Jeff Ruby’s entertaining look [“The Lab Mystique,” Outer Drive, November] into a Lab School parent’s fears—really, any parent’s fears—that our children are too smart for us reminded me of the time I found myself seated in a Lab kindergarten class next to a boy who had just returned from a long trip to an exotic country I knew little about. Trying to engage him in conversation, I asked, “What was the food like on your trip?” His response? “You can read about that on my blog.”

Lauren Raphael



Enjoyed your piece on Revolution Brewing in the November issue [“Ale Lives,” Table, by Jennifer Wehunt], but as a former reporter who covered the beer business for years, I take exception to Josh Deth’s suggestion that “20 or 30 years ago, all the beer you could get was crap.” The great beers were there; the problem was consumers, who wouldn’t buy them!

National brewer Pabst made Andeker, a great European-style beer, as well as a fine Old Tankard Ale and a bock. Peter Hand here in Chicago made Peter Hand’s Reserve, another import-quality beer. Stroh’s made Signature. Even Schlitz, which made more than its share of crap, produced a world-class beer called Erlanger.

The problem was that beer drinkers weren’t very adventurous back then, and those great beers sat on the shelves.

The craft-beer revolution didn’t begin just with brewers like Sam Adams, Anchor Steam, and Revolution. It also began when writers like me and the late Michael Jackson began searching out the great beers and reminding drinkers that they could try something a little different and enjoy it!


Charles A. Nekvasil



Thanks to Lucinda Hahn [“Making History,” Reporter, November] for setting the record straight on Justice Anne Burke’s contribution to the birth of the Special Olympics, after the news reports following the death of Eunice Kennedy Shriver.

The worldwide success of the Special Olympics movement was made possible by a combination of the vision and sweat equity of Anne Burke, the commitment of Mrs. Shriver to the mentally challenged, and the funding from the Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation. The lack of recognition for Burke’s involvement from the very beginning has always struck me as at best careless oversight and at worst mean-spirited. The snub to Justice Burke and the original Special Olympians at the world games in Dublin back in 2003 was especially disturbing to me as someone who was there and witnessed the event. (I have been a Special Olympics volunteer for many years.) The fact that Justice Burke can be as gracious and kind in her remarks about Mrs. Shriver today shows great individual character.

The Special Olympics events, born in Chicago 41 years ago, will continue to thrive [here] thanks to the support of Justice Burke and Special Children’s Charities.

Mary Aileen O’Callaghan



A Mugging on Lake Street by John Conroy [September] was so thoughtful and well written. I am so saddened by violence and so sorry for John. Very scary for all of us, because his writing showed me that sometimes we are faced with reality that doesn’t seem to have an answer. [The future of the assailant] concerns me, but John is forever changed, too. Even those of us that are older can feel a loss of innocence. I never think that someone would deliberately harm me—perhaps be thoughtless or careless, but not evil.

Ruth Watts

Under the Bun, Jeff Ruby’s list in the September issue of the 30 best hamburgers in the Chicago area, provoked scores of Chicagomag.com readers to comment, some incredulous about omissions, some waxing salivary about their favorites.

>> “Are my eyes going or is Charlie Beinlich’s not on this list? Or Blackie’s?”

>> “No Jury’s? This is a travesty.”

>> “When they’re on their game, Choppers (Ashland and Wabansia) rocks my socks, with a big, moist, well-cooked patty and loads of fixins. Not for the faint of heart.”

>> “All pretenders to this throne should bow down and worship before the Paradise Pup.”

>> “No Country House?! Are you daft???”

Everyone seems to have a burger opinion, which Ruby now receives. “For the past three months, anytime someone I know eats a burger of any sort, whether they like it or not, they tell me all about it,” says Ruby, Chicago’s deputy dining editor. “It’s the one food every American considers himself qualified to comment on.”

(The story and all comments are at Chicagomag.com/burgers.)

As a companion piece for Outer Drive on how his brain function declined when he was eating the research for the cover story, Ruby wrote “Burgers Made Me Dumb” (Chicagomag.com/dumb), which bounced around the Internet, alighting at one point, curiously, at the New York Times’ Freakonomics blog, where commenters examined the premise as if it were a serious scientific experiment. The theme there echoed the theme for Under the Bun: “People are going at it from all kinds of different angles, and everybody thinks I’m wrong,” Ruby says.


The salted-caramel chocolate cake pictured on the cover of the November issue was created by Suzanne Imaz, the executive pastry chef at Café des Architectes.