As of January 1, 2016, Gapers Block has ceased publication. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
 Thank you for your readership and contributions over the past 12-plus years. 


Friday, March 23

Gapers Block

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Gapers' Block turns one year old at the end of this month. And what a year it has been. We're overwhelmed by the success of the site and the response we've gotten from our readers. Thank you all very, very much.

When we started GB, we tried to come up with what we thought would be the best combination of features. Not everything worked -- long-time readers may recall "Jam," a weekly mp3 by a local artist. Interest in that was low, so it was scrapped. Other sections have been tweaked as we've gone along (how we thought we could keep up a three-feature-a-week pace in Detour, we don't know) to arrive at the pretty solid mix you see on the site today.

We're not ones to rest on our laurels, though. We're curious where you think we should take Gapers' Block next. Think we should add a message board? If we posted material on the weekends, would you come read it? Should we bring back Jam? Shoud we do more GB events? Hit us with your best ideas and we'll see what we can do.

Andrew Huff & Naz Hamid


Ian / April 16, 2004 10:20 AM

From the number of comments so far, it looks like the GB staff, are doing everything 100% right!

Anyway, just to start the ball rolling, here are just few minor requests:

Slowdown: Can we have an RSS feed and ideally, a true next seven days view of events?

Rearview: A gallery of larger Rearview images. You have had some great images of Chicago and it would good to see them in a little more detail.

Otherwise just more the same please. Overall you guys are doing a great job.

Wendy / April 16, 2004 11:59 AM

I think your Detour section needs a little more direction. There's sort of an "anything goes" feel to it that isn't terribly helpful. Right now the GB columns (Airbags) make up the best original content on the site because they're consistent, and I think you could stand to give them priority placement over Detour. And/or: give your submission guidelines a few more parameters--at least list what kinds of things you're not looking for. Or put out periodic calls for submissions about specific themes.

Also, er, the name "Media Warm & Tepid" has always sort of put me off a little. I know it's supposed to be a play on some other term but, well, I don't get it.

I agree with the above about Rearview. Bigger pictures, please!

Luke / April 16, 2004 12:15 PM

There's a certain apostrophe that continues to mock me ...

Eamon / April 16, 2004 12:42 PM

Gapers block. That's just what they do. It's in their nature.

Jake / April 16, 2004 12:42 PM

RSS feeds for all the sections of the site (esp. Fuel, so we know when there's a new question).

Bigger photos when you click them, for sure.

More gossipy shit, like celebrity sightings. For example, last night I saw Jim Ryan ordering a Bud Light at the Golden Gloves finals. There needs to be a place for that type of thing.

mich / April 16, 2004 12:58 PM

Now, I've never "gotten" the Media Warm & Tepid thing either, but it's one of those phrases that tends to get stuck in my head, and I'd miss it. My only desire was the search addition, which, that's new, right?

pat / April 16, 2004 1:12 PM

yay - the stars are now officially Chicago Starz!!!

Shylo / April 16, 2004 1:25 PM

Wouldn't the celeb sightings be completely loaded with jeremy piven, joan cusack, and that one guy from that one thing?

davin / April 16, 2004 1:47 PM

i would love to see a links page. specific to chicago, people in chicago, and design, art, culture. i know that there are links throughout GB, but something a little more specific would be great.

maybe GB reader profiles would be fun too..

lacey / April 16, 2004 3:08 PM

I would love to see--in Shylo style--missed connections (if you don't know what I'm talking about, check out and bust out on the archives for Fridays). More reader interaction in general would be fun, too. I love the ideas of a links page and a gossip column (which might be more interesting if we sighted that guy that did that thing).

Suzanne / April 16, 2004 3:36 PM

Interviews, Q & A's with all sorts of random people. A regular column of "five questions we asked this week to so and so..." this is stemming from my idea for the detour piece i'm writing though...
more "out there" stuff like, really being out there and talking to people....

dce / April 16, 2004 3:45 PM

Media Warm & Tepid is a take on Marshal McLuhan's theory of Hot and Cold media. In it, he suggests that there are fundamental differences between types of communication. The example given in the link above points out the distinctions between a telephone conversation and a radio broadcast.

The title of the column then, suggests that media lacks these extremes and that the whole mess is nothing more than a warm and tepid slop. An oatmeal of reality programming, breast implants and romance novels.

That's what I can gather, at any rate. Whoever thought of it was probably one of those glasses wearing, wannabe hipster intellectual types. God, I really hate pricks like that.

dce / April 16, 2004 3:47 PM

Sigh . . . linking turned off to prevent porn and things. Here's the link mentioned in my previous comment:

Benjy / April 16, 2004 4:23 PM

I was going to say real 6-pointed stars on the masthead, but you guys beat me to it!

What about restuarant reviews? Real ones that focus on the little local neighborhood dives, etc. that fly below the radar of Zagats, Citysearch, Metromix, etc. I've got 12 sushi places within 5 blocks of me -- which one's the best? I drive through Logan Square and see a ton of taquerias -- Which are good/not so good? The collective brainpower and appetite of GB staff and readers could provide these answers.

christian / April 16, 2004 5:36 PM

More restaurant reviews, music reviews and book stuff. I'd also like to see interviews with local web personalities. I always thought there should be some sort of weekly comic, be it editorial or something just plain strange.

Brandy / April 16, 2004 5:49 PM

Now that the stars are six pointed, I say do whatever you darn well please. :)

(I would dig message boards, since the site and the readership seem cool.)

A lex, x, x / April 16, 2004 6:54 PM

Ooo, I like Christian's idea about interviews with local web personalities -- that could be cool.

amyc / April 17, 2004 7:26 AM

Wouldn't the celeb sightings be completely loaded with jeremy piven, joan cusack, and that one guy from that one thing?

