So I'm not from Mt. Prospect or anything, but my significant other is, and apparently everyone he knows knows Lee DeWyze of American Idol fame. They all have these stories about how he was hanging out in hallways after their classes, or he borrowed some DVDs he has yet to give back, or he took this girl to his 8th grade dance or he sold us the paint for my significant other's bedroom (this is mine, suckahs).
As much as I loved growing up in a small town in Michigan, it has absolutely nothing on Mt. Prospect, where, last night while we were hanging out on the Village Green watching the Jumbotron, people were calling out others for standing up and blocking their view by name. It's sort of America's perfect place. Everyone knows everyone - and more than that, everyone loves everyone. They're so proud of the people who populate the town and what they accomplish, because that's some neighbors kid, or cousin, or your best friend, or that guy who hung out in your friend's basement playing cards.*
Let me just say this: if you have a crazy dream that requires a significant upswell of support from a united community who will not only make T-shirts about how you once "shook their can," but who will bake cookies with your picture on them, make huge home-made banners in your honor and vote, like, 10,000 times so that you hang on to your spot in a reality television program even while you have walking pneumonia, you need to move to Mt. Prospect. This could be part of why, in late 2008, Business Week named Mt. Prospect the best place in America to raise children.
The evidence is there - it's not just Lee DeWyze whose Mt. Prospect roots have led to success.
The hit FOX show, Glee that debuted just this past fallwas created by fellow Mt. Prospector, and former Prospect High School student, Ian Brennan. Ian and Lee grew up less than a mile from each other and just like Lee, most Mt. Prospecters are very familiar. Ian graduated a few years earlier than my significant other, but did theater with him in high school, an experience that is supposedly the inspiration for quite a bit of Glee. From what I understand - and it's not much since I went to a crazy high school in Michigan that was run by band geeks - Glee is full of inside jokes only kids who graduated from Prospect High would understand and it's stellar cast of characters are actually identifiable. At least, they are by people willing to admit it.
Of course, Jennifer Morrison, one of the producers of Glee and star of another FOX show, House, also has a hometown connection. She grew up in neighboring Arlington Heights also went to Prospect High (her dad was their award-winning band director, David Morrison). Thanks to Jennifer, most people who live in Mt. Prospect have managed to decrease their Kevin Bacon number to around two, if you happen to have gone to Prospect High with them and starred alongside them in the Prospect High student production of Fiddler on the Roof (as my significant other apparently did) - Jennifer was in Stir of Echoes with Kevin Bacon.
I'm pretty psyched about this connection, of course, because I can totally see Lee DeWyze making an appearance on Glee, and everyone in Mt. Prospect totally having a heart attack over all of the thinly-veiled Mt. Prospect references that they'd have to throw in just because.
So I sort of love Mt. Prospect, and not just because I'm mayor of half of its establishments on Foursquare. It's neat knowing that there's a place in America that is that connected to it's kids that it supports them all the way to Hollywood and beyond - and above that, welcomes them back with open arms and a 40,000 person parade and rally. Maybe one day when I've managed to have my fill of city livin,' I'll try to harness my dreams by taking up residence. It just seems easier out there.
And with that, please enjoy my Lee DeWyze Awesomeness Retrospective.
*Incidentally, I honestly believe that, at some time or another,
everyone on earth has hung out in this one particular basement of this
one particular family in Mt. Prospect. By extension, this is true with
the creators of the hit television show Glee, and it's most definitely true with
Lee himself. I have plans to hang out in that basement as much as
possible this year, because Mt. Prospect is on a roll and I want a
piece of the action.