Street Smart Chicago

411: A Day in the Park(ing) Space

Events, Green, Lakeview 2 Comments »

Two hours is all it takes to turn parking spaces into a temporary park. Motivated by both the PARK(ing) Day events in San Francisco, and locally by last year’s parking-meter deal, this is PARK(ing)’s second fourth year of bringing the urban park to the people.

Matt Nardella, principal architect for Moss Design and organizer of the event, says last year’s turnout lead to the growth this year. They are expanding their “oasis,” which is biker and pedestrian friendly.

“Last year we only had three spaces. This year, we’re trying to take as much of the block as possible,” Nardella says. Read the rest of this entry »

411: Big Top, Blue Skies

Events No Comments »

A weekend stroll in the park will be transformed into something much more whimsical this month. Park-goers around the city will be treated to jugglers, contortionists, acrobats and musicians, bringing the circus outdoors and to the community.

“It’s very reminiscent of a European traveling circus,” Margaret O’Conor, chair of the event says.

Circus in the Parks began four years ago, in a very grassroots way, with just one park. O’Conor says that the district was slowly trying to renovate the parks by asking the community to contribute.

Eventually they bought a URL (, and with help from the Park District and volunteers, the circus expanded to include both Welles and Chase Parks, but this year is the greatest undertaking, with five parks involved. Read the rest of this entry »

411: The Science of Open Source

Events No Comments »

As it gains popularity, open-source software is changing the meaning of production and public use. But Sacha De’Angeli thinks that applying open-source ideas to science can solve problems often overlooked by big scientific research organizations.

“It is a great opportunity for citizen science and for bringing DIY and the open-software mentality to the world of science,” De’Angeli says.

The first experiment will take place this Sunday, September 12, at 4pm at Chicago Open Science’s inaugural meeting at Pumping Station: One, 3354 North Elston, Chicago’s only hackerspace and collaborative environment, which acts as a community workshop.

So far, the plans for the group are open to evolution. But what De’Angeli thinks would be interesting to look at are problems that aren’t profitable enough for larger corporations, such as niche questions. Because a problem might affect only a small number of people, it becomes a lower priority for big companies. Read the rest of this entry »

Fall Forward: The Guide to the New Season 2010

Events No Comments »

From the Dr. Harry Bakwin and Dr. Ruth Morris Bakwin Soviet Posters Collection, 1930-1932, at the Special Collections Research Center, The University of Chicago Library

In trying economic times, the American narrative goes, we band together and lend each other a helping hand. This spirit of collaboration seems to be a prevailing theme this fall season, whether it’s the Redmoon-MCA project “The Astronaut’s Birthday,” or the Dance Center-Harris-MCA teaming up to bring a seminal Butoh dance company, Sankai Juku, to Chicago for the first time. But most noteworth is The Soviet Arts Experience, a multi-year joining of a whopping twenty-five cultural institutions, spearheaded by the University of Chicago Presents, that covers a plentitude of disciplines, in showcasing art created “under (and in response to) the Politburo of the Soviet Union.” So that’s the theme this season: People setting aside self-interest for the larger good. Just don’t call it socialism. (Brian Hieggelke)

Click here to get started with our “big ten” fall events, or jump directly to one of the sections below:

Fall Art Preview
Fall Dance Preview
Fall Film Preview
Fall Lit Preview
Fall Music Preview
Fall Stage Preview

411: Redheaded Stepchild No More

Events, North Center No Comments »

The onetime popularity of the sultry seductress on “Gilligan’s Island” notwithstanding, the redheaded among us are apparently neglected and poorly treated, for one reason or another. Accordingly, Mrs Murphy and Sons Irish Bistro, 3905 North Lincoln, (773)248-3905,  has decided that it’s high time to do something for the forsaken ones, when it throws its “Ginger Fest” party on August 28, 8pm-11pm.

“As it so happens, our general manager here has red hair and largely feels under-appreciated, I suspect,” spokesperson Sue Pitkin says. “So we decided it was a good idea to have a celebration of it.”

There will be all things red-related, including red velvet cupcakes. And to feel even more legitimized, those who embody a “height of gingeriness or perhaps a height of attractive gingeriness or even unattractive gingeriness” sufficient to satisfy this general manager, will be crowned King and Queen Ginger.

This will be the first Ginger Fest, but depending on the success, Pitkin says there could be another in the future, “if we get a lot of redheads, real or fake.” (Both will gain half off the $20 admission being charged the blonds and brunettes, which includes select beer, wine, mixed drinks and appetizers.)

But whether a firey mop can be found upon your head, or you just wish it did, with live music from The Boils, the atmosphere will surely be lively. “Any excuse is a good excuse for a party, isn’t it?” Pitkin says. (Lindsey Kratochwill)

To Be Scene: Flirting with the girls at a summer boat party

Events 1 Comment »

“Show off your fit and fabulous body in your best black, white or pink swimsuit,” instructs the invitation to Flirty Girl Fitness’ “Black, White, and Pink Affair,” a flirtini-soaked first-year participant in the 10th Annual Chicago Scene Boat Party. My best and only swimsuit being a navy one-piece, I toss on a black sundress—by Flirty Girl standards, I might as well be wearing a burqa—and head for the Anita Dee II dock at Navy Pier, where we’ll depart to “party with friends and strangers” (in my case, mostly strangers) on board the hundreds of boats gathered in The Play Pen, just off Chicago Avenue Beach.

