What’s in a surname?

Gibbons isn’t a name you hear all too often. It’s not uncommon, but it’s not quite common either. You’ve got a fair number of schlubs like me who use it to sign our checks and a few celebrities who sport it—Comic artist Dave Gibbons, TV Host Leeza Gibbons and ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons—but that’s about it. Gibbons isn’t a last name that crops up in fiction much either, so it was kind of exciting when—while watching the Super Bowl—I heard, “What if I told you that Gibbons was working with the Irish Mob?”

The line I heard was from a new FOX show called, as you can see above, “The Chicago Code.” I grew up in the suburbs of Chicago (my parents still live there) and my brother recently moved into Chicago proper. (Don’t worry, he’s not the aforementioned mob-connected Gibbons. I checked.) Though I haven’t spent too much time in the city itself, I love Chicago history. The architecture, the mobsters, the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893, the Great Chicago Fire; Chicago is a city with a fascinating past. One aspect of its past that’s stuck with the Windy City to this day—the one that would have insured I checked out “The Chicago Code” even if it didn’t feature a Gibbons—is it’s long track record of government corruption. Toss that political element into a cop drama and I’m in. Still, it was the mention of a Gibbons that secured my viewership. This Gibbons…

Delroy Lindo plays Alderman Ronin Gibbons

Ronin Gibbons is a corrupt politician on the show, which works out nicely for fellow members of the Gibbons clan as we get to see plenty of plaques bearing his name.

Here’s a bit more about the character…

The show’s actually pretty decent, as well. The first episode is standard setup with police procedural practice meets political intrigue plot all drenched in a layer of conventional Chicago characteristics: Cubs versus Sox references, shots of the river and Soldier Field, as well as introducing characters from Chi-Town’s large Polish, Irish, Latino and African American communities. There’s even a young cop who grew up in the North Suburbs so guys like me, who identify themselves as someone from the “Chicagoland area,” can relate. The whole thing feels a bit like HBO’s “The Wire” done for a major network, so it’s “Wire Lite” by comparison, but the ensemble cast of cops and crooks in a great city has me intrigued. I’ll be back for more. Either way, I’m happy to see a fictional Gibbons show up in a show about the city I grew up in. Not bad.

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One thought on “What’s in a surname?

  1. Brilliant piece. Hey what about the mysterious D Gibbons on the recent or maybe even current show Fast Foward. Also what about a shout out to Chicago’s three most famous former citizens – – Ferris Buehler and Jake and Elwood Blues?

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