Street Smart Chicago

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2014

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We’ve been doing our annual Top 5 issue as long as I can remember. Long before FuzzBead’s founders were even in long pants, we imagined this issue as a send-up of the obsessive list-making that infects the media at year-end, the tendency toward bloviation. And, at the same time, we figured we’d slyly deliver a bit of our own pontification in the process. Who knew that even Chris Rock would eventually join our Top 5 bandwagon? This year you’ll find 161 lists, either in these pages or on our various web sites. Things have clearly gotten out of hand, so next year, look for our year-end special: the Top 161 of One Thing. I bet that won’t be so contagious. (Brian Hieggelke)

Top 5 Things That Shock Today’s College Students
George Eliot was a woman
Gandhi was a world leader and not a festival akin to Lollapalooza
Sarah Palin was not the first female vice presidential nominee in a major political party
The Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War were two different things
Smart phones can be used for research, not just for social networking
—Amy Friedman

Top 5 Typos in College Papers
Using “there” for “their”
Alternating fonts from copying and pasting online
Using semi-colons as fancy commas
Texting language
“Testes” as the plural form of “test”
—Amy Friedman

Top 5 People Who Could Take Down Rahm
Michelle Obama
Jeff Tweedy
1871 shareholders
The Banana Man graffiti character
An endorsement from Redmoon
—Emerson Dameron Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Can We Have Nice Things?

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green No Comments »
Top: A typical Chicago PBL. Bottom: It's NYC counterpart. Photos: John Greenfield

Top: A typical Chicago PBL. Bottom: Its NYC counterpart. Photos: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

There’s nothing like visiting another city to give you a fresh perspective on your own. Earlier this month I traveled to New York to powwow with other reporters from the transportation news network I work for. Pedaling a Citi Bike around Manhattan, I was struck by the thought that Chicago’s protected bike lanes could be a little nicer than they are.

In both cities, PBLs are generally located curbside, with parked cars relocated to the left of the bike lane to shield cyclists from moving vehicles, and a striped buffer marked between the parking lane and the bike lane. In Chicago, flexible plastic posts, AKA bollards, are installed in the buffer to discourage motorists from driving and parking in the lanes.

New York protected lanes usually don’t have the posts, but there’s generally an extra-wide buffer, and the entire bike lane is painted green. Often, the parking lane is capped with a concrete pedestrian island at the intersection.

That helps remind other road users that PBLs improve safety for everybody—not just cyclists—by shortening crossing distances for pedestrians and calming motor vehicle traffic. We don’t have safety stats for Chicago protected lanes yet, but a study by the city of New York found that the installation of a PBL on Manhattan’s 9th Avenue led to a fifty-six-percent decrease in injuries to all road users.

It occurred to me that Chicago might do well to emulate the New York style of protected lanes. Despite the lack of bollards, I didn’t notice any problems with cars in the lanes during my visit. Meanwhile, the posts by Chicago PBLs often start looking ragged after a few months, and they’re frequently knocked out by car drivers and snowplow operators.

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Free Will Astrology: Week of December 25, 2014

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Hell is the suffering of being unable to love,” wrote novelist J. D. Salinger. Using that definition, I’m happy to announce that you have a good chance of avoiding hell altogether in 2015. If there has been any deficiency in your power to express and bestow love, I think you will correct it. If you have been so intent on getting love that you have been neglectful in giving love, you will switch your focus. I invite you to keep a copy of this horoscope in your wallet for the next twelve months. Regard it as your “Get Out of Hell Free” card. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: Christmas on Acid

Dime Stories No Comments »
Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

When I was a senior in high school, my girlfriend, Denise, got her hands on a shit-ton of pink mescaline right before Christmas break. She was a pretty girl with huge brown eyes and a world-class rack, who had an immense appetite for life. I had never done mescaline before and the night I decided to try it with my friends, she had to work. She worked at a geriatric home in Wheaton and used to go in tripping. She was gentle and careful and with a head full of mescaline was really easily entertained by the old folks.

Me and my friends each ate a microdot of this stuff and decided to go see “The Omen,” which was a horror movie; nothing like a scary movie when you’re tripping to put you in the yuletide spirit. About ten minutes into the experience I turned to my friends and told them nothing was happening except I was vaguely giggly, so I demanded another microdot. Well, an hour later we went to the movie and it was really boring for the first five minutes until Damien, the son of the devil, is having his birthday party. And right when I was starting to peak, Damien’s nanny appears on a ledge sweetly calling to Damien, and then, as we notice the rope around her neck, she  steps off the ledge and  hangs herself. FUCK!!! JESUS CHRIST!!! Did she???

We then exploded into screeching laughter and applause. And all of the seats around us emptied.

Up on the screen, Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, Damien’s parents, look like they are about to spot their shorts. It was a fucking riot—I laughed so hard I almost passed out.

My pal Joe looked at me in the dark and  asked: “Is it me … or did the nanny just pull the Dutch trick?”

I assured him that the Nanny had, indeed, just hung the fuck out of herself and that this movie was a classic and the acid was kicking in big-time. We made a lot of noise and at one point might have started even applauding again. This towheaded usher we knew as Eggy came over with his flashlight and asked us to keep it down. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 18, 2014

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Too much happiness can make you unhappy,” reported journalist Marta Zaraska in the Washington Post. Citing research by psychologists, she concluded that being super-extra cheerful can make you selfish, gullible and more prone to stereotyped thinking. On the other hand, she said, maintaining merely moderate levels of happiness is pretty damn good for your mental and physical health. So here’s the takeaway, Aries: The astrological omens suggest you’re due for a surge of joy and pleasure. Just be careful it doesn’t spill over into rash, delirious excess. Here’s your watchword: well-grounded delight. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: The Invasion

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By George Porteus. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)

George_Porteus_invasion_web

The Quarrywomen: How a Group of South Shore “Divas” Are Defying the Odds

City Life, Holidays, South Shore 2 Comments »
Veronica Kyle/Photo: Natalie Perkins

Veronica Kyle/Photo: Natalie Perkins

By Krisann Rehbein

I’m proud to say that the paper snowflakes were my idea. When my cab pulled up in front of The Quarry at the intersection of 75th and Phillips, my heart sank a little. Excited for the opportunity to write about an arts and artisan holiday pop-up market in South Shore, I was expecting things to look a little more festive. My cab driver was confused. There were bars on the windows and a combination of butcher paper and foam sheets slipped between the glass and the security bars.

