Tag Archives: Chicago

A miserable night in Chicago as the World Series begins some miles south in St. Louis

Misery in October

CHICAGO — It’s a miserable night here, and not just because of the dreary, cold rain drenching the city. Three hundred miles to the south in St. Louis, the Cardinals have opened the World Series against the Texas Rangers.

In Chicago, I wager most Cubs fans are trying to ignore the game. But deep inside, it’s eating them up that the Cardinals are playing. And, God forbid, if  a Cubs fan is watching the game on television, he’s forced to listen to Tim McCarver, a former Cards’ catcher, and Joe Buck, son of former Cards’ broadcaster Jack Buck.

I had dinner with friends the other night, one of whose father had recently died without the Cubs having won a World Series.  And my friend — like me in his mid-50s — has lived his life without watching a single Cubs’ appearance in the World Series.

I’ve never lived in Chicago, but I’ve been nearby in central Illinois and southeastern Wisconsin at a couple of points in my life. And I picked up many Cubs’ games on the radio during my Nebraska years.

I’d love to see the Cubs get to the series and win. What a party it would be here in the Loop — even if it were snowing. The way things are going tonight, that could happen tomorrow.

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A Labor Day salute to the American Rust Belt

As a tribute to working men and women this Labor Day weekend, I offer this tableau featuring a lunch pail and a U.S. Steel cap. The cap was a gift from my daughter, an engineer with the big Pittsburgh-based steelmaker.

This post is also a salute to the Rust Belt, that swath of mostly Midwestern cities that through much of the 20th Century belched toxic fumes into the air and dumped foul sludge into the the region’s rivers and the Great Lakes.

To me, Rust Belt roots are a badge of honor. These are not the “little soft cities” that Carl Sandburg mocked in his famous poem about Chicago, city of broad shoulders. These are hard-working urban cores: Buffalo, Pittsburgh, Erie, Akron, Toledo, Cincinnati, Detroit, Flint, Gary, Indianapolis, Milwaukee, Chicago and Joliet.

The Rust Belt’s capital city? My hometown, Cleveland, Ohio, the Mistake on the Lake, the place favorably compared with the Titanic only by virtue of its orchestra.

As tough and proud as all those other cities are, none had a river (the Cuyahoga) so polluted that it burst into flames. None had a mayor (Ralph J. Perk) who turned down dinner at the White House because it was his wife’s bowling night. None, as far as I know, defaulted on its loans.

Most Rust Belt cities declined precipitously in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Some — Cleveland, Indy and Pittsburgh — have clawed their way back to respectability. That didn’t happen without the hard work we recognize and honor on Labor Day weekend.