“And when, in the city in which I love you,
even my most excellent song goes unanswered,
and I mount the scabbed streets,
the long shouts of avenues,
“And when, in the city in which I love you,
When the anti-choice billboards featuring President Obama went up at 58th & State, most media failed to mention that the images used to launch the public campaign were tacked to the north wall of the Exclusively Yours Auto Spa, headquarters for Che “Rhymefest” Smith’s 20th ward aldermanic run.
And no one asked Catherine Haskins, the owner of the auto spa, what she thought about them or how they complicated her life and Smith’s political mission.
“I’m pro-life,” says Haskins. “But not like this. Why do they have to attack black women? Why do they have to make black women out to be murderers? And have they thought about how they’re targeting black women and the president’s mother was white?”
The signs feature Barack Obama’s profile in black, white, green and red relief and the headline: “Every 21 minutes, our next possible leader is aborted.”
This weekend, sometime in the evening, the ads themselves were attacked, although most of Smith’s volunteers – including Haskins herself – had not noticed the modifications until Sunday night.
Want to get a quick, easy-to-follow primer on Chicago politics, corruption and, sometimes, even redemption?
Don Rose’s “The Lawyers Who Reformed Chicago” ran last week in The Week Behind. Since then, I find myself recommending it over and over as probably the clearest and most accessible narrative on the Daley eras that I’ve ever read.
It’s also an honest hats off to the long line of mostly young (and many Jewish) lawyers who have gone against the currents of corruption in this city.
As Mayor-Elect Rahm Emanuel preps to take over, it strikes me as must reading.
Perhaps not surprisingly, Rose – a longtime progressive political consultant -- had a tough time selling the piece.
“I had been thinking about doing this for some time,” he said. “The Baffler, last year, asked me for a piece--I wrote it for them and they went out of business before publishing.
Coming east on I-80, just about an hour and a half outside Chicago, the sign for the Middle Eastern Conflicts Memorial Wall seems jarringly out of place in the vast Midwestern landscape of golden green farms and blue-signed rest areas, tiny towns with Main Streets and the familiar logos of American consumption.
And even if you follow the sign off the interstate, it takes a while to find the memorial, the road winding right through Marseilles (pronounced Mahr-seh-less, not at all like its French namesake), a hamlet of 4,800 that, with two war memorials in less than a mile (the other is for local war dead) and an abundance of red-white-and-blueness in its choices for décor, seems abundantly if not extraordinarily patriotic.
But during this Arab Spring, with peaceful uprisings having turned bloody and the prospects of intervention in Lybia turning into another protracted involvement -- our third concurrent war -- this seemed the right time to visit.
And there it was, on the other side of town from I-80, resting peacefully on the banks of the Illinois River and just off a parking lot for what looks like an abandoned mall. Granite panels looking away from the water reflect the names of American military casualties.
I love Chicago but I don’t love Chicago winters, a sentiment I’ve discovered is widely shared. The last few years I’ve gotten lucky enough to get out of here and go write in the Bay area. And I’m fond of San Francisco -- Bourbon and Branch, Galeria de la Raza , City Lights Books, La Taqueria , The Make Out Room -- but what I really, really love is Oakland.
And here’s why:
Every Sunday, all year round, this family and kid friendly open air market offers the best breads, jams, meats, fruits, greens … everybody’s got a sample too, so you can just kinda make your way through it. My favorites?
The most startling moments at last year’s rallies for the DREAM Act and immigration reform would often be when immigrant youth would step forward, identify themselves and declare themselves undocumented.
The young people that took that step were a surprising bunch: Latinos, yes, but also Asians and Middle Easterners and others that were harder to pinpoint ethnically. Almost to the person, they spoke perfect English, and they looked beautifully ordinary: hip and nerdy, awkward and impetuous, convinced of the righteousness of their cause.
The confession they made itself was terrifying, I suspect, even for those of us looking on who were secure in our status.