Chicago Is a Sissy Town!

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Almost 20 years ago, I remember visiting the Sears Tower in Chicago and having to sit through a promotional film about how goddamned great the then-Second City (and now third, after NYC and LA) was and how much better the Sears Tower was than the Empire State Building, the Chrysler Building, and the World Trade Center combined.

In a curious bit of '80s waning homophobia–the sort on display, say, in virtually every episode of Barney Miller and Three's Company–the John Facenda[*]-like narrator proclaimed, a propos of absolutely nothing, "Chicago ain't no sissy town!" He was, if memory serves, quoting some alderman or whatever the fuck they've got there.

Well, it turns out that Chicago is a sissy town, though in a way that has naught to do with sexuality:

If you're a cell phone-using, goose liver-eating, cigarette-smoking, fast food-loving person, Chicago might not be your kind of town.

In this city that once winked at Prohibition, members of the City Council are trying to crack down on things they deem unhealthy, immoral or just plain annoying.

A proposal that would restrict fast-food chains from cooking with artery-clogging trans fat oils got a public airing last week, and in the past year alone aldermen have banned smoking in nearly all public places and the use of cell phones while driving.

In April, Chicago became the first U.S. city to outlaw the sale of foie gras, a goose liver delicacy that is decried by animal-rights activists because it is created by force-feeding birds to fatten up their livers.

Whole thing here.

"Stormy, husky, brawling,/City of the Big Shoulders"–not so much anymore.

[*]: corrected

Update: Reader Chris Scoggins writes in with news that Windy City pols now want to micro-chip Fido.

More Update: Reader Dave Wegener points to a Sun-Times' story about Chicago pols pushing for hiked wages and benefits to be paid by big-box retailers.

NEXT: Lest Ye Forget: Weigel+Wonkette=Wunderbar!

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  1. That should be “Facenda” rather than “Fucenda” shouldn’t it?

  2. Rush Limbaugh is reading your article on the air right now(11:22am pst).
    You should get residuals Nick.

  3. Funny coincidence. My brother is visiting Chicago right now, and he’s been sending me text messages about how it’s such a great town for the last few days. Apparently the club scene is thriving, as he went to 20 different places on Sunday night. Wonder if there was any smoking in them?

  4. Wow — all this and you guys don’t even mention the impending big-box wage ordinance that is coming up for a vote today.

  5. Wonder if there was any smoking in them?

    Joe,

    I believe that that the non-smoking rules for bars/clubs are being slowly phased in and won’t be enforced until July 1, 2008 — whereas it has already taken effect for restaurants

  6. Funny to accuse a city of being sissified for banning foie gras of all things. It’s French, for Chrissakes! I’m surprised Texas hasn’t banned it.

  7. In April, Chicago became the first U.S. city to outlaw the sale of foie gras, a goose liver delicacy that is decried by animal-rights activists because it is created by force-feeding birds to fatten up their livers.

    Simply another reason not to visit Chicago.

  8. Funny, the corruption doesn’t seem to have gone away…

  9. Heinlein was right… we’re living in the Crazy Years…. or the Year of the Jackpot.

  10. ChicagoTom, just don’t tell me that Gino’s is getting rid of the sausage pizza. You know the one, with the solid layer of fatty and deadly sausage.

    Chicago is a fine place in the summer. Plenty of fun to be had, and it has good museums to go to on free days when you’re a poor student. And the pizza is the best. It’s also the most openly corrupt city I’ve ever seen. Heck, I personally got to see a place zoned for towing AFTER my car was towed. With no legal recourse that the city would recognize. That’s okay, of course, because they were filming a movie across the street from my apartment (Blink). But I’m not bitter.

  11. Wow — all this and you guys don’t even mention the impending big-box wage ordinance that is coming up for a vote today.

    I heard about 30 seconds of some people debating this on the radio this morning. An alderman was saying something about people in the poorer neighborhoods would be willing to work for slave wages if that’s the best pay they could find, but he needed to ensure that they were paid a living wage. Another debater interjected that actually slaves weren’t paid at all.

