Street Smart Chicago

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): “Although obstacles and difficulties frighten ordinary people,” wrote French painter Théodore Géricault, “they are the necessary food of genius. They cause it to mature, and raise it up… All that obstructs the path of genius inspires a state of feverish agitation, upsetting and overturning those obstacles, and producing masterpieces.” I’d like to make this idea one of your guiding principles, Aries. In order for it to serve you well, however, you’ll have to believe that there is a sense in which you do have some genius within you. It’s not necessarily something that will make you rich, famous, popular, or powerful. For example, you may have a genius at washing dogs or giving thoughtful gifts or doing yoga when you’re sad. Whatever your unique brilliance consists of, the challenges just ahead will be highly useful in helping it grow. Read the rest of this entry »

Three! Two! One! Polo! When bicycles replace horses, an elite sport gives way to everyone

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It’s not unlike the movie “Sandlot.” Instead of PF Flyers, there are bicycles. Baseball bats are traded in for homemade mallets. And Tecate and Pabst take the place of soda pop. The attitude, the camaraderie, however, is all the same. “Find a decommissioned tennis court,” says veteran player and organizer Keith Evans. “We all show up, throw in, just like pick-up basketball.”

By three o’clock, two bike polo games are in full swing with about ten onlookers hanging around the tennis courts in Garfield Park. About two years ago, with permission from the Park District, Evans and company fixed a wooden border around the base of the tennis-court fencing. The wood acts much the way the walls at hockey rinks do. This year, they acquired wood from the Rebuild Exchange and built a partition dividing the courts in half, allowing for two games at a time. Three players per side ride around on single-speed bikes, yelling, “Coming to ya!” or “Left! Left!” and finally “Goal!” The teams return to their sides and tap mallets with one another in congratulations, the polo version of football or baskteball’s butt-tap. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the capricious contours of celebrity

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This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 John Paul Stevens
Justice, served. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Photons work hard to get from the heart of the sun to the surface. They can take up to 160,000 years to complete the 400,000+/-mile journey. And yet once Earth-bound photons get topside, they travel the ninety-three-million-mile distance to our planet in just over eight minutes. I foresee a metaphorically similar situation unfolding in your life in the coming weeks. A development that has been a long time in the making will accelerate tremendously in its last phase of ripening. Read the rest of this entry »

The Wagon: Living with the dead weight of body bags

Essays & Commentary 2 Comments »

Illustration: Sanya Glisic

By Martin Preib

The dead seek the lowest places in Chicago: We find them in basements, laundry rooms, on floors next to couches, sticking out of two parked cars or shrubs next to the sidewalk. It is more than gravity that pulls them down, for in every dead body there is something more willfully downward: the lowest possible place, the head sunken into the chest and turned toward the floor.

No matter the cause—an accident, a murder or, as we cite on the Hospitalization Case Report, natural causes—all bodies express this downwardness when we remove them from the cavern they have created merely by their presence, by their being.

Some cops, like me, circle the periphery of the room before we encounter the body, making small talk with other cops guarding the scene, slowly putting on our gloves, unnecessarily doublechecking that our path is clear, anything to avoid the inevitable bending over the body and touching it, shaking it from this descendance it insists upon and bringing it back into our living world, where it must be pronounced, photographed, identified, prodded, stripped and categorized. Read the rest of this entry »

Fantasy Idling: Spending real time in a virtual field of dreams

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His 1961 was the ultimate fantasy

Nearing the end of the live online fantasy baseball draft, it seems that Bartolo’s Colon—the team, not its namesake—will have to rely on steady pitching in order to remain competitive throughout the long, imaginary season. Its lineup is a questionable mix of old reliability hopefully poised for a quality twilight year and of young talents not yet maximized by the statistical parameters of this fantasy world. Julio Bourbon and Asdrubal Cabrera highlight the latter group, each 24 years old, and neither likely to shape the triumph or demise of Bartolo’s Colon in 2010. That burden will fall on the veteran presence in this team’s lineup. The importance of leadership qualities in a fantasy clubhouse is debatable, but Bartolo’s Colon will undoubtedly need Derek Lee, Mike Cameron and Vladimir Guerrero to each provide, at a very minimum, a .290/25/90 campaign. “You’re way too old,” Master Batters, a rival team, says of Bartolo’s Colon. Read the rest of this entry »

Fanatic Four: Drowning basketball sorrows in a Spartan fashion

Lakeview, Sports No Comments »

“I can’t believe they’re actually showing this,” exclaims a Michigan State fan perched at a table in the middle of the Lakeview bar The Tin Lizzie, as the obscenely hilarious sex scene from “Team America” distracts everyone from the grim reality soon to return to the television screen. Sporting a green Ghostbusters T-shirt and backwards Michigan State cap, his laughter gives way to tension when the bar’s TVs returns to the evening’s first Final Four contest. Surprisingly, the “hometown” Spartans—this is a decidely partisan bar—trail the underdog Butler Bulldogs 44-37 late in the second half. Nothing steals his eyes from the 32-inch flat screen mounted above a women’s bathroom until a shout of “Fuckin’ man up!” rips through the rigid atmosphere, evoking a shifty glance. After a critical Michigan State rebound with about thirty seconds remaining, a pessimistic outcry—”They’ve still got to make the shot”—is immediately trumped by MSU’s fight song erupting over the bar’s PA system and chants of “Go green!” echoing through the packed bar. Now nervously clutching his headgear, the Spartan fanatic braces for what will be his team’s last opportunity to pull out a win. When it falls short, he and other Tin Lizzie patrons look collectively shocked and perplexed. Obviously not the way they imagined starting off their Saturday nights, but at least he has a backup plan: “How about we not be able to remember this in the morning?!” (Darrel Sangster)

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): It would be a good week for you to perfect your ability to crow like a rooster, Aries. I also recommend that you practice your skill at leaping out of bed in the morning fully refreshed, with your imagination primed and ready to immediately begin making creative moves. Other suggested exercises: being on the alert for what’s being born; holding a vision of the dawn in your heart throughout the day; and humorously strutting around like you own whatever place you’re in. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the capricious contours of celebrity

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This week’s biggest gainers:

1 Joel Quenneville
How long has it been since the Blackhawks won the division? So long that, the last time, stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews were not yet old enough for the kindergarten team. Read the rest of this entry »

Fit to Govern: The real litmus test for candidates

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Sheila Simon: Will she "ex sell?"

By S.L. Wisenberg

Now that Governor Pat Quinn has chosen Sheila Simon to be his running mate, we may not be hearing much more about his erstwhile sharer of the slate, Scott Lee Cohen. But it’s been hard for me to forget Cohen, who (in case you’ve already forgotten) dropped out of the race after his ex-girlfriend said he was unfit to hold office. She had accused him of threatening her with a knife. His ex-wife had accused him of violence, adultery and attempts to force sex.

My own love life has been less dramatic, luckily and happily. Still I’ve been wondering whether my exes would think I was fit to be lieutenant guv.

I’ve managed to acquire a number of exes; I was 39 when I met my first and only husband.

There was Michael, not his real name, whose love letters and Dear Jane letters I was going through the other night, because he’d just popped up in a dream. Based on these letters, I imagine that he would tell the voters that I was living in a fantasy world. That’s what he told me: he was ten years younger and said that it was crazy for me to think that we could live together. I don’t even know if I should call him an ex, our relationship was so short-lived. I used to think that literary agents had the shortest attention spans known to humans. Now I know that they come in second, after 19-year-old males. Read the rest of this entry »