By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): If a farmer plants the same crop in the same field year after year, the earth’s nutrients get exhausted. For instance, lettuce sucks up a lot of nitrogen. It’s better to plant beans or peas in that location the next season, since they add nitrogen back into the soil. Meanwhile, lettuce will do well in the field where the beans or peas grew last time. This strategy is called crop rotation. I nominate it as your operative metaphor for the next ten months, Aries. Your creative output will be abundant if you keep sowing each new “crop” in a fertile situation where it is most likely to thrive. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): A report in the prestigious British medical journal BMJ says that almost one percent of young pregnant women in the U.S. claim to be virgins. They testify that they have conceived a fetus without the benefit of sex. That’s impossible, right? Technically, yes. But if there could ever be a loophole in natural law, it would happen for you Aries sometime in the coming weeks. You will be so exceptionally fertile, so prone to hatching new life, that almost anything could incite germination. A vivid dream or captivating idea or thrilling adventure or exotic encounter might be enough to do the trick. Read the rest of this entry »
By Betty Heredia. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)
Runners finishing strong at the Strike Out ALS 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman
Breakdown: What a difference a year makes. Last summer the temperature during the Strike Out ALS 5K hovered in the high nineties with nary a cloud to be seen. Last night, runners experienced comfortable fall weather with temperatures in the low sixties and some light rain. And any runner will tell you that the latter is much preferred.
And organizers are lucky the weather was so forgiving as they switched up the course for this fifth annual event to include more time outside; rather than ending the race at home plate after a journey through the bowels of U.S. Cellular Field, the new course spent a bit more time in the parking lot and worked in a full loop around the warning track, cutting out the lengthy tour of the stadium’s tunnel system.
Timed to coincide with the All-Star Game, the post-race party includes a viewing of the game on multiple screens with beer and baseball food for purchase. It’s a race with a moving mission—many of the participants have a direct connection to ALS (aka Lou Gehrig’s Disease) and are there more for the fundraising than the running—but organizers manage to target both audiences. And it never hurts to have a course that lets the average Joe (or Josephine) experience a baseball field from the perspective of a professional player. Read the rest of this entry »
By Tony Fitzpatrick
There is a bitter, humorless irony in the wake of Chicago’s bloodiest weekend this year. “Chicagoland,” the eight-hour reach-around CNN extended to Mayor Rahm Emanuel now appears to have gotten it wrong! The little man with the shiny shoes is beside himself with the Fourth of July weekend’s horrifying murder statistics: eighty-two people were shot. Fourteen of them died. The police shot a fourteen- and sixteen-year-old and killed both of them.
Rahm fumes, flinging blame in any direction it will land: “Where are the parents?… Where are the community leaders?” Oh where, oh where, oh where? Here are the better questions: Where are the cops? Where are the jobs? Where is the leadership? Why do we keep hearing horse-shit about the shrinking crime rate while our city’s children are being cut down by gunfire in the street? Read the rest of this entry »
Runners enjoy the post-race party/Photo: Zach Freeman
Breakdown: When a race initially launches, it’s sometimes up in the air as to whether it will survive or not. But with a title that name-checks both burgers AND beer, there was never really a question of whether this 5K (started in 2012) would succeed. It also didn’t hurt that it was started as a logical extension (and expansion) of Universal Sole’s popular monthly fun runs of the same name. So it’s perhaps not surprising that the Burgers & Beer 5K has grown fast enough to migrate slowly south—from Montrose Harbor to Lakeshore East to Soldier Field—in only three years.
Last night’s third annual race, starting and finishing on Waldron Drive just southeast of Soldier Field, followed a new out-and-back course along the Lakefront Trail while the pre- and post-race parties took place amidst a flurry of vendor booths on the sidewalk around the stadium. Goose Island still provides the beer but this year the burgers were switched from Fizz Bar to Billy Goat Tavern (perhaps a rechristening to Borgers & Beer is now called for?).
