By Tony Fitzpatrick
All the birds of the air
fell a-sighing and a-sobbing,
when they heard the bell toll
for poor Cock Robin.
– English Rhyme
The name Cock Robin has its origin in this morose little poem written around 1744, for children. Leave it to the English to imbue a perfectly lovely bird with a truly horrid fate. A million laughs in “Jolly Olde.”
The Cock Robin I am familiar with was the name of a chain of hamburger and ice cream fast-food joints that were all over the western suburbs when I was growing up. The two I remember the best were in Lombard and Villa Park.
As a kid, I preferred their burgers to McDonald’s or Burger King, which is not to say that they were good; they were gut-bombs of the rankest order. When you are a kid though, they seem to taste good because you are a walking garbage disposal with a monster metabolism. Today? I wouldn’t eat one. They were kind of like bigger versions of sliders–the kind of burger you should just take home and throw in the toilet. Me and my brother got a huge charge out of the fact that a restaurant had the word “cock” in it and, like every other eleven-year-old, we’d look for excuses to say it in front of teachers, especially nuns. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): Are you good at haggling? Do you maybe even enjoy the challenge of negotiating for a better price, of angling for a fairer deal? The coming week will be a favorable time to make extensive use of this skill. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you will thrive on having friendly arguments with just about everyone, from your buddies to your significant other to your mommy to God Herself. Everywhere you go, I encourage you to engage in lively discussions as you hammer out compromises that will serve you well. Be cheerful and adaptable and forceful. Read the rest of this entry »
Finishers from the Friends of the Poor 5K and runners of the MMRF 5K/Photo by Zach Freeman
Breakdown: Chicago is home to an impressive (and ever-growing) number of races. From 5Ks to marathons and beyond, there’s typically at least one race happening in the city on any given weekend day. This is a huge plus for Chicago runners. And it’s typically helpful to race coordinators as well, since they can rely on a core group of runners always in the market for a run. But this Saturday morning the popularity of running put a damper on two separate runs happening at the same time.
Starting at 9am, the second annual Friends of the Poor 5K Run/Walk (coordinated by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul Chicago and DePaul University) kicked off across the street from the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. At the same time, less than a mile south in Lincoln Park, the MMRF Race for Research 5K Walk/Run also started. And while neither race was huge (Friends of the Poor had around 120 runners while MMRF had around 600), flaws in the Chicago Park District permit-application process were witnessed firsthand by members of both races as the two courses directly overlapped (with both courses passing through each other’s start/finish lines). Read the rest of this entry »
By Tony Fitzpatrick
I have to laugh when I hear the code words the Tea Party brain trust bandies about. “Loud Tribesman” was Newt Gingrich’s euphemism for the “what-can-we-say-besides-n-word” code that identifies this large, scary and vocal American street gang. It is what they are. They come to our President’s speeches strapped. They engage in a just-above-the-white-linen-and-hood rhetoric that aims to point out at every juncture that Barack Obama is black, and they “got” theirs. The huge, angry, and incredibly entitled white middle class is their target. In fact, I’m their target audience.
Among other white guys, I do notice a more disheartening and cavalier use of the n-word. When I point out it isn’t acceptable, the conversation halts and I get the hurt look of betrayal back in exchange. It is a careful meter of “us and them.” There is this feeling out there in white America that people of color have reached the promised land; that all of the inequities of 400 years of pigment-based subjugation and oppression have suddenly gone away. Such are the petty delusions of the Tea Party folk. Oh that, and the idea that they are the only ones in America paying too much in income tax. Welcome to the big world, whitey. They didn’t seem to mind taking this fucking when George W. Bush was creating the biggest deficit in the history of the Republic.
