Mayor Richie says we (Chicagoans, Yea!!) will benefit greatly if the 2016 Olympic Games are held in this fair city. Well, I like Richie, and I’m adding my two cents right here and now.
This is a great city. Consider: It’s Sunday morning, before the noon hour, and as I’m walking to my “writing site” I get to hear some very avant-garde, underground musical outpouring at the dazzling Pritzker Bandshell in Grant Park.
The girl singing was beltin’ out words and music in the fashion of the late Ms. Janice Joplin, while absentmindedly covering and uncovering her face with her long blond wind-blown locks. She called herself “Innocent”. She said the band was called The Curious. To her left was a motley bearded fellow playing electric violin that looked more like a cello, but he played it under his chin. With a rather undistinguished lead player to the right, a tireless drummer in the rear the foursome was completed by a very authentic, albeit young belly dancer who you might imagine added a new and exciting dimension. I stayed awhile and listened to the notes from underground.
Then, traveling South, past “The Bean” (a bean shaped chromium sculpture which every visitor should visit) I encountered the Crown Fountain, where two 50-foot high glass block towers at either end of a shallow reflection pool present video visages of ordinary people. The Genre. Nothing special. You may study these colossal faces for a few moments. You may notice a blink; then appearing, the suggestion of a smile. They are motionless, except to the perceptive watcher. The children of visitors and the families of Chicago’s highly fashionable residents play in the cool water. Children don’t go to their hands and knees; rather they cavort spider-like on hands and feet, oblivious to everything but the sun and the water. Now I’m watching the children, keeping an eye on the monolith, and after what seems to be the longest time, the giant figure draws open smiling lips to produce an outpouring of water that washes over the delighted babies beneath. Then, a new giant figure appears, and the suspense begins again.
I mentioned Mayor Richie earlier. It was just this time of year, late summer, following the September 11 attacks, that Richard M. Daley, with courage and conviction, took it upon himself (late at night, while the city slept) to bulldoze the runways of Meigs Field. Until then it was a small downtown airport used by state officials to fly to and from the state capitol in Springfield. The razing of the airport, which Daley felt might be utilized by terrorists as a launching point for further attacks, shocked the city — citizens and politicians alike. We citizens will always praise his courage, wisdom, and determination to protect this fine city
Mayor Daley, you may know, is the son of the late Mayor Richard J. Daley, who contributed perhaps more than anyone to the ambiance Chicago has today. Mayor Richard J. Daley maintained the dignity and cleanliness of the Chicago River, which flows near the Wrigley Building just north of downtown, making the river suitable for harbor bound yachts, and for fishing. “What”, the Mayor queried, “is so wholesome as a fish?” In 1968 while defending what the news media reported as police misconduct during that year’s violent and confrontational Democratic Convention, he misspoke: “Gentlemen, get the thing straight once and for all — the policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder.”
An important reason for the world and its athletes to come to our fair and diverse city has to do with “Racial Blindness”. Visitors to some cities, visitors from far away parts of our world, may have some concern as to how they will be received at the city of their destination. In Chicago, possibly the most racially friendly city in the world, “Racial Blindness” is the rule of thumb. We nod, or greet one another when passing on the sidewalk without regard to cultural differences. We go beyond fairness; we actually like one another. “Racial Blindness” means that, when meeting or interacting with someone, we see not his race, nationality, or religion, but, by a simple mind set, we see an individual we assume to be just like ourselves!
Chicago has come a long way since Mrs. O’Leary’s cow knocked over a lamp to engender the Chicago fire. The city was destroyed. Little remained beyond the cement and steel Water Tower, which had served as a light house, and still rises at the northern end of Michigan Avenue, and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. At the northern end of the Magnificent Mile is The Hancock building, and across the downtown area, the Willis Tower, which are among the tallest in the world. Formerly the Sears Tower, the Willis Tower is 110 stories of black anodized aluminum and bronze tinted glass, is a city within a city.
Close by the Willis Tower is LaSalle Street, laden with all manner of bright, brilliant flowers and lush greenery. The street culminates in the statue of The Virgin, high atop the Board of Trade, high atop Chicago’s financial district. Only a short walk away, Picasso’s untitled work, known to us as “The Picasso”, graces the plaza at Richard J. Daley Center, adjoining city, county, and state buildings. “The Picasso” resembles the artist’s drawings of both Picasso’s wife, and his afghan hound, Kabul. Visitors will delight in the striking sculpture, and the buildings it protects and adorns.
Visitors to Chicago will be spellbound by the very remarkable Navy Pier near Michigan Avenue and Chicago’s Magnificent Mile. Navy Pier is the place where citizens and tourists come together to enjoy the fun and beauty of Lake Michigan. All manner of boat rides are available. The rides and excitement for children, young people, and adults are wonderful. Shopping, restaurants, and a variety of drinking establishments make for a great stay in great Chicago.
If you visit, don’t miss the IMAX Theater. The IMAX Theater features a towering 6 story high screen. Viewing in the IMAX Theater is the experience of a life time; one can scarcely take in the entirety of the enormous screen at any one time. Add to that the very incredible IMAX 3D experience, far beyond “State of the Art”, and you have an otherworldly departure from the ways of the world.
The World’s Columbian Exposition, also called The Chicago World’s Fair, was held in Chicago in 1893 to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the New World. Built at that time was the Palace of Fine Arts, now the Field Museum of Natural History. Visitors will certainly cherish the vast array of dinosaurs and other and extinct animals, preserved and beautifully displayed in their natural settings. Chicago’s Museum of Science and Industry was built for the Columbian Exposition, and is a world wonder.
Olympic visitors will have the opportunity of seeing the things we here have had a lifetime to enjoy. To list only a few:
The John G. Shedd Aquarium, the Adler Planetarium, The Art Institute of Chicago , Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (home to paintings by Manet, Renoir, Van Gogh, Cezanne, Picasso, Grant Wood, Ivan Albright, Dali, Marc Chagall) … In any case, come to Chicago, with the Olympics, or earlier. Why wait? Have a Great Day!