The official user's manual for sunshine

Summer Strategy: Rooftop Rebellion

Fireworks, Memoirs & Miscellany, User's Guide to Summer No Comments »

We’re surprised by the sun every minute that we’re in it, on our Wolcott Avenue roof in Ukrainian Village. We’re shocked when we sweat so much that we have to take our sweaters off. There’s debris up here from previous tenants; discarded, dead and burned-out fireworks, partially empty beer cans—which we joke about throwing across the street to the Happy Village tavern—cigarettes unsmoked, and a very rusty chair.

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Bike, Swim, Run: A Triathlete Weathers the Warmth

Bicycling, User's Guide to Summer No Comments »

freddy bike

Fredricka Holloway, forty, is a youth worker and a triathlete. She lives in South Shore. She ran her first triathlon in 2007 and has run forty more races since then. 

It’s 5:04am and the glimmer of new light grazes the horizon and crawls across the calm waters of Lake Michigan as I stand and stretch at 63rd Street Beach. This is the only time of year that the sun rises early enough for my morning run to coincide with it and with the growing warmth and occasional breeze that smells of manure and fresh-cut grass. This moment, plus a calendar full of triathlete races for me to conquer, is when I recognize that summer is officially here.
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On the Exquisite Quality of Sunshine: The Beauty of the Loop

Memoirs & Miscellany, User's Guide to Summer No Comments »

It was an unseasonably warm January day nearly twenty years ago, not long after I first arrived in Chicago, that instilled in me an appreciation for the beauty of the Loop. The thermometer read fifty-eight degrees, and having languished mostly indoors since November of the previous year, the bright January sun at five in the afternoon on that unseasonably warm day was irresistibly attractive. Read the rest of this entry »

Easy, Breezy and Beautiful: The Brazilian Girl Guide to Summer Fashion

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Pattern skirt Crop topIn summer it’s a lot harder to look elegant and well dressed, but Brazilian women always find a way of incorporating charm into their sensual wardrobe. Easy, breezy and beautiful might as well be their own slogan—under such high temps, light fabrics and effortless styling are a must. Here are a few trends the current girls of Ipanema are embracing in their cool and gentle sway:

Special bras: The recent heat waves in Brazil are creating the perfect storm for their lingerie market. With fine materials such as leather, modern cuts and bright colors, bras have found their place in the sun. Right now it’s hot to show what’s underneath, either through sheer fabrics or by letting a strap peek out.

Cropped tops: Here’s the great advantage of this trend: you don’t really need to be in shape to rock it. Worn with flattering high-waisted bottoms, a shorter top creates a contemporary, feminine and even elegant look—it all depends on the pieces and fabrics you’ll choose. A crochet cropped top paired with high-waisted trousers and a few statement bangles can make a dazzling—and very Brazilian—party outfit. Read the rest of this entry »

Street Art Summer: Touring the Great Outdoor Graffiti Gallery

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IMG_6465By Kevin Coval

The most vibrant and innovative art galleries you will see in Chicago this summer are in the streets. Our city is in the midst of a graffiti and street art renaissance due to the daring, increased risks artists are willing to take to make and a cut back from City Hall on their graffiti-blaster program. Pieces, throw-ups, tags, wheat-pastes and street installations exist and run for a longer period of time. Rather than splotches of brown for stretches on the avenue, you might be able to catch a new generation of young artists vying to shape Chicago’s public visual culture. Walk through alleys, peep boarded-up storefronts, abandoned factories, rooftops, water towers, under overpasses, forgotten former industrial areas. Spots the city has abandoned, artists reclaim, use as canvas, make fresher and more beautiful.

This summer, rather than—or in addition to—visiting the white boxes of a museum, wander the city ablaze with color, letter and message. Look out for prolific writers (graffiti artists) AMUSE, VENOM, WERE, SEGE, TREX, FACT, NOTEEF, street artists Penny Pinch, Tararchy, Dont Fret, ORYX and the conspicuous, gorgeous murals of Ruben Aguirre, Hebru Brantley and Miguel Aguilar and his Graffiti Institute crew, just to name a few. Read the rest of this entry »

Sun Tight: How to Work Summer Fashion on a Winter Body

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By Isa Giallorenzo with illustrations by Josh Crow

Summer fashion. Winter body. What can we do to look good and fresh when those pesky extra pounds just won’t go away? These local style savants got you (un)covered.

Nikia Jefferson, fashion blogger (
I would recommend wearing dresses in light, breathable fabrics, like cotton and jersey, that skim the “problem areas.” Then accessorize with a wide elastic belt, to cinch the waist and accentuate feminine curves. And don’t get stuck in the all-black rut. As long as the fit of the clothing is good, you can take more risks when it comes to color. Also a high heel always helps to elongate legs and improve posture, which is always flattering and slimming. Find the perfect shade of nude and you will have a shoe that pairs well with a multitude of outfits and takes you through the entire season. Read the rest of this entry »

Hitting the Streets: A Romp Through Underrated Chicago Neighborhood Festivals 

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Chosen Few DJs Picnic

By Keidra Chaney

I recently consulted Google with the search term “Neighborhood Festival Capital of the World” to see if such an accolade existed. If it did, surely it would be awarded to Chicago, right? What other city can literally boast at least one (but more than likely more than one) neighborhood festival every weekend of the year from May to August? It’s no surprise that we do summer festivals right in the Windy City; it’s our reward for enduring our cloistered winter existence for four to six months out of the year.

However, it’s nearly impossible for one person in Chicago to experience all that Chicago has to offer in the way of neighborhood fests, and while some festivals are institutions (Northcenter Ribfest, Printers Row Lit Fest, Northalsted Market Days, West Fest, the list goes on) a few newer, under-recognized, and just plain under-loved fests get lost in the crowd. Read the rest of this entry »

Sun-Drenched Sentences: The Season for Outdoor Writing

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McKinlock-Court at the Art Institute

McKinlock-Court at the Art Institute

I’ve heard Hemingway wrote in bars and that Twain wrote in bed. Dickinson sometimes wrote in the cool, dark confines of the pantry inside her home, and Kerouac claims that he wrote “at the desk in the room, near my bed, with a good light, midnight ‘til dawn, a drink when you get tired, preferably at home, but if you have no home, make a home….”

When it’s summer in Chicago, I want to do everything outside, including my writing. Fortunately, this city is filled with numerous patios, cafes and parks that are perfect for doing just that, and if I’m lucky, getting a sun tan, too. Read the rest of this entry »

Chicago Looks: Short and Sweet

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A sample of last year’s hottest (and tiniest) pieces of fabric, with photos and captions by Isa Giallorenzo. (Click on photo to enlarge.)

Why? Hot pink. Scalloped hem. It's as cute as it gets.

Why? Hot pink. Scalloped hem. It’s as cute as it gets.

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Summer Running: A Guide to the Pleasures of a Really Fast Walk in the Park

Parks & the Great Outdoors, User's Guide to Summer 1 Comment »

Photo: Zach Freeman

Among its many accolades, Chicago is frequently cited as one of the best running cities in America. And after running on any part of the eighteen-mile stretch of paths that make up the Lakefront Trail, it’s pretty easy to see why. Whether you’ve been hitting the trail for decades or this is your first summer, here’s a quick north-to-south guide to getting the most out of a summer run on Chicago’s iconic Lakefront Trail. Read the rest of this entry »