The Big Onion Awards
by Marc Spiegler and Todd Pruzan

It’s enough to bring tears to the eyes: our fourth annual tribute to the bureaucrats, politicians, and other public bumblers whose greed, ineptitude, and shabby behavior irritated us immensely

Birth of a Salesman
by Ted Allen
When Sean Conlon arrived in Chicago seven years ago, his first career was as a janitor. But his second, as a real estate agent, has been livelier. Last year, the 28-year-old Irish expat sold more homes than anyone else, anywhere.

Notes from the Underground
by Todd Pruzan
Five Chicago artists just wanted to make comic books. Faster than a speeding bullet, they may have created the new avant-garde.

Professor Brainiac
by Penelope Mesic
Brilliant and irreverent, Northwestern University professor Roger Schank is trying to revolutionize the way people learn. And he is known for “tearing stupid people who think they know what they’re talking about to shreds.”

50 Great Dates
by Cynthia Hanson and Brett Nelson
In time for Valentine’s Day, we present 50 custom-designed outings for couples of all ages, budgets, and interests – from turtle races and ice fishing to top-of-the-line shopping, dining, and dancing.




A hip boutique, a hip hotel, a bus driver-turned-Shakespearean actor, and more

Power Lines
by Marc Spiegler
Surprise: Springer’s ratings rise; plus, why advertisers covet young urban blacks

Stage & Screen
by Penelope Mesic
Comedian Rose Abdoo blooms in the Milly’s Orchid “Love Show.”

Real Lives
by Marcia Froelke Coburn
Was the INS splitting hairs when agents led five French stylists away in handcuffs?

by Jonathan Eig
A white teen accused of a racial beating befriends a black preacher’s daughter.

Telephone Hell
by Gary Moore
Phone deregulation had its good points and its bad. Here’s what went wrong – plus tips for smoother dialing.

Dining Out
by Dennis Ray Wheaton
Two new additions to the Italian food-scape prove there’s always room for pasta.

Sullivan’s Travels
by Terry Sullivan
If it’s brass and has a spit valve, it probably came from Elkhart, Indiana.