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Truly, positive thinking is the opiate of the unmotivated ...


OK, time to close this one up.

I've been spending more time on this net than I can really afford to. So, on posting, this will become a "derelict thread". Meaning, one that has been abandoned by its originator. Ridiculing the people from the original thread has just gotten boring, any way. It's too easy, and they keep coming back for more. Not a bright bunch.

A lot of Chicago's local mentality is founded in self delusion. This is not without its charm. Sometimes. The Cubs and the White Sox historically, hardly ever come anywhere near the World Series. Yet, every year, you can see the people in Sluggers swear that THIS will be the year we see the Cubs win it. The real diehards will even predict a "Series on the Lake" between the two teams. Now, we all know that we'll see my grandma win the swimsuit competition at the Miss America pageant before that occurs. But no matter how many times the season ends in defeat, hope is reborn, that NEXT season will be the one. Cool. It makes people happy, so why not?

But sometimes, it isn't so cute. Like when a personnel manager decides that he want his applicants to have at least three grad degrees, a 3.9 average on a four scale, 20 years of experience using a ten year old computer language, and be willing to work for under $20,000 per year, and is so confident that he will succeed in getting his way, that he sees no need to budge. He can not lose! At least, so he thinks.

For the last 15 years at least, Chicago's biggest export has been people. The new people coming up have found better lives, and better opportunities elsewhere. And the response? The old timers here scream, "Screw the losers! We're better off without them! We're number one! We're number one!" And we aren't.

Those great "neighborhood towns", that Bill K:eromonos brought out the cliches about, on the South and West sides died, becoming war zones, their people scattered to the suburbs, or to cities far beyond. By the mid 1980s, the fires that vandals had started, for the fun of watching something burn, had reduced the old places that our parents remembered to scorched ruins, the remaining population of the towns hiding behind locked doors, emerging onto the street in fear, only when they had to. Even so, among the newcomers, one man in five failed to see his 25th birthday. The city claims that "only" a little under a thousand people were gunned down in the city each year during the early 90's. But it was hard to not notice, when visiting those places, how much more numerous young women were then young men, and the figures didn't seem to add up. Or make much sense, looking at the moonscape before one's eyes.

The great "development" that took place here during the last two decades in the burned out areas, has mostly consisted of clearing away the ruins, in order to provide fewer breeding grounds for rats, and fewer potential hangouts for gangbangers and drug dealers. A good idea, but hardly a rebirth. Before we had many ruins, now we have but a few - and a lot of vacant lots. In some places, it becomes hard to believe that one is even IN a city, and if anything would ever grow there again, maybe impossible. A few weeds, a lot of garbage, and no more.



Chicago thinks of itself as a center of high technology. Yet the "Chicago Technology Park" stands empty, a monument to self delusion. We built it, and nobody came. Some of the suburbs are home to some very interesting companies - Motorola is one hell of an employer - but not so many as to make a healthy region. People leave to get their mandatory 2-5 years of experience, being forced to do so elsewhere, set down roots, and never move back, being lost to the city's labor pool forever. But, all are convinced that the city is so vast and important, that it will never run out of talent.

Much like it believed the same thing, about 15 years ago, during the end of its heyday as an entertainment and cultural center, before it turned into a mere repository for things already made, and ceased to contribute any more. If you look at the names of those working in theatre, cinema, and as writers, you can find an endless line of former Chicagoans, out of proportion to even the considerable size of the place. But the key word here is "former". They rarely come back, and when they do, it's only briefly. Local theatres expected the performers to work gratis, or nearly so, believing that the pool of talent would be bottomless.

Leading to the cutural scene of today, in which works like "The adventures of captain Neato Man", and "Lepers" are considered serious theatre. In case you haven't heard of the latter, in it a collection of actors get naked together, and talk about how they like to do, and be done by, their partners. Shakespeare, it wasn't. To give you a full feel for it, there's a place called Ted Sarantos Studios, which puts on something called "Improv the Night Away". Anyone who wants to can get up, and perform, and Ted offers a few classes in Improv, and acting in general. It can be a good time, and I recommend that you try it, if you're in town. (Note : this event has since closed down). So, a group of us, as a lark, decide to go do it. Yeah, it was great fun.

