So I have not posted on this thing in awhile, after explicitly promising the contrary. One reason is that I am lazy, another is that I have been writing some very fine articles for the illustrious gapersblock.com. As previously indicated on everywhere from my Twitter account to speaking with me in public for five seconds, I have given up on the Chicago Cubs as my ulcer-inducing baseball team of choice and have taken my interests south to equally shitty (this year, anyway) White Sox. It has been an odd and difficult journey, betraying my family and rooting for my sworn enemies. The upside of which, aside from not having to care about what happens to the Cubs and subsequently no longer having my little heart broken, is having enough people in the city care enough about my crosstown sojourn to warrant a weekly piece at a very excellent Chicago based website. They even gave me a sweet logo.
If you are interested in said pieces, here they are in chronological order:
There is also one coming very soon about how Ozzie Guillen is awesome. Bear with me.
The experience of writing in a more professional setting than this blog has made it clear to me that I enjoy writing so much, I should probably try to move beyond just ripping on the Cubs every week. So when my sports editor was looking for someone to write about the recent hullabaloo in Wrigleyville, I jumped all over it. A man cannot live on Cubs disses alone.
You might find it surprising that someone who has spent the last month and a half crafting diatribes about how inane Cubs culture is would suddenly leap to the defense of the businesses surrounding Wrigley Field. The truth is though, if there is anything I hate more than the shitty baseball the Cubs put on display 162 times a year, it is seeing the city I love (Chicago) being slowly converted into the city I hate (Schaumburg – or any other strip mall based town for that matter). So while I tried my hardest to see both sides of the issue and resisted falling prey to the “Wrigleyville is our most precious commodity” mentality, I eventually came to find the whole ordeal to be pretty disheartening. I will of course get into all that when I finish my piece for Gapers Block. I have something else I would like to address here, something that requires a more personal rant not suitable for a respectable website.
As part of my serious writing duties, I spent a good amount of time in each of the locales slated for destruction should Alderman Tunney get his way. The goal of course was to not only take in the the current state of Wrigleyville culture, culture that is being threatened by a brand new Best Buy and a super awesome hotel, but to also speak with the people that would be affected by the development – the owners, the bartenders and waitresses and the fans and customers who frequent the establishments. For the most part, this was a very pleasant experience. I got to meet some very charming young ladies in town from Minnesota to try out for a musical, an awesome and personally familiar father/son duo who loved baseball, and some very passionate locals who very much love the Cubs and their surrounding neighborhood. In essence, I met some very awesome Midwesterners – the kind of people who made me proud to hail from this area when I was living out East.
Not all was rosy in Wrigleyville, unfortunately. There was an alarming number of people who were afraid to give me their opinion. It was one thing having a bartender spill her heart out under the condition I didn’t use her name. It was another having a bartender quickly tell me she hated the idea and then running away after making me promise I wouldn’t print anything she said. The number of people I met tonight who were afraid to simply speak their minds about their jobs being eliminated was concerning to say the least. Does Alderman Tunney stalk the streets bagging dissenters a la Creedy in V for Vendetta? What the hell was everyone so scared about? Clearly these people knew their jobs would be in more jeopardy should they not speak up, right? Right?
The worst of this came from the night manager of the Goose Island brewpub on Clark St. Not only did the dumb ass assure me that his restaurant would be fine since they had a lease through 2015 (never mind that Imrov Olympic has a lease though 2022 and is easily the most outspoken party in this whole mess) but he also refused to have any discussion on the matter and certainly didn’t want to give his name. He then sheepishly asked me not to talk to any of the other customers. He pointed out that some girls were in his bar with a petition a couple weeks ago in regards to the Toyota sign controversy, and just like he told them, I could do whatever I wanted outside his bar, but please leave the customers alone.
Let us analyse exactly what this jackass was requesting for just a moment:
1) Speaking up against the inevitable bulldozing of the establishment in which I work is too controversial. Please refrain from doing so.
2) Please do not discuss this with any of the patrons of the bar. Clearly having a discussion, in a bar, about things about to happen to the neighborhood would be very upsetting for the people who will most likely be drinking elsewhere in a year or so.
3) The discussion you are trying to have is frightening enough. Clearly Goose Island inc. instills such a level of cowardice in its employees that asking you directly to not ruffle any feathers with your development questions causes me too much anxiety. This makes directly asking you to leave nearly impossible for me. I will resort to an analogy about some girls and a petition. I will sit here quietly praying to my god that you quickly leave on your own accord, lest I shit my pants.
Is this where we are at as a society? That having discourse in a bar is too controversial? To be quite honest, maybe that entire block does deserve to be demolished if discussing its fate is too much for anyone who frequents the area to handle. What is the point of salvaging a bar where trading ideas is discouraged? Fuck it, knock it down. Build a Best Buy. That Goose Island manager would probably look great in a blue polo and khakis, quietly asking people to not discuss the latest Austin Powers DVD.