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Monday, May 7, 2012

Reality bites

Posted By on 05.07.12 at 03:46 PM

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Real American cuisine
"This is a chance for the city to strut its stuff on a world stage" is probably something that somebody once said with reference to Chicago’s failed bid to host the 2016 Olympics, but now here, in Crain’s Chicago Business, is a representative of something called Strategic Hotels & Resorts Inc. saying it about Plan B (or Plan C, maybe, since the G8 bailed): NATO! Crain’s writer Paul Merrion wonders if the city’s going to get the attention it’s seeking, which process involves luring foreign journalists out of their cavernous McCormick Place digs and into the city streets, though not, presumably, into the downtown, which may be overrun with protesters—excessive media coverage of the protests constitutes the "worst scenario" for NATO journalism. Instead the city’s boosters are hoping for "travel writers" to play up Chicago’s real-Americanness. As follows:

In addition to a post-summit media bowling party, about 50 Chicago families were lined up to offer foreign journalists a home-cooked meal. "That's a fabulous thing," says Mr. Klingst, "that people who come from abroad would actually have a chance to meet real Americans."

For more real-Americanness NATO could consult the New York Times's David Brooks and Gail Collins, who offered a few salient details about the midwest in a blog conversation last week. Brooks: "One of the reasons I like the Midwest is that it truly is more socially egalitarian than other parts of the country." He also mentioned the cuisine, but was less interested in home-cooking than in fast food. "The place so effectively arouses ironic reflections," wrote Brooks about the noted hamburger chain White Castle.

There's an issue of scale here. From a global perspective Chicago may represent the midwest, but from where Times pundits sit, "real America" is what's actually constituted by the sticks—the rural midwest and/or its less cosmopolitan cities, such as those in which former midwest correspondent A.G. Sulzberger cannot even get a decent seitan Reuben. If the NATO folks are misguided, it wouldn't be the first time.

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