Street Smart Chicago

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 »

A Lot You Got to Holler, Episode 1: Chicago Plays Itself

Architecture, Chicago History, Essays & Commentary, News etc. 1 Comment »

Chicago Plays Itself


A Lot You Got to Holler is a new Newcity Design podcast. Hosted by Newcity design editor Ben Schulman and Chicago architectural journalist Zach Mortice, the podcast will explore Chicago’s singular history of architecture, design and urbanism, with an emphasis on pop culture. Schulman and Mortice will invite artists, designers, and architects into the studio for conversations about Chicago’s past and ongoing role as a proving ground for American culture. 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 »

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 10, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Happiness sneaks through a door you didn’t know that you left open,” said actor John Barrymore. I hope you’ve left open a lot of those doors, Aries. The more there are, the happier you will be. This is the week of all weeks when joy, pleasure and even zany bliss are likely to find their ways into your life from unexpected sources and unanticipated directions. If you’re lucky, you also have a few forgotten cracks and neglected gaps where fierce delights and crisp wonders can come wandering in. Read the rest of this entry »

Life Is Beautiful: Teen Dream

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By David Alvarado

Click to enlarge.Life_is_comic_9

Free Will Astrology: Week of December 3, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Charm is a way of getting the answer ‘yes’ without having asked any clear question,” wrote French author Albert Camus. I have rarely seen you better poised than you are now to embody and capitalize on this definition of “charm,” Aries. That’s good news, right? Well, mostly. But there are two caveats. First, wield your mojo as responsibly as you can. Infuse your bewitching allure with integrity. Second, be precise about what it is you want to achieve—even if you don’t come right out and tell everyone what it is. Resist the temptation to throw your charm around haphazardly. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: One Week in Chicago

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The Father and the filmmaker

The Father and the filmmaker

By Tony Fitzpatrick

For the past week I’ve watched footage from the Paris attacks on the various news outlets. Some are respectful and measured, some are tantamount to the pornography of grief. There seems to be an unquenchable appetite for war among some of the news agencies that are charged with covering these awful events. I cannot any longer watch Fox for even the most innocuous news; it seems no issue is too small to politicize. Okay, Fox is an obvious choice, but even CNN and the local news is not immune to this need to shade the events in a way that shapes opinion, breeds bigotry and seeks to entreat suspicion of anyone of the Islamic faith.

Paris is a pretty straightforward story. ISIS committed atrocities and slaughtered upwards of 130 people. It was predatory, bestial and almost impossible to fathom—if you’re sane. Almost immediately the pundits and “experts” claimed to not be surprised and that it was only a matter of “when” and not “if.” Bobbing heads blabbing the same vile rhetoric we heard when they were ginning up the appetite for warfare after the 9/11 tragedy, complete with the loop after loop of the bloody aftermath.

So what did Paris do? They maintained their humanity. They vowed to take more refugees in the face of their serious civic wounding. They affirmed the premium that they place on civility. We could learn much from Paris. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 26, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “We are torn between nostalgia for the familiar and an urge for the foreign and strange,” wrote novelist Carson McCullers. “As often as not, we are homesick most for the places we have never known.” I’m guessing that these days you’re feeling that kind of homesickness, Aries. The people and places that usually comfort you don’t have their customary power. The experiences you typically seek out to strengthen your stability just aren’t having that effect. The proper response, in my opinion, is to go in quest of exotic and experimental stimuli. In ways you may not yet be able to imagine, they can provide the grounding you need. They will steady your nerves and bolster your courage. Read the rest of this entry »

Life Is Beautiful: Teen Dream

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By David Alvarado

Click to enlarge.Life_is_comic_8