On the opening night of Chicago Live! Thursday, in its new home at Pipers Alley with The Second City, the show didn't feel new: It felt like a homecoming. No one from Chicago would feel out of place.
Rick Kogan needed no script to talk about the 43rd Ward. He's lived in it, around it, or felt its pull all his life.
Guest Jonathon Brandmeier, new to WGN Radio but an old hand to Chicago radio, said if felt good to be back on Chicago airwaves. Author Sara Paretsky has always exuded Chicago. Musical act The Congregation is a Chicago group. The show's comic relief came from an entrepreneurial stand-up instructor and his star pupil -- a Catholic priest from the Near West Side.
The lineup, and links to view segments are here on ChicagoLive.com. Facebook photos" href="https://www.facebook.com/media/albums/?id=158722587486922">Look for yourself in photos here.
There were new faces, many from blog network ChicagoNOW: Recipe blogger Brandi Wall was there with her friend Jessica Six, a young woman who wraps her Christmas gifts in RedEye newspapers. Brendan Tripp, who writes about job hunting, was back with Gordon Dymowski, who'd never been to Chicago Live! before. Raymond Johnson, who writes about history, Chicago area ghosts and cold cases, talked with readers who joined us at the Trib Nation table.
Speaking of new faces, a couple who had moved to Chicago from Baltimore sat a few rows back from the stage. (After a few Irish jokes from The Second City: "Where is Bridgeport?") (Answer: Google map of Bridgeport" href="http://g.co/maps/89tbc">Near Comiskey Park.) Cubs superfan Ronnie "Woo Woo" Wickers was there, too, in Cubs uniform. (Thanks for the 2012 schedule, Ronnie.)
Thanks to Father Tom Hurley, many of Old St. Patrick's Church parishioners were there.
And it was good to see old friends, too: There was Doug, with his binoculars. Patty and Lorna were back, and brought a friend to sit between them. (NOTE TO LONGTIME CHICAGOLIVE! FANS: We approve of this behavior.)
Rick's Almanac from 1953 summoned the literary ghosts of Old Town -- Saul Bellow, Studs Terkel, Nelson Algren -- and stirred a Chicagoan's pride in our city.
Here's Bellow from The Adventures of Augie March, quoted by Kogan:
"I am an American, Chicago born – Chicago, that somber city – and go at things as I have taught myself, free-style, and will make the record in my own way: first to knock, first admitted; sometimes an innocent knock, sometimes a not so innocent."
-- James Janega