Sunday, June 4, 2006

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So long, Chicago

As of today, my family and I are no longer residents of Chicago.

It is a bittersweet departure, for obvious reasons. However, it's also a good time to reflect on what I will miss and what I won't miss about the place....


1) The workshop system. This will always be the U of C's comparative advantage. The paper workshops -- especially PIPES -- were a place where ideas and theories were ripped apart and then stitched back together by the faculty and graduate students. I will sorely miss the looks of shock and awe from visiting presenters when they see their paper expertly dissected by a 2nd-year graduate student.

2) My walk to work in the spring. When the miniature lilac bushes bloom on 57th street, the scent is one of the best stress-reducers around. Plus, any commute that requires walking past Robie House every day is a good thing.

3) My synagogue. I would not have thought this five years ago, but as it turned out our synagogue was the way through whivch we got to know our community. I'll miss the building, I'll miss the people... I'll even miss the unrelentingly liberal sermons at Kol Nidre.

4) Istria cafe. Those guys could whip up a mean skim mocha.

5) A competitive market in air travel. I've travelled anough in recent years to appreciate the fact that I was in a city serviced by almost every airline -- which meant I could usually find a nonstop, reasonably priced flight to anywhere I needed to go.

1) The Co-op supermarket. There is one supermarket in the Hyde Park neighborhood, and it is just awful. How awful? We stopped shopping there after our first few years in Chicago -- as this Chicago Maroon essay points out, "how can a supermarket chain that charges higher prices and offers lower quality products sustain itself?" Never have I seen a better advertisement for the evils of barriers to entry than that sorry excuse of a store.

2) The traffic. At least the Big Dig is done.... but the Dan Ryan will be under construction for years.

3) The anti-business culture in the South Side. Click here for one example. Ask the owners of Istria about how long it took them to open up their store for another example.

4) The short springs. This past May was typical -- cold as hell for the first two weeks, then oppressively hot and humid for a week, and then one nice week of spring. On the other hand, as one cabbie put it to me, "Of course the weather stinks in Chicago. If it didn't, 20 million peiople would live here."

5) Not enough Red Sox games on television. I didn't say my complaints were reasonable, they're just complaints!!

Time to turn the page. On to Boston!!

posted by Dan on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM



Thanks for sharing about the synagogue. My parish church has been a welcome antidote to the rootlessness of geographic wandering as well as social narrow-casting where one ends up working and hanging out with, well, folks pretty much exactly like oneself.

By the way, our sermons are fine: it's the affinity for the folk idiom in the baby-boomer laden choir that occasionally drives me to seek transcendence through a close study of the church ceiling...

posted by: Brian on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

Chicago's loss is Fletcher's gain. You already have a bunch of Fletcherites among your readers and we are happy to have you make a home in Medford.

May the winds be at your back on this new venture.

posted by: St. James the Lesser on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

Best of luck.

posted by: Klug on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

Welcome back to the Red Sox Nation homeland, Dr. Drezner!

posted by: Catfish N. Cod on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

Hate to disillusion you, but as someone who lives just outside of Boston, I can tell you there there's plenty of (2)-(4) out here. In fact we just had another classic (4) this year.

posted by: QM on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

Dan, I've enjoyed your blog immensely over the past few years and it's great to know that you are moving here to Red Sox Nation (even if it is to Meffa, as they say). Bon chance!!!

posted by: Phillip on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

Dan - wouldn't be surprised to see you return some day in an endowed chair...happy trails

posted by: adr on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

Ahh to read Mark Buehner and David Thompson again, it made me weep...


anyway we're sorry you are going. We'll miss you.

posted by: mickslam on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

Welcome to Boston / Cambridge!

Believe me, we can take your papers apart just as well as anyone in Chicago.

posted by: Commenterlein on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

I am a freshman at Northwestern who is transfering to Williams next year. I am in my final week of what has been a great year in Chicago. What a cool city. I am not sure how I stumbled across this posting, but it made me smile to think that others are making the same move I will be. So, goodbye Evanston, and hello Williamstown. (I will miss the purple line, thunderstorms over the lake, big 10 football... won't miss the wind and people not stopping at crosswalks). Have a great move.

posted by: Maxwell Hayman on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

In a way, Chicago and Boston are similar. 2 baseball champions in last 2 years. Bad traffic but excellent public transport system that extends into the 'burbs. Major international airports (Boston does not have Southwest with its hub at Midway, but they have JetBlue instead and 3 major airlines -- AA/DL/US fighting it out for #1. For cheaper fares there's always PVD/MHT...). Major financial centers (Boston has the money management industry, Chicago the CBOT/CMT exchanges with plenty of small banks/hedge funds in either place).

I used to like Boston but IMHO Chicago is more diverse, and more fun place to live (things tend to shut down earlier in New England). The big thing is cost of living and in particular real estate--Chicago has a "normal" market and Boston has hugely overpriced shacks for homes. Of course one thing that is important for Dan is the Boston is a much bigger educational center--historicaly the city has been home to much much more than its 'fair' share of excellent universities--Harvard, MIT, Tufts, Brandeis, BU, Welleseley/Ratcliffe. And Chicago has quite a few weird people in the streets--it would be impossible to stop for all of them on the crosswalks :)

posted by: Ivan B Zhabin on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

You are so right about both Istria and the Co-op.

posted by: hb on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

Congrats on getting out of Hyde Park!
and, got any ideas of where to go for food instead of the Co-op?

posted by: Gordon on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

Sorry to hear you're leaving, Dan. As a former U of C undergrad, I share your dislike of the short springs, and, above all, the Co-Op. You gave a snarky lecture about globalization to my intro-international-studies course that convinced me that IS was for sissies and that all the real combative thinkers were over in the PoliSci department. I switched concentrations and never looked back. Thanks.

(Aside to Maxwell: Evanston ain't Chicago.)

posted by: Adrian on 06.04.06 at 09:03 PM [permalink]

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