Bus Dedicated to Bears Tailgating Goes on National TV


By Paul M. Banks

When it comes to football tailgating, one of the two major elements at work is usually controllable. Your team could be great (like the Chicago Bears were in ’06) or they might be awful (like Chicago was during most of the 1990s). But hopefully, what you’re eating is good. One place that always has great food is “Da Bus,” a renovated old school celebrating all things navy blue and burnt orange.

The tailgate surrounding it is THE place to be on gameday. Da Bus’s 20th season of tailgating includes an appearance on The Food Network Saturday night. This weekend, a national cable audience will see what Chicago’s best tailgate has to offer, as Da Bus will be featured on:

“Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri” Airing on the Food Networkda-bus2

Oct 17, 2009- 9PM ET/PT,

Oct 18, 2009- 12AM ET/PT

Oct 21, 2009- 8PM ET/PT

Owner/developer and Bears superfan Tim Shanley is hosting a watch party with his crew Saturday, October 17th from 3-9 pm at The Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, 1140 W. Jackson in Chicago. They’ll be watching the results of a tailgating competition held back on August 15th, when Da Bus and their crew went head-to-head in the parking lot of Ralph Wilson Stadium, with a Buffalo tailgating crew, prior to the Bears-Bills preseason contest. I marched with Shanley and his crew during the downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade this past spring. It also gave me a chance to talk with Shanley about the development of Da Bus.

“Basically, Timmy from Da Bus is a ten year old kid, that’s why I am out here. I need to thank my wife Elvira very much, who lets me do this. I fly in from Austin for every home game, and it’s over a thousand miles each way, 16 times a year. So I’m logging well over 16,000 miles and it’s tough, I can understand now how these players going on road trips, getting on airplanes back and forth all the time, how distracting that can be,” Shanley said.

Clearly he goes to great lengths to take care of tailgaters and Da Bus estimates over 5,000 served in their 20 years. “That’s what we like to do, serve tailgaters, that’s basically our premise,” Shanley said. An urban legend surrounds the story of how a former school bus metamorphosed into Da Bus.


“Some of Chicago’s finest, rumor has it, were playing cards back in ‘89 in a junk yard, and the bus was won in that game. The bus rolled into the Soldier Field parking lot in 1990, and after about 10 seasons the boys get tired, their crew falls apart. We’re all from Bridgeport, he knew me and asked do you want the bus? This was a match made in heaven. And by that time it had fallen into disrepair- no transmission, no muffler, no breaks. There wasn’t anything left to it, but I saved it from the scrap heap, I rebuilt it repainted, and I got clever and real aggressive in marketing it,” Tim said.

Indeed Shanley used all the wherewithal and connections he had to spread the word about the unique vehicle he rebuilt from the bottom up. “I had some friends that owned clubs downtown and the Bears would frequent these bars, so I had the inside track and once I was able to get one on board, they all followed. The 1st guy to sign was Kordell Stewart, who did nothing but complain and he didn’t sign it properly. The next guy, Brian Urlacher came aboard, signed it then the whole defense came on. Once the players came out, they saw they had a place for the families during the games, and that was key because when the families came around then it really spread,” he said.da-bus4

Over 40 Bears players, from 7 decades, have signed the bus. The oldest is from 1946, Jim Kean, a member of the World Champion team and one of QB Sid Luckman’s favorite targets. Familiar favorites such as Ditka, Butkus, Hampton etc. are all here as well.

The popularity with former players and their families has made Da Bus, like the team itself, both a regional and national brand. “We get calls from every town of every team that comes in here, wanting to hook up with the bus. And you know first hand how fun our party is. Yourtailgate.com, tailgating.com- these are gentlemen who take care of it throughout the nation, I’m in close with them and the word of mouth spreads.”

Food Network To Feature Bears Bus, Tailgating Contest


By Paul M. Banks
I love it when my friends get publicity for their creative endeavors. Well, the ones who are chill and modest about it when it happens anyway. I like the people who mention it once, are happy and excited and then move on. I loathe the people who email their press clippings to everyone they know twenty different times.

