Monday, April 8, 2013

A DAY IN THE LIFE (of Chicago): How many parades do we need?

Better in pictures, than in person?
Call it the controversy amongst Chicago’s Puerto Rican community that is likely to spill over toward all of us – activists are fighting about the Puerto Rican Day parades, which it seems this year will be a singular parade.

For officials reached a decision last week by which the funds that go toward a Puerto Rican parade along Columbus Drive near downtown will instead be put toward supporting a parade in the Humboldt Park neighborhood.

PERSONALLY, I THINK this is a smart move, because I have always thought those downtown parades lost something significant in character when they were moved from Dearborn Street (in the actual downtown area) off to the drive where it felt like they were cut off from the city proper.

I’d be for taking all the ethnic-oriented parades that are held in Chicago and converting them into events held out in the neighborhoods – particularly if there is an ethnic character to the specific neighborhood.

Everybody these days knows that the St. Patrick’s Day Parade along Columbus Drive is generic, compared to the South Side Irish Parade along Western Avenue. If the Puerto Rican activists in Humboldt Park can’t put on a worthy event, then that is to their own discredit.

The same goes for just about any event. Mexican-oriented parades in the Little Village and South Chicago neighborhoods always manage to top the generic feel to a Mexican Independence Day march along Columbus Drive – to name the ethnic events that I would have any personal interest in.

NOW I REALIZE some are going to criticize me for being naïve, or clueless. Although I should say I appreciate the political considerations involved here. For many of the people who want a downtown parade are more opposed to cooperation with the activist-types who put together the neighborhood parade.

A lot of it does tie into the fact that there isn’t a consensus amongst Puerto Ricans as to whether their Caribbean island homeland ought to be the 51st U.S. state, an independent nation or just keep its commonwealth status.

I’ve actually heard the phrase “Communist” tossed out by the downtown parade proponents to describe the neighborhood activists – which may well be an overstatement to try to lambast anyone who doesn’t agree with them.

What else is of interest as some people contemplate a Puerto Rican pride parade held a few miles further away from the shores of Lake Michigan come June?
I doubt any paper I wrote for will give me this sendoff
WORKING TO THE VERY END:  I never actually met Chicago Sun-Times film critic Roger Ebert, but he’s been around for so long that it felt like he was invincible.

Of course, no one is. Ebert himself succumbed last week to cancer – the same condition that took his voice several years ago, but didn’t stop him from being a heck of a communicator in his final years. Funeral services are scheduled for Monday at Holy Name Cathedral.
Much of the remembrance we’ve read in recent days tells tales of all those interviews with film business moguls throughout the years and how much influence he and Siskel actually had in terms of whether a film would achieve any commercial success, I must admit that I’m more impressed with his recent years. That, and his animated appearance on The Critic.

But the real significance of the Ebert life story is in the way in which he kept up the quality work, when many people would have decided it was time to pack it in. I’d like to think I could handle myself in a similar manner if I were confronted with his circumstances – although another part of me is honest enough to admit that I (and most of us) probably couldn’t even come close!

How would Lord Jeff of Amherst do...
MICHIGAN/LOUISVILLE WHO??!?:  Amherst College’s Lord Jeffs men’s basketball team beat Mary Hardin-Baylor 87-70 on Sunday, giving the Massachusetts-based college the national title for Division III this year – and their first since they pulled off titles in 2007 and ‘08.

... against Tommy Titan of IWU?
Watching those academically-inclined (but in many cases physically-challenged -- few 7-footers play Division III basketball) student/ballplayers out there on the same court that the Atlanta Hawks play on (and where the nationally-televised Division I game will be played Monday) convinced me all the more that small-school ball isn’t as inferior as some would want to believe.

A part of me was wondering how much nicer it would have been if my alma mater, Illinois Wesleyan University, were playing instead. Amherst got to the final by beating North Central College of Naperville, who were the ones that knocked the Titans out in the Sweet Sixteen round of the DIII tournament. Oh well, maybe next year -- which we've been saying every season since 1997!

But it was still an enjoyable experience to watch Sunday’s game (even at the point when the game had to be halted for a bit because some of the arena’s lights went out). I got more of a kick than the masses will get from watching Michigan take on Louisville.


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