Opinion by JVH
Poetry Doth Make Parking Fonder
By John Van Horn
If you had asked me to pick two words that I thought I would never see together in a sentence, they would be Hammerschlag and Poetry. But then, I would have been wrong. John Hammerschlag has let his creative side shine through and, with consultant Arne Weingart, has taken Chicago’s penchant for naming garage floors and theming garages to a new artistic level.
Here’s some info from a Hammerschlag & Co. press release:
“The Poetry Garage provides a great way for our patrons to enjoy a literary experience while helping them to remember where their car is parked,” said [company President] John Hammerschlag. “We’re extremely pleased to introduce this creatively themed parking experience in downtown Chicago.
“Parking is a very competitive industry, so we felt it was important to differentiate ourselves with a special non-traditional theme. Parking is our passion, and we are excited about this innovation at one of our prime properties in the city.”
More from the press release tells how it works:
“Visitors to The Poetry Garage will be enlightened with visual presentations of poets and audio readings of selected poems. Each floor of the parking structure is represented by a specific poet. A diverse list was chosen, [comprising] poets from various ethnicities and times in history …”
The idea for rebranding 201 West Madison Self Park in Chicago’s Loop was conceived last year between Hammerschlag and longtime friend and colleague Arne Weingart, a graphics designer and Principal of Weingart Associates.
“After knowing Arne for many years, I was surprised to hear that his fine arts degree was in poetry, not graphic arts, and in his spare time he is a poet,” Hammerschlag told PT. “I thought it would be fantastic to allow Arne to take his creative vision and work with us to turn his hobby into a project for everyone in Chicago to appreciate.”
Weingart worked with a team to select the poets represented in The Poetry Garage, and to obtain permission to use selected poems in audio recordings and printed materials.
The poets selected – from Sandburg to Dickinson to Hughes et al. – are certainly ones that resonate. All are Americans, all extremely well-known, and all are from as varied backgrounds as a cross-section of our country itself.
Arne has done a wonderful job in selecting not only the poets, but also the poems being read and displayed on each floor of the garage.
We all know the poem found on the third floor, the one by Ernest L. Thayer - “Casey at the Bat”:
The outlook wasn’t brilliant for the Mudville nine that day;
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play,
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same,
A sickly silence fell upon the patrons of the game. …
We don’t seem to remember as clearly how Flynn and Blake made it to second and third, but we certainly remember how the crowd loved “mighty Casey,” and how he got the count to 0-and-2, which set the scene for these final terrific stanzas:
The sneer is gone from Casey’s lip, his teeth are clenched in hate;
He pounds with cruel violence his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go,
And now the air is shattered by the force of Casey’s blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright;
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light,
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville — mighty Casey has struck out.
John and Arne, however, have hit a home run.
Article Abstract from October, 2011