Street Smart Chicago

Life Is Beautiful: Teen Dream

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By David Alvarado
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Free Will Astrology: Week of January 14, 2016

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): You love autonomy. You specialize in getting the freedom and sovereignty you require. You are naturally skilled at securing your independence from influences that might constrain your imagination and limit your self-expression. But here’s a sticking point: If you want the power to help shape group processes, you must give up some of your autonomy. In order to motivate allies to work toward shared goals, you need to practice the art of interdependence. The next test of your ability to do this is coming right up. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: Mr. Mayor, Step Down

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Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

Illustration: Tony Fitzpatrick

By Tony Fitzpatrick

The harpy eagle, the largest eagle in the Americas, lives high above the jungle canopy in Central and South America, at the top of the food chain. Centuries ago the Incas and the Mayans worshiped these birds. They can pretty much eat whatever they want. It doesn’t matter if you are a sloth, a howler monkey, a small deer or a dog. Once a harpy sees you, God forgot you.

In the city of Chicago, we lost 450-plus people to gunfire in 2015. Politicians, real estate developers and cops are pretty much at the top of the food chain. As evidenced this year, the cops can pretty much kill whoever they want and the politicians will rationalize it and provide cover. It is a city of killers. But unlike the harpy eagle, the city devours its own.

It must be empowering to be so confident that no amount of vitriol and discouragement can blunt the luster of one’s bright self image. Our mayor seems to be one of those cock-eyed optimists who thought the people standing out in front of his house were there to welcome him home from Cuba. It brings to mind a kid happily wading through a barn full of horse-shit thinking,”All of this horse pucky!?! There MUST be a Pony in here somewhere!!!”

It is either this or the wee one is impossibly tone-deaf, which isn’t likely. He’s never drawn a dumb breath in his life, unlike his predecessor, whose lips moved when he read the comics. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of January 7, 2016

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): John Steinbeck won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. His novel “Of Mice and Men” helped win him the award, but it required extra persistence. When he’d almost finished the manuscript, he went out on a date with his wife. While they were gone, his puppy Toby ripped his precious pages into confetti. As mad as he was, he didn’t punish the dog, but got busy on a rewrite. Later he considered the possibility that Toby had served as a helpful literary critic. The new edition of “Of Mice and Men” was Steinbeck’s breakout book. I’m guessing that in recent months you have received comparable assistance, Aries—although you may not realize it was assistance until later this year. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 31, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): John Koenig is an artist who invents new words. Here’s one that’s applicable to your journey in 2016: “keyframe.” Koenig defines it as being a seemingly mundane phase of your life that is in fact a turning point. Major plot twists in your big story arrive half-hidden amidst a stream of innocuous events. They don’t come about through “a series of jolting epiphanies,” Koenig says, but rather “by tiny imperceptible differences between one ordinary day and the next.” In revealing this secret, I hope I’ve alerted you to the importance of acting with maximum integrity and excellence in your everyday routine. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 24, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The raw materials you have at your disposal in 2016 may sometimes seem limited. You might not have access to all the tools you wish you did. You could be tempted to feel envy about the vaster resources other people can draw on. But I honestly don’t think these apparent inhibitions will put you at a disadvantage. Within your smaller range of options, there will be all the possibilities you need. In fact, the constraints could stimulate your creativity in ways that would have never occurred if you’d had more options. Read the rest of this entry »

Life Is Beautiful: Teen Dream

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By David Alvarado
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Newcity’s Top Five of Everything 2015

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As 2015 comes to a close, it’s hard to imagine this being a year of anything but infamy in Chicago. But that overlooks the fact that many of us live in and love this city in spite of its politics and social injustices. Consider its culture. We do, here in and more than a hundred Top 5 lists throughout our virtual and real pages. See you in 2016! (Brian Hieggelke)

Top 5 Cultural Events of 2015
Doris Salcedo at MCA
The Herd at Steppenwolf
An Evening with Kurt Elling at Grant Park Music Festival
The Secret Garden at Court Theatre
Grupo Corpo at Auditorium Theatre
—Brian Hieggelke

Top 5 WTF Moments Living in Chicago in 2015
Chicago’s fifth-largest blizzard in history
Rahm Emanuel is reelected as mayor
Chicago’s City Council passes the city’s largest property tax
Laquan McDonald shooting and video tape go public
“Back to the Future 2” disappoints as the Cubs make it to the second round of the MLB playoffs and lose to the New York Mets
—Mary Kroeck Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 17, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): The Neanderthals were a different human species that co-existed with our ancestors, homo sapiens, for at least 5,000 years. But they eventually died out while our people thrived. Why? One reason, says science writer Marcus Chown, is that we alone invented sewing needles. Our newborn babies had well-made clothes to keep them warm and healthy through frigid winters. Neanderthal infants, covered with ill-fitting animal skins, had a lower survival rate. Chown suggests that although this provided us with a mere one-percent survival advantage, that turned out to be significant. I think you’re ready to find and use a small yet ultimately crucial edge like that over your competitors, Aries. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: John Cusack’s Unlikely Year

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CusackChiRaqBy Tony Fitzpatrick

It is not every American actor who finds himself in a Moscow hotel room with Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg and Arundhati Roy in a wide-ranging discussion about the nature of democracy, the ideas of personal freedoms and the devaluation of other cultures in the face of those lofty thematic structures. That Cusack and the author Roy fostered this conversation into being is doubly amazing seeing that Daniel Ellsberg was the Edward Snowden of his day—leaking the Pentagon Papers in the early seventies and laying bare our dark and dirty secrets regarding the Vietnam War as well as the surveillance of American citizens perpetrated by the Nixon White House. Sound familiar?

It was also Ellsberg who was accused of the most egregious acts of espionage when in fact his actions, in the historical rear-view mirror, were actually a transformative act of citizenship. The conversation is riveting—for once we get to hear Snowden in his own words explain why what he leaked was a necessary and moral act of civil disobedience. Read the rest of this entry »