Showing posts from December, 2016

What the hell, Chicago?

Eleven people were shot to death in Chicago over Christmas weekend, bringing the total number of murders in the city in 2016 to over 750 (Bosman and Smith). It has been a distressing year, to say the least, in the Midwest's largest city, and it casts doubt on the whole urbanist project.

The murder epidemic comes after a 25 year decline in violent crime in the United States, including in the State of Illinois, where the rate per 100,000 population dropped from 1039 in 1991 to 370 in 2014. Nationally, violent crime in 2014 was 51.3 percent of the 1990 rate (Source: FBI Uniform Crime Reports, aggregated at As I wrote in August, there are at least 11 explanations for this decline, which is too many to be encouraging, particularly when crime comes roaring back as it has in Chicago this year. And if that's not enough to worry about, consider this: the number of people shot in Chicago in 2016 exceeds 3,500 (Bosman and Smith again). Were it not for advances in me…

Urbanist existentialism?: "At the Existentialist Cafe" and other stuff I've recently read

Works discussed:
Sarah Bakewell, At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails (Other Press, 2016)
David Bosworth, The Demise of Virtue in Virtual America: The Moral Origins of the Great Recession (Front Porch Republic, 2014)
Ben Kaplan, "I Love You, Cedar Rapids," Corridor Urbanism, 28 September 2016
Brandon Kendhammer, Muslims Talking Politics: Framing Islam, Democracy and Law in Northern Nigeria (University of Chicago, 2016)
Katie Kennedy, Learning to Swear in America (Bloomsbury USA, 2016)
Ray Oldenburg, The Great Good Place: Cafes, Coffee Shops, Bookstores, Bars, Hair Salons and Other Hangouts at the Heart of a Community (Paragon, 1989)
Kate Wagner, "A Pictorial History of Suburbia," Welcome to McMansion Hell, 18 December 2016

Heidegger and Sartre, drinking poppy tea I could have sworn last night I passed out in my van And now those boys are pouring one for me --JOSH TILLMAN, "I'M WRITING A NOVEL"
I first encountered existentia…