Those who don’t engage in economic treason should be able to figure out the source for this item:
Steve Smalls, a senior vice-president at Chicago’s Alliance Manufacturing, the world’s largest producer of industrial refrigeration systems, is a self-described “blues nut.”
With his regular table at Dan Aykroyd’s House Of Blues, vast CD collection featuring the likes of B.B. King, Bonnie Raitt, and Jonny Lang, and framed photo of himself with Stevie Ray Vaughan, Smalls has been “a huge fan” of the music for more than 20 years.
But the 43-year-old Smalls is not merely a blues lover: With his May 1999 relocation of Alliance’s main assembly plant from Cicero, IL, to Hermosillo, Mexico, Smalls put 2,700 mostly black employees out of work, making him one of Chicago’s greatest blues causers.
Pausing to enter a favorite Buddy Guy song on the jukebox, Smalls explained why the music resonates so strongly with him. “In 1996, when Alliance was indicted for illegally burying dozens of 200-gallon drums of deadly freon near Chicago’s South Side, I was losing a lot of sleep. There was even talk of some of the top brass getting fired. We got out of it, of course, paying a token fine, but that was a rough experience. At that point, I really felt like I knew what it’s like to have the blues.”
Smalls is so committed to causing the blues that in the early ’90s, he used illegal price-fixing tactics to drive smaller refrigeration-systems companies out of business, causing additional unemployment and poverty among the nation’s blacks.
“Blues music is all about pain: It’s about losing your job, your dog dying, and your woman leaving you for another man,” he continued. “Listening to the blues, I can almost imagine what it would be like to experience one of those things.”
The sound you’re now hearing is Mitt Romney preparing a commercial pointing out that Smalls’ life is a microcosm of what life under a Romney Administration would be.