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Best place to run in Chicago

Near South Side, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Northerly Island
Former Mayor Daley may have caught a lot of heat in March 2003 when he had Meigs Field torn up in the middle of the night, but runners, bikers and nature-lovers alike aren’t complaining as they enjoy the almost two miles of isolated paths surrounded by prairie grasses that now traverse the island. Even on crowded summer weekends (such as during The Air and Water Show), those seeking it can still find tranquility along with a striking view of the Chicago skyline.

Best of Chicago 2012

Best thing about the Cubs’ Ricketts era so far

Audience Choice, Category, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

And the people said “no”
Ricketts Family, thank you for buying the Cubs. We think they have a better chance to succeed owned privately rather than under the control of Darth Vader, or whatever. But now, Ricketts Family, do your job. Your proposal to renovate the collapsing Wrigley Field by basically asking the state for hundreds of millions of dollars—and by state we mean, you know, us—was pretty much a mountainous insult, not to mention a disaster in timing seeing as Illinois has a $13 billion deficit and the country’s still in that whole economic downturn thing. Ricketts Family, you knew what you were getting yourself into—you bought the thing, you pay to fix it. If we bought a fix-it-up house we wouldn’t ask our new neighbors to fund the renovations. In a rare act of political awareness in Illinois, both Governor Quinn and Mayor Daley hands-down rejected the proposal. Side note: If you don’t plan on putting a competitive team on the field any time soon, don’t even bother with the renovations. Let it crumble and let’s forget about this whole “Cubs” thing once and for all. What’s that? Adam Dunn is…what? Don’t get up—let’s ride the Red Line a little further south.

Audience choice:
Nothing
Others that were mentioned a few times, amused us or seemed especially weird:
“There’s a big macaroni noodle in front of the park now”; “Undercover Boss”; “Reasonable ticket prices, winning baseball, respect paid to Ryno, resistance to garish new signs, top-notch general managing, the list goes on…”

Best of Chicago 2010

Best thing about Northerly Island

Audience Choice, Category, Near South Side, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Urban serenity
It’s been seven years since Mayor Daley snatched Northerly Island back from the politicians and other fatcats who’d been using it as their personal downtown airport and returned this cornerstone of Daniel Burnham’s vision for the lakefront to the people of Chicago. However, the city has not had the money to redevelop the ninety-one acre peninsula just south of Museum Campus, which is actually just fine by us. In this interim, it’s become an oasis in the bustling metropolis, where wildflowers and birds outnumber the mostly runners and bicyclers who traverse its paths. The absence of “attractions” and its distance from most tourist meccas and parking lots means it’s never overrun with people or noise. (Except of course, for the Charter One Pavilion on show nights at its northern end.) A blueprint has just been announced for park development, with a vision that expands on its existing charms, but funding in this economy is far from imminent. No complaints here though; we’re perfectly content to enjoy our secluded spot, one with an attraction that cannot be replicated anywhere: breathtaking views of the city’s skyline, lakefront and the lake itself.

Audience choice:
Music/Concerts at Charter One Pavilion

Others that were mentioned a few times, amused us or seemed especially weird: “Walking through the prairie grass and feeling like you’re a million miles away, only to turn around and see the skyline in front of you.”; “That it’s shaped like a penis sticking out of Chicago”

Best of Chicago 2010

Best imaginary Twitter post by Studs Terkel

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Twitter is not the most corrupt social network. It’s the most theatrically corrupt.

Best audience choices:
“How do you change the ribbon on this thing?”; “Ran into Algren on Division, grabbed a whiskey and some tapas”; “And then when the former Mayor Daley, he was a corker wasn’t he?, was in office the folks there on the west side voted for him because he co (What? You thought he’d get it done in 140?)”; “Milk steak, and jelly beans.”

