Ubi Est Mea — Where’s mine?

Life Itself – Official Trailer

Mike Royko gave Chicago its unofficial motto: “Ubi Est Mea — Where’s mine?”

In a smoke-filled room some political captains meet. Tom delivers the votes from his ward. In return, he gets control of streets and sanitation. The Boss turns to Joe and says, “Joe, you deliver the Italian vote.” Joe soon enough replies, “Hey, where’s mine!?” The Boss thinks a moment and answers, “You get the ball park concessions.”

Mike Royko was one of the great literary figures of Chicago. He was the protégé of Nelson Algren, author of Chicago: City on the Make. When Algren first heard of Royko, he thought it was a con job. “Right, his name is Roy Coe. And my name is John Doe,” quipped Algren.

Studs Terkel is best remembered for his oral histories of common Americans. Forgotten is Terkel’s book, Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression. Terkel interviewed hundreds of people about their recollections of employment problems, the crash of 1929, organized labor issues, “farm holidays” where crops were destroyed, and U.S. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal programs. [1] How did Louis Terkel become known as Studs Terkel? Terkel received his nickname while he was acting in a play with another person named Louis. To keep the two straight, the director of the production gave Terkel the nickname Studs after the fictional character about whom Terkel was reading at the time — Studs Lonigan, of James T. Farrell’s trilogy. [2] Studs Terkel is another of Chicago’s great literary figures.

Carl Sandburg saw the painted women under the gas lamps luring the farm boys in Chicago and wrote about it in his poem, Chicago. The city was hog butcher, tool maker, player with railroads, and the city of the big shoulders. [3]

Would you call the late film critic Roger Ebert one of Chicago’s great literary figures? I would. The best movies are a form of literature and Ebert was inextricably entwined with them, not just critiquing the movies but constantly encouraging what was best in them. But let’s not get all sad and weepy. Okay, we loved Roger Ebert but he’s gone. Ebert himself would not want us to stay morbid forever about what happens to us all.

Life Itself, a 2014 documentary about Roger Ebert, has recently made it to Netflix. Ersjdamoo gives it a “thumbs up.” One thing about the documentary is it will give you a better sense of Chicago, which I predict will be newsworthy this year. For now, Chicago news is keeping a low profile, which I take to be a bad sign. Chicago is the tail which wags the dog: that city controls the entire state of Illinois, which is in a big financial mess. Lately we haven’t been hearing about what some Illinois politicians are up to, which indicates they are now sequestered in the smoke-filled room and making deals amongst themselves.

In my personal memory, the Chicago mayors begin with “Da Mare”, Richard J. Daley, father of a later mayor, Richard M. Daley. “Da Mare” is Chicagoese for “The Mayor.” Richard J. Daley is the “Boss” written about by Mike Royko in his book of that title. Said the Boss: “The police are not here to create disorder, they’re here to preserve disorder.”

After “Boss” Daley came Michael Bilandic, but he didn’t last long. Bilandic was unseated by the upstart Jane Byrne. She gave Chicago some great times such as the Blues Brothers. Hopefully you can see Jane Byrne above on the far left, along with Jake (John Belushi) and Elwood (Dan Ackroyd).

In 1983, Harold Washington became Chicago’s first African-American mayor. Harold Washington was re-elected in 1987, but by then a political faction saw Harold and his re-election as mayor as an extreme “national security” matter, according to the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Someone gave Harold Washington a poisoned cup of coffee and he died of a “heart attack,” Skolnick charged. [4]

“Immediately after Washington’s death, rumors about how Washington died began to surface. On January 6, 1988, Dr. Antonio Senat, Washington’s personal physician, denied ‘unfounded speculations’ that Washington had cocaine in his system at the time of his death, or that foul play was involved.” [5]

The next mayor was Richard M. Daley, son of “Boss” Daley. Son-of-Boss reigned a long time. “As the city gentrified, some complained that the benefits of development had not spread to all parts of the city equally.” [6] It was the urban gentrification, which means the yuppies move in and everyone else moves out.

After Son-of-Boss, Rahm Emanuel became mayor. But now Emanuel, Mr. Yuppie himself, is challenged for re-election by Jesus “Chuy” Garcia. The decisive vote occurs on April 7th. At this time things are very quiet in Illinois – too quiet. It is always a bad sign when the usually rowdy bunch are suddenly behaving like quiet little mice.

——- Sources ——-
[1] “Studs Terkel: Conversations with America”, http://conversations.studsterkel.org/htimes.php
[2] “Studs Terkel”, Wikipedia, March 28, 2015.
[3] “Chicago”, by Carl Sandburg. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/poem/2043
[4] “Sherman Skolnick, Was Chicago’s first black mayor poisoned?”, http://doubleuoglobe.com/vol4/cn4-42.html
[5] “Harold Washington”, Wikipedia, March 28, 2015.
[6] “Richard M. Daley”, Encyclopedia Britannica (online). http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/677556/Richard-M-Daley

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About ersjdamoo

Editor of Conspiracy Nation, later renamed Melchizedek Communique. Close associate of the late Sherman H. Skolnick. Jack of all trades, master of none. Sagittarius, with Sagittarius rising. I'm not a bum, I'm a philosopher.
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