Tuesday, September 22, 2015

A DAY IN THE LIFE (of Chicago): Past visions; how much has survived?

I stumbled across a roughly 5-minute video that now exists on YouTube – one that compiles various snippets that aren’t worth much in-and-of themselves.

But when put together, they become a pseudo-documentary by a company called Yestervid of what Chicago was like about one century ago.

THEY INCLUDE WHAT is being billed as the oldest existing footage of Chicago – a September 1896 parade of police officers as they passed by Michigan Avenue and Monroe Street.

Although my own favorite moment was seeing the circus elephants being ridden down Dearborn Street while Chicagoans stood by. It’s not something we’d see ever again – largely because Dearborn is over-congested by auto and foot traffic. It would be too cluttered.

Likely the reason why modern-day parades for downtown Chicago cut through Grant Park on Columbus Drive. Although it’s not like Chicago has changed entirely since the days when we weren’t sure what the 20th Century would amount to.

The Willis Tower and Hancock Center are missing from the skyline shots – much much else is recognizable. As for the Trump Tower, we’d be better off if that tacky structure were to disappear.

VIDEO OF STATE and Madison streets show a very congested intersection with the very same “el” station just a block to the east. This has been a packed place with people – and with livestock. Check out the bits of video shot at the old Union Stockyards near the (logically enough) Back of the Yards neighborhood.

There is the “oldest” bit of audio – Gamelan (think Indonesia) music from the World’s Fair of 1893.

And even the sight of Comiskey Park before the upper decks were extended to cover the outfield seats. Although it seems the film producers can’t tell the difference between the 1917 World Series (the White Sox beat the New York Giants) and the 1919 version that is best left undiscussed.

So what else is notable about the modern-day Chicago?

‘SECOND CITY’ DEATH TALLY: Eight people were killed this weekend – making it a particularly ghastly weekend for 2015 in Chicago.

It also seems we’re now at 365 murders in the city for the year – enough to average one per day if we were to somehow go the next three-and-a-half months without a fatality due to another human being’s deliberate actions.

It’s also roughly the annual death tally Chicago experienced back in the “good ol’ days” of the 1920s when the Irish and Italian mobs fought it out for control of the city’s criminal rackets – a time period we like to glamourize now despite its bloody nature.

Although it also should be noted that Chicago of today is still far behind the death tallies of the late 1980s when for a few years, the city would push close to 1,000 murders per year. We’re most likely not going to come close to that total for 2015 – a fact that many of us should keep in mind before griping about the homicide rate being out of control these days.

WHO’S REALLY STONED?: Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump is going after the guy who was supposed to be the GOP front-runner, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, with campaign ads that semi-seriously imply the brother and son of former presidents is still using marijuana.

Bush was the guy who during a recent debate admitted to trying pot when he was in college, and even issued an on-camera apology to his mother! But he also has run a mediocre campaign with its share of gaffes.

Which led to the Trump ad that asks us, “Are we sure it was only 40 years ago?” that Jeb lit up a joint. Which is nonsense, and even Trump knows it.

Which leads us to ask of the public, “How stoned do you have to be in order to think that there’s anything ‘presidential’ about Donald Trump?” One look at his tower on the Chicago River ought to convince you the answer is “Absolutely nothing!”


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