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Best coach of a Chicago pro sports franchise

Audience Choice, Category, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

Joel Quenneville
All signs pointed to a successful Hawks campaign at the start of last season, with a healthy crew of young talent and the addition of Marian Hossa. The team came close to the Cup the year before and proved it was worthy of more than an eyebrow-raise. Even still, it’s not like Chicago expected its first championship in forty-nine years. Coach Q brought Cup glory back to the city with a team led by ferocious players who just happen to look like they could still be in high school. After Patrick Kane’s overtime goal in Game Six against the Flyers, when the city took to the street in celebration, car horns blaring, cheers echoing down Western, Ashland, Damen, we were one again, in a way we haven’t been since Michael Jordan wore 23. With the departure of many of the Hawks’ key players from the 2009-2010 season, an injury to Hossa that will keep him out for a few weeks, and a tough, tough Red Wings team to deal with, Coach Q has an even harder road this year. We think he’s up to the challenge.

Audience choice:
Joel Quenneville

Best of Chicago 2010

Best idea to forget about from Chicago 2016

Audience Choice, City Life No Comments »

Second Cityitis

There was a pathetic undertone to much of the discourse surrounding the Chicago bid for the Olympics, which went along the lines that we need this to be a world-class city, that too much of the planet still thinks “Al Capone” when they hear “Chicago,” to which we say: bunk! In all of our world travels, we’ve never had Al Capone come up in conversation. Architecture? Yes. Michael Jordan? Yes. House music? Yes. The weather? Sadly, yes. But Scarface Al? No. Kind of makes you wonder what crowd those other guys are running in. If we want to be world-class, the first step is to realize we are world-class and not to worry about it. World-class cities never fret about their status; they simply do what makes them great and make sure the world knows about it. So let’s get over this inferiority complex and start marketing our assets. Like our architecture. Our beautiful lakefront. Our extraordinary cultural life. And while we’re at it, make sure we tell everyone how nice our weather is. In summer.

Audience choice:
Hosting the Olympics

Best audience comments:
“Obama + Oprah = Unbeatable”; “‘Let Friendship Shine.’ Friendship isn’t chrome!”; “Britney Spears and whatever she does or doesn’t do”; “Forget tearing down the Michael Reese Hospital campus! We’ve already lost one of the Gropius-designed buildings there and Chicago is ready to destroy more at any moment.” “That I could have made a boatload salvaging my condo.”

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 personal encounter with a sports celebrity

Audience Choice, Sports & Recreation No Comments »

1995. You’re a freshman in high school and play on the school’s basketball team. The team travels one weekend to St. Viator to take on the Lions, for which Jarrett Payton basically dominates. During pre-game drills, Walter, his father, enters the gym. You notice, race out of the drill and approach the Bears great, shake his hand. Tell him what an inspiration he’s been. Get an autograph. Walter can’t be more polite. Your coach is so pissed you ran out of the drill—focus!—that he benches you the whole game. In the years since, when you retell the story time and time again to friends, it always ends the same way. “It was worth it.”

Best audience choices:
“I was pushed out of the way of Jordan on the street this year, by his ”people.” I was taking pictures, not of him, i hadn’t seen him coming. I fell down. MJ smiled. Worth it.”; “My friend saw Brian Urlacher at Ikea last Spring. He was staring and dumbfounded when Mr. Urlacher walked over and asked him if he was alright.”; “At Bull & Bear one fine afternoon, i happened to spot the infamous Jay Mariotti and my dear friend decided he was going to go up to him and tell how much he stunk. His exact words were: ‘Hey man, i don’t like you or respect anything you say, but i respect that you have the forum to say it.’”

Best of Chicago 2009

Best iconic Chicago personality now that Studs is gone

Audience Choice, City Life 1 Comment »

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