Street Smart Chicago

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 16, 2014

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): New York City’s Diamond District is home to over 2,000 businesses that buy and sell jewelry. Throughout the years, many people have lost bits of treasure here. Valuable bits of gold and gems have fallen off broken necklaces, earrings, watches, and other accessories. Now an enterprising man named Raffi Stepnanian is cashing in. Using tweezers and a butter knife, he mines for the rich pickings that are packed in the mud of sidewalk cracks and gutters. “The percentage of gold out here on the street is greater than the amount of gold you would find in a mine,” he says. I’d love to see you get inspired by his efforts, Aries. Dig for treasure in unlikely places where no one else would deign to look. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 9, 2014

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Situation #1: If you meet resistance or doubt, say this: “Ha! This diversion can’t slow me down, because I am in possession of an invisible magical sword!” And then brandish a few charismatic swipes of your sword to prove that you mean business. Situation #2: If angst and worry are preventing your allies from synchronizing their assets with yours, say this: “Begone, dread! For with the power of my wicked crazy songs, I am the destroyer of fear.” And then sing your wicked crazy songs. Situation #3: If you’re finding it hard to discern the difference between useless, ugly monsters and useful, beautiful monsters, say this: “I am a useful, beautiful monster!” Your kind will flock to your side. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: You’re Not Mexican

Linework No Comments »

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

newcity_comic_suarezWEB

Dime Stories: Notes From a Former Lifetime

Dime Stories 1 Comment »
TheStrangeAngel_300b

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

If you drive rural roads, particularly the ones in the Midwest where the landscape is flat, you often see owls in radio towers at dusk or dawn. This is mostly when they hunt. When I was young, I hitchhiked everywhere (across the country a couple of times) and I remember being stuck on a road outside Galesburg, Illinois, which  is the very definition of “East Bumfuck,” trying to thumb a ride. I got picked up by a guy who was shuttling U-Haul-style moving trucks who drove me back to Champaign where I was not attending college. He gave me a job cleaning and servicing moving trucks, which I used to load up with my friends after hours and have rolling parties, with twenty goofballs packed into the truck, a keg and a boom box blasting AC/DC. We would stop at a townie bar in Urbana called Huffy’s, owned by one Earl Huffman, an ill-tempered drunk and bad pool player who, when angered, would start throwing pool balls at the clientele while ordering everyone to, “Get the fuck out, Skippy!  Chop-Chop!” Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Is There Really a Blue Menace?

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green, Loop 1 Comment »
Detroit native Junior Bashi rides a Divvy on a A Michigan Avenue sidewalk. Photo: John Greenfield

Detroit native Junior Bashi rides on a Michigan Avenue sidewalk/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

Chicago’s master bike-baiter, Tribune columnist John Kass, was one of the first local pundits to warn the public about the dangers of Divvy. “I can’t stand those Divvy bike people,” he griped in an online video in August 2013, a couple months after the system launched. “Go outside on Michigan Avenue… Reporters going in and out of this building almost get killed. ‘Cause you’ve got some little old lady from Denmark… and she’s on the sidewalk, and she’s almost smashing into the Polish pedi-bike guys.”

However, more than one year and 2.6 million trips later, the bike-share system has a solid safety record. To date, there have been zero reports of Divvy riders being involved in crashes resulting in serious injuries. What’s more, last August Reuters reported that there have been no bike-share-related deaths in the U.S. since modern bike-share debuted in this country seven years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 2, 2014

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): As I hike through the wilderness at dusk, the crickets always seem to be humming in the distance. No matter where I go, their sound is farther off, never right up close to me. How can that be? Do they move away from me as I approach? I doubt it. I sense no leaping insects in the underbrush. Here’s how this pertains to you: My relationship with the crickets’ song is similar to a certain mystery in your life. There’s an experience that calls to you but forever seems just out of reach. You think you’re drawing nearer, about to touch it and be in its midst, but it inevitably eludes you. Now here’s the good news: A change is coming for you. It will be like what would happen if I suddenly found myself intimately surrounded by hundreds of chirping crickets. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of September 25, 2014

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): It’s no secret. The wealthy one percent of the population has been getting progressively wealthier. Meanwhile, the poor are becoming steadily poorer. I’m worried there is a metaphorically similar trend in your life. Am I right? If so, please do all you can to reverse it. Borrow energy from the rich and abundant parts of your life so as to lift up the neglected and underendowed parts. Here’s one example of how you could proceed: For a while, be less concerned with people who think you’re a star, and give more attention to those who accept and love your shadow side. Read the rest of this entry »

Train Yourself: Explore the City While You Can

City Life, Hyde Park, Transit No Comments »
Photo: David Wilson

Photo: David Wilson/Creative Commons

Take the train.

