Street Smart Chicago

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 26, 2016

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): To convey the best strategy for you to employ in the coming weeks, I have drawn inspiration from a set of instructions composed by aphorist Alex Stein: Scribble, scribble, erase. Scribble, erase, scribble. Scribble, scribble, scribble, scribble. Erase, erase, erase. Scribble, erase. Keep what’s left. In other words, Aries, you have a mandate to be innocently empirical, robustly experimental and cheerfully improvisational—with the understanding that you must also balance your fun with ruthless editing. Read the rest of this entry »

A Lot You Got to Holler, Episode 5: Pullman’s Past, Present, and Future

Architecture, Chicago History, City Life 1 Comment »

Pullman

The neighborhood of Pullman on Chicago’s far South Side is a crucible of architectural, labor, industrial and civil rights history. It’s also a national monument, with big plans for renovation and redevelopment on the horizon. Commissioned by railroad magnate George Pullman in 1880 and designed by Solon Beman, Pullman was an idyllic workers utopia… for a few years, until a strike sparked what became the modern labor movement. Pullman and his architect looked to design and city planning to raise his bottom line and banish labor unrest from his company. It didn’t work, but the result is one of Chicago’s most singular neighborhoods. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 19, 2016

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “An oar moves a boat by entering what lies outside it,” writes poet Jane Hirshfield. You can’t use the paddle inside the boat! It’s of no value to you unless you thrust it into the drink and move it around vigorously. And that’s an excellent metaphor for you to keep in mind during the coming weeks, my friend. If you want to reach your next destination, you must have intimate and continual interaction with the mysterious depths that lie outside your known world. Read the rest of this entry »

Life Is Beautiful: Teen Dream

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By David Alvarado (click to enlarge)Life_is_comic_19_updated

Dime Stories: The Double Door, When Wicker Park Was Wicker Park

Dime Stories, Wicker Park 1 Comment »
Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

On June 12, 1994, the Double Door opened. It  was a fortuitous time for a rock club to hang out its shingle in this town. Chicago was being touted as the “new Seattle” with the emergence of Smashing Pumpkins, Liz Phair, Urge Overkill, as well as Veruca Salt and a host of other local heroes. There was spirited debate and out-and-out rancor between producer and rocker Steve Albini and Chicago Reader critic Bill Wyman, which spawned a months-long jab and counter jab exchange between the two. Into this heady mix came legendary Cabaret Metro owner Joe Shanahan and his partner Sean Mulroney. The time was right for a club to establish a footprint in the very neighborhood much of this music came from.

Thus came the Double Door; which had been a rather seedy establishment before Joe and Sean took over—the kind of joint that sold six-packs from behind bulletproof glass. Shanahan and Mulroney transformed it into one of the nation’s most respected and vital music venues and cultural centers. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 12, 2016

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Russian writer Anton Chekhov was renowned for the crisp, succinct style of his short stories and plays. As he evolved, his pithiness grew. “I now have a mania for shortness,” he wrote. “Whatever I read—my own work, or other people’s—it all seems to me not short enough.” I propose that we make Chekhov your patron saint for a while. According to my analysis of the astrological omens, you are in a phase when your personal power feeds on terse efficiency. You thrive on being vigorously concise and deftly focused and cheerfully devoted to the crux of every matter. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of May 5, 2016

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Silence is not silence, but a limit of hearing,” writes Jane Hirshfield in her poem “Everything Has Two Endings.” This observation is apropos for you right now. There are potentially important messages you’re not registering and catalytic influences you can’t detect. But their apparent absence is due to a blank spot in your awareness, or maybe a willful ignorance left over from the old days. Now here’s the good news: You are primed to expand your listening field. You have an enhanced ability to open certain doors of perception that have been closed. If you capitalize on this opportunity, silence will give way to revelation. Read the rest of this entry »

Life Is Beautiful: Teen Dream

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By David Alvarado (click to enlarge) Life_is_comic_18_updated

Dime Stories: Dick Tracy’s Chicago Crimestoppers

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

In the mid-sixties, the Sunday funnies were a portal to another world. They were really great then. My favorite strip was Dick Tracy, for all kinds of reasons. For one, it took place in Chicago and Tracy was square of jaw and heroic. He dealt out justice with a Calvinist zeal that was shockingly violent for a newspaper. It was also impeccably rendered. Whenever people ask me who my favorite artists are, Chester Gould is at the top of a very small list. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of April 28, 2016

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The oracle I’m about to present may be controversial. It contains advice that most astrologers would never dare to offer an Aries. But I believe you are more receptive than usual to this challenge and I am also convinced that you especially need it right now. Are you ready to be pushed further than I have ever pushed you? Study this quote from novelist Mark Z. Danielewski: “Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati.” Read the rest of this entry »