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Salt Lake City Weekly Chicago, #@&* Off

By Ron Yengich

Let me state publicly what I believe most Utah folks have been thinking over the past three weeks: We really don't care what people from east of Rabbit Ear Pass think about our state.

May I say this to everybody in that bastion of civility — Chicago, #@&* off.

We know that the Rocky Mountains are in a different zone than that of Central and Eastern Standard Time. We're happy with that reality. Honest.

We realize that Chicago is "hog butcher to the world." We don't think that is so much to be proud about. I wonder if any of the cosmopolitan folks from the city that brought us Al Capone and Operation Catch-A-Judge-Taking-A-Bribe recognize that those of us, even we non-Mormons, tend to like it here.

Let's make some comparisons to see what the average non-brain-dead American citizen would prefer: Dennis Rodman and his multi-colored hair or Karl Malone and his Harley? The historical Al Capone and his gang of merry men, or Brigham Young and his hearty group of pioneers? The Blackstone Rangers, those fun-loving nouveau riche gangsters from the South Side of Chicago, or nice, clean-cut missionary boys and girls with plastic name tags?

That is not a hard choice for me and, as I've said, I'm not a member of the predominant faith here and consider myself quite a liberal fellow.

Yet, we keep hearing about the difficulties with life in Utah, how it is so hard to do certain things in Zion. Or is it simply that people from Chicago are too stupid to understand the words "bar and grill" or "private club." Because in Salt Lake City, you can find John Barleycorn or enough of the spirit of bacchus to give even Dennis Rodman an upset stomach. Yet "not enough booze" is one of the major complaints from the denizens of the Naples of the Midwest, that city with big shoulders and apparently not enough brains to read a blinking neon sign.

You choose: Do you want the beauty of Memory Grove in Salt Lake City, or would you prefer Cabrini Green, that wonderful hostel of a tenement where children die before the age of 7 from random gunfire? Would you prefer the colors of the flowers of Temple Square, or that wonderful and wondrous Grant Park, named after the Civil War General, a battlefield where you need the same number of soldiers who fought at Antitium to protect you from the garden-variety punks who will attack after 5 p.m.?

Do you want a Super Bowl MVP like Steve Young, or a dead heroin-cocaine addict like John Belushi, who represented that fun-loving quality of sweet home Chicago?

How about Larry Miller? Would you take Never-On-Sunday Larry, or would you prefer Jerry Reinsdorf, the Nero of pro sports owners — the guy who led the charge to burn down Major League Baseball a couple of years ago and is prepared to do the same to his championship team?

You want to stay on the sports metaphor? You choose: Do you want Brooklyn-born and much despised Jerry Krause, who still hasn't learned what a diet is, or the slim, trim, funny and all-around good guy Frank Layden, our own transplant from Brooklyn? Not much of a choice, I think you'd agree.

Do you want the South Side of Chicago, where cops will only reconnoiter in armored cars, or South Salt Lake, where you can observe the O.C. Tanner gardens? If history is your cup of Postum, do you prefer the Black Sox, who threw a World Series, or the Salt Lake Bees (although minor league) who won one Pacific Coast League Championship without taking one bribe?

And speaking of that fun-loving side of Chicagoans, would you prefer the number of park rangers you can meet in Utah's National Parks or, once again, those purveyors of fair play, the Blackstone Rangers of the South Side of Chicago?

Even when it comes to journalistic literacy, Chicago lost its best: Mike Royko is dead! Who would you prefer, Lee Benson of the Deseret News, The Salt Lake Tribune columnist Gordon Monson, who writes in short but crafty sentences, or Bob Greene of the Chicago Tribune, who commits literary sodomy every few years when he writes his self-serving books about the love of his life, Michael Jordan?

In cuisine it may well be that our starched diet is high on Idaho potatoes, but remember that Chicago stole the deep-dish pizza from Naples and gets all of its beer imported from Milwaukee or St. Louis. They even filched the name of their most famous suburb, Cicero, from an old Roman politician and turned his name into a synonym for underhanded politics and a mob-controlled City Hall.

I concede that Chicago has one thing over Utah: They have a great comedy troupe, Second City. But we have the Utah Legislature. We may not be the city with big shoulders, the city with thick necks, the city with a million problems — sure Chicago has a past, but we have a future.

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