Street Smart Chicago

Checkerboard City: What Kind of Art Is Coming to Wilson?

Architecture, Checkerboard City, Green, Transit, Uptown No Comments »
Cecil Balmond and the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Photos: John Greenfield, Wikipedia

Cecil Balmond and the ArcelorMittal Orbit/Photos: John Greenfield, Wikipedia

By John Greenfield

“The essence of public sculpture is that, for a moment, it belongs to you,” says renowned Sri Lankan-British artist Cecil Balmond, speaking at a recent packed community meeting in the basement of an Uptown nursing home. Last July, the CTA hired Balmond to create artwork for the Wilson Red Line station, as part of a massive, $203 million reconstruction project. It’s notable that the Wilson stop—a notoriously grungy facility and three-time winner of RedEye’s “Crust Station” contest—will be getting a piece by a man whose website calls him “the world’s leading thinker on form and structure.”

Work to rebuild the station began last fall and, as of press deadline, crews were almost done using heavy equipment to demolish the westernmost set of tracks and concrete support pillars. In all, 2,200 feet of the one-hundred-year-old tracks will be replaced and relocated, and the station will be transformed into a new transfer point between the Red and Purple lines. As a result, you can expect an influx of Northwestern students and staff moving to Uptown by the end of the decade. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 28, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Keith Moon played drums for the rock band the Who. He was once voted the second-greatest drummer  in history. But his erratic behavior, often provoked by drugs or alcohol, sometimes interfered with his abilities. In 1973, the Who was doing a live concert near San Francisco when the horse tranquilizer that Moon had taken earlier caused him to pass out. The band appealed to the audience for help. “Can anybody play the drums?” asked guitarist Pete Townshend. “I mean somebody good?” A nineteen-year-old amateur drummer named Scot Halpin volunteered. He played well enough to finish the show. I suspect that sometime soon, Aries, you may also get an unexpected opportunity to play the role of a substitute. Be ready! Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 21, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): James McNeil Whistler was an influential painter in the latter half of the nineteenth century. He advocated the “art for art’s sake” credo, insisting that the best art doesn’t need to teach or moralize. As far as he was concerned, its most important purpose was to bring forth “glorious harmony” from chaos. But the immediate reason I’m nominating him to be your patron saint for the coming weeks is the stylized signature he created: an elegant butterfly with a long tail that was actually a stinger. I think you’ll thrive by embodying that dual spirit: being graceful, sensitive and harmonious and yet also feisty, piquant and provocative. Can you manage that much paradox? I think you can. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: Starved Rock Country Marathon (May 16, 2015)

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Entering Starved Rock State Park/Photo: Zach Freeman

Entering Starved Rock State Park/Photo: Zach Freeman

Breakdown: Weather plays a big part in any race, but when that weather involves lightning, it can essentially define the race (as runners of the Illinois Marathon learned last month). And the storm that rolled in Saturday morning during the Starved Rock Country Marathon certainly did that. With a steady rain pouring and lightning striking, the event alert system was raised to black (Extreme) and the race was officially called off. The announcement was made at the aid station at mile 20.6, buses were sent out to collect runners and the race was over. Or was it?

Despite official announcements that the race was cancelled due to weather, many runners (this one included) kept running and experienced a waterlogged, post-storm course that was still heavily supported by volunteers and police officers alike. Buses did make the rounds but there was no forceful collection of runners—it was left to the discretion of the runner to decide what to do. Which made sense as the race wasn’t called until after the storm had already passed.

But aside from the race-defining storm, this still-new race (now in its second year) made a strong showing and a good case for growth and future registrations. Starting and finishing in downtown Ottawa, parking is easy, facilities are plentiful and locals are welcoming. The marathon is still small but the half marathon (which started fifteen minutes after the marathon) is much larger than the marathon. The views may not be as spectacular as advertised—the road through Starved Rock State Park is lovely, but greenery blocks most of the other scenery—but a small, country race is a welcome reprieve from big city marathons. As long as it doesn’t rain. (Zach Freeman) Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Untitled

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

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Dime Stories: The Scavengers

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

The great Charles Bowden passed away last year. He wrote a great many articles and books about the border, the one we share with Mexico. In the years since NAFTA passed there have been hundred upon hundreds of women murdered in and around Juarez–a great many of them maquiladora workers. A maquiladora is an assembly plant, or factory, that hires thousands of women and pays them stoop labor, shit wages to do piecework–sewing, circuit boards, and other close work that require small, deft hands.

A great many women from as far away as Central America flocked to the border for jobs. So NAFTA managed to impoverish two cultures. The women of the maquiladora plants and the American union worker, and some big American companies outsourced jobs here to avoid paying a living wage to union workers: Levi’s, Motorola, IBM, Black & Decker, GM, Cooper Tire, among others. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: The Divvy Perimeter Ride

Bicycling, Bridgeport, Checkerboard City, Englewood, Green, Lawndale, Little Village, South Shore No Comments »
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New Divvy station outside Comer College Prep in Grand Crossing/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

This year’s Divvy bike-share expansion, beefing up the system from 300 docking stations to 476, is moving at warp speed. One-hundred new stations have been installed since mid-April, and the rest should be in by early June.

As Divvy grows, the city is also trying to make it more equitable. After the expansion, the portion of the population that lives in the service area will grow from about thirty-three percent to fifty-six percent, and several low-income communities are getting stations for the first time. Meanwhile, CDOT is working on a strategy to provide Divvy access for residents who don’t have credit cards, and they promise they’ll have a major announcement about this by early summer.

To get a sense of how the stations are working out on the terra nova, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, I set out to pedal the perimeter of the completed service area on a sunny afternoon last week. I began my quest at the southeastern-most outpost of the system at Rainbow Beach in South Shore, a mostly African-American community. There was an eerie fog on the shoreline, and the sound of the waves mingled with birdsongs as I undocked my Divvy. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 14, 2015

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The danger of resisting a temptation too strenuously is that the temptation might depart. I suggest that you prevent that from happening. Without throwing yourself at the mercy of the temptation, see if you can coax it to stick around for a while longer. Why? In my view, it’s playing a useful role in your life. It’s motivating you to change some things that really do need to be changed. On the other hand, I’m not yet sure that it should become anything more than a temptation. It might serve you best that way, not as an object of your satisfied desire. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 7, 2015

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Benedictine monks observe the Latin motto Laborare est Orare. The nineteenth-century abbot Maurus Wolter interpreted these words to mean “work is worship” or “work is prayer.” He was trying to impress upon his fellow monks that the work they did was not a grudging distraction from their service to God, but rather at the heart of their devotion. To do their tasks with love was a way to express gratitude for having been blessed with the gift of life. I propose that you experiment with this approach in the coming weeks, even if your version is more secular. What would it be like to feel contentment with and appreciation for the duties you have been allotted? Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Untitled

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

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