Saturday, October 04, 2014

The Joy Of A Devastating Fire

Hurrah! Let's celebrate the conflagration. Let's cheer for the burning of Chicago back in 1871. Not too many people died, so it's not like we're getting morbid or anything. Just some wood, going up in flames. Metal melting. Stone crumbling. People totally wiped out, losing everything. Let's have a party!

The city recovered, didn't it? Isn't that worth a display and music, dancing and oratory?

You can join in if you head down to the Chicago River tonight. You might be wishing for a little personal bonfire once you get there. It's going to be cold and damp, which is unlike the weather on that fateful day in October of 1871. Things were bone dry back then. The city of Chicago was pretty much just a big bonfire ready to go up.

Redmoon is putting on a spectacle to commemorate the fire, but they'll be looking at it from a perspective of death and rebirth. The old phoenix rising from the ashes kind of story, instead of the city thoroughly destroyed leaving little standing.

They'll have replicas of Victorian era houses on barges in the river, but if you know much history there were mostly simple shacks that went up that night. A single story hovel doesn't exactly make for artistry in flames, however. Think of the sets as just that, sets. It's all symbolic.

At some point, cauldrons of fire will be lowered from the bridges over the river and the imaginary Chicago of 1871 will burn.
Is that the fire alarm?

For those who worry about this whole thing starting a second Chicago fire, we can all rest assured that each barge will be equipped with its own sprinkler system. And cast members of the popular television show Chicago Fire will be on hand to act like they're dowsing flames if things should go wrong. Fans will be on the look-out for Lady Gaga who is reportedly in a relationship with Taylor Kinney. What are the odds that she'd be there? Who would want to miss this thing?

If you don't want to go all the way downtown you can attend a mini-festival in one of the many neighborhoods that did not exist in 1871. No one said this was going to have even the slightest whiff of authenticity. It's just a way to get people to come downtown and spend some money, maybe pick up a red light ticket from the cameras that function in ways intended to maximize ticketing. The city is broke, which makes the whole recovery spectacle more of a boost for morale. Burning in a fire of flames in 1871, and consumed by a fire of red ink in 2014! We did it before, Chicago, we came back from the brink, and we'll come back again. Make a right turn over there, will you, and help out a little?

Any excuse for a party. Even a devastating fire. Or devastating debt.

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