April 2010: Dennis Rodkin, Cassie Walker, Christopher Piatt, Jeff Bailey
Editor's Note: Hello, 40!
In approximately 40 weeks, this magazine will celebrate its 40th birthday—marking 40 years of helping our readers get the most out of this gorgeous (most of the time), intense (often), confounding (Blago! parking meters!), and thoroughly captivating metropolis. For December, we are planning a special anniversary issue around the birthday itself, but in the meantime, we are counting down to the milestone with a monthly series of Top 40 selections. This month, we kick off with the Top 40 Chicago Records of All Time, a pantheon that’s largely the construction of the Renaissance man and chief dining critic Jeff Ruby (when he’s not eating, he’s listening). Jeff’s got a tough hide, as do the rest of the editors, so don’t hesitate to let us know where you think we went wrong (leave a comment about our record list at Chicagomag.com/top40records). And keep your eyes out for another Top 40 selection next month and in each issue through December.
DENNIS RODKIN understands the full gamut of ways to live, from downtown high-rises to exurban houses, and not only because he has covered real estate for the magazine for 19 years.
“I had lived in 16 houses by the time I finished high school,” he says. In 20 Great Towns and Neighborhoods, he identifies 20 outstanding places to live—ten city neighborhoods and ten suburbs—all of which have an essence that defines them. “They’re all wonderful, pleasant, walkable, shoppable places to live—places that really have a soul,” Rodkin says. While touring, he imagined himself living in all of them. “It’s almost like living different lives,” he says. “Like being Walter Mitty.”
Along with the usual questions and answers, CASSIE WALKER added some enjoyable research on the chef Stephanie Izard for Stephanie Izard, Inc. Walker watched all of Izard’s season of Top Chef, attended an underground dinner Izard hosted, and tasted 15 beers with her at the Map Room. “She’s really fun,” Walker says. Izard speaks candidly and acts impulsive, and she doesn’t distinguish between the personal and the professional—all qualities that have helped to keep her in the public eye while her new restaurant gestates. “To be a celebrity in today’s world, you have to be your brand,” Walker says. This month, Walker also coedited The Green Awards with Nora O’Donnell.
Since CHRISTOPHER PIATT left his job as theatre editor at Time Out Chicago last May, he has been organizing the performance art/journalism variety show The Paper Machete, which runs every Saturday at 3 p.m. at Ricochet’s, a bar in Lincoln Square. “It’s a revival of after-dinner speaking culture,” Piatt says. For Flood Stage, he interviewed the Chicago playwright Rebecca Gilman, meeting her in the donor lounge at the Goodman Theatre. It brought him back to his magazine days—not only the interview, but the location, too. “There was a Deep Throat who gave me all my dirt on the Goodman, and it was the waitstaff in the donor lounge,” he says.
JEFF BAILEY has been following the ups and downs of Chicago business for almost three decades (two of them with The Wall Street Journal). With this issue, he inaugurates a new column, What I Was Thinking, in which he interviews a major player about how he or she made an important decision. His leadoff subject is John Canning, the chairman of Madison Dearborn Partners, who notably didn’t buy the Cubs. “I first met John Canning covering banking for the Journal in 1984,” Bailey says. Having interviewed Canning several times since then, Bailey knew to expect easy, amicable conversation—not necessarily the pattern for the months ahead. “I’m delighted to fence with somebody if that’s what’s going to draw them out,” Bailey says. “How I accomplish that has more to do with the interview subject than with me.”
Photography: (Rodkin) Todd Urban, (Bailey) Heidi Zeiger