Wednesday, May 20, 2020
A 5th star on Chicago’s flag: pep talk or curse?
My people have a useful term that doesn’t translate well: kine hora. It’s Yiddish for “not the evil eye,” but means something akin to “knock on wood.” Were I to toss off some giddily optimistic prediction — “In September, when everything is back to normal, I’m looking forward to enjoying a sunny afternoon at Wrigley Field” — my wife might reply, “Don’t give yourself a kine hora.”
Fate has a way of grinding our faces in misplaced optimism. My ballgame plans, come September, might haunt me as I’m herded into the temporary detention facility set up inside the shattered ruins of Wrigley, snagged in the federal sweep of writers and people who wear eyeglasses after July’s general societal collapse. I’ll look around, dazed, realizing I’m in the exact spot where I had anticipated an afternoon of peanuts and box scores.
Best to avoid cheery predictions.
So when Mayor Lori Lightfoot said, twice, she wants the city’s response to COVID-19 to be worthy of a new star on the Chicago flag, I winced, hope dwindling. Maybe this isn’t the beginning of the end. Maybe this is where the Bad Part starts.
“I want nothing less than for our efforts over the coming months to truly warrant a fifth star on our flag,” Lightfoot said last week. Maybe she was being merely motivational, the way a Little League coach tells his players “I want every one of you to put in your best Hall-of-Fame effort against the Bumblebees.” That doesn’t mean he expects them to end up in Cooperstown.
I hope so. Because to sincerely suggest a fifth star ... isn’t that jumping the gun? Isn’t plotting new flag stars an Ed Burke move? The defanged Burke argued a posteriori for a fifth star for the 2016 Olympics which, in case you forgot, didn’t work out so well.
Fortunately, the solution was posed by the mayor herself, exactly one year ago.
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