I'm not one for best-of lists generally, and it seems especially inappropriate for 2000-2009, a decade in which that which was terrible greatly overwhelmed that which was good, and that we can't even agree on a name for, perhaps because we don't want to. But I do like music, and making mixes, insofar as they're a respite from the mismanagement and grief; The lights must never go out /the music must always play.
Local journalists miss Paul Vallas. When he was running the Chicago Public Schools and, later, campaigning for governor, he could be counted on for two things reporters love: returning phone calls and talking. A lot.
Vallas is now running the New Orleans schools but was back in town this week—and in top form yesterday, when he stood before reporters and announced his support for Democratic Senate candidate David Hoffman.
Looking trim, tan, and assured, Vallas said lots of great things about Hoffman, calling him "the type of individual we need in elective office," praising his "great integrity" and "record of accomplishment," and predicting that he would be "an exceptional United States Senator."
That was what was scripted. But Vallas was never one for sticking to the script, and after the cameras—and Hoffman—had left, he elaborated for a couple of us who’d stuck around. And elaborated and elaborated and elaborated.
Perhaps director Guy Ritchie and Robert Downey Jr., the latest of dozens of actors to portray the supersleuth on film, should have taken some tips from The Sherlock Holmes Handbook: The Methods and Mysteries of the World's Greatest Detective, recently published by Quirk Books ($16.95).
This year sure was tough on the American wallet. Perhaps 2009 was the year that you gave shoelaces and tissue packets to your loved ones as birthday presents, trading in your own convenient Kleenexes for cloth handkerchiefs that you laundered using rainwater collected in a bucket on your porch. Maybe you downloaded a recipe or two for a dollar-stretching dish like pretzel soup, or something involving a pig's foot. And maybe you had insufficient funds to vacay, opting instead for nights of backgammon and fantasizing from your fraying easy chair.
Now it's New Year's, and you've still got no money, and just what will you do to celebrate? Here are some free options:
Big Star: No cover, no reservations needed, and a free bourbon toast at midnight. 4 PM-2 AM, 1531 N. Damen, 773-235-4039.
Finn McCool's Irish Pub: free admission before 10 PM, with party favors, multimedia countdown, champagne toast, and DJ. 6 PM-4 AM, 15 W. Division, 312-337-4349.
Heartland Cafe: After the annual Athletes United for Peace 5K race (7 PM, $25), there's a party at the cafe with a performance from reggae band Roots 101. 9 PM, 7000 N. Glenwood, 773-465-8005.
Navy Pier Family New Year's Eve Bash: An all-ages concert with hip-hop dancers, live music by the Goblins, double-dutch jumpers (6-7:45 PM), and a fireworks show. DJ Madrid spins for a dance party in the Family Pavilion from 9 to 11:45 PM. 600 E. Grand, 312-595-7437.
Nick's: "Bread & Butter" party with free music. 9 PM, 1516 N. Milwaukee, 773-252-1155.
Red Line Tap: Rogers Park All-Stars with Micki Croisant, Justin Gillam, and others. 9 PM, Red Line Tap, 7006 N. Glenwood, 773-274-5463.