  12. Okay, the paternalistic government stuff is obnoxious, but you can find that everywhere. What’s with the Chicago-bashing? I happen to be moving from Chicago to DC next week after a couple of years in this great town, and I’m really going to miss it. The views of the city from the lakeshore are spectacular, unmatched anywhere. Great food, great music scene, beautiful parks, and a populace who are happy and proud to be here. This city has a soul. Heck, even the corruption has something to be said for it, because this city runs like clockwork (just don’t ask too many questionns about how). Compare it to, say, Philadelphia, where the corruption is combined with incompetence. Nick probably just got jilted by some girl from Chicago.

  13. My brother is at the Museum of Science and Industry today, as a matter of fact. Now I wish I’d gone with him!

  14. PL- Agreed. One of my favorite Chicago moments was when I walked up to my building to find a crew in a “Mayor Daley’s Graffiti Patrol” van blasting the walls. I stopped to thank them for cleaning up the building, and the guy running the operation responded with a few words about how great Hizzoner was. Then he asked me if I was registered to vote. I said no. He just happened to have some voter registration forms in his truck, and was happy to drop the form off at the appropriate office.

    But the Chicago I lived in doesn’t seem to have much to do with the Chicago mentioned here. My Chicago was brusque, crowded, and vibrant in a very down-to-earth sort of way. It was the kind of place where you could buy deep-fried pizza puffs from a Greek guy who smoked as he yelled at you to hurry up with your order. I remember it as a brawny, beer-and-brats kind of place where even the pidgeons would square up on you. In the ten years since I’ve left, it seems as though things have changed.

  15. “In this city that once winked at Prohibition, members of the City Council are trying to crack down on things they deem unhealthy, immoral or just plain annoying.”

    Like, say, oh, allowing the citizens of Chicago to defend themselves from the criminal element with a firearm.

  16. Why do liberal do gooders have to fuck up every great city in America? Chicago is fabulous. So is San Fran, or Washington DC, or LA for that matter. What is frustraiting is to think about how even more fabulous they would be if their city governments weren’t so full of crap like this.

  17. Joe Majsterski,
    Tell your brother to be sure to go down in the coal mine.

  18. On the corruption comments- Daly’s Chicago and Tom Pendergast’s Kansas City lead me to believe that machine politics can work very well, at least in a practical sense. I’ll give Chicago this much-the municipal side of things did work reasonably well. Kansas City, on the other hand, has gone on to provide proof that corruption and stunning incompetance can also go together.

  19. You’re missing the best headline coming out of Chicago in 2006:

    One thing aldermen won’t ban: Their raises
    Foie gras forbidden. Trans fat endangered. Car cell phones restricted.

    No debate as pay hike cleared by committee

    http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/chi-0607250157jul25,1,4079292.story?coll=chi-newsnationworld-hed

  20. (Slightly Off Topic)
    Hey ya’ll, Chicago is also hosting the DEA brainwashing exhibition at the Museum of Science and Industry next month (August 11 through December 3).

    As Newsday reported on the exhibit when it was in New York:

    “Like many anti-drug campaigns before it, this one rests on shaky evidence and throws a fast emotional punch. [..]

    There’s a prominent display of World Trade Center debris accompanied by an audio sound track reliving Sept. 11 and tying it straight to the drug trade.

    I think it would be great for any reasonoids in the Chicago area to visit the propaganda and make general comments to people at the displays about how the war on some drugs is the first front in the war on our civil rights. That’s how we can tie the war on terror to the war on some drugs.

  21. Why do liberal do gooders have to fuck up every great city in America? Chicago is fabulous. So is San Fran, or Washington DC, or LA for that matter.

    Need I even point out the inconsistency here? 🙂

    I’ve only been to Chicago twice, but I do love it. As a native New Yorker, I’d say it’s the only other city in the US that feels like a “real city,” whatever that means. I’d love to live there, if only it wasn’t so frickin’ cold in winter, and with no skiing nearby to boot.

  22. Number 6,

    I’m sure the other denizens of the Village think the latest Number 2 is doing a fine job.

    Be seeing you 🙂

  23. Hot Doug’s cooks fries in duck fat on Fridays and Saturdays.

    There are no two finer words in the English language than “encased meats,” my friend.

