The Chicago Snob

Beard Season is Officially OVER

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November, 2010: the cool weather set in, we all started hibernating, eating, throwing parties to fatten each other up and find mates to keep us warm through out the winter months... and we men got beardsy.

I too, donned nature's masculine face-warmer, and found (much to my surprise) that the fairer of the two genders absolutely loved it.  I was also surprised to find that other men related to me differently as well.

However, after Sunday's display of what's soon to come (i.e. temperatures in the 80's), I have decided to officially declare beard season over.

Not to worry, Gents, facial hair does not make us more masculine, and shaving our beards is not going to have us fall out of favor with the ladies.  However, ladies, you too need to come to the realization that, despite your preferences (and possible daddy issues), it is in our both of our best interests to hack the beard for the summer.

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Instead of droning on and on about why it is right and proper to lose the winter beard, I will direct you to where to get the right tools so you can easily and painlessly make the transition from beard season, into summer.

A little over a year ago, my good friend (Mr. Roland) referred me to a (then) little-known boutique store that specialized in all things shaving.  I looked at the website, studied their products, analyzed their methodology, and decided to give them a shot.  To date, I have to say that The Art of Shaving has some of (if not the) best mens shaving products on the market.  They now have products for women too.

Though I think this should go without saying, it is of utmost importance that we men use the right products when shaving.  The Barbasol cream and Old Spice aftershave our fathers and grandfathers used butchered their faces.  Do NOT use those, especially not in conjunction with a Bic razor.  Instead use products designed to keep your face in good condition.

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Just as important as the products we use to prep our beards for shaving are the razors we use.  I used to be a Mach 3, then Fusion ProGlide loyalist, until I tried the Schick Hydro 5 (shown left).  If you click on the Fusion ProGlide hyperlink, you'll see 22 different razors (i.e. marketing gimmicks).  Go to Schick Hydro's web page and you'll see only two razors.  The same model in a 3- and 5-blade configuration.

Why does this matter, fellas?  Because it's more important to do one thing well than to do 22 different things poorly, and the Schick Hydro evidences this, exactly.  Go buy one.

Okay, back to the ladies for a minute.  I know you love your guy's scruff, but I also know that you love his face more.  This is your opportunity to get him to finally start caring about taking care of his most valuable asset (despite what he might think that is).  You know how important taking care of your face is, so if your guy feigns indifference, do yourself (and him) a favor and go get him some new shaving supplies and replace his old ones.  Yes, I'm giving you permission to throw his old stuff out.  Better yet, take a couple's field trip to one of the Barber Spa's close to you, sit your man down in the Barber's chair (which he has always secretly wanted to do anyway) and get him educated on how to care for his beard, and why it is so important.

Spring is here and summer is soon to follow.  It is time to embrace the warmth and ditch the excess fur and fat until next fall.  Until then, enjoy good times, good health and great grooming!

Tippling Tuesdays at Double A

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Every Tuesday evening from 7 - 10 pm, below Mercadito, connoisseurs, gourmands, industry experts and those in-the-know, come together for exclusive tastings and education on newly-introduced spirits and liqueurs from around the world.

The venue is Double A.  The gathering is intimate and limited to approximately 60 people.  The benefit is being able to be among the first in the city to taste and experience what's next in the world of spirits, as well as custom made cocktails concocted by some of the most talented mixologists in the city, including Dante LoPresti (seen above, right).

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Tippling Tuesday derives its name from the Tippling Brothers, Tad Carducci and Paul Tanguay, who designed and oversee the beverage program at Double A.

With tippling in mind, Mixologist Dante LoPresti came up with a way to introduce new, and/or, up-and-coming spirits in an unassuming, yet classy atmosphere that brings distinction and familiarity home to people from all backgrounds.  Tipplers leave having not only sampled the spirit on its own, but also in a complimentary, hand-crafted, cocktail, to evidence the spirit's versatility and dynamic application.

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The most recent Tippling Tuesday featured Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey (seen right) which is a Straight Rye Whiskey, yielding 95 percent Rye Mash Whiskey and five percent Malted Barley.  It is aged between four and seven years before being bottled at a whopping 90 proof (45 percent alcohol by volume).

Despite the punch this spirit packs, it offers a warming complexity both on the nose and on the palate, full of tobacco, spice, cherry, and vanilla.  The finish is slightly dry with hints of cinnamon.

Upon arriving, guests were greeted with a Whiskey Smash, which featured fresh mint, mango, Angostura Bitters, Bulleit 95 Rye Whiskey (of course), and some other ingredients that I can no longer recall, due to slight over consumption of Bulleit 95 Rye.  Needless to say, the Whiskey Smash went down way too easily.

Following the tasting, participants were given ingredients and guided through making an Old Fashioned.  Unbeknownst to us, we were also going to be judged on our concoctions by Dante LoPresti and the sponsor of the event from Diageo.  I am very pleased to announce that yours truly, The Chicago Snob, won the competition, and was awarded with a prize t-shirt for each of the tipplers at my table.

I also had the distinct pleasure of enjoying a hand-crafted, Bulleit Manhattan, served up, made extra Snobby, and a Sazerac, served chilled, in a glass rinsed with Absinthe.

Tippling Tuesday events can be found on Facebook.  RSVP is recommended as space at these events is very limited as it is first come, first served.  I'll see you there.

27th Annual Chicago Latino Film Festival

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Tonight is the opening night of the 27th Annual Chicago Latino Film Festival, produced by the International Latino Cultural Center.

The first film of the festival, Sin Retorno, shows at 6:00 pm this evening, to a sold-out audience.

Over the fourteen days of the Festival, over 100 films will be featured at a handful of theaters around Chicago, reflecting the tremendous diversity within the Latino culture here in the U.S., as well as Mexico, Haiti, Puerto Rico, Central and South America, Spain and Portugal.

The Chicago Latino Film Festival is the oldest, most comprehensive Latino film festival in the United States, and aims to provoke audiences by challenging oversimplified images of Latino identity by demonstrating through film and cinematography that being Latino isn't something that fits into a cookie-cutter mold.  The global Latino community is comprised of 20 nationalities with a wide array of racial, social, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds.

On March 15, the International Latino Cultural Center hosted a kick-off party at Crimson Lounge at Hotel Sax:

The public is encouraged to download the film guide and visit the respective theaters' box offices to purchase tickets.

I make it a point to go to at least one film during the festival each year.  I am continually impressed by the quality of the films, the profundity in the messages and the bravery with which touchy or taboo societal topics are broached.

If you haven't gone to the Chicago Latino Film Festival yet, make this year the year.  You will not only have your horizons broadened, but you will take part in something truly historic and unique to Chicago.

Lupe Fiasco: "I love my fans. I'm sorry..."

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Lupe Fiasco had just that, a fiasco, on his hands Saturday night.  His performance at House of Blues Chicago was billed as a Record Release Party, but few other details were provided.

For all intents and purposes, fans showed up for a Lupe Fiasco concert - at least I know I did.


Amidst a bunch of drama and an hour-long delay, fans became agitated, throwing beer cans onstage, booing, and starting fights.

Monday morning, following the show at House of Blues Chicago, issued the following apology to his fans, via Twitter:

To be clear to everyone that attended the House of Blues Laser release thing in Chicago. It was NEVER supposed to be a show... The promoters didn't stress to the public the fact that it was supposed to just be a party. I had NO hand in organizing the event. Nor did my team. I don't even know who the other performers were until the night before the event.

As far as me being late I literally drove about 6 hours to get there and I ran out of gas around Springfield!!!! Shout to AAA 4 the save!!!

But anyways my name was on it so I'll take the "L" and rest assured that it will NEVER EVER happen again. I love my fans. I'm sorry u guys had to go thru some BS. Again me and my crew had NOTHING to do w/ how the event was ran or organized.

Also all the money for the event from my side is and always was going to be donated to charity so at least for me it was a free event.

Lupe's apology is classy and appreciated.  As I said prior, I think Lupe Fiasco is a tremendous performer, whose music has a great message.  I also encourage Lupe to learn from this experience and to address breakdowns like these onstage, with his fans, whenever they happen.  As it stands, numerous fans take issue with his lack of time management from various appearances and performances and I sincerely hope he learns to stop wasting his fans' time.

As a fan at the show on Saturday night, I accept his apology and hope that he can surround himself with people that will ensure that these kinds of debacles never happen again.  Lupe, please keep your hometown posted on upcoming shows and events, be on time, and we will be sure to come out to support you in droves.

Lupe's Fiasco at House of Blues Chicago

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Saturday night at House of Blues Chicago was billed as a Record Release Party concert.

After having been to Lupe's performance at the Chicago Theater on June 26, 2009, I was very excited to see Lupe again, this time at a more intimate venue, in VIP-style.

As usual, the opening performers were, in my opinion, nothing special; certainly not of Lupe's ilk.  As such, my party and I decided to relax by the fireplace in the Foundation Room, on the top floor, while sipping on cocktails, waiting for 11 o'clock to roll around (when Lupe was reportedly going to bless us with his presence).

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Eleven o'clock came and went.  By that time, three fights had erupted amongst the over-served crowd on the first level of general admission, and been broken up.

By 11:20, the crowd was booing and throwing beer cans onstage, aiming at the turntables in protest.  Admittedly, this was not a classy move on the part of the audience.  While it is perfectly acceptable to protest verbally, no one should ever resort to throwing things at the stage.  Come on, Chicago, we're better than that.

