Street Smart Chicago

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

Sports No Comments »

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

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

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

Chicago Hype Exchange No Comments »

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

Essays & Commentary No Comments »

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 »

Paper Trail: Documenting a career in social activism

Politics, Uptown, West Loop No Comments »

“You can’t really create a credible way of moving ahead, ” says Doug Dobmeyer, “unless you know the path.” Dobmeyer, a longtime Chicago social activist, has lined this “path” with more than thirty years of research and work with Chicago’s housing issues and emergency social services. Now the Special Collections department at the UIC Library has acquired the Doug Dobmeyer Papers and will have an opening reception April 8 at 3pm. The papers document the many organizations that Dobmeyer participated in, and include media coverage, reports, administrative records and correspondences. Dobmeyer, who among many other efforts spent several years running the homeless shelter in Uptown, talks about the steps the city has made toward improving the quality of life for the homeless, “In the 1980s, when I was the director of the shelter, we had city government sending out inspection teams trying to find reasons to close us down. And since that time, and I will credit Mayor Washington, the attitude of City Hall is totally different.” Dobmeyer is quick to warn, however, that the solutions are still evading us. It is with collections such as the Dobmeyer Papers, he hopes Chicago will be able to truly make progress on such a serious issues as homelessness. (Peter Cavanaugh)

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

Chicago Hype Exchange No Comments »

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

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

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 »