Street Smart Chicago

Museum Review: Burnham 2.0: A Patchwork Plan

Architecture, Chicago History, Museums No Comments »

In 1909, Daniel Burnham and Edward Bennett imagined the restructuring and beautification of a contemporary American city, “The Plan of Chicago.” A hundred years later, the Chicago Humanities Festival, the Architectural Club and the Chicago History Museum have composed “Burnham 2.0.” This competition and exhibit takes “The Plan of Chicago” to the next level: in the new century, what would a utopian, sustainable and pluralistic Chicago look like as the hub of a high-speed rail network? The gallery space is small and simplistic, but the ideas within are big, dense and complex. Though some of the entries approach the challenge analytically, the majority are far-fetched, science-fiction speculations about utopias, heavy on the metaphors and light on plausibility. Joliet, Cicero and the fragmented districts of the Loop and South Side are given super-duper green makeovers. Vacant lots and auto dealerships are replaced with multifaceted parks and civic centers. Notable entries include a comic-book-style walk-through of a high-speed railway station and the replacement of the Presidential Towers with a series of gothic, counter-culture artist bungalows. The most impressive entry belongs to the winners of an international design competition, an imaginative yet realistic re-envisioning of Union Station as an intermodal transportation hub. (Laura Hawbaker)

“Burnham 2.0: A Patchwork Plan” runs at Chicago History Museum, 1601 North Clark, (312)642-4600, through April 12.

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Most people spend their entire lives immersed in three modes of awareness: waking, sleeping, and dreaming. But there are many other modes that have been explored down through the ages by the pioneers of consciousness. Some of them aren’t very interesting to me—like those sought out by people who use cocaine or methamphetamines, for instance—while others are states I aspire to inhabit, like lucid dreaming, deep meditation and a visceral perception of the fact that love is the fundamental law of the universe. I bring this line of thought to your attention, Aries, because I believe that in 2009 you will have excellent opportunities to open up your mind to levels of consciousness that are beyond the basic three. No drugs are necessary to take advantage—only a driving curiosity to tune in to realities that are currently outside of your field of vision.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In the original Constitution of the United States, adopted in 1787, each black slave living in America was counted as three-fifths of a person. Seventy-eight years later, the Thirteenth Amendment conferred the missing two-fifths on all who had up until then been regarded as partial humans. I predict that a comparable milestone will come for you in 2009, Taurus. Where in your life have you been marginalized or perpetually unfinished? What fragmented role have you been compelled to play? What situation has prevented you from being all you can be? You will have an excellent chance of completing the circuit in the coming months.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): According to the novelist John Gardner, there are just two kinds of stories in literature: you go on a journey, or a stranger arrives in your world. According to my analysis of your destiny in 2009, you will reap rich rewards by including both of those plotlines in your life story. So let the brainstorming begin, Gemini: What’s the best journey you could choose for yourself—a journey that will educate, challenge and delight you? And what can you do to attract the best kinds of strangers into your world—strangers who will educate, challenge and delight you?

