Street Smart Chicago

Dime Stories: Some Etiquette Tips from Tony

Dime Stories No Comments »
Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

There is a fancy-schmancy health club to which some very prominent Chicagoans belong. It is full of upscale lawyers, doctors, business-types, and famous athletes. It offers yoga, swimming, tennis, racquetball, squash—yes, Old Chap, squash—handball, boxing, Pilates (whatever the fuck that is) and spinning, which as far as I can tell means riding a stationary bike real fast to a really shitty disco soundtrack while  some very fit goof yells at you from his bike. In other words, this place is the goods. It also has all manner of  treadmills, elliptical machines and a weight room.

I only use the pool. I get in the slow lanes with the stroke victims, non-swimmers, fat guys and people who’ve just had heart attacks. I’m overweight, but I’m not like Orca-fat, and my goal is not to get fit or buff. My goal is to not fucking die.

Many of my friends there make full use of the place. Their workout is complex and varied: a half hour of cardio on the bike or the treadmill, fifteen minutes on the elliptical machine, a spin class (Really? Somebody has to TEACH you how to peddle a stationary bike?) and then thirty minutes of laps in the pool. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Training for the Big Game

Checkerboard City, Green, Transit, West Loop No Comments »
The United Center, as seen from the Pink Line. Photo: John Greenfield

The United Center, as seen from a Pink Line car. Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

Every time I take the Pink Line to Pilsen and gaze out the window at the United Center, I’m struck by the apparent stupidity of train service that goes right past Chicago’s largest sports and music arena, but doesn’t stop there. The nearest existing stations, the Blue Line’s Illinois Medical District stop to the south, and the Pink and Green lines’ Ashland-Lake stop to the northeast, are both roughly twelve-minute walks to the stadium, long enough to discourage train use. But a new Pink station near Madison and Paulina would be a four-minute hop, skip and jump to the front doors.

As it is, the land use around the arena encourages driving to Bulls, Blackhawks and Bruce Springsteen events. While Wrigley Field, next door to the Addison Red stop, is surrounded by bars and restaurants where fans can spend money after games, the House That Jordan Built sits in a vast moat of parking lots. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): It’s Compensation Week. If you have in the past suffered from injustice, it’s an excellent time to go in quest of restitution. If you have been deprived of the  beauty you need to thrive, now is the time to get filled up. Wherever your life has been out of balance, you have the power to create more harmony. Don’t be shy about seeking redress. Ask people to make amends. Pursue restorations. But don’t, under any circumstances, lust for revenge. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Freedom is the most important kind of joy you can seek right now. It’s also the most important subject to study and think about, as well as the most important skill to hone. I advise you to make sure that freedom is flowing through your brain and welling up in your heart and spiraling through your loins. Write synonyms for “freedom” on your arm with a felt-tip pen: liberation, emancipation, independence, leeway, spaciousness, carte blanche, self-determination, dispensation. Here’s one more tip: Connect yourself with people who love and cultivate the same type of freedom you do. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Chi Town Half Marathon & 10K (April 6, 2014)

Lincoln Park, News etc., Running No Comments »

RECOMMENDED RACE

Finish line of the Chi Town Half Marathon & 10K/Photo: Zach Freeman

Finish line of the Chi Town Half Marathon & 10K/Photo: Zach Freeman

Breakdown:  The little patch of trail between Diversey Harbor and North Cannon Drive across the street from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum hosts its fair share of running events throughout the year. And it’s no wonder: it’s in easily accessible Lincoln Park and offers a quick route to the Lakefront Trail—a big requirement for smaller races looking to make use of open trail space. On Sunday, All Community Events put the familiar space to good use for their Chi Town Half Marathon & 10K event.

Just around 1,200 runners showed up at the starting line (with a little more than half opting for the half marathon). The relatively small field allowed for organizers to start both events simultaneously—not a bad idea considering that the courses were identical for the first five-and-a-half miles (though it did lead to some crowding at the start, and a bottleneck right before the starting line). After circling Diversey Harbor once and heading north for a second round, 10K runners turned off and headed back to basecamp and the finish line while half marathoners went as far north as Foster.

