Street Smart Chicago

Dime Stories: Notes From a Former Lifetime

Dime Stories 1 Comment »
TheStrangeAngel_300b

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

If you drive rural roads, particularly the ones in the Midwest where the landscape is flat, you often see owls in radio towers at dusk or dawn. This is mostly when they hunt. When I was young, I hitchhiked everywhere (across the country a couple of times) and I remember being stuck on a road outside Galesburg, Illinois, which  is the very definition of “East Bumfuck,” trying to thumb a ride. I got picked up by a guy who was shuttling U-Haul-style moving trucks who drove me back to Champaign where I was not attending college. He gave me a job cleaning and servicing moving trucks, which I used to load up with my friends after hours and have rolling parties, with twenty goofballs packed into the truck, a keg and a boom box blasting AC/DC. We would stop at a townie bar in Urbana called Huffy’s, owned by one Earl Huffman, an ill-tempered drunk and bad pool player who, when angered, would start throwing pool balls at the clientele while ordering everyone to, “Get the fuck out, Skippy!  Chop-Chop!” Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Is There Really a Blue Menace?

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green, Loop 1 Comment »
Detroit native Junior Bashi rides a Divvy on a A Michigan Avenue sidewalk. Photo: John Greenfield

Detroit native Junior Bashi rides on a Michigan Avenue sidewalk/Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

Chicago’s master bike-baiter, Tribune columnist John Kass, was one of the first local pundits to warn the public about the dangers of Divvy. “I can’t stand those Divvy bike people,” he griped in an online video in August 2013, a couple months after the system launched. “Go outside on Michigan Avenue… Reporters going in and out of this building almost get killed. ‘Cause you’ve got some little old lady from Denmark… and she’s on the sidewalk, and she’s almost smashing into the Polish pedi-bike guys.”

However, more than one year and 2.6 million trips later, the bike-share system has a solid safety record. To date, there have been zero reports of Divvy riders being involved in crashes resulting in serious injuries. What’s more, last August Reuters reported that there have been no bike-share-related deaths in the U.S. since modern bike-share debuted in this country seven years ago. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 2, 2014

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): As I hike through the wilderness at dusk, the crickets always seem to be humming in the distance. No matter where I go, their sound is farther off, never right up close to me. How can that be? Do they move away from me as I approach? I doubt it. I sense no leaping insects in the underbrush. Here’s how this pertains to you: My relationship with the crickets’ song is similar to a certain mystery in your life. There’s an experience that calls to you but forever seems just out of reach. You think you’re drawing nearer, about to touch it and be in its midst, but it inevitably eludes you. Now here’s the good news: A change is coming for you. It will be like what would happen if I suddenly found myself intimately surrounded by hundreds of chirping crickets. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of September 25, 2014

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): It’s no secret. The wealthy one percent of the population has been getting progressively wealthier. Meanwhile, the poor are becoming steadily poorer. I’m worried there is a metaphorically similar trend in your life. Am I right? If so, please do all you can to reverse it. Borrow energy from the rich and abundant parts of your life so as to lift up the neglected and underendowed parts. Here’s one example of how you could proceed: For a while, be less concerned with people who think you’re a star, and give more attention to those who accept and love your shadow side. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Manual 2014: Who Wants to Have Some Fun?

Education/Training, Hyde Park No Comments »

Sometime after I left the College, back in 1983, the phrase “Where Fun Comes to Die” attached itself to the University of Chicago in the zeitgeist. Funny thing, that, since I used to tell people that if I’d had more fun in college, I’d be dead, what with all the fraternity parties, Lascivious Costume Balls, “study breaks” and god-knows-what-else we used to frequent, where we’d lament our inability to have a good time at the University of Chicago compared to, we assumed, other schools. There’s no question fun reshapes its contours in Hyde Park, where play, foreplay and mindplay all have their place. Where that guy boasting about all his big ideas at the kegger might, in fact, have big ideas. After all, this place is ground zero for the atomic bomb, the Heisman Trophy and improv theater. How fun is that?

Newcity was founded by UChicago graduates right out of the College, so we’ve always had a special connection to the Grey City, and lots of time to think about it. Accordingly, this second edition of Chicago Manual is not like other Orientation guides you might see around campus. For one, it’s not chock full of recommendations for the best pizza in Hyde Park, or the social dynamics of study carrels in the Reg. It’s meant to be savored, to be studied, to have fun with. And it’s not written primarily by undergrads—though we do have a fine piece written by a fourth-year herein—but rather a mix of those of us who’ve graduated, and offer our perspective with the seasoning of time. (Plus a couple of writers also consider Hyde Park from the perspective of outsiders looking in.) Some are recent grads, some of us thirty years or more.  But the message is the same. Here is the perspective of “what I know now, that I wish I’d known then.” So now you know, and it’s your then now. (Brian Hieggelke AB ’83, MBA ’84)

The Green and the Green Line: Putting the Public in Public Transit—and Public Space

Towering Solitude and Pazuzu: Let the Beauty of Hyde Park Possess You

Out of Place: The Neighbor Outside Looking (and Sneaking) In

Train Yourself: Explore the City While You Can

That’s All Well and Good in Practice, But How Does it Work in Theory?

