"You think Chicago's bad," she says. "Wait till you see what they're doing in your hometown."
But in this case . . .
In its effort to bring a grocery store to an abandoned Blockbuster store on Chicago Avenue, the bosses in Evanston cooked up a really dumb giveaway—or so my aggrieved reader says.
"They're giving Trader Joe's the beach," she tells me.
"Lee Street beach.”
“No way . . .”
“Yes, it's in the RoundTable."
So I get a copy of the RoundTable, Evanston's alternative weekly. And I turn to page eight. And, sure enough, there’s the story—by Dirk Cumulo—under the headline: "Lee Beach to Become 'Trader Joe's' Beach'”.
“As part of the incentive package prepared by City staff to lure Trader Joe's to Chicago Avenue, the City will rename the Lee Street Beach `Trader Joe's Beach,' and cordon off about half the beach for the exclusive use of Trader Joe's employees and invited guests on Tuesdays and Thursdays."
What? That's an outrage!
And on I read—including quotes from Evanston's Director of Corporate Largesse, whose name is Grafton Grant—until it hits me. This can't be real.
Sure enough, in script so small that no one above the age of 50 can possibly read, it says: "April Fool."
Why, those tricky muthafu . . .
Actually, it’s pretty funny. Especially, Grafton Grant’s closing quote: "We have numerous beaches here in Evanston. We can afford to let one of them go, at least part of the time. It's definitely worth it. I mean, we're getting a Trader Joe's after all."
Oh, how many times have I heard Chicago officials make similar exclamations about proposed TIF handouts to MillerCoors or Willis Tower or the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, etc and so forth.
Congratulations Dirk Cumulo, whoever you are. I haven't spotted such an artfully created hoax since my good friend, Milo, wrote about the day Elvis Presley came to Gary, Indiana, and gave him a cherry red Cadillac.
What makes the RoundTable trick work is that it's just preposterous enough to be real. As it is, Evanston's kicking in about $2 million to buy up property along Chicago Avenue, which Trader Joe's will use as a parking lot.
Makes no sense why Evanston—where property taxes are even higher than in Chicago—would want to waste hard-earned money on a grocery store. Especially, when there are two grocery stores—a Whole Foods and a Jewel—within a block of the proposed Trader Joe's.
How many grocery stores can one block have?
It's almost as dumb an idea as Mayor Emanuel's plan to spend about $7 million in Chicago's desperately needed tax dollars to build a grocery store in Greektown across the street from another grocery store.
Guess there's just something about grocery stores that makes otherwise sane people lose their minds.
Not that Mayor Emanuel’s otherwise sane.
Well, anyway—good job RoundTable. Though, I kind of wish you hadn't run it. Hate to give anyone in Chicago any more dumb ideas.
Yo, Mayor Emanuel, put on your reading glasses. You'll see it was just an April Fool's joke.