The Value of APR within PRSA

Will the credential I am proud to have earned have the same value should PRSA drop the requirement to serve on the national Board of Directors?

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

Accepting change can have positive outcomes.

History offers innumerable examples, but this recent one immediately comes to mind: The initial and ongoing safety mandates and guidelines undertaken at the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic saved innumerable lives around the world.

Simplistic, perhaps, but this segues into the focus of today’s post, which does not impact the world at large.

As noted in a September 1 email message from Michelle Olson, APR, the 2021 Chair of the Public Relations Society of America, there is a proposed change in the organization’s Bylaws to allow members who have not earned the Accredited in Public Relations (APR) credential to be considered to hold positions on the Board of Directors.

The message states in part:

Proposals 21–02 and 21-03 move from a required minimum of PRSA leadership experience or length of time in the profession to competency-based qualifications that will build a highly capable and effective Board, improve the Nominating Committee’s selection process and result in a stronger and more diverse range of candidates. Included is a recommendation to revise the “must have” APR Accreditation to “strongly preferred.”

Ms. Olson points out that the proposal will not detract from the value of Accreditation: “I don’t believe I’d be where I am in my career today without having earned my accreditation years ago.” If you’ve read this blog over the years, you may know that I certainly can relate to that statement. And, to recognize the need for disclosure, I’ve served on the Universal Accreditation Board for eight years and on the PRSA Nominating Committee in 2010.

So, now my opinion.

If I had a vote at the 2021 PRSA Assembly — recently delegated to a virtual event due to the pandemic — I would support this proposal. Before hurling digital brickbats my way, let me share some reasons and rationale.

Over my 40-plus years in the communications industry, I’ve encountered many outstanding, successful professionals who did not hold the APR. (Although I actively encourage most communicators I know to pursue the credential.)  Many I met and worked with as a board member of PRSA Chicago, where I served for many years as Accreditation Chair.  These men and women demonstrated a commitment to the public relations profession and demonstrated their commitment to the goals of the chapter.  One could ascertain non-APRs would do the same if allowed to serve on the national board.

Furthermore, allowing non-APRs to join the national board might provide the inspiration and incentive to take on the Accreditation challenge and encourage colleagues to do the same. From a similar perspective, participation by non-APRs might help grow national and chapter PRSA membership. And, like those Accredited, a non-APR would be vetted by the Nominating Committee; those not meeting standards would not be put on the ballot.

Assuredly, there are Accredited members who are not in favor of Proposals 21–02 and 21-03. Some are vehemently opposed.  An email message from James Lukaszewski, APR is a case in point.  (Note: I do subscribe to Mr. Lukaszewski’s crisis communications emails.)

Back to the premise that initiated this post, the practice of public relations has changed dramatically since I entered the profession in the mid 1980s.  (We used to send pitch letters by U.S. mail in those days.) The Society needs to evolve and remain responsive to its membership. Qualified non-APRs should be considered for the board.

As I conclude this post, I scan the framed Certificate of Accreditation, which I earned in July of 2004. It was a personal accomplishment, and I still remember the day when I received the certificate.  My APR will not be diminished if Proposals 21–02 and 21-03 become part of next year’s Bylaws.

 

 

You Really Can’t Tell A Book By Its Cover, Or The Synopsis

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

In a post from last month, I recounted the pleasure reading a profile of a public relations guy from a bygone era found in an excellent non-fiction work obtained through those increasingly ubiquitous structures known as Little Free Libraries.

With bricks and mortar libraries closed or restricted, over the past several months I have taken home many other excellent no-cost literary works, especially novels by modern writers I was not familiar with. 

But sometimes, I take home a dud.  Today’s post is on that subject.

First some background.  When visiting the Little Free Libraries in and around our neighborhood, I read the synopsis — called a book blurb in the vernacular — on the back cover of a book available. If the plot is compelling, I’ll take the book home to read.

A few weeks ago, I opted for the modern novel Come With Me because the synopsis opens with this sentence: “Amy Reed works part-time as a PR person for a tech start-up run by her college roommate’s son in Palo Alto, California.”  Had me at “PR person,” and the paragraph goes on to note the fledgling Silicon Valley firm is working on an algorithm that let’s people access visions of their lives based on alternative choices.

From the onset, I anticipated the work would include passages on the kind of research, strategies and tactics Amy employed to build awareness for the “multiverse” algorithm, along with, of course, some in-depth perspectives on the cadre of man-child tech wizards that have changed forever much of the Bay Area and rest of society.

