Never let it be said that we haven’t tried Republicans here in Chicago. We have. In the teens and twenties of the last century we had our last Republican mayor; William Hale Thompson or “Big Bill,” as he liked to be known. He was a piggish fat-ass of the Diamond Jim Brady mold. He liked bourbon, whores and gambling. . .so he wasn’t all bad. He was owned by the mob; first by Big Jim Colosimo, the gentleman gangster of Chicago’s Levee district and then by Johnny Torrio and Al Capone. The bloody Chicago race riot occurred on his watch wherein he let white cops brutalize African Americans with impunity all over the south side in 1919. Thompson was as corrupt as the day was long and even the Tribune, a bastion of Republicanism (still is)– wrote that his administration meant “filth, corruption, obscenity, idiocy and bankruptcy; not to mention moronic buffoonery, barbaric crime and triumphant hoodlumism.” In other words, he’d be right at home in today’s Republican Party.
Capone used to send brown paper bags full of cash over to Thompson at the Russian Baths where, legend has it, the lard ass would have his weekly schvitz. He would call Capone’s lackeys and instruct them to, “Bring me my lunch.” Thirty or so minutes later, a brown paper bag full of cash would appear. I know this because as a kid I caddied for an old Italian gentleman whose job it was to deliver the scratch. Thompson was fond of the Everleigh Club, Chicago’s most infamous brothel, run by two sisters of the same name. He had a thing for chubby redheads and, it was hinted, that more than once contracted the clap.
He was not without a sense of humor. He once held a debate between himself and two live rats that he claimed represented his opponents. He also routinely threatened to punch out the King of England (like I said, he wasn’t all bad). He was finally defeated by Anton Cermak, whom he referred to as a “Bohunk” while campaigning against him.
Cermak cleaned his clock in the election. His background clearly resonated with a city comprised of immigrants. Out of office, Thompson continued trying to stay in the public eye with more acts of self-aggrandizing douchebaggery.
It’s sad to me that Republicans chose the elephant for their symbol. I love elephants. They’re intelligent, sensitive, majestic and mostly gentle. When I hear of people hunting them, it depresses me. As John Huston once said, “It is a sin to kill an elephant.” There is really no good reason to kill one. Here and there, stories come out of Africa of an elephant stomping the holy dogshit out of some guy who was trying to shoot it. I love these stories. I’ve always wanted to go hunting, with my friends, for the people who feel the need to shoot animals. We have talked about having them mounted and stuffed in their LL Bean shooting vests and with that surprised look captured on their face when someone busts a cap through their pancreas. Or maybe just mount the head, with that cool, bright orange Elmer Fudd hat.
We’d be sporting about it–maybe just shoot them with bow and arrows–get some of those cool five-sided razor arrowheads and a crossbow and pound them with a gut shot that gouts blood and is more merciful.
Imagine the duck hunter’s surprise when, after blowing on his little fart noise maker, he stands up to aim his shotgun, and I blow his gray matter all over his dinghy. This could be great fun! An extra element of excitement for the big Bwana hunter-guy–to be hunted. . .while you’re hunting; level the playing field a bit.
One of my fondest memories of elephants was watching them finally let Ziggy; a six-ton Indian elephant, outside after he’d killed his trainer at Brookfield Zoo. They hadn’t let him out in something like 30 years and when he finally got out it was emotional. Here again, it was not the animal’s fault. They had him doing all kinds of asshole tricks and finally he wasn’t having anymore and when the trainer fucked with him, Ziggy stomped a mud hole in his ass. This was in 1941. They didn’t let Ziggy outside again until 1970. The cruelty of this is beyond measure. Letting zoos and circuses even have elephants anymore bothers me to know end. How about this? Leave them the fuck alone! Let them live in their natural habitat and stop encroaching on it. You want to see an elephant? Watch them on TV. Stay the fuck out of their yard, their countries and their lives.
When I was a kid, my dad would take us to the circus. On occasion, he’d pull around to the back of the Chicago Stadium and, in the dead of winter, I’d watch this kid walk six Indian elephants in–trunk to tail– through the gray west side of Chicago. It is one of the sights I’ve never forgotten that revealed this city’s magic to me.