Saturday, March 18, 2023

Winter, and Pulaski and Madison

If you saw my last post, you know it was based upon my comments to the items on a list compiled by Time Out Chicago of things Chicagoans would like to see "ghosted" in this city. (The original list was published last Halloween, hence the term). Most of the items on the list were general in nature, things like traffic, the weather, food, certain biases of Chicagoans, etc. However, one item stood out to me as it mentioned along with the weather, a very specific place in the city which inspired a post of its own, actually two posts.

Here's the item:

Winter, and Pulaski and Madison.

I don't have a problem with winter in Chicago, in the winter that is. I'm not too crazy about winter in April and May however, which is not uncommon here.

I do have a personal connection with the area around Pulaski and Madison on the West Side of Chicago as long ago, it was the location of my pediatrician's office. 

Consequently, I will always associate it with the painful shot in the rear end I would receive at the end of each visit. Perhaps the commenter who singled out this specific corner of the city has a similar association with it. 
But I doubt it.
The corner of Madison and Pulaski, March 5, 2023

My late cousin Bob Hoggatt
used to refer to the West Side Irish of Chicago as "lace curtain Irish". Look it up if you don't know the term. One day I asked him how then he would characterize the South Side Irish, such as himself. His answer, typical for him was hilariously self-deprecating but, uncharacteristically crude.

I'll just leave it to you to imagine what he said. 

Driving west on Washington Boulevard past Sacramento, Bob's assessment of the West Side rings true today as the magnificent gold dome of the Garfield Park Fieldhouse comes into view as you pass the ornate facades of the elegant late nineteenth and early twentieth century houses and two flats, those that survived decades of turmoil and neglect on the West Side.

The fortunes of the neighborhood around that park first took off after the construction of two elevated lines in the 1890s. Madison Street, between the two lines, became the main drag after the L tracks cast a permanent shadow over Lake Street, the previous main thoroughfare. 

Just west of the park, the intersection of Madison and Crawford, later named Pulaski Road, was the heart of one of many neighborhood "downtowns" that sprung up throughout Chicago at that time. So large and successful was the Madison/Pulaski Shopping District, that it served as the commercial, entertainment and business center for the entire West Side throughout the first half of the twentieth century and beyond.

But it was the twenties when the area really boomed, seeing the construction of grand hotels, department stores, and two movie palaces, the Paradise and the Marbro, both of whom rivaled the Chicago Theater in the Loop in opulence and size. Perhaps the most conspicuous symbol of the success of the area was the construction of the Midwest Athletic Club which, when it was built, was the tallest building between the Loop and Des Moines, Iowa. The building still stands, you can see it in the background of the photograph above. 

The boom ended as it did everywhere, during the Great Depression. But the neighborhood kept plugging along mostly intact through the difficult thirties and forties, with the exception of the Athletic Club whose building became a hotel. Many of the "lace curtain" residents left for lacier dwellings to the west. They were replaced by new residents, many of whom were immigrants from South, Central and Eastern Europe and their offspring. The community then took on a more working class feel. 

That is illustrated by the construction of a Goldblatts Department store in the shopping district in 1951. Goldblatts for decades had been recognized as the "workingman's Marshall Fields", whose stores were always situated inside architecturally impressive buildings, despite the discount prices they offered inside. 

It was the construction of one of their stores or their chief competitor Wieboldts, sometimes both, that set into motion the development of the commercial centers around them. 
Not so at Madison and Pulaski where Goldblatts was bringing up the rear.

Here is a photograph of the grand opening of the store on the SE corner of Madison and Pulaski featuring its bold Mid-Century-Modern entrance in April of 1951.

The same building, greatly altered, can be seen on the right in the contemporary color photograph above.

I'm sure the store's appearance in the district made many of the remaining lace-curtain types who like my mother would have never set foot in a Goldblatts, throw up their hands and say: "well there goes the neighborhood!" 

