Street Smart Chicago

Lonely in a Crowd: A Holiday at the Moomers

Essays & Commentary, Hyde Park No Comments »

By Michael Workman

By the time we manage the hour-and-a-half El-train-to-bus junket from Lincoln Square to Hyde Park, we’re already gripped with that particular combination of fatigue and active nerves usually reserved for those nights we’ve spent snorting lines of crushed Adderall washed down with too much booze. But tonight. Well. It’s New Year’s Eve, after all, and there’s plain cause for our anxious jubilation.

Our shadows stretch up the walk ahead, slowly splitting and shrinking beside, then behind us as we make our way up the 5500 block of Hyde Park Boulevard to Moomers. Not the ice cream from Michigan, but the Hyde Park institution, named after a founding tenant’s beloved feline pet, a name passed down, same as the hideout that preserves its legacy, tenant to tenant, generation to generation.

I’m with Cinnamoan Smidge, who I’ve been dating-slash-sleeping-with on and off again between bouts of mutual, relationship-ending, suicidal indulgences for roughly the last nine months. We’re here tonight because a friend of Cinnamoan’s rang up about the party, with whom she keeps texting as we stroll, finally locating the correct house number. And there it is, marked right on the buzzer, “Moomers,” it says, plain as day. We buzz, I count half a dozen heart beats, and we’re admitted. Inside, we’re greeted by Tyrone (not his real name), a young, wiry-framed guy in suit jacket and fedora who administers the place. Hugs and handshakes, and we slip out of our jackets and scarves, depositing them on the already-crowded coat rack just inside the door, opposite the large, dormant Tesla coil. Read the rest of this entry »

The Power of the Network: Give Before You Take

Education/Training, Hyde Park No Comments »

“It’s not what you know but who you know.” We all know this saying, and we all realize how important networking is to getting a job, changing careers and even being more successful in our current jobs. With few exceptions, my fellow alums from thirty years ago credit much of their success to relationships they have built and nurtured throughout their careers.

For those soon to launch careers with a degree in hand, what is the best way to build a strong network? A common practice is to target influential people in one’s industry, and try to connect with them with the thought of “what can this person do for me?” A better idea is to turn this approach on its head. In his groundbreaking book, “Give and Take,” Adam Grant presents compelling evidence that “givers,” or those who approach life attempting to help others succeed, in the end benefit far more than either “takers” or “matchers.” He points out, and backs up his claim with data, that the best networkers in fact do not think about how they will benefit from assisting others. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Longstreet

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By Darryl Holliday and E.N. Rodriguez. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)

ILSTPRESS_Longstreet_web-1

Dime Stories: City of Killers

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

“There are nothing but murderers in this room…”
—John Rooney (Paul Newman) explaining just who they are in the world to Michael “The Angel of Death” Sullivan (Tom Hanks), in “The Road to Perdition”

There was a lot wrong with the movie “The Road to Perdition,” but not a damn thing wrong with “Road to Perdition,” the graphic novel by Max Allan Collins. It is a moody, poignant story of the love between father and son, the unforgiving nature of the Irish mob and the primacy of revenge among the Irish—and we are some vengeful motherfuckers.

The movie was far too long, but Jesus was it beautiful to look at, shot all over Chicago and Illinois, as well as bordering states. The Midwest has never looked more bucolic and heavenly than it does through the late, great Conrad Hall’s lens. Sadly, it was Hall’s last film—a noble effort by director Sam Mendes and actor Tom Hanks who, at his best in it, made you believe that he could be a remorseless murderer for hire. He was cast against type, to say the very least. Paul Newman gives what is to be his last film performance and it is a gem, a study in charm and stillness and Irish melancholy. The film is worth watching for his work alone. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Urine—A Lot of Trouble

Checkerboard City, City Life, Green, Transit No Comments »
The elevator at the Red Line's Grand Avenue stop. Photo: John Greenfield

The elevator at the Red Line’s Grand stop/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

I don’t mean to sound pissy, but the Chicago Transit Authority is having difficulty keeping its elevators urine-free. Some say it’s the agency’s Number One challenge.