Author Helen Schulman delivered on the latter, but fell flat on the former.

Rarely does Come With Me address any public relations practices. Early in the work, Ms. Schulman writes, “Most of Amy’s day was spent planting items in the Valley blogs, refining items for a company website…”  Other tactics included media relations with “business sections of the remaining papers” and using the HARO platform to promote the caliber of the guys in hoodies who run the company.  The goal behind the Amy’s communications is to position the start up to be purchased, a realistic plan.

But I was dismayed by the minimal role public relations plays throughout the balance of the work, leading me to believe Ms. Schulman did a cursory search on “public relations practices” and factored results into partially defining the protagonist and advancing the plot. 

Set in and around Stanford University, the reader gains some great insight into the technology microcosm developed around that part of Northern California.  And, the balance of the story addresses marital conflicts, complex interpersonal relationships between adults and children, the dearth of job opportunities in journalism today, a teenage suicide, and an effort to chronicle the aftermath of the nuclear disaster that struck Japan in 2011.  Realistically, I anticipated Come With Me would transcend the role Amy plays as public relations counsel for a tech company initially run out of a dorm room.  

Yet, based on the the synopsis, I felt mislead.  Ms. Schulman could have paved a stronger inroad into the role public relations plays in the launch and growth of a company that sells a vision. 

From a literary perspective, there were some questionable story lines (how could Amy and her unemployed journalist husband afford living in Palo Alto?), and I found Ms. Schulman’s prose choppy at times, melding the vernacular inauspiciously with straightforward narration.

By now, you’ve probably ascertained that I will soon return Come With Me the to place where I found it.  And, assuredly I will now read beyond the synopsis before committing to a new novel — even if there’s a reference to public relations. 

 

Nothing Like a Nextdoor Debate to Get a Perspective on the World Today

By Edward M. Bury, MA, APR (aka The PRDude)

Frankly, I was shattered by the reaction — make that lack of reaction — to my most recent post from July 28, a short chronicle on how the public relations profession has evolved, as told by a somewhat legendary publicist in a notable non-fiction work from nearly 50 years ago. 

So far, only four views!  Come on!  I thought it was one of my better commentaries. And it addressed public relations!

But, I perhaps have found another digital channel to share and enlist discussion: The Nextdoor neighborhood site. Here’s what happened.

While working from home Tuesday, the lull and quiet of the tranquil August afternoon was vehemently interrupted for some 20 minutes by loud, offensive noise coming from a gas-powered leaf blower being used by a man contracted to keep paths and sidewalks around a nearby apartment building free of leaves and debris.

For the record, there was little — if any — leaves or debris on the property.  Given this time of the year, leaves don’t fall for several weeks.

As a way to pacify myself over this aural assault, which occurs weekly, I placed a comment on the Nextdoor platform for our Avondale neighborhood.  Here’s my commentary:

Invasive Leaf Blower Noise.

“Hello: Would welcome thoughts on how to eradicate needless noise brought on by gardening crews using exceptionally loud leaf blowers. As noted in this video, a gardener destroyed the quiet of this summer afternoon with 20-plus minutes of leaf blowing activity at an apartment building down the block — now, in August when there are no significant amount of leafs to dispel! I have spoken to the gardener and he ignored me. I contacted the management company, but no response. What can be done?”

To hear the eight seconds of noise, visit my Instagram site.

Well, since I made the Nextdoor post, it’s received 337 comments! “Neighbors,” none of whom I actually know personally, offered sound thoughts on the damage gas-powered leaf blowers cause to the environment and shared similar experiences. And, then there were the trolls, who offered unmitigated snark such as:

  • Purchase earplugs
  • Quit your bellyaching
  • Move to the country
  • Get a life, loser
  • You have too much time on your hands

My favorite and perhaps the most creative: “Pour a smaller glass of white whine.”

To date I have not responded to any comment, nor do I plan to. But I will add this post, then promptly shut off future notifications. Still, I have questions.

Now, given my recent success, can I now consider myself a “Nextdoor Influencer?”  Should I forgo future PRDude posts and concentrate solely on commentary regarding relatively minor urban gardening issues?  Do I have to learn how to use TikTok?  How can I monetize my newfound fame?

These questions and others I will ponder in the relative quiet of this early evening in August while sitting on the front porch of our home on an otherwise undistinguished block in Avondale.

