Street Smart Chicago

Dime Stories: Some Thoughts From the Set of “Chi-Raq”

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By Tony Fitzpatrick

As of this writing, 2,631 people have been shot in the City of Chicago this year, 389 of them killed since January 1. Over this weekend, eight people were shot dead, and forty-five were wounded. According to Hey Jackass, someone is shot every two-hours-and-fifty-one minutes, and someone is murdered every seventeen hours since January 1.

These grim statistics make me wish that our political leaders were as upset about the unsparing mayhem as they are about the title of a movie.

In the interest of not pretending to be unbiased I should mention that I am in this film; and that when Spike Lee hired me he remarked that the best reason to make this film was to help save lives. I believed him then, and I believe him now—and mark my words, the proof will be the film itself. Read the rest of this entry »

Checkerboard City: Norway or the Highway?

Bicycling, Checkerboard City, City Life, Green, Loop, Transit No Comments »
Madison Street, part of the Loop Link bus route, could be made car-free. Photo: John Greenfield

Maybe Madison Street, part of the Loop Link bus route, could be made car-free/Photo: John Greenfield

“I think we should look to countries like Denmark, and Sweden and Norway, and learn from what they’ve accomplished,” socialist presidential candidate Bernie Sanders said recently. That statement surely gave the Republicans hives.

One area where U.S. cities like Chicago should definitely look to Scandinavia for inspiration is traffic management. Last month, the newly elected city council of Oslo, Norway, announced that it plans to make the central city free of private cars by 2019. It’s part of a plan to cut greenhouse emissions in half within five years, as compared to 1990 levels.

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Free Will Astrology: Week of November 19, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): defines the English word “balter” as follows: “to dance without particular skill or grace, but with extreme joy.” It’s related to the Danish term baltre, which means “to romp, tumble, roll, cavort.” I nominate this activity to be one of your ruling metaphors in the coming weeks. You have a mandate to explore the frontiers of amusement and bliss, but you have no mandate to be polite and polished as you do it. To generate optimal levels of righteous fun, your experiments may have to be more than a bit rowdy. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 12, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “I demand unconditional love and complete freedom,” wrote Slovenian poet Tomaž Šalamun. “That is why I am terrible.” In accordance with the astrological omens, I’m offering you the chance, at least temporarily, to join Šalamun in demanding unconditional love and complete freedom. But unlike him, you must satisfy one condition: Avoid being terrible. Can you do that? I think so, although you will have to summon unprecedented amounts of emotional intelligence and collaborative ingenuity. Read the rest of this entry »

Life Is Beautiful: Teen Dream

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By David Alvarado

Click to enlarge.Life_is_comic_7

Checkerboard City: Payback for an Allegedly Road-Raging Cop?

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James Liu, whom the CPD says was not actually arrested. Photo: Ben Raines

James Liu, who the CPD says was not actually arrested/Photo: Ben Raines

Picture yourself bike commuting downtown on Milwaukee Avenue, the city’s busiest cycling street. After you turn south on Des Plaines Street, the driver of a silver SUV starts edging into the bike lane as he tries to illegally pass other vehicles on the right in his rush to get to work.

The motorist is getting too close for comfort, so you knock twice on the door of his truck to alert him of your presence. Unfortunately, he turns out to be an off-duty police officer, and less than a minute later you find yourself sitting in the street with your hands cuffed behind you, and your orange fixie sprawled across the asphalt.

That’s what bankruptcy attorney James Liu, thirty-three, says happened to him on October 14 at around 8:15am, while he was trying to make his way to the office. “As soon as I tapped on his side panel, he immediately started chasing me, driving in the bike lane,” Liu says. “Around Fulton Street he rolls down his window and yells, ‘I’m a fucking cop!’ I just look at him and shrug my shoulders, and then we continue south at a normal speed.”

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Dime Stories: The Best Living Former Sun-Timesman, Dave Hoekstra, Writes A New Chapter

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3-26-07 Staff mug of Dave Hoekstra. photo by Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

Dave Hoekstra/Photo: Jean Lachat/Sun-Times

By Tony Fitzpatrick

In his new book, “The People’s Place: Soul Food Restaurants and Reminiscences from the Civil Rights Era to Today,” former Sun-Times man Dave Hoekstra relates the histories of soul-food eateries in America and also winds up relaying a shadow history of the civil rights era. It is a fascinating read in that, from Ben’s Chili Bowl—the iconic Washington D.C. joint that boasts President Obama’s favorite chili dog to Dooky Chase’s in New Orleans, where Obama was scolded for adding hot sauce to his gumbo—all of the players of that tidal change in American History are present. From Martin Luther King to Malcolm X these restaurants served also as community centers in which the climate of change began to take shape.

If you were lucky enough to check out Hoekstra’s book on supper clubs, “The Supper Club Book, Cougars and Snappers and Loons (Oh My),” you have a little idea of what you are in for—Hoekstra chronicles the odd and almost always Midwestern histories of supper clubs, where you get a relish tray before your prime rib or pot-roast dinner. These places were all the rage in fifties and sixties small-town Midwestern America and hey! who doesn’t like a good relish tray or a deviled egg?

It is our good fortune that Hoekstra decided to take the forced buy-out from the Sun-Times. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of November 5, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): In 1978, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield began selling their new ice cream out of a refurbished gas station in Burlington, Vermont. Thirty-seven years later, Ben & Jerry’s is among the world’s best-selling ice cream brands. Its success stems in part from its willingness to keep transforming the way it does business. “My mantra is ‘Change is a wonderful thing,'” says the current CEO. As evidence of the company’s intention to keep re-evaluating its approach, there’s a “Flavor Graveyard” on its website, where it lists flavors it has tried to sell but ultimately abandoned. “Wavy Gravy,” “Tennessee Mud” and “Turtle Soup” are among the departed. Now is a favorable time for you to engage in a purge of your own, Aries. What parts of your life don’t work any more? What personal changes would be wonderful things? Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology: Week of October 29, 2015

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): On a January morning in 1943, the town of Spearfish, South Dakota experienced very weird weather. At 7:30am the temperature was minus-four-degrees Fahrenheit. In the next two minutes, due to an unusual type of wind sweeping down over nearby Lookout Mountain, thermometers shot up forty-nine degrees. Over the next hour and a half, the air grew even warmer. But by 9:30am, the temperature had plummeted back to minus-four degrees. I’m wondering if your moods might swing with this much bounce in the coming weeks. As long as you keep in mind that no single feeling is likely to last very long, it doesn’t have to be a problem. You may even find a way to enjoy the breathtaking ebbs and flows. Halloween costume suggestion: roller-coaster rider, Jekyll and Hyde, warm clothes on one side of your body and shorts or bathing suit on the other. Read the rest of this entry »

Dime Stories: Win It for Mr. Cub!

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By Tony Fitzpatrick

As I write this, the Cubs have gone down two games to nothing to the hated Mets.

I surprised a great many of my diehard Sox fan friends by wishing the Cubs well in the playoffs. “Traitor”! they squealed, “turncoat,” they inveighed, Blah Blah Blah.

I honestly couldn’t find it in my heart to hate on this team; they play the game the way the game ought to be played. And as much as I love my White Sox, it was a good deal more fun watching the Cubs this year because they honestly looked like they were at play, rather than grinding it out at work. Read the rest of this entry »