« Freakonomics Radio

136. The Middle of Everywhere

2013-08-15 | 🔗
Chicago has given the world more than sausage, crooked politics, and Da Bears.
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You say a dog Geordie sausages slaughterhouse windy city, stinky, cabbage points, ox curbs, o second city, of course, cold weather, the L B, L T pizza I get it, even though I have spent a fair amount of time in Chicago myself, and I, like it Falada reasons. The fact is that we don't talk about Chicago, that we talk about Europe LOS Angeles Poor for that matter, Austin Boston, even Vancouver. Now? Why is that in more important? Why should we care? I'm here
from w, and my see this is for economics, radio, the pine camp that explores the hidden side of everything. Here's your host Stephen Governor on today. Show I'd like you to meet a friend of mine, high volumes, I must die Jerked Tom Divergent is from Chicago. I was born there. Grew up on the north West side. We still have the. I was that my father was born in need of making twenty nine. So we think we got pretty deep there, and I feel I do too. In times a writer, a good writer. You recently published a new book and he did what we writers do. You went to the local, Barnes and Noble here New York to give a reading and the often people called the third coast when Chicago built. The american dream, which really
where's the years late authorities through the late fifties. Now most bookstore readings, as you may know, are not very exciting. So an author will get up behind, shaky podium and we'll nervously, Rita couple sections of his or her new book then take a few questions. If anybody actually bothered to show up for the reading,
and the raiders always hoping that someone will ask about the very deepest themes of the book. This book Cubans leaving over for a few years, but usually will here two questions at every rate or gets asked at every reading. One do you prefer writing on computer or longhand and to do you have particular time set aside every day to write or you re just when the muse strikes you so most bookstore readings are actually put this low impact, but when Tom died did his bookstore reading
for his new book about Chicago. It was nothing like that. Helped there was packed, but what really made at work as it died? You don't just stand there and red random passages. He basically delivered a sermon, a detailed and fascinating and, to me at least, very compelling testament as to how Chicago, as he puts it, built the american dream. Why? America, as we know it today, would be unrecognizable without Chicago's many contributions. Now, there's just one problem with this amazing Picture, which is that I didn't have a tape deck with me, but Tom died. You did agree to sit down later in a proper radio studio to talk about how Chicago changed America beyond the hot dogs. The sausages- and even
the guilty pizza. Well, I think you're a ten ways that Chicago has affected everyone's life, certainly in Amerika the first one is architecture I was always impressed by skilled skyscraper, Ms Van Der row in this period comes over to Chicago nineteen. Thirty eight chased out by the Nazis and it goes to the ongoing digital technology and, rebuild sooner camp is there on the near south side and while he's there heat, he really brings forward that steel and glass style of architecture very simple, very, a curious, but it's his image of what Amerika can be the something powerful, very rational Mary luxurious on in that becomes really the template for
the face of big business, the face of the government and the face of the american skyline. So when we, when we travel around today- and I gotTa Charlotte North Carolina LOS Angeles, I'm seeing second third, fourth generation means yes, exactly Google number two. Would he have number toy amusing, what guy this place. One lands on is the chest: brothers Leonard and fill chess too Others on the south side who re take this kind of little I'll, be label called aristocrat and turn it into the home of the blues. The first big players Heaven. There is muddy waters who comes up from Mississippi in eighteen, forty six and he trades in his acoustic guitar for Electric Qatar
and he really creates a new sound, Mama ah muddy, really kind of speaks, I think, for a lot of of black Americans come north, by the MID fifty, so you have the first wave of rock and roll the kind of Dingley. You know, Rocca, Billy Kind of style of rock and roll in the blues. Men are shunted a bit to the side, they go from being really hot to not being able to get a gig. And so almost out of desperation, them led by muddy waters, go to England and people lined up to see them. People like Mick, Jagger and Paul Macartney an error, Clapton and so the Beatles, the rolling stones. All of that british invasion. Rock comes directly from the
pact of muddy waters in the other Chicago Blues man, I gotta say That is, I think, a deep musical tradition that comes out of Chicago Joe. Then these years number three please number three is food I think we all think of Chicago, is being the union over the Haug butcher of the world and packing houses and all that by the MID fifties. All that is pretty much gone, there's another guy out in splain, who has a major impact that we all live with. Today's name is re crock
in my view there are basically bees. Eighty people where as well- and I can't get them everything your life, but this One thing I shall again you grew up in Chicago and is selling mix masters when he meets the mcdonnel brothers in San Bernardino, California than they have this fabulous fastfood restaurant, which is doing crazy business and inside Think about it. The whole system attracts re so much. He makes a deal the franchise it with them and his dream. Which I think he pulls through is he wants to offer kind of Corky entrepreneur like him at a point when it's all about corporatism, big company these gray, flannel suits get not a community train. He wants to offer people away to have a small business, but that,
still recognise the economies of scale, the things you get out of being in a big business Ray was very much into quality of me when you into a fast food story. Restaurant. This point you might hole in the middle of your hamburger. He might get something that was full of ground up. You know awful, Various organ meets instead of ground beef. It was a kind of if there, the wild West time in fast food business. This was it in re, said no, we're gonna give people good food were to give them something to do out in suburbia can put the kids in the cargo do this on. He was all by creating but he independence in ironically enough. I think small is beautiful, so it is not something I think we think of as Mcdonald's now who is kind of food. The great Satan to so many people around the world number. Fourthly, is number four is a kind of university Chicago which produce so many great things.
