did This Happen?
Because I spend a lot of time being optimistic, pursuing my dreams and advancing joy’s causes with my art I bump into what may look like a bit of magic from time to time. I don’t mind labeling it that. I love believing in life’s possibilities and delight in being a conduit for positivity. This approach isn’t always respected. I sometimes hear about how I’m not ‘realistic’ or ‘adult’ enough to tackle life’s hardships in a more mainstream fashion, choosing as I do to think about unicorns, rainbow existences and hope for a better world.
And I do see the almost impossible odds for this to become the better world we’d all like to experience. I get how hard is the struggle for huge numbers of people and other sentient beings. That is precisely why I work so hard to illuminate hope and illustrate joy. So I continue on with my happy art; colorful paintings, whimsical cartoons, fanciful stories. I put stuff out there all the time. I ask people to buy my art, read my stories, share my posts and a bunch do! Because they stand for happiness and hope too. My art helps them express this and that’s a wonderful exchange.
NOTE: In 1984 a Chicago singer songwriter, Steve Goodman, another diehard, wrote a song for his team and these fans. In 2004 management at Wrigley started playing it after every win. The fan took up the call throughout the playoffs beyond the wins and last week it finally made the top charts. Another miracle and Cubs anthem for the ages. Congratulations to angel Steve wherever you float!
Someday They’ll Go All The Way
The hopeful anthem from Pearl Jam and Cubs fan Eddie Vedder. Mission accomplished!