By 11:35 or so, I was growing impatient, wondering whether Lupe was going to stand us all up.  At that point, a tall, bean-pole of a man, dressed in a red soccer jersey and a hat, came onstage, mic in-hand.  As he approached center stage, he urged the crowd to "calm the fuck down."  Of course, this gentleman didn't anticipate his words only angering the audience further.  To his credit, however, he did try to rationalize the situation by informing us that Lupe was, in fact, on-premises, and that he was going to come out, but only if we calmed "the fuck down."

As if being told by someone attempting to intimidate a crowd mostly comprised of drunken, early 20-something, ignorant to consequence, urban yuppies wasn't enough to lose some P.R. points, things got worse when this gentleman allowed the crowd to get the best of him, after nearly being hit by a couple of beer cans himself.  I lost a lot of respect for Lupe and his organization when this man then turned to the crowd threatening that he was part of the Black P. Stone organization and that he was representing South Side Chicago, while daring the beer can tossers to show their faces.

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At that point, I became disgusted, not just because of the wait, but now, also because of the degradation of the situation.  This man, at once, completely undermined the whole intent and premise of Lupe Fiasco's image, what he publicly stands for, and the entire intention of the new album, LASERS.

Finally, the man left the stage, and was hopefully fired and shown the exit.

Not only that, but with every minute that passed with Lupe offstage, it seemed more and more that he was turning his back on his hometown crowd.

However, after doing some investigating, I have constructed what I believe to be a feasible explanation for the whole debacle.  Here goes:

Originally, the show was intended to be a big album release party, chalk-full of DJ's, lots of spinning, and just an all out celebration of the new album, LASERS', release, back on March 8, and Lupe was going to only come onstage for a 20-minute set.  However, it seems that along the way, the signals got crossed between the House of Blues management and whoever handles Lupe's engagements.

My guess is that the contractual agreements between Lupe Fiasco and House of Blues, were all handled by one person who failed to effectively communicate Lupe's contractual requirements to House of Blues, and vice-versa.  I'm also guessing that this person now understands that The Devil's in the details, especially when it comes to performance contracts.

Though this could explain why Lupe didn't take stage until after midnight, the end result was still a public relations nightmare.  After all, the audience isn't going to (and didn't) take issue with the venue.  They're going to (and, in fact, did) take issue with the performer that makes them wait an extra hour before taking stage.  To make matters worse, Lupe only ended up playing for about 30 minutes.

Don't get me wrong, I think Lupe Fiasco is a tremendous performer, whose music has a great message.  However, he completely fumbled a golden opportunity to provide a mind-blowing performance to his hometown crowd at one of the city's most intimate venues.  For that, Lupe, you lost major points in my book.  So much so, that I can't honestly say whether or not I will be willing to buy another album, or attend another performance.

EARTH HOUR 2011: Get Involved

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Rest in Hell, Toshiba!

For the past four years, I've had a Toshiba laptop.  It was my first laptop, my access to portability and freedom.  However, I quickly learned that, due to its size and clunkiness, it was more of a hindrance to my freedom than anything else.  I also learned that I spent way too much for a subpar product.  Anyway, on March 17, 2011, my Toshiba died, and like the end of a bad relationship, I'm thankful for it putting me out of my misery.  May you rest in HELL, Toshiba!!

I'm telling you this story to introduce one of the Commandments of Snobbery: Snobs care about the environment.  As much as I would like to climb atop the roof of the Aon Center and discus-throw my dead Toshiba as far as possible and watch it shatter into a million little pieces, I realized that the better, more responsible course of action would be to accept its passing (and my misfortune), and take the high road of social and environmental responsibility.

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When I awoke this morning to my fabulous upstairs neighbor's techno music, somehow I realized that I should find a place to recycle my dead Toshiba.  I quickly hopped online (using my work-issued laptop) and found an organization listed on the EPA's website, called Earth911.comBrilliant!  I was able to do a search for "computer recycling" in 60601 and the site provided me with a list of local computer recycling centers within a 5-mile radius.  I was actually impressed to find so many!

Thoughts then shifted to Earth Hour, the annual, March, hour-long event where participants unplug all electronic devices and appliances, and turn off their lights for one hour, all around the world.  I'm happy I remembered it, because so far, I've seen no publicity for it.I have proudly participated in the previous two Earth Hours, and am a strong advocate of it.  As a matter of fact, I would like to see it turn into a monthly or weekly event, just to broaden the impact.  If you've never heard of Earth Hour, please watch this video for this year's event: 

 

Now, I request that you make a note to yourself, schedule it in your calendar, tie a ribbon around your forehead, or whatever you need to do to remember to participate in Earth Hour on Saturday, March 26, at 8:30 pm, in your local time zone.

This year more than 4,616 cities and towns, and more than 1.3 billion people will participate in Earth Hour.  Chicago will be one of the cities, and I will be one of the people.  Join us and get involved in the world's largest coordinated, voluntary event.

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day Authentically With Michael Collins

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Not everybody knows the true history of why we celebrate St. Patrick's Day.  For most, it is a day/week/month-long excuse to drink to excess while wearing all sorts of ridiculous, green ornaments and clothing, act like idiots, and pass it off as a celebration.  However, did you know that March 17 is the anniversary of St. Patrick's (the patron saint of Ireland) death in 493?  I suspect not.

The Irish have done a great job of keeping their rich history hidden right beneath our noses.  One of those secrets is in the form of an authentic Irish whiskey, donning the name of Michael Collins. 

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What there is to know about Michael Collins is that it is an authentic Irish Whiskey.  There are currently three whiskey distilleries in the whole of Ireland.  Of those three, only one is an Irish-owned, independent distillery, and that is the Cooley Distillery, in County Louth, where Michael Collins Irish Whiskey is made.  This whiskey has won the International Wine and Spirit Competition, European Distiller of the Year Award each of the last three years and also won Malt Advocate's 2010 Distillery of the Year Award.

Perhaps as interesting as the whiskey, is the man that started it all.  Michael Collins lived from 1890 until 1922, and in that short time, not only did he create an iconic source of pride for his countrymen, but he also served as the Commander-in-Chief of the National Army and President of the Irish Republic.  As such, he was one of the signers of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of Independence on December 6, 1921.

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Of even more interest, is that to kick-start the Irish festivities of St. Patrick's day this year, Sidney Frank Importing Company held a special Release Party for Michael Collins 10 Year-Old Single Malt Irish Whiskey at The Drawing Room, on Monday evening.

 

Guest mixologists Dante LoPresti (Double A, Chicago, IL), Jason Turley (Chicago, IL), Charles Joly (The Drawing Room, Chicago, IL), Bradley Bolt (Bar Deville, Chicago, IL), and Todd Richman (Sidney Frank Importing Company, New York, NY) demonstrated not only their talents by creating delicious and complex beverages, but also the versatility of Michael Collins10 Year-Old Single Malt and Blended Irish Whiskies.

All-in-all, the event was a wodnerful, eye-opening opportunity into the world of authentic Irish whiskey, its intricacies and the rich heritage of the Michael Collins brand.

My verdict on the whiskies:  I approve.

The 10 Year-Old Single Malt is double distilled in small, long-necked copper pot stills, from both malted and peated malted barley and matured in small, bourbon-seasoned casks for a minimum of 10 years.  It has a slightly sweet nose with hints of ripe fruit, some floral notes, and peat.  The mouth is very clean and smooth and the finish is slightly dry with a light, lingering smokiness.

The Blended Irish Whiskey is also double distilled and matured in bourbon-seasoned casks, but for a minimum of four to twelve years.  The nose yields a balanced, sweet aroma of honey and citrus and the mouth is smooth and silky, with an oak finish.

Now, being that it is officially St. Patrick's Day, go get a bottle of each and enjoy responsibly, in true Irish fashion.

Gallery sneak peek (25 images):

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The Best Scotch You Will Never Have

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First of all, forgive me, fellow Snobs, for I have sinned.  It has been nearly a month since my last Snobbery.  I strayed from the path and nearly lost my faith in Snobbing.  However, this past weekend I experienced something that shook me to my core and renewed my faith in Snobbing and its true glory: Aberlour 30 year-old, single malt scotch, vintage 1969, bottle 68 of 600 (pictured below).

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It is no secret that I am a connoisseur of single malt scotch, among other things, and have been since the tender age of 19.  My mother introduced me to single malts and taught me how to drink like a man.  Mom, I am forever grateful.

At the sophisticated age of 22, whilst drinking scotch at a dear friend's house and playing video games with another friend of ours, I came up with the idea that it would be novel for the three of us to gift each other a bottle of 30 year-old scotch for our birthdays.  We would then hold these bottles and enjoy them on our respective wedding nights.  As it was my friend, Lucien's, birthday next, my other friend, Matt, and I went in search of such a bottle.

I happened to stumble across a rather mysterious and alluring bottle in a liquor store in Prior Lake, MN, encased in a wooden box, with rather ornate markings and appeal.  The price tag, $240.  I bought the bottle and Matt and I split the cost between us and presented it to Lucien for his birthday the following July.

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That was 2003.  When Lucien announced his engagement, we looked up the bottle's value online and what we found astounded us.  A similar bottle was available for over 800 Brittish Pounds, the equivalent of approximately $1,250 USD.  None of us had ever consumed anything that valuable and so we were all very eager to enjoy the fruits of our investment and patience.

February 25, 2011 (nearly eight years later) my friend, Lucien, happily married his beautiful bride, Lisa in Minneapolis.  Following the ceremony, surrounded by family and friends, Lucien happily opened the bottle that we had all been waiting to enjoy.  As he poured a round for the wedding party, he prepared a toast and we all raised our glasses to the proud newlyweds.  However, none of us were prepared for what was to follow.

