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Blame It on Chicago

October 4, 2009

Much ado (overmuch, in fact) the past few days about the International Olympic Committee spurning Chicago as the site of the 2016 Summer Olympics. I really hate to add to the surplus verbiage already spilled on the subject, but here goes…

Right-wingers, of course, are using the incident to seize a rare opportunity by the scruff of the neck: for these battered ideologues, the rejection of Chicago is a clear signal that Obama, for all his talk about restoring the stature of the U.S. in the world, has fallen flat on his sunny face. I mean, if he can’t even persuade the IOC to favor his hometown with an athletic contest, how will he ever prevail in Afghanistan or save the U.S. economy?

Meanwhile, the left is shouting back and blaming the fiasco on anti-Obama rabble-rousers who rooted against Chicago. (Imagine conservatives hoping that an American city would lose! And it’s not even a blue-state coastal city! Racists, all of them!)

I have a better idea. Let’s compare cities. Chicago vs. Rio de Janeiro. The brownish-gray, big-shouldered, bustling metropolis on Lake Michigan… vs. the gorgeous samba-swaying playground situated amid soaring emerald-green slopes and crescent-shaped beaches. The city of Al Capone, Mrs. O’Leary’s cow, the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre and a lot of very tall, undistinguished buildings… vs. the sultry, sensory, heart-stopping urban paradise that brought us “The Girl from Ipanema.”

If you had to choose an Olympic site, which city would call to you? No-brainer, says I.

As the late Senator Lloyd Bentsen might have put it: I know Rio. I’ve seen Rio. Rio is a favorite city of mine. Chicago, you’re no Rio.

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Jeff permalink
    October 7, 2009 7:43 pm

    I appreciate your thoughts on coporate communism, but….
    You should not talk about things that you do not understand, Chicago is “a city of tall undistinguished buildings?” Get a clue Rick. Chicago practically invented architecture.

    • October 7, 2009 9:49 pm

      Jeff: I knew I’d provoke some Chicago loyalists with that wisecrack. I’m actually familiar with the distinguished history of architecture in Chicago. Louis Sullivan was a seminal figure and his buildings are admirable. I love the Tribune Tower — always have. Frank Lloyd Wright left his mark on the place, too, though not so much on the skyline.

      I’m talking about the big, bland, soulless hulks that displaced New York’s Empire State Building and Chrysler Building among the nation’s tallest: The Sears/Willis Tower, the John Hancock building, the Aon Center, and of course the newly completed Trump Tower (though it’s not as bad as I would have expected from Trump). It’ll be interesting to see what effect the Chicago Spire might have on the skyline, assuming it ever gets built.

      No, just think of me as a New York architecture loyalist casting mischievous aspersions on that big rival metropolis in the Midwest. I know Chicago is a great city. But on the whole, if I were attending the Olympics, I’d still rather go flying down to Rio.

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