Tuesday, August 11, 2009

In defense of Chicago

Satellite view... Chicago is on Lake Michigan

Beach goers, John Hancock rises above other buildings

aerial view of lakefront apartments, Lakeshore Drive & public beaches
Navy Pier
I love Chicago
Sure, out of approximately 9,600,000 people, there are a few bad apples. There are gangs, dodgy neighborhoods, criminals and mayhem going on both in and out of government.
Seriously, though, lots of current conservative critics of *PINO often mention the "Chicago way" or how being a politician from Chicago = being a "thug". (*president in name only)

Where did these ideas come from? Start with little bit of depression era gun and alcohol running by the likes of Al Capone, add a bit of statewide corruption courtesy of a few Illinois governors who have or are serving jail time and one ends up, the best yet, at the holy grail of a current mayor, Bill Daley and his father. The "Daley machine" is famous in Chicago for clever cover ups and corruption. All in the guise of "doing the best for Chicago" (or some such) with gullible Chicagoans buying a collective crap sandwich thinking it tastes good.

Why does Chicago put up with it? I'm not actually sure. My theory, without presenting any firm evidence here mind you, is neighborhood leaders (alderman) are pretty much paid off by Daley and thus do his beckoning. The neighborhoods trust their leaders, believe they fight for their needs... and the cycle just continues. Mayor Daley, like his father, is very good at staying under the radar as he spins his deals. I've read about a huge amount of corruption in the water department with money and payoffs.
Will Daley get his hand caught in the jar at some point? Perhaps, but so far he's very clever at staying above the fray as the machine rolls on.

John Kass, a writer at the Chicago Tribune, might be the only voice which calls out the administration on the corruption. In the mean time, Chicago just hums along... with most folks probably thinking "...well, all politicians are a bit corrupt... so... umm... oh well..." The good people of Chicago, perhaps a tad naive, live their extremely busy lives commuting around a huge metropolitan area, raising families, dealing with 6 months of snow, paying high taxes, living a fast paced rat race and unfortunately just keep voting for a Daley.
Perhaps future Chicagoans will wake up to figure out things could run better if they elected politicians who actually served the people instead of mere power seekers, but they are just not 'there' yet. They are way too busy living to pay much mind to politics.
So what is good about Chicago you might ask?
Gee, where should I start? Chicago is a great city, full of diverse people and you can always have a good time somewhere.

The lake front of Chicago is very accessible to the public. LSD (Lake Shore Drive) winds its way up from south to north along Lake Michigan with public parks and beaches the whole length. There is a buzzing financial district with several large trading futures and options exchanges employing thousands. Chicago grew by becoming a trading and shipping hub for merchants and farmers who brought their goods and wares into the city. Several multi-lane highways, many public bus and train lines go in and out of the city like arteries bringing commerce in and out.

Fun, food, sports
Major holidays are celebrated with gusto, parties and decorations. There are thousands of restaurants, pubs and bars where you can get all sorts of ethnic food. Pizza is a favorite along with sports bars. Sports fans enjoy several large arenas for basketball, hockey, grid iron football and baseball being the main past times. The city loves baseball so much there are 2 major teams with a healthy rivalry: White Sox (south side) and the Cubs (north side). Many people are very active in some type of sport or their kids play in winter or summer leagues (summer softball, bowling, soccer, baseball, swimming, tennis and lots, lots more). In winter, you can ice skate in the city center, go sledding or even drive a couple hours to find some small local ski hills. There are all kinds of concerts year round, comedy clubs and broadway shows, too, in various types of venues.

Chicagoans like to make the most of the short summer. Hundreds of sailing and boating enthusiasts buzz along Lake Michigan. When the water warms up, swim beaches get very busy. Large neighborhoods block off streets, host local fairs with bands or have art festivals. There are several large history and art museums and lots of stuff to do down at Navy Pier such as boat rides, kid stuff or concerts. Summer also bring all sorts of music and food festivals to Grant Park (the middle most lake front area). Thousands flock to the air & water show, blues, gospel and jazz music festivals and taste of Chicago in July to name a few. Sometimes up to a million people attend these summer festivals complete with mounted policemen on horseback to keep the parks safe.

Good people
I could go on (and on), but I thought I would defend how great Chicago is. There are friendly people from almost every country on our planet living in Chicago. Everyone plays and works together, side by side. It is a shame Chicago has earned, probably deservedly, its bad rap for turning out such, ahem, colorful politicians. I just wanted to point out no matter how many crappy politicians Chicago gives rise to, there are millions of decent people all living happily together in the wonderful, vibrant and beautiful city of Chicago.

My sweet home... Chicago ...

Wintertime in a Chicago neighborhood

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