“Cremating the Curse”, which happened Sunday out in Schaumburg, was one of the stranger events I’ve ever taken part in. Part fan convention, part book signing, part reading, part funeral/wake. Nearly 1000 people showed up, according to one person, which will be a boost to both book sales of Cubbie Blues and Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities (who received a portion of the door and do get a portion of book proceeds).
The event, which was hosted by Tom Dreesen, was meant to lay to rest all the curses that have plagued the Cubs through the last century. So speakers gave quick eulogies for things like the billy goat and the black cat and Steve Bartman. The speakers were all contributors to the Cubbie Blues book, including Rick Kaempfer, Mary Beth Hoerner, Julia Borcherts, and Bill Hillman. Then the items or totems we brought along for the curses were laid to rest in a Cubs-style coffin, carted off by pall bearers (including a few former major leaguers and Ronnie Woo-Woo (who frankly always unnerves me)) and placed in a hearse. From there, they were taken away to be cremated. Later, they will be placed in a Cubs funeral urn and auctioned off for the Chicago Baseball Cancer Charities.
I’ve posted some pictures to my Facebook page to give you an idea of what was going on. It all took place inside a real funeral home, if that’s not obvious, and the Cubs casket is a real deal. You can buy one for yourself, if you are so inclined. I think the coolest thing of the day was the appearance of “Mr. Ivy,” dressed as a portion of the outfield wall. He stood about 10 feet tall on four-legged stilts, and…..well, just check out the pictures. I think he’ll be in a lot of highlight reels this year.
There are also some pictures at the Facebook page here.
For the record, the following is what I said as I eulogized and laid to rest the curse put on the Cubs by Illinois First Lady (Macbeth):
This curse I am laying to rest has not been retold charmingly in folklore. It will not be repeated on ESPN highlight reels. It will not have cute T-shirts printed up, if only because the language and photo would be so unappealing.
This curse I am laying to rest was hidden in transcripts of federal wiretaps of our former governor, as he walked around in the sunshine and rainbows of his last days in office. We know the corporate Cub apparatchiks were looking for state funding to preserve Wrigley Field. We know that Sam Zell said he was interested in tearing the place down and erecting a stadium along the lines of Coors Field in Denver. We know that the governor offered to get state money to preserve Wrigley Field— if the Tribune leaned on their editorial board not to be so nasty.
All caught on tape. All repugnant. All a violation of governance and public finance and freedom of the press. And who chimes in to make it all worse? Who makes it a real Cubs Curse? Illinois’s own first lady—Lady Macbeth, that is, as written by David Mamet, Dick Mell’s cute and cursin’ daughter, the Rasputin of Ravenswood Manor, Patti “Potty Mouth” Blagojevich.
It wasn’t enough that the Cubs’ playing field was being used in a chess game among soulless power brokers. It wasn’t enough that a worst case scenario of Tribune ownership and government intervention was being discussed. No, Patti had to scream in the background of one of her desperate husband’s phone calls and let loose a vile, “Hold up that fricking Cubs manure…Fudge them!”
She may have been invoking Serbian black magic; sorcery is one explanation for how her husband had until then managed to stay one step ahead of the law. If so, that magic had obviously passed its “sell by” date. So, not only did she curse the Cubs with magic, it was also faulty, expired, curdled magic.
And these people were supposed to be Cubs fans. North-side born and bred. Cub fans from the cradle. Occupying the halls, doorways and phone booths of the highest office in the state. The betrayal was enormous, because it was so close to home. And the curse, uttered after its fresh date, by a hopeless third-rate wheeler-dealer with a bad haircut? Such an unstable abomination can be lifted only by burning. But who to burn? It might be pleasant to think we could resurrect the Spanish Inquisition in Springfield. But since corruption is not a capital crime in Illinois, but only a gentleman’s pastime, in order to lay this curse to rest, we’ll have to burn Patti Blagojevich in effigy.
Begone, thou corrupt crone. Begone, thou house-peddling harridan. Begone, thou greedy gone-to-seed gorgon.
“Fudge the Cubs”? Patti, you’d best hope that your hubby gets sentenced to a prison full of Sox fans. That shouldn’t be too hard.