Monday, October 23, 2006

My kind of town

Since it was 80 degrees in Los Angeles in late October, I figured, what better time to go to Chicago? Visited our daughter, Annie, who has so many projects and activities going at Northwestern we were lucky to have time to take her out for nice meals and buy her things at Target.

Our stewardess was Roy Rogers’ granddaughter. From one stuffed horse to another, she now works for Southwest Airlines.

I always love going to Chicago. Great food, great people, and statues of baseball announcers. If only their weather didn’t combine the worst of Siberia and Death Valley.

The weather forecast for our arrival was snow. It was 63 degrees and clear. Who are these weathermen and why aren’t they the President’s foreign advisors?

It was the big Northwestern homecoming weekend. In an attempt to silence once and for all those who believe their football program is a perennial embarrassment, the Wildcats took a commanding 38-3 lead over Michigan State late into the third quarter. They lost 41-38. It was the greatest comeback in Division 1-A history. The headline in the Sun-Times was “A Cat-aclysmic collapse”. On the plus side, they weren’t playing the University of Miami so none of their players got hurt in a brawl.

Not a lot of celebrating in Evanston on Saturday night. The big homecoming event was disassociating yourself from the university. 38-3 then lose?????

Stephen Colbert appeared in the homecoming parade. Ferris Bueller did not.

First snowfall this year in Chicago: October 12 – earliest on record. But there’s no Global Warming.

Everyone talks like Joan Cusack.

God has retired. Lyle Dean, the legendary local radio newsman has hung up his headphones after forty years of scaring the shit out of listeners on WGN and most notably, WLS, Chicago (back in their heyday). When HE said it was going to snow, even if it was 63 degrees you’d drive around with chains on your tires. What an incredible voice. What a nice man. A recent publicity photo of him just shows a burning bush.

Lame tourist attraction: the nearby city of Cicero, home of Al Capone. Not much has changed. The mayor is currently serving time.

The LaSalle Bank Chicago Marathon was Sunday. As I watched the only 40,000 healthy people in Chicago take off from the starting line, I thought to myself, “Some of these people have to die before me.” The Boston Marathon has its “heartbreak hill” which is really a killer. The equivalent here is that runners have to go by Gino’s East Pizza.

Temperature at the start of the race: 35 degrees. They should rename the event the Chicago-Read Mental Health Center Marathon.

My daughter’s friend is a theater major at Northwestern. One of her courses this quarter is “Fairies in Musical Theater.” Is a comment even needed???

There’s an egg salad recall in Illinois. People are advised to stick to their diets of gyros, steaks, and pork ribs.

No wonder there are so few Oldies stations anymore. The one in Chicago had a commercial for urinary incontinence.

But at least John Records Landecker is back on the air. Listeners can “save a thousand dollars a year on pads” and hear one of their favorite D.J.’s.

Wind chill factor: nature’s botox.

Sunday is the end of Daylight Savings Time. Chicagoans are being asked to turn their clocks back one hour and take in any ceramic swans that are still on their front lawns.

Nice to see Roger Ebert back reviewing movies in the Sun-Times. Thumbs up on his recovery.

In the Evanston Barnes & Noble the “Diseases” section is right next to the “Cookbooks”. Egg salad recipes appear in both.

Bowling is illegal in Evanston (this is true). So is skipping, snowball fights, and trick or treating. There are a lot of eight year old Spidermen and princesses with rap sheets.

What should be illegal are ceramic swans and blowing a 35 point lead late in the third period. Sarah Lawrence couldn’t do that.

I bet on ebay you can find a lot of Northwestern “Homecoming 2006” garb this week. CHEAP!!

Must go. Light snow flurries have begun and there’s fear they’ll close O’Hare for six months.


Anonymous said...

I love it when you talk about Chicago.

Hey, you noticed the weather. My theory is that Chicago has the worst weather in the country. People just don't realize it because it's always worse somewhere else. But we never have it good. We have the second coldest/snowiest winter, the second hottest/muggiest summer. We have the second wettest spring. And I always wondered what people meant when they said "autumn". Up until high school, I honestly thought that Winter started in October.
Except during periods of global warming/El Nino.

