Chicago's high points for the year 2015 were gifts, each and every one—but we may return them anyway.
Such an eventful year, wasn’t it, with the news that we’d be the site of President Obama’s library; a visit from the Grateful Dead; and endlessly entertaining quotes from Jay Cutler spouse (and former Michigan Avenue cover star) Kristin Cavallari on her disdain for Chicago. She told Elle magazine that she prefers their Nashville home with its gazebo, and it’s true enough that there is a shocking dearth of gazebos in our Gold Coast. They just don’t fit, what with all of our historic, glorious brownstones taking up so much space.
Kristin’s bons mots were just some of the gifts that kept on giving in 2015, and this year Chicago was lucky enough to receive even more—more distinctions, more entertainment, more attention. But the holidays remind us that even the best-intentioned present can be returned. We’ll start with these.
Gift: The Stanley Cup
Return it because... After three Chicago championships in six years, and trips around the world (including a jaunt to Middletown, New Jersey, of all places), that trophy has been manhandled and slobbered on more times than the Blarney Stone. Take it back, please, before we all catch something.
Gift: The exciting mayoral election runoff—our first since the city started holding nonpartisan elections in 1995.
Return it because... An unpleasant aftertaste still lingers of Rahm Emanuel’s negative ads, not to mention Chuy Garcia’s distractingly lush mustache.
Gift: Chicago’s first Architecture Biennial
Return it because... The competition to create a lakefront kiosk could have resulted in permanent beach sculptures that resembled a sponge, a tooth, a gold brick, a rectangle with donny repeated in large letters, or a structure that “hugs” you. It was a narrow escape.
Gift: Maggie Daley Park
Return it because... Dog owners were offended at the ban on pooches (“… you can’t pick up dog urine,” explained the Chicago Park District CEO), as well as inline skaters. Despite compromises, we foresee future protests from anti-grass movements, cat-walkers, and the kite community.
Gift: Kanye West, who earned an honorary doctorate from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and delighted with his Trump-toppingly egotistical speech.
Return him because... In the last year, he furiously threw a microphone into a crowd, got completely swallowed up by the Kardashian vortex, and nearly crashed another stage, this time at the Grammys. Fellow Chicagoan Billy Corgan said that if West tried that while Corgan was at the podium, “I’d knock him out.”
Gift: Chicago’s millennials, who are exerting their influence on popular culture.
Return them because... Their most poignant victory has been Taco Bell’s plan to open an “upscale” location in Wicker Park with alcohol and bouncers.
Gift: The former red-light camera operator, which the city sued on corruption charges to the tune of $300 million.
Return it because... Red-light cameras continue to be abusive, intrusive Big Brothers who have spawned speed cameras, too.
Gift: The NFL draft, which returns to Chicago in 2016.
Return it because... More street closures, protests about Grant Park’s free rent, and let’s face it—Draft Town isn’t exactly the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition.