2002 | Chicago Reader at Forty | Chicago Reader

2002 

The year in Chicago history via the pages of the Reader

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"Please, if I hear one more word about his father the doctor—excuse me, the pediatrician—or his uncle the cop I'll puke. This guy's no saint. He was Clinton's fucking hatchet man, for Christ's sake. I'd have a lot more respect for him if he was honest and said, 'I'm a prick, but I can deliver.'"

—"Northwest-side politico" to Ben Joravsky about Rahm Emanuel, candidate for Congress.

Most accurate Reader headline ever?

The Cubs' pathetic 2002 season wasn't entirely unexpected—they had a lot of holes in their lineup. But thanks to their minor league operation, Baseball America is calling them a team of the future. If next year's Cubs start Hee Seop Choi at first, Bobby Hill at second, and Corey Patterson in center, they'll have three products of their farm system in the everyday lineup. Wood, Prior, Zambrano, and Cruz would all be homegrown pitchers.

Robert Heuer, who wrote "Wait Till Next Year (No, Really)" was actually looking down the road a ways, to the era when budding stars like Choi, Hill, Patterson, and Prior had become Cubs fixtures. Yeah, right! But 2003 did turn out to be worth waiting for. (And then forgetting about—as if we could.)

Meet Chris Ware

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We didn't discover Chris Ware. We didn't introduce him to Chicago. But in 2002 we began publishing his adventures of Rusty Brown. Ware warned readers they might be in for a slog: "Really, sometimes this story can become so hard to understand that we hope the colors and shapes are at least occasionally pleasing, even while the actions suggested by the drawings and pictures seem unbearably obtuse, or psychologically abusive, a problem for which we apologize now, in advance."

Paradise tomorrow, comedy tonight

The University of Chicago Press recently published a large-format, slick-paper book entitled Chicago Metropolis 2020: The Chicago Plan for the Twenty-First Century. The title looks to the future, but those who read what's inside will learn that Chicago's civic and business elites want to begin the 21st century much as they ended the 19th—by trying to get the rest of us centralized, coordinated, and unified . . .

You wouldn't expect to find these folks on the cutting edge, and they aren't. But they do want to do good. Unlike, say, the current Republican Party platform, Chicago Metropolis 2020 isn't a bald-faced attempt to enrich its authors at the expense of the rest of us. It's a bald-faced attempt to sell us a pack of ideas. Many of these ideas come from the reform Republicanism of the Progressive era a century ago, and many are appealing. "Economic growth is not an end in itself," writes Johnson early on, "and cannot be the only criterion governing our strategies for the region. In this era of unprecedented prosperity, we would be a hollow and nearsighted people indeed if we were to neglect ideals concerning human dignity and equality of opportunity, community and environmental integrity, and the ideals and civilizing purposes of a great metropolitan region." But the Progressive-era reformers were never comfortable with the rough-and-tumble of political disagreement and horse trading, and their successors today feel the same way. Democracy can be disorderly and irrational, and in this book the authors try to wish it away.

From "The Future Is Theirs," by Harold Henderson. A staff writer for 22 years, the prolific Henderson was this paper's top idea-​monger. But he didn't just pass interesting ideas along. He'd poke around the insides, figure out the mechanics, if necessary take them apart and look for ways to make them better.

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