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Free Will Astrology: Week of December 18, 2014

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Too much happiness can make you unhappy,” reported journalist Marta Zaraska in the Washington Post. Citing research by psychologists, she concluded that being super-extra cheerful can make you selfish, gullible and more prone to stereotyped thinking. On the other hand, she said, maintaining merely moderate levels of happiness is pretty damn good for your mental and physical health. So here’s the takeaway, Aries: The astrological omens suggest you’re due for a surge of joy and pleasure. Just be careful it doesn’t spill over into rash, delirious excess. Here’s your watchword: well-grounded delight. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: The Invasion

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

George_Porteus_invasion_web

The Quarrywomen: How a Group of South Shore “Divas” Are Defying the Odds

City Life, Holidays, South Shore 2 Comments »
Veronica Kyle/Photo: Natalie Perkins

Veronica Kyle/Photo: Natalie Perkins

By Krisann Rehbein

I’m proud to say that the paper snowflakes were my idea. When my cab pulled up in front of The Quarry at the intersection of 75th and Phillips, my heart sank a little. Excited for the opportunity to write about an arts and artisan holiday pop-up market in South Shore, I was expecting things to look a little more festive. My cab driver was confused. There were bars on the windows and a combination of butcher paper and foam sheets slipped between the glass and the security bars.

A team of volunteer market decorators were assembled inside, staring at the bars. There was a general sense of anxiety. The owner of the space, Suzanne Armstrong, said the paper and foam could be removed as long as something went up that prevented people from looking inside. While worried a bit about crime, she was more concerned that curious passersby would walk in all day. The Quarry isn’t yet ready to operate outside of scheduled rental events.

My mind was spinning with this unfortunate design problem. I know! Paper snowflakes! I grabbed a pair of scissors and some scrap paper, whipped out a paper snowflake and stuck it on the foam outside of the bars. Somehow, it looked like snow. We could do this. Everyone started making snowflakes like crazy. In about an hour, it actually looked festive.

This is a story about women who are trying to make positive change in their community, against some unexpected odds. The holiday market was created by Veronica Kyle and Natalie Perkins with input and support from countless others. Collectively, they believe that artists can change communities for the better. Veronica got the idea while working with friends Mary Steenson and Sharon Louis Harris on an effort called the South Shore Sustainability Collaborative. That was four years ago. In the interim, they created a community garden, took over an adjacent vacant lot and constructed a community “hospitality table” and developed architectural tours with the Chicago Architecture Foundation (which I ran while I was on staff). No one had time to execute the pop-up vision. When Veronica met Natalie in August, the idea reemerged. “I don’t think people ever have time to execute the vision. Ultimately, you just step out and start doing the damn thing. I am just as busy now as I was four years ago. The thing is, I’ve learned a lot about the neighborhood in that time.” Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 11, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Lord Byron (1788-1824) was an English poet who loved animals. In the course of his life, he not only had dogs and cats as pets, but also monkeys, horses, peacocks, geese, a crocodile, a falcon, a crane and a parrot. When he enrolled in Trinity College at age seventeen, he was upset that the school’s rules forbade students from having pet dogs, which meant he couldn’t bring his adored Newfoundland dog Boatswain. There was no regulation, however, against having a tame bear as a pet. So Byron got one and named it Bruin. I think it’s time for you to find a workaround like that, Aries. Be cunning. Try a gambit or two. Find a loophole. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 4, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The National Science Foundation estimates that we each think at least 12,000 thoughts per day. The vast majority of them, however, are reruns of impressions that have passed through our minds many times before. But I am pleased to report that in the coming weeks, you Aries folks are primed to be far less repetitive than normal. You have the potential to churn out a profusion of original ideas, fresh perceptions, novel fantasies and pertinent questions. Take full advantage of this opportunity. Brainstorm like a genius. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: Ferguson Burning

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

One of the more confounding and compelling foundational myths about the Obama Presidency is that it has somehow squared the racial and class-based inequities that plague our country. That we were now, as the pundits coined it, “post-racial.” (You know we’re fucked when political hacks start borrowing terminology from the art world.) We were now past the 400 years of oppression that singlehandedly created at least fifty generations of poverty. Yet I still hear whites say “Hey. They got theirs. They got their president, what are they bitching about?”
When I hear this I cringe and I realize that questions about race and class in our country were in no way mitigated by the election of Barack Obama, only brought into larger alignment.

