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Contributors—May 2008

Jay Pridmore, Bob Coscarelli, Crystal Yednak, Robert Krughoff, David Murray, Dennis Ray Wheaton, Jeff Ruby

The Chicago Spire, the 2,000-foot tower planned for Streeterville, has piqued the curiosity of a lot of Chicagoans, including Jay Pridmore. The author of many articles and books on architecture, including 2007’s Shanghai: The Architecture of China’s Great Urban Center, Pridmore spent months researching the Spire and its bumpy path toward construction. “Maybe the amount of drama is commensurate with the size of the building,” he says. In his article Towering Ambition, he examines the developers, the architect, the financing, and the neighbors of what is planned to be the highest of Chicago’s high-rises. Given the Spire’s place as a collection of superluxury condominiums marketed to the international jet set, Pridmore adds, “It doesn’t look like I’m ever going to be inside of it.”

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Barcelona, Sydney, and Marrakesh are a few of the places photographer Bob Coscarelli and his wife have visited on food-motivated vacations. “We’re major foodies,” Coscarelli says. So when he was offered the assignment for Best New Restaurants, he jumped at the chance. There turned out to be two sides to that coin: “It was hard to stay on schedule. I wanted to talk shop,” he says. At one site, dishes for Coscarelli to photograph started arriving just before lunchtime. When the shoot was over, seven dishes were lying on the table. Coscarelli and his crew didn’t wait for a second invitation. “I don’t think all seven of them photographed perfectly, but they sure tasted good,” he says.

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The audience award at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival went to Grace Is Gone, a film (shot largely in Chicago) starring John Cusack as a man whose wife is killed in Iraq. But when it came time for its nationwide (or nationnarrow) release, it topped out on only seven screens and grossed barely more than $50,000. In “Saving Grace” in this month’s Arena, writer Crystal Yednak looks into what happened. ”The New York Times gave it a fairly positive review. The Tribune gave it a positive review. It won Sundance. It must not totally suck,” she says.

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When his newly repaired car started sputtering and jerking again within half a mile of leaving the mechanic—for the third time—Robert Krughoff decided to found a publication that would rate local services. “It was born out of frustration,” he says. The result, Consumers’ Checkbook, which reached Chicago in 2003, collaborates with Chicago this month on Plumbers Who Won’t Drain Your Wallet. Krughoff lacks a plumbing horror story to compare to his car story, having never needed professional plumbing work in his young adulthood. “I’ve had Checkbook since then,” he says. “I don’t have too many stories like [that].”

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Chicago magazine’s unofficial Bolingbrook bureau, David Murray writes this month in the Reporter column “Unanswered Cries” about the death of Kathleen Savio, Drew Peterson’s third wife. Making appearances are the chief of police, the Will County state’s attorney, and Bolingbrook mayor Roger Claar (whom Murray profiled in Chicago’s October 2007 issue). “I don’t think [the Peterson saga] could have happened in Chicago,” Murray says. “It’s specifically a story about Bolingbrook and Will County.” Explosive population growth and its concomitant problems have come to the new southwestern suburbs in the past few decades, but in many cases, the towns are governed by the same people who governed them when they were smaller. “They are seriously in the big leagues,” Murray says.

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Instead of a similarity among this year’s Best New Restaurants, chief dining critic Dennis Ray Wheaton notes one significant lack—high-high-end places. Is it the economy? Maybe. Market saturation? Could be, but dining defies economics. “Steak houses keep popping up. Every corner has a steak house and a Starbucks,” Wheaton says. His coauthor, Jeff Ruby, agrees—even Takashi, arguably the most luxurious of them, has a casual vibe: “I wouldn’t be embarrassed to wear jeans there, though my wife would be mortified if I did.” (Check out Ruby’s Closer—page 184—on becoming a dining critic, and his lament “The Lonely Critic” at Chicagomag.com.)

 

Photography: (Image 1) Joe Moreno; (Image 2) Karen Valentine; (Image 3) Rob Kent; (Image 4) Julie Braveman/Braveman Photography

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