Here's the pathetic thing, though. We got one of the best theatre reviews in town that week. It's still running in the Reader, in fact. They never update those things. This is not to say that we were so fantastic. We were rank neophytes. This is a sign of just how weak the local theatre scene had become.

Yes, there was a bottomless pool of talent - it just wasn't very GOOD talent after a while. Have any of the producers noticed ? No, but some of them showed great enthusiasm later on, about the upcoming revival of Lepers, which had become a local theatrical legend.



So, as the technical talent of the region follows in the footsteps of the theatrical and musical talent, the local "Joe sixpacks" think that this won't affect them. As the factories are mothballed, and the local management refuses to consider new ideas as stubbornly as they refuse to consider new talent, noone notices that anything is going wrong. A little creative accounting, and all can look well, again. And if it looks well, it is well. So, our mostly outdated local factories produce goods that comparatively speaking, look ever shoddier and more expensive, and strangely enough, barely sell, except in places even more backward than here - and there are fewer of those every day. As their jobs dwindle away, and the likelihood of their return becomes ever less plausible, our good people of Chicago pop the tabs on their Budweisers, drink deeply, and dream of the better days that they know are just around the corner. And the best thing of all is, they won't have to do anything to make them happen.

Why not? If there is far too much work for them to do, that's no reason for THEM to put their drinks down at Hooters. Whatever needs doing, you can just get one of those college kids to do for you, and there's no need to pay them for it either. Oh, they've got plenty of free time! If they're so smart, they should have no problem finding 28 hours during the day in which to get things done. After all, they only are working two or three times the hours of the local barflies (assuming that the latter even put in a full day), and earning almost third as much, so it's only fair! And you know what? They'll never say "No"!

Daydreams never cease, even as the last bit of justification for them ceases. The only thing that this position will accomplish will be to leave those so put upon quite angry, and drive them away. You even hear people, who should know better, argue that the harder that someone has been working, the more extra work he should feel obligated to take on, because obviously, he has more energy. Apparently believing that energy can't be exhausted. But after someone has been pushed into his first case of angina before the age of 20, and finds that he is being high pressured into working harder, the resulting emotion will be rage, not guilt. A philosophy like this is a rationalisation for dividing the population into a pool of slaves, driven into an early grave, and the parasites who claim the right to live at their expense. The yuppie tyranny of the 80's, wrapped up in the self righteous rhetoric of the age of political correctness.

Whether those parasites are rich or poor is of no importance. What is important is that the rest of us won't stand for it, or go along with it.



As for the factory work staying here, while the Research and Development leaves, why would that occur? The local work ethic consists of a willingness to get indignant because SOMEONE ELSE isn't willing to be a slave. While our friend from Denver would disagree, Chicago actually has a very poor location. It is far removed from both the sea lanes, and the mineral resources needed for industry. It is near the corn fields, but so what? Grain farming and grain shipping are highly mechanised industries, and don't require a lot of people. And thus, very few people are required to provide the services that would be needed by such a small agricultural workforce.

What logical reason would there be to locate a factory in a place where one is forced to use trucking or rail transportation in place of shipping (more expensive, with less capacity), with an unmotivated and poorly educated workforce (once the ambitious leave), a hazardous location, in a place that is unpleasant to visit? Why would somebody do that? The "in your face" attitude that so many locals so love to show does nothing to invite people back.

If you were wondering why quality of life should matter, here, as someone did, then the answer is this. Because it will be the last selling point the city will have, and your job depends on it, ultimately, should you live here. As if one needed a reason to want to enjoy life. If those present would rather be positive though, let them drink deeply once more, and fear not, for the gates of paradise shall soon be opening before them.

Welfare reform just kicked in.



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