Reader editor in chief Enrique Limón takes a selfie outside of the Clark Adams building in downtown Chicago. he is wearing a winter hat and winter coat.
The Reader’s EIC strikes a pose outside of the Bankers Building (aka the Clark Adams Building). Credit: Enrique Limón
cover of Chicago Reader Vol. 52 No. 8 January 26 2023 edition illustration of a crowd in front of a movie theater bottom ad for Illinois Holocaust Museum
The cover for our Volume 52, Number eight print issue features an illustration by Frank Okay Credit: Frank Okay

As January inches to a close, it’s a good time to take stock of what this year has been like thus far, and where we stand on those pesky New Year’s resolutions we promised we’d actually stick to this time around. Remember those? Well, smart indoor rowing machine, meet the storage unit; promise to drop ten pounds, meet Carnicería Maribel’s delectable torta de carnitas.

A few weeks back, during our first editorial meeting of the year, I asked editorial staffers to come up with a personal newsroom resolution, and share it in a singular word with no context. It was an interesting experiment that produced terms like a promising “yes,” “collaboration,” “determination,” and a stoically self-explanatory “journalism.”

Mine was “re-energize.” I chose that word because it symbolizes so much of where I’d like for the Reader to head and expand. We’re lucky enough to have a dynamic and resilient team that, with a few battle scars under its belt, remains steadfast in producing quality journalism and shining a light on wrongs that should be corrected, as well as on the people, movements and moments, and very particularly in this issue, the artists and visionaries that make our city such a unique place to call home.

My commitment to what we do was recently reenergized when I found myself during a brisk morning strolling past Clark Street’s Bankers Building. The Burnham Brothers’ 41-story behemoth has held many distinctions since it was first opened in 1927: it’s the city’s tallest all-brick edifice, and its 19th floor once housed the FBI office tasked with taking down notorious bank robber John Dillinger. For a while, it also served as headquarters for Medill’s central Loop newsroom. 

It was there where I arrived as a wide-eyed freelancer in the summer of 2009, to be part of the journalism school’s final Academy for Alternative Journalism, a project the Reader originated in conjunction with Northwestern a decade prior.

I remember the first time I entered through the building’s revolving door, a Chicago staple that’s not as commonplace back in the homeland, and holding onto the brass handlebar as a giddy inner voice said, “That was fun—let’s do it again!”

Going past the skyscraper again, all these years later and with nary anyone else around, I reflected and paused. The structure not only was ground zero for what would be my rip-roaring career in the alt-weekly industry, but it would also double as shelter on more than one occasion. See, I’d pitched the idea that I would experience the real Chicago by crashing at strangers’ homes I’d find on the newishly launched More than a potential story though, it was a way for me to guarantee shelter during my Windy City stint, as I’d arrived in town with something like $60 in my bank account, and the fellowship’s stipend would only go so far.

I would have been too humiliated to share this back then, but lodging plans would sometimes fall through, and money would be extra tight, so without anyone ever knowing, I slept on the newsroom floor on more than one occasion. I developed a system: I’d lay out a couple of sofa cushions under my desk, make sure to set an alarm to go off before the morning cleaning crew arrived, make myself presentable in the newsroom bathroom, and hopefully scrounge up some food from the break room fridge’s communal shelf. Sometimes it was someone else’s leftovers; sometimes I lucked out and it was an intact Yoplait yogurt.

I have no shame in sharing this now. 

Through it all, I somehow managed to never get down on myself. Are you kidding me? I got to call this incredible town home for at least a couple of months. This is where I belonged. I’d also have the opportunity to hone my skills and meet industry leaders who I still consider mentors to this day. 

The winter chill nipping at my nose, I stood there for a minute, took the full circle moment in, and snapped a quick pic as a humble reminder. 

Looking back, I now cherish that hardship, and hold that freelancer’s unabashed perseverance near to my heart, because it all brought me to where I am now. I resolve to honor him and his big, seemingly unattainable dreams, and to let our shared energy carry me into these next 11 months—and beyond.

Winter Theater and arts preview

The art of war

This winter, three Chicago-area exhibitions attempt to document the psychological toll of endless militarism.

More from the issue (Volume 52, number 8)


Waves of memory

Christina Anderson’s newest play traces one Black family’s struggles with desegregation.

Viking rock

The Plagiarists turn Cirkut Mob’s concept album Valhalla into a musical.