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Free Will Astrology

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): Fifty-five percent of Americans not only believe in guardian angels, but testify that they have been actively aided by the intervention of those divine helpers. Commenting on the results, one religious expert said that “Americans live in an enchanted world.” The fifty-five percent figure may rise even higher in the coming weeks. A majority of Aries all over the planet, regardless of their religious orientation, could have a mystical experience that will spook and delight them. If you’re one of the chosen ones, don’t get fixated on or distracted by the sheer amazement of the visitation. Make sure you’re alert for its eminently practical guidance.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): You’ve been hiding a part of yourself from your conscious awareness. That’s why I’m going to ask you to take off the mask you wear when you’re alone with yourself. You might be surprised when you actually gaze upon your secret face. But I believe it will ultimately prove to be an intriguing breakthrough that will give you good ideas about how to share yourself more completely.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): A year ago, I had a vision that your experiences in 2008 would boost your heart’s smarts—maybe not up to the same level as your head’s intelligence, but much closer than before. I predicted you’d have a growing ability to master your own moods and emotions, and speculated on how that would in turn increase your understanding of why people do the things they do. So if, during these last eleven months, you’ve been taking advantage of the potentials I named back then, you have undoubtedly developed impressive new skills in the art of intimate relationships. If for any reason this hasn’t happened yet, start playing catch-up immediately.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Activist and author Naomi Klein tells a story about the time she traveled to Australia at the request of Aboriginal elders. They wanted her to know about their struggle to prevent white people from dumping radioactive wastes on their land. Her hosts brought her to their precious wilderness, where they camped under the stars. They showed her “secret sources of fresh water, plants used for bush medicines, hidden eucalyptus-lined rivers where the kangaroos come to drink.” After three days, Klein grew restless. When were they going to get down to business and show her the despoiled places? “Before you can fight,” one elder told her, “you have to know what you are fighting for.” That’s good advice, Cancerian. I suggest you immerse yourself in the beauty you’ll be serving and stewarding in the future.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): The Mystic Astrology Wizard says: Close one of your eyes. Tap your forehead three times with the palm of your left hand. Think of a sexy image. Lick your lips and whisper the words “Love Whisperer.” Insert your middle finger in the “Delight-O-Meter” slot. Keep your finger there until the “Passion Lamp” turns on. Flash. Flash. Flash. Thank you. Your evaluation appears below. Your libido has been a bit off-course, semi-absorbed in unfruitful or irrelevant distractions. But now it’s realigning itself with the central dream themes of your life. Prepare to experience a truer juiciness.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I suggest you meditate on the theme of exile. Here are some questions to get you started. 1. Have you ever been shunned by people you care about? 2. Do you know what it’s like to unwillingly leave a place that has made you feel safe and secure? 3. Can you remember the desolation that came over you when you found yourself wandering in the middle of nowhere? 4. Has it been a challenge to connect with your tribe or be at peace in the land that makes you feel at home in the world? Whatever your exile is, Virgo, the coming weeks will be an excellent time to figure out how to heal it.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): “Dear Rob: In the past I’ve thought of balance as the ability to move between extremes without falling down. I pride myself on being a Weeble-Wobbler, the toy that always swings back up when you try to tip it over. But lately I’m wondering if I should expand my concept of what we Libras do. I have fantasies of experimenting with a balance that more closely resembles walking on a railroad track. I could dip a foot here and there, first this side then that, just for fun, and still remain on the track. Maybe in time I could even dance on the rail. Your thoughts? – Libra in Expansion Mode.” Dear Expander: The coming weeks would be a great time, astrologically speaking, to try the experiment you described.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): It’s a ripe time to work on fixing any neurosis that chronically disrupts your economic karma. Can you afford sessions with a psychotherapist who’ll help you improve your relationship with money? Just in case you can’t, I’ll offer two exercises that might propel you toward financial self-healing. #1: Twice a day for five minutes, visualize yourself immersed in a joyous and meaningful experience that would be made possible by a more abundant flow of money into your life. #2: Think of three generous acts you want to carry out, three blessings you want to bestow, or three uplifting messages you want to deliver to deserving people.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): In her book “One Continuous Mistake,” Gail Sher provides excellent advice for people who want to be writers. I’m offering it to you for your all-purpose use as you enter the Reinvent Yourself phase of your astrological cycle. The drive for perfection can be a distraction, Sher says. What’s more useful is to be brave and free enough to experiment with possibilities that may or may not pan out. Don’t think yourself into a corner, agonizing about where to begin. Simply dive in and get to work, trusting that the agitation you churn up will show you what works. Exult in the revelations provided by the trial-and-error approach!

