Archive for November, 2006

Chicago’s Fourth Gift to the World: Sports Legends

For the next few days, the Metroblogging sites around the globe will be unveiling gifts their cities share with the world – one gift a day for seven days.

When you talk about Chicago, you have to talk about sports. Chicago has offered up plenty of legends for the entire world to enjoy. For example:

Michael Jordan. 6 championships. Scoring titles. Those amazing dunks. His defense. Heck, he even had his own shoe before anyone had their own shoe. Any question about whether he’s a Chicago legend?

The Super Bowl Shuffle. Hardly does a Bears season go by without seeing this classic bit of cheeseball on the air. The Bears were so hot that year, they felt they just had to create a video. “We’re not here to start no trouble. We’re just here to do the Super Bowl Shuffle.” Indeed.
View video here (you know you want to)
Courtesy of Google Video

Harry Caray. Sure, he broadcasted for the White Sox before coming over to the Cubs, but who remembers that?? If there ever was a Cub Fan, Bud Man, he was it. Thanks to WGN being a national superstation, folks across the country fell in love with Harry and his mispronunciations, garbled speech and famous home run call – “It might be…it could be…it is! A home run!” Now that’s baseball.

Ditka. Da Coach. Leading the ’85 Bears to a Super Bowl win, throwing gum at fans, having his own skit on SNL (ok, 9 hurricanes against Coach Ditka……Ditka!). ‘Nuff said.

So You Don’t Like The Other “Gifts”…How ‘Bout Some S&M?


Speaking of authors, Salon has two articles up this morning about the author Stephen Elliott, whose new book “My Girlfriend Comes To The City And Beats Me Up” is sure to be the next Oprah book club selection and popular stocking stuffer this year (a phrase which takes on a whole new meaning in the milieu of S&M).

Don’t miss his recollection of the summer of 1995 in Chicago:

“It was a hot Chicago summer. My stripper year. My heroin year. I had a new college degree and nothing made sense. I was having the best time of my life.”

We like you, too

Amy Sedaris will be at the Michigan Avenue Borders tonight to read and sign her new book, I Like You: Hospitality Under The Influence. The book is a modern day entertainment guide, with that sharp, tongue-in-cheek Sedaris humor prevalent throughout. But I’ll let Amy tell you herself what it’s all about, from the inside flap:

Chicago’s third gift to the world …

For the next few days, the Metroblogging sites around the globe will be unveiling seven gifts their cities share with the world – one gift a day for seven days.

For those of us who live in Chicago, we all know that no season is sacred. One day might be seventy degrees, the next thirty–whether this is more likely in January or August is up for debate, but it’s true in either case. I present as my primary piece of evidence Tom Skilling’s weekly forecast. This week, we will be vacillating between end of summer humidity and snow.

And thus I present Chicago’s third gift to the world: a terrible hairdo year-round. In humidity, sleet, heat, rain, snow, or sun, there are nevery any guarantees that your designer coif will look great. In fact, the only guarantee you’ve got, more or less, is that it will be horrible. Wind-blown, frizzy, flat, or fried–the fashion mags don’t give their secrets to sexy hair based on Chicago weather and it’s for a reason. If you’ve got great hair, don’t move here. If you don’t, then by all means–it couldn’t look any worse than the rest of ours.

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts

Savard Takes Over Blackhawks

Did you even catch that one of Chicago’s sports teams has a new head coach? Yeah, it’s former Blackhawk great Denis Savard! It’s absurd to point out all of the weaknesses of this year’s team, but they are pretty much the same as the last several. One fact that remains is Chicago’s team lacks star power and certainly doesn’t have a line like Savard, Larmer and Secord! Good luck Denny, you’re gonna need it!

Chicago’s Second Gift to the World: A Rockin’ Grid System

For the next seven days, the Metroblogging sites around the globe will be unveiling seven gifts their cities share with the world – one gift a day for seven days. To see what the rest of the world is contributing, click here.

“Oh, that’s at 3200 North, and 800 West.”