CANCER (June 21-July 22): To get ready for 2009, I invite you to fantasize in depth about the fertile alliances that might be possible for you to cultivate in the coming months. These lively, inspiring bonds could be with people you haven’t met yet. They could be with acquaintances you barely know but would like to know better. And they could be with friends, collaborators and loved ones you’re already intimate with but want to become even closer to. The coming year has the potential to bring revolutionary advances in the quality and intensity of your relationships, so it will be smart for you to work hard on making that happen.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): “What do I long for?” should be a core question for you—always, of course, but especially in 2009. Are you adventurous enough to look beyond the status symbols your ego is attached to and the transitory wishes that constantly flit through your imagination? If so, you’ll prime yourself to establish a root connection with your soul’s deepest yearnings. And when you’re in daily touch with those primal motivators, the obstacles in your life will seem less overwhelming; the lies you tell yourself will dissolve; and you will consistently have crisp intuitions about what your next move must be. Life may not necessarily be a breeze, but it’ll be profoundly magical.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): When I predict that liberation will be one of your primary tasks in 2009, Virgo, I’m not speaking about it in the usual way. The definition I’m working with is one that the writer David Foster Wallace articulated: “The really important kind of freedom involves attention and awareness and discipline, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them over and over in myriad petty, unsexy ways every day.” I hope you’ll be moved to add other nuances and flourishes to that approach as you experiment with it liberally in the coming months.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “I saw the angel in the marble and I carved until I set him free.” That was Michelangelo talking about how he approached his work as a sculptor. He didn’t build the statue, in other words, but got rid of the unnecessary stuff that was surrounding it. I suggest that you try this approach in 2009. You have the potential to create a great thing—maybe even two great things—by chiseling away the extraneous material that’s obscuring their unique beauty.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): In 2009, don’t just tune in to your hunches now and then. Be more diligent and intense than that. Check in with your intuition at least three times a day on all 365 days of the year. Be precise in the questions you pose it. Gather its clues craftily. Have fun as you joke and play with it. Conscientiously experiment with the suggestions it provides. This will be the year you can establish a steady, reliable connection with your inner voice. Be devout in your dedication to the cult of your intuition!

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Want to supercharge your luck in 2009? Get yourself some vivid new superstitions. The more outrageous they are, the more likely it is they’ll generate lots of crazy sweet karma. You might want to draw inspiration from pro football player John Henderson, for instance, who swears he can trick destiny into working in his favor if his trainer smacks him in the face before each game. Former hockey player Bruce Gardiner might also be a worthy role model. To rev up his good fortune, he always shoved his hockey stick into a toilet prior to skating out onto the ice. JUST KIDDING, Sagittarius! In fact, I hope you will make 2009 your least superstitious year ever. Let’s drink a toast to lucid logic, impeccable objectivity and cool, clean reason! Add some compassionate sarcasm and loving satire into the mix, and you will generate lots of crazy sweet karma.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): The most expensive bat mitzvah in history took place at New York’s Rainbow Room in November 2005. David Brooks, a billionaire defense contractor, spent $10 million on his daughter’s rite of passage. Among the stars he hired to perform at the bash were Aerosmith, Tom Petty, Nelly and 50 Cent. Promise me, Capricorn, that if you get wealthy in the coming year, you won’t blow your money on ridiculous “luxuries” like that. Here’s a secret: The more high-minded you are in cultivating your dreams, the greater the likelihood is that you’ll get richer quicker.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Imagine you’re driving down a very wide highway that’s fifty lanes across even though there are no lines dividing one lane from another. Speed limit signs aren’t posted, and some vehicles are zipping along in zigzag paths at over 100 mph while others crawl along like old-lady turtles. Now and then you’ve got to weave your way through a congested area where many on-ramps all feed into the road simultaneously. You haven’t seen an off-ramp yet, and you’re not sure where to get off anyway. I figure, Aquarius, that 2008 had some resemblance to the scenario I just described. Luckily, I predict that no later than your birthday, you will find an off-ramp and exit onto an uncluttered backroad with great scenery.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): “How do you slay the dragon?” journalist Bill Moyers asked mythologist Joseph Campbell in an interview. By “dragon,” he was referring to the dangerous beast that symbolizes the most unripe and uncontrollable part of each of our lives. In reply to Moyers, Campbell didn’t suggest that you become a master warrior, nor did he recommend that you cultivate high levels of sleek, savage anger. “Follow your bliss,” he said simply. Personally, I don’t know if that’s enough to slay the dragon—I’m inclined to believe that you also have to take some defensive measures—but it’s definitely worth an extended experiment. Would you consider trying that in 2009?

Homework: Make three predictions about your life in 2009. Tell me at RealAstrology.com; click on “Email Rob.”

