Street Smart Chicago

Spring Boards: Hitting the decks as the season changes

Logan Square, News etc. No Comments »

It’s dog-walking hour on Logan Boulevard. Two greyhounds each have on their spring jackets, one red and one black, their walker also in black. Just past Maplewood Avenue, a skate park sits underneath the Kennedy. Eight teenage skateboarders and three younger boys on scooters contentedly circle the concrete edifice avoiding the ramps and railings. Most of the tricks attempted by the eight fail, and when one succeeds, there’s no peer congratulations or gloating by he who triumphs; he’s already moved on. Rush hour can be heard on the 90/94 above, but none of the young skaters or spectators need rush to be anywhere on this the first day of spring break from school in Chicago. On a fence, a rules sign and two other signs equally prohibit alcohol and dogs from entering the park. That fence, three-feet high, separates the skaters from the civilians. A peanut gallery of the latter weighs in occasionally on the antics on display, where a girl in pink pants steals a boy’s hat off his head. It will belong to her for the forseeable future. On the tracks that run parallel with the expressway, there’s a Metra train going somewhere. The sun will set within the next few hours, but the lights on the underbelly of the Kennedy are already on, and there skaters are going nowhere soon. (Andrew Rhoades)

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the capricious contours of celebrity

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This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 Sheila Simon
The upside? Who remembered Paul Simon had a daughter? The downside? If you win the race for lieutentant governor, back to obscurity. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): I’m worried about your ability to sneak and fake and dissemble. These skills seem to have atrophied in you. To quote Homer Simpson, “You couldn’t fool your own mother on the foolingest day of your life with an electrified fooling machine!” Please, Aries, jump back into the game-playing, BS-dispensing routine the rest of us are caught up in. APRIL FOOL! Everything I just said was a filthy lie. In fact, I admire the candor and straightforwardness you’ve been cultivating. My only critique is that maybe you could take some of the edge off it. Try telling the raw truth with more relaxed grace. Read the rest of this entry »

Everyone’s A Critic: Yelp, Twitter and the end of Western civilization?

Essays & Commentary 3 Comments »

Editor’s Note: This is a part of a package of stories about the state of criticism. See the links at the end for the related stories.

Illustration: Brett Muller

By Brian Hieggelke

Last Christmas, my wife included this note with my pre-teen niece’s gift: “Dear Morgan: We did not get you the DVD of ‘Land of the Lost’ as you requested. Uncle Brian said it got terrible reviews and he refused to buy it.”

I have a well-deserved reputation in my family for relying on critics to make a lot of purchasing decisions. That I’ve bet my career, in large part, on the value of the critic probably betrays my bias, but I am, in many ways, the person I am today in no small part to the cumulative wisdom of critics who, for better or worse, picked up where my formal education left off, introducing me to the worlds of theater, art, dance, cinema and cuisine. Life is short and money is precious, so why waste either on the mediocre, or worse? Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): All but one of our planet’s mountain ranges have been mapped: the Gamburtsev Mountains, which are buried under 2.5 miles of ice in Antarctica. Recent efforts to get a read on this craggy landscape, aided by a network of seismic instruments, have revealed some initial details about it, including its role in forming the East Antarctic Ice Sheet. I recommend that you regard the Gamburtsevs as an iconic metaphor in the coming months, Aries. They’ll be an apt symbol for one of your life’s featured themes: the discovery and exploration of a massive unknown territory that has been hidden from view. 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 Barack Obama
You got your health care and you didn’t even have to shave Henry Waxman’s moustache. Nice. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

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By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): From what I can tell, your excursion to Fake Paradise didn’t exact too serious a toll. The accidental detour may have seemed inopportune in the moment, but you know what? I think it slowed you down enough to keep you from doing something rash that you would have regretted later. And are you really sorry you were robbed of your cherished illusions? In the long run, I think it was for the best. As for the scratches on your nose from when you stuck it into business you weren’t “supposed” to: They’re a small price to pay for the piquant lesson you got in how not to live. 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 Julius Peppers
How do we love thee? Let our sportswriters count the ways. Read the rest of this entry »

Lesson Plan: What the hell do you know about Afghanistan?

Education/Training, Events, News etc., Politics No Comments »

The crowd inside the Hideout is gently packed by 8pm. Pockets of conversation get swallowed up in hugs and the toasts of pint glasses. Twenty minutes later, a young man named Aaron Hughes takes the stage. He’s tall, but his soft voice and earnest expression seem to shrink him. It’s disarming, then, when he ends his monologue with a confrontational question: “What the hell do you know about Afghanistan?”

The backroom of the Hideout is now full and leaking into the bar area. Someone from the crowd shouts out, “Taliban!” Another yells, “poppy fields!” After a few more keywords, there is a decided stillness among the audience, proving what organizers of the night’s event hoped. The general public really doesn’t know much about Afghanistan. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the Capricious Contours of Celebrity

Chicago Hype Exchange, News etc. No Comments »

This Week’s Biggest Gainers

1 Julius Peppers
The Bears signed the elite defensive end to a six-year deal worth $91.5 million. Read the rest of this entry »