Street Smart Chicago

NYE 2007/Smoked Out: The hour Chicago gives up puffing

City Life, Holidays No Comments »

Be afraid, Chicago. Fear the law. Thinking of taking a few extra puffs of your cigarette as you celebrate past midnight this New Year’s Eve in your favorite bar? Then be prepared to taste blood on your palate as the city’s stormtroopers, donned only in black, burst through the doors, using their high-tech, Orwellian machinery to incite terror and to shut down your favorite adult establishment.
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Gnome for the Holidays: European travelers visit Lincoln Square

City Life, Holidays, Lincoln Square No Comments »

The gnome sports electric lime-colored shorts, chunky hiking shoes, binoculars and a rifle. He is an explorer, transported from Germany’s Black Forest to Chicago’s Lincoln Square. Like the garden gnome in the movie “Amelie,” he is sent around the world, proving that travel is good. The hiker gnome retails for $59.90 at the German import store, possibly proving that commerce is good, too.
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411 Seven Days in Chicago: Shop Stop

Bucktown, Holidays, News etc. No Comments »

Potential customers strolling down Damen Avenue in Bucktown last Friday were greeted by more than the typical trendy boutique: construction workers began to set up their bulldozers and other heavy equipment for the next six weeks—the prime time for holiday shopping—to fix a faulty water line. Naturally, the local businesses let their grievances known: how in the world could the city start tearing up the street on the busiest shopping day of the year? It was an extremely tense situation,” says the cool-headed Steve Greenberg, co-owner of Red Dog House, who updated local entrepreneurs via email as talks went on with Tom LaPorte, assistant commissioner of the department of water. “We contacted everyone we could get our hands on.” LaPorte talked to the engineers working on the project, who determined the situation wasn’t an emergency, and the decision was made to delay construction until January, making business owners “thrilled.” Score one for democracy. Unless, of course, the water main breaks again (it has twice in recent months), which is the biggest fear of the local alderman, Scott Waguespack. “If the pipes break again, it costs the taxpayers,” Waguespack says. “But I guess that’s a chance we’ll have to take.”

Halloween Hideout: Weird Al, Rollergirl and a tree walk into a bar…

Events, Holidays No Comments »

Every five or six years, Halloween will fall on a weekend, but until then, the weekend before serves as the primary party and costume opportunity. Enter The Hideout around midnight on Saturday, and there’s a party, but the costumed crowd here is a bit arbitrary. Sure—you’ll walk past a shorter version of Weird Al near the front steps, and yes—the bartenders are dressed as a lumberjack and a tree (complete with large branches, leaves and birds in the hair), yet the general attire for the night is a mess of items never suitable for everyday wear, but obnoxious enough for this one day out of the year. The comfortably cramped crowd dances, gripping cans of cheap beer, a guy with a bra affixed to his hair bobs his head slowly and a waitress on actual roller skates skillfully slides back and forth.
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Requiem for a Dream: Marshall Field’s Last Christmas

Chicago History, City Life, Essays & Commentary, Holidays, Loop No Comments »

By Brian Hieggelke

“Marshall Field & Company, one of the world’s great department stores, is as legendary to Chicago and the good old middle west as Mrs. O’Leary’s cow. It’s as sturdy as the tracks on the Loop, as timeless as the Lake, and almost as vast as the westward prairie. It is said that Marshall Field’s is Chicago.”
—“Store” by Nan Tillson Birmingham, 1978

Marshall Field arrived in Chicago from New England and got a job in the retail business in 1856. 150 years later, in 2006, he’ll leave Chicago for good. In the interim, the store he created, Marshall Field’s, will have survived the Civil War, the Great Chicago Fire, the Great Depression, two World Wars, the advent of electric lighting, the automobile, the airplane, the television and the computer. But it will not survive the merger of two corporations from Midwest towns that once challenged Chicago for primacy in the Midwest and lost, Federated Department Stores of Cincinnati, Ohio, and May Department Stores of St. Louis, Missouri.
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