Street Smart Chicago

Burger Time: Life Lessons and Street Life

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WendysBy David Hammond

When you put yourself in challenging situations, outside your comfort zone, the likelihood is high that you might actually learn something. Maybe.

Sometime in 2007

I’m at Blockbuster, dropping off a few videos. As I park the car, I notice a guy approaching.

GUY: You have any spare change?
ME (hustling): Sorry, bro.
GUY: Thanks for nothing!

This passing comment pissed me off. I drop off videos and walk back outside, aggressively.

ME: So, what…like I owe you something?
GUY: What the fuck? All I asked you for was change.
Pause, with Aggress-o-meter redlining; I change my tone. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: Motor Gypsies at the Greyhound Terminal

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LunchDrawing#71KidGhost_bBy Tony Fitzpatrick

My first job out of college was managing the Burger King that was there. It was right before they shut down the place, so I was there for the tail end of the crazy. What I remember most when I walked through the bus station, in the waiting areas and on the walls, was the layer of funk that only diesel fumes, dirt, stale urine and extreme hot and cold can bring. Add to that, the rubbed-off silhouettes of butt cheeks on gray-blue plastic seats, with the grime all around. It smelled like gas fumes and dirty belly buttons. I never thought I would think that the inside of a Burger King would give me the feeling of “Fresh Air”, but at that bus station, it sure as heck did. Yeah, a part of me misses that place.
—Maureen Sweeney, real estate executive, child of the seventies

Lunch Drawing # 70, “Motor Gypsy”: this drawing and story has its genesis in remembering ditching high school and going downtown to hang around the Greyhound Bus station: where you could buy cigarettes, cans of Schlitz Malt Liquor, fuck-books and rolling papers—and nobody carded you because nobody gave a good god-damn. It was at Clark and Randolph and it was a pungent, down-at-the-heels purgatory for transients, people who had to travel economically, students and those down on their luck—all forced to ride the Dog. The hind-tit of American mass transportation. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Better Bike Resources for the South and West Sides?

Back of the Yards, Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green, Humboldt Park, Little Village No Comments »

Robert Calvin rides on the “enhanced sharrows” on Lake Street in Austin. Photo: John Greenfield

 

By John Greenfield

Last month, African-American cyclists Oboi Reed, Peter Taylor and Shawn Conley released an open letter asking the city, state, and local advocacy groups for a more equitable distribution of bike resources to Chicago’s black communities. Read the letter at tinyurl.com/BikeEquity.

They noted that there’s generally a higher density of bike lanes, with better connectivity, downtown and on the North Side. “Stuff on the South Side and the West Side has really been hit-or-miss, putting in a bike lane that goes from nowhere to nowhere, not really connecting destinations,” Taylor told me.

That’s the case with a couple of the recently striped bikeways I checked out on the West and South Sides last week. The city installed segments of buffered bike lanes–with additional space striped on one or both sides–on Pershing between Western and Ashland, and on 63rd between Central Park and Western, as part of successful road diets. However the new BBLs are “orphans,” because they don’t link up with any other bikeways. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 8, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In his novel “Breakfast of Champions,” Kurt Vonnegut describes a character, Ned Lingamon, who “had a penis eight hundred miles long and two hundred and ten miles in diameter, but practically all of it was in the fourth dimension.” If there is any part of you that metaphorically resembles Lingamon, Aries, the coming months will be a favorable time to fix the problem. You finally have sufficient power and wisdom and feistiness to start expressing your latent capacities in practical ways… to manifest your hidden beauty in a tangible form… to bring your purely fourth-dimensional aspects all the way into the third dimension. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 1, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Most salamanders reproduce by laying eggs, but the alpine salamander doesn’t. Females of that species give birth to live young after long pregnancies that may last three years. What does this have to do with you? Well, I expect you to experience a metaphorical pregnancy in the coming months. Even if you’re male, you will be gestating a project or creation or inspiration. And it’s important that you don’t let your incubation period drag on and on and on, as the alpine salamanders do. I suggest you give birth no later than July. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Lovely Beaty Bumps

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

NateBeaty_lovely-beaty-bumps-WEBb

Newcity’s Top 5 of Everything 2014 (Updated)

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Cover by Sanya Glisic

Cover by Sanya Glisic

We’ve been doing our annual Top 5 issue as long as I can remember. Long before FuzzBead’s founders were even in long pants, we imagined this issue as a send-up of the obsessive list-making that infects the media at year-end, the tendency toward bloviation. And, at the same time, we figured we’d slyly deliver a bit of our own pontification in the process. Who knew that even Chris Rock would eventually join our Top 5 bandwagon? This year you’ll find 161 162 lists, either in these pages or on our various web sites. Things have clearly gotten out of hand, so next year, look for our year-end special: the Top 161 of One Thing. I bet that won’t be so contagious. (Brian Hieggelke)