But the riches-to-rags story of the community would come a decade and a half later. It's sadly a familiar theme in Chicago, and many similar cities around the country.
It begins with a rumor, usually propagated by phone calls, often in the middle of the night. "The neighborhood is changing..." says the voice on the line, "and it's time to get out or else".  It usually took only a few bites before panic set in and pretty soon practically everyone on the block was packing their bags and heading out. What they meant by "changing" as you may be able to guess if you've been around these parts long enough, was that black people were starting to move in.
Now in a just and perfect world, nobody would bat an eye over something like that. After all, in a big city like Chicago, neighborhoods change all the time. As we just saw, West Garfield Park had already gone from lace curtains to vinyl window shades. But that change took place over a couple generations and was the result of upward mobility of families, both those leaving, and the new arrivals. In other words, they moved on their own terms. This was different. 
Black people immigrated to Chicago for the same reason as members of other ethnic/racial groups before and after them including my father. In a word, that reason was opportunity. Most of the black people who came to Chicago in the first half of the twentieth century (commonly referred to as "The Great Migration"), came from the rural American South, especially the Mississippi Delta. hoping to leave behind poverty, the injustice of institutional racism, the brutal share-cropper system, and perpetual second-class citizenship. The rapidly growing industries of Chicago provided the opportunity of work, a steady paycheck, and the hope for a better life. 
Chicago was never a particularly welcoming place for new groups of arrivals. The Irish, the Germans, the Bohemians, the Poles, the Jews, the Italians, the Chinese, and many other groups, all faced discrimination and hatred when they came here en masse. Quite often the worst abusers were members of the group who had just proceeded them. But the sum of all that hatred directed at those groups would not add up to a fraction of what was directed at the black people of Chicago. The tragic story of Chicago, the Segregated City, is based upon the fact that when black people moved into a neighborhood, white people almost invariably left, quick as their legs could carry them. 
For many, the reasons for "white flight" are simple. If you ask one group, they might say it was about personal safety and property value. Ask another group and they'd say it was flat out racism. They're both right to an extent but the story is much more complicated than that. There were bad actors to be sure, plenty of them. Add to that, bad public policy, bad life choices, bad business decisions, bad landlords, bad faith, bad blood, bad parenting, bad luck, bad logic, bad manners, bad timing, bad choices, bad this, bad that, and a whole lot of good people, black and white, caught in the middle. 
Those middle-of-the-night phone calls were not idle threats. 
The people on the receiving end probably didn't know anything about the city's long-standing discriminatory housing covenants that determined where black people could live and where they couldn't, forcing people into over-crowded, dehumanizing slums. 
They more than likely didn't know about the disinvestment caused by federal government maps of neighborhoods which lending institutions used to color code communities depending on their viability. The neighborhoods with red lines drawn around them, 
hence the term "redlining", were almost always in the city, consisted of older housing stock and more often than not, were (or were about to be) inhabited by black people. These neighborhoods were deemed too risky to lend money to. Consequently, the communities lacked the funding from banks necessary for home improvement, new development, and any hope to keep them alive and vibrant. 
It's also unlikely they knew about the true motives of those blockbusting callers, contract sellers who bought up property at bargain basement prices then turned it around overnight, well above market value and financing it themselves while charging exorbitant interest rates. These people made a killing by preying off the fears and prejudices of the white people they bought the property from, and the lack of other options for the black people to whom they sold the property.
Nor did the white folks understand many other systematic, pernicious discriminatory practices that all but guaranteed segregation in the city and second-class status to people of color.
What they did know was what they could see with their own eyes: once thriving neighborhoods deteriorating rapidly not long after black people moved into them.

The people in West Garfield Park didn't have to look far. In 1951 when Goldblatts opened at Madison and Pulaski, there were virtually no black people living in the community. That same year in neighboring North Lawndale to the south, the population was 13 percent black. Ten years later that number was 91 percent. It wasn't merely the complexion of the community that changed in a decade, the new arrivals found massive unemployment as the moribund industries in the area were not hiring, at least not to them, and despite the population of the community at an all-time high, due to redlining, no new housing to speak of was constructed, which resulted in the rapid deterioration of the existing housing stock and the infrastructure of the community.
By 1960, the black population of West Garfield Park was 16 percent. Given the rapid change next door, there was legitimate concern and tension in the neighborhood, especially following a riot in 1965 sparked by the death of a young black woman who was accidentally struck by a Chicago Fire Department vehicle.
After that incident, virtually the entire West Side of Chicago became a tinder box ready to explode.

It wasn't a match that set the tinder box ablaze, but a bullet.