At no point of the year is it nice in Chicago. That's why we stay inside all day and eat.

Anonymous said...

I'd travel more if places were half as much fun as Ken describes them sound.

The Curmudgeon said...

This is on several posts back, but since you're talking about Chicago today, I think it's OK: You are so right about John Rooney. If the Cards win, I'll give you even money that Steinbrenner fires all 37 of the Yankee announcers to bring Rooney to the Bronx.

Anonymous said...

*sigh* Ken, Evanston is NOT Chicago. It's where rich yuppies move when they're tired of the city but too good for the suburbs. It's also where a lot of rich, spoiled kids live when mommy & daddy send them away to college and pay for everything so they "don't have to worry about anything but their studies." And it must be Evanston where you're seeing this army of swans you keep harping about because they sure as hell aren't in the city. Most of us don't even have yards to put them in. Try "slumming" around the rest of Chicago instead of the yuppie-havens and frat-boy, jock/drunk/asshole horror-shows like Wrigleyville and maybe you'll get to know it a bit better. You're absolutely right about Death Valley / Siberia, though.

By Ken Levine said...

Had to delete a comment, not because it ripped me (which it did) but because the person didn't leave his name. How many times do I have to expoain this rule?

admrnelson said...

I'll always remember what Robert W. Morgan told me about Chicago..."It's the only city where in the middle of June,you can still see frozen dog s!#t on the sidewalk."

Charlie Kennedy said...

Lyle Dean's retired? That officially makes me o-l-d.

At least he got to retire! Hope they gave him more than a wristwatch, although since 'GN is owned by the Tribune, they probably gave him a complimentary subscription.

Chicago's my hometown, Ken. Thanks for making me miss it a whole lot less!

Anonymous said...

On the Ill. radio buzzboards, the respect and gratitude towards Lyle is universal. Some friends who have worked with him say he truly is a very nice man. (who just happens to have the voice of God).

BTW, heard his last morning on the air, and Fred Winston joined them. I wish there was something similar in this day and age, but if it still does exist, it's rare, and rarely outside of morning drive. How sad.

Mike Barer said...

I visited Chicago awhile back and was impressed with how Huge it was. I saw my first outdoor major league baseball game at Wrigley Field (I've now seen dozens at Safeco Field) and of course they had a big rain storm and the game was called.

Anonymous said...

I'm all for rules. They keep order in the world, but only if they are enforced equally and consistently. If anonymous posts are not allowed, then why didn't you delete the other anonymous post, then? Guess the other one must've hit a touchier nerve.

Anonymous said...

I can vouch for the fact that Lyle is a great guy. He is currently taking his boat downriver to the Gulf of Mexico en route to Florida for the winter. You can follow the trip on

Malachy Walsh said...

I grew up outside Chicago when the Cubs still played in daylight. Later, I ran the Stuart Brent Bookstore on Michigan Ave.

I miss all that.

Anonymous said...

The weather forecast for our arrival was snow. It was 63 degrees and clear.

Ah, you must not have got your weather forecast from Tom Skilling. One of those gadgets on his weather desk is indeed a hotline to God. He never uses it. Tom has much more fun forecasting from observations.

On the plus side, they weren’t playing the University of Miami so none of their players got hurt in a brawl.

And just as well. Those Miami players would never see their NFL signing bonuses, after the law grads got through with them.

God has retired. Lyle Dean, the legendary local radio newsman has hung up his headphones after forty years of scaring the shit out of listeners on WGN

You say that like it's a joke. You've clearly never been present to hear the words "A reading from the book of Exodus..." come from the man's lips. (Before we were public school classmates, I knew Lyle's son from CCD.) The closing "This is the word of the Lord" is redundant, but we Catholics are beings of habit, so he said it anyways.

I'm not leaving San Diego any time soon, but I always miss home.

carls said...

just so you know its not illigal to trick or treat in evanston. they just have trick or treeting hours (4pm-7pm), but you dont get in trouble or anything if you trick or treet after 7...
thats just a stupid rumour made up by northwestern kids...
snowball fights. also not illegal.
bowling is legal, the high school has a secret bowling alley