March 12, 2009
BY DAN MCNEIL
If there’s a subculture in town that has been more annoying than the residents of Wrigleyville, I haven’t found it. They live there because it’s the liveliest neighborhood in Chicago, the epicenter of nightlife.
The latest exhibit of hypocrisy concerns the Cubs’ desire to continue making Wrigley Field a destination for concert-goers. Elton John and Billy Joel are booked to tickle their ivory keys at the Friendly Confines on July 16 and 21, and the Cubs have added another show, Rascal Flatts, on July 18.
Local residents are seething over it. Seems they already had scheduled a big block party on the 18th. It’s a festival that includes a lineup of bands that would perform on several stages on Southport.
Sing me a song, you’re the piano man.
Jill Peters, president of the Southport Neighbors Association, contends Rascal Flatts’ Saturday evening gig violates an ordinance and opens a whole new can of unwanted worms for future Saturday night jam sessions inside the World’s Largest Beer Garden.
In an interview with the Sun-Times’ Fran Spielman, Peters said, ”The neighbors and the businesses deserve certainty in knowing there is a limit to how many concerts are held every year and assurances that they not violate longstanding ordinances and agreements.”
That’s pretzel logic personified. Local gin mills, restaurants and apparel outlets open their doors there because of the circuslike atmosphere. Businesses thrive on the flurry of activity.
Establishment owners have been devastated by the Cubs’ inability to play more than the minimum number of postseason dates at Wrigley in each of the last two Octobers. The Arizona Diamondbacks’ rude dismissal of the Cubs in the 2007 National League Division Series provided business owners only one additional opportunity to stuff their cash registers.
And I can’t think of anything dumber than the neighborhood dictating the number of night games played at Wrigley. Maybe we should give the residents kudos for getting the city to grant them this type of authority. Or maybe we should slam the city for affording them the power.
Have the Wrigleyvillians heard Cubs players — dating back to the collapse in August and September of 1969 — bemoaning the strains of playing so many day games? Do they really want a World Series in the ‘Ville?
Those meaningful, late October games invariably are played at night. If Lou Piniella’s three-and-out Cubs were to unearth a method of postseason advancement, I’m wondering if Peters’ group would balk because their precious evening restrictions would be violated.
I’m confused as to what those who choose to live in that neighborhood really want. It would stand to reason they like the party there, but they turn around and whine and put caveats on it. And maybe I’m misguided in assuming these ‘Villians are Cubs fans.
Always Mardi Gras
The late comic Sam Kinison cracked wise about hungry people in deserts needing to move to where the food is. If it’s peace and quiet that Wrigleyville residents desire, maybe they should consider the suburbs, which can offer calm Saturday nights.
Did I fail to mention there was a rooftop owner seeing double over a JumboTron obstructing his patrons’ view of the Winter Classic? He wants the Cubs to ante up for that transgression.
It looks like the Cubs can’t find a way to win off the field any easier than on it. But I support them in their desire to continue giving the neighborhood a Mardi Gras feel. That is consistent with how Wrigleyville evolved in the ’80s.
And I’m all for the city muscling up on these obnoxious neighborhood ordinance zealots who contradict what the mission statement is for the Cubs and the area. It’s Party Town. Bring on AC/DC, Three Doors Down, the Rolling Stones, 40 night games, maybe even a World Series.
Time to let the sun go down on disgruntled objectors.