You get everyone from current Vonnegut I've only creature, you have to figure out what to do next and why everybody else is a robot improved to Susan suntan. Coming out of their every event, has a little label on it, which says and to think that this too, is within the realm of the possible nuclear fission and the great books in the Encyclopaedia Britannica Solomon Ski and Frederick, run high at the idea that supply system is clearly essential, edging guide to enable people to fit into Indeed, the Chicago School of Economics. All these things are bubbling out of their. So it's incredibly influential that way, but the thing I think, has had more impact that came out of Universal Chicago. This point was a theatre company that started by a guy named David Shepard who left New York, with
a certain amount of money in his pocket any meets parcels and they start the Compass Theatre down in Hyde Park, part of what was in their work what they called scenarios. They would come up with a kind of dramatic arc and then it was after the performers to just make it up as they went and so simple it was all who is improper. You re right you get out of here. I hardly know This very basic part a thing of Chicago creativity and in fifty five of the cap I think it really does come to flower and does this all feed into the creation of second city ass. It, I think, is a side no name for us, some of the alumni of seconds it old veto, cod, the first round, the Alan ARC and Alan all the Joan Rivers. I think that the great these Saturday at Life Period Bill Murray, John Belushi, accurate Gilda Radner on today
people like Tina, Faye and Stephen Corral and Steam Colbert number. Five on Digest list is television itself, so TB took root. York and allay, but it found a different voice in Chicago producers. Air made smaller more personal shows shows to the American living room the today oh and the tonight show came out of Chicago and later, of course, open God Let's get back to Tom a person can be happy. I believe you can. You can be number six on diet,
list. Is the modern civil rights movement rose garden, been at it grows up in the early fifties. It sixty third in College Grove in Woodlawn His mom is from the south of families from there, so he sends one weekend in early August, one thousand nine hundred and fifty five to go to visit family, Mississippi and he's Lynn for allegedly whistling at a white woman in a grocery store up to this point? Usually the mere you would expect a body to be set north, the mother, to bury the body in shame, but maybe till does thing, which I think this is remarkable and remarkably important. Instead, she,
when the bodies open she gets photographers there. There people there from jet and she shows the photo actually into being a national magazines all over and it is horrifying and it becomes a catalyzing three emotionally catalyzing moment for Black America. This really expire Everyone, no matter who you were if you were black. This is what White America thinks of you right now, on line that year. That December is when Rosa Parks does not get up on it seat on the bus Montgomery when she too I may me late around that all the time she was doing, that she was thinking of M until so in many ways and it till lights the future. I think what we can call modern civil rights movement in America than any of them,
Number seven on Tom Digest list of ten things that Chicago be America, the Institute of Design founded by Laszlo, my holy knowledge. It was originally called the New Bow house and it went on to produce a generation of hugely influential arts, educators, photographers and designers a lot of our corporate american imagery, so the logos for NBC and Mobile and Chase PBS, for instance, were all designed by one time. Students of the Institute of Design when we come back numbers through TAT, you don't be so familiar with numbers, eight and nine, but number ten. Believe me, you're familiar with number ten
be a guide to how to deal with consumer culture that has exploded in America in the fifties and You gonna have pictures naked women. Brigham's radio, sponsored by wonder, is business movers podcast when cocoa Will it change their recipe to what they called new Coke in nineteen The five the backlash was swift and severe, and yet the man who drove the change Chairman Robert, always wetter, pulled new coke from the shelves in a matter of months. Wonder is business movers explores boys what is controversial decision and the public response, but the real story of new Coke is far more human and complex list
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we are talking today about the ways in which the city of Chicago is under appreciated the things that Chicago has given the rest of us, often without our necessarily knowing Thomas Data, is the author of the third coast when Chicago built, the american dream number eight on his list of ten t. Uncle contributions. Urban preservation, yes, men and Richard Nickel photographer from these two due to design who really finds meaning in his life by you becomes obsessed with Louis Sullivan. The great architect in Chicago died in while Madame Disrepute, necessarily buddy unofficial under pressure by have under preceded alcoholic and really kind of swept under there. A good bit what
