977.311 Chicago

770.2 Miscellaneous photography

Really wiped out today. More pix later.

The Lovely Bride

Dia de los muertos in Pilsen: The Lovely Bride

This is not part of the Dia de Los Muertos celebration

This is not part of the Dia de Los Muertos celebration

Train station on Madison

170 Ethics

I witnessed a scene at the post office this morning that I believe changed my life. I’m not sure how deeply or for how long, but I hope I won’t forget it anytime soon.

It goes like this: the short, elderly woman in front of me had two boxes, each at least a cubic foot in size. She was having trouble holding them. They looked like they could have fallen out of her hands at any moment. But what do I do about it? Zip, zilch, nada, nichts, niente.

Another elderly woman a few places ahead of us comes up and offers the woman her place in line, much closer to the front. Selfish me thinks there’s something going on. Fortunately I got that thought out of my head as soon as possible. I realized the second woman was just doing a good deed, for no other reason than she thought it was the right thing to do.

The woman with the boxes was still juggling them when the man in front of her offered to hold them for her. This whole scene was significant to me because I haven’t seen a whole lot of acts of generosity like that since I came. I still like Chicago, but I get turned off at all the times people honk at me or try to pass me on the sidewalk. I feel like a bumpkin, movin’ kinda slow at the junction. Just me and a lot of beautiful people walking on air with their great jobs and their cool friends, going to clubs so exclusive they don’t have windows, and they don’t put their name on the outside.

I can’t tell you how snotty some of the people around here are, but then again, that used to be me. I was never very good at being cool, though; I always felt guilty when I gave someone the cold shoulder.

Chicago 977.311

After a couple of months of temporarily misplacing my mind, I am starting to feel more normal in my new surroundings, thank you very much. I’m still not sure I made the right decision, but I feel less unsure when I think about the last place I lived. Yes, I am still disoriented here, but less disoriented than I felt in Boston. I’m happy to report that, after all the time I’ve spent here on visits and now actually living here, the initial appeal of Chicago still has not worn off. That appeal, simply put, is Chicago’s resemblance to Washington, D.C., most notably in the similarity of the flags of these two cities.

Chicago’s flag looks like this.

D.C.’s looks like this.

To me, Chicago feels like a kind of parallel-universe D.C., where Chocolate City has grown to five times its normal size, and the usual mix of blacks, hispanics and Asians has been joined by a sizable influx of eastern Europeans. This is probably totally off the mark, but it gets me through the day. And it beats the hell out of Boston, a kind of parallel nothing where all the people of color had been chased out, rounded up or harassed to the point where they must have felt like aliens from another dimension.

301 Sociology and anthropology

Today’s reason: Howie Carr

I will confess that I listened to WRKO’s afternoon drive-time personality and Boston Herald columnist Howie Carr many a time. He seems to have more of a sense of humor about himself than many right-wing talk-radio hosts. He has made a name for himself chronicling Boston’s leading organized crime figures, especially Whitey Bulger. I share his contempt toward Mike Barnicle for Barnicle’s use of passages from George Carlin’s book Brain Droppings without attribution. But I had to part company with Carr when he targeted minorities, particularly Hispanics, for what I could only interpret as gratuitous, pointless harassment. Minorities in general in Boston seemed always to be working from a position of weakness, fighting against discrimination, racism and bigotry that seemed perfectly acceptable in many communities. I know such attitudes exist here in Chicago, but so far, the kinds of attitudes that seemed almost overt in Boston seem less prevalent here.