The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

You can always go, downtown

I was out of the office yesterday as I had some business downtown, specifically at the Daley Center. The Daley Center has a large courtyard around it which features farmer's markets and craft fairs in the summer. I hadn't been there for a few months and I expected the courtyard to be empty as it is currently 15 degrees and the wind is blowing off of the lake at approximately 87 MPH, and no sane person would attend an outdoor activity in those conditions. As I so often forget, this city is populated by crazy people.

The courtyard is populated by what appears to be a "Santa's Village." There are little huts that serve food and a few craft stores, but the dominant building is a long hut which extends from one end of the Daley Center to the other, and contains several picnic tables running the length of the shack, and a bar. A bar! Santa's Village is awesome. And the bar was full! Sure it was 11:30 AM. And it was in the middle of the loop business district in front of a courthouse. But really, who couldn't use a nice cold beer before their court appearance, before noon, after walking through the 87 MPH wind for a few minutes? Somehow I resisted, but it shortly became clear why so many people decided to take advantage of Santa's Pub.

Apparently the Mayor really wanted a Christmas Tree in the Daley Center courtyard, as well as some other more religiously themed displays. (Note: If you are unfamiliar with the general political atmosphere of the city of Chicago, here are a few facts to get you up to speed. 1. The Mayor is usually named "Daley." 2. The Mayor does whatever he wants, and no one can stop him. 3. This includes, but is not limited to, illegally bulldozing an air field in the middle of the night, and planting flowers everywhere because he is an amateur florist.) He decided that he would allow religious displays on this public property, and to avoid any Constitutional problems he would allow all religions to have a display so long as they are so completely ridiculous that no one would ever be drawn to said religion based on looking at them. As a result of this policy the court is littered with a giant Menorah (40 feet tall at least, it's quite staggering), and a nativity scene in which the fake animals make noises. Seriously. You walk by the baby Jesus and a cow moos at you. It really adds to the whole experience.

This all seemed strange until I got inside and walked by the high school song and dance troupe performing in the lobby. This is obviously a fantastic idea. Sure there is no place to sit, and there are metal detectors and security personnel everywhere, and the lobby is often filled with criminals and deadbeats, but everyone seemed to be enjoying the troupe's Gershwin number immensely. I don't know why high school kids were singing in the courthouse building's lobby, but they were. It was the functional equivalent of having mimes entertain people in the atrium of City Hall, or a hip jazz combo at the DMV. Actually, that last idea isn't half bad.

It was a strange day. Shortly after I left the scene on the song and dance troupe I ran into a woman whom I thought was a prostitute until I saw her a few hours later trying a case and realized she was just a lawyer with incredibly bad taste.

Anyway, that's why blogging was light yesterday. In case you were wondering.


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