Last year I wrote an article for The Huffington Post on reasons I love being a Chicagoan. But why should 2012 have all the fun? Here's 40 reasons I'm looking forward to another year in the city of wind and LeBron hatred.
1. The endless opportunities to bash Rahm. His recent decisions suggest that he’s running for re-election as the mayor of Hell. At this point, I think more Chicagoans approve of herpes than his job in office.
2. Getting to ride the lakefront trail in the summer. After the longest winter in recorded history (which may not ever end), there’s no better way to celebrate than a long ride down Lake Michigan at night.
3. The Morse Stop. Rogers Park, where have you been all my life? The Morse stop is my newest obsession because of its proximity to the ever delicious Heartland Cafe, Mayne Stage, Sidecar and Devon Avenue. It’s so tucked away that on those days you want to get away, it’s like you’re not even in Chicago.
4. Our obscene amount of beaches. Insider knowledge: Check out the cafe at Berger Park. The service is so bad it’s out of a Kafka novel, but it’s right by Ratigan Beach and sits on the lake. On a hot day, the wind from the shore makes you forget you haven’t seen your server in 10 years.
5. Lectures at the University of Chicago. Their guest speaker department needs a raise. Between Angela Davis and Jeffrey Eugenides, there’s always someone interesting to meet at U of C. Now if they could just fix Hyde Park’s public transportation issues, I could actually get there.
6. Playing arcade games...in a bar. I’m not usually into the vintage fad, but Emporium in Wicker Park and Replay in Lakeview are getting it right. I will go to any bar with a pinball machine, stat.
7. The drive thru at Big Star. Can’t get a spot on those crowded weekends? Grab a taco and go to the park. It’s gorgeous outside. Who needs a table?
8. Printer’s Row Lit Fest. For book nerds of all ages, this is by far the best of the city’s summer street festivals, offering a great mix of your favorite bestsellers and hidden gems. Pro-tip: Take a limited amount of cash. If not, you may end up selling your house for that first edition Proust. Know your limits and your bank balance before you go to there.
9. The ongoing North Side v. South Side v. West Side debate. Neighborhood pride is something to behold in Chicago, even if that neighborhood happens to be Lincoln Park. Whatever. Someone has to like it. I personally want to hear people arguing for the East Side. Those lake creatures are so underrepresented.
10. Getting to pretend I know about local sports. There are so many sports teams around that statistically I’m going to know something that’s happening. Fact: The first time I saw Fukudome’s name on the back of a fan’s jersey, I thought the shirt was instructing me to have sex with it. The vulgarity of those Cubs!
11. Gossiping about local celebrities. Almost everyone has a Cusack, Rick Bayless or a Steadman story, and sometimes I gaze out the window of my coffee shop, hoping that Ira Glass will come back to me. One day he will hear my heartsong.
12. Acting like I’ve been to The Girl and the Goat. For all I know, those are the only two things they serve. It’s four star cannibalism...with a side of kale.
13. Never going on the Yellow Line. I still don’t understand what I’m supposed to do in Skokie. Just because you build it doesn’t mean I’ll come.
14. Tim Curry. Tim Curry isn’t just a beloved actor anymore. He also now shares a name with one of Wormhole’s recent weekly drinks, which blended Indian spices with iced espresso to create heaven. I never thought about putting curry in my coffee, but now I can’t get enough of it. My life has been changed.
15. The refurbished Logan and New 400 Theatres. Along with midnight shows, Chicago’s hottest cinema trend is the movie theatre bar, which rejuvenated these crumbling theatres. For just $6, you can get a nice Long Island at the New 400 while you check out the latest Hollywood has to offer. If it’s After Earth, you will need every drop.
16. Having an opportunity to wear everything in your closet. Chicago is one of the few cities that actually offers all four seasons. You might even get them on the same day. Don’t like the weather? Fret not. It will change in a couple hours.
17. The Book of Mormon, which I always forget to go to. By now, everyone and their grandma has seen it. This proves that 99 percent of grandmothers are cooler than I am. They do love NCIS. What’s more badass than Mark Harmon?
18. Collectively cringing every time a Vince Vaughn movie comes out. We all want him to make good and show us again the guy who make Swingers. We have hope, because we stick by our own. But like fetch, it’s never going to happen. Never forget Fred Claus.
19. Having an excuse to call a cab when it rains for no reason. Oh, darn, I guess I’ll have to have this magic chariot take me right to my door instead of sitting next to the Phil Spector look-a-like on the bus. But if you live in Andersonville and you’re coming all the way from Pilsen or Bronzeville, it’s another story entirely. That story costs you $30.
20. Not getting a Real Housewives spinoff. Every day that a certain Bravo series doesn’t desecrate our city is another day we all breathe easier. Besides, we already have Mob Wives to make us look bad.
