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Top 8 Of '08: No. 8 - Chicago, Cultural Epicenter

By Marcus Gilmer in Miscellaneous on Dec 29, 2008 4:30PM

Between now and Wednesday, we're counting down the top 8 local stories that captivated us in 2008.


It's not a singular story, but when viewed as a collected whole, Chicago's continued emergence into the nation's (and - dare we say - the world's) cutural spotlight was a story worthy of mention.

We already knew musically Chicago was a bastion of fantastic local talent, but we continued to be tops on the national scene as well as we once again hosted the annual music fest Lollapalooza, which featured fantastic sets from Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, Girl Talk, and hometown heroes Wilco, Lupe Fiasco, Kid Sister and Kanye West (just to name a few). Even more fun was the latest incarnation of the Pitchfork Music Fest, Lolla's laid back hipster little brother. Featuring opening night sets from Public Enemy, Sebadoah and Mission of Burma, the rest of the weekend was pretty stellar, too. From British rapper Dizzee Rascal to the sheer genius/madness of Les Savy Fav to the scorching evening sets from Spiritualiazed and The Hold Steady to the belated yet no-less-stellar set by Cut Copy, this year's Fork Fest made us appreciate the idea that sometimes bigger doesn't necessarily mean better.

Chicago also found its way onto the big screen as the setting of the year's biggest blockbuster. We're talking, of course, about Wanted, starring Angelina Jolie. Nah, we're just messin' with you. Seriously, though, the city came through as its own character in The Dark Knight, a movie whose bark equaled the bite. Batman perched atop the Sears Tower, the spectacular hospital explosion, and the riveting, kinetic chase scene down LaSalle; the city wasn't simply a backdrop. If that wasn't enough celluloid for you, the Chicago International Film Festival continued to impress with another stellar lineup. And don't forget Lemont native Diablo Cody's Oscar for her Juno screenplay.

We also starred on the small screen via Bravo's Top Chef series and winner Stephanie Izard, which highlighted the city's amazing culinary scene that goes beyond hot dogs and pizza (Grant Achatz would agree).

The literary world of Chicago also garnered much attention in 2008 as Aleksandar Hemon's The Lazarus Project garnered accolades the world over, and was one of a few Chicago-connected National Book Award Finalists. The stage, too, garnered accolades as Tracy Letts's August: Osage County garnered a Pulitzer for Letts and a handful of Tony's. The Trib pulled in a Pulitzer and, lest we forget, we said farewell to a man who is so well-known in the city, he only needs one name: Studs.

These examples, of course, barely scratch the surface of the city's cultural triumphs of 2008 (don't even get us started on the amazing museums of this town) but they're a good start. Feel free to tell us what else made Chicago the cultural epicenter of 2008.

Photo of Lupe Fiasco by Jim Kopeny