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): What I foresee for you in 2009 is an upgrade in your approach to creating and maintaining your alliances. I envision you having dramatically enhanced intuition about how to connect with people in satisfying and interesting ways. I picture you being able to push beyond your habit-bound ways of conducting your relationships, ensuring that you’ll be entertained and moved by them more than ever before. If I could give you a symbolic holiday gift to inspire you in this work, it might be a long, thick golden thread interwoven with a long, thick silver thread. Happy Holy Daze, Aries!

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Happy Holy Daze, Taurus! If I were gong to give you a holiday gift, it might be a ticket to go visit your imaginary friend—you know, the invisible ally you’ve been neglecting…the sweet, fierce companion who lives in the threshold between the light and dark…the “other you” who abides there patiently on the cusp between waking and dreaming, hoping that someday you will fully embrace your relationship. Don’t worry, your imaginary friend isn’t demanding or possessive in the least, but mostly just wants you to think of your link every now and then so that you might feel less alone.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): One of your most fun assignments in 2009 will be not only to think way outside of the box but also to think way outside of the bigger and more interesting (but nonetheless boxy) boxes that all the outside-the-box thinkers customarily think inside. That’s why, if I could give you a Christmas, Hanukkah, Solstice, and Kwanza gift, it would be a nice, clean, square, white box punched full of big holes with ragged edges where the inside has burst into the outside. Happy Holy Daze, Gemini!

CANCER (June 21-July 22): In the Broadway play “Passing Strange,” the narrator Stew says, “You know how one morning you wake up as an adult and you realize your entire life is based on a decision you made as a teenager?” If that description applies to you, Cancerian, 2009 will be the best year ever to do something about it. In the coming months, you will have the power to correct errors or misjudgments you made way back when. You’ll be able to figure out how to start over in an area of your life that you’ve always assumed you were doomed to accept just the way it is. You may even find that you can, in a sense, change the past and reconfigure your memories.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): Happy Holy Daze, Leo! If I could give you one gift for the holidays, it might be a magic object to add to your love altar—something like a pomegranate resting on red velvet, or a golden heart-shaped magnet, or Pablo Neruda’s book “100 Love Sonnets.” What? You don’t have a love altar? Well then please begin creating one as soon as possible, and continue building it throughout 2009. For the next twelve months, the time will be right to get smarter, wilder and kinder in your approach to creating intimate connection.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): “My deepest emotional wound has also been the source of inexhaustible blessings.” I’m not going to tell you why that statement is true for me—it’s way too personal—but I assure you that it’s one of the fundamental facts about my destiny. Could you make a similar assertion, Virgo? Is it possible to interpret your life in such a way that you could see how a painful experience you suffered in the past has also given you tremendous insight, inspiration and vitality? Two thousand nine will be an excellent year to make that leap of understanding. And the time around the solstice—right now!—is a perfect moment to get started.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): At Salon.com’s forum “Table Talk,” participants were urged to come up with a six-word sentence that captured the essence of their lives. One person wrote, “Broke. Payday. Broke. Payday. Broke. Payday.” Another said, “Oh, no, not again. Again. Again.” But the testimony I really wanted to call your attention to is this: “I never learned how to swashbuckle.” Why is this pertinent for you? Because I believe that if you have a similar regret—that you’ve never mastered the art of swashbuckling—you will have an excellent chance to fix that problem in the coming months. In fact, I’m tempted to name 2009 as the Year of the Swashbuckle for you Libras. If I could give you a symbolic holiday gift to get you started, it might be a superhero’s costume created by a top fashion designer. Happy Holy Daze!

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): Happy Holy Daze, Scorpio! If I could give you one symbolic gift to set the right tone for 2009, it might be a clear glass vase with a potato growing partially submerged in water, allowing you to see its gnarly roots. I’d hope that would inspire you to put diligent yet playful effort into getting reacquainted with and exploring your own personal source code—you know, the master plan of your life that you formulated before you were born. The coming months will be an excellent time to cultivate a wise innocence as you get to the bottom of who you really are.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): Let’s say that on Christmas Eve, Santa Claus hopes to deliver toys to every child who believes in him. Thanks to the fact that his distribution area stretches over many time zones, he’ll have at least twenty-four hours to accomplish this feat. Still, that means he’s got to visit approximately a thousand homes per second. I don’t know what astrological sign Santa is, but if he’s a Sagittarius he’ll have the highest possible chance at success. Beginning any day now, and lasting throughout 2009, your tribe will have the potential to move faster, think quicker and multi-task better than every other tribe. If I were going to give you a symbolic holiday gift, it would be greased lightning. Happy Holy Daze!