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Long-time conservative writer Christopher Buckley, son of rightwing icon William F. Buckley, voted for Obama. Though he was once a speech-writer for John McCain, a man he admired, Buckley was aghast at how the presidential campaign unfolded. “I didn’t leave the Republican Party,” he said. “The Republican Party left me.” I urge you to be alert for a comparable development in your own life, Capricorn. A group whose ideals you have held dear may be changing right in front of your eyes. Or perhaps a movement you’ve been part of has veered off course from the principles that drew you to it.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): “Never keep up with the Joneses,” counseled author Quentin Crisp. “Drag them down to your level. It’s cheaper.” But I don’t recommend that approach, Aquarius. To do so would be as big a waste of your energy as trying to match the consumerist folly of the Joneses. The same holds true about any situation in which you’re tempted to compete for status with people whose values aren’t very deep: It’s crazy to get obsessed with wanting to either be like them or to drag them down. This advice is especially important now, when you’re more susceptible than usual to the dumbed-down influences of peer pressure. Try to carve out an independent path without indulging in envy, hatred or superiority.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Do you have a negative opinion of clouds? Are you inclined to regard them as symbols of gloom or malaise, interruptions in what you wish would always be clear blue sky? If so, I’ll ask you to revise your view. Consider the fact that in Chinese mythology, there are xiangyun, or “lucky clouds” that are harbingers of great blessings. Deities may even ride on them for pleasure. Among the Zuni Indians, the monster known as the Cloud Eater was feared because he devoured clouds that might bring replenishing rain. And modern meteorologists know that white, fluffy cumulus clouds are signs that fair weather is on the way. Armed with these ideas, Pisces, go out in search of your own personal lucky clouds. They’re your metaphors of the week.

Homework: What’s the decision you chronically agonize about? The commitment you can never fully make? Tell all at

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the capricious contours of celebrity

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This Week’s Biggest Gainers

Lou Piniella
Cubs skipper was named NL Manager of the Year. Seems somebody forgot the season ended in epic failure, which is what really matters.

Geovany Soto
Cubs catcher was named NL Rookie of the Year. Seems somebody forgot the season ended in epic failure, which is what really matters.

Hillary Clinton
Rumors swirled that President-Elect Obama is set to tap the Park Ridge native—and former opponent—as U.S. Secretary of State.

Lindsey Hunter
Welcome to the Chicago Bulls. If you ever need anything, even just to talk, we’re here for you.

Kerry Wood
The longtime Cubs pitcher parted ways with the team, receiving numerous well wishes from both the organization and local media.

This Week’s Biggest Losers

Lovie Smith
The Bears head coach watched his team suffer an embarrassing 37-3 loss to, of all teams, the Green Bay Packers.

Bump J
The local hip-hop artist was arrested on suspicion of being involved in a bank robbery in Oak Park.

Kanye West
The hip-hop superstar was arrested for scuffling with a photographer in Newcastle, UK.

Tommie Harris
The under-performing Bears defensive end took heat after he partly blamed the media for the team’s current woes and told Bears fans to “trust” their team to play better.

Legions of Cubs Fans
Mark Cuban was accused of insider trading. No Cubs for him.

A Rainbow in November: Protesters take to Federal Plaza to oppose Prop 8

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A freezing Saturday afternoon in Chicago and hearty thousands have nonetheless gathered at Federal Plaza to protest California’s passage of Proposition 8.   Bright rainbow-colored flags sprout up from the crowd and too-witty signs litter the space above the protesters’ heads.  “I love Keith Olbermann,“ reads one. “Brigham Young had 100 wives, I only want one,” another.  Although the crowd is clearly incensed by California’s decision to take away a hard-won right (“I’m pissed because this is the first time gay rights have been taken away rather than preemptively banned,” shares one protester), an air of peace and optimism remains dominant.  “We must do what Martin and Ghandi did,” advises a speaker whose voice booms anonymously from the donated sound-system, “and remain peaceful.”  “We love you even if you don’t love us,” says another speaker to the group of Pro-Proposition 8ers who have gathered across the street.  While the crowd borrows tactics from previous civil rights struggles and considers their fight the next installment in a centuries-long war for equal rights, there is something uniquely 2008 about today’s protest. Everybody is here thanks to the Internet.  Join the Impact, a Web site built after the passage of Prop 8 on November 4, has helped organize and spread the word about Prop 8 protests that are happening all over the world today.  “Look what the passage of Prop 8 has motivated,” says native Californian and brand-new Chicago resident Sara Egner. The protest concludes with a seemingly spur-of-the-moment decision to take the show on the road—to “march, march, march” as the crowd has called for.

