Between 1926 and 1935 ran a magazine called the Chicagoan. Published in the same vein as the New Yorker as a cultural spotlight on the Second City, the periodical fizzled out in less than a decade. This year, the historic glossy has been resurrected as a biannual publication. The first issue was released February 2012, and to say the least, it’s an impressive collection of citizen profiles, fiction, and tales from the surrounding Midwest. J.C. Gabel, the editor-in-chief, begins the issue with a detailed mission statement, offering what long-form storytelling has to offer in an era of extremely divided attention.
The topics covered in the magazine are quite varied. The initial section covers the works of filmmakers, coffee connoisseurs, urban explorers, musicians, cops, architects and more. The first issue is probably best to take in cover-to-cover, but I couldn’t help myself from skipping ahead to the 45 page oral history of Siskel & Ebert. Admittedly, I never watched much of the dynamic duo, but their story and relationship is fascinating, and Josh Schollmeyer does a great job of compiling interviews from all who worked with them and knew them at their best and worst times.
The second half of the magazine covers literature, poetry, and life outside of Chicago. What you’ll have noticed by this point in your read through (and here is my favorite part): there are no advertisements in the entire magazine. There are plenty of glorious photos of our city, clever portraits and unique illustrations, but there is not a single ad. While the magazine promises to document “the arts, culture, innovators and history of Chicago and the greater Midwest,” it also functions as a non-profit. While this may limit publication (I seriously don’t think I can wait 6 more months), it does increase the quality, which of course is always greater than quantity.
If the majority of this review is vague, then I’m doing it on purpose. Not a single story in here let my mind wander, no matter the length. I want everyone out there to experience the same and I don’t want to risk ruining the experience. Feel free to check out their website ahead of purchase for a sneak peek.
Unfortunately, there’s been a limited run of the first copies, so you’d better get on it. If they keep up this quality of work, The Chicagoan redux will certainly not share the same fate as the original.