I was born in the suburbs of Chicago to a Southside Irishman and a suburban Italian/Bohemian woman. They did everything in their power to make sure my brother and I didn’t have to want for anything. My dad, being the only child in the Gleason family, had a number of aunts who helped pay for any all necessities. They went so far as to set up investments so that Tony and I could go to college.* My mom’s family, living close to us, played the all-important support role. I can’t say which one was more important; however, I am eternally grateful for both sides of my family.

To be blunt: We were spoiled rotten and we knew it. We were not always the kids on the block with the newest or coolest thing, but we typically were in the first tier of “getting cool stuff.” In addition to the cool stuff, our parents were extremely active in our lives: School board; “classroom mom;” Football Coach; “the cool mom,” “the cool, but scary, Dad;” the Parent who always did the “bring your child to work day” or “Come to class day;” The french tutor. They were not overly enmeshed into our lives, however, they were always there and had a decent idea of what we were up to.** We were the very definition of privilege.

While we were spoiled, we also had high expectations. Tony and I were expected to get at least Bs in every class, to report in on a regular basis, stay active in our community and to complete our chores. The most important family rule could be summarized as “don’t be a dick.” We were given a lot and a lot was expected of us. We were expected to give back to our family and our community (attend family dinner, church/school outings, do community service and get a job). My parents, again to their credit, modeled and discussed this behavior all the time.*** Their Catholic faith was a part of it; however, they took their responsibilities as moral role-models seriously. They stressed the fact that family, faith and community were interrelated. They encouraged us to be responsible, conscientious and thoughtful people. Given that today Tony and I both work in social service and are relatively active in our communities, I think their message got through. Instead of a sense of entitlement, I believe we have a sense of responsibility and service.

It’s this sense of responsibility that has curdles my stomach. I live in a part of Chicago where the community is more of a clique than a neighborhood.**** I live in a part of the city where the people have a sense of Entitlement and privilege that makes me livid. My neighborhood is the destination for all the transplants, the people who think that this neighborhood is the end all be all of Chicago. These same people do not know near enough about their City; at most, they only know a few square blocks of the city. It is impossible to have the full scope of the city, its neighborhoods or its character, yet they declare that their experience is Chicago. I have to suggest that that attitude is utter bullshit.

I’ve lived north of Roosevelt Road the entire time I’ve lived in Chicago (that’s going on 10 years now), and I have seen this attitude first hand. Frankly, I am sick of this North Side Attitude. The sense of entitlement, privilege and superiority is exactly the reason why people think Cubs Fans are cobags. People who grew up on the Northside do not have this attitude. It is my fellow transplants who exemplify it. However, because so many people move to the Northside first, the neighborhood Northies get a bad rap. It is an unfortunate association created by chronic and constant cobaggery.

Which leads me to my example. This gentleman, whose work is featured in Real Chicago, writes about his “stories” in Chicago. I’m not sure if he is a Cubs fan, but he carries the attitude I am describing. On his blog, he documents his interactions with the, “[People] he could have been like,” “angry black youth” and degenerates that Chicago has to offer. I am sure that he at least tries to portray himself in a sympathetic light, which only further enhances his incomprehensible sense of entitlement and privilege. I offer this blog as evidence as to what is wrong with Chicago today.

Like him, I grew up with privilege. As I illustrated, I grew up with significant privilege. We also have another similiarity: I have also lived in or near the neighborhoods he describes. I’ve not had HALF the difficulties that he has. In fact, I can say with confidence that I have had less than 10% of the issues he has had in the city–and I’ve lived here longer and, probably, traveled, more through the city. There is something wrong with this formula; unless, of course, you consider that while I am pretentious bastard, I’m not a cobag.

Seriously, Mr. Grand, if you want to be taken seriously in this city–The City that Works–put your $800 bag and $3000 Mac Book down, stop judging your neighbors and get to work. Write your stories without degrading your subjects, and the Chicagoans can take you seriously. When you sip from your mocha, listen to your iPod and complain at the people who are “beneath” you, all you do is further a stereotype we’d all like to see disappear.

