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Oh Captain, My Captain: Chicago Blog Inspires Worldwide Community of Awkwarders

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jennifer peepas

Jennifer Peepas

By Megan Kirby

In Baltimore, look for a girl with blue hair in a Batman t-shirt. In Washington DC, find the red balloon at the coffee shop. In London, seek out the table with the Cthulhu plushie perched on the edge. You’ve found the Awkward Army.

These are fans of massively popular advice blog Captain Awkward, and they are meeting up worldwide. The Captain herself, Chicago-based filmmaker Jennifer Peepas, never expected such an active global audience. Today, self-proclaimed “Awkwarders” plan meet-ups in coffee shops and ice cream parlors from Boston to Tokyo, gathering with coloring books or knitting projects or stacks of fiction and graphic novels for impromptu book clubs—essentially, getting together to just hang out.

When Peepas first launched Captain Awkward in January 2011, she just hoped she’d have enough readers to never have to fabricate a reader question herself. Now, she gets so many emails that she can’t answer all of them. At the end of 2013, Captain Awkward’s page views hovered just under eleven million. As of March 2014, 557 reader questions have been answered. (Everything from “How do I deal with my abusive family” to “My crush might be a furry.”) Posts garner hundreds of comments with readers’ advice and stories (and tangents about books, TV shows, vacation plans and any other topic). The most dedicated Awkwarders even started a fan-run forum, Friends of Captain Awkward, to keep up with conversations off comment threads. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of July 10, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): What are the sources that heal and nourish you? Where do you go to renew yourself? Who are the people and animals that treat you the best and are most likely to boost your energy? I suggest that in the coming week you give special attention to these founts of love and beauty. Treat them with the respect and reverence they deserve. Express your gratitude and bestow blessings on them. It’s the perfect time for you to summon an outpouring of generosity as you feed what feeds you. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Lemons

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

LW_070314_MaxClarkeLemonsWEB

Dime Stories: The Relentless Wisdom of Anthony Potenzo, Volume 3—The Patio.

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

Anthony Potenzo believes a good joint must have rules. That there are unwritten rules which most sentient, sane, bar regulars understand without explanation—the barroom social contract: “Y’know, stuff you don’t have to explain to anyone except the drool-cases and mutants,” he says. “You know what I’m sayin’? Stuff that people who walk upright already understand.”

 And then there are the rules you have to write down and spell out. You notice that the people who have to read the posted rules? Their lips are moving while they read them. Hell, their lips move when they read the comics or a grocery list. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Getting Pilsen Going

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green, Pilsen, Transit No Comments »
Alex Velazquez and Ray Arroyo. Photo: Active Trans

Alex Velazquez and Ray Arroyo/Photo: Active Trans

By John Greenfield

Last September, the Chicago Department of Transportation launched the Go Bronzeville transportation demand program in the historic Near South neighborhood otherwise known as the Black Metropolis. The initiative provided resources for residents interested in getting around their community and the city on foot, bike, transit and car-sharing, with the goal of reducing the number of drive-alone trips.

Many of the people who participated in the free workshops, walking tours and bike rides found that using active transportation helped save them money, improved their health and gave them new opportunities to spend time with their family, friends and neighbors. Now, CDOT plans to run TDM programs in another four neighborhoods, at a cost of about $250,000 per community, mostly funded by federal Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement grants.

Pilsen, the largely Mexican-American community located three miles southwest of the Loop, was a logical choice for the next location, according to CDOT deputy commissioner Sean Wiedel. The area is well served by transit, including several CTA bus routes, the Pink Line and Metra’s BNSF line, and it has nearly a dozen Divvy bike-share stations. The Go Pilsen program debuted on June 4. Portland, Oregon-based Alta Planning + Design helped design the program, and the Active Transportation Alliance’s Maggie Melin is coordinating it on the local level. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Would you like your savings account to grow? Then deposit money into it on a consistent basis. Would you like to feel good and have a lot of physical energy? Eat healthy food, sleep as much as you need to, and exercise regularly. Do you want people to see the best in you and give you the benefit of the doubt? See the best in them and give them the benefit of the doubt. Would you love to accomplish your most important goal? Decide what you want more than anything else and focus on it with relaxed intensity. Yes, Aries, life really is that simple—or at least it is right now. If you want to attain interesting success, be a master of the obvious. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): According to an astrologer named Astrolocherry (astrolocherry.tumblr.com), Aries is the sign of the freedom fighter, the explorer, the daredevil and the adventurer. That’s all true; I agree with her. But here’s an important caveat. As you get older, it’s your duty to harness all that hot energy on behalf of the softer, slower, more tender parts of your life. The coming weeks will offer you a great opportunity to work on that challenge. To get started, imagine how you can be a freedom fighter, explorer, daredevil and adventurer in service to your home, family and community. 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.)

LW_061914_Kevin_Budnik_WEB

What Rape Culture? A Conversation with Kate Harding and Anne K. Ream

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Newcity6.19

Rape is everywhere today. Pick up any newspaper, any magazine—the new issues of Rolling Stone and In These Times, a recent Time magazine cover story, this publication—and you’ll see high-profile coverage of the rape-culture crisis in America. From the alcohol-saturated dormitories of our citadels of higher-education to the shadowy confessionals of a pedophiliac priesthood to controversies over HBO’s top-rated “Game of Thrones,” gender-based violence is certainly not a new issue. But perhaps the amount of attention being paid, not just from the media but even the president of the United States, an outgrowth of the unwillingness of its survivors to remain silent any longer, represents its twilight, or at least movement in the right direction. Anne K. Ream and Kate Harding are both Chicago writers, activists and, both rape survivors. Ream is the founder of the Voices and Faces Project, a nonprofit committed to documenting the stories of those who have suffered gender-based cruelties, and the author of the new book “Lived Through This: Listening to the Stories of Sexual Violence Survivors.” Harding is a prominent essayist and lecturer on body image and rape culture and the author of the forthcoming book this December, “Asking For It: The Alarming Rise of Rape Culture—and What We Can Do About It.” We conducted a spirited conversation over much of a week via email on this most universal and urgent of topics. (Brian Hieggelke) Read the rest of this entry »

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 »