As I lifted the glass to my nose, it smelled rather bright and strong of alcohol, so I gave the glass a swirl and smelled again: smooth, soft and balanced was the nose on this dram.  When it crossed my lips I couldn't believe the sensation as it was quite different from anything I had experienced prior.  It felt as if I was sipping rich, velvety silk.  The tongue was also complex as it evolved from a gentle leather to a prominent spice.  The finish was every bit as satisfying as it was clean and light.

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Lucien and his younger sister enjoying the Aberlour 30, Vintage 1969.

Following the wedding, and my return to the great City of Chicago, the taste and experience of this scotch stayed with me.  I wanted to see if I could find another bottle, so I went in search. It was then that I found the discrepancy between the bottle we had previously found online and the actual bottle we enjoyed.  My heart sank a little, but I continued my search.

What I found in the process was that the last recorded sale of this particular vintage of Aberlour happened November 18, 2009 at an estate auction.  There are currently no bottles readily available for sale, anywhere in the world - trust me, I looked.  This fact, coupled with the extreme satisfaction (and consequential ruin of my scotch palate) leads me to believe that the bottle we enjoyed that night, like my friend's wedding, is, in fact, priceless.

With that, I will conclude with a toast to the newlyweds, Lucien and Lisa.  May your lives together be filled with love, adoration, and respect for one another and your riches never measured by a bank account, but by the character of the people you surround yourselves with.  I love you both and am forever grateful that you shared your wedding day with me.  Congratulations!

Best Chicago Sushi: ARAMI

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Arami from Chicago Ave.

I had never heard of Arami until early January.  Until that point, I had been a Wakamono (East Lakeview) loyalist.  After speaking with a few friends, who kept raving about Arami, and meeting Owner and Executive Chef, BK Park (who is regularly stationed behind Arami's sushi bar) at January's SpeakEasy, I decided to check the place out.

Enter January 23rd; the Bears had just lost to the Packers in the NFC Championship game, and I was a bit downtrodden.  However, as my dinner companion and I approached 1829 West Chicago Avenue, we kept our eyes peeled for any signage indicating we had reached our destination on the dimly lit avenue: none.  We drove right past it.  When we circled the block we found it, a very nondescript storefront (pictured left) that you would almost have to know was there in order to find.  I love places like this!

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Arami's Dining Room

As we entered, I immediately noted two things: the torii gate and the small room at the front of the house and thought, nice... is this it?  I was then quite relieved when our hostess directed us back and to the right of the house, where we passed the sushi bar, and BK Park, to enter the dining room (pictured right).  The exposed brick, skylights, and wooden beams were nicely accented with soft lighting to make for a very warm and relaxing environment.

After we were seated, our waitress handed us each a bamboo menu and explained the evening's specials. One thing to note about Arami, is that the experience is very intentional and deliberate, always.  On my first visit, we were gently encouraged to start with sashimi and then work our way into the maki mono, as the sashimi will tend to be lighter and the maki mono will be heavier on the palate.  Heeding this advice on my second visit, the following week (January 30th), we were even guided through the Chef's Choice Special Sashimi Combination, starting with the lightest, working into fuller, more complex flavors and textures in the sashimi presented.

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Sashimi

However, back to the beginning.  We started with Sake (salmon) Garlic, presented on a chilled black stone, and Maguro Akami (lean tuna) sashimi.  The Sake Garlic was to die for!  It gave a very light, yet full and aromatic taste of garlic with a fresh and delicious salmon, while the Maguro Akami (not marinated) gave a very clean and fresh experience of lean tuna.

For our next course, we enjoyed the Maguro Kani, which was presented like a small gift in a circular wrap, which elicited an emotion similar to that of being presented gifts at your own birthday party.  The taste: incredible.  The king crab and tuna paired wonderfully in a subtle experience of flavor and texture.

Next we moved into the maki mono.  I typically go for anything spicy, so I jumped at the Spicy Maguro, which can only be described in one word:  WOW!  The chili oil adds a distinct, spicy and smoky flavor to the maki, making it one of my favorites, next to the Hamachi Maguro Ebi which was a grande finale, of sorts and definitely not one to be missed.

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BK Park and Sushi Chefs

On my second, and most recent visit, my dinner companion and I sat at the sushi bar, right in front of the sushi chef furthest to the left (pictured right).  One of the best things about Arami is the creativity of the sushi chefs.  For our final course, I encouraged our chef to make us his personal favorite, whatever he liked, however he liked it.  This, my friends, is where the magic happens.  Our chef, and new friend at that point, delighted each of us with a custom hand roll, made using the most exquisite (and most expensive) seaweed wrap available in the US.  It was filled with a concoction of king crab, tuna, scallions, and spicy mayo.  It was a delicious, fun and entertaining way for us to end the night, one I definitely encourage you try.

My other suggestion is that you make reservations, which you can do either by visiting Arami's website, or by visiting Opentable.com.  However, my top recommendation is that you call to make reservations and request the Omakase, which is the only way to have exclusive access to BK Park, himself, at the private section of the sushi bar, immediately in front of where Mr. Park creates his masterpieces.

Despite Arami's slightly obscure and isolated location in West Town, it is by far the best sushi in Chicago, which is why I have quickly made it my new sushi go-to spot.  I recommend you do the same, and be sure to let them know that The Chicago Snob sent you.

Vital Nights, presented by Vital Bridges

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Remember when I brought you an exclusive invitation to SpeakEasy, back in November and December?  Perhaps revisiting the January 17 issue of the RedEye might jog your memory (p. 17, lower right corner).  Well, I have another invitation for you, so listen up.

Having a good time isn't terribly difficult in this city.  Let's face it, Chicago could easily be dubbed one of America's adult playgrounds.  However, every once in a while, comes an authentic opportunity to party and hob-knob with the who's who of Chicago, party like it's 1999 and benefit an organization that's making a profound and lasting difference in our communities.

I am proud to introduce you to Vital Nights, presented by Vital Bridges.

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Fact of the matter is that Vital Bridges is one of very few charitable organizations that I actually endorse because 82 cents of every dollar goes to actually helping people, which means the organization is run efficiently and is committed to making a difference, not just a name.  Their mission is to help people in metropolitan Chicago impacted by HIV and AIDS to improve their health and build self-sufficiency by providing food, nutrition, housing, case management and prevention services.

Logistics:  Heat of the Night starts at 6 pm on Wednesday evening at Nacional 27 (map) with performances by acclaimed violinist Katrina and DJ Luv Jones and special guests Julie Bouchard, Jim Lee, Kasia Koniar, and Jeffrey Ward, along with fellow Snob and conscious living guru, Joanna Burgraf.  Bacardi will provide complimentary cocktails and Nacional 27 will provide complimentary tapas.  There will be a raffle drawing at 8:30 and the evening will complete around 9 pm.

Tickets are $25 if purchased online (click here) or $30 at the door.  Dress code is philanthropic (i.e. formal and classy).

These events are always haute.  Past events were hosted at Rockit, The Underground, Hard Rock Hotel, and The Tasting Room, and this Wednesday's event is sure outdo the previous ones, so be there looking fresh, ready to have a great time and meet a lot of great people while being Snobby for a great cause.

I Endorse Rahm for Mayor

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I remember distinctly the day that I heard the news that Daley was not running for reelection for the Mayor of Chicago.  I recall being at once jubilant, hesitant and afraid.  Why?  Well, let's think about it.  If everything was looking rosy on the horizon, Daley would stay, right?  Right.  However, Daley knows better than anyone in this city just how much shit is going to hit the fan, and how hard.  You could say he's getting the hell out of Dodge before that happens.

As Chicagoans, we all have our opinion of Mayor Daley, but when all is said and done, do many of us actually care who runs the city?

You should know by now that I love living in Chicago.  I love being a Chicagoan.  I love being able to live, work, play and explore in a world-class city, abundant with choices, freedoms and excitement (including all of the shootings that take place just a block from my apartment).  But what do I really care about when it comes right down to it?

Cut and dry, I just want the city to work.  That means relying on the CTA to get me where I need to go, by when I need to be there.  It also means having the lake front maintained well enough so that I can run up and down it in the summer while training for marathons and simultaneously enjoying the scenery (i.e. eye-candy) at North Avenue Beach, Oak Street Beach and Ohio Street Beach.  Furthermore, it means having the snow removed in a reasonable amount of time, and having the streets clean.  Basically, I just want to be able to do my thing in my city.

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So why do I endorse Rahm?  It's simple, he's a true Chicagoan, and isn't afraid of straight talk, playing dirty or getting tough, and that's exactly who we need.  We all should know by now that there is a ocean of money flowing under the tables in Chicago, that keeps this city working.  If that ocean dries up, the mafias and unions will bring the city to a grinding halt.  Rahm knows this, he grew up here, is raising his family here, has been in politics and in banking here, which means that he knows how the money flows and who touches it.  He also knows how to play the political game in order to get the money to flow in his direction and make things happen, when he needs to. At the end of the day, isn't that what we need?  Isn't that what we want?  I know that's what I want.








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Do you know what else I want?  I want a Mayor who has a direct line to the Oval Office... and one that isn't afraid to flip the bird, use profanity, express his opinion, or pop a dead fish in the mail when necessary.  I suppose it might also help if said Mayor is missing half of a finger too.  What other candidate can say that they have that going for them, or would do any of the aforementioned?  I don't know, but what I do know is that if there's one city I want Washington focused on, it's mine, and if there's one person I want sending dead fish through the mail using my taxpayer dollars, it's my Mayor.

I don't know who the other candidates are, and as far as I'm concerned, there aren't any.  I say we skip the formality of the election, save the City (i.e. ourselves) the expense, and just anoint Rahm Mayor... or King... or Don of Chicago and call it a day.  Besides, anyone who doesn't vote for Rahm is pretty likely to find a horse's head in their bed when they wake up the next morning... or at least a dead fish.  KISS THE RING!

