Are you even from Chicago?!

The Daily Reader

May 16, 2023

So there I was watching Mayor Johnson’s inauguration, when it hit me . . . Nobody from Chicago is actually from Chicago!

At least not our new mayor. And the one before him. And the one before her.

Which is weird because Chicagoans make such a big deal if you’re not from Chicago. As I learned many years ago, when I had countless conversations like the following:

Chicagoan: Where ya from?

Me: Evanston.

Chicagoan: What are you—a pussy?

Kinda caught me off guard with that rejoinder. I had no idea one thing had anything to do with the other. But then, I’m not from Chicago. So I was still very much learning the ropes.

I had another conversation on one of my first visits to the southwest side that went like this . . .

Southwest Sider: What parish are you from?

Me: Ugh, um, . . . Beth Emet?

You really haven’t experienced Chicago until you tell a southwest sider that your parish is a synagogue in Evanston.

And yet here we are 40-something years later and our newly sworn in mayor is from . . . Elgin?

And he replaced Mayor Lightfoot, who’s from . . . Massillon, Ohio?

And she replaced Mayor Emanuel, who’s from . . . Wilmette?

Okay, actually, Rahm was born in Chicago. But his family got the hell out as soon as they could. In fact, if you study the life of Rahm, you’ll see he’s constantly getting the hell out of Chicago. In his current case, he’s in Japan—though he’s always tweeting about how much he loves Chicago.

In that way, Chicago is like Cleveland. The people who say they love it are generally the first ones to get the hell out. But back to the inauguration . . .

Mayor Johnson was sworn in by Cook County Chief Judge Timothy Evans, who’s from Hot Springs, Arkansas.

Watching the ceremony from the front row was Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, who’s from St. Paul, Minnesota.

And the brain’s behind Johnson’s campaign is Chicago Teachers Union President Stacy Davis Gates, who’s from South Bend, Indiana. That’s right. SDG is a Hoosier! (But don’t tell her I told you that.)

Okay, Karen Lewis—the woman who gave Mayor Johnson his start—is from Chicago.

Well, sorta. She’s from Hyde Park. Which many Chicagoans don’t regard as Chicago. You know, the more you think about how Chicagoans view the world, the less sense it makes.

For the record, I know next to nothing about Massillon, Ohio; St. Paul, Minnesota; South Bend, Indiana; or Hot Springs, Arkansas.

But I do know a few things about Elgin. It’s way out there—on the road to St. Charles. Now, get this. I’ve been to St. Charles!

It’s true. One day a few years ago, my wife and I drove forever to see Tower of Power at the Arcada Theatre in St. Charles. The place was filled with aging white men with ponytails and Kangol hats. My kinda crowd! But I digress . . .

All in all, great speech, Mayor Johnson. You managed to get in and out without mentioning Mayors Daley (father or son) or Rahm.  And that’s fine by me. In fact, my concise history of Chicago goes like this . . .

Founded by DuSable. Then it’s all downhill, until Harold Washington. Then more downhill until now. I hope.

Best of luck, Mayor B. Don’t forget to reopen those mental health clinics.

*P.S. – We’re celebrating the Best of Chicago on June 1 at Metro/Smartbar in Wrigleyville, and everyone is invited. Get your tickets here

🎙Listen to The Ben Joravsky Show 🎙

What Ben's Reading

  Small Things Like These by Claire Keegan. A beautiful novel by one of Ireland’s great writers. It’s about the complicities people make with evil.
 Mike Sula on Mariko Kallister, Chicago’s master of handmade Japanese buckwheat noodles
 Ben Joravsky on Lori Lightfoot’s inauguration

Best of the Ben J. Show

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 Illinois State House Representative
Kam Buckner: fixing the CTA
Aaron Cohen on Ramsey Lewis, the Gentleman of Jazz


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by J.R. Nelson and Leor Galil 
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by Josh Flanders Read here 

Join us June 1 at Metro!

Best of Chicago Celebration is back! On June 1 at Metro Chicago, the Chicago Reader is thrilled to host its iconic event of celebrating the Best of Chicago–nominated and voted by YOU. Tickets start at $20! Let’s party!




Issue of
May 4 – 17, 2023 
Vol. 52, No. 15

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