Martin Luther King Jr. was no stranger to the West Side. As part of his "Campaign to End Slums", in 1966, King and his family moved into an apartment at 1550 South Hamlin in North Lawndale. It was during that time when Dr. King led marches for open-housing in the then all-white neighborhoods of Gage Park and Marquette Park on the South Side and also in the suburb of Cicero. 

Needless to say, Dr. King was not warmly welcomed as the beloved figure of peace and love who just wanted all of us to get along, as he is pictured today among members of the white ultra-right. I vividly remember the parents of my best friend at the time rhetorically asking: "Why doesn't that colored guy just mind his own business?" Those were some of the milder comments about him, It was on August 5th of that year in Marquette Park, where King was hit in the head with a rock, inspiring this statement: 
I’ve been in many demonstrations all across the South, but I can say that I have never seen, even in Mississippi and Alabama, mobs as hostile and as hate-filled as I’m seeing in Chicago.

Not a quote seen too often in collections of quotes about our great city. 

On the evening of April 4, 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated in Memphis, and cities all over the country went up in flames. While there were flareups in the more established black communities of the South Side, cooler heads there prevailed and community leaders, including gang leaders, intervened to help control the damage.

But not on the West Side. 

Here is a link to a short film produced by the CFD (obviously told from their perspective) on Chicago's West Side riots after Dr. King's assassination.

It made so little sense to so many, especially white people, why people rioted, looted and set fire to their own community, leaving thousands homeless, vital businesses destroyed and the neighborhood in a state of ruin from which it has yet to recover, more than fifty years later.

I had an epiphany of sorts several years ago when I read in its entirety, Dr. King's most famous speech. Here I'm quoting myself:

As I became re-acquainted last week with the "I Have a Dream" speech, one line particularly spoke out to me. Dr. King said early in the speech:

"One hundred years later...", (after the Emancipation Proclamation), "...the Negro is still languishing in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land."

Perhaps for the first time in my life I put myself in the shoes of the people in the African American community who rioted in cities all over the country after King's murder. No longer do I feel that the violence, regrettable as it was, was not justified. With the image of people exiled in their own land in mind, I could understand why folks threw up their hands believing that this country had nothing left to offer (them). Martin Luther King preached non-violence in order to bring about justice for his people, and where did it get him? Dr. King did nothing more than confirm the rights guaranteed in our constitution. The only difference was he added the "for all" part that American children recite in school every day, preceded by the words liberty and justice. For that he went to jail in Birmingham. For that bricks were thrown at him in Chicago. For that he was killed in Memphis.

While many white folks claimed Dr. King who advocated non-violence would have been appalled by the response to his murder, King shortly before his death prophetically revealed the truth of the matter:
Urban riots must now be recognized as durable social phenomena... They may be deplored, but they are there and should be understood. Urban riots are a special form of violence. They are not insurrections. The rioters are not seeking to seize territory or to attain control of institutions. They are mainly intended to shock the white community. They are a distorted form of social protest. The looting which is their principal feature serves many functions. It enables the most enraged and deprived Negro to take hold of consumer goods with the ease the white man does by using his purse. Often the Negro does not even want what he takes; he wants the experience of taking.
During the sixties, roughly 40,000 white people left West Garfield Park, replaced by the same number of black people. With its commercial heart all but destroyed by the riots after the assassination of Dr. King, black people who had the means to do so, left the neighborhood as well. Between 1970 and 1980, the total population of West Garfield Park diminished by thirty percent. In the following decade, it diminished by nearly another thirty percent. In the latest census, the population is nearly thirty percent less than that. 
Here is a link to an article from WBEZ Chicago which describes the latest newsworthy event that took place around Madison and Pulaski, and it wasn't good. Once again, the neighborhood experienced riots and looting, this time after the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in 2020. The article begins by quoting Thomas Morris, a lifelong resident of West Garfield Park who participated in the 1968 riots. Like Dr. King, Morris was measured in his response, viewing both sides of the issue: 
I’m looking at the consequences of being stupid. You torched stuff in the community that you [need]. Now, you got no place to buy food, medical [supplies], because you destroyed it... And you dishonored the man who lost his life.  
On the other hand... 
It seems like for us to get any attention, we have to do's just systemic racism in America...and this has to change and we have to do things to be fair.
The article points out that Morris is "frustrated and angry with the damage" but also angry that people in 2020 still have to:
...protest and fight for the same things (we) fought for in the 60s... how the hell can the racism in the 60s be allowed today in the 2000s?
I'll let these words of Mr. Morris that cut to the chase better than my poor words ever could, close this post. 

