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(Several months ago I reflected on a Daley-less city…):

An Open Letter to Richie Daley:

As the tenure of the longest termed mayor of our fine city inches closer to the end, I am overwhelmed by the negative comments and articles about Daley’s legacy. The majority seems to be focusing on the negative: “he spent too much time, money, and effort on the Olympics;” “Hired trucks, ahhh! Parking meter lease, eeek!” Instead, I would like to focus on the positive because it seems the Richie Daley I will remember is a stranger to many Chicagoans.

For 22 of my twenty-odd years of existence, I have lived in a city run by Daley. For as long as my memory goes back, Richard M. Daley has been in charge of my city, has been the face of my city, the only name I have ever had to read on highway signs as I arrive back in Chicago. The thought of his retirement, of losing not only a part of my identity but that of an entire city, is not an issue I have taken lightly. Upon hearing the news in September I was in shock, but because I feel as if I have come to know Richie after all these years, it is not a decision I question. My Richard M. Daley makes decisions based on the interests of Chicago and Chicagoans and, as such, I know I must accept this. Admittedly though, it has not been easy.

Everyday I walk around the city I see Richie in the lush foliage that laughs at the concrete jungle cliché. A casual ride down Lake Shore Drive in the summer is as close as one can get to the best of both worlds: towering skyscrapers reflecting a sun that is simultaneously being soaked up by beach-goers and the greenery Daley demanded be plant.

Daley has made Chicago a destination city, a city that now competes with the (subpar) likes of New York and Los Angeles. He has been consistently vocal in supporting Chicago traditions, from chairs saving shoveled out parking spots to sticking by his beloved south side sports team. You’ll never see Richie Daley at Wrigley Field in an attempt to appease voters from all parts of the city, and as much as it pains me that we don’t root for the same team, I have nothing but respect for that choice. If you wish to have these intricacies, however minor, erased, perhaps a cookie-cutter suburb is best suited for you. For me? I’ll take the City of Chicago with all its unique headaches over Anywhere, USA any day.

A few months ago while out of the country and checking email, I opened a message from my brother updating me of the goings on city-side. Tucked between Bears updates and Cubs trade rumors I read “Richie decided he will run again.” My heart stopped. I had to get back to Chicago, to get on the next flight, to revel in this fantastic news with fellow Chicagoans, to toast his decision with those who were surely as excited as me, to find out the details for his choice—was Maggie doing better? Did he realize we couldn’t survive without him?

I read on. “Just joking.” My heart dropped as quickly as it had stopped just seconds earlier. And for the first time, since his announcement in September, I felt immense loss. 4000 miles away from Chicago I finally realized the impact of a Daley-less city. What was Chicago going to become? Would my coveted interests in tradition be upheld? Would my new leader care more about Chicago than approval ratings?

I flew back to Chicago several days later, realizing this was perhaps the last time I would be flying home.

So Richie, this is thank you and goodbye. You have given me a city to love and be proud of in both good times and bad. For at least one person, your positive impact on the city will not be clouded by the mistakes that any two-decade-plus-career could incur. My love to you and your family, and best wishes for the future.


Someone who loves Chicago as much as you do

Things I Live For: See above

Quote of the Day: “I’ve given it my all. I’ve done my best. Now, I’m ready with my family to begin the next phase of our lives.” –Richard M. Daley

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It was a few weeks ago that I was leisurely paging through the latest edition of Rachael Ray Magazine looking for some new recipes. Tucked near the back of the magazine was an article on the best hot dog in America. The results were determined via a March Madness style bracket with restaurants from all over the country up for the running. A few were in Chicago. And, much to my surprise, when I turned the page, a Chicago restaurant won.

It was then that I realized I wasn’t a true Chicagoan, despite what I may present to others. I had never had a Chicago style hot dog. I knew nothing about the deliciousness of sport peppers, the necessity of celery salt, or the fresh puffiness of a poppy-seed bun. I was a sham. A disgrace to Chicago. And thus, I decided to embark on a journey to find my own best Chicago style dog.

The reasons I have never had a Chicago style dog are many. First, I did not start eating tomatoes until about a year ago. I was previously not a big fan, preferring gasp ketchup for any sort of tomato flavor. Second, what the fuck is relish and why is it so green? Third, and probably more importantly, I have had a severe aversion to hot dogs probably since I reached double digits in age. As a kid, I ate  my fair share of hot dogs doused in ketchup accompanied by cheese fries. But at a certain point, okay probably later than 10, I was disgusted by hot dogs. So I vowed never to eat them. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not encased meats I’m against. As a good German gal, I eat beyond my fair share of bratwurst. But perhaps I became an encased meats elitist, deciding that hot dogs are a pedestrian excuse for handheld deliciousness.

