Young Bronzeville residents at the Cargo Bike Roll Call/Photo: Steven Vance
By John Greenfield
In the early twentieth century, Chicago’s Bronzeville community, aka the Black Metropolis, was home to African-American innovators and barrier breakers in business, music, art, literature and other fields. Now the neighborhood is ground zero for another first, the Go Bronzeville travel demand management program. This campaign, launched in September by the Chicago Department of Transportation, offers free resources, events and support for residents who want to make more trips via walking, biking, transit and car-sharing, instead of driving alone.
TDM programs in other U.S. cities have helped lower the number of single-occupancy car trips, saving participants time and money while improving their health, as well as fighting traffic jams and lowering emissions. CDOT is using federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement funds to conduct campaigns in five different Chicago communities. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Life is best organized as a series of daring ventures from a secure base,” wrote psychologist John Bowlby. Some of you Aries enjoy the “daring venture” part of that formula, but neglect the “secure base” aspect. That’s why your daring ventures may on occasion go awry. If you are that type of Ram, the first half of 2014 will be an excellent time to correct your bad habit. Life will be offering you considerable help and inspiration in building a strong foundation. And if you already appreciate how important it is for your pursuit of excitement to be rooted in well-crafted stability, the coming months will be golden. Read the rest of this entry »
The titular rambler/Photo: Zach Freeman
Early on in this packed race it became readily apparent why it’s called a “ramble” and not a “dash” (though the Donner Dash is the kid’s race that’s tied in with the Rudolph Ramble). With 1,600 participants, the running paths chosen for the course would have a tough time accommodating everyone on a good day—and Sunday was not a good day. With temperatures in the low teens and mounds of snow left over from Saturday, this course became a bit of a cold slog right from the start, with lengthy backups and crowded conditions throughout. In areas where the trail doubled back on itself, dividing the already narrow trail in half, running became even more difficult. Read the rest of this entry »
Santa and Mrs. Claus mingle with runners before the race
Who says you have to go to the suburbs for a challenging trail run? After this morning’s snow-filled Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis, Chicago can boast a race to compete with the best of them – and it takes place right in the heart of Lincoln Park! Starting and finishing in front of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (where most of the brave participants took shelter up until a few minutes before the race kicked off) this large but generally low key charity run morphed under a thick layer of fresh (and constantly falling) snow into a winter wonderland of trail running delight.
But while the snow certainly added a level of difficulty to the proceedings, the temperature (hovering just around 30 degrees) kept it from being a true slog. 10K runners took off on a mostly unplowed course through Lincoln Park at 9am with 5K runners following shortly thereafter. Smiling volunteers lined the course at various intervals, giving out encouragement and high fives. And the picturesque views throughout made any complaints about the course seem frivolous. As runners, when we approach a course like this, we are generally saying (though not in so many words): “My life is cushy enough that I feel the need to introduce arbitrary obstacles into it so that I may overcome them.” This morning the Jingle Bell Run/Walk provided just such an obstacle. And it was a blast to overcome it.
As an added bonus, Santa and Mrs. Clause were waiting inside after the race where runners could get a photo with them. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected President of the United States four times, more often than any other president. We can conclude that he was one of the most popular American leaders ever. And yet he never won a majority of the votes cast by the citizens of his home county in New York. I foresee the possibility of a comparable development in your life. You may be more successful working on the big picture than you are in your immediate situation. It could be easier for you to maneuver when you’re not dealing with familiar, up-close matters. What’s outside your circle might be more attracted to your influence than what’s nearer to home. Read the rest of this entry »
By Chris Dazzo. Edited by Ivan Brunetti. (Click on image to enlarge.)
Sonny’s mug shot on the news
By Michael Workman
Before dawn, the whippoorwills cry in the trees, their song carrying across the empty expanse of flat land and a two-story Tudor house. As seen from the road, the house appears solemn and absent of movement, the windows dark, horse and pig corrals beside it, only a single sow trundling across the broad side of the barn, nuzzling the damp mud for scraps. Three groups of men in helmets and black body armor appear, blue Ford slowly rolling up behind them as they advance toward the house, unslinging their assault rifles, front and back of their clothes marked, in big, bright yellow, with the letters F-B-I.
It is Summer 2009 in Fort Wayne, Indiana. 3am. Uncle Sonny sits in his Steelcase office chair in the basement, hair weighted with the hours he’s stayed awake, precisely tapping the butt of his Winston on the edge of an aquamarine ashtray, not noticing it’s finished. He’s fixated on the lines of file names as they scroll down the screen, 5,000 or 10,000 of them, and CLICK, another page, more files to share, a huge number of video clips. Small lights blinking on a series of computer panels stacked on the bookshelf beside him: internal storage discs whirring as they read, transfer, copy, transmit and receive child pornography. The small silhouette of a video camera is mounted on a tripod standing in the dark behind him, staring out past him, unnoticed, forgotten. Read the rest of this entry »
Illustration by Tony Fitzpatrick
By Tony Fitzpatrick
This, another of my “Lunch Drawings,” came from an encounter with some drunk girls at Black Dog, the greatest gelato place in Chicago. These young women were shit-faced and trying to eat gelato, string noun and verb together, and play with my dog, Chooch, who ate their gelato and they giggled until one of them puked like a fire-hose. It was a serious puke with the projectile force of a jet engine—even my dog got the hell out of the way.
I was terrified her friends might be tempted to join in with a “sympathy puke,” seeing as they were all pretty hammered. Though I feared it might turn into a group puke-a-thon, luckily it was just the one poor girl, so I decided to help.
I held her hair so she wouldn’t puke in it, and then they cried and told each other they loved each other and they loved me for not letting their friend vomit in her own hair. There was some puke on my shoes but it was no big deal. I felt bad for her; I can remember many a night this also afflicted me. It also occurs to me that women are nicer drunks than men—or at least the men I knew when I drank. Read the rest of this entry »
Lorde, in a screen shot from the “Royals” video
By John Greenfield
If you’ll indulge me, I’d like to depart from my usual Chicago-centric focus to explore a question that’s been puzzling me for a while now: is Lorde’s hit song “Royals” pro- or anti-public transportation? Depictions of various travel modes in pop culture influence listeners’ commuting habits. While everyone from the Beach Boys to Public Enemy has written tunes glorifying cars, there are precious few that make mass transit sound like a cool way to get around—“Kiss Me on the Bus” by the Replacements springs to mind.
I was hoping to chalk up “Royals” as one of the latter. By now you’ve probably heard the smart, minimalist electro-pop earworm by the seventeen-year-old New Zealand wunderkind, real name Ella Maria Lani Yelich-O’Connor. I confess that I spent a recent Sunday evening listening to her album “Pure Heroine” over and over while I did housework—it’s that good. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Sometimes I think too fast and too much. My logic gets sterile. My ideas become jagged and tangled. When this happens, I head off to Turtle Back Hill for a hike through the saltwater marsh. The trail loops around on itself, and I arrive back where I started in about fifteen minutes. Sometimes I keep walking, circumambulating four or five times. Going in circles like this seems to help me knit together my fragmented thoughts. Often, by the time I’m finished, my mind feels unified. I recommend you find your own version of this ritual, Aries. From what I can tell, you need to get rounder and softer. Read the rest of this entry »