Race organizers haven’t quite figured out how to speed up the burger assembly line (it can be slow business adding pickles, onions, ketchup and mustard to a post-race burger) and depending on your finishing time there was a sizable wait for a burger, but the beer line was short and sweet, with IDs being checked before the race to limit the amount of post-race time runners spent without beer in their belly. Read the rest of this entry »
Deloris Lucas and Victor Maurice Flemings Sr. at Rosebud Farm Stand/Photo: John Greenfield
By John Greenfield
“Altgeld Gardens is really secluded,” Active Transportation Alliance community liaison Cynthia Bell recently told me. “It’s like its own city.” The area, which includes the housing project of the same name, plus the Concordia Place, Riverside Village and Golden Gate subdivisions, is located by a bend in the Calumet River on the Far South Side, surrounded by industrial land and isolated from other neighborhoods.
Bell has been assisting the local Safety Transportation Advisory Council, residents who want to improve conditions for walking, biking and transit use. “They have a lot of issues with the built environment, like missing sidewalks and crosswalks,” she said. “They’re really underserved.”
Deloris Lucas, a former Chicago Public Schools employee and longtime Golden Gate resident who’s spearheading the council, has been working hard to change that. In particular, she’s upset that 130th Street, the interstate-like roadway that walls in the community from the north, has no sidewalk. That forces people walking to Rosebud Farm Stand, the area’s only source for fresh produce and healthy groceries, from the west, to trudge along a narrow, muddy dirt trail by the side of the road. The store is located at 525 East 130th. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): “I have complete faith in the continued absurdity of whatever’s going on,” says satirical news commentator Jon Stewart. That’s a healthy attitude. To do his work, he needs a never-ending supply of stories about people doing crazy, corrupt and hypocritical things. I’m sure this subject matter makes him sad and angry. But it also stimulates him to come up with funny ideas that entertain and educate his audience—and earns him a very good income. I invite you to try his approach, Aries. Have faith that the absurdity you experience can be used to your advantage. Read the rest of this entry »
Photo: Zach Freeman
Breakdown: “The show will go on!” the race director’s voice booms excitedly from the speakers as groups of runners huddle together under various overhangs and race tents, delaying their inevitable exposure to the pouring rain. It’s just before 8am on Saturday morning and it has been raining steadily for hours with no signs of letting up. And still, almost seven-hundred runners are gathered in Chinatown Square to tackle the Chinatown 5K. Briefly, the rain does lighten just before the official start, but then it comes back full force within a few minutes, making for a very wet street race.
But despite the weather—or, perhaps, because of it—a jovial atmosphere permeates the entire race, with more starting-line chatter and looks of excitement than I’ve seen at any race outside of an obstacle run (where the joviality is almost more important than the run itself). “Maybe we don’t even need to put water in the cups!” remarks the race director, describing the water stations along the course. She’s not far from the truth. I’m completely soaked within seconds of checking my gear (along with my precious umbrella) and approaching the starting line. Read the rest of this entry »
By Megan Kirby
In Baltimore, look for a girl with blue hair in a Batman t-shirt. In Washington DC, find the red balloon at the coffee shop. In London, seek out the table with the Cthulhu plushie perched on the edge. You’ve found the Awkward Army.
These are fans of massively popular advice blog Captain Awkward, and they are meeting up worldwide. The Captain herself, Chicago-based filmmaker Jennifer Peepas, never expected such an active global audience. Today, self-proclaimed “Awkwarders” plan meet-ups in coffee shops and ice cream parlors from Boston to Tokyo, gathering with coloring books or knitting projects or stacks of fiction and graphic novels for impromptu book clubs—essentially, getting together to just hang out.
When Peepas first launched Captain Awkward in January 2011, she just hoped she’d have enough readers to never have to fabricate a reader question herself. Now, she gets so many emails that she can’t answer all of them. At the end of 2013, Captain Awkward’s page views hovered just under eleven million. As of March 2014, 557 reader questions have been answered. (Everything from “How do I deal with my abusive family” to “My crush might be a furry.”) Posts garner hundreds of comments with readers’ advice and stories (and tangents about books, TV shows, vacation plans and any other topic). The most dedicated Awkwarders even started a fan-run forum, Friends of Captain Awkward, to keep up with conversations off comment threads. Read the rest of this entry »