Each and every year in Chicago, there is a moment when the problems of the city seem to fall away and everything seems doable and winnable again. It is a moment inextricably tied to the weather. Spring always comes later than even the worst-case scenario. But there's always one day — an hour, even — when it finally arrives with such blazing force you know winter is dead and buried for the year. That's when a smart politician knows to pop up outdoors.
And like a leprechaun carrying his own pot of gold, Mayor
Tuesday, Emanuel could be seen at the precious
But there was also some genuine risk taking. Collaboraction's powerful homegrown piece about the causes and consequences of violence in Chicago, "Crime Scene," is to tour Chicago's parks (including LeClaire-Hurst Park, Sherman Park, Hamilton Park and
But that can be forgiven if the unstinting content of this piece about the consequences of gun violence remains the same, especially since the show is bring performed, for free, on incendiary weekend nights. It might well save lives right then and there: It's harder to pull a trigger just minutes after the laying out of the direct human consequences. Or so it feels, before warmth turns to heat.
Wednesday, Emanuel smartly popped up again in
It's hard to overstate the emotional weight of Frank Gehry's
Who could not believe in the possibility of Chicago? Ma was calling the city — this sun-kissed city, the capital of the heartland — a beacon for "100 million people," a population bigger than that of most nations.
Not everything Emanuel said was new, and nothing is perfect. But this was a simple fact: The mayor of the city of Chicago was standing there announcing that the arts had been added to the core curriculum of the nation's third-largest school district for the first time ever. That is a significant change with proven benefits.
The children there Wednesday morning were all dressed in the uniform of the members of the
Emanuel took to the stage and used the kind of repetitive rhetoric that political speechwriters like, including the constant phrase "no child need …," which seemed like a riff on another political leader's "no child left behind," only reoriented toward the arts. "They're going to get math and music,' Emanuel said, proceeding happily down the alphabet.
In my row of kids, there were furrowed brows. Children trust adults to educate them well and are often bemused by policy debates or declarations taking place in front of them, featuring themselves as props. It was not clear to them why it was such a big deal to get math and music. Of course, it's not such a big deal unless you don't get both and, years later, come to wonder why others did and why those others seem to have a better place at the table than you.
But one line was a hit. "They're gonna get reading and recess," the mayor said. The kids liked the sound of that. Sunny smiles all around.