One needs to look no further than the killings of Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown to realize just how far in the weeds we are with the realities of class and race in Obama’s America. That unless young black men are dribbling a basketball or dropping beats, our fear of them paints a target on them. Read the rest of this entry »

Presents: The Holiday Issue

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11.27.14PresentsWhether you’re early Ebenezer and hate the holidays, or late Ebenezer and adore them, one thing is definite. Like death and taxes, they’re inevitable. So why not make the best of them? We’re used to mediating both Scroogean extremes in our household, and we’ve discovered a couple of things: try to cut through the commercialization of the season, and relish the finer ideals of the time (charity, peace, family); and, if you must buy gifts (and who does not?), shop local. Not only will you feel better about keeping your money in our ecosystem and supporting the efforts of a mom and pop you know, but you’ll actually enjoy yourself. And so, contemplate our mix of stories (and advertisers!) and let us help you find your way to “keep Christmas well.” Or Kwanzaa, or Hannukah or… (Brian Hieggelke) Read the rest of this entry »

Grand Theft Noel: Tis the Season for Familial Larceny

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By Robert Rodi

I come from a large family—three sisters, three brothers—and for years we siblings bravely persisted in honoring the holiday spirit by giving each other Christmas presents. But when spouses entered the picture, and then kids—the latter popping out at the alarming rate of sometimes two or three a year—our gift-giving expenses seriously spiked. As the only childless member of the clan, and therefore the one who took the biggest hit to the fiscal solar plexus, I ventured to suggest that maybe it was time we adults retired the habit, at least with regard to each other. As it was, the practice had devolved into everyone submitting a list of several things he or she wanted, and the others dutifully trotting out and buying them. “The whole spirit of gift-giving isn’t even there anymore,” I said. “It’s like ordering online. Only without a return policy.”

So we tried it the following year at our traditional Christmas Eve dinner, and it went just swimmingly. The kids had the pleasure of ripping into boxes beneath the tree like a pack of crazed weasels, while the adults celebrated the occasion in a more dignified fashion, with platters of home-cooked food and a cascade of fine California wines. Read the rest of this entry »

The White Castle Song: Why? Because It’s Open on Christmas

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It’s open twenty-four hours, round the clock
Good service all the time, there’s always something going on.
Always something going on.
Simple Menu… excellent service.

You know this is a song about White Castle.
Because when you are on your way home at 4am,
White Castle is always open… Even on Christmas.
But if you are at White Castle on Christmas, you are out of luck.
Then again, maybe not. Read the rest of this entry »

A Buddhist’s Holiday: Shambhala Day Well-Wishes from a Wounded Would-Be Warrior

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greateasternsunBy Emerson Dameron

As a practicing Shambhala Buddhist, I like to think I don’t have too terribly much invested in this forthcoming holiday racket. That’s good, I suppose, because it’s stacking up to be another tough one.

This year, I have lost two jobs, one rather recently. And I have twice come rather close to losing my life. The first came in April from a sudden flareup of acute pancreatitis that had me in the hospital for four indescribable days, detoxing from booze and experiencing worse physical pain than I had previously imagined possible. The second came a couple of weeks later, which had me back in the ER with a severe gastrointestinal bleed and a hemoglobin level that my admitting doc described as a third-world problem.

It was a time of severe disappointments and learning to be less clingy by having certain attachments violently ripped asunder. On the upside, it was the year I finally began practicing Shambhala Buddhism in earnest, with accountability, as part of a community and as someone determined to thrive in a very new and unfamiliar reality. Read the rest of this entry »