Street Smart Chicago

Dime Stories: A Tribute to Jane Byrne

Dime Stories, Politics No Comments »
Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

An odd thing happened with the death of Jane Byrne on November 14: She became beloved as we began to realize the worth and scope and vision of Chicago’s only woman mayor. It’s bitterly funny how some people’s value cannot be measured while they’re alive.

While Richie Daley did his level best to try to erase her from the city’s history, Little Janey Byrne, a tough Irish girl from Sauganash, hung in there like a pit bull. To his everlasting credit, Mayor Rahm Emanuel included Jane Byrne in every significant city event and this is not a small thing—there are still plenty of remnants of the old machine who vividly remember Jane Byrne, all hundred pounds of her, thoroughly kicking their collective asses in grand fashion in 1979. And to this I say “Good on Ya Janey—You knocked their dicks in the dirt.” You see, we Irish? We’re poets.

She was a favorite of Daley the first. The old man liked her and she could have almost been his own daughter. She came of age in the ungentle atmosphere of City Hall. She was around the rough breed of men who made public policy in this city her whole professional life and she realized the casual brutality of the Democratic machine was an all-consuming beast and one would be wise to tread lightly, to watch and to wait for one’s moment. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 20, 2014

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Someone on Reddit.com posed the question, “What have you always been curious to try?” In reply, many people said they wanted to experiment with exotic varieties of sex and drugs they had never treated themselves to before. Other favorites: eating chocolate-covered bacon; piloting a plane; shoplifting; doing a stand-up comedy routine; hang-gliding and deep-sea diving; exploring the Darknet and the Deep Web; spontaneously taking a trip to a foreign country; turning away from modern society and joining a Buddhist monastery. What would your answer be, Aries? The coming weeks will be an excellent time to explore what you have always been curious to try. The risks will be lower than usual, and the results more likely to be interesting. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Eyes Born in the Night

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

Bernie_McGovern_EyesBornintheNight_WEB

Dime Stories: The Ferocious Wisdom of the Illinois Voter

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

“Democracy is the theory that the common  people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”
—H. L. Mencken

A funny bit of choreography happened on the victory stand for Bruce Rauner’s successful and expensive campaign for the governor’s office the other night. A rainbow coalition materialized: On the stand were Illinoisans of every race, creed and color. I’m sure that these fine folks were all CEOs and higher-ups in Rauner’s many business interests.

Hey, it could happen!

It was one of those feel-goods designed to make us believe that these are all “Bruce’s people” and, right in the middle, the Smiley Dunce himself—twenty-seven million dollars poorer, like it matters—and full of all manner of warm, fuzzy feelings for the working people his ilk have been butt-surfing for decades. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Let the Good Times Roll

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green, Transit No Comments »
Biking on Bourbon Street. Photo: Dan Jatres

Biking on Royal Street in the French Quarter/Photo: Dan Jatres

By John Greenfield

If you’re a Chicagoan and haven’t made it to New Orleans yet, what’s stopping you? Though it’s on the other side of the continental U.S., and a world away culture-wise, it’s only a 13.5-hour drive. Better yet, catch Amtrak’s City of New Orleans train, immortalized in the eponymous Steve Goodman song.

The train trip is six hours longer, but it’s time well spent. You can get work done, chat with fellow rail fans, and check out spectacular views of Mississippi cypress groves and Louisiana bayous from the glassed-in observation car. Best of all, unlike on a car trip, you can drink booze. On my recent southbound journey to check out the Big Easy’s raucous Halloween celebration, things got downright rowdy in the café car by the time the train was skirting Lake Pontchartrain.

In the interest of mixing business with pleasure, I met up with Dan Jatres, pedestrian and bike program manager for the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission, to grill him about the local transportation scene. A Philadelphia native, Dan moved to the Crescent City thirteen years ago for college. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, he moved back north, but soon felt himself being drawn back again.

“New Orleans has a way of sucking you in,” Jatres explains. “It’s very different than pretty much anywhere else in the country. The culture is really fascinating, whether it’s the food or the music, or just the mindset of the people.” Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 13, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): We all have addictive and obsessive tendencies. They are fundamental to being human. So the challenge is not to eliminate them—that’s not possible—but rather to harness them. If you hope to keep them from dragging you down, you must work hard to channel them into activities that enhance your life. How are you doing on this score, Aries? Are you chronically dependent on drugs, gambling, sugar, or chaotic relationships? Or are you, instead, hooked on the courage you summon when you face your fears and the willpower you invoke as you free yourself from your limitations? Now is an excellent time to upgrade your addictive and obsessive tendencies. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 6, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Shape-shifting is a common theme in fairy tales, says cultural historian Marina Warner in her book “From the Beast to the Blonde.” “A rusty lamp turns into an all-powerful talisman,” for example. “A humble pestle and mortar become the winged vehicle of the fairy enchantress,” or a slovenly beggar wearing a dirty donkeyskin transforms into a radiant princess. I foresee metaphorically similar events happening in your life sometime soon, Aries. Maybe they are already underway. Don’t underestimate the magic that is possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: These Are Things That Are True

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

Kevin_Budnik_Thesearethings_WEB2

Best of Chicago 2014

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Cover by Jay R

Cover by Jay Ryan

Best of Chicago 2014 is out today. Nothing compares to this issue in print, so look for a copy today, before they’re all gone. (We have this handy map of locations if you don’t already have a favorite spot.)

Over the course of today, Thursday, October 30, we’ll be posting each of the approximately two-hundred items online at our Best of Chicago site (best.newcity.com), so make sure you spend some time there, too. We’ve got years of archives there, enough for you to spend, oh, a year or more, taking in the Best of Chicago.

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 30, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): If you live in Gaza, you don’t have easy access to Kentucky Fried Chicken. The closest KFC restaurant is thirty-five miles away in the Egyptian city of El-Arish. But there was a time when you could pay smugglers to bring it to you via one of the underground tunnels that linked Egypt to Gaza. Each delivery took four hours and required the help of two taxis, a hand cart, and a motorbike. (Alas, Egypt destroyed most of the tunnels in early 2014.) I recommend, Aries, that you be as determined and resourceful to make your longed-for connections as the KFC lovers in Gaza were. Halloween costume suggestion: smuggler, bootlegger, drug-dealer, black-marketeer. Read the rest of this entry »