Street Smart Chicago

Linework: Eyes Born in the Night

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


Dime Stories: The Ferocious Wisdom of the Illinois Voter

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

“Democracy is the theory that the common  people know what they want and deserve to get it good and hard.”
—H. L. Mencken

A funny bit of choreography happened on the victory stand for Bruce Rauner’s successful and expensive campaign for the governor’s office the other night. A rainbow coalition materialized: On the stand were Illinoisans of every race, creed and color. I’m sure that these fine folks were all CEOs and higher-ups in Rauner’s many business interests.

Hey, it could happen!

It was one of those feel-goods designed to make us believe that these are all “Bruce’s people” and, right in the middle, the Smiley Dunce himself—twenty-seven million dollars poorer, like it matters—and full of all manner of warm, fuzzy feelings for the working people his ilk have been butt-surfing for decades. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Let the Good Times Roll

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green, Transit No Comments »
Biking on Bourbon Street. Photo: Dan Jatres

Biking on Royal Street in the French Quarter/Photo: Dan Jatres

By John Greenfield

If you’re a Chicagoan and haven’t made it to New Orleans yet, what’s stopping you? Though it’s on the other side of the continental U.S., and a world away culture-wise, it’s only a 13.5-hour drive. Better yet, catch Amtrak’s City of New Orleans train, immortalized in the eponymous Steve Goodman song.

The train trip is six hours longer, but it’s time well spent. You can get work done, chat with fellow rail fans, and check out spectacular views of Mississippi cypress groves and Louisiana bayous from the glassed-in observation car. Best of all, unlike on a car trip, you can drink booze. On my recent southbound journey to check out the Big Easy’s raucous Halloween celebration, things got downright rowdy in the café car by the time the train was skirting Lake Pontchartrain.

In the interest of mixing business with pleasure, I met up with Dan Jatres, pedestrian and bike program manager for the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission, to grill him about the local transportation scene. A Philadelphia native, Dan moved to the Crescent City thirteen years ago for college. When Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, he moved back north, but soon felt himself being drawn back again.

“New Orleans has a way of sucking you in,” Jatres explains. “It’s very different than pretty much anywhere else in the country. The culture is really fascinating, whether it’s the food or the music, or just the mindset of the people.” Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 13, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): We all have addictive and obsessive tendencies. They are fundamental to being human. So the challenge is not to eliminate them—that’s not possible—but rather to harness them. If you hope to keep them from dragging you down, you must work hard to channel them into activities that enhance your life. How are you doing on this score, Aries? Are you chronically dependent on drugs, gambling, sugar, or chaotic relationships? Or are you, instead, hooked on the courage you summon when you face your fears and the willpower you invoke as you free yourself from your limitations? Now is an excellent time to upgrade your addictive and obsessive tendencies. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 6, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Shape-shifting is a common theme in fairy tales, says cultural historian Marina Warner in her book “From the Beast to the Blonde.” “A rusty lamp turns into an all-powerful talisman,” for example. “A humble pestle and mortar become the winged vehicle of the fairy enchantress,” or a slovenly beggar wearing a dirty donkeyskin transforms into a radiant princess. I foresee metaphorically similar events happening in your life sometime soon, Aries. Maybe they are already underway. Don’t underestimate the magic that is possible. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: These Are Things That Are True

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


Best of Chicago 2014

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Cover by Jay R

Cover by Jay Ryan

Best of Chicago 2014 is out today. Nothing compares to this issue in print, so look for a copy today, before they’re all gone. (We have this handy map of locations if you don’t already have a favorite spot.)

Over the course of today, Thursday, October 30, we’ll be posting each of the approximately two-hundred items online at our Best of Chicago site (, so make sure you spend some time there, too. We’ve got years of archives there, enough for you to spend, oh, a year or more, taking in the Best of Chicago.

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 30, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): If you live in Gaza, you don’t have easy access to Kentucky Fried Chicken. The closest KFC restaurant is thirty-five miles away in the Egyptian city of El-Arish. But there was a time when you could pay smugglers to bring it to you via one of the underground tunnels that linked Egypt to Gaza. Each delivery took four hours and required the help of two taxis, a hand cart, and a motorbike. (Alas, Egypt destroyed most of the tunnels in early 2014.) I recommend, Aries, that you be as determined and resourceful to make your longed-for connections as the KFC lovers in Gaza were. Halloween costume suggestion: smuggler, bootlegger, drug-dealer, black-marketeer. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Pumpkins in the Park 5K (October 25, 2014)

Lincoln Park, Running No Comments »
Runners nearing the finish line at the Pumpkins in the Park 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman

Runners nearing the finish line at the Pumpkins in the Park 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman


Breakdown:  If ever a race was designed for family-friendliness, the Pumpkins in the Park 5K—with its early afternoon timing, costume contest, trick-or-treating and various distances for young runners—is it. Kicking off at the southwest end of Lincoln Park at 4pm on Saturday, roughly 1,400 runners made their way around the South Field House and the various softball fields before heading north on the west side of the Rowing Lagoon. I’ve been in costume-themed races before but Saturday’s race was awash in them: Batmans (Batmen?), bananas, Gumbys and many more made up a surprising percentage of the participants. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: A Change of Heart and of Mind

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

Almost a year ago I decided to move to New Orleans. It was the day before Christmas Eve and my pipes had broken. I’d heard of this happening to other people and knew that it probably sucked but I was unprepared for the freezing filthy water and slimy primordial shit that filled the basement when it happened. Luckily I’m Irish, which means at any given time in my life, I’m related to seven or eight drunken plumbers. They live for this shit—overtime out the ass and other costs due to the fact it is forty below zero. Yeah, it was that day. It was colder than a nun’s ass on Good Friday.

I called the closest plumber and he fixed it skippy quick—it took four hours but it was worth it and I’d have paid anything. Between this, the shoveling, the falling down the front steps and damned near breaking my ample Irish ass, I’d decided I’d had it: Fuck Winter. Fuck Emanuel. Fuck Dibs. Fuck Snow. Fuck Slush. Fuck Mormons ringing your doorbell trying to talk Jesus to you. Fuck it all. Read the rest of this entry »