Researching bargain shopping let Rebecca Little (left) and Lizzie Garrett, contributors to The Best for Less, pick up a few things for themselves. On the apparel beat, Little ("I rarely pay full price for anything.") bought a puffy vest, three pairs of shoes, underwear, and a lot of socks. "I made more purchases as the trips went on, so I was really sure I was getting a bargain," she says. Garrett, who covered the home and garden stores, bought porcelain plates, tongs, outdoor candles, and an orchid. "And I meant to get my knives sharpened," she says. "But I forgot." Little writes the e-mail newsletters Sales Check and Marquee for Chicagomag.com, as well as the print columns Sales Check and Shopper. Garrett’s work has appeared in Bon Appétit, the Los Angeles Times, and Los Angeles Magazine, and on the blog Design Sponge.
When he was a tennis instructor and Northwestern law school dropout in early 1993, John Huebl by chance acquired the impressive library of a recently deceased man named Howard Berkowitz. Huebl hadn’t known him, but he became curious. "I’d open [a book] up and the ribbon would be halfway down the book," he says. "That’s where Howard read." Years later, he did some investigating, which eventually formed the basis of Reflection. "You get just tiny slices, maybe a sense of who this person was," he says. "With that comes an awareness that he might say, ‘No, you don’t know me at all.’ " Huebl is a lawyer in the D.C. area. His work has appeared in Washingtonian and Verbatim magazines.
"Real estate touches on so many things that people really care about," says Dennis Rodkin, Chicago‘s real-estate writer since 1991. "The economy, Chicago history, celebrity, finance, architecture." This month, in Chicago’s annual report on the past year’s house and condo sales in the Chicago area, Rodkin’s story Where to Buy Now identifies 14 neighborhoods and suburbs that, in the current down market, look as if they’ll be hot for the next several years—relatively speaking. "It’ll be much more like a smolder than a wildfire," Rodkin says. These places seem likely to see steady, incremental gains—"the way it used to move before this big boom," he says.
Craig Keller and Catey Sullivan, both veterans covering the Chicago theatre scene, pooled their knowledge to produce the special section on theatre in Arena this month. For one segment, "Scene-Stealers," Keller and Sullivan profiled nine actors appearing in promising shows this season. "The thing that was most interesting was the diversity of acting talent," Keller says. For another, Sullivan wrote about the burgeoning theatre pocket in Rogers Park. In the old days there, Sullivan says, "a homeless person would wander in onstage in the middle of Othello." Now Rogers Park companies are cleaning up at the Jeff Awards. Chicago theatre, the two agree, is bold, fresh, and unafraid of risk. "We have the artists who have the passion—and the talent to match that passion—to put on new work," Sullivan says. "There’s a reason why Chicago won the Pulitzer and Tony [for Tracy Letts’s August: Osage County], and it’s not just Steppenwolf," Keller says. "Chicago is arguably the greatest theatre city in the United States, and [maybe] in the world."
A single passing sentence kindled the curiosity of Geoffrey Johnson, a senior editor at Chicago, to find out about Bobsy Goodspeed, a society lady of the early 20th century. "It took me quite a while to figure out who she was," Johnson says. Once he’d discovered her given first name (Elizabeth!), he began poring through newspaper archives and letter collections for glimpses of Goodspeed. Every reference to her seemed to open a new window onto her era and her life. How many loose ends do you pursue? Johnson asked himself, and at some point he had to stop to write the article Portrait of a Lady—but with so much good stuff still waiting in his files, it may be the germ for a book.
Photography: (Little and Garrett) Chris Guillen; (Sullivan) Jonathan Willoughby