A Challenge to Joe Piazza and Fox News

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On Monday, January 10, 2011, Fox News published an article written by Journalist Joe Piazza.  Instead of providing a link to the article so you can read it (thus boosting Fox News' readership) I will summarize the article's contents instead.

The article states that Ted "Williams is the latest pawn in the media game which celebrates what is hot at the moment and leaves it behind  as soon as the next 'it' thing comes along."  Furthermore, the article asserts that Mr. Williams may ultimately find himself back at the bottom of the bottle, in an attempt to handle or cope with, the pressure that comes with a meteoric rise to stardom, such as what he's experiencing right now.

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To Joe Piazza, congratulations on the attempted murder of Ted Williams' success.  Also, I have a challenge for you and your buddies at Fox News:  I challenge you and Fox News to put some skin in the game in favor of Ted Williams' success, instead of using him as your own pawn in the media game.  By the way, in case you didn't realize this, you are the media.

Here is the specific challenge:  I challenge Joe Piazza, to get Fox News to financially sponsor, support, and perpetuate Ted Williams' success, by hiring a team of assistants, publicists, managers and agents that have no affiliation to Fox News or any of its subsidiaries and/or affiliates.  This way, we all can celebrate Mr. Williams' accomplishments and support his success as the victory over the past that it is.

After all, Mr. Piazza, if you're going to use Ted Williams as your own pawn, at least have it be for the good of the situation, not just more sensationalized negativity.  You and the media do more than just write stories, you also influence the public's thinking and sentiment.  I further challenge you to use your influence responsibly.

Chicago's Best Kept Secret: Vivian Maier

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Vivian Maier is probably the greatest undiscovered artistic street photographer in Chicago's history. Hers is the story of a French woman who came to New York in the 1930's as a young girl. To persist, she earned meager wages in sweatshops while picking up English by attending the theatre.  Eventually, Maier moved to Highland Park where she took a job as a nanny for three children from 1956 - 1972.

In her time off, she would tour Chicago with the camera seen in her photo, snapping what wouldn't be discovered as one of the greatest artistic photographic collections of our time, until her after her passing when accidentally stumbled upon by a Chicago estate agent by the name of John Maloof.

Maier's work is currently on display at the Chicago Cultural Center, through April 3, and her story has been featured in the Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago Magazine, The Republica (Italy), The Independent Review (U.K.), Clarin (Argentina), and WTTW's Chicago Tonight, as seen below.

Visit the Chicago Cultural Center to view Maier's collection while it's on display.  Not only will you be among the first to see some of the best artistic street photography of our time, but you will also gain another perspective for our great city's history and culture.

Accolades to Brooke Barrett for bringing this story to my attention, and enriching my own appreciation for this city and its culture.

Why Starbucks Sucks

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I almost feel like I should apologize for writing about coffee again... but the fact that I thought about apologizing just now, makes me feel a lot better about not actually apologizing.

When you move to (or visit) Chicago from just about any other city in the U.S. (save New York and perhaps Seattle), one of the first things you notice is that there seems to be a Starbucks on every corner, especially in the loop.

Yes, Starbucks has become the McDonald's of coffee, with a Coca-Cola-esque vision of putting a mermaid-laden cup within arm's reach of every man, woman and child in our fair city.  Case in point, there are over 50 Starbucks locations within the loop area, alone.  This is great news if you like guzzling bad coffee (which most of you do), or if you're in the mood for a shot at winning type II diabetes (e.g. Peppermint Mocha, or gasp, Pumpkin Spice Latte).  It's also great news if you happen to be a bum looking for a bathroom to sleep in.

To make matters even worse, Starbucks has also forged alliances with Safeway (which owns Dominick's) and Target, so that you can get your fix while shopping.  Mmmmm, delicious!  The one place they haven't managed to weasel their way into (yet) is Midway Airport, thank goodness.

Okay, yeah, that's pretty bad, sure.  But what really makes Starbucks so terrible is two-fold:

  1. The Starbucks Customer:  Every morning hoards of professionals get in line and act like petulant adolescents, entitled to throw fits when their drinks aren't made to their exact specifications.  Fine, you pay $5 for a venti, razzzmatazzalicious, mocha, frappa-whatever, and it makes sense to want it done right.  However, that does not give you the right to go ballistic on the barista for putting the lid on your drink before you could manage to pull yourself away from your BlackBerry and request that your whip cream not be un-coiffed.  At least show some level of decent comportment.  Besides, any self-respecting person would just order a medium, skim latte and call it a day.
  2. The Starbucks Staff:  Yes, after just having had their back (kind of) I'm now putting them on blast too.  I know the job pays just $12 per hour, plus health benefits, and a 401(k)...  and you have to put up with customers like I just described every day, but that is no reason to not do good work.  Most of the staff (trainers included) don't even know how to properly froth milk, or, why you need to allow the coffee to stop brewing before you serve it.  To boot, a lot of Starbucks employees have poor attitudes and treat patrons like an obligation or a nuisance.  Oh, am I taking you away from the 9 am showing of Judge Mathis?  My bad.  At the end of the day, you're not building rockets, you're just making coffee, so please, at least do it properly.

If, after reading this, you still decide to patron Starbucks, please don't be an asshole about it (see #1) and realize that you're overpaying for a terribly sub-par product with even worse nutritional value.  Also know that if I see you, mermaid cup in-hand, I will probably snicker and jeer at you from inside my own head, but will outwardly totally dismiss you as a human being, just like every other Chicagoan walking down the same street at 8 am.

January SpeakEasy - BY RSVP ONLY

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In the same vein as the prohibition era speakeasies, I am very pleased to extend my final exclusive invitation to the SpeakEasy event on Wednesday, January 5, from 8:00 PM until Midnight.

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The event is produced by [m] mobolaji : advertising agency and Arami, featuring guest Mixologist Dante Lopresti, from Double A (Mercadito's downstairs luxe lounge).  The evening will consist of two distinct sake cocktails:  The Rice Crispy will be mixed using Kiku-Masamune Sake, and the Filthy Rich will be mixed using Dassai Nigori Sake.  The music for the evening will be curated by the one and only Shala.

If that's not enough to tantalize you out of your holiday-induced hibernation, this event is only for a select few and this will be the last time that I am able to extend this broad invitation to my readers.  After this month, you may request to be invited, though no open invitation will be announced.

All of the SpeakEasy events are password protected and  no access is granted without the password.  To obtain the password, you can join the group and RSVP through Facebook, or, as a courtesy, the producers have allowed my readers to RSVP through me directly by no later than Wednesday, January 5 at 5:00 PM.

January's SpeakEasy will be held at The Exchange Bar, located at 1270 North Milwaukee Avenue.  The dress code for the evening is dress-casual, (i.e., look nice, smell fresh and be classy).  Here's a map so you don't get lost:


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I'm looking forward to raising my glass to some SpeakEasy Snobbery with you all on Wednesday, January 5.  Remember to RSVP by Wednesday at 5:00 PM, so I can send you the password.

I'll see you there... if you can get in.

2011: What Are You Creating?

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I know that we still have a couple of days to go, but let's face it, for all intents and purposes, we can kiss 2010 goodbye, and seal the books on the first decade of the twenty-first century.  I also know that you've probably seen about a gazillion other blogs and articles about New Years Resolutions, where and how to celebrate New Year's Eve, etc., so let me assure you, this is not that.

With that in the background, let's now acknowledge that we all have fallen into the trap of making, then breaking, our New Year's Resolutions.  That is exactly why I stopped making them. Let's face it, they're a load of crap, basically, because all they really are is a fix or a change that we perceive as something fundamentally wrong with us, our character, or our life in general.  When we make these resolutions, we do so entirely inside a context for the persistence of what we don't want, instead of what we do want.

This year, instead of focusing on fixing or changing or a newer, faster, stronger, better, different version of what we already have or are, let's create something from scratch, shall we?  What the hell is this guy talking about?  I know, I know, it can be a little difficult to grasp, but I'll lay out my own creations for 2011, and if you get the gist, please feel free to replicate my creation for yourself, using your own creations.  However, please note, that what you're about to read, is not a fix for anything that is wrong or something I'm not happy with.  Everything you are about to read is based in a context of who I will be and what I will do while causing what I want.  Not like that stuff is missing and I'm clambering for it, but just because I want my life to go this way, while not trying to avoid any other way.  Here we go:

In 2011, I am in love, bold, determined, powerful and unstoppable.  I am facile with effectively causing the outcomes I intend to cause, while transacting powerfully and continually increasing the quality of my ecology.

Standing in the completion of 2011, reflecting on the year, I will see that I have successfully:

  • become financially independent, stable, secure and permanently debt-free.
  • found and fallen in love with and created a relationship with the woman of my dreams, whom I will create the rest of my life with.
  • become engaged to the woman of my dreams.
  • left my current job and transitioned into entrepreneurial ventures that provide abundant, steady and reliable income, in excess of $10,000, monthly.
  • helped my mom move into a new, permanent home, where she wants to live, where she can begin her career as the acclaimed novelist she has always wanted to be.
  • completed both the Chicago Marathon and the Marine Corps Marathon, setting personal record times in each run.
  • spent Christmas in a luxurious, tropical resort.
  • met, networked with and created lasting friendships with various celebrities and influential people in their respective fields and industries.
  • created my life to be what I want it to be, and not what someone else has told me I can afford.
  • become the man of my dreams.
Okay, so now that I've created my 2011, now what?  Well, in posting this, I have also take a very vital step in causing the fulfillment of my intention: sharing it with others who will know what I am up to, who can help me fulfill on what's important to me, and who will hold me accountable for what I said.  Also, in order to keep these things present and at the forefront of my consciousness, I will reprint this list and post it in areas that I frequent so that I am reminded of what I said I am going to fulfill on this year.  This way, I can stay focused on what I am out to cause, which will drastically improve my effectiveness at causing the outcomes I said I would.

