If I had a home this would be it

The Iowa exile is at an end and I've finally returned to Chicago. I know I promised friends that my return would recall Lenin's triumphant return to Russia, but it turns out there's no train from Dubuque to Chicago so the sealed railway car provided by the Germans didn't work out.

I have learned one valuable lesson since getting here: cars should be rented from Enterprise and not Hertz. Altho from the degree of her boosterism, I fear that Kristina is actually a guerrilla marketer in the employ of Enterprise. Well at least we can be sure that cars should not be rented from Hertz. (That practical point made, I feel obligated to add that cars should not be rented at all, since private vehicles should not be allowed in cities. But this just bolsters the recent accusation that I'm one of the most ideological people my friends know.)

I now look forward to a month or so of life as an unemployed freeloader in one of the greatest cities in the world, with only my status as unemployed freeloader to worry about. I know many of my friends are kind of down on Chicago lately, but having survived Beijing*, southern California, and Iowa over the past year, I feel justified in feeling good about Chicago. My first girlfriend had this disturbingly intense love for southern California, and at the time I just thought it was silly. While it's obviously morally unacceptable to have even rudimentary positive feelings about southern California, I can sort of understand the sentiment now, and I'm glad to be back.

* I don't want to imply that Beijing was intolerable, but it did lack a good many nice things that I missed. On the other hand, I have no problem implying that southern California and Iowa are intolerable.


Chris said...

for the record, i don't want to imply that just because i want to move away i think chicago is a bad place to live. quite the contrary, i greatly appreciate the incredible diversity of chicago's neighborhoods (despite the similarly incredible segregation,) the world-class music scene, and architecture (despite the explosion of condos and corrosive effects of gentrification,) etc. well, i may not actively appreciate those things, but it's nice to know that they are there.

all i'm objecting to is the unbearably cold winters and lack of sunlight in the winter months. and the fact that i've lived in the same place for nearly twenty-three years straight.

Jake said...

when i was writing this post, with a sweeping condemnation of southern california and iowa and a pretty sweeping affirmation of chicago, i was a little uncomfortable with the following terrible things about chicago:

* some of worst segregation and race relations in the country,
* the stranglehold the daley machine has on politics,
* the ridiculous extremes of wealth and poverty,
* the spreading yuppy scourge all across the north side,
* the heavy reliance on cars and worsening state of public transit,
* the lack of cooperative businesses,
* the low level of progressive and radical activism,
* the feeling of being unsafe in a lot of places,
* the low level of vegetarianism and vegetarian-promoting stores and restaurants.
(notice how i did not include winter on this list.)

other places have a lot of the same problems, sometimes worse and sometimes better. but for some reason i just dismiss those places while having a real love for chicago. if i was writing on the other blog maybe i would want to nuance these judgments and exlore the contradictions, but i think having irrational chauvinisms is what bourgeois indulgence is all about.

mischa said...

to be fair, i never leveled an accusation that you were one of the most ideological people i know. it was really more of a compliment.

and an update on the Daley machine: 30 city employees indicted (some of whom were running a heroin ring on the clock), 21 convicted, sitting department heads led away in handcuffs, lists of cooperating witnesses reportedly including higher-ups, and rumblings from a powerful challenger in the form of Jesse Jackson Jr. certainly it's not some updated version of Nero presiding over a burning Rome, but still, Daley's grip has never looked weaker.

Jake said...

yeah, i'm only now becoming aware of the daley scandals and how much trouble the machine seems to be in. i don't want to exagerrate but i think this is the best news i've heard out of the states since going to china. it's too bad the left isn't more organized to take advantage of the opportunities this opens up. but as i always argue, electoral politics is in itself mostly a waste of time, but it can (theoretically) be used to good ends in organizing and politicizing people. if jackson runs, this would be the best opportunity since harold washington to start addressing all the issues on my list, except maybe (alas) the vegetarian stuff.

Joe said...

I would agree with Mischa that such an appellation should generally be considered a compliment. I hope I was on that list; I feel like I could have written this post. I was thinking the other day (well every day, since I bike every day), how much better cities would be with no cars. They make cities so hot and uncomfortable.

My feeling on veg options in Chicago is that the low number was offset by the great amount of veg ethnic restaurants. Finding decent Indian food in DC is like pulling teeth, the only ethnic food it can compare to Chicago with is Ethiopian.

Plus, Chicago has Vegetarian Fun Food Supreme, which beats any place in DC, including Java Green (which Mischa and Jenny can report back on in two weeks).

Chris said...

on the daley scandal: this is exactly what i've been hoping for ever since patrick fitzgerald was appointed (due to the efforts of [my forbidden love] peter fitzgerald, no relation to patrick) us attorney.

on the other hand, fitzgerald seems to have no compunctions about steam rolling over civil liberties: a friend mentioned he was recently debating for some of the controversial measures of the patriot act. on the other hand, he did get judith miller thrown in jail, and i think we can all appreciate that. a recent counterpunch story revealed miller's husbands response to the jailing: "at least it wasn't house arrest."

Jenny said...

jake i think you're wrong about the veggie restaurants. there are plenty. chicago seems to sprout a couple new ones every year, too. granted, you should try to cook every once in a while...that way you can occasionally avoid participating in the tipping empire, or forcing others to serve you.

i think the worst two things about chicago are the race relations and the lack of mountains. i don't know if it's my favorite city, but i don't seem to have the same gripes as everyone else. how can people live in a place with no mountains?

the north side yuppie scourge makes for easy-access people-watching/(secret hating). it's like living in the sorority quads during rush week, which was very entertaining when i did it. i have to say that the chicago yuppies provide more value to my day than the aging hippies you find in places like seattle. those people are sooo annoying.

and i LOVE cold snowy winters and frozen lake michigan! why isn't chicago like that more often?

i'm currently enjoying liquid lake michigan. it would be even better without those asshole lifeguards.