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People Week

Friday, December 21, 2012

Deep-sea discovery with Janet Voight

Posted By on 12.21.12 at 01:00 PM

Janet Voight in her natural habitat, a collections room at the Field Museum
  • Andrea Bauer
  • Janet Voight in her natural habitat, a collections room at the Field Museum
A zoology curator at the Field Museum, Janet Voight is featured this week in our second annual People Issue.

Like many of the people profiled in this week's issue, Janet Voight is fascinating—so much so that even though I knew the interview I did with her would be cut down to just a few hundred words, I couldn't bring myself to keep it to less than an hour. And even though I knew that space limitations didn't exactly allow for an 8,000-word interview in print, seeing it cut down was painful. Fortunately, for all that extra wordage, there's the Internet. Below are details about the bottom of the ocean that didn't make it to print, as well as the video from the Field Museum that made me want to talk to Voight in the first place, in which you can see the octopus feeding behavior that she describes in the interview.

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The passion of Vern Hester

Posted By on 12.21.12 at 06:50 AM

Vern Hester
Writer and photographer Vern Hester is one of 25 talented locals profiled in our second annual People Issue.

I met Vern Hester while waiting in line to enter the photo pit at this year's Riot Fest. This was shortly after intergalactic scum-dogs Gwar painted the audience in fake blood and dismembered a series of monsters and celebrity effigies, a performance that Hester literally couldn't shake; his shirt, jeans, and shoes all were speckled with crimson when we first bumped into each other.

Hester spoke about Gwar's set with a mix of shock and amusement, and he described his experience with more enthusiasm than one might expect from a person who entered the gauntlet known as the festival photo pit unprepared to get splattered with fake blood. I quickly discovered that Hester is no stranger to enthusiasm, and even when I felt tired towards the end of the festival, he continued to be as energetic as he was when we first crossed paths at the beginning of the weekend.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

A glimpse of the Chicago music scene that thrives outside the glare of the spotlight

Posted By on 12.20.12 at 03:18 PM

PeopleIssueMusic.jpeg
The urban legend about painting the Golden Gate Bridge—by the time the crews finish, they have to start over again—could just as easily be about the task of profiling every interesting person in the Chicago music scene. Thankfully that's not what we at the Reader have set out to do with our second annual People Issue. Nor do we mean to tag along after the celebrities of the moment—though if you follow music in Chicago, you've likely heard of at least one of our B Side subjects. In fact you might say the idea is to give you a glimpse of the profusion and diversity of talented, committed people who pursue their passions outside the glare of the spotlight. These are people who could be friends of friends, or sitting across from you on the train. From the stories that follow, told entirely in their own words, you'll learn as much about them as if you'd shared an armrest for a transcontinental flight—maybe more, if you're not the sort of person to start conversations on planes.

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Lessons from Mitzi Scott

Posted By on 12.19.12 at 06:47 AM

Mitzi Scott
Counselor and recovering addict Mitzi Scott is profiled in our second annual People Issue.

One of the things that attracted me to Mitzi Scott is the forthright way she shoots down stereotypes. A recovering heroin addict clean for more than 12 years now, she at one time spent four on the streets of Chicago, homeless. People tend to assume that women in her position turn tricks to supply their habits, she told me. But in fact, she says, that's a last resort—her first hustle was the stickup.

Since then she's had a lot of mentors, among them Larry E. Ross, a beloved Kennedy-King professor and addictions counselor who died last year. She credits him with helping her to change while keeping herself intact, telling her, "You continue to get better, but who you are is all right."

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

The spookily fantastic tweets of @arealliveghost

Posted By on 12.18.12 at 06:49 AM

Boo . . . ?
  • profile picture of @arealliveghost kimmy walters
  • Boo . . . ?
Kimmy Walters is one of 25 Chicagoans—individuals who work behind the scenes, who populate the underground, who are fascinating chiefly because of a passion for what they do—profiled in our second annual People Issue.

I have often been a Twitter evangelist, and that's partly because of the amazing stuff I read coming from People Issue subject Kimmy Walters, one of the nicest people you'll ever meet and a gifted social mediaite. How good is she? I once responded to a really great tweet with a marriage proposal. We didn't know each other. I don't think I'm the only one who's done that.

I fear that our hour-long conversation, condensed into a more digestible format by my patient editor, took for granted that its reader would understand just how sincere and true her tweets as @arealliveghost can be, especially for a member of the loose coalition of Weird Tweeters, who write more to build linguistic muscle mass than anything (I think). So I collected a bunch of her best tweets after the jump, to point out that if you aren't one of her 11,000-odd followers, you should be. (If you're not on Twitter, that's another problem, dad.)

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Monday, December 17, 2012

All this week, more of the people who inspire us

Posted By on 12.17.12 at 10:32 AM

Last years People Issue covers
  • Last year's People Issue covers
This week marks the return of the People Issue, in which we spotlight Chicagoans that fascinate us. In the words of editor Mara Shalhoup:

We didn't want to seek out the most powerful or influential, or even the up-and-coming. We didn't care if the people we chose had achieved early success, or if they were "successful" in the traditional sense at all. We didn't require that they be exceptional, at least not exceptional in a way that sets them apart from the other millions of inhabitants of this city. . . . we tracked down the people who, like most of us, work behind the scenes, who populate the underground and the everyday, who are fascinating chiefly because the work they do is . . . real.

In all the work we do for the People Issue, not all of the story gets told. Each writer gets to spend a good deal of time with their subjects, and there's only so much space to try and capture who that person really is. So for this edition of Variations on a Theme, Reader writers will be offering supplements to some of their People Issue subjects, trying to showcase more of the people that fascinate them, because there is invariably so much more to tell. So check back all week long for People Week, and stay tuned this week for the Reader's second annual People Issue, where we'll have all-new, one-of-a-kind Chicagoans for you to read about.

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