Top 5 Things That Shock Today’s College Students
George Eliot was a woman
Gandhi was a world leader and not a festival akin to Lollapalooza
Sarah Palin was not the first female vice presidential nominee in a major political party
The Civil Rights Movement and the Civil War were two different things
Smart phones can be used for research, not just for social networking
—Amy Friedman

Top 5 Typos in College Papers
Using “there” for “their”
Alternating fonts from copying and pasting online
Using semi-colons as fancy commas
Texting language
“Testes” as the plural form of “test”
—Amy Friedman

Top 5 People Who Could Take Down Rahm
Michelle Obama
Jeff Tweedy
1871 shareholders
The Banana Man graffiti character
An endorsement from Redmoon
—Emerson Dameron Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Can We Have Nice Things?

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green No Comments »
Top: A typical Chicago PBL. Bottom: It's NYC counterpart. Photos: John Greenfield

Top: A typical Chicago PBL. Bottom: Its NYC counterpart. Photos: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

There’s nothing like visiting another city to give you a fresh perspective on your own. Earlier this month I traveled to New York to powwow with other reporters from the transportation news network I work for. Pedaling a Citi Bike around Manhattan, I was struck by the thought that Chicago’s protected bike lanes could be a little nicer than they are.

In both cities, PBLs are generally located curbside, with parked cars relocated to the left of the bike lane to shield cyclists from moving vehicles, and a striped buffer marked between the parking lane and the bike lane. In Chicago, flexible plastic posts, AKA bollards, are installed in the buffer to discourage motorists from driving and parking in the lanes.

New York protected lanes usually don’t have the posts, but there’s generally an extra-wide buffer, and the entire bike lane is painted green. Often, the parking lane is capped with a concrete pedestrian island at the intersection.

That helps remind other road users that PBLs improve safety for everybody—not just cyclists—by shortening crossing distances for pedestrians and calming motor vehicle traffic. We don’t have safety stats for Chicago protected lanes yet, but a study by the city of New York found that the installation of a PBL on Manhattan’s 9th Avenue led to a fifty-six-percent decrease in injuries to all road users.

It occurred to me that Chicago might do well to emulate the New York style of protected lanes. Despite the lack of bollards, I didn’t notice any problems with cars in the lanes during my visit. Meanwhile, the posts by Chicago PBLs often start looking ragged after a few months, and they’re frequently knocked out by car drivers and snowplow operators.

Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 25, 2014

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Hell is the suffering of being unable to love,” wrote novelist J. D. Salinger. Using that definition, I’m happy to announce that you have a good chance of avoiding hell altogether in 2015. If there has been any deficiency in your power to express and bestow love, I think you will correct it. If you have been so intent on getting love that you have been neglectful in giving love, you will switch your focus. I invite you to keep a copy of this horoscope in your wallet for the next twelve months. Regard it as your “Get Out of Hell Free” card. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: Christmas on Acid

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

When I was a senior in high school, my girlfriend, Denise, got her hands on a shit-ton of pink mescaline right before Christmas break. She was a pretty girl with huge brown eyes and a world-class rack, who had an immense appetite for life. I had never done mescaline before and the night I decided to try it with my friends, she had to work. She worked at a geriatric home in Wheaton and used to go in tripping. She was gentle and careful and with a head full of mescaline was really easily entertained by the old folks.

Me and my friends each ate a microdot of this stuff and decided to go see “The Omen,” which was a horror movie; nothing like a scary movie when you’re tripping to put you in the yuletide spirit. About ten minutes into the experience I turned to my friends and told them nothing was happening except I was vaguely giggly, so I demanded another microdot. Well, an hour later we went to the movie and it was really boring for the first five minutes until Damien, the son of the devil, is having his birthday party. And right when I was starting to peak, Damien’s nanny appears on a ledge sweetly calling to Damien, and then, as we notice the rope around her neck, she  steps off the ledge and  hangs herself. FUCK!!! JESUS CHRIST!!! Did she???

We then exploded into screeching laughter and applause. And all of the seats around us emptied.

Up on the screen, Gregory Peck and Lee Remick, Damien’s parents, look like they are about to spot their shorts. It was a fucking riot—I laughed so hard I almost passed out.

My pal Joe looked at me in the dark and  asked: “Is it me … or did the nanny just pull the Dutch trick?”

I assured him that the Nanny had, indeed, just hung the fuck out of herself and that this movie was a classic and the acid was kicking in big-time. We made a lot of noise and at one point might have started even applauding again. This towheaded usher we knew as Eggy came over with his flashlight and asked us to keep it down. Read the rest of this entry »