Vote, vote, vote


My receipt for voting.

Lucky us! We get to vote on Ground Hog’s Day! So if a candidate sees his shadow … Oh, never mind. Ground Hog’s Day is such a silly holiday, anyway!

I got one phone call to vote for Jim Ryan for judge. When I said I would vote for him, the caller asked if I would like to put Jim Ryan sign on my lawn. Then, last week, I get two unusual calls from politicians soliciting my vote for David Hoffman. One was from Paul Vallas who doesn’t even reside in the state of Illinois anymore. And the other was from Miguel del Valle who also solicited my vote for David Hoffman in Spanish. I must admit he spoke Spanish very nicely. I’m not sure if Paul Vallas really wanted me to vote for David Hoffman. Or if, as I suspiciously tend to believe, that he wanted to remind me that he still existed so that I would vote for him upon his imminent return to Illinois politics. But that’s just me.

I also received voting instructions for early voting in English, Spanish, and Mandarin Chinese. Okay, I’m not actually sure if it’s Mandarin Chinese, but I wanted to sound knowledgeable. Everyone wants to sound knowledgeable around election time, no? In Chicago, all the polling places are multilingual. If you’re an American citizen, you’re entitled to vote even if you don’t speak English! But this is typical of every election in Chicago.

A Chicago election is always very confusing. For whom do I vote? There are always a few obvious candidates for me. But others, I never even heard of them! I know we’re supposed to vote for candidates intelligently. However, I only seem to be aware of candidates who raised enough money to pay for radio and TV ads. So how do I vote for everyone else? Including the completely unknown candidates? I vote the Chicago Way! I vote for all the candidates I knew from before election day would get my vote.

What happens to my votes for the rest of the candidates? In a general election, if I’m not sure for whom to vote, I vote the straight Democratic ticket. It’s the Chicago Way! In a primary election when I have to declare myself a Democrat, I vote for all the Irish candidates. It’s the Chicago Way! Of course, I once met a Judge Cunningham who was elected as judge because of his Irish name. Judge Cunningham was African-American! So I guess voting for an Irish or Irish-sounding candidate is very egalitarian. It’s the Chicago Way! Next in the pecking order are female names. If it’s a female candidate with an Irish name, so much the better. That was in the old days. Now that we have more Hispanic candidates, I automatically vote for a Spanish name. The election slate is so long for some elections that very few people would know every candidate very well. However, I want to exercise my Constitutional right to vote! Even if it’s the Chicago Way!

Modern Bookstore


Translated into Spanish, published in Moscow, Russia

When I moved from Marquette Park to Bridgeport, I really missed having a bookstore a mere block away. Bridgeport had the reputation of being the center of city politics, rather than being an incubator of intelligence. So, needless to say, Bridgeport had no bookstores at all! Even their Salvation Army lacked a book section!

One day in the early 1990s, I was shocked when I saw an empty storefront on the 3100 block of South Halsted Street open as Modern Bookstore. For a neighborhood bookstore, it was very big. I was there the very first day it opened. The woman who greeted me let me browse for a while. I wasn’t sure what to expect from this bookstore, especially for one in the heart of Bridgeport. Imagine my surprise when I saw that most of the books were about socialism, communism, and labor unions. The woman asked me if she could help me find something. I asked to see the fiction section, but there was none. Then, even though I was sure that she would say no, I asked if they had a foreign language section. I told her I was interested in buying books in Spanish. Would you believe it? They did have a Spanish section that was actually bigger than most of the others in Chicago bookstores I had visited. And they actually had books by authors and biographies of political figures that I had actually heard of.

I bought a poetry anthology by Nicolás Guillén. Later, when I read the book, I discovered that the book was published in La Habana, Cuba, and probably shipped to the U.S. violating at least one embargo law. But wait, I also bought biographies about Diego Rivera, Benito Juarez, Benardo O’Higgins, and a few others that were written in Spanish. Much later, I realized that the books were written by Russian writers and later translated into Spanish. All these books were published in Moscow, Russia. I wondered if there would be any trouble if our local politicians had actually visited the Modern Bookstore and realized what kind of books the bookstore was selling there. But then I realized that’s why there wasn’t bookstore in Bridgeport in the first place. No one in Bridgeport reads!

Daley and me


UIC, Chicago, Illinois

As I sit down to write this I know I won’t finish this blog post tonight. The cast of characters keep changing, but the title is always the same. I’m referring, of course, to Mayor Daley of Chicago.

Well, actually, Chicago has had two Mayor Daleys. For anyone who has lived in Chicago for as long as I have, you know that Mayor Daley and his clan are part of the fabric of Chicago politics. Mayor Daley was the only mayor, or Da Mare as he is known in Chicagoese, that I knew since I was in grade school until his death in 1976. And just when I thought the Daleys were out of my life, his son Richard M. Daley ran for Chicago mayor unsuccessfully. Eventually, we had a second Mayor Daley, henceforth referred to as Richard da First and Richard da Second, respectively. And I just have a feeling that someday we may have a third Mayor Daley when Richard da Second’s son Patrick Daley returns from the army after he fulfills his enlistment. Yes, we could possibly have a Richard da Third.

When I was a boy, sometimes Richard the first would show up in our neighborhood unexpectedly. If we had award ceremonies for our park district tournaments, Mayor Daley would be there to pass out trophies. As I grew older, he was always in the news. His name was on just about every sign in the city of Chicago. One day, I was at the library at St. Xavier University on the south side of Chicago. I looked out the stained glass window when I noticed a little plaque underneath. The window was donated by Richard J. Daley in memory of his father. I often went to the library at UIC to study. Then one day, they changed the name to the Richard J. Daley Library. Just like that.

Hizzoner


Beverly Arts Center Playbill

I really love Chicago and I love theater. So if there’s a play about Chicago, I will go see it. And that’s why I went to see Hizzoner, Daley the First at the Beverly Arts Center, 2407 W. 111th St, Chicago, IL 60655. Yes, gentle reader, there are theaters on the south side! I was lucky enough to get tickets because they sold fast and all the dates were sold out almost immediately.

Hizzoner was written by Neil Giuntoli who also stars as Richard the First very convincingly. Neil is a talented writer and actor who captures the persona of Daley very accurately. So much so, that some of the audience members began speaking to him at times as if he were the actual Mayor Daley. Of Neil responded as if he were the actual Mayor Daley. And he was quite witty, too.

Growing up, Mayor Richard J. Daley was the only Chicago Mayor that I knew. Da Mare would show up to some of our park district events and we got to see him in person occasionally. So when he died, I was a bit shocked.

As an added bonus to seeing the play on the south side, I met some of my previous acquaintances. For example, I had gone to the birthday party of a Chicago police officer the night before and I met a couple the play who was also at the party. I also met my former 18th Ward Alderman Thomas Murphy who is now a judge. I was pleasantly surprised that he remembered me because I only met him a few times. For Halloween, I would take my sons to Trick or Treat at his ward office, which was right next door to his law office. Once he told me, “Go next door. They have better candy there.” And when we went next door, he was there, too, passing out candy.