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Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In its quest for nectar, a hummingbird sips from a thousand flowers every day. As it flaps its wings seventy times a second, zipping from meal to meal, it can fly sideways, backward, or forward. If it so desires, it can also hover or glide upside-down. It remembers every flower it visits, and knows how long it will take before each flower will produce a new batch of nectar. To some Spanish speakers, hummingbirds are known as joyas voladoras, or “flying jewels.” Now take everything I’ve just said, Aries, and use it as a metaphor for who you can be in the coming week. Read the rest of this entry »

Review: Energizer Night Race for a Brighter World (June 7, 2014)

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Basecamp for Energizer Night Race for a Brighter World/Photo: Zach Freeman

Basecamp for Energizer Night Race for a Brighter World/Photo: Zach Freeman

RECOMMENDED RACE

Breakdown: Despite this race’s title (and a gigantic inflatable pink bunny situated near the stage at basecamp), there was a distinct lack of staid corporate vibes at last night’s Energizer Night Race for a Brighter World. As participants gathered near the stage in Dusable Harbor—many sporting pink bunny ears and the Energizer headlamp included in the race packet—the race announcer quipped that some unsuspecting walker on the Lakefront Trail would see 900 pink rabbits running toward them and be reminded of their last trip on LSD. “Whoa,” the DJ jokingly admonished. “This is a family race!” “Right,” the announcer joked back. “I’m talking about their last trip on Lake Shore Drive!”

There was also a lack of jockeying for position near the starting line, despite nearly a thousand runners queuing up for this 5K for “families and young adults.” Night races are known for being a little less competitive than morning races but without pace groups things can still sometimes get pushy; this one sported a remarkably jovial group of runners and walkers.

The race kicked off around 8:10pm, once the sun had set but before darkness had fully settled in. Combined with the bunny ears, the headlamps provided a cool visual but didn’t necessarily illuminate the path in the dusky light—but waiting for it to get darker would have been an unnecessary delay. Finishing back in Dusable Harbor to the thumps of the DJ (which eventually gave way to a live band), runners gathered to dance, drink (beer was for sale at $5 a cup) and enjoy the view of a bunch of runners who just kept going and going and… Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Everything in the Booth, Half What It’s Marked

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By Eric Rivera. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)

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Dime Stories: Nature Calls

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

The common starling or European starling was introduced to North America a couple of centuries ago by enthusiasts of Shakespeare. That’s right, Shakespeare. I had to read that twice myself. Evidently, the Bard was fond of the plucky bird’s gift for mimicry and a bunch of blue-bloods thought it would be jolly-good fun to have the little winged gangsters over here. The first thing the common starling did was muscle as many songbirds, including the lovely Eastern Bluebird, out of nesting spots as it could. It spread wildly, becoming one of the most successful species in the history of the continent. Particularly hard hit were the bluebirds, who were pushed damn near across the Mississippi River, damn near becoming  Western Bluebirds. Population-wise, they are just beginning to come back now in the last two decades. This is what happens when we decide to diddle-dick around with nature—we become the victims as well as the beneficiaries of unintended consequences. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Construction Cycle

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, Green, Loop, Transit No Comments »

Dumping infill to build out the Chicago Riverwalk. Photo: John Greenfield

By John Greenfield

If 2013 was Chicago’s Long, Hot Summer of Transportation, then 2014 is the Summer of the Big Projects. Last year featured well-publicized game changers like the South Red Line rehab and the Divvy bike-share launch, but this year’s initiatives might not be so obvious to casual observers. That’s partly due to the changing of the guard at the Chicago Department of Transportation.

After forward-thinking, sharp-dressed commissioner Gabe Klein stepped down in November, he was replaced by the CTA’s head planner, Rebekah Scheinfeld, who’s only the second female chief in CDOT history. While her management and sartorial style is lower key than Klein’s, she’s no less progressive. “A lot got kicked off in the last two-and-a-half years,” she recently told me. “My goal is to continue that momentum, to make sure that we are bringing these projects in on time and on budget.”