Footnotes after the bump.

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*Proof that Public Defenders know nothing about money. Each time my parents reinvested said money, they lost a significant portion of it.

** Except for Tony. He got away with a lot more than I did. Then again, I was not subtle and had (still have) a tendency to argue over stupid things.

*** While my dad and I would watch Nightline together, we would discuss all sorts of things, including how to make the world a better place and why Republicans are typically stupid.

**** Some of my neighbors are nice, but, they don’t go out of their way for anyone else. Small talk is the maximum amount of conversation that occurs in our elevators–and this small talk stops immediately when someone new gets on the elevator. Hell, I’m guilty of it too. In Tony’s neighborhood, there are families that go out of their way for each other and treat each other like neighbors. It’s amazing to see.

18 thoughts on “Entitlement

  1. Old habits die hard. You have no idea how long it has taken me to break out of the stereotypical Irish-American position on The Troubles.

    I’m sorry I’m a polarizing figure.

  2. ^- That’s me. Also, holly effing crap. I just started reading that guys blog and it took less than a minute to go into “WHAT THE HELL IS THE MATTER WITH THIS DOUCHE!?” mode.

    This is when discussing some things he noticed while visiting SanFran, specifically things that impressed him in a -positive- way:
    “… they’re a different breed of homeless people than what you find in Chicago. During my time in San Fran I was never once accosted by one of them. Nobody asked me for so much as a penny. In downtown Chicago, you can’t go 30 feet without somebody hitting you up for some spare change. They seemed a little more dignified than Chicago bums, and they certainly weren’t as needy”

    Goddamnit homeless people! Stop inconveniencing this guy with your money begging! Don’t you see you are ruining his Chicago experience! Stop being so selfish, homeless people! GOSH!

  3. Hell, can we get some SanFran homeless to Portland?

    Anyway, I still like you, ya nub, but sometimes it does get to me.
    I have a story to illustrate why.

    When I was a newly minted voter, I got a letter from NOW. Standard recruitment from them. At the time, I was a Republican. I was a member of the Young Republican’s in college. I was also a church going Evangelical Christian. This letter, which was supposed to make me a complete lover of this great women’s organization, managed to insult me, insult my family and insult my religion. Really great recruitment tactics there.

    When I wrote them back explaining how flabbergasted I was, they basically repeated the same thing. I could only assume they really did think I was stupid. After all, they kept repeating themselves and that was supposed to win me over. No matter what I think about the causes they represent, I cannot stand them.

    The same thing applies to most Democrats I knew after the 2000 election. These people could not understand why W won the white house. It was as if everything that I had seen as an adolescent was simply beneath their notice. How could people supposedly so enlightened that they wanted to do what was right for the country be oblivious to what was happening in the Christian community? You cannot reach people or help people when you refuse to try and understand them.

  4. Um, my experience with the homeless in Chicago, and the homeless in SanFran were pretty much on par. The one guy I remember most from being in Oakland was smart enough to stand next to the automatic ticket machines, and he’d ask for change from people who’d just gotten their change back from buying a ticket for BART. I know I couldn’t look him in the eye and bold-faced lie that I had no change, with the money I’d gotten back still in my hand. I don’t remember how much I gave him, but even as a broke college student there for a conference, I had more than he did.

    Good post, Marty.

  5. Let’s hope the entitled cobag you are referring to doesn’t decide to move to Seattle. Although he’d fit right in.

  6. “You cannot reach people or help people when you refuse to try and understand them.”


    We dialogue. Lewis and I dialogue. We work on understanding because we come from a place of friendship and common-nerd-ground. Because I care about your (and lewis’) opinion, I try to understand; however, I am coming from the converse of your situation. When I first started to vote, I was pressured by my Catholic church to vote against Clinton because he wasn’t pro-life. The same occured in 2000 and 2004–vote against the Dems because of a single issue.

