Welcome to Chicago, Darren; let me show you around

A sincere offer to Republican gubernatorial nominee Darren Bailey, now living in the city until November.

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First lady Jill Biden is shown a Day of the Dead Exhibit by chief curator Cesareo Moreno during a visit and tour of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen in October.

First lady Jill Biden is shown a Day of the Dead Exhibit by chief curator Cesareo Moreno during a visit and tour of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen in October. Neil Steinberg will be happy to show you around, Darren Bailey.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Darren, Darren, Darren ... the Hancock? Really? Was Trump Tower too expensive? Not that it’s a bad place, mind you. People live there. But you do know about the elevators, yes? Cables snap, people get stuck, and that 84-floor drop ... best not to think of it. I understand the problem is under control now, mostly.

You’re moving to Chicago ... why? As a display of courage? You said, to immerse yourself in the culture. Fair enough, Darren Bailey, let’s get to it. You can’t just spend the next ... umm ... eight weeks rushing from the Hancock entrance, surrounded by a phalanx of linemen from Xenia Junior College into a pair of waiting black SUVs. What does that prove?

Opinion bug


Nothing erodes fear like experience. We need to get you out on the town, over to the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen. Founded by teachers, you know. C’mon, I’ll take you, and even pick up the admission (ote-nay oo-tay eaders-ray: ission-admay is ee-fray). Then lunch at 5 Rabanitos. I love that place. Or “5 Radishes” in Spanish. See? You’re learning already!

Nor will we limit ourselves to one part of the city. We’ll ride the L, we’ll wander around Bronzeville, unafraid. Over the past 35 years, I’ve pretty much ranged across the entire city. From South Avenue O, within spitting distance of the Indiana border, to streets below Lower Wacker Drive. And let me tell you a secret: You can go anywhere in Chicago. It’s OK. Back when there were high-rise public housing projects — the Robert Taylor Homes, Cabrini-Green — I visited them all. At night. You know who lived there? Not demons with pitchforks. People. Working folks. Women lugging groceries. Some places are more dangerous, some less, but my personal rule is: If people can live there, I can visit. Never got shot once.

We can do something fun, rack ’em up at Chris’s Billiards on North Milwaukee Avenue — they filmed “The Color of Money” there, you must have seen that. Or if that’s a sin to your brand of performative Christianity, we can visit the Art Institute; I can steer you quickly by the paintings of nekkid ladies, though we can linger by the Monet haystacks and a few Christs crucified. You’ll feel at home.

Think of the optics! You, standing within arm’s reach of actual Chicagoans, fearless. That’ll rock ’em back in Xenia. And heck, maybe we’ll get along. I’ve met Donald Trump, you know, interviewed him back in the day, and attended his speech in Granite City. I understand the allure and don’t condemn you, especially, for drinking from that chalice, and swapping your soul for whatever flashbulb pop of approval his nod in your direction brought. I’m sure you’re sorry, or will be. We can talk about that. If you want to jam your finger into my sternum while forcefully telling me off, we’ll photograph it and put it on the front page. I want you to be happy while you’re here.

If you smoke, I’ll bring a couple of Rocky Patel Vintage 1990s — I just bought a half-dozen — and we can spark ’em up.

You know how to reach the paper. Say the word, and I’ll come up with a plan, so you can check with Rick Steves and see what you’re getting into, maybe buy one of those travel wallets that loops over your belt and tucks into your pants for added peace of mind. We’ll walk down Devon Avenue, pop into Tahoora Sweets — my wife adores their hot tea. C’mon, live a little. What have you got to lose? Or, rather, you’re going to lose anyway. Might as well see the place until then. You’re in Chicago now. Make the most of it.

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