It may be comforting to someone somewhere — though I'm hard-pressed to figure out who or where — to know that Riccardo Muti, the esteemed music director of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra since 2010, believes that Chicago is "the most elegant city in America."
Oh, maybe Mayor Rahm Emanuel is warmed by such words, for he appears determined to make Chicago the best place on the planet.
But even as we see him at the opening of a new Wal-Mart, meeting with the CEO of Whole Foods or officiating at the opening of a new runway at O'Hare International Airport or the reopening of the southern portion of the CTA's Red Line, we watch the ongoing violence that is ripping apart families and communities.
Such is the familiar fare of tonight's sixth episode of the CNN series "Chicagoland," which continues to follow its main themes of violence, schools (specifically Fenger high school on the Far South Side) and Rahm Emanuel.
Schools? How's this for a Pyrrhic victory: Jadine Chou, chief safety and security officer for Chicago Public Schools, announcing, "We have not had a student shot this week," jumping the gun, so to speak, because she says this on a Thursday.
CPS CEO Barbara Byrd-Bennett is heard to say, "Wow."
Fenger is having money problems. Its budget set to be cut by $100,000, principal Liz Dozier is faced with having to fire staff.
Contrast that no-money story with the example of the mayor's legendary money-raising skills. Walking through Growing Home, an urban garden/organic farm in Englewood with the aforementioned Whole Foods CEO (Walter Robb), the mayor learns that the operation needs $100,000; in a flash, he convinces Robb to pony up the dough.
He then, in a sorry example of his crude conversational ways, tells two women associated with Growing Home, "Take your hundred grand and get the f--- outta here."
Buddy Guy makes an appearance — two, actually. One is absolutely superfluous but star-studded: During a concert at the White House, the president awkwardly joins Guy in singing "Sweet Home Chicago." An interview with Guy is much more revelatory, short as it is.
We learn that the legendary bluesman came here in 1956, a time when jobs were plentiful and the black communities were lively centers of business and culture.
"That was the heyday," Guy says, hauntingly. "Now it looks like a ghost town."
And we meet some residents of that ghost town, none more interesting than former gangbanger and semi-paralyzed gunshot victim Eric Wilkins, doing his best to stem violence and save kids.
But they continue to get shot and die, and for as much as we have already seen in this series, the violence remains shockingly sad for all of us — especially for one of the series's most realistic and compassionate characters, Dr. Andrew Dennis, back in the blood-soaked trauma center at Stroger Hospital.
The former mayor also makes an appearance, at long last. There is a very short interview with Richard M. Daley — nothing we haven't heard before — and we see him standing in one of his triumphs, Millennium Park. But mostly he comes at us in old news clips.
And there is his father too, Richard J. In talking about the late mayor, co-writer/narrator Mark Konkol says that Daley's power and influence "earned him a nickname that he hated. They called him American Pharaoh."
I, for one, would like to know who "they" were. "American Pharaoh" is the title of a book written by Adam Cohen and the Tribune's Elizabeth Taylor in 2000, 24 years after Daley's death.
Neither they, nor anyone else I talked to about Richard J. Daley, could recall him ever being referred to by, let along hating, that nickname.
OK, that may be nit-picking about something that no one will notice in Fargo, N.D., or Tallahassee, Fla., or all the other places this series is getting decent ratings.
But this is our town, and we want "Chicagoland" to get things right, even as it only has a couple of hours more in which to do so.
Rick Kogan will review all eight parts of "Chicagoland," Thursdays in A+E
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