Plenty of thanks to go around

Today’s column from the Kankakee Daily Journal and The (Ottawa, Ill.) Times

Plenty of thanks to go around


Nov. 27, 2010

Chicago has a restaurant called Just Turkey and a Just Turkey Restaurant. There’s also a Turkey Burger Grill, a Martha’s Original Jerk Chicken and Turkey Legs, and a Bubba’s Fried Turkey.

Oh, and the office of the Consulate General of Turkey, too.

All fine establishments, I’m sure – does Consulate General Turkey taste like General Tso’s Chicken? – but I think I still prefer the bird that my mom bastes.

In any case, how was your Thanksgiving? Happy, I hope.

Now, two days – and a couple of pounds – removed from the holiday, I wanted to share with you a few of the things that I’m thankful for as we head into the latter days of 2010.

I’m thankful I live in the Midwest …

I’ve been to Los Angeles (too plastic). I’ve been to Miami (ditto). And I’ve been to many points in between. But, until last weekend, I had never been to New York City.

During two days in the City that Never Sleeps, I didn’t get much as my college friend who moved east in May and I hoofed it all over Manhattan, getting the full experience of what he likes to call “Fantasy Island.”

New York was fascinating, exciting, intense … and entirely unlivable.

Too cramped, too dirty and too crowded. As metropolises go, I don’t think you can beat Chicago, which is remarkably clean and incredibly livable for a city of millions. New York was a blast to visit and I’d like to return, but I’m also very happy to call Chicago home.

Same goes for the great state of Illinois, which is why it chapped my hide a bit this week when a Facebook friend posted this as his status:

“I wish I was from somewhere I was proud to be from. Like a southern state, or something like that. It’s just so boring to be from Illinois.”

I begged to differ. I’ve been all over the U.S., and Midwesterners are the best – and most authentic – people in the country. And Illinois is the best state in the Midwest.

Sure, you can call me biased.

But I’m also right.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to write …

I’m a lucky guy. I was blessed with two hometowns. One is Bourbonnais, where I was raised. And the other one is Ottawa, where I grew up.

For the first 18 years of my life, I lived in Kankakee County until heading south to Champaign for college. Four years later, at 22, I moved to Ottawa to start my journalism career and ended up spending seven great years there.

These days, I live in Chicago, but I also feel incredibly blessed for the opportunity to connect with people in my two “hometowns” each week though this column. Thanks much to the the Daily Journal and The Times for providing me that outlet.

I also now have a new means by which to connect more closely with people in Chicago, as last Monday I began writing a regular sports blog for, the official website for CBS 2, WBBM 780 and The Score 670.

Posts about Chicago and Illinois sports will appear semi-daily on the site’s Sports homepage and can be found directly via

I’m thankful for 2011 …

It’s not here yet, but I’m already looking forward to it and more chances through this column to bring Chicago a little closer to home.

Both of them.

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