Street Smart Chicago

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “It is the greatest of all mistakes to do nothing because you can only do a little,” said the writer Sydney Smith. While this is always good advice, it’s especially apt for you right now. You’re in a phase when giant leaps of faith are irrelevant, and fast, massive accomplishments are impossible. This is the season of incremental progress; a time when painstaking attention to detail is your best strategy. Inch by inch, Aries. Hour by hour. Read the rest of this entry »

Rebel Rebel: My dad owns The Alley. So what?

Lakeview, Wrigleyville 4 Comments »

By Alexis Thomascover

My first job was as proprietor of a lemonade stand at the corner of Belmont and Clark, an intersection of smut, littered with empty PBR cans, Dunkin’ Donuts-stained napkins and transsexuals in ripped fishnet pantyhose. It was the epicenter of the counter-cultural lifestyle. If you lived in Chicago, dyed your hair blue and believed punk rock could save the world, you’ve probably spent some time at Belmont and Clark.

My dad owns The Alley, an alternative-lifestyles store that sells everything from neon-colored sex toys, leather jackets, pins, one-hitters, spiked collars and bondage gear to Doc Martens.

Saturday mornings, dad and I packed Dixie cups and pitchers of Crystal Light lemonade into the back of his Cadillac hearse. The hearse was decked out in Alley decals and for ten years was his main ride. He drove it throughout Chicago neighborhoods promoting his store and lifestyle.

I’d sit on the corner as dad watched the foot traffic of Cubs fans, punks and everyone in between. But no one bought lemonade from me. Instead, their eyes crossed and noses wrinkled as they looked at me like an orphan misplaced by her parents before a show at The Vic and a whiskey sour at L&L Tavern.

Kids with mohawks and leather jackets sat next to my lemonade stand with their jelly donuts and cigarettes. Skinheads, oi punks, riot grrrls, ’77 punks and metalheads crowded into tight circles and broke into the kind of fights that were all fists and snot and blood.

Just as I was about to give up on my lemonade stand, my dad yelled over the walkie-talkies in the store, “You all better go out there and buy some lemonade from Alexis when you’re on break!”

The Alley rescued my business from bankruptcy as every employee handed over a dollar for my lemonade. By the end of the day I had made ten dollars.

The Belmont and Clark I knew at 8 years old got lost in the rubble of punk rock’s Armageddon. And before punk could revive itself, gentrification filled its void. Today, the Belmont and Clark I knew is an abandoned history. Read the rest of this entry »

Not for Squares: Everyone loves Logan Square

Events, Logan Square, News etc. No Comments »

moxieMention a neighborhood association benefit event and usually the first thing that comes to mind is some stuffy sit-down dinner and silent auction. This is definitely not the case when the Logan Square Neighborhood Association plans a shindig. The “I Love Logan Square” party, complete with salsa lessons and lucha libre sightings, is downright lively.

The party, which is held at Milwaukee Avenue’s Elastic Arts, allows Logan Square residents to mingle with neighbors while raising additional funding for the community. “We wanted to have an event that would introduce new people in the neighborhood to the organization,” says Bridget Murphy, a member of the LSNA who helped organize the event. “The LSNA works very holistically; we organize around affordable housing, education, immigration, keeping good jobs in the neighborhood, you name it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the capricious contours of celebrity

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This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 Mike Quigley
As of press time, the former Cook County Commissioner was to be sworn in as U.S. congressman. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Astrology and Tarot cards are my favorite divinatory tools, but I also get a lot of use out of magnetic poetry kits. These are boxes full of evocative words and symbols in the form of refrigerator magnets. Sometimes after analyzing your astrological omens, I’ll close my eyes, beam a question out into the ethers, and pluck a few magnets at random from one of my poetry kits. I just did that for you. “What are the keys to unlocking the enormous reserves of energy that are potentially available for Aries folks right now?” I asked. Here’s the message that came: “swooping orgasms & laughing tears.” (Or it could also be arranged this way: “laughing orgasms & swooping tears.”) Read the rest of this entry »

