Wednesday, July 07, 2004

Amenities envy

Shopping possibilities can really make or break a university.

A walk on Broadway over by Columbia today revealed just how lacking the area around Chicago is when it comes to pleasant things to purchase. While they say that Morningside Heights is to New York what Hyde Park is to Chicago, the two neighborhoods aren't comparable. Columbia students can, after a day of grueling classes, head down from Oren's coffee on 112th, home of the tastiest and most caffeinated iced cappuccino in the city, and continue down to Club Monaco on 87th and the GAP and Banana Republic on 86th. Those with less princessy inclinations than yours truly may stop at various natural, hemp-linen-looking clothing stores (outfitters, it seems, to at least half the women in the neighborhood) and independent bookstores.

Many Chicago students have a sort of shopping phobia, assuming that proximity to a source of, say, new tee shirts would cause the University to lose its intellectual edge. Given that the school is perhaps most reknowned for a less-than-socialist economics department, it is not that Chicago students are especially anti-capitalist.

If a GAP were to open on 55th Street, goes the argument, people would forget about Hegel and Aristotle and spend weeks on end trying to decide which jeans best flatter their asses. This is absurd--as much as they hate to admit it, Chicago students, like mere mortals, buy new clothing and accessories from time to time. It would actually leave more time for important scholarly business if Chicago folk didn't have to sneak up to Michigan Avenue every time they wanted to buy pants.

Geez, if everyone who purchased clothing lacked intellectual credentials...perhaps the better option, then, would be for Chicago to become a nudist university. Sure, it gets cold in the winter, but what with all the passages between campus buildings, it might just work.

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