called dies as he does. A project is I'll, be Sullivan. Buildings are coming down around Chicago as its rebuilding. He takes. Foe of Sullivan's buildings in nineteen, sixty two Garrick Theatre, also nor as the Schiller theatres slated, come down, be turned into a parking lot and what, does begin. The first great, I would say, grass roots landmark in campaign, the boy does eventually fall down. Come down was torn down, but nickel becomes the spokesmen for the kind of preservation and so Nido through his photography later on nickel actually dies. You can say he's a martyr to the cause. When Louise Sullivan's, great stock exchange buildings being torn down. He's going, every day to do photos in preserve what he can from. What's in it and a part of the building collapses, any dicey disappears and has found months later, his body,
in their so on it. It is a very tragic story, but he has a great amount of of importance. I think for landmark preservation number, nine, not literature per se, but romance between two writers that paved the way for just oh, a stormy romance should play out. I think the greatest writers Chicago produces during these years is Nelson Aldrin and his love story during this time. With Simone to both one woman who the new Yorker at the time called quotas, be pretty existential was it along with no, I dont, yeah canoe was good. Looking, I don't know what the other options whether Aldrin wrote, the man with the golden on the great novel about heroin addicts named Frankie Machine, Frank Sinatra played in the film
in all been encouraged. His one time, Lover Simone Beauvoir, to write the second sex, which became one of the bibles. The feminist, female and innovation is very much related to sexual abuse the two cannot be separated from one another, and that is our traditional attitude on sex is playing very much in this second class nonhuman role in which chastity has been more important than human. Whether Chicago, like a lot of great cities, has a way of producing opposites. So the Modernist Mies Van Der Rohe and the preservation of Richard Nickel, the rigorous University of Chicago and then completely unbridled compass, theater and second city?
So maybe we shouldn't be so surprised that a city that helped midwife the second sex also produced the man whose number ten and Tom Digest the magazine without any question, clearly projection of my own adolescent dreams and aspirations. He grew up in my neighborhood Hefner. I consider myself quite possibly the luckiest being the guy who was very, very withdrawn boy. He goes off, finds himself in high school becomes a big man on campus goes off, serves in the war as a typist comes ACT, universe of Illinois, gee I built- gets very does all the right things, but its nineteen. Fifty two and his very unhappy. His he is obsessed with sex and his wife is simply not an too enormous dreams for himself. He could look downtown and ended. I dreamt of sir.
Inky women in jazz, music and mink stalls and all that kind of stuff and not having any lives in a little apartment on south side in Hyde Park, actually on works at a magazine, job that he hates ends Oh, he decides and nineteen fifty two to just throw it in he's going to start this dream magazine. That is always wanted to do This can be men's magazine for people like him, too. Don't Hutton fish, it's gonna, be a guy I too had a deal. This new consumer culture that has just exploded in America in the fifties it's gonna have pictures of naked. Men, which is a wonderful thing, and but they're gonna be classy, and I think what makes him Successful and playboy. Success was something it's very Chicago based New York is you think, it's fair to say your value, is based on what you can do that other people cannot. The door is that you can opener that open to you that don't open for other people and in Chicago there is that
at urge of a city that his that loves to host conventions that loves to show people around in its about inviting everybody in an half have. Does that he invites you any wants you to read the magazine and get to know you should be able to get a hi fi used to be able to get a cool bachelor pad. The playboy clubs were about, bring it. If you paid your money every year, You could go to this place that was kind of like dimension and hang out to be a part of that world and so on it. Sort of it was a calculated, very smart business, gratitude, but it was about inclusion not about making it so exclusive. It was about come on in that's really a metaphor is in many ways for Chicago on many levels. Yes, yes, I think the city, but I think it has a very people or you, did a static as palazzo to institutional yeah institutional. Yet I mean you, you don't go to Chicago to get the awards, you don't go there to kind of joint, an academy, that's a kind of east coast thing you go,
they are to work your ideas out, but let's realistic Chicago is no longer that place where, as many people are working out as many ideas this Chicago's peak population was nineteen fifty three point, five or three point: six million people today it's two points: you know, New York has not lost those people in that period. Other cities have gained those people. It is not going. Ever be Detroit. It is not going to implode, I think in any way it is. It is still a wonderful, healthy thriving city, but it's not the city that it could have been
