Wednesday, April 19, 2023

‘Chicago is still viable’

Ray Hartshorne

     You guys all know about the fire, right? The Great Chicago Fire? Of 1871? A long time ago, sure. But still remembered by many. Maybe most. The O’Leary cow kicking over a lantern — a myth, by the way. Not the cow. She was real. The lantern part. Just another slur. A reminder of how slurs endure because they reinforce what some people want to believe.
     Not to forget the city’s determined, never-say-die reaction. Also very real. The ruins were still smoldering and all Chicago could talk about was its bright future.
     So how come, once upon a time, the city could burn to the ground and Chicagoans lined up to declare their unshakable faith in their city.
     But now, some kids misbehave downtown and some are ready to give up?
     “The Loop was in chaos all weekend in Chicago, with insane woke riots,” began a typical tweet. “Big cities are dead.”
     Not close. A couple of incidents. But the videos pinballed around the world, gleefully traded by those who relish such things.
     Crime is not the main problem facing Chicago, which, like most cities, has more systemic woes, like people not going into offices to work.
     Monday morning found me in our blustery, semi-abandoned downtown, paying a long-scheduled visit with Ray Hartshorne, a partner at Hartshorne Plunkard Architecture, a firm that had a key role in changing Fulton Market from a ramshackle warren of loading docks and warehouses where retailers went to buy pickles by the barrel to a hip hot spot where diners fork over $16 for three artisanal pickles at Girl & the Goat.

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  1. I'm a confoozed old geezer, Mr S. Enlighten me. What the hell is a "woke riot" anyhoo? By injecting that much-overused w-word, this hick Virginia creeper has apparently found hisself a new substitute for the n-word.

    All I see are hoods from the hoods acting like teen idiots.once again...the same old downtown flash mob routine, a monster created by the anti-social media in every kid's pocket. Right next to the stolen guns that too many of them are now pocketing, and using. No transistor radios for this crowd.

    I don't think "outreach" people taking these kids to a bowling alley is going to be the answer. I don't know what the answer is. Does anybody else? Not so much.

    If the rowdies keep doing their thing, Chicago just looks worse and worse. Respond with justifiable and overwhelming force, and then the whole world views Chicago the same way it saw Birmingham in 1963. Every way you look at it, the city loses big. And eventually, a few young people, and maybe a few older ones, too, are going to lose their lives...and then, natch, the Loop thins out even more.

    Good luck, Chicago. I think you'll come back. You always have. You're too big and too strong to fail. You'll eventually recover from the long-term and far reaching effects of this latest blow...the Plague...which was something like a major war. It will be tough, and it will take a terribly long time. But as Churchill said..."This is not the end...or even the beginning of the end. But perhaps it is the end of the beginning."

    Of course, if Orange Julius returns next year...I never wrote that last paragraph.

  2. I want the city to buy a few water cannons like they use in Europe to stop out of control protesters! And then add something like mercaptan to the water so it will really stink & ruin their clothes!
    But obviously crackpot Brandon thinks he can just talk to them & they'll stop all this insanity.
    The next four years here will be massively increased crime due to Johnson & whatever goofy excuse for a new police chief he picks.

    1. Southern police departments used fire hoses CS. Would those do? This is what the kids call a "self-own." A few kids misbehave, and certain folks out themselves with their public fantasies of retribution. What is obvious to you isn't so clear to folks whose minds are clouded by thought.

    2. Maybe a sprinkler nozzle to dampen the mood? Great article. Thanks again for the big fire piece. I hadn't known that the fire aggravated Mary Lincoln's condition.

    3. While "Chicago is still viable" sounds like it could be cited as a textbook example of "damning with faint praise," I'll take it.

      "... changing Fulton Market from a ramshackle warren of loading docks and warehouses where retailers went to buy pickles by the barrel to a hip hot spot where diners fork over $16 for three artisanal pickles at Girl & the Goat." A wonderfully succinct way of describing the transformation.

      As for the wailing and gnashing of teeth about the wayward youths creating "chaos," previous generations lamenting the fact that the spoiled kids just ain't like they used to be is a trope as old as time. I saw this yesterday: "But 20 years ago you never saw a child on the streets after seven o'clock. Today you see youngsters of 11 and 12 out on the streets until midnight. Twenty years ago the parents ruled the children. Today the children rule the parents. Twenty years ago if a parent said 'no' the child obeyed. Today the child laughs at him." Uh, that was written in 1923. This Twitter thread contains examples going back to 1845...

    4. It's not a few kids misbehaving, it's hundreds of them, totally out of control, with a lot of gang members, better known as violent criminals using them as cover to commit crimes downtown. i saw a smaller version of this on my own block years ago. Some goof sawed out the bottom of plastic milk crates & nailed them to telephone poles in alleys all over the city & kids would play ball there. But one day a week, the drug dealer kicked the kids out & sold drugs in that location. The cops, having been called by people around here complaining about the noise the ball playing kids made, ignored the drug dealing because they though it was just more noise complaints.
      Either the cops shut down this insanity or they Loop will be destroyed!

    5. Don't you get it? Read it again: "Crime is not the main problem facing Chicago, which, like most cities, has more systemic woes, like people not going into offices to work.."

      The Plague, quietly creeping in on little cat feet before moving on into history, like in Carl Sandburg's "Fog" poem, is what insidiously brought the Loop to a standstill and is still silently destroying it. Rioters are just a side effect, the visible manifestation of much bigger and more entrenched social and cultural problems.

      So what the hell do you suggest? Remember who infamously tweeted "You loot, we shoot!" just three short years ago, right after all this shit began?

      Americans have such short memories now. How soon they forget..

  3. I live in the blurbs most of the year but rent a place in the city in the summer. Last summer I got tons of questions about safety. I never felt unsafe. I was also located in Lakeshore East a neighborhood so unknown that several long time residents insisted “EAST of Michigan Ave? There’s nothing East except Streeterville and Navy Pier!”

  4. My only comment is that my son, who works at Chicago Cubs (and Sox) games, casually mentioned that “hordes” of kids take the el from south side Chicago to the Cubs games to do….whatever they do.


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