Jon Stewart Signs Off

Jon Stewart Signs Off

A Mensch to the End
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Seven minutes past midnight on August 7, Jon Stewart rolled away from the desk at the Daily Show on Comedy Central for the last time. The familiar face of integrity and truth, the companion of frustrated Americans since before I could tie my own shoes, has retired from skewering the idiocy of America and its politics. The man himself let the audience know this is not the last we have heard of him, but simply a pause in the conversation.

Coinciding with the FOX News coverage of the GOP debate, Stewart’s final performance as the host of the Daily Show delivered something important. Those who tuned in witnessed the portrait of a man who mattered in a very real way. Selfless until the end, he spent his final show highlighting others, like correspondents old and new, or a short video featuring the staff who work to make the Daily Show possible. He showered gratitude upon every soul involved or affected in the time of his tenure, even Arby’s. Quietly pleading to avoid the spotlight, Stewart surrendered his attempt to escape into the second commercial break, conceding the moment to his protégé, Stephen Colbert. Unscripted and stripped of any insincerity, Colbert expressed exactly what needed to be said about the man next to him, as Stewart did his best to smile away the waterworks:

“Here’s the thing, Jon. You said to me and to many other people here years ago never to thank you, because we owe you nothing. It is one of the few times I have known you to be dead wrong. We owe you, and not just what you did for our careers by employing us to come work on this tremendous show that you made. We owe you because we learned from you. We learned from you by example how to do a show with intention, how to work with clarity, how to treat people with respect. You are infuriatingly good at your job[...]okay, so Jon, and it’s almost over, I know you are not asking for this, but on behalf of so many people whose lives you changed over the past sixteen years, thank you. And now, I believe your line—and correct me if I’m wrong—is ‘We’ll be right back.’”

Before the camera cut away, the crowd erupted and all of the guests who had appeared earlier in the show mobbed the little man’s desk chair, crushing him from view with a great big bear hug, jumping up and down with gratitude.

When it came time to end the final episode, for the first and only time in sixteen years, Stewart signed off the Daily Show by saying, "And now, my moment of Zen." Stage right, Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band belted a moving rendition of "Land of Hope and Dreams," followed by the bittersweet last stanza of "Born to Run." It was a joyous conclusion, a performance which was paid forward long ago, but not with cash.

Chris Hardwick began his show @Midnight with a few respectful words as the "Daily Show" credits on the left-hand side of the screen rolled out the end of an era. I sat stunned in a dark room, processing. There was a lot to digest, but I was struck by the ultimate value of one small man’s influence in the lives of so many others. His standard of giving is one thing every person is capable of achieving. Stewart cared so much: about the well-being of America and its citizens, and about the lives of those who worked with him and knew him. It matters to mean something to others. As Colbert pinpointed, it is not just what Stewart did for their careers, but what he did for them as people, how he helped them grow, and the opportunities he extended to them, opening the same door someone showed him when he was still kicking around searching for the right avenue for his talents.

The faith I share with Stewart holds the Talmudic idea of Tzedakah (TSEH-dah-KAH) in the highest regard. Roughly translated, Tzedakah means charity, but it is far more than giving to others, and it applies to Jews and Gentiles alike. Tzedakah manifests itself in various ways, each with a different level of merit. The lowest form is to give begrudgingly to another. Jon Stewart was a man who gave selflessly when and where he could, and asked for nothing in return. Countless times, he performed the most meritorious Tzedakah, which is to enable another to become self-reliant. I realize what I saw was a spirited offering of heartfelt recognition to the man who asked for none. Thank you Jon Stewart, talk to you soon.

Cover Image Credit: People Magazine

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I Blame My Dad For My High Expectations

Dad, it's all your fault.
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I always tell my dad that no matter who I date, he's always my number one guy. Sometimes I say it as more of a routine thing. However, the meaning behind it is all too real. For as long as I can remember my dad has been my one true love, and it's going to be hard to find someone who can top him.

