Enjoying some guy talk at our men’s roundtable discussion at the Loews Hotel with (FROM LEFT) Jonny Imerman, Israel Idonije, Manny Sanchez, Rob Johnson, Tom Dart, Malcolm London, and Tim King.
In the midst of Chicago's legendary '85 NFL season, Bears coach Mike Ditka famously described his soon-to-be-Super Bowl champion players as a bunch of “Grabowskis.” Locals took it as a high compliment, that one word summing up the qualities of no-nonsense, hard-working, blue-collar masculinity that we Windy City types hold so dear. It instantly became an archetype for the ideal Chicago man—as did the macho Ditka, like the hard-nosed “Papa Bear” George Halas before him (see page 12), both coaches who proved their alpha male bona fi des by bringing championship glory to the city.
Thirty years later, the landscape for Chicago men is far less cut-and-dried (and, I believe, far more interesting), as shifting gender roles and ideas of masculinity have made the whole concept of an ideal Windy City man—particularly one who embodies the strong, silent type of yesteryear—seem woefully out of date. So what is the experience of being a man in Chicago today, dealing with the issues that face us as 21st-century citizens?
It’s a fascinating question, and one we’re excited to be tackling head on in this, our annual Men’s Issue, with a roundtable discussion among six Windy City male leaders. Over the course of two hours, these men—from Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart to 22-yearold poet/activist Malcolm London—boldly discussed sensitive topics like race and poverty in Chicago, what our responsibilities are as men, and what needs to be done to bring up the city’s next generation of young leaders. We may not have solved the city’s problems, but boy, did we get the conversation started: Our subjects were brutally honest about the state of the city and their place in it, and everyone left the table energized about the exchange—no one more than me. We may be past the age of the Grabowski, but I think it’s safe to say that, like our six leaders, today’s ideal Chicago man is strong, complex, and most defi nitely not silent.