  24. We can’t ban foie gras down here because no one is sure how to pronounce it.

  25. This has nothing to do with liberal versus conservative politics. The nanny state do gooders can be found everywhere and from all political groups. For every liberal that supports a living wage law, there is a conservative that supports a public smoking ban. The hypocrisy of the conservatives is actually worse since liberals don’t proclaim their support of smaller government while they pass new laws to control personal behavior.

  26. “”Why do liberal do gooders have to fuck up every great city in America? Chicago is fabulous. So is San Fran, or Washington DC, or LA for that matter.””

    How do you mean fucked up?
    Are the cities you mention the fucked up ones? What about New York, yeah, yeah, A Republican liberal Mayor screwed it up, along with that liberal Republican Governor.

    Arkansas is trying to pass a law to keep you from smoking in your car, so is that liberal Republican Mike Huckabee screwing that state up?

    Are the Liberals that the right-wingers hate, really themselves?

    I’m just trying to understand what you are talking about.

  27. This ain’t Slats Grobnik’s Chicago anymore.

  28. Compare it to, say, Philadelphia, where the corruption is combined with incompetence.

    Shh, no. Nothing to see in Philly. Move along.

  29. Happy Jack- Now that you mention that, I’m trying to picture a smoke-free Billy Goat Tavern. The image simply won’t come.

    PL-As it happens, I’m running for Number 2 in the next election. It’ll be a real free for all.

    Tricky Vic- I’m trying to figure out what you’re talking about. No one here said anything about party affiliation, or suggested that Republicans are immune from the nanny impulse.

  30. I understand that Gaius Marius is a Chicagoan. I wonder how he feels about all this…

  31. You really haven’t lived unless you’ve driven 100 m.p.h. down Lower Wacker. Or even Lower Lower Wacker.

    Ah, the Billy Goat. Cheeseburger!

  32. Number 6,
    John posted “Why do liberal do gooders have to fuck up every great city in America? Chicago is fabulous. So is San Fran, or Washington DC, or LA for that matter.”

    John is implying it’s the liberal do gooders screwing up the american cities.

    Does that clear it up?

    Or am I mistaken in that people using the liberal word in this manner are usually referring to Democrats.

  33. TrickyVic,

    Most large cities in this country are one party Democratic. They have high taxes, dumb ass laws like the ones described here, and terrible, ineffiecent union dominated services and policing. They are in short liberal Democratic playgrounds.

  34. Tricky- The problem is John’s use of the term liberal. Substitute ‘pateralist,’ ‘nanny’ or ‘uplifter’ and you’ll get an argument that’ consistent.
    I can’t speak for John (nor would I want to), but most of us on this board are not interested in the standard Dem/Rep, liberal/conservative way of looking at things. In a way, we’re even more simple-minded: Those are all flavors of statism.

  35. Most large cities in this country are one party Democratic. They have high taxes, dumb ass laws like the ones described here, and terrible, ineffiecent union dominated services and policing. They are in short liberal Democratic playgrounds.

    All terribly true. And yet what TrickyVic and I were taking you to task for was your statement that these cities have been “f—d up.” I hate annoying liberal laws just as much as annoying conservative laws, but if New York is f—d up, I’ll take two and you can keep Arkansas.

  36. Pate is for pussies!

  37. Foie gras is for pussies!

  38. Thanks John for clearing up number 6’s confusion about my post. But John, number 6 is right. High taxes, dumb ass laws, do not come only from Democrats.

    Many Republicans are passing these laws too. If you hate that they are being passed, something I believe that you and I share, don’t just blame the Democrats.

    If there is anything that should be learned since the Republicans took control of both houses of Congress and the Presidency, is that power makes you act in certain ways regardless of political affiliation.

  39. By the way, Nick, I dare you to go up to Mike Ditka and call Chicago a sissy town. I DOUBLE dare you!

  40. Mike Ditka is a fag. Buddy Ryan used him like a sex toy.

  41. Pate is for pussies!

    Bullshit, I love liver sausage. But Pate Philip is a pussy.

    Most of the nannyfied ideas coming from city hall are because the lakefront voters are considered the “swing” vote and people with designs on running for mayor want to make sure those voters know who they are. That’s because the lakefront is where the out-of-towners (the sissies) move to, so they don’t know what disgusting crooks these alderman are. This is why we got such bat-shit insane ideas like being a “nuclear-free zone” even though the technology was basically invented by Fermi on the goddmaned South Side. We should be proud to be the birthplace, but screw that when there’s votes to be had!

