Wednesday, April 6, 2011

grease and grit

So I understand that we're an unhealthy city that drinks too much, eats too much, and in some cases, smokes too much. I get that this isn't good, and that it contributes to higher health care costs and whatnot.

But who would I be to tell someone what they can or cannot do especially when it's not a moral issue? Even then, my life is mine and yours is yours and so long as you're not hurting someone with what you do, we're cool even if we might disagree.

I don't expect others to make the same life choices as me. I love going to a coffeeshop or watching a band play and coming home not reeking of cigarette smoke, but I voted against the ban on my half-assed and totally inconsistent libertarian principles. Smokers outside don't bother me. They have their vice and I have mine, though coffee does smell better than cigarettes.

I don't eat a whole lot of greasy food as I prefer dirty hippie fare with generous amounts of spices, but I don't like the idea of being told what to eat. When carnival season hits, me and Tangerine love our elephant ears and scary-because-it-might-fall-apart-rides. Yes, it's not as healthy as going jogging and drinking smoothies, but it's fun and doesn't hurt anyone and we know full well what we're doing. It's a part of living here that we love.

It's hard enough to sustain a small business in this city as it is, and this just makes it harder for places like Sokolowski's and small bakeries. Cimperman may want to change the culture, but this place isn't California, where people are super thin and their teeth are perfectly white. We don't mind our schlubbiness. Even skinny chicks like me will end up looking like babushka women someday due to our genetics.

It's a winter town full of people who grew up on meat-and-potatoes peasant fare and soul food. We don't exercise much because the weather sucks and we can't always walk in our neighborhoods after dark, we like our comfort food like our grandparents made it, and we drink because life here gets depressing. Of course we're unhealthy. A love of grease is in our rusty blood.

While the Powers That Be seem obsessed with catering to the uber-rich who own sports teams and corporations, and turning this city into a playground for the bright young things, there are other people in this city who aren't into trendy neighborhoods, art openings, and vegan food. I would even venture to say that they might be a majority, a little more worried about employment, paying rent, and hoping cars don't get stolen because the police care more about graffiti than they do about people with no power who get beat up.

Something's wrong here. It really is.


Randal Graves said...

Excuse me, but how can we possibly win the future if we're all fat on kielbasa and pastries? Improving our math and science skills aren't enough, we must learn to jump high spin kick our enemies in the skull!

Anonymous said...

there are some other options on the spectrum between gentrification and pomo-peasant-life, not to go all michael pollan on you but health-care/diet isn't a moral issue?

Randal Graves said...

There's certainly nothing wrong with wishing to eat/live healthier, but there are myriad realms of modern society that could be addressed as a moral issue that never will (vast military overspending, tens of thousands of deaths via internal combustion engine vehicles, corporate pollution, for-profit insurance). I don't trust the hypocritical allies of these industries to take the best interests of the people to heart.

thatgirl said...

It is moral in the sense that our decisions affect the lives of others, but there's so many other issues that directly hurt more people.

As far as vices go, I'm sure that drinking too much destroys more lives than eating too much but that doesn't generate revenue and too many people would object.

I get frustrated because there are whole parts of the city that are falling apart while we cater to the very rich and powerful and only take care of the neighborhoods where the people with extra spending money like to hang out so that they feel safe when they go to art shows and bistros.

My city is in the top ten for poverty and crime. Schools are falling apart, the infrastructure is disintegrating, the powers that be are insanely corrupt, the justice system is a joke, people are leaving the city proper for reasons that totally make sense if one has a family (see: crime and schools).

I stay for reasons of family roots and a weird sense of spiritual calling. I could find everything I love here somewhere else if I wanted it, which is why most of the people my age live in Chicago now.

While it'd be nice if more people were consuming less high fructose corn syrup and trans fats, it feels like the least of the problems I see. A papercut while our lifeblood hemorrhages away.

Anonymous said...

i hear you guys on the broader isues but if working class folks are just left with killing themselves as relief/entertainment than forget about the big political picture.