Monday, January 31, 2011

What I'm Reading: Boss

Nothing has helped me get to know Chicago better than Mike Royko and "Boss," his book about Richard J. Daley's steady rise to the mayor's office. First of all, Royko is top notch. A friend of Studs Terkel, Royko turns a scathing and unblinking eye on the Machine—Chicago's legendarily corrupt system, dominated by the Democrat party.

It's a case study in power management, and it's an eye-opening account of how masterfully one puppeteer can manipulate the marionette of a supposedly democratic American city.

Part of Royko's brilliance comes from his perspicacious understanding of the way things really worked in mid-century Chicago, and more importantly, what the public face of politics actually meant behind the curtains.

This line sums it up perfectly:

"This town was built by great men who demanded that drunkards and harlots be arrested, while charging them rent until the cops arrived."

Of course, the Daley dynasty was just beginning with Richard J. His son Richard M. came afterward. In fact, he's only just leaving. And his other son Bill just joined Obama in Washington while his predecessor Rahm Emanuel returned to Chicago to take Richard's spot. (You might know Rahm as a) Obama's former Chief of Staff or b) the brother of Ari, who's the inspiration for the eponymous agent in "Entourage.")
The fact that Chicago's mayoral race is in full swing only makes the reading experience better.

Here's Royko talking about his softball prowess and his death wish—to collapse at home plate after hitting the game-winning home run—at the Billy Goat, one of Chicago's more famous bars.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Finders keepers

Losers weepers. We scored on our apartment in Chicago. Introducing the W/S Putnam residence:

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Wolves

And one more, just because it fits with the weather: "The Wolves (Act I & II)" by Bon Iver. Good winter to you.



Haunting song. Here's one listener's interpretation of the line, "Can't you find a clue...when your eyes are all painted Sinatra blue?" from SongMeanings.net:
"I think the last line shows she has a deluded impression of love from today's culture, that she is convinced by what she may have seen in films and heard in songs (such as Sinatra's, which gave an oversimplified, easy view on love). For this reason, she may be unable to accept the reality of how much of a struggle love can be."
That could apply to a lot of people these days, not just Bon Iver's ex, Emma. A lot of us, men and women alike, have adopted this idea of feeling love rather than doing love. Thanks, rom-coms.

Adios Muchachos

After a brief hiatus, some music for your Monday: "Adios Muchachos," as sung by Carlos Gardel, un gigante of the Argentine tango scene.



Adiós, muchachos, compañeros de mi vida,
barra querida de aquellos tiempos.
Me toca a mí hoy emprender la retirada,
debo alejarme de mi buena muchachada.

Adiós, muchachos; ya me voy y me resigno.
Contra el destino, nadie la talla.
Se terminaron para mí todas las farras.
Mi cuerpo enfermo no resiste más.

Acuden a mi mente
recuerdos de otros tiempos,
de los bellos momentos
que antaño disfruté
cerquita de mi madre,
santa viejita,
y de mi noviecita
que tanto idolatré.

And especially:

¿Se acuerdan que era hermosa,
más bella que una diosa,
y que ebrió yo de amor,
le di mi corazón?
Más el Señor, celoso
de sus encantos,
hundiéndome en el llanto,
me la llevó.