 

Free Literary Finds Leads to Insight on Legendary Press Agent

There are dozens of people profiled in the nine books that comprise Working, but the profile of Eddie Jaffe struck me as the most compelling. What would you expect: I’m The PRDude!

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

Perhaps like me, you’ve visited a Little Free Library, one of the growing number of book sharing boxes set up in towns and cities across the nation. I’m a regular at a literary station on a quiet street in Logan Square, a few blocks from our home.

Over the years, I’ve read some outstanding works by modern novelists and past century American icons like Edith Wharton, as well as fiction I found to be boring, predictable literary garbage from writers who’ve sold millions of books and make best-seller lists seemingly on an annual basis. Rarely have I halted my reading before finishing the work. 

Earlier this year, I visited a park overlooking Lake Michigan in the tony suburb of Glencoe. From a LFL there I opted for a non-fiction work — Working — the voluminous oral complication of stories published in 1974 about people, their lives and their jobs, compiled by the late Studs Terkel, a true legendary writer and radio host, and a fellow Chicagoan.

In scanning the contributions from working-class custodians to white-collar executives, one story in “The Commercial” chapter of Book Two immediately grabbed my attention. It was recollections from a “press agent” named Eddie Jaffe.

First, some insight on Mr. Jaffe.  As noted in this obit published in Variety, Mr. Jaffe was a legend in his own right in the celebrity publicity arena, representing Hollywood stars and even promoting strippers, roller derby contests and professional boxing matches.  He passed away in 2003 at 89, meaning he was born before World War I and started his career in the 1930s, an era well before strategic communications structured around research and sound strategies were practiced.

Mr. Jaffe was a true publicist, a communicator driven by garnering media exposure for his clients; and, as stated in Working, he was driven by something more tangible. Here’s what he noted early in the chapter on his life and career: “Being called a press agent or a public relations man really is a matter of how much you get paid.  You can say he’s an advocate in the court of public opinion.”

(Speaking of getting paid, Mr. Jaffe stated there were many years where he cleared more than $100,000, a fairly handsome income given the times.)

The Jaffe segment contains numerous other editorial nuggets, but this one struck me as especially relevant: “I spent most of my life learning techniques that are of no value anymore.  Magazines, newspapers — print. I’m not oriented to television as I was to print.”

Take a moment to digest his comment and juxtapose it with what has taken place over the past few decades. Today, digital platforms and integrated communications have shaped modern society and the public relations profession, while the number of print publications continues to dwindle.

Mr. Jaffe used his experience, relationships, gut and savvy to get clients coverage in the dominate medium of the years before and those following World War II.  When television rose to dominance, he figuratively was cast adrift and unable to grow his roster of clients and business.  Did that same fate impact those communicators 20 years ago who ignored the impact of websites and social media channels when crafting client programs?  

Contemplating Mr. Jaffe’s thoughts nearly a half-century after published in Working, I am now more resolved to remain current and as fluent as possible in all things related to public relations and modern communications.  Yet, had I had the opportunity to meet Mr. Jaffe over lunch or a drink, I’ll bet he had some very noteworthy stories to tell about his career as a publicist, and the clients who paid him handsomely for his services. 

 

 

A Physical Part of Neighborhood History Now Leveled

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

When we purchased the home Susan and I have lived in for the past 21 years (wow! that’s a long time), the couple who was selling the property noted that the garage really was constructed as a stable. From the inside, one could see the framework for a window where the horse could look out into the small yard; above was a loft, assuredly to store hay, but later a place for our Christmas decorations and more.

Like our home, we anticipate the garage — which only held one car but room for a lot of other stuff — was built in 1904.  And, we anticipated the garage would be part of any future sale of the property, not that we’re planning to enlist the services of a real estate agent any time soon.

But something happened in the early hours of Easter Sunday, April 4, that altered our plans.  A motorist, apparently one who was excessively inebriated, drove into the corner of the structure while navigating eastward down the alley.  This resulted in a huge gash in the side, a ruptured foundation, dislodged vertical support beams, and bewilderment. 

What kind of idiot would speed down an alley? Why did the driver leave the scene? Was the vehicle significantly damaged?

We don’t know the answers, but we hope the driver didn’t strike anything else, or anyone.

Let’s advance to the images noted below. We promptly reported the accident to Chicago Police and our insurance company.  The good news: We’re getting a new garage, one just like the old one!  The bad news: A piece of Avondale history is now gone.

As I observed the hard-working demolition team methodically dislodge sections of roof and walls, I felt some sadness that a more than century-old structure was reduced to rubble.  I trust the original four-legged inhabitant of the stable would have felt the same way.