A team of volunteer market decorators were assembled inside, staring at the bars. There was a general sense of anxiety. The owner of the space, Suzanne Armstrong, said the paper and foam could be removed as long as something went up that prevented people from looking inside. While worried a bit about crime, she was more concerned that curious passersby would walk in all day. The Quarry isn’t yet ready to operate outside of scheduled rental events.

My mind was spinning with this unfortunate design problem. I know! Paper snowflakes! I grabbed a pair of scissors and some scrap paper, whipped out a paper snowflake and stuck it on the foam outside of the bars. Somehow, it looked like snow. We could do this. Everyone started making snowflakes like crazy. In about an hour, it actually looked festive.

This is a story about women who are trying to make positive change in their community, against some unexpected odds. The holiday market was created by Veronica Kyle and Natalie Perkins with input and support from countless others. Collectively, they believe that artists can change communities for the better. Veronica got the idea while working with friends Mary Steenson and Sharon Louis Harris on an effort called the South Shore Sustainability Collaborative. That was four years ago. In the interim, they created a community garden, took over an adjacent vacant lot and constructed a community “hospitality table” and developed architectural tours with the Chicago Architecture Foundation (which I ran while I was on staff). No one had time to execute the pop-up vision. When Veronica met Natalie in August, the idea reemerged. “I don’t think people ever have time to execute the vision. Ultimately, you just step out and start doing the damn thing. I am just as busy now as I was four years ago. The thing is, I’ve learned a lot about the neighborhood in that time.” Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 11, 2014

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Lord Byron (1788-1824) was an English poet who loved animals. In the course of his life, he not only had dogs and cats as pets, but also monkeys, horses, peacocks, geese, a crocodile, a falcon, a crane and a parrot. When he enrolled in Trinity College at age seventeen, he was upset that the school’s rules forbade students from having pet dogs, which meant he couldn’t bring his adored Newfoundland dog Boatswain. There was no regulation, however, against having a tame bear as a pet. So Byron got one and named it Bruin. I think it’s time for you to find a workaround like that, Aries. Be cunning. Try a gambit or two. Find a loophole. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Santa Hustle 5K (December 6, 2014)

News etc., Running, Sports No Comments »
Runners cross the finish line at the Santa Hustle 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman

Runners eye finish line candy at the Santa Hustle 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman

RECOMMENDED RACE

Breakdown: Six years in and the Adrenaline Sports Management (ASM) Santa Hustle 5K is now officially in eight locations across the country. When I last ran this race two years ago, Chicago was the first and largest of the series, and while Chicago may still boast the largest turnout (with around 5,500 hustling Santas participating this year), the South Portland, Maine race kicked off last month and today’s starting time was shared with around 2,000 Milwaukee Santa Hustlers.

These days, there is no shortage of gimmicky races in the Chicago area, each providing varying degrees of cheesy fun. With cookies and milk on the course and at the finish line (along with candy and, yes, even water), a mascot-like Rudolph on hand for photos and a Santa hat and beard provided for dressing up on race day, the Santa Hustle easily succeeds in the “healthy holiday fun” category but, crucially, it also manages to provide a well-supported starting line, course and basecamp for runners who enjoy race legitimacy with their fun runs.

Best of all, the weather (almost) cooperated, with temperatures in the mid-thirties allowing for plenty of warmth while wearing the kitschy-comfy red Santa Hustle sweatshirt. This year several other Santa Hustles included a half-marathon option. Here’s hoping Chicago expands to include a longer distance in the future—ASM is ready to coordinate it. As the saying goes, “If you build it, the Santas will hustle it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: A New Hope for the Chicago Velo Campus?

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green, Southeast Side 1 Comment »
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Taking a spin on the outdoor track/Photo: Chicago Velo Campus

By John Greenfield

Sadly, it looks like bike racer Emanuele Bianchi’s dream of building the $45 million Chicago Velo Campus indoor sports complex has come to the end of the road. Even the small outdoor velodrome he and his partners installed on the Southeast Side as a temporary facility is slated to be dismantled. However, there’s a glimmer of hope that that bike track—the only one in the city—can be saved, thanks to Chicago bike-scene mainstay Marcus Moore.

“Our goal isn’t just to build the best velodrome in the Midwest or in the country but in the world,” said Bianchi with a gleam in his eye back in 2010, when I interviewed him for a Newcity cover story. He and fellow racing enthusiasts had recently formed the Chicago Velo Campus corporation and announced an audacious scheme to build a stadium almost as big as the United Center by 2013.

Bianchi and company planned to build the facility on the former site of U.S. Steel’s South Works, a bulge in the shoreline between 79th and 92nd Streets. They promoted it as the future centerpiece of Lakeside, an upscale, 500-acre community proposed for the site by developer McCaffery Interests.

As the velo campus’ president, Bianchi said the indoor facility would include the 250-meter velodrome, plus a dazzling array of other amenities. There’d be an Olympic-sized swimming pool, a 400-meter running track, a fitness center, restaurants, a cycling museum and even a wind tunnel.

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