Here Come the Dead: Pilsen’s somber Dia de Los Muertos celebration

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A large crowd has gathered for the face painting portion of non-profit Pros Arts Studio’s Dia de Los Muertos celebration and children all sit patiently while they are quickly transformed into skeletons by simple swipes of black and white paint.   “Death is viewed more as a part of life in Mexican culture,” explains face-painter Krystin Grenon. “Face painting is a fun thing—a way to laugh in the face of death.”  There certainly is no shortage of laughter in this crowd, despite the fact that tragedy seems just behind the celebration.  “The altars in this room,” shares Raquel Garcia, a veteran Dia de Los Muertos volunteer and Pilsen neighborhood expert, “are made by children in the Pros Arts programs. They are often dedicated to other neighborhood children who have lost their lives to gang violence.”   Later in the evening, on the march through the neighborhood to El Casa Aztlan (“the heart of the Pilsen community,” according to Garcia) for the last of the evening’s activities, it is difficult to believe that such violence exists here.  Families all pour outside their homes to wave at the Dia de Los Muertos procession, which is made up of children and adults holding colorful, hand-crafted banners and papier-mache skeletons.  “Where are the gangbangers here?” Garcia asks. “It doesn’t seem like there are any at all.” (Meaghan Strickland)

Free Will Astrology

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): “You can’t know fire unless you play with it,” says Mark Finney, a math whiz who develops computer models for fighting forest fires. I offer that as a motto for you in the coming week, Aries. I’m not saying you should purposely ignite a conflagration for the sake of impulsive experimentation. I’m not saying you should kick smoldering embers around like soccer balls or light a cigarette while you’re pumping gasoline or buy yourself a flame-thrower. What I am saying is that it will be in your interest to learn more about how to play safely with intriguing, useful fires. (Finney’s quote comes from the July 2008 issue of National Geographic.)

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): The time for keeping the doors closed is passing. But it is not yet the right moment to fling them wide open. According to my reading of the omens, your best strategy is to keep doors ajar—open just a crack, letting some air in and allowing a hint of your light to trickle out. This will discourage unfocused wanderers from barging in, while at the same time it encourages worthy candidates with a healthy curiosity to sneak peeks inside.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): “There is a rose in Spanish Harlem,” sings Ben E. King in his old pop ballad. “It is a special one/ It’s never seen the sun/ It only comes out when the moon is on the run.” King is fantasizing with longing about an alluring woman from a hardscrabble neighborhood. The rose is “growing in the street/ right up through the concrete”—a delicate beauty blooming amidst tough conditions. Your assignment, Gemini, is to cultivate a connection with your equivalent of that rose.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Every second of your life, your bone marrow produces 100 trillion molecules of hemoglobin, the stuff that carries oxygen from your lungs to the rest of you. Meanwhile, every minute, your immune system begets ten million lymphocytes, which are key players in your body’s defenses. These are just two examples of the endless marvels you produce, Cancerian. You are a creator of the first order. You’re a supreme maker and a generative genius. Remember that in the coming days. It will help you be confident and purposeful as you birth minor miracles and intimate wonders.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): For decades the U.S. government has handed out far more welfare benefits to big corporations than to poor people. Companies like IBM, General Electric, Boeing, and others rake in more than 100 billion dollars of subsidies each year. In other words, socialism has been a prominent feature of our so-called capitalist system for a long time. Recently, Karl Marx’s influence has made even deeper inroads into the American way, with the government becoming part-owner of many banks in order to keep them solvent. Will any of this fantastic largesse be extended to us regular citizens, like maybe in the form of nationalized health care? I can’t answer that. But I do know this, Leo: In the coming months, you will get help from powers that you regard as above and beyond you.

