#443: The Wit and Whimsy of the Chicago Jagoff

February 25th, 2015

Any night you end with a magazine you’re featured in and an original portrait of 1920s Mayor William Hale “Big Bill” Thompson is a good one.

The release party for The Lumpen Field Guide to Chicago Jagoffs went off without a hitch. At a packed-to-gills Maria’s Packaged Goods and Community Bar in Bridgeport, beer was drunk, tales were swapped, mayoral races were discussed and the lives, styles and habits of the biggest douchebags, dorks and jagoffs in the city were analyzed and critiqued.

Reading from the newly minted guide, speakers discussed the villains of urban life. They talked about dibs-callers, the self-appointed neighborhood watchers, the current mayor, jerk cyclists, jerk drivers, that guy who will not rest until every single human being on the planet has read, loved and fully digested “Devil in the White City.”

One particularly charming, handsome and virile human man (me) read a compelling piece about what a complete tool Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass is.

Every town has its dorks, tools and massive flinging wangs. A commuter who doesn’t understand personal space is as virulent on Chicago’s ‘L’ as Boston’s ‘T.’ The young and heedlessly fashionable are just as obnoxious in Wicker Park or Brooklyn.

Yes, there are breeds and habits that make our own jerks unique. The lazy charity-kateers who won’t help a cause but suggest Oprah might. The civic priders who hate the existence of NYC so much any mention of alleys, crime rates or the thickness of pizza results in a red-faced dissertation on why Big Shoulders beats Big Apple. Ronnie “Woo Woo” Wickers.

And then there are historical jagbags, from corrupt, murdering founder John Kinzie to modern politicos Emanuel, Rauner and Jackson Jr. The guide tells of Ventra, unelected school boards, street preachers, bike jerks, driving jerks, gentrifiers, teens on buses, people with large opinions on what “real Chicago” is and did I mention that charming, handsome man’s thoughts on Chicago Tribune columnist John “I give politicians catty nicknames for a living” Kass?

The night went fine and I bought a painting of former Chicago mayor and current historical jagoff William Hale “Big Bill” Thompson from the very non-jaggy Dmitry Samarov. I drank beer and got a verbal nod from journalist Kari Lydersen that she’s willing to speak to the class I teach. It was a fun night filled with funny, witty people, only some of whom might be jagoffs but if they happen to be jagoffs, they still have incisive points about the writing styles of certain Chicago Tribune columnists.

I mean, he called Ferguson, Missouri, a “lynching” of the white cop who shot an unarmed black guy. Come on!

As I stood on the Orange Line platform after cutting out from the party, watching what was either a mouse or shrew wriggle a hunk off a slice of bread someone threw on the rails, I thought about jerks.

I don’t know why it’s easier for some people to be rude than kind. I don’t know why some people are so lily-livered and sensitive that they think I’m a jerk in some settings.

Life is a spectrum, not of bad to good, but of tool to “That guy’s OK by me.” We’re all the villain in someone’s book, a saint in another’s and a background cameo supporting character in a third’s. I guess all we can do is put up with each other and be as open and honest about what ticks us off as we can.

Even if it’s John Kass.

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Read the piece that inspired one of my Jagoff Guide submissions (not Kass)

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