Street Smart Chicago

Linework: Settle Down, Marie

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

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Dime Stories: Brian Wilson’s Second Act

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Ghost Thank You (Nocturne) 100

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

About halfway through “Love and Mercy,” the Brian Wilson biopic, one realizes how Brian Wilson’s songs have never lost their currency. We still sing along to these happy tunes. Of all the music from the 1960s, only the Brian Wilson’s Beach Boys offer a safe harbor from the cynicism and tragedy of that troubled decade. Even forty-nine years later, “Pet Sounds” still stands as a transcendent recording that would influence a good measure of what came after—including the Beatles’ “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.” Just listen to the layering of sounds; Wilson did it first. It is to the picture’s credit that this period in Brian Wilson’s life is rendered in sunshine and bold, vibrant colors. Brian has broken it wide open, even if he is the only one who understands this. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of June 4, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The Persian scholar Avicenna was so well-rounded in his knowledge that he wrote two different encyclopedias. Even as a teenager he was obsessed with learning all he could. He got especially consumed with trying to master Aristotle’s “Metaphysics,” which did not easily yield its secrets to him. He read it forty times, memorizing every word. When he finally understood it, he was so excited he celebrated by giving out money and gifts to destitute strangers. I suspect you will soon be having an equivalent breakthrough, Aries. At last you will grasp a truth that has eluded you for a long time. Congratulations in advance! Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 28, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Keith Moon played drums for the rock band the Who. He was once voted the second-greatest drummer  in history. But his erratic behavior, often provoked by drugs or alcohol, sometimes interfered with his abilities. In 1973, the Who was doing a live concert near San Francisco when the horse tranquilizer that Moon had taken earlier caused him to pass out. The band appealed to the audience for help. “Can anybody play the drums?” asked guitarist Pete Townshend. “I mean somebody good?” A nineteen-year-old amateur drummer named Scot Halpin volunteered. He played well enough to finish the show. I suspect that sometime soon, Aries, you may also get an unexpected opportunity to play the role of a substitute. Be ready! Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 21, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): James McNeil Whistler was an influential painter in the latter half of the nineteenth century. He advocated the “art for art’s sake” credo, insisting that the best art doesn’t need to teach or moralize. As far as he was concerned, its most important purpose was to bring forth “glorious harmony” from chaos. But the immediate reason I’m nominating him to be your patron saint for the coming weeks is the stylized signature he created: an elegant butterfly with a long tail that was actually a stinger. I think you’ll thrive by embodying that dual spirit: being graceful, sensitive and harmonious and yet also feisty, piquant and provocative. Can you manage that much paradox? I think you can. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Untitled

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

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Dime Stories: The Scavengers

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

The great Charles Bowden passed away last year. He wrote a great many articles and books about the border, the one we share with Mexico. In the years since NAFTA passed there have been hundred upon hundreds of women murdered in and around Juarez–a great many of them maquiladora workers. A maquiladora is an assembly plant, or factory, that hires thousands of women and pays them stoop labor, shit wages to do piecework–sewing, circuit boards, and other close work that require small, deft hands.

A great many women from as far away as Central America flocked to the border for jobs. So NAFTA managed to impoverish two cultures. The women of the maquiladora plants and the American union worker, and some big American companies outsourced jobs here to avoid paying a living wage to union workers: Levi’s, Motorola, IBM, Black & Decker, GM, Cooper Tire, among others. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 14, 2015

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The danger of resisting a temptation too strenuously is that the temptation might depart. I suggest that you prevent that from happening. Without throwing yourself at the mercy of the temptation, see if you can coax it to stick around for a while longer. Why? In my view, it’s playing a useful role in your life. It’s motivating you to change some things that really do need to be changed. On the other hand, I’m not yet sure that it should become anything more than a temptation. It might serve you best that way, not as an object of your satisfied desire. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 7, 2015

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Benedictine monks observe the Latin motto Laborare est Orare. The nineteenth-century abbot Maurus Wolter interpreted these words to mean “work is worship” or “work is prayer.” He was trying to impress upon his fellow monks that the work they did was not a grudging distraction from their service to God, but rather at the heart of their devotion. To do their tasks with love was a way to express gratitude for having been blessed with the gift of life. I propose that you experiment with this approach in the coming weeks, even if your version is more secular. What would it be like to feel contentment with and appreciation for the duties you have been allotted? Read the rest of this entry »

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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