Neil Steinberg biography

Neil Steinberg began writing for the Chicago Sun-Times in 1984, and joined the staff in 1987 as a feature writer.

He became a columnist in …

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Steinberg: Hopes, fears lurk in coffee can

The Sun-Times newsroom has packed its bags and moved to the 10th floor of what I still consider the Apparel Center but is actually now called . . . checking . . . River North Point. Well, mostly they’ve packed up. A handful of us office-dwellers linger on 9, transformed into a depopulated junkscape of massed office chairs, bundled wires, stacked gray dividers and various discarded books, tape dispensers, and, I noticed with keen interest, one unopened can of Stewarts coffee.

Steinberg: Robert Falls crafts ‘heartless monster’ in ‘Don Giovanni’

Don Giovanni is not your average hero. Serial seducer, rapist and occasional murderer, he gets by on his looks, his money and a relentless, serpentine charm. Nor is Robert Falls your average director. Provocateur, trickster, his plays have a sharp contemporary edge and lots of good old-fashioned violence and sex.

Steinberg: Cardinal George has steered church, self through strife

When the Rev. Francis George, archbishop of Portland, Oregon, learned that Pope John Paul II had named him as the successor to Chicago’s much-beloved Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the unassuming priest asked in surprise, “Are you sure the Holy Father has considered all the options?” He had.

Steinberg: A hidden link between rail safety, Lord Byron

Metra tries not to kill its customers. It really does. Say what you will about our commuter rail service: its jaw-dropping top-level mismanagement, creaky equipment and seasonal surprise at finding itself once again in a cold climate. But when it comes to sparing the hectic, harried, charmless lives of the commuters who travel its length, Metra is outstanding.

Steinberg: Bad news about women has positive effect, author says

The pervasive bad news about women in the world — kidnappings, rape and other violence — can be seen in a different light: as good, in that it represents events historically left in the shadows now being dragged out into the light to wither.

Steinberg: U of I prof not the problem; it’s all those like him

Kudos to the University of Illinois Board of Trustees for yanking back its invitation to would-be professor Steven Salaita, whose Twitter rants during the Gaza war said, in essence, that all Israelis living in the West Bank — different place, but close enough — should die, and that Israel’s existence justifies anti-Semitism.

Steinberg: No more water peeing on our heads at Union Station

The ideas the Metropolitan Planning Council is exploring for Union Station are widening commuter platforms, more off-street parking for buses, plus tether ball and yoga in the Great Hall. They want Union Station to be a “destination, rather than just a place people pass through.” Have these guys been to Union Station? How many ideas for its improvement did they receive? Because I have a few.

Steinberg: Obama, like us, has reason to ignore evil

There is no moral wrong so great that it is without defenders. The South not only permitted slavery, but rationalized, even celebrated it while disparaging those who opposed the evil institution.

Steinberg: Puppets get their props at ventriloquism museum in Kentucky

Something made my wife, a few months ago, standing in the gift shop at the Art Institute of Chicago, pick up Matthew Rolston’s “Talking Heads: The Vent Haven Portraits,” a foot-square coffee-table book containing close-up portraits of some of the 800 ventriloquist dummies at this museum in Kentucky. The intimate, unsettling photo on the cover grabbed her. I flipped through it and agreed when she later suggested we detour on our road trip through the South to tour the private museum.

Steinberg: U of I must figure out how to shine more brightly

So the University of Illinois is worried because more potential freshmen get admitted but decide to go elsewhere. A valid concern. In 2006, 58 percent of students admitted from Illinois ended up attending; last year, it was 45 percent. At this rate, soon the only thing “Illinois” about it will be the name.

Steinberg’s Divvy Diary: Take my bike, please!

Ka-thunk! Of all the satisfying physical aspects of riding a Divvy bike in downtown Chicago — standing on the pedals to pick up speed and make it through that yellow light, dragging the pad of your thumb across the serrated wheel that rrrrings the bell …

Steinberg: 5 Seconds of Summer slips away, but O’Hare parking was cheap

There were 100 teenage girls crowded against a wall, facing a dozen Chicago and airport police. Waiting for a band. Five Seconds of Summer. One of the many vexing aspects of growing old is that band names mean nothing. Gibberish. I tried to go online and find out more, but O’Hare, unlike every coffee shop, charges $6.95 for Wi-Fi, except for a few travel sites. Which drives home just how unusual that $2 parking bargain truly is.

  • Steinberg: Dumb arguments against same-sex marriage don’t hide bigotry

    You know what I admire about bigots? I’m referring to the real wackos, the warped, scary, neo-Nazi, open Klansman, proudly sign-their-name haters. You know what’s kinda great about them? At least they’re candid.

  • Steinberg: O doughnut chain! Canada flips as Burger King buys Tim Hortons

    I do not love Burger King because I’ve never loved Burger King. McDonald’s, all shiny white and red tile, showed up and won me when I was a wee lad. So had the news Tuesday been that Burger King was going out of business, except for sincere sorrow at the loss of jobs; I’d be indifferent. Ta-ta, BK Lounge. But instead the news is that BK is buying Tim Hortons, the Canadian doughnut chain, and while we barely note it in passing here, north of the border it is a huge deal.

  • Steinberg: Redmoon’s Chicago fire fest serves up ritual, potential disaster

    For a guy who never believed in God, not for a second, not even as a child, I sure am a fan of ritual. So, I was fertile ground when the city cooked up the idea of a new symbolic civic holiday, “The Great Chicago Fire Festival,” set to debut Oct. 4 on the Chicago River.

  • Steinberg: Haters here don’t see similarity to Islamic State

    Of all the stirring phrases Winston Churchill uttered, that one question, for me, echoes most over the years: “What kind of people do they think we are?” It rang out on 9/11, and came to mind again this week when the brutal Islamic State entity that has occupied a third of Iraq and slain thousands posted a video of a black-clad terrorist standing beside the kneeling figure of James Foley, an American journalist.

    Write about the cop — or he may arrest you

    Years ago, I was combing through the Reader classified ads, looking for something to write about, when I noticed a boutique offering women’s shoes in large sizes for men. I toddled off to Elston Avenue and plunged into the world of cross-dressing, safe houses and …