Chicagoans know that spring is pothole season; I once got two pothole-inflicted flat tires at the same time on the Stevenson Expressway. We also know that WGN Channel 9 has the best local morning news show, due to funny, laid-back personalities like weather guy Paul Konrad, co-anchors Robin Baumgarten and Larry Potash, and sports reporter Pat Tomasulo. The perfect example of the show’s quirky chemistry has to be the time they were waiting for a live shot of a bridge blowing up, cut away for a second, and missed it.
Tomasulo missed the bridge-blow-up segment, but he’s still so popular that he now has his own local late-night show called Man Of The People, where he does late-night-show-type stunts. On his most recent episode, he filled some Chicago potholes with giardiniera.
As the hilarious video shows, Tomasulo got the giardiniera from Chicago mainstay Vienna Beef, along with a sack of Italian beef sandwiches. As he gamely fills the pothole with giardiniera, wearing a city vest, he also tosses out beef sandwiches at people. Sometimes, those people even top off their sandwich with pothole giardiniera, taking their love for Chicago to an entirely new level. Occasionally a car will drive through the pothole, splattering the peppers everywhere.
We have so many questions: Whose idea was this? How much giardiniera does it take to fill a pothole? Who cleaned it all up afterward? Proving that he really is a man of the people, Pat Tomasulo himself took a few moments to answer our many queries.
He explains the brainstorm over what to fill the potholes with: “We were trying to think of stuff that was very Chicago-centric, like deep-dish pizza, hot dogs. I liked the idea of just buckets of wet Italian beef, but we didn’t want to be too wasteful. So we thought giardiniera was a good compromise in that it’s food but it’s more a condiment.” So they picked up several industrial-sized buckets from Vienna Beef.
But what about the slipperiness of the oil? “Well, that is why you would probably be a good television producer, because I didn’t think of that until we were on location. It took one car to go through this pothole and it’s incredibly slippery. I didn’t worry about the cars so much as I did the bikers.” So Tomasulo and his crew were sure to clean up all the giardiniera after the shoot, and filled in the pothole with sand.
The best part of the video is the unflappable reactions from the passers-by encountering a man shoveling spicy peppers into a pothole. They appreciate the free sandwiches, but it’s really just another spring day in Chicago. Tomasulo agrees, “It was pretty mind-blowing that we were out there for two hours and not a single cop came or drove by. I don’t know that we would have necessarily gotten our asses kicked too bad. They probably would have been like, ‘Hey fellas, you probably don’t want to be throwing oily pepper mix all over the street.’ But nobody thought it was that big a deal and anybody who did walk by thought the opposite, that it was awesome.” As is the resulting video; be sure to check it out.