I'm writing to you in response to the Reader article "Reality Bites: The Battle for Wicker Park" [August 3]. The fact that young, white, middle-class School of the Art Institute college twerps are protesting MTV in their adopted neighborhood is to me both humorous and ludicrous. The real problem is that Wicker Park hipster-wannabes have a chip on their shoulder. Their long-suffering hand-wringing over the question "When are we gonna be as cool as Haight-Ashbury and Greenwich Village?" finally seems to have its answer--"never." It never happened, and never will happen. Chicago just isn't cool like New York or San Francisco. As it turns out, neither is it as cool as LA, London, Miami, Seattle, Hawaii, or New Orleans--all of the Real World locations prior to Chicago. That MTV has seen fit to film The Real World in Chicago is upsetting to the Wicker Park Powerpuff kids only because they ended up so low on the goddamn list! Every one of them was weaned on MTV, and had The Real World showed up a few years earlier in Wicker Park, most of them would have gladly surrendered their beat poetry, Kerouac books, bowling shirts, and cat's-eye glasses to have been on the show.
No doubt, it does suck to be voted "least popular" in the classroom of national opinion; however, Wicker Park bohemians only embarrass themselves when they try to claim they are merely protesting the gentrification of the neighborhood. When I moved to nearby Ukrainian Village 12 years ago, Wicker Park was made up of working-class Hispanic families, not white countercultural college kids. While it is the case that the neighborhood has been gentrified and Lincoln Park yuppies have moved in with their SUVs and large dogs, it's laughable that the younger proto-yuppies of Wicker Park fret about this new "gentrification" as if they didn't bring the virus with them. Let's be honest here: to degentrify the neighborhood would mean expelling all the self-righteous, Marxist protesters as well as the yuppies. The ending of the magical "we're gonna be the next Greenwich Village" era of Wicker Park has happened, this is true. But that era didn't mean that much to anybody outside of Chicago, and it certainly didn't last very long--perhaps a year or two at the most, sometime around when the first Liz Phair album came out.
I suppose it's possible these protesters might actually be misguided enough to think they are somehow helping low-income Hispanic families by attacking the Real World show they grew up with. To me it just looks like they're having a gas being seen as radicals on TV and in Rolling Stone magazine.