I hope that you have, at least, begun to understand the difference between creating the new year, as opposed to making a resolution.  Please let me know if you have any questions, would like any help, or if you have any resources to offer that I might use to fulfill on what I created above.  To reach me, please email me at chicago.snob@gmail.com.

Thank you for reading The Chicago Snob, have a safe and fun New Year's Eve celebration and I will see you all in 2011!

Chicago Cigar Lounges: THE SNOB REPORT

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In the winter, when I'm not so focused on training for marathons, I like to enjoy an occasional cigar.  My little infatuation with cigars started while I was a young boy, and I would see my grandfather (a former Capitan in the Navy) smoke a sweet-smelling cigar, when we would go camping up in Northern Minnesota.  I tried to pick up the refined habit back at the tender age of 17, but never really knew what I was doing and didn't pick up on some of the subtleties until relatively recently, after I had moved to Chicago, and only after I had all-but given up on the sophisticated, sweet relaxation that only a fine cigar can offer.

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Vieques, Puerto Rico

What actually rekindled my interest in cigars was when I was on vacation in Vieques, Puerto Rico (a tiny island not far from San Juan), in 2006.  I was escaping the afternoon sun in a tiny, local, island cantina, with my (then) girlfriend when an all-too-familiar scent hit my nostrils.  It was the same scent from my childhood; the scent of the cigar my grandfather smoked.  I approached the gentleman smoking the cigar and asked him what he was smoking: Romeo y Julietta.  I immediately had to get one!  I was so excited.

Like I said, however, it wasn't until I was back in Chicago that I learned that there is actually a technique and etiquette to enjoying a cigar.  Unlike cigarettes, you don't just smoke it for the sake of smoking it.  Oh, and for those who don't know, I'm talking about real cigars, not Swisher Sweets, Garcia Vega's, Black & Mild's or any garbage brand that you can purchase at your local 7-Eleven.  I'm talking about the kind of cigars that you purchase from a tobacconist in a properly maintained humidor.  If you're interested in picking up a few pointers on proper technique and etiquette go to this website for everything from how to properly smoke, cut, light, hold and ash a cigar, to how to not offend non-cigar smokers around you.

The more I learned about cigars, etiquette, and the sophistication, the more I wanted to experiment.  I began to look around for places where I could not only buy a good cigar, but where I could actually enjoy the cigar without harassing others, or having to stand out in the cold.  I happened to find one such place: Blue Havana, on the north side of Belmont, just west Clark.

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For me, what makes Blue Havana great is not just the convenient location, but also the staff and the owner, Mark Thomas, who also owns The Alley.  The staff at Blue Havana is friendly, knowledgeable, and very unassuming when it comes to educating people about cigars and tobacco.  Mark Thomas, a rather prominent business leader in East Lakeview, is also very unassuming, humble and outgoing; always eager to interact with his customers and staff.  On one of my last visits we sat, smoked a cigar, watched a movie while lounging in the Italian Leather Sofas and chatted for over an hour.  Justine is also one of my favorite reasons for visiting Blue Havana.  I always follow her recommendations because she's very well-versed in the subtleties of various tobaccos, plantations, and cigar companies.  However, gentlemen, beware.  Justine also has a youthful, smoldering, sexy energy that can easily draw you in.  Other staff are also very helpful and knowledgeable, but are not as sexy as Justine.

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My other favorite spot is Tesa Cigar Company, which is directly next door to Piccolo Sogno at Grand/Milwaukee/Halsted in the River West.

Tesa is my other go-to spot because it has an outstanding ambiance which almost makes you feel like you're on a tobacco plantation.  The entire lounge serves as the humidor and the cigars are stored on the shelves on the outer walls of the room.  Tesa is also owned and operated directly by the tobacco grower and tobacconist of the cigars it sells.  As a matter of fact, they only have a small selection of cigars that they don't make.  My other favorite aspect of Tesa is that it's BYOB.  You can bring a six-pack, or a bottle of wine, or anything else for that matter, to sip while you're enjoying one of their proprietary cigars.  Tesa is also available to rent out for private parties, complete with a cigar hostess who will hand roll cigars for you and your guests.

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If you're a cigar aficionado, or a novice looking to learn more about cigars, go to either Blue Havana or Tesa and tell them The Chicago Snob sent you.  After all, both establishments have more than earned my esteemed Official Stamp of Approval.

Happy Holidays, Fellow Snobs!

DADT Repealed

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President Obama Signing The Repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell

This morning President Obama signed the repeal of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, regarding the United States' position on homosexuals serving in the Armed Services.

While this marks a seemingly progressive step in the United States' cultural conversation about sexual orientation, I am a bit conflicted about how to interpret the whole thing.  Do I champion the legislation for providing men and women an equal opportunity to serve their country, defend it's boarders and citizens against the evils of tyranny, and potentially give their lives for something they believe in?  Or do I sit back, fold my arms and chastise the legislation for demonstrating just how archaic our citizenry's thinking still is, that we have to grant someone a right to serve, fight and die based solely on who they love and how they express it?  Like I said, I'm conflicted.

Here's how I choose to approach the whole subject of rights with regard to sexual orientation: For one, I am not the authority, nor is any other human being, on whether or not it is morally right for one man to love another man and/or one woman to love another woman.  For two, I am absolutely in favor of, and support, any and everybody who wishes to create a partnership from a context of love, responsibility and commitment, whether straight or otherwise.  For three, I fail to comprehend why certain segments of our population feel the need to exert their morality onto others.  Did they learn nothing from The Crusades?  That story didn't exactly end in their favor, if memory serves.

The point I'm getting at is this:  We are all just fundamentally human beings who want to be able to pursue our dreams and ambitions, follow our hearts, help other people (most of us), and love who we love, no matter if it's someone of the same sex or same ethnicity, or otherwise.  I look forward to the day when we all get that a man can be a man who happens to love men, and a woman can be a woman who happens to love other women, and it doesn't separate us from all working and living together in prosperity.

Saturday Night Live: A Teen Skate Movement

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The power of social media caught me between the eyes this morning when I received a tweet from @MANDY_HLE on twitter, containing a link to the video below:


Apparently, this teenager, J-ReaL, King of Teens and CEO of Heartless Entertainment, just created a new skating venue for teenagers to frequent on Saturday nights while being active, dancing, skating and having fun with their friends in a safe environment.  Saturday Night Live takes place at All American Skate Center in Stone Mountain, GA, where there is open skating from 7 pm until 10:30, and dancing from 10:30 until 11.  Admission for the evening is $8.00.

I wanted to give this mention and press for a few reasons, even though it has nothing to do with Chicago.  First of all, the entire concept and implementation was achieved by a black teenage man, despite all of the societal obstacles for black teenage men.  For those of you not in the know, roughly 50 percent of black teenage men do not graduate from high school.  Secondly, J-ReaL has created something that has an immensely positive societal impact in his community, which deserves praise and attention above all else.  He has also found a way to get teens and young people active and away from destructive activities that they might otherwise engage in on a Saturday night.

To J-ReaL:  I applaud you, Sir, well done.  You have become a role-model and a symbol of what anyone can achieve, no matter the circumstances.  I also invite you to come to Chicago to grow Saturday Night Live and expand the impact of your program.  Thank you for choosing to channel your energy toward something that impacts your community in a beneficial and constructive way.  I encourage others to follow your lead.

THE SNOB REPORT: Intelligentsia Ruined Me

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In a previous post I lauded Intelligentsia Coffee for their superior product, craftsmanship, and even their cookies (which they actually get from some bakery somewhere).

This morning, however, I came to a very startling realization that made me rethink my appreciation for Intelligentsia completely.  But how could that be?  I mean, they're the best of the best of the best!

As I was drinking my morning French press, I noticed that it wasn't as good as it usually is.  Perhaps the water was too hot, or I dosed it improperly, or maybe my taste buds were just off. The point is, I automatically assumed that it was something with me, not the coffee.  Then I realized that I wasn't drinking what I normally drink.  I had switched back to Caribou Coffee's Colombian coffee, which I used to consider a superior cup.  Not anymore, however.

Could it be that I have grown so accustomed to drinking from the golden cup, as it were, that I can no longer appreciate other good, yet not-as-sophisticated coffees?  Could it be that I have been out-Snobbed by my own palate?  What gives?

I have come to the conclusion that I have officially been ruined by Intelligentsia.  Other coffee just isn't worth drinking anymore.  I feel like a kid at Christmas who just opened a really cool present, and then opened a package of gift-wrapped tube socks.  Hoooraaaaaay...

Now here's the dilemma:  Do I, A) ditch the decent Colombian coffee, with still nearly half of a pound left to go and replace it with something from Intelligentsia? or B) power through, finish strong and learn to appreciate a good thing even more?  Decisions, decisions.  Rest assured, no matter what I decide to do, it won't involve anything from Starbucks!

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One thing is for sure, however.  There is perhaps no one more deserving of my official Stamp of Approval, than Intelligentsia Coffee.  I will continue to laud them, champion their coffee and craftsmanship, and sing high praise from any mountaintop I can find!  That is, until I crash from my caffeine high.

To Doug Zell:  Your product needs a disclaimer at the bottom of the label that reads "Enjoy Responsibly."