Lonely in a Crowd: A Holiday at the Moomers

Normal Life: Don’t Skip the Working Classes

What Will Become of WHPK? The College Radio Station Unlike Any Other

The Power of the Network: Give Before You Take

Chicago Looks: Can’t Hyde That Style

Things to Do with Your Tongue: Speaking and Eating Chinese with Professor James McCawley

 

 

 

What Will Become of WHPK? The College Radio Station Unlike Any Other

Education/Training, Hyde Park No Comments »

My first connection with the station was when I was an undergraduate student at the University of Chicago,” says Marta Nicholas, “in 1957 through 1960.

“An oboist, I had put together a woodwind ensemble that got together weekly for our own pleasure. One of the pieces we played was being analyzed in the Humanities I class, so we were invited to come perform it live on the station WUCB, which was only five or ten watts and on only a few hours a day. It may have in fact gone through the phone lines rather than a regular radio transmitter—we used to joke that it went through the plumbing pipes and could be heard only by standing on your head in certain shower stalls. A couple of times I was on a listen-to-recordings-and-chat show hosted by our group’s French horn player.”

Soon thereafter, Nicholas “left the campus and the country.” When she returned in the early seventies, the station had morphed into WHPK, an acronym for Woodlawn, Hyde Park and Kenwood. “It was decided at that beginning to take the potential audience into account. Not only as listeners, but also as possible on-air participants.” Nicholas eventually served as the station’s international music-format chief. Read the rest of this entry »

Out of Place: The Neighbor Outside Looking (and Sneaking) In

City Life, Hyde Park No Comments »
Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons

By Scoop Jackson

I didn’t go to University of Chicago because I was not invited. Not sure I was ever welcome.

I grew up not in it, but damn sure around it. South Shore to Hyde Park  is what Cabrini-Green used to be to the Gold Coast: the neighbor(hood) on the outside looking in.

I was raised being told the history of Hyde Park. Of the racially restrictive covenants. Of the things that were done to keep black people out. Of the University of Chicago cosigning all of that. Money, race, ACT scores, socio-academic differences all played a role in why I’d look down on the kids that went to both Lab and the U of C the same way I assumed they were looking down at me. It was all fair game. The guys that went there were nerds to me, the girls weren’t cute and they never played hip-hop at Jimmy’s.

But as I got older I was able to see a different university than the one I grew up resenting. I saw the value, I saw the disparity. I saw the inner workings of an oasis of higher education that didn’t cater to or have any interest in someone like me (an outsider) but one that was serving a much greater purpose than educating or assisting in the plight of the ‘hoods and residents that encased it. Read the rest of this entry »

Train Yourself: Explore the City While You Can

City Life, Hyde Park, Transit No Comments »
Photo: David Wilson

Photo: David Wilson/Creative Commons

Take the train.

It sounds like a simple thing and it sort of is. Chicago is lucky to have the mass transit it does despite its nonsensical delays, the overcrowded cars and the omnipresent construction. It’s not perfect, but it’s better than the credit it’s often given. Take advantage of it.

Chicago has so much to offer if you give yourself the opportunity to explore a bit. The Loop. Lake Michigan. The neighborhoods with their stunningly different personalities. For those of you who are students, by midterms of fall quarter it’s going to feel like there’s never a chance to leave campus, that there isn’t enough time, that there’s simply too much to do to stay ahead of the classwork. Don’t let the stacks and study rooms of the Regenstein and Harper keep you from enjoying the rest of the city. Make the time to get out. Find a coffee shop off campus to study at instead of your usual library spot. Go to shows. They’re cheap and plentiful. Bike the miles of lakefront paths. They’re endlessly beautiful. Spend a rainy afternoon in one of Chicago’s many museums. They’ll put you in other worlds. Get out. Learn the city that the university calls home. Read the rest of this entry »

Normal Life: Don’t Skip the Working Classes

Education/Training, Hyde Park 1 Comment »

By Jenzo DuQue (Class of 2015)

The look is always the same. It usually starts with a gaping mouth, and then the eyes swell out of their sockets, followed by an eyebrow reaching for a hairline. That’s assuming there is a hairline; most of the time the gawkers are pushing sixty or have stressed their locks away by grad school. But regardless of whom I’m telling, it’s the same old song and dance each time.

“You go to the University of Chicago?” they gasp, a fork poised precariously before their lips.

“Yes, I do.” I say, balancing two plates in my left hand and another on my forearm. “Is there anything else I can get you?”

It’s hard for some people to stomach that I’m a waiter and a UChicago student. Shouldn’t I be off making breakthroughs in the Pirahã language or in cancer research? Probably. But I’m not. I’m doing what I’ve been doing since before college—just working because I need the money and honestly, it’s kind of fun. And I know you’ve heard about what happens if fun and our campus cross paths. Read the rest of this entry »

Towering Solitude and Pazuzu: Let the Beauty of Hyde Park Possess You

Hyde Park No Comments »
Rockefeller Chapel/Photo: Tom Rossiter

Rockefeller Chapel/Photo: Tom Rossiter

While earning my Master’s in Computer Science at U of C, I worked in the Harper Center as a member of the Chicago Booth staff. There I found myself in an architecturally impressive, award-winning building adjacent to two of Hyde Park’s most notable landmarks: the towering structure of the Rockefeller Chapel to the west and Frank Lloyd Wright’s historic Robie House to the north. However, in almost three years of spending around fifty hours a week for work or class in Hyde Park, I never once ventured into either. They were only the backdrop of my day-to-day life. As graduation approached and my time working at Chicago Booth came to a close, I decided to rectify at least part of this situation. For the first time in three years, I trekked across Woodlawn Avenue on a lunch break one afternoon and slipped into Rockefeller Chapel. Read the rest of this entry »