Saturday, September 6, 2008

Dear Costa Rican Guy,

I am not a hippie.

I forgot to cut my hair for a year, but that's no ...

OH RIGHT, my distaste for Lincoln Park has again compounded. Lincoln-Park-the-neighborhood, that is, which contains De Paul University's main campus, about a third of Lincoln-Park-the-park (which is about four miles long north-to-south), the zoo which is in that part of the park, and lots of other stuff. I have told you nothing about the place, though.

I've started reading Christopher Alexander's The Timeless Way of Building and will probably go on to read A Pattern Language (mostly to see if it can help me become less of a reductionist in my computer programming, but that's a story for another day). As far as I've read he's discussed how places cannot be separated from the patterns of events that occur there, and how physical elements of a place are really patterns of relationships.

One pattern that repeats itself in Lincoln Park is the bar devoted to Big Ten college sports. Related to this, during football season you'll see packs of young people wearing Ohio State and Michigan jerseys walking in sidewalk blockage-maximizing formations taunting each other. I'm not sure why this is such a thing in Lincoln Park; is it like that near Northwestern? U of C? I don't think it is around Loyola or UIC.

Supposedly not long ago Lincoln Park was, outside of the campus, a poor neighborhood. It's pretty swank at the moment. So the typical juke-n-puke bars are decorated like Disney fascimilies of Irish pubs or other little neighborhood joints. The guys at Forgotten Chicago call this suburbanification, but I think that's just heaping more blame on the archetypal suburb for the banality of hyper-specialization, which is most prevalent in wealthy areas, which happened to be largely suburban in the late 20th Century in America, but didn't have to be. It looks like suburban styles infiltrating gentrifying city areas, but that's not quite accurate. Chains that grew up in the city aren't any less suffocating (Starbucks started near (historic!) Pike Place Market in Seattle, and even plays the same music at all its locations, except for the drive-through only ones; at one of these distinctly suburban locations the workers chose Japanese heavy metal on the day when all the other stores were trading hype with Paul McCartney's then-new album). For Chambanans, think It's Brothers!, or really any of the new Green Street construction. Say what you will about the Daniel Street bars, they are not ashamed to show themselves as the vulgar, hulking dives they are. When they go down... well, I won't say anything rash about civilization dying, because human civilization is pretty robust to losses of dignity. But it will be sad. Yes, I'd be sad if Kam's closed, even though I never set foot in the place (I never set foot in most of the Green Street stores that were replaced by upscale chain retail; I don't buy stuff when I can avoid it, so it's no surprise perhaps that businesses that survive appeal to people that aren't like me at all).

Short version: I went out to the batting cages last night to blow off some steam, then met some co-workers at a bar in Lincoln Park afterwards, and now I have more steam than before. More to this that I choose to self-censor. Inquire within if ya must.

1 comment:

the wretched harmony said...

inquire inquire