(By the way, did I mention that I was accepted into the Football Writers Association of America last week? And that I get to vote for their All-America team this winter?)

Anyways, one such friend who’s about to get some high profile publicity is Da Bus owner/developer and Bears superfan Tim Shanley. “Da Bus,” a renovated old school bus celebrating the Chicago Bears. I’ve been on Da Bus, which features a shrine to (and autographs from) pretty much every Bears Hall of Famer that you can name.

The tailgate surrounding it is THE place to be when you get your pre-game Bears party on at Soldier Field. Da Bus is kicking off its 20th season of tailgating with an appearance on THE FOOD NETWORK! The Bears are at Buffalo for a pre-season game on Saturday August 15th and The Food Network will do an entire segment called “Tailgate Warriors with Guy Fieri.” It features Da Bus and their crew going head to head against a tailgating crew from Buffalo. This competition will air on the channel sometime during the NFL season. (I will keep you posted and let you know when it airs) 

I rode on Da Bus and marched it Shanley and his crew during the downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade this past spring. I got a chance to be on local television when the float was featured during ABC’s telecast of the event. (I also sat down with Shanley and talked about how the whole history and development of Da Bus, look for that interview to be posted the week leading up to the Bears Home Opener.)

“After grilling for thousands of Bears fans who have boarded Da Bus to party on gameday over the past 20 seasons, being selected for THE FOOD NETWORK is the defining moment for Da Bus and its crew. Everyone out there knows that Timmy from Da Bus and his crew take pride in their tantalizing tidbits of tailgating fare,” Shanley said in a recent statement via email. dabus
If you want to hit the open road with them, the Producers from Food Network made terrific parking arrangements. Everyone in the Chicago contingent will be parked together; adjacent to the set to cheer on Da Bus during the taping of the segment.

Everyone will get a Bus t-shirt to wear as we unite to Cheer on Da Bus. The host of the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” Guy Fieri, will be out in the crowd with the camera observing all the tailgating and grilling taking place.

Perhaps you’re not as familiar with Guy Fieri as I am. (After all, he’s my live-in girlfriend’s celebrity crush…See footnote one) In addition to his Food Network gig, he’s the official spokesperson for T.G.I. Friday’s, the guy with the blond spiky hair, goatee and Bam Bam Bigelow style shirts from the ads. (See footnote 2)  guy_fieriheadshot

“Any one who ran into Da Bus in Miami for the Super Bowl a few years back knows what its like to be on the road with Da Bus…a great time…great food…great party…and lots of energy!” Shanley stated.

I wish the best of luck to Shanley and his crew as they prepare for another open road adventure. Much like us here in Chicago are trying to bring the 2106 Olympics home, the Second City must rightfully claim the Food Network’s first ever “TAILGATE WARRIOR” grilling title! (See footnote 3)

1. My Food Network celebrity chef crush is Giada, in case you were wondering.

2. Sorry, for the footnote. These can be annoying

3. GO BEARS!!!!!

The Week in Review Late March


By Paul M. Banks

-Wow! Last week, I missed compiling a Week in Review for the first time in the site’s year history; obviously I was crazy busy (this phrase translates into “wicked busy” in New England English) for that to happen. I’ll recap a lot of what kept me so occupied, and remember it was my Christmas Eve and Christmas Day- otherwise known as the first two days of the NCAA tournament. In honor of March Madness, I’m going to end each item with a catchphrase of our favorite b-ball announcer Bill Raftery.

-On the first day of March Madness I gave a presentation entitled “Sports Media in the Post-newspaper Landscape” at Roosevelt University on Michigan Avenue. It was part of the Scholastic Press Association’s Annual Conference. I was up against some heavy hitters (As Kanye says “really heavy hitters, 87 go-getters, two hoes like John Ritter”) from Fox, CBS, the Trib etc. in my time slot, so I was I really proud to have a full house in my room. And thank you Lisa for making that awesome power-point presentation that dazzled everyone………“ELEVATED!…..with the KISS of the glass”

-I also took part in my first ever parade on the 14th, marching with Da Bus Chicago Bears Football Club. I’ll let Da Bus founder Tim Shanley describe the experience.

