Wednesday, January 21, 2009


"At 30 below zero we were all Chicagoans...[T]he gruff solidarity of survival is an essential part of living in Chicago: we huddle together against calamity."

Alexsandar Hemon,"United States of Chicago," New York Times, January 18, 2009.

Hemon is the author of a wonderfully depressing book about the plight of people escaping ethnic cleansing, The Lazarus Project. Unfortunately, he has become captive to literati musings on Chicago and sipped the Chicago kool aid -- all that "city of broad shoulders" stuff.

I suspect Chicago has as much solidarity and divisive fragmentation as other big cities -- more solidarity than Detroit and less than Minneapolis, both colder and more snowbound, maybe even windier.

"What Mr. Obama should have learned living in Chicago is that it takes far more than gut feeling and bullying, more than fuzzy-warm nationalism and fantasies of greatness, to run a country as vast and complicated as Chicago is a city."

This sounds like the tried and true Daley clan recipe for running Chicago. What's wrong with that? Obama uniquely stitched together multiple and contending Chicagos to create a movement for change. It will serve him well for governing a nation, but represents much more than its Chicago parts.

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