Embrace Chicago's bread and circuses

Embrace Chicago's bread and circuses

The N.F.L. Draft is in Chicago. The James Beard Awards are coming to Chicago. If news sources are correct, the Obama Presidential Library will be located in Chicago. Hopefully the Lucas Museum will prevail and come here too.

Chicago is a city of masterpieces. Image: Peter V. Bella

Chicago is a city of masterpieces. Image: Peter V. Bella

Chicago is on a roll. People from all over the world have reasons to visit our city. They see our world class sites, museums, architecture, and experience our world class hospitality. They dine on world class cuisine.

People experience what a real world class city looks like and how it operates. A "City that works".

Of course there are legions of naysayers. People perpetually looking for petty grievances to voice their complaints. Ignore them. They do not matter. They would criticize anything that did not fit in with their extremely narrow view.

There are good things coming to Chicago. We should be proud.

On the surface they may appear as mere bread and circuses while the city battles fiscal and other issues. Scratch a little deeper. There are long term effects to hosting major national and international events. The national and international news media exposure alone is advertising no amount of money could buy.

Several months after the Chicago Sports Museum opened, a major European news consortium bought and published some photographs I took of the opening.

I was curious so I asked the photo agency to find out why. The season when people from that country travel was coming up. Chicago was one of the cities the news consortium recommended people visit. They wrote short pieces on all the various attractions in the city.

I meet people from all over the world who visit Chicago. They love coming here. They compliment our city. Many look for attractions outside of the downtown area because they heard how great Chicago's neighborhoods are.

 Chicago is a city of smoke, noise, building, and rebuilding. Image: Peter V. Bella

Chicago is a city of smoke, noise, building, and rebuilding. Image: Peter V. Bella

Why all this shameless boosterism? The exposure Chicago gets from hosting major events brings in dollars.

Not just to the major businesses the professional whiners complain about, the "evil downtown," but salaries to the neighborhood people who work for them.

These events give movers and shakers ideas about locating or relocating businesses to Chicago. They may bring trade shows or conventions to our city. That means more tax revenue and jobs.

World class cities do not look to the past or the present. They must look to the future. Chicago history is rife with futuristic thinking. Throughout its history Chicago never looked back. There are no good old days. Chicago always looked forward. Chicago always looked for better days ahead.

Chicago suffered many man made, natural, and economic catastrophes. Unlike other major cities, Chicago came back from the brink stronger, with more vitality, and quicker. Chicago's nimbleness is its strength.

Chicago has its problems. All major cities have the same problems. All of them deal with them the same way. There are some things that will never change. Poverty will always be with us. Crime and violence will always go up or down. There will always be some form of discrimination or bias towards people. There will be political corruption, both illegal and unethical.

We are human and share all the foibles and imperfections of beings with free will and choice.

Instead of whining, complaining, and bashing these bread and circuses, we should be celebrating and embracing them. They are for the betterment of all of us.

The 1893 Columbian Exposition and the 1933 World's Fair generated the same loud complaints we hear today. The naysayers were out in full force and froth. Both of these, forty years apart, put Chicago on the international map. They were a boon for the future of Chicago. The naysayers, as usual, were proved wrong.

All these events and institutions hold a promise for the future. If the naysayers, whiners, and perpetual complainers had their way, Chicago would still be digging itself out of the ashes of the Great Fire 144 years later.

Chicago was labeled," The most typically American place in America" in 1888 by James Bryce, a British academic and politician. It was true then. It is true today. It will be true tomorrow. A.J. Liebling be damned. Liebling was the scribbler who gave Chicago the moniker, "The Second City".

Chicago is second to none.

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