Happy Holidays Everyone!

P4A: The American Cancer Society

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As you may have read in my Introduction to The Snob Report, aside from just bringing you my own opinion about what's great, I am also going to put my Stamp of Approval on things that have a positive societal impact.  On Tuesday evening, I was introduced to something called The Project for Awesome (P4A), by John Pham.

Whenever I do anything charitable, I always end up going with The American Cancer Society and the reasons why I choose them are simple.  Not only does the ACS have a profound impact in the lives of many of our loved ones who live with, and overcome cancer of many forms, but it also has a profound impact in the lives of our loved ones who loose their lives to their cancer.  The American Cancer Society, dollar-for-dollar, gives the highest percentage of the money donated to fund research, pay for treatments, provide transportation, etc. for people trying to overcome cancer, every single day.  They run a tight ship with the integrity to merit my participation in their fundraising programs.

Case-in-point, I ran the 2008 Chicago Marathon to raise money for the American Cancer Society in honor of my uncle, John VanHofwegen and one of my closest friends' mom, Cheryl Pajak.  Unfortunately, Cheryl lost her battle with cancer the day before I ran the marathon, and my uncle passed not too long after that.  However, knowing that what I was doing, in honor of those close to me, as well as many others who have loved ones who are/were touched by cancer, made the experience one of the most profound experiences of my life so far.

I encourage you all to take a moment today to consider the difference you can make by providing a donation to The American Cancer Society.  Your generosity will make a profound and lasting difference in your life, and the lives of many others you don't even know.  Who knows, it may even give someone the chance to have one more Holiday Season with their family.

Thank you for reading and please participate this Holiday Season!

THE SNOB REPORT: Kanye West

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Ever since before Kanye took it upon himself to go "on TV, talkin' like it's just you and me," and say that "George Bush doesn't care about black people," he's been at the center of all things controversial.  As if people didn't think he was big enough of an asshole prior to stealing Taylor Swift's spotlight at the 2010 MTV Video Music Awards late last summer, they certainly did afterward.  Jay Leno even went so far as to ask Kanye what he thought his mother would say, if she were still alive, when his show moved to prime time.

After apologizing to Taylor Swift, Yeezy shut his mouth for a while, and went into seclusion while working on his newly-released album, My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy.  However, the spotlight of controversy soon found it's way back to Mr. West as the original album cover was banned by the FCC... or whomever.  Without skipping a beat, Kanye made a slight revision and dropped the album.

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Here's why I'm giving Kanye West my coveted Stamp of Approval:  Not only does he rep Chicago whenever he can, every time he opens his mouth, composes a beat, gets dressed, or breathes, he releases more and more self-expression.  Perhaps it's taken Kanye a little time in the limelight to adjust and find himself, as he has in his latest album, but the journey has been an all-too-clear, front-row seat into Kanye's world, his struggles, his victories, and raw emotion.  Sometimes it takes us a little time to settle ourselves and see the humanity behind his expressions, but once we do, it's quite beautiful, even when it's dark and twisted.  What really helped me see this was the short movie Kanye made to accompany his latest album:


In the movie, as well as the album, you can get a clear sense of Kanye's conflict between being able to freely express himself and being accepted by society and his peers.  It's clear (to me anyway) that, though he says he doesn't care about what people say, Kanye is, ultimately, seeking approval and love; something we can all identify with.

Perhaps that's what struck me so deeply in this latest album; being able to personally identify with, and relate to Kanye's lyrics.  In songs like Dark Fantasy, Blame Game, POWER, Monster, So Appalled, and Hell Of A Life, Yeezy catches me a little off-guard in moments of authenticity and vulnerability and sends me right back to moments in my own life that still provoke and plague me, while evoking my own blend of emotions.  The beauty of this is that I know I'm not the only one who identifies with the album in this way.

Yes, Kanye West might be an egocentric, narcissistic, conceited, pompous asshole that we all love to hate, but at the end of the day, you can't help but identify with him and this new album, which is why we all end up loving his music, and thus, him.

And I know that you were somewhere, doin' your thing.  And when the phone called it just rang and rang.  You ain't pick up, but your phone accidentally called me back, and I heard the whole thing.  I heard the whole thing (whole thing, whole thing, whole thing).  -Blame Game

Introducing The Snob Report

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You may have heard of the Robb Report, which is a global luxury resource publication, which is spelled with two b's.  After giving it some consideration, I have decided to create my own Chicago version, and call it The Snob Report, spelled with just one b.  And here it is.

I will lay down the premise and some of the context here, so going forward you'll know just where I'm coming from.

First of all, The Snob Report is not going to focus purely on luxury, because, in my professional opinion, it's played out.  Instead, The Snob Report is going to focus on value, societal contribution, impact, and my own trusted taste and experience.

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Secondly, I am introducing one of my Stamps of Approval (see right).  I will be awarding this stamp of approval to businesses and people who earn them.  While I do have a list of businesses in Chicago who have already earned The Stamp of Approval, I have only officially awarded one publicly on Facebook so far.  I will be documenting and writing reviews in the coming posts.

Thirdly, I will do my best to maintain high quality and ethical standards when rating businesses and experiences.  To be fair, you have to realize that my experience is only my own interpretation of the facts and circumstances.  I will give exorbitant praise to the places and things I feel have earned it, however, I am not going to provide any exaggerated negative reviews.  I will also probably repost a couple of previous entries, just to make the awarding of the Stamp of Approval official and documented.

That said, please be on the lookout for editions of The Snob Report in the coming days.

Happy Holidays!

SpeakEasy is Chicago's New Phenomenon

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It seems as if Chicago's headed back to the underground scene.  Lots of pocket groups are beginning to form via social media, (e.g., meetup.com, grubwith.us, etc.) and people are beginning to seek out more intimate and exclusive events that tend to cater to their interests, and the like-minded.

One such meteoric group, is taking us right back to the prohibition era, complete with new twists on old-school drinks created by Danny Shapiro and mixed by Jenny Kessler of Hum Botanical Spirit, password-protected entry (they literally will not let you in without the password, no matter who you are), and amazing music curated by Chicago's own Shala., formerly of Qualo.

The SpeakEasy is the brainchild of Mobolaji Akintunde, a graduate of the University of Chicago who now is the Principal of [m] mobolaji | an advertising agency.  Mo, as he is generally addressed, has assembled an allstar team to promote and run the SpeakEasy too.  Coco Corbett, Director of Spirits, is the sparkling face and gracious host of the SpeakEasy, and Amy Carnaghi Portch is the creative artist behind the promotional material for every event.

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So why am I dropping names like Hansel and Gretel dropped breadcrumbs?  Because the December first event was not only the best night out that I've had in a long time, it also attracted a rich bevy of classy, attractive, successful, professionals and influential people like John DiGilio of Chicagoist, who can drive a lot of traffic to (or away from) a venue or gathering.  That is to say, the people whose names I've dropped so far are the next up-and-coming who's who of the Chicago scene, and if you want to be in the know, you are going to need to know who they are.

What you also need to know is that due to the December first turnout, and exponentially growing success of the SpeakEasy events, there will soon be a limit of as few as 50 guests (plus V.I.P.'s) permitted entry to the SpeakEasy evenings, depending on the venue and who is attending.  To join the group, click on any of the SpeakEasy links and join through Facebook.

Perhaps one of the best things about the SpeakEasy events, is that each event features new signature drinks, mixed by an experienced mixologist.  The venues may also change, depending on the nature and theme of the evening.  My personal favorite is the password, which you don't receive until the day before the event (sometimes the day of), and only if you RSVP in advance.

The SpeakEasy is without a doubt, Chicago's new phenomenon and, though it will surely be imitated, no one will be able to produce these events with the same prestige, panache and classy execution as the SpeakEasy.  My recommendation: join the group and try to get in, before you no longer have the opportunity.

AMENDED: Michael Jordan's Response to LeBron James

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Thanks to a friend of mine who alerted me to this overlay of a 2008 Michael Jordan Commercial, addressing LeBron James' commercial released at the beginning of November.  I wanted to share it with you all, because I believe it is a powerful commentary on our sports and competitive culture.  We tend to idolize those who perform great feats, and put those people on pedestals, forgetting that they are, ultimately, just another human being who had to work to achieve their greatness.  Please watch:



Here's the 2008 Jordan commercial:

Thank you, Michael Jordan, for reminding us that we need to stop making excuses about why other people are great and why we are not.  We can all achieve what we want to achieve, if we put in the work.  There is no way you destroyed the game, you simply opened the door for more greatness to appear, thus enhancing the game you love.

For most of us, we are not truly afraid of failing, if we were, we would all be noteworthy success stories.  For most of us, we are truly afraid of succeeding.

Thank you for reading.

Brunch's Worst Offenders... So Far

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If you live in Chicago, (the city, not the suburbs) you know that the weekends are to be cherished as an outlet to catch up on life outside of the daily grind.  One of the best things about the weekends, aside from not waking up to an alarm, or a leisurely morning run by the lake, or a trip to Intelligentsia (no Spanish pronunciation, Clark), etc. is brunch.  Perhaps you may have seen my earlier post, A Toast to Toast.  Well, my friends, let me tell you, after an experience I had at a local brunch spot recently, I decided to out the worst of the worst brunch offenders.  I'll start with the least offensive and end with the most nefarious.

