- To accompany our gift guide, we commissioned local artists Justin Clemons and Laura Berger to create the gift wrap featured on our two variant covers.
My first issue—six weeks ago—hadn't even hit the streets yet when I got an email from a thoughtful young man inquiring if I had any advice for revitalizing the recently shuttered alt-weekly in his town, and similar notes have been coming from all over the country at a steady pace ever since. There are emails and tweets and comments made in the coffee shop: Chicagoans excited about what's going on, alternative-newspaper-wise, folks elsewhere curious, maybe a little jealous.
I guess it surprises me, if I'm honest. I've been told for so long that print is dead and journalism breathing its last and nobody cares about the independent press anymore and there's no room for the alternative weekly in today's media landscape. The barrage of disinterest has been so steady, the voices that offer dissent so easily discounted. Somehow the message sank in.
Turns out the message was wrong. People all over the country care about alternative newsweeklies, and they care about this alternative newsweekly. They're telling me so themselves. They want the Reader to grow, and to thrive, and then they want their own alternative newsweeklies, which they also hope will grow and thrive. I'm not so big on the traditional family holidays, but today I find myself struck dumb with gratitude for the people all over the country who care about independent journalism.
I'm especially grateful for the Chicagoans, of course, and we here at the Reader have a little present for you this week. It is this fancy gift wrap on our cover. The gift that keeps on giving! There's also a gift guide, chock-full of local products to put on your shopping (or wish) list. I interview film critic A. S. Hamrah too and our very own Leor Galil wrote an absolutely stunning feature in advance of the John Walt Foundation's fundraiser at Concord Music Hall this weekend. (Leor, by the way, turned 33 last weekend, his Scottie Pippin year. Scottie, if you're reading this, why don't you give the guy a shout-out?) Also, a correction to last week's issue: the host of the Best Worst Drag Show is Arben Dauti.
The staff is saddened to have our beloved deputy editor Kate Schmidt home recovering from illness this holiday week. We were further devastated by the killing of Dr. Tamara O'Neal and three other people just a few blocks away at Mercy Hospital as we finalized this issue. Neighbors, Chicagoans, and everyone reading this: we here at the Reader love you right back. v