Wednesday's Chicago Sun-Times carried a bizarre story by Steven Patterson on how the charming suburb of Oak Park, home to Frank Lloyd Wright and Unity Temple, has blocked plus-size retailer Lane Bryant from leasing a store in a new downtown building. Village President David Pope is quoted as saying the village wanted "a more broad-based retailer" for the site.
Putting aside the triple-entendre pun in Pope's statement - he just doesn't seem to be the kind of guy able to engage in such wordplay deliberately - the incident raises the question, "What????!!!!!" Is Lane Bryant peddling crack? Pimping its customers? Soaking its clothes in trans-fats? (For those outside Chicago, our own fair city, fresh from banning foie gras in its restaurants, is now being hectored by another headline-junkie alderman to pass an ordinance banning the use of all trans fats, as well.)
Why did Oak Park do it? Just because it can. It previously owned the property, and retains veto power over potential tenants. To have a decision actually make sense or adhere to some clearly defined standard would be too much to ask. Could this be Oak Park's strategy to win the war against obesity - ban the retailers that sell the larger sizes?
Long-departed native son Ernest Hemingway once famously remembered, “Oak Park is a neighborhood of wide lawns and narrow minds." It's comforting to see Pope and his cohorts keeping up the old traditions.