Friday, April 25, 2014

On Chicagoland and the Leader of Russia

I've lived in Chicago for forty-five years. There is crime here, despair and poverty. There has been all of my life. There is also grace, irrefutable decency and good. There is wealth - in material and culture -innocence and fine etiquette. There are those who give themselves over to the darkest places and others who bring clarity to every soul they touch. Most are well entrenched in the middle. Oh! And we have the number one high school in the state (in my neighborhood, actually), top 40 in the country, and two of the top-ranked universities in the world.

That's the reality.

The portrait of my city in the CNN series "Chicagoland" is an embarrassment, not to my great town, but to the clearly biased and ill-prepared team that put that drivel on and gave my name to it. In the modified words of my current mayor, 'They can go flower themselves.'

In some ways similar to my
current mayor, the current leader of Russia finds himself in an interesting predicament. He is a jerk, in a world that is leaning away from jerk-based foreign policy. Unlike his despot-counterparts in other parts of the world, Mr. Putin is not quite Don Cheadle enough to earn himself a movie, though he flaps and flails eternally in this pursuit. Sadly, and much to his own chagrin, the man is a bore.

Could he use his enormous power to propel his country forward, leading a charge for some great new era of discovery and success? Meh. Been done.

I'm entertained by the idea that our staring at him incredulously, as he pouts about using 80s style tactics on a world stage that no longer permits the cover his predecessors enjoyed, is perceived as weakness. I feel like it's a generous (I'll allow maybe overly so) pause. Kind of like when your mom tells you you can't have that cookie and you slowly walk to the table and reach out, trembling over the plate while your mom glares holes in your head. Never mind that she may not clobber you before you get your hands on it - she's giving you a chance, after all. If you grab that cookie and shove it in your mouth you will get nailed.

Perhaps someone should get Vlad a plate of cookies.

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