Friday, July 23, 2010
Ken Lanci: Style in motion
“Are you bird-watching?” asked a co-worker who spied me, camera in hand, on East 14th Street this morning.
Why, yes, actually. I was hunting for Ken Lanci’s soaring white eagle, as easy to spot in Cleveland this season as a yellow warbler at Point Pelee in May.
The businessman and candidate for county executive dropped more than $200,000 on a six-month bus-ad lease. So Lanci’s ads now decorate 75 of RTA’s 348 buses -- 22 percent of the entire fleet. His smiling, tanned face and his ultra-American red-white-and-blue banners (a symbol of independence from the two-party system) will grace Greater Cleveland’s thoroughfares right up to Election Day. They’ve become the campaign’s signature visual statement, so over the top in their repetitive relentlessness, they’re a giant declaration of seriousness with unintended comic effects.
It’s hard to choose between laughter and disbelief at moments like the one I experienced this morning, when ten minutes’ rush-hour vigil brought me a bigger reward than I’d dared hope for: Not a sighting of a commonplace Lanci ad banner, but a rare, glorious Full Lanci (pictured above), one of five wrap-around makeovers alighting on our streets.
Viewed up close, the Full Lancis reveal several details about the candidate’s sartorial style.
“Lanci’s monogrammed French cuffs and golden tan were enough to make George Hamilton blush,” declares an anonymous blogger on the Cleveland SGS website, which marries a love of local commercial advertising with an affection for multilingual hip-hop and pissed-off cobras. “Lanci is solely responsible for reuniting fashion and politics in the Cleveland area.”
It’d be easy to dismiss the 75 Lancis-in-motion as expressions of a bus-sized wallet and ego. But they’ve given the once-unknown businessman the first essential thing many candidates crave and lack: name recognition. That means voters will at least hear Lanci out this fall when he tries to explain who he is and what he’d do as county executive.
Lanci seems quite aware of this: His video “Who R U?” features an indie-rock-sounding band called The Indies performing a song “about the importance of name recognition,” according to his website. “Who are you?/I think I saw your picture on the bus…” the band sings.
I think the transit-saturation foreshadows Lanci’s next big move: The guy who’s taken over our bus system is already starting to spend some wild multiple of that 200 large to take over our TV screens.