Street Smart Chicago

Race Review: Glo Run (May 3, 2014)

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The Glo Run Course/Photo: Zach Freeman

The Glo Run course/Photo: Zach Freeman

Breakdown: “Where the eff is the start line?!” the DJ-cum-race announcer confusedly queries the throngs of brightly clad race participants. No one seems to know. “Oh,” he says, gesturing broadly to his right, “To my left!” This is the way the Glo Run—a nationwide, multi-location, nighttime rave party 5K—gets started in Chicago on a Saturday night. As thousands of runners and walkers make their way to the crowded starting line at the south end of Grant Park, the DJ is wondering aloud, “Who’s got the craziest dance moves right now?” In short, this is much more rave than race.

Still, as much as the type-A runner within me wants to cynically dismiss this event as unorganized—especially after waiting over an hour for pre-race packet pickup the night before at Fleet Feet, there’s a party-like atmosphere that permeates every part of this race (at the starting line, beach balls start bouncing around above the crowd like we’re at a music festival), not least of all because the people I’m lined up with at the starting line are not really there to run; they’re just there to do something fun on a Saturday night.

Unlike the Firefly Run—a race with a similar concept that I ran last year—the Glo Run includes a number of glowing, pulsing, music-blasting set pieces to run through along the open course and also managed a slow-moving but serviceable gear check (volunteers were not having an easy time finding numbered bags in the dark). I could list the reasons why runners might not rush to sign up for this rather gimmicky lakefront run (no chip time, an extremely crowded course and starting chute, high entry fee), but I can hear the several-thousand strong crowd chanting along with Icona Pop at the massive post-race party: “I don’t care! I love it!” There’s something to be said for an unabashedly good time. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Fireworks displays excite the eyes and lift the spirit. But the smoke and dust they produce can harm the lungs with residues of heavy metals. The toxic chemicals they release may pollute streams and lakes and even groundwater. So is there any alternative? Not yet. No one has come up with a more benign variety of fireworks. But if it happens soon, I bet it will be due to the efforts of an enterprising Aries researcher. Your tribe is entering a phase when you will have good ideas about how to make risky fun safer, how to ensure vigorous adventures are healthy, and how to maintain constructive relationships with exciting influences. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Run to Remember (May 3, 2014)

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Runners near the finish line during the Run to Remember/Photo: Zach Freeman

Runners near the finish line during the Run to Remember/Photo: Zach Freeman


Breakdown:  “There’s great awards!” declared the race announcer a few minutes before the tenth annual Run to Remember kicked off at eight this morning. “Well, there’s good awards,” he amended quickly with a laugh. “I hate to oversell.” But aside from this comedically retracted overselling of the awards, nothing else about this quickly growing annual race supporting the Chicago Police Memorial Foundation (at more than 5,000 participants, this was officially the largest showing to date) was overstated or oversold.

Starting and finishing near Gold Star Memorial Park just east of Soldier Field, this year’s race boasted much tighter organization than previous years, with clearly marked pace groups, plenty of course support and the signature bagpipers playing before, during and after the race. Most impressively, a police helicopter was on hand, flying back and forth over the Lakefront course during the race and making an especially memorable low pass just as the singer of the National Anthem held the high note in “free.”

For such a large field there was a remarkable amount of space along the open course, most likely because so many participants chose to walk. After a decade, this race has really come into its own, adding runners as the popularity of running increases, while still staying true to its roots of honoring the memory of fallen officers. “That is the primary reason we are here today,” a race announcer reminded runners at the starting line, and photos of those officers lining the last quarter mile of the course really drive that point home. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Letters to Skye

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


Dime Stories:  The Art World—An Occupied One-Percent Country

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The Art Racket_3001By Tony Fitzpatrick

A funny thing happened at Sotheby’s a few years ago. The consumers in the rarified art marketplace met Occupy Wall Street. I wasn’t there, but from what I’ve gleaned from those who were, the OWS crowd showed up in support of Sotheby’s striking art handlers, Local 814 Teamsters. The august auction giant beefed up the security and escorted the bigwigs in under guard—and, as Dennis Miller once said, “It was the sharpest bit of choreography since the Oswald prison-transfer.”

The auction folk were shocked—shocked I say!—to realize that the art market, too, is considered a valve in the malignant heart of the One Percent. If you notice, I didn’t say “art world,” though one can make a fairly decent case that many of its inhabitants are also the dreaded One Percent. And you know what? The OWS folks are right: the OWS people as well as Local 814, the Teamsters striking at Sotheby’s for a living wage (or I should say a living in New York wage), could not have picked a better target than that atmosphere and that activity—the goosing, cajoling and casual brutality of the market mentality, i.e. rich imbeciles measuring their worth in the reflective glow of  art.

And the art world should get its head out of its ass and ask itself just how the fuck it got there. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Is Bronzeville Chicago’s Next Bike Mecca?

Bicycling, Bronzeville, Checkerboard City, Green No Comments »
Bike Brozeville members in the Bud Billikin Parade. Photo: Bronzeville Bikes.

Bronzeville Bikes members in the Bud Billiken Parade/Photo: Bronzeville Bikes

By John Greenfield

“When we first started Bronzeville Bikes, the question was, ‘If we build it, will they come?’” says cofounder Bernard Loyd. The group encourages cycling in the Near South community once called “The Black Metropolis” with free repair sessions, neighborhood tours and more. “The answer was a resounding yes.”

