Chicago, Self-Help


Dear Dick,

Mind if I call you Dick? I mean, I’ve never heard you referred to as Richard Wolf. Just Dick. The Dickmeister? Okay, too much.

I like “Law and Order.” The mere screen presence of Jerry Orbach accounted for a handful of absences in Tuesday and Thursday undergrad classes. The show’s theme music was a vital part of a few beer pong tournaments. Angie Harmon’s raspy voice, Dennis Farina’s obnoxiously appealing ties, loved them all, embraced the law and order parts with equal vigor. No part was greater than the other. Go Team McCoy! Go Team Briscoe!

The offshoots? Not so much. Not my style. Too much rape in one. Too much Vincent D’Onofrio in the other. That’s okay though because a disdain for rape and D’Onofrio are entirely American. I understand for every “Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out” you sometimes have to get your sillies out with “Night” and “Youngstown.” It’s just not my style.

And now your new darling “Chicago PD,” hit the air. It shares storylines and characters with “Chicago Fire.” That’s great. I loved when “Homicide: Life on the Street” and your original L&O had crossover episodes. Munch and Rey together and playing the same character on each other’s show? Fictional beings from a supposed different world but the same world are co-mingling? The outrageous daring-do of the occurrence.

In attempts to pimp the show and engage those nasty caustic critics, you mentioned that Chicago seemed the perfect backdrop for the two series. Your reason, according to a story in The New York Daily News is that The values that are espoused in ‘Fire’ are the kind of all-American values that are almost a little too homespun for either coast. . . . (Chicago) is the heart of America. The values there are the values that many, many people agree with more than sometimes either coast.”

You can call my city tacky. I was here for Cows on Parade.

You can call my city obnoxious. Jenny Jones was filmed here and Ronnie Woo-Woo is a de-facto mascot for my favorite baseball team.

You can even say my city has an identity crisis. I mean, Jesus, Divvy on one corner, two high chairs and a mop handle calling dibs on another? Modern transportation and the back hills of Western Kentucky, all within spitting distance.

But please, don’t call my city homespun.


The same city of Al Capone, the Black Sox Scandal, and the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre, that speaks to homespun?

Okay, okay, you got me. A little outdated Nick. Why not air your grievances on the low frequency AM station before the sun goes down? Go cry into your Green River. I get it.

How about The Family Secrets Trial, Patrick Kane’s Trail of Beers through every tavern north of Madison, and the Rod Blagojevich experience? Too wholesome for you, still?

Guess we haven’t even touched on the exemplary civil service of Mel Reynolds, Dan Rostenkowski, and James Laski among the Democratic Party. We can get to George Ryan and the rest of the Republicans after we change out of our hazmat suits.

And Michael Jordan.

Every part of Michael Jordan. The six championships to the divorce, to the paternity suits, to enough sponsorship deals to decorate every inch of a Nascar Jumpsuit. That’s homespun?

Homespun connotes buttermilk, cornfields, and long, arduous bus rides from Des Moines to Wrigley Field in hopes of watching Jim Bullinger go for the complete game. Homespun is boring conversation about the weather and the unseemly gossip at the post office that Ernest the new mailman stole a peek down the Widow Michelson’s blouse.  Homespun is fine for Lake Woebegone and their cast of characters.

Dick, maybe it was just a poor word choice. I thought for all but 25 years that the phrase was “play it by year,” mistakes happen.

But please, don’t confuse Chicago for some Ma and Pa bastion of boredom, highlighted by PTA meetings, crop-growing, and ice cream socials.

Confused, obnoxious, tacky, even crooked, but not homespun.


The best of everything,


P.S. Good luck with the show. I’ve been angling to play a fictional detective for some time, let me know if you need anyone.

P.P.S. Will also settle for role of corpse if detective is taken.