This was long and as I stated at the top, it's only part one.
As I said, this is a complicated issue. 

Until next time...

Sunday, March 12, 2023

Another List

Whether they be columnists working for honest-to-goodness publications, or mere bloggers such as myself, writers love compiling lists as they are one of the easiest methods to meet a deadline. Especially today in the age of social media where you can post a question asking your followers to name things they like or don't like about a chosen topic. Pick your favorite responses and you're done.

Perhaps the only thing easier is to take somebody else's list, then reprint it along with your own snarky comments.

Which is what I'm about to do.

An interesting list came over my Facebook feed the other day. It came a little late as it was published around last Halloween, hence its title: 20 things Chicagoans officially want to ghost, written by Emma Krupp.

The other nice thing about compiling lists rather than actually writing something, is that readers are guaranteed to "eat them up like hot cakes". Like the writer compiling them, lists require less commitment from the reader as well, "more bang for the buck" as they say.

I use those somewhat antiquated terms deliberately to illustrate the age difference between myself and the author, who leads her first sentence with this:

Sure, maybe you’ve ghosted a bad Hinge date or abruptly cut the cord on a meandering situationship...

I had to look up two things in that sentence fragment.

Anyway, as you can probably guess from the title of the article, it is a list of things people don't like about Chicago and would like to see "ghosted," or in older folks' language, go away. The author points out in not so many words that it is not scientific survey, but a curated, random list of some of her and her editors' favorite responses.

The responses to the query are quoted verbatim here as they appear in the article, however I reserve the right to present them not exactly in the order in which they originally appeared to suit my own purposes.

So sue me.

The original responses are in bold type as you can probably figure out, and my responses are not.

Here goes:

From 20 things Chicagoans officially want to ghost, an article that appeared in the October 28, 2022 issue of the online version of Time-Out Chicago, written and complied by Emma Krupp:


People who live in the ‘burbs but say they’re from Chicago.
Hmmm, identifying oneself with a particular place, sounds like a good subject for a post of its own. Wait a minute, I already wrote that post, in fact, it's my last post, you can check it out here.

This is an issue that concerned me back when I was a teenager living in the 'burbs, but really felt more connected to the city. Even though I lived a mere four blocks from the Chicago border and desperately wanted to tell people I lived in the city, honesty compelled me to say that I lived in Oak Park. I regretted it though, as if the community where I went to bed at night made me somehow unworthy. Now I'm older and wiser, or so I think. This time I live in the city but only a mere few blocks from another suburb, Evanston, and realize there is no special street cred for living in the city rather than the suburbs.

The Chicago Metropolitan Area is vast, extending into both Wisconsin and Indiana, and all of us living here share many things that make us belong to a greater community. We work together and cheer on the same sports teams, except baseball of course. We may never set foot in any of our cultural institutions, but nevertheless show pride in them, claiming them as ours. We all share the Lake. Even if we don't swim in it, we drink its water, and we benefit from it tempering the climate, because bad as our weather is, it would be much colder in the winter and much hotter in the summer without it. And at least in the era when I grew up, we all watched and listened to the same local TV and radio programs and commercials, things that all these years later, still connect us, whether we grew up in suburban Bensenville or Romeoville, or Bronzeville in the heart of the city.  

On the flip side, the City of Chicago on its own is immense and diverse, a collection of 178 officially recognized neighborhoods, each with its own identity. What does it mean when you say you live in Chicago? Do you live on the South Side, the West Side, the North Side or the Loop? Do you come from Sauganash, Albany Park, Austin, Little Village, Chinatown, Chatham or Hegewisch? None of those places are alike and the difference between living in any two of them is at least as vast as the difference between living in the city and the suburbs.

The obvious thing when it comes to telling someone where you live is that it makes sense to them. It would be pointless to tell a person who doesn't know the area that you lived say, in Berwyn, because he'd have no clue where Berwyn was. If however, you lived in Berwyn and told a native Chicagoan you lived in Chicago, you'd be lying to her.