in vat system data is a shame, because America at this moment needs the kind of balance that Chicago those providing what it came out. It was the Middle EAST, anything we're missing. Now, it's the middle. You know what is the middle of America? You know people another, we either and, if added or we hold it up too high, and think that it's the beans in Chicago had a kind of cynic all sensible understanding of what regular was you know, you're gonna mind your own business, you gonna, you know, Have your house in your kids answer to take care of yourself you're not going to bug other people and they're not going to bug you and you're going to get it get on with it, and that that idea, place in the middle, where we all meat and we look at each other and
we try to figure things out Chicago had that I mean those political conventions were just meant for Chicago where everyone came and exchanged. It's where new PETE came like Meis in behaviour from wherever other countries other states and brought new idea. Is and without feeling that they had to immediately win. You know, and I think that coastal did mindset leave the middle without and we need more middle in Amerika now to be fair. Chicago has also been known for political corruption and cronyism for endemic racism for quite a bit of crime, just about every sort you can name, but there is at least one upside all that trouble it's given another friend of mine, something to write about all these years still
love, it teaches economics of the universe, is Chicago Love, english guy, I couldn't be, couldn't be a better place. How would you describe the key so sore world view or philosophy? If, if there is one of the Chicago you kind Department, I would say that store. Clearly there was a real unifying theme in the sky. We kind of parliament, which is that it was a group of I kind of class who thought differently about the world. And who were challenging the conventional wisdom at every turn, and I think that's less true too I think we were more representative of the profession. Although we certainly have our renegades, what is the lay persons view of Chicago Econ Department? Let's say someone who, in a reads that newspapers and knows a little bit about follows a little bit about the markets or economics at how does the lay person typically
you, the Chicago Depart of Economics, the most common question I've gotten. When I have said I work at dinner to Chicago Diploma Economics of the last fifteen years is is Milton Friedman still there, which S. Actually Milton Friedman left to nineteen. Seventy eight eleven years already have been gone now for thirty five. Here's, and indeed he has died by It's amazing that really Milton Friedman was incredible: communicator of economics in and he really in some ways were kind of like thee. The ugly step sisters of Milton Friedman, because he was an economist who managed to get his message out in the public interest. That really change people's thinking and were economists at least I am in your eye. Quasi economists who managed to get ideas on the public, but not actually changing. He was thinking now there are people who hate the University of Chicago economy.
Department, either in their imagination or in reality they think that its ideology underlies all the throng with modern capitalism. You say when you run into that argument. You Don't often say that to my face- and I think that maybe because they realize had I'm not really part of you now, the group that went to delay and work with Pinochet to try- and you know pudding capitalism, even if it at the cost of dictatorship- and I mean that's where I think, a lot of the of the politicized hatred, to Chicago countrymen. People now I've a toddler at the time, but I think come really what what the universe of Chicago Economic stands for, in my mind, the idea that you have this framework which which we talk about all the time. That's wrapped around incentive sets wrapped around.
Formerly modeling thing, wrapped around data and cause and effect, and you basically take that framework in you follow it as far as it will take you into every realm of daddy so well, maybe symbolise Chicago Economic compared to other departments? Is our willingness to apply our tools, not just a markets and not just to financial things, but everything the family slavery discrimination Sumo wrestling named me whatever it is. It's Been the view that the economy is not just a game playing its it's, it's important it's away. Understanding the world and we take it to everything.
A lot of your research about Chicago is not exactly an advertising for the city of written about the crack dealers in pimps and prostitutes in school teachers who cheat so is that the way you see the city as a kind of fantastic laboratory for basin avarice in cheating, more or less Do you think you would have had as much success chronicling that kind of stuff, if you are in Saint Louis Minneapolis Boston? If I had gone, for instance. I think I will
to find a different research agenda, nearly ass, much time if I had gone the principle of universal Sky and pay packets listeners on the next for economics, radio, we replay one of our very favorite episodes from the vault an hour. Show about prediction: incentives for prediction makers are to make either cataclysmic or utopian per day. Right, you don't get attention. If I say that what's gonna happen miles exactly savings, would dare you don't get on tv programme tv if it happens to come? True cares. I don't get it
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Transcript generated on 2021-03-15.