APOL was in Chicago this week, ostensibly on tour, although dispatches received by its grumpy author suggest little actual work was accomplished. APOL is known to be easily distracted, and there is much to distract the ADHD-prone in Chicago. The Midwestern burg is known by many names—the Windy City, Chi-Town, Second City, the City of Big Shoulders among them. Perhaps the most apt of its monikers is “the Heart of America,” for Chicago has long had an outsized creative and cultural influence on the United States and the world at large.
Route 66 begins in Chicago. The Ferris wheel was invented there. Ferris Bueller spent his day off there. The zipper was invented there. Walt Disney was born there. Hugh Hefner started Playboy there. Ebony began there. The deep-dish pizza was invented there. So was the vacuum cleaner, and spray paint, and the Twinkie. The first-ever baton-twirling contest was held there. The world’s first skyscraper was built there, as was the first air-conditioned office building. The first blood bank was created there, and the first mail order business.
As Frank Sinatra liked to croon, “My Kind of Town, Chicago Is.” (Yoda-like, Frank was.) Interestingly, “My Kind of Town” was nominated for an Academy Award in 1964 for best song. It lost to “Chim Chim Cher-ee” from Mary Poppins, a film produced by, yes, Chicago’s own Walt Disney.
Note: “APOL” is the anthropomorphic version of my satirical novel A Person of Letters, which has gone on tour without me (with a post-modernist wink and nod to magical realism). Follow APOL’s quixotic world tour here or on my Facebook Author Page, and read about all of APOL’s (mis)adventures in sequence on this tour archive. For information about the book, go to Martin Scribler Media.