In response to this post there were a lot of comments. Some were good, but some were very bad and wrong and said really mean things that made me sad. (Thrusts out lower lip, knuckles edge of eye to wipe away tear.) I figured I’d adopt a policy of “talk among yourselves” and sit it out. But then one guy named George said:
I thought Chicago was a mini-France. A one-party, gun-banning, socialist sh*t-hole rife with corruption and a large welfare-supported underclass.
Am I wrong, Lex?
Whoa. I started to defend our fair city’s honor, but decided not to bury it in a comment. Here goes:
George, dude. So harsh. And — yes! — so wrong!
Chicago is a lot different from France. All that corrupt politics stuff is background noise here. The foreground noise is people running around day and night trying to make money, and arguing about college football. Nothing like France.
And “sh*thole”? No flippin’ way, dude.
This place is so totally awesome in so many ways. Harold’s Chicken Shack? Powell’s Books? The lemon meringue pie at the Berghoff? Unique Thrift on Milwaukee? The two dog special at Gold Coast Dogs? Jimmy’s (yes, even post-rehab)? Weeds? (RIP!) The Smoking Popes? Marie’s Riptide Lounge? The Fireside Bowl? Valois??? (Still the best!) The Chinese restaurant on the roof of the Del Prado? Hyde Park Liquors? The Hideout (the one off of Elston)? Billy Boy Gyros? (Also RIP) Bookman’s Corner? Phyllis’ Musical Inn? The Italian Ice place on Taylor Street? El Presidente? And those are just a few of my idiosyncratic favorites. This place totally rules.
As to the supposed “large welfare-supported underclass”, there may be some of that. But let’s just come out and talk about what you are insinuating. Chicago has the most kick-ass African Americans going on. Look at the stretch of 55th Street west of Hyde Park. It was a ruin 20 years ago. Now it is rehabbed by buppies and looks great. Look at South Shore and Hyde Park. I was a poll-watcher for an election down there a few years ago. The polling place was in the lobby of a highrise, 99% black residents, a parking lot full of Jaguars and BMWs. Jesse Jackson wants you to think that the Black people need someone like him to lead them like Moses. Bullsh*t. There are more successful, well-dressed, stylish Black people in Chicago than anywhere on Earth. This town is the setting for the Black American success story the Lefties don’t want you to hear about, and some of the Righties don’t want to hear about either. Don’t let the conventional suburban vision of Chicago as a Mad Max-like moonscape crawling with gun-toting hoodlums selling crack fool you. Yeah, parts of the West Side are still a disaster, but that is less and less of the story all the time.
And socialistic? The place is crawling with new restaurants, new construction is going up every other block, spectacular new additions to the skyline are sprouting out of the ground like dandelions. Downtown looks great. Twenty years ago it was a ghost-town at night and on the weekends. I was a paralegal, I worked long hours, and getting off work late at night it was like a Sergio Leone movie set, scraps of paper blowing down the street, the lights changing and no cars, like Pyongyang. Now it is hopping. Not like New York, but still hopping.
If this is socialism, let’s put it in bottles and sell it.
Gun-banning. Yeah. Oh well. You are still wrong about everything else!
Full disclosure: I live in a close-in suburb now, but still work downtown. The third kid pushed us out. We needed a lawn and a swing set. And, actually, George failed to mention the three killer things: (1) astronomical house prices — surely not a sign of economic collapse! — (2) bad schools, and (3) still too much crime and general disorder to raise kids most places in Chicago, in my opinion.