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Best candidate for president, regardless of whether he or she is from Chicago

Audience Choice, City Life No Comments »

Barack Obama
Bulls, Bears and White Sox fan, a president with a passion for playing hoops for exercise, on that basis alone we’d have to support him even if he was not from Chicago. Seriously, since the election will be over by the time you read this (but not at the time you voted; see below), we’re not going to belabor the topic other than to remind you that we’ve only endorsed one candidate ever in our twenty-six-odd years of publishing, and it was this candidate from Chicago in 2008. Has he disappointed us? Of course. But he’s encouraged us in so many ways too. It’s kind of nice to have a president who emphasizes thought, study and more thought before making decisions in an era of poll-driven slogan-tested thinking, yes?

Audience choice: Barack Obama
Note: If Newcity readers represent America, it will have been a landslide, with 74.5 percent of the votes for the incumbent president, to 15 percent to the runner-up, Green Party candidate Jill Stein. That Mitt Romney guy? Third, with 6.9 percent of the vote.

Best of Chicago  2012

Best noticeable absence

Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Michael Jordan during the 2016 Olympic bid

The question became: where was he during this whole campaign? He was more ghost than a fourth encounter. Couldn’t be seen nor heard. And even more than Oprah, Barack or Daley, this was supposed to be HIS town. But he laid low like a Tony Rezko crony. In pure Chicago style, he kept quiet and kept it movin’. And in the end, when the embarrassment was all over our face, it could have been his nonexistent-contribution-to-the-cause that caused the city to get treated by the IOC like the Bears treated Kyle Orton. Maybe he knew something that none of us knew? Maybe he wasn’t down with the Games coming here and messing up the infrastructure of his kingdom? Maybe so. Because once Pelé (the international Jordan before there was a Jordan) came to place a voice for South America, it was evident that MJ’s silence was about to be the exact opposite of golden.

Best of Chicago 2009

Best iconic Chicago personality now that Studs is gone

Audience Choice, City Life 2 Comments »

Tony Fitzpatrick

Studs Terkel was the last of a generation of Chicagoans who came of age in the fifties and sixties, and through a combination of talent, output and staying power became fixtures in our cultural consciousness. Oprah, MJ and Barack may have all come to fame in Chicago, but they’ve become global personalities now, transcending geography. Tony Fitzpatrick, one of our town’s most successful visual artists, epitomizes the city in his work and his personality. Beyond image-making, he’s an actor on stage and screen, a published poet and an occasional raconteur on the radio. But beyond all that, he’s a friendly, down-to-earth guy you might just run into and have a nice chat with at a literary event or a White Sox game.

Audience choice:
Roger Ebert

Best of Chicago 2009

Best Barack Obama moment

Audience Choice, City Life No Comments »

Election night, Grant Park, among the unticketed masses. The awe is palpable; most can’t find the words, even those who sling them for a living. Then the speech, on the monitor, clearly visible and audible for all. Cell-phone cameras light up the sky like candles. Nearby, a trio of burly men, in matching short locs and baggy Obama t-shirts with “YES WE DID!!” on the back, listen intently, like parishioners in a South Side church, calling back to the President-Elect, “One Nation!” A few yards away, the statue of Abraham Lincoln, almost unnoticed, silently whispers “amen.”

Audience choice:
Election night speech in Grant Park

Audience Comments: “Hello Chicago!”; “‘terrorist’ fist bump”;“Bowling and ending up with a worse score than I’d get”; “Dancing with Ellen Degeneres: Finally, a president who can dance!!”; “I met him in a parking lot at 47th street, in the late 1990s, when he was first running for office and I thought he was too skinny and civilized to get anywhere in Chicago politics”; “when he was on ‘Check, Please’: it never aired”;“January 20, 2009.”

Best of Chicago 2008

Best artist who has yet to play Lollapalooza but should

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Bruce Springsteen

When in doubt, ask The Boss. The blue-collar poet from Jersey has taught us life lessons for more than three decades, his tales of common man echo in our minds. Young love, small towns, unwanted wars, returning home, prom queens, bad boys and gravel roads—Bruce is the musical authority on the American heart. His recent stumping for Obama seemed most inspired and, perhaps most importantly, he still makes good records. We’d love to see Prince, we’d love to see Neil Young and we’d really love to see Michael Jackson, but to hear Bruce tell us “the highway’s jammed with broken heroes on a last chance power drive,” under the August, Grant Park moonlight, would be sublime.