The interesting thing is that on a number of occasions while traveling, mostly around the Midwest, I would tell someone truthfully that I lived in Chicago, then without hesitation  they would respond, "what suburb?" Like everything, it's all relative.

People who call it ‘Chi-Town.

I prefer "Windy City" myself, but by-and-large, real Chicagoans aren't much for calling their city by any nickname, it's just "Chicago" most of the time.

It's the pronunciation that changes. Some folks say "Shih KA go", others "Shih KAW go", while my personal favorite is the late Hizzonor, Richard J. Daley's pronunciation which was closer to this: Shih KAW geh, as in "deh great cidy uh Shih KAW geh".

Classic Chicagoese.  

Privatized city street parking and traffic cameras.
Thank you Ritchie Daley, son of Hizzonor.

The anti-ketchup people.
I have a confession to make, ketchup turns my stomach. So I guess that makes me an anti-ketchup person, although I don't impose that dislike on others. But I think this commenter is referring to Chicagoans who insist you must not put ketchup on a Chicago hot dog. 

This is true. No ketchup, no mayonaise, no wasabi, nor any other condiment that is not mustard, relish, chopped onions, tomato wedges, a pickle spear, sport peppers and celery salt, is what makes a Chicago hot dog a Chicago hot dog. 

Once you put ketchup or anything else on it not on that list, by definition it becomes something else. Putting ketchup on a hot dog and calling it a Chicago hot dog is a culinary faux pas akin to ordering pizza with pineapple topping in Naples. You can ask for it but probably won't get it. What you certainly will get is a lot of grief. It's their food culture after all, and ours as well.
All the politicians! All of them.
No argument from me on that one. 

Navy Pier.

I think the main problem with Navy Pier is that it tries to have something for everyone and in the process, it is not entirely pleasing to anyone. There are certainly in my opinion, truly wonderful things at Navy Pier, The Chicago Shakespeare Theater, the Ferris Wheel, the Auditorium at the east end of the Pier, some of the best views of the skyline, etc. Yet there is always the feeling that something is missing, and I can't quite pin it down. It always seems to be in the process of figuring itself out. Maybe one day it will get there.

But quite honestly, when my children were small, some of the happiest moments of my life were spent at Navy Pier. 

From the Wayback Machine, here's a piece I wrote about Navy Pier back in 2011.

The men.

I told you this was a highly curated list.


I just learned of a peculiar tradition in Dawson City, Yukon called the "Sour Toe Cocktail." It is said that in order to fully experience that remote city near the Arctic Circle, you need to partake in a ritual which involves drinking said cocktail consisting of Klondike Vodka, a few flecks of gold dust (in honor of the Klondike Gold Rush), and a petrified human toe. There are only two requirements beyond drinking the concoction, the toe must at some point touch your lips, and you must not swallow the toe. Where's the fun in that? 

Malört, in case you don't know, is the Chicago version of the Sour Toe Cocktail. 

I had lived nearly a half century in this town before I learned about Malört. A young colleague originally from Iowa was talking about the foul-tasting spirit and when she found out I had no idea what it was said: "What? you're from Chicago and you never heard of Malört? 

I felt only a little better after I asked several native Chicagoans around my age and discovered most of them hadn't heard of it either. 

Malört is the Swedish word for wormwood which is its principal ingredient. My guess is the hooch, which had been around since the 1920s, suddenly became a "Chicago thing" around the turn of this century when I assume a local bartender with a strong affinity to Tom Sawyer, tried to unload a case of the stuff by convincing newbie Chicagoans like my former colleague, that in order to prove one's mettle as a true Chicagoan, you have to down a shot of the vile tasting liquor. Then as part of the act, the regulars at the bar who knew better, would gather around the victim to watch the look of anguish on his or her face, upon tasting the concoction. 

It caught on, making Malört the stuff of local legend. It has inspired a wide range of testimonials ranging from "it tastes like pencil shavings and heartbreak", to the moniker: "the Champaigne of Pain", to the only slightly erroneous claim that the Russian translation of Malört, is Chernobyl. 

