In May, when Doug Sohn announced he would be shutting down his sausage emporium Hot Doug’s this fall, it set off a feeding frenzy both literal and metaphorical, as lines at the shop got even longer, and the media could not shut up about it. Like Michael Jordan ending his Bulls career with a shot to win his sixth NBA title, Sohn was exiting at the top. This was perplexing to everyone; in America, we respond to the pursuit of size and wealth as a principal value and Sohn clearly had a scalable idea. Instead of closing, he could have opened a second location to meet the demand for his product, and then a twentieth, a two-hundredth and so on. That, we get. But Sohn saw his endeavor’s success as inextricably tied to his own presence, to his singular vision and passion for quality. Thus, Hot Doug’s always seemed to have more limited hours than it could or should. And when he was done, it was done. His was not the first Chicago food obsession to end it this way; early in 2013 Great Lake pizza closed its always busy doors just a few years after GQ magazine proclaimed it the best in America. Read the rest of this entry »
With the great digital beast devouring the media landscape at a still-ferocious pace, those of us who retain an affection for and livelihood from print have spent the last decade contemplating the future in ways more emphatic, perhaps, than those who do not. We can’t speak for others, but here’s what we’re thinking: print is not dead, or even dying. In an increasingly ephemeral digital world (coming soon, the end of cash!), the tangible object becomes increasingly dear. Maybe not for everyone, not for the masses who once flipped their nickels to the newsies for a fix on the day’s headlines and stock prices, but for a discerning audience. Because print serves a smaller, if more selective crowd, than not long ago, its Darwinian struggles are not over. So what will separate the tetrapods who climb out of the media sludge and onto the dry land of the twenty-first century from those doomed to sink in the mud? Quality, we think, of writing and of image-making. And, most of all, finesse in integrating the whole into something that conveys the essence of print—that is, something that would be inherently inferior experientially in byte form. Read the rest of this entry »
We committed ourselves maniacally to the editorial integrity of the enterprise, going so far as to code-name the computer folder on the server that housed the files in process. (We called it “pizza” in honor of the sustenance that fueled the many all-nighters we pulled to get the first issue out.) And we committed with equal vigor to making it visually the best it could be. For the first issue, we asked a young artist who’d been making a comic strip for us to create the cover. Maybe you’ve heard of him, Chris Ware?
Jorge Colombo was the art director of that first issue and established many of the visual structures that we still use today. Jorge, a native of Portugal, brought boundless curiosity, an intellectual approach to design and a demanding standard for the best in illustration to us, not to mention introducing us to the sounds of the great Brazilian musicians singing in his native tongue. Jorge has since moved to New York, where his career flourishes as an artist, most notably for his regular covers of The New Yorker. Though he assigned and designed several editions as Newcity art director, this is his first Best of Chicago cover, a fitting bookend to the one he first designed. Read the rest of this entry »
All for the best
It’s less than a year since the farewell that changed the face of the city, the visage we’d shown the world for a generation, and it already feels like a different town, doesn’t it? After all, Rosie’s taken to her new Chicago-ness with the relish of an ecstatic newcomer, homesteading in Lakeview, popping up in all the right gay bars and generally reminding us that Oprah long ago transcended us, becoming a citizen of the planet even as she still blessed us with her presence. Oh, and that other game-changing retirement’s kicking up a fair bit of dust, as well, as Rahm redefines the mayor’s office. Here’s what we’ve noticed: while Richie was always one of them, an insular member of Chicago political royalty who seemed to operate with their own code, Rahm seems like one of us. He shows up at rock concerts, at theater openings, at triathlons. He takes the el. We even know a guy who says he bumped into him at a quiet little bar before the election. You didn’t bump into Richie. Read the rest of this entry »
Thank you for a record turnout in this year’s election: four times as many voters as last year! We’re counting the votes and doing our thing and will be back with the results on December 15.
It was the best of times…
A not-so-surprising coincidence, is it, that a significant number of you quoted the classic opening line from Charles Dickens’ “A Tale of Two Cities” as your “best opening line from the (imagined) memoirs of Richard M. Daley” for the eighteenth annual Best of Chicago? Of course most of you also cited the other half of that line, “it was the worst of times,” as well.
Though we started Newcity in 1986, before his arrival, we’ve never published a Best of Chicago without a Mayor Daley. And certainly it’s been a tale of two cities under his leadership, with some magnificent bests and troubling worsts. But we’re still having a hard time imagining Chicago without him so, this final year of Daley’s Chicago, we’ve dedicated a few questions to considering both his legacy and also the prospects for the future leadership of Chicago. Read the rest of this entry »
“Celebrating the awesome nature of Chicago every day.”
That’s the answer that one of you offered up to our audience-survey question: “Best idea to salvage from Chicago 2016.” We couldn’t agree more—that could actually be our tagline.
When we sat down as a group of editors and writers to plan this, our seventeenth edition of the Best of Chicago, the city’s lost Olympics bid was still a fresh wound. Whether you found that day’s news devastating or perhaps a relief, chances are you felt at least a little bit worse. Like deciding to break up with someone and having them beat you to the punch: you’re left wondering what was wrong with you. Read the rest of this entry »
Won’t you please come to Chicago
For the help that we can bring.
We can change the World.
Last Tuesday night will be forever known as a new beginning in Chicago history, like the morning after the Great Conflagration, though this moment washed in triumph rather than burned in tragedy. The city will never be the same, having sent one of its own to the nation in a manner that will be marked as a turning point in American history. As the city basks in this glorious moment, it has the chance, one chance, to reach for new heights, to rebuild itself anew, on top of its already mighty foundation, and to create a vision of what a new city can be.
Don’t let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
—Alan Jay Lerner
Our enthusiasm is inflamed not only by the new possibilities of the body politic, but also by our own current obsession, our annual Best of Chicago. Herein we celebrate much that is fine about this town of ours and, if not so fine, much that makes us what we are. Sixteen times now, we’ve journeyed thus, and still we find ourselves running out of time and space before we run out of words. And you participated as well, by casting votes in seventy-five or so categories. Your results follow our critic’s selection in each category, sometimes punctuating our choice, sometimes setting us straight. And if you still have more to say, starting this week, you’ll be able to comment directly, at our new Best of Chicago web site, found right here at best.Newcity.com. And here you are.