    There was no dialogue. There was pressure from right to left. My typical response to this pressure was to 1) dialogue 2) argue 3) give up. I am guilty of giving up and saying there is no dialogue; however, the pressure is just as loud and rough right to left as it is left to right.

    I keep trying to reach out and i know I always screw up. Bringing up the Republicans are Stupid is mostly a discussion of how my dad and I would talk and argue with each other. It is more a flash to how my dad and I bonded late at nigh than what I think about my friends to the right.

  7. The first election in which I could actually vote was for George the elder’s second term. My parents were shocked and horrified when I made it clear that I was voting for Perot.

    My parents got me into the voting by having me keep track of issues for them, but like most things it did not have the effect they wanted. I did not end up a died in the wool conservative. Instead, I tend towards a more Libertarian veiwpoint then Republican. I do not believe in the legislation of social issues.

    It’s just a pet peeve of mine. I think it might be something that those of us on the outside of the two party system might feel agrivation about.

  8. First of all, The Marty bro is smoking hot!!! Damn. He’s married. So unfair.

    Second, that Chi-town cobag is such a cobag! I love the people who live in a city for 2 years and claim to know ALL. That is such BS.

    Oh and for the record — AG was in the Tenderloin last week (and stayed at the Four Seasons you wanna be elitist who stayed at the Hampton Inn SOUTH SF.) and was asked numerous times for change and food. So, don’t go telling everyone San Fran is sooooo great without Chicago plight.

    That guy is such a loser. He is um, what is the phrase AG is looking for: A single cobag and stayin’ that way!!!


  9. Been reading for awhile, but this is my first comment. You are so right about the attitude that people have about the north side. I am, or course, not a Chicago native. However, I heard about how no one wanted to live west of Western and north of Addison, or of course south of Roosevelt. Every part of the city has something great to offer – and some pretty shitty parts too. The whole city is like. Just goes to show – you can be a loser anywhere in the city as well.

  10. I think everyone has a right to their own opinion and perspective. With that said, I think Chicago was getting a bad rap in that piece. Show me another urban center – New York, LA, Portland without a homeless problem. And while we’re talking about San Francisco – what about Oakland? I think it would also be much easier to be homeless in a temperate climate (not that it would be easy to be homeless anywhere) – rather than a Chicago winter.

    I thought I read that a great percentage of homeless are actually veterans – and others suffer from untreated mental illnesses. But it’s much easier to blame them for their problems, instead of looking at how our government and society is failing our most vulnerable.

  11. I would agree that folks have their right to an opinion. However, when you are going to put your opinion out there and it has no factual basis or is it racist, misogynistic, homophobic, etc., etc. — it is important for those in the know deconstruct that opinion so that ignorance does not continue to spread.

  12. Yeeeeeeahhh…As someone who lives in SF, I can only imagine that this guy was wandering through the TL when all of the people there were so cracked out that they couldn’t put together the necessary words to ask him for change.
    Imagined conversation between blogger(B) and crackhead(CH):

    CH: MMmggth hey, HEY!
    B:How splendid that these people aren’t hitting me up for change!
    CH: Huh. blughf (drool) HEY! HHEEEEY!
    B: what a lovely city

    Still, I love it here.

  13. Well, the reason I brought up the hobo quote was because it struck me as utter cobaggery (See, I’m trying!) to see the homelessness problem (which yes, it exists on every major metropolitan center in the world) as something that is bad -because some yuppie doesn’t like being bothered by poor people- instead of, you know, because people not having a home and being reduced to begging in the streets is a pretty bad thing -for the homeless person- and that we should feel like it’d be a good thing if something was done to help these people.

    When you see somebody starving and your first reaction is overwhelmingly “yuck, poor people” with little to no traces of “this person has it pretty bad”, I find that pretty egregious. Not that I think everybody has any kind of obligation to give beggars money every time you see one. But to take the homeless problem and trivialize it into an unpleasant experience for the yuppies, with the connotation that poor people’s suffering means shit, well f that.

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