Chicago’ Park n’FAZ
Remember driving out of a Chicago parking lot and adding the left-over change quarters to the coin compartment of your car, only to find it already boasts a pirate’s ransom of quarters large enough to bribe a Cayman Islands governor for the hand of his daughter?
These days, that bounty may have shrunk to its last Euro cent and you may find yourself in a four-lane Chicago thoroughfare, like Petersen Avenue, desperately groping for another quarter amidst the compartment felt to be allowed to rest your vehicle at that old reliable iron meter for just 8 minutes under the auspices of FAZ, the new overlord of meters shiny and tetanus transmitting.
The ole’ iron parking meter looks the same- it just devours four times as much money as it did a week ago and no one warned you. An innocuous notice glued over the face of its iron mask says: “Pay 25 cents for every 8 minutes. FAZ.”
When did the FAZ come and when did they invade our planet of Chicago?
On second thought, FAZ is not an entirely abstract acronym to me- I recognize ‘Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’- the sober-serious-dull German newspaper written for longfaced, bearded German stockbrokers long before Michael Douglas made their profession sexy. That abbreviation only jumps to mind while searching for the alternative. Then there's the ticker symbol FAZ, which stands for Direxion Financials, a triple financial bear ETF- “financial instrument”- which may not be roaring as fiercely as he should today, and which I sold at $5.43, because it seemed scary.
Who is the FAZ that orchestrated the Chicago parking meter coup which has transformed every inch of un-metered Gold Coast pavement, as well as antiquated vintage boxes too stiff to swallow their quarter without an encouraging and well meaning elbow kick into multiple dollar devouring zombies who show no mercy on Thanksgiving nor Sundays.
A google search yields a FAZ Mediterraenan restaurant in San Francisco and one in Pleasanton, hardly the synonym for the owners of the billion dollar, 75-year Chicago parking meter contract.
Wait- here’s a paragraph quoted from an April 24 Chicago Tribune stoty by stalward Mr. David Greising, the Chicago Tribune’s chief business correspondent. …I am happy I don't have to put this into the past tense.
Mr. Greising reveals that FAZ stands for a subsidiary of bailouted bank Morgan Stanley, to whom Mayor Richard M. Daley sold our meters depsite all of our folkloric “Chicago is the greatest city in the world” wallowing.
No one told us, no one warned us Chicago residents.
Honestly, I feel stunned at finally discovering local Big Brother, the same way Ifelt on November 4, 2008, as one of the city’s coveted-ticket holders who had to stand in line alongside a dark and silent Michigan Avenue for three and a half hours – no drink no food allowed- without a Jumbotron to let us know he won Ohio or Indiana, without any of the celebratory support the residents of Harlem, NYC received on their streets, to be released into Grant Park once the results were in at 10:15 pm.
I feel more betrayed by our city selling us out to FAZ than by my Whole Foods’ warm buffet tab at the check out counter. I feel betrayed at how powerless and choiceless we Chicagoans “who so love this our city” were made in the process. Even stretches of streets that had never seen the shadow of an iron meter man are now adorned with boxes telling us to “pay at the box.” It’s a living testimony that all perceived pride and joy in a participatory democracy that shapes our city’s civic life is but an illusion. Now that I’ve lost my naivete let me say: Go FAZ yourself, then, totalitarian city of Chicago,