One planned initiative whose future is somewhat beyond Scheinfeld’s control is the expansion of Divvy from its current 300 docking stations to 475. In January, Montreal-based Bixi, which provides the bikes and stations for the system, declared bankruptcy, putting the supply chain in jeopardy. However, Alta Bicycle Share, which runs Divvy for CDOT, is looking into alternative suppliers in case Bixi goes belly-up, and Scheinfeld says she expects the city will meet its expansion goals this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By  Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us,” writes novelist Robert R. McCammon. “We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow path and told to be responsible.” That’s the bad news, Aries. But now here’s the good news: The next twelve months will offer you a series of excellent opportunities to re-magic yourself. If you have not yet caught wind of the first invitation, I bet you will soon. Read the rest of this entry »

Hack Attack: In Taxi vs. Uber, the Drivers Are Sidelined Says an Ex-Cabbie

Essays & Commentary, Transit 2 Comments »
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Illustration: Dmitry Samarov

By Dmitry Samarov

A lot has been written in the last couple years about ride-share services like Uber threatening the livelihood of cab drivers. In most of these articles Uber, Hailo, Sidecar, et al are pitted against local taxi companies like Yellow and Carriage. What is rarely made clear is that none of these companies—ride-share or traditional taxi—actually employ any drivers. So while they fight it out in the courts about regulations and who can and cannot get what part of the transportation market, the people doing the actual driving aren’t being represented by either side.

In 1993—when I became a cab driver—calling a taxi was a simple business. You picked up your home or office telephone, dialed your favorite cab company, and waited outside for your ride to arrive. A cabbie had two choices for picking up fares: troll the streets for passengers or “play the radio,” which meant turning on the two-way and submitting to the whims of his company’s dispatcher. Picture Danny DeVito in “Taxi” for an idea of the types we had to deal with. Read the rest of this entry »

Race Review: The Original 5K (May 31, 2014)

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Runners cross the finish line at The Original 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman

Runners cross the finish line at The Original 5K/Photo: Zach Freeman

RECOMMENDED RACE

Breakdown: Sharing memories of his first 5K—where his father put out a cigarette at the starting line before someone yelled “Go!” to get the race started—Fleet Feet owner Dave Zimmer enthusiastically thanked the roughly 1000 runners gathered at the starting line for the inaugural Original 5K. Intended to take runners “back to the 70s when American distance runners stood atop the podiums of the world’s most famous races” the Original 5K sported a solid 70s theme, with a low entry fee, volunteers shouting out course times from stopwatches along the course and a pair of Wigwam tube socks replacing a race shirt in the official packet. In short, a relative back-to-basics running experience along the lakefront.

I say “relative” because the race was still chip-timed (“do you really want to wait a couple of weeks to receive your results in the mail?” the race’s website asks), most runners sported new-fangled running gear and the post-race party included Clif bar samples. But the complimentary post-race beer kept it old-school: Miller High Life.

“I think this running thing might just catch on,” race announcer Dave Kappas frequently quipped throughout the morning. Indeed it might. If the Original 5K proved anything Saturday morning—aside from the fact that Chicagoans love a good themed race—it’s that a race, stripped of all its fanciness, is a group of people meeting in one place and running together for a good time. Whether they’re wearing tube socks and headbands or Garmins and iPhones. “Is this the best running city in America or what?” Zimmer declared rhetorically at the starting line, to resounding cheers from the runners. There’s a pretty good chance it is. Read the rest of this entry »

Linework: Maakies: The Funny Pages

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By Tony Millionaire. Edited by Ivan Brunetti and Aaron Renier. (Click on image to enlarge.)

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Dime Stories: The Chicken Store

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

All over the West and South Sides of Chicago there are still live poultry shops. It only now occurs to me that I’ve never actually been in one. Americans are particularly squeamish this way—we never want to look the creature we’re about to slaughter in the eye. We’d rather see it fried with some biscuits and gravy on a plate, or in nugget form in a small styrofoam box or, even better, chopped up with a bunch of vegetables in some soup. We’re not much for the blood and the feathers and the screeching death that comes along with butchering poultry.

A number of people have begun to keep chickens in their yards in Ukrainian Village to raise their own eggs and I have to admit it is kind of heartening to see a plump chicken or two walking the alleyways. You want to warn them that feral cats, large rats, raccoons and now coyotes also walk these alleys, and would gladly feast on them. But then you notice these are some big-assed chickens and when you get right up close and look them in the eye you see all of the madness in the world. These chickens are Chicago chickens and they just might be able to hold their own. Read the rest of this entry »