By Tony Fitzpatrick
Every year, we here at Newcity stop and count our blessings. For however much the crime, sadness, corruption, idiot politicians and parking tickets bother us, the graces and blessings of this place outweigh the bad things. It is a city with a beating heart. Compare our town with any other big city and you hear the same thing from visitors all of the time; they like Chicago because of Chicagoans—there is a kindness about the Midwest and this includes Chicago in a big way.
It is certainly warmer than New York City: “Welcome to New York, now get the fuck out!” Or: “How much do you pay??? (in rent).” Rents are the topic of damned near every conversation there and in the meantime, the creative class has been priced out of that city. There is no middle class there, the only inhabitants are the wealthy and those who hang up their coats and otherwise service them. Or Los Angeles, where if you are a crouton overweight they treat you like a leper scab. It also seems to be a sprawl of shitty suburban strip malls cobbled together and doing their best pantomime of a city.
You can have both of them.
One of the greatest things about our city is that we never lost our middle class. Despite the Wee One’s best effort at trying to wring every nickel out of working-class and poor people, we are still here and we are still the city’s best hope for diversity, the arts, culture, music, labor and idealism. The settling of the teacher’s strike before it occurred added a measure of cautious optimism to this autumn. The balanced leadership and cool-headedness of Karen Lewis once again prevailed—for those of you keeping score, it’s CTU 2… Rahm zip.
One of the highlights of my year; hell—the last many years—was the Kerry James Marshall exhibit at the Museum of Contemporary Art. It was illuminating, groundbreaking and an education about the last thirty-five or so years—about how history happens and how it is interpreted depending on who you are in the world and where you are from. “Mastry” was a tutorial on exactly WHO gets represented in the canon of art history and like all brilliant art, a corrective as well. Mr. Marshall’s lovely and soaring images of barber shops, beauty shops and living rooms, as well as the proud folks who live there, are a welcome long-missing presence in our own and the world’s history. A towering exhibition. One I will never forget.
The Cubs are racking up two years in a row of not sucking! That’s right, and Cub fans are typically insufferable right about now, but let’s cut them some slack. They were well into their second century of sucking when Mighty Joe Maddon and Theo Epstein resurrected a moribund franchise. One must also credit the Ricketts family for being willing to part with the coin to buy some talent and for some smart trades. I still can’t believe the Cardinals let Jason Heyward go. Finally, after all of these years—revenge for the Lou Brock for Ernie Broglio trade. It’s also nice to watch the Mets unceremoniously go tits-up… buh-bye.
Mostly, we love fall—it is a time of real optimism. Trump should be nearly vanquished by the time this runs. Hillary is polling at seventy-five percent. She should stomp a mudhole in the Tangerine Baboon’s ass. I’m holding my breath and hoping there is some way to repair the immense divide among we the people. That Trump’s message had such resonant appeal for people is evidence on just how much work is needed before we are a united people. This country was put through the ringer—issues we’d thought were behind us became white-hot with urgency again: race, class, crime, policing fairly and equitably—putting Trump behind us will go a long way in beginning to have the necessary conversations.
Here’s hoping we can find our better selves.
And in this issue are a few hundred reasons why we are so lucky to be Chicagoans. Our intrepid contributors scoured the city and found all of these gems. This is the city of Mike Royko, Carl Sandburg, Jane Addams, Nelson Algren, Studs Terkel, Roger Ebert, Oprah, Rick Kogan, Ernie Banks… and you, we’re glad to have you. Thank you for celebrating this city with us!