Friday, March 04, 2005
"Loving a Woman with a Broken Nose"
Harvey: Yo, did you know today was Chicago's birthday?
EG: No, it's not.
HR: Well, it's the 168th anniversary of the city charter.
EG: It's not like no one lived here on March 3, 1837, and then suddenly a city appeared. It was a town before it was a city, and before that there was an earlier settlement that was massacred during the war of 1812. Before that . . .
HR: You're so tiresome sometimes with all your boring history. It's a birthday. A contrived opportunity to reflect on how far we've come, where we're going, that sort of thing.
HR: Where we're going? We're nearly bankrupt, the schools suck, the mayor's acrually cutting back on the funds aldermen can use for road repair, meaning we're stuck with some of these potholes for at least another year . . . In this political climate, cities are doomed. Suburbanites have managed to keep resources bottled up in a few exclusive and exclusionary communities, the Bush Administration is gutting the Community Reinvestment Act, the whole city's about to sink back into the swamp.
EG: I doubt it. I think, while the city will never again control the majority of the population and the economy, it can hold its own just like anywhere else.
HR: Only if it can get a handle on expesnes, if you know what I mean.
EG: Not exactly
HR: Look, poor people cost too much. At least as a percentage of the population, you need fewer of them if the budget's going to balance.
EG: That's pretty heartless.
HR: That's self-preservation, man. If we're looking at a future where resources won't be redistributed across municipal boundaries, the city needs to attract wealthy people, and force poor people to leave. It's all about tax revenue. Those guys in New London have the right idea.
EG: Where the hell are people supposed to live?
HR: People meaning you, I suppose. You're not exactly pulling down Lincoln Park dollars, dog.
EG: I do all right. And why is that you're business? And when did you start talking like Max?
HR: I'm your nightmare, guy. Anywhay you know what I'm saying. The reason nobody's into your preservation BS is because those old houses are cheap to live in - nobody wants to live ghetto, not even you.
EG: There's enough room for everybody here. Can't we just lure new jobs here. . .
HR: You know that can't really happen while everything is funded by local property taxes. While businesses are making decisions based on competition between desperate local governments, the people lose. You know what's necessary. We need unrestricted state government power to override the local ninnies. Hell, the way things are now they can't even build a couple new runways at O'Hare.
EG: A "Robert Moses" solution? The power to redraw the landscape by fiat?
HR: But nobody's gonna vote for it. So if the city doesn't learn to compete and play hardball, it's doomed. In ten years, it's going to be a segregated dump.
EG: In ten years, this town is going to be a national model of urban recovery.
HR: It's gonna be a dump! You think community groups and marches against violence are going to save this? It's always going to be a divided city, and you're not going to be in the nice half. And you want to raise a kid here?
EG: Stop talking to me. You're not even real.
Happy Birthday, Chicago