Dear Rosie: Forget commuting, move to the West Loop (my guide to the neighborhood, post-Oprah)

March 30, 2011

The Sun-Times reported that Rosie O'Donnell will NOT be moving to Chicago, instead opting to commute from her home in suburban NY.

I think it's a great move that Rosie O'Donnell is coming to Chicago to tape her OWN network show in the Harpo Studios space. As Oprah leaves Chicago television production, it will no doubt leave a void and not unlike the move Jerry Kleiner is making, could change the fabric of the now-burgeoning West Loop neighborhood. 

What we are seeing is a second generation of star power. Rosie joins celebrity chefs Grant Achatz (Next) and Stephanie Izard (Girl & Goat) as the new West Loop.

But please. If you want to be a Chicago favorite, at least move into the neighborhood.

I always liked Rosie O'Donnell. Her stand-up comedy was groundbreaking and her daytime TV show was at least interesting (I never really watched it because I was in my 20s, and frankly, people in their 20s don't have time for daytime TV). I did get to see more of her when she had the brief stint on The View because internet video was introduced to the masses. I loved how she sparred with her co-hosts and created some memorable TV moments. She is a good host. Now let's hope she can be a good neighbor. 

I've lived in the West Loop for a couple years now. And to prove that I don't have a problem coexisting with big egos, I am offering my expert services. I can give Rosie a quick tour of what to visit and what to avoid. I can tell her what times are the best times to get in at Wishbone (avoid Sundays around 11am). I can act like her visiting relative and point out what the buildings used to be before Chicago changed.  "Rosie, that bar used to be a funeral home (West End)." "Rosie, that bar used to be a Bar Louie (Haymarket)." "Hey Rosie, that bar used to be owned by Chelios (abandoned building)."

I could also offer real Chicago history lessons. "You know, Rosie, this used to be skid row. Yep, this used to be $5 prostitute territory. Now, it will cost you at least $50."

"Hey, hey Rosie - I think Mary Todd Lincoln lived over by Washington somewhere, after the assassination. A lot of people thought she went crazy..."

My hope is that Rosie lives in the West Loop and walks to work like Mike Quade does in Wrigleyville. Don't go set up a crash pad on Michigan Avenue. That's Oprah-style - not cool. She had business here, but lived in a different area of the city. We need a celebrity to come work AND live here.

There is so much housing inventory, you could buy several two bedroom condos (really, a bedroom and a walk-in closet) right next to each other and knock down a couple walls. It would be good for the market. If you act fast, you might even be able to get a good deal on the Blockbuster store, which is going under. Make that your own entertainment room. I'll help with the parties. 

In closing, Rosie, I would love to have you as a neighbor. Maybe it would force the Dominick's to clean up the elevators. Maybe it would force the Madison #20 bus to stop bunching up every rush hour. Maybe it would even force Whitney Young High School from recruiting violations.

Oprah's time is up. It's your time to shine. Come to the West Loop (jingle): We aren't skid row anymore.....

I can't wait to have you over, neighbor.