Loyd is president of Urban Juncture, a firm that is currently building a food-themed complex called Bronzeville Cookin’, featuring Jamaican, vegetarian and Southern-style restaurants, plus a produce store and rooftop garden, by the Green Line’s 51st Street stop. In the fall of 2012, before Divvy bike-share launched, he was involved in discussions with the city about making the system accessible to locals. “But Divvy requires a credit card, and many residents don’t have one,” he says. “Bronzeville Bikes came out of the realization that while Divvy can be part of the puzzle, we also want to help folks use their own bikes for exercise, transportation, commerce.” Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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 By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Dear Astrologer: We Aries people have an intense fire burning inside us. It’s an honor and a privilege. We’re lucky to be animated with such a generous share of the big energy that gives life to all of nature. But sometimes the fire gets too wild and strong for us. We can’t manage it. It gets out of our control. That’s how I’m feeling lately. These beloved flames that normally move me and excite me are now the very thing that’s making me crazy. What to do? —Aries.” Dear Aries: Learn from what firefighters do to fight forest fires. They use digging tools to create wide strips of dirt around the fire, removing all the flammable brush and wood debris. When the fire reaches this path, it’s deprived of fuel. Close your eyes and visualize that scene. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Phi Delta Chi 5K Run/Walk (April 27, 2014)

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Participants lined up to start the Phi Delta Chi 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman

Participants lined up to start the Phi Delta Chi 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman

Breakdown:  Rain and wind threatened to put both a literal and figurative damper on this grassroots race organized by Phi Delta Chi (a professional pharmacy fraternity) in Montrose Harbor this morning as the 9:30 starting time approached. But within minutes of runners taking off, the clouds shifted, the rain dissipated and the sun came out, allowing for the small field of around 150 participants (walkers and runners) to get the most out of the out-and-back course along the lakefront trail.

A single well-stocked water station—appropriately situated just after the first mile (and after the second on the way back)—provided runners with hydration and plenty of course attendants were stationed along the way to keep foot traffic going in the right direction. The open course felt plenty wide for the number of runners but the mile markers could use some work; the first evaded me and the second was placed far too early along the course leading to confusion regarding the distance to the finish line (a sentiment I heard reiterated by other participants).

But as with the best smaller races, there was a sense of excitement and earnestness that drove the Phi Delta Chi 5K and made it more than merely another small 5K (an increasingly rare find within Chicago city limits these days). From the proud announcement regarding the money participants raised for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to the cheering volunteers along the course and at the finish line the investment in the enjoyment of the runners was palpable. This is only the second year that Phi Delta Chi has hosted this race so there’s plenty of room for growth. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Ravenswood Run (April 27, 2014)

-Neighborhood/Suburb, Lincoln Square, News etc., Running No Comments »


Runners finishing the 18th annual Ravenswood Run/Photo: Zach Freeman

Runners finishing the eighteenth annual Ravenswood Run/Photo: Zach Freeman

Breakdown:  Just before the starting gun went off on the eighteenth annual Ravenswood Run—a neighborhood favorite that, judging by the fact that it sold out last week, clearly attracts runners from all over the city—Fleet Feet owner Dave Zimmer reminded the roughly 3,000 runners gathered at the starting line just north of Wilson and Hermitage that it’s been a “brutal, brutal Chicago winter.” He wasn’t trying to drudge up bad memories. In fact he was merely reiterating what a representative from All Saints’ Episcopal Church had just stated moments before in a pre-race prayer: “It’s been a long, hard, cold winter. And apparently it’s not done!” But both of these statements were code for something Chicago runners need little reminder of: “It may be forty-five degrees, but hey—it ain’t negative twenty!”

And it certainly ain’t. Forty-five may sound cold when you’re standing around, but for running it’s fairly ideal. And, despite a small chance of rain, the sky held out and allowed for nice cloud cover without the bothersome precipitation that often comes with it. With a course that snaked through neighborhoods in both Ravenswood and Lincoln Square—and even up Lincoln through the iconic Lincoln Square strip between Leland and Lawrence—the Ravenswood Run is as much a race as a celebration of neighborhood and neighborliness, as proven by the many spectators standing outside their houses sipping coffee and cheering on the runners.

A sense of camaraderie is one of the harder aspects to control for when putting on a race with so many participants, but this one manages to represent both the “neighborhood” aspect of its subtitle (Ravenswood Run: A Neighborhood 5K) and the high quality and organization of a big Chicago 5K. Weather is a big factor in any race and today’s weather certainly played into the success of this annual event but it’s the solid neighborhood vibe that’s kept people coming back for eighteen years. Read the rest of this entry »

Partners and Companions: Life Spent in the Care of “Hill Street Blues”

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hill street-orig castBy Martin Northway

Pink Floyd’s “Money” was haunting the airwaves, Neil Diamond’s “Love on the Rocks” was making the soon-to-divorce lonelier still, and Barbra Streisand’s “Woman in Love” and John Lennon’s “(Just Like) Starting Over” only intensified our despair.

These remain my “divorce songs.” Hearing them instantly summons memories of the winter of my discontent, separated from my wife and two children. I am propelled back into the offices I shared with a business colleague, clandestinely bivouacked until early mornings when I broke camp like a Scout, erasing evidence of my nighttime residency accompanied by my radio sound track.

I finally rented a flat, and friends began stepping up, extending me tender mercies. One such was Lynne. We had worked together at the newspaper in our small but bustling county seat deep in Southern Indiana hill country. On the TV she had seen trailers for a promising new cop drama. She knew of my ties to Chicago during college and my early working years, and though “Hill Street Blues” was supposedly set in a generic northern city, its production links to the Windy City were not cleverly hidden. Read the rest of this entry »