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.
Chicago’s election fever clearly spilled over into this, our nineteenth annual Best of Chicago, as voter turnout topped last year’s four times over. We asked you to vote on fifty categories, and you did so early and often (not really, since we use technology to prevent more than one vote per citizen). We tallied your votes, asked our critics to weigh in with their own choices, and then added more than a hundred additional categories. And all of them especially fresh, given our five-year moratorium on repeats. Our only regret? Nothing about the Occupy movement, one of our favorite developments of the past year. (Remember when activism equaled the Tea Party?) So here’s one: Best sign at an Occupation: “We’re here, we’re unclear, get used to it!”
We’ve got so much more to say, including telling you about the Best of Chicago eBook (see the inside back cover for details) and that on this website you can meander through about 900 of the last five years’ bests, and weigh in with your own comments. But first, scroll down the page and start reading already.
Best of Chicago 2011 was written by Ella Christoph, Selena Fragassi, Jason Foumberg, John Greenfield, Brian Hieggelke, Veronica Hinke, Scoop Jackson, Sarah Louise Klose, Eric Lutz, Garin Pirnia, Caylie Sadin, Jonas Simon, Pedro Velez and John Wawrzaszek
With additional contributions by Sarah Alo, Nicole Briese, Emerson Dameron, Jack Helbig, Hugh Iglarsh, Tom Lynch, Bronwyn Mead, Dennis Polkow, Kristine Sherred and David Witter