Tip of the Week: Post-It Note Reading Series

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Think of it as sort of a literary event for writers with ADD. Created several years ago by former “This American Life” producer Starlee Kine and cartoonist—and former Chicago resident—Arthur Jones, the Post-It Note series is exactly as you’d imagine, writers and illustrators presenting works on Post-It Notes, with a little help from a slide projector. The charming method of storytelling came to life years ago when Jones worked as a graphic designer at a marketing company; Kine had booked a literary event at Hideout and asked Jones—who was not a writer—to contribute a piece. The doodles Jones crafted at work out of shear boredom became his inspiration as he conjured a tale through the little sticky Notes, projected it onstage and narrated. The pair have a come a long way since, striking a deal to draw twelve animated shorts for Lexus and even performing at Seattle’s Bumbershoot Festival. Tonight, the day after Jones and Kine’s appearance for the “This American Life” taping at the Chicago Theatre, they bring the Post-It Note series to Hideout, where “This American Life” contributor David Wilcox and local artist Derek Erdman supply stories as well. (Tom Lynch)

The Post-It Note Reading Series takes place April 20 at Hideout, 1444 West Wabansia, at 8pm. $8.

411: Jane Gets a Makeover

Museums, News etc. No Comments »

Thanks to a recent grant from the National Endowment of the Humanities, UIC’s Jane Addams Hull-House Museum is undergoing some changes. Currently, only the first floor of the house where Addams lived and worked is open to the public, but after the work is completed, the second floor will be opened, doubling the museum’s available space. This will give curators the opportunity to recreate Addams’ bedroom as well as freeing space on the first floor for exhibits on other reformers whose stories, due to a lack of space, were not previously being told. “There will be a rotating exhibit which will be able to tell in-depth stories of five different reformers at any one time,” informs Lisa Yun Lee, the museum’s director. Another element that will be new to the museum will be a listening room. “We have recordings of Jane Addams and other reformers that have never been heard before. We’re also going to recreate, based on the cultural history what Hull-House sounded like in 1898.”

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the capricious contours of celebrity

Chicago Hype Exchange, News etc. No Comments »

This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 Jermaine Dye
The Sox outfielder smacked his 300th career homerun in a back-to-back bid with Paul Konerko. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): One of the casualties of the recession has been grooming and primping. Many people are devoting less time and money to maintaining their appearance at peak levels. Makeup sales are down, and I’ve definitely been seeing more unkempt—or should I say raw and unadorned?—people lately. If you’ve been considering the possibility of cutting back on your own preening, Aries, now would be a good time to experiment. Why? For one thing, your natural attractiveness is especially strong these days. For another, you’re entering a phase when you’ll need people’s approval less than usual. There’s also the fact that anything you do to simplify your life will be a tonic for your mental health. Read the rest of this entry »

Museum Review: Lincoln Treasures/Chicago History Museum

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The Chicago History Museum kicks off its yearlong celebration of Abraham Lincoln’s 200th anniversary with “Lincoln Treasures.”  For just one month, the museum is hosting one of only five surviving copies of the Gettysburg Address.  The document is on loan from the Lincoln Presidential Library, and this is the last time it will travel outside of Springfield.  Written on two thin sheets of carefully-preserved, yellowed paper-the 272 word speech that made “four score and seven years ago” an American catchphrase is inscribed in the squat, precise script of Lincoln’s own hand.  To accommodate the swelling numbers of guests interested in seeing the famed speech, the museum has extended its morning hours on Sundays.  However, guests should not linger too close; the document is closely guarded and secured beneath an invisible alarm.  The remainder of the “Lincoln Treasures” exhibit is confined and scant on biographical details, instead serving as secondary adornment to the Gettysburg Address.  However, even the supporting artifacts will make history gurus salivate: several famed busts and molds of the sixteenth president, a first printing of the Declaration of Independence and Lincoln’s deathbed, salvaged from the Peterson House across the street from Ford’s Theater. (Laura Hawbaker)

“Lincoln Treasures” is at the Chicago History Museum through August 16.  The Gettysburg Address is on display until May 3.