Post Tagged with "Chicago"

Bicycle culture (and subculture) in the USA

Abroad, a lot of people conceptualize America as a “car-culture”. And they are, in large part, correct. It’s estimated that as many as 1 of every 6 jobs in the US is either directly or indirectly related to the auto industry. America’s rise to global economic stardom can be tied to the auto industry as well, along with the fossil fuel, agricultural, and arms industries. It’s hard to say for certain which came first, Americans’ propensity towards ultra-individualism, or the car, but they definitely are a marriage made in heaven.

My bike! (A hybrid)Something that doesn’t get a lot of press internationally is the growing number of people in the USA who don’t own cars at all. Especially in larger cities, where public transportation is available, the combination of higher gas prices, parking fees, maintenance fees, inevitable parking tickets, road rage, and environmental impact are making it more and more attractive to explore non-auto options for transportation. As of 2009 35 million people in the USA took public transportation of some kind every weekday, not including people who walk or bicycle. Bicycle commuters in the USA are becoming a larger and larger demographic. In fact, in Portland Oregon, over 5% of commuter trips are taken on a bicycle. In the city of Chicago, where I reside, the number is much lower (1.15%) but that’s a 129% increase between 2000 and 2009, and all indications are that the number keeps going up.

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May 20, 2011 1 comment

Should we talk about the weather?

One of the peculiarities of living in a country as big as the USA that touches two oceans, two major gulfs, straddles the continental divide, and has climates ranging from sub-tropical forests, to snow-covered mountain ranges, all the way to sub-arctic (if Alaska counts)… is the differences in the weather, and to a lesser extent, natural disasters. The East Coast gets hurricanes, and the Northern seaboard can also get hammered with snow and “Nor’Easters” (storms blowing from the Northeast). The Midwest has abysmal snowy winters, thunderstorms, and tornadoes and in the Spring and Summer. The West coast has earthquakes, torrential rains, wildfires and sometimes mudslides. In the Pacific Northwest, it rains, then it rains, and sometimes it rains some more. The South sees severe Thunderstorms, tornadoes, hurricanes, and ice storms in the winter.

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February 23, 2011 6 comments

Urban Style Challenge: Dublin vs Chicago

Today, our challenge is all about the boys. Our contributors Marcel and Sean wrote about men’s style in their cities, Dublin and Chicago. Sit back and enjoy.

Dublin Chicago
Hair Anything goes. We have our fair share of Berlinesque hipster-haircuts, but also the good old mullet and fully shave head of the youngster from the suburbs’ Nothing particular for professionals, but for the hipsters and coll kids: faux-hawks, close-crop, shaved head.  Some dreds.  High-top fades, and other 80′s styles have started to come back for African Americans.
Fashion trends What goes in mainland Europe also goes in Dublin, though we share more trends with London than Milan. All a bit on the colourful side. Light leather jackets (spring), Ugly sunglasses (hopefully this will end in 2011), jeans that fit, and men’s hats are all back.  Accessories seem to be coming back into vogue: tie pins, pocket kerchiefs.
Colour Depends on the occasion – business attire comes with more sober colours, while in the evenings bright colours and flashy outfits prevail. Winter: Black. Chicago is infamous for conservative-styled black on black. In the spring and summer: Pastels and other light colors crop up, as do white shoes and hats.  Lots of earth tones in the fall, to match the leaves on the trees.
Footwear For men, anything between sneakers and brogues goes. Many ladies do however wear Ugg-boots on as many occasions as possible. Vintage leather shoes (black, brown, white), and slip-ins have become more popular.  AF1s for “street style”.  Basic dress shoes, vs. a pattern or wing-tip are more popular.  “5 Fingers” shoes for fitness,
Evening gear As Dublin offers a variety of evening activities (and clubs), evening gear and wear varies accordingly. The majority of men however opt for the standard (and bouncer-approved) combination of ironed shirt, jeans and brogues when going out. A sport coat or blazer is a must, unless it’s too hot, in which case a button down and tie will do.  Many clubs won’t let you in with pants that are too baggy, even if they’re dress pants. Darker colors, but no blue button-downs, those are for engineers and factory managers, not for a night on the town.
Weekend outfits Has to be the tracksuit, whether you do sports on the weekend or not. It depends heavily on your activities.  For some, it’s polo shirts and shorts w/sandals for sailing, or a white button down and slacks for brunch.  Blue jeans and T-shirts for many, the more ironic the T-shirt, the better.
After-work activities This being the capital of Ireland, the preferred after-work activity of Dublin males is the pub. Most Chicagoans don’t live by their work, so as a consequence, any after-work activity tends to be in work clothes.  Occasionally, one might stop at home to throw on a blazer and a pair of more casual, usually brown, shoes.
February 22, 2011 2 comments

It’s Christmas in Chicago!

Christmas is celebrated every year on December 25th by Christians around the world to celebrate the birth of Jesus, and the 12 days after in which “Three Wise Men” followed a bright shining star to the site of Jesus’ birth, Bethlehem… but is also celebrated by many non-religious people in many places in the United States. Many families will put up a Christmas tree (a fir tree decorated with lights and ornaments); will decorate their houses with lights, fir boughs, and wreaths.

Christmas comes out of a lot of pre-Christian European traditions, specifically Yule, and the main marker of modern Christmas celebrations in the USA is the exchange of gifts. Adults and children alike will receive gifts, and many adults have lists of hundreds of people that they’ll send Christmas greeting cards to.

Daley Plaza's Christmas Tree
Daley Plaza’s Christmas Tree

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December 14, 2010 6 comments

“Ja lubię pierogi!” (I love pierogis!) – Polish Chicago

“The future starts today, not tomorrow.” – Pope John Paul II

Poland has had the unfortunate luck of being sandwiched between the Russian, German/Prussian, and Austro-Hungarian empires during its history. Poland was partitioned three times by these empires, and was absent from the European map for a 123-year period, until 1918. Poles have been coming to the USA at least since the first partition (1772), evidenced by the American Revolutionary War (1776) hero Casimir Pulaski, who has two holidays, one in Illinois (Casimir Pulaski Day), and a US federal holiday (General Pulaski Memorial Day) dedicated to him.

A Polish MarketThe majority of Polish immigration to the United States came in 3 distinct waves: 1850-1920 during the partitions; post-World War II and during the communist takeover of Poland in the late 1930’s through late 1940’s; and in the 1980’s after the imposition of martial law in Poland (1981). It was after the November Uprising (1830-1831), an ultimately unsuccessful armed rebellion against the Russian Empire, the first known group of Poles made their way to Chicago.

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August 30, 2010 3 comments

Puerto Ricans: Chicago, New York, America!

¡Yo soy boricua…Sólo pa’ que tu lo sepa’! (I’m Puerto Rican… just so you know!) – Rosie Perez

Last weekend was the Puerto Rican Day Parade in downtown Chicago, and accompanying festival in the Humboldt Park neighborhood. Many people outside of the US, and some notable Americans, are unaware that the island of Puerto Rico is actually a United States commonwealth.

Since 1917, Puerto Ricans have been US citizens, and enjoy many benefits of citizenship, including passport/visa-free travel and work in the United States, and US military protection. However, Puerto Ricans (residing in Puerto Rico) cannot vote in federal elections, have no voting members in the US Congress, and yet still have to pay US federal taxes. There have been several Puerto Rican political movements for both independence and US Statehood, but as of today, Puerto Rico is still an unincorporated territory.

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June 28, 2010 6 comments