Street Smart Chicago

Free Will Astrology: Week of August 28, 2014

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In the coming weeks it will be important for you to bestow blessings and disseminate gifts and dole out helpful feedback. Maybe you already do a pretty good job at all that, but I urge you to go even further. Through acts of will and surges of compassion, you can and should raise your levels of generosity. Why? Your allies and loved ones need more from you than usual. They have pressing issues that you have special power to address. Moreover, boosting your largesse will heal a little glitch in your mental health. It’s just what the soul doctor ordered. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: You’re A Good Man, Dan Brown

Bicycling, Checkerboard City 1 Comment »
Dan Brown with Chainlink founder Leah Neaderthal. Photo: Steven E. Grossman

Brown with Chainlink founder Leah Neaderthal at the site’s 10,000th member party last March/Photo: Steven E. Gross

By John Greenfield

In the second week of August, two funny men who loved bicycles passed away. One was comedian Robin Williams, who once said cycling saved his life by helping him quit drugs in the wake of his friend John Belushi’s overdose. The other was Dan Brown, a mainstay of the Chicago bike advocacy community, who died after falling off a sailboat near Diversey Harbor.

“I am taking the position that a higher power looking at our world decided that she needed music, smiling faces, and laughter so she took Dan and Robin Williams this week,” said Lisa Curcio, a friend of Brown’s from the bike scene. “It is such a loss to we mere mortals.” Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of August 21, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): An American named Kevin Shelley accomplished a feat worthy of inclusion in the “Guinness Book of World Records.” While wearing a blue satin martial arts outfit, he smashed forty-six wooden toilet seats over his head in just one minute. Some observers may be inclined to dismiss his efforts as frivolous and ridiculous. But I admire how he playfully mocked his own competitiveness while fully expressing his competitiveness. He satirized his ego’s drive to be first and best even as he achieved the goal of being first and best. I recommend you try something similar. You’re entering a phase when you’ll be wise to add a bit of humility to your bold self-presentation. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Patrol

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

Patrol_RazielPuma_WEB

The Metra-Politan Perimeter Ride: A 300-Mile Pedal Around the Edge of Chicagoland

Bicycling, Transit 1 Comment »
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Stopping for provisions in west-suburban Elburn/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

I confess that I’m obsessed with pedaling the perimeters of things. For years, I led the Chicago Perimeter Ride, a hundred-mile bicycle tour of the rim of the city, stopping to admire goofy commercial architecture landmarks, from the Eyecare Indian in Westlawn, to the giant fiberglass wieners of Superdawg in Norwood Park. I’ve cycled the circumference of Lake Michigan and the state of Illinois, and I’ve got a Land of Lincoln tattoo on my scrawny left shoulder as proof of the latter. I’ve biked three sides of the continental U.S., and some day I hope to complete the circuit by cycling from Key West, Florida, to Bar Harbor, Maine.

Since my journalistic wheelhouse is local transportation issues, it recently occurred to me that I should pedal the perimeter of Chicagoland, as a way to wrap my head around our vast region, and meditate on the urban planning challenges we face. But how best to define the Chicago metro area? There are a number of different definitions of the region, with one of the broadest being the Chicago Metropolitan Statistical Area, originally designated by the U.S. Census Bureau in 1950. Along with Cook and the collar counties, it includes swaths of southeast Wisconsin and northwest Indiana, for a total population of 9,522,434, making this the third-largest MSA by population in the nation.

Somewhat arbitrarily, I opted to define the perimeter of the region as being a route connecting the endpoints of the Metra commuter rail system’s eleven lines. This would allow me to skip the nastier industrial sections of the Hoosier State, since Metra doesn’t serve Indiana, while justifying an excursion across the Cheddar Curtain to quirky Kenosha, Wisconsin, one of my favorite nearby cities. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: The Nation of Facebook, The Pornography of Grief

Dime Stories 2 Comments »
Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

Something odd often happens in the toneless and contrarian public square of Facebook. In fact I shouldn’t say “odd” because it always happens. Express an opinion, a thought, an observation and the trolls come out—like gremlins barreling out of a psychic clown car, they come rolling out full of indignation and venom and the kind of puffery one can work up from behind the safety of a locked door and a computer screen. And they are ready to stack asses.

I’d been watching the sad, brutal footage from Gaza over the weekend and like everyone else was horrified at the sight of shroud after bloody shroud of Palestinian children being lined up like so much lumber. A skip down to CNN and I caught Benjamin Netanyahu admonishing Secretary of State John Kerry, “Not to ever second guess him again.”

This pissed me off. Kerry merely urged restraint and rightly criticized the brutality inflicted upon Palestinian non-combatants—mainly children. He was suggesting that Israel had made its point and called for a cease-fire. Netanyahu was offended and decided to bitch-slap Kerry on the world stage. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: No Longer Marooned

Checkerboard City, Green, Hyde Park No Comments »
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The new promenade on 58th, across the street from Robie House/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

I’ve long thought that the gray, Gothic confines of the University of Chicago were designed as a fortress against the outside world. However, in recent years, the school has made an effort to physically open up its grounds to the rest of the Hyde Park community, as well as to connect various parts of the campus that had previously seemed remote, by creating better spaces for pedestrians.

Several construction projects have improved connectivity and made it safer and more pleasant to walk across the 211-acre campus. Meanwhile, sections of roadway have been converted into attractive walkways and plazas, which encourage spontaneous interactions between students, employees and neighborhood folks. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of August 14, 2014

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Researchers in Peru have recently tracked down many previously unknown varieties of wild cacao plants. What that means is that there are exotic kinds of chocolate that you and I have never dreamed of, and they will be commercially available within a few years. As delicious as your Chocolove XOXOX Extra Strong Dark candy bar may taste to you now, you will eventually journey further into a new frontier of ecstatic delectability. I propose that we use this theme as a metaphor for the work you have ahead of you right now. It is time for you to make good things even better—to take fun diversions and transform them into experiences that engender transcendent bliss. Turn “yes” into “YESSSS!!!!” Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of August 7, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Don’t just be smart and articulate, Aries. Dare to be wildly wise and prone to unruly observations. Don’t merely be kind and well-behaved. Explore the mysteries of healing through benevolent mischief. Don’t buy into the all-too-serious trances. Break up the monotony with your unpredictable play and funny curiosity. Don’t simply go along with the stories everyone seems to believe in as if they were the Truth and the Way. Question every assumption; rebel against every foregone conclusion; propose amusing plot twists that send the narratives off on interesting tangents. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Don’t Send UR Dog 2 Work

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

ZeldaDogComic_WEB