Photo: Sam Feldman
By Sam Feldman
In the architectural renderings, twenty-one high-rises line the south lakefront amid rows of orderly green trees. A newly built pedestrian bridge arcs over the Metra Electric tracks and Lake Shore Drive to connect the shimmering high-rises to the lakefront attractions, which include a new fountain, amphitheater and swimming pool. On the side of each high-rise is visible a symbol that’s slowly sliding from ubiquity to oblivion: the Chicago 2016 logo.
In real life, the scene by the Metra tracks in Bronzeville couldn’t look much different. There’s no fountain, amphitheater or swimming pool, no sleek new bridge to connect the city and the lake; instead of the rows of trees there’s a mostly empty parking lot; and instead of the Olympic Village, there’s a thirty-seven-acre deconstruction site. All that remains of Michael Reese Hospital’s thirty buildings are a few ruined hulks, several as-yet-untouched buildings, and numerous piles of rubble with demolition vehicles posed victoriously overhead. Read the rest of this entry »
Approaching cute guys just got a little easier. Cara Higgins and Sarah Rodriguez have created cutechicagoboys.com, a blog that posts pictures of cute boys seen around Chicago along with a little information about each one—name, age and where they were seen, for example. In the beginning, Higgins would take pictures from her phone of guys walking around her Logan Square neighborhood and then post them to Twitter or Facebook. From that, she and Rodriguez decided to create a blog for it. “When we started it was very hard for both of us to do because we would get really shy about it,” Higgins says. “Guys are way more embarrassed than we are,” Rodriguez adds. “They’ll be all smiley and shy and ‘I don’t know’ and we have to open them up.” Anyone who sees a site-worthy boy can submit a picture and some basic information. The site has gained popularity mostly through word of mouth, one of the things Rodriguez says she loves about it. “It’s nice that we have something that’s unique and Chicago-based,” Higgins says. “We were both born and raised here…and we’ve always come back to Chicago because it’s our home.”
This was a mistake.
Enter the north end gate of the Wicker Park Fest Sunday evening and you’re immediately slammed with crowd, seemingly herded to no place at all as Milwaukee Avenue boasts an endless sea of patrons. Moved this year from its usual Damen Avenue home, the event’s suffocated by restaurant patios on the sidewalks, food and beer tents in the middle of the road and a centrally located stage, where local pop-punk quartet Smoking Popes explodes into “Midnight Moon.”
Can’t enjoy it, though. Strollers are out and the crowd gets beefier. A young girl with a bicycle struggles to maneuver through the titanic mound of flesh and beer-stink, only to slightly jar into a bearded fellow. “Excuse me,” she offers. He notices her sleeve tattoos. “Yeah, excuse you,” he elegantly retorts. “Good luck getting a job ever.” Nice guy.
Poor Myopic Books is raped; the Sunday night poetry series seems intimidated by the street noise seeping in from outside. The air is tense.
Exit after twenty minutes. Just past the gates outside Violet Hour, an altercation erupts. In the confusion of mass exodus and poorly planned detours, a cabbie has cut off some bicyclists. He yells from the car, “What the fuck you say?”
“Yellow Cab…move the fuck on!”
He peels out south past the park, waits for an opening, and whips a u-turn, heading back to fight some more.
Time to get the hell out of here. (Tom Lynch)
During the site’s highly advertised “free weekend,” six Newcity writers decided to sign up for online dating service Chemistry.com, sister site to Match.com, and each write about our experiences. Launched in 2006 and featuring the famed scientific personality test created by Dr. Helen Fisher, the Web site has more than five million members and helps set up more than 15,000 dates a week. We liked our chances.
First you take the personality quiz, which asks you an abundant amount of questions pertaining to personal preference and background. You’re assigned two of the four possible personality types: explorer, builder, negotiator, director.
You write a description of yourself for your public profile and include a headline, comparable to an outgoing message on Facebook or a headline on MySpace. Once everything is submitted—including a photo of yourself—you receive “matches” from the service, from which you indicate the ones in which you’re interested. (You archive your various rejections.) Meanwhile, your profile is being sent out to members, and they indicate if they’re interested in you. If you’re both interested, you take additional steps—which include comparing “relationship essentials,” like if it’s important to you that your partner loves pets, and an additional “Short Answers” portion—until finally there’s an email exchange, and from there you go. Needless to say, the testing and screening process is rather intensive.
