That Is So Chicago

Only in Chicago is there an I-55 West and 55th Street so near the airport that you get lost and have to backtrack at least three times before you're sure -- at least, pretty sure -- you're on the right road and heading in the right direction, finally.

Only in Chicago, while you're stuck in aforementioned lostville, could you encounter three prisons, one courthouse, a lawyer, two hospitals, a Catholic church, a Polish neighborhood, a Mexican neighborhood, a Harlem-style church piping its choir hymns to its neighbors, and seven prisoners plucking trash from the passing lane, all in the driving space of ten minutes.

Only in Chicago would a homeless man play 70s-era songs on his gold saxophone in 40-degree weather with a looming prediction of snow, just to get his supper.

Only in Chicago will you find pigeons plump as plums.

Only in Chicago will you find all kinds of things you won't find in combination anywhere else, simply because it's Chicago. My friend Ginny tells me this city developed with an "organic" urban planning style, which means it pretty much sprung up with what it needed as it went. Houses stand next to laundromats. The same families frequent the same grocery store and convenience store and laundromat and church within the two-block radius of their homes like they have been for years. Two-story brick buildings abut ajoining residences with naught but three inches between them. Whole families walk to the Catholic church on the corner and merge into folds of other families, streaming into the building like fish in a fast-forming school. It's a strange world, but beautiful in its own haphazard but organized virility.