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): For many people, 10:30am is the single best time of day to come up with fresh insights and new ideas. But that won’t exactly be true for you in the coming week. I mean, 10:30 will be a time when you’re likely to be really smart, but then so will 11:30, 1:05, 2:37, 3:46 and 4:20. For that matter, 6:35 may also bring a gush of high intelligence, as well as 7:27, 8:19 and the last ten minutes before bedtime. What I’m trying to tell you, Virgo, is that you’re in a phase when being brilliant should come pretty naturally.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Ruminate a minute about the people who don’t see you for who you really are. Some of them are enemies, but others may be loved ones or allies. Consider the possibility that you have unconsciously bought in to their beliefs about you; that you are at least partially trapped in the habit of acting like the person they think you are. Now visualize what it would be like to free yourself from the images and expectations they have of you. Imagine the exhilaration you’d feel if you answered only to the still, small voice of your own lucid intuition. The coming weeks will be a good time for you to practice this high art.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): The New York Times ran a story about philosopher Nick Bostrom. He believes there’s a significant chance our world is actually a computer simulation. In his scenario, you and I are living in a version of “The Matrix.” Our “brains” are merely webs of computer circuits created by our post-human descendants, who are studying “ancestor simulations” of their past. I bring this to your attention, Scorpio, because it’s an excellent time for you to find out, one way or another, whether Bostrom is correct. Right now you have a special talent for knowing what’s real and what’s not. You’ve also got a knack for escaping what’s illusory and gravitating toward what’s authentic. So even if you do find out that we’re living in “The Matrix,” you could become a kind of messiah with resemblances to the character that Keanu Reaves played in the film trilogy.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): In his book “Signs of Success,” astrologer Steven Weiss says “The question ‘Do you believe in astrology?’ is like asking someone if they believe in art.” I agree. Picture a no-nonsense physicist gazing at a Kandinsky painting, with its teeming blobs of mad color and exuberant shapes, and declaring it to be a superstitious eruption of delusion that’s not based on a logical understanding of the world. Like Kandinsky’s perspective, astrology at its best roots us in the poetic language of the soul, and isn’t blindly submissive to the values of the rational ego. It’s here to liberate our imaginations and encourage us to think less literally and to visualize our lives as mythic quests. I bring this to your attention, Sagittarius, because right now it’s crucial that you spend some quality time in modes of awareness akin to Kandinsky’s and astrology’s.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): Check out this excerpt from “Those Who Do Not Dance,” by Chilean poet Gabriel Mistral: “God asked from on high, / ‘How do I come down from this blueness?’ / We told Him: /come dance with us in the light.” I love this passage because it reminds me that nothing is ever set in stone: Everything is always up for grabs. Even God needs to be open to change and eager for fresh truths. Furthermore, even we puny humans may on occasion need to be God’s teacher and helper. Likewise, we can never be sure about what lowly or unexpected sources may bring us the influences we require. What do Mistral’s words mean to you, Capricorn? Imagine you’re the “God” referenced in the poem. What blueness are you ready to come down from, and who might invite you to dance in their light?

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): All of the good works you do in the coming week will send ripples far and wide, but not all of them will be recognized and appreciated. I hope that’s OK with you; I hope you won’t get obsessed with trying to get all the credit you deserve. The fact is, your influences will be more effective and enduring if they are at least partially anonymous. Ironically, your power will be greater if it’s not fully noticed.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): Describing his writing class at Sarah Lawrence College, Jeffrey McDaniel says: “There are two kinds of humor: ha-ha humor that is light and airy and floats into the sky like a balloon, vanishing as the giggling subsides; and then there is a darker, heavier humor that is still there when the laughter stops, a humor that must be reckoned with, a humor with teeth.” I suggest, Pisces, that you make the latter your specialty, your passion and your medicine. Consort with belly laughs and sublime guffaws that rouse the ferocity you need in order to penetrate deeper into the heart of the Great Mystery.

Homework: Name two ways you think that everyone should be more like you. Go to and click on “Email Rob.”

