Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick
By Tony Fitzpatrick
There was a time when Donald Trump was easier to ignore. A squinty, arrogant, ego-driven billionaire, with a head full of piss-colored cotton candy. A Dope with more money than brain cells and an ambitious libido with a taste for model types. He was easy to laugh at and he was New York’s cross to bear—not ours.
His idiotic television show sought to breed mini-me versions of “The Donald” and damned near everyone who was on it was as detestable as he is. I caught it once, years ago, when Trump brought a dozen of these “Apprentice” drool-cases over to meet the late George Steinbrenner at Yankee Stadium. Steinbrenner, a convicted perjurer and member of Richard Nixon’s creepy inner circle, being Trump’s idea of a role model.
It was your usual verbal mutual kneel-and-bob session with two rich white guys standing across the room from each other, pointing both index fingers at one another and declaring: “You’re a WINNER, George” and then “No Donald, YOU’RE the WINNER, and these young WINNERS will learn from a great man like you.”
It would make one ill were it not so achingly funny. They were practically talking each other off.
Then I realized it isn’t so funny, that the whole country would have been done an invaluable service had someone locked the door after rolling a couple of grenades into Steinbrenner’s office. The world would have been spared a baker’s dozen of avaricious assholes who use Preparation H for lip gloss, and two delusional billionaires.
Now the goof wants to sign our city. He wants to slap his name on the world’s most beautiful skyline. Read the rest of this entry »
Riding in the Broadway PBLs/Photo: John Greenfield
By John Greenfield
For a bike-infrastructure geek like myself, this is the most exciting time of the year, when the city is in the thick of rolling out the season’s new lanes. Most of the twenty miles of new bikeways planned for 2014 aren’t as groundbreaking as in previous years, when protected lanes debuted on Kinzie, Dearborn and Milwaukee. However, there are some interesting projects going in this year, and it’s always a treat to ride a bikeway for the first time, a thrill akin to unwrapping a present.
I set out to pedal a gaggle of new lanes, a journey that will take me many miles from Edgewater on the North Side to Auburn Gresham on the South Side to Little Village on the West Side. I start my trip at Bryn Mawr and Sheridan, where I’m pleased to see that the Chicago Department of Transportation has solved an annoying problem. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): If you were alive 150 years ago and needed to get a tooth extracted, you might have called on a barber or blacksmith or wigmaker to do the job. (Dentistry didn’t become a formal occupation until the latter part of the nineteenth century.) Today you wouldn’t dream of seeking anyone but a specialist to attend to the health of your mouth. But I’m wondering if you are being less particular about certain other matters concerning your welfare. Have you been seeking financial advice from your massage therapist? Spiritual counsel from your car repair person? Nutritional guidance from a fast-food addict? I suggest you avoid such behavior. It’s time to ask for specific help from those who can actually provide it. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): In its quest for nectar, a hummingbird sips from a thousand flowers every day. As it flaps its wings seventy times a second, zipping from meal to meal, it can fly sideways, backward, or forward. If it so desires, it can also hover or glide upside-down. It remembers every flower it visits, and knows how long it will take before each flower will produce a new batch of nectar. To some Spanish speakers, hummingbirds are known as joyas voladoras, or “flying jewels.” Now take everything I’ve just said, Aries, and use it as a metaphor for who you can be in the coming week. Read the rest of this entry »
Basecamp for Energizer Night Race for a Brighter World/Photo: Zach Freeman
Breakdown: Despite this race’s title (and a gigantic inflatable pink bunny situated near the stage at basecamp), there was a distinct lack of staid corporate vibes at last night’s Energizer Night Race for a Brighter World. As participants gathered near the stage in Dusable Harbor—many sporting pink bunny ears and the Energizer headlamp included in the race packet—the race announcer quipped that some unsuspecting walker on the Lakefront Trail would see 900 pink rabbits running toward them and be reminded of their last trip on LSD. “Whoa,” the DJ jokingly admonished. “This is a family race!” “Right,” the announcer joked back. “I’m talking about their last trip on Lake Shore Drive!”