Best of Chicago 2009

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 thing about the new parking meters

City Life No Comments »

Available parking

Yes, Daley made a mistake in the way he went about privatizing the parking meters. Even he later admitted the deal was bad. And, with prices set to go up again come January 1, there are a lot of unhappy drivers out there. But at least those unhappy motorists have more places to put their cars—the new pay-box system seems to plant seeds of doubt into drivers’ minds about where they can and cannot park. (Imagine the old parking meters being single signifiers of parking spaces; now the curbs are open and clear, with pay boxes sometimes as far as a half-a-block away.) Of course you can still park in these open spots, as long as you’re willing to walk to the box, then back to your car to place your little pricey piece of paper on the dash. More often than not, parking in high-traffic areas—especially on weekends—like Wicker Park, Lincoln Park and Lakeview has been surprisingly easy. And the box accepting credit cards is a major plus as well, as there’s no more scrambling for quarters. But those prices! 

Best of Chicago 2009

Best Mayor Daley accomplishment of the past year

Audience Choice, City Life No Comments »

Crackdown on crosswalk terrorizers

Whenever friends visit from other cities—big cities—we have to warn them about the dangers of crossing streets in Chicago, even at crosswalks, even when you have a walk sign. Chicago drivers disregard such “nuisances” and often seem to try to hit pedestrians, or at the very least honk, glare or share a certain digit with you, the peaceful law-abiding citizen whose life and time are oh-so-trivial compared to theirs. More than one pedestrian a week is hit and killed in Chicago, so the news that the city was setting up regular stings, or “crosswalk awareness initiatives,” to catch and warn drivers endangering pedestrians in crosswalks was welcome news. Let’s hope it marks the beginning of a city initiative to change the culture of driving in Chicago to one that respects the rights and lives of pedestrians as paramount. In California, the most car-oriented state in the union, drivers know to come to a complete stop whenever a pedestrian places but a foot into the street, whether in a crosswalk or not, or face steep fines. There’s something shameful when LA drivers are more pedestrian-friendly than Chicagoans.

Audience choice:
Not getting the Olympics

Best audience comments:
“Continued support for cyclists”; “Chicago Climate Action Plan”; “Deciding to actually plow the sideroads and alleyways this year”; “Is this a trick question? Is it April Fool’s Day? I suppose no one obfuscates or flat-out lies with more ease than our beloved tyrant.”; “Not letting the city fall into total ruin. Some ruin is expected”; “Saved the free bouncy houses in Park District budget.”

Best of Chicago 2009

Best next dubious mascot for Chicago after “Chalkie”

City Life No Comments »

“Torchie”

An outline of an Olympic torch, either used as a symbol for every time Mr. Mayor doesn’t get what he wants or when Chicago gets the shaft.

Best of Chicago 2009

Best Mayor Daley debacle of the past year

Audience Choice, Culture & Nightlife No Comments »

Destroying a chunk of Chicago’s architectural treasure just because

When Chicago lost its Olympics bid, preservationists let out a premature sigh. The city’s plans to destroy all of the twenty-nine buildings in the Michael Reese Hospital complex designed or influenced by Walter Gropius, the founder of the Bauhaus and one of the most influential architects in history, in order to clear the land for the Olympic Village, would certainly be put on hold. Since Plan B was to clear the land for private development, and given the absolute glut of new developments coming on line on the Near South Side, the last thing the city needed was another Block 37 mess on its hands. Why destroy history for the sake of an ugly vacant lot? Time might offer a chance to save much of the Gropius legacy, might allow Chicago to act like the world-class city we purport to be and now we had plenty of time. But instead, the Daley administration unleashed the wrecking ball anyway, like a bully on the beach who kicks down all the sand castles out of spite. Somebody needs to Charles Atlas that guy.

Audience choice:
The parking meter privatization

Best of Chicago 2009

Best desperate attempt to land the 2016 Olympics

City Life No Comments »

Oprah’s season premiere

If Oprah can sell books, why not the Olympics, too? Capitalizing on the success of the 2008 competition, Chicago’s sweetheart invited 176 of the best American contenders to her twenty-third season premiere at Millennium Park on September 4 where (surprise!) Mayor Daley had a front-row seat for his well-timed first visit to the show. And hey, if the park’s security can handle 2,000 crazed Oprah fans, there’s no reason why they couldn’t handle millions more in 2016, right? 

Best of Chicago 2008