The editor of Chicago’s sister publication Chicago Home + Garden, Jan Parr took a break from her magazine about beautiful Chicago interiors to write “Open House”—about beautiful Chicago interiors. There was a key difference, though. “At Home + Garden, the design comes first, and who lives there is secondary,” Parr says. “For this feature, we found notable Chicagoans who had fabulous homes.” Parr and her coauthor, the veteran interior-design writer Lisa Skolnik, covered the style gamut, from the homeyness of the comedian Julia Sweeney’s Queen Anne Victorian to the pied-à-terre sophistication of Cubs outfielder Alfonso Soriano’s condo.
When Geoffrey Johnson interviewed David Lowe, the author of the book Lost Chicago, he saw the scope of the story that became “The Memory Collector.” As a child, Lowe spent summers with his father in Chicago, and his vision of the city is bound up inextricably with those trips. “He’s trying, in part, to re-create the city of his boyhood,” says Johnson, a senior editor for Chicago and the staff’s on-site history buff. A new edition of the nostalgic photograph-filled book was released late last year. “If you’re at all interested in Chicago history, you’ve got to have a copy of Lost Chicago on your bookshelf,” Johnson says.
For “Clone Ranger” in Law, Bryan Smith entered the world of Lori Andrews, a law professor, bioethicist, and writer of thrillers. Smith says, “Lori’s work has so many wacky, almost zany stories: UFO-worshiping clone freaks who dress like Elvis Presley, a guy who wanted his head sewn on a live body after he died.” Andrews’s cocktail-party fodder represents only a small part of her work, though. “She’s also this superintellect who’s on the cutting edge of these superweighty ethical issues,” Smith says. “It’s quite a combination.” As Chicago’s writer-at-large, Smith has also profiled Tom Dart, Joakim Noah, and Hugh Hefner.
What you really have to grasp to understand Chicago politics, says Seth Weitberg, is “the constant rising hope and then acceptance of mediocrity.” Weitberg, a veteran of The Second City’s touring company and various iO improv groups, created a mock questionnaire for Chicago’s mayoral candidates on page 20, in Arena. Although he recently moved to Los Angeles, he keeps up with Chicago’s cast of political characters from afar, using the Internet, phone calls, and “countless reruns of Family Matters.” His writing has appeared in the Chicago Tribune and Time Out Chicago, and on several websites linked to from his own (sethweitberg.com).
Photography: (From top) Chris Guillen; Todd Urban; Joe C. Moreno; courtesy of Seth Weitberg