It sounds like a simple thing and it sort of is. Chicago is lucky to have the mass transit it does despite its nonsensical delays, the overcrowded cars and the omnipresent construction. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the credit it’s often given. Take advantage of it.

Chicago has so much to offer if you give yourself the opportunity to explore a bit. The Loop. Lake Michigan. The neighborhoods with their stunningly different personalities. For those of you who are students, by midterms of fall quarter it’s going to feel like there’s never a chance to leave campus, that there isn’t enough time, that there’s simply too much to do to stay ahead of the classwork. Don’t let the stacks and study rooms of the Regenstein and Harper keep you from enjoying the rest of the city. Make the time to get out. Find a coffee shop off campus to study at instead of your usual library spot. Go to shows. They’re cheap and plentiful. Bike the miles of lakefront paths. They’re endlessly beautiful. Spend a rainy afternoon in one of Chicago’s many museums. They’ll put you in other worlds. Get out. Learn the city that the university calls home. Read the rest of this entry »

That’s All Well and Good in Practice, But How Does it Work in Theory?

Education/Training, Essays & Commentary, Hyde Park No Comments »

By Naseem Jamnia (AB ’13)

When I first set foot onto the quad—actually, it was the Ida Noyes courtyard, stone arches and grassy front—I was a goner. The Core’s opportunities thrilled me, even though the gym requirement totally blew; Northwestern, which I had visited that morning, sucked. What sealed it for me was when my tour guide paused by the Oriental Institute and asked which famous archeologist worked at the UofC.

If only the snakes were just the literal kind.

When we arrived, we were finally faced with our own worst enemy: ourselves. We looked around and saw not mirror images, but our murky reflection cast against the lake. How does admissions choose us, with applications starring perfect GPAs, dozens of extracurriculars, strong goals? We were all the same, though at the time, this was far from being a problem. Many of us felt that we had finally found where we belonged; everyone was like us and yet interesting! We had been the outcasts or nerds, the ones that either dominated class or didn’t speak up because it was too simple. We turned into the kids and the Scavvies; the techies, non-TAPS UT players, always-in-rehearsals; locked up in the Reg or Harper; ha-you-have-it-easy-you’re-not-a-science-majors; stop-complaining-about-crossing-the-Midway-Broadway-is-so-far away—by the end, we couldn’t even pinpoint where we had started because we had forced ourselves to go our separate ways. Read the rest of this entry »

The Green and the Green Line: Putting the Public in Public Transit—and Public Space

Hyde Park, Transit 1 Comment »
Photo: Jeff Gilliland

Photo: Jeff Gilliland

By Jeff Gilliland, MA ’13

All I wanted to do was go to the club. It was the day before my U of C Master’s program began in September 2012, and the Prince and Michael Jackson Experience was in town for one night only. Thinking that it would be a great occasion to gather some of my new classmates together before we had to dive into work, I sent an email to the program’s listserv. “Dance party for the ages this Saturday night!!” Not knowing the first thing about public transit in Chicago, I followed protocol and suggested a few routes that Google Maps said would take us close by.

Hours later, I received an email from one of the program’s staff advisors. “I might rethink taking the 55 to the Ashland bus. Ditto with the Green Line,” it read. “Neither is a paragon of night-time safety.” Farther down the email, I discovered that a faculty member had requested we change the travel route, so that no one would be “traumatized” the day before our program began. The emails were kind and tactful, and clearly stemmed from the program’s concern for the well-being of its students. But the message behind the words was clear: aside from the 6 bus and a few other exceptions, public transit on the South Side is not to be trusted. In fact, it is to be feared and avoided at all costs.

There is a spot on the Green Line, just north of the Indiana station, that will take your breath away. Read the rest of this entry »