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After some cajoling from a certain, aforementioned, friend, I decided to start with Orange, as the best of the worst.  I really only have two main issues with Orange:  1) Their food is mediocre.  They tout this creative genius of a chef who created frushi (which I actually like), Chai Tea French Toast, and pancake flights.  However, no matter how many times I've eaten there (quite a few), I have always left Orange with a sense that it could be so much more than it is... if they just added taste.  2) Their coffee is terrible.  I'm sorry, but even though it is a unique product, infusing coffee with essential oil from orange peels is not a good idea.  In fact, I'm hard-pressed to say that they didn't just find the worst (i.e. cheapest) coffee they could, toss in some orange oil, et voila, gross and bitter coffee.

The worst thing about Orange, is that they were supposedly named Best Chicago Breakfast 2010, by Citysearch.com.  I'm sorry, Citysearch, but with that rating, you lost all credibility.  There are far better breakfast places in Chicago than Orange... so many, in fact, that I would be so bold as to speculate that you actually gave this rating as either a personal favor to the owner (who happens to run a hedge fund), or in exchange for money.  Either way, shame on you, Citysearch!

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Our next stop on the Tour of the Terrible, is Filter, in Wicker Park.  Filter isn't really a brunch place, but it deserves mention because it does serve breakfast, has an inviting main room, and looks like a really nice place to go read, sip some coffee, chat with an old friend or even spark a romance with a new interest.  However, unfortunately, looks may be deceiving.  The truth of the matter is that Filter serves some of the worst coffee on the planet... almost as bad as Starbucks.  Also, the staff has very limited knowledge of coffee, or anything else that Filter serves.  I think that Melissa H. summed it up best with her review of Filter on Yelp!

Even with its new location...it still is the worst coffee I've ever had, disguised with an open lounge and stinky vintage sofas.  The first time I visited this "coffee" shop was at its original location near the six corners.  The customer service was extremely poor and it hasn't improved that much since.  

I do not recommend getting coffee here.  I'd much rather walk a little further and contribute to deserving coffee shops on Damen.

The main contributing factor to the squalor that is Filter, is its owner, Jeff Linane.  What there is to know about Mr. Linane, is that he currently owns Filter, and used to own Gallery Cafe and Gourmand (now closed).  He opened Filter with money he received from inheritance and built it into a grimy mecca for hipsters at Six Corners, before the indoor smoking ban.  In 2005-ish, he sold Gallery Cafe and came very close to selling Gourmand to me, and a group of investors.  At the last minute, he pulled out of the deal with hopes that selling fresh-baked muffins would salvage Gourmand from the grips of bankruptcy.  Good thinking, Jeff, let me know what your next big idea is so I can chastise you further.

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The worst offender of Chicago's brunch brigade, is none other than LOKal, in Bucktown, which is actually my inspiration for this review.

When LOKal was featured as the Groupon du jour, I decided to snap it up and see what all of the brewhaha was about the bottomless Mimosa and Bloody Mary brunch.

When my eager brunch partner and I arrived at 9:45 am on a Saturday morning, we were shocked to see that we had just walked in behind the only other patron in the restaurant, who had also never been there.  In fact, we asked whether or not the place was open, as none of the lights were on, and there was only one person in the front of the house.  After we were seated, I promptly ordered a nice big cup of coffee, and was pleased to learn that they serve LaVazza.  When the coffee came, I ordered a spicy Bloody Mary and my date ordered a Mimosa.

When the drinks came, I asked our server/bartender/server assistant/host/chef/etc... if he could provide any suggestions on the menu.  I was so hungry I was rendered terribly indecisive.  We both were surprised when he informed us that the restaurant was out of a number of the signature items!  I'm sorry, WHAT!?  Brunch is arguably your most important draw, or at least one of them, and you're out of stock on what sounds like half of your menu?! MMMMMKAY.

After we ordered, we dove into our drinks... and then nearly spit them out.  WTF IS THIS?!  The Bloody Mary was like water with a dash of tomato juice and the Mimosa was flat and made with orange juice from concentrate.  We sent back the Mimosa, hoping they would correct the problem, but they didn't.  The second was just as bad as the first, which begs the question, how can you afford to screw up the one thing that you advertise and make your main attraction?!  The answer is, you can't.  This is the reason the place was nearly empty and why (probably) they opted to leave the lights off (to save on electricity).

The thing that confused me the most, however, was the old, strange, Polish film being projected over the bar, and being intently watched by, what seemed to be, the owner.  After the Groupon, we still had about $7 left, and so we considered ordering dessert... but they were also out of anything that sounded decent on the dessert menu.  What a joke!  I'll be surprised if LOKal is still open in six months.

The bottom line:  If you want a good brunch experience, stay away from Orange, Filter and LOKal.

Thank you for reading.  There will definitely be more to come on this topic.

BY RSVP ONLY - A SpeakEasy Exclusive Invitation

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In the same vein as the prohibition era speakeasies, I am very pleased to extend an exclusive invitation to the SpeakEasy event on Wednesday, December 1, from 8:00 PM until Midnight.

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The event is produced by [m] mobolaji : advertising agency and hum botanical spirits, featuring guest Mixologist Jenny Kessler.  The evening will consist of double-feature of his and her cocktails.  For her, The FlapperGast.  For him, The Granddaddy Purple.  The music for the evening will be curated by the one and only Shala.

As if that's not enough to wet your whistle, the event is password protected.  No access will be granted without the password.  Therefore, you must RSVP by no later than Tuesday, November 30.

December's SpeakEasy will be held at The Exchange Bar, located at 1270 North Milwaukee Avenue.  The dress code for the evening is dress-casual, (i.e., look nice, smell fresh and be classy).  Here's a map so you don't get lost:


View Larger Map

I'm looking forward to raising my glass to some SpeakEasy Snobbery with you all on Wednesday, December 1.  Remember to RSVP by Tuesday, November 30, so I can send you the password.

To The Pope: Get With The Times, B!

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An article released by the Associated Press discusses Pope Benedict XVI's new book, "Light of the World: The Pope, the Church and the Signs of the Times," wherein he states that the use of condoms can be justified for male prostitutes seeking to stop the spread of HIV.

Many are taking this to mean that the Vatican is beginning to reverse its position on contraception, however, the Catholic Church has long opposed the use of condoms because they are a form of artificial contraception, and has yet to release an explicit policy or position about the use of condoms and any relation to the spread of HIV, or any other disease.

The Pope does say, in the book (and according to the Associated Press article) that in some cases, such as male prostitutes, the use of condoms could be justified "in the intention of reducing the risk of infection."  He further stated that this position "is a first step in a movement toward a more human way of living sexuality."

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NO SHIT SHERLOCK!  Pope, dude, you gotta get with the times before you make your religion completely obsolete.  The fact of the matter is that people, even good Catholics, are having sex, out of wedlock.  Despite what you may think, people aren't actually buying what you're peddling, especially when it comes to sex.

That said, I believe it would be a lot more beneficial for you to acknowledge the fact that people have selective hearing and are not using condoms, because you tell them it's a no-no, but are still having sex (especially out of wedlock) because it's just too good to pass up.  Then, these same good Catholics find out that they're either pregnant, or have a disease, or both.  Perhaps that can just be their little secret.

If one thing leads to another, I'm sure some high-enough-priced lawyer in either New York or Los Angeles could convince a jury that you, and the Vatican, are guilty of some level of criminal intent to spread sexually-transmitted diseases.  Ever consider that you, Mr. God-on-Earth, could be viewed as causing the spread of HIV and other STD's (including unwanted pregnancies)?  Ever consider what that might do to your popularity, and following?

Also, why are you seemingly so okay with prostitution?  For some reason, condoms are bad, but prostitution, meeeeehhhhh, that's okay.  Does that seem to go against the whole idea of no sex out of wedlock, or is it just me?

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I also want to talk about this news that you were apparently surprised to hear about the scale of clerical sex abuse in Germany.  Ummm, have you ever heard of all the clerical sex abuse happening in America?

WAKE UP POPE!  You have to realize that, at some point in recent history, religion has started to become rather irrelevant to people.  Sure, people will still want to identify themselves with a certain set of morals and values, or want to belong to a group, or simply show up to mass out of tradition and, dare I say, a sense of obligation, but will they actually practice what you preach?  

Maybe we should check in with this new thing called reality to see how you're doing.  Let's see, more people living with the HIV everyday, more teen and unwanted pregnancies out of wedlock everyday, more human trafficking for sex slaves everyday, more acts of terror steeped in fanatical religious motivations everyday, the list goes on.  Bottom line:  your message is failing.

Why is your message failing?  I suspect that it has something to do with applicability to human life on the planet, as it exists today.  Sure it's easy to see things through rose-colored glasses when you sport as much gold as Run DMC did in the late '80's, but your message is only going to be received by those who can afford to hear it.

Let me tell you something, the homeless man that sleeps in the doorway of the jewelery store next to my office, doesn't give a damn if I put a bible in his hands.  The concept of Jesus isn't going to cure him of hunger, cold, disease, or provide him shelter, unless, of course, the Vatican wants to take him in and care for him, clothe him, etc.  That man also doesn't care what you say about how he should live his life, because what you say is farthest from his most immediate concerns.

I guess what I'm trying to get at here is that, while religion can be very beneficial to some people, I believe that it can only be as beneficial as it is applicable to the life of the person it touches.  Pope Benedict, if you want Christianity, and especially Catholicism, to remain relevant in the world, you have to come back down to earth, so to speak, get in touch with the people and the issues they're facing, and relate your message to them.  Otherwise, you're just preaching to hear yourself preach, and that's annoying.

Thank you for reading.

Manners: Ever Heard of 'Em?

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CTA Bus at Rush Hour


As we approach the Holiday Season, and the weather gets cooler, and we pack on the layers, I have noticed that communal space is decreasing, and rather quickly.  That said, over the past couple of days, I have also noticed some rather ignorant, and flat out rude, behavior during my commutes.  Usually, I would just chalk this up to living in a a major world city and move on, but enough is enough!

