Few can argue about Bob Bailey’s dedication to Bolingbrook. He served on the Board of Trustees since Bolingbrook’s founding in 1965. To date, he is the only resident to serve two non-consecutive terms as mayor. While critics called his expansion of Remington Blvd a “Road to Nowhere,” it helped spur industrial development in Southern Bolingbrook. The current Bolingbrook Town Center is named in his honor. Some say that if you listen very carefully, you can hear his ghostly footsteps as he wonders the hallways.
In the late 1970s, Bailey had a love-hate relationship with the Babbler throughout his career. He would call Babbler reporters “a bunch of liars” at board meetings, yet most of what we now know about Clow UFO base came from his leaks to the Babbler. Sources say he summoned the ghosts of journalists to create The Phantom Press. Bailey wanted a publication to compete with the Babbler, he allegedly told his supporters. Yet, when those supporters urged him to have the Babbler removed from Old Chicago, he refused. Circulation of the Babbler at Old Chicago saved the Babbler from almost certain bankruptcy.
Though Bailey gave many insightful interviews with the Babbler, his first interview as mayor was marred by the Disco Fever Epidemic of 1978.
(Content notice 2017: Depiction of sexual harassment by the reporter. Would not be tolerated today by any staff member.)
Mayor Bob Bailey goes disco!
By Reporter Quepasa
The phone rang at an ungodly hour.
“Why are you calling me at 1 PM. That’s wicked!”
“Keep cool, man. I’ve got a really hot tip, you know. So I had to wake you up, you know.”
“It had better be good, and not bogus.”
“There’s a VIP disco tonight at Old Chicago! Everyone who’s anyone in Bolingbrook is going to be there. They’ve set aside a special joint for the occasion!”
“Like no way!”
“Like way! It’s not open to the public, but I got tickets for you. If you wear your best threads they’ll let you in. Catch my drift?”
“I can dig it!”
After spending most of the afternoon enjoying the buzz from my primo coffee, I cleaned up and put on my best threads. I hopped into my car and pointed my car towards the dome.
By the time I got through the traffic on 53, it was nighttime. My source met me in the parking lot.
“The joint’s in the back.” He said as he handed me the tickets. “Be cool, and they’ll let you in.”
“This better not be bunk.” I told him.
“No way, man. This ticket is cool, you know.”
I walked through the front door and made my way back through the Kitschy shops. Who knew that back in the olden times, Chicago had indoor streets? As I strolled past the Chicago Loop, I had to pause. I don’t care what the so-called scientists said; they were using alien technology to keep passengers in those seats! Someday I would figure it out. But not tonight!
Once I snapped out of it, I made my way to the unassuming door marked, “Chemicals! Keep out!” I knocked. The door opened, and large man looked at me.
“What’s the password?”
“Not so loud!”
“You can come in. Nice threads.”
I walked up the dimly lit stairs, towards the flickering lights above. When I reached the top, I saw the movers and shakers of Bolingbrook. All twenty of them. The trustees, the editors, the business leaders, and those who wanted to be around them. It was a trip! What brought these people together? I thought I knew.
I sat down and tugged on a waitress. I asked her for coffee.
“Large or small?”
“I don’t want a drink. I want COFFEE!”
“Large or small?”
“I WANT COFFEE!”
“Oh! We’re not into that here. You’d have to go to a Chicago joint for that.”
I cursed my squeaky clean village and its boring farmers. I order a stiff drink and slapped her on the butt. What was bringing all these powerful people here?
I got the lowdown soon enough. The dance floor lit up. The lights started to spin. The DJ spun the turntable, and the infectious groove crept into my brain. The pull was too much. I, along with the trustees and their spouses, were pulled onto the dance floor. My brain started telling my body how to get down. I couldn’t help myself, and I didn’t want this groove to end. I started going solo, but then a cute groupie chick joined me. I should have been taking photos with my hidden camera, but my mouth just wanted to talk jive to the cutie in front of me.
“Evacuate the dance floor!” Came a cry.
Four men in blue pounced onto the floor and then formed a large square. I thought I was on a high when I saw the four insanely FBI types do some synchronized moves on the dance floor.
Into the square, Mayor Bob Bailey and his wife swirled in. Her flowing dress, and his stunning white suit, made me feel like I was having a flashback.