My dad loves me when I am difficult. He knows how to keep the perfect distance on the days when I'm in a mood, how to hold me on the days that are tough, and how to stand by me on the days that are good.

He listens to me rant for hours over people, my days at school, or the episode of 'Grey's Anatomy' I watched that night and never once loses interest.

He picks on me about my hair, outfit, shoes, and everything else after spending hours to get ready only to end by telling me, “You look good." And I know he means it.

He holds the door for me, carries my bags for me, and always buys my food. He goes out of his way to make me smile when he sees that I'm upset. He calls me randomly during the day to see how I'm doing and how my day is going and drops everything to answer the phone when I call.

When it comes to other people, my dad has a heart of gold. He will do anything for anyone, even his worst enemy. He will smile at strangers and compliment people he barely knows. He will strike up a conversation with anyone, even if it means going way out of his way, and he will always put himself last.

My dad also knows when to give tough love. He knows how to make me respect him without having to ask for it or enforce it. He knows how to make me want to be a better person just to make him proud. He has molded me into who I am today without ever pushing me too hard. He knew the exact times I needed to be reminded who I was.

Dad, you have my respect, trust, but most of all my heart. You have impacted my life most of all, and for that, I can never repay you. Without you, I wouldn't know what I to look for when I finally begin to search for who I want to spend the rest of my life with, but it might take some time to find someone who measures up to you.

To my future husband, I'm sorry. You have some huge shoes to fill, and most of all, I hope you can cook.

Cover Image Credit: Logan Photography

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I'm Supporting Toni Preckwinkle For Mayor Of Chicago And You Should, Too

Chicago is at a historical crossroads with this election, and Toni is the best choice for this moment.

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Earlier this year, I announced my endorsement for Amara Enyia for the February 26 Chicago mayoral election.

Unfortunately, Amara did not win, and with the election gone, we now have two candidates that will advance to an additional runoff election on Tuesday, April 2: Lori Lightfoot and Toni Preckwinkle.

While I do have my reservations for both of these candidates, who will guarantee that Chicago's next mayor will be a black woman, given the history of both of these candidates on the issues facing the city, one of them seems to come on top as being the best out of the two.

And that woman is Toni Preckwinkle.

With the mayoral election not turning out as planned, Chicago could see up to 5 progressives join the ranks of City Council. Even if the top jobs end up to be the worst-case scenario, there seems to be a sizable resistance against that should it ever be needed.

With that being said, Toni Preckwinkle is the best candidate in this race because she is not tied to a deeply tied history with the police that enables some of Chicago's longstanding and infamous segregation. And while her history of taking full credit for bringing justice for Laquan McDonald is troubling, she opposes the building of the controversial $95 million cop academy, establish an office of criminal justice, and hold Chicago Police accountable in order to end the culture of the code of silence within the police department.

Lori Lightfoot, on the other hand, is the complete opposite. While Lightfoot touts her time on the Chicago Police board as proof she's held cops accountable, the fact of the matter is that only 21 cops were fired under her 3-year tenure on the board. Moreover, she's also been known for chastising the families of Ronald Johnson, Rekia Boyd, and Bettie Jones at a board hearing, threatening them to leave.

This is also not to mention that Lightfoot has been buddying up with conservative Aldermen Nicholas Sposato and Anthony Napolitano, the former of which has come under fire for hurling racist name-calling towards Alderman Carlos Ramirez-Rosa. Lightfoot's inability to denounce these two men is very concerning given her claims to be a progressive.

So at the end of the day, the choice between these two candidates seems clear. Toni Preckwinkle is perhaps our best bet if we want to put Chicago on a more progressive track.

Both of these candidates are problematic in their own right, but from the looks of it, Lightfoot's history seems much rockier than Preckwinkle's. And with the next mayor having to choose to continue or clean up Rahm Emanuel's mess, it seems that Lori will continue it.

Preckwinkle is endorsed.

The Chicago runoff election is on Tuesday, April 2.

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