I had occasion fairly recently to take a tour of Fulton Market. I’m not going to give too many more details than that because I’m going to complain a little bit, so bear with me.
Fulton Market is the current hotter-than-hot neighborhood in the West Loop. It has gone, in the last 20 years or so, from a place you could go to buy wholesale meats and secondary-market drugs, and possibly take out a contract on someone, to one of the youngest ZIP codes in America.
It’s the kind of neighborhood where it’s hard to walk around without feeling like you’re looking for your grandchildren. Nightclubs, uber-cool hotels that look like the kind of place you would stick a recruitment scene in a heist movie, Google, restaurants that would charge you a cover just to get in, if you could get in, which you can’t because you have to make a reservation five months out and pass several screenings for hipness … you know, the usual crowd. The city declared it an “innovation zone” or something like that some years ago, which means “no company there pays any taxes at all.” I think it is very nice of the city to support struggling startups like Google.
Anyhow, the tour: Our guide, who several times mentioned being retired and was very nice, spoke about “young people” during his tour as though a) the point of the tour was to view these mysterious and elusive “young people” in their natural environment, a la Jane Goodall, and b) in a manner that was deeply familiar to me but took a while to figure out because only about halfway through did I realize he was speaking of them the way someone who works for the Forest Preserve District or possibly the National Park Service speaks of an invasive species that we have given up on trying to control because the game is over. (“This stream used to be great for trout fishing, but that was before the Asian carp arrived in 1977.”) It was like a gentler, affectionately resigned version of the scene in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas wherein the district attorney’s anti-drug convention is describing the behavior of dope fiends and hippies. (“The Dope Fiend fears nothing. He will attack, for no reason, with every weapon at his command — including yours. BEWARE. Any officer apprehending a suspected marijuana addict should use all necessary force immediately,” etc.) The circle of life goes around, I guess.
Everything we saw seemed to go through the lens of what these “young people” did. Did you know “young people” enjoy expensive nightclubs? What about riding bicycles? We couldn’t pass a bike rack without having it noted that “young people” tend to prefer to ride bicycles more than drive and park cars. We went past a bar with the assistant theme of beer and video games, and it was noted that “young people” today enjoy video games. This is where I pointed out that during all the years I would have counted as young, I too enjoyed video games immensely, and when appropriate I also enjoyed drinking beer. It doesn’t seem like an unusual combination hobby to me, is what I am saying.
While we’re here, just so I’m not endlessly complaining about everything (a known habit of “old people”): I did not notice the exact moment when decorating for Halloween as ornately as we do for Christmas became A Thing, but I am 100% in favor. There are Griswold-grade Halloween displays up all over the place and I can’t get enough of it. Inflatable demons, gold skeletons, dioramas I think y’all spend the other 11 months of the year planning … I don’t know where you people have been until now, but my gosh, keep it up. I’m too old for Fulton Market but not old enough for Boca Raton, so I gotta find something to brighten the next few months. Add Super Bowl Sunday and Valentine’s Day and suddenly we have lights and festivity from early October all the way until we break the back of winter in early March.
Can we make this happen?