Street Smart Chicago

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 29, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Do you have an entourage or posse that helps you work magic you can’t conjure up alone? Is there a group of co-conspirators that prods you to be brave and farseeing? If not, try to whip one up. And if you do have an inspirational crew, brainstorm about some new adventures for all of you to embark on. Scheme and dream about the smart risks and educational thrills you could attempt together. According to my reading of the astrological omens, you especially need the sparkle and rumble that a feisty band of allies can incite. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: Godspeed, Mr. Cub

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

An older man rolled a baseball to a troublesome little kid at a country club one day. The older man, his skin touched by a half a century of playing the boys’ game in sunlight, was Ernie Banks and the boy was my son—and he still has the ball.

It is widely known that I have not ever been a Cubs fan. But staring out of this window in a hospital room, baseball seems a million miles away right now and winter has decided to add to its cruel toll our greatest baseball player. Even if you were not a Cubs fan, you were an Ernie Banks fan, because Ernie embodied the very thing that Sox fans claim to hate the Cubs fans for: He loved the game. Let’s play two. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Neighbors

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By Rachal Duggan. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)Neighbors_RAD_Web

Dime Stories: Dust Radio

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

As you may have heard, Tony Fitzpatrick had heart surgery last week. But our fearless columnist was prepared for just such an occasion, and filed this piece from his personal archive a few hours before going under the knife. We’re hearing good reports from the hospital and expect Tony will return to these pages in fighting form very soon.

By Tony Fitzpatrick

In his lifetime, the Texas-born guitarist and songwriter, Chris Whitley was, from time to time, criticized for the surreal turns his lyrics would take. His initial audience here in America thought he was a blues-folk rocker when they heard “Living with the Law,” his freshman effort for Columbia Records. It would not have been a bad assumption. There was plenty of Robert Johnson and Texas-radio kinds of sounds on that record; lots of dobro and grit, gravel and tumbleweed. It was a record of austere and American loneliness. It is one of my favorite records of all time for the very reasons some find it oblique. There is nothing easy about it. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Courtney Cobbs Comments on the CTA

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Coortney Cobbs on the Orange Line.

Courtney Cobbs on the Orange Line

By John Greenfield

Social worker and transit fan Courtney Cobbs moved to our city from Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2013, partly because she wanted to be able to live car-free. She has posted some thought-provoking comments on my transportation news website about the need for better bus and train access on Chicago’s South and West Sides. I caught up with her by phone to hear more of her take on the equity issue.

You wrote a while ago that Chicago’s transit system is one of the things that brought you here.
Yes. I wanted to live in a city where I didn’t have to own a car, because I really care about the environment, and public transportation saves you money. I really like big cities, and I felt like Chicago was an affordable option versus New York or L.A., and I could live here without a car relatively well. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 22, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Is there a patron saint of advertising or a goddess of marketing or a power animal that rules publicity and promotion? If so, I’m going to find out, then pray to them in your behalf. It’s high time for your underappreciated talents and unsung accomplishments to receive more attention. And I am convinced that the astrological moment is ripe for just such a development. Help me out here, Aries. What can you do to get your message out better? What tricks do you have for attracting the interest of those who don’t know yet about your wonders? Polish up your self-presentation, please. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 15, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): You will never make anything that lasts forever. Nor will I or anyone else. I suppose it’s possible that human beings will still be listening to Beethoven’s music or watching “The Simpsons” TV show 10,000 years from today, but even that stuff will probably be gone in five billion years, when the sun expands into a red giant star. Having acknowledged that hard truth, I’m happy to announce that in the next five weeks you could begin work in earnest on a creation that will endure for a very long time. What will it be? Choose wisely! Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Design

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

Ben Bertin Design-WEB

Lucky Junkie, Or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love My Drugs

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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 »

2015: A Corporate Consummation

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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 »