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Jonathan Suttin

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Roger Ebert Was More Than Movies

Even though I don’t live in Chicago anymore, I have this sense of pride when it comes to anything connected to that city.  I marvel at how the “City of Broad Shoulders” has a huge influence on the world when it comes to architecture, music, politics and most importantly people.

I love that when Mick Jagger was just a kid his goal was to gather up enough money to travel from England to Chicago so he could record at Chess Studios.  More importantly, I love the number of people from Chicago who have made a huge imprint on the world.  One of them is Roger Ebert.
 
As a kid, I remember watching Gene Siskel and Roger Ebert on PBS.  The movie review show eventually went national and Ebert is the first person you think of when it comes to movie reviews. 

Kitty and I had a chance to interview him a few years ago when he came to Madison.  It was a quick phone interview, but he was sure to ask us our names and address us as Jonathan and Kitty throughout the interview.  That may not sound like a big deal, but it makes a huge difference to the listener.  Ebert made it sound like we were old friends.
   
One of the things I respect most about Ebert was his will to live and create.  When he was diagnosed with cancer, he had to have his jaw removed and could no longer eat or speak.  A lot of people would have called it quites at the point.  Not Ebert.  In fact, it gave him more material.  Ebert continued to review movies, but also wrote about his medical challenges.  Just a few days ago Ebert wrote about taking a break, but said he would be back with even more material.  It appears Ebert was not afraid of death.  He once said, “I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state…I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter.  You can’t say it wasn’t interesting.”

Maybe he really knew he was on his way out.  Ebert titled his last column “A leave of presence”.   That’s such a graceful way of describing it.  Ebert may no longer be physically present anymore, but he’ll always be here.


On a random side note, the cab driver in this show opening used to work at my father's pharmacy.


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Topics : Entertainment_Culture
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Locations : Chicago
People : Gene SiskelJonathanKittyMick JaggerRoger Ebert


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04/05/2013 8:04AM
Roger Ebert Was More Than Movies
Please Enter Your Comments Below
04/05/2013 8:21AM
Siskel/Ebert
Hi Jonathon. Didn't realize you are a Chicago transplant, too. I remember and loved this show and remember some of the second hand stories from Chicago watering holes in Old Town and at the Billy Goat of the journalists of that time; Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, and so many others. With publication and media budgets being slashed every quarter it's difficult to imagine the same sort of scene today. If you ever get a longing for that sort of thing, look up Rick Kogan's show on WBEZ (NPR) caled "The Afternoon Shift". Rick just moved to public radio from WGN and it is an amazing show. Thanks for the Siskel & Ebert opening! All the best. --Tom
04/05/2013 8:23AM
Siskel & Ebert
Hi Jonathon. Didn't realize you are a Chicago transplant, too. I remember and loved this show and remember some of the second hand stories from Chicago watering holes in Old Town and at the Billy Goat of the journalists of that time; Mike Royko, Studs Terkel, and so many others. With publication and media budgets being slashed every quarter it's difficult to imagine the same sort of scene today. If you ever get a longing for that sort of thing, look up Rick Kogan's show on WBEZ (NPR) caled "The Afternoon Shift". Rick just moved to public radio from WGN and it is an amazing show. Thanks for the Siskel & Ebert opening! All the best. - -Tom
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