Free Will Astrology

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ARIES (March 21-April 19): Uranus is on the opposite side of the sun from Saturn right now. To traditional astrologers, that’s a stressful aspect. It bespeaks a titanic clash between the forces of progress and the inertia of the past. But there are mitigating factors. The expansive planet Jupiter is trine to Saturn and sextile to Uranus, suggesting that unexpected grace may provide beauty and healing during these strenuous moments of truth. I predict that’s what will occur in your personal life, Aries. You’re well-situated to navigate smartly through the brouhaha. For best results, respect the old ways, but not so much that it slows down your exuberant quest for the most interesting possible future.

TAURUS (April 20-May 20): Every year my friend Jim travels to Cabos San Lucas in Baja California to participate in a deep-sea fishing competition. He says the best way to catch the big fish is with actual bait in the form of smaller fish. But marlins can be fooled into getting snagged with merely pretty lures—colorful fabrications that look like food but are actually made of metal, wood, plastic and rubber. Jim says that hammerhead sharks, on the other hand, will never bite the fake bait. They’re too smart, insisting on the real thing. I suggest you use this information as an allegory in the coming weeks, Taurus. You may find it to your advantage to get yourself “caught” by a metaphorical fisherperson, but only if he or she is offering you the authentic bait, not a simulation.

GEMINI (May 21-June 20): When the air is pure and clean, a bee can smell a flower from 3,281 feet. The presence of pollution severely cripples the bee’s awareness of floral scents, however, reducing its range to 650 feet. Consider the possibility that this is a metaphor for what has been happening to you recently, Gemini. Have you suffered a reduction in your sensitivity to sources of nourishment? Are you oblivious to gifts and blessings that could be available to you if you only knew about them? According to my analysis of the astrological omens, this is quite possible. Luckily, you’re reading this horoscope, which will surely motivate you to overcome the problem.

CANCER (June 21-July 22): Dolphins love erotic play, according to the book “Dolphin Chronicles.” For almost a third of their waking life, they caress and touch each other. They’re ingenious about using their Frisbees, plastic boats and rubber balls as sex toys. Gender isn’t much of an issue. There’s as much same-sex as opposite-sex cavorting. If you’d like to place yourself in alignment with cosmic rhythms, Cancerian, you will consider taking a page from the dolphin Kama Sutra in the coming days. Remember, the key for them is simply to play freely without any specific goal. Bliss comes as much from experimenting with creative intimacy as from driving toward orgasm.

LEO (July 23-Aug. 22): One of my friends on Facebook describes her vocation as “Hammer of the Gods.” Her task in life, she says, is to be a tool that the divine powers wield as they nail together raw materials to make useful structures. While I don’t know if that’s also one of your long-range goals, Leo, I do know that it describes a role you’d thrive in during the coming weeks. So how about it? Are you ready to upgrade your game in order to be the best hammer of the gods you can possibly be?

VIRGO (Aug. 23-Sept. 22): I’m not necessarily suggesting that you read Al Franken’s book “The Truth (with Jokes).” But I do recommend that you make that title your motto in the coming week. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, there will be no such thing as truth without jokes, at least for you. Every situation you need to know more about will, if you investigate it, reveal some amusing riddle. All the information that’ll be important for you to gather will lead you in the direction of laughter.

LIBRA (Sept. 23-Oct. 22): Some years back, I maxed out my credit cards to pay for recording my band’s CD. Soon afterwards, following a few financial setbacks, I was close to declaring bankruptcy. Luckily, my parents stepped in and bailed me out. (Thanks, Mom and Dad!) Since then, I’ve rigorously kept my debts to a minimum. That policy has, on occasion, cramped my style, but it looks pretty wise in light of the current financial crunch. Please draw inspiration from my experience, Libra. Take inventory of any patterns in your own life that may be distorting your ability to get the money and resources you need. This is an excellent time to flush your old conditioning and imprint yourself with good, new habits.

SCORPIO (Oct. 23-Nov. 21): “Many times in my life,” says philosopher Eckhardt Tolle, “it has been my experience that the most powerful starting point for any endeavor is not the question ‘What do I want?’, but what does Life (God, Consciousness) want from me? How do I serve the whole?” I offer that meditation to you, Scorpio, as you slip into the heart of the reinvent yourself  phase of your cycle. It’s time to stage a grand reopening, launch a new (relation)ship or instigate a fresh batch of good trouble. As you whip up the initiatory energy, ask the Big Cosmic Thou where it would like you to go and what it would love you to do.