“WHAT A DAY!!! A sun-splashed, blue sky day that had temps close to 50 degrees brought out a large festive crowd of over 400,000 people to celebrate the 54th downtown St. Patrick’s Day Parade on Saturday March 14th 2009. Da Bus and it’s crew are celebrating 20 years of tailgating in ’09, and this was the perfect way to kick-off the year long festivities. From the time that Da Bus lined up as float number 36, practically front row, you knew it was going to be a special day. Da Bus, and its crew, marching down Columbus Drive in front of 400,000 people, is a surreal experience in itself. The crowd was loud and enthusiastic and it was hard to hear someone from just a few feet away.

As we strolled past the ABC7 Chicago television camera perched about 20 feet above Columbus Drive, the camera scanned our entire crew, and it also zoomed in and stayed focused on Da Bus. The easiest way to find this video is to google abc7chicago and click on the video link. Scroll down and click on the St.Patrick’s Day Parade, Part 2. Scroll back to the top of the video page. Put your pointer on the video screen to be able to see the time-line.The video is 19.24 minutes long, and Da Bus and its crew come on at the 18.15 minute mark. That is a great download for those of you who were there to celebrate with us, and to get seen on television right in the middle of a huge event taking place in the heart of Chicago.”

-Look for the detailed story behind Da Bus and my interview with founder Tim Shanley as we get closer to the NFL Draft……………….”ONIONS!!!”

-On Saturday my “Tom H to tha Izzo interview/Michigan St. preview was featured on Ball Hype (still not too late to “hype it up” by clicking on the link Tonight the Jayhawks will “see hoop dreams deflate like the true feen’s weight”

-It’s no secret that the “Bracket of Bad” from 670 The Score’s Boers and Bernstein show helped inspire TSB’s “Douchebracket.” In their bracket, “People who use Blue tooth while not driving” was the champion, beating out such noteworthy competitors as Sarah Palin, David Spade’s TV shows, and books by coaches. My pick though would have been Chicago potholes.

-Seriously, every time I drive anywhere in this city it’s like playing a game of Frogger to avoid the giant craters that are EVERYWHERE! Even in the rich, white neighborhoods. I’ve lost two tires in the past nine months due to how shitty the streets are and how undeniably broke this city is. And we want to host the Olympics? HA HA HA!…………”Earl CLARK BARRRR!”

Are you kidding me? I know our 2016 bid was a joke even before a crazy winter created swiss cheese streets to complement the do nothing public transit system, but now I expect us to finish 4th out of the 4 bid cities!…….”

-I have another new and emotional heckler for my work on NBC. Thank you “Jimmy” You helped my Hawks-Sharks preview become the most viewed and 2nd most commented story of the day on NBC Chicago.com’s sports page. Why don’t you come over here and start criticizing the posts. Peter Christian would love to see you in the comment threads.

-Yes, we all got sick of ESPN reminding us that President Barack Obama filled out a bracket- and then we got sick of how bad his bracket is doing. But Coach K. had to voice his complaint about Obama filling one out. I’m sure the Duke leader’s issues/concerns have nothing at all to do with the fact that Coach K. uses state-money to hold Republican fundraisers where he espouses his ultra-right demagoguery. Or with the way he used Team USA basketball as a tool to promote American military hegemony…Nice job in the Nova game too!………“SCOTTIE on the MONEY!!!”

-How come everyone they showed on TV representing VCU during their first round loss to UCLA was…how can I put this delicately? Disgusting white trash? Even their cheerleaders looked nasty with too much spray tanning action and big hair like they just tried out to be in a Bon Jovi video.

-On the flip side, the cameras sure loved those hotties by the Utah state bench! Good lord I was sort of half-hoping the Aggies could eliminate Marquette so we could see more overtly gratuitous shots of those gorgeous blonde mormons as the tournament progressed. SHORRRT-Y! (that’s not a Raffteryism by the way)

-I know both of these Big Ten ballers have seen their teams eliminated from the postseason (Ohio State and Penn State) but it’s still not too late to recap the “text message of the week” from Paul Schmidt

“Take it to the hole, big man” starring Dallas Lauderdale and Tailor Battle. True, it will have more penetration than any movie in history…….”And Schmidt comes out- in the MANTMAN!”

