How to Chicago: Graffiti


7. Thrive. Learn to spot and read graffiti. Not just street art and tags, but the gang graffiti. Gangs are everywhere in big cities (er…fine Chicago). They customarily will leave you alone if you’re not affiliated with one, but it is good to know when they’re at war with each other. Stray bullets do not distinguish membership or not. I’ve yet to locate an official “Reading Gang Graffiti” seminar, but if you can decipher even just a bit of the slapdash along with the colors and what they mean, you’ll know when to keep an extra lookout. An apartment building with red spray paint covering black paint spilling over door ways and covering windows indicates a feud. It may get violent. Raise the antennas and be on guard.

Stare and pay attention to graffiti over the months and years and you will start to be able to make some sense of it. Like an illusion that reveals itself after you loosen your focus. Stare, stare, stare……oh, got it. There’s going to be a drive by tonight. Now stay inside!  

7.5  Thrive.  Learn what the difference is between street art and graffiti.  Street art takes place on abandoned buildings and structures, or has the permission of  the building’s owner. Graffiti takes place on private property. Teach your minors the distinction because one day they’ll be majors and tagging private property is no fun for the owner asshole. 

Top illustration by Wilson.

Props Chance. Coloring Book  y’all.


How to Drive Chicago: Crosswalk Common Sense

OK. Week 3 brings us to the first lesson for traveling on foot.

3. Survive.  When on foot and waiting for the “walk” sign to flash, do not stand in the street!  Stand on the sidewalks as far back as possible. Daily I see people standing at intersections with their toes over the curb, or worse yet, with 1 hoof in the street.. as if this will get them to their destination sooner.  I get it. You’re in a hurry.  That extra 5 feet is not going to affect your arrival time and chance are you’re in someone’s or something’s way.  I’ve seen buses nearly tear faces off.  I’ve seen delivery trucks dislocate knees.  Move back!

Not to mention the common occurrence of the 85 yr old who thought the accelerator was the brake and careened into a crowd killing or maiming men, women and children.  Likewise when a driver has a grabber or stroke behind the wheel. Give yourself a fighting chance.  I’ve taught all my kids to stand as far back from the curb as possible. It won’t make you late, but it may save your life.


Rendering by my friend Wilson

How to Drive Chicago: Fight the Urge

2. Drive. When you’re the first car stopped at a red light and another car pulls adjacent to you on the right do not accelerate abnormally just to keep them from getting in front of you. That person is in a rush, or just likes to drive excessively fast. They are going to speed right past you. Let them go. They’re not going to affect your travel time at all. Fight your instinct to not let them in and turn it into a race. Think rationally about it. Let them get out of your way and enjoy your day. 

How to Drive Chicago: Driving Tip # 1

1. Drive.  We all know the old adage, 2 seasons in Chicago…winter and construction. It’s true. Most people probably think of construction on the expressways, but from April to November every side street I drive on is being resurfacing. When approaching a small patch of road construction mainly where the intersection has been carved down by 2 to 3 inches there is no need to slow down to 5 mph. Tires are incredibly rugged. They will be fine. Drive right over knocks in the road like a motherfucker. Especially, ESPECIALLY if you are in an SUV.  It is an SUV for God’s sake. It was designed to do this. It yearns to do this. Drive over road defects at the speed limit with authority!  Keep traffic moving.