Not necessarily. George Clooney and Brad Pitt were filming Ocean's 12 outside my office yesterday.

Also, I agree with the bigger pictures suggestion.

amyc / April 17, 2004 7:28 AM

Oh! And how about a place to post the ramblings of the free-range bus crazies?

Kevin / April 17, 2004 10:33 AM

Bigger pictures! I'll host the damn things if space is an issue. How many times have I clicked on a cool little photo only to get another cool little photo?

Man On The Street kinda stuff. Resident's impressions of their own neighborhoods... Maybe restaurant reviews? I've gone to places I only heard of here first.

No more baseball stuff since we already know the Cubs will win it all and Sox will be in cellar by June. ;)

Kick ass partay btw!

paul / April 17, 2004 12:28 PM

Bar reviews.The staff are experts in this subject, you guys should have started doing those a year ago.

A calendar that goes at least 8 weeks into the future.

A link list that collects all that cool city knowledge from all those cool fuel topics, like the best parks, the best art, the coolest neighborhoods, etc.

Bigger pictures.

Bring back Jam, but only for the mp3 of naz's rap last night

Naked gapers staff pics!

Ramsin / April 17, 2004 1:20 PM

I don't know about the rest of the sluts on this thing, but naked pictures of me go for big, big money.

Craig / April 19, 2004 7:32 AM

I think message boards create a more clique-like atmosphere-- I would rather see topically driven response features like fuel, and more comment features on the daily merge entries. If you want Chicago-centric message board blabbing, head to Craigslist... if you want a smart & progressive Chicago portal... you're here. Keep up the good work, and happy 1 year!!

Craig / April 19, 2004 2:46 PM

But then again... Gothamist debates the message board subject:

Kenan / April 19, 2004 5:57 PM

Bigger text, and perhaps a slight redesign to accomodate it. I'm forever having to increase the text zoom on my browser to read the damn site at the 1152x864 screen ratio. I'm not exactly elderly, but if this tiny text fetishism keeps going on all over the web, I'll be blind by the time I'm 40. Another thing: all your text is defined strictly in pixels (9px! Lordy!), which means that people using IE/Win can't even scale the damn stuff. It's kind of obnoxious.

Ricky / April 19, 2004 8:43 PM

You should say somewhere what "Gapers Block" actually means. Never heard it, myself.

Naz / April 19, 2004 11:12 PM

Kenan - IE sucks. That's obnoxious but then again, so is making a shitty browser. Mozilla Firefox (or any other flavour) will let you scale text all you want no matter how you define your styles. Now there's a real browser.

Ben / April 20, 2004 1:25 AM

GP, you're heroes for even inviting suggestions for improvement. Even the tiniest nitpicks kinda itch at night, don't they? Don't let 'em bring you down!

If you don't know what "Gapers Block" actually means, then you're not a native Chicagoan -- which is fine (and somewhat endearing) with/to us. Ever try driving into town on the Kennedy when *anything* is going on at the Rosemont Horizon?

AmyC is right on, speculating about the content of GBlockwer (Stalkwer). I both long for it and dread it. [Legit] I saw Jim O'Rourke at Target, and Dawn Clark Netsch at Midway. Is that interesting to anyone?

Finally, though you seem prone to resting on your Laurels, as Chicagoans you must be the Hardy type...

jim / April 20, 2004 1:12 PM

i understand the reason for the six pointed stars. but i miss the five pointed ones.

tew / April 20, 2004 5:12 PM

Why would a native Chicagoan be driving anywhere on the expressways? Aren't those for suburbanites?

Wendy / April 20, 2004 7:01 PM

Ahem: a lot of Chicagoans who are familiar with the term "Gapers' Block" also know the phrase "reverse commute."

Jake / April 21, 2004 6:59 AM

Abby Ryan on WBEZ calls it a "Gapers' Delay."

Mike / April 21, 2004 10:48 PM

I'd like to be able to comment on the news items (Merge). Also, maybe some sports?

jmo / April 22, 2004 10:19 AM

I'm not sure how this would translate into doing things differently, however, I can tell you what I've really enjoyed over the last year. Maybe someone else can pick up the threads of how that would play out with new offerings.

-Alice's Tour of the Subterranean City
-Historical stories about places I pass everyday and know nothing about
-Anything "Fuel", especially those that ask for favorite restaurants, bars and memories.
-"Disappeared in the Snow"...if this was a true story, it was a great one. So, I love short documentary narratives.
-Glovebox, which could only be better if readers got to send in their lists during the week before and the Gapers Block staff created a Top Ten from their own ideas and readers' ideas.

Maybe a common thread here is Chicago from a regular Chicagoan's point of view (?) I don't know. I like the Reader, but I don't feel that I know the writers or that its content can be "interacted" with. (This sounds's early and I need more coffee.)

If you do the celeb thing, I'm all for focusing on "Chicago celebs"...the sighting of Dawn Netsch made me laugh. I rode an elevator with Harry Carey quite a few years ago and the New Yorker in me kicked in. Beyond a simple nod and "Hey" of recognition, we both just took the elevator and walked out into our own lives. (His glasses are more enormous in person. Or he had a very small head.)

People who are from Chicago would count (Harrison Ford, for instance.) People who USED to be famous and now would have trouble begging for the center square on Hollywood Squares would be EXTRA interesting. (Mr. T! Marilu Henner!) Most impressive? Recognition of the famous who don't have a lot of face recognition generally. (Scott Turow! Dan Rostenkowski! John Hughes!)

Otherwise, happy birthday, GB. We love ya'

dell / May 5, 2004 11:13 AM

You should say somewhere what "Gapers Block" actually means. Never heard it, myself.


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