-By the way, did I mention there’s no way in hell our city’s getting the Olympics in 2016?

-Remember in 2006 when Ozzie guillen called A-Rod a hypocrite? Well in Oz’s words “now I look like genius.” As if we needed any more reason to doubt A-Roid’s integrity, he was caught with his pants down with Eliot Spitzer’s madam.

-Yahoo! the web’s fourth highest page in traffic has a news section that is a PATHETIC JOKE! Actually, it makes pathetic jokes look like Walter Cronkite. Here are some of the month’s featured news stories it deemed most important by placing in the prime location on their homepage: Katie Holmes gets a new haircut, Danica Patrick’s tattoo airbrushed out of a picture, Rachael Ray not apologizing for FHM spread she did 6 years ago. I’m considering dropping Yahoo mail, so I can bypass this worthless excuse of a “news” page altogether. You’re dead to me!

-Last week everyone was talking about Comedy Central’s The Daily Show: specifically the episode where Jim Cramer of CNBC’s Mad Money received a harsh dressing down from host Jon Stewart. Despite how the interview was marketed, this was not a “feud,” this was a coming-to-Jesus moment for Cramer and an Edward R. Murrow confronting Joseph McCarthy type moment for Stewart. The interview reminded me of a line in “Goodfellas.” The main character, played by Ray Liotta, laments after his guy gets whacked at a time they thought he was getting made: “there’s nothing we could do. He was a made guy, we had to just take it.” Cramer did as well.

Read more about these last two topics at the Washington Times here…….“CARROTS!”

-It’s no surprise that the Chicago Luvabulls got bounced (and lost very badly at that) in the first round of the NBA.com Dance team bracket. Looking at that group I can obviously tell that they were assembled by someone who is definitely not attracted to women…..”the ball was humming my friends”

-This march madness really brought out the country music lyrics in all of us. Watching Illinois I thought to myself “Pour me something strong and tall make it hurricane before I go insane,” A couple days later Marquette and their promising season were dismissed so at least I knew that “I got friends in low places where the whiskey drowns and the beer chases my out blues away- and I’ll be ok”……..”ATTACKING the TIN!”

-I know I’ve moved this segment around a lot, and I’ve been told by some that it’s their favorite bit. I think it’s found a new home on late Thu/early Friday. If you enjoyed this segment then…..“Send it on Jerome!”

Bears Love & the St. Patty’s Day Parade with Da Bus

By Paul M. Banks

When the downtown St. Patrick’s Day parade kicks off Saturday at noon, many Chicagoans will be reminded why this is a Bears town first.

One place they’ll be sporting blue and orange in lieu of green is “Da Bus,” a renovated old school bus celebrating the Chicago Bears.

I’ve been on Da Bus, which features a shrine to and autographs from pretty much every Bears Hall of Famer you can name. The tailgate surrounding it is THE place to be when pre-gaming for the Bears at Soldier Field.

Da Bus, kicking off its 20th season of tailgating with its annual placement in the parade, is proud to hook up with the Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, a charity that takes care of underprivileged children.

Da Bus, along with a float from country radio station US-99, will be joined by the kids from The Mercy Home for Boys and Girls in their march along the parade route.

I’ll be hitching a ride as well and earlier this week I spoke with bus owner/developer and Bears superfan Tim Shanley.

“Da Bus is float number 36 this year, which puts us back on television. Both WGN and ABC are covering this event, so don’t forget to hit the record button before you leave the house on Saturday,” Shanley said.

For those looking to get “Irish,” Shanley’s crew and I will be hitting a parade afterparty at a hotel bar downtown. “Da Bus will supply sandwiches, bottled water, Pepsi and 7-UP for the duration of the parade, and we will start to really celebrate when we park at the Hilton near Kitty O’Shea’s, which will be celebrating the day with Irish music and plenty of cold beer,” Shanley proclaimed.

This weekend go green and also GO BEARS!