The spot Rachael Ray deemed the best was Gene & Jude’s. Apparently they put fries on the dog. That didn’t seem very Chicago to me, nor very appetizing to me. The other Chicago spot that came near to victory was Superdawg. I immediately pictured this spot in my head, drawing back to childhood memories of seeing boy and girl dressed hotdogs atop a little drive-in joint. Boy and girl dressed hotdogs in love. With Valentine’s Day approaching, this seemed the perfect spot to go.

And as it turned out I was beyond lucky to have decided on this spot as it is still a working drive-in. Meaning, I could drive up, park, order through an antiquated machine and then a lady will come out with my order and place the tray on my window. Awesome, to say the least. All that was missing was a crew of bad boys with cigarettes rolled up the sleeve of their Hanes white tees. As a lover of antiques and the olden days, this was definitely the spot for me.

But enough about the setting, what about the dog? I ordered the Superdawg which is a classic Chicago style dog (all beef dog, yellow mustard, bright green relish, celery salt, onions, pickle spear, sport peppers, tomato wedge) tucked into a retro looking box with some of the most delicious crinkle cut fries I have ever eaten. The first bite? I was beyond nervous. What do hot dogs even taste like? Meat? Beef? Steak? I had no recollection but was pleasantly surprised when I tasted a bit of beef accented with peppery, mustardy undertones. And the bun! So fresh it could barely hold the dog and its dressings. The first bite quickly turned into the next couple until I, sadly, realized I was done. Ketchup who? Bratwurst what?

I wanted to push the button and order another. I wanted the waitress to skate out on her nonexistent skates and say “Congratulations!” or “You are soooooo Chicago!” Instead, I flipped the switch on the ordering machine for the waitress to retrieve my tray. As I watched her trudge through Chicago snow covered in a windbreaker and boots, (not a poodle skirt or neck scarf) I thought about baseball. I thought about warm summer days at Wrigley with my dad. I was no longer concerned with being a real Chicagoan.

The waitress, now at my window, asked me how everything was. A standard question. To which I replied, “everything is great.” A not so standard present tense reply. I rolled up my window and drove off into the evening, extremely satisfied with my first Chicago hot dog.  

Things I Live For: See above

Quote of the Day: “And they’ll watch the game and it’ll be as if they dipped themselves in magic waters. The memories will be so thick they’ll have to brush them away from their faces. People will come Ray. The one constant through all the years, Ray, has been baseball. America has rolled by like an army of steamrollers. It has been erased like a blackboard, rebuilt and erased again. But baseball has marked the time. This field, this game: it’s a part of our past, Ray. It reminds of us of all that once was good and it could be again. Oh… people will come Ray. People will most definitely come.” –Mr. Terence Mann, Field of Dreams

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I saw some loser wearing his visor backwards the other day thinking he was cool. Then I was like wait! I know someone who does that. And when he does it, it is awesome. I wondered why that was so, and concluded it’s because 1) he’s my dad and he’s the shit, 2) street-cred, and 3) the ’70’s (because I feel as if that is where a lot of this stuff came from and he’s just single handedly carrying on the traditions of his 20’s and 30’s).

So I give you a list of things my dad does that are awesome, but if YOU did them, you’d be a d-bag.

  • Wears his visors backwards
  • Pops the collar on his Polo shirts
  • Wears pinkish colored Polo shirts with said popped collar
  • Rocks Converse Chuck Taylor’s (well if you do this you’re not a d-bag, just a stupid hipster. He is clearly neither)
  • Really enjoys the works of Tom Cruise
  • Requests (demands?) “Paint it Black” at every concert he attends (his own personal “Freebird” if you will…)
  • Lives in Wrigleyville. Actually, he was the pioneer of that neighborhood.

Clearly my dad has reached a level of awesomeness that we can only aspire to…

Things I Live For: My dad

Quote of the Day: “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.” –Unknown

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Bed Intruder

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This is sooooo funny I couldn’t wait until Random Shit Friday’s to  bring it to you guys. Watch the first video, and then the second. (And thanks to Em for brining this urgent matter to my attention!!)

Things I Live For: See above

Quote of the Day: “Life is partly what we make it, and partly what is made by the friends we choose.” –Tennessee Williams

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Finally, after four looooooooong years, the FIFA World Cup is back! And even though my hero, Zinedine Zidane, is no longer in the sport, I will be rooting for France because he is the one who confirmed my love for football:

The Euro Cup every 2 years is a nice hold-over, but I’m glad the real thing is finally back. And goddamn, if I were the Cubs right now I would be sending boxes and boxes of chocolate to the Blackhawks and FIFA…

Let’s go Les Bleus!

Pet Peeve of the Day: Being strung along

Quote of the Day: “You cannot  be lonely if you like the person you’re alone with.” –Wayne Dyer

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