Once the siding was removed, we could see the original color of the stable was a greenish tint, which probably was the original color of the home.
The flooring was cracked and the foundation breaking apart. But remember, it more than likely was dirt.
It took the demolition crew a full day — and a full dumpster — to remove and replace the roof. My last look at the Boston ivy, porcelain berry and clamaitis that covered the wall.
The demo guys said this was a challenging project due to the nature of the stable construction.
“Timber!” Well, sort of. I witnessed the last wall collapse. Kudos to the guys for saving my tomato plants.
Packed up for disposal. Farewell garage. I mean stable.

Chicago Tribune People Purge Predictable

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

The recent voluntary expulsion of leading columnists and behind-the-byline editorial staff members from the Chicago Tribune prompted this revelation: These men and women worked in the print news business — my chosen profession before and during college — for three or sometimes four decades.

In today’s always-evolving employment landscape, that’s a heck of a long time, prompting me to contemplate whether I would have lasted and thrived as a reporter or editor had I not transitioned to public relations in the early 1980s. Would I have remained driven and focused, excited to rush to the scene of a breaking story, or poised behind the city desk with the deadline pressure on?

Most assuredly, I maintain. After all, I’m still in the communications business; it’s just that I work from the other side of the desk, so to say.

The exit of Tribune senior staffers comes after Alden Global Capital, a New York “investment manager,” as noted on the company’s exceptionally sparse but “woodsy” website, offered employee buyouts starting back in May.  The ulterior motive, according to the experts, is that Alden will “manage” the Tribune like its managed other newspapers: Build profits by slashing the most costly regular expense, that being people with high salaries.

Read up on the ongoing Tribune columnist exit roster story from media chronicler Robert Feder.

What gets perhaps buried throughout this story is that Alden’s actions are highly expected because the newspaper as a business is — to resurrect jargon from my years in journalism — metaphorically a cheap story compared to even a decade ago.  Alden took control of a declining product now being overshadowed by all and almost anything free and digital. It will do what it can to bolster the bottom line, to the detriment of a publication that for decades billed itself as “The World’s Greatest Newspaper,” its readers and the community it serves.

Raise your hand if you subscribe to a print daily newspaper.  (Mine is raised.)

Not too many years ago, I would observe fellow CTA Blue Line riders reading sections of the Sunday Tribune while heading to work Monday morning.  Don’t see that taking place anymore, as the once grand, expansive Sunday edition is much reduced and increasingly comprised of wire service content. 

Let me conclude with a farewell of sorts to the Tribune columnists now out of a newspaper job. I respected your right to your observations and opinions, especially when they clashed with my own. Some will find other outlets to disseminate their views, and some may seek employment in other communications industries.

Perhaps public relations?  Hey, it worked for me.

 

 

Blogging Ain’t Always Easy or Rewarding. Ask Donald Trump

Image of Donald J. Trump courtesy of Vanity Fair.

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

Along with favorable reports about the waning impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in Chicago and nationwide and the outstanding early season performance of the Chicago Cubs, this recent news grabbed my attention: Former President Donald J. Trump pulled the plug on a blog he launched — after just one month gracing the digital landscape.

A June 2 Vanity Fair article from Bess Levin offers insight into why Mr. Trump discontinued the “From the Desk of Donald J. Trump” blog, which I did not read.

(In all honesty, I didn’t even know Mr. Trump joined the blogosphere.  It’s doubtful I would have read his posts, since I get sufficient political commentary from other more established sources. I can attest that he’s not a subscriber to “The PRDude,” but my site is open to all. As of today, I have 138 welcomed followers.)

According to Vanity Fair and other media, Mr. Trump ditched his blog because of low interest by those who search the increasingly crowded social media network.  For someone who worked seemingly obsessively to channel personal exposure through digital channels like his permanently blocked Twitter platform, the lack of readers had to hurt someone so accustomed to the limelight, be it in person or online.

From a personal perspective, it takes perseverance, commitment and a thick skin to manage a blog.  When I push “publish” for this post, it will be post number 490!  According to my WordPress stats, PRDude posts have been opened by U.S. readers 19,022 times since my first post in September 2009; and the blog has reached people in more than 100 countries and territories, including Jersey and Guernsey — two of the Channel Islands — and South Sudan.

I hope thousands will open and read my commentaries, but to get 100 or even 50 views for a new post is heartening. Readership stats and subsequent comments let me know someone allocated the time to click, open and read what I had to say that day.

