Every marriage has a story behind it. In “I Married a Mad Man,” the Romance column in this month’s issue, the former Chicago adwoman Myra Janco Daniels recounts her courtship with Draper Daniels, the legendary Chicago ad exec who inspired a character on the TV series Mad Men. “This Don Draper looks a little like [my late husband] when he was younger,” she says. “They both held their cigarettes the same way.” Daniels adapted the story from her memoir Rut/Buster, excerpting the chapter about how she and Draper Daniels traveled an unusual road to marriage when they were coworkers.
“I know myself pretty damn well, and I can’t believe I bought into all that,” she says. In addition to writing and speaking, Daniels founded and serves as the CEO of the Philharmonic Center for the Arts in Naples, Florida.
MICHAEL LENEHAN acquired some souvenirs in the course of writing The Great American Novelty, about the businessman JD Ma. The story focuses on one of Ma’s promising projects: a new clothes hanger with a different (but still simple) shape that can slide into buttoned-up shirts. As a research perk, Lenehan now has some new hangers to show off to his friends. “Everyone goes ‘Ooooohhh,’ ” he says. He’s also acquired knowledge of how difficult it is for even worthy products to reach a market. “The thing about the better mousetrap—it’s really a fiction,” he says.
Ron Huberman makes for a research-heavy subject for an article. “Because this guy has been in so many different departments, it was a CPS story, a CTA story, a City Hall story, and a police department story,” says RYAN BLITSTEIN, the author of Numbers Man. Along with Huberman’s many jobs, Blitstein was flummoxed by Huberman’s stereotype-defying collection of traits and experiences. “He’s pretty enigmatic from the outside,” Blitstein says. “Once you get to know him, he’s even more enigmatic.” Blitstein is a contributing editor for the public-policy magazine Miller-McCune, and his work has appeared in Time, Salon, and The Boston Globe.
When NATHAN KIRKMAN arrived to photograph the roller rink featured on page 102, the guy behind the counter said, “Hey, I can put on my skates and do some tricks.” His jumping and spinning revealed him as a competitive roller skater. “He offered to do a backflip,” Kirkman says, “but he said the last time he fractured his skull.” Kirkman declined the offer. This month, Kirkman also photographed a climbing wall, a jazz singer, a football coach, and a tattoo artist, all for this year’s Best of Chicago. His work has appeared in Metropolitan Home, GQ, and Wired.
“I don’t have a lot of real serious hobbies myself. My hobby is to explore other people’s hobbies,” says ROD O’CONNOR, who wrote for Chicago in May about morel hunters, in July about oversized ballpark food, and this month about biking, in Arena’s “Pedalpalooza.” While he does bike, he felt some embarrassment showing up for interviews on his six- or seven-year-old Trek mountain bike—or worse, in his car. “I felt like I wanted to park a couple of blocks away,” he says. His work has appeared in ESPN The Magazine, Spin, and The Believer.
Photography: (Daniels) Courtesy of Myra Janco Daniels, (Kirkman) Anna Knott, (Blitstein) Lisa Beth Anderson