I've been by G Rod's house twice in the last two weeks, as we've been spending our Sundays going to open houses in Albany Park. (Yes, that's right - when I said I was thinking about leaving Bucktown while some of it was still standing, I wasn't entirely kidding.) I have to admit I was a little surprised by what I found. Unfortunately, the presence of cops in unmarked cars sitting on the block sort of discouraged me from taking pictures of G Rod's digs, so you'll have to take my word for it the Blagojevich place on the corner of Richmond and Sunnyside is not a mansion. I mean it's a nice place and all - sizeable for a city home, probably four bedrooms, a little bigger than its bungalow neighbors - but it's eighty years old and looking like it needs a little work. I'm quite certain the Governor's Mansion in springfield is a much more lavish affair.
I bring this up because this governor has taken a lot of flack for a lot of things - and he's earned most of it. But one of the oddest things he's taken fire for is living at home. Many downstaters - who were key to his election in 2002 - have taken affront that his family prefers to stay at their own digs in Chicago rather than move into the Governor's mansion.
When Jerry Brown was elected governor of California, but decided not to move into the Governor's Mansion, he was hailed as a hero and an antidote to some of the waste and bloat of the Reagan years. But G Rod, instead of turning his fairly modest middle class home into a PR coup, has flubbed the whole thing and gotten burned.
So here's what's cool about the Governor's crib. It's in a funky, mixed income, ethnically diverse neighborhood where single family homes, two flats and apartment buildings sit side by side on the same block. It's the kind of place where you can walk a few blocks to the EL stop, the pizza place, the grocery store or a Korean or Lebanese restaurant, and hear several languages spoken on your way there. On the Northwest Side of the city, it also sits about dead center, population wise, of the metropolitan area. And like it or not, Downstaters, metro Chicago is eight million of twelve and a half million Illinoisians, and most of the Democrats.
So the Governor is living right in the middle of his voters, on a public street with a tiny little lawn and a house that's no larger or better appointed than most of the suburbanites and Downstaters who curse his name. In short, he lives like a regular guy.
The fact that this is regarded as a curse instead of a blessing goes to show what a crappy, untalented politician the man has turned out to be. But it also goes to show just how much the people in Red-tinted counties hate and envy us city folk. Living in a diverse, interesting neighborhood has somehow joined literacy, the arts, and knowledge of other cultures as a sign of "elitism." Admit it guys, you'd rather live in Albany Park than Springfield. So would I. The difference is, I just might do it.