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Clout City

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Here is your official map and guide to Clout City (formerly Chicago)--the world's largest gaming theme park, where you can safely and vicariously experience the thrills of a modern American city and gamble anytime you feel the urge.

Clout City is a neighborhood-oriented alternative to the megacasino complex once proposed for downtown. Recognizing that gaming opportunities have always been available all over this historic city, Clout City spreads the gambling goodies and thrills around Chicago's neighborhoods, where economic development is most urgently needed.

By collaborating with traditional opponents of gambling, like churches and community groups, Clout City Imagineers have reinvented the casino theme park and the city as well. Chicago's troubled 20th-century reality has been replaced by a 21st-century "virtual reality" of faux terror and thrilling fun. Now the frustrations, dangers, and even the violence of big-city life are transformed into world-class theme park attractions. Thanks to the League of Chicago Theaters and the Mayor's Office of Employment Training, many unemployed youth and ex-offenders are now performance artists and hospitality workers.

Scattered throughout the city are these entertainment opportunities:

Roving Lottery Vendors: Dressed as quaint 1940s "Numbers Runners" wearing wide-brimmed fedoras, they will take your bets on any one of the state lottery games being offered each day.

Church-based Slot Machines: Every day is "Las Vegas Day" in every church basement in town, so bet freely with the congregation of your choice. Food booths serve ethnic specialties of the neighborhood prepared by the ladies' club.

School-based Bingo: Kids call the numbers, 24 hours a day, in all school cafeterias. Free macaroni and cheese, canned corn, brownies, and cartons of milk.

Drive-by Shooting Galleries (at selected bus stops): Rent paint guns from CTA ticket agents and rack up points by hitting actual city residents waiting for buses. Prizes for big winners.

SPECIAL ATTRACTIONS

Thee Solitaire House (adults only): Entertainment for gentlemen and gentlewomen, who can buy decks of cards from barely covered, amply endowed table-dancing girls (and boys!) who, without touching you, can teach you how to play with yourself.

Beat Michael Golf Courses: Bet against a legend on two Park District courses, Waveland and South Shore. Beat his best score for the day and win back $3 of your $40 greens fee.

For the Kids: The Metro Playground Mosh Pit: Dive from the concert stage of this always-crowded rock 'n' roll hall into a mosh pit filled with thousands of multi-colored plastic balls.

The Uptown Hall of Urban Stereotypes: Your $5 admission fee allows you to hear, question, and even insult lifelike stereotypes and scapegoats, including the Immigrant Cab Driver, the Welfare Mom, the Yuppie Options Trader, the Pinkie-Ringed Pol, the Street Thug, the Screaming Schizoid, and the Board of Ed Bureaucrat.

For Kids: Mister Loan Shark's Wild Ride: Twist and turn through alleys, gangways, side streets, and occasional restaurant parking lots in vehicles shaped like car trunks, which pop open at scary moments.

Rush Street Bumper Cars: The Urban Parking Game: Pay $25 to rent a car for an hour and cruise the Near North looking for street parking. One legal space opens every 15 minutes; first car in it wins $15.

For Kids: Pirates of the Cari-brini: Cars scoot through darkened lobbies, playlots, unpaved alleys, and cul-de-sac side streets of this developing Near North neighborhood, as riders equipped with plastic Uzi-like ketchup guns match wits and shots with young gangbangers.

Loop Da' Loop: The city's former elevated train line (the Lake-Englewood green line) becomes the world's largest and most dangerous roller coaster. Play three-card molly and the shell game, and get souvenir breakaway chains of "gold."

For the Kids: Shoplifting at Field's: For a fee of $25 per quarter-hour, kids can try to outsmart real store security personnel. They get to keep whatever they steal, but if caught they leave empty-handed.

The Cockfight Corral: Bet on mechanized roosters fighting it out in the basements of community halls in Pilsen and Little Village.

Blind Pig Para-dice: Every hour is "after-hours" in this backroom dice and card den. Occasional con men try to sell you "stolen TV sets" that are really bricks sealed in Sony boxes.

For the Kids: Toxic Brown Sludge Water Rafting (12 and older): Wearing protective jumpsuits, kids get the raft ride of their lives, as scummy plumes of water spray them from various spots along Lake Calumet and the Little and Grand Calumet rivers.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): illustration/Kurt Mitchell.

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