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Street Smart Chicago

Chicago Hype Exchange: Charting the Capricious Contours of Celebrity

Chicago Hype Exchange No Comments »

This week’s biggest gainers:

1
Rahm Emanuel
The city’s daily newspapers both inked their mayoral endorsements for the Rahmrod.

2
Richard Dent
Bears ’85er’s Hall of Fame nod almost made us forget the Packers won the Super Bowl. Almost. Read the rest of this entry »

Pipe Dreams: How tobacconist Iwan Ries survived the Civil War, the Great Conflagration and the smoking ban

Chicago History, Loop No Comments »

Photo: Kristine Sherred

By Jennifer Kelly Price

I remember smelling my grandpa’s pipes, pulling them one by one from an immaculately polished brown leather box kept on quiet display in his den, lifting the lid and instantly being transported to another era. Though I never saw him smoke them, I remember picturing him young—a dashing soldier in his twenties, courting my grandma, puffing a pipe all gentle-like. I could smell that sweetness in the air and on his skin. The smell of a good pipe strikes a note of palpable nostalgia, even for those without direct associations. It’s almost as though the marriage of sweet tobacco and burning wood sprung forth far enough back in history that it exists in our collective memory. Comforting. Relaxing. Swathed with manliness and class.

That’s what the Iwan Ries family stands for. Iwan Ries, the oldest family-owned tobacconist in the country, has touched three centuries and passed through five generations of one family. A phenomenal boom in the fifties and sixties gave the family-run business the momentum to develop their own brand of tobacco, Three Star Blue. They launched a catalog and mail-order service, and began filling orders worldwide. Ries’ daughter Rosalie married Stanley Levi, and Ries passed the business onto his son-in-law. The current owner, Chuck Levi, joined the business as a young man in the fifties, allowing his father to travel the world and gather pipes never before available to American consumers. His own son Kevin Levi now manages the business. Read the rest of this entry »

411: Juicing the Pickle

Events, Love & Sex No Comments »

“STEP HIGH STOOP LOW LEAVE YOUR DIGNITY OUTSIDE.” That was the sign posted outside Chicago’s legendary “Dil Pickle Club,” a Bohemian club/speakeasy/cabaret/theater that played host to various radicals, artists, anarchists, authors and socialites throughout the twenties. It was a place for self-styled free thinkers and sexual libertines, one of the few public places in the city where it was okay to be openly homosexual. And while the original club faded into memory in the mid-thirties, its message of political and sexual expression and spirit of meeting high culture with lowbrow is gaining resurgence some ninety years later.

“It was a place where you had hobos next to housewives,” says Fred Sasaki, one of the co-founders of the revived Dil Pickle. “You had doctors and lawyers mingling with tramps and prostitutes.”

The fifth installment of this incarnation of the group, entitled “LOVE/DEATH,” takes place February 10 at The Hideout (1354 West Wabansia). More than just a simple art event, the evening promises live music (with the band weaving in and around the crowd, not on stage), a tattoo artist giving out temps, a Day of the Dead shrine complete with group ritual, a St. Valentine’s Day Massacre-themed photo booth, talks on both serial killers and Precious Moments figurines, and algorithm-aided matchmaking. Read the rest of this entry »

Ski for Yourself: Whipping winter on its own terms

City Life, Green, Sports No Comments »

Although Chicago is a superior city in most respects, I suspect that Minneapolis, a much colder, snowier town, is actually a place where more people enjoy the winter. This is because residents of the Twin Cities, with their strong Scandinavian heritage, know how to embrace the season, donning cheerful woolen clothing and diving into cold-weather fun like sledding, skating and snowball fights, followed by large quantities of glögg.

Here in the Windy City, most people dress in black and view winter as something to survive, not celebrate. They see it as a series of hassles and indignities: freezing el platforms, slushy sidewalks, salt-choked air and parking spots selfishly reserved with old furniture.

