Street Smart Chicago

Checkerboard City: Take a Slow Ride

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green No Comments »
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Participants in the “West Side Slow Roll Into Spring”/Photo: West Humboldt Park Development Council

By John Greenfield

“Slow Roll Chicago is helping to bridge Chicago’s geographic divides,” says cofounder Oboi Reed. “We’re getting people from all over the city to show up for rides that are not in their neighborhoods.” The group, whose focus is getting more people on bikes in low-to-middle-income communities of color, is putting on thirty-one bike tours this year, mostly on the South and West Sides.

These include neighborhood rides every Wednesday evening during the warmer months, organized with local nonprofits, neighborhood groups, and churches. “These rides are created with input from the people who live and work in these neighborhoods, so there’s a sense of ownership and involvement,” says Reed, a board member and occasional writer for the transportation news website that I edit.

The Chicago rides were inspired by Slow Roll Detroit, which was launched in 2010 by Jason Hall and Mike MacKool. The Motown events take place every Monday night and regularly draw about 4,000 participants for a relaxed, law-abiding pedal around the city. The Slow Roll movement has spread to several other U.S. cities, as well as three Swedish cities, Berlin, and even the city of Slemani, in Iraq’s Kurdistan region. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 30, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Chris Moneymaker was employed as an accountant in Tennessee. On a whim, he paid $39 to enter an online poker tournament. Although he knew a lot about the game, he had never competed professionally. Nevertheless, he won the tournament. As his award, he received no money, but rather an invitation to participate in the annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Can you guess the storybook ending? The rookie triumphed over 838 pros, taking home $2.5 million. I don’t foresee anything quite as spectacular for you, Aries, but there may be similar elements in your saga. For example, a modest investment on your part could make you eligible for a chance to earn much more. Here’s another possible plot twist: You could generate luck for yourself by ramping up a skill that has until now been a hobby. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 23, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): If you’re stumped about what present to give someone for a special occasion, you might buy him or her a gift card. It’s a piece of plastic that can be used as cash to buy stuff at a store. The problem is, a lot of people neglect to redeem their gift cards. They leave them in drawers and forget about them. Financial experts say there are currently billions of dollars going to waste on unredeemed gift cards. This is your metaphor of the moment, Aries. Are there any resources you’re not using? Any advantages you’re not capitalizing on? Any assets you’re ignoring? If so, fix the problem. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Spider Log

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

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Dime Stories: It’s Spring

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

Well, it’s over, the fat lady has sung and the kinder, more sensitive Rahm has won another term. Chuy Garcia ran an honorable, honest campaign and honorable and honest gets you shit, and shoved in it—when it comes to Chicago politics.

No big deal. Baseball season started and it is still colder than a nun’s ass on Good Friday. On opening night the Cubs forgot that, after all of that Old Style, people would need to take a leak and started filling their beer receptacles with the personally brewed amber fluid. Jesus, shut it down to one bathroom and the whole park turns into “Lord of the Flies” in a blue ball cap.

Such are the pleasures of spring in Chicago. Not that my White Sox had it any better. Jeff Samardzija and the Sox bullpen got shelled in their first game in Kansas City 10-1, therefore making it hard to harass Cub fans about the rivers of piss over at the friendly confines. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Rickshaw Republic

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, City Life, Green, Wrigleyville No Comments »
Darren Hilton outside Wrigley Field. Photo: Peter Mueller

Darren Hilton outside Wrigley Field/Photo: Peter Mueller

By John Greenfield

“Some people think pedicabbers are nuisance, but we’re really only here to help people,” says Darren Hilton, forty-two. A former bicycle messenger, he’s been in the bike taxi business for five years. “As pedicab operators, our job is to give visitors red-carpet service and keep them coming back to Chicago.”

Hilton says Chicago’s pedicab ordinance, which passed City Council about a year ago, is too restrictive, and has led to some of his colleagues being slapped with thousands of dollars in fines. He has received a few $500 tickets himself.

The purpose of the local ordinance was to regulate what some officials saw as a somewhat anarchic industry. The law was introduced by 44th Ward Alderman Tom Tunney, whose district includes Wrigley Field. Downtown Alderman Brendan Reilly pushed to include geographic restrictions: pedicabbers are now banned from State and Michigan, between Congress and Oak, at all times. They’re also prohibited from working in the Loop during rush hours. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 16, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The California Gold Rush hit its peak between 1849 and 1855. Three-hundred-thousand adventurers flocked to America’s West Coast in search of gold. In the early days, gold nuggets were lying around on the ground in plain sight, or relatively easy to find in gravel beds at the bottom of streams. But later prospectors had to work harder, developing methods to extract the gold from rocks that contained it. One way to detect the presence of the precious metal was through the use of nitric acid, which corroded any substance that wasn’t gold. The term “acid test” refers to that process. I bring this to your attention, Aries, because it’s a good time for you to use the metaphorical version of an acid test as you ascertain whether what you have discovered is truly golden. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 9, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Uitwaaien is a Dutch word that means to go out for a stroll in windy weather simply because it’s exhilarating. I don’t know any language that has parallel terms for running in the rain for the dizzy joy of it, or dancing through a meadow in the dark because it’s such nonsensical fun, or singing at full volume while riding alone in an elevator in the mad-happy quest to purge your tension. But in the coming weeks, you don’t need to describe or explain experiences like this; you just need to do them. Experiment with giving your instinctive need for exuberance lots of room to play. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Reading

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By Jon Marchione. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)
readingmarchioneWEB

The Parking Game: There’s Lots of Competition in Wrigleyville. Lots and Lots.

City Life, Sports, Wrigleyville 2 Comments »
Photo: John Moss

Photo: John Moss

By John Moss

To check the pulse of the Chicago Cubs during any given season, you can take in a game at Wrigley Field or follow the team on television, through the box scores, or in the standings. You can glance up at the flag flying above the center field scoreboard as you pass by on the train, white for a victory that day, blue for a loss. Or, a less obvious yet still effective method, you can simply go by what the lots around the stadium, most of which are owned independently of the team, are charging for a place to park during a game.

Unlike at U.S. Cellular Field, the United Center and Toyota Park, where Chicago’s other professional sports teams play, no great sea of parking space exists outside Wrigley Field; instead, it is more like a cluster of small ponds. One-hundred years old last April, Wrigley is famously situated in the middle of a residential neighborhood. One moment you are walking north on tree-lined Sheffield Avenue past a row of three-flats, then all of a sudden there it is—an overwhelming burst of concrete and steel dwarfing you and everything in its shadow: a 40,000-plus-capacity baseball stadium.

At the time Wrigley was built, its location, a few steps from the El and within bustling turn-of-the-century Lakeview, made it ideal, Margaret Gripshover notes  in her essay, “Lake View, Baseball, and Wrigleyville: The History of a Chicago Neighborhood.” Most fans back then would have traveled to the game on foot or by train.

Wrigley Field is so old that only after automobiles became prevalent did its location become problematic. To say nothing of today, back in the early fifties the ward’s alderman cited parking and congestion as the main problems in the area, with the area around Wrigley, later to be known as Wrigleyville, being the worst. Any chunk of space could help ease the parking burden. A convent that once stood on the 1100 block of West Grace, a few blocks north of the stadium, allowed Cubs fans to park there on game days for a donation (though the operation later came under investigation, the Sisters having since contracted out to a private firm, for parking without a license). Read the rest of this entry »