Tonight (Monday, February 27, 2017) at 10 p.m. Eastern/9 p.m. Central on CNBC, I will briefly appear on a premiere episode of the popular true-crime series American Greed, discussing Marina City’s mid-2000s Gary Kimmel pimp-dentist scandal. If one thing is true about living at Marina City, it is that ever having been a resident there is a gift that, when you least expect it, just keeps on giving.
During my six years as a Marina City resident from 2005 to 2012 (with a year off for good behavior), I achieved local noteriety by blogging regularly about the never-ending mishigas of life in Chicago’s most infamous corncobs. It isn’t noteriety I necessarily wanted. I just didn’t think anyone would believe the insanity that, at least at the time, you had to face by making your home in what from the outside somewhat deceivingly appeared to be a pair of classy historic condo towers.
All you need to do is browse through my Marina City archive to learn how quickly I discovered the real lay of the land. Constant fires. And floods. And water shutoffs. And falling fireworks. And being awakened by news helicopters. And a condo board that at the time was constantly at war with owners and the media. And, yes, even hooker stories that had nothing to do with Gary Kimmel.
But my Gary Kimmel archive exists for a reason all its own. No one should ever be awakened by news helicopters circling your home, reporting on an international prostitution ring run out of your building and abetted by a family dentist living not many floors above. But I sure as hell was. I was asked, “Do you feel violated?” as I left for work that morning. Yes, I did. Wouldn’t you?
And so did many, many other owners and residents, especially with bombshell after bombshell coming out about the Department of Justice case against Kimmel. The quote from an alleged pimp that, “some of my best girls were minors.” The revelation that Gary Kimmel, himself, had been the condo board’s Screening and Security official. (Boy, that was a big one.) The Chicago Magazine expose, for which the magazine requested my assitance–and the last time I agreed to be interviewed about the scandal.
Two years later, Kimmel pled guilty, we residents debriefed and, finally, destressed. Four years later, I left Marina City with no intention of ever going back or reopening the cupboard of insanity that troubled my years there. It’s a different decade now. There’s a different board there now. Much has changed and, as other current and former residents have told me, improved. Or maybe not. But although Marina City has the two most spectacular high-rise residential roofdecks on the planet, after all this time, I still would never go back. Fool me (I’ve lost count at this point how many times), you know?
Last fall, I was asked by producers from CNBC’s American Greed to sit for an interview regarding my years and blogging as a Marina City resident during “Kimmelgate.” I’ve been asked to be interviewed about Kimmel before over the years, and usually say no. This time I said yes–for the first time in the solidly ten years since the Chicago Magazine article. I wanted to make sure the perspective of actual residents at the time of the scandal was represented on the show. I wanted to try and make it clear how awful and shocking, and just unacceptable the whole affair was for those of us unlucky enough to live in the towers while it was all going down.
I hope they don’t make me look foolish or fat, or edit me down to five seconds. More than that, though, I hope someday Chicago learns that political and corporate corruption and greed is unseemly and unbecoming of the world city we think we are–but because of scandals like this at so many levels, we really, really aren’t yet.