By Michael Workman
It’s a sunny early morning in Basel, Switzerland. I’m one of a pair of junkies standing in the heart of downtown near the Kunsthalle, beside a door in the alley that leads two flights up to the Gaslight. It’s a “vampire club” that opens at 4am, and caters to all stripes of service-industry people, including the brothel’s sex workers and professional hard-core partiers, when the other joints start to close. We’re with the pro partiers. It’s a pretty thick crowd tonight, and me and my friend Lukac, bald and decked out in his brown fur overcoat, have been at it since dawn the previous day. It’s not our longest run, either. I’d met Lukac through the Swiss Embassy here in Chicago, who referred me to him when I called researching some business interests in the country. I’ve never met anybody as into cocaine as he is, and it’s not just him, all of his Basel friends are into it. It’s always a drug binge when we’re together. On the first night we met, we downed better than ten bottles of wine, burned through a quarter ounce of decent kush, toasted with some shots. We’ve been working our way all day and night through a few grams of cocaine, feeling acutely wired by the time we share the massive spliff that a sex worker from Argentina hands us on the dance floor and, again later, as we’re walking out. We’re moving all night together, me, Lukac and her friends, talking, our brains completely restricted to rear-brain activities only. It’s a repeat of the narcotized back-room scene at the Lodge from “Fire Walk with Me,” everyone slurring, indecipherable, visibly swaying in a deeply altered drug haze. Read the rest of this entry »
By Corey Hall
Greetings, Team Members!
As we begin this New Year, let us remember these new, six items of interest. As long as these Commandments—or friendly reminders, if you will—are abided by, you will, (most likely) be kept in our employ, so that you may continue being the middle man between us and your creditors.
One: As per our conversation, please refrain from gathering in throngs of two or more in areas not monitored by a security camera. While we have the utmost respect for all employees—whose ID numbers we can generate from our database at a moment’s notice—such gatherings just smell too much like team mutiny. If you must have a conversation with someone other than yourself, please conduct it within earshot of your most-recent Team Leader, and please avoid all jokes that may induce anything resembling laughter. Please practice only nuanced, non-offensive humor that, at best, raises eyebrows. You are encouraged to consult any NPR program for an example. Read the rest of this entry »
By 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 »
By 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 »
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 »
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 »
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 »
By Nate Beaty. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)
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
Top 5 Typos in College Papers
Using “there” for “their”
Alternating fonts from copying and pasting online
Using semi-colons as fancy commas
“Testes” as the plural form of “test”
Top 5 People Who Could Take Down Rahm
The Banana Man graffiti character
An endorsement from Redmoon
—Emerson Dameron Read the rest of this entry »
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 »