But let's face it, as a method of proving one's mettle, drinking a shot of Malört doesn't come close to things that test the limits of human perseverance or fortitude, like running a marathon or jumping into the Lake in sub-freezing weather. And it certainly doesn't rate with things that test the limits of human decency such as drinking a Sour Toe Cocktail.

It's just drinking something that tastes rather unpleasant, kind of lame by comparison if you asked me.

On the other hand, I'm all for social bonding and compared to that other stuff, none of which I have any intention of doing, it's pretty harmless.


 The Taste of Chicago.

You mean the The Waste of Chicago? 'Nuff said.


Never-ending construction on the Kennedy.

You think traffic is bad now? Imagine city streets filled with horse carts, streetcars, folks on bicycles, pedestrians, all moving in every direction, and no traffic lights. To make it easier for folks to get around, they invented cars and along with them, traffic lights. To make cars get around easier, they invented expressways:

Photo by Theo Iska

Then in the endeavor to improve traffic congestion, planners in their infinite wisdom, built more expressways with more lanes, hence construction. 

Finally, as they say: "build it and they will come." 

And come they did. 

It's just a fact of life, the more roads you build, the more cars there will be on the road. And the more cars, well you can figure it out.

If you want to put it all into perspective, go to LA just to see what real 24-7 traffic congestion looks like. Or better yet, go 90 miles to the north, up to Milwaukee where traffic is half as bad as it is here.

Then realize they also complain about the traffic.

City sticker fees.

We gotta pay for all that Kennedy Expressway Construction you know.


The Bat Cave, aka Lower Wacker Drive.
Other than the weather, the thing that seems to irritate people who contributed to this list the most, is traffic. Which puzzles me about this entry because Lower Wacker Drive, if you happen to be familiar with all its ins and outs, is the fastest way to get around the Loop in a motor vehicle.

If you haven't been down there, you may know it from its appearance during the epic chase scene in the 1980 movie The Blues Brothers. It's also a foreboding place with a certain no-man's-land feel to it, which makes it appealing (if you can call it that), to much of the city's homeless population.

No, it's not a place for a casual stroll, but neither is the Kennedy Expressway.      

Deep dish pizza.
More food culture here, the deep-dish pizza and its cousin, stuffed pizza, really were invented in Chicago and have become one of the things people all over the world associate with this city. It's also something folks from elsewhere take pleasure in dissing, engaging if you will in pizza snobbery, accusing it of not really being pizza. Jon Stewart got into the act back in 2013 when he threw a nationally televised shit fit about "Chicago Style Pizza." 

True Chicago style pizza, that is, the type of pizza most people in Chicago actually eat on a regular basis, also known as "tavern style", is flat, made with a thin, crisp crust and because of its larger size. is typically cut into squares rather than slices. This also doesn't pass muster with the pizza snobs simply because it is different from what they're used to. 

As I pointed out in this post, the only people who have the right to be snobbish about pizza are the Neapolitans, who invented it. By that standard, any other style of pizza, including those of Rome and New York, are simply poseurs, not worthy of being called pizza. 

Fortunately, in a city as large and diverse as Chicago, one can find the glorious Pizza Napolitana, Margherita of course, as well as virtually any style of pizza imaginable, including New York style. 

So, my advice to you if you don't like Chicago Style Deep Dish Pizza is this, don't eat it.

CTA not showing up when it says it will.
I don't want to sound like your dad, (I AM a dad, but not yours), but when you think about it, we should thank our lucky stars that after the pandemic, we still have a public transit system. You see, before the shut-down, the Chicago Transit Authority was already struggling. Then COVID hit and the majority of paying customers riding it to work every day, stayed home.

Despite that, the CTA kept running, putting their employees at risk by serving scores of people deemed necessary workers, as well as other customers who paid occasionally if at all.  

After the lockdown, a lot of people stayed home to work remotely. For a system that depends largely upon revenue from fares, that's obviously devastating. It doesn't help that crime is up all over the city including on the buses and the L, also thanks to the pandemic. It also doesn't help that the reduced number of passengers going to and from work makes the pan-handlers, the drug dealers, the junkies and the homeless just looking for a place to sleep, all the more prominent. That makes some people uncomfortable riding the buses and trains and if they have the opportunity, often choose to commute by other means, meaning even fewer paying customers and of course, more cars on the road. It's a vicious cycle. 

