Urbs secunda

RANGE: The Chicago World’s Fairy, a hulking, towering, powerfully muscled Giant, Hog Butcher, Tool Maker, and Stacker of Wheat with a Titanic Inferiority Complex, sitteth—as everybody knows by now—at the northwest gates. Boundless, barren windswept plains surround him on three sides, so he snuggles up against Lake Michigan for warmth, poor thing.
HABITS: For some reason, the Chicago World’s Fairy toddles. Maybe it’s the gallons of Prohibition gin still secreted within. Many Giants prefer to dwell amidst impassable mountains, but the Chicago Giant is surrounded by impossible fields—Soldiers, Wrigley, Marshall, and O’Hare. Although he generally just sulks and feels unappreciated, he sometimes stomps, roars, bellows, and even bursts into flames to call attention to himself. Three such occasions were the shameless exhibitions of 1893 and 1934, and the Democratic Convention of ’68. He is seldom at his best when the whole world is watching. Seen from the West, he has the appearance of an old, corrupt degenerate, a gangster in a baggy suit with a machine gun in his fiddle case. From the East, he looks like a hopelessly outsized rube, a barefoot village idiot with hay in his hair and skyscrapers for playthings. The mortals who live in his mammoth shadow are a frightened and confused lot, buffeted about by winds, like the despairing shades of suicides in Dante’s Inferno. (The winds themselves result from the huge sighs of the Giant, as he contemplates and bemoans his unjustly neglected greatness.)
HISTORY: Arguably, he originates from one of three nations traditionally celebrated for producing large, pouting behemoths—Poland, Ireland, or Africa. When he arrived on the shores of Lake Michigan, he befriended the wild polecats, who were the area’s most populous wildlife, and feasted daily on wild onions, the only flora in profusion. His name, Chicago, is the Algonquian word for “strong,” or “powerful,” which is thought to be an olfactory reference. A sportsman of note, he supervised both the fixed World’s Series and Tun-ney’s long count. Nice.
SPOTTER’S TIPS: If one would appreciate the true enormity and tediousness of the Chicago World’s Fairy, he is best viewed from the air. Since all aircraft flying to or over his domain are obliged to circle for hours, you have ample opportunity. Jazz giants neglected by their record labels, baseball superstars overlooked in the Hall of Fame voting, and great statesmen unappreciated by their parties are among his offspring—he’s very prolific—and if you follow their unsuccessful careers, they will lead you, inevitably, back home.


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