    Ed Burke – The “new” Chicago Pile.

  42. I do not view things by political party myself, I am non-partian. Neither side has a monopoly on stupidity, nannyism, or anything else, including fiscal responsibility and desire for smaller government.

    My belief is people in power tend to want control over us. I do agree that government should not be our babysitter. I am responsible for my own ______(fill in the blank).

    Though John and myself agree about the laws themselves, he has placed the arugment under the term “Democrat”. That I disagree with. I believe he relates liberal with Democrat. If I’m wrong on that John let me know, you have made other posts since your original that backs up my original belief.

    I didn’t think there was such a thing as a liberal Republican, at least not by listening to the rightwing rhetoric, however…

    The Liberal Republican party was founded in 1872 by Republicans discontented at the political corruption and the policies of President Grant’s first administration.
    http://www.encyclopedia.com/html/L/LiberalR.asp

    I stand corrected

    I’ll pass on Arkansas too, It’s bad enough I have to go there once a year to visit family.

  43. Let’s see if this posts now.

    Michael Bloomberg is generally considered to be a liberal Republican.

    Granted, this thought isn’t so important that I needed to try and post it 3 times, but I’m weird in the head and wouldn’t have been able to truly enjoy my beer had I not posted this.

  44. Michael Bloomberg is generally considered to be a liberal Republican.

    Bloomberg is a lifelong Democrat who only became a Republican moments before running for mayor, in order to avoid the Democratic fray. Rudy Giuliani is a better example of a liberal Republican – and note that he didn’t seem at all concerned with this nanny-state stuff we’re seeing now. It seems to me that the city councils are where this nanny stuff is coming from – they seem to attract a more liberal cohort than the regular population would suggest.

  45. Rhywun:

    Of course, because they are beholden to a small number of noisy activists in each district that whine for and trumpet every goal they have that their alderman/councilman accomplishes.

    Still, if Rudy is a liberal Republican (and I’d call him a moderate), give me more Rudys.

  46. Hey c (if that is your real name) – I live within walking distance of the MSI; I’ll make sure to mosey over and eyeball the exhibit when it comes in.

  47. There are “liberal” Republicans, even if they are thinner on the ground then they were in the middle of the last century. They used to belong to the Ripon Society, and support Nelson Rockefeller or Charles Percy for President. They survive in the wild in the Northeast (ex.: Lincoln Chaffee) but have, over time, been re-named RINOs* and often bolt to the D side of the party duopoly or become nominal independents. (See: Lowell Weicker, Jim Jeffords)

    Nothing above is meant to disparage the real liberal Republicans of the Republican Liberty Caucus, of course.

    Kevin

    * Republicans In Name Only. “Rockefeller Republican” was the 20th Century term of art.

  48. Well, hopefully the aldermen won’t ban The Taste of Chicago in a nanny state health fit before I move back. Have the stormtroopers also moved on Vienna hot dogs and Giordano’s pizza, as well?

    Can’t wait for all the welfare state fun of the post-Daley mayor’s race.

  49. No-one has touched Giordano’s yet, and they’d better not! So much cheese

  50. Over the past year, I’ve visited Chicago twice, for the first time since I was sixteen (not counting a couple business trips where the only things I saw where the insides of the airport,a taxicab, a hotel and a conference center).

    I proclaim the Chicago-style hotdog a delicious bundle of heart-stopping goodness.

    Kind of a difficult city to drive around in, though. Currently even more difficult to find a way off or onto a highway.

  51. Just about all of these prohibitions seem like sissy nanny-state nonsense (and I could add more like helmet laws to the mix) but I’m not sure about the ban on fois gras. From what I’ve read it really is an incredibly cruel procedure and done for no other reason than pleasing the palate. It’s not for medical reasons. When it comes to the treatment of animals, I’m not on the side of peta but I do find there are some issues that are not so easy one way or the other; animals might not have the same rights as humans but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t exercise restraint and compassion in deciding how to treat them.

  52. Chicago rolls merrily on:
    Brats, Beer, Sox, Cubs, the spirit of Royko, Da Bears, Da Bulls, Da Coach, and all da Alderman under Hizzoner’s thumb.

