"Miserable?" I Don't Think So.
No, I'm not miserable living in Chicago. Not any more miserable than I'd be living anywhere else. Every city has its problems and those that don't, soon will, as everyone flocks like lemmings to live there.
High taxes? You'll have 'em too, soon enough.
Crime? Been to any other big city lately? That's the nature of the urban environment. It ain't Mayberry, folks. That's life--we've accepted it, and so have the thousands of others who come to live here every year, just as I did 12 years ago (granted, my father was born here and my grandmother grew up in the south side, but I had no experience with this city until I moved here myself). Sure, there are things we'd like to change, but I'm sure that the folks who put together that "Forbes"-cited study would like to change things about where they live, too. It's the human condition, discontent. That hardly qualifies as "misery."
I'm not usually a big Neil Steinberg fan, but I liked this paragraph in his column today (to go with the kick-ass front page photo):
"What the Forbes study overlooks is that Chicago is not populated by Manhattan scribes nor Boulder mountain climbers, but Chicagoans. We are a hearty tribe, made of stronger stuff, and delight in challenges that only seem miserable to those who don't know any better. Calling our city miserable is like an agoraphobic calling baseball awful because it takes place outside. It says a lot more about the complainer than the thing being complained about. We love it here, and pity those whose appreciation of life is so constricted that they fail to see why."
For all its corruption, Chicago used to be a whole lot dirtier and more corrupt. And still people loved it. They loved it for the people it produced (Walter Payton, Dorothy Hamill, Mike Ditka, Jack Benny, Benny Goodman, Bill Murray, John Belushi, Patti Smith, Billy Corgan, Bo Diddley, Herbie Hancock, Chaka Khan-this is just a very short list), and the heartiness of its inhabitants.
Maybe the difference is that, during those bad-and-dirty times, Chicago was a stand-alone city, signifying something that was unique to its geographic location. It's become a lot more cosmopolitan over the last few decades, so maybe the people who are really miserable are the folks who came from other regions to live here, and simply weren't expecting the physical and political climate that greeted them.
They'll learn. Just like the rest of us did. And they'll find reasons to make this city their own--things that they feel belong to them, that speak to them. There's a reason over 3 million people live here.