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Four out of every five people testify that if such a thing were possible, they would buy more time. If you’re one of those four, I’m here to tell you that conditions in the coming months will provide some interesting opportunities. While you may not be able to actually purchase more of that precious commodity, it’s quite possible that you’ll be able to legally steal it, barter for it and even create it from scratch. I’ve got to be cryptic here, because the promise I’m hinting at is of course not true in a strictly literal sense: You’ll have to tweak your imagination and think a bit sideways and upside-down in order to cash in on the temporal expansions that will be available.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): When she applied for admission to New York University as an undergraduate, Rehka Malhotra was rejected. Years later, after she’d become a well-known Brooklyn DJ, that same school invited her to teach a class, “Pop Culture: South Asians in the U.S.” “It was the sweetest revenge,” she told Good magazine. I predict a comparable development for you in the coming year, Aquarius. You will find power in a place where you were formerly weak, or you will achieve success in a situation that once shut you out.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Happy Holy Daze, Pisces! My gift to you is advice about the coming year. First, read this quote from W.H. Auden’s book “The Dyer’s Hand.” “A daydream is a meal at which images are eaten. Some of us are gourmets, some gourmands and a good many take their images precooked out of a can and swallow them down whole, absent-mindedly and with little relish.” With this as your touchstone, I urge you to be a gourmet in your approach to daydreaming during 2009. It will be time for you to make your fantasy life into an art form instead of a chaotic, unconscious diversion. If you put more intention into your generation of mental images, you will find yourself better able to create what you really want.

Homework: What’s the one feeling you want to feel more than any other in 2009? Go to RealAstrology.com; click on “Email Rob.”

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the capricious contours of celebrity

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This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1
Arne Duncan
President-elect Obama chose the Chicago Public Schools Chief as his Education Secretary.

2
Lovie Smith
So the Bears beat the Saints in overtime over the weekend…now what?

3
Robbie Gould
The Bears kicker booted a clutch field goal in overtime against the Saints in a much-needed win for the team.

4
Tony Rezko
The infamous fund-raiser received a holiday gift—a judge delayed his sentencing date indefinitely.

5
Morton Owen Schapiro
The current president at Williams College in Massachusetts was tapped to take the job at Northwestern next fall.

This Week’s Biggest Losers

1
Rod Blagojevich
Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan officially launched the impeachment process against the Gov…plus “SNL” had some fun at his expense over the weekend.

2
John Harris
The governor’s chief of staff resigned from his post.

3
Mayor Daley
Plow the streets! How many accidents do you want?!?!. Plow them.

4
Rahm Emanuel
The Tribune reported Obama’s chief of staff had conversations with Blago about the President-elect’s possible Senate replacement.

5
Kanye West
Blago’s not the only Chicagoan taking heat because of last weekend’s “SNL”—Kanye’s musical performances on the program received not-so-glowing reviews.

Window Pain: The Republic Window Workers celebrate their victory…for now

Events, Politics No Comments »

Over the past couple of weeks, the Republic Window Workers have captured the attention of the nation and the world, winning their historic struggle for owed compensation from their Chicago factory and from Bank of America.

“We were tired of being lied to and mistreated. They tried to shove us out the door with no money, no health insurance, and no jobs, so we said ‘No’! We decided together that we wouldn’t leave until we had the money. Our victory is for all workers around the world,” declares President of UE Local 1110, addressing the crowd of gathered supporters at Teamster Auditorium.

