Monday, July 6, 2009


After seeing the film Public Enemies that was shot in Chicago, I couldn’t help feeling a bit homesick. There may be more idyllic places to raise children, but I feel lucky having grown up in the ‘windy city’. Not the suburbs: you’ll meet lots of people who claim to be from ‘Chi-town’ (the first clue) that later reveal they’re from say, Wheaton or Elk Grove Village. It’s territorial sure, but city life with its neighborhoods and traffic and public transport flavors things in a particular way. No doubt, New Yorkers and other big city natives are quick to point out where their city begins and ends.

I received a lovely gift book The Chicagoan by Neil Harris. The title refers to a long out-of-print magazine of the same name that resembles The New Yorker. The book explores those lost volumes, and flipping through its pages will take you on a ride in the way back machine with articles about local politicians, celebrities, and the jazzy nightlife of the 1920’s.

Many of the illustrations and photos of parks and buildings are recognizable. But what the images conjure is more about growing up in the nondescript areas of the city, where you develop loyalties to restaurants, schools, parks, and sports teams. You don’t notice this as it happens, but you’ll notice it one day. You may despise the weather but defend it vigorously should an out-of-towner say the same.

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