So perhaps Mr. Trump should reconsider and resurrect his blog and demonstrate his commitment to employing the digital space to communicate thoughts, observations and opinions. It may be a viable option, since yesterday Facebook announced his Facebook and Instagram accounts will be banned until January of 2023.

Until then, Mr. Trump should investigate other online platforms. A suggestion: Pinterest, which according to a March 2021 Hootsuite report is the 14th largest social media network in the world, with some 459 million regular users.  Pinterest allows subscribers to post “pins” or images. This concept is commensurate with Mr. Trump’s practices while in the White House, where, according to this Business Insider article from 2020, he preferred graphics to words.

And, Now Another Dilemma: What to do With All Those Masks

My hippie inspired, psychedelic mask helped me stand out over the past several months. Do I plan to get rid of it? Heck no!

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA

Restaurants can now operate at increased capacity! Movie theaters are open, showing the latest Hollywood productions! And, this just in: Chicago will host the Lollapalooza festival this summer!

Yes, insert insert whatever cliche works for you — “we’ve crossed to the other side” for example.  The number of people in America affected by the dreaded COVID-19 virus is steadily decreasing, steadily allowing us to resume life as we knew it some 14 months ago.

What’s more, this week the Center for Disease Control announced that fully vaccinated Americans don’t have to wear masks indoors or outdoors, however masks will be required on planes, trains and buses; stores, restaurants, educational institutions, and some businesses may still require masks for the foreseeable future.  Yes, the masking guidelines remain quite fluid, and the scenario may change by the time you read this post.

But one thing’s for certain: There will come a time — perhaps next week, next month or next year — when we won’t have to wear the N95, the disposable, the corporate logo branded model, or the hand-crafted mask fashioned by some wonderful person with superb tailoring skills.

That raises the question: What to do with all those masks stashed in your drawer or briefcase, hanging from the car rear view mirror, or there on the counter next to your keys and handheld?  In a laudable action of patriotism and sensibility, I hereby offer these sensible suggestions.

  • Let’s Get Creative. Incorporate masks into art projects. This could be a first: A mask installation, sculpture or textile work. Bet the folks at MOMA already have this prospect on the agenda for fall.
  • Let’s Auction to Raise Money. Hey, the nation spent billions, no trillions I believe, on the pandemic. We can recoup some of those funds by auctioning masks worn by celebrities. Shout out to everyone from Lady Gaga, Lil Nas X and Springsteen to the Kardashians, Tom Hanks and Will Smith:  Sign and auction your masks!
  • Let’s Get Practical. Repurpose those masks around the household. They are designed to keep germs out, but clean and sanitary masks could be incorporated into cleaning surfaces and windows. Maybe the product development teams at 3M or Proctor & Gamble are already working on this concept.
  • Let’s Get to Work. Masks are designed to fit snugly around the face.  But multiple masks could be refashioned into knee and elbow pads that many construction and tradesmen need to wear.  Repurposed masks would add a little bit of pizazz and flair to the drab denim focused work attire.
  • Let’s Keep Them On. Think about it: You don’t want to go through the trouble of shaving or putting on make up. Wear a mask!

Now, for a disclaimer: Please don’t interpret my thoughts above as being flippant or even cruel.  The pandemic was horrible, and its impact on our lives physically, mentally, financially and socially will be around for a while.  Masks did help us continue with normal life in some fashion.

As for me, I plan to wear a mask indefinitely, especially while on my increasingly regular commute to work on the CTA Blue Line.  And, especially on days when I don’t feel like shaving.

 

Play Ball! Where I Experienced the Reopening

Two friends enjoying conversation about life, baseball and just about anything that came to mind.

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

The restaurant at the modern mid-rise hotel across the street from the place I visited last week offers oysters on the half shell and a $69 steak. But a block south, an unadulterated Chicago dive bar still features an Old Style sign above the entrance and offers Tall Boys for a couple of bucks. 

Quite a juxtaposition of the new and the old, the what is now and the way it used to be.

Kind of like life sometimes.  Don’t you think?

The place in question is Wrigley Field, a place I’ve visited off and on for — could it really be? — more than 50 years.  My most recent sojourn to this mecca of baseball history, joy and heartbreak was Friday May 7, made possible by the increasingly relaxed restrictions announced by state and city government officials on people gathering together on the downside of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

My visit to Wrigley to take in the Chicago Cubs versus the Pittsburgh Pirates was made possible by my great friend Garry Weiss, who invited me to join him at seats along the first base side. Seating was restricted to around 10,000 fans, and it was a brisk, partly cloudy early May afternoon. 

