Street Smart Chicago

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

Holidays, Pilsen No Comments »

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

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

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)

Obama: Newcity’s first endorsement ever

Events, Politics No Comments »

THIS IS OUR TIME. Four years ago, we were confident. No way would America, in its right mind, perpetuate the unfolding national nightmare. Sure, we weren’t giddy about his opponent, but we had no doubt that George W. Bush would never serve a second term. And everyone we knew—everyone we knew—agreed. And we all know what happened.

Let us join the overwhelming chorus of voices endorsing the election of Barack Obama for President of the United States. In our two-plus decades of publishing, we have never endorsed any candidate for any office. We do not have expectations we’ll do so again. But never before have we encountered a candidate so compelling on so many levels, or a time for change so imperative. We won’t recount the prose for Obama nor the case against McCain; our case has been made persuasively, we think, by many others. Not only from the expected, like the New York Times, but the unexpected, like the Chicago Tribune, perhaps the most historically Republican newspaper in America, which endorsed its first Democrat, ever, since its founding in 1847. Or, if skeptics think it just hometown favoritism (a favor not bestowed in kind on Chicago Democrat Adlai Stevenson in 1952 or 1956), note that the LA Times gave the Democrat its nod, too, a first in its 126-year history. The New Yorker committed more than 4,000 words to its endorsement, waxing both eloquent and loquacious. This is a very large and loud chorus.

DO NOT BE COMPLACENT. THE ELECTION IS NOT OVER. Our first clue that our confidence was not consensus, four years ago, came when we left the Democratic solidarity of Chicago and drove toward parts north. As the tollways of Illinois gave way to the greenways of Wisconsin, we saw strange things with increasing frequency: signs and bumper stickers supporting the reelection of the president. Something was not right. And it was not.

Here in Chicago, we live in a cocoon of political comfort. We watch MSNBC. Everyone we know is a Democrat; everyone we talk to supports Obama. Every publication we read endorses him. At dinner in a Korean restaurant during the primary season, the owner asks us, when he sees us watching the election coverage on his television, “Want to know what they call Obama in Korea? Neo.” The whole world knows he’s the one. Could America be so stupid as to not see this? Alas, it can be, and the prevailing evidence emanating from Washington is our daily reminder. So do not be complacent. The election is not over.

THE CAMPAIGN IS LONG AND INSUFFERABLE. BUT RECONNECT TO THE EXCITEMENT YOU FELT AT THE BEGINNING. Although we may be late to print our endorsement, having waited till our final issue before the election, we’ve been long planning to do so. For never in our lifetime, either the lifetime of this publication, or the longer lifetime of its publishers, has a living political leader so inspired. We saw something special the night of the Iowa caucuses, when we traveled to Iowa City and experienced youthful political enthusiasm the likes of which we’d never imagined possible. Cynicism ceased, and for one night the America of grade-school civics lessons was real. This is the moment when the candidate, Barack Obama, and all that he represents, became the hope of the nation.

Since then, we’ve been through a long and challenging primary season. And now we endure the discouraging general-election campaign, bearing witness as a candidate we once respected, John McCain, throws away his legacy in an increasingly desperate gambit to mobilize the right, which seems to respond only to the language of hate and the tactic of character destruction, so thoroughly have its ideas been discredited by the failure of the Bush regime. And though Obama has been impressively cool in the face of these attacks, no matter how vile and personal, and though Obama has redeemed our early faith with a campaign generally impressive in substance, tactic and decision, it is hard not to be worn down by the incessant pecking of the sound bite, to grow weary of it all. Now is the time, then, to think about what first engaged you in this candidacy: yes, the promise of redemption, in part, for America’s original sin through the election of an African American; yes, the excitement of a candidate who preached and practiced a new style of post-partisan politics; yes, the wonder of a candidate who reinvigorated the idea of America as a progressive nation, not one mired in the dead-end belief that the only freedom that mattered was that of the market; yes, the pleasure of seeing a candidate who unabashedly evoked the inexplicably abandoned ideal of America being led by its best and its brightest. And yes, even the personal connection to a candidate from our generation and from our city. The campaign is long and insufferable. But you must reconnect to the excitement you felt at the beginning.


VOTE. EVEN IF IT DOESN’T SEEM NECESSARY. BECAUSE IT IS. You live in Chicago, most likely the strongest Obama stronghold anywhere, so it might seem okay to, well, not go through with the actual trip to the polling place, especially if the lines are long, if the weather’s bad, if you’ve got a hangover or a hangnail. But your vote, every vote, counts—this time—more than ever. The imperative to deliver a resounding, unambiguous message in the popular vote should motivate us all. And if the election night turns out closer than polls now project, as it might, and the electoral college is close, an overwhelming popular vote will speak. Never forget Florida 2000.

VOTE. FOR PERSONAL POSTERITY. You will always remember this vote. You will want to tell your grandchildren you voted for Obama. Trust us, you will.

GET AT LEAST THREE OTHERS, WHO YOU DON’T THINK WILL VOTE YOUR WAY, TO VOTE YOUR WAY. We have an uncle who, just about every day, emails us the latest dispatch from the right-wing hate machine. Sometimes it questions Obama’s heritage or patriotism, sometimes it riffs on his “extreme liberal socialism” (oh, the irony). We all have uncles, grandmothers, cousins with profoundly different world views than ours, who say things we cannot abide, but who love us and we them, nonetheless. Like Barack Obama, and his white grandmother, who he described as “a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.” These are the ones we must reach out to, as challenging as it seems, to register our heartfelt requests. You might not change their politics, but you might convince them that this one is for you. This one is for your future. So what must we do to elect Barack Obama? We must not be complacent. We must reconnect to the excitement we felt at the beginning. And we must get out our vote.

