Chicago's had many proud days - the invention of the skyscraper and Michael Jordan era Bulls come to mind. But, perhaps, our city's most gratifying moment came this week, when the rock gods shined down upon hometown hero Justin "Nordic Thunder" Howard and crowned him king of the air guitarists.
In front of a crowded parking lot of 5000 imitation music enthusiasts, Howard took the stage in full Viking regalia - complete with a fringed loin cloth. With his unkempt, elbow length hair, high energy frets and well-timed ninja kicks, he lived up to the prodigal son hype and delivered with a commanding performance at the Air Guitar World Championship in Finland. Howard finished first in a field that featured national champions from Russia, Japan and The Netherlands.
Howard's conquering of the imaginary instrument world wasn't easy. In fact, it was Eruption-Solo-with-your-eyes-closed difficult. "There has never been a US Air Guitar champion to win back to back titles at the finals." Howard explained to Gapers Block before his trip to Finland, "So the deck is not stacked in my favor."
Indeed. Howard started hid day with a jaw-dropping, arm shredding performance, which included a stage slide that drew blood from his knee. You know, rock star stuff. Then, Howard shut the place down with an inspiring interpretation of "Loose My Soul" by The Flaming Sideburns. With not a dry eye in the house, the man known as "Nordic Thunder" was given a near perfect score.
"I feel amazing, I feel loved, I feel like crying and laughing and hugging," Howard said after being declared the winner.
From Nat King Cole to Kanye West, Chicago is a city shrouded in rich musical history. We're the home of Lollapalooza and birthplace of Chicago Blues. But today, we all sing the praises of Justin "Nordic Thunder" Howard.
Rock on, Chicago.