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Wednesday, August 4, 2010

East Chicago's Galactic Shite Hole

I've driven to Chicago a few times, and every time I eagerly await Gary, Indiana's appearance on the horizon. Just in case you missed it, Gary is the biggest piece of jaw dropping, industrial urban squalor in the known universe. Miles and miles of belching, flaming smoke stacks, rusty factories, snarls of pipes that tower four stories high ... seriously, worse then ten Jakartas and worse than Beijing on a white-out smog day. if there were an evil Gargamel of global warming and carbon emissions, the Pilsbury factory in Gary would be his castle.

Gary seems like the kind of place you could find Mad Max, The Terminator and Oliver Twist all living on the same street, but in reality, Gary's most famous native son is Michael Jackson. When I stopped at the Indiana Welcome Center, I looked around for brochures about The Michael Jackson Historic Homestead or, failing that, the Haunted Gary Toxic Waste Cruise. I really wanted an excuse, I realized, to commune with this city that had so captured my imagination. Alas, there were no tourist attractions at the Gary exit, and I can only conclude that it's the type of place where, like East Cleveland, you can't slow down or you'll die.

True to form, Gary was plagued with construction and traffic, which finally bogged down in the giant morass of Chicago. The sun was shining for once, turning the air a shimmery green. I bet Gary has great sunsets, but after driving through it a time or two, you couldn't pay me to eat a single fish from Lake Michigan. Hell, you couldn't pay me to eat a single particle of plankton.

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