But I got to get out of the house and gather with my friend and a large number of people — safely.  Since the pandemic put a metaphorical lock on the simple process of interacting with family, friends and strangers, I like many longed for a deviation from the practices needed to remain a step ahead of the virus.

Before entering the ballpark, I marveled at the many new bars and restaurants along Clark Street. There’s even a serious cannabis dispensary just south of Addison Street.  Yet, I found some things stay the same: Men selling peanuts and bottles of water on the sidewalk, parking lot attendants soliciting drivers, a hustler hawking game day tickets near the Addison Red Line station.

To get inside Wrigley, one must scan a digital ticket.  Inside, the concourse was clean and modernized.  Once at our seats, I exhaled and took in the simple majesty that is Wrigley Field — the emerald turf, the vines, the buildings beyond Waveland and Sheffield.  A dose of reality: Beers cost $10 or $11.

Before Friday, I had not been to Wrigley Field in around three years.  I had not visited with Garry in perhaps two years. I had not experienced an event since March of 2020.

Last month, I commented on how enjoying a few beers at my corner tavern was a step toward life as I knew it.  Last week, I got to enjoy life with a friend and thousands of others.  And, to make it all the better, the Cubs won 3-2.

For several minutes I just stood at the corner of Clark and Addison, reveling in the observance of people entering and milling around Wrigley Field.
While many establishments have come and gone over the years, the Nisei Lounge has survived for 67 years. Look for the Old Style sign on Sheffield just north of Clark.
A corporate-sponsored modern scoreboard presents advertisements and replays. However, the iconic manual scoreboard retains is prominence above the center field Bleachers.

A Return to Normalcy Through Malt Therapy

By Edward M. Bury, APR, MA (aka The PRDude)

As evidenced by increased vehicular traffic, lines outside some restaurants, and actual fans in the stands at baseball games, the world — at least my world here in Chicago — is gradually returning to some semblance of normalcy. Even the Paleta Man is back, hawking those delicious frozen treats from his pushcart.

Driven by widespread vaccinations and perhaps a greater adherence to CDC protocols, life is almost back to what it once was, meaning we can resume many of the activities halted or restricted over the past year-plus.

For me, the return to the way things used to be included engaging in regular malt therapy sessions, or to the uninitiated, sitting on a bar stool, hoisting a few pints of beer, engaging in conversation with anyone who will listen, and just disengaging from anything that causes stress or strife. 

Rest assured, enjoying those cold ones away from home for a couple of hours does make a difference from a therapeutic perspective.

My venue of choice for this weekly endeavor has been Small Bar, the neighborhood Avondale corner joint referenced in this post from a year ago. In fact, it’s been my Sunday afternoon malt therapy destination for pretty much the past two decades.

I got my opportunity this past Sunday to rekindle malt therapy at Small Bar, which has been closed since October.  Yes, over the past few Sundays I did venture to other area establishments — the Revolution Brewery and Tap Room  on Kedzie, Reed’s Local on Belmont, and The Old Plank on my favorite street in the world, Milwaukee Avenue.  All fine establishments, to be sure, all with their own charm and atmosphere, and most importantly, all serving beer.

But it was the re-opening of Small Bar that rechristened the malt therapy I need to begin easing back to a place in life that’s somewhat predictable, honest and simple.  Upon my arrival shortly after 3 p.m., the bar was relatively empty and to my satisfaction, the window seat — my favorite seat — was open. 

Plus, the Cubs game was on TV! They got crushed by the Brewers, giving up five runs in the 9th, but I didn’t care. Small Bar was open again. Malt therapy resumed. And, another step was taken forward following too many months of uncertainty.

As more patrons ventured into this classic, humble venue, a tavern that has served the neighborhood faithfully through the generations, I smiled, then ordered another beer.

My first choice was the Stiegl Pils. Argh, the key was empty. So, I opted for an Alagash White, a fine a traditional Belgian-style witbier. Yes, I had more than one.
Normally, Small Bar has a dozen or so beers on tap. The offerings now should satisfy just about any serious beer drinker.

From my seat by the window, I take in the small gathering of fellow patrons Jake and Phil, with Dixie behind the bar. By the time I departed at 5 p.m., many of the seats and tables were filled, and the outdoor patio was buzzing.