“Jon's writings have always lifted my spirits. His manner is deceptively simple, and in that simplicity is something that reaches out and touches you. All of his stories have that understanding of what makes a human being tick. A joy to read.”—Studs Terkel
“Newspapers are written in a hurry by writers forever uneasy about the next deadline. Sometimes in their pages one finds a story that is an oasis of literacy and civility, where the wondrous behavior of humans is not only reported but cherished. Day in and day out, year in and year out, Jon Anderson has written such stories, which come like a gift to his readers.”—Roger Ebert
“In a world where the news is often dominated by scandal and where some columnists believe that cynicism is the key to writing success, it's refreshing to read Andrson's columns about real people who possess dignity and humanity and humor.”—Mary Dempsey on Books, Network Chicago
In forty-five years as one of Chicago's liveliest journalists for Time, Life, and the Chicago Tribune, Jon Anderson has established a reputation for picking up on what someone once called "the beauty of the specific fact." Part "Talk of the Town," part On the Road with Charles Kuralt, Anderson's twice-a-week "City Watch" columns in the Chicago Tribune seek out interesting and unexpected people and places from the everyday life of what the author calls the "most typical American big city." In the process he discovers the joys and triumphs of ordinary people.
Anderson writes with wit and insight about those who find themselves inspired or obsessed with alternative ways of viewing life or getting through the day. Like the man who started with one light pole, then painted all the poles in his southside neighborhood. Or the founder of Cats-Are-Purrsons-Too, a nun who lives with sixty-seven cats. Or the philosopher who, with no financial success, still publishes a newsletter called "The Meaning of Life." After years of hunting down moments of everyday life that have drama and meaning, Anderson offers a book that has curious power, because all of its stories are true.
Drawn from the best of Anderson's columns, City Watch introduces readers to an eclectic mix of social clubs, subcultures, and minor celebrities. From Foraging Friends, a group of penniless ecologists who forage for wild foods in a county forest preserve, to the annual Dumpster Diver fashion show, from the Oakton Elementary School chess team to a group that calls itself Some Chicago Anarchists, readers will discover the characters and events that define Chicago's local color.