Luckily, some lovely spring weather sweetened the event with sunny skies and temperatures in the forties helping runners enjoy the course. The Chi Town Half Marathon & 10K is a fairly no-frills event on the lakefront but the course was clear, the volunteers were smiling and the chip-timing worked (with printed leaderboards being posted as runners were coming in). A cover band played hits from the nineties to keep things lively. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Fang

Linework No Comments »

By Grant Reynolds. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)
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Dime Stories: Tony World

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

When kids are in high school, doodles usually adorn every surface of their textbooks—at least they did on mine. I loved scribbling on the back of my tablet, or in the margins of my history book, or just on looseleaf and in notebooks. Anything was better than listening to the teacher and taking notes on whatever useless drivel they were going on about. I could be drawing anything: hotrods, planes, Rat Fink, giant dicks, monsters, birds, tits, monkey heads and always band logos and comics—a character named “Bong-Man” and word balloons containing thoughtful utterances like “Shimmy-Shimmy beat my meat,” “Transistor Sister” and “Maggot-Brain.”

I had a lot on my mind.

What I’ve most enjoyed about making my “Lunch Drawings” is just how much they remind me of those drawings I made trying to escape the mind-numbing dog-shit they tried to teach me in school. With very few exceptions, my teachers talked like rolls of toilet paper. One bloodless, colorless factoid after the next, until I had annihilation fantasies about blowing up my high school. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Her Bike Shop

Bicycling, Bucktown, Checkerboard City, Green 1 Comment »
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Scout, Annie Byrne and Lauren Wiscomb at BFF Bikes. Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

Let’s Go Ride a Bike blogger Dottie Brackett once gave a presentation on women’s cycling where she recommended Dutch-style bikes with upright bars, fenders, chain guards and skirt guards as being practical for commuting in nice clothes—save for one clothing item. “I can wear any kind of skirt on this and be fine, except for a pencil skirt,” she said. “So I don’t wear pencil skirts.”

However, the Holy Grail of a bikeable pencil skirt is now available at BFF Bikes, Chicago’s first female-focused bicycle store, which opened on March 15 at 2113 West Armitage in Bucktown. Last week co-owner Annie Byrne showed me how the stylish black garment, made by Seattle-based Iva Jean, works. “When you open the zipper in the back, it converts from a pencil skirt to an A-line skirt so you can get full leg extension while pedaling without having to hitch it up,” she explains. Then she dumps a bottle of water over the high-tech fabric. “It rolls right off it like Teflon.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In his novel “The Unbearable Lightness of Being,” Milan Kundera says that the brain has “a special area which we might call poetic memory and which records everything that charms or touches us, that makes our lives beautiful.” In the coming days, it will be especially important for you to tap into this power spot in your own grey matter, Aries. You need to activate and stir up the feelings of enchantment that are stored there. Doing so will make you fully alert and available for the new delights that will be swirling in your vicinity. The operative principle is like attracts like. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle (March 30, 2014)

News etc., Running No Comments »

RECOMMENDED RACE

Shamrock Shuffle starting line/Photo: Zach Freeman

Shamrock Shuffle starting line/Photo: Zach Freeman

Breakdown:  The Bank of America Shamrock Shuffle is often called out as being the start of Chicago’s running season due both to its size and its placement in the calendar. Some years Chicago’s fickle weather patterns can make this claim seem a bit dubious despite the large crowds of runners and running teams participating, but Sunday morning as the sun rose and temperatures rose with it (all the way to the mid-fifties!), it was evident that racing season in Chicago had officially begun.

As race announcers made sure to inform runners before, during and after the race, the Shamrock Shuffle is the largest 8K in the world (in fact, it’s one of the largest racing events in the world) and corralling more than 30,000 runners is never an easy task. But organizers seem to have gotten this massive race coordination down to a science and all the moving parts fell into place perfectly throughout the event. The further division of the racing field into three waves (up from two last year) allowed for a bit more space on the course and a more steady stream of runners throughout the morning.

The course gives runners a taste of the Chicago Marathon experience, following part of the course and letting them experience the joys (and pains) of jostling for position in such a crowded field. The post-race party around the Buckingham Fountain featured a live band, a free beer for each runner over twenty-one and plenty of sunshine. Read the rest of this entry »