Just when you think the Chicago Tribune can’t possibly get any more confusing or irrelevant, they do. When they’re not engaging in pandemic panic porn, getting it wrong, or plagiarizing First Ward stories, they’re writing editorials reminiscent of SNL’s favorite hard-of-hearing Weekend Update counterpoint guest, Emily Litella.
“What’s all this fuss I keep hearing about Chicago getting a liverboat? What’s wrong with liverboats? Little children need to eat more liver and how will it get here if not on boats? We need more liverboats!”
The editorial in question, written in the tone of a cantankerous Pixar old man who caught some teenage boys walking across his front lawn, slams Lollapalooza throughout its entirety only to reverse course and conclude the premier music festival is good for the Second City and it should stay here.
And I thought I could be cantankerous. Even my far more forgiving wife couldn’t wrap her mind around that editorial absurdity.
For reference purposes, we LOVE watching Lolla on Hulu because you get the essential gist of the performances without having to pay exorbitant ticket prices or, God forbid, actually be there. This year’s lineup wasn’t as good as last year’s, but we always discover a new act to add to our wide variety of playlists.
I’m not much of a bluegrass fan, but after watching Billy Strings preform on Friday, I might just become one.
Though I firmly believe that being crammed into a mosh pit with 100,000 of your newest sweaty best friends while listening to overly repetitive EDM music is a circle of hell Dante never considered, that doesn’t mean I don’t understand it’s youthful appeal.
Putting aside the minor travails that beset any massive music festival, I’m amazed that C3 and the City have presided over Lolla for ten long years without a major incident. But if you believe the Trib, this “debauchery” by the lake comes in a close second only to what one might expect from a Saturday night in West Garfield Park.
To quote the Tribune:
If you are a worrying parent of a teenager, or even a tween, you might not be celebrating, given the festival’s youthful target demographic and its multiday cost, its tacit fashion requirement of wearing as little as possible, its party atmosphere and general ability to give parents fits.
Plenty of parents get little or no sleep, and spend a lot of their precious July weekend circling around the exit and entrance area in traffic jams, even as they try to extract their amped-up offspring from the crowd.
Not to mention all the “…urine, defecation and people throwing up around the park,” all of which made me think they were talking about the Tribune newsroom during the Sam Zell years.
First, if parents were that worried about their progeny participating in the proceedings, they wouldn’t shell out $130 for a day pass or, worse, $350 for an all-day pass plus another $500 for a shared hotel room. The vast majority of kids I saw in attendance clearly don’t have that kind of income.
“Extracting their amped-up offspring from the crowds?” At least 98 percent of those “kids” can drive or, better yet, avail themselves of all manner of public transportation. And a party and drug fueled concert atmosphere? That’s probably where most of them were conceived.
As far as the “fashion requirement,” apparently the Tribune editorial board has never been to Oak Street Beach or watched Lolla’s female performers. It would seem that the bassist for Maneskin forgot where she put her shirt.
To be fair, the Trib did make a reasonable point about the promoters footing the bill for the damage to Grant Park, but they also admitted that “Lollapalooza has an economic impact of at least $300 million a year.” You’d think that might cover a few lawn divots, wouldn’t you?
Were I on that editorial board, instead of slamming it I’d have extolled the virtue of a city-promoter partnership that consistently pulls off Lolla without a hitch. I certainly wouldn’t have trashed it in an insipid editorial that was published smack dab in the middle of a new ten-year contract negotiation.
So, why did the Tribune take those pot shots? Oh, that’s easy! Because Lollapalooza had the temerity to make them look like idiots last year.
If you recall, despite the overwhelming medical evidence against it, America’s least funny columnist, Rex Hupke, and his liberal columnist compatriots persistently declared that the 2021 Lollapalooza would be a COVID superspreader event, the likes of which had never been recorded in the annals of pandemic history. They said all that blood would be on Mayor Lightfoot’s hands.
But nothing of the sort happened. Just 200 of the 400,000 or so concertgoers came down with the plague. But instead of admitting they were wrong, the Trib ran an editorial excoriating the event for its failure to carefully check vaccine cards and their questionable contact tracing. In other words, they couldn’t possibly be wrong, so the festival had to be.
And this year’s editorial was borne of the same thin-skinned phenomenon that leads to applying their deflection-ary tactics. It’s as if the Tribune’s saying “You’ll pay for being right and making us look bad!”
It wasn’t always this way. This new print media dynamic is borne of the best publishers, editors, reporters, and columnists having long since left the profession. My 2006 Beacon-News editors had no problem admitting their newspaper was wrong, but their newer mediocre and much younger participation trophy era replacements can’t begin to handle that responsibility. So, they go on the attack instead.
It’s not just the Tribune, either. The Daily Herald, and particularly the Kane County Chronicle, are even worse in this stilted regard.
Is Lollapalooza perfect? Of course, not. But when you consider the hyper-violent state of the Second City as a whole, it’s damn close. And for the Tribune to put this amazing event at risk simply to satisfy their damaged egos and protect their fragile psyches is, as I’m so fond of saying, beyond the pale.
Then they have the nerve to wonder why people trust the press much less than politicians.