Audience choice
Many, many, many suggestions

Best local Barack Obama propaganda

Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Go Tell Mama! I’m for Obama

One of the hallmarks of the Obama movement was the range of contemporary grassroots expressions of support. Whether homemade t-shirts or Obama girls or even’s “Yes We Can” on YouTube, the election made everyone feel like they could become part of the campaign, and many took up the challenge in a big way. Few more than Chicago graphic designer Ray Noland (aka CRO), who turned into something of a one-man propaganda machine, putting out posters around town (and around the country) notable both for their beauty and their message. Newcity even chose Noland’s work to illustrate our Obama endorsement issue.

Best of Chicago 2008

Best thing about the Cubs-Sox World Series fantasy

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

It’s more unlikely than the Chicago 2016 Olympics

What would you rather see happen? A Cubs-Sox Series or the whole world infiltrate the South Side for two weeks? Less than two years ago the idea of Chicago hosting a global event as popular as the Olympics seemed absurd; now, as we’ve been instantly catapulted into the Earth’s consciousness with Barack Obama—the most powerful Sox fan in the history of baseball—elected prez, we’ll all be better off if we start studying the rules of water polo right now. Deep down, we don’t want the Cubs-Sox series because we cherish the fantasy so much. What would we do if it all came down to a best-of-seven? The rivalry would change, and we enjoy the rivalry too much to allow it to slip from us. Bragging rights? They’re fun, but not nearly as fun as the family spats, the trading insults with friends, the badgering at the workplace. It’s not the apprehension, it’s the pursuit. And lucky for us, the apprehension always seems too far out of reach.

Audience choice:

It’s still a fantasy….
Audience Comments: “All the black and blue shirts will make the stadiums look like big bruises (which is what a lot of fans would end up with during that series)”; “Cubs actually in the world series”; “It will forevermore be untainted by reality”; “At least we’re a city of dreamers.”

Best of Chicago 2008

Best theater production (in the last year or so)

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

“Caroline, or Change” at Court Theatre

Sometimes art has its moment and Court Theatre’s production of Tony Kushner’s musical about the relationship of a young Jewish boy and his African-American maid, set in the South in the sixties against the backdrop of the civil rights movement, was the right production of the right show at the right time. E. Faye Butler owned the theater as the angry, weary Caroline Thibodeaux, and every single cast member delivered superior performances that brought even the smallest characters to life. In director Charles Newell’s hands, playwright Tony Kushner’s genius—he of “Angels in America” fame, for God’s sake, talk about a guy who can operate on the highest level in the widest range—was more humbling than ever. For “Caroline” worked on multiple levels at once, without ever resorting to didacticism. Entertainment, history, contemplation of morality and multiple narratives all shared the small stage without crowding. Set all this in Hyde Park during the stretch run to Barack Obama’s election and you have the makings of a hit. And it was, setting the all-time box office record for Court Theatre. There’s talk of a commercial remounting, with this cast, as soon as it can be reassembled. If it happens, get in line.
Audience choice:

“Hay Fever” at Circle Theatre

Best of Chicago 2008

Best iconic transformation

City Life No Comments »

Grant Park

After the Obama rally, throngs of people walked down Michigan Avenue. Crowds danced and sang in front of the Art Institute, using drums and singing “Oh, Oh, Obama.” Throughout the walk you could see young people of all races singing and dancing together. Periodically you’d hear the crowds chanting “Obama, Obama!” At this moment, we stood in the crux of history, witnessing Chicago’s transformation from being the site of the riots of 1968 to being a place where the crowds jubilantly celebrated and embraced an African-American President. The city with one of the worst histories of racial barriers became the city to welcome in change. Grant Park had a new meaning.

Best of Chicago 2008

Best moment that made us proud of our country

City Life No Comments »

Grant Park on election night

That was the night when everything changed, and every American knows what happened there. Someday, it will be like Woodstock. A seminal moment that will ever be the answer to the question, were you there? And it was like the greatest rock concert ever, with T-shirt vendors popping up all over the place selling gloriously unofficial celebrations. But even the vendors were caught in the moment—there for a buck, sure, but for much more. At the corner of Congress and Michigan, 10pm, the crowd roars, folks start running across in the street toward the park in huge joyous masses. Something happened. Did he win? One fellow selling t-shirts begs a passerby to tell him if it was true. “Yes,” a mobile connection to CNN confirmed it. “But it’s not official; is it official?” as if it was too good to be true. Over and over he asked with a rising mixture of joy and yearning in his voice, even when assured it was true, saying that, “IF it was true, we could finally all be a nation as one.” And yes, we were there.

Best of Chicago 2008