“Everyone feel the funk!” Exclaimed Bailey.
The music came over me even harder. My feet moved against my will, yet I couldn’t take my eye off of Bob Bailey. Not that there was anything wrong with that. Until he looked straight at me.
“I know you!”
My horror almost overwhelmed my desire to dance.
“Hustle on over here!” Exclaimed Bailey.
My legs danced to Bob before I could think about it.
He looked at his wife. “This man is with the Babbler.”
She greeted me before spinning on the floor.
“You’re here to watch us get down?” Asked Bailey.
My sense of duty came back to me. “Yeah! Can we talk while we get down?”
“Sure.” Said Bailey. “Your talking can’t stop the music. Nobody can stop the music!”
“Is it true that you’re trying to summon ghosts?”
“No comment,” Bailey said with an evil grin.
“Why would I summon the ghosts of reporters? You figure it out.”
The boogie overtook us for a few seconds. Then it became clear that this soul train of thought was going nowhere. That’s when I decided to go for it.
“Why do you want to build a road to nowhere?”
“Who says it’s a road to nowhere?”
“But there’s nothing there.”
“Nothing that you can see.”
“What does that mean?”
Bailey shook his head. “You’re with the Babbler. Think about it. I tell the world that I want factories there. I tell you there’s something there.”
Though I really needed my coffee, I could figure this out.
“There are invisible factories there?”
Bailey smiled. “There are cloaked factory ships there. We need to build the road so that we can get their products to market faster.”
“But won’t it look odd to have a four-lane road with no buildings?”
“You’re thinking small, man. We’ll put visible factories there to replace the cloaked ships. It will be cool.”
I shook my head. “I don’t know, man. That sounds like you’re trying to bring more people into Bolingbrook. Won’t that upset The Man?”
Bailey threw a cool dance move. “What’s The Man going to do? Get me involved in a bad deal, and then have the charges thrown out on appeal? Don’t worry. We’re cool with the powers that be.”
Bailey started moving his arms. “I can’t hear you right now. This is the extended dance mix!”
Suddenly, Steve Dahl rushed to the dance floor wearing stereo headphones.
“Disco is evil!” He screamed. “Look at what it’s doing to our sense of dignity and fashion!”
Before the Men in Blue could grab him, he flashed a penlight at Bailey and me. The boogie left my soul, and my head felt like it was coming down after a long night of drinking coffee.
As the Men in Blue dragged Dahl away, it looked like Bailey was having the same sensation I was.
“Why am I wearing this ugly outfit? Why am I dancing to this music? Why are my guards dancing?”
Bailey snapped his fingers, and the Men in Blue stood at attention.
“Don’t harm Steve,” Bailey said into the air. “I have a special mission for him.”
Bailey and his entourage marched off the dance floor.
I felt the need to go home and reconsider my life. Maybe even reconsider my coffee usage.
As I started towards the exit, I heard a man talking to his date, or maybe his wife.
“It is unacceptable that I have to go out of town to buy a fine polyester leisure suit.” He said. “I should be able to buy everything I need without leaving the village.”
“Maybe you should run for office.” Said the woman.
“It’s too expensive to run for office. I would need to raise at least a thousand dollars to stand a chance. Plus, the moment I say we need to replace cornfields with strip-malls, I’ll be labeled a foe of Bolingbrook. Who wants to go through that?”
History says that a year later, Steve Dahl ended the disco epidemic with Disco Demolition Night. Though dance music came back in the 1990s, artists and producers worked to ensure that their music would never be as infectious as disco was.
We may never know if Dahl was acting under Bailey’s orders. If so, then perhaps we should be thankful that Bailey helped save the world from the disco apocalypse.
(2017: Though to be fair, some of the motivation behind the backlash against disco was homophobic and racist.)
As for Reporter Quepasa, he left the Babbler later in 1978 to find himself. When we last heard from him in 2006, he said he now had a personal relationship with the Flying Spaghetti Monster. He wanted to inspire young people to become pirates and to “Not make the same mistakes I made when I was young.”
Tomorrow: They said that as sure as disco would live forever, Jimmy Carter would free the hostages, and Edward Rosenthal would never be mayor of Bolingbrook. Find out what happened after he defied the odds.