It’s just before noon, and overcast—not an auspicious start to what event sponsor boasts is “consistently voted the wettest and wildest event of the summer.” With Lady Gaga’s “Bad Romance” blaring in the background, I’m handed a pink feather boa, christened flirtilicious and granted entrance to three decks of open-bar-enhanced fun. The dance floor is vacant; the bar is packed. Proving that parties—even parties with $75 entrance fees ($60 for Flirty Girl members)—don’t change all that much after middle school, people cling to the groups they came with. Girls cluster with girls, while packs of guys rove through the crowd with armfuls of drinks they seem to be distributing mainly to each other. Read the rest of this entry »

Soapbox Derby: Hanging with the hecklers at the Bughouse Square Debates

Events, Politics, River North No Comments »

“This is not cable TV… this is not adversarial bullshit.” With this declaration, so opens the twenty-fifth annual Bughouse Square Debate. Actually, heated debates pop up all around Washington Park’s Bughouse Square, off and on the soapbox, but gathered around the small, painted platforms are those who come to listen and those who come to heckle.

During a debate entitled “Students are Americans, Too!” two of the youngest speakers, or “bugs” of the day—and in the end, the winners of the Dill Pickle Award, presented to the best soapbox orator of the day—Pam Selman and Evan Ribot discuss the rights of student journalists. As they tell their story, a heckler in the crowd shouts, “But print journalism is dead!”

Another shouts back, “That’s why they’re up there talking! They’re trying to resuscitate it!”

While many of the bugs prepared in advance, researching and pouring their thoughts and feelings into a sheet of notes or script, the hecklers are flying by the seat of their pants.

“Oftentimes I agree with the conversation or the thing they are saying. I say it’s fun just to mix it up a little bit, that’s the spirit of the Bughouse Square Debates,” Bryan Young says. This is his second consecutive year at the event and he says sometimes people in the crowd aren’t in on the joke.

“I think a couple of people were taken aback that you would actually stand up and say something like that,” Young says. (Lindsey Kratochwill)

411: Power Tea

Events, Loop No Comments »

An iPad and a handful of iPhone 4s sit on the table at the Argo Tea at Dearborn and Adams at 8:30 in the morning. Their owners are gathered around the table, and even while they talk to each other, their devices are hard at work. Pek Pongpaet’s iPad shows off an app he created, a database of inspirational business quotes. Bruno Pieroni’s iPhone snaps a picture of a bar code on a pack of gum and instantaneously he knows what store will give him the best price. I take a photo of Erin Borreson’s business card with my iPhone and, suddenly, I’m directed to her website. It’s not an Apple gathering, it’s likemind, a monthly meetup on the third Friday of the month for people interested in creativity and technology. You don’t actually have to be an Apple devotee to attend, but be prepared to defend your smartphone of choice. Some people come to trade business cards, while others just want to hear what new innovations creative techies are excited about. “There’s no set rules. There’s no set agenda,” says Mike Maddaloni, who helps coordinate the events. Allison Hosack, a leadership development consultant who also does personal training, laughs as she looks at her phone. “He’s a quick little sucker, ain’t he. I already got a LinkedIn request from Pek.” She looks at the QR code on Erin’s business card that sent me to Erin’s website. “You want to barter personal training for cards?” (Ella Christoph)

411: A Breadline for the Byline

Events, Media No Comments »

"Lean on Me": Lou Carlozo, rhythm guitar; Lucy Smith, vocals; Eric Zorn, lead guitar, Jeremy Manier, bass and Mary Schmich on the piano.

It may be fashionable to say that print media is dying, but one group that is dedicated to keeping the industry alive, and to helping the casualties along the way, is the Chicago Headline Club, which recently held a fundraiser at  Rogers Park’s Heartland Cafe. The event was bursting with music and the roaring din of old friends, in the hopes of raising money to benefit unemployed journalists, going toward freelance costs and additional training.

“We’re following a tradition of journalists helping journalists,” says the Community Media Workshop’s Stephen Franklin, who organized the event.

This community isn’t one in which a journalist “leaves the profession and no one thinks about you,” Franklin says. The camaraderie amidst the dark-rimmed glasses and button-down shirts confirmed this. Read the rest of this entry »

Ride a Beercycle: New Belgium Brewing is built on the happy union of cycles and suds

Bicycling, Events, Logan Square No Comments »

That bicycle on your Fat Tire bottle is more than just a logo. In 1989, New Belgium Brewing Company founder Jeff Lebesch gained an affection for Belgian-style beer on a trip bicycling through Europe. His taste for Belgian-inspired beer and reverence for the bicycle that brought him to it remain two tenets of the Fort Collins, Colorado craft brewery, which saw eighteen-percent growth last year. Bryan Simpson, spokesperson for New Belgium, says that bicycle culture “is pretty much in our DNA.” The company went commercial in 1991 when Lebesch and his wife Kim Jordan took their brew from a Colorado basement to bottles bearing a likeness to the fat-tired bicycle Lebesch traveled on over twenty years ago. Read the rest of this entry »