When I became mayor of Chicago, people were calling us “Beirut on the Lake,” which was a silly title, because in 1989 you couldn’t get good Middle Eastern food in Chicago. The only restaurant in the Loop was an Al’s Beef #1 under the L tracks. I changed all that. Under Rich Daley, Chicago became a cosmopolitan, international city. Because that’s the kind of guy Rich Daley is. You’ve seen that 20-year-old picture of me that still hangs in every public library? I copied the pose from a Peter Allen album cover.
A lot of people thought I’d be just like dad. But that wasn’t me.
Dad was scary. Really. By the time he died, he looked like the offspring of a leprechaun and an ogre. I wanted people who saw me in my limousine feel like they could shout, “Hey, Rich!” as I passed by. Also, Dad was a square. I never heard the word “homosexual” in our house on Lowe Avenue. Men living with other men was an exotic North Side custom. But once I became mayor, I marched in the Gay Pride Parade.
The gay and the lesbian are the ideal Chicagoans. Everyone else moves to the suburbs as soon as they get married. But the gay and the Lesbian can’t get married in Illinois, so they stay in our city, open Swedish restaurants, and establish neighborhoods where even Big Ten kids from Minnesota feel safe. And, they continue our Chicago tradition of 16-inch softball. Sorry, dad, but I wish everyone in Chicago were gay.
Ending the racial conflict in Chicago was my greatest achievement as mayor. We never had racial conflict when dad was mayor: an Irish guy from Bridgeport runs the city, and everyone else knows their place. Before I took over, the city council was wracked by battles between Harold Washington, a black man from Hyde Park, and Ed Vrdolyak, who I believe was Polish. Ed wasn’t Irish, I know that. And he wasn’t from Bridgeport. He was from the East Side, which I think is the part of Chicago that’s in Indiana. I’ve never been south of 59th Street, honestly. Anyway, the blacks put a candidate up against me every time I ran for mayor, but I beat every one of them. Now, they understand their role in Chicago politics: to vote for an Irish guy.
I remember one particular black guy who wanted my job. He was a professor at the University of Chicago, a real tall stringbean kind of guy, who wanted to be the next Harold Washington. He even ran for Congress, in Harold Washington’s old district, but he lost to Bobby Rush. This guy scared me, because his mom was Irish. My mom was Irish, and I became mayor, so who knew? Anyway, we found him a job in Washington, which is where we send all the do-gooders who want to cause trouble for the Machine. I’m not sure what he’s doing now, but I don’t see him on the list of candidates for mayor, so we obviously pushed him aside.
My other greatest achievement was helping the White Sox win the World Series. This has never been revealed before, but, like everything else in Bridgeport, all personnel decisions for the White Sox are made at 11th Ward Democratic Headquarters, across the street from Schaller’s Pump. My brother John and I signed A.J. Pierzynski as a free agent and scouted Tadahito Iguchi during a business trip to Japan. Dad’s White Sox only won the A.L. pennant. Ha!
A lot of people have asked me why I’m retiring. I tell them, “I’m the mayor of Chicago. Don’t question my decisions.” Even an alderman dared to ask me that. An alderman! But I’ll tell you now. It’s because I sold the mayor’s office to a German conglomerate for $2.6 billion, money that will keep the city solvent for at least the next six months. The public thinks there’s going to be an election next February, but Mr. Strauss from the home office in Munich will explain everything when he arrives to take over. He’s not Irish, and he’s not from Bridgeport, but I think he’ll do a good job.
I did the my best as mayor. What else did you want me to do, take my pants off? Jesse Jackson Jr. took his pants off, and look what happened to him.