There are grids, and there are grids. And then there is our Chicago street grid system. Established in 1908 and implemented in 1909, it’s been helping Chicagoans and non-Chicagoans get around town for almost 100 years. Any traveler can tell you that not all of the world’s cities are laid out in such a clear and easy to use manner. I myself have wandered down some curvy cobblestone streets in London and found myself in alleys named as streets that seemed to go in circles.

In Chicago, there are no such problems. With the streets arranged in the grid pattern, and a street numbering system that’s consistent all over the city, once you learn Chicago’s grid system, you’re good to go anywhere in town. Zero is at State and Madison, the very heart of our famous Loop, and 800 units on the system are equal to one mile (thus, 8 blocks = a mile). There, you’re all set to go wandering, find any building in the city, and find your way back to where you started.

Here you go world, here’s a city with a street grid system that anyone can navigate, making citizens and tourists feel at home. Don’t mention it.

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts

Chicago’s First Gift to the World: Improv

For the next seven days, the Metroblogging sites around the globe will be unveiling seven gifts their cities share with the world – one gift a day for seven days. Metroblogging Chicago begins with improvisation. (to see what the rest of the world is contributing, click here)

On July 5, 1955 a group of University of Chicago students called The Compass put on a show at a Hyde Park tavern that wouldn’t be that unusual today, but was completely new at the time — the show was entirely improvised. Under the direction of David Shepard and Paul Sills, the group relied heavily on the work of Chicagoan Viola Spolin (Sills’ mother), who had developed what she called Theater Games in the 1940s to unlock creativity in children. The Compass took a gamble that those games could be adapted to produce works of theater, and that gamble paid off, with The Compass expanding to casts performing in several cities. Players from those casts came back to Chicago in 1959 and The Second City opened its first revue.

The Second City largely used improvisation as the start of a process to create scripted sketches. And while improv was not confined to Chicago during the 60s and 70s, it continued to be used mainly to perform short form “games”. In the 1970s Del Close returned to direct shows at The Second City (he had previously been in The Compass and fired from Second City) with an idea in the back of his head that improvisation could be a stand-alone art: that full-length theatrical pieces could be created in front of an audience. Chicagoan Charna Halpern and Close opened the ImprovOlympic (now the iO Theater) to explore those ideas in front of paying audiences.

These days, improv is everywhere. Actors who have trained and honed their skills in the classrooms and on the stages of The Second City, iO Theater, and The Annoyance are all over TV and movies. Movies like those of Christopher Guest and TV shows like The Office are created, at least partially, with improvisational techniques. And any night of the week here in Chicago you can see a bajillion different improv shows.

World, we give you our improv. You’re welcome.

Tags: Metblogs7Gifts

Book review: I Know You’re Out There

I Know You're Out There - Michael BeaumierMichael Beaumier was the personals editor for the Chicago Reader for seven years and I Know You’re Out There is his reflections on that tenure: tales of the extremes of the personals ( the freaks, to put it kindly), stories of the myriad ordinary searches for love, behind-the-scenes with Beaumier and his small staff, and course of his own love- and family-life during that time.

With such a broad focus, and the fact that some of the chapters were previously free-standing pieces on This American Life, and there’s something of a disjointed feel to the book — it’s lying somewhat uneasily between a collection of completely separate essays and a coherent whole. But there’s quite a bit to like here also. As you might expect, there’s quite a bit of humor to be found in both the personalities and the process of looking for relationships via the personals. But there’s also a piece about Beaumier’s dead-as-an-infant brother that’s surprisingly affecting. And his honesty about his gradually dissolving relationship with his boyfriend grounds the book, I think.

Covers for Cover

Tomorrow night (11/25) Miss Mia from Chi-a-go-go and Ratinna (Ratso’s big sister) are hosting “Covers for Cover” — a concert of all-woman cover bands to benefit Deborah’s Place, Chicago’s only single woman’s homeless shelter. Empty Bottle (1035 N Western), 9:30 pm.

No Good Options Left

Senator Barack Obama unveiled his plan to cut U.S. troops in Iraq yesterday. He says the time for waiting is over and it’s time to change our policy. In the end he called for a “gradual and substantial reduction in U.S. forces” in Iraq, beginning in four to six months.

What do you think of the Senator stepping out and publicly airing his thoughts? Do you agree with his message?

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