We chose Chemistry.com because we imagined its free weekend would inspire some fresh, new profiles, maybe even people who were first-timers to something like this. Also because the commercial advertising the event was constantly on MSNBC while we were trying to watch our Rachel Maddow.
When I discussed the idea with my girlfriend Sarah, we agreed it would be an interesting exercise to both sign up on the site, compare our test results, inspect our matches together and, finally, see if we are actually matched up through the service.
Why we thought this was a good idea, I’ll never know.
I’m not as hard on online dating services as others; everyone knows it’s difficult in the singles sphere anyway, even if you do have the time to frequent events and bars. We’re all getting older, and the more time passes, the more difficult it feels to meet people. Plus, I have some friends who’ve had great success with sites just like Chemistry.com, and hey, they seem really happy and have met some great people, so whatever works. Read the rest of this entry »
The topic came up a few weeks ago, when a friend mentioned he met his last wife and current, very foxy girlfriend via online personals. I was stunned that the flirtatious, compelling, mischievous fellow who befriended me on the Metra platform would need or choose to sift through profile pages for a date. At any rate, the pump was primed, the process legitimized and the assignment timely. Sure, what the hell? I’ll give it a shot.
I logged in, agonized over a photo and headline (odd, considering this was just for kicks) and jotted a few notes on the personality test administered by the site. What struck me most was how clinical the whole process was; after determining my personality type—incidentally, a more accurate measure than my astrological sign or the free online Briggs-Meyers tests I was hooked on two years ago—I indicated the desirability of certain traits and habits on grids and slide rules. This was scientifically calibrated navel-gazing—even the color scheme of the site was institutional white. Read the rest of this entry »
When my girlfriend came home almost an hour late from work one day last week, I greeted her by saying, “Don’t worry, I’m just signing up for a dating site.” She gave me a look of shock/confusion, like she couldn’t believe I was calling it quits—it was only the first time she was late and it wasn’t even her fault. But I explained it was for an experiment.
I’d never used a dating site before, unless you count making a fake Gay.com profile to trick my friend Kevin in college into thinking he had a stalker or helping my straight friend Sarah find a non-douchey “meat and potatoes” kind of guy in Bloomington-Normal (no luck).
Signing up for Chemistry.com was as excruciating as an actual chemistry test. It was high school all over again, but instead of multiple choice and equations, it was: strongly agree, agree, disagree, strongly agree.
Instead of straightforward questions, there were statements such as, “You enjoy the company of others.” I was stumped on whether to agree or strongly agree. Or maybe I should disagree? I mean, does it make me co-dependent if I like being around people? But I don’t want to be considered anti-social. I’m just selective. Read the rest of this entry »
The assignment intrigued me. Hang out on a new dating site called Chemistry.com, create a profile, and write about my experience. In other words, waste a good chunk of time and try to make sense out of nothingness. Like “Seinfeld” and Sartre rolled into one. Cool!
So I signed up, took the personality test, and voila! I was live in the online flesh market, ready to be sold like a bag of clams to some lucky fish. Like Jodie Foster in a floppy hat and short shorts, I was thrust before the ogling eyes of potential male buyers. Only in place of Harvey Keitel, I was my own pimp—boosting my selling points of European breeding, international education, blah and blah.
According to the personality test, I’m a Negotiator/Builder. Like Bob the Builder. Perhaps I should buy a tool belt? Read the rest of this entry »
I really dig taking online personality tests. You know, like the ones you can find on Facebook: “What kind of tree would you be?” or “What ‘Sex and the City’ character are you?” or “If you were a fascist leader, who would you be?” Because, well, they’re a joke with questions and answers that never really pertain to me.
So when Chemistry.com told me I was going to answer a few questions that would lead to my Prince Charming, well, I was ready to test it. Would I be paired with the athletic jocks because of my passion for kickball? Would I be joined with the intellectuals because of my infinite interest in “Star Trek”? Could my soul mate be just a generic answer away? Read the rest of this entry »
Chemistry.com promises to navigate the tumultuous seas of dating for you. However, is online dating really that much easier than dating in the real world?
I decide to test the waters and sign up for an account. Writing my online bio is supposed to be fun, but instead it throws me down some sort of existential rabbit hole that I am yet to climb out of. Now I’m plagued with all sorts of doubts and nagging questions about moral relativism. Who am I? Where have I been, and where am I going with my life? Read the rest of this entry »