Like most Chicagoans who get around by rapid transit, I’ve noticed that people often use the lifts as restrooms. However, the issue really hit home when my seventy-eight-year-old father visited last month. Due to knee troubles, it’s tough for him to walk more than a couple blocks at a time, but he gets around great on a bicycle, and enjoys seeing the Windy City on two wheels.

My dad and I did much of our sightseeing by cycling to my local El station, riding the train downtown with our bikes, and then pedaling to destinations like the Shedd Aquarium and an architectural boat tour. That made for nearly door-to-door trips, requiring less walking than if we’d taken a car there. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of September 18, 2014

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): These horoscopes I write for you aren’t primarily meant to predict the future. They are more about uncovering hidden potentials and desirable possibilities that are stirring below the surface right now. When I’m doing my job well, I help you identify those seeds so you can cultivate them proactively. Bearing that in mind, I’ll pose three pertinent questions. 1. What experiments might stir up more intimacy in the relationships you want to deepen? 2. What could you change about yourself to attract more of the love and care you want? 3. Is there anything you can do to diminish the sting of bad memories about past romantic encounters, thereby freeing you to love with more abandon? Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of September 11, 2014

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In the 2000 film Cast Away, Tom Hanks plays an American FedEx executive who is stranded alone on a remote Pacific island after he survives a plane crash. A few items from the plane wash up on shore, including a volleyball. He draws a face on it and names it “Wilson,” creating a companion who becomes his confidant for the next four years. I’d love to see you enlist an ally like Wilson in the coming week, Aries. There are some deep, messy, beautiful mysteries you need to talk about. At least for now, the only listener capable of drawing them out of you in the proper spirit might be a compassionate inanimate object that won’t judge you or interrupt you. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Hey

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

ben_marcus_Hey_WEB

Dime Stories: Of Hobos, Card Games and Bughouse Square

Dime Stories 1 Comment »
The Letter 'S' 300

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

“Chicago is the greatest railway center in the United States. No one knows these facts better than the hobo. It is a fact that trains from all points of the compass are constantly entering and leaving the city over its 39 different railways. According to the Chicago City Manual, there are 2,840 miles of steam railways within the city limits. The mileage of steam railroad track in Chicago is equal to the entire railroad mileage in Switzerland and Belgium, and is greater than the steam railroad mileage found in each of the kingdoms of Denmark, Holland, Norway, and Portugal. Twenty-five through package cars leave Chicago every day for 18,000 shipping points in 44 states.” —”On Hobos and Homelessness” by Nels Anderson

Given that Chicago was the hub of the American railroad system, it’s not a surprise that the largest ‘”hobo jungles” were here. The area around North Dearborn Street (Washington Square–better known as Bughouse Square) was one of the safe harbors for itinerant men and women. In the years between 1900 and 1920, much was changing in American life and this part of the city, known then as “Tower Town” because of its proximity to the Water Tower, was known as a neighborhood of bars like the Dil Pickle Club, brothels and gambling dens. It was also the center of the newly realized avant-garde in Chicago. The nascent American art form of jazz could be found here. Although mostly on the South Side, it also had devotees among this crowd of free thinkers. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of September 4, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I don’t usually do this kind of thing, but I’m going to suggest that you monitor the number six. My hypothesis is that six has been trying to grab your attention, perhaps even in askew or inconvenient ways. Its purpose? To nudge you to tune in to beneficial influences that you have been ignoring. I furthermore suspect that six is angling to show you clues about what is both the cause of your unscratchable itch and the cure for that itch. So lighten up and have fun with this absurd mystery, Aries. Without taking it too seriously, allow six to be your weird little teacher. Let it prick your intuition with quirky notions and outlandish speculations. If nothing comes of it, there will be no harm done. If it leads you to helpful discoveries, hallelujah. Read the rest of this entry »