There was also a lack of jockeying for position near the starting line, despite nearly a thousand runners queuing up for this 5K for “families and young adults.” Night races are known for being a little less competitive than morning races but without pace groups things can still sometimes get pushy; this one sported a remarkably jovial group of runners and walkers.
The race kicked off around 8:10pm, once the sun had set but before darkness had fully settled in. Combined with the bunny ears, the headlamps provided a cool visual but didn’t necessarily illuminate the path in the dusky light—but waiting for it to get darker would have been an unnecessary delay. Finishing back in Dusable Harbor to the thumps of the DJ (which eventually gave way to a live band), runners gathered to dance, drink (beer was for sale at $5 a cup) and enjoy the view of a bunch of runners who just kept going and going and… Read the rest of this entry »
By Eric Rivera. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)
Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick
By Tony Fitzpatrick
The common starling or European starling was introduced to North America a couple of centuries ago by enthusiasts of Shakespeare. That’s right, Shakespeare. I had to read that twice myself. Evidently, the Bard was fond of the plucky bird’s gift for mimicry and a bunch of blue-bloods thought it would be jolly-good fun to have the little winged gangsters over here. The first thing the common starling did was muscle as many songbirds, including the lovely Eastern Bluebird, out of nesting spots as it could. It spread wildly, becoming one of the most successful species in the history of the continent. Particularly hard hit were the bluebirds, who were pushed damn near across the Mississippi River, damn near becoming Western Bluebirds. Population-wise, they are just beginning to come back now in the last two decades. This is what happens when we decide to diddle-dick around with nature—we become the victims as well as the beneficiaries of unintended consequences. Read the rest of this entry »
Dumping infill to build out the Chicago Riverwalk. Photo: John Greenfield
By John Greenfield
If 2013 was Chicago’s Long, Hot Summer of Transportation, then 2014 is the Summer of the Big Projects. Last year featured well-publicized game changers like the South Red Line rehab and the Divvy bike-share launch, but this year’s initiatives might not be so obvious to casual observers. That’s partly due to the changing of the guard at the Chicago Department of Transportation.
After forward-thinking, sharp-dressed commissioner Gabe Klein stepped down in November, he was replaced by the CTA’s head planner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, who’s only the second female chief in CDOT history. While her management and sartorial style is lower key than Klein’s, she’s no less progressive. “A lot got kicked off in the last two-and-a-half years,” she recently told me. “My goal is to continue that momentum, to make sure that we are bringing these projects in on time and on budget.”
One planned initiative whose future is somewhat beyond Scheinfeld’s control is the expansion of Divvy from its current 300 docking stations to 475. In January, Montreal-based Bixi, which provides the bikes and stations for the system, declared bankruptcy, putting the supply chain in jeopardy. However, Alta Bicycle Share, which runs Divvy for CDOT, is looking into alternative suppliers in case Bixi goes belly-up, and Scheinfeld says she expects the city will meet its expansion goals this year. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): “We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us,” writes novelist Robert R. McCammon. “We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow path and told to be responsible.” That’s the bad news, Aries. But now here’s the good news: The next twelve months will offer you a series of excellent opportunities to re-magic yourself. If you have not yet caught wind of the first invitation, I bet you will soon. Read the rest of this entry »
Illustration: Dmitry Samarov
By Dmitry Samarov
A lot has been written in the last couple years about ride-share services like Uber threatening the livelihood of cab drivers. In most of these articles Uber, Hailo, Sidecar, et al are pitted against local taxi companies like Yellow and Carriage. What is rarely made clear is that none of these companies—ride-share or traditional taxi—actually employ any drivers. So while they fight it out in the courts about regulations and who can and cannot get what part of the transportation market, the people doing the actual driving aren’t being represented by either side.
In 1993—when I became a cab driver—calling a taxi was a simple business. You picked up your home or office telephone, dialed your favorite cab company, and waited outside for your ride to arrive. A cabbie had two choices for picking up fares: troll the streets for passengers or “play the radio,” which meant turning on the two-way and submitting to the whims of his company’s dispatcher. Picture Danny DeVito in “Taxi” for an idea of the types we had to deal with. Read the rest of this entry »