Sunday, November 4, 2007

Lifestyles of the rich and DAMNED

One rant, as promised.

The trouble with rich people is that they're like Godzillas. They just stomp over other people's lives in order to walk wherever they want to walk. The first offender, Donald Trump: this time it's personal.

My favorite area of Chicago is at the drawbridges by the Chicago Sun-Times. There's always someone playing music under the watchtower (this time, a clarinet), the boat rides are just below, and you can lean over the railing and take in some fabulous, ornate architecture.
Underneath the Wrigley building, there's a nice little courtyard full of greenery that spread over into a park with a view of the river, a little McDonald's and cozy convenience store behind them, perfect for stopping off in mid-excursion. This whole spot is like my Platonic ideal of city life.

So Donald Trump wants to plunk another monument to himself in downtown Chicago. Fine. The Loop is a mighty big place, right? Nope. Trump has to stick his architecturally boring (but egocentrically massive) highrise, with his name in gigantic letters, right smack-dab in my favorite corner of Chicago.

Most of the park has been wiped away, and I was pathetically grateful that the Wrigley courtyard is still the same. The shop is still there, but obviously struggling through the construction, the cartoon map of Wrigleyville gone from the wall. All the people who were always hanging out in the park on their lunches, breaks, sightseeing...there's nowhere left for them anywhere to sit with a view of the river. Grrrr.

Fortunately, standing at the stone railing by boat launch, the new building is sort of behind my shoulder, so I can do my best to ignore it.

But Trump isn't the most egregious offender against, well, me. My honey and I always stop at the Trader Vic's in the Palmer House Hilton for pina coladas and authentic vintage Polynesian atmosphere. Every trip, the place has always been doing good business at the random times we've stopped there. This year we trooped down from a picture-taking expedition at the Carbide and Carbon Building, not an inconsiderable walk, only to discover that the Trader Vic's is gone from that spot forever, in what would have been its 50th year of operation.

The decor and memorabilia were bought out by another restaurant group, who are serving "authentic" Trader Vic's Mai Tais at the Harry Carey's steakhouses, and are supposedly planning to re-open in Chicago. Crossing my fingers -- but that doesn't mean there's any forgiveness in the offing.

Oddly, we don't have the Hiltons to hate for this, except indirectly. They sold the building to a group called Thor Equities. Or Inquities, as the case may be, since they are obviously a disgrace to their Nordic namesake. They're the ones who booted it out to open all-new bars and restaurants.

Turns out, it's the same corporation behind the current round of carnage, a.k.a. development, at Coney Island, which is trying to drive out all the people who survived the first round started decades ago by...Donald Trump's father. (See good article about the Coney Island situation in the Chicago Sun-Times at,TRA-News-Detours07.article)

As far as I'm concerned, it's all Six Degrees of Evil!

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