Street Smart Chicago

The Veil of Iron

City Life, Love & Sex No Comments » promises to navigate the tumultuous seas of dating for you. However, is online dating really that much easier than dating in the real world?

I decide to test the waters and sign up for an account. Writing my online bio is supposed to be fun, but instead it throws me down some sort of existential rabbit hole that I am yet to climb out of. Now I’m plagued with all sorts of doubts and nagging questions about moral relativism. Who am I?  Where have I been, and where am I going with my life? Read the rest of this entry »

Local News: Fight Big Media at a sandwich shop

City Life, Loop, News etc. 1 Comment »

Passionate discussion resonates from one of the tables Friday night at Cosi on Michigan Avenue. Five guys—Mike, Michael, Mitchell, Jerry and Jack—sit at the table with a small piece of white paper inserted in one of the card holders that says “Fight Big Media Meetup is Here.” Mitchell Szczepanczyk, the Chicago Fight Big Media group moderator for the past four years, has his laptop open so he can be ready to announce breaking news or to research more information on discussion topics.

They’ve just finished talking about Walter Cronkite’s death 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 Mike Reed
The Pitchfork Music Festival organizer—along with the rest of the site’s staff—oversaw yet another successful fest weekend, once again proving it’s the city’s best. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Storm chasers are people who love traveling around the continent in pursuit of wild weather. Nothing feeds their lust for life more than getting up close and personal with a tornado or supercell thunderstorm. Many of them are meteorologists who are curious about the way storms work; they’re not motivated solely by bravado. I mention this because, according to my astrological analysis, the coming weeks will be prime time for Aries storm chasers to load up on thrills. The immediate future should also bring excellent opportunities for other Rams who are yearning for breezy adventures that will captivate their imaginations and slake their sense of wonder. Read the rest of this entry »

Ride On: Tour de Fat comes to Palmer Square

Bicycling, City Life, Events, Green, Humboldt Park No Comments »

tourdefatWigs, hats and antennae; wings, fake mustaches and long socks; pirates, cheerleaders and ringmasters—it’s all part of the spectacle Saturday at the Tour de Fat in Palmer Square.

The event, part of an eleven-city tour, highlights biking, beer, creativity and sustainability. New Belgium Brewing Company, based in Fort Collins, Colorado, started the annual tour ten years ago to increase awareness and participation in bike transportation. The day seems all about being as creative and green as possible—on a bike. Read the rest of this entry »

In Bloom: Flowers for Heroes preserves memory

News etc., Politics No Comments »

A couple hundred people gather at the Willowbrook Ballroom in Willow Springs for a night of music, dancing and, more importantly, dedication. Tonight’s four-hour event was put together to promote and raise money for Flowers for Heroes, a not-for-profit organization based in Elmhurst and founded by Russ Phillip, owner of The group raises money not only to put flowers on every gravestone in every military cemetery but also to give back and support Gold Star Families—an organization whose members are families of fallen soldiers. Read the rest of this entry »

Girl Power: Girl 360 gives young tweens life lessons

City Life, News etc. No Comments »

By Ilana Kowarskidsc01214

This past December, women’s rights advocates Anne Ream and Randi Shafton introduced their new Web site to the blogosphere—Girl 360, a digital “safe space” for tween girls everywhere. Filled with advice columns, stories about successful women and empowering T-shirt logos, the site is meant to make girls feel good about themselves and to give them “hope,” says Ream, and “life lessons they can apply,” says Shafton. Ream asserts that advice and encouragement are particularly important for tweens, who are at “a vulnerable point in their lives,” a time when, as she puts it, “girls are getting a sense of who they are.” During this period, Ream and Shafton believe it is especially important that girls have positive female role models. Ream explains, “Every great woman started out as a great girl, one who often discovered her own ‘superpowers’ after encountering other super-cool female role models. Our mission at Girl 360 is to make encounters like this possible by bringing the stories of history’s and today’s most amazing women to the attention of a new generation of tween girls.” The goal of Girl 360, Shafton explains, is to provide a “shared dialogue” which “makes a girl that much stronger and that much smarter.”  According to 10-year-old Sara Alavi, that is precisely what the site does for her. “I am very inspired by the women on the site, so, if I need inspiration to do something that isn’t easy, I go to Girl 360.” 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 Michael Smith
The Chicago policeman and Daley security guard apprehended an escaped murderer outside the mayor’s Michigan vacation home. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I fear you’re on the verge of slipping into a state of mind that wants everything and is therefore in danger of getting nothing. I worry that you’ll be lusting for such total control over so much wild sweetness that you won’t actually formulate a foolproof plan to commune with even a pinch of that sweetness. Let’s see if we can motivate you to overthrow this state of mind. Let’s try to coax you into devising a precise strategy to assemble paradise piece by piece. Read the rest of this entry »

The Gypsy Trail: The history and legacy of Rom culture in Chicago

City Life, Northwest Side 2 Comments »

By David Wittercover

A neon sign in the window of the frame house flashes “Readings by Maria,” while a wooden marker on the roadside, lit by a small spotlight, spells out the same message in hand-painted letters. After a quiet knock a short woman opens the door. Her skin is olive and her hair dark brown, but her eyes are blue. She wears a dark house dress, a simple necklace and has a blue scarf wrapped around her hair.

“Are you here for a reading?” she asks. After a quick nod she leads you into the house. A chandelier hangs overhead, illuminating mostly white furniture, some covered by plastic. Black-and-white photos of dark-haired men in fancy suits and pictures of children with dark eyes line the walls. A man talks on a white phone, oblivious to the visitors.

The woman sits at a black and gold embroidered table and opens a box of tarot cards. “Come, sit down. I will read the cards and tell you your future…”

This is the home of a fortune-teller located on Harlem Avenue near Diversey. For many, whether in print, films or gossip, this is the image of gypsies. Others may include women with low-cut blouses dancing seductively, like the one portrayed in the 1970s pop hit, “Gypsy Woman,” or roaming bands of con artists, vis-a-vis the Peter Maas book and resulting movie “King of the Gypsies,” or Stephen King’s “Thinner.” Web sites like allege gypsy fortune-tellers dupe unsuspecting customers out of thousands of dollars. Yet while some may fit this image, they are, like any other group, just a sampling of a race of people who have been around for more than a thousand years. Gypsies have been part of the Chicago landscape since the late 1800s, and today you can find them shopping, attending churches and working as musicians in jazz clubs, concert halls and European-themed restaurants throughout the Chicago area. Read the rest of this entry »