Friday, October 2, 2009

Hog Butcher for the World

Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;
Carl Sandburg probably wasn't thinking about Rio de Janeiro when he wrote his excellent poem. Today, though, I can't help but think about all the little soft cities on my list: Tokyo, Madrid, Rio!

It's a sad day for Chicagoans everywhere. Chicago, after an effort spanning more than two years, was rejected today as the host for the 2016 Olympic Games. Even President Obama made the trip to Copenhagen to make a pitch to the International Olympic Committee. Evidently, though, the president doesn't have much pull with them.

As soon as I read the news of the IOC's Chicago bitch-slap, I immediately thought of Sandburg's poem. He understood better than most that Chicago is the nation's tragic hero: flawed, courageous, unique, restless, ambitious. The grid-like pattern of streets and row houses seems, at first glance, like city over planning run amok. All those right angles are, instead, demonstrable thoroughness and intensity. The people of Chicago live through bitter winters, century-long World Series droughts, gang fights, O'Hare delays, cicada invasions, stifling humid summers, landmark name changes and the loss of a day off for Casimir Pulaski Day. They are a resilient people, and if the Olympics don't want Chicago, they'll live through that too, because they are...
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

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