Sunday, April 19, 2009

Gypsies, tramps, and thieves

When Cher first released the song with the title shown above, it’s difficult to imagine that ANYONE could look more like a gypsy than she did in the video shown below:

What the general public is not aware of is that she actually IS a gypsy,
or at least is descended from relatives who were gypsies.

Cher’s father was an Armenian refugee truck driver, and her mother was of mixed Cherokee, English and French heritage.

The exact number of gypsies that live in the world today is difficult to determine accurately, but the link below will give you a rough idea how many live in the various countries that have them living within their borders:

a world full of gypsies

The largest concentration of gypsies is estimated to be in Turkey, where as many as 5,000,000 live today. The country immediately east of Turkey is Armenia, where Cher’s biological father was born.

In the United States, there are FIVE distinct groups of gypsies who live someplace in the area from “sea to shining sea”:

Katie, bar the door!

Although some gypsies settled in eastern Pennsylvania, and others in the southern states, the majority of them settled in New York or Chicago.

I’m not sure who Cher was thinking about when she wrote her song, but I would argue that NO PLACE in America fits the song title better than “the hog butcher for the world”, the home of the world’s tallest building (twice), or the future home of the 2016 Olympics.

Almost by definition, a Gypsy comes from a group of people who wander, and utilize “squatter’s rights” to establish their territory. In downtown Chicago, the most expensive real estate in the city sits on land that was originally occupied by a squatter named George Streeter. The territory where his boat “hit a sandbar” just off the shoreline in the 1880’s eventually became known as Streeterville, and its reputation has been cleaned up considerably in recent years.

On the near south side of Chicago, two sisters (Ada and Minna Everleigh) opened a brothel in February 1900, and operated it until it was closed in October 1911.

Early on, the sisters understood the revered tradition of “paying to play”.

By 1902, the club expanded, and the sisters were making donations to the First Ward Aldermen, "Bathhouse" John Coughlin and Michael "Hinky-Dink" Kenna to ensure their continued leeway. After the Club was closed, Minna Everleigh claimed in testimony that she "always entertained state legislators free in the club."

The clientele of the Everleigh House included captains of industry, important politicians and European nobility and royalty. Among their clientèle were Marshall Field, Jr., Edgar Lee Masters, Theodore Dreiser, Ring Lardner, John Warne Gates, Jack Johnson, and Prince Heinrich of Prussia.

Chicago may have had its tramps, but it’s safe to say that they were the most famous tramps in the world for a period o time.

Both the late Mike Royko and John Kass of the Chicago Tribune have done a good job of keeping the public informed about the shenanigans that go on at city hall.

One of the most outrageous examples of theft by a public official was the case of John “Quarters” Boyle, who stole $4,000,000 from the Illinois Toll Authority, but was subsequently hired for a cushy city job by Mayor Daley (aka “Mayor Chuckie”):

how much does $4,000,000 in quarters weigh?

In closing, though, Chicago may well be the land of gypsies, tramps, and thieves, but to me (at least) it will still be “Sweet Home Chicago.”

No comments:

Post a Comment