Not me. I’ve got a two-pronged strategy to make the most out of cold weather. The first is indoor coziness and/or winter denial: gastropubs, rock clubs and hot tubs; Hala Kahiki and the Garfield Park Conservatory. As I type this, I’m sitting in the ninth-floor winter garden of the Harold Washington Library, surrounded by leafy trees and ivy-covered walls. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): Now and then, members of other astrological signs complain that I seem to favor you Aries above them. If that’s true, I’m certainly not aware of it. As far as I know, I love all the signs equally. I will say this, however: Due to the idiosyncrasies of my own personal horoscope, I have been working for years to get more skilled at expressing qualities that your tribe tends to excel at: being direct, acting fearless, knowing exactly what you want, cultivating a willingness to change, and leading by example. All these assets are especially needed by the people in your life right now. 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
Rahm Emanuel
The Supremes say you’re on the ballot and the media says you’re a shoo-in. Do we still need to vote?

2
Derrick Rose
We’d get an ulcer too, if we’d had to wait this long to know that our stellar season landed us a starting slot in the All-Star game. Read the rest of this entry »

411: I’ll play Crazy Pet Ideas for $100

News etc. No Comments »

“Life’s Ruff,” a stage performance featuring dogs and their owners in a game-show setting is holding a casting call at Gorilla Tango Theatre, 1919 North Milwaukee, Saturday starting at 1pm. “We’re looking for dogs and owners, people who don’t know a lot about training,” says Dog Saving Network founder Chris Dignan. “We really want to show that anyone can learn how to train if you’re dedicated to it.”

Having an adopted dog is not a requirement, but dogs are expected to be spayed/neutered and vaccinated, and should understand basic obedience skills. Above all, Dignan considers the connection between the dog and the owner: “We’re looking for a dog and an owner that work well together. We don’t care how many tricks they know because we can train them.” He cites personality traits as the most important. “We prefer an attentive owner and an attentive dog, but I’ll work with just about anybody.” Read the rest of this entry »

Mani-a-Mani: Reporting from the Lady Arm Wrestlers title bout

Events, Sports 1 Comment »

Photo: Jonathan L. Green

As I make my way through the crowd I am accosted by a petite woman wearing a banana costume and thigh-high fishnets, shouting at me to put all my money on her. She is The Banana Split, and she has come to dominate.

“Potassium gives you strength,” she says, with steely determination. “And I’m full of potassium.”

The Banana Split (a.k.a. Nicole Richwalsky) has a hard night ahead of her. She’ll be competing against such dangerous adversaries as Malice in Wonderland, Babraham Lincoln and Gaga Gunshow to see who will be crowned champion in the eighth title bout of the Chicago League of Lady Arm Wrestlers.

“I’ll do whatever it takes to win,” says two-time CLLAW champion Strawberry Shivcake (or Ellen Wohlberg, 9 to 5). “Whether it’s illegal, stabbing someone, killing someone, bribing someone; bribes never hurt…”

Indeed, the matches haven’t even started yet when CLLAW 7′s reigning champ, The Killer Bee, gets shivved by Strawberry (natch) in the middle of the introductions.

“I’ve killed The Killer Bee’s manager a couple of times,” remarks Strawberry. “And The Bee ‘Nancy Kerrigan-ed’ The Cutting Edge last time.”

Started in 2009 as a satellite group of the original CLAW (Charlottesville Lady Arm Wrestlers), the Chicago group has rapidly become one of the top Lady Arm Wrestling groups in the nation. Read the rest of this entry »

Free Will Astrology

Free Will Astrology No Comments »

By Rob Brezsny

ARIES (March 21-April 19): What rewards do you deserve for all the good living and the hard work you’ve done since your last birthday? And what amends should you make for the mediocre living and the work you’ve shirked since your last birthday? If you choose this week to take care of these two matters with purposeful clarity, you will ensure the best possible outcomes. The reward you earn will be the right one, and the amends you offer will provide the proper correction. 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
Brian Urlacher
That’s a heavy load of Bear you’re carrying on your shoulders.

2
Caleb Hanie
Third-string QB came thisclose to a Hollywood ending. Read the rest of this entry »