Street Smart Chicago

Linework: Untitled

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

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Dime Stories: Donald Chump

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

There was a time when Donald Trump was easier to ignore. A squinty, arrogant, ego-driven billionaire, with a head full of piss-colored cotton candy. A Dope with more money than brain cells and an ambitious libido with a taste for model types. He was easy to laugh at and he was New York’s cross to bear—not ours.

His idiotic television show sought to breed mini-me versions of “The Donald” and damned near everyone who was on it was as detestable as he is. I caught it once, years ago, when Trump brought a dozen of these “Apprentice” drool-cases over to meet the late George Steinbrenner at Yankee Stadium. Steinbrenner, a convicted perjurer and member of Richard Nixon’s creepy inner circle, being Trump’s idea of a role model.

It was your usual verbal mutual kneel-and-bob session with two rich white guys standing across the room from each other, pointing both index fingers at one another and declaring: “You’re a WINNER, George” and then “No Donald, YOU’RE the WINNER, and these young WINNERS will learn from a great man like you.”

It would make one ill were it not so achingly funny. They were practically talking each other off.

Then I realized it isn’t so funny, that the whole country would have been done an invaluable service had someone locked the door after rolling a couple of grenades into Steinbrenner’s office. The world would have been spared a baker’s dozen of avaricious assholes who use Preparation H for lip gloss, and two delusional billionaires.

Now the goof wants to sign our city. He wants to slap his name on the world’s most beautiful skyline. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): If you were alive 150 years ago and needed to get a tooth extracted, you might have called on a barber or blacksmith or wigmaker to do the job. (Dentistry didn’t become a formal occupation until the latter part of the nineteenth century.) Today you wouldn’t dream of seeking anyone but a specialist to attend to the health of your mouth. But I’m wondering if you are being less particular about certain other matters concerning your welfare. Have you been seeking financial advice from your massage therapist? Spiritual counsel from your car repair person? Nutritional guidance from a fast-food addict? I suggest you avoid such behavior. It’s time to ask for specific help from those who can actually provide it. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In its quest for nectar, a hummingbird sips from a thousand flowers every day. As it flaps its wings seventy times a second, zipping from meal to meal, it can fly sideways, backward, or forward. If it so desires, it can also hover or glide upside-down. It remembers every flower it visits, and knows how long it will take before each flower will produce a new batch of nectar. To some Spanish speakers, hummingbirds are known as joyas voladoras, or “flying jewels.” Now take everything I’ve just said, Aries, and use it as a metaphor for who you can be in the coming week. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Everything in the Booth, Half What It’s Marked

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

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Dime Stories: Nature Calls

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

The common starling or European starling was introduced to North America a couple of centuries ago by enthusiasts of Shakespeare. That’s right, Shakespeare. I had to read that twice myself. Evidently, the Bard was fond of the plucky bird’s gift for mimicry and a bunch of blue-bloods thought it would be jolly-good fun to have the little winged gangsters over here. The first thing the common starling did was muscle as many songbirds, including the lovely Eastern Bluebird, out of nesting spots as it could. It spread wildly, becoming one of the most successful species in the history of the continent. Particularly hard hit were the bluebirds, who were pushed damn near across the Mississippi River, damn near becoming  Western Bluebirds. Population-wise, they are just beginning to come back now in the last two decades. This is what happens when we decide to diddle-dick around with nature—we become the victims as well as the beneficiaries of unintended consequences. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us,” writes novelist Robert R. McCammon. “We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow path and told to be responsible.” That’s the bad news, Aries. But now here’s the good news: The next twelve months will offer you a series of excellent opportunities to re-magic yourself. If you have not yet caught wind of the first invitation, I bet you will soon. Read the rest of this entry »

Hack Attack: In Taxi vs. Uber, the Drivers Are Sidelined Says an Ex-Cabbie

Essays & Commentary, Transit 2 Comments »
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Illustration: Dmitry Samarov

By Dmitry Samarov

A lot has been written in the last couple years about ride-share services like Uber threatening the livelihood of cab drivers. In most of these articles Uber, Hailo, Sidecar, et al are pitted against local taxi companies like Yellow and Carriage. What is rarely made clear is that none of these companies—ride-share or traditional taxi—actually employ any drivers. So while they fight it out in the courts about regulations and who can and cannot get what part of the transportation market, the people doing the actual driving aren’t being represented by either side.

In 1993—when I became a cab driver—calling a taxi was a simple business. You picked up your home or office telephone, dialed your favorite cab company, and waited outside for your ride to arrive. A cabbie had two choices for picking up fares: troll the streets for passengers or “play the radio,” which meant turning on the two-way and submitting to the whims of his company’s dispatcher. Picture Danny DeVito in “Taxi” for an idea of the types we had to deal with. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Maakies: The Funny Pages

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

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Dime Stories: The Chicken Store

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

All over the West and South Sides of Chicago there are still live poultry shops. It only now occurs to me that I’ve never actually been in one. Americans are particularly squeamish this way—we never want to look the creature we’re about to slaughter in the eye. We’d rather see it fried with some biscuits and gravy on a plate, or in nugget form in a small styrofoam box or, even better, chopped up with a bunch of vegetables in some soup. We’re not much for the blood and the feathers and the screeching death that comes along with butchering poultry.

A number of people have begun to keep chickens in their yards in Ukrainian Village to raise their own eggs and I have to admit it is kind of heartening to see a plump chicken or two walking the alleyways. You want to warn them that feral cats, large rats, raccoons and now coyotes also walk these alleys, and would gladly feast on them. But then you notice these are some big-assed chickens and when you get right up close and look them in the eye you see all of the madness in the world. These chickens are Chicago chickens and they just might be able to hold their own. Read the rest of this entry »