Street Smart Chicago

Common Sense: The Tyranny of Lists

City Life, Essays & Commentary No Comments »

By Rob Patrick

My girlfriend has a list of every guy she kissed from the time she was 14 until she was 22. I have no idea how many names are on that list (or if any are followed by an asterisk). She offered to tell me, but frankly I don’t want to know. And that’s pretty much how I feel about all lists: Keep them to your fucking self. So in the interest of a little Independence Day irony (and after all, what is the Declaration of Independence but a list, albeit a very well-written one), here is my list of lists I loathe.

1. “To Do” lists—I once read a children’s book about an anal frog and a toad who are best friends. One day the frog makes a long list of things to do—wake up, eat breakfast, visit Toad, etc. His whole goddamn life is that list, and he checks off each thing he does. Then the wind blows his list away, but he can’t chase it because chasing the list isn’t an item on the list. And without that list, he can’t function at all. I know people exactly like that frog. They wake up, sit with a cup of coffee, and write their “list of things to do today.” They even buy notepads with pre-printed numbers, which is typical of people who need lists. Not only are they forgetful and neurotic, they’re also lazy. Read the rest of this entry »

Common Sense: Tax Downtown Drivers

City Life, Essays & Commentary No Comments »

By John Greenfield

It should be easy to travel Chicago, especially the Loop, without a car. The flat grid makes walking a breeze. We’ve got over 100 miles of bicycle lanes and more than 10,000 bike racks. CTA, Metra, taxicabs and even water taxis and pedicabs offer eco-friendly options for getting downtown and around town.

So why is the Central Business District clogged with cars that foul the air and endanger walkers and cyclists, while transit faces perpetual budget shortfalls? Answer: while the City of Chicago fails to invest in green transportation (Federal money paid for those bike lanes and racks, and the city spends a measly $3 million per year on the CTA), it continues to encourage driving, especially downtown.

Mayor Daley lifted a longtime ban on new Loop parking garages and built Millennium Park on top of a three-level garage with room for more than 2,000 cars. Recent zoning changes force developers to provide a parking spot for every housing unit. The Traffic Management Authority has changed traffic signal times to favor cars over pedestrians, and removed crosswalks on Michigan Avenue and Lake Shore Drive, making it easier to drive and harder to walk.

Instead, Chicago needs to start discouraging driving and promoting healthier modes by charging motorists a toll for the privilege of driving into the Loop, and using the cash to fund bike, ped and transit projects. Read the rest of this entry »

Common Sense: Dear Art Thief

City Life, Essays & Commentary, Wicker Park No Comments »

By Damien James

I spent more time than I’d like to admit wondering what you were thinking as you walked the halls of the smART Show in the Flat Iron building between 10:30pm and midnight a few weeks ago. I’m curious because in that time, you managed to swipe one of my drawings right off the wall and abscond with it.

My initial reaction, not surprisingly, was anger. Intense, red piping-hot anger. “What the fuck!?” were my words, to be exact, extra emphasis on the “f.” Who steals art at a small neighborhood show? From an “emerging” artist? (“Emerging” = “starving”) Even more, who steals a piece of art that’s already been sold? Now, I know it was small, and as you passed by maybe you thought it would fit perfectly in your bag or pocket or whatever, but did you not see the sticker above the drawing that said “sold”? Could you not have chosen a piece that hadn’t already been paid for? Because you see, some artists who do shows in the Flat Iron, especially in the halls of the Flat Iron, are struggling; they’re artists who are desperately trying to carve out some tiny, peaceful existence. We’re trying to do something good, to make and share something outside the ever-present web of invasive insanity-breeding consumerism. I get (but don’t condone, of course) stealing an iPhone, an X-Box, cash; but a drawing? Not only did you steal something I made, but you took money out of my pocket. And I’ve got other people to take care of beside myself. So: what the fuck!? Read the rest of this entry »

Garbage Run: Picking up the trash in Washington Park

City Life, Green, News etc., Running 1 Comment »

trashrunnersOn a mildly warm, sunny day on Chicago’s South Side, a group of six avid runners and their mascot dog, Sadie-a chocolate lab and spaniel mix-gather together at the corner of 59th and Cottage Grove. The group’s organizer, Paige Troelstrup, pulls out trash bags and latex gloves, giving one of each to everyone.

The Chicago Trash Runners, as the group is called, was organized by Troelstrup when Jeremy Litchfield of Atayne, an environmentally conscious athletic-apparel company based in Virginia, suggested she start a trash running group in Chicago. This gathering at Washington Park is the second meet-up for the group; the first was last month at Belmont Harbor. 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 Ozzie Guillen
The Sox skipper won the weekend series against crosstown rival Cubs.
Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Time to diversify your energy sources, Aries. It’s as if you’ve grown too dependent on oil—metaphorically speaking—and have neglected to develop relationships with wind turbines, solar panels, natural gas and other mans of generating power. What if in the future—metaphorically speaking—oil becomes scarcer or wildly expensive? And what if, over the long haul, its byproducts degrade your environment? I suggest you start now to expand the variety of fuels you tap into. It’s a perfect moment to adjust your plans for your long-term energy needs. Read the rest of this entry »

Pride 2009: Gay Marriage Now

City Life, News etc., Politics, Pride No Comments »

newcitycover1For those of us of a certain age, the story of our lifetime has been the civil rights movement and the infusion of its fundamental ideal, one drawn from the very words used to call this nation into existence—”that all men are created equal”—beyond racial equality and into every segment of our culture, whether it be the rights of the disabled or the perpetual struggle to turn a patriarchal society into one of equal opportunity regardless of gender. And so, we turn to what may be the final obstacle that keeps us from turning that noble concept voiced 233 years ago from principle into reality.

Those of you who follow Newcity know that we may be liberal in other ways, but not with the practice of endorsement. But just as we believed the election of Barack Obama as president transcended all other issues last November, so too do we believe that this issue, the equal rights of all persons, transcends all other issues.

This is the moment. Nations around the world are moving forward with marriage equality; so too are states around this nation. While Illinois cannot be first, it can still make its influence, and so too Chicago, since neither New York City nor Los Angeles are situated in states where gay couples may marry. This is the moment to enact equal marriage rights in Illinois and we call upon our elected leaders to pass the necessary legislation with appropriate haste so that our state might resume its place as a portent of progess, as manifest by our favorite sons Abraham Lincoln and Barack Obama, rather than the crest of corruption that the same fingers of progress seem too often predisposed to favor inside the voting booth. We’ll defer to others to lead the way on tactics, but ask all of you to make your voices heard. For as the poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox once wrote, “To sin by silence, when they should protest, makes cowards of men.” Read the rest of this entry »

Pride Events

City Life, Events, News etc., Politics, Pride No Comments »

Parties, parades, workshops, readings and more—we got it all Read the rest of this entry »

House Call

News etc., Pride No Comments »

Here’s a list of Illinois state representatives in the Chicago area, their contact numbers and office addresses. Read the rest of this entry »

Knit Together, Right Now: World Wide Knit in Public storms the Cultural Center

Events, Loop No Comments »

moxie1Today seems to be a day for birthday-suit-wearing bike riders (World Naked Bike Ride) and the undead (Chicago Zombie March) but, also, crafters dedicated to public displays of knitting, as the World Wide Knit In Public-Chicago commences. Thanks to Mother Nature, the knitters have to move their festivities from Millennium Park to the Chicago Cultural Center. “Rain will not stop knitters,” says Natalia Uribe Wilson, an organizer. Read the rest of this entry »