On top of all that, like many entities, the CTA is experiencing a chronic worker shortage which is a big reason why the trains and busses are not showing up on time, if at all. 

Of course, we can always blame the management. Along with the upsurge in crime, the decline of the CTA was the major issue in last week's mayoral primary election which left the current mayor Lori Lightfoot, who apparently didn't wave her magic wand to make it all better, without a job. We'll see how the next mayor whomever that will be, addresses the issue. 

Good luck.

Everywhere you go it smells like urine.
You can add pot and things much more disgusting, especially on the CTA.


Getting off the Red Line and catching wind off of the lake on a 20-below day.

This reminds me of my most memorable experience on the Red Line. It was during the height of a once-in-a-decade snowstorm, and my colleagues and I foolishly decided to stay at work to finish a project, rather than go home before the blizzard started as suggested by the management. The train was packed to the gills but fortunately was being driven by the greatest motorman in CTA history, Michael Powell, who reassured the passengers that if we cooperated, we'd all get home in due time. 

When we got to the Sheridan station, a sudden gust of wind kicked up making the passengers getting off at the stop look like the doomed members of Captain Scott's ill-fated expedition to Antarctica. "Don't laugh" Michael told the giggling passengers still on the train, "pretty soon that will be you."

God, I miss him.

Cover Bands 
I didn't realize that cover bands were particularly a Chicago thing. I need to get out more.


People who only want to talk about ‘random’ violence and ‘gang bangers’ that typically no one ever truly encounters here.

The one and only time my half-sister from Czechia, or The Czech Republic, (at the time, Czechoslovakia) visited Chicago, she me asked in all seriousness after one week: "Where are all the gangsters?" She had succumbed to the stereotype that this city is overrun by crime and gangsters and that you couldn't help running into one just by stepping out into the street, although I'm not sure she would have known a gangster if she saw one.

The thing about stereotypes is they don't come out of thin air, more often than not there is a solid basis for them. Chicago is indeed a violent city, it always has been. It's true that the violence is generally far greater in some areas than others, but no place, including the suburbs, is immune from it. And the fact that violence occurs in areas that some of us may never visit, does not diminish its seriousness, nor the tragedy of it. 

The person who wrote this opinion apparently never encountered violence and good for him or her, I hope and pray it continues to be so. But the attitude that "typically no one ever truly encounters" violence in Chicago, underscores how divided this city is, and how blind some of us have become to the life that goes on around us that we simply choose to ignore.

It illustrates the tremendous gap in this city between what many consider to be two distinct cities, one of promise and privilege, and another of hopelessness and despair. Sadly, far too many residents of the former, have little knowledge of or interest in the latter. To them it is just a place to avoid, another world, the back of beyond.  

Having myself been a victim of crime, including violent crime, more times than I care to remember, I honestly agree with the sentiment that people sometimes get carried away with the idea of crime and that we shouldn't let ourselves be paralyzed by our fear of it. 

On the other hand, we need to realize that any act of violence committed in our city, no matter the neighborhood, is a tragedy we all must take ownership of. It's holding us all back and it's not going to go away by ignoring it and the causes of it. Because at the very least, sooner or later, it's going to catch up with all of us.

OK, that nearly wraps up the things that bother Time Out Chicago readers the most about their city. Obviously, the author intended her piece to be a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek look at some of the petty gripes, the foibles, the insignificant, unpleasant, but mostly trivial idiosyncrasies that we all put up with on a daily basis, When I began putting this post together, I intended to respond in kind. But as you can see from some of my responses, the troubling, serious, heartbreaking, existential problems of this city are never far from the surface. 

Don't expect to find comments on or solutions to those problems here.

That said, like a shot of Malört, it's good to laugh at ourselves sometimes just to know we're still alive, which makes the last item on Emma Krupp's ghost list so appealing: 

Traffic, for sure; otherwise all expressed negativity about Chicago. Love it, warts and all.

Only Nelson Algren could say it better: "Loving Chicago is like loving a woman with a broken nose, you may find lovlier lovlies, but never a lovely so real."


Now if you've really been paying attention, you may have noticed that Emma Krupp included twenty items on her original list and so far, I've only covered nineteen. That's because one of them hit close to home and I decided to devote an entire post to it. 

That will be my next post, stay tuned...