It seems that some of us move about this city completely unaware that we need to share space with anybody else.  In case you're wondering what I'm talking about, just take a walk down State Street at any time in the afternoon, on any given day.  Or worse yet, the north side of Randolph between State and Dearborn.

This morning on my way into the loop I decided to take the 151 (what I dubbed the Bacardi Bus, in honor of Bacardi 151) to the Red Line at Sheridan; normally, I would walk to Wilson.  When I boarded, the bus had ten or so people on it.  Between Montrose and Irving Park Road, we stopped at every stop picking up more people, but not enough to fill the bus to the point where anybody would need to stand.  However, that didn't seem to stop the overly-eager from standing near the rear door, or the extremely overweight woman (intent on picking up the bus driver) from standing in the front entry with her obnoxiously large belly protruding from the bottom of her shirt.

When we reached the Sheridan Red Line Station, the bus cleared and I boarded the Red Line to the loop.  Not surprisingly, the train became crowded, but only by virtue of people congregating at the doors.  It was then that I really began to take notice of the absurdity of the situation.

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Yes, every seat on the train was occupied.  Yes, people were standing, in the areas toward the ends of the train cars, but most of the people standing were clumped together like sardines in a can (pictured at right), directly in front of the doors.  The aisle was completely empty and any number of the people standing at the doors, making it nearly impossible for other riders to enter, or exit, the train, could have moved into the area to ease congestion.  No one did.  Instead, it was almost as if the people standing nearest the doors were proud to assert their positions, meanwhile ignoring those surrounding them, with what seemed to be utter and complete contempt and disregard for anyone except for themselves.

People, please!  Didn't we learn anything in kindergarten?  Seemingly, no, we did not. Therefore, please allow me to reiterate some basic manners for everyday use, just in time for the holidays, and for the remainder of your life, in general.

WHILE IN TRANSIT:  You share the roads and sidewalks with hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of people, every day in this city.  The same rules of driving shall hence apply to walking on sidewalks, riding escalators, and using moving walkways.  However, since most of us have also forgotten how to drive with any consideration, I'll make this easy to follow:

  • Slower traffic keep right.  Yes, that means you.  You should always assume that you're slower than someone else who is in more of a hurry to get where ever he or she is going.  Just be considerate and move over to the right so you may be passed.
  • Escalators are not solely for the purpose so that you can avoid exercise, fatass.  If you are not able to walk up the stairs, move to the right.  The same goes for people traveling with luggage, small children, the elderly, etc.  DO NOT STAND STATIONARY ON THE LEFT SIDE OF THE ESCALATOR.  The one exception to this rule is at the North and Clybourn Red Line Station, where there is only a single width escalator.
  • It is socially acceptable for people to curtly ask you to move aside, get out of the way, or move your ass, when you're blocking the only means of passage, so you may not get upset or huffy with someone who does this to you.
The bottom line here is that, while in transit, stay to the right.

WHILE ON BUSES AND TRAINS:  You also share the mass transit with hundreds of thousands of people every day.  Shocking, I know.  The CTA is not your personal taxi, chauffeur, or town car, so please do not mistakenly treat it as such.

  • If there is a seat open, sit in it.
  • Do not congregate at the doors on the bus or on the train.  On the train, move all the way to the center of the car, or to the ends of the car, if there are no empty seats.  On the bus, move all the way to the back.  No, the step to the upper-rear section of the bus is not the extent to how far back you can stand, so don't play dumb and act like it is.  Also, the rear door is not the back of the bus, so don't plant your ass in the doorway for your own convenience.  Other people need to exit the bus too, and you are not the gatekeeper.
  • If an elderly person, or someone with a physical disability, or someone who just looks like they're having a rough day boards and there aren't any seats, gentlemen (regardless of age) stand up and allow the person to have a seat (read, don't be a selfish, self-righteous douchebag).
  • If you have a bag or backpack, as I normally do, and seats are few and far between, place your bag or pack on your lap so someone else can have a seat.
  • If you see someone taking up two seats on the train, as I often do on the Red Line heading north from State and Lake, and seats are sparse, do curtly request that the little teenage shit move his or her ass, so that you may sit.  You may also just move to sit squarely on the individual taking up the second seat, without reproach.
The bottom line here is to be aware that other people are in close proximity to you, be courteous, and polite, unless you spot someone being a dick, in which case you have an obligation to society to inform said dick of his or her intolerable behavior, and curtly request that they move to accommodate you and/or others.

WHILE IN THE OFFICE OR AT HOME:  Because you are sharing space (starting to see a theme here?) it is proper for you to engage in the following behavior:

  • Clean up your own mess.  If you spill something on the counter, whether intentional or not, clean it up.  In fact, even if you think you haven't spilled anything, clean it up anyway.
  • Always remove your dishes from the sink.  In general, the sink is not the appropriate place for dirty dishes, and conversely, because it is not a hygienically clean place, it is not the appropriate place for clean dishes either.  If you do not wish to air-dry your clean dishes, dry them using a clean towel and then put them away.  Any dishes left in the sink shall always be considered dirty.
  • Place your own dirty dishes in the dishwasher, if you have one available, immediately.  Dirty dishes should never be left on the counter, in the sink, or on the stove.
  • Always replace things where you found them.  If you cannot bring yourself to do this, or think this behavior is above you, then you have no business using something that does not belong to you, or is placed somewhere by anyone other than you.
  • Place any counter top items clearly out of the way of common counter top use.
The bottom line here is that the break room, lunchroom and kitchen areas are shared spaces.  They do not belong exclusively to you, nor do you have proprietary rights to them.  Always assume that you are in someone else's way, or that you may be putting someone else at an inconvenience by leaving your dirty dishes, cups, mugs, flatware, etc. on the counter, or in the sink.  Again, let's all be adults here, and leave things either as we found them, or better.

Please, folks, let's just remember that, as we're all trying to maneuver together through this city we are not alone.  Strapping on an iPod doesn't magically remove everybody else from your little world, and neither does pretending that you own the universe.  You do not own the universe, even if you swear you do, and think you have evidence to back it up.

If you care at all and/or respect yourself, you will show it, and one of the ways you will do that is by showing respect and giving consideration to your environment and the people around you.

Thank you for reading and please share and/or send this to any and everybody, because we all can us a little reminder every now and then.

National Facebook Un-Friend Day

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Okay people, listen up.  We need to get some things clear about our social interactions, both on- and off-line.

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You may or may not know that late night T.V. talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, declared today, November, 17 to be National Un-Friend Day.  Here's the announcement:



The criteria for un-friending someone today include:

  1. You have never met them, have no shared family or business interest, and most-likely, will never meet them.
  2. They are a friend from the past that you never really liked, and don't have any mutual friends with, or speak to.
  3. One of their main pastimes is to try to convince you to play some stupid online game that you have no interest in.
  4. They are a bartender or shamelessly promote a club or bar that you have no interest in going to, or have never been to.
  5. They are someone you used to date, or "hook-up" with and are no longer friends with, or have no business being friends with... this also warrants removing tags from pictures of the two of you together, FYI.
  6. They were, at any point in time, the source of unwanted or unwarranted drama in your life.
  7. They always try to talk to you while you're online and you have no interest in speaking with them.
  8. You would never speak to them in-person.
  9. They won't shut up about how in love they are (e.g., Tom Cruise on Oprah).
  10. They are always depressed and full of unnecessary drama (see number 6).
  11. They call you and you don't feel the need to respond right away.
Normally, I would never agree with anything that comes out of Jimmy Kimmel's mouth, mainly because I think he's a smug bastard, who had no business rising to stardom.  However, this, I think, is a good idea and here's why:

If you are anything like me, you started the whole social networking thing by joining MySpace.  There, it was acceptable to accumulate as many friends as possible, for, none other than, the sake of accumulation.  It was almost like a little contest to see who could have the most friends.  However, after a while, this became rather pointless to me.  When a friend of mine convinced me to join Facebook, I decided it would be a great way to keep it a sacred space where I could keep my true network of friends, and weed out anyone who was up to the same old tactics on MySpace.

That's exactly why I have made it a personal practice to never accept friend requests by anybody that I have not either met in-person, or do not want having access to all of my contact information.  Yes, I am one of those people who actually takes advantage of the opportunity to keep my friends up-to-date on my address, phone number and email address by posting it on Facebook, so that I don't have to send out a mass email every time I move, etc.  I am also one of those people who has my Facebook page locked down, hard.  I don't allow anybody I am not immediate friends with to view pictures I am tagged in (or have in a photo album), see my status updates and wall posts, have access to any personal information, etc.

Kimmel's right, friendship is something that we, as a society, have diluted and cheapened to a farce of a concept.  I think it would benefit us greatly to truly examine why we call someone a friend, and examine what we value about having someone in our life.  If you can't stand someone, find them annoying, or had a falling out with them, then you probably have no business interacting with them on social media sites, like Facebook, MySpace (is that still around?), etc.

National Un-Friend Day is not just a useful way to do some cyber house-keeping, it is also a great opportunity to reflect upon, and appreciate, the people in our lives for who they are for us.  If we come to the conclusion that they are not someone we hold in high esteems, then, I say, cut 'em loose, and don't be ashamed to do so.

As for anyone who un-friend's me today, no love lost.  I probably either won't notice, or won't care, or will just catch up with you in-person, at a later time.  Either way, I think it's time that we keep the people we love close to us, embrace new people into our lives whom we find worthy of our love, and weed out the ones we don't care for.  It is, after all, an authentic expression, and that's something we all can appreciate.

Thank you for reading.

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