SAGITTARIUS (Nov. 22-Dec. 21): “Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth,” says Ishmael in Herman Melville’s novel “Moby Dick,” “whenever it is damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses…it [is] high time to get to the sea as soon as I can.” Use this passage as an inspirational kick-in-the-ass, Sagittarius. There’s no need for you to sink into the emotional abyss Ishmael describes. Fix yourself before you’re broken! Get to the sea immediately, and prevent the grey glumness from taking over. If there’s no ocean nearby, then try the next best things: Walk along a river or lake. Immerse yourself for long stretches in baths and saunas and heated pools. Cry and sweat and come abundantly. Listen to music that makes you feel like you’re floating.

CAPRICORN (Dec. 22-Jan. 19): This is the Week of the Upside-Down Rainbow. It’s a time when signs of good fortune are everywhere, but always with some odd twist or anomalous feature. Should you worry that the tweaks mean there’s some mischief at work? Does it suggest you will have to pay a price for the breakthroughs that are coming? I don’t think so. My interpretation of the upside-down rainbow (or the five-leaf clover or the torn $10 bill you find on the street) is that you will be asked to expand your capacities in order to take full advantage of the unusual blessings.

AQUARIUS (Jan. 20-Feb. 18): Should you go with the flow or should you try to wheedle, manipulate and entice the flow to go with you? This is one of those rare times when I advocate the latter approach. The flow is currently in an indecisive state, when it could go one of several different ways. You have cosmic authorization to nudge it in the direction that looks to you like it will be the best for the most people.

PISCES (Feb. 19-March 20): In the sci-fi film “The Matrix,” a small band of people have managed to escape from the collective hallucination that most of their fellow humans are stuck inside. Though life is hard staying free, there are some perks. They can, for instance, get downloads of data directly into their brains that allow them to quickly master complex tasks. In this way, the heroine, Trinity, learns to fly a helicopter in a few minutes. I call your attention to these fictional events, Pisces, because I think you’re close to pulling off real-life accomplishments that resemble them. First, you’re in an excellent position to slip away from certain illusions that enslave some of the people around you. Second, you have an enormous power to rapidly understand new information and acquire new skills.

Homework: Tell me how this year’s election process and its results are changing your life. Go to and click on “Email Rob.”

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the capricious contours of celebrity

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This Week’s Biggest Gainers
Studs Terkel
The legendary writer and American treasure passed away at 96. So long, Studs.

Barack Obama
At press time, Senator Obama was up nearly eight points in the polls, on average.

Rex Grossman
He’s back!!!

Matt Forte
The Bears ground attack against the Detroit Lions ended in victory, led by the running back’s 126 yards.

Lovie Smith
With the help of a tough Matt Forte and a resilient Rex Grossman, the Bears coach was spared an embarrassing loss to possibly the NFL’s worst team in the Detroit Lions.

This Week’s Biggest Losers

Kyle Orton
Though details were still sketchy at press time, rumor has it the Bears QB could be out a month with his ankle injury.

Vinny Del Negro
The Bulls coach took heat for his team’s poor play on the road, which saw the Bulls drop the first two games away from the UC.

Drew Peterson
B96 held a contest on Halloween to see who could be the first trick-or-treaters at the Bolingbrook man’s home; police were forced to intervene.

Jody Weis
The Chicago police superintendent can’t catch a break; he drew criticism and allegations of misconduct after his passing remark that Obama is “hopefully going to be our next president.”

Bob Brenly
Sorry Bob, the Brewers wanted Macha. We still got your back, though.

Protect and Serve: The Guardian Angels still prowl

City Life, Transit No Comments »

Blue-line riders witness peculiar sights on a regular basis, but a quick glimpse outside of their window just past the Jackson stop on this Thursday evening offers one serious head-scratcher: eight men donning red berets simultaneously kicking and jabbing into the air. Before the onlookers can observe anything more, the train skirts by, but the Taekwondo-like training session continues. “Right cross, round house, round house, left elbow strike,” the training leader says, explaining the move step by step, and the rest of the guys, lined up two by two, strike accordingly, some even whispering “pow!” to accentuate their effectiveness.