My favorite playwright right now is probably one you’ve not heard of unless you live in Chicago. J. Nicole Brooks was born on Chicago’s West Side and grew up tough with a single mom on the South Side. Besides plays, she writes a withering blog called “Close Captioning for the Jive Impaired.” In it she skewers white racists, black racists, rappers, the vain, the rich and the richly deserving–there is nothing PC or out of range for her bitterly funny barbs. It is a destination blog. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): I’ve got a good feeling about your relationship with intimacy in the coming weeks. Judging from the astrological omens, I think you will have a good instinct about how to drum up interesting fun with your most important allies. You’ll just naturally know what to do to make your collaborative efforts synergistic. So by all means cash in on this potential. Don’t just sit back and hope for the best; rather, call on your imagination to provide you with original ideas about how to make it all happen. Read the rest of this entry »
Near the beginning of my third year in the College, I quit the football team and, days or weeks later, wandered for the first time into the Smart Museum. Though I did not notice it at the time, my life changed profoundly, and on the spot. I’d never been inside an art museum; as the son of a physicist teaching in the suburbs, our family visits to Chicago had always been bound for the Museum of Science and Industry, the Field Museum or, most likely, Gino’s East Pizzeria. On display at the Smart that day were the watercolors of Wassily Kandinsky. I can’t explain what, but something fundamentally connected for me in viewing that exhibition. Before long, this econ-major-cum-MBA student was squeezing in as many classes as he could in art history, even convincing Professor Joel Snyder to spend a quarter conducting an independent study course in photography with me before I left for Wall Street. My wife Jan (AB ’85) and I started spending much of our free time in galleries and museums. An interest in all the other arts you’ll see covered in the pages of Newcity soon followed, and a year into my to-be-short-lived Goldman Sachs career, Jan, my brother Brent (AB ’88) and I started this publication. My life’s work connects in a direct line to that afternoon in the Smart Museum back in 1981. Read the rest of this entry »
Back of the Yards, Bridgeport, Bronzeville, Chinatown, Englewood, Essays & Commentary, Hyde Park, Kenwood, Little Village, Pilsen, South Shore, Southeast Side
By Scoop Jackson
“Pharaoh of the Sun/Lookin’ down the barrel of a gun/Y’all know where I’m from.”
—from the poem “Keep On” by famous South Sider Lonnie Rashid Lynn Jr. (aka Common)
We call them “pockets.” It’s the best way any of us who come from the South Side of Chicago can describe the drastic ebb and flow of the ‘hoods we live in.
“On the South Side,” real estate agent and South Side resident Chrystal Caruthers says, “you can grow up in a good neighborhood but go two blocks over and I’ll bet the people won’t feel the same.” The block-to-block change. The neighborhood-to-neighborhood shift in dynamics, living conditions and mentality. It exists in other neighborhoods in the country, but not like on the South Side in this city. The same way Chief Keef can weave tales about life on the South Side, Will Smith can come here and hang out on the lake on 31st Street and go write “Summertime.”
Growing up here gives one a perspective of range. Range in the sense of how far-reaching an area can be, how diverse and disconnected and devoted people raised on the same concrete can be. Where oftentimes the kids at Bogan were more dangerous to a young black kid than the GDs or El Rukns who went to Dunbar.
There is more beauty in the real South Side than anyone who doesn’t live here could understand. Through all of the bullshit, all of the incidents that happen on the side of Chicago that gives it the nicknames “Homicide Capital” and “Chiraq,” there exist pockets of life that bring an unmatched sense of pride and joy not found anywhere else in the city. Read the rest of this entry »
Connecting the dots is what an academic does. On September 10, Richard Neer, a University of Chicago professor of art history with a sideline in cinema, sent out an email with the subject line “Chemical Weapons Research at Chicago.”
The recipients of the email belonged to a listserv connected to the Committee for Open Research on Economy & Society (CORES). Founded by U of C faculty in 2008 to challenge plans for a Milton Friedman Institute, CORES was concerned with the “symbolic endorsement” by their employer given to the late economist’s politics. Neer signed a petition in opposition to the Institute, which blended with the Becker Center on Chicago Price Theory in 2011 to become the Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics.
A similar alarm was sounded in 1979 when the university bestowed the Albert Pick Jr. Award for Outstanding Contributions to International Understanding to Robert Strange McNamara, then president of the World Bank. Campus protests prompted university president Hannah Gray to write her guest the day after the black-tie gala: “I hope you will accept my apologies, offered both personally and on behalf of the University, for any discourtesies or awkwardness to which you may have been subjected.” Read the rest of this entry »
The seemingly endless construction on 53rd Street is finally showing signs of completion and, before the year is out, Bruce Finkelman and Craig Golden, who between them are partners in some of the city’s most acclaimed venues, from Finkelman’s Longman & Eagle and The Empty Bottle to Golden’s Evanston SPACE, will have the doors to their newest project open. A two-story restaurant, bar and music venue combo in the works for almost two years, The Promontory will introduce more than a little North Side flair to Hyde Park.
Come December, patrons will be able to enjoy a modern hearth-style menu coupled with an artisanal drink selection, all the while having immediate access to a stage that will host a combination of local musicians and the indie/alternative tenor one expects to hear at The Empty Bottle. “I have a feeling it will be an honest reflection of the things we like to do,” says Finkelman. “Both from a musical and resto standpoint.” Read the rest of this entry »