Street Smart Chicago

Santa’s Upgrade: Doors open on the left at North Pole

Events, Holidays No Comments »

widget_aTT7mKmDHkNQHp8FolyGWZHuddling under the heat lamps at the Brown Line stop at Damen, four rosy-cheeked little girls and three parents chat excitedly as they wait for the holiday train. A distant rumbling signals the arrival of yet another false alarm.

At 6:36pm, the train finally pulls in, just a few minutes behind schedule to the sound of cheers and screams. “Oh my gosh! It has so many lights on it,” one of the girls shrieks with delight.

Indeed, the CTA has gone all-out. The outside of the car is coated in Christmas bulbs, flickering and flashing ceaselessly. Between cars is a giant float, complete with sleigh, Christmas trees, a brick house (presumably Santa’s) and free candy. Inside, people mill around in wonderment, gazing up at the red and green fluorescent lights that bathe the car in an oddly eerie glow. The seats are reupholstered with red and green Santas, and the poles we normally grip with a single finger, like Captain Hook during rush hour, are wrapped in a candy-cane stripe. “Let It Snow” streams from the speakers. Wide-eyed toddlers clutch their parents, at once amazed and terrified. It’s like being in a Christmas-themed dream. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the Capricious Contours of Celebrity

Chicago Hype Exchange, News etc. No Comments »

This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 The Second City

The improv mecca celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a weekend of high-profile alumni events, panels and performances. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I don’t understand why the astronomers responsible for naming new-found objects are so devoid of flair. Here’s a prime example: They found a blazar, or blazing quasi-stellar object, in a faraway galaxy. It’s powered by a supermassive black hole that’s 10 billion times larger than our sun. Why did they give this fantastic oddity the crushingly boring name “Q0906+6930”? Couldn’t they have called it something like “Queen Anastasia” or “Blessed Quasimodo” or “Gastromopolopolis”? I trust you won’t be as lazy in your approach to all the exotic discoveries you’re going to be making in 2010, Aries. Start getting your imagination in top shape. Make sure it’s primed and ready for your upcoming walkabout to the far reaches of reality. Read the rest of this entry »

411: Green Christmas

Events, Green, Lincoln Park, News etc. No Comments »

“You want to give a gift to the earth too, right?” asks Lindsay Maldonado, coordinator of Family and Children Programs at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum. The museum, located at 2430 North Cannon Drive in Lincoln Park, will host a “green gifting activity room” every Saturday and Sunday from 11am to 3pm through December 20. “It’s just a part of our mission here at the museum to be environmentally conscious,” says Maldonado. “What we try to emphasize is creative reuse. When you think of crafts, you think of glitter and consumable goods that are probably just going to get thrown out later.” This year’s activities include making recyclable CD snowmen, envelopes to mail your thank-you letters in and gift boxes made out of old magazines and calendars. The activity room is free with admission($6-$9). “This is a time when we’re buying all of these things, and it’s important to know where everything comes from,” Maldonado says.

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the Capricious Contours of Celebrity

Chicago Hype Exchange, News etc. No Comments »

This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 Brad Smith

The local songwriter had his “Help Yourself” tune—written for the new movie “Up in the Air”—featured prominently in movie theaters across the nation. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Indignation is one of the most rewarding of emotions,” writes Theodore Dalrymple, “as well as one that automatically gives meaning to life… There is nothing like irritation to get the juices circulating and the mind working.” Of all the ideas that have made me irritable and indignant in recent weeks, this one steams me the most. I disagree so completely that I am practically beside myself with paralyzing rage. And as I plunge my attention further and further into his ridiculous proposal, I feel the tension coursing through my body. I sense my mind becoming swampy, my perceptions distorted. There’s a good chance that I am inducing in myself a state of stressed-out stupidity. Please don’t follow my example, Aries. It’s possible that sour fury could be useful to you at other times, but right now you should avoid it. If you want your intelligence to work at peak efficiency in the coming days, you’ll need long stretches of tender, lucid calm. Read the rest of this entry »

Light Up, Light Up: As if you had a choice at Daley Plaza

Events, Loop, News etc. No Comments »

Picasso-and-Christkindlmarektnight-image for webThis time-honored tradition, which nips at your nose the day before Thanksgiving, is spent in the freezing rain. Swarms of people are bundled in winter coats, scarves, hats and gloves as they stand and wait for the massive tree in the middle of Daley Plaza to illuminate and inform that the holidays are upon us.

Families and couples from all over the Chicago area, spanning from Algonquin to Zion, flock to this historical event that has been a city staple for years, bringing back the Christmas spirit before a dreaded month of crowded malls and retail nightmares consume their lives. Tourists stuff their faces with authentic German-style pastries and bratwurst as they peruse the Christkindlmarket. The aisles are filled with trinkets, artwork and countless other overpriced souvenirs to commemorate the trek downtown during the start of the most wonderful time of year.

Helping to celebrate the occasion is local movie star and daytime talk-show host Bonnie Hunt, always proud to call Chicago her hometown, saying this city makes her feel pretty when compared to Los Angeles, but we can let that slide. Read the rest of this entry »

One Gigantic Evening: Kinetic Playground is not normal

Events, Uptown No Comments »

big-gigantic-press-shot-3-200x134“Fifteen bucks but it’s totally worth it—Big Gigantic is here!” sounds a voice from the crowd of people gathered outside Uptown’s Kinetic Playground.

Such unbridled enthusiasm doesn’t come as much of a surprise. Big Gigantic, an electronica/hip-hop duo from Boulder, Colorado, has managed to amass quite a Chicago following. “Last time we played Chicago,” shares drummer Jeremy Salken, “200 people confirmed on Facebook, but 500 ended up showing.”

The opening band plays softly while the few that have arrived lounge on the large cushioned bench that lines the back wall. Almost no one has a drink in hand and, if they do, it’s a Red Stripe held almost disdainfully, as if it has been forced upon them or they are holding it for someone else. There is a masseuse in one corner giving what appear to be “tip what you feel it was worth” massages and a lone, blonde-dreadlocked hula-hooper twists her pink tank-topped torso to the beat in another. This is no Lincoln Park Pub Crawl. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the Capricious Contours of Celebrity

Chicago Hype Exchange, News etc. No Comments »

This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 Marian Hossa

The Blackhawks new star made his team debut and scored two goals. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): When Carolee Schneeman was a kid, her extravagant adoration of nature earned her the nickname “mad pantheist.” Later, during her career as a visual artist, she described her relationship with the world this way: “I assume the senses crave sources of maximum information, that the eye benefits by exercise, stretch, and expansion towards materials of complexity and substance.” I hope that you’re attracted to that perspective right now, Aries. To be in most productive alignment with the cosmic rhythms, you should be in a state of nearly ecstatic openness, hungry to be stretched—like a mad pantheist. Read the rest of this entry »