To the editor:
I solved the "Windy City," but I can never go to Chicago again.
Cecil Adams featured some of my work in two recent columns of the Straight Dope [September 17 and 24]. In May 1999 Rick Kogan did a story for the Chicago Tribune magazine about the origin of the "Windy City." He again quoted the story that New York was competing with Chicago for the World's Fair (Chicago held it in 1893), and that Charles A. Dana of the New York Sun first used the phrase to disparage Chicago.
Three years before, I had submitted tons of stuff to the Chicago Tribune--with no response! The Chicago Tribune that year had also used the Dana story in an article. When I wrote to the Tribune's reader's ombudsman, I was told that the problem was that the Tribune could not accept "unsolicited manuscripts." They couldn't ever consider anything I had to say!
I wrote to Rick Kogan, the letters column, and another Tribune editor anyway. I told them that the American Name Society is meeting in Chicago this December--it was before this group that I presented my work on the "Big Apple." Unless the Chicago Tribune apologized to me, I would not lecture at the meeting this December (keep in mind, I get no money and I pay my own expenses when I do these things). I would also never go to Chicago again.
There has been no correction.
I wrote to former Chicagoan and future New Yorker Hillary Clinton--all she had to do was to write a letter to the Chicago Tribune to defend New York City. It wouldn't cost her anything; people besides me would even like her for it. As Cecil Adams wrote, Hillary's office mailed back a form letter.
I walked into Hillary's New York office with the Cecil Adams Straight Dope article (and my usual ton of stuff) in hand. I was told there was no one who could "listen," but that I could drop off my information. There has been no reply!
So that's where things stand now. There are more facts and more rejections--and the story will get even worse when you hear them. Suffice it to say, I have not been met with much (if any) kindness by the people in your city. Heck, even Oprah gave me a form reply.
I will not lecture about your city's nickname this December. I will not go to Chicago ever again. You have humiliated your most devoted visitor!
New York City
Cecil Adams replies:
Barry, listen. When you're buds with the big fish in the pond, you don't need to sweat the opinion of the minnows.