Street Smart Chicago

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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 »

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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: Uptown Cat Girl

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

More than thirty years ago, New Orleans crept into my work and she never left. My heart is perpetually divided between my home of Chicago and my home of New Orleans. It is a place for which I have nothing but unconditional love.

When I first got there, it seemed everyone around me was a lot freer than I was, as odd as that sounds. It was a crazily sexy place with grownup women who were frank and forward about what made them happy. It was hot, so there was always a lot of sweaty skin and poetry and music. It was like entering one of those snow globes without the snow. It was Spain and France preserved in architectural amber. It was history. My friend Charlie Neville told me about Congo Square which along with Storyville, was the birthplace of jazz. He also had me read “Up from the Cradle of Jazz,” Jason Berry’s essential history of New Orleans music. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 30, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Chris Moneymaker was employed as an accountant in Tennessee. On a whim, he paid $39 to enter an online poker tournament. Although he knew a lot about the game, he had never competed professionally. Nevertheless, he won the tournament. As his award, he received no money, but rather an invitation to participate in the annual World Series of Poker in Las Vegas. Can you guess the storybook ending? The rookie triumphed over 838 pros, taking home $2.5 million. I don’t foresee anything quite as spectacular for you, Aries, but there may be similar elements in your saga. For example, a modest investment on your part could make you eligible for a chance to earn much more. Here’s another possible plot twist: You could generate luck for yourself by ramping up a skill that has until now been a hobby. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 23, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): If you’re stumped about what present to give someone for a special occasion, you might buy him or her a gift card. It’s a piece of plastic that can be used as cash to buy stuff at a store. The problem is, a lot of people neglect to redeem their gift cards. They leave them in drawers and forget about them. Financial experts say there are currently billions of dollars going to waste on unredeemed gift cards. This is your metaphor of the moment, Aries. Are there any resources you’re not using? Any advantages you’re not capitalizing on? Any assets you’re ignoring? If so, fix the problem. Read the rest of this entry »

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

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Dime Stories: It’s Spring

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

Well, it’s over, the fat lady has sung and the kinder, more sensitive Rahm has won another term. Chuy Garcia ran an honorable, honest campaign and honorable and honest gets you shit, and shoved in it—when it comes to Chicago politics.

No big deal. Baseball season started and it is still colder than a nun’s ass on Good Friday. On opening night the Cubs forgot that, after all of that Old Style, people would need to take a leak and started filling their beer receptacles with the personally brewed amber fluid. Jesus, shut it down to one bathroom and the whole park turns into “Lord of the Flies” in a blue ball cap.

Such are the pleasures of spring in Chicago. Not that my White Sox had it any better. Jeff Samardzija and the Sox bullpen got shelled in their first game in Kansas City 10-1, therefore making it hard to harass Cub fans about the rivers of piss over at the friendly confines. Read the rest of this entry »