Wednesday, November 2, 2016

We really are a dual city, Chicago is

The weekend leading into Halloween 2016 is going to go into the memory banks of a segment of Chicagoans as a glorious moment, and perhaps even a historic occasion.

For it was the World Series being held in Chicago, and by the Cubs, no less!

THREE GAMES PLAYED at Wrigley Field in the Lakeview neighborhood to capacity crowds, plus many more crowded into the local taverns so they could say they were a part of the scene.

There were many thousands more who decided to claim to have been on hand for the event merely by gathering in the vicinity of Clark and Addison streets. Technically, they were loiterers. But because they did manage to behave themselves, nobody was looking to have them arrested.

Yet Chicago really is a city of neighborhoods and regions that often have little to anything to do with each other. This Halloween weekend, or World Series weekend, if you prefer, may be the ultimate evidence of that.

For while North Side Chicago, and those people who spiritually consider themselves a part of it, were obsessed with “the Cubs!,” there were other parts that were seeing the periodic outbursts of violence that occur in Chicago.

THE CHICAGO SUN-TIMES reported Tuesday that 17 murders occurred during the weekend, although the Wall Street Journal says the figure is actually 18 – and that the total for 2016 thus far is 614.

Which could result in the year ending with a tally of somewhere about 700 homicides.

Not quite like the days of the late 1980s when the homicide total would typically average two or three a day and would invariably end with a total of just under 1,000 per year.

But considering how much some people freaked out (usually to reinforce their own partisan political ideological hang-ups about urban life) when the murder rate reached 500 a couple of years ago, you just know they’re going to react to 700 as though the hordes have run amok.

SOME HAVE TRIED hinting that all the extra police on hand around Wrigley Field to ensure that all the Cubs fans were “safe” might have left the rest of the city short-handed. Although any rational look at the situation would show that to be nonsense.

But yes, all of the homicides of the Halloween weekend took place in South or West side neighborhoods where it was likely that the Cubs, or baseball in general, wasn’t really the focus of the weekend routine.

Heck, it was probably just another weekend in the life of Chicago for the locals – except for the 17 (or 18) who died. For them, it was the finale of their life in this realm of existence.

If you want to be sarcastic in your world view, it could be said that the presence of the Chicago Cubs in the World Series was the end of world as they knew it (Yes, you can cue the R.E.M. song lyrics in your mind, if you must).

THERE IS A degree to which I think people take the homicide stats too seriously. They make too much of them, particularly since they get obsessed with just the numbers without giving any thought to the individuals who no longer exist.

For 17/18 isn’t just a number. Those are people whose families are now going to have to do their part to enrich the funeral industry. In the next few days will be the rituals that will allow their families to see them off and begin coping with the loss.

Something to keep in mind; that not all the “sadness” you may see in coming days will be from people upset that the Chicago Cubs fell short to the Cleveland Indians in the World Series.

And if by chance the Cubs do pull off that athletic comeback that enables them to win a World Series on Wednesday, not every person who doesn’t share in the joy of the moment is a disgruntled Chicago White Sox fan who can’t get with the program.


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