21. The cafe gems of the South Side. Although the Northside gets most of the credit (because who doesn’t love Metropolis?), the South Side has a wealth of pleasures for coffee lovers, including Bridgeport Coffee Company, Overflow Coffee Bar, Little Branch, Istria and Robust Coffee Lounge. If you happen all the way down to Beverly, the neighborhood’s Beverly Bakery is an absolute must.
22. Not having to deal with the Olympics. Because did you really want to hear about it for the next 10 years?
23. The amount of crap to go to. I often hear people complain that there’s nothing to do in this city. WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT? I need about seven clones to go to all the things going on, or a helicopter that makes getting to Logan Square easier. Fullerton bus, you need to get your act together.
24. The Western bus. Now here’s a great bus line—in my opinion, the best in the city. You rarely wait more than 10 minutes for a bus, and sometimes a nice bus stack means you get a bus all to yourself. You’ll never be able to say that about the Lincoln bus.
25. Never having to go to Clarke’s. The city has an astounding amount of great diners, from the Pick Me Up Cafe to Lou Mitchell’s, Stella’s and Glenn’s. I’m also partial to Nookie’s, but not for the eating. No one goes there for the food, even though it’s perfectly decent. You go because the waiters are insanely hot. I’m there for the service.
26. The flowering of gay bars and queer nights outside of Boystown. Don’t want to brave the B-Town crowd? The city is your oyster, young queer. Check out FKA at Big Chicks, SloMo at The Whistler, Northern Lights and Heavy Rotation at Parlour, Salonathon at Beauty Bar, Chances at The Hideout and Subject to Change at The Burlington. For our leather daddies in the audience, there’s always Touche. Swords not included.
27. The best/worst drag show of all time. Have you ever been to the drag show at Jackhammer at midnight on Monday nights? Did you even know it existed? Get ready to have your life changed. Spoiler: Some of the queens don’t even dress in drag.
28. Pride month. Gay Pride gets the press, but the great thing about pride is that it’s everywhere, not just in Lakeview. The city’s Black Prides, United Latino Pride, Disability Pride and TGIF prove why pride is a whole month long. There's room to celebrate everyone.
29. Knowing that no one else gets what Kristin Cavallari sees in Jay Cutler either. Does she have a rare “No Chin” fetish? Is she attracted to interceptions? It defies logic.
30. A great summer for indie films. This year, we’ve got Sofia Coppola’s The Bling Ring, The Spectacular Now, Ain’t Them Bodies Saints, Fruitvale Station, Joe Swanberg’s Drinking Buddies, Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine and The Way, Way Back, which really wants to be this year’s Little Miss Sunshine. Add that to the already released Frances Ha and Before Midnight, which I plan on seeing twenty times, and you might not leave the movie theatre this summer. If you do, there’s always Movies in the Park, the summer’s best excuse to get secretly drunk in public.
31. Pitchbjork. I know Lolla has New Order, The Postal Service, The Cure and Kendrick Lamar. Riot Fest has Dinosaur Jr., Surfer Blood and Against Me! (which I’m dying for already), but there’s no show I’m more intrigued by than Bjork’s set at Pitchfork. I hope she eats her sweater on stage.
32. Enjoying the last year of my U-Pass. I’m finished with grad school after December, and after that, it’s Ventra city. I will cherish every glorious day until that time.
33. Making fun of John Barleycorn. Does anyone you know actually go there? If so, you should stop knowing them.
34. The yearly Tracy Letts film adaptation. Last year it was Killer Joe, which was so violent it made me regret having eyes. This time around Julia Roberts tries to make Meryl Streep eat her fish in August: Osage County. As long as Matthew McConaughey doesn’t make a surprise appearance with a chicken leg, I’m fine.
35. The Old Navy preacher. Sure, he’s old, deluded and filled with hate, but he’s a Chicago staple, like the Red Line guy who hands out his resumes and the Greenpeace canvassers we all avoid. What would Chicago be without them? It’s good to have things you can count on.
36. Knowing that the Marilyn Monroe statue is gone, never to have her undercarriage oogled again. Whose bright idea was that thing anyway?
37. The Edgewater Trader Joe’s. I know it’s not real and was the meanest April Fools’ prank of all time, but I can pretend. I want to believe that my love for Trader Joe's transcends reality.
38. Making up excuses not to go to the Taste of Chicago. “I’m sorry. I seem to have developed an allergic reaction to sunshine...and tourists.”
39. Getting to use the website crash as an excuse not to sign up for the marathon. Clearly Jesus didn’t want me to run 26.2 miles. And by Jesus, I mean me. I didn’t want to run 26.2 miles.
40. Chicagoans fight back. In the wake of our historic school closings, I’m always inspired to see the number of people standing together, those who refuse to take our city’s culture of systemic segregation lying down. When I see a sea of people in red shirts holding our city accountable to its messes, I’m proud to see neighbors, friends and the guy I stood next to on the train. When I see people huddled in the rain protesting our state's inability to pass marriage equality, it reminds me why I’m here: because our city is worth fighting for.