    Love the city, hate the corruption but it will take a lot more than a few pussy laws to take down this great city. Besides, foie gras tastes like shit compared to a Giordano’s slice anyway.

    The real travesty according to my wife is Macy’s over Fields – now that sucks.

  53. I’m not sure about the ban on fois gras.

    Well, I wouldn’t touch the stuff because of the cruelty aspect and because it sounds revolting. But – I don’t think it’s something our elected elders need to be wasting their time on. Someone will point out now that such frilly nonsense keeps them from really screwing things up, which I guess is a valid point.

    Republicans In Name Only

    Man, I hate that freaking phrase. It smacks of ideological elitism. Something that never happens around here 🙂

  54. I’m not sure about the ban on fois gras.

    Well, I wouldn’t touch the stuff because of the cruelty aspect and because it sounds revolting.

    Good! More for me!
    It’s not cruel. Those ducks and geese are treated better than your average factory farm poultry. In fact they are treated better than the “free-range” birds you can buy at the store. They are pampered and allowed to live more like the animals on the farm in “Babe.” The last couple of weeks of their lives they get force fed a very rich diet which they love. The force feeding is not as brutal as it sounds. The birds actually seem to like it and will approach their “tormentors” with an open beak, awaiting the funnel o’food. I think Tony Bourdain went to a foie gras farm on one of his shows. Watch that and let me know what you think about the cruelty aspect.

    Regarding “fatty liver” sounding revolting:
    It sounds so wrong, but it tastes so right.

  55. Highnumber,
    No, I haven’t seen the show you mentioned. Do you have a link?

    In any case, I’m open to changing my mind on the subject – if indeed the procedure in this case isn’t so cruel. I was led to believe it was.

    The bottom line for me is that, in a case of animal cruelity, where the purpose is purely for human pleasure, if this should necessarily be handled outside the rule of law. Maybe in this particular case, once seeing all the facts, I’ll change my mind. But I do wonder about where the line should be drawn in more clear cut cases of animal cruelity – I don’t think it should just be left up to personal preferences if we really are talking about a clear cut case of animal cruelity.

  56. Is there something anti-libertarian about supporting the restriction of cell-phone use on PUBLIC property? Numerous studies have found yapping on your phone to be as dangerous as driving while mildly drunk. Anecdotally, just about everyone I know has a half-dozen stories about near-misses (or full-blown accidents) with these oblivious yapping morons.

    I am all for banning the yap on public transportation and similar places as well. Learn to text message, you lazy freaks. If they ever begin to allow talking on airplanes, there will be a war between the inconsiderate clods and the civil majority, I swear.

  57. I am all for banning the yap on public transportation and similar places as well.

    Ha. NYC is poised to facilitate cell phoning *underground* – supposedly “per demand”. And people wonder why folks roam the city in their headphones. The inane yapping heard between your average two New Yorkers is bad enough – being surrounded by one-sided conversations is going to make me postal.

  58. BornAgainIconoclast,

    Next they’ll be banning the Blues Festival. Seems that the blues are just too depressing.

  59. “slice”?

    Tbone: you sure you’re from here? dem’s east coast terminology…

  60. I can’t believe no one’s mentioned the 2006 Gay Games, being held in Chicago right now.

  61. crimethink,

    Why would anyone mention the 2006 Gay Games on this thread?

  62. and the games are over as of last weekend. Let it go.

  63. VM

    Just used slice cuz nobody could eat a whole “pie”.

    BTW, I cited Giordanos as a more familiar reference, but for my money, Malnati’s is best. Better sausage, buttercrust, and a plethora rather than an orgy of cheese (to steal liberally from Dane Cook).

  64. Ah, the classic Lou’s vs. Gino’s vs. Giordano’s debate. Naturally, Gino’s is best 🙂

  65. The FIBs in the Big Onion can be such sissies sometimes. Frex, they often go apeshit if you put a little ketchup on your frankfurter. What’s that all about?

    Kevin

  66. Chicago is a great city, but some of the little-known story, this article describes some of the little-known things the city of Chicago.

  67. how it’s gonna be like this?i guess it could boil down to : It is not popular in modern society,a city appeals healthy ,moral, and regular life.but i think a human so called human just because our self-control.

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