Tonight is the Republic Window Workers’ victory celebration, hosted by the Chicago Interfaith Committee on Worker Issues (CICWI), and Union Presidents, community leaders (including Congresswoman Jan Schakowsky), individual supporters and a collection of similarly wronged (but still awaiting justice) Heinemann Bakery workers are all here to show solidarity and to thank the workers for their heroic efforts and historic victory.  “You are the inspiration for what labor has to do right now,” Henry Tamarin, President of UNITE HERE Local 1, says to the Republic workers. “We all owe you a tremendous amount of gratitude.”

The Teamster Auditorium reverberates with hopeful enthusiasm, but those gathered also remain ever-aware of the struggles that lie ahead. “The economy is going to get worse before it gets better, but these workers sent the message that even in dire economic times we still have rights,” says Adam Kader, Worker Center Director for the CICWI. Rikki, a Republic Window Worker and sit-in participant, echoes such sentiments. “I wish I could say our battle was over, but the truth is, our fight has just begun.”

Fortunately, the workers are ready. “Even though it was really hard,” one says, “we’d do it again.” (Meaghan Strickland)

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): It’s an ideal time for you to throw a party for all the people you’ve ever been and all the different selves who live within you now. Invite the teenager who once seethed with frustrated potential and the 4-year-old who loved nothing more than to play. Include the hopeful complainer who stands in the shadows and dares you to ask for more, as well as the brave hero who comes out every now and then to attempt seemingly impossible feats of happiness. Don’t forget any of the various personalities who have contributed to making you who you are. Celebrate your internal diversity. Marvel at how good you are at changing.
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411: Social Shindig

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While much of the stuff going on this time of year centers only on Christmas, the Chicago Socialist Party provides something a little more everybody-friendly at their annual Winterfest, held December 13 at Quencher’s Saloon. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the capricious contours of celebrity

Chicago Hype Exchange No Comments »

This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1
Republic Windows & Doors Employees
The laid-off workers at the Chicago factory staged a sit-in—still ongoing, as of press time—protesting their dismissal and earned national news coverage and support from big wig politicos, including Jesse Jackson and, bingo, President-elect Obama.

2
Lovie Smith
So the Bears beat the Jaguars handily over the weekend…now what?

3
Greg Maddux
The beloved former Cub and baseball great announced his retirement to countless tributes and widespread “first-ballot-Hall-of-Famer” speak.
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Get Out of My Facebook: Rednofive brings “friends” together

City Life, Events No Comments »

Facebook is already rather weird. What other tool enables late-night instant-chatting with former third-grade classmates and encourages hours wasted on a younger brother’s best friend’s older sister’s four wedding albums?
Well, for better or worse, Facebook just got much weirder.

A snowy Friday night at Rednofive and Facebook steps from the computer screen to the bar scene. Tonight welcomes “Face 2 Face,” an event hosted by Jordan and Pam Spritz (of Jordan Foods of Distinction) and D.C. Crenshaw, and it’s meant to give people the opportunity to meet their Facebook friends in real life. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The European Union has had rules banning the sale of ugly carrots with knobby protrusions, cucumbers that are grossly curved and equally unaesthetic specimens of twenty-four other fruits and vegetables. Recently that changed, however. The stiff standards were relaxed. “It makes no sense to throw perfectly good products away, just because they are the ‘wrong’ shape,” said the EU’s commissioner for agriculture. I suggest you make a metaphorically similar shift, Aries. It’s time for you to expand your capacity to welcome some fine, useful things that happen to look a bit imperfect.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): In the Broadway play “Passing Strange,” the narrator praises the healing power of mysterious songs, saying: “You know when the music goes right over your head, bypasses your mind and strengthens the part of you that’s most beautiful?” That’s the kind of nourishment I encourage you to seek out in the coming week, Taurus. You need soul-toning experiences that elude your rational understanding—encounters with wise animals, waking dreams, unpredictable love, exotic music and twilight whispers that blissfully boggle your imagination. Read the rest of this entry »