Friday, April 3, 2009

Don't Steal Anything Big

In the precision of the cliche, former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was at Disney World when the 16-count federal indictment came down this week. (Why do federal indictments always "come down")?

In the old days he would perhaps have been seeking solace at the Washington Park race track. Lots of history there. It's where an intrepid Chicago reporter named Alfred "Jake" Lingle was gunned down (again, they're always "gunned down," aren't they?), presumably because of his hard-nosed (see!) reportage.

But it turns out Jake was pals with both the police commissioner and a local businessman named Al Capone. Bad idea.

For the most part, Chicagoans love these kinds of stories. I spent a decade there and you will never hear a bad word about the place from me. The locals love their myths and legends the way they love Wrigley Field and, lately, this Obama couple and their children.

And while Chicago is in many ways a big, normal municipality with people going on about their lives, locals of a certain age at least are charmed and in some way proud of the kind of low-brow, pinkie-ring, Mob mopery that seems never to have quite gone away.

One afternoon years ago when I was typing a sports column for the Chicago Tribune, the Managing Editor - a former AP guy who had sloshed through many a crime scene - strode by my cubicle as if he were going to a free meal. Some mobbed-up lawyer/accountant type had been found in the trunk of a car in the western suburbs. The tragedy appeared to be "execution-style" (see!).

The newsroom was abuzz. The natives could not have been happier if they had been handing out Pulitzer Prizes like untainted pistachios. Why worry about global warming or monetary policy when you've got a prominent dead guy in a trunk?

Moving past me, the ME asked if I had heard the good news. I had. "Damn," he said, "this is great. See, we can still do it once in a while."

See, you need to put things in perspective, especially when the last governor - George Ryan - is already in the federal sneezer, and is hardly the first of his gubernatorial breed to to go there.

As for the former governor, well, he was a nitwit before he was the governor. That's no state secret.

Actually, he was a jagoff. Now there's a real Chicago expletive. Jagoff. I believe I heard it the first day I got to Chicago and pretty much every day I lived there.

Jagoff. Rolls off the tongue. Tells you all you need to know.

1 comment:

  1. Sometimes indictments are "handed up." Don't know where that comes from either but would like to. And "jagoff" is the best word I've heard today.