Street Smart Chicago

Linework: Unpleasant Memories

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By Kevin Budnik. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)Budnik_Unpleasant_Memories-WEB

Walking on the Wild Side: A Former Prostitute Recalls Life on the Street

Essays & Commentary, Love & Sex No Comments »


Illustration: Kady Dennell

Illustration: Kady Dennell

By Anonymous

I am standing in front of The Closet, a gay bar on Broadway between Addison and Belmont. It is a warm summer night. I am twenty-four. I am going to get in the first car that stops. I am a sex worker, but right now, in the 1980s, we are called prostitutes and streetwalkers. If we do it in a hotel we are call girls. Interesting how long it took for people to realize this is a job and work.

Neither the johns nor the sex workers realize that in a few years a lot of our cruising will be online. We will be using Craigslist and cell phones to screen out nuts and psychos and cops. Hopefully. But the Internet has not been invented yet. Right now, if you are selling it or buying it, you have to rely on your street sense.

When you are out here, you don’t think about the danger. For one thing, I am high as a kite on meth. These guys are rude and repulsive, but I can enjoy myself because I am high. People without addictions don’t understand that there are three highs: the high; the high of knowing you’re going to get high; and the high of doing risky things while you’re high. Read the rest of this entry »

Starry-Eyed Projections: Surprise! Newcity is Going to Make a Movie

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The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first made into a movie in 1910, in Chicago, by the Chicago-based Selig Polyscope Company

“The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” was first made into a movie in 1910, in Chicago, by the Chicago-based Selig Polyscope Company

By Brian Hieggelke

Newcity is going to make a feature film. The plan is to have it finished by our thirtieth anniversary, two years from now.

Twenty-eight years ago this week, we launched this publication. It was, in retrospect, an act of extreme confidence, or hubris, depending on your perspective. (Likely both.) As founders, we were in our late teens and early twenties; not one of us had any publishing experience at all, at any level. Yet we conceived of the idea in November and, here we were, about two months later, holding in our hands the very first issue of Newcity.  Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: The Wonder of Birds

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

The other night at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum in Lincoln Park, an event celebrated the publication of my friend Joel Greenberg’s fascinating natural history account of the extinction of the passenger pigeon, “A Feathered River Across the Sky.” It is a remarkable book about the squandering and wholesale slaughter of a single species.

In 1860, a single flock of passenger pigeons so huge and in such great volume took two days to fly over. The estimate is something like three billion birds. So many that the sky was darkened; a phenomenon reported on many other migratory paths as well. It must have been almost unfathomable that these birds would ever NOT be in the world. A scant fifty years later, they were gone. The last one, “Martha,” died in captivity in a Cincinnati Zoo having never flown or even been in the wild. It is almost impossible to believe that this hearty species, a bird that could swallow acorns whole, could be wiped out in such short order. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Naked Theatrical Ambition

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Photo: Anne Sullivan via CTA Tattler

By John Greenfield

If you follow Chicago transportation news, Molly Rose Lewis, a local actress and playwright who’s collaborating on “Right of Way,” a new theater piece about traffic safety, may look oddly familiar. She’s the woman texting in the foreground of the famous photo of the self-proclaimed “goddess of the train” at the Red Line’s Granville stop.

As you’ll recall, last November a nude, thirty-one-year-old woman on an El car announced she was going to drive the train and ordered the other passengers to get off, before she was carted away by the authorities. Part of what made the photo funny to me was that Lewis appeared to be oblivious to the Botticellian scene behind her.  Actually that wasn’t the case—she was tweeting a photo she’d taken of the woman’s feet. “So there’s a weird circularity to the image,” Lewis says. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “You know it’s Saturday when you are wiping off vodka stains from your face with a marshmallow,” testifies the woman who writes the Tumblr blog “French Fries Absinthe Milkshakes.” I really hope you don’t even come close to having an experience like that this week, Aries. But I’m worried that you will. I sense that you’re becoming allergic to caution. You may be subconsciously wishing to shed all decorum and renounce self-control. To be clear, there’s nothing inherently wrong with relaxing your guard. I hope you will indeed give up some of your high-stress vigilance and surrender a bit to life’s sweet chaos. Just please try to find a playful and safe and not-too-insane way to do so. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Chi-Town Big Game 5/10K (February 2, 2014)

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Runners walking back to the United Club after the race/Photo: Zach Freeman

Runners walking back to the United Club after the race/Photo: Zach Freeman

Breakdown:  It’s amazing how much difference a little sunshine can make. Last year this race was a slog through snow, wind and low temperatures. This year, despite the temperature on race day actually being colder than last year (around ten degrees vs last year’s twelve), the course for the Chi-Town Big Game 5K/10K was actually downright comfortable. Luckily for runners and race organizers alike, both the 5K and 10K courses took advantage of the open spaces of the Lakefront Trail and participants spent most of their time running in the sun, rather than in the shade (where those ten degrees felt a lot less friendly).

Still, most runners didn’t spend much time standing around the starting or finishing lines before or after the race, opting instead to spend pre- and post-race downtime inside Soldier Field’s United Club, which once again served as basecamp for the race. Reasonable start times (9am for the 5K, 9:20am for the 10K) kept runners from waking up too early, an expanded array of food and beverage options from the concession stands were available after the race (each participant was given a ticket for one beverage and one food item) and a live cover band kept the mood lively. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): On my fifteenth birthday, I finally figured out that eating dairy products was the cause of my chronic respiratory problems. From that day forward, I avoided foods made from cow’s milk. My health improved. I kept up this regimen for years. But a month ago, I decided to see if my longstanding taboo still made sense. Just for the fun of it, I gave myself permission to gorge on a tub of organic vanilla yogurt. To my shock, there was no hell to pay. I was free of snot. In the last few weeks, I have feasted regularly on all the creamy goodies I’ve been missing. I bring this up, Aries, because I suspect an equally momentous shift is possible for you. Some taboo you have honored for a long time, some rule you have obeyed as if it were an axiom, is ripe to be broken. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Dynamic Tales from Another Dimension

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

Dime Stories: The Many Lives of Art Shay

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Photo: Art Shay

By Tony Fitzpatrick

While walking through Art Shay’s exhibit at Ann Nathan Gallery, one can’t quite help noticing the “right place-right time” element in each of them. Shay as a photo-journalist, artist and observer has that thing.

That almost unnatural ability to wait for the defining, salient moment to reveal itself—and then he pulls the trigger. His photos of the civil-rights era: a black man leaving a demonstration with a sign that states  “I am a Man” slung across his back, while a crowd of white, indifferent faces pass him by—this image still cuts to the bone—and we realize it was NOT a long time ago.

This show is full of these kind of revelations—for Shay, like Studs Terkel, bore witness to a century. He’s been around for so long it is sometimes difficult to decide which Art Shay to write about: The ground-breaking Life magazine photographer? The seriously underrated artist? The best chronicler of Nelson Algren and his Wicker Park demimonde? The decorated World War II aviator who flew more than fifty bombing missions over Germany and France? The championship racquetball player? Read the rest of this entry »