It’s 50 years from now. Boston is an archipelago, Los Angeles is a bay, and New York is under the sea. But in Chicago, you don’t piss and moan about dibs on your street, rats in your backyard, or Cubs fans urinating on your porch. Those things are still aggravating, but you keep your trap shut because nobody calls us the Second City anymore. Compared to the rest of our continent’s erstwhile major metropolitan regions, we’re doing great, still high and dry above sea level. And every once in a while in January and February, when the E. coli take a day off, you can still swim in the lake.
Chicago’s excellent position in what’s left of North America has ensured its survival long after all the ice cubes in the planet’s great blue old-fashioned have melted. We’re still shooting each other in the streets, but at least we have drinking water (when there’s power to run the purification plants). Even so, they don’t call us “the Saudi Arabia of freshwater” for nothing.
We still even have a few newspapers in this town, since the abundant rainfall in the subtropical midwest ensures a bumper crop of paper-grade hemp, and people finally realize that an independent free press is critical to keep things from going completely down the toilet. When the Internet went dark, they started to pay journalists enough to eat. Now I can afford a beach vacation in Pittsburgh.
In fact, Chicago and our handful of loyal midwestern vassal states form a relatively self-sufficient and secure island in the chaotic ocean that swallowed half the earth. We were always going to be among the last to be nuked (by a few minutes), but now we’re even further away from Russia and China, which have their own problems to deal with. Nobody even remembers North Korea.
I bet you don’t remember winter either. Barely, right? Now that’s just a few gray weeks when it rains every day (get your milk crates off the street for Christ’s sake!). You can’t go outside during the daytime in July anymore, but there’s still Major League Baseball, thanks to generous corporate sponsorship of each stadium’s state-of-the-art photovoltaic roof, with plenty of solar juice to fuel the air- conditioning and ice the Bud Light.
When has it ever been perfect? When has it ever been better? Today, the best of Chicago is the envy of the world. Everybody’s still pointing fingers about the collapse of the pension funds and fighting over who gets to line up first at the food banks, but there’s still a lot everybody can agree on. Remember how we laughed and slammed the door when the Trump kids tried to claim a few floors in daddy’s old tower? That’s a vertical cabbage farm now anyway. Says so right on the sign. As if we could afford to accept refugees. v