Street Smart Chicago

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 »

Linework: Desperate Winning

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

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Free Will Astrology: Week of November 27, 2014

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): What exactly do you believe in, Aries? What’s your philosophy of life? Do you think that most people are basically good and that you can make a meaningful life for yourself if you just work hard and act kind? Do you believe that evil, shapeshifting, kitten-eating extraterrestrials have taken on human form and are impersonating political leaders who control our society? Are you like the character Crash Davis in the film “Bull Durham,” who believed in “high fiber, good Scotch, the sweet spot, and long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days”? Now would be an excellent time for you to get very clear about the fundamental principles that guide your behavior. Recommit yourself to your root beliefs—and jettison the beliefs that no longer work for you. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: A Tribute to Jane Byrne

Dime Stories, Politics 1 Comment »
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.)

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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 »

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.)

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