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Meet the guy behind 'Sh*t Chicagoans Say'

January 26, 2012|By Leonor Vivanco, RedEye

In Chicago, we call it pop, not soda. To dodge a ticket, we put the cell phone down while driving every time we see a cop. And nobody—not LeBron, Kobe, or even D Rose— is as good as Michael Jordan.

That's all according to "Sh*t Chicagoans Say," the latest riff on a string of catchphrase-filled viral videos that started surfacing last month after one called "Sh*t Girls Say" caught fire on YouTube.

(Watch the video here)

Mathew Montalvo, 28, who lives in Belmont Cragin, captures the lingo, nuances and pride of those born, raised and living in the city in his five-minute clip posted to YouTube on Tuesday. By Thursday, it already had been viewed more than 23,000 times. (And at least one more Chicago video appeared Thursday).

"Someone somewhere has said something on that video if they're from Chicago," said Montalvo, a banker who studied sociology at DePaul University. A lot of it, he's said himself.

After an actor in his improv group mentioned the series of "Say" videos, he thought Chicago needed its own. But everyone told him the novelty would wear off. Instead, another week went by and the videos that were posted got more creative. That's when he rushed to film one himself, an eight-hour project.

"Living here all my life, I had a good idea for what I wanted to put [into the video]," said Montalvo, who was raised in Humboldt Park. But he wanted it to encompass all areas of the city and all demographics so he polled his Twitter followers and Facebook friends for suggestions. People submitted requests for the typical Chicago colloquialisms—such as "tree" for the number three and "frunch room" for front room— and included some in the video.

The video garnered an array of responses, from people who thought it was hilarious to others who thought it could have been better.

"Look at it with an open mind," Montalvo said. "It's meant to spark conversation. It's trying to find a happy medium among a lot of Chicagoans whether it's their demographic or not."

In the video, Montalvo shows his glee for the bus finally approaching his stop and his disdain for high gas prices. He struggles with his love-hate relationship with winter, particularly peeved about the practice of calling "dibs" on shoveled-out parking spots and driving when it's slick. He sings along with catchy jingles that air on Chicago TV commercials, such as the Empire carpet jingle that ends "5-8-8-2-3-hundred … Empire."

Montalvo is shown getting busted by a red light camera and trying to figure out a parking meter. He name drops just about every artist Chicagoans can claim as their own: Kanye, Common, R. Kelly, Lupe Fiasco, Smashing Pumpkins, Fall Out Boy and Plain White T's. And of course, he mentions the things Chicagoans are most known for: their hatred of the Packers, their knowledge of the best pizza spots and their love for Michael Jordan.

"Chicagoans have this huge love for Michael Jordan and no one will ever beat him no matter how good they are," he said. "Chicagoans have the tendency of being really proud of what we're good at."

Sure, he said, there's a few things he would've done differently, like fix some editing flubs, incorporate more people and touch on the hipster lifestyle in Chicago. But, he said, all in all he's "pretty happy with it." | @lvivanco

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