The Wednesday Pop Culture Rant touched down in Chicago with the city vibrating over the Cubs. A couple on the train, the man decked out in an old Greg Maddux jersey, discussed the series with a wily old veteran of Cubs heartbreak. All of them agreed the Cubs could sweep the three games at home and then steal one in New York. A few hours later the Cubs found themselves down 3-0 in the series and the entire population seemed to all sigh at once. 1908 and counting.

The Rant feels you Chicago. As Royals fans we’ve suffered too. But now, two years in a row, we stand poised to play in another world series. The impossible can happen. Cue “Don’t Stop Believin'” and hang tough.

Last night we wandered over to the Purple Pig, Jimmy Bannos Jr.’s fantastic hybrid tapas restaurant. The place hummed at 10pm and the only seating that remained was at something called the Chef’s Counter. Which was a tiny bar set up on top of the kitchen. We could have touched the prep table, and once we asked the kitchen manager what would happen if we helped ourselves to the meat and cheese board next to us. He laughed and gave us one of those don’t-but-you-should looks.

The manager ran the crew in a space no larger than an average walk-in closet. One man on the cook-top, one finishing what came off and prepping the next dish, one on the fryer, and one woman at the prep table. The manager yelled the order, a cook repeated it and away they went. The Purple Pig turns out some complicated dishes and the execution of all the ingredients was like an edible ballet. Then the manager called out the finished order and the table number so no mistakes happened during delivery. “Enjoying the entertainment?” a waitress asked as the plates whizzed by us. Indeed we were.

Four out of the five people working the kitchen spoke Spanish. They laughed, gave each other grief over mistakes, kept cranking out flawless courses. We grew exhausted just watching. Non-stop on a Tuesday night.

Oddly enough, as you leave the restaurant you can see the Trump tower lit up in all its garish glory. We’re sure plenty of immigrants worked to make it a reality. The same people Trump demonizes help to increase his wealth. Wealth he inherited from a father that specialized in building low-income housing with government money. Trump’s mythology of being self-made carries no weight in reality.

We’ll take the Purple Pig crew any day. Working hard to make the city the marvelous place it is to live. Investing countless hours to make things easier for the next generation. They have our undying respect, because The Rant hails from immigrants too. We all do, of course, except for the indigenous people we keep trying to erase from our origin story. Some of us remember the debt we owe those that came before while we enjoy an evening at the Chef’s Counter while others build impotent towers to their arrogance.

Leave a Reply