Thankfully, these guys are on our side—the Chicago chapter of the Guardian Angels, a volunteer-based organization founded in New York City in 1979 to combat crime by patrolling the city, attempting to defuse testy situations and protect the citizenry from harm. The Chicago chapter is headed by Mike Fuentes, who can clearly multi-task. Upon the patroller’s arrival at the station, he immediately starts a job interview with a new recruit and outlines the evening’s itinerary, all while being filmed by a documentary crew from DePaul (he also perks up at every possible fishy sight or sound, as if the assignment was hardwired into his brain). Fuentes lays down a few rules: don’t show up intoxicated, no weapons of any kind, always cooperate with police, don’t flirt. “Chances are if you weren’t wearing the red beret and t-shirt, she wouldn’t think you’re cute,” Fuentes says. Aside from the Guardian Angels’ t-shirt, which features an eye inside a pyramid that dons heavenly wings, the preference is for black-dominant clothing. “You can be Bruce Lee, you can be Chuck Norris,” Fuentes says. “But if you’re wearing yellow shoes or a pink shirt, when you get on the streets, you’re gonna get a lot of people who are gonna try to test you.”

After the training session, the patrol officially begins. This is a diverse group of Angels—African-American, Caucasian, Latino, college students, middle-aged, big and muscular, thin and lanky—and each has a code name: 914, Jinx, Iceman, Tut and Tow Truck. “Thanks for protecting,” one rider tells Fuentes as the group boards the Red Line towards Howard, and he responds with a polite “You’re welcome.” The guys roam from car to car, looking for the obvious (drunken tirades) to the not-so-obvious (a hidden weapon), as Fuentes uses hand signals to communicate to the his teammates. But this is a quiet evening—no mishaps to report—and thus, a successful evening. They’re not always like this. Fuentes says after one of the Bulls championships in the early 1990s, the Angels had a run-in with a gang, leading to a showdown between the two groups just as the police became involved. “One of the guys pulled out a gun and started shooting at us, and the cops are like, ‘Get down!’” Fuentes says, explaining that he and Tow Truck charged the group as the gunman shot at them five or six times. “I’m thinking, ‘Damn, I haven’t been shot yet,’ so I ran faster.” (Andy Seifert)

411: Walk the Walk

City Life, Lit No Comments »

The next time you’re looking to walk off a cheeseburger, consider a new route this time. With miles of roadway navigating the city’s most magnificent, historical and peculiar sites, there is no reason to trudge the same path over and over. Lucky for the lost, former Chicago resident and travel writer Ryan Ver Berkmoes compiled “Walking Chicago: 31 Tours of the Windy City’s Classic Bars, Scandalous Sites, Historic Architecture, Dynamic Neighborhoods, and Famous Lakeshore.” Each chapter highlights a new excursion, incorporating detailed maps, photographs, mileage and public transportation information to and from the course. “I started out with a huge map of the city,” Ver Berkmoes says. Next, he compiled news articles and historical data regarding the city’s most distinguished sites. “I also wanted it to be geographically balanced. I have just as many routes north of Madison Avenue as I do south of it,” he adds. “Walking in Chicago, you realize just what a dynamic place it is. Every block yields a new surprise, discovery or quirk.”

Immigration Song: ICIRR has its voice heard

Events, News etc., Politics No Comments »

Tonight’s Get Out the Vote Rally, hosted by the Illinois Coalition for
Immigration and Refugee Rights (ICIRR), seems to provide glimpses of what the future might bring.

The rally—its capacity crowd and palpable passion—strongly
suggests a future in which Barack Obama is president (whew!), and before it even begins, Teamsters Auditorium is packed with
registered immigrant voters and immigrant-voter supporters of all ages and races. Spontaneous, self-started chants of “Yes, we can” and “Si se puede” continuously erupt from all over the auditorium. Signs written in Spanish, Catonese, Arabic, French and Korean (just to name a few) sprout up everywhere, proclaiming the importance of immigrant issues and informing that 25,814 new immigrant voters have been registered in Illinois in the last year alone. Politicians,
including Mayor Daley and Attorney General Lisa Madigan, pack
the stage waiting for their turn to speak.

It’s difficult not to be swept up in the emotion and join the pre-rally pleas for progress. “It is so…so…mind-provoking! I couldn’t have imagined how our voices would unite!” shares middle-schooler and Mosque Foundation Voter-Drive volunteer Hyatt Alara.

Juan Salgado, from the Instituto Del Progeso Latino, takes the stage. “Are you ready to make history?” he asks the crowd. What a silly question. (Meaghan Strickland)