If Chicago Had Its Own Currency

Flickr (Edited)

There are times when Chicago can feel like an independent small nation (hey, if Liechtenstein can pull it off). And should Chicago ever secede from the Union to create the United Federation of Ditkaland, the first thing it would need is its own currency. Surely the most important dilemma would be deciding which local iconic faces go on which denominations. We went ahead and created some dollar bill and coinage mock-ups, feel free to spend these at the next cash-only bar you’re in.

$100: Bill Murray 

Chicago’s eccentric genius is the Ben Franklin of our time, famous for innovations such as playing 36 holes stoned to the bejeezus on Northern California Sensemilia and crashing bachelor parties to give astute life advice. But while Franklin was developing his “13 Virtues” (which he often failed to live up to) at age 20, Murray was being busted at O’Hare with 10lbs of weed. Neither man is perfect, which is part of the reason we love them.

$50: Mike Ditka 

You would be a fool to mess with the current occupant of the $50, Ulysses S. Grant. And in Chicago, they don’t come much tougher than “Iron” Mike (as his role in Kicking & Screaming so clearly demonstrates). And while winning the Civil War was kind of a big deal, that’s nothing compared to Ditka bringing the Lombardi Trophy to Chicago for the first and only time. Both men do sport excellent facial hair though.

$20: Michael Jordan 

No Chicago currency would be of legal tender without the inclusion of the Greatest of All Time. From slinging steaks on the Mag Mile to gambling on everything, like whose luggage would pop out from the airport conveyor belt first, Jordan -- much like “Old Hickory” Andrew Jackson -- clearly takes pride in being the alpha dog. And if you thought Bulls fans were unruly, they’d probably fit right in with the maniacal, punch-swilling hordes who turned out for Jackson’s rager of an inauguration.

$10: Oprah Winfrey

With the US government currently seeking female candidates to put on the $10 bill, we are answering the call to civic duty and humbly submit Chicago’s “Queen of All Media” for commemoration. With a TV personality currently leading the polls, is this any more ridiculous than President Trump?

$5: Abe Lincoln 

Okay, so obviously he’s not a Chicago native, but you’ve got to pay homage to the Land of Lincoln. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

$1: Barack Obama 

America’s first president. Chicago’s first president. THANKS OBAMA. No, seriously, thanks. While Obama may not be incapable of telling a lie like George Washington, we don’t recall the Father of the Republic ever doing anything as entertaining as this.

Quarter: Harry Caray 

One thing we know for sure about Harry Caray: he loved quarter beer night

Dime: Buddy Guy 

Buddy Guy was born when Franklin Roosevelt, current occupant of the dime, was in office. And while Roosevelt was the longest-serving president in US history, no one has been synonymous with Chicago blues for a longer and more decorated term than Buddy Guy. Plus, FDR never owned a blues club (as far as we know).

Nickel: Roger Ebert 

If the Declaration of Independence were a movie, Roger Ebert would have reviewed it and most likely savaged it for being a piece of paper masquerading as a film. The always honest, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic may not be as famous or accomplished as President Jefferson, but he might be just as popular in Chicago’s history books.

Penny: Al Capone

The penny is about as obsolete as Chicago’s enduring reputation as Al Capone’s mobster playpen. But like the penny, it’s a part of our history that can’t be ignored and stubbornly refuses to go away. So we might as well commemorate it.

$1 coin: Jeremy Piven 

The subtly annoying $1 coin is as essential as Piven’s career, seems about right for Ari Gold’s inferiority complex. 

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Jay Gentile is a Thrillist contributor who loved Jeremy Piven in PCU. Follow him: @innerviewmag.