Keeping retirement weird. Trying to turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse.

Anne and I are hooked on the Amazon series, Mozart in the Jungle. It stars Gael Garcia Bernal as Rodrigo, the conductor of the fictional New York Symphony Orchestra.

Bernal is a pleasure to watch.

I have been a fan of his since Y Tu Mamá También.

Last night we settled in to watch two more episodes from the second season in which the orchestra travels to Mexico City to play in the beautiful Palacio Bellas Artes.

The show reminded me of how much I love Mexico City. If you like big cities, you would love Mexico City.

It is a big, beautiful, noisy, crowded and exciting city.

When we visited Mexico City last year some Chicago friends were worried. They had heard about the narco violence in Mexico and were concerned about our safety.

Of course, the narco violence in Mexico is real. In fact, while in Mexico City we joined a march down the Reforma of thousands of Mexicans demanding that the corrupt government of Enrique Peña Nieto come clean about the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa in the state of Guerrero. They were victims of the collaboration between the narcos and the government. The students still have not been found.

Mexico City, however, is a far safer city than Chicago.

The murder rate in Chicago is at least twice that of Mexico City.

Which brings me to the issue of tourism and Chicago.

Don Welsh, who has headed Chicago’s convention and tourism efforts for the past five years, has resigned effective at the end of March, the city announced Friday.

The president of Choose Chicago since its inception in 2012, Welsh is leaving to run Destination Marketing Association International, a Washington-based trade organization.

A national search for his successor in Chicago will begin immediately, according to Desiree Rogers, board chair of Choose Chicago.

Don Welsh had two problems doing his job.

They are Bruce Rauner and Rahm Emanuel.

Choose Chicago, the tourism operation that Welsh headed, hasn’t gotten the funding it needs because of the state’s budget impasse created by the Governor.

The impact of cuts to the tourism office doesn’t compare to the seriousness of the loss of funding to Illinois Lutheran Family Services.

Still, Welsh can’t run an office with no money.

He also had the problem that the Mayor has turned Chicago into a tough sell.

While Chicago’s tourism business has increased during Welsh’s tenure, he and Choose Chicago were facing challenges in 2016. Convention bookings are down, tourism advertising has been scaled back and Chicago’s image has been given a black eye by gun violence, street protests and new revelations of police brutality.

Yes. I can see how that is a problem.

Chicago’s motto was Urbs in Horto, a city in a garden.

Now it’s sixteen shots.

One Reply to “Keeping retirement weird. Trying to turn a pig’s ear into a silk purse.”

  1. Fred-
    Your comparisons of Mexico City and Chicago remind me of a decision I faced in 1973. I was considering an offer to travel to Northern Ireland to work on a documentary film about the IRA. Concerned about my safety at a time when The Troubles had once again become a shooting war, I gathered what information I could when my primary search engine was the CTA bus that stopped in front of the public library. While I found the incidents of deaths and injuries caused by guns and bombs in Belfast and Derry daunting, they paled, even then, to Chicago’s numbers. Oddly, it was the shooting death of a teenager in parking lot of the Burger King on the corner of Fullerton & Southport, a block or two from my apartment that helped me make up my mind. I figured that if I was going to get shot, it was more likely to happen in my own neighborhood than in Northern Ireland. So off I went to the relative safety of the pubs whose windows were fenced in to keep the petrol bombs out. Up the rebels!

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