Friday, January 23, 2015

An Obama Library Could Get Haunted by Old Studs Lonigan

Washington Park's Studs Lonigan didn't cotton to Coloreds in his neighborhood around 58th & Indiana

John Kass notes the possible site of an Obama Presidential Library near 58th & Indiana.  I believe our preening President is, was and has been finished with Chicago and will demand that his Presidential shelves filled with copies of his ghost written autobiographies will be located in Hawaii, where he choom-ganged his way through school.  That said, were our  Guest of the City President to acced to the wishes of University of Chicago swells and the real estate kings ( Judson Miner and Allison Davis) who bankrolled Obama's ghost-ride to Springfield and thence Washington D. C. such a spepulchre to self-worship might find a ghost wandering its halls - William "Studs" Lonigan, as fictional a character as the President, his own bad self.

Studs Lonigan is a character from the Trilogy bearing his name. A trilogy is a trio of books linked by similar plot, character development and theme, not unlike the duology Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope. You have a novel, a duology, a triology, a tetraology, a pentaology, a hexology, and a heptology, an octology, a enneaeolgy and posiibly a decalogy.

James T. Farrell, was the Mount Carmel High School student athlete who went to University of Chicago and bought into all of John Dewey's crapola, and wrote about 'the old neighborhood.'  Farrell wrote about a guy died young, after a long career as a bust-out, bar bully who wasted his soul and health on our American Dream. The American Dream is the dope of the middle class, according to University Lab School trust fund babies and anyone who actually believes that John Dewey makes any sense.

Farrell's Studs Lonigan character is a sad, grunting bum who recoils from hard work, human feelings and doing for others.  The real person Farrell modeled Studs' character on is buried a couple of hundred yards from my modest, middle class front porch in Mount Olivet Cemetery. Buried with and near this sad guy are hundreds of wonderful south siders - priests, soldiers, poets, Fenians, bootleggers, teachers, cops, firemen, nurses, business moguls and writers.  The quiet souls rest in Christ's smile. Studs? Probably not so much.

The unquiet soul just might wander.  The real Studs Lonigan might take a ghoulish street car from Morgan Park and back to Washington Park. This racist, drunken lout must be sickened that a 'shine, a coon, a dinge' became President of the United States and want to haunt the guy's library.  Hold the phone!

The Washington Park neighborhood lies near the lake and the gray Gothic towers of the University of Chicago, but this is a working-class town. On hot summer nights you could smell the sweaty wind from the stockyards to the west, and the smoke from the steel mills all the way to East Chicago and Gary. Though these streets have fallen on hard times, the heavy masonry and brick give the churches, the two- and three-flat buildings, and large apartment houses a look of fortress-like solidity and permanence. They must have influenced Farrell’s prose. Not far from St. Anselm’s, at 58th and Indiana, a sign may soon be going up, renaming the block “James T. Farrell Way.” This was the heart of the old neighborhood: the Mom and Pop groceries, the drugstores where you had to exchange a nickel for a slug to make a phone call, the movies and the pool hall where the gang hung out. The corner. A corner of Chicago that belongs to Farrell, and to his most famous creation, Studs Lonigan. 
James T. Farrell was miserable guy.  He made himself miserable, because Studs Lonigan was all that people wanted.  He was bummed that Chicago never lionized him for his literary art.  Farrell visited Loyola, a year after I graduated, at the gracious invitation of Dr. Suzanne Gossett who taught the Chicago novel. Farrell was anything but gracious.  He died shortly in his self-imposed exile in New York.

President Barack Obama is very much like James T, Farrell in the way that he constantly blames others for his self-made miseries.  They are brothers of the Maroon, having both won glittering, but unearned prizes at University of Chicago and they are authors, as well.  Farrell hated his neighborhood. Obama hates anything resembling a neighborhood and the Babbitts who choose to remain in the them.

If Obama's Presidential ends up being the Chicago default choice, they had better budget big dollars for the poor slobs working the night shift.  Studs will be in the House!

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