Each year this time, we turn to thoughts of self-reinvention. Sometimes that means fixing our brains, through the classroom. Sometimes that means fixing our brains by changing drugs. And sometimes that means figuring out what it means to be gored by a bull.
By Michael Workman
It’s a sunny early morning in Basel, Switzerland. I’m one of a pair of junkies standing in the heart of downtown near the Kunsthalle, beside a door in the alley that leads two flights up to the Gaslight. It’s a “vampire club” that opens at 4am, and caters to all stripes of service-industry people, including the brothel’s sex workers and professional hard-core partiers, when the other joints start to close. We’re with the pro partiers. It’s a pretty thick crowd tonight, and me and my friend Lukac, bald and decked out in his brown fur overcoat, have been at it since dawn the previous day. It’s not our longest run, either. I’d met Lukac through the Swiss Embassy here in Chicago, who referred me to him when I called researching some business interests in the country. I’ve never met anybody as into cocaine as he is, and it’s not just him, all of his Basel friends are into it. It’s always a drug binge when we’re together. On the first night we met, we downed better than ten bottles of wine, burned through a quarter ounce of decent kush, toasted with some shots. We’ve been working our way all day and night through a few grams of cocaine, feeling acutely wired by the time we share the massive spliff that a sex worker from Argentina hands us on the dance floor and, again later, as we’re walking out. We’re moving all night together, me, Lukac and her friends, talking, our brains completely restricted to rear-brain activities only. It’s a repeat of the narcotized back-room scene at the Lodge from “Fire Walk with Me,” everyone slurring, indecipherable, visibly swaying in a deeply altered drug haze. Read the rest of this entry »
By Corey Hall
Greetings, Team Members!
As we begin this New Year, let us remember these new, six items of interest. As long as these Commandments—or friendly reminders, if you will—are abided by, you will, (most likely) be kept in our employ, so that you may continue being the middle man between us and your creditors.
One: As per our conversation, please refrain from gathering in throngs of two or more in areas not monitored by a security camera. While we have the utmost respect for all employees—whose ID numbers we can generate from our database at a moment’s notice—such gatherings just smell too much like team mutiny. If you must have a conversation with someone other than yourself, please conduct it within earshot of your most-recent Team Leader, and please avoid all jokes that may induce anything resembling laughter. Please practice only nuanced, non-offensive humor that, at best, raises eyebrows. You are encouraged to consult any NPR program for an example. Read the rest of this entry »
This past autumn term, I accepted a lecturer position teaching a databases class in the Masters Program in Computer Science (MPCS) at the University of Chicago. I have been working with databases for more than a decade and graduated from the MPCS myself many years ago but had never taught before. Throughout the course of the term I learned a lot about teaching, public speaking and, yes, even a bit about databases.
Below is a list of four things I learned about public speaking from teaching a graduate course:
1. Get comfortable with silence–when you’re the one leading the room silence can feel pretty awkward. But it’s only awkward if you let it be. When used appropriately, silence can actually heighten the energy. You don’t always have to be presenting information: take some time every now and then to pause and take in the room. It can be a breath of fresh air for both you and the audience. And maybe someone will get the courage to ask a question. Read the rest of this entry »
By Scott Hibbard, DePaul University
There is an important debate going on in this country about the relative utility of a college and university education, particularly in the liberal arts. What is driving this debate is the rising costs of tuition, and questions about the perceived lack of a “payoff” for degrees in the humanities and related fields (i.e. English, History, Philosophy, Religion, Modern Languages, Art and any of the Social Sciences). While it is true that the costs of higher education have risen faster than inflation, it is also true that the costs of not getting a college degree are strikingly high. Over the course of one’s working life, people with college-level education will earn significantly more than those without (and certainly more than the price of that education). More to the point, in an era where people will switch careers several times during their working life, gaining basic analytical and writing skills are crucial to professional success, which is precisely why a liberal arts degree will serve one well. Read the rest of this entry »
When you put yourself in challenging situations, outside your comfort zone, the likelihood is high that you might actually learn something. Maybe.
Sometime in 2007
I’m at Blockbuster, dropping off a few videos. As I park the car, I notice a guy approaching.
GUY: You have any spare change?
ME (hustling): Sorry, bro.
GUY: Thanks for nothing!
This passing comment pissed me off. I drop off videos and walk back outside, aggressively.
ME: So, what…like I owe you something?
GUY: What the fuck? All I asked you for was change.
Pause, with Aggress-o-meter redlining; I change my tone. Read the rest of this entry »
My first job out of college was managing the Burger King that was there. It was right before they shut down the place, so I was there for the tail end of the crazy. What I remember most when I walked through the bus station, in the waiting areas and on the walls, was the layer of funk that only diesel fumes, dirt, stale urine and extreme hot and cold can bring. Add to that, the rubbed-off silhouettes of butt cheeks on gray-blue plastic seats, with the grime all around. It smelled like gas fumes and dirty belly buttons. I never thought I would think that the inside of a Burger King would give me the feeling of “Fresh Air”, but at that bus station, it sure as heck did. Yeah, a part of me misses that place.
—Maureen Sweeney, real estate executive, child of the seventies
Lunch Drawing # 70, “Motor Gypsy”: this drawing and story has its genesis in remembering ditching high school and going downtown to hang around the Greyhound Bus station: where you could buy cigarettes, cans of Schlitz Malt Liquor, fuck-books and rolling papers—and nobody carded you because nobody gave a good god-damn. It was at Clark and Randolph and it was a pungent, down-at-the-heels purgatory for transients, people who had to travel economically, students and those down on their luck—all forced to ride the Dog. The hind-tit of American mass transportation. Read the rest of this entry »
By John Greenfield
Last month, African-American cyclists Oboi Reed, Peter Taylor and Shawn Conley released an open letter asking the city, state, and local advocacy groups for a more equitable distribution of bike resources to Chicago’s black communities. Read the letter at tinyurl.com/BikeEquity.
They noted that there’s generally a higher density of bike lanes, with better connectivity, downtown and on the North Side. “Stuff on the South Side and the West Side has really been hit-or-miss, putting in a bike lane that goes from nowhere to nowhere, not really connecting destinations,” Taylor told me.
That’s the case with a couple of the recently striped bikeways I checked out on the West and South Sides last week. The city installed segments of buffered bike lanes–with additional space striped on one or both sides–on Pershing between Western and Ashland, and on 63rd between Central Park and Western, as part of successful road diets. However the new BBLs are “orphans,” because they don’t link up with any other bikeways. Read the rest of this entry »
By Rob Brezsny
ARIES (March 21-April 19): In his novel “Breakfast of Champions,” Kurt Vonnegut describes a character, Ned Lingamon, who “had a penis eight hundred miles long and two hundred and ten miles in diameter, but practically all of it was in the fourth dimension.” If there is any part of you that metaphorically resembles Lingamon, Aries, the coming months will be a favorable time to fix the problem. You finally have sufficient power and wisdom and feistiness to start expressing your latent capacities in practical ways… to manifest your hidden beauty in a tangible form… to bring your purely fourth-dimensional aspects all the way into the third dimension. Read the rest of this entry »