Sunday, November 21, 2010

Chicago

I grew up in Chicago during the reign of King Daley Primero. In those days the bars were closed on election day and even in the nice middle-class neighborhood where I lived, that meant one of those expanding iron grates drawn across the door and pad-locked.

It's the nature of the daytime drinking man that he doesn't pay too much attention to politics, so it wasn't uncommon for bleary-eyed, ragged-coated, middle-aged sots to stumble to the bar only to be faced with disappointment until seven o'clock that night. That's where the Ward Committeeman and his precinct captains came into play. They hovered on the sidewalk near the doorway to Fishman & Sons Liquor Emporium, a distinctly down-scale purveyor of low cost spirits. There they would grab an elbow and with a clipboard to reference, they would offer a drink or two when opening time came if the thirsty gentleman would accompany them down the block to the polling place. It was grass-roots GOTV; Get Out the Vote.

But it was more. It was multiple voting, because that clipboard contained a roster of residents who had passed away in the preceding five years or so and whose names were not yet purged from the voting rolls. With each cycle down the block, the rapidly drying out drunk would be equipped with yet another recently deceased identity. The methodology kept Richard J. Daley and his cast of characters in very firm control of the city. It also made Da Mayor a very powerful player nationally as he demonstrated so memorably in the 1960 presidential election when his delivery of Illinois helped put JFK in office.

Chicago has come a long way since then. There has been incredible development in the downtown lake-front, but in the process there has also been the inevitable split between the upscale gentrified areas and the lawless enclaves of gangs, drugs, and entrenched violence.

With the retirement of King Daley II, the battle for the kingdom now rages and it doesn't bode well for the city.

Former Senator Carol Mosey-Down-Da-Road Wants Scepter and Crown

She speaks in code, but we all know what she is saying.
Carol Moseley Braun announced Saturday she was running for Chicago mayor to be a voice for the unheard and an advocate for the underrepresented.

"This great city can't survive if some Chicagoans are treated like second class citizens," Braun told about 150 supporters gathered outside on the chilly morning at Northerly Island along the lakefront. "This city must continue to grow with the support of and inclusion of every neighborhood, every community."

That isn't hard to decipher. She wants to tax the productive and distribute to the 'Hood. Nothing sends the message more clearly than the man standing next to her on the podium, Bobby Rush. Rush, a high-school dropout, co-founder of the Black Panthers, activist of redistribution based on race, opponent of the war-winning Iraq troop surge and author of one of the most restrictive gun control laws ever put forth, is exactly what Mosely Braun represents.

There is no good choice for Chicago. The mayoral election is about spoils and pillaging. What once was will never be again:

Hog Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation's Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:
They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I have seen your painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the faces of women and children I have seen the marks of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the little soft cities;
Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Bareheaded,
Shoveling,
Wrecking,
Planning,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse, and under his ribs the heart of the people, Laughing! 
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation. 

2 comments:

The Donald said...

Ed, I was lured in, thinking maybe a Sunday Morning Rocker, maybe 25 or 6 to 4, might be in store.

Nonetheless, an excellent post - a cautionary tale.

Just look at Detroit.

Kyzernick said...

I really love the city of Chicago, and I'm worried about it's future. The state of Illinois is heading downhill fast, and now with Quinn staying in office, there's going to be a fiscal disaster. This city's got spirit, but is it enough?