This is our time. See you in Grant Park.

Presidential Election events 2008

Events, Politics No Comments »

After you vote on Tuesday, there’s no reason to sweat it out awaiting the results alone in your house. Plenty of venues across the city—including, ahem, all of Grant Park—are hosting election-night festivities, and some of them offer discounts for those who can provide their voter receipt, which all of you will have anyway, so you have nothing to worry about, right? So vote, and then party. Just make sure you vote. VOTE.

Barack My World
Accept victory or defeat with all kinds of acts at Abbey Pub’s Barack my World. The Athen’s Boys Choir performs alongside 8 Inch Betsy, Anaturale and Lemmy Caution.
Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace, (773)478-4408. 7pm. $6 in advance, $8 at the door.

Better Dead than Red
Rock to the results at the Empty Bottle. Admission is free for those who voted and three bands—The Statues of Liberty, Farewell Captain and Panther Style—help you savor the historical moment. Empty Bottle, 1035 N. Western, (773)276-3600. 8pm-2pm. Free for voters, $5 for non-voters.

Bipartisan Blowout
For a small fee, celebrate being free in the most appropriate of places—The Freedom Museum. With lots of food and wine, it’s a guaranteed good time. McCormick Tribune Freedom Museum, 435 N. Michigan, (312)222-4860. 6pm. $15 non-members, members free.

Goat Election Watch 2008
If you prefer your post-poll party to include a little more political discussion, Schubas is your spot. There, the Chicago Council on Global Affairs hosts a party with a more intellectual air, complete with guest political experts and a “Swing State Prediction Raffle” to test your precognitive skills. Schubas, 3159 N. Southport, (312)535-2508. 6:30pm-2am. Free.

Grant Park Obama Rally
While not taking place in a club or bar like all the others, the Grant Park Obama Rally may be the biggest, most badass bash of the night (election results willing). Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend on Hutchinson Field in the Southern end of Grant Park for the free and open to the public rally. Grant Park, Congress and Columbus, Free.

Election Night @ Big Chicks
Celebrate Joe Sixpack-style at Big Chicks. Present your voting stub and get a free shot from owner Michelle. Big Chicks, 5024 N. Sheridan, (773)728-5511. 5pm. Free.

Election Night Fight
If candidate-themed drink specials are your thing, Election Night Fight is sure to treat you right. There, the “Very Very Old Fashioned” McCain beverage wets redder whistles while the “Black Velvet” Obama option satisfies the more blue of you. Sonotheque, 1444 W. Chicago, (312)226-7600. 9pm-2am. Free.

Election Night Live
Dance for democracy with DJs Bald Eagle, Mother Hubbard, A-Cup and Derek Berry. Tired? Take a break and watch live election results stream in on the big screen. Metro, 3730 N. Clark, (773)549-0203. 7pm. Free.

Election Night Party at Joe’s Bar
Joe’s Bar provides singles only with an all-inclusive evening of dinner, drinks and election results. Shell out the cash, and you just might meet your (political) match.
Joe’s Bar, 940 W. Weed, (312)337-3486. 7:30pm-10:30pm. $50-$60.

Election Results Watch Party
Common, Talib Kweli and Rahsaan host what has to be the baddest election-day bash. Hanging at the Hard Rock Café from 7pm until 2am, these big boys of hip-hop help you watch history happen. Hard Rock Café, 63 W. Ontario, (312)943-2250. 7pm-2am. RSVP and get in free before 8pm.

Election ’08 Viewing Party
Club Royale takes post-election celebration seriously. A live jazz band, large projection screen and full kitchen menu make theirs a party with purpose. Club Royale, 205 N. Peoria, (312)666-9400. 6pm. Free with RSVP.

End of the World Dance Party
Get real wild with live hip-hop from Bin Laden Blowin Up and Phillip Morris and with DJ sets from Itch 13, DJ Reaganomix and Mr. Bobby. Free champagne if Obama wins, free consolation shots if he doesn’t. Liar’s Club, 665 W. Fullerton, (773)665-1110. 9pm. Free.

Party of Choice
Rock the Vote, Entity Entertainment and PL5 Magazine host an evening of non-partisan partying, warmly welcoming both Demos and Repubs. DJ Third Degree, DJ Spre and DJ Ro Parrish (the official DJ of the Dallas Mavericks) get all people moving and mixing.
Crimson Lounge in Hotel Sax, 333 N. Dearborn, (312)923-2543. 10pm. Free with RSVP at:

Red, White and You
Do a little more for the world and party at this charity-focused, post-election celebration. Drink and watch the polls while raising money for the children of the Off the Street Club.
State Bar and Restaurant, 935 W. Webster, (773)975-8030. 7pm-9pm. Free.

Stretch Run Election Night Party
Avoid confrontation (and honor your nation) at Stretch Run’s Election Night Party. A Blue Room and a Red Room, each fairly outfitted with twenty screens on which to watch results, insure that everyone acts as adults. Stretch Run Sporting Club and Grill, 544 N. LaSalle, (312)644-4477. 7pm. Free.

(Compiled by Meaghan Strickland)