Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Welcome to Chicago, Darren; let me show you around

     Darren, Darren, Darren ... the Hancock? Really? Was Trump Tower too expensive? Not that it’s a bad place, mind you. People live there. But you do know about the elevators, yes? Cables snap, people get stuck, and that 84-story plunge ... best not to think of it. I understand the problem is under control now, mostly.
     You’re moving to Chicago ... why? As a display of courage? You said, to immerse yourself in the culture. Fair enough, Darren Bailey, let’s get to it. You can’t just spend the next ... umm ... eight weeks rushing from the Hancock entrance, surrounded by a phalanx of linemen from Xenia Junior College into a pair of waiting black SUVs. What does that prove?
     Nothing erodes fear like experience. We need to get you out on the town, over to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. Founded by teachers, you know. C’mon, I’ll take you, and even pick up the admission (ote-nay oo-tay eaders-ray: ission-admay is ee-fray). Then lunch at 5 Rabanitos. I love that place. Or “5 Radishes” in Spanish. See? You’re learning already!
     Nor will we limit ourselves to one part of the city. We’ll ride the L, we’ll wander around Bronzeville, unafraid. Over the past 35 years, I’ve pretty much ranged across the entire city. From South Avenue O, within spitting distance of the Indiana border, to streets below Lower Wacker Drive. And let me tell you a secret: You can go anywhere in Chicago. It’s OK. Back when there were high-rise public housing projects — the Robert Taylor Homes, Cabrini-Green — I visited them all. At night. You know who lived there? Not demons with pitchforks. People. Working folks. Women lugging groceries. Some places are more dangerous, some less, but my personal rule is: If people can live there, I can visit. Never got shot once.
     We can do something fun, rack ’em up at Chris’s Billiards on North Milwaukee Avenue — they filmed “The Color of Money” there, you must have seen that. Or if that’s a sin to your brand of performative Christianity, we can visit the Art Institute; I can steer you quickly by the paintings of nekkid ladies, though we can linger by the Monet haystacks and a few Christs crucified. You’ll feel at home.

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  1. I heard that fool Bailey had gotten a place in the Hellhole of Chicago, but the Hancock?
    Is he renting out Jerry Springer's old place up on the 90th floor?
    He's gonna meet so many ordinary Chicagoans while changing elevators mid-building. Yeah sure!
    I guess he was too afraid of a three flat walkup in Andersonville, what with all the gays & lesbians living there. I shop at the Jewel there, it's really nice, lots of people with kids & dogs walking around on Clark St. Or maybe go to the McDonald's on Peterson & Jersey, where lots of old Koreans get together to drink coffee. But I'm sure he'll be scared of them furreners!
    That wing-nut clown is really desperate now, he knows he's losing really badly, what with being so anti-abortion in a state that actually respects the rights of women to use their own minds for a decision, instead of letting some troglodytic religion make the decisions for them!
    Oh well, at least some condo owner, probably some rich wing-nut Re Thug Licon is making a few bucks from the rental, unless it's an in-kind donation tho the Fool From Xenia!

  2. Awesome column!!! Loved it….

  3. I particularly like the Art Institute bit.

    Credit where due: I consider myself something of a film buff and have seen and enjoyed many Ethan Hawke movies, but Mr. Bailey is clearly much more familiar with "The Purge" than I am. ; )

  4. If this Downstate yahoo is going to live in the Hellhole, he needs to have a real "heart of Chicago" Sha-caw-go address. Recommended by a real Chicagoan, not some guidebook. Maybe near Madison and Homan. Or Monroe and Western...or Iowa and Avers. Plenty of real Chicago history at those last two corners. And real Chicagoans live there.

    Hey, pal, you tawkin ta me? Ya wanna see the ciddy fer yourself? Okay, fine. Let's take a ride. Hop in. [car engine starts]

    You say ya like something a little more north and east of Garfield Park? Okay. Here we are. Broadway and Oakdale. Too crowded? Not enough parking for your entourage? Okay, pal...whatever ya say. Yer da boss. Let's just keep heading north.

    This is Berteau and Paulina. Nice, huh? Brick streets, even. How about this corner...Irving Park and Oakley, where there used to be a joint called Chicago Joe's? Can't get much more Chicago than that.

    What? We're too far west? Too far from the beach? So ya wanna be closer to our famous lakefront? Maybe cop a few cool lake breezes, and get some Chicago sand in your shoes? Fine, pal. Buckle that seat belt, okay? It's da law. [mutterings of disgust]

    Here we are. Roger Spark, as the natives call it. Glenwood and Touhy. You'll get used to the rattle of the "L" trains outside your windas. That ain't so bad. Really. My grandma lived kitty-corner from here for years. Don't like the noise? I hear ya, pal. Ya say ya need to be close to church? Maybe we can try for something further west. [sighs and eyerolls]

    Albion and Artesian. Nice big park, huh? Useta be a golf course. Plenty of houses of worship...walking distance, too. What? Not your kind? Hey, whatdahell, you're not actually gonna settle down here, so kwitcherbitchin. You'll be back in the boonies soon enough, safe and sound down in Hooterville. Then you'll have bragging rights. You served your time in Hell. [ muffled snort of derision]

    Oh, so it's back to the Hancock, huh? And I wasted all that time and gas on a guided tour for nothin? Whaddaya think I am, a cabbie or a realtor or something? [Louder and more angry tone] Anybody ever tell ya you're a real jamoke? Get outta the car...and get away from me!

    1. This column is so well-written, funny, and acerbic that I just have to comment on it. Mr. Steinberg, this is one of your finest. There are passages that are poetry in disguise:
      "I can steer you/
      Quickly by the paintings of nekkid ladies/
      Though we can linger by the Monet/
      Haystacks and a few Christs crucified."

    2. Bravo. If I didn't know that was a snippet of lyrical prose by Mr. S, I'd think it was from a Chicago poem by that other Mr. S--Carl Sandburg (who was a Daily News reporter from 1917 to 1932).

    3. With apologies to Grizz 65 and Mr. Steinberg, I meant to post that in reply to the Sun-Times column itself (I'm all thumbs, apparently). I don't comment here often, but felt especially compelled to say how superb this one is.
      Hopefully Neil got to see it.

      Grizz, I appreciate your reply nonetheless: Like I said, I don't comment often, but I read EGD practically EGD, and I value your investigative insights into the topic at hand. All the best.

    4. He will most certainly see it. Trust me. Thanks muchly for the compliment.

    5. Born in Garfield park hospital , lived on Ohio and Trumble. lived on Berteau , Artesian, Albion , and within walking distance of chicago joes didn't know they closed. down here on the Southside you miss things.

    6. Closed last year, after 33 years. Whacked by the Plague. Their amazing collection of Chicago memorabilia was sold and auctioned off, for mucho dinero. I was living a half-block south when it opened in '88. High-end condos on that corner now.

  5. Oh! Send him down to the South Side! I'd love to show him around the Pullman National Monument. He'd get to meet some of my neighbors who are African American and Latino; I'm guessing he doesn't know any personally. Pullman is also gay-friendly; I'm sure he'd love that. We could go for a ride down ritzy Longwood Drive in Beverly. Lots of White people there which I'm sure would make him more comfortable, but lots of Black people also. There are many lovely neighborhood out here. Tell him not to be scared; I'll protect him!!


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